OpEd - Transgender Ex-Navy SEAL: Here's A Question For You

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- I just attended a New York City prescreening of the CNN Film "Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story." It was presented by CNN and Psychology Today, attended by CNN executives and a select audience of New York professionals. In the audience was Hedy, an 85-year-old woman married to a marvelous gentleman -- a survivor of the death camps of World War II. Many other stories come to mind as I recall the night's events, but I want to share one short exchange with you, my loyal readers.

Hedy enjoyed the film and mentioned her favorite part: In the film someone asks me: "Who do you like?" Further questions included: "Are you gay? Do you like women?"

I simply answered what was in my heart: "I like people."

The person asking the question was trying to force me into a label of "straight" or "gay" or "lesbian" -- or who knows what.

Hedy, with her years of experience and wisdom, was struck by my simple answer.

She came up to me after the movie and asked me to go into detail. I spoke about my life of discovery, finding myself and finding others who have open minds and yearn for rational thought beyond mere passages from ancient books or bigotry of stereotypes and such. I'm learning to look beyond the many "labels" that we're forced to abide by in society.

Hedy said, why can't we do that for everything?

OK. Now it was my turn to be awestruck by a simple answer.

I gave her a hug and said, "Thank you. I now understand what I'm really doing and see what you see in me."

You all who are reading this might ask, "What the heck are you talking about?"

Putting my answer simply, two things: I like people -- no labels -- just people.

And, why can't we do that for everything?

Here's what I mean: Look beyond the label of gender, race, color, religion, age, sexual orientation -- or anything. Why can't we just like each other for just being ourselves in all of our diversity as humans? What is wrong with us that we constantly label and judge each other?

This inhibits everyone's potential as humans.

I'm so tired of labels, and it seems that EVERYTHING in life and society reinforces those labels. Look around and see how many things point us into a label and divide us as people into those labels. The fashion magazines, the media, the news, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our friends, our neighbors, the church, the mosque, the guy on the corner who never met me is enforcing labels and controlling my thoughts and actions according to those labels.

This is my question to the world: When can we all just live our lives as we are and not live the label? When can we just be ourselves and support each other in our own happiness and freedom?

I want to see fewer stereotypes in the media, less "Barbie" and "Conan," and more of us regular folk who are just as beautiful as people need to be -- maybe more beautiful -- if you look beyond the label.

I want to just LIKE every human and enjoy our diversity in all things.

When I grow up I want to be like Hedy -- she is really cool.


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Greg Kabel
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