Can I Really Engage My Own Trans Nature?

A reply to a private note from the contact form:

You have the trans calling in your soul, deep at the acorn. You know that.

Your question is simple: What the hell can you do about it?

The answer, as you know too, is both simple and insanely hard. You stand in front of the mirror and say the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the strength to change what I can change, the serenity to accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Then, everyday for the rest of your life, you work it, saying the same prayer, changing what you can, finding ways to accept what you cannot change, and searching for the wisdom to know what to try next.

You know that no amount of praying is going to turn your body female, no matter how much you want it. It would have happened long ago.

But you should know that now, more than ever before in America, being out as a woman of transgender experience is not only possible, but it is easier and comes with more opportunities than ever.

Yeah. You are never going to be 18, thin and hot again with a body that hasn’t fully taken all the hits of male puberty. But you can be a grown up woman.

The challenge for you is to take the steps. One step at a time.

I suspect that there are things and people you value in your life; a family, a career, whatever. Those are things you do not want to lose capriciously, that you have to be smart and prudent about.

But there are steps to take. 1) Find a transpositive therapist and start. 2) Find a tranny group and attend 3) Find a tranny conference and go. The Be-All in Chicago, First Event in Boston, or my home conference, Southern Comfort in Atlanta

I don’t know where you live or what your life is like, but there is some way that you can start the exploration you need. And the first part of that exploration is finding someone to whom you can say out loud all the things you have held inside for years. It is only when you can hear what you say, see what you express that you will know what is inside of your heart, inside your head, inside your soul.

One of the hardest parts of starting down the exploration of trans is finding the wisdom to know what expectations you need to release. In the darkness, everything grows twisted, and it takes a long time in the light to straighten out our thinking and feeling, those deep desires and deep fears, what we want and what we need and all the other bits we twisted together. We have to feel our feelings, think through our thoughts and challenge our beliefs to get straight again.

I am absolutely sure that you can find a trans-expression in this world that suits you and your situation, though I don’t know what it will be. Take it slow and don’t assume you know where you “should” be; like all of life, our destination is always the same, planted in the dust, and it is the journey that makes all the difference, choices and immersion. Lots of transpeople thought they knew they were a this or that, ran to that place, and wonder why it didn’t make them happy.

You don’t know what will make you happy, though you suspect some magical new life that starts as a young girl might. You don’t know that for sure, and you also know that’s not going to happen.

But you know that you can’t stay this sad, hidden and hurting anymore. That means you need to take the steps, my friend, starting with the basic one, saying out loud “I always wanted to be a girl,” and continuing down the long road to find out what kind of mature expression works for you, merging honest and pretty expression with whatever else you value in your life.

One step at a time. Don’t jump ahead, because that will only bring fear. You have choices to make everyday, a choice to go ahead, to go back, to stay where you are, or to try a different choice. You will go down dead ends and have failed experiments; all human growth has that, as any teenager will be happy to tell you.

Find a way to make your own art, your own representation of your inner self, and shape that art to become as beautiful and as challenging as you want to be.

But take the step. One step, just one, to saying “This is me, without all the denial and filters, with understanding and grace.”

I believe you can free yourself and find a balanced life, you a transperson who is loved and valued in the room.

But I also believe, in the end, that while finding good help is key, in the end, who you are in this moment and the next is up to you.

And you can do it.

Dance the dance. Find a therapist, a group, a conference. Make art and see yourself reflected. The longest journey starts with one step, and can go any way at any time.

And most of all, trust the love and the beauty in your heart.


Revelation Ritual

There is no ritual more gendered than a wedding. I remember vividly accompanying my partner to her sister’s wedding, a blue collar fete, and then jumping in the car and heading to Southern Comfort where I was going to do the keynote speech. The contrast between the traditional & binary gender separations of the wedding and the gender crossing at the conference, much of it echoing traditions in a slightly twisted way, was less interesting than the connections; gender is gender.

A wedding is the ritual where a girl becomes a woman. TantraGal knows that; that’s why she imagined a white ceremony for herself where she could walk down the aisle to claim her own womanhood, a woman even if without a man. I suspect that this is a much better considered idea than the women who get drunk and drive to Vegas just so they can get hitched to their first ex-husband and then get on with the woman part of their life.

TantraGal wonders what my ritual of claiming womanhood would look like.

It’s not the first time this has been discussed; Ann Angell and I spoke about it over a decade ago. She too imagined elements of a wedding; an aisle, a transformation, a claim.

Ms. Rachelle is a kind of expert in these matters; she wrote the text for Omega Institute on Ritual; I just helped edit her forward. Rituals are how we embody connection to God, she said, and I understand that. Hard to remember that it was ten years ago this summer that Rachel had her Bat Mitzvah, four decades after her Bar Mitzvah.

Public rituals are something I support in concept, if not in practice. My secret calling is to be pastor; the church of the divine surprise as I have termed it, a place to come together and be delighted in the surprising magic of the godspark. Yet my public position has been the penitent, marching on my knees towards something, something enlightened and unclear at the same time.

I must admit that the primary ritual I have considered is my funeral. I have never attempted suicide, but for at least thirty years writing suicide notes has let me understand what I want to kill, where my pain is. I even have stories about having them read out in an orgasm workshops, the sarcastic, ironic bit seen as new age affirmations. My laughing jag lasted almost an hour.

Poor Ms. Rachelle has plenty of notes for my funeral in her mail archive; songs, obituaries and more. She handled them gracefully, but that flow stopped a few years ago, and she has to come to this blog to get her portion of hard, brilliant and faceted cutting prose from and about me.

So what would I want if I could actually have a ceremony, and it was one I would actually have to be present and breathing for?

Well, I had a party for my high school graduation. Nobody came. I guess people would have to come. That’s one nice thing about a funeral; if no one shows, you can’t look any more embarrassed than you already are.

And “The Way You Look Tonight.” Have to play that. Probably the Sally Mayes version.

Beyond that, well, anything goes or nothing goes. Do I unveil myself? Marry myself? Do I do an obit for a past? Is their dancing? I mean, I can’t point my toes; Darlene proved that. Hell, even TantraGal’s salon is across from the apartment that both Zipkin and Santucci lived in, at different times.

I suspect that the real key to any ritual for me is that it has to have some “don’t go there” intensity. I remember sitting at the sea wall in Marshfield in the 1964 Chevelle, the pounding of the storm fueled waves calming the beating of my heart, or driving to the top of the hill in the thunderstorm so I could get out of the car, get soaked and get connected. To me, God is not some still small voice, rather she is the crashing sizzle of change, the swirl of power, the rhythm of life.

“I like to kill my audience so that they can enjoy the shock of rebirth as much as I do.” Yeah. I said that.

How do you get that energy into a room without freaking everyone out? I mean, even if you could invite Kiki & Herb, would more than cacophony get though?

For me, the breakthrough is becoming comprehensible rather than being divinely ambiguous.   I have done that through finding my own center, through words, thoughts and belief, which have lead to consistent and appropriate presentation.  I know that I am centered, and Tantragal — and others – see that.

To do that through becoming apparently normative, though, well, not going to happen.

What is the ritual that affirms, completes and defines a moment of transition?  Is it more like a beauty pageant, where Gary Collins kisses you and throws a sash around you: “Ms. Callan 2008?”  Heck I know I already have the housekeeper / emotional caretaker part of being a woman down cold.

My need from any ritual isn’t some kind of validation.  I had to work that out between me and my mother in the sky.

Instead, I need social permission to make the choices of a woman, choices I avoid for the comfort of others and for my own sense of safety.   These may be as simple as wearing the same bubblegum pink polish that TantraGal has on her toes, or as difficult as flirting with people.

You wanna make everyone give me a rose?  Wouldn’t that freak them out?  Wouldn’t that be as cheezy as The Bachelor, me wondering when I won’t get one?

Yeah, I wonder about what an emergence ritual would look like too, I guess.

But like any good ritual, it’s scary as hell to me.

Scary after a half century of denial.