As transpeople, we were taught early to deny the callings of our heart, taught to deflect our desire, taught to suppress our passion.
We were taught that if we didn’t do that, there would be a horrible price to pay, taught that we would be abused and humiliated, taught that we would be separated from everything normal, left as abject, taught that we would cast out and denied the love we needed.
We were taught that other people had the right, no, the actual obligation to shame and taunt us if we didn’t strive to appear normative.
Wherever we looked for a home, we found it difficult.
In the lesbian and gay communities, we learned that those who couldn’t easily be boxed up, those who put into question the neat binary of sexual orientation that was easy to explain to your parents, were belittled and diminished.
When we looked for solace to women’s liberation, where first wavers said that people needed to be removed from the boxes of compulsory gendering, needed to not be defined by their genitals, we found new theory that worked on identity politics, separating people into boxes of oppressor and oppressed.
Pick a gender, stick to it, people cried. Pick a sexuality, stick to it, people demanded.
But how could we know what fit us if we always suppressed our own nature, always denied our own heart, always walled off our own life force? How could we harness our own energy if we had to compartmentalize it off, had to keep a facade, had no place we were safe to explore ways of being grown up, potent and trans in the world?
This demand for denial of our nature is at the heart of one of the biggest pains that every transperson has to engage. Once we do come out, once we do start trusting and displaying our heart in the world, once we do start breaking down those compartment walls, we have to face it.
Why did we spend so long wasting our life force?
Why did we spend so long wasting our life?
The costs of denial, either unconscious and compartmentalized or conscious and linked to service become very clear to us once we start owning and valuing our own heart. The cost to our body, the price we paid in wasted time and energy, the shattered bits of failure we created because we were unable to really put our heart into anything, well, they pop out at us.
We see our life as a wasteland, full of failure. The place we invested in, the structures we were taught to build just crumbles around us. Our efforts to build on top of the false ground of pretense are revealed as a horrible dissipation of the limited energy and gifts we got from our creator.
Of course, this is the way of stigma, which installs a policeman inside of us so we spend our time and efforts fighting our own nature. Stigma wants to retain the status quo by forcing those who would challenge the norms to expend their own life force fighting stigma rather than standing for change in the world.
Every human has some view of where they missed opportunities, where they made a less that optimum choice in the world.
For transpeople, though, we have to view a landscape of deliberate self-sabotage, a waste ground left from our own vicious and cunning attacks on our own heart. And when we do that, it is always when we have come to the understanding that we have even failed in that war, the knowledge that our heart has survived no matter how much our ego tried to demolish and destroy the parts we feared were too queer, too freaky, too powerful.
We always end up having a clear view of a wasted life. If we can show our heart now, why couldn’t we have shown it back then? How much destruction and ravage did we endure, how much devastation and decay did we bring on ourselves, all for naught?
This is the price that every transperson pays. Whatever energy they spent trying to kill off their nature to fit in, for however long, ends up being exhausted and dispersed, time and treasure not just sent down the drain but used to destroy the possibilities we were born with.
Every transperson knows that squandered life force, knows the scars from our own internal battle that left so much of us damaged and destroyed. We know the broken relationships, the sabotaged jobs, the physical damage, the shattered dreams.
The trick, of course, is to scour that battlefield for the hard won lessons, to get what we can from that devastated life and to use that knowledge to choose again, to choose better, to help others not have to go through the same thing we have. Our life wasn’t lost if we can take learning from it.
No amount of learning, though, gets us our wasted life back. No amount of wisdom can eliminate the crippling scars, can restore the lost time and energy.
We each have to deal with the effects of a wasted life, that failed attempt to deny our nature and be what other people demanded of us.
And that hurts.