Community Profile: Gene Bush, Santa Cruz Zen Center & Arcata Zen Group

Gene Bush

Gene Bush, Santa Cruz Zen Center & Arcata Zen Group

I began formal Zen practice in 1982, was ordained as a priest in 2005 and received Dharma Transmission from Katherine Thanas of the Suzuki Roshi lineage in 2010.  I am one of the Practice leaders at Santa Cruz Zen Center on the central coast of California, and I am also the part time residential teacher at Arcata Zen Group in northern California in Humboldt County. Additionally I teach the traditional practice of sewing Buddha’s Robe (rakusu and okesa). I retired recently from my work as teacher in a public alternative high school in Santa Cruz. I am most interested in the ways in which formal practice trains us for everyday life.

My life has been enriched, thus my practice deepened, by my experiences before during and after my transition FtM. Of course I have had my share of awkwardness and isolation but by and large, the Teachers and Practice Leaders I know have treated me with the utmost respect and generosity.

Now, nearly 20 years after the initial stages of the public and more obvious transformation of my physical appearance, it is even more clearly evident to me that we must continue to make great effort to make this practice accessible to all, consciously removing obstacles from our minds and practice places.

Though I am not hidden about my transsexual identity, it is not a primary identity for me. It is extremely challenging, on multiple levels, when someone who has ‘discovered’ my transness decides that I should initiate (another) Sangha conversation about gender and identity.

I am greatly appreciative of this Trans Buddhist community and with the wise and balanced leadership that Chance and Finn offer so generously. Advocating and educating, we will find our way.

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