Baring your Soul: The nature of introspection

I don’t truly believe that introspection is a trait limited to people who find themselves a member of a minority group, whether it be cultural, racial or of a sexual or gender nature. I will say that I believe that being a part of any minority requires more introspection then being part of a majority.

I can’t speak for any experiences other then my own. But our society demands a far better explanation of those who are different, then those who conform. So those that differ, in order to stand on their own two feet. Need to understand why they are different, and what it means to them.

Knowing yourself is incredibly difficult, and often times painful. It means confronting your negative qualities. It means accepting the source of your positive qualities. It means understanding the decisions you make, and why you make them. It’s an exhausting process that doesn’t always leave you in a better place.

Constant introspection is a demanding process. Whether you do it on an ongoign basis or you take time to work through the issues doesn’t really matter. What matters is you work to find some understanding of yourself.

The very act of observing something changes the nature of it. When you go from living without understanding to living with it, then your decisions are cast through a different lens. There are no innocent actions, as every action is considered. Even impulsive decisions can be understood because the source of the impulse can be traced.

This means that between you and your self, there is no innocence, there is no casual forgiveness. You are always responsible for your actions, you are always responsible for your thoughts. This is a heavy weight to bear when you make a mistake. Knowing yourself makes your soul heavier.

If everyone truly knew themselves then there would be no difference. But when you have groups of people who have to work through all of their issues, their trauma, their desires and dreams. Who intimately understand their very natures. Then place them beside someone who has not been forced to do so. It can make you bitter, and resentful.

Introspection can make you a better person, and it can lead you to a truer and fuller happiness. But the happiness of the ignorant will always seem easier and more attainable. There’s a jealousy for me, that I was never able to just innocently be. I had to be something, I had to understand something. Because of who I am I have never been able to live, from moment to moment.

I have always needed to worry about protecting myself, I had to know my surroundings, those around me, and myself to ensure I didn’t put myself into a position to be harmed. Living on that razor thin edge is tough. It’s painful and ultimately, it might bring you greater joy and happiness or it may bring you nothing but misery. No matter what it will leave scars.

Explaining Transition

Transitioning is a very difficult process to explain. I’ve been dealing with discussing it a lot lately because the misunderstanding of it is having a rather detrimental impact on my life lately.

A lot of non-trans folk seem to think there’s a light switch moment where you go from transitioning to transitioned.

It’s not that simple.

First off a transition is really the attempt to reconcile the external with the internal. As I put it to a co-worker recently. I’ve been a woman my whole life, it’s everyone else that has thought I was a man.

So the fundamental crux of transitioning is it relies on something you can not control, other people. As such its an attempt to be as comfortable with yourself and aid the world in treating you with basic human dignity.

But as far as when it’s finished or when its done? There’s always going to be a certain degree of conflict, there’s always going to be someone that doesn’t understand, or doesn’t care. Even if you manage to control the external a lifetime of fear and pain take a toll on the soul. The scars of a life lived before transitioning emanate well into your transition. This is why there’s no end point. It’s a process of healing, and some wounds are deep, and some scars don’t fade. It’s a lifetime spent finding yourself and feeling good.

Do you hit a point of equilibrium, where there’s really nothing more to do but live? Absolutely, but I don’t believe the introspection and the desire to be authentic to yourself can stop. One of the fundamental trans experiences is a fight to find yourself within the chaos around you. That’s something that takes ongoing discipline and concern, and doesn’t’ end when your clothes fit a certain way and people get your pronouns right.

Being trans forces you to always look for meaning, because you’ve been denied an easy identity you have to figure it out on your own, something not everyone can understand because they treat their identity as a given, their life lacks the challenges in discovering themselves they can live in ignorance of their own nature. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to just let myself be me, there’s always going to be that layer of introspection that requires me to understand myself more deeply then others find comfortable.

And I’m glad of it.

Differentiating Between Acceptance and Support

I’m going to illustrate my point with a little bit of an equivalency, see if you can spot the difference.

I accept that apples are not very tasty in the winter. How could they be? They’re not fresh, they’re not crisp, they’re kind of mushy. So I only eat apples during apple season. I accept that other people eat apples, but I don’t support it myself.

I accept that Trans people are different people. How could they be normal? They’re weird, they act different, and they make me feel uncomfortable. So I don’t like talking about them being trans. I accept that they are people, but I don’t get it and I’m trying hard enough.

I’m uncomfortable with eating stored apples, it’s personal preference and other then apple farmers largely no one is hurt by this. Apples are largely indifferent to the attitudes of those around them. Who can know for sure though.

Trans people on the other hand are real, are people, and have to interact with others all the time, and most importantly they’re not inanimate objects. We know we make you uncomfortable, because we don’t fit into your worldview. No one needs reminding less about how uncomfortable trans people make others then trans people. It’s not something we want. We don’t ask for it, but from our earliest memories we’re told to fit into a box that doesn’t fit right. With varying consequences for not doing so.

Accepting something is reasonably easy. Accepting something is similar to saying “I don’t hate it” which is a pretty low bar. Support requires effort, and I’m sick and tired of people saying I support when they mean I accept.

When you say I support without meaning it what you’re basically saying is that I feel more social pressure to accept you then I personally feel. So I need to firmly state that I don’t want to experience anything negative from your existence. The person saying this, is the one bringing the negativity, and it has to be experienced by someone. This negativity generally ends up being borne by the one who is being ‘supported’. In the end you’ve accomplished the opposite you want by saying I support you.

The worst part is, I don’t think that’s very upsetting to people who feel this way. They don’t want to be supportive, if they did they’d take on some of the burden not leave it for others. So lets maybe commit to being honest. It’s okay to be honest to a trans person and say I accept that you’re trans. As long as you actually mean it.