Affirmation

“Whatever you say,” one young transwoman said after I shared a poem, “I think we should focus on the good and positive parts of being trans, like the affirmation I feel when people use my preferred pronouns.”

I chuckled inwardly, remembering a recent incident where I passed one of those perennial bake sale people called out to my back “Ma’amSir!”   Yeah, that just about covers it.

When we crave the affirmation of the pronouns others choose for us, we open ourselves to the dismissal they can hand out when they choose a pronoun we find erasing and painful.

How can I need affirmation from others without also being exposed to their ignorance, disdain or disgust?   I know who I am, no matter what I am called, and that has to be enough for me, or so the logic goes.

This is the approach of someone who learned early to live inside their own rationality.   Since I was more likely to get shit than sweets from my mother as she sprayed her own failure & pain, and my father loved without theory of mind, finding a way to pride in a torrent where no one mirrored or affirmed me was just hard.

Every input I have was mentally filtered.   I needed to suss out meaning rather than to just be slashed or seduced by the vagrant emotions of others.   This made me difficult to manipulate while giving me a vision of how to manipulate others, using my deliberate awareness to calibrate and calculate my responses.

Those pathways of evaluation serve me still today, allowing me to tease out content and story, but they also limit me in feeling the raw affirmation that every soul needs.   “I know you don’t love me, and that’s okay,” goes through my mind, acknowledging the limits of the giving and caring others can offer me, but at the same time, blocking what they are able to offer with sharp, cerebral assessment.

“You never let me care for you,” said I woman I have known for over thirty years, though she follows that up with the acknowledgement that her own splintered pain didn’t let allow presence of the kind I could deliver.    How could I learn to trust after parents who proved themselves immensely dangerous with my feelings and dreams?

The moments I remember as affirming my gender expression are very conceptual.

  • many crossdressers telling me that “You sound just like my wife!”
  • a femme director of our local pride centre noting “I knew you were a femme the moment you crossed your legs!  We can always tell each other!”
  • a expert sexologist a bit afraid to tell me that I acted more femme in boy clothes because I didn’t have the same defences up
  • a friend who did one of my first makeovers noting to her mom that I walk better in heels than she did
  • a coach saying “You would have been a great mom.”
  • the judges at a startup competition telling me “You have a great voice!”

These are moments when someone saw my content rather than just my presentation, when perception moves beyond mistake or mimicry — “femulating” — to authentic exposure.   For me, this is truth, not just creating a surface that passes for an intention, but a revelation of kaleidoscopic facets, an view that demands aware, engaged and compassionate observers.

Every transperson faces challenges over what affirmation works for them.   The mirroring we get is not only fractured and contradictory but we also have to face it alone, rather than sharing the characteristics with our family of origin.   What reflections do we need to cling to and which do we need to ignore or slough off?

For some, joining political movements allows them assimilation, while for others working to avoid being alone allows them not to have to engage a deeper loneliness.   We learn to stay in bubbles, learn to lead with anger, learn to placate & play small, whatever technique works for us.

Learning to engage affirmations that don’t instantly resonate with our own history, though, is very hard.   No matter how much I strive to offer positive mirroring, until they are ready and able to really hear it, really let in in through the filters built for historical defences, there is no way it can take root and start to grow.

My own lifemyth is simple: others just won’t get the joke.   They see me as prickly, odd, challenging, cerebral, deliberately difficult.   I am absolutely sure that my mother in the sky loves me, but everyone else, I suspect, finds me to be rather a pill.

This isn’t helped by a society where attention spans get shorter and shorter, leaving people to fall back on fundamental beliefs rather than being like Shaw’s  tailor.   While I know that my queer heart has the obligation to hold open space for growth, healing and transformation, the reflection of so many people refusing to open heart and mind, stubbornly unwilling to question their own assumptions, feels like a daily battering.  To them, I am a phobogenic object.

Can I ever be ready for someone to be nice to me (2001)?   How much do I have to stay defended with the habits I learned early and how much can I be vulnerable, letting people see me, trusting that they will be gracious and respectful?

Love, love, love.  And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Or is it?    Today, when I got a bit of help, finally with incentive to pick up the trash in this basement, having the new chair brought in from the car and assembled, feeling released as it embraces me in a way the old stool never could, my guard drops.   Last nights dreams come back to me, waking up in terror as my mother demands service, complaining and narcissistic, and I the ache sweeps over me.   Where is the aesthetic toughness I believe I need to survive at all?

Where does affirmation come from?   When it arrives, how can we be ready to engage & accept it, rather than just ducking down to stay safe from the kinds of burns we have gotten in the past, just trying to repeat what we can already accept?

To really open to affirmation is to be vulnerable, vulnerable not just to the nice, good and expected, but also the challenging & surprising and even the acting out of the fears & chosen limits of others.

Where, then, is the love we can embrace & trust?

Motive Enemy

“In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.”
— Anne Bolin, anthropologist

The moment I heard Anne say that at Southern Comfort 1993, I knew it was my personal mission statement.

Democracy — and community — only works when we first respect what we share.

For those who want to build a separate power base, though, setting the focus on difference is their strategy of choice.   By creating a common enemy, an us vs. them scenario, they let fear & separation dominate rather than leading with connection & sharing.

This assertion of correctness and incorrectness allows us to dismiss and demean other people who we know are just wrong, destructive and evil.

I am entitled to assert my beliefs because they are correct.   My feelings tell me when my beliefs are being assaulted and mocked, allowing me to identify and lash out at demons around me.

You are judging me, or mocking me or whatever, so I get to judge you!   I reduce you to a symbol of what I hate, stripping you of your humanity.

To make this work, instead of just seeing the choices that people make, we judge the underlying drives and motives that we assign to them.   By projecting an intention onto their actions we are able to identify our foes, the enemies who are causing all the problems around us.

The assumption of intention becomes gospel.   I know what you meant, what you were thinking, how you failed me, and it is disgusting and immoral.

As long as the only context for understanding exists in our own belief structures, our views will be constrained by the meaning we cling to for comfort and for affirmation.

In a pluralistic society, we can’t assume that everyone else believes like us, that their choices are based on our expectations & assumptions.   This is the essence of queer thinking, that everyone is an individual with wide range of influences so cannot be judged on how they are different from us, only on the kindness and morality of their own choices.

Today, though, we live in a world where snap judgment is not only accepted, it is encouraged.   From the raucous world of internet commenting to the assessment of celebrities to the political goals of those who seek to create fear, uncertainty and doubt for their own power, there is an pattern where everyone gets to assert their opinion on anyone else, based on personal contexts and our projected assignment of motive & intention.

The blanket permission to judge from a position of assumed moral superiority is the hallmark of our age.  While this has always happened in societies,  never was it as easy to do as leaving a comment on the internet, or so affirmed by media who understand that sensationalism sells and responsible, deliberate choices are held to be a denial of the people’s perfect rights of instant and final judgment.

Anything that challenges our judgments can be dismissed as immoral manipulation, merely propaganda spread by those who have a motive to destroy what we hold dear, valued and sacred.    Because we are sure of their intentions, either malicious, manipulative or ignorant, not only do their messages have no standing, they mark the messenger as corrupt or duped.

When everything that challenges our beliefs is either attack or noise it becomes impossible to build bridges.   The walls we create to protect ourselves and our families become bigger and harder because we believe that they are real, marking the separations between us and the hostile forces arrayed against us out there.

This powerfully divisive mindset makes it very hard to remind others of our continuous common humanity.    Dignity, respect and kindness are hard to offer those marked as other, as enemy, as the people who are causing us all our problems, the ones creating our pain and suffering.

Preachy preachers play on this mindset, speaking for separation and the obligation for others to change and become like we already are to be virtuous and worthy of respect.

Teachy preachers play against this mindset, speaking for connection and the obligation for us to change, dropping our own barriers and becoming more open to the fundamental dignity of all creation.

The most important reason that we don’t “fight like family is because we convince ourselves that we are not family with others who are mired in stupidity or evil.    Until they apologize, get right with us and our beliefs, show not only respect but also fealty & obeisance to what we know to be true and proper, then what can they be but an enemy, someone to be put down?

From the White House down, assigning motives and then judging others on those projections seems to give permission to violate the Golden Rule, attacking others without the dignity and respect we demand for ourselves.

Us versus them defies the truth of continuous common humanity that I have found is the only way to respect the tender trans truth that lives in my heart.

That’s why, in this culture of instant and thoughtless judgment, my heart feels so battered and broken.

Creating Community

The most important thing I taught my family was how to fight.

They knew how to slash and act out, how to hit below the belt, but what they didn’t know was how to challenge with wit, with consideration, with love.

Families are supposed to be safe spaces that welcome us home, offer comfort & caring to bind up our wounds.

Unless, though, they also serve to be a place where we can consolidate our lessons, evaluating what worked and what didn’t, allowing us to experiment with new ways of being and find our own strengths and grooves, well, they don’t serve to strengthen and empower us to leave strengthened and enlightened.   The only way we can learn to stand up for ourselves, honing our expression, is by doing it.

The idea of confrontation not as battle but as process is vital to enabling growth and healing.   Instead of trying to be the winner, staying defended and hard, we try to become new, practice finding more effective and elegant ways of being.

When a kid wins at something, their next move is usually simple.  “Okay, now you try it!” they tell their pal, wanting to share the success and achievement, preferring to keep everyone growing together.

Fighting with love keeps us fit and engaged.   It helps us move beyond ineffective responses and gain mastery through insight and practice.

We know in our hearts that people who won’t fight with us won’t fight for us.   In families, we may challenge our siblings, but when they are challenged, we jump in to help, protect and defend them.   Only we get to beat them up because we know that only we do it with safety and love, always ready to help them up and bind up their wounds.

Not all families fight with this grace, of course.  In dysfunctional families the goal of battle is winning, shutting down challenge.   This may be done by force or by chaos, but it always comes from a place of resisting change and healing, trying to keep the family serving the demands of one person rather than expecting everyone to be present enough to engage, grow and transform.

While I grew up in a family where this kind of dysfunction was at the heart, by committing to my own practice I was able to come back with the patience, insight and wit to train my parents in fighting with heart.   While they never got to the point where they could fight for me, they knew that I was always fighting for them, even when I pointed out their own less than effective choices.   They learned to enjoy the give and take, at least within the family.

Much of my growth came from working in entrepreneurial businesses where everyone needed to bring their best and smartest to make shared success, measured and shaped by market forces.   We work together to find solutions rather than trying to place blame on external forces. This is a very different approach than the so-called egalitarian process that attempts to force social consensus through shaming pressures, which tends to let the most resistant person in the room hold the agenda.

Empowerment and challenge brings out the best in us when it is alloyed with the awareness, kindness and grace that threads through the healthiest families.   As much as we dread people having high expectations of us, we also know they are always better than people who have low expectations of us, those who assume we are abject, broken and incapable.  People who see the best in us will work with us to find our strengths while those who see the worst will leave us to our failures.

No matter how much teenagers may complain, families are never simply styled as egalitarian democracies where shaming social pressure to enforce compliance shapes what are called “unanimous and correct” agreements.    Instead, families are structures where what you bring to the table counts, where those who have more share it with those who are still needing to grow.

This can be tough for transpeople.   We don’t emerge to fit nicely into a community role.   Rather, we emerge to claim our unique and powerful truth.

Our lives, as artist Greer Lankton reminded us are “all about me, not you.”

Coming from the stance of rejecting expectations makes it hard to pin down what a grown-up, mature and well-integrated transperson actually looks like.  There wasn’t any example in our family of origin, and we see few examples in structures of power, success and support in the wider world.

Do we eventually just blend in, assimilating into some desired and reasonably normative role?   Do we find role models who embody bits we want to include in our expression?   Do we find new and innovative ways of being part of community, offering some kind of unique role?

Emergence as trans requires another adolescence, another process of experimentation, of trying on, shaping, abandoning and including a new set of choices, approaches, strategies, behaviours and mindsets.   This process includes clinging to bits that feel safe even if they don’t really work for us anymore, thrashing about naked, being inexpert as we try what we have not yet mastered and generally being a bit self-obsessed.

We tend to hear everything people say as about us and not about them, which means we are very easily triggered.   How can we not see the world that way after internalizing the amount of shame we are fed to keep us heavily self-policed?

How, then do we learn to be effective players in community as transpeople?  How do we learn to share leadership roles, taking our part of the responsibility for both group actions and caring for others?

We need to  learn to fight like family.   You will know the people who are really your family by their ability and willingness to tell you the truth while still leaving you feeling loved.    Only someone who cares enough to confront you because they really know who you are, they have really listened to your crap and and they believe you can be better and more powerful really loves you.

Agreement is nice, but deeply caring engagement is better.   We don’t need people to always agree with us, always sing the same song, rather we need people who will stand by us no matter if we are a bit cracked or off key.   You know, like real, solid, loving family does.

When someone really sees and mirrors us with open authenticity, rather than projecting their issues on us, trying to cast us in their movie, making our choices about them, they give us the gift of respect and empowerment.  It’s a gift that we should work to return, deepening those relationships with our own vulnerability.

To build connection, community and allies, getting beyond our emotional buttons and learning to fight, to fight like family, with and for each other, seems vital.

A Mother’s Journey

I really don’t mind being the grown up, the parent, the mother.   It’s a lovely way to share and take care of the people that I love.

I do mind, however, always having to be the grown up, the parent, the mother.    I was adultified very early, having to take care of parents whose emotional intelligence was stuck in their own narcissism or sweet involvement.

And being the mom without others seeing and acknowledging that role, without the respect, understanding and dignity that comes when people value the importance and the cost of that role.

Mothers build families, or at least that is their role.   They manage the care, feeding and training of those under their care to help them grow and mature, learning how to manifest their potential in relationship and in the world.

My mother, whose theory of mind was limited by her Aspergers mind, was much better at being upset and making everything about her than she was at helping those she loved flourish.    That mindset drove me into my own world, even as I tried to help those I love.

The approach of manipulation was not the right one, no matter how much it felt defensive and required.   By letting go of my own desires, though, I learned to let go of my desired outcomes so I could work the process, getting the best available while acknowledging that everyone heals and grows in their own way and their own time.

The cost of letting go of my own desires, though, is high.   I wasn’t seen to be playing a feminine role, wasn’t valued by those around me who didn’t want to feel they were surrendering their agency, my choices and sacrifices not understood.

Taking care of growing kids offers a certain joy as you see them mature and blossom, but taking care of aging parents or even stubborn transpeople committed to rejecting expectations offers very different and very limited rewards.

Attempting to help offer new viewpoints, new techniques and new structures to those who are determined to be as individualistic as cats that already have formed behaviours, well, that is a challenging and thankless job.    One is guaranteed to meet both resistance and abuse, stretching over years.

When I stand up and challenge experts in a public meeting,  transpeople are drawn to me, seeing me as saying what they believe needs said, as fighting for them.    When I try to teach by challenging their own personal assumptions, expectations and choices, though, they quickly shut me down, holding fast to the comforting defences, beliefs and structures that they think allow them to survive in a challenging world.

The public image of what mothers should be is tender, kind, embracing and sweet.    For women, those attributes are part of the packaging, from sweet voices to rounded bodies, petite frames to pretty faces, while the true power lies beneath.   Mothers have to be fighters, fighting with and for their families and their communities, the power of a tiger covered in warm fur.

For people raised as men, though, the image is inverted.   They need to be tough, hard and steely, though with a considerate and tender heart.   When those seen as male bodied are seen as fighting, the assumption is that it is their masculine privilege rearing up, not that they are just revealing the ferocious heart of a mother.

I was never one of the girls, a female body marking the perceptions of my nature, my training, acceptance and valuing based on the potential of my reproductive biology.    Finding an effective balance between taking power and playing along is almost impossible when you never know how you are being seen, what is being assumed and assigned to you.

Never having been a child, facing the requirement that someone do the emotional, theory of mind work while being denied the joy, possibility and play which allows a heart to blossom, well, that cost is something I carry with me everyday.   There was no choice; my role was compulsory no matter how much it hurt and constrained me.

This leaves me making families not out of the fresh clay of newly developing young minds but rather trying to build them out of already formed chunks of granite, spirits hardened into rocky outcrops.   To these rugged hearts I try to bring divine surprise, seeing choices in a new way, beyond calcified beliefs and expectations.

Not only is this almost an impossible job, it also comes without understanding and respect, facing resistance rather than engagement.   Nobody wants to grow up to be like me, wants to model themselves, rather, if I am lucky, persistent and good, they may open their mind or heart a little bit more.

The cost, though, is high.  I really don’t mind being the grown up, the parent, the mother.   It’s a lovely way to share and take care of the people that I love.

I do mind, however, always having to be the grown up, the parent, the mother.    I was adultified very early, having to take care of parents whose emotional intelligence was stuck in their own narcissism or sweet involvement.

And being the mom without others seeing and acknowledging that role, without the respect, understanding and dignity that comes when people value the importance and the cost of that role.

The depletion, rawness and stress accumulates without discharge or support.   And the only way to enter the world seems to be containerized in packages that meet the expectations others write onto my history and biology, girded for defence, ready to take the pounding and erasure.

My calling is to help others learn to fight like family, with respect and grace.  I have done this work, but only with limited results.   The obligation to start from scratch over and over again in a society that does not want the jewels I found on my journey, returning a gift that they see as valueless, well, that is too wearing.

I’m sorry that my current writing is not easily accessible for those just meeting me, but I don’t know how to stay that shallow or simple.  I am not an evangelist, a missionary with one basic message, rather I am a voyager, a theologian, trying to set out maps of territory that is unexplored because of fear.  These are the places I had to go to claim back my own spirit, even if no one gets the joke.

I don’t mind being the grown-up, the mom.   But having to only be that, never letting my heart dance in the light of others, able to let down my guard and be cared for, well, that’s much too much.

Good Grief

My doctor is changing their patient portal, so it was suggested I download my charts for archiving.   One diagnosis in the list caught my eye.

Grief.

It’s on there because they know I directly cared for my parents in their last decade.

I don’t think, though, my doctor understands how grief is part of the trans experience.

He likes the idea that I am “trans-natural,” as opposed to the patient who got bottom surgery in Montreal and they still refer to as “he.”

The lifetime cost of being trans and not being mirrored, instead being shamed, dehumanized and erased, well, that’s not something he comes close to understanding.

Loss and denial has always been at the centre of my life.

The things that I cannot change — like society’s view of guys-in-dresses (1999) – have always been huge, much, much bigger than what I do have the capacity to change.   My Aspergers parents, my own nature, social expectations all had to be accommodated through my æsthetic denial.

Now, that ocean of unshareable, unbearable grief has swelled around me with no way to manage it other than my fading raw mental discipline.

In Grief Works, Julia Samuel shares stories from her twenty five years of being a grief psychotherapist.   The clients she talks about have finite, understandable grief but even that brings up deep seated issues that they need to engage and work through rather than avoiding for the comfort of those around them who would rather they be “brave” and silent.

My long, deep and profound experience with grief means that I often see ghosts walking.   People wrap themselves in illusions that they cannot afford to let die, clinging to the way they believe the world should be and end up railing against anyone who challenges that treasured belief system.

Worse, they see that experience of grief reflected in me just by looking into my eyes.   I understand that the reason my writing is so hard is because it carries that cycle, not just of rebirth but also of the death it requires.   Everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die, going through hell to burn away our comforting illusions and being left with the crystalline and challenging truth of what is.

In contrast to those who “don’t talk about death,” the need to engage the scarcity and loss that was in my life came very early for me.   I was the target patient, the scapegoat who spoke up, named “Stupid” in the family for illuminating that which my mother would prefer to keep in shadow, not playing along with imposed expectations.

In my day, at least, you could never emerge as trans unless you were stubborn as hell, not pounded down by social convention and the desire to be liked.   For me, just keeping my head down, creating a peril-sensitive bubble around myself and bulling my way through was never an option.

As a femme, I had to stay in touch with my own feelings so I could connect with the feelings of others, engaging their stories with respect and compassion so that I could hold them tenderly in my own patchwork model of the world.   Building understanding was at the heart of my mission, helping to take care of others by helping them understand and address their own emotions and needs.

To hold open the space for them to change, to be a change agent and shaman,  facilitating growth & healing in the world, I put my own expression in the background.   By keeping my desires in the background, I could be the concierge, the gatekeeper, escorting others through the liminal space of emergence.

People, though, heal in their own way and their own schedule, so while I could be there to help negotiate their transformation, they were not able to be there for me, not able to understand my experience, not able to enter, affirm and mirror my own grief.

Struggling with grief has made me aware and thoughtful, but it still leaves me with the waste products of a life where rather than learning to trust my essence, able to show it with delight and affirmation, I had to learn to attenuate myself, working to kill off the bits of me that others found too damn much.

I was seen as corrupt, perverted, shameful, incomprehensible, rude and awful.

Hiding became my requirement, using my big mind to manage and conceal my breadth and depth.   I was diagnosed as kind of having depression but I knew the problem to be suppression, the need to heavily police myself in a world that seemed to offered no solace, no sympathy and no safety for hearts like mine.

It is the grief for my own required deaths that enveloped me and the grief that as my own grief and my own awareness of it deepened it cast me farther and farther from simple human connection.   Instead my links had to be processed and modulated, valued for being of service rather than simply being lovable.

The limits of the audience have been the limits of my life so my strategy has always had to be to make the best of what I can get rather than mourning for what I needed and was denied.

Grief has been something I had to manage rather than being able to share.   This has left me weighted down and gun shy, staying alone rather than having to be triggered again in a way that brings down my structures, breaking beyond the scant resources and depleted wherewithal left after tolerating a lifetime of grief.

Love is inside of me and I have given it freely.   My grief, though, is how others find me too complicated to love back, too honest, too big, too queer.   They struggle with the demands this rapid and pounding society makes on them, their own humanity consumed by a million other obligations and stresses.

I understand.   It’s okay that they don’t love me, at least on a conceptual level.

On an emotional, human level,  though, it causes me grief.

Outcomes And Coming Out

Why do we fear coming out?

It’s because we have been taught that the outcomes of that openness can be dangerous and disastrous.

Coming out stands us to lose our friends, our family, our job, our status, our desires, our expectations.   All the time we spent staying in, hiding the truth inside of us was a commitment to avoiding the potential negative outcomes of being out, an attempt to hold onto what we have rather than risking it for the unknown, the terrifying, the queer.

The promises made to us about what we can have if we just stay straight and play by the normal rules are burned into our brain.   Pleasing people around us, doing what they want and value is what should bring us success and happiness, not fapping about and being queer.

Coming out demands that we stop fearing the possible outcomes and instead choose to do what we believe to be honest, noble and right.    Emerging means we have to choose our own pride over our own shame, degradation and compliance, risking the consequences for rewards that are internal rather than socially constructed.

As long as we are committed to what should be, trying to hold onto the outcomes that we believe we have been promised, to results based in our own expectations we are unable to be open, to be present and reap the rewards of the divine surprise.

Working the process demands letting go of imagined outcomes and instead holding onto the struggle for honesty, engagement and pride in our continuing choices.

The hard part of becoming new is almost always clearing out the old.   The grief for the loss of expectations is profound and deep (1994),  as they form the stick we have internalized to prop up our compliance and our connection to the constrained expectations and assumptions of family and friends.

How, though, can we open to the new when we are always mourning for the outcomes we believe that we deserve, the results we think we should be getting?

Like everything else in life a commitment to process and a commitment to outcomes are not binary, not mutually exclusive.  Working the process requires evaluating the outcomes to identify better choices, achieving mastery, and striving for better outcomes demands finding better ways to achieve our goals and objectives.

If we make choices based on working the process and they don’t work out the way that we hoped, we can take heart that our intentions we proud, that we did the right thing and learned something.

If we make choices based on creating desired outcomes and they don’t work out the way that we hoped, we can easily be broken, seeing our work as leading to failure, waste, shame, frustration, anger and heartbreak.

Buddha was clear that it is expectations that lead to pain and suffering.   When we know how things should be and they don’t match that assumption, we see loss in how we missed the mark, how we didn’t get what we believed we were promised.

When we are fully present, though, accepting even what we didn’t want as lessons that can open miracles of new sight, we are able to find the good, the possible and the powerful in even outcomes that we feared may happen.

No matter how comfortable we believe that holding onto compartmentalization is because we fear the possible results of being open, honest, actualized and integrated is holding onto pain and shame.   Our expectations become a stick that can batter us,  locking us in a box of our own programming.

The “What the fuck!” and “Fuck You!” aspects of coming out, the releasing of fears and the rejection of those who would try and shame us, both depend on trusting that if we make good, powerful and proud choices, committing to emergence, learning, growth and healing, then the good outcomes will take care of themselves, even if those results are something we cannot yet even imagine for ourselves.

“Shoulda, woulda, coulda,” gets us stuck in the past, trying to will our own wants over the possibilities and love that actually exists.   Being mired in expectations denies us the power to work the process and co-create our future with mindfulness and wit.

The leap beyond fear is the leap into the moment, letting go of the illusion of certainty to embrace the beautiful flow of life.

Coming out never offers guaranteed and perfect outcomes, but clinging to our wishes only offers the certainty of denying and constraining the grace of our heart.

Making proud choices is the only way to become new beyond imagination and to find the possibilities in locked deep inside your soul.

Fire & Ice

Trans is hot.

It is a wild white heat in your heart, burning Eros that calls you to break the mould, cross the lines, break the boundaries to claim your own essential truth beyond norms and expectations.

This culture, though, is cool.

It expects a tame chill compliance, a frosty bearing, a kind of insulated sameness that follows the norms, does the expected and tolerates the demands with a icy countenance.

That contrast between fire and ice is where trans people — where all people — struggle with their essential duality, trying to both fit in nicely and stand out bravely at the same time.

Even the biggest hailstone which smashes down to earth starts as a speck of dust.  It seeds into rain, but then that rain gets trapped in a freezing layer, bouncing up and down in the air as layers & layers of ice form, accretions of frozen water that isolate and harden it, growing in weight until it is big enough to crash through the updraft winds and plummet to the ground.

How many layers of ice do we carry around our hot, trans soul?   How do they change our shape, limit our options and turn us into a hammer rather than being fluid?

We seem to become the iceberg, 9/10 hidden under the surface.

Many of us, though, know that that huge, hidden bit is where our mass, our drives and our baggage really lives, hidden away and hopefully frozen forever, out of sight and out of mind.

For most people, that submerged bit isn’t something that they think about.   Their focus stays on what they can easily see.   They just wonder, sometimes, why others are acting erratically, but they usually write whatever they don’t quickly understand down to laziness or stupidity.   They respond by habit and emotion, following unconscious patterns rather than doing the work to be present and rational enough to look within.

They are not only responding to the shape of our ice, they are reacting with patterns frozen deep into their own ice, shaped and stored as defence long ago.

To own our own spark, that blazing light created in our heart, and to move past the habits which became solidified as we were bounced around in the atmosphere, we have to become aware, become expert at looking into the iceberg.

Once we are willing to look within, facing the fears we froze deeply into us, we also gain a new vision to look outside, seeing how others are engaged in the fight between their own imprisoned heat and the walls of ice built to contain that passion in a world that demands cool compliance.

The need to dig down into our own frozen habits to find, explore and expose our own essence makes us both powerful and scary.   It leaves us trying to find ways to be cool to the touch while owning our own heat, since we learned early that it is our fire that sets other people off, bringing shit down upon our heads.

Owning my own fire while also being cold enough to be of service has always been by own bête noire.   My deepest knowledge is that I live in a world where no one gets the joke, mirroring, understanding and affirming what I share.

This lead me to learning to manipulate others, first with tricks and later with honest, authentic techniques to create an area of agreement which helped them move forward.

The cost, though, to maintaining this cold façade, this deliberate and consciously modulated front has always been enormously high.   It leaves me able to serve others by dint of will but unable to help myself, the cost being just too high.  Mechanistic duty is functional, if costly, but personal salvation is beyond feasible, lost in a lifelong well of loneliness and grief.

When I feel my own issues welling up, I only have cerebral techniques to manage them, icy and dry, as in handling microbes stored in cryogenic hibernation.   Allowing them to come back to life brings up the real possibility of drastic infestation beyond any possibility to lull them back down into a place of apparent chill functionality.

My heat was so early defined as shameful, queer, disgusting, incomprehensible and worth punishment that from my earliest memory I had to try and kill it, using ice to compartmentalize my own heart so that it would not lead others to attempt to destroy me.

I regularly thank my mother in the sky for the gifts of life, the divine surprises I have been given, even as I ask to be released from a place where I see the space for rational thought, deep compassion, and the intention of understanding to be more and more driven out by craven manipulation and self-indulgent blindness.   My life becomes a pawn in their storytelling, sharpened to meet their political purposes by slicing away my beautiful nuance and ambiguity.

The official solution, I know, is to go cold again, frozen into a dogma that isolates and entombs my feelings so that I can fight without having my tender femme heart dragged into the public mêlée.

My journey, though, has been about finding my heart again, about owning it, no matter how battered, scarred and worn it may be.   My own trans process is not about changing my clothes or my body but rather about changing my mind so that it melts around the beating truth of my heart.

This leaves me vulnerable in a world where silencing and erasing challenges is more valued than engaging the truth that others bring, where frozen is practical because hot is terrifying unless it is approved and enslaved.

I can only activate my own freezer compartment for short bursts now, after a lifetime of overworking it, and always at a high price.

I have a hot nature in a world that demands frozen cold brittle toughness.

And that, well, the cost of that thermal shock (2015) is just too high.