I’ve been having these conversations with my new best friend Eva Hayward about the effects transgender is having on culture, now and tomorrow. Eva is super smart. Eva is even smarter than I think I am. After gnawing the bitter, hollow carapace of Transgender Remembrance Day and finding it indigestible (because violence against transpeople is so vicious and baffling...and I will mourn for our dead but I will not set aside a day for it, choosing instead to celebrate our variegated, nuance-sensical, challenging, tentacular deliciousness) these conversations are a sweet birdsong after a week of rain.
Eva sees trans as the movement that will take us to interspecies communication. The minute she spoke that aloud, it was as if she had unlocked some cellular memory, the reason for my itchiness perhaps – that or the whole “I live with cats and I’m allergic to them” thing. A canal flooded, interlocking pieces dissolved entirely – I have always viewed trans as literal, as “across,” as the interstitial fluid connecting solidities to solidities, and its possibilities were present but blurred as if constant, ecstatic motion. My friend gave me a lens with which to view our movement, and we are the meaning of “activity."
No wonder people find transpeople so confronting! Our very presence invites the idea of flux, of impermanence, of possibility. The social need for order, the paper-shuffle, the hierarchies, race, gender, class, abilities, are all challenged by creatures who cannot be still, whose existence illustrates the body in continuous evolution. My personal preference is to not neglect the “T” in the FTM, after all.
Looky here, transpeeps: you are MAGIC. Do not underestimate your godgiven powers, Tranny. Here’s the real deal, from your Uncle Sam and bring a spoon. Consider the octopus. S/he is spectacular and monstrous, full of biologic juxtapositions no mere artist could envision. S/he has a razor sharp beak in her soft soft maw, full of toxins that can paralyze. S/he is ancient, Grecian in creation - her tentacles reproduce themselves when broken, the skin of her mantle changes pigmentation to camouflage – she could be a Barhamut or a Barbegazi in origin, but no, this strange and extravagant creature lives in our seas. The octopus inhabits a place in our psyche, too, once we had witnessed its horrible, mesmerizing arms, its hypnotic push through the ocean, once we have seen it squeeze its bulbous, water balloon body into dark crevices, bursting out with astonishing alacrity to seize its prey. Our gills go grey at this apparition, and yet we’re magnetized, strangely moved…
Transpeople inhabit that same, mutable space, we are harbored in the grotesque and set sail into a world of waving, suckered arms. Only Kali-ma understands us, only a Jesus who is at once an infant and dead in a cave can be our personal Savior. It is our job, with our queer, elderly, disabled, and colored friends, to start a new conversation, and the conversation must include EVERYTHING.
Clearly, our modes of communication are antiquated. We still talk with one another as if we were defending ourselves from invading Mongols. The Dalai Lama has a message, and it’s the message encoded in transgender: let’s think long term. So how do we communicate with one another, with an eye toward a future of luminosity and invertabraed dreams? Assuming you want a luminous, expansive world?
Kindness, ladles and gellyspoons, kindness is key. In this practice, my personal yoga, I drop my ideas about anything at anytime. It is more challenging, I am quicker to fail, than a new gym membership on January 2nd. But I believe in us, and I believe we are part of a spiritual zeitgeist that can shatter this frozen fascia of social construct and open us to movement and even grace.
The practice begins with me. How can I be kind, gentle even, with this awkward, aging, girlyboy, who often hold ridiculous opinions aloft for an audience who is just there to renew their library books, get a cup of coffee, buy a loaf of bread? How do I forgive this rowdy, loud, soul for having destroyed or at least avoided, a huge portion of his own life with alcohol and drugs and human hostages?
Sometimes I look into your eyes and I find the love there. I find forgiveness, compassion, and humor in your generous, capacious heart. And then, and sometimes only then, can I find it for myself.
So let’s give one another that gift, the gift of a softening human heart. Let’s bring one another to a sweet cove, our secret, octopuses garden of our message center, the seat of intuition and grace, and transmit (see, I said “trans”) our so-way-beyond-a-mere-gendered sonar, radar, love. People are dying, and their deaths are urging, “more love, more love, more love.” When I look into your sweet, black, shining eyes and see the light is dimming, that’s what I’ll whisper to you: more love, more love, more love. And I’ll use all eight arms to hold you.