Living on the Bare Minimum

I was a lot younger when I worked for minimum wage. Having any money at all that I had earned was an important rite of adolescence. I worked hard at the drive-in for that $1.70/hour, but I also made more money than any of my friends. Of course, gas when I first learned to drive was $.28 per gallon!

Living on the bare minimum requires courage and determination. I dispute any notion that the working poor are somehow deficient in work ethic and I believe they deserve better. Difficult as it is to live on the financial minimum, it remains difficult to live on the respect minimum as well.

A certain notion floats around this world (which often includes the LGB community as well) that transgender people should be satisfied with toleration. We should feel lucky to be accepted by even that much. Sometimes this thought is manifested in the argument about public accommodations – trying to assert rights to use gender-appropriate restrooms is pushing the envelope too fast.

I’ve lived, sort of, on the bare minimum of respect my entire life. I dreamed countless nights of at least being tolerated for who I am as a gender-variant person. But with increasing time in recovery and a new spiritual awareness of being created in the image of God, I’ve come to a new understanding.

Toleration is no longer enough to sustain life. My time has arrived. And so has the time of other gender-variant people around me. We’ve paid our dues. The larger community around us needs to celebrate our lives. We are entitled as productive citizens to a respectful attempt to understand us. It is time to move beyond toleration.


Beyond Tolerance – Gustav Niebuhr


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