Wednesday, May 7, 2008

TransSpiritual Manefesto

I had a vision in the jungles of Costa Rica. Life was so full and abundant and interdependent there. Every creature was part of a fabric that kept the whole tapestry alive. There were glorious colors and awesome variety. There was mud up to my ankles and trees with thorns that would dissolve my skin. Death and decay were so intermingled with life and flourishing that one could not be separated from the other. In my mind’s eye I saw a luminous globe with a smaller darker globe within. An inner voice said “God contains disease.” Spiritual disease is my inner language for what others call sin, evil or that which is apart from God. This vision told me that nothing is apart from God.

Ultimately I believe that God is a unified field, not a “person”, but I do believe this field has a presence. Something we can connect with. Perhaps the collective consciousness of the planet is what we connect to, which may be a smaller expression of this larger unified field. The Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard said, “If there were no real propensity to unite, even at a prodigiously rudimentary level, indeed, in the molecule itself, it would be impossible for love to appear higher up in the ' hominized ' or human form.” For Teilhard, and for myself, God is love. But this is a groping love, experimental, creative and expanding. God doesn’t have a plan in the sense of an end goal in mind, but rather God’s creation is unfolding in relationship, powered by the energy I think of as love.

I do believe in free will and that human kind can work against God. This is not the same thing as being apart from God. To use a Judeo/Christian analogy, the fall of humanity came when we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (earlier in the story God said that all was good). In other words when we began to separate the world into what we decided was good and what we decided was evil we began to work against God. In this context sin would not be doing “bad”, but rather fighting against the process that is life unfolding.

Hierarchical Dualisms; right/wrong, good/evil, white/black or male/female are at the root of our society’s problems. I don’t buy the idea that male or female are the only choices we have. This is not to say that male or female are invalid choices, however. In the patriarchal cisgendered language of English, it is accurate for me to say I am a woman (despite my physical form). This is an inner sense of knowing, beyond words however. I am attracted to a feminine self expression, though I have denied myself that for most of my life.

The vision I described above began to erode my own belief in dualism. It began great changes in my life. One change is that it opened the way for me to embrace my transgender nature and begin in little fits and starts to come out of the closet. My last and longest period of denial came began when I realized that my dysphoria was unhealthy for me.

My form of dysphoria could only express my identity in the negative “I am not a man.” Another dualism, nature vs. nurture played a part in all this. My heels were dug into the nurture camp and I didn’t believe I could call myself a woman since I was socialized as a man. In this context, I couldn’t name my true gender, my identity below a thinking level, in terms of being a woman.

Another factor in all this was that I had not yet separated gender and sex in my thinking. I had concluded many years prior that SRS was not for me. Since I was unwilling to “change my sex” (in my naiveté - genitals), I couldn’t become a woman. My dualistic thinking concluded that the only “solution” to my dysphoria was to try to embrace being a male.

I tried this for nearly a decade. It didn’t really work, though. Many factors led to the discovery of another “solution.” I believe that co-operating with life unfolding is about being authentic. Starting to focus on what I am rather than what I am not was a beginning. Embodying as female in a very involving 4-D (3-D graphic/real time) multi-user computer interface awakened much of what I had put to sleep in my denial. Here I also talked with other trans-people for the first time.

My visionary call to step beyond dualistic thinking was an important factor. It allowed me to see gender beyond male or female. I see gender beyond a line with male and female at either end. I started to see gender more in terms of a color wheel, where male and female are contrasting colors rather than “opposites.” Perhaps because of socialization, perhaps because of other factors, I don’t think my gender is firmly and completely in the female color. However I do experience myself as a color right next to it, far away from the color male. However our language does not name any of the other colors. Androgynous could be seen as another color, but I tend to think that word describes anything in-between the poles of male and female on the line model.

Sex (bodily form), of course, has its own color wheel. One could think of the relationship between sex and gender as overlapping color wheels. A 3-dimentional model of the relationship between gender and sex, “Orthogendered” has come to my attention and has expanded my thinking even more.

All this thinking and theorizing, however, did not make the emotional turmoil of admitting my identity to myself or others any easier. I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement of others like myself. I had been wrestling with how to accurately define myself. I had been challenged by a dear friend to just say I was a woman. Could I do that? Could I use cisgendered language to describe myself and let it mean what I meant by it, not what others thought it meant?

I was wrestling with this one night. I was feeling very alone because every trans person has their own unique path. I didn’t know anyone (how could I) who had the same road to travel as myself. It wasn’t just a question of what to call myself. It wasn’t just all the fears I had about coming out. It was a deep and wordless struggle with my sense of self. I called a trusted friend and cried at them over the phone.

I awoke the next morning to another vision. In my mind’s eye my torso opened up like double doors. A bright light came streaming out. It was brightest at my heart. A voice said, “Open me, I’m a present.” I got the impression I was being told to embrace my transgender nature, to see it as a positive thing, as a gift. To play with it. To let my transition unfold one step at a time. Lovingly grope along and see what fits for me when.

It is my belief that because the transgendered straddle the male/female dualism, that many cultures understood them to be spiritual beings (this didn’t always lead to treating them well). St Ignatius has said that our deepest desires are God’s desires within us. Years in the closet and deep denial were not able to kill my desire to express my true gender. I believe that desire comes from God.