“Did you stop looking for approval because you got it, or because you got tired of looking for it from people who couldn’t give it.”
Quote: Abraham Hicks
When I started to write this article I had no idea that a few short months later I would be bombarded with a hate filled narrative sprouting from the USA in the guise of President Trump. He has decided to erase transgender from the dictionary. And he and his cohorts are doing this with relish and is a deliberate act to marginalise an already small group of society who present differences to the general population. This narrative is highly dangerous as it persecutes those who are struggling with gender dysphoria and gender expression.
This savage narrative comes from the religious right whose bigoted views about what constitutes male and female. They are unable to see past their own toxic beliefs which they will defend forcefully even though their beliefs damage another group in society. They simply do not care who they hurt as long as they get what they want. And this is political power, power over those they see as less than, and control to see the world reflect only their ideals. They deflect to keep the focus on another group to avert attention away from them and on to their chosen scapegoats.
Many in society are easily led and so believe what is being said to them in newspapers and social media. They don’t have the mental agility or the intelligence to question the narrative or their belief in a warped characterisation of an already highly marginalised group.
The danger is that this can happen in any society. It is political expediency and is a deliberate act to create vast landscapes of changes to benefit systems and human rights laws on one or two well chosen examples. My fear and concern is that what initially starts in the USA usually ends up in the UK. Laws change or are deliberately framed to keep the scapegoat firmly in the crosshairs of their appalling narrative weapons.
It is very easy to say that the UK is a moderate, liberal society but that doesn’t always hold true. Section 28 was brought in by Margaret Thatcher during her reign as Prime Minister. Governments aren’t always nice and can change on a whim to bring riches to those already rich beyond the simple dreams of the poor. I am still surprised that Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron helped to bring more enlightenment in the form of equal marriage. But then, he didn’t. It was led by a Liberal Democrat MP called Lynne Featherstone. The Conservatives just took the kudos. Yes, laws change all the time but can we guarantee that governments will keep everyone equal in human rights?
Language changes all the time. Language evolves, it’s dynamic and meaning changes over time. Word usage comes in and out of vogue. Before we can express ourselves fully, we need to find the words that carry that expression. For me, transgender didn’t even exist until I watched a programme in the 1970s (Julia Grant on the BBC) that gave me a way of describing to myself what I was feeling inside. That era was a minefield of torture as I tried to navigate the toxic, derivative narrative that came in my direction once I dared to show even a scintilla of vulnerability.
Laws can only be framed with the language we have at our disposal at the point of creation. If we permit the toxic rhetoric to flourish then laws will be created that allow wriggle room for those who are willing to ignore the spirit of the law and change interpretation of words for their own warped agenda to continue to scapegoat those who do not adhere to their world view. Has the human race learnt anything over the last 2000 years regarding equality and compassion? We seem to keep making the same mistake that conflict is a method of resolving differences.
There comes a point in everyone’s life where we decide that enough is enough. We are brought to a place where we feel like we have to constantly defend our existence, to explain to those who would deny us identity, value and acceptance. There are those in society who come from particular backgrounds, from particular views and beliefs, and particular religious beliefs, that those in society and their community are somehow less worthy and so become the focus of hate and discrimination.
No matter what we do, no matter what we suggest to explain that we do actually exist, that there is a scientific justification for our being, these judgemental and condemnatory people will never understand, don’t want to understand or acknowledge, or give us the respect that every human being deserves. And that is love and acceptance, appreciation and compassion. Yes, there are many who will listen but still don’t really care enough to enter into a meaningful dialogue to change the existing narrative of denigration and criticism.
When we incarnate in this realm, the first choice is: do we want to experience being human. We could just as easily choose to be an animal, a fish or a bird, a rock or a crystal. All choices are equal in stature as all will give a fundamental shift in perspective, another frame of reference, another way of seeing the world and those who inhabit its lands of green and plenty.
Once we choose to be human, the second choice is which physical sex do we want to be. This second choice provides a panoply of experiences designed to gain the maximum knowledge and wisdom from living a life of challenges that stretch, stimulate, inspire and excite.
So fundamental is this to earthly society that everything around us is the binary concept of man and woman, male and female, masculine and feminine. Many in society cannot see past this limited frame of reference and so choose limit the choices of others.
So fundamental is this to certain beliefs and religious structures, the words used to describe the opposite of man still requires the word man and male in its construct.
So secondary is the concept of ‘not male’ as a woman, so an afterthought is a woman that women don’t deserve a word of their own that doesn’t require reference to something else. What is it about women that deem them less than men? God created man and then decided to create woman from man such was the nature of the afterthought. It was not so long ago that the Vatican debated whether women had souls.
But then, God did not create man; man created God. In order to try and understand life’s experiences and the environment, man gave God the same attributes as man, such as anger, judgement, domination and aggression. And let’s not forget the rules and regulations to follow with pain of death for non-adherence.
The reason for two distinct sexes is a simple one: the need to procreate. From a DNA perspective, mixing disparate sources increases the chance of having offspring which have a greater chance of survival. Faulty genes can sometimes be replaced with properly functioning genes if they come from that alternative source. For example, Haemophilia is experienced only by men since the Y chromosome does not contain the gene that can potentially counter the faulty gene on the X chromosome. Since women have two X chromosomes, any faulty gene on one has a working backup on the other.
You can never quite predict what the outcome will be when one half of the DNA comes from one parent when mixed with the other half from the other parent. The mixture is quite random and so the offspring can exhibit a whole range of strengths but also limitations in the form of physical and/or mental difficulties. How about left-handedness being considered wrong? Blue eyes vs brown? The colour of someone’s skin? Albino? Having any of these traits are not abnormal but simply part of the DNA spectrum of possibilities.
The overriding benefit of sexual reproduction is that there is a greater possibility in creating successful offspring which have a greater possibility of survival and so the DNA becomes stronger. Asexual reproduction only has the current band of DNA to work with and so errors can creep into the chromosomal structure compromising future generations leading to possible extinction. Asexual reproduction has no chance of replenishing that which is faulty.
Why are we so challenged by people who don’t fit with what we deem ‘normal’ in our eyes? Cognitive dissonance is the answer.
When we are born we are already deeply programmed to see the faces of our care givers. We look for two eyes, a nose and a mouth. We see these as a source of nurture and sustenance, warmth and safety. It is instinct. Our brains are hardwired to look for faces, so much so that we see faces in clouds, in patterns on carpets and curtains, in trees and flowers, in paintings, in knotted wood. Our brains are setup to gather important information from the shapes of faces, the expression and appearance. We read emotion in people’s faces to look for security, danger, challenge, fear. We read a smile, a scowl, laughter, sadness. Most communication is non verbal and so becomes subconscious. It is instinct.
As we grow, we collect many ideas and beliefs that go into creating our view of the world. We see around us many insignia, many images and words from newspapers, the internet, from television and from movies, that deeply influence our mind set, understanding, reasoning and judgement. We rarely know this is happening to us as it takes place on a deeply subconscious level. We see faces and bodies, images honed and manipulated to show an idealised version of the feminine and the masculine. Anything or anyone who doesn’t match this glamourised, rose tinted version of woman and man is devalued and trivialised. No wonder young girls are increasingly self-harming, developing eating disorders and potentially committing suicide in the most difficult of cases.
The internet has exacerbated and magnified these trends as social media has provided an easily accessible platform for bullying and the diminishment of those who are not ‘normal’. ‘Normal’ is a moveable goal post and is different for every society and time and century.
‘Normal’ is the problem.
Cognitive dissonance is when our beliefs, ideas and notions contradict those in our world setting up waves of disharmony within. Some of us deal with this dissonance effectively as we seek to understand the nature of our conflicting emotions and feelings, and the rising thoughts and conceptual impressions that jar against what we know to be true for us. There are those of us who cannot deal with the dissonance and thus react outwards towards those who they believe are causing their clashing and conflicting emotions. Their internalised anger at having to feel something they don’t want to feel means they are challenged beyond their capabilities to handle and process such difficult experiences. Rather than look within themselves they simply attack those they deem the author of their dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance comes in all shades and colours. Religion is the main culprit as these deep beliefs, philosophies and faith contradict our world view and so we choose to rail against it by trying to force others to adhere to what we want to see. We criticise and condemn those who we see as opposition to ‘our god’, our beliefs, and can sometimes see them as less than human. To some, religious faith overrides any sense of compassion and provides no map towards listening to another point of view. To consciously limit one’s ability to hear a different narrative leaves just the echo chamber of life and so we do not evolve. We can only learn in relation to others as these provide a valuable mirror with which to understand ourselves and those with which we interact. If all we hear are our words reflected back then there is no opportunity to grow and to challenge our ideas and beliefs.
When I watch YouTube videos of people sprouting venom at trans people, for whatever reason, I feel sad for them as they see the world with such fixed eyes and ears and are unable to hear another point of view, a different narrative. They exist only in their narrow frame of reference unable to see passed their current range of experiences, unwilling to stretch their boundaries to discover more outside the very restricted box.
Some see trans and gay people as the devils work, an abomination, that we and the liberals have an ideological leaning which it seems wants to control and subjugate everyone, to allow everyone to express themselves fully and completely. They don’t see liberal views as compassion but as limiting their religious beliefs and their right to discriminate.
The religious right are always the first to complain that others are seeking to limit their expression but don’t see the irony that they are seeking to do the very same to others who just don’t agree with their particular rabid beliefs and ideology.
It has taken me several decades to unpick the rabid beliefs forced upon me by a society unwilling to stretch itself to learn new things and new concepts. We are all programmed by people and their wish to be right, limited, status quo hugging, as well as fixed in thought and emotion. Most of society has an inbuilt fear of change and are not willing to challenge boundaries which, when breached, can provide enormous possibilities for innovation and the new. Fear is the brake that prevents compassion and the willingness to see others as equal and valuable as human beings.
When we ‘other’ people, it’s very easy to see them as less than, unimportant and irrelevant. It’s a short step to vilification and then hate. When all you feel is hate for another, not only do you damage them, you damage yourself in the process by becoming part of the problem instead of part of the solution towards a balanced and compassionate world.
Many trans people I have met are able to think outside the box. And not just a few inches; but by miles. When people express difference, want to be different, are different in their core being, revolutions can happen. Not those of bullets but of words and thoughts and ways of seeing solutions to problems thought impossible to resolve.
What would the world of computing be like today if Alan Turing had not been hounded to an early grave just because he was different. Those who are innovators, are different. Their minds are wired in ways that allow for original thought. It is those who are different that provide the impetus for change and evolution. If society forces the status quo, society will stagnate and decline and this is what is happening right now as neighbour is pitted against neighbour. Who knows what the world would be like had society been willing to embrace those who are different.
Since time began, humanity has been at war with itself choosing to see conflict as the only solution to differences. Is it not time to change the broken record and talk instead. And perhaps more important, listen to another point of view. Who knows, you might actually learn something.
There are many people in society that no matter how hard you try to include them in conversation to understand something about differences, they will not respond or even admit you may have a point. They are fixed and rigid, securely protected in their current echo chamber of life and so are unable to enter into a reasonable dialogue to grow as individuals.
I see now that 50 years of being rejected by a society unwilling to bend towards me has caused untold damage to my sense of self. The resulting depression was a deep and debilitating experience one that I am glad to say, is now over. It’s not because I have become what others wanted me to be as an attempt to reduce the pain. I have become what I feel I should be in the core of my being.
The gifts this experience have given me are a wonderful insight into how people operate on many levels. Not many are challenged to look this deep within at their pain, to actively search out the damaging self belief and to change it.
I no longer defend my existence. My particular experiences have enabled me to be vulnerable and defenceless. There is great presence in being defenceless. Not power but a calming sense of being unshakable. When you know why you know what you know, you become unshakable.