Who am I? Who are you? The way we answer, will likely dictate the type of shared experience we have, positively or negatively.
We could go to labels: occupation, nationality, religion, gender and quickly decide if our experience is shared based on points of commonality. Or perhaps we could go beyond the labels and see each other based on the many commonalities we share.
We have way more shared experience as human beings than what divides us. We’re born, we grow, we love, we bleed, we feel and we try to make our way through life. All of these are much bigger than these assigned labels that do nothing that divide us and don’t really serve us well.
The shared experience of growing up
As a kid, the divisive labels we use every day never made any sense to me. Growing up in Israel, even as a child, I just couldn’t understand why we fight over arbitrary dividers, like our religion, flags or land.
Even then I instinctively knew we should look above them and see what it all even means. What imaginary line in the dirt are we fighting over? The animals and creatures in nature crossing the border don’t care.
I was born in Israel, of Moroccan descent, labeled “a girl.” I was assigned all these conditions. But it didn’t take long to start to not feel right in my body. I went to a Jewish religious school, wearing a skit and was forced to sew with a needle and thread while I looked with jealousy at the shop where the boys were cutting wood, kind of hating my life and not even understanding why.
I was young. I didn’t know how to express myself. It was Israel in the seventies, we didn’t talk about these things. And certainly I didn’t know anyone with a shared experience. I couldn’t relate to girls and didn’t understand it all, so it took me a long journey to discover I was trans and needed to do something about it. I was 38 when I did, which really is so late in life. But without all those struggles I couldn’t be here and teach like I do and be who I am.
These experiences, no matter how challenging, helped me learn.Every piece of those identities along the way were there to teach me. It’s all a discovery. I could have stewed in why am I transgender, or dyke or a person other people hurl insults at. I have friends that live in anger, angry that the world doesn’t understand and adapt or accept.
Open to sharing so we all can heal
Other people may feel strife with me if we stick only to my labels and theirs, as has happened in all of history. Palestian vs. Jew. Muslim v. Jew v. Christian. Gay v. straight. And so many others. The words put up barriers.
Shared experiences, when I share who I am and listen to you do the same, have the power to tear those barriers down.
I feel like I’ve been given these experiences to come to the realization that at the end we’re all human and have the same experiences. For me to get locked on an identity is to miss the point. It’s to see beyond and see all the agreements we have despite the conflict.
Certainly, there were experiences in my life where I was angered or hurt. I’ve experienced the “why me?” kind of thing, but I think going through it, every experience we get is something we need to flow through and then educate others.
For example, I really don’t want people to go online and google transgender and try to figure it out, because I have no idea what they’ll find. But if I share with them my experience, I trust they will see me for as I am. The best way to know someone and learn about something different is not through google, it’s too talk and share the human experience. Why not be open about it? Every person has had their own human experience, and that is where we can connect. Really that’s what we’re here to discover.
We’re still brothers and sisters trying to get through this world.
The only way to connect with others is to be open. The openness invites openness and invites healing. All the labels that I am, from Trans to Israeli, to Moroccan, to Immigrant all those words …and the one that matters is this: Human.
When we look at the world in general, it’s an interesting way for us to heal. We connect as humans, and join in the great work to arrive at a place where we can love ourselves.