Where is the power of transgender in the world? Is it in our political stance or our emotional one, in our battling or in our kindness?
When we gather in trans spaces nowadays, either on the internet or in person, we are usually encouraged to think about our trans identity as a political force, each of us warriors in creating a world where transpeople have rights, respect and dignity.
This political emphasis make sense in a politicized world. In the news we keep hearing of political fights, sharp fights of doctrine and rhetoric, trying to draw new battle lines about who is evil and who is good. Sharp binaries are being pounded out everyday and if we are going to be marginalized, shouldn’t we fight back?
After all, what do transpeople share in common other than a political identity? We don’t come together to find partners or because we live in trans community; transgender is a very individual path. It is our political goals that can create unity, so it is these goals that activists use to try and create cohesion.
The problem with a political focus around transgender, though, is simple. Nobody comes out as trans for political reasons. Instead, we come out as trans for very personal, very emotional, very intense reasons that center around who we know ourselves to be in our heart.
When we come out we may have to fight political pressure to keep us hidden and silenced with every step, but we don’t come out to change the ruling structures in the world. We come out to show our hearts, to walk in harmony with our own nature.
In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.
Transgender visibility in the world is never about creating new separations between good and bad, between right and wrong, between us and them, rather it is always about what connects us on the beautiful spectrum of humanity.
Transgender visibility in the world is about compassion, understanding and respect for everyone expressing what is in their heart beyond the cheap and nasty expedient of binary, partisan, doctrinaire battles. We stand for connection, not for separation, stand for expanding love, not for codifying fear.
It’s easy for activists to say that we should be willing to throw ourselves into the political breach, entering the battle for good. That may be the easy way, but is it really the trans way? Are we best at entering the political fight between us and them or are we here to move beyond that fight, acting as the connective tissue, the tender linkage between that the world has always needed?
In the first episode of Jen Richards HerStory, a transwoman who is fighting for a place in a shelter is told by a lawyer that she shouldn’t accept a settlement because if she just keeps fighting for another year, her case can change the system. While this woman tries to explain her immediate struggle, the lawyer merely responds with a kind of cocky assurance of winning in the end rather than with any kind of compassion or support for the real and present struggle of her client.
When we see ourselves as shock troops, cannon fodder, warriors in the line of culture wars, how can we ever also see ourselves as tender, vulnerable human beings? If we are always in a battle, roused by the cries of activists all though trans spaces, how can we be anything but tough, hardened and aggressive?
Nobody signs up to be trans in the world because of some political ideology. We become visible to show our heart. We only take on the political armour to try and survive in a world where political binaries are used to batter and invalidate us.
Can transpeople ever really win by playing the binary, separation game? Or does playing their game always mean that we lose?
It is our shining hearts, full of the truth of our essence, that define and drive transpeople to emerge in the world.
It is our shining hearts, full of the truth of our essence, that hold the power for us to move beyond binaries and stand for the continuous common humanity which connects us all.
I’m going to suggest that what we need to come together for, what we need to stand for, what we need to fight for is a world where kindness reigns.
As transpeople, we need to value and respect the truth that lies inside of hearts, wherever they fall on the lines of possibility that connect every human being.
It is kindness we need, engagement of our own unique expression beyond the simple either/or of gendered binaries, and it is therefore kindness we need to give, affirming life, love and truth beyond separations.
The gift we crave, people seeing us for the very human contents of our heart rather than for the simple outlines of our body, is the gift we need to give away to get back in the world. You get more of what you value, so valuing kindness is the way to make more kindness in a world where too many fight for political battering.
Our battle is not primarily political, even if we live in a very political world that tries to cut us down, keeping us small and powerless.
Our challenge is to speak for continuous common humanity, for the unique spark that is a special part of the connection of us all.
That means, I suggest, that our most important role in the world is to stand for kindness, working to empower not just our expression beyond gender binaries, but to encourage everyone to open their minds and hearts beyond the crushing boundaries that politics often wants to impose.
It is what connects us that makes we humans so powerful, coming together in spectacular diversity and raging creativity to make a new and better world everyday. Love can build a bridge and the start of that power is always kindness.
In coming together, may you feel the kindness and respect of those around you, warming to embrace what makes you special and unique in the world.
And may you share that warmth with others around you, encouraging them to be less defended, less battling and more of their beautiful self in the world.
We become visible as transpeople to show the truth trapped in our heart by enforced political boundaries. Shouldn’t opening our heart, looking to the kindness and understanding of others, be part of giving our own kindness and respect back to the world?
Kindling the flame of kindness is the way we can bring more light and heat to the world.
Go and be the kindness you want to see in the world. Kindness is our power.
(In mind of FirstEvent happening this weekend.)