Right Desire

Let’s face it: trans is about desire.  It is about knowing what we want and getting it.  Call it passion or bliss or Eros or desire, it’s all about getting what lifts our heart.

Of course, those are the two hard parts. 

First, how do we know what we want?  Do we just want to find a path to orgasm, or do we want to claim a place in the world in a gender not traditionally linked to the sex assigned us at birth?  Do we want express though obvious performance, or do we want to do what comes naturally?  Is our desire to be wild & free, or to be well assimilated with only a trace of crossing?

Second, how do we get it?  How do we face social stigma, keep our connections and the way we get what we need, while also getting what we desire?  How do we negotiate between the normative pressure and exceptional desire?

Obviously, these two questions are inexplicably linked.  In the end, we want what we can get, and what is available, the costs to getting it, shape the expression of our desire. 

The problem with all this is that desire is a dangerous thing, because it can take us out of social control.  Society has a vested interest in blunting our natural desire and replacing it with desire for consuming what is on offer, often with dangerous consquences, as Clarissa Pinkola-Estes reveals in The Red Shoes: On Torment And The Recovery Of Soul Life.

What this means, in the end, is that what separates transpeople is the denial of desire, the separation of passion, the exclusion of Eros, the breaking of bliss.  We each have a quick and facile answer as to why our desire and path to achieving it is good, but why their desire and path to achieving it is bad.  They are deluded, perverted, fetishists who don’t acknowledge the truth that we embrace.   Our desire is pure, wholesome and balanced,  while their desire is impure, rotten and sick.

In the end, the challenge for each of us is getting our desire right, desiring the right things, not the fillers, and handling it in the right way, without too much denial or too much indulgence.

And, like anything else, the way we start that is by affirming the desires of others, even the desires that seem non-normative, the desires we could never imagine desiring for ourselves, or worse, the desire that we deny in ourselves & demand that others deny also.

I know that the vast majority of theological themes in trans are about what desires are pure, and what impure, what can be tolerated and what must be purged.

I just think that a theological theme that affirms the truth that trans is about filling the desires placed in our heart, the ones we knew were there from when we were a little child, well, that theme might help me and help others.

Trans is about desire. 

Trans life is about getting that desire right.

4 thoughts on “Right Desire”

  1. you’re one of the very few people i’ve ever known to be completely honest about this.

    it’s something that’s been on my mind since way before i actually transitioned. i realized that my life is an architecture of desire, and felt that it would not be a waste to understand and document that. and then i discovered that i hadn’t actually invented the phrase – or presumably, the notion – and let it slip as a project. but it’s always been with me.

    it’s also why i’m not a buddhist. i need… i am attachment, not detachment. attachment means giving a shit, and desire is more than hunger.

    what do you desire? full bodymind engagement, i know (or think i know). to be delighted. to be allowed to be. also to see strength and awareness in others. what else?

  2. What do I desire most?

    The freedom to surprise myself with my own choices, to speak magic with laughter. I don’t want to have to filter everything so hard, to worry if I am being ironic, as Nina Arsenault notes.

    Beyond that, I desire to share that freedom & laughter with others.

    Thanks for the comment.

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