“People believe that by protecting the status quo they are protecting you,” TBB said to me. “That’s why no matter how much you tell them that change is required, no matter how many ways you tell them that change must come, they never really engage it.
“I told my mother that if she wasn’t comfortable seeing me in a dress sometimes, then the only other alternative was seeing me in a dress all the time. By now, though, I don’t have to hide when one of her friends comes over; she knows it’s not that big a deal, and that’s because I ended up using the atomic option.”
It’s been about two weeks since I told my sister I need change. She promised support, but there have been lots of others issues taking her attention, legitimate issues. I am placed into the “too hard” basket once more, understandably.
It seems that Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok from SCTV had a point. In the end, for change to happen, the status quo has to be “blowed up good, blowed up real good.” It’s the only way.
I never did that whole “Oh, My God, Uncle Dick came to Thanksgiving Dinner in a Dress!” trans cliché.
I came out to my parents (who knew my childhood history, including the therapists to whom they sent me) when I did the keynote at IFGE 1995. I didn’t want to fall into the trap of talking about how painful & difficult trans is and then being surprised that the people I tell think trans is painful & difficult and to be avoided.
My trans nature is out there and understood. It’s just my trans expression that is resisted, being seen as the person I know myself to be. There are layers to that knowledge; it’s not just trans that stays hidden, it’s empowerment, queerness, professionalism, strength, voice and other facets of my calling and my power that remain disabled and invisible. For me, freedom is about the ability to make a range of choices I find authentic or empowering, not just to wear a skirt.
But TBB and I have come to the same conclusion. If you want to shatter the status quo, an explosion is the only way to do it. It may be calculated, balanced & prepared for or it may be ad-hoc, crazy & wild, but the blast has to come to shatter the wall and make room for everything new. It’s like finding the balance; you can’t creep up on it, you just have to swing the pendulum wide so it can find its own center.
There is a reason we celebrate freedom with explosions and fire; they honor the impact required to create freedom from the past. Change is usually not only revolutionary, it’s also revolting.
For someone who has been working hard to anticipate and avoid explosions for decades, this change from caretaker to sapper is far from easy.
Then again, blowing up, especially blowing up real good, well, that’s probably never easy for anyone. Explosions are messy and dangerous things, and we have only limited control of them. It’s reasonable not to use them except when absolutely required, like when foundations need shaking and rebuilding. But breakthroughs, well, they most often require breaking things, from broken expectations to breakdowns.
I suspect that this is one of the things that scares people about trans. They know that explosions are required for emergence, and that the status-quo — what many call “normal” — must be transformed not only forever, but also routinely. After all, isn’t what most people fear about change, is that there will be disruptions to the status-quo, meaning their expectations and assumptions will have to be explored and they will be required to let go of comfortable inertia to become different, even if that different is probably better?
Big booms in the sky are spectacular and fun to watch, just like cheap drama on TV. But when those explosions hit home, shaking and shattering the panes we see through, well, that’s scary.
I suggest that it is just that fear which makes explosions required. Bang change happens, even when we resist it, and maybe we even breathe a little easier knowing we are beyond the first bang. We need something to break the status-quo, even if we are just holding onto it because we fear change, and that something, well, boom/crash/bang/shatter.
There is no rational reason for trans, unless you count it as a rational thing to respect and honor a form of human nature that has been in evidence since classical times. No, trans is about passion, desire, and Eros, about creativity and expression, and all those emotional & spiritual bits resist rational expression, instead demanding the passionate, the creative, the explosive. As much as we try to pass it though medical or other logical filters, the best we can do is understand the spark in context, not to rationalize the inner spark itself.
And sparks? Well, we all know what happens with sparks; they light fuses and trigger explosions.
I’m really good at the balance, grace, thought and theology.
But somehow, if I want freedom, it seems I have to have some expertise in igniting fireworks too. Bomb throwing, it seems, is required.