Ok bold statement I know especially considering it’s a ‘new’ term in many ways. But it’s true the word gender is the problem in all this trans stuff, in fact the word trans is also a problem so in fact I’ve realised the term transgender is a problem all ways round.
I was recently watched a clip of an American show called Transparent, it’s described as a ‘Pilot’, however pilot usually means it’s not for air and just a sample of what could be made if a series was commissioned all the same, IMDB describes it as “An L.A. family with serious boundary issues have their past and future unravel when a dramatic admission causes everyone to spill their secrets.”
Transparent is also described on Wikipedia as – “Transparent stands for gender freedom for all, and within that freedom we can find grays and muddled purples and pinks, chakras that bridge the heart and mind, sexiness that depends on a masochistic love or a sweeping soul dominance. In particular, Transparent wants to invent worlds that bridge the binary: Genderqueer, Boygirl, Girlboy, Macho Princess, and Officer Sweet Slutty Bear Captain are just a few incredibly confusing, gender-fucking concepts that come to mind.” The show is “about sex and intimacy, about a family inheritance of a woman being born. They get this new mother from their father’s female self.”
Putting on my ‘Mark Kermode‘ hat and having only seen the trailer, the story seems to be about an quite affluent family who are learning to understand themselves after the father comes out as being a little different to the regular stereotypes that society present. Personally I feel it all seems a little transparent in more ways than one, the acting seems poor and the comment on Wikipedia sums it up a lot better than I could. But maybe that is a little unfair, the deeper thread probably has more substance to it, or it seems to have to me from what I understand.
All the same Transparent does draw on a lot of things and seems to talk about similar things I have been thinking about and debated for a lot of my life, it isn’t really about a ‘Transgender’ person learning about themselves and accepting it’s more about freedom to be yourself no matter what. Wikipedia sums up the programme quite well and what I believe to be the over arching message.
So what of these terms trans and gender being the problems, you may ask?
The problem is highlighted in the headline idea of the show Transparent, the problem is gender like so many aspects of life is known to be more fixed than it may be in some people. I suppose really the problem with all of this is the human brain and it’s use of schemas (an organized pattern of thought or behaviour that organizes categories of information and the relationships among them). So really when it comes to how we are, who we are and how we look, walk, talk and present we all have pre-conceived expectations, fluid is not an easy answer. HANDS UP I HAVE BEEN THE WORST IN THE WORLD for this!
My anxiety over change in the past has caused me to fix or set in stone schemas, people and situations and not look at the flexing and adaptation people do in life to survive, which is ironic given the fact that I was trapping me in the suit I was putting me in for all manner of reasons, namely fear, in turn I resented others for moving and fluxing if only a little bit. So who or what is lacking, well in my case I was for certain, but why?
The need to cope, the need to order the need to make sense is the answer, it is an need everywhere, Society, the system, the NHS, the way the country lives, the numbers, the categories, tags, boxes and pigeon holes are the problem, they try and fix us. This is not a new topic I wrote about this myself in 2012, but it’s the names, labels and expectations that cause the real issues, the books describing how to be a parent the marketing materials, the media, we suck it all up and slowly become an homogenised lump, easier to categorise and easy to sell to. However deep, deep down we aren’t. None of us is a fixed person, each and every day we change even only by growing older, wiser, or otherwise, we change and adapt. I’m not who I was 20 years ago, I’m different, more nuanced than then. Some may say I am more me, I’ve said I want to live true to me and be me, sometimes I’m asked so who are you .. my reply is I am me! I am what I stand for the things I do make me, the things I think, not a label that describes me or even a set of labels.
Asking someone who are you, is a little bit like trying to answer the question who is David Bowie, is he Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie or even David Jones (birth name), the androgynous person from album The Man Who Sold the World, or the rag dolls from “Where Are We Now”! To answer the question is almost impossible in totality, he was and is all of those things. All the same David Bowie has something we all have that hasn’t ever changed and is very hard to change, the windows of the soul, the eyes. For all David Bowie’s numerous wild and wonderful imagery his eyes have remained one blue and one brown (trust David Bowie to be different in this way too) but all the same the one constant has been the eyes.
The eyes of a person tell us much more about who they are deep down, the eyes come without labels, tags and pigeon holes, they don’t describe gender, race, not even really the age of someone, they show transparently the person, the real person deep down. Eyes show sadness, heartache, pain, joy, elation, tiredness, love, lust, anger, fear you name it if you really want to know who someone is read their eyes and you will get an artistic overview of who they are, yes we need to make an interpretation, but for me something connects to a deep down sense of understanding, something that may be difficult to verbalise or write down, but a knowing deep deep down. Yes I understand that research states that female eyes and male eyes see things a little differently and yes I know eyes change in their ability to see over the years but look into the eyes of a very old person, or a small child their eyes will tell you so much about how they feel and provide a connection to who they really are.
So maybe the show Transparent had it right in many ways and even in the title, the transparency of who we are is there right in front of our eyes, not what we wear, what badge has been put on us, the truth of who we are deep deep down is there for ourselves and all around us to see, naked and clear. The problem is maybe we don’t admit it to ourselves enough and we don’t allow ourselves to live in a way our eyes say we want to. Maybe the person coming out in Transparent flags up only one thing really, the shock to the people around, isn’t the coming out more the need for themselves to go in and hook up with who they really are … maybe the real story in Transparent is the fight to be true to you, deal with the legacy of the past and remain sane as you slowly emerge from the chrysalis. Maybe the coming out of a ‘trans’ person is simply them holding a mirror up at you and you don’t really want to see into your eyes.
As time goes on and I approach my 45th year many of the old sayings start to make more sense, “you only live once”, “life is too short”, “You only get one shot at life”. One of the most startling paradigm shifts I’ve made recently and hope it stays with me is the way I look at my age. In our society we look at a birthday as an achievement, a celebration, this ritual comes from the times when life expectancy was low I’m sure and to reach another year was a celebration. All that said people of that time had a spectre of death looming over them too, death and dying young was all around, so the urgency to live was with them always death was the catalyst to live. Today we look for a pill to ease all ills and long life is so much more of a given, to hear of someone dying young from natural causes is a shock, we ignore the spectre of death too much. I have learned it’s a very important part of life and more importantly living life. The paradigm shift came from listening to an audio book “Life in Half a Second” the author asks you to work with the average life expectancy of 80, you could use 70 or any number you choose. Then subtract the age you are now and then multiply by 365, you get the number of days you have left on this planet, the approx number of days you have to live … mine came to 12,775. Not that many if you ask me, especially when I’ve spent 16,425 learning about myself and life … it provided me with enough of a jolt to break a cycle of low mood, left over anxiety and worry over how I am breaking the pigeon holes of society and how it effects others, because in 12,775 days I will be done (if I am lucky). Anything I’ve lived, fought with worried about will be gone forever. In little over 36,500 days from the day I die 100 years will have passed and everything I’ve loved and lived for will also be gone, little more than part of my DNA will be left and that’s if it gets passed on to another generation via my children.
Stop and ask yourself the question do labels really really matter? Does what someone else thinks really matter and I mean really, when if you live to 80 years you will have only had 29,200 days of life. What matters is what you do with those days because although the days we have left are numbered the life we can live can be rich and abundant in the simplest of ways.
Ok so I said all that will be left is your DNA if you are lucky, but that’s not strictly the only thing left of you. Energy never ever dies it simple changes and becomes other energy – fact. The way you live, the energy you pass on and the energy you leave behind is the real legacy you leave. Ask yourself do you want to go out as a faded and jaded bulb who never illuminated anyone’s life, or do you want to go out as a light house who burned bright and had the ability to illuminate many by the shear brightness of the electricity that flows through … the eyes.
But the most important aspect of burning bright is the reflection you see in the mirror, no matter if you illuminate the world, one or a handful of people the person looking back at you from the mirror is the one you must light up the most. Be true, burn bright, live life and let the countdown be the urgency in your life that says I have no time to be down, miserable, anxious or worried, because I can use this time to live before it’s too late.
Be kind, be tolerant, be acceptant, do good, bend, laugh, love hard and true … look yourself in the eye each night and say today I gave it my very best shot. I lived today as if it was my last with a hope for tomorrow and great dreams for the future.