“I knew all those teachers were out there,” ShamanGal said to me, “But somehow, they never made it into my head. It took years for me to be able to see, hear and open up to them.”
While she is feeling upset over wasted time and effort, over the self-destructive behaviour she replaced her trans urges with, I’m more interested in the process that blocked her openness to the kind of lessons and changes that she needed.
There was a world where trans was getting more and more mainstream and a mind which kept ignoring those messages. What sat between her and her possibilities, blocking her opening?
The stigma helmet did, that’s what. It’s the helmet that is designed to blinker us, to keep us looking in what others tell us is the “right” direction. It’s the helmet that is designed to stuff our ears to stop us hearing the siren songs of possibility. And it’s the helmet that is designed to damp down our dreams to the ones that others will approve.
I imagine the stigma helmet as a big, wet tower of white foam wrapped around our heads. And it grows every time it’s fed a story about the punishment which comes when we try to do something outside its comfort zone.
I have been reading about the Twitter attacks on Laura Kate Dale that came after her mocking by a Microsoft hired comedian, for example, and they can feed my own stigma helmet. I understand them to be attacks on me, too.
The stigma helmet works to try and cut us off from choices that we have been trained to see as risky and weird. It ends up spinning us into ways to burn off the energy that we hold, just to make sure we stay cut off from our possibilities.
In many ways, the easiest way to categorize transpeople is by the armour we end up wearing.
But the stigma helmet defines us all.