So it was my first question in my first session at my first day of my first big trans conference.
“Men and women take power in different ways. As you shift your gender expression, how do you shift the way you take power in the world?”
That question of power shift, that one question, has been at the heart of my own transgender journey.
Power is relational and the way someone sees you has a great deal to do with how they see your expression in the world. A big guy tearing up or a petite woman trying to be physically intimidating just doesn’t work well, for example.
Brené Brown says we teach men to be ashamed of just one thing, but that one thing is so big that it shapes every choice they make. Men should never be weak. They gotta shoulder the load.
Men, in other words, should always show their balls, announcing their presence with authority, and never be a pussy.
The rules for women aren’t the same. They have to fit in, make connections, and show vulnerability. Being pussy actually turns out to be an asset and being too ballsy can be a complication.
Transvestism is about changing your clothes, transsexualism is about changing your body and transgender is about changing your mind. A huge part of my message in the world is about the need to drop your old armour, let go of your defences and find new ways to open yourself to the world.
I find it quite trying when others try to tell me that I am being too much of a pussy and not being ballsy enough in demanding my place in the world.
“Dammnit,” they seem to tell me, “you don’t have the balls to stop being an unreasonable emotional pussy and just grab hold of your own damn life!”
Yup. I just don’t have the balls to stop being a pussy. No doubt.
Hell, I spent decades trying to act cocky and failing. It never really worked for me, was always just too much damn stress.
I understand why a manly form of motivation is to encourage putting aside weakness and claiming what you are entitled to.
I also understand why that kind of masculine approach isn’t really used by those teaching feminine motivation. It’s a different kind of empowerment that resonates with women.
There is plenty on this blog about these modes of feminine empowerment. There is, however, very little in my life and connections that actually puts these modes into practice.
I don’t actually believe that they will work for me because I don’t believe that I have the experience, history or biology to effectively use them in the world. Nor do I believe that I can attempt masculine modes again. Stuck in the middle, I feel.
This is, of course, enormously frustrating for those who care about me and want to see me happy. They offer their best advice, offering suggestions that have worked for them in the past.
It turns out that being reasonable and compliant, passing my choices through a kind of forensic test, as if those who never met me will stand in judgment of me, is not an effective way to take action.
As someone who has been trained to distrust my gut, to put aside my own sense and feelings so that I can be seen as balanced and reasonable in the the world, my own dreams, vision and imagination have been corroded so much, my desire so attenuated, that any impulse to leap is dulled to passivity.
It turns out not to be easy or simple to find support for learning to trust your own instincts after learning to suppress them for decades. When your instincts fall into the great gender divide, well, even more difficult.
I understand why many think I am a pussy. It’s because I am pussy.
I just don’t think not being a pussy is the solution for my being stuck, though that notion isn’t always easy to communicate. I think it’s probable that the solution is to be more feminine, more visible, more intuitive, more shiny, more pussy.
Will I ever have the balls to take charge and change my life?
Will I ever open up and be receptive enough to create new relationships, new possibilities new chapters?
Or am I just another trans cliché?