Salvation

“Save Me!   Save Me!”

I have heard that cry from many over the decades as they desperately wanted someone or something to ease their pain, assuage their loss, focus their energy, unlock their possibilities and heal their tortured soul.

Like any healer, though, the best I could do is offer some comfort, clear away some junk, encourage their own leaps.

In the end, they have to heal themselves.

No matter how much they dreamed of a special relationship that would take away all their problems, or imagined that there was some next thing, like surgery or winning the lottery which would make further growth, healing and transformation necessary, nothing outside of them would ever fill that gaping hole deep inside, ever shift their perceptions and their choices to a more healthy place.

“If someone would just do this for me, then everything would fall into place, be perfect and lovely.”

Salvation, I have found, doesn’t work that way.  You can’t accept the what you need until you believe it exists, believe that you deserve it, believe in yourself.

For example, does getting breast implants change your life, or does it mostly change the way that you feel about yourself, giving you the confidence to be seen and admired?

When you complain that others aren’t giving you what you need, is the problem their limits or the gaping maw of your own unhealed neediness?

Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to have to die.  The death of your illusions, though, of your ego and your dogma, though, seems vital to finding a new level of awareness, understanding, connection and bliss.

Personally, I find that when I can open my mind and heart in a manner full of truth and vulnerability.   I reveal myself, sharing what I have in a way that I believe honours my creator and my creation.

While this practice has offered me salvation of the soul, it hasn’t saved my body, my relationships or my emotions.

Do I believe that there is anything I can do to find earthly comfort and salvation?   Can I imagine being seen, understood and valued in a way that feels like a blessing rather than like hard work to package, attenuate, and deny myself so that I can fit into normative expectations and everyday culture?

That kind of salvation seems very distant to me.  The idea that there are people who can get the joke past my bristling theological mind, who can embrace and nurture me in an encouraging and validating way, well, that is an idea I have found is improbable.

Many can tell me the kind of discipline and work I need to do to be less challenging, playing smaller, but the idea that being bigger is the only way to respect my creation is not in their understanding.

My emotional state is just too frail to take the kind of knocks everyday life hands out.   My salvation may have made me strong, but it has also made me aware, present, sensitive, raw and vulnerable.   That may be good for a healer, but it makes it hard to take the blows.

Between being transgender at a certain time in history and being the child of parents on the autism spectrum, my path has been very, very queer, very individual.  There is no community, no spiritual home, no safe zone that I can enter and claim.

I know that my own story is less than accessible to others, that it mostly makes them turn away and write me off.   Too intense, too challenging, too queer.

Knowing how to be on-stage came early to me, having to modulate my performance to try and have agency.   Finding a way to be off-stage, though, letting loose, relaxing, and feeling cared for wasn’t something I could master.  Even after I learned to value & trust my own queer heart, finding other people who I could trust with it was something I found to be almost impossible.

Learning to live without social engagement & affirmation because the people around me were in their own world lead me to learn to live in my own world, without expectation that others could enter or even understand.   My primary relationship was with my own mind & spirit, not with people around me.

Others were often scared of my vision and in turn, their fear scared me.   I learned to accept the world as it is, even if that truth made me sad, feeling like it denied me the emotional embrace I felt that I needed.

Being grateful for whatever I could scrape up was much more important than being upset and bitter over what I felt I was denied.   Making peace with the experience of scarcity was more useful than fighting it.  My relationship with death and rebirth became much more important than my relationship to unconsidered life.

Hope lies in the possibility of salvation, of being saved from whatever we fear by action and intervention.   I understand why so many work so hard to place hope in the external, in the special relationships and magical interventions that they dream will save them.

My personal salvation has been in my work, my practice, my calling, no matter how isolated and lonely that left me.  I had to be there for other people, no matter if they were there for me.

That salvation, though, doesn’t protect or embrace me in this world of flesh, even if it affirms my connection with creation.   I speak for what is easy to forget and diminish, for our continuous common humanity beyond comfort and ease.

I have struggled to save myself, even as I worked to help others save themselves.

That’s salvation, yes, but not a kind of dreamy salvation that feeds hope of earthly magic.

Flinty Trauma

This came through on my podcast feed recently and I started to listen.

I have talked about Dr. van der Kolk and his book, “The Body Keeps The Score” before.

Now, though, scraping bottom, I realize how fundamental my experience of trauma is, how it forms the flinty bedrock of who I am.

For good and for bad, I have been shaped by my experience of trauma.  It allows me the power of being a wounded healer and it separates me from other people who live in the many layers of acculturation which overlays their own foundation of trauma.

Scratch a transperson, or at least one who shares the experience of being shamed into the closet, and you will find the lasting effects of the trauma that drove them into hiding, the trauma of having to deny and kill off a powerful part of who they are.

It is the way trauma still exists in our body that erotically calls to us and makes us run from our own scarred heart at the same time.  The accretion of defence over that trauma contains the twists and turns which hold our own deep and unmet neediness.

Talking about this experience of trauma sets us apart from the world, leaving us seen as less than amazing, but not talking about this trauma leaves us stuck in denial with something broken at the core.   No matter how much we try and hide it, when they get close enough, within passing distance, others can feel the effect of that black hole inside.

I don’t want to talk about how I have excavated down to trauma during the last years when my social layers have been washed away by scarcity and isolation because I know that discussing it doesn’t help people connect with me.   My experience is terrifying, no matter how much it lets me speak resonant truths about the experience of walking trans in this world.

Yet, I am scraped so thin at this point that nothing but the effects of trauma are on my skin.   I can serve others, yes, but getting replenished, healed and vigorous feels far beyond me.    Only someone who grasps the experience of trauma, who can hold their own pain and be with me in the process of transcendence can help, and I am very, very clear that presence is far too much to expect, even if not too much to ask.

Knowing how to tenderly hold the effects of trauma in others is a great thing to do, offering them space, safety, mirroring and affirmation, but not having anyone ready to hold those torn and jagged bits of me leaves me wasted and bereft.

Why do we break people who challenge simple boundaries, setting out to traumatize them into compliance “for their own good?”

And why, when the effects of that trauma surface do we try to tell them that they should pick themselves up by their own bootstraps and just get over it, becoming compliant in a way that meets our existing beliefs about separation and obligation?

My experience of trauma has shaped me.    That formation, though, creates a separation between me and anyone who has not done the work of engaging their own trauma, their own emotions, their own fears, their own queerness.    I shine a light which is lovely when it illuminates shared experience but is terrifying when it lights the parts we feel the need to hide to remain functional in “normal life.”    If you are ready to heal, I am amazing, but if you need to keep bits hidden, even from yourself, well, scary.

Now, though, I am at the flinty bottom of that experience of trauma, with nary a wisp of protective flesh above it.   Even small bumps and bruises don’t just impact the padding, they cleave to the heart of me, opening fractures which pour out my deepest pain.

I know this, I know this, I know.

What to do about it, though, well, that I don’t know.

Talking about it just puts people off, just makes me more repellent.

Not talking about it, though, makes me more inert.

 

 

Price Of Awareness

The challenge of trans is compromise.

As transpeople, we are very clear that we are not simply one or the other but rather have elements across a range of continuous common humanity that we need to balance, need to hold, need to compromise.

As we do this, we hold the truth that the challenge of all humanity is compromise, finding a way to create tame shared structures while respecting wild unique individuality.

The challenge of awareness is compromise.

To become aware, we need to engage the world as it is rather than trying to force it to be the way we want it to be.  Understanding that we are never the centre of the world, that our view is limited and the only way we get a bigger picture is to embrace the shared truth is at the heart of being really aware & present in the world.

To be aware is to be aware of connection, aware of how we are just a part of something bigger, something awesome, something beautiful.

Many people want this kind of awareness, want to be able to see patterns and reveal facets that are hidden to most people who live in their own limited view.

What they don’t want, though, is to have to see the costs of holding illusions, of clinging to ego, of trying to avoid discomfort.   They don’t want to have to face their fears, don’t want to have to go through hell to burn away rationalizations and reveal the crystalline face of something much bigger than they are.

We cling to what we believe protects us, not willing to understand that anything that puts a barrier up also blocks our awareness and connection.   We want to sort the world into good and evil, sort ourselves into good and evil, keep ourselves compartmentalized, isolated and looking nice.

In other words, we don’t want to have to do the hard work of compromise, even with our own mind, heart and soul.   Instead, we want to impose the “right” solution, the one we believe should be correct, the one we have clung to for protection from fear for so long.

Transvestism is about changing your clothes.
Transsexualism is about changing your body.
Transgender is about changing your mind.

We know what we don’t want so clearly that we shape our identity and our choices in a negative way, by struggling to avoid what scares us about our own nature.   We struggle to assert our ego rather than being open to the divine surprise that brings awareness and enlightenment, working to close our eyes and ears from any reflections that might hold revelation we feel the need to reject.

Finding affirmations for our own ego, especially when they are wrapped in the name of enlightenment, is always more comforting than real awareness.   We want our comforting assumptions to be affirmed, not our rationalizations to be challenged.   We don’t want to have to compromise, we want to force the world to change so it turns in our chosen way.

The gems of awareness, though, ring rue and pure.   They are emotionally compelling as they untie the knots of confusion, quiet the noise and reveal profound truths.   We resonate with them as we hear them spoken, knowing they carry the power of clarity.

Moving to understand the price of owning those gems, though, is much more difficult.    To take them we have to take the awareness that comes with them, awareness of the limits of our own twists, illusions and fears.

When awareness spotlights how others have limits, we rejoice in the brilliant beams, but when it reveals our own limits we run and hide, striving to reject the lessons that come with such illumination.   Our own humanity and responsibility to others is tough to see, as it demands an accountability & mastery that it is much more comfortable only to project onto others.

To take that insight within is to accept the obligation to compromise, to do the work of enlightenment which opens us to the golden rule of not doing to others what we would find hateful to us.   It demands that we apply the compassion and wisdom we want to be treated with to others, even those who trigger our fears because of their surface differences.   It requires grace and humility, working to find common ground and accept our own continuous common humanity, even when it seems a bit queer.

Putting our own pain, fear and raging emotions aside to do the right thing isn’t easy, but it is the enlightened way, the only way that clear awareness supports.   Your beliefs can be certain, but the facts will always throw you a curve, one that demands your presence rather than your presumptions.

Finding the compromise between asserting your own will and embracing the revealed truth is at the heart of living with awareness.   What is the knowledge that underlies your own moral and constructive choices and what is the openness that leaves you sensitive, receptive and aware?   Yin and yang, finding their form in the multitude of choices that make up a human life.

It’s often easy to see where others need to find that compromise, letting go of old habits to embrace the new, discovering healing & growth, but very difficult to actually engage those clear lessons in our own life.    Instead we cling to “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” trying to find a shortcut that avoids us having to face the facts and make the hard choice to move beyond the frail illusions that block transformation.

It’s easy to love the idea of awareness, simple to believe that life would be better if the people around us were more present and aware.

It’s hard, though, to actually pay the price of becoming aware in our own life, moving beyond doctrine and wishes to embrace the sharp lessons that shared reality offers us.  Letting go of our defences to look deeply at what is is never easy because it reveals where healing & growth is required, where our own beliefs keep us small & broken.

The challenge of trans is compromise, finding a way to create an effective and reverent life that contains multitudes.

That is the challenge of all aware human life, though, balancing the many needs and forces to create healthy, caring and creative choices.

For me, the price of awareness has been worth paying, even if it makes my life challenging rather than comfortable.

You, though, get to make that choice for yourself.

Feeling It Out

I knew that, on camera, when you walk into a room in your own home, you must know where the light switch is. You can’t need to look. Or else it’s a lie, which is like giving the audience a pinch of poison.

When you tell a story, you have to take liberties. You compress time. You create composite characters. You jump years ahead or flash back. Art is not life. But if your character has a longtime girlfriend and you’re tentative or formal with her, touching her as if she’s someone you just met? Another pinch. The audience might not be consciously aware of these little pinches, but if you keep doling them out, they’re reaching for the remote, or they’re walking out of the theater. They’re sick of the poison. They don’t want any more. They’re done.

They might not even realize they’re responding to inauthenticity or sloppiness in storytelling. It’s not the audience’s job to articulate the reasons. It’s their job to feel.
-- Bryan Cranston, A Life In Parts

“It’s not the audience’s job to articulate the reasons [they find the storytelling sloppy or inauthentic].  It’s their job to feel.”

When women view the world, the first thing they sense is the emotion that others are carrying.

We love watching animals play because we read their emotions.   In studies of arousal, women said that watching animals copulate didn’t arouse them, but sensing the body’s response showed differently; the animal emotion was powerful and enthralling, though not on the level of language.

How can you be a mother without first reading the emotion of your children?   One of the most important jobs parents have is to help kids learn to use their words, finding ways to express what can be conflicting and intense emotions, and you can only do that if you first get the emotion without precise words.

“As an audience, it’s their job to feel.”   While that sounds like boilerplate you use with an acting class, it does contain received wisdom about the desires and choices that an audience make.   If a performance doesn’t engage them, make them feel deeply, connecting with their emotions, they walk away, without any obligation to say why.

The scope of feeling, though, is always limited by the emotional map that the audience already carries with them.

When we create stories for children, for example, we know that sophisticated and nuanced adult emotions will fall flat with them.    They understand the basic emotions, but have not yet explored the bittersweet and complicated emotions that come with maturity.

Setting the emotional tone of a story to trigger only primal emotions, the sensational and basic, allows us to reach a wider audience, though with a corresponding limit in the depth and detail we can convey.

Transpeople have to engage with an audience to survive in the world. We know that creating a context which fits into the emotional map of those around us is the only way we can express ourselves beyond social norms and group pressures to assimilate.

Those who assign us as stigmatized objects in order to defend gender boundaries which feed their own beliefs, trying to locate the worst & most challenging in our choices to demonize us in an effort to play on the fear know that the battle is played out on the emotional map of the wider audience.

The most important thing any transperson can do is to create a story that protects and empowers them in society.   It needs to both feed our understanding and work as an explanation for our choices that other people can grasp and accept.

There are a huge number of story strategies we have used, from “I only do it as a hobby to honour women” to “It’s just a little fetish” to “Just for the show” to “I was born a hermaphrodite” to “I am doing this to rage against the oppression of gender” and on and on and on.

All of these tales are true enough to get us some of what we need, but each one of them is also limited by the bounds of the emotion we are trying to create.   They are shaped to eliminate the “noise” that “poisons” the audience because they feel anything they see as a contradiction to be a “lie.”

There are so many audiences to satisfy nowadays that almost anything can be identified as the emotional “lie” that “poisons” our performance for them.   For example, to find support we almost always have to take a political position, much like we did when doctors only wanted to provide support to “true transsexuals,” those who met their expectations of gendered compliance.   It wasn’t enough to “want to be a woman,” you had to already be a woman to get their services.

Today the political positions are hardened to match the coarsened public discourse in an age of polarization where compromise is identified as pathetic, sick and weak.

I figured out in the 1990s that a solely intellectual approach to talking about trans would not get me where I needed to go.   Unless I found ways to express the emotion of a trans life, the deep feelings bound up in the experience of living trans in this culture, I would never be able to get the kind of mirroring, empathy, understanding and valuing that I needed.

My journey, though, has taken me far from the conventional emotional maps that people carry with them.    It has demanded blending thoughts and feelings in a way that often seems to be just noise to those who haven’t been to the same kind of paths I have had to walk.

My stories, therefore, often challenge the tales others have created to defend and rationalize their own life, the emotional armour that they believe is working for them.    Understanding that shell is both a protection and a limitation, that trying to stay in the emotional zones of convention by avoiding the sharp incisiveness of thought can keep us broken, well, that’s not something they can get their heart around at this moment.

Having parents with Aspergers, the emotional maps I needed to navigate were very different than the conventional.   It was thought that broke through, not emotion, so rather than playing out my emotions and finding connection, I had to learn to suppress and manage my emotions.   My heart had to stay hidden.

I am often surprised, though, than when they hear me speak other transpeople find something resonant and powerful in my voice, responding as if I spoke for them.   I can answer the hard questions others ask with sharp thought, but they respond to the emotional truth of my answers, the authenticity in my voice.

This doesn’t come across in writing, I know, because it doesn’t carry the same set of emotional cues.

Still, people who have not had the trans experience usually find my voice challenging and difficult because I offer emotional power that lies outside of their comfort zone.   To them, I seem to bristle and threaten, pushing emotional buttons that they find so disquieting that they need to find a way to dismiss and marginalize me.

Trying to find a place where I can engage the emotions of the audience without shutting them down is the challenge of becoming product, of effectively returning the gift of my own journey.

If the audience’s job is to feel and that breadth of that feeling is bounded by their own inner emotional maps, how do we expand those horizons without tripping their sense of inauthenticity, lies, threats, challenge and noise?

How do we ever connect with an audience that is just not read or willing to go there?

Becoming Old

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.

Stolen Stories

Chicks love stories.   Ask any romance writer, soap opera devotee or executive at the Hallmark channel; they will tell you that chicks love their stories.

Stories open us up to experiences that don’t fit into our everyday lives.   They keep our emotions exercised, sharpen our perceptions and extend our intuitive understanding.   Stories keep us open, tender and attentive, ready to engage the stories around us.

My mother loved the idea of stories, but she couldn’t tell a story to save her own life.   She would start off with some idea and then get lost in the details, having it bog down into a load of lost and losing mumbles.

As her family we listened, trying hard to extract a meaning that she didn’t understand, but I often wondered how other women took to her rambling reminiscences.

More than that, I wondered how they took to my mother not really listening to their stories, not getting the threads, the humour, the emotions, the meaning.

What happened when she just replaced their intentions with her expectations, not carrying the web in her head so she could have a context and compassion to engage the other stories they needed to share, instead making it about her?

As a teenager, the thing I longed for was stories.   It was the most alluring thing about other women, the fact that they had real narratives, with details, plot and real revelations.

I wanted their stories, yes, but more than that I wanted my own stories, wanted to be the heroine in my own life.

That, of course, was never to be.   The blocks against me having lovely, passionate and emotional stories with me at the centre were just too many.   I didn’t have the training and I didn’t have the audience and I didn’t have the goods and I didn’t have much.   All I had was the heart and that was just never going to be enough.

No one was ever going to see me as the hidden princess whose radiant beauty, brilliant personality, astounding insight and pounding love saved the day and made the world better and more beautiful.

I just saw a meme from the “Trans Aging Project” that wanted to communicate it was never too late to “be your true self.”

The inference is that somehow, it was possible to be, in life, something other than your “true self.”

How can we be anything other than our true self?   Sure, we can choose to be more tame than wild, walling off our own heart from our choices and obeying “the dragon with ‘thou shalt’ inscribed on every scale,”   but there is no way we can ever only be wild beyond needing other humans in this finite and fragile life.

The notion that somehow, we can live some kind of story where we are finally true and ideal, that there is some kind of expression without compromise and cost, well, that seems to be a huge fallacy.

It’s better. of course, when we write our own stories consciously, shaping our stories to respect and honour the creative essence that lives in our heart, but the notion that our story is untrue if we live in a kind of denial which feeds our need to fit in, to be connected, to feel love in relationship, well, that is a dangerous trope.

Even when our narrative plays more to social pressure, our choices reveal what we cared about, telling a tale of what we considered the best that we could do to be effective in society.

I have always been my true self.

Living within the constraints placed on me, though, from social norms to family habits to my own fears & desires, well, my stories got stolen.

Today, I see a network of trans support which is essentially political, based in belief structures that try to tell us what is true and acceptable, what is false and deluded.  Political correctness lives at the heart of these systems, using call-out culture to shape language, choices, dreams and stories to fit into ideologies.

This network cuts off my stories.

Back in 1996, someone who said that they wanted to help asked me what I needed.   I didn’t want to tell them, I knew they would not hear me, and that’s exactly what happened.  I told them I needed stories of possibility and they told me that what I really needed was to surrender to their belief structures, to follow their rules.

The stories I needed were deemed frivolous, incorrect, profane and deluded.   Only the stories that supported their current worldview were acceptable to share.

That is, of course, exactly the same challenge I had since I was a very small child and desperately needed to have my stories heard, mirrored and affirmed.

I can’t remember a time when people asserting to know what real life and real truth requires haven’t stolen the stories in my heart and replaced them with their own constricted narratives.

Chicks love stories.

I’m a chick, at heart anyway, and I need my stories to keep me emotionally healthy and hopeful.   I must believe that blessed things can happen to someone like me, too, or I will dry up and shrink like a rotting grapefruit.  Or has that happened already?

Affirming the stories of people around me is something I do rigorously.   I keep their hearts supple and tender, encouraging even the most whimsical of their dreams.  Only by following those stories will truth emerge, somewhere in the enchanted land between fantasy and reality, between the sweep of the heart and the practical choices of the flesh.

You gotta have a dream.  If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna to have a dream come true?

When we squash stories, we squash dreams.   When we squash dreams, we squash hearts.

I still see us stealing stories from transpeople, trying to replace them with canned and limiting narratives that serve the comfort of those embedded in binary, us/them, either/or belief systems more than they do the beautiful possibilities that lie in the trans heart, transcendent and beyond convention.

Stealing our stories bursts our balloons of hope. (2008)   It tries to coat us in mud and shit so we cannot fly into scary and beautiful possibilities.

Chicks love stories.   Chicks need stories.

And I, no matter how people want to call me out for using such a diminutive word for humans, am a chick.

Being denied my stories denied my hope.

Without hope, well, no life.

Choosing Alienation

There was a time when choosing alienation was a scared and holy thing.

The path of the hermit and those in cloistered communities involved deliberately cutting themselves off from the rumble and rabble of the outside world to live a life of contemplation, dedicated to a closer relationship with the divine than with the profane.

Today, alienation still involves an element of choice.

We have to decide how much we are going to play along with the social pressures for normativity and how much we are going to stand separate, proud and alienated.

I am very aware that my loneliness comes from being a long lost tranny, and that choice comes from refusing to compartmentalized or flatten myself to fit into social demands and expectations.

Because it is a choice, I know that I can’t really complain about the negative effects that alienation costs me.   I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.

Yet the cost of alienation is often made higher by those who see those who choose not to play along as needing to be taught a lesson, rather than seeing them as strong individuals who are just trying to find a way to be true to their own hearts.

In many ways, I had no other choice than alienation.  The cost of fitting in was just more painful, forced and contortionist than I could bear.

We don’t choose alienation to say “fuck you” to anyone, even if those are the words that come out of our hurting mouths.

We choose alienation to try and save ourselves, to try and be true to that unique essence in our heart that is being tortured by the pressure to fit in.

My personal alienation started as a survival strategy, but it became a sacred strategy.  Being closer to my creator than to my peers gave me great comfort and insight.

Like any strategy, though, there is always a price to be paid.  Once you get good at surviving with alienation, it becomes very easy to choose more alienation over the hard work of dealing with the chatter and habits of other humans.   You can become more and more isolated because you understand that you don’t really need to fit in, no matter how good being seen, understood and valued might be.

Wild and tame is the ultimate duality, and we are each called to both of them.   We need to stand for ourselves, individual and unique while also being part of the community, fitting in and working together.

It is often hard, though, for people who have consumed themselves to fit into the crowd to have respect and appreciation for those who have chosen to stand apart some, asking the questions that go to the heart of group think.

Our alienation may start as defence, but it often becomes enforced by those who see us as outside the bounds and then choose to marginalize us.   The loop creates a barrier even as we seek for some kind of home where we are welcomed, finding people like us, instead finding those who fear and rankle at what they see as our alien nature.

Which comes first in alienation: the need for defence, the call for the holy, or the bristling demands for becoming ordinary to fit in?

In my experience, they all came together, the bad, the good and the defensive.

Too much alienation, though, especially from people who claim to be on our side, well, it leaves you out in the cold.