Fucking Amazing Or Fucking Dead

I’m in a bad place, sinking in an ocean of shit, in a sea of stigma that comes from the everyday drag on people who visibly cross the gender boundary in this heterosexist culture.

I went through all the shit posts, or at least many of them.  Heavy Shit, Binary Shit, Complicated Shit and Lonely Shit only exist as titles, all real and all true kinds of shit that I swim in.

I even reached out for help from some kind people who want to help transpeople in distress before they go over the edge.   I didn’t get help, though.   As TBB has said, if I end up going, well, it’s not like I haven’t done the work in spades.  Hard to help someone who has already tried to help themselves for decades and knows the edge intimately.

Being trans in normal reality, well, it is swimming in shit.     That’s because normativity is about stigma.   A reply to the doctor who was at the screening on Thursday

In my experience, when you open transgender issues up to a general audience, things always get scattered.

And sadly, unless you deliberately stop them, they almost always end up in the toilet too, that tiny stage where the fears that keep us terrified by gender difference always play out.    “But what if there are no rigid gender boundaries to protect people?   Won’t we all be victims?”

You and I both know that predators don’t need social change to protect them, that they will act badly whatever the rules.  But transpeople are vulnerable and do need that change.

Evil or sickness is always going to do what it must.  But to predicate our society on stopping that evil or sickness by creating thin boundaries is to cast those who need to be beyond those boundaries into evil or sickness.   Do we really want to create more evil or sickness in the world?   Maybe, just maybe, if we live in a culture where we don’t have to compartmentalize and deny our own nature, there will be less twisting of people into predators.

But that’s the way of stigma, the way of the ego: any fear will do to demand compliance and protection, even the canard of “men in the women’s room.”

In the mundane world, trans is wearing, grinding, a case of how much armour can you carry, how much fear can you fend off.     That is true.

I was really struggling, really wanting a way out of that struggle, the struggle I have been in for so long, the struggle that keeps me small and hidden in the world.

And then, I saw the answer, clearly.

I’m either fucking amazing or I’m fucking dead.

I either transcend the mundane or I drown in it.

I either lift myself above or I get sucked below.

I either go above the world’s expectations and fears or I am killed by them.


Don’t confuse Lady Gaga with Stefani Germanotta

Lady Gaga is a warrior, the pop star tells Elle magazine in its October issue. But Stefani Germanotta? That’s a different story.

“Wait a minute,” you’re probably thinking. “I thought Stefani Germanotta is Lady Gaga?”

Yes and no.

As Gaga explains, “I am – Stefani is – a perpetually tortured artist. That’s why I changed my name,” she tells Elle. “I can’t be her in public. She would be a mess!”

The Mother Monster, on the other hand, is cool and calm under pressure – so unfazed she doesn’t even realize when it’s there.

“What are you talking about, pressure?” Gaga asks. “I’m great under pressure. I’m a warrior. I’m Rocky, round 12.”

She can probably credit that toughness for helping her survive in the industry, seeing that for every fan she’s attracted, there’s someone else who’s a critic.

“Everyone is so cynical,” Gaga says of the detractors. “I can’t purely love my fans, or share an honest story about my past, without someone asking me if I really, truly struggled. Do you know how much dirt I ate? Do you know the men I had to crawl through, the people that disrespected my body, my mind, my heart?”

Gaga gets it.  If she is just a mundane person, just who society tells her she is, she can’t do what she needs to do to save herself.  And she can’t do the magic that helps others lift themselves, either.

I’m either fucking amazing or I’m fucking dead.

That does seem like a terrifying and isolating call.   In the past weeks, I have had people close to me explain to me that reality is reality, and people don’t transcend it.  Instead, people just slog at it, balancing the grind with as much dreaming as they can get away with.

This, though, is the universal lesson of the leap.

A bit of advice
Given to a young Native American
At the time of his initiation:
As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm.
It is not as wide as you think.
Joseph Campbell

All growth is a leap in the dark,
a spontaneous unpremeditated act
without benefit of experience.
Henry Miller

We must walk consciously
only part way toward our goal,
and then leap in the dark
to our success.
Henry David Thoreau

When in doubt, make a fool of yourself.
There is a microscopically thin line between
being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on Earth.
So what the hell, leap!
Cynthia Heimel

Half the failures of this world arise
from pulling in one’s horse as he is leaping.
Augustus Hare

The most dangerous thing in the world
is to try to leap a chasm in two jumps.
David Lloyd George

Unless we lift ourselves out of the mundane, we will never be all we can be.

Unless we leap from here to possibility, we will never feel our connection with the universe.

Oh, God, I am so scared.   But am I brave enough to live boldly rather than die, slowly or quickly?   Do I learn more from being fucking amazing or being fucking dead?

The essence of normativity is the essence of death, trading our energy for the comforts of compliance.   We shrink ourselves to try to feel connection, forgetting that separation from the universe is impossible.

Transgender is about pure transformation, or it is about nothing at all, as somebody once said.

I’m either fucking amazing or I’m fucking dead.

I either transcend the mundane or I drown in it.

I either lift myself above or I get sucked below.

The hardest thing about trans is doing it alone.

The worst part of having success is
to try finding someone who is happy for you.
Bette Midler

The shit exists and will always exist.

The only way to not lose yourself in shit is to rise above it, even as people around you try to express their shit, their fears, by throwing shit, by throwing fear at you.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.
Small people always do that,
but the really great make you feel that you, too,
can become great.
Mark Twain

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson,  A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

I’m either fucking amazing or I’m fucking dead.

I either transcend the mundane or I drown in it.

I either lift myself above or I get sucked below.

And yes, that prospect is utterly terrifying to me.

Swimming For Home

So, if a trans life is swimming through shit, all kinds of shit, how do you stay moving?

TBB just spent a bundle on components for a kit plane.   She was so happy when she got the last piece, though not because she bought a plane.  She is happy because she bought a dream.

This was vital for her, especially because, as her kids have both left college, her family is fraying some, with no clear indication when or if it will come back together.    Her children need to claim their own lives, so TBB needs to reclaim hers.

It will take her at least two years to have everything set with the plane, but even that timeline invigorates TBB, incorporating everything from the focused and meditative work of building to the dreams of flying to come.

If you are going to swim through shit, you need a destination, a dream, a hope that motivates your choices.   You have to want something so much that you can handle being exhausted and swallowing shit.

That’s one reason the first year out as a transperson can be so potent.  Your dreams are still new and fresh, not yet dimmed by reality and spattered with shit.   And your excitement and joy at being free to do what you dreamed keeps you enervated and high, juiced enough to not feel the wear and tear, not be overwhelmed by the shit.

Don’t waste your enthusiasm and idealism, Garrison Keillor tells young people.  It will get you far towards building someplace to grow on.  For many transpeople, though, that youthful energy was spent building structures of denial, in learning how to sabotage and destroy our own passions and dreams.

To keep swimming, you have to believe that there is something to swim for, something, well, if not wonderful then at least refreshing.   For me, that means that I have to believe that eventually, if you endure long enough, somebody will get the joke and share it back with me.

I sit in the moment, and cast about for a hope, for some event or thing that I look forward to enough to keep swimming towards it.  Is there an audience out there that will get the joke, a lover who I can take care of and who will take care of me, a smart conversation that leaves me feeling stimulated and validated, or even just some lovely surprise which leaves me wanting more?

All of those are possible, yes, but in balancing probability against the resource I have left, well, the stamina just doesn’t seem to stretch to the blessings.  I’m sure a few will want to dispute this, will want to give me some of their hope, and that is a charming offer, but I suspect that they need it for themselves, and encourage them to use all their hope to make a better world for themselves and others.

My inner experience of the world is simple.  “I know, I know.  You want to hurt me.”  Hurt me for control, hurt me to silence me, hurt me to justify me as the sick one.   That’s not a reasoned, well understood thoughtful version, where I rise above the way others treat me to understand it it context, rather it is the gut experience of a child who has always been identified as the problem.

My recent experience is the same kind of denial from others, those who can’t imagine any other possibility than for me to modulate who I am to be some kind of naturally “authentic.”   The world demands I focus on my constraints rather than on anything else.   One of the most depressing parts of Trans: The Movie was that even our big stars are broken and crippled, abject freaks and marginalized.

Desire is the driver that keeps us swimming, especially when we are stigmatized and swimming through shit.   Once we desire, we can take charge of our journey, take ownership of our life.   Without desire, though, entropy overwhelms us, taking us back to the universal home.

Ah, blessed entropy.

isn’t it a kind of home?