Kids have tunnel vision. They have a job to do, growing up, so they focus on their next challenge, on their next desire, on their next demand.
Most often, these jobs are about fitting into society, either the formal society of school and work, or into the informal society of their peers. Kids always live between those two worlds, somewhere between the world of social obligations and the world of exploration of desire.
This is the hard work that we have to engage to grow. We need to improve our standing in the organizations we have been sworn to, we need to improve our standing in the circles where we find our friends and our lovers. In the old days, those sets would overlap and interconnect, but they don’t do that so much today in a more free and flexible society.
Traditionally, it is when kids become parents that they have to start looking more at the big picture. At the point where they have responsibility for another life, for someone who needs care and feeding, they can no longer be as self centered, as focused on only their needs and desires.
Transpeople, though, can get quite stuck in trying to obtain the needs of the self, finding themselves limited in making connections inside organizations and limited in building circles by the assumptions and expectations of normativity.
Is it possible to be a big picture person, a parent who has had to move beyond their own limited subjectivity and still be an interesting, compelling, romantic, and unique person?
It’s easy to explain the simplicity of self-focused desire to any human. We all were kids at some point, all learned how to be self-involved and seeking status.
It’s much more complicated to explain the nuanced complexity of owning the big picture. Being a grown up demands the ability hold context, not just about what you want and don’t want, about what you feel, but also about what is good for the family, the village, the community, the world.
Parents have to be able to set aside their own desires for the greater good, learning that the ones they love are not just little pieces of themselves but rather whole, individual challenging humans with their own needs, desires and struggles.
Each of us will always have the experience of growing up deeply within us, but transcending the limits of that experience is what makes us mature and complete humans.
How do we explain that it is getting over our own needs, moving beyond our own fears, that truly brings a vintage of satisfaction to life?
How do we stop playing to the sensation based expectations of kids and start venerating the mature joy of service and loving people beyond our own expectations and fears? How do we convey the satisfaction that comes with putting our own needs on hold to empower others, to create organizations, to take the power of making sure shit gets cleaned up?
Until we can get out of our own myopia, we will continue to have problems supporting diversity. Only the big, mature picture allows us to respect others who are making completely different choices than we would ever make, making the wrong choices for us, but whose own actions help to build and strengthen the community in different and valuable ways.
Learning to see the world in context allows us to see how crucial difference and conflict are to finding a broader consensus, a bigger force, a better balance. Listening to and valuing others who come from a very different point of view gives us perspective and insight, not only helping us grow, but also healing rifts that could tear communities apart.
By understanding that we don’t have the only answer, that we may not even have the best answer, we open ourselves to more and better. Rather than our choices being about our feelings and defending our point of view, we can become mature, inclusive and connecting. It isn’t just about us, it is about the people we love and care about, about them having a better world.
As long as we have to cater to the most selfish and myopic in the room we have to be talking about small fears rather than powerfully moving into bigger issues. Pandering to the pressures of those still trying to claim their own power doesn’t allow the development of respect for the wide range of approaches and power that exist in every community, everywhere.
If we make the conversation simple, cops and robbers simple, cowboys and indians simple, us and them simple, then the threads that tie us together, the more sophisticated and insidious problems, the more transcendent and sly solutions will continue to evade us, washed away by immature fears.
Playing to those who are still trapped in the “me moment” means we never get to venerate and value maturity. While our own maturity may give us understanding and compassion for the challenges of growing up in the world, that doesn’t mean we need to surrender our voices to those just emerging and still struggling to find themselves.
Becoming a community that values community requires becoming a community that values the selflessness which comes with maturity. As long as the model of transgender only covers moments of adolescence, only the times of rejecting participation in a wider community, trans will always stand for immature expression, be something to move beyond rather than something that confers and conveys a mature and powerful status.
The wider vision is the inclusive vision, one that supports a big, friendly, tent, full of diverse people working together to create better. Moving beyond our own pain and fears is the only way to open the vision, the only way to find connections between stories to enlighten, inform and ally across what some see as separate, walled binaries.
The wider vision is the mature vision. Seeing trans not as rebellion but as the basis for the creation of a better, integrated actualized self allows trans to also be the basis for the creation of a better, integrated and more actualized world.
For me, that is the big, adult vision.