Wars Are Meant To Be Lost

As long as we see the challenge of trans inclusion as a battle, transpeople are always going to lose.   We only win when we see inclusion as an embracing of real, ambiguous and powerful humanity.

War is about exploiting chinks in your opponents armour, not about creating commonalities, is about about avoiding loss rather than creating wins.

I spent the first few years of being out as trans writing tip columns that got pasted into newsletters.

After that, I searched for meaning, trying to tease out the deceptions around trans from the truths we wanted to tell.   I sorted through a whole range of trans narratives to find the connections and confronted the rationalizations and justifications we used to find the meaning we wanted to convey and defend.

This included many a flame war on a list or on Usenet, with me often using satire to point out the absurdity of some of our assertions.

Around 2000, just after “The Guy-In-A-Dress Line” I left those spaces.   I ended a decade of work trying to keep the local trans group active, and my writing turned very personal, trying to tell the truth in a personal, vulnerable way.

After reading Jaime Holmes’  “Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing,” I understand why I stepped away from the battles.

Wars demand that people choose sides, come out and stand up for their beliefs.  To be in a fight demands that we strive for what we call absolutes, striving for closure in a way that drives out the kind of nuanced ambiguity that lives in the heart of every human.

There is a reason political hacks very much like a war footing.   It helps them activate their base of support by telling them that they have to react against threats to everything they value.

War is about us vs them, not about working together to find new ways to create safe, effective and empowering communities.   Wars create tragedies where usually the only winners are the arms merchants, the lawyers, or those who are secretly working a personal agenda for their own economic benefit.

To me, it was love, not war which would open hearts and offer the best hope for growing transgender inclusion.   When people act out of their politics, they want to draw battle lines, but when they act out of their hearts, they tend to draw lines of connection, building bridges.

It is only by celebrating the multi-dimensional ambiguity of humans across the span of our lives that we can respect and celebrate both our fundamental similarities and our essential differences.

When we go to war, the people who use the closure created by the stresses of division will always have the upper hand over those who speak for respect and connection.   All they have to do is find one fault, one misstatement, and use that to inspire derision and fear, creating a wave against.

Politicians today have learned to be very circumspect in their statements, trying to conceal any weakness.   For someone who wants to speak to humanity, though, weakness is our strong point, revealing vulnerability, nuanced truth and inspiring compassion.

Forcing people to make a choice is often forcing them to make the wrong choice.  Asking them to approach others with open hearts and minds allows them to relax, to embrace messy humanity, and come from their more gracious instincts.

In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.  That’s been my mission statement since I heard anthropologist Anne Bolin say it in the early 1990s.

Trying to recast trans as some kind of binary, either-or effect, rather than a celebration of the human heart over the forces that seek to impose separation and closure seems to me to be starting a fight that we can never win.

Our imaginary dream may be to change everything, to be seen as the figure we always wished to be, but our reality is a lot more human, a lot more powerful, and a lot more magical than that.   We transform beyond expectations just on the power of our own creation, touching hearts with deep knowledge and grace.

As long as we see the challenge of trans inclusion as a battle, transpeople are always going to lose.   We only win when we see inclusion as an embracing of real, ambiguous and powerful humanity.

We bring the heart, and in the end, the human heart always beats between us.

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