As a change eater, someone who stands for the possibility of real transformation in the world, one of my hardest and most wearing jobs is to hold open the space for others around me to become new.
It is this job, though, that is the foundation of any healing power that I offer. To achieve healing, you first have to believe that healing is possible.
The only real healing humans can achieve in the world is transformation into a new mode.
That’s not the healing most of us think we want, of course. We crave healing that takes us to some ideal dream of who we want to be, healing that doesn’t demand engaging loss, healing that moves us towards something in our comfort zone rather than into the new and unknown. We want to believe that if we just achieve the one thing we fantasized about, our life will be perfect, a new special relationship to heal us into our dreams.
My job as a change eater, as a transitive person in the world, is to always affirm the process of growth, healing and transformation, Standing for queer, wounded human power and beauty, for the truth that you can make another good day, beyond your dreams but inside the realm of possibility is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.
Two-thirds of help is to give courage.
— Irish proverb
Encouragement is always rooted in possibility. Possibility is always rooted in loss. You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once. Only by letting some of it go can you embrace the new. Rebirth always requires accepting some death.
Dr. Phil may want to dismiss that loss as failure — suggesting that we only change when we are “past our prime” and have been forced to give up our manly sword of power — but I suggest that it might be better if we let go of our big stick more easily, instead finding the new, tender, connected and actualized.
While I believe that the power of transformation, rooted in the possibility of the new beyond convention and expectation, is at the heart of transgender, I know that many disagree with me. They see transgender as abjection, loss and dis-empowerment without transcendence. This comes from a political viewpoint that says transpeople shouldn’t be revered as powerful, rather they should be pitied for their oppression, that society should respect us as broken people.
For me, the notion that transpeople are seeking to embody possibility beyond loss is the only thing that can offer hope to those who are still being crushed by the brutal demands of the closet. While I understand the choice is always between the brutal demands of hiding or the brutal demands of being seen as too queer, only one of those choices affirms blossoming, hope and possibility. Transgender is about pure transformation or it is about nothing at all, as I said in 1995.
I fear for those growing up who do not have the possibility of transformation affirmed in the world. I know from deep personal experience how hard it is to find someone who sees and affirms something in you that you do not yet see in yourself, some kind of possibility that exists beyond your current level of thinking, beyond the choices that current thinking holds you to.
It is a tough sell to assert that possibility is based in loss, that rebirth always requires death. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die. It is tough to tell people that until we embrace loss enough to move beyond it, we cannot embrace new, passionate and beautiful life. And the loss of our imagined perfection, that ideal we worked so hard to gain control for, is always the hardest loss of all.
People really like the notion that they can predict and control the future, the idea that somehow, it is their fixed knowledge and imagined changes that are needed. If you ask them, though, if they could have predicted the best things that happened in their lives before they happened, most admit that no, it is the surprising and transcendent bits that gave them most joy. As much as we don’t want to admit it, our salvation exists in what isn’t visible or even imaginable at our current level of thinking.
Embracing revelation and transformation beyond the walls of separation we draw in to calm and comfort ourselves is the tole of the queer in the world, of those who claim connection to continuous common humanity over the pressure to play small, cede to social pressure and work to cut ourselves down to be who others expect us to be.
The primary duality is wild vs tame, being boldly ourselves or being one of the crowd. The queer know that our deepest connection is not how we look the same on the surface, but rather on how we hold fundamental humanity in our heart.
My calling is to speak for possibility culture. That’s very hard because I find it almost impossible to find someone who can see, reflect and affirm the possibility in me, someone to say yes.
It’s hard for me to hold open the space for others to change even as they have great difficulty holding open that space for me. I just can’t imagine my life having meaning if I make any other choice.