TBB knows how to win.
Being trained as an engineer, winning arguments was part of the repertoire. She can muster details and precedent, put together charts, graphs and illustrations, pick apart opposition. She knows how measure up, to show and to dominate.
Only problem is that when she tries those kinds of tactics with her family, well, she’s bound to lose. Members of her family, well, they still think her trans choices are indulgent and sloppy, that she should have bound herself tighter to stay in the role of their expectations.
That means they keep pushing, that their reservations and distress flare up now and then, like when TBB hits the news again.
They make detailed logical arguments about why TBB should follow the rules as they understand them, why her breaking the rules is bad for everyone; everyone, of course, meaning them.
And that engineer training, well, when TBB sees arguments couched as logic, she wants to reply with intellect. She wants to win the argument.
Problem is, though, winning the argument with most people is just impossible.
No matter how their argument seems to be laid out, it’s not about logic. It’s about distress, about emotion, about loss, about pain, about suffering, about letting go of expectations, about being new.
You can’t win that argument.
And not winning is hard if you want desperately to win.
But, on the other hand, unwinnable arguments are something women have always had to deal with. If it’s kids or men, well, they often don’t talk directly about their emotion. They talk in ways that feel comfortable to them, and the emotion is laid between the lines. Women need to see and understand the emotion to stay safe, to keep relationships stable, to keep connected.
That’s why women often let men win.
Women know that they don’t need to win. Winning is a moment of ecstasy, and that’s all.
No, women need to succeed, and succeeding not a momentary thing, it is a lifetime thing. If you need to let someone else win in order to succeed, well, success is always better than winning.
Powershift is one of the hardest parts of shifting genders. It was the first question I asked at the first trans conference I ever attended: “Men and women take power in different ways. How did you shift power?” Holly answered back then, as did Renee Chevalier, and TBB, all on the panel.
I listen to transwomen to see if they say a magic phrase to others: “You are right.” So many people raised as men know how to tell other people how they are wrong and not tell them how they are right. But until you can show respect and support for others, well, it’s almost impossible to make the kind of connections that knit women together, the kind of warmth which binds girlfriends.
TBB really wants connections with her family. And that means she has to forgo the quest to win and settle for just succeeding if she wants to share a Thanksgiving with a broader family.
It’s that smiling “You are a nasty snake, but please pass the cranberry sauce” that is required if she wants to have connection with the more recalcitrant members of her family. They may never see eye to eye, may never have a winner in the eternal struggle, but that failure doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a lovely dinner together, as families around the world prove everyday.
Trans isn’t about rationality, but then again neither are families. We don’t have to think alike, come to one state of mind, but we do have to love alike, respecting and caring for our significant others. Women don’t make holidays to meet rational processes, rather we make them for emotional and spiritual reasons, so we can all share what is important. The best days are about respect and connection, that’s when we find success.
That’s success, that gathering, even on a day where nobody wins over someone else.
The reflex to win, the habit trained into boys, well, that’s a hard thing to lose, especially with the sparring partners we learned with as kids. Defense is attack, just keeping the cycle going, which is why our power is in our defenselessness, why our power is in our willingness to get beyond the need to win and to the ultimate need for opening the connection which is always there.
In the end, unless we forget winning, how can we ever really succeed as ourselves?
Somebody has to break the cycles, become new and compassionate. Shouldn’t that be us?
We can’t win them all. But if we try some times, we just might find, that we can succeed, if we just don’t get all hung up on winning.
TBB knows, all of this, of course. She may want family members to see where they are wrong, may want to point out their sins, but she knows that she has to be willing to remove the log from her eye first. A battle of sin finding doesn’t connect a family, birth or chosen.
So she seeks ways to change old habits. To open the space for respect, connection and love she needs to forget winning.
May she have blessed success.