According to the most vocal spokespeople, transgender is about becoming new.
The loudest around transgender are the newly emerging, those who are turning away from becoming the same to claim their own voice. Their assertions precede their actions, using loud words to announce who they believe themselves to be.
That torrent of noisy and doctrinal rhetoric, though, tends to erased are the transpeople who have moved beyond emergence and are now focused not on becoming new but rather are working at becoming old.
To become old — mature, wise, reliable, consistent, aware, integrated — doesn’t come from the demands and claims we shout into the world.
Instead, it comes from the regular, important and hard choices we make each and everyday. Getting old comes from the way we become substantial, substantiating our assertions with real actions. (1997)
To me, this is what Jenny Boylan means when she says that she “is done explaining [her] humanity,” choosing instead to live it everyday. Her revelations are no longer in her claims, her verbal assertions and defences but rather in the way that she enacts her humanity, making powerful choices everyday.
Becoming new is a great thing. “She is is reborn in every moment will truly know the glory of G_D,” as I wrote on the talisman I gave Rachel Pollack on the occasion of her Bat Mitzvah, forty years after her Bar Mitzvah. We each need to always be open to the divine surprise, the miracle of a new way of seeing that opens our mind & heart, bringing us closer to what connects all.
Becoming old, though, is not only a great thing, but is the goal of a powerful human life. We become more righteous when our beliefs and actions become more in harmony, when we move beyond fear to come from our best and most loving awareness.
As we mature, we don’t just need to play our own song, we strive to help others play their songs, working to make a better, kinder, smarter and more empowering world. As the parent, facilitating growth and healing in the world, even if that means putting away our own demands, creates the kind of magic that weaves families and communities that support growth and transformation.
For people who love how fresh and pretty new looks this can be awfully hard to hear. So many chase the appearance of youth, the wilfulness of intention, the sensations of the novel that opening to the value of the grown up vision, the surrender of service, and the nuances in the routine become impossible to value.
To become old is to value the stories already written on our body, the scars that shape who we are, beyond the desire to be able to become anything and everything we ever dreamed about.
Becoming old honours the choices that have made us, revealing our inner nature and revealing who we are deep inside by the price we have been ready and willing to pay to follow our own heart.
When we are old, we own the wisdom of our journey, the hard won lessons that came from fighting & denying our nature and the peace & pride that came from being the best we can be within the limits and possibilities of our own creation.
Being old is to acknowledge and respect formation, the revelation that has come from getting bits of our dreams knocked away to show what is powerful, true and transcendent within us.
As long as we fight getting old, refusing to let go of the claims & illusions of youth, we cling to what cannot serve us. We hold onto the hope that someday we will be someone other than who we are, that we will find the one thing that will change everything with no cost, no effort, and no strings.
Those who only want to be new, to be shiny and unlimited, will always have trouble seeing the value in being old, even taking for granted the people who became old to take care of them, to feed and nurture them, to give them life and love.
The accountability that comes with being old, the price of being judged on our choices rather than just on our pretty spin, is often not easy for us to take on. We want someone else to do the dirty work, someone else to make life easy for us, someone else to take responsibility for the hard and boring stuff.
Staying new, though, denies us the growth to mastery which eventually gives us real control, power and agency. Getting old brings not only the knowledge and skills to get things done, it also brings us the respect of those around us. This allows us to take leadership, creating real change, rather than just being the bleating voice who demands that “they” need to fix everything.
Old isn’t pretty but old is beautiful, the shapes and swirls we reveal showing our strength, our resilience and our fight to create a powerful, graceful life.
Becoming new is fun, exciting and titillating, but becoming old is the gift of a well lived and well used life.
For me, the real power in trans is not how we become new but instead how we become old, embodying the deep truths and transcendent energy we have found on our journey. Through becoming our choices we make the world better for being in it, leaving not just our words but the profound effects of our actions.
Becoming old and trans isn’t easy. The scars of a trans life cut to the quick, holding the tales of losses that are beyond the understanding, beyond the imagination of most people who never tried to peel back the expectations and reveal their own nature.
But becoming old and trans is something to be valued & respected. Certainly we need to value and respect our own journey, but, learning to respect and value the journey of others who claimed their position as elders, who have taken on the challenge of becoming old, lets us do the vital work of becoming old and revered too.