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Posts Tagged ‘transgender’

A wonderful observation was made by Venkat Rao. People desire for things around them to be “legible.” He was quoting someone else, but he’s brought a lot of people’s attention to the concept. In this context, Legibility refers to how easy it is to understand the purpose and the meaning of a thing, not just a text, but anything.

On the very legible end of things is something like an office chair, or a cup of coffee.  These are designed by humans, completely contrived for the types of purposes that anyone can plainly gather from their adaptation to these intentions.  On the far side of illegibility is the pattern of plants in a forest.  Not to say that it’s random, but without an extremely specialized understanding, the patterning, the whys, the meaning of it is indecipherable.  The only other way to access a complicated image like a forest or a city is to simply experience the gestalt of it, the sense of it as you are there, in the moment.

Rao gives us examples of problems that arise when we humans try and impose legibility. His easiest example is the growth of a city.  Old cities have grown in such a complex pattern over decades, centuries, even millenia, and with such a collection of complex human interactions, that their patterning is as nuanced as the trees and ferns of the forest floor.  When planners come along and try to work out a method to set up a city artificially, it so often fails miserably because there is a forced legibility (indeed, it’s hard to imagine making policies about things without first rendering them legible, but for policymakers to grok the complexities necessary to understand things like city growth is more than most mere politicians can muster).

The important points here are that legibility is highest in man-made things and that people desire legibility.  In fact, Rao cites an interesting incident at a neurology clinic where a black and white checkerboard pattern is used to establish a “baseline” of someone’s brain activity, a “calm state.”  When the patient asked the doctor “shouldn’t you use something more neutral, white noise, perhaps?”  The doctor responds, “Oh no, people’s brains go wild when we show a random pattern, because they work hard to grasp at some underlying structure.”

Perhaps it is the fruit of Maharishi’s meditation on who am I? perhaps it is my vows, or just observation.  But recently I have found myself truly switching identity experiences rather easily.  After actual decades of wanting so much to be a woman, and an entire decade of being mostly submissive, I find myself being a true switch.  I can stop what we’re doing at home to force slap her ass, make sure she’s knowing she’s in submission, and leave her begging for more as we’re walking into town. Yes, I can still kiss a whip, scrub someone’s floor, and pine to get held down and fucked.  Honestly, I could beg God for either role just as sincerely, or forget the whole thing entirely.  All of it is surrender!

If you don’t build it deliberately, but let it form, like actions of nature, it isn’t going to have the same kind of legibility of an invention.  I smile this smile that old ladies and children seem to find irresistable.  I alternatively flush a bit from some men’s heat, and then wet some girl’s panties by our immediate mutual knowledge that I would chain her up alongside the others and perhaps horsewhip the living hell out of her in half a second.  And I gain trusting giggles and secret intimacies when I unwrap my Arab kuffiya and smile a blushing conspiratorial sister smile.  No one seems to try to cheat me anymore, in fact it seems they’re mostly quite generous with me.  My employees are artistic and seem satisfied.  I drive hard bargains with a shy voice.  My students mostly do what I say, alternatively seduced, in love, and afraid. My personality is a forest rather than a coffee cup, mysterious to even myself.

Then this all generalizes into other things.  I find myself more generous with money, and managing it all quite differently because I don’t even know what it is anymore.  It seems to have no value at all.  I don’t mean that in a naive sense, but in the sense that we’re all dying so quickly, what the fuck?  Perhaps I will find the capacity for even more generosity, or that great fabled freedom to just cast a fortune away in a moment, without a thought, and the power to create another kind or another kind or even a different kind than that….  How can I lack patience in this case?  How can I worry any sense of morality?  I tested this by lying outright a few times, and find the only thing I have that could be called a “conscience” is confusion brought on by blood sugar levels.

My friends seem to stumble with their reactions.  And I think it’s because I’ve become illegible.  So I do try and maintain some consistency around them lately, but it feels so stilted, and I notice that any real observer should be able to see through the plastic of contrivance. People want you to have an identity though, something to pin down and relate to with a known set of codes.  My girlfriend, fortunately, is blessed with enough innocence to just tell me when she doesn’t get what’s going on, and to roll with it.  She’s uncaring about social norms enough to either not notice or not care when I mix gender, dominance, social class signals, fashions, and actions with the kind of attitude that I would pack a backpack for a walk in the woods.  Toilet paper is good for so many things, I’ll bring a whole roll of that with me for even a day or two in the woods.

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Proust’s Madeleine refers to a monument that resonates with many readers, a fan’s favorite in his writings.  A madeleine is a kind of small French cake, usually with ribbed lines across it.  Proust recalls eating one and being reminded of something.  Sitting and pondering, reaching deep into his mind for the remembrance, as he continued sniffing and tasting the little cake.  Finally, all at once in a great flash, the taste and smell involuntarily and instantaneously drew him back to his grandmother’s house when he was ten, recalling eating one of them.

He recounts this experience, not with the flavor of a “triggered memory,” but as actually being there again, being transported completely, in his senses, to that experience.  It is as if for a brief moment, he’d traveled through time.  He was the ten year old boy, in his grandmother’s house.  One can use the phrase, “ma madeleine de Proust” to refer to the trigger of such an experience.  As far as I can tell, to be properly referred to as “Une Madeleine de Proust“, an experience must be a) involuntary and b) drag one into a past experience.

In a similar manner, I notice that little feelings sometimes allow us to gauge where we now are, and to compare the present moment to the past.  Not in as grand a fashion as a person’s Madeleine de Proust in the sense that most people will make that reference, but in the way that we relate to people, places, and objects.  Perhaps a person gives one a familiar feeling, and a sense of ease…  maybe that person carries a similar scent, or way of walking and speaking, or a similar set of tension and ease as a former lover, or an old friend.  In other words, in a small way, that arrangement of movements and scents and words will transport us kinesthetically, to a past experience.  Thus is it “une petite madeline de Proust.”

However, I would argue that it can happen without people being aware of it.  It is simply that they will have a good familiar feeling.  I often think that in this way people go on seeking to repeat the same set of experiences again and again, but not really noticing how it happens.  I have come to suspect that much of our moral imagination is formed of such links to our past.  That a house can be built, and a life can be lived within that house, consisting of things that one has chosen for the kinesthetic reality they create for that person, the lovely little things they constantly drag from one’s long lost years.  But it is merely a house of cakes, “une maison des petites madeleines.”

Isn’t it true that a new person one meets, or a new place one visits, if utterly alien, will be far more challenging than the “instant ease” we judge things by as being “good?”  It is as if “instant ease” or “a sense of initial familiarity” were a sign from God that we’ve found a person or place we belong with right now.  It is only a small leap from one’s feeling of ease and rightness to one’s sense of what is “right” and “wrong.”  This is the reason I have said that the “moral imagination” is linked to the “house of cakes” I have described.  Perhaps it is only a sign that we’ve found une petite madeleine and some feature of that person or place has simply drawn us back to a time when we felt comfortable or happy or else the petite madeleine simply refers to something we like about ourselves.

I write all this from the perspective of a traveler.  I have lived 8800 miles from where I was born for around two years.  Long enough for it to feel like “home.”  I have also felt love for places spread across Europe and the U.S.  Moreover, some types of people are incredibly easy for me to get along with.  The Irish are known for being friendly.  The Taiwanese are very helpful and usually try very hard to impress foreigners.  The provincial French are easygoing, laid back little people, among whom I could easily unwind many years.  I can ultimately interact with all these people with similar rules of politeness to what I would use at my parent’s church, and expect similar responses.

Another example: I know well the scent of autumn, and it is striking because it blurs my reality by being the same scent in Atlanta and in Taipei.  The familiarity the scent creates, here by the Taiwan Straight, on this rogue island off the coast of an ancient empire, takes me to any number of times I’ve walked through my grandparents’ field, or the forests of North GA mountains, or sat on the porch of the house I grew up in.  It creates that reality around me.  Smells are so powerful this way.

However, at a documentary film festival, I recently watched a film that stunned me:  “Let’s Be Together.”  The film depicted a Danish boy who was a serious cross-dresser.  He identified himself as a boy, and seemed to enjoy being a boy, and he later admitted that he liked boys, and man-oh-man he liked to rock some fancy 6″ heels.  Such queer material was not what was stunning, indeed it is a bit old hat for me.  But the culture in which it appeared was utterly alien to my senses.

The Danes he lived with weren’t too bothered by his behavior.  One must bear in mind, Denmark is a country where, if he was transgendered, he could probably start taking hormones around age 13 or 14, probably have surgery after 18.  Also this country is one where a bunch of hippies once took over a military base in the 1970s.  Instead of the government either shooting or arresting all the hippies, they just let them keep the installation and run it as an independent government within the city of Copenhagen.  This prefecture still exists and is called “Christiania.”  In other words, the Danes are coming from a radically different place than what I’m used to.  Any country I have lived in generally views transgendered as some sort of disease and would have arrested those hippies forthwith, not given them their own independent government!

The boy’s father was Brazilian.  I was amazed at the way he spoke to his son.  He was emotionally transparent.  Initially I thought he was being overly angry as he seemed to be reacting intensely.  Also, the father was a masculine guy and most masculine fathers get threatened by the first show of femininity in their sons — or so I have seen in cultures I know.  But this guy was different.  In his honesty and transparency he revealed that his concern was that the boy would alienate himself from society and therefore face physical danger and fail to find love.

The father (apparently a clothier) was fine with making a dress for his son so the boy could be Cleopatra at his 15th birthday party.  As his expert hands sewed on sequins, the dad shared stories with his son about how he was lost and confused at 15; but he found a man he fell in love with and had a sexual relationship with, who helped him find his way.  This is all very interesting because the father also had a wife at the time of the movie.  But he told his child about gay loves and straight loves.  And concluded the long conversation with the words, “this is all I want for you, for you to find this happiness that was so important for me.”

What?!  I cannot imagine such a conversation between a father and a son in my culture.  This was a conversation in which the boy was viewed with respect as a person with some right to privacy and choosing his own way.  The father brought concerns only to help the boy find all the best in life — not blushing at any aspect of sexuality or discovery.  And the father shared his own very personal experiences, with frankness and emotional honesty throughout!  Mon Dieu!

Back to the Danes: The boy’s stepfather took him fishing, and treated him perfectly well.  He didn’t even seem phased by the fact that the kid had taken to such extreme behavior (though he refused to spend 200 USD on a pair of sunglasses).  The stepfather and the mom only seemed to care that her son might be hurt (physically) by some ignorant kids.  Moreover, the way the family interacted just had a tone to it which was completely different than what I have known.  Their formalities and informalities, their tension and ease, were in places that did not resemble any family I have ever seen in my life.

The strange thing is that the Danish family and the Brazilian family initially gave me a very dark feeling.  I felt uncomfortable, and I put up a kind of moral judgement about them.  After a little while, I noticed that this sense of “evil” was because their ways of doing things were putting me in a kinesthetic feeling I only knew as “evil.”  But once I set that aside, and watched them….  I realized that nothing they did could be called “evil” in the sense that if they, or even all the world, acted that way it would bring any harm to people, either in their bodies or their souls.  It was simply an “evil” by my own tribe, the one I have left, and perhaps the one whose soil I stand on now.

But that sense of evil, what is it?  It is just a trip into another place, another time, something dredging the depths of my brain and dragging me back to my childhood where I see my father’s lips recoiling into a grimace when certain things come to pass.  Or hurling me headlong into my grandmother’s house, where I see her self-righteous smile as she pronounces God’s judgement on certain “wickedness.”  Or my mother’s tightening jaw as she sees a thing, and wonders how she’ll speak of it to me, because “God says that’s wrong.”  In other words, whether I have been aware of this or not, many of my moral feelings just come back to my own “Petites Madelienes des Proust.”  And it was only in opening myself up to something difficult, where I wanted to put up barriers and judgments, that I was able to see that kind of morality for the tribal superstition that it is.

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One of my friends said to the other, talking about me:

“This is why JP is not so suicidal now, or as hard on himself.
He is not trying to BE SOMETHING HE IS NOT
that’s when he was suicidal.”

If you look back over the history in my blog (or just take my word for it), you’d see that much of the last six years I’ve felt very unhappy.  Yes, I’ve more than ‘merely considered’ suicide many times.  And my friend had a really good point.  Why am I feeling happier now?  (and not just “self controlled” or “satisfied”)  One of the big things that allows me to feel easier is that I’m not trying to be something I’m not.

When I saw the truth of his comment the other night I decided to take this further.  I realize that a lot of my transgender issues are a real push/pull either/or kind of thing.  In my interactions with people, it can create a private (or public) drama.  Obviously such drama lends a ton of spice to sexual relationships too.  However, I find there’s a lot of repression still involved in all of this.

Yesterday I changed my name legally.  After a year of going by different names, publicly and among friends, my sense of what a “name” means is pretty different.  Still I find I feel a bit “boxed in” calling myself my given boy name or I feel “boxed in” calling myself my feminine name.  I’m starting to lean towards preferring my Chinese name, which just means, “peaceful and really really white.”  I find a lot of transgendered people become total gender NAZIs after they shift over to their preferred role…  however, my own passion is about Freedom, not putting on a “better straight jacket.”

So that first night I just decided specifically not to repress or deny ANYTHING, even if it was uncomfortable, even if it seemed to “violate” some or another role or poke holes in my “better straight jacket.”  Anything goes was my rule as long as I had the honest desire to express that.  I think in many cases I’ve allowed myself to “choose freely” among known roles, or ways, or patterns or paths (even straight jackets).  However, I took the attitude to allow anything, even if it didn’t make sense, or felt like I’d be judged for it — anything.

Here’s what I found:

A depth of femininity that actually frightened me.  Blowing past all the superficialities I could call “feminine.”  To be honest, it scared the shit out of me even when I thought about it today.  Funny for someone who has fought pretty hard for my right to express femininity.

A solidity of masculinity, again, quite real and beyond superficialities.  Again, this makes me a bit nervous to feel it.

If I maintain a clear intention to do what’s authentically REAL, it certainly changes everything.  It was a pretty big step for me to just accept that eventually it would become glaringly apparent to me if I should get a sex change or not.  The only way I could possibly feel so calmly clear about it is if I’m not committed to forcing it one way or another.  In other words, it’s important to me and I know I’ll just do what I really want to do.

So I’m finally starting to make progress on the questions like, “do I practice law for money or go spend my time working like Mother Theresa?”  Even if I don’t know the answer right now, at least I am not forcing myself into something to please others or to fit into a role.  This feels a lot clearer, though I know I could still deceive myself.

At the root of a lot of all this trying to please people I can see the way I interact with my dad.  I can see myself making plans I know are good ones, and editing them or pitching them (to myself, to others, to everyone around me) to try and get approval.  It’s just like how I interact with him.  The trouble is my authentic intentions, such as my desire to open access to more things for more people, get lost in all this marketing.

I don’t need to feel like everyone around me thinks what I’m doing is okay.  I need to pick the best way to get what I want done and do it!  But even my writing in this matter still feels stilted and stuck to me.  I’m having trouble dealing with how I interact with him.  I haven’t found openness with it in myself yet.  And I don’t just mean when I’m around him, I mean the whole issue — you can move a thousand miles away from your parents and still live with them in your house, even after they’re long dead.  I hear thats what most people do.

Still, asking myself the question, “who am I?” seems to be helping.  I really want to know the answer.  As I look inwards to find that core, I feel I’m picking up some steam, gaining some grasp on the truth.  Even asking the question changes my entire focus.  It’s better to look and learn who and what I actually am than it is to try and be comfortable socially, or to make myself fit into patterns and roles I think I understand, where I feel “safe.”  I can sense a lot more power in my choices and my movements already.

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For many years I have had the gift of being able to think possibilities out very realistically.  In Qi Kung, as an example, this has prompted my teacher to say, “you’re too smart” because I can often get the feel or the trick to doing a Kung Fu skill even before my body is strong enough to do it.  Not everyone can do this, so I call it a gift.

In seeking to follow my heart, I have discovered a lot of usefulness to doubting things, and setting things aside.  For one thing, as I mentioned several posts ago, forgiveness allows me to let go of the past.  Regarding the future, I am finding I can doubt my assumptions and set aside plans and potential plans.  For one thing this lets me pick up one thing at the time and see it all alone.  For another thing I can bring myself more completely into the present this way.

And setting aside the past and the future seems to help to place myself into a possibility, to really see and feel the wholeness of it.  My imagination is stronger without so many pieces of my energy spread around pasts and potentialities.  I can also think more clearly and I feel more energetic and happy this way.

So, with all these tools, I’m working to notice what is a real and authentic inspiration of my heart, a true choice to follow.  One example I have is my vow a month ago to follow my heart, my vow of allegiance to the peacefulness within.  I was clear in my intention, then I found my inspiration for the right way, and I have been absolutely convinced of the rightness of it every since.  There are many beautiful paths, but only some have that clarity of rightness.

And another.  I have succeeded in setting aside everything, and taking up the possibility of having a sex change.  I’ve always been good at intuiting experiences before having them, and I have been consistently right.  But adding the equanimity of the void and the deep sense of connection to everything has increased that.  Also, setting everything aside so deliberately to only pick the one thing up has made my skillfulness increase as well.  It is almost as if I can see and feel directly down that pathway of possibility pretty far into the future, with a kind of certainty I have never had (and as I said, I’ve been really good at that before).

The beauty of this is that now I can simply let the truth of that knowledge set.  Either I will set that path aside completely, or after a time I will feel certain that I want to do it and little will stop me.  However, the exact timing and conditions that would allow me to make that choice will not be before me for several months, so I don’t need to worry about it now.  This has the quality of rightness to it as well.  I like that it no longer feels like a quandry but more like a simple thing to relax about until certainty of choice is had in fullness of timing.

Again, I mean to write that more as an example, though I know its a very personal one to me.  My intention in this post is in gathering characteristics of seeing the way of my heart.  Because in reality there are so many beautiful or powerful choices and paths to take.

I can’t simply choose the way that looks best based on how much of a “charge” I feel unless I want to keep living a topsy turvy life of hit and miss.  Case in point, I chose my last girlfriend simply because we both felt a lot of “charge” and it seemed right.  I would have sworn that she was the one my heart truly wanted.  Of course, now I wouldn’t make that claim.

In retrospect I see that she could have been any number of men or women I would have experienced the same kinds of problems and heartbreak with.  I was just in a position to fall for someone like that.  Likewise, making choices based entirely on rationality is obviously dry and unbalanced.

So for now, I continue with the heart breathing meditation and I continue setting everything aside, I continue paying attention to the characteristics of something true.  I believe I can find the way to make the best choices, to follow my heart.

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“Forgiveness is is letting go of the idea that someone should have done something differently, or that things should have turned out differently.”

–Carolyn Myss

I had wondered about this before.  I had always thought that forgiveness was feeling goodness towards someone who had wronged me, or that I thought had wronged me.  As Jubal Hershaw says in “Stranger in a Strange Land” I just thought that was something that the human nervous system is utterly incapable of feeling, and people were being disingenuous when they suggested it.

However, now I see that the goodwill is an after effect.  I’m reminded of all Jed McKenna says about spirituality and people try and do the things that enlightened people do without actually being enlightened.  Trying to be Buddha-like prior to achieving enlightenment is just rigidity and rules.  Likewise, attempting to have goodwill towards someone in spite of the fact that I believe they treated me wrongly actually often does just lead to being disingenuous.

But Myss’s idea is so much simpler.  Just let go of attachment to the idea that someone should have done something differently or that things should have gone differently.  The idea is to not put my energy there.  Nothing more.  I mean, the past is the one and only thing that is always carved in stone and cannot be changed, no?  So why am I going to put any energy into it?

I’ve been observing this.  Yesterday I was able to apply it to my grandmother.  Now some of the other things Myss says in her videos about healing and Chakras are really useful.  Having some understanding of where someone is coming from can help me to let go of thinking they should have acted differently towards me.

So I thought about my grandmother, someone I’ve been able to have more kindness towards than ever before, and was able to really let go of thinking she should have ever treated me differently.  It’s not the same thing as saying everything she ever did was good, or that I feel good towards her for those things, or anything weird like that, just that there’s no part of me, no thoughts, no energy, nothing invested in the idea she ever should have acted differently towards me.  I accept it, it’s done and I don’t have malice, blame or any wish to change it.  And I notice that I feel very kind and pleasant towards her now.

I was able to apply the same thing towards my mom and some other people.  I felt so energized afterwards!  Like that little finite piece of my thoughts that gets burned up in the back of my head if my brain ever drifts to her, or those other people, can now be dedicated to something else!

YAY!

It’s SUCH a nice and empowering feeling.  And today, I’ve been tempted, and gone back and forth a bit, with my ex, who I had to ask if she still had any of those photos of me from Taiwan, and whom I’m trying to send the rest of her stuff.  Basically just trying to settle physical accounts out with her.  I got upset at the way she treated me…  I went back and forth.  I actually had a neat opportunity to notice the difference between being invested in she should have done something differently and not having any energy going there.

So different.  So much easier.  So damned much nicer.  Even logically, there’s nothing I or ANYONE can do about whats in the past, so obsessing over it, feeling angry or sad about it, or resentful or whatever…  it’s all just absolutely senseless, bordering on completely insane.  I cannot think of any purpose it could possible serve to do anything other than accept the past.

This is in no way to say I wouldn’t learn from the past.  In fact,I think I can look back and forward clearer, and choose what I want now much more effectively without so much invested in times long gone.  I think before I would have been more likely to recreate the same situations and try and do them better, all because of something that happened years ago.

Now I can be like, “well I won’t do that again” without a lot of energy being on “damn it, this time I’ll do it right!”  And being attached to the past is like some part of me would have that notion of doing it better or right..  which could very easily draw me into building the same situation again.  Now I don’t need anything to be different, I don’t need to fix anything or change anything, so I certainly don’t need to be in a similar situation.  Such a different attitude.  Such a better way to learn from the past.

I’m very thankful for having learned this.

I’ll even toss this out there.  Voice training for transsexuals is typically very hard.  Yesterday I wanted to do some, and I caught myself feeling bad about times I’d screwed up, and upset with myself for not practicing since I left Taiwan.  Then I was like, “okay, okay, it’s all in the past… no need to put my energy there, or think I should have done something differently, or think things should have turned out differently.”

In other words, I deliberately brought all my intention and attention into the present moment.  Then I started having fun and enjoying myself, noticing things clearly and freshly…  I really nailed my femme voice, in a way I seldom have before without a LOT of practice.  You would have thought I was just a normal lady with a nice voice on the phone.

I’m looking forward to applying this to everything from dancing (where every moment needs to cease for the next to blossom), to Qi Kung, to target shooting, to pulling cuties, to just reading a book.  Forgiveness is truly powerful and life-changing.

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I was doing a meditation, looking into the core of myself.  I practiced this meditation for about three years.  I was starting to have a lot of insight into myself (and other people).

So one night I stood in an old shrine on Kite Mountain, in Sansia.  I loved going up there to do Qi Kung or the meditation to find the center.  The shrine had some Buddhas, some Taras and several different deities I didn’t know.  There were always candles burning inside.  If it was warm weather, I liked to do my Qi Kung standing up on the rock outcropping by the shrine, overlooking the city lights of YingHe.  If it was cold, I’d stand inside the shrine.  I always felt warm enough in there.

On this particular night, I wanted to sit down, so I was inside the shrine on one of the stools.  I was doing the meditation to find the central point inside myself.  I was enjoying my internal feeling of space and peacefulness.

In the months previous, I had been working to shape a form of masculinity I was happy with, and that I enjoyed embodying.  But as I was doing this meditation, I realized that I simply prefer being feminine, and I think there’s something inside of me that is close to my heart that is fundamentally, deeply feminine.

Further, I realized it was okay, even that I would like to be a woman.  I even understood that, while this might not be a perfectly free and enlightened thought, in accepting it and doing what felt natural and good to me, I might really help and inspire others.

I remembered a close friend of mine saying that some of the most pure and intimate relationships he’d had were with prostitutes.  While his enjoyment of hookers might not be the greatest thing in the world, I had learned a lot about love, and intention in relationships, by listening to him talk about them.  I think a lot of people who know him have learned the same things.

So I felt very strongly that just accepting this part of myself and integrating it might even benefit people around me in ways I couldn’t predict.  Then, maybe half a week later, I was walking up the same mountain and I understood deeply that my desire to embody femininity in whatever way I chose wasn’t wrong, morally.  That was something I had struggled with for so many years.  I found the freedom from guilt uplifting!

Then I went back into the world, back to my girlfriend, back to Taiwanese culture and my friends, back to the internet, where I started talking to other people who were differently gendered.

I discovered that I wasn’t trans-enough to really fit into the psychiatric model, or to hang out with other trans-folk.  I mean, I wasn’t thinking of having surgery at that point.  I really didn’t even want to take hormones.  Hell, at the outset I didn’t even want to change my name!

And speaking with my lover, I told her how I felt.  I only knew the framework of “transgendered” to be able to talk about it.  In retrospect, I was trying to learn of my own femininity, and I wanted a friend to help me see it better and give me some support as I found a sense of confidence in it.  However, I did not communicate this well (indeed, I wasn’t so cognizant that’s what I wanted).

And when I did feel like I was in the middle of an opportunity to discover and learn and grow and was looking for some external support, I often felt ignored…  or that I was making her uncomfortable.  I remember as she was preparing for a trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand I kept thinking that by my supporting her and focusing on her.  I believed that my turn would come as I needed support in this journey of discovery I was on.

I greeted her at the airport with a new pair of glasses, fresh waxed brows, a really cute skirt, and looking great.  She seemed happy to see me and was very complimentary and comfortable, and I was hoping to continue learning about myself as time went on.  But I continually felt little subtle hints that I should stop doing even the more conservative things I was doing, that somehow I was making her uncomfortable.  Additionally, my time for the spotlight and extra support never came.  So mostly I just felt ignored.

I know that I looked really good, and I was very tasteful with everything.  I seldom wore skirts but when I did I was careful that everything looked right on me or I wouldn’t leave the house.  One guy commented that my new style, the outfits I wore, were quite becoming of me.  And he was from combat arms in the military, and was open about the fact the he disagreed religiously with my entire project of being gender queer.  I took his compliments, and his wife’s, without too much skepticism since I know they were shooting straight with me.

I also cherished the way that I could be around other women and we related to each other in a more open and friendly way.  It was with the army officer’s wife that I started getting my early tastes of this.  At first I thought it was silly that everyone responds to visual cues so much, but then I just accepted that’s the way it is.  I found with her that I could dress femme and she’d relax and share and talk with me and I had more fun with her.  It was great.  I was getting a lovely social feedback that put me into a role I felt really comfortable and easy with.

However, in the greater world, I still felt alienated.  Really though, a lot of it was probably in my own mind.  The thing I was looking for so desperately was some support.  I posted this on my blog at the time:

Now I think I understand why people change their name. I also understand why many transgendered people adopt a very specific set of mannerisms, even change the way they talk, dress, etc. I think that this part of my sense of identity often feels disconnected and overly internal, then without adequate social or personal feedback to reinforce it, I often feel at odds with external input… then I start feeling detachment, dissonance, then a myriad of hellish things.

However, I really like my name and do not intend to change it. Actually, I do not wish to marginalize myself as an obviously transgendered woman and thus I have no intention of following the pattern of plenty of others who share my plight. I am not a hundred percent certain what I’ll do outwardly, though recently I’ve managed to put myself in positions where I felt a strong sense of socially supportive feedback for this aspect of who I am. Actually, my lover and roommate is supportive to the point that it often becomes the afterthought I always wished it to be, up to a point.

So I get why someone would change their name (auditory social feedback loop), or their voice (somewhat more kineasthetic, mostly auditory social and personal feedback loop), or alter how they look (visual social and personal feedback loops). I’ve started the ball rolling to have a truly world class surgeon provide me with the restorative operation. There’s been some cool advances, in all the relevant surgeries, that I think bring treatment up to a really high standard. Here’s where most people that do it say they feel “whole” for the first time ever (pretty important kineasthetic highly personal feedback loops).

My request to all my friends: From this point forward, please refer to me using female pronouns. Please accept me and think of me as a woman. Thanks. You’ll be thinking of me in a way that’s congruent with how I’ve wanted to be since my earliest earliest memories in life. My sincere hope is that this involves only the tiniest shift and that in the 98% of any interaction you’ll have with me where it’s not an issue, it will not be an issue. In the small percentage of the time where it does matter, I appreciate your understanding and acceptance.

But I was rapidly getting caught in traps!  As I said above, I felt gradually marginalized by my girlfriend, and I couldn’t find a way to consistently fit in as a really feminine person (if not a woman) in a way that I and everyone else knew how to relate with.  The other transgendered people I met online were about as rigid in their gender role as any traditional roles ever made me feel.

And no one around me really offered me anything in terms of feedback to help me perceive and understand and accept this sense of femininity that is so important to me.  (And, as I said, I had not clearly articulated my need for this either)

So I went down the road of altering my intentions.  I changed my name.  I started changing my voice.  I started studying mannerisms and such and practicing all kinds of things to try and elicit the social feedback I wanted.  In other words, I abandoned my initial free and open feeling and tried to adopt myself to all the contingencies and difficulties and practicalities of living in the social world.

Only recently have I taken a step back from all of this.  A new friend of mine is helping me to see and understand my inner womanhood, and feel confident in being feminine.  She’s also shared some very personal experiences of hers that have helped me see that I can carry out my intentions, perhaps, without being so dependent on altering my body with technology that, in this day and age, is far from great.

I also had to realize that I cannot put any pressure on other people that i don’t want them to put on me.  I mean, really, if I can’t be cool with other people calling me he/she/whatever then how can I expect other people to be cool with my own preferences?

The other step that made my life a lot easier was the thought that my experience is just different from “normal” men’s or women’s experiences.  The cool thing about the Native Americans is that they had a space for trannys (called us “two-spirits) where it was acknowledged that we have something different from what is usual, and that’s okay.

From that step of acceptance, I can also see that maybe I’m not all that different from other people, fundamentally.  When I cut to the chase, I just want to express myself spontaneously, authentically, and honestly.  On a simple level, I believe lots of people are dying to step out of their rigidly defined roles.

And maybe, as I thought on that night in the shrine on Kite Mountain, my own journey can give some clues to other people about how they can be freer.

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