Hello Dearest SuperForest. It has been awhile.
The last time I wrote here I was beginning a rather large journey. It has been dominating my life since then. A full year and a half. I wish I could say there have been more ups than downs, but there haven’t been. While the up of sharing with the world a truer form of myself is wonderful, it sadly–in our present society–comes with large costs. And SuperForest itself has also seen some changes, one’s that have led to quieter halls. I feel like I can relate all too well. While my last year and half has been packed full of adventure, new people, new experiences, it has also led me to this present moment. In this moment I feel alone.
As with all things in life, there were many reasons I stopped writing on SuperForest for the past year and a half. So many that I won’t be going into all of them, but what I will go into is why I am writing now. Like I was saying, the state of SuperForest and myself feel connected. This isn’t to say my life is wound intricately with that of SuperForest, but that I find, upon reflection, that we (SuperForest & I) are in similar states of being.
If you are a reader of SuperForest, you very well may not recognise this author. I assure you I have been involved with SuperForest for quite awhile now. If you were to go through my previous posts you will find another name associated with them, and in that moment you may find a little light bulb going off (or perhaps a series of question marks). But to save you the trouble, a year and a half ago I came out as trans*. The way I choose to explain this is that I had a moment of courage, self-awareness, sadness, exhaustion, and lack of patiences. This cocktail led to me finally declaring that most of my being identifies as a woman (beings are quite complicated and as such gender, sexuality, and life in general are rather impossible to define in whole terms), always have, always will. Most people would identify me as a trans* person because at birth I was identified as male; however, I get quite exhausted with all the terminology and boxing (part of why I am writing now, I will get to more of that later). Don’t mistake this as a lack of pride, I am incredibly proud of who I am, and the choices I have made. Rather it is a declaration that I choose to define myself, not let society do it for me. I will also add that in my experience who I am has hardly changed. What has changed is other peoples’ perceptions of me. To me, I have always been me. The awakening and declaration of my “womanhood” felt natural and old. To those around me it was sudden, bizarre, alien, new, different, scary, gross, enlightening, among other things. I really can’t stress this enough (and it applies to all people in all relationships), hardly does an individual feel they change (or actually change), more often they express an aspect of themselves that they were afraid to share for a plethora of reasons (sometimes they weren’t aware they had the aspect in them; google Johari’s Window). The difficulties that arise from individuals choosing to express these aspects of their being is that the people who “know” them are taken aback and have to revaluate their own perceptions about that person, themselves, and perhaps society.
Ok, now that I have said that, I will also say I didn’t come out as trans*. I came out 1) as myself 2) as a woman. Please keep in mind this is my experience, but it is one that I believe is important because often times I feel that terms and identities are thrust onto people. While I have experiences, and can relate, to many things that are considered “trans,” I never intended to. This is an important distinction between intention and reality, especially when it concerns the LGBT community, but also for many identities. SuperForester Jackson once shared the imagery of taking off many different hats, each with a different identity on them. He was caught off guard by how many he never chose to put on, but rather society did for him (for extra reading about society creating the individual, rather than the other way around, give “Crime and Punish” by Foucault a read). This is how I often feel about the term trans*. For me (again my experience here), I never chose to take that term/identity on. I simply shared who I was and am (Natalie, the loving individual whose mind understood her body to have gotten lost somewhere is the cosmic flux of time and space this time around the journey life). I have had to learn (and continue to learn) to accept the term, and find a way to treat it with love and dignity (let’s face it, it isn’t exactly a term that we are taught to cherish, seek, or worship).
I share all of this because I am seeing a phenomena that is scar(r)ing me. Since coming out I have been very active in the LGBTQIIA/social justice arena. What have I found? That people who are trying to allow themselves to breath free their identities are creating similar structures, rules, and classifications for what it means to be LGBTQIIA that greater society are creating for terms like “citizen,” “educated,” “white,” “American,” “civilised,” etc. That scares the crap out of me. And, honestly, has led to me dropping out of every organization I was involved with at my school and in my immediate region (L.A.). Not only have I experienced environments that tell people they need to be and/or act a certain way in order to be “gay,” “lesbian,” “trans,” “gender variant,” “bisexual,” and more, but I have also seen exclusion and divisiveness toward those who don’t identify as LGBT. What I mean by this is that all too often LGBT spaces that are created are hostile towards a straight and/or cis-gendered person being present. Ok, the reason for this maybe sound, namely it is for safety. Spaces need to exist that allow people to share themselves and feel safe and honoured in the process. I absolutely agree, but does this have to come at the cost of keeping out people who want to be there because they care? If the goal is to create, as I understand it to be, to create safe spaces for people to share their personal experiences and identities can’t we do that and accept all people into it? If the space is created and honoured through certain values (love, kindness, thoughtfulness, etc.) isn’t it more powerful to share that space with someone who isn’t LGBT than to exclude them? In my experience it is. I understand the value of certain identity spaces, but I find there to be a over reliance on them, and I find that it is creating a hostile atmosphere. That kind of atmosphere turns away people who may have never met a gay or trans* person before, it may even scare away someone who has yet to affirm their own identity. I can say that, well, because it has scared me away. And what I think scares me most, is how a lot of this would (and perhaps will) receive a lot of hostile reactions. I think this will be because people often see this type of criticism as being personal; however, I intend it as more of a greater social observation. LGBT spaces (the spaces that are suppose to be open and freeing) are making similar, if not the same, mistakes that our greater society has made, is making, and will make. I want to change that.
How? No clue. To me, it all goes back to the basics. And that brings me back to SuperForest. The genius of SuperForest is that it is the basics. How to save the human race? Please and Thank You. How easy it is to forget those words. How easy it is to convince ourselves things are more complicated than that. But kindness, truly does rule, if we let it. That is a big if I find. If you read this and feel squeamish or scared about me being queer, about comprehending LGBT topics, about complete acceptance because you’re not sure you “can go quite accept that type of person,” welcome to the club. Denying those feelings is denying our deep social conditioning. And really that is a big, big, BIG first step. Realising the things in life that makes us go “meehhhh, that it just weird,” is a step towards healing. The next step is redefining. We love defining things, it makes our brains feel so much better. That .01% (if not less) of each homo sapiens sapiens that is different from the next is critical to us. And it should be, but not for the reasons most of us use. Society teaches us to use it as a divider. Me and you (forget about the physics that tells us that we are all actually constantly connected) are separate entities, and therefore I must discern how and what makes you different. Hello self-esteem. Hello ego. One of my goals is to turn that concept on its head. My and your uniqueness (that .01%) is celebratory. It is incomparable. My soul’s understanding of my mind and body is my own, and doesn’t compare to anyone else’s. I can try to compare it, but it just leads to exhaustion and sadness. And it is a lot harder than I just made it sound. But that is why we are here, together.
Society, in its current form, is divisive. It thrives from sectioning. Our bodies, I believe, do not thrive from it. But there is little I can do about it. I can write these words, ramble a bit, and hope someone might just appreciate it. Maybe they will see that my experience in LGBT spaces applies to all spaces. That our exclusionary efforts are tearing our souls apart. That our visual discrimination (literally using our eyesight) is dissecting all of us, and it hurts. It is hurting me. By choosing to be who I am I have become one of lowest citizen’s in society. On the news I see other’s like me getting raped, beaten, and murdered, all while getting dragged through the mud by the media. I wake up everyday wondering if this will be the one where I get harassed, beaten, or worse. I want to say I am lucky to have yet experience anything physical, though I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been harassed, hurt, beaten, shamed, and abused verbally at some point. Ironically, most of that has been done by people who say they love me. Which isn’t to say they don’t love me, but more of how strong all the conditioning is (because I have done those things to myself as well, own worst enemy and all that). It is impossible for me to know whether people who look at me are looking through me, enjoying me, or completely disgusted by me. And it doesn’t really matter what they are thinking, it is the exercise of wondering every time that wears me down. And I am privileged not only in comparison to other LGBT, especially T, people, but also compared to most of the world. For all the crap I have to deal with I still get the benefits of being white, college educated, financially secure, having a family, having food, water, and a home. I even get to have kitten who loves me. Yet, it still isn’t right. And because of that I will fight. I will fight for all people to have the opportunity to be understood, for all people to have the choice of expressing their uniqueness, and for simple kindness.
I won’t promise I will be writing again soon, but I will if and when I need to. As I attempt to actualise some of my ideas I may update you, I may not. But if you made it this far, good on ya! If you skipped to the end, well…you missed some good stuff, I think. Either way, you are a gift.