"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive boy who often thought he should have been a girl - -

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

love in spite


Terrible things happen to people. Terrible, tragic and not your fault kinds of things. 

Loved ones get disfigured by disease, or accidents and forever after they wonder if those who had loved them before could ever still be in love with them. Forever after those who love them search for ways to be loving in spite of the changes fate has caused.

To be told "I love you in spite of your deformity" cannot be pleasant, but at least it might be believable. Much less believable would be "I love you because of your deformity.". Much better would be "I love who you are and how you live, no matter how the packaging looks" or some such heart-felt declaration of continuing devotion.

Lana Wachowski's speech at the HRC Visibility Awards last October moved me at so many levels. This was a short talk of huge ideas. It contained her reference to "the pathology of a society that refuses to acknowledge the spectrum of gender in the exact same blind way they have refused to see a spectrum of race or sexuality. " For that sentence alone I idolize her.

It is another part of her talk, one pivotal paragraph in the transcript I downloaded that is ringing like a maniacal Big Ben getting louder as I try to ignore it. Maybe putting it here will at the very least make it get a little quieter:

Years later I find the courage to admit that I am transgender and this doesn’t mean that I am unlovable. I meet a woman, the first person that has made me understand that they love me not in spite of my difference but because of it. She is the first person to see me as a whole being. And every morning I get to wake up beside her I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for those two blue eyes in my life.

And now you know where the preamble was heading and if you have been there, and if you are trans you certainly have, you know how my heart has been feeling since first hearing those words.



Thursday, 18 April 2013

Guiding Beliefs


sticks and stones may break my bones 
but those poisonous names you hurl have power to turn me against myself
names can make me chew at my soul until what is left cannot sustain me
~ ~ ~ ~ ~


When you have a strong principle that is guiding your life, everything tends to get filtered through it. For example, here is my current guiding principle: 


How I act while living stubbornly male-bodied, 
what it means for me to 'be a man', is my choice, 
no matter how determined others might be to control me. 

That realization has been a help getting me through times when gd has threatened to undo me. 

Brutal examination of my childhood and life made me aware of an earlier guiding principal that goes something like this:


Make sure you act in a way that keeps everyone else in your world happy 
because if they are happy, you will be too.

This is a mantra designed by a three year old who could not trust the world.
Can you believe the guiding principle of a three year old became the values of the adult? Amazing. I fight an internal battle against that three year old kid's powerful convictions every day.

The other day I came across this quote from former football player and now activist Don McPherson:



~ ~ ~ Sigh ~ ~ ~

It may explain why men generally hate and certainly distrust the transgendered individually and as a group. We defy a guiding principle of being a male:


 "Don't be a woman."

I certainly recognize that bit of programming.

Deep beliefs are powerful. They can define a society. They can define how we think of others in that society and how we react to others in the world. 
We need to be aware of the power of guiding beliefs, so we are open to the possible need to question our beliefs and maybe even change them from time to time. 

I've heard it said that core values at the age of twelve tend to stick with you and control you unless there is some sort of life-changing event. Perhaps this is a cynical thought, please forgive me, but it seems to me, one of the techniques politicians and the media have used to shape our future has been to portray tragic events as life-changing events. They then use those events to reshape guiding beliefs in our society. 

Last month I finished reading "Team of Rivals". It is a long read that fleshes out a time and an amazing person in the history of the United States. The movie 'Lincoln' cannot do it justice, but is a valiant attempt I will grant, and takes a lot less of your time too.

Anyway, Abraham Lincoln understood people, and his nation, and he understood entrenched principles. Importantly, he also understood how important it was to know when old ones had to be cut loose. 

His words


The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. 
The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. 
As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. 
We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.






Monday, 15 April 2013

Sticks and Stones and Knives and AR-15s

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?" 


How can you make a big idea small enough to make it worth reading, or hearing? The 15 second sound bite evolved to serve it. Reporting on the events of the day is dumbed down because of it.
Politicians attempting to get air time present solutions that serve the heat of the moment and stand the best chance of getting them re-elected.

         They are out of line. Punish Them.
                                     ~
Heavens sake, it is just a little bullying. Can't the sissy take a little ribbing?

~~~~~~~~~~

I am a great believer that my inner playful spirit sends me lessons and I am hearing her voice. I'll be ok. I am a survivor. If I'd been destined to self-destruct it would have happened when I was a teen and society was doing its worst to teach me the lesson of self-loathing. The way I dodged that destruction resulted in a life of denial, but that is an old story. 
Today is a post I have been promising myself for a long time. I need to put these ideas down instead of having them ramble around in my head. 
Nobody expects anything I have to say to change anything, least of all me.

Not everyone who is taught to hate themselves goes away quietly to deal with their troubles as I did. Some decide to take others down, spewing hatred in the form of words or weapons even more immediate and deadly. 

We tell our youth they aren't good enough the way they are over and over in every way imaginable and wonder why they aren't happy. We show them violence in all its variations hundreds of times a day and expect them to be kind and gentle.  
We expect them to know better than to internalize all that hatred of self and others. 

                       Hey, we were just kidding around. 
                                  You need to lighten up. 

We stock the homes they live in with guns and knives and platitudes.

We leave them with television, the internet and social media for company for their first dozen years, then wonder how it came to be that someone who is raped becomes fair game for bullies, as though it was their fault.

For years we have been sent lessons with names: 


Not everyone who is damaged takes others with them. 
More names:

It seems to me our future hinges on what we learn and what we as society decide to do.

Do we need more prisons? 
Are there enough good guys with guns or indeed, good guys with knives to stand beside every disenfranchised kid or adult who is desperate enough to kill his tormentors and fellow students before killing themselves? 
Should we use software to 'read' billions of electronic communications and track those that are 'unacceptable' so we can stop killers and rapists and bullies?

We lean on the solutions of expedience and the fifteen second sound bite because nobody is willing to stand and say that once beautiful human beings are doing 'the best they can given the hand they have been dealt." and what is really needed is a revolution in our society that allows beautiful humans to stay beautiful and unique and different. We need to end the bullying that fills our media telling each and every one of us that in some way our uniqueness makes us insufficient and furthermore encourages us to shun those who would attempt to ignore the bully.

We create people who are damaged, then respond to the way of life they have learned so well with variations on "how can anyone act that way?" In full denial, we act as though the bully or rapist or murderer were born with malice. 

                        Kids will be kids

                              My baby would never do something like that.


"Are there no prisons." said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. 
   "Are there no workhouses"
             The bell struck twelve.

A Christmas Carol, Dickens   
  

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Sad Ferrari


Try as I might, my heart is not fooled, just my mind.

Three weeks ago, my wife and I were at a mall in a tourist town escaping cold windy weather. Tired of looking at the beautiful clothing and jewellery that is forbidden to my sex I took refuge in a comfortable chair and my soduko book.

Close by was a children's entertainment area, with a merry go round and bungy-jumping and the inevitable horse or car or truck that the little ones can sit on and for a quarter pretend to be the driver. I love the look on the face of a little one at times like these; those that don't start to cry that is. 

One of the 'rides' made me feel inexplicably sad. It was a racing car on a post, waiting for that 25 cent donation to get it to lurch forward back up and down one more time. 

I had no idea why this made me feel this way, but I turned away from the scene as though it had power to hurt me.

I hadn't given that toy racing car a thought until this morning when what I wrote in a letter to a good friend suddenly brought back and fleshed out my sadness.

I wrote:

"I mostly just feel like my life is a tram that is running around its little track over and over and I am a Ferrari that has been made to look and act like a trolley car."

Silly troublesome heart.
  


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Not Alone ~ If Only We Were

While I was away on a holiday, my computer (bless its microprocessors) continued to find and download messages like a lifeline, from friends and strangers alike.

TED talks have often been a source of inspiration (see the link for Brené Brown to the side), but today I opened and listened to Shane Koyczan, Canadian Spoken Word Poet and Writer perform To This Day.

If you aren't one of the millions who have experienced this performance, then I suggest today might just be a good day, whether you were bullied, or you were the bully, to remind yourself that you, like Shane, survived and are beautiful.




Thursday, 4 April 2013

Tall Tale


In the previous post I alluded to a holiday with friends in a beautiful spot. The photo in that post was taken on this same trip to the southeastern United States. While in Florida, you might expect we would visit beautiful beaches, or the theme parks of the Orlando area, or maybe the Kennedy Space centre. 
This time, the high point, literally, was a visit to the gardens and singing tower not far from Orlando in Lake Wales known as "Bok Tower Gardens". 

Standing at the peak of Iron Mountain (at 90 m above sea level, one of the highest points in central Florida), the impressive carillon tower, built of pink and grey marble, is 62 m tall.

We made sure our visit to the gardens coincided with the daily live performance by the guest carillonneur and composer in residence, Geert D'hollander.
Even when the music is over, the gardens are beautiful, a relaxing place to spend an afternoon.


I always loved this music. I wonder why?






Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Shifting Focus

While it has likely left a few who visited puzzled, my gentle note to self is working well as a personal mantra.
Attempts to sum up feelings in a few words (I would call it poetry, but am hardly there yet) are open to interpretation by those who read them. We bring something of ourself into play when we hear music, or read a book, and that interpretation is what makes art truly worthwhile.

Perhaps it is a wrong to explain poetry (or jokes), but it's my blog, so here are a few thoughts and feelings that brought on that gentle note.

In spite of being on a lovely holiday, surrounded by beauty and friendship, my gender dysphoria was back. Attempts to claw my way into some light were simply spiralling me inward. Angered by it all, and reminding myself of my commitment to be husband to my wife and father to my children, I thought of the saying

         "You've made your bed. Now lie in it."

This bed I have made is one I have a hard time lying in comfortably. Even with the help of an androgen blocker, it is clear to me that without some shift, I won't survive. At Caroline's suggestion, I tried to look at what I saw with a photographer's eye. 

It is a pleasant thought that my own determination to see my personal bed as a flower bed, not a death bed might end up being a door to helping others too. I can only say at this time that genderless is a way to describe how I feel. 

                                      gulls soar to greet
                                                          night's end's multihued glow
                                                                                healing beauty abounds