Too Much, Too Little

“I have to watch myself because I often put other people off by being too _________.”

What do you believe that you have to tamp down, to keep small and hide for other people not to find you off-putting?

It’s those aspects you have been told that you have to police which form much of your anxiety, fear and denial.   It’s the reason you feel the need to modulate, cut back and control your choices to follow the rules, to fit within the lines, all so people will like you.

What do I most fear showing?  Simple.

I fear being overwhelming (1998).  I know how easy it is for me to open my mouth and fill the space with challenging, intense, theological, liminal and potent words.   People can be baffled, frightened, insulted or just see me as a total jerk.

If less of me is more, then I should hold back on revealing myself, right?   My æsthetic denial and expectation of scarcity tells me that if something or someone might be useful to me, going after it is the absolutely wrong thing; instead I have to let it come to me.

This strategy leaves me alone and cold most of the time. STFU — Shut The Fuck Up! — does not lead to making lots of new connections.  It doesn’t even lead to making the most of the few connections that you do make.

I could, of course, give a complex, detailed and exhaustive explanation of how I came to this state, but I have already filled an enormous and obtuse blog with the blow-by-blow.

Just because I am aware of the torrent of thoughts, feelings and voices that course through me all the time doesn’t mean others are ready to engage or even to hear what I have to share.  That means I need to be my own editor, which also means that, like any contentious self-policing queer, I end up cutting out much of the good, relate-able and connecting stuff.

My life-myth is simple: nobody gets the joke.   They won’t see what I have to offer beyond their own limited expectations, their own tunnelled assumptions.    I may know how sharp, connected and gifted I am, but they see the lumps and bumps of the idiosyncratic & iconoclastic package, which never fit the standard conventions.

For me, attention was always something to be avoided rather than being encouraged.  To be revealed was to be unsafe, open to attack for what others projected onto me.   Unsafe was my expectation, never really one of the gals, never really one of the guys, never really one of the gang.

I learned to take power from the edges rather than from the front, using guerrilla skills to ask just the wrong question which opens up a new way of thinking.

Offering too much information can be a problem, so we can be defined by what we conceal, what we police.   Like anything, though, conscious creation is always more powerful than habitual patterns.   When we own our less than perfect bits, our deepest intentions, our choices and our shimmering contradictions we can come to expression with awareness & presence rather than fear & ignorance.

My personal denial is considered, deliberate, explicit.  I trust thoughtful content over free style, overthinking, overworking and under achieving.   I don’t trust my performance, my brilliance. my beauty (2006).

I know, though, that choice keeps my spark, my light from the world, keeps me from trusting that I can attract what I need, keeps me believing that my intensity will blow the deal.

What we police holds the flashes of our energy, our gifts.  Staying small may keep others comfortable, but it doesn’t keep us happy.

Or healthy.

Remember Too

It has come to my awareness that my first draft for TDOR 2017 seems a bit too complicated and intense.

Here is a second, simpler draft.

We don’t come together today to remember transgender murders, rather we gather to remember transgender lives.  Each name read isn’t just a chime, rather it is the remainder of a trans person who lived, loved, struggled, sweated and survived until they no longer did.

When we hear of tragic deaths, we have two choices.

We can come together to fear death, identifying victimization and loss, girding ourselves from inevitable pain and destruction.

Or we can come together to remember to value life while we have it, celebrating the messy possibilities of creation, of relationship, of love.

When you hear about a murder, do you look for someone to blame, for someplace to hide?   Or are you reminded that life is precious and must be lived to the full in order to make the most of our gifts?

Do you yell and wail or do you hug and educate?

I believe that the way we honour those we have lost is by making the most out of what we still have, of all that we can find and transform in this world.

Were people there, loving, encouraging and empowering the people who lost their lives to violence this year?   We hope so, hope they had moments of bliss that lifted them and deeply connected them to others, to something greater.

We can’t change their lost lives, though, cannot change the past.   All we can do is to allow the memory of them to inform our choices, helping shape our future.

As we remember what is lost, we are reminded of what we have to value.   We are reminded that moving beyond our own limits, our own comfort, our own habits and expectations is the only way to develop deep connections that open us to love beyond fear.

Queer people were lost to us.   Doesn’t that remind us to remember how important it is to value the queer people who pass through our lives today, the ones who make choices we would never make for ourselves, but which open our eyes and our hearts to a kind of continuous common humanity that transcends our personal experience?

We remember the lost so we can be reminded to value the found, moving beyond the fear of death to the love of life, human expression and essence in all its diverse, challenging and beautiful forms.

We remember to remind us to open to the love that can connect us all.


Remember Fear

Draft for TDOR 2017

As we come together on this Transgender Day of Remembrance, taking the time to list those transpeople that we know were lost at the hands of another in the past year,  what do we need to most remember?

The stories of our murdered sisters and brothers remind all transpeople that our safety is not something that we can take for granted.   We live in a world where we can become targets of other people’s internalized fear and rage, where their need to purge what they find challenging to their own beliefs can end up with them targeting us, with them feeling that they are entitled to erase perversion and evil.

The one thing that all queer people share is the experience of the closet.  We learn very early that it is unsafe for us to show the nature in our hearts, that the only good we can do is to deny, suffocate and twist our desires to fit into what family, church and community expects.

Today, we remember that fear which caused us to hide, which still pushes us to stay small and deny our power, and we stand together to resist it.

By gathering in love to celebrate the lives of marginalized transpeople, by showing our solidarity and coming together with allies who also commit to remember the fear that terrorizes gender variant people around the world, we stand up for care, for compassion and for liberation.

Today we say that the stories of trans lives, the voices of those trans people some attempt to silence with fear, are vital to remember each and every day.   We honour the experience of being trans in the world, even where it differs from our personal experience, seeing through the eyes of those who have lived in fear just because their hearts crossed the lines of society’s gendered conventions.

Marginalized, pushed to the edges, they lived in fear of their own safety, striving to create a life even though they were routinely told that just showing their nature put them beyond what many could accept, what many could tolerate, what many believed was right, pure and godly.

They knew that even using a public restroom could put them at risk from some who would brand them sick and perverted, who would dehumanize them, call them deluded monsters, worthy of purging from polite society.

Yet, they lived their own love, claimed their own creation, embodied their own truth.   Some paid the ultimate price for that expression, unable or unwilling to hide themselves enough to satisfy the tormented, mirroring the diversity and transcendence of creation in a way that got them attack and destroyed.

On this day, we remember that only by creating safe space in our own heart to embrace the mirror of continuous common humanity, moving beyond the walls and separations that we believe keep us safe can we create a world where diversity can blossom and thrive.   Our comforting assumptions need to be released to see the humanity around us, rather than defended by erasure, ignorance and projection.

We come together today to move beyond our own fear of the different, our fear of those who make choices that we would never make for ourselves, choices that we can only understand by opening our hearts and seeing the world through their eyes.   We commit to remembering that our discomfort or feeling of challenge is within us and only we can reach to something higher which allows us to transcend, moving from fear to love.

As we see echoes of attack of gender variant people around us, in the media or in conversation, we remember that the seeds of fear are being planted, making the world less safe for those who have the spark of transcendence in their hearts.   We remember that only love can trump fear, only compassion can trump doctrine, only we can trump ignorance and hate.

Today, we remember those who were destroyed by fear and violence, those who are damaged every day by fear and the threat of violence, those who cannot give all their creator has put into their heart because they live in fear.

And today we remember that only we can create fertile ground for them with our love, our willingness to open our own hearts and minds to hear their stories, to move beyond our old assumptions and comforting walls to engage them with love.

We remember the lost and we commit to the living that we will remember the continuous common humanity that threads through all human hearts, remembering to open with love and kindness so we create safe spaces for diversity, expression and transcendence, spaces that can spread from our heart to the wider world.

We promise to remember to release fear and embrace love for every human, even the ones who cross gendered conventions.



Try To Remember

“I think that Transgender Day Of Remembrance (TDOR) is simply a vigil,” said the pastor who called the organizational meeting, “and not a time for speeches or anything like that.”

“Let me ask you a question,” I said.  “What are we trying to remember?   Just a list of people we never met?

“Clearly, these lost people act as symbols, but symbols of what?”

The room kind of choked.   All these people wanted to be good, liberal allies of transpeople, catching the trend, but in their minds, trans was just what they assumed it to be, not something challenging, risky and potent.

It’s just that power that TDOR was created to express.

From the first, TDOR was a political event.    What it means — what we are trying to remember — is at the heart of the question, a question shaped by your own worldview.

For many, TDOR is just another reminder of racism, as many of the victims are women of colour.   It becomes swept into conventional identity politics based social justice rhetoric.

For me, though, TDOR is aan event for consciousness raising about the erasure and destruction of trans visibility.   It is about the forces used to kill off trans nature in society.

That requires that we face the connection between all transpeople, the shaming and the abuse that tries to crush us.

For transpeople who have spent countless energy in trying to justify why they are not bad trannies, why they are the exception that doesn’t deserve the shunning, shame and slams that other, too-queer trannies get, this can be very hard to do.

I had a transwoman murdered a few blocks down the street from where I lived.   Trying to bring together community to call for justice, let alone to remember her life was an enormously difficult challenge.

Many questioned why a man was in her apartment after the bars closed.  It turned out that he followed her home to rob her, seeing her as vulnerable, but the very suggestion that she may have been sexual marked her as complicit in the view of many.

Many couldn’t imagine trading their hard crafted mask of invisibility to be out to stand up and stand by her.

Trans is such an individual journey that they couldn’t see themselves as family with this woman, couldn’t imagine why they should take her questionable choices onto themselves.   After all, they protected themselves by playing safe; shouldn’t she have done the same?

Race, class, economics, sexuality and much more form barriers to our own consciousness of connection.  Even when we do try to reach beyond those boundaries we often find others who create their own blocks to solidarity, looking to blame others or use the shame of constructed political correctness to enforce their own identity politics.

TDOR has always been a political event, asking us to stand up in solidarity for those transpeople who have been physically erased, no matter what the reason or how different they are from us.

For the nice people in that room last night, it was a simple matter of humanity.   The people on this list could be refugees or political prisoners or lost miners.   Just humans who died and we should list off their names, take a moment to remember them and then move on.

For me, though, context is all.   How do we legitimately remember the challenges transpeople face without engaging their narratives?   How can we create a space for them in our mind unless we are open to their continuing struggle?   What is the purpose of claiming remembrance without doing the work of actually understanding the context of their lives?

This was, though, much more than people wanted to handle in the meeting, than what they wanted to include in their nice vigil.   The service was enough; actually remembering, which meant actually opening, knowing and engaging was beyond the scope.

I left the room feeling unheard and erased, with no one wanting to engage what I offered.

And that’s what I’ll remember.