I was never able to pass as normative.
I was always, clearly and visibly, a weird kid.
This isn’t true for all transpeople. For many of them, they looked fine from the outside, learned how to be popular and appear well assimilated.
Me? Well, not so much. I told stories on my bus driver when I was four, stood up to a class full of peer pressure when I was ten, and never was one of the gang. I was a misfit, an outsider, a weirdo.
Part of this is how my mind works and part of this is a very strange family environment, with two Aspergers parents. As the oldest and mouthiest kid, I was the bleeding edge in my family, the scapegoat, taking the hits.
My younger brother told my sister how he got out, always finding other families to sort of take him in, until he finally joined his wife’s family, leaving us freaks behind.
That path wasn’t open to me, and it wouldn’t have been open to him without me taking the brunt. No respect, though; his wife wouldn’t approve it.
My strangeness is why I found queer so natural and comfortable. Lots of other transpeople wanted to run from normative to normative, keeping their difference compartmentalized, dismissed as play, or erased after a dash into “the closet at the end of the rainbow.”
From a very early age, I knew myself as an individual, not a group member. It was what I told the shrink when I was 12: I wanted to be who I am. This wasn’t a standard point of view for a pre-teen, but it made sense for someone who excelled in theology when they took an odd confirmation class at age ten.
I was class individualist my senior year, and have had more than one person tell me that they originally thought I was weird but after a time they came to like me. I never tried to be popular, assuming the quest was futile and pointless, so I always wanted to be respected more than I wanted to be liked.
The message I offer is deeply rooted in my experience of being the weird kid. It is the message of claiming your own individual creation, taking responsibility for your own choices, owning your own possibilities. The divine surprise for you to reveal is inside of you, unlocked by the little surprises in life that give you wisdom and bliss.
For people who have worked their lives to be tame, to fit in, to avoid being seen as weird, to run from their own queerness and blame others for outing them, this is a very tough message. It’s one that they will take a crumb or two from and then move on, rejecting the parts they see as too intense, too convoluted, too weird.
The survival strategies I learned early were about being safe in the world as a weird kid. They were about keeping my head buried in a book, observing the wider world with a sharp mind and a certain distance. I learned how to be apart from the world, how to keep a tough skin over the heart that I knew to be tender, feminine and under attack. Hermetic wisdom.
The ways we learn to defend ourselves are also the ways we learn to constrain ourselves. If you can’t imagine ever being popular and celebrated, you won’t take the shot to try and achieve that, instead staying safe and limited.
For me, my trans nature isn’t primary, it’s just part of what makes me a weird kids. My Jonathan Winters energy, my big memory, my sharp mind, my introversion, my theological viewpoint, my discipline around desire, they all are part of what makes me me.
When I meet someone, I always want to know what makes them them. I listen close, look for stories, find what they love and what they ignore, and love the ragged humanity that they can reveal.
Yes, I know. I’m weird that way. Many people don’t like being revealed and spend more time looking for how others can take roles in their story, recreating a family and getting what they believe that they need. I like insight, revelation and surprises. I need them; they are my meat.
I learned early that I was a weird kid. I was told I was weird by my parents, who couldn’t understand my non Aspergers brain. I was told I was weird by my teachers, by my classmates, and by people in the neighbourhood. I am still told I am weird, even by other people who might seem to be similar to me.
Many people tell me that my weirdness is my problem. They tell me I need to dial it back, to fit in better, to stop pushing people away, to just relax and be myself. What they don’t get is that I am being myself, that I am already modulating myself so as not to be too off-putting and challenging.
What few people tell me is that my weirdness is my salvation. I need to trust it, go into it, show it off more to show my vulnerable and compelling humanity.
This is what I tell you, though. Your weirdness — the wild, beautiful and unique way that your creator made you — contains the seeds of your salvation. That weirdness is the you you need to reclaim from the dragon with “Thou Shalt” on every scale, the you that is beyond fear and is suffused with authentic bliss.
I have lived in and on my own weirdness, trusting that it can serve me in caring for a family and for getting clear. Going there has given me peace and a good measure of serenity. Yes, it would be nice to be more popular, but I have never pandered for popularity in the past and won’t now. I just — and this is a bit of a sticking point — don’t trust popular.
At heart I’m a weird kid. I speak for the power of weirdness, for the joy of being who you are as a bold and authentic individual. For me, this is inseparable from the truth of being trans in the world, unique enough that your heart doesn’t fit the gender box you were assigned.
Is that too weird? I wouldn’t really know. I just find it very powerful and very human.