“Well, I just couldn’t take the passive role,” said a guy talking about relationships.
“Do you really want a passive partner?” I asked. He didn’t think so.
“I prefer the word ‘receptive,'” I offered. The women in the circle smiled and nodded their heads in agreement. They understood that their role as women wasn’t to be passive, but to be receptive to their partner, taking the energy and returning it magnified and feminized.
ShamanGal has been feeling this in her own life. It’s when she comes to a gathering prepared and open, ready to receive and return whatever energy comes her way that things get exciting. That’s a very feminine posture.
The only problem is that it isn’t the posture that has been habitual for her. Tuesdays are difficult; this last one she dreamed about buying a big, powerful, precision, luxury metal appendage, searching them out on the web at lunchtime. Doesn’t she deserve a strong and potent automobile to show her power and control to the world?
Maybe that transfer of power habits from masculine to feminine will take some time for her.
It’s really easy to fall into the notion that being a transwoman in the world is something you have to fight for. You need to have dreams and goals and battle to make them come true, to make them manifest in the world. You need to want what you want and go out and get it with gusto. You need to grab your own power and thrust your own power into people’s faces where it cannot be denied, no matter how pink and pretty it may be.
Somehow, I was never able to believe that the right way to be a transwoman in the world was to make a war plan and carry it through, damn the torpedoes. I always thought that this was why so many transwomen I knew seemed to clank when they walk, always in armour and well bloody defended.
I knew, I knew, I knew that my power has always come from being receptive in the world, from opening to process and following where it leads. I knew I needed to feel connection to others, like my family. There is no way I could have been the one in my family who tended to my parents for their last decade unless I was the tender and patient one, ready to enter their world, to be a bridge, to be receptive and responsive to their needs and the needs of people around them.
This knowledge is why I didn’t just man up and make the changes I saw so many other transsexual women making, the forceful changes that seemed to satisfy their own desires but isolate them from the desires of others.
Sure, I needed a man-front to get through the world, but I took mine from Bogart, the guy with the tough exterior and the tender heart. I learned how to create a wall of curmudgeon, a cranky kind of academic cuss who grumbled and surprised, a wall that was my own tough exterior to defend my tender heart.
So many of us tend to come out when we no longer have the energy to run the macho force field generator and live our lives at the same time. That doesn’t mean we always get to being receptive, especially if we can’t find a way to open ourselves to others, to let them enter us, to be touched and moved and transformed by them, to feel connection on a deep, internal level.
Callan, I discovered long after the name found me, is the feminine for “strong in battle” in Celtic. But the way women fight battles is different than the way men fight; connection and smarts are always a part of the game, because brute strength alone will never succeed for us.
Walking in the world with only our femininity to protect us, well, it feels very much like being naked for someone who not only has not learned the habits, but more than that has been taught that showing their femininity will only bring shame, humiliation and abuse. There is a reason so many transwomen stay so armoured, the broomstick they found to protect them — mine was curmudgeon — still firmly up their bottom.
You can’t battle your way into being a woman. Instead, you have to surrender to it, releasing your manhood, letting go of old defences and finding new ways to use your receptive self to connect with others in relationship; friends, co-workers, family and even lovers.
How do we learn to trust our own femininity when we never learned to trust our own beauty, our own family, our own hearts? Instead we learned to create a shell around them, learned to pass as one of the guys, feeling separated from being one of the girls.
How do we learn that being defenceless and vulnerable, open and receptive, actually looks good on us, actually works for us? How do we trust that the people we have been taught are our abusers can be our allies if we just expose ourselves to them, just trust them?
Being a transwoman in armour, controlled by our own broomstick, well, that’s a reasonable choice. I quite understand why many people take it, not letting go of the defences they built up over so many years, their habits and techniques.
But I know that option won’t work for me. I know it was never going to work for me.
I need to trust in something, in my own heart, in my creator, in my mastery, in my world, something, to let me go out without fighting and be potent and receptive at the same time. Be a girl, a woman, a mom, a grandmother.
I may be powerful in battle, but that doesn’t mean I need to be trapped in armour. Being too rigid, too bound up, too constrained by my own demands means I am not flexible and balanced enough to work the process, to be open to the connections and surprises that have always, always, always brought me my greatest bliss.
There is no roadmap for me, no expectations and milestones. All I can have is the knowledge of my own heart and faith in the ability to make good choices that lead me forward to connection. The road will twist in ways I cannot now imagine, and there will be my joy, if only I can open to it.
That still feels, well, terrifying.
And maybe a little exhilarating, too.