On Emotionality

The last week has been hard.

My nameday went unrecognized.

I was sexually harassed.

Too many transphobic comments, too much victim blaming.

My parents gave me a stuffed rainbow horse for my nameday.

My wife made a nice meal and my family visited.

What’s unique about how difficult this week has been, is not the bad parts, the hard parts, and the awkward situations, it’s the fact that interspersed between those events were nice things, warm moments.

Sometimes nice things happen. Not often in my experience, but they do happen. The highs and lows contrasted in the same day is abnormal for me. It’s an emotionality I don’t usually experience. In really took the wind out of my sails.

In my experience, I’ve generally survived by being able to handle the worst situations, because I’m well accustomed to misery. The loss of a good feeling feels much worse then things just not being good and getting worse.

It’s an emotionality I’m going to have to learn to accept, it’s probably healthier anyways.

The Unspoken Line Between LGB and T

Netflix recently added a new special by Dave Chapelle called Sticks and Stones.

First off, I thought the special was hilarious. Especially, the segment about the alphabet people as he calls us.

You should go watch the segment, Here’s a link to an animated version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ_sPR2V1RA

I’m going to assume you’ve watched it. This interpretation of the community to me, is spot on.

To explain this I’m going to tell another story. Recently, I worked with my town to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance. It would have been the first time the town did. I didn’t have a lot of time to organize anything, but I did get the town to agree to light up one of their buildings in the trans pride flag.

Well, they did the rainbow instead. When we went to go see the building lit up, I was pretty immediately disappointed. What was more disappointing was what happened when I shared a picture of the building to a group of local folks in the community. Where I was somewhat crushed to see the town, on a day specifically for the trans community reduce us to just ‘the rainbow people’ none of the queer folk saw anything wrong with it. They’re trying they said, what should I expect they said.

A more polite way of saying “just shut the fuck up.” sure, but still not nice, and definitely not very inclusive. There’s the unspoken line right there, and it manifests in so many different ways. It’s why the trans community had to wait until the gay community was more settled before we were invited back in.

Everyone says that pride was started by trans women of colour. Yet no one cares that the T wasn’t widely added to the acronym until the late 90’s, 30 years after Stonewall, what happened between those points? No need to speak of that. Gay political groups undermined the advancement of trans rights in order to secure their own, as gay rights were seen as more politically palatable and advancing the community as one would hold them back. We don’t talk about it, but it’s a part of our history.

“Just shut the fuck up.”

It’s why when I talk to an old gay man about how we were both hurt when we came out to our parents he was brave and he told me I’m selfish and need to understand my parents perspective.

Because it’s hard to love trans people, it’s hard to accept trans people.

Because we’re different within the community, Because it’s their community and they’re generous enough to allow us in.

I often feel the most accepted by the community when I’m perceived just as a lesbian, not a trans lesbian, I can’t bring that up. Acceptance to them is accepting that I’m gay just like them, the trans part is messy and difficult and better left out of polite society.

I’ve spoken of this before, and it’s so pervasive. This idea that because trans people are begrudgingly accepted in the community, that we should be happy. So they don’t need to try and meet any of our unique needs, because we should appreciate that they let us in at all. So we shouldn’t be upset when they expect us to “Just shut the fuck up.”

They’re trying, and that’s supposed to be good enough.

 

 

 

 

On Belonging

Belonging is a hard feeling to quantify. You can be welcomed somewhere and not belong. You can have the warmest reception and everyone be kind and gentle with you and still not belong.

Belonging requires that you not just exist in a space but that you have a right to it, that you aren’t just allowed to enter but to take up that space and be free to express yourself within it.

Talking about taking up space and claiming your own expression is a concept that is difficult for some people to understand. Those are people that have never had issues with that concept. If you’ve never felt like you haven’t belonged, it’s hard to imagine how others might feel.

There’s many reasons space is denied people, children are often denied space because as adults we feel they don’t use it the way we want them to. Beyond that there are countless reasons we deny space to our fellow humans, and in a lot of those cases I doubt there’s any credible reason. We deny space to women, we deny it on racial lines, we deny it on the basis of sexuality and gender, we deny it to the young, we deny it to the old. We deny it to the ugly, to the poor, to those that are sick, to those that suffer from mental illness, to those that are disabled, and to those that look different, act different, think different.

Are different.

The elegance of belonging, the crux of politeness culture, of rules of professionalism, of guidelines for etiquette, is that it goes unspoken. Belonging is the responsibility of the unwelcome. Conform or move on. When you walk into a room and the conversation immediately stops until you choose to stop bothering others, or you choose to continue to take up space that is silently not offered to you. Each act you take after that reinforces the fact you aren’t’ welcome and that you are disrupting some unspoken status quo.

It takes an incredible amount of energy and nerve… yes it do take nerve, to claim space. To exist freely and openly, to flaunt that which makes you different, even where there’s no reason that you are different.

Sometimes it takes nerve just to exist, to belong in your own head. The pressure outside of your mind forces it’s way in sometimes.  The internalized hate that infects your mind and makes you feel less then those around you. I’ve talked before about the shame that I feel about my own life, the weakness I felt growing up, the control I tried to exert because I felt helpless. Belonging starts in your own heart and head.

Finding places that you can just be, space that is given freely and without reservation is often rare, but it’s important to find those spaces, because I believe we all have an internal battle with our own issues to fight, and sometimes relieving the pressure on the outside is what’s needed to keep your own house in order.

As far as claiming space for yourself and being able to just exist.

Well I’m still working on that.

 

Focusing on Why

I struggle at times, I’m not sure where it came from, I don’t know it it’s some remnant of a life spent asking myself every other question. I have a hard time not knowing why.

Not in any particular way, but in a very general sense, I want to know why something works the way it does. I did a test the other day. it was meant to determine one’s bias towards associating men and women with family and career. Rather then focusing on the test, which was basically a word association game. I couldn’t help but focus on how it worked, Until I understood how it worked, and why it did what it did. I figured it out while I was writing the test, but likely skewed my results because of the brainpower I put into figuring out the game.

For those that are curious it compared the time it took you to respond in different scenarios to different word associations. If I had of known it was going to explain that to me at the end, I wouldn’t have needed to think it through.

Which comes to my point, I struggle when I don’t know why something is the way that it is. I want to know how to works, I want to know why someone made it. I like knowing the who, the what, even the where and when can be interesting, how is usually important to breaking something down, but I need to know why. I need a purpose, I need a goal. I need to understand why someone put the effort into something in the first place.

Which is a struggle for me at times, because I don’t often have a ready answer. It challenges me in the workplace, because I want to very much to ascribe some grand plan, or well executed thought to an action of a co-worker or boss. Yet often there isn’t one. I’m not a fan of something happening because of apathy or lack of attention. It means that there is no reason something happened, there is no why.

I’ve been talking about motivation a lot lately, and it often comes down to why. If I don’t feel like my purpose, and the purpose of others are in alignment I struggle. I need to know that there’s more to something then inertia. The worst answer I can ever hear to a question is that “it is because it is.”

I’ve put a lot of effort in my life into knowing myself, and I’m not particularly good at it, but it’s a lifelong goal, and part of knowing yourself is why you do what you do, and we live in a social world, nothing is an effort of one. Knowing the why around you helps you understand yourself.

 

Finding Motivation Pt. 3

In continuation of my discussion around finding motivation, finding purpose, finding meaning. I find myself itching to discuss this when my motivation is at it’s lowest. In August I talked about this topic specifically, if you’d like to read them they’re linked below.

Finding Motivation

Finding Motivation Pt. 2

So I talked there about finding purpose and meaning and ultimately motivation beyond the prescribed methods. Material fulfillment is limited in a world that legitimizes discrimination in many different and subtle ways. Social fulfillment can be fleeting or difficult to grasp when confronted with the fact that your presence makes people uncomfortable, not because of anything you’ve done but what you represent to them. Spiritual fulfillment can be almost impossible when your existence challenges the basis of most modern religions.

Without a lot of external support, we’re left with only what we muster ourselves. I’ve said this before, but finding motivation has come down to what I can put forward for myself. There’s very little pushing me to succeed, what I mean is that there’s little expectation to succeed, and when I fail there’s a general acceptance that I shouldn’t have expected any different. Nobody goes, ‘well I think you should have done better, let’s see what went wrong and see if we can help you next time.’ instead I’ve come to expect ‘what did you think would happen?’

It’s amazing how pervasive the expectation of failure can be, it infects me at times. So if my earlier writing was about finding motivation, I guess I just need to elaborate that it’s not a one and done solution, you don’t find motivation and then you’re good forever, finding meaning and substance to what you’re doing. Finding a reason to do what you do, is a process that never stops. When no one expects you to do well, then you’ve got to fight everyday to not believe them. It’s hard, it’s tiring, but it’s the most important thing you’ll do.

A life of contemplation, a life of purpose, a life of meaning, a life of substance. A life worth living.

 

On Conforming

I’ve touched on this topic without ever directly discussing it.

The concept of conformity, of yielding to the group is one that I struggle intimately with.

My very existence sets me apart, my experiences are different then the majority of peoples, my perception of events is changed by my experiences and thus I interpret the world a little differently then the majority of people I interact with.

Yet, I am always acutely aware that it is their world. We live in a cis-centric heteronormative world. No matter how hard I try I can’t escape the fact that I am different, that my life is not the same as most people’s, and as such my experiences and opinions are different and at times difficult and inherently confrontational.

I am challenged at times to keep my opinions to myself, when problems arise that are so gendered in nature that I want to scream “it doesn’t matter” but I have to stop myself, I have to conform to the environment I’m in and understand that the way I perceive the world differs from others. Problems that I see as a result of a specific way of thinking are traditional values passed down generations that can be painful to challenge for others.

I’m sure there are many ways that my opinions and ideas challenge the orthodoxy of others. The fact that I and others like me exist inherently challenges rigid and defined gender roles, ideas of gender, and the role that gender has in our lives.

So conforming is both something I am pushed to, upholding feminine roles and ideals, not challenging sexism, and confining myself to a more narrow few of femininity then I truly believe because the alternative is transphobia. Yet conforming is also somethign I loathe and wish desperately to break free from, because it’s unilateral about appeasing an external world that still won’t like me, while also infringing on my own internal liberty.

Forcing conformity onto those that are different is evidence of a sick and disillusioned people, enamored with an ideal that can’t exist and afraid of a reality that forces them to acknowledge hard truths.

 

On Feeling Happy

I’ve recently been confronted with a rather difficult truth. That for the most part, the average person, on a regular basis, feels happy.

Not is happy, not thinks they’re happy, but actually experiences happy or joyful feelings.

Which is completely off the mark for me. When people talked about something making them happy, I never actually assumed that that meant that they then felt happy.

I’m likely the broken one, but my entire understanding of how the people around me work and make decisions has had to very rapidly shift, and it’s difficult to handle.

To give some context, I can think of feeling good, or happy or joy whatever you want to call it, maybe a handful of times in my life. All of which have been in the last few years. So to say, that I have a great appreciation for feeling happy would be a mistake. I was pretty excited to have felt it the few times I had. I thought I was doing well.

Now I find out, that I’m way on the outside. That people do things just to chase a feeling. It makes the world make more sense, and I believe it was something I knew, I just didn’t really internalize it.

I don’t really have a point here. I’m still working my head around it, but that’s the probleme d’jour.