The clerical obligation can be understood in a matrix.
One axis is the line between pastoral and ecclesiastical, the range between serving God’s people and serving the structures we assign to her, the ritual & the scripture.
The second axis is the line between missionary and visionary, the range between telling the stories far & wide and questioning the stories to reveal meaning.
Because this is a matrix, none of this is about being one or the other, but rather about the special blend we bring to our work, our unique approach rooted in the gifts our creator gave us.
As for me, well, it’s clear that I am more on the pastoral than the ecclesiastical side, caring more about people than about the structure of the church, and that I am more on the visionary side than the missionary side, living more in the questions of theology than in the answers.
And that, my friends, is why I hate Tranny 101.
Tranny 101 is the missionary side of tranny, telling the same stories over and over again so that the belief can be propagated.
Now, I do know people who think doing Tranny 101 is “a blast,” people who love offering up the same answers again and again, but for me, facing the same ignorance time after time, well, it just wears me to a nub. I need to get past it and get my work done.
I used to work in software test, and the people who are good at that tend to become experts in the company. That happened to me, so I had to figure out my strategy for handling people with questions.
On one hand, I wanted to share the knowledge, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to have to keep answering the same question again and again, which happens when people think they can get an easy answer quickly. I knew some people who loved answering the same question, but I didn’t see that as useful for me or for others.
My solution was to always respond to someone’s first request with a clear and full explanation, helping them understand the best I could. To their second request, I would be a little more exasperated, clearing up issues and sharpening understanding. To the third request though, I would be downright testy, thinking that they had two chances to get it.
What this meant was that people asked simple questions of people other than me, and when they finally decided they needed to brave my gauntlet they knew they had to pay attention, value my time and their own learning. I wasn’t some easy crutch to get them off learning, I was there to help, not to pander. This gave me time to do my work, and required that they do theirs.
The problem with the wider world, though, is that too many people believe that they get to ask the same question over and over, trying to get the answer they want.
I remember one gathering of church supporters of gays and lesbians where a young man told how it took him a year to come out in his synagogue, step by step allowing people to understand. The crowd smiled, thinking this was good, allowing them to go slow.
Afterwards I asked him if he did that every time he came to a new congregation. “No!” he responded. “I’m out now!”
Yeah. I am so far beyond Tranny 101 that it seems painful to me to do it again, to answer the same damn questions one more time to people who just need time to ask the same questions again and again, trying to get the answers they like, the ones that comfort them because they fit into their current mindset rather than challenging them to become bigger and more open.
And the people who love Tranny 101, the missionary types, well, they disquiet me. Their search for pat answers often leads them down tracks I know can only bear bitter fruit, like trying to divide trannys into crossdressers, transsexuals, drag queens and so on. My years of listening to tranny narratives to search for truths leads me to understand that those boundaries are far from fixed, are just snapshots to comfort people who think they need fixed boundaries for understanding.
I was moved by an old chum who finally, after years of trying to separate real trannies from false trannies, exasperatedly explained to someone who keeps trying to find those hard divisions that while there are bad trannies, trying to separate them out and deny them status does not work, because people don’t see those separations. We have to contextualize them in some other way, understanding their bad choices in some other context, like the damage from the obligation of denial rather than growth from the possibility of acceptance.
People who do Tranny 101, though, usually seem to be to be trying to purge the ambiguity out of being tranny so they can give nice, comforting answers to assuage society. Those answers, though, most often have theological crocks in them that you can drive a truck though, and then use that truck to run over the hearts of the marginalized, the abject, the damaged and the hurting.
This is why I stay hidden so much, because I don’t want to have to do Tranny 101. It’s not my job to comfort people or to amuse them, to take the pain they feel from the tension of their own fight to do gender conventions.
I fear Tranny 101 people are just trying to make people like them by being glib, amusing and comforting, dumping simple answers to get people by the numbers rather than by the hearts and minds.
There is a role, for missionaries, no doubt.
But without doubt, without being open to new vision, all they do is make more problems for those of us who are ambiguous, who are queer.
Tranny 101 just hurts.