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.
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.