Turns In the Path: Walking Between Worlds

November 24, 2010 at 12:20 am (Walking Between Worlds)

Recently, through my job, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with a man I would otherwise likely never have met. We had a couple of interesting conversations in which it became clear that, despite some significant differences, we share some commonalities of world view. This was made even more apparent on a day when I had experienced a pretty nasty little encounter with a man who had a strong negative response to my physical appearance.
The unpleasant encounter was not unlike most of the experiences I have with people who do not particularly appreciate my androgyny. He had come in with a customer and, immediately, I registered the confused look in his eyes—as I interacted with the customer, I watched the his demeanor move from confused to frustrated to angry. He frequently interrupted both me and the customer in attempts to speak for him and, basically, to find for himself a valid reason to be angry with me—a reason he could justify that was less ambiguous than my apparent non-specific gender. This happens a lot. People get frustrated by my presentation then find ways to process their discomfort that produces something they can blame on me. It happens fairly subconsciously and quickly. I am used to it. However, I was still a bit annoyed when he referred to me as a “whatever.” As in, whatever you are.
As the customer and his champion were leaving, the guy I work with called to check on things at work. Since he is the manager, I related the situation so he could be aware in the event there was a complaint. Complaints usually follow these situations. Particularly if I respond in a smart-ass way like I did this day. [I said: I am not a whatever; I am a whosoever. Then, I added: we can discuss it further outside if you wish. The point was clear.] As I was explaining all of this to my co-worker, my new-found acquaintance [hereafter known as S] walked in to pay for the rent on his offices. He lowered his head and shook it slightly as he listened. When I hung up the phone, he spoke…and, you could have knocked me over with a very small feather when he said what he said.

“You know, it fascinates and irritates me how very threatened people are by transgenderism…if that is a word…and the assumptions they make about a person’s sexuality and character based on appearance.” My initial response: it is a word. And, then, I agreed with him. Needless to say, we had another of our interesting discussions.

In this one, however, a few things were of significance to me. Firstly, he made me aware that it is likely that many people see me as he does—fully, as I am—that they accept what they see and simply do not say anything about it. I have always operated on the assumption that people who do not say something negative or ask the obvious questions, see me as obviously female, usually recognize [or assume] that I am a lesbian, and accept that as who I am. Having said that, this basic assumption has also caused me to wonder why this group of people do not seem to see the ambiguity, the gender-fuck, the male walking in my female skin. This day, in my conversation with S, I began to experience a slow recognition of similar situations over the years. I began to recall things people say all the time such as “we just see you” or “we don’t think about it because we know you.” Like the sun coming up slowly on a foggy day, I began to see a clear probable truth: that these people do see the gender-fuck, that they do see me just as I am and see the truth of who I am. What separates them from the nasty folks who get pissed off by my presence in the world is twofold. Primary of the two is that they are accepting, non-judgmental people who are kind by nature. The secondary factor is that, because of the first aspect, they come to know me and like me, if not love me. So, it began to dawn upon me that Scin may be right, that I pass more than I realize and that everyone sees me as I appear. It just doesn’t bother the people who give themselves—and me—a second or two to see the self I reveal to them.
The other thing that was of great significance to me was S’s instincts about my receptiveness to his supportive reaction. He somehow knew—or assumed—that I was comfortable enough with myself and my walk in the world that he could, so to speak, call a pot a pot and a spade a spade. He knew he could speak to me his vision of my truth even though we had never spoken of it, that it would be a kind of comfort to me to be fully seen, and that I would receive it in the manner he intended. He saw that I would not only be comfortable with his acknowledgement of my personhood, but that I would participate openly in the discussion. I could not help but see his comfort with speaking such things to me as a reflection not just of his open and accessible nature, but of my own as well. That is a good thing, I think.
Finally, the other thing I was left with was a recognition I desperately needed. That, often, we find enlightened people in the most unlikely of places. And, that—often—their paths and ours converge for reasons that unfold as the path takes twists and turns. Further, we always seem to find them when we need them and that the need is usually mutual. They may stay a short or a long time. Length of stay is not the issue. Quality is. What we, each, bring to the meeting is the thing that matters. And, sometimes, we do not know for some time what the essential aspect is or the nature of the impact. Sometimes, our part is never known to us. And, often, difficult times are made better by seemingly random interactions. I suspect, however, that these encounters are far from random.
As I struggle daily with my personal path—one that is spiritual as well—and with conditions that are weighty, I cannot help but have a sense there is some purpose to the frustrated and, for the moment, unclear turns in my little walk on this large earth. I am–and have been for a while–experiencing a growing sense of self even as I struggle daily with difficult conditions beyond my control and with a lack of solutions to many of them. The circle of my life is widening. Paths are converging with mine that reveal commonalities, differences, and conditions that appear to be essential to my growth and to those whose paths are meeting mine. I am finding greater understanding of some old issues. I am also finding more questions. But, that is the natre of the path. And, perhaps, that is the point of the path. Dark times blur the vision. Edges merge and the way is not clear. The sun breaks through the canopy, and more is revealed. Storms come and then pass. The way is rocky. The way is smooth at times, then muddy and slippery at others. Sometimes, the only thing that is sure is that there is a path. The point is to keep walking. It is the only way to see what is on the other side of the trees. My experience thus far has been that there is always a clearing, somewhere down the way, just beyond the trees. Usually, it is worth the rough terrain.

NOTE: This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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10 Comments

  1. Scintellectual said,

    Darling, I am always amazed that you bear up so well under the daily scrutiny in which you live. If I were to walk in your shoes I would no doubt have abandoned my passive nature long ago, armed myself, and spent my days stabbing idiots in the neck with a fork whenever they crossed my path. You know that, even as femme as I am, I can’t help but want to champion you—although you are highly adept at taking care of yourself. I hate that you have to endure the slings and arrows and I know that you struggle with big issues these days. My wifely/motherly instinct is to want to take away all the hurt and pain and keep you safe from harm. Sadly, ignorance and intolerance surrounds you in abundance.

    Please know that I love you exactly as you are. Whatever you decide, if there is a decision to make, will not make me love you more or less. You have been this you since I first met you, 27 years ago (yes, sweetheart, a year has passed since we first got reacquainted), and I fell for you then. You were my first largely because of, not in spite of, your presentation. I am highly drawn to and turned on by, your androgyny. I loathe that it causes you pain but I am not embarrassed by it or ashamed to be with you because of it. It is true…you are you. I don’t think of you in terms of one gender or another. Truth be told, I think of you more in the masculine but of course, refer to you in the feminine. This is our point in time. Whatever comes of these convergences in your meandering pathway will be welcome and accepted.

    You are you. You just are. And I love you all the more for it.

    Always and in all ways,
    Your Sweet Scin

    • androgynonamous said,

      I respond to this still sleepy from my typical night of waking and dozing. It has indeed been a year since we reconnected in this way. It does not seem so, however, as it feels as if you have always been here…as if we have been here walking this walk together. Our reconnection has been so healing on so many levels that it feels as if it has always been with me. And, all this time, whatever the relationship between us, I believe that we both have related to each other as we do and been drawn to each other because of the very natures of who we are–which includes my awareness that you have never been embarrassed or ashamed of my particular presentation as others often have been. It also includes my strong attraction to your high femme presentation. As you know, even many in our own community have had issues not only with my appearance but my overall presentation and comfort with myself. Comments over the years, such as “do you have to be so gay?” have had their affect upon me. Such comments have never left your lips. In fact, and as you know, you have born my nothing but acceptance, understanding, and a powerful passion which I cherish and enjoy with enormous reciprocity. I am coming to understand how others, besides you and my family, see me. This is both difficult at times and highly revealing and affirming. [Examples are: S’s relating to me; or, Terry’s referring to me as ‘sister-brother’ or zhe…] From the health factors that may result in interesting treatment options, to the convergings and meetings with others on similar paths, to our relating in the airy middle of the binary, that place where I am neither and both, life is certainly presenting me with some things to think about and process. That you are with me, completely, in all of this–and all that is to come–and are here with such love, acceptance, welcoming [and really hot, satisfying physical acceptance] is a thing of wonder and beauty. I am a lucky boi indeed. I receive and respect your love of me. I return it. And, I protect it.
      By the way, your momma bear need to champion me is really hot, even though, as you know, I have it under control. You are not only the perfect mate for me, but the perfect femme to my transmasculine self. Always and in all ways,
      Li

  2. Femme Fairy Godmother said,

    Sometimes people surprise me for the good. I don’t know if you know that my job is as the marketing director for an Assisted Living community. The average age of our residents is 85. I heard one say to another, after listening to Glen Beck show his ass on TV, “I have no idea why anyone thinks that a woman marrying a woman is going to undermine men marrying women. Wait – except probably men know they are a pain in the ass and if women could legally marry women then men might be left out in the cold!” There was cackling, then, “But seriously. I want my granddaughter to be able to marry her girlfriend! We need a wedding in the family.” And much head nodding and “uh huh”ing ensued. Made me happy. 🙂

    • androgynonamous said,

      Dear friend, what a wonderful surprise indeed! Thank you so much for sharing this with me [all of us]. Humans really are full of surprises and it is very nice when they bring us unexpected moments of kindness and enlightened thinking. I, too, am made happy by your experience and your telling of it. Thanks for dropping in. It is always such a joy to see your prespective on things. Peace to you…until next time.

  3. Blazer said,

    I am beginning to believe that the asses we are forced to deal with are there to ensure that we don’t take the enlightened and accepting for granted. I get “Sirred” (thanks spell check, I realize it is not a word but it should be) plenty, but, for whatever reason, don’t usually get the negative reactions that you do. I know that you are tough and can take care of yourself and that Scin has your back, but I really think it is time that the universe cut you a little slack.

    I am glad you had a little time off from your dream job so you could write, I have missed this. Hang in there, LYB!

    • androgynonamous said,

      Thanks Buddy!! I think you are right about needing the balance, the presence of the dark–as it were–to make clear the enlightened and accepting. I do also believe there are other reasons why I get the negative reactions so frequently. There will be more to come on this issue. One factor is that I don’t just keep my head down and do some weird queer version of “uncle-Tomming” my way through life; to add to that, I am intelligent and don’t hide it. It seems to make it worse that I have an audacity of self–as I said, there is an article coming on this very topic. [And, one coming soon about choice.] I always appreciate your insight and perspective…and I miss this too. I am trying to get a new routine for the writing. I miss being here. And, I have missed our banter in particular. I think you know how much your readership, support, and [mostly] friendship mean to me. It was good to find you here. Hang in there too! Maybe we will have some time to talk soon. LYB!!

  4. At Last said,

    New to your website, interesting read, thank you. I am of a similar age, similar experiences, grew up in the anti-Vietnam War era, “ecology” movement, womens liberation, third world liberation, radical feminism. My split with the concept of radical lesbian feminism (the oppression of women/lesbians as the primary oppression, thus, the logic had it, freeing any radical white lesbian feminist from racism, xenophobia, etc) became unavoidable for me as a lesbian feminist of color.

    I am surprised at how deep that old constrictive and proscriptive vein remains however, and how immediately re-energized it has become around gender fucking and transgenderism, even 30 years later. Shocked, actually. I would have thought that age and experience would have leavened some of the intensity of the Second Wave rad feminists in my social circle – it has not. Compromise, compassion and empathy were never strong suits of the old radical lesbians – the overwhelming challenges of sex oppression caused many to see those traits as self-betraying weaknesses, sadly, rather than as an essential part of liberation.

    The insistence that people choose a single identity and stick to it is one that I first experienced back in college in the 1970s. I was told by each group that my refusal to pick one identity was a betrayal of any of my other identities, and a failure of my commitment to the liberation of that oppressed identity. I was scolded by those who chose the singular identities as: women only, gay only, people of color only, marxists only, lesbians only… The reality is that we humans are complex and have multiple identities and chose many affiliations; gender and the fluidity of gender and gender expression are just another iteration of the tangle of what it means to be human.

    Like you, I have more recently come to a point in my life where I named and embraced my own (additional) identity (as a femme pair to my new beautiful and handsome packing butch), even to the (enjoyable) discomfort of some in my social circle. Oddly this actually outs me more to the rest of the oblivious world as a lesbian, since racism still keeps many white folks (and white lesbians) from seeing me as a lesbian (even as I have always been a lesbian) – it’s kind of unavoidable now, since my beloved is so very clearly butch. Love brings fascinating self discovery, no?

    Best wishes to you on your life’s new twist and turns, I always say it’s why I smile so much – life really is full of surprises and I am grateful for the journey.

    • androgynonamous said,

      Dear P–
      Hi! Great to find you here! I must apologize for being so slow in reading your comment and responding. There has been a lot going on and time to write has been difficult to come by of late. I found your comments interesting, intelligent and thought-provoking. I wish I could say that I was surprised to read of your experiences with your white, lesbian sisters; however, I am not. My own experience made it clear to me how utterly judgmental and intolerant the educated, feminist women of a certain era [namely the era that, in essence, raised our generation] can be of all people, but especially those of us supposedly their “own.” It never ceases to fascinate me how oppresive the oppressed can be–usually without intent, and almost always without awareness. I find, too, that age has not necessarily born wisdom or compassionate understanding in the First Wavers, let alone, the Second. It is, indeed, sad. I guess I am a relic of some kind…it seems the older I get, the more important it is to me to be able to just be, to express that being in my life and my words, and to seek understanding and acceptance of myself and others–almost in the St. Francis kind of way. I am more interested in being a human being. I seek also like-minded persons, for one thing, because I believe it helps me grow. I so appreciate your sharing and look forward to more from you. It is good to find kin…even better when we least expect it. I celebrate you and your journey. Thanks so much to being here. Best wishes to you as well. I am smiling with you!!

  5. jomoreau said,

    Where have you gone?
    Please return

    • androgynonamous said,

      Thanks for dropping in here! I appreciate your presence…and your readership. Please keep checking in. I WILL be back soon.

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