Soon, the world might just be different
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
The world – at least its human population – has suddenly become remarkably different. The changes from the global pandemic are happening quietly and in solitude, as people shelter in place and renegotiate their patterns of life as best they can, seeking physical, economic, and even spiritual ways to stay healthy, secure, and buoyant. There are so many losses – tragic, painful, grueling, and mostly unmeasured losses – for those who contract the covid-19 virus, for those who care for and worry about them, and for those who depend upon them. We know this is a phase; there will be a time when this ..read more
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Catastrophe
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
Some tears were not meant to be repressed. In describing the email messages she’d been receiving, she may not have wanted her loss of composure to become the video image being broadcast to the small and scattered universe of our local Quaker community, each at their respective homes behind their Zoom monitors, atomized but oddly together in the midst of the pandemic. But it didn’t matter; her tears flowed and with good reason. This woman works in international development. She, I, and others in our shared line of work have long struggled to reconcile our many personal, very human connections w ..read more
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Not to be discussed
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
The cold fluid ran down my shin as I lay on my back on the examination table, my foot drawn back and my right knee raised. Having chilled my knee to numbness with the liquid, the doctor made no effort to dry the drips. Instead he lapsed into a patter of small talk – something about his upcoming holiday plans for Portugal – as he readied the needle. His distraction drew me back to fond memories of my one time in Lisbon, almost 40 years ago; the sharp prick of the needle entering my knee interrupted those musings, but it wasn’t so bad. The pain was already subsiding as he slapped the Band-Aid o ..read more
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An pacifist advocating for transgender equality – in the military.
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
I’m setting myself up for criticism. After all, aren’t Quakers known for our fierce (some would say strident) pacifism and opposition to all things military? So why is this Quaker advocating for the legal right of transgender Americans to serve in the military? The easy answer is simply that I am also a transgender person, so I feel a profound solidarity with my transgender brothers and sisters in any aspect of our shared struggle for equality as American citizens. Have I placed myself on the horns of moral and spiritual conflict then – pacifism versus equality? No. First, the pacifism that Q ..read more
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To appease the base
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
Originally posted on December 16, 2017; updated and revised November 19, 2018   “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” Reading these words from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 was challenging, even when I first encountered them many years ago. I never imagined, however, that the words being destroyed would be about particular human beings. Human beings like …me. Words are now being officially destroyed. In just the latest manifestation in the continuing deluge of outrage upon offense upon indignity, the Trump administration – in the form of the Depar ..read more
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Moving on…
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
In 2015 I completed my original manuscript for my memoir Self-ish: a transgender awakening. That year felt to me like an auspicious time to be sharing one transgender woman’s journey, as the public discourse on gender identity issues was already fractious, politicized, and rife with misinformation. When Red Hen Press gently but firmly reminded me that the backlog for actually publishing their approved manuscripts was three years, I was distraught. The message seemed so urgent then. Little did I know. My book came out this March, and I’ve been pleased to see it well received both in terms of r ..read more
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It’s funny, right?
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
Dave Chappelle – Funny Or Die Oddball To by Anirudh Koul, on Flickr   Should I write yet another note to PBS NewsHour? That particular evening show is one of my favorite sources of thoughtful news and reflection on the world around me, but they do occasionally stumble. This evening, they did more than stumble. They waved me aside, and relegated me and people like me to an insignificant footnote. I wasn’t meant to be a footnote. When the NewsHour introduced their interview with the comedian Dave Chapelle, they did fleetingly acknowledge that he sometimes mocked transgender people. But hav ..read more
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Madness
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
Photo: Honore-Daumier-Don-Quixote.jpg – Wikimedia Commons   Not too long ago, I took my daughter Audrey to a Washington DC production by the Shakespeare Theatre Company of the play Man of La Mancha. It’s one of my favorite plays, and one that I first saw when I was her age. It is based on the famous novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, in which an elderly gentleman is deluded into thinking that he is a valiant knight – Don Quixote de la Mancha – who is sworn to uphold the strict moral code of chivalry in a cynical, brutal, violent world that is devoid of such ideals. Although long past ..read more
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Existential indifference
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
Existential, as the word implies, has to do with existence. Our existence. Indifference is somewhat easier to grasp, since the sentiment of “I really don’t care” is so frequently on common display in America – most recently in large letters on the back of First Lady Melania Trump’s jacket. Still, it isn’t accurate to say that we simply don’t care about the values, principles, and issues we hold to be important. For many of us, it’s more appropriate to describe our indifference in terms of being overwhelmed, confounded, even laid low by a comprehensive, intense, and unrelenting assault on thos ..read more
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“Not acceptable”
Chloe Schwenke
by Chloe Schwenke
2y ago
Back in early June 2016, I posted a memorial blog about the tragic and violent deaths on April 25th of that year of Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, two remarkably brave and courageous Bangladeshi human rights defenders. They had fearlessly asserted through launching Bangladesh’s first LGBTQI magazine, Roopbahn, that the dignity and human rights of all Bangladeshis – not just those who are straight and cisgender – ought to be respected. For that audacity, they paid a dreadful price. This past week, I had the privilege of hearing a presentation from an openly gay Bangladeshi man who’d bee ..read more
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