Humans, you may have discovered, can run hot and cold.
They get all passionate, energized, and they get all distanced, shutting down and isolating themselves.
Once they get out of their norms, their standard operating temperatures, you can’t easily predict which way the heat will go, full on or full off.
Visible transpeople often take people out of their norms. By standing outside of gendered expectations, we can often make people start to vibrate at higher frequencies. They don’t quite know how to handle what doesn’t easily separate into binary visions, creating uncomfortable energy oscillations.
The choice many of us make to avoid this thermal shock is to try and blend in. Instead of challenging assumptions, we play inside of them. We work to stay seen as a man, as a woman, as a gay man or gay woman, no matter what we wear. We stay fixed in assumptions, whatever those may be; crossdresser, lesbian, drag, and so on.
When we work hard to blend in, though, we always end up policing ourselves, stilling and silencing anything that might cause a shock. We play small, using our own internalized shame to cut off the bits that might offend or disquiet. We play a role.
Some of us, though, can’t do that. We feel some need to be where we are, speaking from our own knowledge, working towards our own understanding. We need to enter our own dark, torrid and freezing places to claim ourselves beyond the fear of the dragon with “Thou Shalt” on every scale.
The work to own our own selves beyond the conventional separations of gendered expectations demands our own tempering, developing the capacity to go from hot to cold while retaining strength.
By adding a touch of enlightenment to our character, we become the equivalent of borosilicate glass, managing our own expansion coefficients to limit cracking under thermal stress. Hot to cold, we take the stress and keep going.
Other people find this astounding and terrifying. They see us in the zone and don’t understand, triggering both their own flames and their own coolness. Our ability to handle ourselves running hot and cold means that we can also handle their rapid fluctuations.
This ability can make us seem safe to others who haven’t yet mastered their own thermal differentials. Because we can handle our own tough places, they want or need us to help handle their darkness, the places where their own hot passion and cold fear collide.
It’s great to lend a hand, but no one can heal someone else. Special relationships that we think can heal us always turn out to be dead ends.
Even worse, for many people, they see our own visible tolerance as allowing them to act out. They lash out in fear and pain, trying to silence and destroy us as they want to silence and destroy their own troubling inner places. Their internalized suffering makes them want to find someone to blame, someone who is visible and seems to be challenging or mocking to them.
Anyone who owns an old, treasured piece of borosilicate Pyrex knows something troubling though. While the glass can take thermal shock, over time miniature internal stresses and fractures build up, creating damage that cannot be seen while it threatens the integrity and structure of the piece.
One day, when you go to use the piece in a way that you have done hundreds of times before, all those minuscule damages add up and boom, right in front of you, your lovely glass just shatters.
We learn to handle the shocks, but the costs add up. The Body Keeps The Score, as it were.
Learning to pamper and protect what we value, choosing not to expose it to every day abuse becomes habit. We feel the jolts and shocks acutely, knowing that even though we have toughened ourselves, limiting the costs of thermal shock, there is a cost to every use.
Humans run hot and cold. We can learn to handle those spaces where heat meets freeze, finding our own peace.
But that doesn’t make us invulnerable.