I clearly remember one day two young men, about my own age, 17-18, came in and asked for some dresses to try. You very quickly learn when you work in a second-hand shop that your stock is a major source of outfits for local themed club nights, fancy dress parties, and dares. (I once managed to construct a rather good Peter Pan costume from just one day's donations, but that's another story.) I jumped to the conclusion that these two were looking for outfits for some kind of drag night, helped them to find their size, and left them to it. It was only later, when the assistant manager cracked a joke about the colour, "bringing out your eyes" to one of the young men that I realised he was the only one trying on clothes, and that he and his mate weren't laughing.
I think that was the first time I stopped to think about safe space, anonymity, and the projections we cast onto other people. I have always had a more-than-average levels of privilege, being cisgender, white, able to learn in the specific ways our education system demands, etc., but I don't think I'd really taken it until then. I had never thought of my position as being one that could be used to hurt other people.
I often wonder now if that moment changed anything substantial, or how often I still allow the preconceptions I was brought up with to penetrate my everyday thinking unchallenged, and how that in turn affects my behaviour. I was reminded of the words of the traditional confession, which acknowledges that we sin, "through negligence, through weakness, through [our] own deliberate fault". This means that when we contribute to behaviours and structures that harm others, that is as much as sin as deliberate harm. And what we do to one another, we do to God.
What a joy, then, to be in a community of believers who commit to forgiveness! When you are next invited to share absolution with one another, and to accept your own forgiveness, remember that Christ forgives all of us, even when, "they know not what they do". Remember also that we are called to accept that forgiveness and seek to turn it into strength to make ourselves anew in the mould of Christ, who resisted taking on any power that suppresses the weak, instead fighting in word and deed for those who are oppressed.