But-But Heart

“But,” she said, “but, but, but, what if I am wrong?  What if I am coming to the wrong conclusion, what if I am missing the point, what if just don’t get it?

“But how can I be sure that I won’t be embarrassed, won’t look like a crackpot, won’t lose face?

“But how can I make sure that I will avoid losing?   But shouldn’t I think it through with my head, figure all the angles, play it safe?

“But isn’t doing the analysis the smart thing to do, the thing that will keep me from being humiliated, the thing that will show I am exerting moral control over my choices?

“But isn’t it better to over police myself to the point of paralysis than to not seem smart and controlled?

“But how can I look cool and measured if I just let go and am enthusiastic and vulnerable, looking like I trust this cracked heart of mine that calls me to transgender expression?

“But how can I ever trust myself in the world?   But shouldn’t I be bound and controlled by my brain?

“But isn’t trying to sort everything into opposites, putting them all into a nice binary formula the right thing to do?

“But if it is, why then do I get so bound up, so bleak and so sad?   But, but, but, but what if I am wrong?

“But what!?!?!?!?”

You cannot follow your bliss by just using your brain, no matter how smart you think you are being.

The transgender calling isn’t rational.   It’s not something that we choose.   It is a call from inside of us, from the gut, from the soul, from the heart.

Men don’t choose to have a beard.  Leave his face alone and a beard will appear.   The only choice he can make is not to have a beard, choosing to actively work to remove the hair that appears on his face.

The same applies to trans expression.   The heart wants what it wants, so the only choice we can make is to deny it.  We are taught that the appropriate thing to do with that expression is to cut it off, to deny it, to use our brain to fight those feelings, that call, that Eros.

This is why people like Klingenschmitt feel perfectly justified in open messages to Nicole, a trans girl in Maine, to “man up” or get a spanking or exorcism.   She must cut off her heart, slice and chop at it, spend all her energy in denying and destroying it, or society will deem her a sick outlaw, worthy of shunning and abuse.

I spent an evening last year chatting with Nicole’s father after dinner, and his  challenges are clear: how does he honour her heart, encourage her development into the best person she can be, while still keeping her safe in the world?   It’s not easy for a father to see his child attacked, but he knows that his only choice is to help oppress her or to stand up for her, and the right choice was clear to him.

Everyday you doubt yourself you hurt your heart, cutting it back and leaving scars.   Yet, everyday every transperson has to make choices on how to modulate themselves, how to be appropriate & non-threatening in the world while also being true to their heart, open to their emotions and having faith in the song their creator placed in their heart.

This is the essential fight of the transgender experience, between how much we are tame, modulated and controlled, trying to fit in with other people’s comfort, and how much we are wild, bold and energetic, trusting that our hearts are just human, knowing that showing them in the world will be what lets us have the power of following our bliss.

How much do we do what others tell us to try and avoid losing?   How much do we do what we feel called to to try and really be brave and win in this world?    For people who have never really felt challenged by their own queerness, this phoenix fight of self destruction vs rebirth is difficult to comprehend.

The lovely Erin commented on “Hermit Habit” about a text that resonated with her, keeping her distance from it because it seemed a bit “fantastical.”   For me, though, the attempt to divide the brilliant from the crackpot is the attempt to pasteurize truth, killing off all the challenging bits in the name of safety, denying us the sumptuous power of raw cheese.    The power of creativity is never marked by how safe, comprehensible and innocuous it is, but rather how it strikes chords within us that make us resonate with deep knowledge.

Bart Ehrman has written about the analysis of old Biblical texts and how one rule of thumb in that process is that more complicated texts are more likely to be original than simplified texts, because scribes tend to both oversimplify and enforce social prejudices when they copy texts that challenge their conventions.

Society has a structure to enforce the status quo by installing the fear of failure and separation in us, by creating a policeman in our brain that keeps the heart cut down to size.   We don’t have a choice to just ignore what is approved and appropriate, but if all we focus on is how to be tame, we make the choice to deny our nature, our potential, our bliss.

For me, the key strategy to manage this challenge has always been analysis.  First, I wired my brain to my heart to try and control it, to try and figure out how to get under the threat of my mother and the bigger world, but as I matured spiritually, I found I could use those same wires to monitor my own heart.   Rather than controlling it as you would control a nuclear reactor, I started watching my heart like an experiment in fission & fusion, letting it inform my understanding of the world.

I worked to install a heart diode, trusting that the flow could go in the right direction, though I still understood the need to modulate how I reveal my heart in the world, the need to do the work so that others aren’t overwhelmed by the queer mix of brilliant and crackpot that shines within me.    This mindfulness exercise that demands I be the one negotiating the depths of others who stay at level one is difficult and expensive, but it is the technique I have found to balance expression and grace in this world,

You cannot follow your bliss by just using your brain, no matter how smart you think you are being.

The transgender calling isn’t rational.   It’s not something that we choose.   It is a call from inside of us, from the gut, from the soul, from the heart.

For me, mindfulness, a commitment to working the process is the only way to balance the requirement for modulation to engage those who have not yet done the work with the call to follow my own bliss by trusting my own heart.   It is how I seek to find wins while faced with the challenge of limited and diminishing resources, with lessening resilience and nurture from the world.

But I know the call to but very well, the call to sabotage and entomb the beating of our own heart, to stop the queerness and cut off our own growth.   I know it well; if you want to see the scars, just look around you.