The heaviest burden I carry is the possibility of you changing.
I know that in order to truly be a force for transformation, I have to be willing and able to encourage & embrace change wherever it occurs. Every change is a step towards something better, even if it is one of the proverbial two steps back; sometimes we need to go back or get deeper before we can move ahead.
And that means I have to greet every situation, every moment and every person with the possibility of transformation, even if it means knowing that the probability is that the same results are going to occur.
This is the killer part of transgender being about pure transformation or about nothing at all. Unless you are committed to the possibility of transformation in others and in the world, how can you be committed to transformation in your own life? Unless you are willing to open the space for others to be new & different, how can you affirm your own ability to be new & different?
Courage, many have said, isn’t about not being afraid. Courage is about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
Committment to transformation isn’t about forgetting about the past. It’s about remembering what didn’t work in the past and trying again anyway.
And that’s the burden. Kids don’t carry this burden. They know everything will change, because they don’t know how it has always been. It’s only when you know, when you have seen, when you have a good and accurate model of the world that being open to change becomes an incredible burden?
You remember that satiric part of the note read to me in an orgasm workshop full of kids who couldn’t see the two old people in their midst? That was a part about letting go, seeing new, beginners mind. To the expert there are few choices, to the beginner many. Yes, I understand the power of now, but when you need repairs, do you really want to hire a beginning plumber? Or worse yet, a beginning doctor?
Wisdom is a good thing. But an unwillingness or inability to accept change, well, that is a bad thing. Being both wise and open to the new? That’s just an incredibly hard thing.
I was chatting with someone and expressed my assumption about what their new writing meant. They asked me how I knew, why I made that reading, what if I was wrong?
I told them that functioning in the world requires assumptions in every moment. We can’t reinvent the wheel, tell the whole backstory, reimagine the fundamentals every moment. Some things we need to leave to the assumed, the common, the expected. The problem comes when you are so tied to those expectations that you can’t see the different.
My friend laughed. “Yes, of all the people I know, you are one of the most willing to be open to changing your assumptions based on new input.” I think that may be why Kate Bornstein called me the queerest person she knows.
But that being always aware, always open, well, that’s a burden that gets heavier and heavier for me to carry. That is especially true in the face of people who couldn’t change their mind if God grabbed them by the puddenda. They don’t have mindspace to be open to changes in me, but I need to be open to changes in them. They want to pigeonhole me fast, naming and dismissing me, even as they say I need to be new. Problem is, they think I need to be new in the same old way that they are new.
Transvestism is about changing your clothes. Transsexualism is about changing your body. Transgender is about changing your mind.
Nancy Nangeroni once asked me to write a piece telling why Dallas Denny is an asshole for naysaying. Instead, I wrote this. Ms Nangeroni didn’t bother reading it, but her successor did.
I need to stay committed to the possibility of changing beyond the expectations hung on our bodies, beyond the conventions hung in our history. But I also need to be committed to my own knowledge, to the fact that I know what I know. I just don’t have much extra resilance to be bounced around more; I’m a crispy critter.
And that’s the burden, to stay open to change even while knowing that mostly, things and people don’t really change, open and flower. Mostly they get scared, close down and stay defended, acting out of their own fears and pain.
But damnit, when a bud comes someone has to be there to open a path to more sunlight, give a drink and just keep encouraging.
And that, these days, feels like a wonderful calling and too damn much of a burden.