For transpeople, our permanent status is “It’s complicated.”
There is always a part of us that is on the flip side, making us not really simple.
In my life, I have learned the very hard way that “It’s complicated” isn’t really the best icebreaker. Heck, it’s not even the best ten year report.
What we end up doing is working hard to make it look more simple. We take parts of ourselves and bring them to the fore and then put other parts in the shadow. It’s what we have been trained to do.
Our whole expression becomes wrapped up in the challenge of not seeming to be all that complicated, trying to appear accessible, understandable, even simple.
But it’s complicated to do that.
How much do you work to keep the complicated parts invisible?
How much do people see that concealment and get a little uncomfortable?
How much do they get confused and put off by the noise when you show more than they can understand?
How much do they see nuance as contradictions, see complexity as lies?
How much is too much information and how much is not enough?
It’s complicated to figure that out. And it is especially complicated to do that on your own, without smart friends to help you find good ways to be complicated and comprehensible at the same time.
Me, well, I’m complicated. I’m not tricky or twisted; I am straight forward and well illuminated, open and honest, authentic and smart. But I am still complicated.
The expectation that transpeople will work to simplify themselves has always been difficult for me. I spent years on the subject of lies and truth; does concealment equal lying? What is truth, anyway?
The answer, as you might guess, is complicated.
I hate the moment when people feel the need to pin me as one thing or the other, when they decide that complicated must be contradictory. Once they impose their simple mindset on me they end up erasing real truths, real work, real feelings, real me. That feels very, very bad.
The moment that complicated equals too challenging, equals needs to be erased and silenced, equals scary and ugly, that moment is hurt.
The current push in my life is to speak up, to be more visible and less guarded. I have something to offer, but as long as I am self-policing, trying to modulate and simplify my expression, I don’t share.
I have content, something to offer. What I have to offer, though, is complicated. I have learned not to expect people to get that, even if I find that plowing into complications is the only way to really understand patterns, the only way to really find simple. The only way out of hell is through.
I want to share, I need to share, but I don’t need the slam of being reduced and diminished because I am too complicated. I have had a whole mess of that pain in my lifetime, thank you very much.
When things are complicated, I am a great person to have around. I cut through the noise, get to the core, create focus while offering encouragement and support. I help healing.
When you are resisting complication, though, channeling simple by being reductive, I am really unpleasant to have around. I show the cracks, ask the just the wrong question, throw light in the corners, check the trash and generally just pull back the covers. I challenge simple.
The world can use my voice. People can value it. But it’s complicated. I’m complicated.
Can complicated be enough? Do I really not have to work to hide something or other to keep standing, to keep my dignity? It usually doesn’t feel that way; my standing always feels tenuous and sketchy.
In the midst of complicated lies the simple. “In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous, common humanity.” We each are, in the end, just human.
I have worked hard to be clear and comprehensible, true and trustworthy. That doesn’t mean, though, that I am not complicated.
Is complicated beautiful? Or is complicated just complicated, leaving everyone to surface it and just see what they want?
Learning to show more of myself is complicated.
But then, for someone who had to enter the complications that society tried to erase at a very young age, what isn’t complicated?
I am who I am. And that is complicated.
Maybe that is enough to show.