Invoking Belief

When you walk onto the stage, just being stared at while you are around some props isn’t going to do much.

The magic of the stage is invocation of belief.   If you believe that you are in a bedroom or you are in a barn, you invoke that energy strong enough to draw the audience into your own imagination.

It doesn’t matter if that stage is in a theatre, in front of cameras, at the front of a conference room or in a crowded bar, if you can believe strongly enough, with enough detail and intensity, moving past noise and distraction, you can get the audience to see what you see, feel what you feel.

When people willingly suspend disbelief they get sucked into the world you and your collaborators have created.

To be a great performer, the power to invoke your beliefs is required.   You gotta believe so strongly, so intensely that you can pull people into your moment.  To do that means that you have to be able to filter out distractions that might break concentration, either yours or your audience.

For consummate performers, the line between belief and observation is very fine indeed.    They learn to hit marks, stay in the light, follow cues, judge audience reaction and manage even more technical details while invoking enough belief to draw their in and capture their audience.

The better the writing the easier it is to invoke the world but it is amazing to me how little content is needed to really draw people in.   People respond to poetry much more than depth, to vitality more than virtue, so energy will usually carry the day.

Invoking your belief in the world, acting “as if,” learning the tools of performance can give us power in the world if we choose to own it.

Many people will leave it there, thinking that they are leaving performance to the performers.  They believe that they aren’t performers, that they are “natural” and “authentic”  which is the opposite of performance.

All humans are performers.   The way we present ourselves in the world is always, always constructed, always our own synthesis of the cultural elements that we found in our travels.   We may have a unique essence, but how we learn to express that essence in the world depends on the symbols we find and the feedback we get as we are forming our own expression.

All humans invoke their beliefs in the world.  We take our understanding of the world and project it out, onto everything around us.  Most of the time, though, we don’t haven’t really done the work to understand and edit the beliefs that we are projecting, haven’t done the work to master and polish the choices we make to invoke those beliefs.

Owning our power in the world requires owning our performance.   Owning our performance requires moving beyond mimicking the conventional beliefs and techniques we have been handed to find our own personal, powerful voice.

You are always invoking your belief in the world, even as other people are always invoking theirs.   The challenge comes when their belief erases your belief rather than complimenting or supporting it.  In that case, the noise becomes dreadful, so distracting that you can lose track of your own belief.

Learning to invoke your belief effectively, which first requires being clear, centred and robust in your own knowledge of and trust in your belief, allows better performance.

People see not just the surface, but the belief beneath.   It has to come from deep inside to be really transformative and compelling.

When we live in the noise, though, that becomes really hard.

Resistance Fighter

If where we focus our energy defines us, then most of us are defined not by what we do but rather by what we resist doing.

The friction of resistance, working to turn drives into waste heat rather than scary change, trying to keep us fixed and safe and small and under the radar, is how so many people spend so much energy.

Negative self definition — not really being clear on who we are, but knowing with a passion who we are not — is at the core of resistance.   It’s so much easier to know what we loathe than what we actually love, especially if what we loathe is what people around us loathe and fear.

The most common rules that we are given are about what we must not do.  When we get comments, few people choose to affirm our strengths, rather they expound on our weaknesses, where they see us failing.  The world makes clear what they don’t want to see us doing.

Is trying desperately not to make a mistake, trying not to be seen as wrong or stupid, really the way we can become our best self?

We see the world through our own eyes, as a reflection of our own expectations and views.  When we see anything that we are resisting, denying, fighting or keeping down inside ourselves in other people, we often find it offensive, repellent or just annoying in them.

This externalization is how our internal resistance, rooted in negative identity definition, makes spaces unsafe and scary.  We attack in others what we resist in ourselves, fighting them to justify and rationalize our own hidden fight.

Learning to affirm, appreciate and enjoy in others what we would never ever choose for ourselves, especially what we actively resist in ourselves, is a real challenge.   To me, it is the essence of queerness, the affirmation of personal choices that are bold and different as long as they do not directly hurt others without their consent.

This doesn’t mean that their choices don’t stir feelings, disquieting or discomforting people, challenging taste, resistance and fear, only that they do not directly hurt people.   Your comfort is not the responsibility of others, only your safety is.  You are responsible for your own feelings, for working them through, for understanding your own resistance and getting past it.

“I would never wear that, but on you, it looks fabulous!”   It sounds simple, but when someone else’s choices bring up your stuff, when they externally mirror what you are internally resisting, it isn’t.

The amount of energy we spend resisting going into the darkness and facing our own fears is astounding.   We act out, we stuff, we indulge in sensation and distraction, all to stay in the mainstream and avoid having to do the hard work of sorting out prejudice and convention from truth and power.

We resist our own inner desire just to avoid the resistance we would get by bucking the status quo, the normative expectations of those around us.   We use the friction of resistance to keep us small & warm rather than the fiction of motion to heat us up and move us forward.   We know that Stepping away from fear is always stepping into what you fear.

Following your bliss brings light and heat while resisting it brings burn out and exhaustion.

You define your life by your choices.

If your choice is to resist power, passion and possibility then you become defined by your “no” choices, leaving you tender and bitter, ready to lash out at those who seem to discount the effort you make to stay normative.  You stay angry because the world isn’t as it “should be.”

If your choice is to engage your own power passion and possibility then you are defined by what your “yes” choices, leaving you energized, ready to accept happiness and say yes to other people who are trying to follow their bliss.  You find happiness in the world as it is.

Resistance may not be futile, but when we are resisting our own knowledge and passion, it is costly and destructive.

Relearning Simple

We are grownups.  We know how complicated the world is.

As grownups, we have learned how challenging, how resistant and how difficult getting what we want can be.

What we often forget, though, what we lose in all that experience is just how simple the world can be.

One joy of having kids around is that we get a chance to see the world again through their eyes.   They see a world of wonder, full of awe and possibility.

Kids who haven’t been carefully taught how to fear failure are always ready to take a flyer and try anew.  They haven’t learned that they have to follow the rules, have to ask for permission, have to just follow along.

Through the exuberance of kids we can relearn simple if we just open to it.

To do that, though, we can’t try to impose our complicated worldview onto them, can’t make them do everything our way, the safe way, the wise way.   We have to let them make their own mistakes, get their own learning, find their own delightful and breathtaking successes.

I am wicked good at complicated.   I do symbol, nuance, connection, history and all that in a flash, pulling together amazing wisdom that blends the cultural, the social and the personal.   I own complicated.

I am, however, lousy at simple.   Just a smile and a big hello, a willingness to go with the flow, the instinct and energy to just take a flyer, try something new, and dust myself off if I fall, well, those are bits I have never, ever been good at.   Growing up in a series of minefields will do that to you, forcing you inside your head even on a beautiful sunny day.

Everything is simpler than you think
and at the same time more complex than you imagine.

Simple, at least in this usage, isn’t the opposite of complicated, rather it is the gateway to new, able to cut though false complications using beauty and delight to fuel curiosity and exploration.  Maybe, just maybe, you have it wrong and you simply need to try again in a new and fresh way to see more openly and more clearly.

Learning not to spray your own complicated on those who are trying new isn’t simple.   Those lessons cost you a lot in blood and treasure and you don’t want to see them wasted, especially if someone you love might get banged up in the process.

Taking a pratfall isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person.  The worst thing just may be that they imprison themselves in their own learned fear.

We need to encourage people who are simply starting over again and again.

We need to keep room inside of us for the divine surprises that simple can bring us.

At least I know that I do.




Chick Balls

It’s lovely to meet a chick with balls.   In this case, at least, I mean that in the figurative sense.

There have always been women with audacity, cheek, guts, boldness and nerve.  The Jews have a word for it: Chutzpah.

Today, we find it easy to talk about that energy using masculine metaphors — a ballsy broad — but that doesn’t respect the special and different kind of energy that women bring to the room.

For men, that kind of energy is often reckless and detached.   It becomes a surface obligation that is disconnected from feeling and nuance.

For women, that energy is more often a facet of who they are, one face of their experience, one layer of a woman claiming her own power in the world.   Sure, it takes the same kind of determined ignorance of naysayers and tenacity in the face of challenge, but for women, there always has to be a layer of intelligence, wit and emotional connection underneath.

If feminism has taught us anything it is that women can do anything.  They just do it in their own way, substituting co-operation and style for brute force.   There is no need for them to shy away from anything that they really feel the need to tackle.

All this means is that if a chick has balls and wants to use them, more power to her.

I once asked a crossdresser “So, if I had been born female, do you think I would have been a mouthy broad?”   He thought for a moment, first going through is model of ideal femininity and then moving onto real women he knew before getting my point: not all women are demure, helpless, fragile flowers.   In fact, almost all women can turn on the power when they need to, like when they feel that their children are threatened.

For women born female when someone calls them a butch ball buster who is too brash for their own good, the only thing that is challenged is their attractiveness.   They slide, maybe, more into the unfuckable category.

Transwomen, though, have a different challenge.   When someone does that to us, they can threaten our entire gender. “See!  He is really a man!  Mock and silence him!” is something we have fought against our whole lives.

If we have come out later in life, after being forced to assume a man role, we know that we have a lot of that guy training inside.   For many transwomen, the path to womanhood leads through the “Not Man” space.   They reject anything that feels masculine, working to become sweet and small.

Those of us who don’t want to be seen as crossdressers, men in dresses doing drag or having a bit of a hobby learn to avoid the kind of ballsy displays of blokey entitlement that we see there.   Wearing women’s clothes does not make one a woman, rather gender comes down to a deep & persistent identification as revealed in a wide range of choices.

Learning to assimilate is a very important part of development as a woman.   You need to learn to be part of the group, showing respect and listening, learning the traditions and values.

Learning to lead is an important part of development as a woman.  You need to learn to stand up for yourself, offering what you value to the group, encouraging new, bold, audacious and brilliant choices.

It’s always good to meet a chick with balls, a brazen gal who has cheek and nerve.

But it is better, I suspect, to be one.

Noisy Burble

When I get excited, my thinking and feeling come fast, sparking all over the place in a noisy burble of emotions and ideas.  I have a fuzzy jazz that needs to be turned from diffuse energy into sinuous motion.

This happens for many women, I know, and the traditional way to handle it is simple: you find a friend and burble to her.

In the process of talking it out, you get to bring that internal energy into the world where it can be seen and assessed.  You aren’t looking for solutions, you are looking to get hold of what is inside in a way that is manageable.

A good friend acts as a rectifier, helping to clean the signal.   Noise comes out all jagged and mixed and zappy, and then is filtered through the process of sharing it into more elegant waves, the interference taken out and the power focused.

When I share my noisy burble, I don’t just want to take away the energy, just dumping it to ground.   Throwing cold water on someone may be easy, but it only suppresses energy rather than using it.  Sure, we want the noise cleared up, but not at the cost of losing the excitement and force that comes with it.

Hearing “yes” is so important to this process, because what you focus on you get more of.   A good friend has a sense of what to encourage, letting the less effective bits drop away.    Shaping the power is vital: rather than be all over the place, or going down side alleys, how do we find the hot, the possible, the nourishing and then stay on that frequency?

Helping clean up the noisy burble of our friends is at the centre of any feminine relationship.   The closer a friend is the more she knows of our inner burbling and the faster and more effective she can be at helping us find breath and focus.

Our friends have to understand to help, which is why moms can help daughters, having been one, but why daughters can’t really enter mom’s noisy burble.   If the terrain is too different, if we haven’t done the work, we just don’t have the internal maps to help.

I’m good at cutting through the burble to find focus, asking the key questions and understanding the context.  I am good at it specifically because as a long lost tranny, I didn’t have any girlfriends, so had to learn to do that rectifying work by myself.

Emotion and energy weren’t something that my parents mastered, heir own Aspergers style minds circling their own worlds.   And I was never, ever allowed to be one of the girls, to be held in the network of sharing and growing together.

That noisy burble was hard to deal with.  In high school, I even wrote a poem “Is There Drano For The Brain?”   Since no one was going to help, I used the gift of a big brain to take that energy and make sense of it, leading me to writing that clarified the noise, but that also grounded it out, discharging desire and excitement into a rational matrix.

Today, after years of concierge mode, serving others, I am struggling to find a way to clarify that burble, putting it in context, without having to take away the delight and desire that energizes it.    This is a tough change because I still don’t have the kind of network that says “yes,” both cleaning and encouraging an intense and beautiful flow of energy.    I can’t just do the gal technique of passing the burble between friends who can both clarify and hold that energy, taking the rumble out and feeding it back when we need it.

Learning to take the moderate path with my own noisy burble, organizing it without grounding out all the excitement is hard for me to do on my own.    I need to modulate and moderate the energy without taking too much away, without playing too small, without being too safe.

I know how women have learned to share their noisy burble with each other, harmonize it and learn to keep both the focus and the energy.   That balance is always in flux, of course, so girlfriends are there to help you get it back, bringing context to calm and enthusiasm to energize whenever needed.

Like so much, though, I understand the concepts without having deep experience and mastery of the everyday sharing.   I know how to engage the noisy burble of others, but finding someone to help with my own deep, smart, theological, trans, post-therapy noisy burble is a very difficult task.

The noisy burble of a feminine soul is an incredibly precious and valuable resource.  Women have learned to help each other use it well to create a better community by sharing, cleaning and encouraging.   We come together to become larger than ourselves, networks of smarts and energy that are larger and more powerful than the sum of their parts.

Finding ways for transwomen to join in this sharing, ways for me to not just understand but also to delight in my own noisy burble, are vital to expanding, extending and empowering community.

And they are vital to empowering me.

Writing For Good

It may have struck you that I probably do identify as a writer, and that I identify writing as art.   I am one of those artists who is committed less to product and more to process, not on one piece but rather on a disciplined creative process which facilitates continuing growth and expression.

Writing, like most art, is about making the invisible visible, about symbolizing and sharing it.    It is also the most commercial of the arts, regularly used for everyday functioning, from memos to PowerPoint presentations.  Virtually everybody knows how to write, at least on some level, though that doesn’t mean that they are all writers.

I write for so many reasons.

I write to discover what I feel, think and believe, using the power of visibility to help me organize and polish my own understanding and approach to the world.

I write to share myself with the world, opening myself to connection and caring.

I also write as a service.  By making what I see visible in the world, I can reveal threads and possibilities that may have stayed hidden in the clutter to other people.

“You write well because you think well,” an old professor once told me.   Which comes first, the clarity of thinking that creates expository writing, or the revelations from the process of writing that clarify thinking?   The process is a virtuous circle, sharp writing creating sharper thinking which then continue to sharpen each other.

As a writer, I believe that everyone should delight in the process of making the invisible visible, exposing the crocks and jewels, bringing the light and casting out the darkness in a way that lets us get clearer and better.

It may not surprise you to find that I have not always found that to be true.   There are many people who like very much to remain hidden and shaded, choosing to surf on top of the chaos to maintain their own comfort rather than allowing the game to be exposed.

I had a boss who believed in the management theory that you should only tell staff what they need to know.  When I came along, believing that staff should know everything except what explicitly should be secret and publishing a weekly newsletter to that effect, his world was challenged.   Luckily his bosses really liked knowing what was going on, really believed in open information, so he was between me and them.

So many people want to control their image, to only disclose what they think you should know, to not be confronted by their own messy bits.   They crave being exposed, but only on their terms and conditions.

This makes the service of writing in creating community a challenging thing.  Shiny blurbs or reheated polemics may make people comfortable, but they do not expand the audience, do not keep people engaged.    They do not promote growth and healing, only serve the status quo.

I often write as a service, taking what people share with me and making it visible in a well structured, revealing way.  While many have been thrilled with seeing their reflection in text, they have also found it makes them a bit queasy.   Mirrors are always challenging, which is why we so often seek to break them rather than looking deeply and saying the prayer: “Grant me the strength to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

How many organizations think that one of the best things that they can do is to get writers on-board, someone to make them visible in the world?   How many organizations resist writers, believing that they are better at only pushing the image that they want to show, only playing the game that they want to play?

I know that there are value clear thinking that exposes the connections that can easily remain invisible.   I also know that there are many for whom image management is the goal believing that their hidden manipulation serves them.   I always fear writers who feel the need to shout down and shut down critics, revealing a desire to manage exposure rather than commit to it.

How do writers come together to understand not just their own commercial interests, their interest in drawing attention to themselves, but working to use the process and craft of writing to serve community in ways that engage challenge and promote growth and success?

Writing as service is writing for good, even when that good involves both death and nurturing that comes from exposure and accountability.   The art is in the heart you smart writing exposes.

Somehow, I think, we need to support each other in doing that work.


When you lead with your cock, you often end up dividing the world into two classes: fuckable and unfuckable.

The fuckable are the ones who deserve your attention.   They are hot, malleable, worth the chase and the energy, because you might just be able to get in there and work your hot magic to experience them, take what you want, and then move on.

The unfuckable, though, are safe to ignore.   They cannot serve your purpose.  They are only worth effort if they obstruct your path to the fuckable, and then they can be destroyed by your massive fuck engine.

There are so many reasons that I end up in the unfuckable category.

It’s obvious that I am a transwoman, so in their mind I am really a guy, and guys have to be really, really, really hot to ever be fuckable.   They have little interest, they don’t want to blow their reputation, and they haven’t learned how to charm guys, so best just keep them on the unfuckable list, putting them off to one side in the cooler.

I am also smart, and smart, as many women will tell you, can get you put on the unfuckable list pretty quickly.  These men love their game and don’t really want anyone around who can see through it or challenge it.   Smart is more trouble than it is worth, so unfuckable.

Being old and having a big body are two other unfuckable flags.

Most women have the experience of being on some man’s fuckable list, even if they weren’t interested in those particular men.  They know the attention, the focus and the power that being fuckable can bring.   They enjoy being seen as fuckable, at least now and then.

Women who have slipped onto unfuckable, though, can feel the distance and the disgust of those men who use the twinkling of their dicks to separate the world. We become invisible and denigrated by a whole class of people and it feels rather diminishing.

The slide from being fuckable to being unfuckable is a challenge for many women as they age.   Having a partner who is bored with you, who now sees you as unfuckable can be crushing, especially if you have given him a great deal in trust.

For transwomen who have no experience with being on men’s fuckable list we have gaps in our experience and in our confidence.  We just don’t have the skills or the comfort in relating in that whole sphere of life.   For example, TBB saw a woman in the airport, highly polished and clearly ready to get on a plane for a booty call, and felt the sadness of never really being fuckable, never really having that power and joy.

Women who have slipped into unfuckability learn to live with the changes in their lives, taking the freedom, but still with a flicker.

Women who never really experienced their own fuckability, though, well we do feel a void, one that will never really be filled, if you know what I mean.

Any Damn Chance

I’m looking at a motivational gathering in NYC at the end of the month, two days of woman power designed  both to empower and to sell places in the 2015 empowerment institute.

It would be great to find other women who are ready to go big in their own lives, ready to encourage others to claim their own power, to say yes to a passionate, full, big life.  How amazing would it be to find people who get the joke, say yes, and support you in bold moves?

The problem is that not everyone there is really there for that.  Many of them are really there to fill a hold in their lives, to find someone or something to fix them.   And many of them are there to sell their own stuff, maybe to others or maybe to themselves, converts who get affirmation by converting others.

For every possible venue I see, every group that I consider joining, I have to ask myself one big and messy question.

Is there any damn chance that I will end up buying into their shit?

A big trans conference is happening this weekend within driving distance.   I spent hours poking through the workshop schedule to find one that was compelling to me.   In the end, the question I asked was the same: is there any damn chance that I will end up buying into their shit?

On a TV show, a gay doctor tried conversion therapies, deciding that none of them worked   Of course they didn’t work for him.   He had no interest in diminishing his homosexual behaviour; he likes it too much.   There was no damn chance that he was going to end up buying into their shit, so the outcome was pre-ordained.

It’s easy for me to see the downside of positions, for me to see the shit.   I have been around the block many, many times and remember almost every circuit.  The crocks are clear to me from a great distance.

If I am not ready to take a damn chance that I will end up buying into the shit, is there really any chance I will connect with other people, ever find support, ever discover myself a happy and relaxed member of a group?

Doubt is my core, analysis my tool.   Like those CSIs who pull out the tuneable forensic lamps and luminol, it is hard to imagine me ever feeling safe and relaxed in one of the hotel rooms of life.  The stains don’t hide from me.

You are crazy if you are too gullible, always wanting to believe in the next person, never subjecting them to any scrutiny.

But you make yourself crazy if all you have is doubt, never being able to believe that you can been seen, valued and loved, even beyond the flaws and limits of other humans.

Sometimes, you just have to be open to buying into what other people are selling, knowing that as flawed as it and they are, there is still wisdom and love wrapped up in their intentions.

With my history, that’s a hard belief to come by.   I don’t have much experience that leads me to trust that other people can be present for me in a safe and playful way.   My porcupine nature has been made clear to me over too many decades. My big, sharp mind and rich inner life aren’t things I am willing to trade for momentary comfort, as they are what have comforted me from my youngest days.

Still, we need the eggs.

Is there any damn chance that I will end up buying into their shit?

Is there any damn chance that I will be swept into saying yes to something, even though that something is not perfect?

Is there any damn chance that I am ready for change, for hope, for immersion in something or someone flawed but passionate?

Is there any damn chance I will be willing to be a participant rather than just an observer?

Is there any damn chance that I am ready to hunker down and fight for the long term, doing the hard, grinding work to spread my own vision against the stolid assumptions and expectations of others?

Or am I too savvy and too skint to actually end up playing the game?

Indirect Control

There are reasons why the traditional image of a family in the car includes dad driving and mom in the passenger seat.

It’s not that moms can’t drive.  Most moms do lots and lots of driving, going to work, to shopping, to ferry kids.  There is a reason that the joke sign “Mom’s Taxi” is often found.

Women have learned that having direct control of the car isn’t always the best choice.  Dads like to feel like they are in control, which keeps them engaged, and Moms often have other issues to attend to, like the children.

Sometimes it feels nice to just let someone else do the work, and sometimes it cuts down problems if you let others feel like they are in charge.

Not having direct control of a situation, you see, is something that moms have have to learn to live with.   Coaching, coaxing, guiding and helping are required to assist kids (and husbands) do better, do the right thing.

This is one reason why the first thing women look for is someone who is a good partner, someone who is responsive to her voice, her charms, her needs.   She knows that she is going to spend a lot of time in their world so she better be able to shape their worldview to consider her requirements and desires.

She doesn’t get that choice with her children or her parents, though.   They have to be sensitized, understood, trained.

Women learn to take power in the world indirectly, letting other people feel control.   This is the power of presence, of seduction and many men learn it too, especially as they mature and understand the limits of direct power, understand the benefits of shared viewpoints.

My sister’s friend’s father just got a heart valve replacement and soon after that, an emergency installation of pacemakers.   Never having been a mom, or a manager for that matter, she has been struggling with her lack of direct control over the process, having to trust the medics and her father.

This has prompted discussions about how I took care of my parents for their last decade and how much I mastered indirect power.   From letting my father continue to drive while I coached from the backseat with tongue clicks to making sure my mother had something to whinge about,  I gave them their head, standing back and to the side to their last day, always there, but always respectful.

My sister notes that she isn’t as fast or as polished as I am at that kind of presence. Others have noted that I am not quick to take direct control over situation.

The first question I asked at the first trans conference I attended was about how we shift the way we take power in the world as we gendershift.  There is still no easy or simple answer, just as there is no easy or simple answer to how women take power in the world.   Sometimes we just have to take direct power and sometimes we take indirect power, but in the long run, the real skill for everyone is having a wide range of techniques in our tool bag that we can use in the moment.  Sometimes we each need to lead by orders and demands, others by encouragement and affirmation.

Our nature, though, shapes the way those choices work for us.   Externally, being pretty makes seduction easier, and being loud makes demands more pronounced, but internally, having a feminine heart makes supportive power more comfortable.

Women may take direct power when needed, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also appreciate a good partner who will share the driving.

Power isn’t always direct and masculine.  But that doesn’t make it not power.


Everyone has a past.

Sometimes that past empowers us, giving us the knowledge, skills and confidence we need to take on new situations.

Sometimes that past haunts us, memories of failures, attacks and habits that were counterproductive, hurting us and keeping us afraid and small.

Sometimes that past points the way to our future, revealing what is essential and true about us.   Before we are trained to fit in, our nature does show.

Sometimes that past is full of things we have left behind.   “Sure, I used to wear diapers, but I don’t wear them now.   Maybe, in the future, but not now.”

Everyone has a past, growing up requires that we need to own and shape our relationship with that history.   Where do we need to follow that history, bringing out the best of us, and where do we need to transcend that history, leaving behind the worst of us?

Madeline L’Engle: “The best thing about getting older is that you are still all the ages you have ever been.”

Kate Bornstein:  “And all the genders, too!”

How much do we feel required to deny, erase or otherwise distance ourselves from our past, from our stories?

For anyone who knows themselves to be a changeling, having moved beyond a past, this is a challenging question.  We don’t want people to pin us down just because of choices we made in the past that we would never make again, but neither do we want to feel deep shame about our past, letting it haunt us in ways that keep us walled and defended.

Places in our past we have walled off are unhealed places.  They hold power over us in unhealthy ways.  And they will never stay completely hidden.   For example, there are lots of mothers who have to face their teenage choices again when they see them reflected in the choices of their daughter.

When we face that emotional territory again it is easy to feel the pull of those old choices, the unhealed parts of us rear up and take control.   They may push us to wall up and be defensive, may push us to stuff our pain, or force other kinds of destructive behaviour coming from the well of unhealed pain.

The time to reminisce, reflect and unpack our past is when we feel strong and centred.   If we don’t do it then, we will have to do it when it something triggers our feelings and our history rears up and bites us in the ass once more.

Becoming new is hard work.   Growing up requires putting aside childish things, approaching our life with mature context.

Our past very much helped make us who we are today, for good or for bad.

We build a new past everyday, though, moment by moment.  It can be full of repeated, unhealed patterns or it can be transcendent, gracious and considered.

We all have a past, no doubt.   But we all have a future, too, and we shape that future with not our last choice, but with our next one.

Crossdresser Weight

There are transpeople who were identified as male at birth, who went through puberty as a male, who spent a long period living in the man’s role and who now identify as a woman, either full time or part time (some identify as bigendered) who I personally would not feel comfortable inviting into women’s space.

These are people who I don’t see as doing the hard work to listen to and respect the voices of other women on their own terms.   They haven’t done the cultural literacy work to understand context, haven’t done the work to understand the shared experiences and viewpoints of women, haven’t done the consciousness raising work to get past their own shame in a way which lets them open to other women with empathy and compassion.

These are mostly people who define womanhood around clothing and sex partners, not around the myriad pressures to conform to a woman’s role in this culture.

As the old saw goes, people who believe there is no real difference between men and women are men.

These transpeople claim womanhood without feeling the cultural obligations of being a girl and a woman in this culture, who somehow believe that they can be a woman in a piecemeal fashion, picking and choosing the bits that they like and leaving the rest behind.  They tend to use the same kind of responses that they always applied, identifying solutions and bulling their way through.

On Mom last night, Kristie was on the floor of the bathroom crying about her life.   Her mother tried to give her solutions to her problems, but Kristie just called out “Will you stop trying to fix the problem and just listen to my feelings?’   Bonnie did that, but she also wryly commented “Now I know why men hate us.”

I know that to be an ally to these transpeople I need to respect their self-identification, need to grant them pronouns and the space to grow as women, to change their minds and re-gender themselves as women,

That doesn’t mean, however, I want them in tender, safe, protected women’s space unless they are ready to be respectful and gracious.  I have had to defend the space in the past: Wanted! Woman To Transform Me! (1998)

I have never identified as a crossdresser, ever.   I started with gender play, not the traditional “Now I’m Biff!  Now I’m Suzy!” claiming sort of model.    From my first gender outings I was more in tune with the stories of the born-female woman partners of crossdressers than the CDs themselves.

This didn’t stop people from identifying me as a CD, assuming that I am just like them, just pretending to speak woman like the Swedish Chef pretends to speak Swedish.    They couldn’t imagine I had done the work, that I even wanted to woman identify that much.

When I think about going into women’s spaces, I often hesitate.   I hesitate in a way that transpeople who are living their childhood model of a woman never would, as they feel the entitlement they still own.

Does my being there open the spaces to other transpeople born male who haven’t done the woman work?  Is that a good thing?   Does my history and biology alone make other women feel unsafe?

Transpeople have so few mirrors in the world where we can see good and useful reflections.     I don’t know how I appear to other women, but I do know when I see other transwomen who I feel don’t understand, engage and respect my feminine experience and viewpoint.

I know how much work I have done, but I also know that my reflections as a woman are minimal and shattered, always looking back through a broken mirror.   As a woman, I don’t want to make space unsafe for other women; I know how important it is.

Of course, this is the paradox.   Transwomen who respect women’s space will be hesitant to enter it, while transwomen who don’t get the need won’t think twice about choosing to enter.   I feel the weight of those I see and know even when they don’t yet see their own armour.

I look at other transwomen and wonder how I get permission to enter women’s space, permission that I personally would hesitate to offer to some of them. How am I entitled to enter and they are not?   Are we all entitled, just by making a womanhood claim, or are none of us entitled?

One challenge with transgender being such an individual journey is that there are so few milestones,, so few markers of “You Are Here!”  It becomes very difficult to know when you have arrived anywhere. Maybe that’s why we want genital reconstruction surgery to have meaning, though all it really means is that your genitals are now a different shape.

I don’t understand this.   Maybe I should just follow Kiki’s advice, going anywhere  until she is asked to leave, but somehow, that just doesn’t feel like me.

Celebrating the sameness between other women and me is a good thing, not just for me, but also for them.   I bring a different perspective to the woman experience, one of conscious gendering that offers real insight.

That is, of course, if the other women are ready to get the joke.

And that I am far from sure about.


Unless you can see the shortcomings in your present position, you have no incentive to change it.

We have many reasons to gloss over our current shortcomings.

We need confidence to work in the world, which is most easily found when we believe that our current position is correct. Acknowledging shortcomings is acknowledging weakness, and as Brené Brown reminds us, the one trigger for shame in men is weakness.

The limits of our understanding is the limits of our vision.  If we are doing what we were taught, what others around us are doing, we are not acting from considered choice but rather from rote and habit.  Without more perspective and more thought, context and longer term consideration, the shortcomings of our present position will be invisible to us.

Change requires work.  Not only do we have to become a beginner again, taking new risks to find and master new ways, we also have to convince others around us that change is required.   If we don’t get them to go along, we will just feel the pressure to shut up, get in line and do it like we always have done.

The seeds of our next failure are always in our current success.   We take what worked last time and try it again, scale it up, expecting it to work again.  Things change, though, and unless we understand the shortcomings of our strategy, we can’t change and adapt our approach to consider changed circumstances.

Unless you can see the shortcomings in your present position, you have no incentive to change it.   This is why change people are almost always seen as bomb throwers, trying to open eyes to shortcomings that others either ignore or dismiss so they can just carry on as usual.

It is easy to understand why people work so hard to stay blind to the shortcomings in their approach to the world.

It is also easy to understand why that means those shortcomings often end up leaping up and biting them in the ass.


When we get angry at the force that most blocked our trans expression, that most abused us into compliance with conventions, that was always there trying to knock us back into the closet, the force that kept us scared and timid about claiming our own heart, what force should we be angry with?

The biggest block to our own transcendence is clear: it is us.  Walt Kelly was right: we have met the enemy, and he is us.

We are completely complicitous in our own oppression.    We were taught to be our own jailer, our own manipulator, our own demon.

Most transpeople aren’t angry at the world for causing problems for their expression, angry about having tried to walk in the world as trans and been knocked back.

We are angry at the fact that we never felt permission to come out, angry that we felt smashed between the hard place of our own desire and the rock of social denial of transgender legitimacy.

We are angry because we understood the threat of abuse and disconnection that existed around trans expression and let that threat keep us from chasing our own happiness.

We are angry because we denied ourselves, working to follow the rules people told us that we should follow, that we had to follow, yet we never got the rewards that we were promised.   Our relationships shattered, our jobs were unfulfilling, the rewards of the market were machine made, hollow and not lasting.

We are angry because we bought into the system, tried our damnedest to fit in and all we got was a crummy t-shirt.   We beat ourselves up, twisted ourselves into knots, bruised and battered ourselves while trying to kill off our heart and cut off our queerness, but we never got the big prize.

We are angry because we played their game, doing what we thought that they asked, even when it hurt us badly, and they didn’t pay off.   Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me for a lifetime leave me in a pool of my own rage.

The bitterness and rage is as much or more about how we were complicit in breaking our selves than about what we actually lost in experience.   If we had known that the rewards would be so putrid, wouldn’t we just have said “Fuck This!” when we were younger, with more to play, more to gain?

We are angry at the scars all over us, yet we know that those scars are from our own hand, deliberately made to try and keep ourselves small and compliant, playing not to win but rather to avoid losing what we felt we couldn’t live without, the affirmation and acceptance of our family and those around us.

Who can we blame for the abuse we inflicted on ourselves?  Such a wily game was played on us, turning our own needs and desires into forces of oppression, planting shame, hatred, fear, uncertainty and doubt into us to keep us small, broken and nasty.

We bought that shit and by buying it, we spent our life force in oppressing our nature rather than in encouraging it to blossom big and beautiful.   Sure, we would have faced our own challenges in a deeply heterosexist world addicted to binaries and fear, but at least we wouldn’t have become our own executioners.

I am not saying that we are completely responsible for our own oppression.  Society worked hard to keep stigma up to enforce gender normativity,  created the system of enforcement that we, like so many others, internalized.  Showing gender deviance was not tolerated so public abuse was encouraged against the offenders to keep the masses in nice, binary lines, boys on one side, girls on the other.

I am saying that if we are not part of the solution we are part of the problem.  Until we become kind to ourselves and to others, that anger just feeds the system of abuse rather than liberating and transcending compulsory gendered norms.

Coming to face the fact that you were the nastiest, most vicious and most oppressive gender police person that you ever faced is not an easy or simple thing.   It can make you quite angry, in a diffuse, broad and unpleasant way.   You bought into that shit, desperately trying to fit in and get what you needed, and that shit poisoned and corrupted you.

To be compassionate with other gender oppressors you first have to become compassionate with yourself.   To liberate the world from internalized gender oppression, you first have to liberate yourself.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Bless us all.

Little Lost

“Wow!  You are really a kick!  We have to get together sometime so I can hear all your stories!  I think we can work well together.”

It’s not hard to figure out what my dream meeting is.  It’s someone who really sees and values me, someone who gets the joke, someone who wants to play, which to me, usually means work.

“Thanks, but we’ll call you, don’t call us,”  or “I need you to save me” are much more likely outcomes, though.

I missed a couple of meetings this week as I have been trying to support my sister and her difficult job transition over a very frigid time.

One was a meetup where women gathered to talk about their lives, open and supportive.  I had to guess how that one would go, and I suspected that much like the pagan event, they would find my comments insightful and valuable, but they would also see me as different than they are, see themselves without much to offer me.

This month’s session was on balance, which I do understand, but next month’s is on children, where I have much less direct involvement.   It was also going to cost $20 per session, and that seemed like a big chunk of risk to me.

The second was the local transgender activist group, which has had quite a diminishment since I was first found to be a troublemaker at their meetings.  The angry not-so young queers have moved on, leaving it in the hands of the much meeker, who just can’t grow a force in this area.    I spent the 1990s trying to build trans community here and things haven’t changed much at all.

There are good groups for people of colour and for youth, supported by funding, but my welcome there is clearly limited.

Every day I beat through the events listings on the internet looking for prospective venues where I can both contribute and reap some rewards.  I have limited resources so I can’t just spread myself around freely, taking random shots to find that connection I need.

My experience reminds me of a baleen whale, filtering tonnes of water to find the krill and plankton I need to survive.  So much chaff, so little grain.   I have tried so much that I can figure out the lay of the land quickly and usually pretty accurately, so while I cannot be surprised if I am not out there, buying a lottery ticket on the odds of winning isn’t really a prudent move.

I do regret missing the meetings this week, being put on hold again to serve my family, because they are so few and far between.

But do I really think they would have offered rich rewards?   If I believed that, I would have gone, I suspect.

Giggle Share

When I was a kid, my father turned to me in church, held out his hand, and said “May the piss of the Lord be with you.”

It was supposed to be “peace of the Lord,” of course, but he got it wrong.

We both started giggling.  Church is the worst place to get a fit of the giggles, of course, because every time they come anew they break the formality again and start more giggles.

My mother was appalled.  She got up and started walking home in her pumps and fur jacket.   We tried to convince her to get into the car as we drove past her, but she was humiliated and not going to be seen with us, at least not now.

Giggling by yourself is just a passing thing, one moment of play and silliness.

Sharing a giggle, though, is sharing a delight that is amplified with every new squeal of delight.   It is sharing a moment that becomes a touchstone, triggering a new peal of giggles with just the catch of an eye when a reminder occurs.

Solitary giggles go cold and dry up, vanishing into the past, but shared giggles can bind people forever.

It has been a long, long time since I have shared a giggle.  And I miss it.


Are we are who we are because of the torment that we have faced?

That’s certainly one statement of the movie Whiplash, where a student drummer is tormented by a dynamic teacher.  Does being tormented bring out his excellence?   Is tormenting someone in the name of excellence a gift to them?  Is tormenting others divine work or is it just being cruel and sadistic?

We are certainly shaped by the torment we have faced, no doubt about that.  Some of us are broken by torment, some of us are transcendent over torment, and many of us are still tormented by torment, the scars and open wounds still driving our choices.

The hero’s journey always involves facing challenges that torment us.  The path of the hermit involves facing torment every day, torment of one’s own choosing.  Choosing torment over comfort is a choice to go to the edge, the brink, to see all that can be extracted from life.

For those who have lived through torment, either torment imposed on them from the outside or inner torment and struggle, other people who seem to not understand torment are frustrating as hell.    We know that we got where we are by enduring torment, by facing torment, by being tormented.   We know that life without torment leads to avoiding torment in the future and avoiding torment is avoiding growth and healing.

We often need to just bear with the torment rather than trying to avoid and stuff over it.

Yet we usually don’t want to see other people in torment.  It is not easy or pleasant to watch the tormented, no matter how much it reveals about life.  Too much torment can make anyone turn away, as I know from first hand experience.

How much torment is too much torment?

How much torment is not enough?

Binary, Binaries

I hate the gender binary.   Compulsory gendering based only on reproductive biology is heterosexist and limiting.   It only supports the economic goals of pushing increased breeding.

I love gender binaries.  The rich language of gender as expressed by opposing symbols that create both intensity and balance are delightful, powerful and liberating.

I have no desire to see a world where everyone is assigned a Mao suit, where the rituals and signs of gender expression are denied or suppressed in the name of some kind of politically correct synthesized neutrality.

When I hear queer kids rail against gender binaries I wonder what they are thinking about.   The difference between either/or binaries and tensioned dualities that create rhythm and harmony across human relationships are easy to miss if you take too simplistic a view.

No individual human can be every point in the circle.   As social animals, our roles interlock and intertwine, building community through diversity and difference.  When we separate people too simply we fail to get the maximum that their heart and mind have to offer, fail to empower their best.

Demanding that they follow rules, even rules that demand they not find their own edgy power, instead being more neutral, is not a way to celebrate the power of the individual’s role in the larger balance.

I know the stopping power of trying to be everything, balanced, neutral inside of one mind, one body.   It’s not good.  It’s not fair.   Trying to erase binaries ends up erasing potential, erasing power, rather than liberating.

Reductive, simplistic binaries that seek to create false walls of comfort are bad.  Even the binary that says those who use opposing symbols to celebrate difference are either oppressed or oppressors is bad.

Ambiguity and neutrality are not the ways of freedom.   Freedom is in the power to go to the edges, to be intense and challenging, to be bold and beautiful.

The symbols of gender are not the same as the meaning of the gender system, so working to limit or erase the symbols will not change the underlying function.   It is just voodoo to imagine that, the belief that suppressing the visibility of something will erase it or wall it off.   What remains in darkness can never be faced, which is why we go to the dark places in the first place.

By celebrating difference, even extreme and stylized difference, we are able to see commonality and connection.   We begin to understand ourselves not as the centre of the world, surrounded by noise, but as part of the circle of life, surrounded by love.  We see our part in the dance not as the only choice but rather as one of a range of choices that together make up the blessing of humanity.

The truth doesn’t come from one monologue, it emerges from interaction, from the harmony and the dissonance of many voices raised together.   We each hold only a piece of the sun, the full radiance coming from the push and pull, the attraction and tension between us.

I hate the gender binary, because it seeks to erase the space between.

I love gender binaries because they seek relationships that illuminate and reveal the space between.

And between is where life is.

Amateur Bullshit

“Don’t start vast projects
with half-vast ideas.”

I bought that sign to put on my boss’s whiteboard in 1983.

My experience of the world, of my family, of that job was having to clean up after other people who hadn’t thought through their choices, people who didn’t even have a commitment to quality and excellence.

The value of rigour, precision and discipline is something I had to come to early.  I needed those tools to defend myself in a difficult world, a world where home and gender were minefields.

The cost of that focus is clear to me, of course.   I know that I am less likely to just take a flyer, to throw caution to the wind, to just do it.   I know that I learned to hate the routine bullshit make-work where you learned to service the machine with helpings of mediocre crap.

When Nike said “Just Do It,” though, their star athletes never thought that meant “Just do it half-assed because no one will really care.”    Doing it and doing it better were part of the same message, using smarts and repetition to create a practice which keeps you getting bigger, better, best.

A responsibility to others for increasing excellence is at the heart of professionalism.   To me, being a pro is one of the highest compliments, valuing mastery and power in your contribution to the community.

This isn’t the approach of all, I know.   Good enough is good enough.   Nobody likes a show off.   You have to stay in beginners mind.  Life’s too short for not goofing off.   Indulge yourself, it’s later than you think.

I have real difficulty with small thoughts, small talk and small responsibility.   I don’t understand how you can live without burning for something, the kind of hair-on-fire drive that keeps you focused on getting better, on purging impurities.

You cannot have this drive in all areas of your life, of course.   Focus is always required.   But when I went to hire, I would look for someone who knew excellence, who had good practice, knowing that skill set could help them approach another task as a pro.  Someone who settled for mediocrity, even if they had more direct experience, would likely do the same again.

For me, the fun of the world is in the creation of beauty.   It doesn’t matter if that is beautiful plumbing or beautiful theology, the struggle to make more beauty is the burning essence.  To dissipate is impotent, small vision, small thoughts, small expectations, small heart.    Routine crap is still routine crap, no matter how much of it you can crank out day after day.

Being present in the moment is where quality and joy come from.   That mini-mart employee who hears the ice machine empty and refills it without being told to is present, working a small job with pride and grace, not just with a vacant mind and an eye on the clock.    Life: You must be present to win.

My difficulty with amateur bullshit is at the heart of my separation from the world.  I need to be intensely focused in my practice, even if that separates me from the small habits of nice routine thought.   I just have never known how not to be present, how not to see deeply, how not to make connections and think sharply, even if I know that makes me too hip for the room, too overwhelming, means that other people won’t get the joke.

When someone gives me the gift of smart and honest feedback, I take it and use it to reset my view.   This does make mean I have a visceral and sensitive approach to the world, not easily sloughing shit, but it also means that I am quite, quite, quite present.

I know how to give other people smart and honest feedback in a witty and gracious way.     I offer them positive comments based on my experience, new ways to see the world that might let them get better at what they do.

Usually, though, they don’t really give a shit about what I share because they just don’t have time, attention, focus or mindshare to be able to care about quality.   If they did it half-assed they did it for a reason and don’t really want to be called on it.   It was the best that they thought they can do at the time and that’s enough.

People grow and heal in their own way and in their own time.   If they are not yet ready to move beyond where they are now, they are not yet ready to see and take responsibility in a new way, even if that means they continue to make messes that other people around them have to clean up.

I love working together with people to make a better world.   I hate being the harridan who sees where things are shit and just has to keep their mouth shut because others just aren’t willing or ready to be more clear and more disciplined.   To me, that is the experience of eating that shit and that has been much of my experience of interacting with other people.

I have real trouble with amateur bullshit, when people do things the easy way but not the cowboy way.  I know that most people who pull this shit don’t want to hear any flak, because if they wanted to do it better, they would have.   They are sure that others don’t understand their challenges or priorities so feedback from them can be dismissed.

Learning to tolerate the American way of stupidity is a very important part of me getting back onto the grid, getting back in the swing of the market.   People are who they are, they bring what they can bring, they are doing “the best that they can” and one must learn to accept that.  Being sick of amateur bullshit means you avoid engagement and that never leads to finding the jewel in the haystack, in finding the 10% of everything that isn’t crap.

I know that my deep pain about amateur bullshit and how it erases thoughtfulness & emotion, how it forces others to clean up the mess or watch a car crash is a block to my own possibilities.

But geez, come on!

On Nice Edge

I’m nice.

I’m pleasant and balanced, making sure that I never take too much, that I leave room for others.   I work to mind my manners, to not demand too much, to not get in the way, to be, well, nice.

I’m sensitive.    So long ago I installed a very delicate balance inside myself, one that feels and records everything, an instrument that let my find my own heart in the middle of a dark, dark, dark space.  My low levels of latent inhibition help me navigate a strange world.

Being nice doesn’t mean that I don’t have an edge, that I can’t get disgusted with mediocre pap, that I don’t value the bold and sharp.   It just means that I am nice.

Down the river from here is a huge city, a world city, where being nice just doesn’t really cut it.  There you have to be able to stand your ground, take your space, go and get what you need and what you want.    It is a city where conflict is routine, where demands are par for the course, and where just nice can make you invisible and dismissed.

Being in the orbit of that city, being the tiny planet that circles and services it, I seem to live in a place where nice is out of balance with drive.   All the drive is sucked down the river, leaving the nice here.   The ideas of quality, passion, intensity, world-class expectations are all sucked away from here, leaving a kind of vacuum of pleasant and mild.

I watched some videos from our local TEDx event.  The speakers were all very nice, very sweet.   They were not, though, particularly sharp, hot, brilliant, or dynamic.   One even explained that she was the voice of the area, the nice voice, and I knew threw up a little bit in the back of my mouth.  Minneapolis demanded too much of her, and while she dreamed of going to The City to find edge, she ended up in this city, which was so nice to her that she could be nice back to it.  How nice, how very, very nice.

This viewing was followed by a speak out on LGBTQ suicide which was very nice, very soft, very banal.

I’m nice.   Worse, I’m habituated to nice, having been here and been around a family that resisted conflict for so long.   I don’t have those battle habits, the ability to drop nice for pragmatic and determined when I need to.

Nice, though, is not serving me.

Too many people believe that nice and edgy are contradictory.   My sharp brain and poetic heart need to cut away bullshit and flab, need to get down to brass tacks, need to feed off of power and not just comfort.

Searching for spaces that value edge is very difficult here.   Most people just smile wanly and point down the river when asked where the edge walkers are.    That vortex draws energy to it while it spins out the routine and bureaucratic to this edge.

Probably, at some time when I was younger, more exuberant and resilient, I should have taken the advice of people, walked away from my family and learned to thrive, to claim myself in the rough and tumble of the big city.   I should have moved beyond nice and complaint to bold and tough, at least a little more.  But that did not end up being my path, for good, for bad, for this lifetime.

I need more edge in my life, more people who see and crave and even need edge.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Same, Different

Humans are mostly the same.

That’s why we get so good at quickly picking out differences between people.

For queer people, we are very clear on where we are different from the crowd.  Those differences stand out in our mind, so we are very aware of them all the time.   We know that those differences can surface at any time and make people see us as different from them.

People, though, don’t see differences that they aren’t really looking for unless those differences are profound.   They assume sameness until they have a reason not to, like the moment that they figure out that the woman over there went through puberty with a male body.  Does that mean that she is “really a man?”

Those moments where our gender changes in someone’s eyes tend to be really memorable,  It can easily be a tripping moment.

For many queers, though, the assumption of sameness, of “normativity” is a problem.   Femme lesbians often feel like their nature is invisible because people assume that because they make feminine choices they miss the truth.   They even have the experience of people not believing them when they disclose who they are with lines like “You’re way too pretty to be a lesbian!”   Sharing a truth and having it dismissed is not easy.

When I walk in the world, I assume that my passing distance is far enough out that everyone can see where I am different.

What I don’t understand, because my history and cultural expectations lead me to it, is when they see me as the same.   When do they just see me as a woman?

My dream, of course, is that they see both.   I’m find with them knowing that I have a different history than most women, that I am trans, if they also understand that I am also the same as most women, with a heart and gender that makes woman choices.   I want to connect with other women as a woman, maybe even with men as a woman, but as a woman with a different path.

This is, of course, where people who need to believe in fundamental binaries have a problem.   They don’t value the contents of one’s character over the shape of one’s skin.   They really crave simple and reductive responses that venerate separations that they hope keep people in their place.

Many transpeople become obsessive about hiding their differences (passing) so that others can see their sameness.   That leaves us desperately self policing, having to be intensely aware of our differences at all times so we can struggle to keep them from showing at all.   That means we also don’t open up, be vulnerable and approach the world with an open heart.

“In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.”  That’s my mission statement and why my focus is on the fundamental connection of our hearts beyond the surface differences that are so easy to spot.

When I smile at someone, do they get disquieted by how different I am, or are they warmed by me?   And if they get too warmed, do they feel the need to reclaim their binary whatever by making it clear they see me as something “other?”

Trusting that I can be seen as one of the gals, even at my age, my size, my smarts and my history, that our connection and sameness can out, is a challenge for me.  It is exactly the same challenge that was put into my head so many decades ago when I was first told that I could never, ever, ever be a girl, and even trying would lead me to heartbreak and destruction.

I will never, ever not be unique, special, individual, different.

Does that mean I will never be connected, family, pretty, same?

Will I always be solitary, warrant, variant, trans, queer, or will sometime I will be just one of the women in the room, different sure, but not so different that like so many other unique women, I escape the class?

For people whose whole life has been spent in the binary, these questions never even have to be considered.   They were a girl in the playground, a girl at school, a girl at the dance, a woman at work, a woman at church, simple, easy.   They always knew which side of the groupings they were on.

For people who have crossed, though, the amount that sameness is a trap, erasing truth with the potential of being seen as lies, is always in our mind, always the haunting third gotcha.

There are moments, though, when I almost feel like my difference can recede into the background a bit and my sameness can come forward without deceit or fear, moments where I can just be one of the gals, trusting my connection.   Almost.

I know my difference.  I know that no matter how different I am, continuous common humanity keeps me connected.

My sameness, though, that kind of sameness that lets you be one of the group, isn’t something that I know.  There are lots of reasons for that, from being adultified early to being queer but they all leave me with a complex, nuanced story of difference.

But when I feel difference, other people see sameness because that’s what they tend to see.  Learning to trust that sameness seems important.