I was thinking that it was good I am not one of those theologians who gets into academic discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. My work is practical, down to earth, an allow of my personal experience and my reading of wider stories which reveal shared truth.
I didn’t stay smug for very long, though. While I am no angel, I realized that my own story is very much about dancing on the point of a pin, about trying to keep balanced in the liminal space between man and woman.
I never really took the place of a man, not fitting in no matter my biology. And now, my biology keeps me from easily taking the place of a woman, not simply able to enact a fully feminine role.
It’s just not that simple waling as trans in the world. Go too far one way or the other and you fall into the pit, but if you don’t go far enough you stay stuck in your own abjection and compartmentalization. For transpeople, the key question about t being “full time” is really always a question about how your compartments are currently configured.
I watch Saffron Burrows as Cynthia in “Mozart In The Jungle” and see someone who owns her own womanly power. In Cynthia’s sleek grace and assurance Ms Burrows shows us a woman who has learned to embody her own knowledge and skills in the world, negotiating Eros through potent and magical spaces, in contrast to the young Hayley, who is just learning her power, is still timid and deferential. (I am probably more like Debra Monk’s “Betty,” although she also had a life.)
My first question at my first conference was about power shift, how you accompany transgender emergence with changing the way we take power in the world. My question today is about power shift, how I change the way that I take power in the world.
The exquisite and acute experience of dancing on the point of a pin has left me with a rich legacy of insight into the challenges of lived gender in the world. Those old theologians discussed the theoretical in obsessive detail, but I examine the practical, based in real life stories, like any good queer. Instead of dancing on the head of the pin, I dance on the point.
When I look in the mirror, I sometimes see a well put together, smart mature woman who is capable of taking charge of a key role in an organization. I sometimes see the power that can touch people, opening them to new seeing. I know that I am, thanks to my creator and my hard work, amazing.
Then, though, I remember that I am dancing on a pin point, precariously balanced and without the ease of gender. My history is tattered and my future is full of craters, places I just cannot go without being involved in the war to enforce gender conventions. Whistling a happy tune and acting “as if” really only goes so far, at least in my experience.
The vapor lock in my head feels normal now, but breaking it free is my only chance of chances.