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.