Beyond Binary

There is nothing wrong with having a feminine heart in a male identified body, having a masculine heart in a female identified body or having a different than conventional combination of reproductive biology and soul nature.

In this culture, though, having that mix makes you be identified as transgender.   Being thus identified is just a pain in the ass.

We live in a binary system where male and man are culturally linked, female and woman are linked and compulsory expression choices are enforced on you based on your reproductive biology.

Not all human cultures have used this heterosexist system.   Other, less agricultural or marketing based cultures have had other gender models, such as not deciding the gender of a child until around puberty and their nature has emerged.   That’s not so easy when the emphasis is on breeding or on other ways of creating humans to serve the economic machine, but it has happened.

No kid imagines being transgender, imagines being forced to have to traverse the cultural divide between gender roles, either for a time of emergence or for their whole lives.   They imagine being pretty or strong or graceful or tough or whatever else kids dream of becoming.

We find, though, that in this culture, if those dreams aren’t normative for our assigned gender that we have to crawl through hell of being cast as transgender.    Conventions say that it is all about the genitalia, that somehow the difference between having an innie or an outie casts us on one side or the other of a huge wall.

Even gay and lesbian people find it easy to sign up to the idea that genital configuration is a profound and defining separation.    They often resist people who find love and passion based on something other than separation by reproductive sex, resist anyone who identifies as “bisexual,” even that being a word that is rooted in a binary view.

We know that wall is just an illusion, but many of us still play to it.  Instead, we may say that hormones that are the dividing line, though how we had a feminine heart before we ever took hormone pills we can’t really explain, nor can we address how there were transpeople long before hormone pills were available.   For me, transnatural as I am, I know that it is my heart and my choices that define me, that reculturation, changing my habits, my approach, the programs in my mind changed everything.

In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.   That’s been my mission statement since the first moment I heard anthropologist Anne Bolin say it.

There is no essential problem with having a feminine heart in a male identified body, having a masculine heart in a female identified body or having a different than conventional combination of reproductive biology and soul nature.

Having to be forced into a transgender life in a doggedly binary, heterosexist culture where the belief that reproductive sex is a fundamental and obvious marker of crucial difference between people is a real pain, something to hate.   I never wanted to be a tranny, I wanted to be me, true to the nature my creator put in my heart.

To be transgender in this culture  is to be cast as different, weird or sick.   Some people think they are kind by just defining transgender people as abject, broken, or putting them on a pedestal, as if their tragic story made them martyrs for the cause.

We learn that to get what we want we have to play along with the cracked views of us, creating sad stories to rationalize our behaviour, accepting medical oversight to get what we need, playing along with bleeding hearts who see us as abject and brave.

We learn that people focus on that crossing rather than on what we have to offer, judge us that crossing because it makes them crazy to imagine the binaries that comfort them with walls are not real.

Remember, I am not saying that I hate having what I call a transgender nature.  That’s just who I am, how I was made.   I am saying, however, that being forced into a transgender role in this culture has been painful and damaging as the heterosexist gender system tried to pound me into normative binary expectations with shame and abuse.

The interlocking communities around transgender almost never come together to support expression beyond binary constraints.    Instead, they tend to enforce other kinds of imposed binary orders, like transvestites vs transsexuals, oppressed vs oppressors, assimilated vs creative, sexual vs asexual and so on.   It is very rare to find a space where transcendence is valued over compliance with a defended and heavily policed group identity.

This is rooted in the identity politics of the binary, us versus them, building power bases based on opposition instead of coalition, based on separation rather than connection.   We have all seen how that notion plays out when red vs blue defines American politics.

One woman, sick of dating people who didn’t reveal their nature easily, decided that transgender people have it easy.  Once we disclose as trans, she decided, the assholes are weeded out instantly, leaving only the people who have done the work, who have come to healing.  The lonely price of that truth was not something she, as an attractive, powerful woman could really comprehend.

The price we pay isn’t the price of having a transgender nature.  The price we pay is the way the dominant culture casts into the no-man’s/no-woman’s space between gender, being seen as sick or freaks or brave or  perverts.

I am a child of God, perfect and imperfect as she made me.  I am also a child of this culture, living under great social pressure, crushed by pressure that was designed to break me, and stuck without permission to be me in a world that really, really wants to enforce big bloody simple binary separations on everyone.

I am not this or that, I am this and that, just like every other human on earth. We all cross some boundary and we all have learned to hide some of those crossings to create an easier, more comfortable and less authentic life.

Having a transgender nature is a gift from my creator.  I believe that.  It gives me power, power that many cultures recognized by valuing trans shamans as healers and connectors, tapping into the continuous common connection of creation.

Being cast as transgender in this binary obsessed culture, though, has lead me on a really, really, really rough and lonely journey.