Rivers Of Sewage

Both TBB and ShamanGal have expressed to me that my post “Jewels In The Sewage” really resonated with them.

I have to admit to being a bit surprised, because when I wrote it I was just attempting to express my feelings in the best way I knew how before crawling under the comforter again.   Yet, it reflected their memories of trying to express their personal transgender experience in the world and having that sharing of their hard won and precious jewels go unvalued and dismissed, into the ears of listeners and then out the other ear again.

“My sister-in-law told my brother that he shouldn’t bother reading the trans narrative I had annotated,”  ShamanGal told me.   “She said that she already knew other transpeople, so she already knew everything she needed to know about trans, and that was enough for her family to know, at least according to her.

“My mother was upset by this.  She knew that my sister-in-law couldn’t possibly know the real experience, the depth, the challenge, the struggle that she had seen me go through as my mother.

“So many people think they know what trans ‘really’ is so they can ignore my sharing and just replace it with their own assumptions and beliefs.   This isn’t just normative people, either, it’s often other transpeople who don’t want their trans doctrine challenged, so they just cast the jewels we offered into the sewage to be flushed away.”

My piece was triggered by my experience with a group of self identified freethinkers.   Freethinking is the opposite of stuck thinking, of holding on to the conventional, comforting, doctrinaire and wrong just to avoid the need to open your mind to the possibility that you can learn from other people.

Much of the conversation at that restaurant table was about the frustration of connecting with family members with whom there was much shared love and caring, but very little shared intellectual understanding.  “I have to keep my ideas in a private group on Facebook,” one man said, “because if my father reads them, he would blow his top, arguing that I have gone crazy.”

These people were willing, in their own way, to open themselves to the ideas I offered, but what they were unable to do is open themselves to the feelings I brought, to open to the emotional and personal experience of experiencing the world as a transperson.   To me, with a profoundly feminine heart, that felt like rejection too, because I have learned that the isolated and intellectual approach I learned to take to sustain some kind of masculine position in the world avoided the real power of empathy, vulnerability and connection.

My story is devoid of meaning without the experience of heart, and devoid of understanding without the experience of intellectual exploration.   Is this another way that I ask people to go beyond comforting binaries to engage and understand continuous common humanity?   I fear that it may just be.

One of the most exhausting and draining things about my trans experience is the continual attempt to share my experience in the world and then to feel heard, valued and supported for that sharing.   I want to give my gifts and have them embraced.

My response to this decade’s long search to find words that open connection to others is primarily emotional.   The actual process is intellectual, the attempt to construct language that conveys my experience and feelings, but the limited success of that process is physical exhaustion and emotional drain.

ShamanGal is missing the daily work routines that had to stop while she recovers from hip surgery, no matter how limiting she found them when she had to do them everyday.  There is flow and momentum in being part of a team, sharing confidences & concerns with others in a small, day by day way, being called on to solve problems, and being valued for what we contribute.   This makes a big difference to self-esteem, allowing the motion of the shared effort to give us a base to extend ourselves, rather than always having to start over, climbing a new hill with every new challenge.

The blend of thinking and feeling is key to any human endeavour, especially a shared one.  Heads or hearts is not the answer, never the answer, rather the answer is always heads and hearts.

My long and heartbreaking attempt to share my experience of the world, to feel heard, valued and supported for that sharing has been one of the most exhausting and draining things in my life.   I may want to give my gifts and have them embraced, but for me, and for TBB and ShamanGal too, it often feels like the jewels we bring from our costly journeys just end up in the sewage, not valued or honoured.

Just taking an idea from us, or offering a bit of sympathy while holding on to comforting separations, like the false division between head and heart, leaves us without the ground or the breath, without the energy or the support to participate as complete people who are both essentially trans and fundamentally human.

We have fought like banshees to own our wholeness, to integrate who we are.  To then have to see ourselves chopped up to fit other people’s expectations of walls leaves us sad, with a sadness is very wearing and awfully taxing, taking away energy that could be used to reach out and try again and again and again and again and again.

Picking the parts of us that you can engage and throwing away the rest is just tossing so much of the pure and hard won us into the sewage.

We share ourselves, offering our very essence.   When you reject that which might challenge your ideas or our empathy, you tell us again, as we have been told since we were very small that we are wrong, broken, mistaken about our hearts, and not worthy of acceptance.

That is not only rude and shortsighted, it also hurts us.

And just being more rational about why others get to reject us will never get us over that hump in our hearts.

Jewels In The Sewage

I sat at a table in a crowded diner this morning, jammed in at a too small table, my big body twisted and under strain.   Around me were some freethinkers who came together on this Sunday to share breakfast, to talk and be in community.

And at that table in that busy restaurant, the gentleman next to me asked me, with grace and curiosity “You identify as trans?  Do you mind telling me what trans is?”

I could answer him earnestly, exposing my heart, showing myself to this man I had just met, or I could pass off the question, making the point of my journey here this morning moot.

It had been a hard day before.   My sister asked me to write a defence for her committee, she had asked me to write a pitch letter to get sponsors for their upcoming show, with no source material at all, and those had taken many go arounds.  She had asked me to fix her computer so she could use it now, and more than that, she had sobbed on the phone to me about how difficult it was to cope with the stresses of her life and the fragility of her body.    I felt for her, as I have been taking care of her in the face of our family since I can remember.

I skipped the dyke dance — the LGBT Spring Fling — to work on the computer, a tricky job with both Windows 8.1 to be installed, an OS I never touched before, and restoring her Windows 7 system that she knew and understood.  It was a battle of updates and restarts, wearing and challenging.

In the midst of that, I got a call from ShamanGal, who felt like her life just wasn’t satisfying enough.   I had to channel Mr. Cool, the detached persona who got her through high school, for whom nothing was ever good enough to help her find a laugh, to help her trust that it was the details of joy that made a life, not the commitment to separating from her feminine heart that she used to get through 20 years of living as a guy.

“It’s not the frivolity of women that makes them so intolerable. It’s their ghastly enthusiasm,”   John Mortimer’s creation Horace Rumpole said, but the same forces that work to deny transpeople a connection to their heart also forbids us to surrender to our own enthusiasm, our own spirit, our own life force, our own “possession by a god.”

It was after 1 AM when everything went south, with updates failing and being rolled back.  It was such a struggle to understand, to figure it out, but it was busted, failed, blown, a night of myself surrendered for failure.

When I woke up after a few hours sleep, I had to get dressed to go, had to gun the gauntlet of the cul-de-sac, had to squeeze myself into that tiny space.

And now, tired and shattered, I had to be social, open, vulnerable if I wanted to get any value out of all the effort and energy I had expended to be here.

Across the table was a woman who worked as a pastor, and as she told stories about her life, with social justice work, family, and husband, I started to see a life that I would have loved, one where she could just follow her calling and build a whole life because she didn’t have to swim through the sewage transpeople have to face everyday.

I had spoken to a transwoman I knew when she was a transkid, now mature and centred.   While she does not live in her head, like me, she does have a great and aware heart.  She spoke to me with compassion, understanding how unfair this society is to transpeople with the burdens they put on us.   Even when we end up as sex workers, we end up being caretakers, serving others needs to just try to get the scraps we need to live.

No one at this table of freethinkers understood this scarcity of affirmation, love and possibility in a visceral and deep manner.  Still, they asked me to share and I tried, right there in that noisy place full of normies who could just barely get the joke.

I heard myself be wise and witty, come up with good and resonant statements from my cramped and squeezed little chair, getting shards of my story out.

What it felt like, though, was what my life has often felt like.  Without deep understanding or respect, without empathy or space, without time and attention, I was asked to throw my jewels into the sewage of life, tiny sparkling bits of me that others may or may not find useful, but that none of them understand how to value.

They cannot understand the price paid in abandonment and pain, in struggle and denial, in challenge and in battle that I paid for those jewels, how much they cost me in life energy and loss.   To them, they are just bits flecked out at a restaurant table, not the insanely hard won treasures of a lifetime of being slammed to stop me from challenging comfort and convention.

They were kind to ask their third grade questions, and I answered as well as I could, with sparkle and with wit, but it was my blood and treasure they asked of me, wanting me to easily expose the very scars of my existence, the very tendrils of my heart for chatty table talk.

My jewels have always been thrown into the sewage, for that is where the world has wanted to throw my heart, at the cost of a life that has been denied into the very margins of the gutter as I was asked to live it in-authentically and without the joy of genuine enthusiasm.

I know others want to be nice, but I also know that scars on top of scars make it hard to feel warmth.   And somehow, trying to squeeze out my tender, battered and tattered heart in little pieces that satisfy curiosity without the space for compassion and understanding is hard.

If I never share the jewels of my heart, I can never offer my greatest gift, never have my essence seen and affirmed.

But just tossing them into the sewage and hoping someone will tenderly see them as precious, will value the price I paid for them, well, that feels like another chance to be long lost and lonely.

Blame Shit

Whose fault is it?

How can we determine the cause, so we can know who to blame?   I mean, someone or something must be responsible, right?

Usually, of course, the finger gets pointed at the person is somehow different.   The one who seems to break the rules, to flaunt convention.   After all, aren’t they they most likely ones to have stirred the shit?

The big advantage of convention is that it is always designed to cover up the shit.  When my sister-in-law decided to clean up the kitchen here, she made sure that the outside of the microwave was lovely and shiny while leaving the inside untouched.  It was the shit she could see that needed to be eliminated, not the shit in the works that could possibly gum things up.

If you can’t see the shit, it must not exist, right?   So the blame never goes to people who don’t process their own shit, who just bury it, the blame goes to people who reveal the shit.

This is, of course, the essence of stigma, the social pressure against actually showing the fact that humans are born between piss and shit, and that we all have our own shit to deal with.

I have written a lot about being a phobogenic object, a phrase gifted to me by philosopher Jake Hale.   People fear when they are exposed to me, that’s true.  But whose fault is that?   Do I have some magic ability to create fear where none exists?   Or do I just let themselves open up to their own fears, whatever they are?

As I have said many times before here, I was the scapegoat, the target patient for my family system.  My nickname in the family was “Stupid,” at least until 8th grade when it turned into “Stupid, Oh The Shrink Told Us Not To Call You That,” for a while before it ended.

I know, for example, that when I get upset during a phone call from my sister, my choosing to end the call is not seen as a sign of distress, rather it is seen as a sign of me being obstinate and unreasonable.  Why can’t I just do what other people would do, what she wants me to do?

The essence of stigma is to assign blame to those who stir up shit.   Those of us who are trapped in the system might explain that the problem is really all the shit that people hold, all the expectations and fear, all the assumptions that shit unseen is shit nonexistent, but that’s an awful hard sell to people who value their comfort over their enlightenment.  They don’t want to hear that we didn’t cause them pain, we just revealed where they are not healed, they want to shut us down.

It is not sick to be sick of sickness, the wise ones tell us, but when sickness is the norm, being sick of it just seems sick to many.

I’m a grown-up, and I know that any solution for happiness that depends on others changing to something more comfortable and useful for my just by force of my will is an unreasonable and unworkable solution.

You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.
John Morley

Yet, assigning blame to those who cannot be silent is the basis of much normative expression.    The Emperor looks grand in his new clothes, does he not?

It’s my own fault that I feel like my life is swimming through stigma.  After all, who else’s fault could it be?   We make our own choices, and if you made the bed, you need to lie in it.  If I just didn’t make it so hard for people to love me, didn’t push them away with my own porcupine queerness, well, then I would be much happier.   Why the hell do I have to shove my own nature in people’s faces?  Can’t I just be who I am quietly?  Isn’t that enough?

I understand the way people defend and stabilize their own lives by demeaning, diminishing and blaming others.   That’s the way that normativity works, using stigma to enforce silence and denial for the comfort of others.

I’m just really sick of swimming through shit.

Love Shit

“Love,” I have been told.   “Love is the answer.”

I know how to make other people feel loved.  I just take care of them, attend to their concerns and their needs, listen to them and engage them.  That’s what makes people feel loved, entering their world and being who they need you to be.

In my experience, though, this is almost never a two way street.  Somebody wants the relationship to work, and someone else enjoys it working.

As a transperson, I know the kind of knots we twist ourselves into to get and keep relationships.  And I know them well because that is how I kept my relationship with my family for so long, by keeping myself small and attentive to their needs, so much so that I ended up erasing myself.

The problem is that the cost is to be who someone else needs me to be is so high that it destroys my own momentum and blossoming.   I keep getting pulled into their failure and having to shrink myself to take care of them.
Because  they can’t be there for me, as they don’t have the energy, stamina or skills to engage even their own stuff, and because I don’t want to have to destroy them by confronting them with truths that just overwhelm them, I end up having to play very small, and that’s very bad for me if I want to break out of the patterns I have with my family.
I know how easy it is to crush people who are always on the bloody edge, living from emotion to emotion with no reserves. But I also know how much coddling them costs me.
Love isn’t the solution here, because that just plays out the same patterns of caretaking I had with my parents, and doesn’t get me anywhere near  my own love and passion.

It crushes me in order to not crush them which is the old, old, old, old pattern of swimming through their shit in order to try and get a little bit of what I need.

After all, if I really loved them, shouldn’t I just do what they want and need me to do?

“Love is very different than hope,” says one person who has faced her own dark times.

It’s true that when you feel loved, you can feel less lonely, which means you can hope a bit more that you will be seen, understood and valued for your own unique gifts.

But when loving relationships are reduced to the obligation to swim through someone elses shit, well, that kind of love raises more questions than answers.

Other People’s Shit

I listen.

I listen to and understand other people’s stories.

I have learned how to interview people, to remember what they have told me in the past and ask good questions based on that information.

I listen closely to answers and ask thoughtful and relevant questions.

I comprehend and integrate new information quickly, so I am always an engaged and thoughtful listener, actively creating safe space where I can draw out other people’s thoughts and feelings in a way that makes them feel heard, understood, valued and cared for.

People love it when I listen to them.   They love it because I really care about their shit, really help them get their shit together and communicate it well.

But my shit?  Well, my shit is hard and challenging.  It’s already been thought through, so there are no easy answers.  And the emotions are potent and large, so they are hard to engage.

I’ve always been the smart and sensitive one.  To others, that has always meant that I have an obligation to help them with their shit, but they don’t really have an obligation to help me with mine.

After all, I have proven that I can enter their world, can understand their worldview and challenges, can offer enlightenment and compassion, so if I can do that, I should, right?  And since they haven’t proven that, well, their obligations are different.

“Fine,” I said to a lost friend.  “I will write a piece from your partner’s viewpoint showing her that I understand her concerns, that I have heard her.”

“That would be great,” she agreed.

“And she can write a piece from my viewpoint, showing me that she understands my concerns, that she has heard me.”

“That’s not going to happen,” she told me.  “You know she can’t do that.”   Shit.

There is an old rule in communications that no one can hear you until they are sure you have heard them.   They need to feel understood before they can move on to considering your points.

That’s a rule I know how to honour.  I always make sure people know that I have heard them, that I get their point and their position.   My discussions almost always start by outlining our points of agreement, trying to find common ground.

But it is almost never a rule that people honour with me.   They don’t acknowledge and validate my views, because they just don’t have the chops or intent to do that.  After all, if I understand them, isn’t that enough?

I’m empathic and compassionate, thoughtful and aware, able to enter other people’s worlds, other people’s shit.  I make safe and warm space for them.

But do they make safe and warm space for me?    Well, you know, I am big, smart, emotional.  Too big, too smart, too emotional, too queer, too intense, too overwhelming, too complicated, too incomprehensible, too sensitive, too scary.

When others act out at me, I need to be compassionate and understand their actions are about their shit, but when I get upset, it’s just because I am full of shit and need to get over it.

When my sister calls, she gets frustrated because I ask her what she wants, what she needs, what she wants to do.   Of course, in the end it always turns out she has an agenda, and she just wants to soften me up before she hands me her shit.   She has taught me that she is not a safe place for my shit, that it gets ignored, like when I told her it was a bad week and she needs to press on with her shit.

I’m sure that many people will tell me that they are willing to deal with my shit if I just package it better, but I find that to be a fraud.  In the first place, they think that because they aren’t queer they don’t have any obligation to package their shit nice, and in the second place, if my decades of learning to be clear and graceful with my communications haven’t packaged it well enough, then nothing can.

I get the notion that my shit stirs up their shit, and they just haven’t done the work to face, engage and manage their own shit.  They don’t have the practice and discipline to make themselves into a safe space for other people’s shit.

Just because I have done that work, though, does that mean that all their shit has to be my shit too?

What does all this mean?  It means I not only swim in a sea of my own shit that no one else want to help move, but I also swim in a sea of other people’s shit that they need help to process.   It’s all about their shit, no matter what shit I have to manage, because to them, everything is about their shit.

My experience of my life is that I swim in shit.

And I see no hope of that changing.

Incomprehensible Shit

You know, blah, blah, blah, blah.

That’s right, really blah, blah blah!

When I am talking to someone face to face, I can see when they stop understanding what I am saying to them.   Sometimes their focus wanders off, or their eyes look quizzical, or sometimes they even get angry at me, like I am somehow wasting their time.

When I tried to lead the workshop for the students at Pride Camp this summer, that happened when I stated my premise.

“I just went off at thirty miles an hour and I have completely lost you, haven’t I?” I asked, and the young person just showed doe eyes and shook her head yes.

In writing, though, there is no way to adjust on the fly to the compression of the reader.

And, in reading, most readers don’t really feel an obligation to understand the way that they would in face-to-face conversation.  Instead, they want to skim for bits that interest them, that catch their attention and address their immediate concerns.

That is particularly true for material readers get in their in-box or in web searches.  I have had people on mailing lists tell me that they might appreciate my work in a book, but in their e-mail, my stuff is just too much for them.   Our mail is personal, our internet time limited and focused, so entering another person’s mind and heart is a way big ask.

Nobody Reads Your Fucking Blog” goes one Ephemera button, and I know it to be true.   Even the people who do see it don’t actually read it, they just skim it for their own reasons.

What does all this mean?

It means that when I, as a transperson, walk into a situation, my only assumption can be that people aren’t going to get what the fuck I am talking about when I talk about my life.

I can go to the sweetest support group, the most loving church, the kindest counsellor and all they will hear when I share my story is incomprehensible shit.   My experience and my thoughts are not normative, so trying to fit them into a normative context is like slicing off my tongue to be better understood.

This is another degree of the shit stigma makes us swim in, the shit of our own internalized policing, the shit of other people’s fears, and the shit of our own stories that accumulates around us because no one can actually pick them up and engage them.

The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all,
is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.
Lorraine Hansberry

The loneliness that comes from having others find your stories so incomprehensible that they have to oversimplify beyond meaning to fit their own comprehension is wearing and destructive.

But, as I have said before, blah blah blah blah blah blah.    That’s why I am so blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Wouldn’t you agree?

All The Shit

I was working as a contract employee in IT at a big company where I was not loved by many of the rank and file staffers.  They found me a bit smart and challenging, which they tended to find threatening.

I was training one woman and she was getting my approach.  When I sent out an e-mail with a series of points to be considered, some needed to dismiss and mock it.

“I started to defend you,” my co-worker said, “because your mail made perfect sense to me.  But then I thought better of it.”

I got it.   By defending me, she would lose credibility with other staff members she had to work with everyday.   Standing up for me was just not a good career move for her.  I didn’t blame her.

Most of the shit I deal with in the world doesn’t come from people who hate me and want to damage me.  Most of it comes, instead, from people who like me and want to support me, but in the end, can’t find a way to pay the price of that support in their lives.

Every transperson has had the experience of being told that they were okay in society, but what about that other person who could be identified as trans.  Weren’t they just too out, too challenging, too rude, too weird, too freaky, too unhooked, too perverted, too sick?    How can anyone support trans if it means supporting people like that?

This threat plays big in trans life.  We often see people across the room who are doing transgender in a whole different way than we are, and we immediately try to move away from them.

We don’t want people to associate us with that kind of transperson, don’t want to be forced to defend their choices, and most of all, don’t want to see our own expression and challenges reflected in them.    We have enough trouble getting up everyday with our own burdens and our own blinders, so having to carry them too just seems too much.

If we have trouble standing up for other transpeople who seem to cross that boundary into being “just too queer,” how can our loved ones stand up for us and others like us?

I’ve seen more than one parent of a trans child snub other transpeople, focused on their child’s challenges.   In their focused vision, they just can’t imagine how understanding and supporting transpeople like them can at all help their child.  It’s just too much work, isn’t it?

My family was more than willing to accept my narrative of transgender for twenty years, from the early 1990s until now unless I actually made them do the work.

People know that if you won’t fight with them, you won’t fight for them, and in the end, that’s what every transperson needs and wants, someone to be there and fight for them, someone to help take the continuous pressure of swimming through shit off for a bit so we can feel safe and cared for.

Most people’s lives, though, are about them and their challenges, not about serving others.

As transpeople we know that whenever we express our challenges in the world, other people will make it about themselves, about their emotions and thoughts and concerns.

This means, of course, that we don’t just have to carry our own fears and challenges, we have to also carry the fears and challenges of others.

In other words, when we share our burdens, we end up being expected to also carry the burdens of others, the burdens that they believe are caused by our “choice” to express our queerness in the world.   We get blamed and we get dumped on for making their lives harder and less pleasant.

So, instead of having allies who can fight with us and for us, caring for us, our shit gets thicker and heavier and harder to swim though.

We get allies who want to simplify and clean up trans so it is easier for them to explain it to their audience, trying to sanitize and package us rather than to embrace and fight for all of who we are.

The real destruction of transpeople comes not from people who hate us and want to attack us, rather it comes from people who love us but because they don’t do their own healing work end up dumping more on us, drowning us more.

It’s hard to get angry and motivated when people we love turn from us because supporting us would just be too much work and a bad career move.

Usually, what we end up doing is swallowing our own queerness and trying to play small so as not to put the ones we love too much in the firing line.  We internalize their fear and discomfort, which becomes the basis for more self-loathing and acting out against other transpeople who just seem too queer for us to stand by.

It’s this vicious circle of stigma that keeps it so potent.    It’s not just us in the firing line, rather it takes our whole family hostage and threatens to hurt them for our actions.  That’s not something we want to take responsibility for.

Our family doesn’t get the same benefit from us being out as we do.  That makes it much easier for them to be swamped by the fears and opinions of others, much easier for them to expect that we will cut back to make their life easier.  TBB is clear that the best part about her GRS was that it finally stopped her family from begging her to give up the whole public transgender thing.

We are tethered to those we love, so society taking them hostage with stigma is a direct attack on us.    We understand why they make things harder for us, out of an assertion of deep caring and profound fear for our well-being, but we also know that taking on their fears at all just makes the shit we swim in heavier and stinkier.

When others who care for us, be they friends, family or other transpeople, can’t stand up and fight for us, can’t find the time, energy or space to do the kind of growth and healing to make safe space for us, but instead just play out their own damn fear and expectations, instead just blame us for adding to their burdens, the shit gets worse.

And we end up swimming in the shit more alone and more exhausted, more likely to drown.

Swimming Through Shit

I was always crap at rotary breathing.

That’s the technique you use in the pool where you turn your head to the side, take a breath, and then turn it back down into the water for the next stroke.

Somehow, I could never quite get the coordination right, which left me with a yellow ribbon pinned to my swimsuit — the “guppy” ribbon — for almost all my time at the Y.  No 25 yards with rhythmic breathing for me.

I went to see “Trans: The Movie” tonight.  It was at a social change film series.  There was a panel afterwards with the producer, a local doctor who supports transpeople and a transwoman (the transman was scheduled, but unavailable.)

Hated the film.   Hated it.  Lots of medical shots, including in-vitro fertilization (with frozen sperm) and delivery shots of Christine McGinn and her partner’s baby, and the big finale was having Oprah get her audience to woo-hoo at how much of a freak Christine was, a lesbian woman who fathered the baby she breast fed!

I connected with the two femme partners, Christine’s partner Lisa and the partner of a newly out FTM, because femme lesbians make sense to me.  Of course, being a femme myself, I know I could never score one for a partner, although a few have tried to talk me into being butch for them because I have so much training for it.  Not gonna work, gals, sorry.

And I really liked Chloe, who made a choice to have a final rendezvous with a shotgun.  All the people around her were all bummed out, so the movie tried to make it about their loss.  Winners write the history of wars, and survivors write the history of suicides.   The music kept trying to tell me how sad the story was, but we need to be able to make our own choices.

A question was asked as to why transpeople are the targets of so much violence, and the panel just didn’t have an answer.   So I raised my hand.

Gender is a very coercive system, I explained, or at least compulsory heterosexist binary gender is.   We let children bully other children into conforming to gender roles, authorizing stigma and abuse for any of those who don’t properly follow the rules.

When people feel bullied into a gender role that doesn’t quite fit them they feel stress.  And when they see someone mocking their sacrifices, someone who is boldly revealing something they have learned to hide and deny in themselves, well, the system of bullying they experience makes them think they are entitled to bully that person.

After all, “they are asking for it,” aren’t they?    They could be decent and proper, but instead they put their own perversion out in the open, and “they deserve what they get.”

People who pick on transpeople are acting out of their own internalized gender policing, destroying what attracts them, just like they try to destroy their own queerness.

This is the same basis as homophobia.   There has even been a study; you can look it up.

This is the point that none of them got, that the movie doesn’t even start to get.

A trans life is a struggle against stigma.   We are taught the stigma early, so early we learn to be our own police, our own jailers.

The way stigma works is to make everything harder, to try and inhibit people so they don’t have the standing or energy to threaten the status quo.   Everything is made harder, with leaps of fear and danger ladled on.   We are always waiting for the “third gotcha,” always ready to self-inhibit so we don’t seem like we are “just asking for abuse,” seem like we “deserve” all the abuse people can pile onto us.

Living in the world as a transperson is like swimming through an ocean of shit.    Every stroke is harder than normal, every breath is fraught with danger.

Sometimes, we get a burst of energy, lifting us up for a while, but that cant last forever.  Eventually, we choke again, going into another struggle period.

Some people can handle this better than I.   I suspect they were the ones who had no trouble learning rotary breathing, who had the coordination to compartmentalize well and only breath when they are out of the shit.   Jamison Green says we have to be able to give transpeople hope, that our destruction is the lack of hope.  The lack of hope that the swimming through shit will ever end, say I.

I suspect this is why some transpeople deny the title of woman even to transpeople who claim it, because from their experience, they know that living a trans life is swimming through shit, through stigma, forever.

It’s hard for me to tell kids “things get better,” as the Trevor Project asks, because I know lots of transpeople for whom things don’t get better.

Sure, if you do the big final death there is no chance for another rebirth here, no chance for a new lesson or new delight, wasting the possibilities of life.   I always tell people to do something crazy if they think they want to kill themselves; after all, what’s the worst that can happen if they take a bus to the next big city or start hooking?  Sure, maybe they will die, but they were gonna do that anyway, and maybe, just maybe, some new possibility will pop up.

Try, try, then try again.  Change your strategy and do something new.  Try.

But don’t think you are not going to end up swimming through shit.

All humans have to keep swimming, sure, but unless they understand the stigma of gender or other stigma, they can’t understand how thick the shit can get.

And too many people are so struggling with the shit that when they see someone trying to get out of it, they will act out to hurt and destroy them, so everyone knows that this shit is real.

I’ve been trying to get my head above.   But when I see things like “Trans: The Movie” and hear so called experts speak, then share my own insights, even getting a hand for a point I made on why there are so few trans leaders (because no transperson wants to be trans, they want to be themselves) but get no contacts,  when I have to struggle with fools and creeps, then I know one thing.

It’s wicked lonely to spend your life swimming in shit stigma.  Wicked lonely to be a long lost tranny swimming in shit.   Painful to have to keep breathing, keep your head above the shit for so long, so long.

And we all get tired eventually.