Growing up Trans - Part 3

I wrote the following poem shortly after having sex reassignment surgery in 2007.

Dirge of the Damned

I am a woman, I am a man,
I am one of the damned.
Cursed to live between the genders,
Blessed with the wisdom that it renders.

My spirit is split in two,
And few see the world as I do.
You think you know me,
In truth, you have yet to meet me.

The Ferryman I have paid,
Gold, blood and tears I gave.
The fake me is now but a memory,
And the true me has been set free.

I became one that day,
Whole and no longer afraid.
With joy, I sing the Dirge of the Damned,
For I am no longer trapped as a man.

In this article I want to explore some of the awesome things about being trans, and why society should embrace genders beyond just male and female. 

Years ago I read a book about transsexuals in Native American Tribes around the time settlers from Europe began to colonise the Americas. Sadly, I cannot now find my copy of the book, or even find it online. But, here are a few things I remember from it (and I’m really hoping I’m remembering it all correctly). 
Some Native American tribes had a word for transgendered people, it was Berdache. That word is falling out of use, and is being replaced with “two-spirits”, which, according to Wikipedia, was coined in 1990. There are several articles online if you wish to explore this topic further, but essentially, I’ve always loved the concept of having two-spirits and consider it a very apt description for being transgendered (at least in my experience). 

In the book that I can’t find, the author told a story where if a child was suspected of being trans, of having two-spirits, they would put them in a T-pee. On one side of them they would put a sewing kit, and on the other side a bow and arrow. They would then set the T-pee on fire and watch to see what the child valued most, and would rescue as they fled the burning structure.

If it was a boy, and they grabbed the sewing kit, or a girl that grabbed the bow and arrow, this would indicate they were trans. Because, before the “white man” came and forced Christianity onto the natives, they embraced all genders. Female warriors were fairly common and accepted in the tribes. When you watch a Western movie and see all male warriors on horseback, please remember that only ever existed in Hollywood.

I’ve often thought this T-pee test was an elegant and great test to see if someone is trans. No waiting until you’re 18 or are able to wrap words around your feelings. No need for expensive counselling sessions or living in the opposite gender before transitioning. Just, hey, do you like girl toys or boy toys? 

Really profound stuff there. 

Often, these two-spirts of old would then go on to become counsellors for the tribe. Whenever a couple were having marital problems, they would go and speak with a two-spirit, a wise person, for advice. 

You see, we trans people have a gift that CIS people don’t have. We can think, and feel, like a man and a woman, at the same time. 

I was once stood in the checkout queue in a department store when I overheard a couple, in their 20s having a conversation next to the queue. The woman had pointed out a really pretty dress hanging nearby, and was saying how the dress would be perfect for an upcoming party. Her boyfriend wasn’t paying her much attention, and giving her nominal responses. 

And for that brief, moment or two, I saw with perfect clarity what both people were saying between the words coming out of their mouths. She was saying she’d really like that dress, and wouldn’t she look great in it, and he should suggest she try it on then buy it for her. He was saying that he was bored, and the football would be on telly soon, and could they just get a move on please.

Although, neither of them were using those words, but I could see it. I could see it with my two-spirits. The man and the woman inside of me. 

For years I thought transitioning was a one way process and an end to being trans. I expected that once I fixed my body and lined it up with my mind, I’d no longer be trans. I’d be a woman. I’d be one. 

Ok, maybe without the upbringing of a girl, but for all practical purposes I’d be female. 

For about a year after surgery, I frequently had dreams where I was a man. And for a long time this really bothered me. I was a woman now. Come on subconscious, catch up! 

Slowly, over time, these dreams became less frequent. But more importantly, I came to appreciate them for what they are. You see, in my dreams, I can transition back to being a man. Transitioning isn’t a one-way process. It isn’t an end to being trans, it is just an end to the social pressure to conform to a lie. I can go back, whenever and how ever often I want. 

Although I identify as female, I have really settled into a comfortable equilibrium between male and female. And I have many interests that are traditionally male, and many that are traditionally female. I can talk techie with my male colleagues, or recipes with my female friends. I know how a man’s brain works. I know what drives men, interests them, excites them and what scares them. Likewise, I am a woman. I cry easily when watching films, or even the odd commercial, and I like hugs. 

Trans people experience the world in a way that non-trans can’t comprehend. We truly see the world, and the people around us differently from others. We see society as the social construct that it is and can often see through the lies that people tell themselves, and others in order to fit into this pretend world. 

Continue reading part 4