Life is a Journey - Make sure you get the right roadmap to the universe

I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Achieving Transgender Equality Rights: How Passive Education can be MORE Effective.

 While we have seen many steps taken forward by the transgender population in securing basic human rights of equality, we are still many years behind the movement of the gay rights movement.  While much of this variance can be directly attributable to the fact that the gay rights movement has had many more years, and decades of traction, there is something else at work here that makes it more difficult for the transgender equality movement to ever find that same level of tractive momentum.

I believe change is going to come even more slowly for the transgender populace than it will for the gay and lesbian rights movement. We will get there... but the movement will be slower in achieving it's ultimate culmination as has occurred with greater rapidity within the GLB sphere. Much of this, I attribute to several factors...

1) The GLB realm has achieved many of their goals and has been able to permeate the media channels ahead of our movement. Their capabilities, holding positions within the media, allow them to integrate with the variety of networks to provide traction for such shows.  Unfortunately, the quality of the shows representing transgender individuals has been predominantly skewed and we are still the target of jocularity at our expense.   Usually, the depiction of a crudely dressed male in a dress serves to substantiate these images (we almost never ever see the reverse nor jokes of the oddly dressed woman in men's clothing...that's just not deemed "funny").  Some of the independent media channels are starting to change that image but it is slow going and still not inherent within mainstream media channels.

2) The GLB realm is more greatly understood then the transgender realm. The main impetus of this statement is as associable to the fact that most people can understand outward manifestations and actions within the gay populace more clearly then they can inward and non-tangible assertions of the identity which transgender people claim for their own. To put this more simply, people can understand "gay" because they simply see and can easily identity the tangible aspects that a gay person wants to BE with a another person of the same sex. With a transgender person, there is only the ASSERTION made by the individual that their identity is that of the "opposite sex" as is generally cited. There is less tangibility to the concept within the cis-gender world and, as we all know, if we can't see the world is round, then we have no tangibility as a human race, to ascertain that it is anything but flat.

3) Much of the GLB realm and others within the media are allowing for the portrayal of transgender individuals as fringe tag-alongs to the GLB community and depicting our lives as such within the mainstream media.  I covered this as a sub-part to item (1) but feel it needs its own bullet item number....and further discussion.

...And here is the BIG one....

4) Teaching others through education rarely works. Trying to sit on a show and explain our lives goes over most people's heads. No one likes to be lectured rhetoric as to why we are who we are.....and why we should deserve the respect and privacy yielded to others. Those that are different but for which (unlike the Gay and Lesbian population) there is no tangible ability to understand will always question and probe. It is rude, but it appears to be human nature. I can cite many examples in ordinary cis-gendered life where this happens if you like.

One of the most effective strategies I can see in furthering the transgender movement would be NOT so much through just active education and legislation (although it is an inseparable and intrinsic part of maintaining the forward momentum of our rights movement) but also to consider that those who come to accept us most learn to find us first as people the same as they are. In other words, education through passive learning associated with familiarization. This means, again in plain English, that people who get to know you as a person come to realize that you are the same as any other person. They may NEVER understand why we are who we are BUT they will find compassion to our needs and our rights simply because they will have a connective association with us as HUMAN BEINGS.

There are a couple of TED talks on passive learning as being FAR more effective than trying to stuff human rights and what is seen as a personal agenda down others throats. Acceptance comes with understanding. Understanding comes with familiarization. Those who do not wish to associate or familiarize themselves with us will find themselves slowly pushed into a corner - not by the actions of what we have done, but by the actions of others around us, who come to accept us for who we are and who THEY themselves push into the sidelines. Familiarization also allows through associative acceptance. Example

I have seen this happen on many occasions. One of the local pubs I visit has a local clientele who, when they saw me the first time, were very, very nervous of who or "what" just walked into their bar. Over the course of familiarization in the ensuing 3 years, they have come to know me as a person and would (and have said this on multiple occasions) stand up for me if there were any problems that might ever arise. Those who were stand-off-ish now give me warm hugs and I am actively sought out each week as a vital part of the clan we now are.

Familiarization also creates associative connectivity. If John knows Christen and John is OK with knowing this trans person, and I know John, then if John likes her, then perhaps I can get to know Christen and come to like her.

There are more reasons.... I could write a book about all of this given the people I have interacted with (especially with respect to item (2).

I'll stop here for now.... there is a lot to be said for both active education and legislation AND for passive integration through immersion. If we can make inroads into the main communities through such familiarization campaigns, then we have a better chance of furthering our movements forward as people get to know us and come to realize that we are just like anyone else....

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Life Has to be a Random Walk"

A friend today, related a story to me which brought me to my own thoughts of how I seem to deal with life.  It's a bit of a story that I feel we all can relate to and, as naturally as we are all different and unique, how we handle the hand of cards that life deals unto us 

In this story, (and it is a true story and it is NOT of me), we have two people we shall name A and B, both of whom are successful individuals so far as standards of what most would call "successful".  Such attributes as a good job, the necessities of life, good relationships and family and a means to support oneself and others who depend upon them comfortably are the attributes generally of which I am speaking.  In short, the phrase, "Having and Living the American Dream" comes to mind in a very general sense.

Now as it turns out in our story, A has been given a prognosis of a medical condition which could be potentially terminal.  Interestingly, A has found and maintains an upbeat and positive attitude going forward into this potentiality of possible death.  Person B, who also has a comfortable means of life does not.  Although person B does not face a potential prognosis of death, they find themselves trapped in a realm which makes their daily existence a sentence they live and repeat each and every day of their life.  It is, for them, the state in which they try to maintain the world they had and the world they know they belong in.

You see, person B is trapped between male and female, in a semi-transitioned state.  They are attempting to live up to the expectations and the vows taken of the marriage they share with their spouse.....yet are tormented by the inability to live in the world, socialize in the world and play the part to the world that they were born into as biologically male.  A person outside of this sphere who would not understand what quandary this is might call this pathetic.... that they should suck it all up.... that they had lived for this long as the person they were born as.....why not just finish the journey off as the same?

But no....Person B never was that person to begin with.  They just played the part the way the part was expected to be played.  For most who are not transgender, it is not a role, it is just who they are.  For those who are transgender, it is an acting role that is assumed from an early age.... to play a part they never really fit into.  Trust that a child will do whatever they need to in order to try to fit in.  Unfortunately, this does not always align with the true nature of the person, but it is safe.  And when the tower we build begins to see holes forming within, the structure weakens as we allow more and more of the true nature of who we are out...until one day there are just too many holes and the structure of the facade we lived as crumbles.......and it takes with it when it does our relationships and our lives as we knew them.

Friends, Family, Spouses....who cannot understand or deal with this seemingly, out of the blue, sudden change and shift.  They often ask.... "Why are you doing this to me???  Why did you ruin the world we had?  What will my friends think?  How is it that you can allow yourself to do this to me????"

And it is not that we do because we wish to explore our true gender.  It is not dress-up and play time.  It is not to hurt others around us.  It is because we have come to the end of our road and an end of the ability to pretend for the rest of what remains of our lives.  It is the innate desire for a transgender person, just as it is for all people, to wish to be truthful and especially so to our own sense of being and in our lives.  It is the need for each of us as human beings to be able to live our lives as we know who we are in our souls.  And it is this that makes person B's seemingly comfortable and healthy life suddenly pale in comparison to Person A who has a settled life and family and friends and wealth and who is comfortable with their own sense of being but has been diagnosed with a potentially terminal disease.   Yet Person B is the one who must live a lie each day in being transgender and in being unable to fulfill and realize who they are.  There is a feeling in living life as a lie that is almost as difficult a torment as anything one could imagine.

The term, "Life has to be a random walk" was related and to me, it struck a chord.... perhaps one that does not just only resonate within me, but perhaps as well within many others who may be able to relate.  I certainly like to hope that I am not alone in how I feel.... how I perceive life.  Truly, I am very happy and very fortunate for all of the things I do have in my life and for what I have been able to make of it.  But I think and feel that there is something much more to all of this, and to why I oft feel the way I do.  This may be a bit difficult to explain, but I'll give it a try....

I can completely relate to the adage of "Life has to be a random walk". I've actually found my largest frustration personally to be in trying to create a plan in life and to follow it. Little known fact but I recall that in 5th grade I wrote up a list of everything I wanted to accomplish in life and to attain. Interestingly, and with only minor tweaks here and there, I got to that point of completing all the check boxes just shortly before I had a complete nervous breakdown. The breakdown was associable directly to my having completed all the checkboxes, house, car, stuff, savings, investments, marriage..... but.... realizing that not being ME was the underlying problem and likely a goodly part of the force which substantiated my drive to achieve in the hopes subliminally that it would all just work out. In the meantime, I was watching so much out of my control beginning to materialize around me with family getting sick and passing away. How is it that some can find happiness amongst a bed of thorns whilst I couldn't find happiness within the very expansive realms, relativistically speaking as compared to many? I think I've come to realize that there is a lot out of my control and that there are some things that may not be, at least as perceivable by my myopic vision perhaps. 

My own largest culprit appears to be that I can't accept that which I seem to have little control of and that I can't make logical sense of some major aspects within my own life that others would not even consider to try to make sense of..... but for myself, I still continue to require that. 

Sometimes, and maybe this extends outward to all those reading, that perhaps my own discomfort lies within the fact that I am all too sentient, too aware, of everything and everyone around me.....that I see the world in ways many do not, with a sort of semi-detached and seemingly omniscient perspective.  It seems too that I need to have a sense of control over the direction in my life, even though I know deep down that it is foolhardy to think we have much of any. It is my own sense of inability to fully realize who I am without destroying so much around me.  Truth be told that much life is found anew within the embers of a burned out forest, yet the loss is still there amongst the renewal.  It is bittersweet to be certain.

I am aware that I have a IQ that is apparently very well above the median average.  I certainly don't feel like I do, and in most times, I feel like I am running blind and well behind the curve of most.  At the very least, I feel I am always thinking and planning and trying to solve everything in life rather than taking anything as rote and as verbatim and just simply accepting it.  Truly, I find there is a quieting of the mind when I am out with friends enjoying a glass or two of wine....something that only distraction, a bit of alcoholic inebriation and an tangentially obtuse and obnoxious sense of humor and wit, which I oft employ a a tool, which seems to help me deal with and quiet an overactive, over-thinking, over-analyzing and oft too aware mind. 

Perhaps, one day I may find that peace of mind even still within the turbulent and chaotic sea of life.  Maybe I never will.  But one thing is most assuredly certain..... I have seen this world, I have interacted within this world, I have been accepted in this world without question.... as a woman.... and in years prior seen as a man.  I have perspectives and stories which men could never see without living as a woman, and I have perspectives and enlightenment as only someone who has lived in the male world could have playing the part of a male.  But in all of this, I still truly know now, as I have felt since the day I could first remember as a very, very young child, that I have a place in the universe as the woman I always have been inside.  it is something withing my heart and forever within my soul.  while there exists this urgency and the necessity to live my life truly as who I am, and until that day can come, there can be no "random walk" for me, and ultimately no rest for my soul.

From the 1956 sci-fi movie, "Forbidden Planet", Morbius faces his subconscious self coming for him as it melts through steel to reach him.  A famous line, one word modified makes the caption below pertinent in my own life's journey....

My female self is at that door, and I am powerless to stop it

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Regarding the Recent Interview with Janet Mock on CNN

It may just be an impossibility for many of those who are cis-gender to ever truly understand the premise that a woman born biologically a boy was always a woman. The fact is, that there is a non-tangibility for the majority of the cis-gender population to understand what this means truly....because they have no reference point. Honestly, I think we need to be careful who we vilify because what one sees that may be considered as vilification may, in fact, just simply be true lack of understanding. Now, considering that it took me as an intelligent (so I am told) human being four decades to understand that my childhood experiences actually paralleled that of most biologically born girls rather than as most biologically born boys and that my identity was always as female is likely a harbinger as to what we might expect from a cis-gender person who has ZERO concept likely of what the true difference is between gender and biological sex. Personally, I am not entirely sure that we will ever be successful in being able to frame a point of reference that is even close to understandable because of this. True enough that the media ticker tape of "use to be a boy" flashing on the bottom of the screen does trivialize the intent of the mission she is trying to accomplish as a person and adds unnecessary sensationalism. The likely culprit there however is more likely the network "packaging:" this and in this case, the network and the show's producers would be lax here for taking a myopic viewpoint rather than focusing on the crux of the points she was TRYING to convey.

Link to the Janet Mock INterview with Piers Morgan on CNN