Time to Do Another Talk?

I’ve been contemplating what my next TED talk should be about. I don’t have one scheduled, but I have started thinking about what the subject should be. It’s been on my mind because I have the pleasure of coaching TEDxMileHigh speakers and I am always amazed at the breadth and depth of their talks. It is a joy to help the speakers bring them to life.

I am emceeing the June 24 event, which is always fun. We just had our first meeting with the speakers, and I can’t wait to start working with them. I told them they’d be sick of me by the time we get to June 24. The wife of one of the November speakers said, “My husband was equal parts terrified of you and grateful for you.” I said, “Yeah, that’s about right.” Helping speakers be at their best on the day of the event brings me immeasurable joy. To be alongside them at what has the potential to be one of the most important times of their lives is a great honor.

After working with 24 speakers last year, I keep thinking more and more about the subject of my next talk. An obvious choice would be America’s current fixation with transgender people. Having lost the war against gay marriage, the far right started looking for another enemy. Who knew they would choose transgender people? Though I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Zealots have been creating enemies since the beginning of time, and they always choose enemies that are powerless minorities.

At .58 percent of the population, we trans folks are definitely a minority. We have no lobby in congress, and no large contingent of supporters to whip up sentiment among the masses. We were the perfect foil for the right wing Republicans who now have 196 anti-transgender bills pending in state legislatures. If you want to think about the true absurdity of that, just consider that those same state legislatures do not have a single gun violence bill pending. Because, you know, I’m clearly a bigger threat to America than guns.

If I do a talk on being transgender, I think I’ll throw in a good bit of humor. Maybe it’ll be a nice little reminder that y’all shouldn’t kills us because we make you laugh and all. Of course a TED Talk on transgender issues would not have any traction outside of the United States. In most Western nations, the subject brings a big yawn. Only the United States has gone to seed on it.

I’ve also thought about doing a talk on staying young while growing older. Nobody ever thinks I’m the age I am. They usually think I’m at least ten years younger. That pleases me greatly. But if I do that talk, then the whole world will know how old I am, and if you haven’t noticed, age discrimination is real.

I might do a talk on resilience. I just did a speech on resilience last week. I’ve been working on the talk for months. It seemed to go well, though you can never tell when you’re sitting in your living room talking on Zoom and viewers are scattered all over the planet. I like to mix humor with pathos, and I couldn’t find much humor in the actions that forced the development of my resilience. I mean, getting fired by evangelicals after 35 years of good work isn’t very funny. Neither is losing your entire pension, or having hundreds of friends abandon you because you are no longer useful to them. Nope, nothing funny there. “Hey, did you hear the one about the friend of 40 years who never spoke to me again because of an issue that isn’t even in the Bible?” Yeah, not funny.

I could do another talk on more stuff I’ve learned about gender inequity. You might be surprised to hear this, but my list of examples of being treated misogynistically grows exponentially. I have entire new categories of having been dismissed that I did not have when I did my first talk in 2017.

That 2017 talk was lightning in a bottle. Between TEDxMileHigh and TED it has had over six million views. I’ve heard from women from all seven continents thanking me for validating their experience. Back in the late summer I got my second email from Antarctica. I guess they don’t have much to do there during the Antarctic winter. I know I probably won’t catch lightning in a bottle again, but I think I can come up with a compelling talk. Though I must admit, it is definitely easier coaching TED speakers than being one.

My five granddaughters think I should do a talk about them – you know – like how extraordinary and brilliant they are and how remarkable that is, you know, ¬†given the fact that they carry my genetic material and all. Or maybe I give up the idea of doing a talk altogether and my granddaughters collectively give one on how they’ve been ruined by having a grandparent who is transgender. I mean, that’d guarantee the right wing viewers. But wait a minute, right wing folks don’t watch TED talks. Scratch that idea.

I’m going to put off thinking about my next talk until after the June 24 event. I already know what those talks are going to be about. Trust me, you don’t wanna miss them.