Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Sunday, March 30, 2008

An Examined Life

Someone – I think it was one of the famous old Greek philosophers – once said that “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I suppose he was partly right – if I hadn’t spent enough time staring at my navel to figure out that I’m a woman, I’d probably have killed myself by now. But he sure didn’t have it all right; or, at least, he didn’t include the need for balance.

The truth of the matter is, the more I examine my life, the closer to despair I go. I see what I’ve missed in life, how I’ve been socialized, how inadequate – no, not inadequate, just wrong – my body is, how difficult social situations are, how impossible it is to be seen for who I am – and I’ve got nowhere to go but down. It’s really easy to go down that road. When I’m by myself, when my activity is not fully engaging, my attention automatically goes to introspection, then anxiety or despair.

There’s a better way – getting outside myself. By whatever means, just move my focus from my navel to the outside. I’ve found a bunch of ways to do that. It can be as simple as a game of chess, or sudoku. It can be a task that I enjoy, or that is engaging – writing, blogging, designing, building.

But my favorite is to spend time with my girlfriends. How blessed it is to find them! Women who recognize me for who I am, and who welcome me into their circle, as one of them. And, since my transition, I’m further blessed, because there are so many – including the one I live with.

And if that isn’t enough, when some navel-gazing is in order, there are trans friends who understand my experience. Shared introspection gives me a chance to process it all outside of myself, where despair turns into hope.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


A good friend once told me:

"Only look back to the past to give thanks for the good, then MOVE ON. There's nothing else worth dwelling on."

I think she's right. The lessons we could have learned from those terrible experiences, or the ones that just hurt, have already been learned, or will play themselves out. There's nothing I can accomplish by beating myself to a pulp over something that I cannot change.

Good luck.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our