This week, in the midst of all the other countless chaotic situations our country is experiencing, we get word that the administration is planning to pressure the U.S. Supreme Court to short-circuit the lawful judicial process and cajole it into denying the rights of yet another segment of our population simply because of who they are. Recent reports indicate that this administration seeks to define gender wholly within the binary, a social construct that has been proven through years of evidence-based research and institutional contributions to fail to represent the totality of gender identity in the realm of human experience.

Sexual identity, sexual orientation, and sexual expression are continuing to be attacked on all sides. Due to recent political changes, these attacks are not only being tolerated but also sanctioned by the very same institutions that once served to protect them. This drastic shift is likely to test our country’s highest court on their interpretation of human rights as expressed in the Constitution. Meanwhile, social conservatives and their institutions are forcing an exertion of power over these populations to advance their bigoted, uneducated, and immoral agenda in this country.

Social constructs are designed to control individuals. How human beings identify, whom they are attracted to, and how they express themselves can, and are, being used against them and whole populations of people to isolate, define, and exert power over them. It has happened for as long as this country has existed, and has continued even in times when this exertion of control has not been as blatant and obvious to the greater population as it is in current times. We are being confronted with coming face-to-face, in many ways for the first time, with the principles that define us–or do not define us–as a nation dedicated to individual freedom.  The ultra right-wing conservative agenda, which, frighteningly enough, is now in many aspects the mainstream force in our government, has made tremendous strides in bastardizing the principles that we have stood for since the founding of our country. Although we have failed many, many times in upholding those principles, this time we are standing on the precipice of restructuring the fundamental essence of the ideals of democracy we have claimed to embody as a nation.

For my part, I recognize that I grow, I learn, and I expand my life experience when I surround myself with individuals, groups, and communities that dedicate themselves to expanding the bounds of human experience, while simultaneously holding dear the foundational principles of the Golden Rule. I make choices, as everyone does, to have my experiences as I see fit. So long as I am not imposing my expectations, beliefs, or rules for myself on others, and I have the capacity to choose whether or not to engage, I am truly free. Examining how we come to be who we are in our lives, and how that affects how we live, has always been a great passion of mine. I have often found that challenging those constructs that have been imposed on me by various institutions often lead me to revelations about who I am and who I have the capacity to be. And, more than that, this practice illuminates opportunities for me to grow and expand that would not be available to me otherwise.

I encourage anyone who is struggling to make sense of what is unfolding around us to hold nearest and dearest to their heart the recognition of the human experience, and how it has, or has not, unfolded in their lives. My life changed, fundamentally, at a core level, when I stepped away from, or broke free from, social constructs, rules, and expectations, and began to learn more about myself. I encourage everyone I work with to do the same. If for no other reason, then only to find more of themselves in their expanded life experience.