My name isn’t important.
I have never been out to make a name for myself, to be remembered.
Like so many nameless servants of something larger than all of us over the millennia, my work isn’t about my personal label.
It is the ideas I offer, the messages I bring, the knowledge that I share that are important.
I share those in my own context, sure, offering the ancient wisdom in the language and experiences in which they appear to me, but it isn’t my stories that are vital, no matter how nice it feels to know people remember them.
Meaning is the vital part, even if as humans the we can only share meaning by casting shadows with our symbols, revealing connections in the smoke.
What I strive to invoke are the understandings that I need to exist in the world. When the truth of my experience exists in the shared consciousness then I can exist in the world without being erased, denied or fractured.
I am not important. But it is important to me and to other people like me that our very real truths, our part of the big common zeitgiest be understood and respected.
Do I even exist if there are no words, no notions, no symbols that carry my experience?
Do people like me even exist if we have nothing to capture our common experiences?
So much of the language of the trans experience that we as individuals created has been replaced with an simplified version over the years. This version is compliant other narratives, which in turn are compliant with a binary, normative, cis-compliant worldview of us versus them.
Our strongly personal stories have been colonized by group identities, making the powerful and challenging truths of crossing become clouded and denied.
In my experience, the entire essence of us versus them sets me at war inside of my own soul. What part of me is good and what is evil? What part do I need to show proudly and what do I need to deny & purge? How does trying to be one or the other twist me into knots?
“In cultures where gender is rigidly bipolar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.”
I knew that was my mission statement the first time I heard it. And I also knew that it was the essence of so much spiritual wisdom. It is the spark inside that connects us to all, not the differences outside that it is easy to think are the most real.
My quest has been not to aggrandize myself but rather to struggle to become present in culture by offering language that makes my experience visible.
I knew my role wasn’t to be a missionary, singing one song over and over, but instead to be on a quest of exploration, searching for connections and finding ways to extend and expand our vocabulary of possibilities. I needed that expansion, desperately needed it, just to become real.
For a kid who grew up in an Aspergers home where nuance, emotion and poetry were erased by dogged and routine literalness, I had to scrape to find reflection, affirmation and valuing of my heart. If I had this challenge, with the kind of rapidly collecting and connecting mind I was given, I knew that other people had it too.
Learning to tell the stories of others back to them in language that they found affirming and yet could be used to reveal continuous common humanity has always been at the heart of my calling.
Getting others to embrace that language, tough, has always been the hardest part, because we usually want to cling to what comforts us, holding onto the old walls that we believe separate us from them. We have the defences that soothed us and giving them up, even when they clearly limit and hurt us, is often the hardest thing in growth & healing.
Without rich, symbolic language, rather than just politically correct dogma, how can we ever actually empower transpeople, however they do or do not identify, to speak and be heard across their gorgeous, shimmering range of humanity, capturing the liminality that crosses conventional boundaries in a profoundly personal and deeply spiritual way?
Life may seem simpler and more manageable when the desk is kept clear, when everything is neatly put away in its place, all cells and compartments with strong dividers.
Something is lost, though, in that isolation, the spark of creation when inspiration jumps across expectations to reveal the new, the bold, the eternal and the connective. Trying to keep our expression neat and noiseless enough to fit quietly into a society that has deep boundaries means building walls inside our own heart, not embracing our queer, messy, organic and beautiful continuous common humanity.
I exist in the question and not in the answer. If that question is dismissed, just fobbed off or shunted aside with a trite, simple or conventional answer, I am erased. It is only when minds & hearts are open and engaged, ready for the divine surprise, that I can really be present to you, because otherwise I am just a construction of your own present beliefs.
This isn’t just true for me, it’s true for every individual in the world. Reducing them to your expectations robs you of the opportunity to receive the unique gifts that they have to offer.
What someone is — the name you apply to them or the name they give themselves — isn’t important. It is their choices that are important. While a name may give some clues to choices, valuing names over choices means you open yourself to being duped and may miss quality that doesn’t come in the kind of package you were expecting.
My name isn’t important. It’s the content I have been trying to share, the truth that has to exist in the world for me to actually exist that is important.
For me to be present, you have to be present for me, have to be open to shared ideas and new ways of seeing, even when they challenge your comforting assumptions.
When that happens, though, the world gets better and richer not only for both of us, but for every now invisible individual who needs to move beyond conventional boxes to reveal their unique & transcendent piece of our continuous common humanity.