One lovely thing about transpeople is that we don’t confuse consistency with integrity or authenticity. We are not straight-line people.
It is not necessary to prove that we have always been exactly this way for us to show that who we are now is true or authentic. Instead, it is the twists and turns in our journey that show the power and intensity of it. It is the way we have tried on various ways to be on the way to finding our own essence that shows our quest for purity. By going through many challenges and fires, we have been on a path to find out what is at our own core.
In Southern Comfort, Robert talks about being a daughter, a wife, a mother, a lesbian and a man. There is no sense that any one of these identities negates the other, but rather that they validate each other, showing how hard Robert tried to be what was expected of him, how he did the work, still knowing that his essence was central.
TBB often wants to chat about future possibilities, but we both know that if her past predicts anything about her future it says that her future will be full of unexpected twists and turns, essentially unpredictable.
In trans lives, the inconsistency of expression and role are really just the path we take to find consistency of the heart. I once asked a partner if I was reliable. She thought for a moment and said “Yes, you are solid and reliable, but you are like an iceberg. You move around a lot.” I am grounded in my heart and mind, but not in my position.
Normal, to most people, is a sense of consistency, a notion that it will ever be thus, based on some notion that it always was this way. While it may be easy to prove that neither of those notions are correct, rather they are just the product of tunnel vision, it still means that when change comes, they feel betrayed, cheated and bereft. When their normal is shattered, they shatter.
“You are used to your normal being shattered, aren’t you?” asked the chaplain in the hospital as we stood at my father’s bedside. Yes. In my world, change is the the way of life, and the only constant is what I carry with me in my heart and my mind.
One role of trans-shamans in cultures across cultures is to be the ones who help negotiate change, standing in the doorways between what was, what is, and what might be. When you know barriers that others see as real to be illusion, instead holding onto the connectedness of all things, you come at the world with a different and often useful viewpoint.
And the way we negotiate change is to hold onto the thread that weaves through the world, hold onto the thread that weaves through our own lives even when others find them jumpy and episodic. We know it’s always us in those pictures, always us in those stories, even if our shape shifts a bit in the viewing.
We don’t confuse consistency with purity. Instead, we see the changes in our lives as essentially revelatory, exposing more of our facets, more of who we really are.
Because, isn’t the privilege of a lifetime going through the hero’s journey and being who you are?