Who Do You Think You Are?

The Hubble Ultra-Deep Field, revealing thousands of galaxies. Source.

We were born in the borderlands of the ancient civil war between the sexes. Some of us become migrants, carried with the seasons, crossing back and forth and forth and back again. Some of us settle down in the little border towns of our youth and make ourselves a decent home there. Some of us go out, cross over, and never cross back again; we make our desert home on the other side of the fence.

All of that is fine. Actually, the difference between such choices is trivial, in the long view. All that matters: decreasing pain. The only imperative: live well and help others do the same. There are a lot of border towns along this wall. Fit in wherever you can.

Don’t get stuck too long in the swamp of your own indecision. If you’re not ready to choose, don’t choose yet; if you know what you need to do, just do it. Don’t torment yourself for not knowing or for knowing, for being different or the same, or tall/short/normal/strange. Whatever the case: don’t torment yourself.

Here is the situation. We are misunderstood, which only means, they have failed to understand us. We are misfiled, which only means, their filing system has failed to account for us. This is in many ways a burden. It’s also a gift. This facade comes pre-cracked. Don’t patch it.

Don’t get trapped again in chasing breezes. Having liberated yourself from one set of made-up standards, don’t hold yourself to another. Don’t test yourself with rulers political or gendered. That would be to squander the incredible opportunity of the border-dweller. So they threw you out–don’t get sucked back in. It does not matter what you guess a cisgender man or woman would do–grasping for someone else’s answer to your own question. Nor does it matter what you imagine is the radical thing–taking your own answer to one question and trying to force it to answer another. Don’t trade a cage for a carpeted cage.

Hold your new self lightly. It is a baby bird. Do not horde it or crush it or demand things of it. Admire it. Bestow the gentlest kiss.

The secret isn’t that they got their definitions wrong–although they did–nor that we need more and better definitions, though that is also true.

The secret is: here: the definition. And far, far away: the truth. Not just for gender. For everything.

Whoever you think you are–you aren’t. Who you are: clear, clear, clear. No one knows your name.

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11 comments

  1. Lesboi

    “Hold your new self lightly. It is a baby bird. Do not horde it or crush it or demand things of it. Admire it. Bestow the gentlest kiss.”

    “Don’t get stuck too long in the swamp of your own indecision. If you’re not ready to choose, don’t choose yet; if you know what you need to do, just do it. Don’t torment yourself for not knowing or for knowing, for being different or the same, or tall/short/normal/strange. Whatever the case: don’t torment yourself.”

    These thoughts touch me at my core and speak to me on such a deep level. God I love your writing and how your brain works.

  2. arhizome

    Such beautiful imagery! A few months ago someone asked me about my gender identity and I described myself as a ‘refugee’, a seeker of ‘asylum’ – on a boat, going somewhere, but unsure of the actual borders I might cross, or which nation-state I might make my home in, or if I might not just continue upon the sea, endlessly floating. This week, the ‘are you really sure’ question spat in my face by psychiatrist and family, attempting to undo all this reflective work, my decision to dis-embark, this daily attention given to the still small voice within, the body that says, ‘I give you permission.’ It’s really hard to hold fast to the truth of perpetual becoming, and your gentle and poetic reminder is so timely in my life. Thank you!

    • rimonim

      I resonate so much with your image of being a refugee/asylum-seeker/migrant. I’ve often felt like a refugee, immigrant, or like I’m in witness protection. So glad you are in touch with your inner voice, even as outward assumptions knock you around.

  3. Pingback: Forget About Gender | Today I Am A Man
  4. Lesboi

    Reblogged this on Dawn to Don and commented:
    This is one of my favorite posts from one of my favorite bloggers. Unfortunately, he no longer posts but I’m hopeful that one day he may start back up again. I needed to read this today and I thought maybe some of you might enjoy it as well.

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