Self policing, particularly policing done when you believe your safety & security depends on it, is always over policing.
You check every choice, always staying well within the boundaries you see. Not only do you want to stay on the right side, you even want to avoid being suspect, because being suspect feels too very close to being belted.
People who grew up with a trans heart were taught early that there would be blowback and repercussions if we didn’t keep our nature hidden. We were told that it would just get worse, told that we deserved whatever we got because we brought it on ourselves by breaking the rules of polite society.
A few of us turned rebel, learning to take joy and satisfaction in the “in your face” moments when we challenged restricted thinking, but most of us learned to keep our head down, stay inside the lines, avoid any sign that we were somehow queer.
How could we trust our own instincts, our own heart, when it so loudly called for us to cross sex/gender lines and show ourselves in a way that others called perverted, sick, indulgent and depraved?
Learning not to trust our instincts, to not open up and take a risk because we were terrified that the cost of failing may be more than we could possibly bear, has a very high cost.
Breaking from our instincts is putting a brake on our heart, clamping down on the desires and callings that might lead us into danger.
Put a break on your heart for long enough, alienating yourself from your instincts, and you will end up breaking your own heart.
At SCC the barman overheard me say that the ultimate trans surgery is pulling the broomstick out of your own ass.
“Oooh, that sounds painful!” he opined.
“It is,” I agreed, “but imagine how much worse it is to just leave it in forever.”
As transpeople, we learn early that our heart is going to be broken one way or the other, by others who want to “correct” us or by our own actions, so we learn to take the disciplined choice. It is the same as the choice between learning to lie or accepting being called a liar (1997), a no win situation that leaves us profoundly alienated from our own human nature.
Bounding our own choices to those which we believe will not cause unwanted attention is always hard. It means that other people read us as less than relaxed and authentic, suspecting that we are trying to hide something and sometimes thinking the worst about what that thing might be.
Not trusting our instincts cuts us off from the playful energy that connects us easily with other people. Trusting our instincts and falling flat, though, having other people look at us with separation & disgust, is even more painful. When people don’t get the joke, we end up just looking shit.
If the goal is to satisfy our audience, to stay within their comfort zone and cultural references, then we need to attenuate and modulate our expression to what they will approve.
If our goal is to be authentic and present in the world, expressing a deep truth, though, we need to be able to speak from the heart without invasive, iron fisted self-editing.
How do we learn to trust the instincts we were taught early to fear, believing they would take us beyond social approval, beyond love?
But how do we ever find approval and love if we can’t find a way to love ourselves, including our heart and our better, beautiful instincts?
What scares me is how much more I may be able to go on trusting my instincts than I once thought! Maybe I really do exist. I used to be afraid of that.
My life has very much been a struggle towards the notion of trusting my instincts.
The still, small voice needs to be heard and acted on, not just ignored, compartmentalized, twisted, rationalized, policed or analyzed.
In my inner world, I very much trust that inner voice. I fight to express it — to express them, as my Jonathan Winters energy told me so long ago — in my own space.
Finding a way to trust that instinct in the outer world is harder, simply because it has lived so long in the darkness, has gone so far away from where the audience is.
If I had one thing to tell the younger me it would be to trust that inner voice, to take a fling on it, boldly sing it out while you are still young and vital and have the chance of being cute.
Don’t fear the song God put in your heart, the nature she gave you. Trust it, because she made you for this world.
My chasing instinct beyond ornery has been very constrained, leading to dried parchments of what I can offer. It is my life, but the juice of human exchange, the fluids of the body are needed to sustain you and help you grow beyond the mind and into the blossom of life.
You definitely do really exist. Opening yourself and trusting your instincts is trusting your creation, both the work you have done and the spark your mother in the sky kissed into you.
When you find a choice between love and fear, always choose love.
Even when it means trusting the messy, audacious, vulnerable, awesome human you are inside.
Love is in your heart.