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.