the masks we wear, they wear us out
from when I was a straightish man
to yes, a “sportsman,” I once deigned
and then the mask at once became
a gayish, 19 years of age
sweet Jupiter was wooed I’m sure
the cleverest boy, with boyfriends too
to married father, divorced rage
and this transgender thing they say
I’ve always been quicksilver
darting Mercury through the haze
and so a traveler wearing masks
becomes the masks he at once gazed
and then the deepness tackled out
to bring the truth with Hades’ clout
I’m won because I’m just so sure
Masks are all and nothing more
the masks we wear, they wear us out
The communications revolution which started in the 20th century and accelerated in the 21st is now consuming all past available knowledge, and we are experiencing the past snap back into the future. It’s like a slinky that is stretched back through time, but our technology is drawing all of the past into the future.
The dawn of the Information Age (what astrologers call the Aquarian Age) is the snapping forward of history into the present. Because we have access to a superintelligent artificial intelligence (AI) called Google that can give us the esoteric on the level of the exoteric.
The blending of the esoteric and the exoteric has been traumatic because formerly excluded groups like the disabled, queer, dark-skinned, and others now are able to influence the exoteric network with much greater efficiency.
In the past, distributing one’s thoughts to the general narrative was very expensive in terms of time and money, but now, it costs almost nothing. Communication has been commodified. It is almost free.
So, change is coming fast, and it will only get faster. I would suggest a hang-on, it’s gonna get rough, kind of mentality right now. Get over the small shit. Don’t follow cults (political and spiritual). It’s way easier to be nothing than to be something. But you can do both. Have balance on this Equinox.
May your relationships be blessed with balance this Autumn.
The transgender experience is not really about gender. It is about the denial of normal socialization to children by adults with no empathy. These adults laugh and sneer at “queers, faggots, wussies, and girly men” and their children duplicate this behavior in the schoolyard. People born assigned as males who are too effeminate for the modern male society are excluded from community until they learn to leave themselves at the door. The modern male experience mirrors our warrior culture, and so males are taught to police their ranks for any semblance of the feminine. Trans kids become the sacrificial scapegoats for this directive, and they grow up lonely, confused, depressed, traumatized, and disconnected.
Those of us who have transitioned gender and know how much more whole we feel after the change can see through all of the claims that trans people are insane. Our definitions of male and female need to be expanded to include those outliers who exhibit traits contrary to their birth assigned gender. Yes, there are biological differences between males, females, and the rest. It’s not all socially constructed. However, the socially constructed part needs to change.
And the root of this problematic construction is in the church. Abrahamic faiths have been at the forefront of the oppression of LGBT individuals for millennia. I really don’t care if the church survives. We don’t need their help anymore. There is a reason that gay liberation arose alongside women’s liberation. Straight men have been the most antagonistic towards LGBT individuals, and as their power is diminishing, they are unable to stop the rise of others’ rights as they would have done in the past with a simple exercise of intimidation, terror, and denial of rights.
This problem is epidemic. We are surviving against the odds. But many if not most of us have some form of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I actually wouldn’t change my path, but I am really tired of the acceptance of the bullying and terrorizing of our helpless children before they know what transgender even means.
I knew that I was different from the boys around me when I was eight years old, and because of this difference, my childhood was filled with tremendous amounts of alienation and secrecy, as I tried mightily to be someone that I was not on the inside. This story is not atypical, and because of this shared struggle, many transgender people are victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and have one of the highest suicide attempt rates of any minority group at levels between 40% to 55% according to a recent in-depth inquiry into transgender peoples’ lives (Haas, Herman, & Rodgers, 2013).
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5 (DSM-5), transgender people who are not yet being treated for their condition are suffering from Gender Dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria is defined as individuals “having a marked incongruence between the gender they have been assigned to (usually at birth, referred to as natal gender) and their experienced/expressed gender” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). There are many different expressions of this condition from individuals who were born with a sexual anomaly such as intersexuality to those who merely enjoy acting in accord with the opposite gender’s norms but lack the desire for treatment.
Those that are distressed by their condition to the point of desiring to live full-time as the opposite gender may seek treatment via various means. They might require the use of cross-sexual hormones (testosterone for those assigned female at birth and estrogen for those assigned male at birth). Also, various surgeries are available to assist in these individuals achieving a body that more closely matches their inner perception of gender. When transgender people who wish to transition are treated for their condition, they no longer qualify for a gender dysphoria condition. Whereas the older versions of the DSM labeled transgender people as possessing Gender Identity Disorder (GID) for life, the newer manual sees gender dysphoria as a treatable and therefore suppressible condition.
This topic is highly controversial, and there are numerous opinions and positions related to transgender people. Often, these opinions come from non-transgender people. I can say that my inner life has grown immeasurably better since I transitioned 8 years ago. I have a sense of peace about myself that I never had when I was living as a man. Also, I know that the transgender people that I’ve met on my journey tend to be some of the most authentic and strong people that I know. Hopefully, with continued advocacy, we transgender people can attain the simple status of just being normal people who are allowed to be themselves from birth.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.
Haas, A. P., Ph.D., Rodgers, P. L., Ph.D., & Herman, J. L., Ph.D. (2014). Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults. The Williams Institute.
I struggle a lot with negative self-perception. My life has kind of exploded repeatedly due to my own fiery nature. But to put it more honestly, it was self-protection that created the problem in the first place. I had to live in fear because I didn’t want to get murdered or completely rejected from society. It sounds over the top, but growing up with a strange gender is still pretty much like living under Jim Crow. I’m not a huge fan of comparing states of suffering, but it was a pretty heavy existence. There is a singular difference between racial and gender issues though. You can’t hide skin color, but you can hide gender, and I hid it mightily. I used the magical power of repression®! Stuff it down inside!
But in psychology it’s the opposite of physics: what goes down must come up, and I blew up like Mt. Saint Helens, all of my repressed shit since about the age of 5 rained down on those around me. It was like holding my breath for two decades, and I was literally about to die from it. I really didn’t know how to process being an exploded volcano. A good number of people thought I must be insane and just waited for me to put the top back on the caldera and apologize. But as you can guess that didn’t happen.
Being an exploded volcano has its benefits: you get to see inside yourself more clearly. When you see all of the things you ran away from and suppressed spewing out all around you, as long as you don’t go totally insane, you can learn a lot about yourself. I feel more self-aware than the average person. This isn’t to say I’m alone in this respect. I’ve surrounded myself with more self-aware people in recent years. My exploded volcano peer group.
Now I’m mightily just trying to heal. I know where I need to go. I’ve found a deep power within myself that I couldn’t ignore. The thing that I was trying to suppress all those years just happens to be my divine feminine nature. I used my overactive mind to heap mounds of obfuscating dirt on top of those pesky feminine emotions and intuitions, but the mind is not as powerful as it professes to be at killing the heart. And really I’m no different than everyone born male; all people including all men have a divine feminine sensitivity. They are taught to bury it deeply when young, and some of them keep it buried, while slowly turning into a sad shell of a person. But every now and again that volcano starts to rumble, and they’re filled with an amorphous fear that they don’t really understand but that petrifies them.
Life is more complicated and less complicated since my eruption. I had to relearn a ton of different things from a heart-centered perspective, and now I’m more visible to the haters, so I had to get used to that. But I know now that fear is the real enemy. And I know now that I am enough, blown up bits and all. I can take a deep breath and rest in the goddess knowing that I’m not fighting it anymore.
Happy exploding friends. 🌞
I have a very complicated perspective on identity politics. As a queer and transgender person, I am constantly surrounded by intense debates that center on buzzwords like privilege, race, and intersectionality. I came out as trans six years ago into the tumbler of Tumblr style politics, and I picked up the flag of radical identity politics like a good liberal and ran with it. I spent thousands of hours writing outrageous polemic after polemic that snarled at the white, male oppressor because I was, unsurprisingly, very damaged by said oppressor. I grew up being bullied by 99% male peers starting before I really had any idea what gay, queer, trans, or any of those concepts meant. I just knew I was the target. This instilled a deep resentment in me that I’m still to this day (I’m 37) trying to dig out from under and probably will be until I pass.
However, resentment is not all roses and candyland. As Mark Twain once quipped “anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” I became a festering pit of toxic resentment, which was really just a hyper-defensive state of extreme paranoia. I became increasingly suicidal until after years of living on the edge of death, I finally woke up and realized that this line of thinking was doing far more damage to me than to the “enemy.”
It’s not as simple and binary as saying that “now I’m better because I realize that identity politics is terrible!” Our system pits us against each other like terrified Pit Bulls in a dog-fighting pit with screaming Plutocrats on the sidelines urging us to bloody our fellow citizens. By the time you wake up to the fact that the other dog across from you is not the real enemy, you have become hyper sensitized to react to those dogs because they do pose an existential threat. In my estimation, this is how we are controlled from the aristocracy, and it doesn’t have to be a conscious top down phenomenon. The rich know that when people are too busy fighting with people who should be their allies, they are too distracted and damaged to band together to effect real, substantive change.
Honestly, I believe that one of the core reasons for this nascent tribalism is that our intellectuals eschewed grand unifying theories a century or two ago and devolved into Balkanized camps where each group’s minutia was equally important to the others. We lack an intellectual cohesion and vision, or this kind of vision is kept from becoming ascendant. I’m not really sure what the cause is, but yeah, I don’t know a lot of things. I’ve found more grand unifying theories in esoteric writers like Aleister Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson among others than from the official ivory towers wherein I started my search. I studied Economics and Philosophy in university, and then I realized that there was little novel creative thinking going on in those institutions. But I suppose I’m a bit of an esotericist by nature, so I needed something more avant-garde anyway.
I have seen the best queer minds of my generation destroyed by the pursuit of that elusive victim status that is going to take all of their problems away. But life is rough. Everybody has pain, even your so-called enemies of privilege. Even though I have been decimated by injustice, I now know that trying to victimize myself is a trap that I don’t want to go back into. But it’s a balance. It’s not as reductive as we’d like. Middle path, middle pillar, golden mean…
Be well fellow pitbulls.
Hey readers! I’m starting a new YouTube series called The Transgender Survival Guide. This is the first installment where I talk about my own personal trans history.
I haven’t really felt like posting this meme, because I didn’t grow up being socialized around cisgender women, so I suppose I have felt slightly alienated from it, but my experience with toxic masculinity is probably even more severe than most.
I grew up looking like a “normal” male child, and yet my psychology and emotional makeup were far closer to that of the average young girl. I was sensitive, loved art and music especially, always tried to dress expressively, and had many other qualities that didn’t fit in with the increasingly narrow definitions of masculinity indicative of late-stage patriarchy. And then of course I was attracted to the same gender, but that didn’t come until I started puberty, and by that time masculinity had scarred my back repeatedly with its whiplashes.
Unlike the girls in the other lines, I was undercover: embedded amongst the enemy. From the first grade, I was bullied for being different. I didn’t really understand why I was bullied and singled out until much later, but now I see it. I was a girl that couldn’t retreat into a group of other girls. I was alone and chained to the boys, and they knew it. Men in America are conditioned to hate and deride femininity wherever they see it. Of course not all men follow these orders, but enough do to create deep scars in anyone who dares to be born with a feminine or yin psychological composition.
I’ve never been sexually assaulted even though there were predators in the gay male community too who took advantage of my fragile state when I was underage and crossed boundaries. But I was psychologically assaulted for my gender, and this did plenty of damage. It took me until I was 30 to finally say enough is enough and throw those bullies and demons out of my consciousness and resurrect that girl that I had hidden deep in the recesses of my consciousness around the age of 6. I still have lots and lots of rehabilitation to do because of the foul aggressions of “modern” American masculinity, but I’m on the track.
The reason that transgender women are targeted and attacked at a sickeningly high level is because men are fighting a proxy battle in the wider war against women in general. People like me have dared to say that transitioning to live as a woman is not a “downgrade” as they would have everyone believe. Soldiers often treat traitors worse than they treat the enemy, and I am proudly both. This primitive charade needs to end, and rest assured that it is ending. Women have made enormous advances economically and politically in the last one hundred years, and the momentum is not slowing. I just pray to the goddess that we can join hands as one peaceful people soon and respect all gender manifestations as beautiful and divine.
America makes you crazy, so you gotta give yourself a break. I’m trying to work on getting over a lot of my instilled fear of groups and friends. I spent so long being incognito, desperately trying to be this “perfect male” so that people wouldn’t know who I really was. It takes a lot of deprogramming to undo that kind of thing, and you have to be careful about it and not just go at your history with a flamethrower. Truly remaking yourself, healing your mental health, is the subtle and daring work of a shaman or artist more than a “good patient” or whatever the authorities advocate to heal. I think that mostly I need to have an unerring devotion to the notion that I am fallible and be ready to cut those wrong assumptions about myself at the root when I find them. I rather enjoy being humble and accepting my own flaws. But it takes a lot of work, and I have to be able to accept when someone else says something true about me that I don’t want to hear. It takes practice, and each time gets easier.
I have a lot of anxiety. It comes and goes, but it has been my most loyal companion of my 37 trips around the sun. The anxiety is rooted in fear, a fear of rejection and loss of security. I’ve had people I thought cared about me suddenly turn and shun me so many times in my life that I’ve developed a serious inferiority and instability complex. Having my kids taken away was the nuclear bomb that severed me from my history. I was so broken that I was forced to start over and try anything to not want to kill myself on the daily. But I haven’t been like that for almost 2 years now because I learned to laugh at the total insanity of my situation and my behaviors. A good laugh can cure just about anything. I have my secret and unorthodox means for arriving at these salvations, and I wish I could be more open, but we live in paranoid times, so the prudential people must follow the ancient Chinese proverb in “hiding their light and biding their time.”
Life is still just as much of a challenge as when I was at my lowest. It might be even harder because I was ignoring so many things back then that I have to address now, but I just have a different perspective. I think something Buddhist or Christian or whatever stuck down in my heart, and I internalized the truth that pain is a constant in life, and yet in spite of pain, we can still have joy. It’s easy to pigeon-hole folks like myself as overly emotional social justice warrior millennial whiners, but I just have to say that some of us have a lot of shit to dig out of. Growing up trans or queer or radically in the minority is heavy, heavy stuff. There are some people who are just addicted to the victim attention for sure, but most of us misfits are just trying to get better, do better, be better, etc.
I do have great news to share though! My cat of 12 years, Snow, is recovering incredibly well from Hepatic Lipidosis which is a fairly common liver disease for house cats. I’ve had to feed her through a tube twice a day for over two weeks now, and it’s been a challenge, but my little Snowbie is doing great and returning to her cranky and loving self. Our vet is also using traditional Chinese herbal medicine to assist in her recovery, and she looks better than she’s been in a long time. My heart is so joyful over it. I am so completely blessed that my partner was able to pay for the expensive surgery too.
It’s such a strange time for America and for transgender people and everybody. There is a funny Chinese aphorism that one tells to someone they don’t particularly like: “may you be born in interesting times.” Well these sure are some interesting times. My life has been nothing if not interesting. I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to figure out with this Sisyphean exercise, but I’m gonna figure out whatever I can. I’m gonna play this video game until I see the final credits!