I love questions. I believe that questions are the tools we use to create understanding. The process of considering a great koan which challenges your assumptions and assertions is the way that you deepen and strengthen your awareness, informing your choices and creating connections.
My gender journey has been one of searching for wisdom through engaging hard questions. This is different than many people who use their own gender exploration to reject questions that challenge them, that make them uncomfortable.
Most of my first questions were about truth. The talk shows of my day were full of transpeople as deceivers, posing as having been born a different sex to fool people. The models we had were all about that posing, either for a night (Virginia Prince) or for a lifetime (Harry Benjamin.)
Questions flowed from this. What is a man? What is a woman? What is gender? What is sex? What gender truths need to be respected? Is trans a disease? Is truth in the body? Why shouldn’t we try and fix trans brains rather than their bodies? Is trans a perversion?
I learned never to take seriously any assertion about gender from someone who couldn’t tell me what gender was. How can you make statements about something you haven’t at least tried to understand in context?
I learned to value positive constructions over negative ones. Anyone can say “That’s bullshit!” but it takes some thought to assert your own beliefs in a way that engages challenges.
The world, though, didn’t value those questions the way that I did, as bright sparks of light that illuminated complex and nuanced networks of truth. They wanted answers, clear, crisp concise answers that justified and seemed to explain why we make our choices.
The goal wasn’t to understand or to expand understanding, it was to normalize and defend behaviours.
I still ask hard questions and I still get many who find me rude or stupid for doing so. Who am I to question other people’s assertions in the world? Who I am to challenge their claims and cast them in a different light?
I have no idea what the phrase “for all intents and purposes I am a woman” means. What is a woman? What are the intents? What are the purposes? I can understand how that kind of statement can fuel the fear of those who believe men are using legalese to invade places where women are protected.
I don’t really understand why it is courageous to take exogenous sex hormones for years without informing your spouse. Do hormones fix anything?
I question how participating in celebrity culture and the hard gender stereotypes that it plays for sensation makes you brave for wanting to indulge in them in a different way.
I love questions and I love process. I love the quest for clarity, going beyond conventional expectations to understanding and truth that brings out the continuous common humanity which connects us.
Rationalizations that shut down questions, enforce orthodoxy and justify indulgence, though, well, those are things that I really have to question.