Ballsy Trans Power

“I just don’t have the balls to call out my boss like that,” my sister said to me.

She knows that women can find being ballsy useful and effective in the world.

For transwomen, though, showing that kind of ballsy attitude can feel like entering a danger zone.   Our inner police knows that being too ballsy will get us attacked while our trans expression will give people ground to remove our standing as women.

“Well,” they will sniff, “you know why they are so ballsy don’t you? It’s because they are really a vile man under that cheap and tawdry disguise!”

That is somewhere that we usually want to avoid going.

And that is sad.

While the people who attack us want to use our ballsy approach to kneecap us, trying to discredit, humiliate and embarrass us, it is precisely that ballsy attitude that the people who like us admire so much.

We are ballsy enough to show ourselves, ballsy enough to speak our own truth, ballsy enough to break through convention, ballsy enough to stand up as an individual.

Our supporters love the idea of us as the spoon of the ice breaker, crushing through blockages to open up space for them to follow through.  If we are brave and bold enough to be the bleeding edge then that’s what we should do, crashing down old barriers to create freedom for all!

The people who want to be our allies don’t know how to be next to us or in front of us, but they love the idea of coming up behind us, celebrating the way we make a smash.

They want us to be the change agents, the fear eaters, the ones who show up hale & hearty to reach out, make connections, form new networks, take the lead.   They want us to be inspiring and transcendent, overcoming our broken bits to give an example to those more fortunate.

Now, the idea that we have used up most of our vigor just trying to be ourselves in the world, just trying to face down the massive and nasty resistance based on the fallacy of the binary that we have faced all of our lives, well, that’s not something most people can understand.  After all, we have done what they would have found impossible; surely we can do more, be more dynamic and forward!

We may know that we do what we do for ourselves and even then at a high price over a lifetime, but they imagine, somehow, that we do what we do for them, standing to make freedom and breath for all, in whatever small way they want to take part in it.

To them, we are the conquering heroes, not the poor shlubs who just barely are still standing after desperately needing to claim our own truth.

And us?   We see the nasty naysayers, we feel the crippling scars, we are consumed by the voice of our inner police, just trying to find a way to fit in, be accepted and get a little part of the love we so desperately need.

We just don’t have the energy to be the healers for this world, even if that is a role that people understand for us somewhere deep in their atavistic social understanding.   We have always been healers and bridges, always helped the community move beyond and through, but that role worked much more effectively at a time when we had respect, dignity and community in being the shamans.

Today, we understand the need to negotiate peoples fears in a way that tears at our skin, but all our power to do that work has been consumed just in trying to negotiate our little place in this big, noisy world.   We aren’t claimed by communities as their beloved and queer transcendent beings, we are abused and silenced into stifling ourselves as much as possible.

Being bold and bright and above the fray is a wonderful place to be.   I just wish it was easier to pull it off after a day of being pounded by the third gotcha and being held at arms length by so many people.

It isn’t really a warm and safe place to be, rather it is a place where we have to bring the safety by dialing up the queer in the room to 7, letting other people let out a little more than they usually would if there was nobody to get the joke and take the focus off them.

In my business days, I used to always be the first one to stay something stupid in a meeting so that I could establish a sense of psychological safety which helped encourage other people to drop their masks.

I know how to do that iconoclastic pose as a drag queen, as a guy-in-a-dress, as a wacky eccentric, as an androgynous queer, but as a transwoman, well, the performance feels very exposed and dangerous.    That’s a line which is hard to explain.

Is it ironic that I have to keep up a kind of clown mask to help people drop their work masks?   Ironic and painful.

People love the performance of queer, of selfless ice breaking and moving boundaries.   They often assume that transpeople should be capable of delivering that zip, but they don’t understand that we have gone beyond performance to exposure, showing ways in which we want to be vulnerable, tender, and embraced.

I do not know how to reveal my tender trans heart and perform the invulnerable & eccentric mouthy queer at the same time.   I can do one or the other, but doing both feels like burning a candle at both ends, using myself up without the reward of being seen, understood and valued in a way that nourishes me.

One of those roles is about service to the group, meeting them where they are, simplifying and being who the team needs and the other is about personal revelation, complex, intense and real.

People love the idea that somehow, transpeople can be the spark plug in the room, transcending and transcendent, helping the group move beyond limiting conventions to a next step of freedom and release.

They want us to bring the ballsy into the room, assuming that if we can be ballsy enough to claim our own liberation, we can be the people who give them freedom of expression too.

Ballsy, though, often feels dangerous, counterproductive and just bad for us to do in the world, opening us up to people unable to see our trans hearts.

I know what they would like.  I know what I need.  After a lifetime, though, well, I just don’t know how to put those two together.

Magic Pills

God help me, I’m just like every other transperson.

When I went to the doctor to talk about hormones, I wanted the damn magic pills, or patches or potions, whatever.

What I got was a list of what they wouldn’t do and a recitation of the risk factors, many relevant to me.

Of course, this was no surprise to my thoughtful mind.  I knew the limits of exogenous hormones in the late 1980s when I first decided that they didn’t hold enough magic for me.

My wishful bit though, well, it’s always looking for magic.   As long as we are breathing, we have at least a flickering hope of magic changing everything for the better.

I was talking to someone whose long time neighbour committed suicide this week.

“She seemed hopeful last week,” she told me.  “What happened on this day to make her want to stop hoping, to give up, to make the choice to call game over?”

Last week, there was still a hope that magic would come.  And then, then there wasn’t.  She let the vodka and pills take her away.

In the middle of my appointment, one marked by a serious blood pressure spike, I realized that’s what I was looking for: magic.

I knew the pills couldn’t change my bones or my vocal chords, knew they wouldn’t remove all the pesky hair I don’t want and regrow the hair I do want, wouldn’t make me younger,  wouldn’t make me more sexy and attractive, wouldn’t make my body all curvy and perfect.

What they might, do, maybe, was help give me peace of mind, give me some renewed optimism and vitality.  They might contain some hope.

The PA I saw was used to transpeople wanting instant magic.   She sees a lot of that.

She wasn’t used to, though, someone who has been out as trans for over 30 years.   I knew the answers, knew what she needed to say.   I have known it for two decades now.

Yet, still, somewhere inside me I want the damn magic.

At one point ShamanGal was so obsessed with hormones that she made her mother bring them to work after she missed a daily dose.   Waiting until she got home was too much.

After a few periods off hormones to prepare for orthopedic surgeries, though, she has learned they aren’t magic.  Sure, she’d rather be on them than off, but the anti-depressants she resisted for so long have helped her much more to see clearly.

One reason I went, though, is because my primary care doctor didn’t want me to go.  He doesn’t think intervention is a good idea, doesn’t believe in emergence.  He called a patient who had a vaginoplasty “he.”    Not safe space, and not going to help much.

I need, I want, I crave magic.

In my case, I don’t crave magic because I am unwilling or unable to do the work of facing the world as it is, of understanding the situation, of working through my own emotional issues in order to get clear.    My ability to do that is proven, recorded in excruciating detail.

The magic I need is invisibility or invulnerability, the power to walk in spaces without stirring fear or the power to not have people’s fear responses affect me.

Operating out of the bubble, dropping the armour, walking with confidence and grace in the world in spite of the crippling scar tissue built up over the decades, the effects of stigma that wanted to keep me small and neutered through imposing a sweeping binary onto me, well, that seems impossible.

All the PA can offer, though, isn’t very much, she agrees, just the same limited protocol that medicos have prescribed for fifty years now.   For those with the right body, changes can be made when supplemented with silicone, but it is not magic and she knows that.

Somehow, the magic I crave goes right to the strapline; I need something for the loneliness, something to make me found in community rather than being lost.

Where is the moment when one no longer has the wherewithal to hold out and wait for the magic, to hope for that transformational revelation which brings comfort, safety and the chance to stop having to hold your breath just to get through another day?

Every human hopes for magic. (1995) Some of us, though, need it more than others, need to believe that we will find a place where we are seen, understood, valued and cared for rather than facing struggle and the fears of others.

I understand the way of the world.

But damn, I would like some lovely magic.

No Work Face

What Project Aristotle has taught people within Google is that no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when they get to the office. No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy. We can’t be focused just on efficiency. Rather, when we start the morning by collaborating with a team of engineers and then send emails to our marketing colleagues and then jump on a conference call, we want to know that those people really hear us. We want to know that work is more than just labor.
-- Charles Duhigg, "What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team", New York Times, 25 February 2016

I am an organizational culture junkie. I love the process of people coming together to do great things. I give fantastic meeting.

This article deepened my breathing and break out in a bit of sweat.  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

“We want to know that those people really hear us.”  Yes.

I’m going to go and softly weep now, for the beauty of the simple lesson I have spoken for so long being discovered again in a huge, data driven Google project and then trumpeted in The New York Times Magazine.

Yes.

Tough Tough

Excuse me, oh world, for not being tough enough.

I have tried, yes I have tried, how hard I have tried to be tough enough to exist inside of your rules.

Respecting boundaries is what I have done, have scraped and sweated for, have denied myself for.   The grace of understanding that people not only don’t understand, they also don’t want to understand, don’t want to have their comforting walls toppled, has been at the centre of my hard fought battle.

I recently heard of a psychiatrist tell a transwoman that she needed to keep good boundaries, keep her queerness and intensity for spaces where people might understand, not expecting most people to be comfortable, to be safe to be understanding of their trans nature because, after all, he doesn’t really understand trans.

He advised her to suck it up, to play by the rules, to keep good boundaries, to not be in people’s faces and expect them to react well or even react without fear and fury.   She has support systems, he reckons, and she should use those and not dump on people who don’t get it, you know, like her psychiatrist.

Help for tempering only, he offers, rations of drugs and comments from his life, from whatever shared understanding he happens to have.

This is a classic liberal attitude; I am cool with you doing what you need in the world as long as you don’t shove what makes me uncomfortable into my face.  I respect your right to be different, will tolerate you, but not if it demands work or costs me with a challenge to my comfortable assumptions.

I know what this means; there is no magic support zone for transpeople, inside of which we are safe just to be ourselves.   We are a collection of individuals desperately struggling to fit inside social boundaries that have no fit for us.

Each one of us is obligated to be their own police, to service their own boundaries, to stay within the box of their story, walled in by the rationalizations we have found to keep us appropriate and tolerable in the world.

Our coming together involves a clash of constraints, a slashing battle over the right and wrong ways to be trans in the world, a political projection of proper which slashes and cuts to reduce us to proper.

The lesson is simple: if you want to be visible as trans in the world, you have be tough, tough, tough.   You need to choose your own strategy for being tough in the world, pick a technique to keep your head down and avoid the blows which come from people who are just freaked out and need to impose their own expectations onto a shifting, shimmering, creative world.

Excuse me, oh world, for not being tough enough.

I have tried, yes I have tried, how hard I have tried to be tough enough to exist inside of your rules.

I have have stayed trans-natural, avoiding claims both of magical hormones & surgery and avoiding assertion of birth defects that the doctor just worked to repair.

I have stayed aesthetic, denying my desires that might be fetishistic, perverted and offensive to community standards.   I don’t wear my sexual Eros on my sleeve.

I have been of service, to my family, to my community, to others, putting their needs before my own, taking the hits to be appropriate in my giving, working to find redemption in offering up my life to those around me.

I have kept my expression to do the work of enlightenment, offering my presence and my words to others who need to gain a deeper understanding so they can find discipline and balance beyond their pain and suffering.   My trans expression has been linked to my work.

I have always attenuated myself when others are disquieted, struggling to not throw people into their own fears and darkness but to be graceful and gracious in relationship.   Too many times have I been told that I am big, smart, intense and overwhelming not to know that I need to work hard, hard not to scare the horses.

In other words, I have learned to be tough, tough, tough.   Trans-natural, atheistic denial , service, enlightening and attenuated took all the toughness I had and more.   It allowed little room for play, for release, for freedom, for naked.

Tough, tough, tough, tough, I have been so tough for so, so, so bloody long, resisting calling past the point of self-destruction to stay appropriate.   I have been tough for my family, tough for my community, tough for my neighborhood, tough for the world, grinding myself away to fit into appropriate and modulated.

What was the other choice?   To be so out there that I couldn’t be tame, couldn’t fit into the group, couldn’t maintain connections with others?   To be so wild and individualistic that I didn’t feel the horror, disgust and disquiet of those around me when they glimpsed my queerness?

I picked my own way to be tough, my own model for shaping appropriateness of approach, my own thoughtful way to merge being true to what I knew and tame in the world.   It cost me, I know, but that was one of the first lessons I learned about being trans & liminal in a world that venerates hard binaries, that whatever actions I chose, I was going to pay a high, high cost.

Lie or be called a liar, I knew from the earliest days of understanding that my heart didn’t meet the manly expectations pounded onto my body.

From such a tender age I knew that my only option was just to choose what kind of tough I would be able to be.   Just being who I was inside while living in the myopic view of others was always, always, always gonna be tough, going to demand that I be tough enough to take it.

I have been so tough, so tough in my ways, so shaped by scarcity and lack of effective mirroring that I just can’t get tougher, can’t even keep up the old toughness.

My toughness may have offered up what I could to the world around me, offering kindness, compassion, service and understanding, but it has left me skint.

Excuse me, oh world, for not being tough enough.

I have tried, yes I have tried, how hard I have tried to be tough enough to exist inside of your rules.

But now, I just may have to try something else.  Maybe.

Your Own Ass

Here’s the thing: like so many effeminate young men, I was convinced that I was a strict bottom.

People convinced me that because I was fem, that I was a bottom, you know?

And do you know what that is?

That is heteronormativity infecting our community.

And we don’t fucking need it!

Heterosexuals don’t even fucking need it!

No one should tell you what position you have to take in bed.

It doesn’t matter if you’re tall, thin, large, short, whatever, male, female, no one has the right to tell you you’re supposed to take it up the ass.

Jinkx Monsoon, actual cinnamon roll of wisdom (x)

Kaleidoscopic Seduction

What if I had 2 minutes and 15 seconds to wow an audience of aesthetes?

Naked is out.

To come out, to show yourself, is to be exposed.

Without velvet skin in the game, people can't feel the heat, can't grasp the connection, can't feel the pull.

Everyday I get naked.   A shoulder here, a kneecap there, the nape of my neck somewhere else.

Revelation, respect, searching for human-human touch, sight, smell, vision beyond, of melding.   Tongues of presence across the flesh, miniature merging into assurance of hot shared breath across the silken divide.

My brain, my sight, my experience, my scent, my heart all teased on display, offered as vulnerable flow for affirmation, for affection, for assurance.

Naked I get, out in the world, revelling in revelation, suggestive offer to embrace a dance.

Returned, though, comes kaleidoscopic changes, flashes from the inner turmoil of voyeurs.  Through their eyes I see a lenticulated me, all components and captures, all torsion and tension.

I stand naked and they stand tortured.   Glimpses of what their habits desire, sparks of what their ego fears beyond easy boundaries of comfort and pretense.

Lines of my body, toss of my hair, grace of my soul set free beyond conventional desire to a place of twisty and complex humanity.

Clinging to what they know, reflecting me in fears and foibles, pulled to the intensity melting their assumptions.

Heat flares with flashes of torrid exposure, quickly cooled into erratic pools of hardened approach, deeply chilled by alarm at the whiff of transformation.

Naked me meets frozen them, feeling them back away as they seek to cast me in their own screenplay, pushing me into a role already drawn and quartered.

My skin is hot but their touch is cold, denying the torrent and flow of passion within as they have learned to sculpt themselves into normative forms.   They are compelled and terrified towards what lies beyond their tiny expectations, lies in the place beyond, seeping magma of human power beyond dalliance.

Naked is out.  To come out is to show yourself, is to be exposed.

Won't you be the one to get naked with me?

Gendershift Archive

Well, I have made it into the Digital Transgender Archive, https://www.digitaltransgenderarchive.net/

There are two pieces from 1995 (and at least two earlier pieces which were re-published without authorization.)

One is my IFGE keynote speech that was picked up by Dallas Denny, quite literally as she came up to me after I gave it and demanded my typescript for the archive, and put in Chrysalis Quarterly.    That was the first time I met Kate Bornstein, who performed her amazing “Voice Lesson” just before me.

My message has stayed quite consistent for the last two decades.

The other is from the July 1995 Renaissance News & Views.  Angela Gardner picked it up from Holly Boswell’s Gender Quest newsletter, which my work appeared in quite regularly, second only to TGIC’s The Transgenderist.

It’s not up in any searchable text form, like much of my early work, so I share it here. Continue reading Gendershift Archive

Anxiety Up

The basic point of being flayed, of being beaten with a multi-tongued whip which repeatedly tears at your flesh, is to impart enough physical and psychological trauma to make you want to avoid doing whatever it was that got you tortured again.

I went out for the first time after my incident in the parking lot and what I noticed is that my anxiety levels are very, very high. I am gun-shy, repeatedly seeing reminders of that experience which trigger high stress levels in me.

My anxiety is never about what other people will do, about the stresses of living in the world.  My anxiety is always about me, how I will contort and twist under that pressure, crumbling inside while having to maintain an appearance of stability, appropriateness and even grace in the face of what is hurting me.

The only thing I can control is my reaction, making a conscious choice in the moment between stimulus and response.   This was a very early lesson for me, needing to keep in control even when I felt under assault, threatened and emotionally shattered.

There is, however, a clear, sharp and brutal price to that behaviour.  I know I can pull up my mind, be defensive, go into concierge mode and do the proper thing, but I also know that my willpower is about totally shot after decades of living in paucity, facing the mind capturing scarcity of understanding, mirroring, love and caring.

My anxiety levels are up, way up.   I don’t feel safe in the world, don’t believe that I have the reserves to find ways to face even more shit.

Enough battering, enough isolation, well, it will break your body, mind and spirit.   Your experience tells you that abuse is the rule, not the exception, tells you that warmth and safety are not for you.

Being needy in the world is a bad way to be.   People are focused on their own needs, their own concerns, their own fears.   They don’t have energy or focus to deal with much stuff outside their purview.  Appear a bit too challenging and you won’t get asked back, won’t be welcomed, won’t be valued.

One solution to this is supposed to be service, being there for others.  It’s a solution I gave my life to, though without much reward at all.

The nail that sticks up gets pounded down.  How stupid was I not to give in to my Aspergers parents, to heterosexist normativity, to a world which doesn’t want to see and think?

I learned to know the lash.  Back in the day, Christine would often look at my back and see stigmata which surprised and disturbed her, even if they weren’t the marks of actual floggings.

Speaking my piece is what I do, what I have always done, but it rarely brings me peace. Communication without feedback is just monologue.  I work hard to listen well, to help people process, but I am aware they have difficulty listening to me.

“That’s fine” is my only soothing, a rational understanding that people are where they are, are doing what they need to do and will heal in their own time and their own way.  “Sure, they shut me down, but that’s fine,” I will say to myself, “they are doing the best that they can.”   That’s fine.  That’s fine.  That’s fine.

But it isn’t, of course.  It hurts like hell.

Trying to fit between their limited possibilities and my unmet needs, though, has always been where I get ground away.   Do I show myself and let them act out or do I play small and feel my own shame and denial?   How do I attenuate myself to be who they can accept while being big enough to feel affirmed for who I am not just th way I service them?

Walking through the minefield, staggering between feeling inadequate and feeling overwhelming has worn the crap out of me.    My body tells me what my years of denial has cost me, but my threadbare feelings tell me the cost of being exposed, present and visible costs me.

The smart thing to do is rarely the joyous thing to do.   Discipline is great, but without abandon, it becomes cost without reward, especially if you had to start implementing the plan of mental toughness & denial well before you were seven years old.

Being the grown up without living in rich connection, well, that leaves you skint.   Sacrificing for love is one thing, but sacrificing just to get through another damn day is another.   When we feel dismissed and abandoned, erased and devalued, we question the worth of our hard, hard, hard work to be effective in the world.

Who heals the healers?   Who cares for the caretakers?   Who parents the parents?    Where do we get nurturing, compassion, safety and love when we are frayed to the point of breaking?    Where do I go to feel touched, seen, mirrored and validated?

Without support to recover and renew, shutting down becomes the only option.   Sure I pull out my mental tricks to process and understand, to put things in context, but over time the result is that I become faster and clearer to see what is going on in front of me.   And that is usually people putting up their rationalizations and defenses, shutting me down and out.

It’s lovely to imagine me finding community where I feel included, embraced, and respected, but the practicality of finding such a magical place is very limited. Life is full of bumps, of costs to pay, especially in the process of trying to find and fit in and my accounts are depleted.

In the end, the very techniques I found to stay stable become a block to my integration.   I’m just too cerebral, too sharp, too intense, too queer, too overwhelming to be useful as anything but a knife to be used and thrown away.   Sure, I come in handy, but being easy and connected with me?   Too hard, too challenging.   My skills are my edge and my edge is disquieting.

I am who I am, I know that.   And after being in this skin for many decades, I know the costs of being me in the world.    I know what it feels like to be flayed by the world when I show up too much and be flayed by my own pain when I play too small, run too cold.

My anxiety is flaring, badly.   And I have no idea what to do about it.   The cycle of becoming too sensitive and then not being able to get past that sensitivity plays out, just like it has so many, many times in my life.

Change seems out of reach for me, crushed between the limits of my reserve and the patterns of this society.

That’s nothing new, of course, but as Joseph Campbell would remind us, we come into this separated world to experience the finite, to be forced to make hard choices.

Hard, hard choices.

Act Like

So, what does a Power Femme Drag Mom Trans Theologian act like, anyway?

This is the challenge that every actor has when they take on a role, trying to cobble together a pastiche of choices to create a performance which reads like the character they are assigned to play.

It is, of course, also the challenge that every human has, though we don’t approach it in the same way.   We aren’t trained in the talent of slipping in and out of character, don’t have a team of writers, directors, coaches and stylists behind us to help shape our performance to be most effective.

More than that, what every human has to convey is always more complex and more nuanced than any actor has to play.   We carry a lifetime into every moment, not just the heavily crafted and delicately edited intent of the scene.

Sometimes I wonder what someone who had to play me in a movie would choose to do.

I know that I would find their performance lacking because it would be so oversimplified, but I wonder if I might find it moving because they can polish the choices to be touching and potent in a way that escapes me with all my damn baggage.

They could be all focused energy and considered choices, going over and over their scenes until they mastered the moment.   I, on the other hand, would be pulled in all directions at once, trying to be my own crew, directing and playing the scene, managing my own costume and continuity and everything else.

Although people around me know that I am on my own, they also expect a polished and perfected performance.     They judge me on my focus, on how they read my presence, on the power I project, while everything they don’t get is noise and clutter that just makes me more confusing.

The notion that wounded healers are powerful because of their wounds, because their heart has been torn open, because they are sensitive enough to see what others find invisible is hard for people to grasp.

They prefer people who seem to know all the answers rather than people who live actively in the questions.  To them, healing should look like the kind of healing they imagine for themselves, being above feelings, challenges and hurt.   Smooth missionaries who can charm people are the support they want, offering instant assurance over the messy challenge of doing the hard work of becoming themselves.

In other words, they have been taught to want preachy preachers, ones who offer clear boundaries, rather than teachy preachers, ones who offer questions that focus on connection.

In my experience, there are no shortcuts to healing and growth.   You have to do the work, personally, not just give your problems to someone who is comforting and solid, another parent to take care of you.  Hand holding and hugs may be appealing, but someone with high expectations of your capacity to become better will usually help more.

I am the kind of person who can offer useful reflections for others, both of their possibilities and of their blockages.   I have compassion, wit and insight offering both encouragement and kind, useful criticism.

What, though, is the performance which conveys this message?   How do I show a persona for which there are no easy archetypes, no simple and well understood codes?

If Meryl Streep was playing me in the movie, how would she carry off communicating the essence of the character?   How does she be both potent and endearing, both cutting and tender?

More than that, do I even have the chops to be as good as she would be when being me?   Let’s face it; there is a reason why Ms. Streep earns the big bucks.

I sometimes joke when I enter a new space that I will just go over and sit with the other trannies.   Of course, there are very rarely other transpeople in the space and even if there are, it is doubtful I will easily blend in with them.

There is no conventional way for transpeople to act.    There are some stereotypical bits, but those often feel more like clownish, marginalizing behaviours rather than useful ways to express a trans soul.

Recently, the winner of a transgender beauty pageant had her title revoked, her prizes withdrawn because the organizer decided she looked too much like a gay man in a film about the event.   She was deemed insufficiently trans to carry the flag because she didn’t always present a perfectly femaled image.

Considering that the prize included cash towards genital reconstruction surgery in India, would any of the contestants be perfectly femaled?   Would any transwoman ever be perfectly femaled?   Isn’t that what makes us trans, the way our bodies cross pure expectations?

In “A Billion Wicked Thoughts,” Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam found that the primary consumers of shemale porn are straight guys get aroused by boobs AND cocks. Images of the mixture just gets them all heated up in much the same way stories of brilliant and dangerous vampires do it for straight gals because straight guys, well, they just love cocks.   Apparently, in eye-line studies, straight guys check out men’s crotch areas more than straight women do.

I have had my kids in the neighborhood chase my car hoping to catch a glimpse of a wacky, glamorous drag queen, only to be disappointed to find a boring old tranny.   I would love to think they saw a woman of trans experience, but I suspect in their mind, they saw a guy-in-a-dress.

The archetypes for trans expression in this binary, heterosexist culture are limited, mostly to cheap stereotypes.  Transpeople who don’t fit into those boxes are scary, especially when they show the power of moving beyond expected and comfortable ranges to pose questions that disquiet people, squicking them.

So what does a Power Femme Drag Mom Trans Theologian act like, anyway?

How does she navigate taking power in the world without just making “everybody” feel queasy and threatened?

Does she try and hide parts of who she is?

Does she assume that she doesn’t need to give people room for their own feelings and just plow on?

Does she take responsibility for the emotional stuff she stirs up in others, where they are triggered?

Does she live inside her own defenses, holding fast to her own belief stories no matter what shit comes?

Does she reach out or does she let people come to her?

The only thing I am sure of is that if Meryl Streep played her she would always get the right response because the people around her would also follow the script.   It doesn’t work that way for me with people getting antsy and going cold on me.

How do I act like who I am in a world where people don’t know anyone else like me?

Suspected Predator

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I am walking down a main aisle at Target.

A mother with a shopping cart comes out of an aisle to my right, cutting in front of me, followed by her brood.

As she looks at me, stopped to let her and her family pass, her face freezes while she reads something different about me and then it drops into mommy danger mode.

“Guys!” she calls out urgently, rallying the kids in the face of a suspected predator.

They clear the path in front of me and I move on.

“I don’t know why people get frightened of transwomen,” a therapist said to me years ago.

“If this guy is off the chain enough to wear a dress in public, what else is he capable of?” I answered.

“Oh!  Of course that’s it,” she replied.

The bathroom issue isn’t about bathrooms, of course.  It’s about keeping the world safe for children by eliminating the scary looking people who arouse parents sense of danger.   They can’t find a way to ban transpeople from ever being visible to children, so they work to protect the sacred refuge from guys in dresses.

There is no logical sense to this argument, of course; most predators work very hard to look innocuous.   They bottle up their desire rather than trying to show it gracefully in the world, staying mostly hidden like icebergs.

As a transperson, I’m just not supposed to notice this shit.   It’s about them and not about me, I know on a thoughtful level.

“I relax by driving fifty miles to an out of town [supermarket] where I wander the aisles dressed as a sexy woman,” goes one joke message to radio host Alan Partridge on the new Mid-Morning Matters.  “As I sashay around the store, I can hear people whisper ‘Who the hell is that sexy woman?'”

We know he is a clueless tranny.

But as a woman wo thinks like a mom, I notice.  It warns me to stay small, hidden and as nonthreatening as possible.   I see when women fall into defense mode, create a barrier, protecting themselves and their families from who knows what.

For visible transpeople, especially transpeople who went through puberty as male, walking in the world is a political act.   We are disguised men, capable of all the horror that men are seen to pose in the world, only worse.

I am a phobogenic object.    And I hate it.

On Bravery

A response to Just Because I’m Transgender Doesn’t Mean I’m Brave by Bethany Grace Howe

The kind of bravery that people automatically assign to transpeople is the same kind that they assign to people with cancer.   We are facing something that scares them and not lying down, not rolling over, so we must be braver than they are.

The problem with that model, people bravely fighting cancer or people bravely being out and trans, is that it puts the “brave” ones on a pedestal, separating them from the normal people.

Everyone is a messy, fragile human struggling to keep it together while they do the right thing.

Do cowardly people, regular people, just curl up and die of cancer?   No, they face it in the best way they can, making the best choices.   You don’t have to be brave to have cancer flare up in you and you don’t have to be brave to be born with a trans heart.

I think you are brave, but I don’t think that bravery makes you any different than any other human who faces a challenge and makes the best choices they can to live well while facing it.

With cancer, that challenge is biological, facing something that no one has an easy fix for.

With trans, that challenge is social, facing something that lives in people’s training and expectations, something many people have gotten past.

When people believe that it is honoring someone to call them brave for facing the challenges in their life, they seem to separate out the brave from the normal people.   When we didn’t choose our challenges but were handed them, we didn’t choose bravery either, no matter how strong we have to be to make hard choices.

Having to be brave, though, not to face disease but only the internalized fears of people who cling to their binary expectations, people who want to maintain separations between good people like them and sick people like us, well, that’s just crap.

Pointing us out as brave feels like just another way to separate us from normalcy.   We are brave because we are broken, they seem to say, and we face that brokenness with the transcendent bravery of those who are screwed by nature.

Pedestals are just another way to keep us vs them separations, and while they may be comfortable to those who want to claim normalcy, it is precisely those damn separations that keep us down, keep us battered, and keep us wanting to hide under the covers rather than face their shit.

Everyone is scared and everyone is flawed and everyone is challenged and everyone is brave because everyone is human.

Separating me out just feels like demanding that I take the weight, take the load of your assumptions.   It feels like you are demanding that I do the brave thing to face fear and hate rather than asking the terrified people who attack me to do the right thing and follow the golden rule.

People who call me brave, I know, want to compliment me.   They don’t understand how putting people like me on a pedestal allows others to stay comfortably wallowing in the mud.

But from where I stand, the view is very clear.

Reflective Understanding

Wernher von Braun was upset that his Army rocketry group wasn’t allowed to launch an earth orbiting satellite with their Jupiter C rocket.  Instead, the government bet on a Navy and civilian project, the Vanguard, a project that looked more “All-American.”

After the Vanguard failed, the Soviets launched Sputnik, becoming the first in space and changing the views of the world.  This opened the way for Von Braun’s Juno I to be the first American rocket to launch an orbital satellite.

At the time, von Braun was upset.   They had been beaten by the USSR because of political investment in face.

In the end, though, that loss lead to von Braun’s biggest win.   Because the US needed to recover dominance, President Kennedy committed to send a mission to the moon and Von Braun got to build the Saturn V, arguably the most powerful launch vehicle ever created.

What looked like a massive loss for von Braun, an overwhelming failure, laid the seeds for his greatest triumph.    This was impossible to see at the time, of course.

It’s really hard to remember at the time that loss often carries the seeds of much greater victory inside of it.   Rebirth requires death, so until you can break though at one level, by failing and learning where change is needed, you can’t move on to better.

Suggesting that failure can be a good thing often brings a response of indignity and disgust.  We fight so hard to be perfect, to achieve what we believe we want, that failure is seen as a crushing blow to our ego and our standing, not as an opportunity for reflection and growth.

Looking back, though, we often can see how our most painful failures created fertile ground for new successes, as impossible as that seems at first glance.

That doesn’t mean we find it easy to talk about the possibility of transcendence while in the midst of dealing with loss.   The traditions around loss involve bemoaning it not finding ways to find a miracle in it.   Instead of looking for possibility, we look to find something or someone to blame, focusing our anger away from our own need for growth.

Smashing our hopes opens up our view of reality, moving us from the dreamy to the possible, at least a little bit.   We see where work is still needed, understand what is too far a reach, at least for today, are able to redirect our efforts in a more specific way.

We can’t do, that, though, as long as we stay stunned by the smash, raging over fault and insisting that everything has to go our way.    If we are only able to accept gifts packaged the way we want them wrapped, we can’t value the surprising gifts that just come to us out of the sky.

Loss is loss and it will always touch us.   It can shatter our expectations and break our heart.

In that loss, though, in the way it opens our eyes moves us beyond impossible hopes, often lies the seeds of more and better success.

Is it hard to say “Amen” to loss, hard to be grateful for what we see as defeat, hard to accept that pain can lead to promise?   Sure.

But when we put our life in context, building a reflective understanding, we can know that often loss is for the best, redirecting us and opening new pathways to success.

Thank you, God, for my life and for my losses.  Thank you for teaching me not to be so stubborn and resistant, for opening me beyond my petty expectations and fears.  Thank you for breaking my heart and my dreams.

You bastard.

Whispering Dreams

People may be loud about the way that they fit into the expectations of others — what they also hate, how they also suffer, where they agree — but somehow, we are rarely as vociferous about where we differ from the people around us.

We are noisy about our shared travails, but we are quiet about our unique visions.   We know that our family and peers won’t buy, so after we float a little trial balloon, we back off, turn it down, keep ourselves on the QT.

The more precious, powerful and different bits we have are the ones that we keep most hidden.

We shout about how we meet expectations, but we just barely whisper about our most potent dreams.

Having those secret dreams crushed would just be too much for us.   We would be too vulnerable, too exposed if people knew where we held our own unique visions of what is possible.

If you love someone, really love them, then one of the most important things you can do is listen closely when they whisper.

Accessing and affirming their deepest dreams, the ones they keep protected in their own darkness, well, that is the way you help them blossom in the world, help them become so much more powerfully themselves.

The tender parts of us are where our own distinctive and unique power has been pounded down in the process of teaching us to fit in, to be one of the gang.   We are tamed into concealing our own wild hopes, into submerging our own bold creativity.

Anyone can affirm the comfortable and appropriate in someone, but affirming the exquisite and shimmering takes more.

When someone you love whispers, listen.

Be there to mirror that small, tenuous, trepidatious voice, showing that you hear it, revealing that you support them even in the places they are afraid to claim.   Help them trust that revealing their dreams is the first step to embodying their dreams, becoming bigger, more potent and more powerfully themselves in the world.

The most potent bits that we can share are first exposed in whispers.    We want to see if anyone will say “Yes!” or if we need to hide our oh so special parts away again.

Listening close, really close, lets you hear, expose and affirm the deepest parts of other people.

To cherish someone’s dreams, you have to care about their whispers, about what lies beyond and behind the big noises they make.

All deep dreams first surface as whispers.   Only some of them, though, get enough love to help change a life, change a community or even to change a world.

Resistance Is Futile

The basic problem with our mother in the sky is that she works in time frames we can only imagine.

As humans, we live day by day, moment by moment.   We face challenges in our own time and our own way, making comfortable and convenient choices, trying to make them stick.

Life, though, isn’t lived in a day, a year, or maybe not even in a lifetime; who knows?   That’s the scale the universe works in though, plenty of time to be relentless, plenty of opportunities to come back to the lessons which just need to be embodied.

We can resist dropping our defences, try holding out to try and make the world work the way that we want it to, try to impose our will on other people to make them heal on our schedule and in the way that we want them to, but in the end, the only thing we have any direct control over is our own choices.

Even then, we only have limited control over our choices because we are who we are, at the place we are at, so not all options are available to us.   We live in context, living in a world where choices must be made in finite reality rather than infinite possibility, where every decision has consequences making chains of effect.

The ripples of the world affect us.  We cannot isolate ourselves from them.  Trying to avoid them completely, struggling to impose our own will over those chains of connection is as impossible as controlling eternity: resistance is futile.

Give me the courage to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.

Surrendering to the pain, the drama, the trauma we have resisted entering for so, so long feels like crap.   It feels like loss and it feels like failure.

It is that surrender, though, that moves us along towards growth and healing, blowing the obstacles out of our path, letting light and love in.  When we are driven to our knees, we find transcendence beyond any attempt to control.

Resistance is futile.   The bigger story, the forces of the universe are going to play out no matter how much we get angry, how much we try to deny them, how much we try to bargain with them, how much we try and hide and withdraw from them.   In the end, acceptance is the place of peace and rebirth.

Saying resistance is futile is not the same as saying that fighting is futile.   Surrendering to the situation as it is, seeing clearly, is the first step to being smart about picking your battles, focusing your energy on what you can change and not frittering it away on trying to resist what you cannot alter.

Entering the battle gives you power.  Resisting the fight in front of you leaves you powerless, burning your capacity in a futile dream that somehow, the world will change around you just because you hope it will.

No matter how much you personally resist it, the world will keep on turning.   Death and taxes will come due.   And the universe will keep offering you the same lessons until you are ready to learn them.

Resistance is futile.   You are going to have to do the work sometime, no matter how much it terrifies you, bringing up all your stuff.

Why not do it today?   If you get it over with, you can then learn to master it.

And then, well, you can work on the next lesson.

Life is for living, life is for learning, life is for opening to love.  Even the love that scares the crap out of you.

But don’t worry.   You have all the time in the world to face your fears and find the miracle of seeing through the eyes of growth, possibility and love.

The universe knows you are going to resist and will be patient until you get over yourself and learn that in the end, well, resistance is futile.

Vital Permission

I knew what I needed to hear.

I needed permission, needed someone else to say out loud that what I wanted, what I needed, was not sick or crackpot or disgusting, but was a legitimate, authentic and even beautiful expression of how some people are in the world.

When I ended up at Southern Comfort Conference in 1993, I finally could imagine someone else saying that out loud.

I went through the first session with Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti, Holly Boswell and Renee Chevalier answering how they took power in the world, my past and future in one place, leading to a weekend full of mirroring and affirmation that I had never experienced.

After the conference, I wrote the permission slip I needed.  I set it for the voice of Holly Boswell, author of the ground breaking “The Transgender Alternatives” and one of the first I knew of reaching for a spiritual component to transgender.

The Rainbow Speech” (1993) was a stump speech for transgender affirmation.   It includes a grant of permission, one that was pretty forward thinking twenty three years ago, a full generation past.

The only way to do trans right is your way, claiming your own powerfully individual expression in the world.   That path, though, is incredibly lonely and isolating as we struggle to find the kind of mirroring that gives us permission to know what we know and feel what we feel.

Accurate mirroring gives you permission to feel what you feel and know what you know — one of the essential foundations of recovery.
 — Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score

Permission is vital.

I knew that many transsexual women looked for that kind of permission from doctors, searching for a diagnosis which gave public validation to their trans nature with all of the authority of the medical profession held.  For them, bottom surgery was the embodied signature on a permission slip, a doctors hand affirming the reality of who they were inside.

This lead to battles, the search for the ideal differential diagnosis, to prove who is real and who are fakers, the attempt to invalidate others to validate ourselves.

One of the reasons that I am transnatural, never using hormones or surgery, was because I never wanted to have to convince a doctor that I am real.

Right now, though, I am feeling the need for permission, for validation.

If I want to climb out of my basement hermitage, I need to be able to face down those who want to attack me when I challenge their self-centered view of the world, motormouthing away to spew their selfish views across a world that challenges their ego vision.

I have never had the arrogance of self-righteous entitlement, permission to blame evil in the world for all of my challenges and woes.   I live in doubt, not in assurance that my own beliefs are blessed by the universe and that people therefore deserve whatever the hell I feel called to dish out onto them.

In the past few days, the lovely Erin Crosland has reached out to give me her blessed affirmation, telling me how she sees me though my words and wanting to affirm me in the face of a torrent of abuse.   Lovely.

And in reaching out to Dr. Carolyn Wolf-Gould, a physician working to help transpeople, she joked that she is one doctor who is already sure that I am real and that we are both not guys.

When I cried out to God after facing a staff infection at the base of my skull, asking why, why she did this to me, she answered with a simple question.

“Do you have any idea how stubborn you are?” I heard her ask.

Being stubborn isn’t serving me.   It puts me behind in ways that stress me out while keeping me stuck.   Explosions may be bad, but when you are as stubborn as I am, as I have learned to be, sometimes they are the universe’s only way of moving us forward.

Having permission to move forward seems important.   It needs to be reflected, though, coming from outside, and that always seems hard.

I know what it feels like to be told to cool my jets, to calm down, to be appropriate, to play small.

Permission to be more and bigger me, though, is not only scant and scarce, it also takes more energy to get through my resistant noggin.

It’s time to ask, though, time to let it in.

Permission is vital.   To recover our life, we need to have permission to feel what we feel and to know what we know.

And right now, I crave it.

Expecting

I have never, ever been what you might call a hopeful person.

My trepidation about all the possible bad outcomes often paralyzes me, which, I regret to say, often leads to worse outcomes.

A vivid imagination can really scare you straight, or at least incapacitate you when facing risks.

When you are stuck doing things alone, maybe because your family is disconnected or because you can’t find people to understand and support the dreams of your heart, well, expecting the worst can feel like safety even if it is really just crippling.

Even though I know that, my heart still freezes up in anticipation of the third gotcha. My wetware is programmed to expect getting clobbered.

I just don’t trust other people.   And, as much as I have struggled to, I have not been able to build relationships that let me relax, let me surrender, let me trust.  Apparently, that’s hard to build later in life, especially if you are a big, smart, queer porcupine.

When I hear the stories of other transpeople, I rarely hear stories of trust, of grace, of embrace.    We are people who have been stigmatized and shamed into the closet and that experience always involves installing an internalized police force to limit and disquiet us.

Looking for people to affirm our possibilities, to support exposure and risk turns out to be hard.   We instantly run into the internalized fears of other people, the same tension that keeps them working to be gender compliant, be one of the gang.

I fear much more than I trust.   That pattern, taught to me very, very early, has shaped my entire life.   It continues to do so, even if I know how stupid and destructive that pattern is.

I doubt, and in my case, I doubt with reams of immensely vivid and colourful detail.  I build whole worlds from doubt and I get lots of fascinating information from those models, revelatory information.

To change my life, I have to change my expectations.  I need to expect that good things will happen to me, that the little failures and discomforts will pale in the shadow of the delights that are possible.

And, apparently, I have to do that work alone.   That’s a task I have failed at for decades, staying small and defended.   Staying sour and cold, too, for that matter.

There is nothing, nothing, nothing more important to me than believing in the possibility that good things can and will happen for me.

That means the kind of politics that so many transpeople cling to, the expectation of oppression, the celebration of abjection, the compartmentalization of defences, well, they don’t work so well for me.

However, the stories of resistance to trans expression, of limits to trans acceptance are real and routine.   They are true, but they can’t be the whole story, because if they are, I will have to continue to stay defended and scared.

The world is not as bleak and dangerous as I imagine it, even for people like me.

I have trouble, though, telling that to my fears. I could use some help.

But that’s been true for a very, very long time.

Tripartite Flux

The Flux Capacitor, as everyone knows, is a place where three energy streams collide.

It’s not one or even two of those streams that make moving beyond the laws of physics as we know them possible.   It is the collision of three of those streams, all seemingly contradictory, which creates the power.

I am a smart, sensible person, understanding the appropriate thing to do, the service needed in the world.

I am a deeply theological person, seeing connections in a pre-verbal way, as his father said of Nils Bohr.

I am an enormously emotional person, feeling the pull of the feminine in everything I do.

It’s not one or the other of those energies that drive me, it has always been the collision of all three.  I feel, I see and I understand in parts, all coming together to make whatever the hell I understand as me.

I get why people prefer one of those parts over another, but I can’t imagine being myself without all three coming together.   I exist in the flux.

How the hell do I explain this to people who live in one dimension or the other?

“Why can’t you just hold on to this part?” they ask me, sure that their offered solution would save me.   “If you could just come from mature service or wise theology or emotional intensity, well, then you wouldn’t have this kind of crazy, bullshit drama!”

If I can tell them the three vectors, well then, why can’t I own those vectors?   Why do I get stuck in the flux?

I get stuck there because that’s where I live, that’s the way I see the world, that is the essence of the joke I have been trying to tell for so damn long.

The flux is me and I am the flux.   I am not stuck between man and woman, I live between ego, super-ego and id, between social grace, deep wisdom and human emotion.  Welcome to the monkey house.

You want one view or the other?  Fine, I can tell you in detail.

You want me to live in one view or the other?   I have no fucking idea how to do that, no idea how to compartmentalize me down without losing the beautiful soul my creator gave to me.

I am observing, participating and transcending in every moment.   That makes me stupid, intense and wise all at the same damn time as I fail to do the proper thing, get swept away by feeling and have theological vision simultaneously.

Do I understand why most people don’t get the joke?   Why, yes, yes I do.  Does that make me feel any better, any less lonely?   No, no it doesn’t.

I thank my mother in the sky for her precious gifts at the same time I curse her for what she doomed me to at the same time I understand that’s just what humans have to face.

What a pain in the ass I must be to people who want to care about me!   What an amazing gift I must me to people who care about me!   What a challenge I must be to myself!   Buzzt, sparks and sizzle, me living between!

I’m sorry, you are welcome, I understand what the sensible thing is for people like me.

Emotions, sensibility and understanding all bash together, a tripartite flux.

And I have to try, try, try to live there.

Take The Abuse

Just had a fender bender in the Walmart parking lot.   I was backing out of a parking space just a few down from a four way stop, and a young woman of color took a left at the stop sign and was right behind my car as I backed out.

She was in my blind spot, over my left shoulder, where I had no mirror coverage or anything.   Being a new driver she wasn’t primed to wait for cars coming out of spaces, doesn’t own grace or courtesy.

To her, I ZOOMED out of the space.   ZOOMED, ZOOMED, she told me many, many times.

She got to be all distressed and angry, while I got to be the mature, sensible man who has no recourse.  I was in her face for a few seconds to see if she would get the mirroring, but all I got for that was a guy in a tricked out old Chevy truck threatening to knock me out because he is triggered when a man gets in a woman’s face.

I got a non-ending stream of abuse in the frigid weather from a young driver who, while she had right of way, came around what the trooper called a “bad corner” without any awareness of the situation.   She got to pound, I got to fall back.

My obligation was simple: toughen up and take it like a man.  I did that.

And the price for that, well, it’s high.  Very damn high.

This does bring things to the fore, forces the issue.  My mother in the sky, well she tends to do that, even if it feels like crap.

I may survive.  But damn, damn, damn, it hurts.

If You Chase. . .

If you chase it, eventually you will catch it.   Just keep going after what you want and in the end, you will be quick enough, skilled enough, good enough, assimilated enough to grab it.

That’s the lesson most want to sell in the world.   You can get it if you really want it, but you must try, try and try, until you succeed at last.

The truth for the marginalized, though, is that just working harder doesn’t always work.   Often we just can never become the person that others want, no matter how hard we try to squeeze into fitting their expectations.

Something about us just will always not be enough or will be too much to let them give us the chance to prove ourselves.

Once we have learned that, then we know that trying harder is all cost without payoff, all risk without any real chance of reward.

Instead, we learn to attenuate, to make our dreams and expectations smaller, to husband whatever we have to try and make it last.   We live in the expectation of scarcity, which commands our mind.

Motivation gets hard once you believe that loss is inevitable, that success is impossible.   What is worth fighting for?   Why take a chance that seems to have less possibility of success than a PowerBall ticket?

“All you need is a dollar and a dream,” used to be the strapline for the state lottery.   Of course, after the draw, the dollar will be gone and then you have to decide about the dream; how long do you hold onto it?

If you are putting that dollar down for the dream of a bit of luxury in your life, something that you would like, something that would be pleasurable, then the dream can stay a dream.

If you are putting that dollar down for the dream of something that you desperately need in your life, something that is missing and is hurting you by its loss, the next payment you need, medicine or caring, well, then not getting it makes the dream go sour quickly.

Desperation is never a good strategy to get what you need.   Banks only lend money to people who don’t really need it, the old saw goes.  Once you are in desperate straits, well, it is very hard to get what you need from that place.

People don’t want to be pushed from their beliefs and fears; pushing just makes them tighten up even more.   They might be seduced, but they are seduced because they see power and grace, something attractive to them, something not marginalized, abject or desperate.

This is the struggle of the marginalized.   Once you are pushed to the margins you no longer have the status and standing that can easily get you back into the mainstream.   Your needs become desperate and that very desperation pushes what you need away from you rather than drawing it towards you.

Chasing harder for something that is always being pushed away from you is, in the end, a futile and wasting effort.  This is the premise of so many “law of attraction” workshops; you have to become more attractive rather than becoming more controlling and driven.

Being the best you that you can be, comfortable in your own skin, is usually the best way to be attractive to others.   Staying in that place, though, without the affirmation of those who see your power and with the everyday wearing irritations that the marginalized survive, well, that is a challenge.   That daily grind, well, it can just make you desperate, struggling, and that just shows.

When I walk into a room, I know that the best thing I can have is an attitude of calm confidence, approaching every situation with assurance and equanimity.

That’s not the feeling I have inside, though, not after struggling through a minefield alone.  I’m a damn sweaty mess.   While I might be able put on a show, my journey has taught me the ultimate power of honesty, that trying to show people what they want just to seduce them is corrupting and destructive, leaving you believing that who you are on the inside is broken and unworthy.    That’s a road to compartmentalization and stuffing your feelings, which comes with a very high cost.

Chasing too hard for what I think I want means that I have to disconnect myself from what I really feel in order to manipulate other people.   I need to be present for both them and for myself, finding a kind of truth we can share.   When we don’t have the same archetypes of what normative is, though, those bridges become hard to build.

Confidence is important, sure, trusting that if you show what you got people can’t help but be impressed, can’t help but be charmed, and will be happy to take a chance on you.

For transpeople, though, who have had to claim what they are beyond boundaries, had to learn to live without great mirrors and support systems, well, that is far from a given.


 

Inspired by Job Hunting While Trans by Dina Nina Martinez