Tuesday, June 30, 2015

6-30-2015 Entry: Kate Bornstein Love and The Cave You Fear To Enter


Hello my darlings! I know I’ve been typing away over here in recent days, haven’t I? I think that perhaps finally living my fulltime life as a transwoman has brought out a brighter and more exuberant side to me. Part of this more exuberant and well, social, side to myself has resulted in me re-investing some of my time and effort into Twitter. I won’t lie, the twitter realm was truly a place that confused me for the longest time. I had no idea what I was doing, how to actually use it in a way that was fun or meaningful (if such a thing is possible),  and went about it all wrong.

I’ve recently been discovering the appeal to it (better late than never, right?) in that I’ve been able to rub virtual shoulders with people I would never actually have the opportunity to talk with. People like my lesbian-girl-crush Jamie Clayton (who favorited my tweet to her, which was exciting because evidently I’m rather pathetic), and most recently my not-so-inconspicuous writing idol Kate Bornstein. I know I’ve mentioned Kate at least a handful of times and have actively promoted their (preferred pronoun) book “My Gender Workbook” both on this blog and to those people I email with for my volunteer efforts with the gender therapist Dara Hoffman-Fox, but I can honestly say I never thought I’d have the opportunity to meet them.

I revere Kate’s writing, and the gender workbook changed my life in a lot of ways. When I first came out of my denial and acknowledged that I was transgender (and eventually non-binary), their book was the thing that provided me with a whole new perspective. Instead of feeling awful about myself and ashamed that I was weird, I learned from their words how to embrace my “difference” and how to see it in a positive light. I was introduced for the very first time to the concept of Queer Theory and I have been running with it ever since.  My time spent with “My Gender Workbook” revolutionized the way I saw myself, the way I understood the world, and the way I decided to live. Their words inspired me to endeavor to become a gender outlaw, to undermine the cisgender binary stratification of our society by willingly choosing not to participate in the illusionary power disparities and encouraging others to forsake the archaic system with me. Their words opened a whole new world (/queue Aladdin soundtrack music) to me and inspired me to transcend gender, both for myself and for anyone I came into contact with. This blog evolved from simply an online journal to help me cope with the anxieties inherent in breaking free from socialized gender expectations to a place where I could have a voice, where I could reach others and inspire them (hopefully) in much the same way Kate inspired me.

 Auntie Kate equipped me with the tools to begin my deconstructive efforts and in no small way has influenced my social thesis even to this day. The transgender mystique thesis I’ve been developing (of which the term is the newest addition) over the last several months found its roots in the rich soil of Kate’s outlaw-ism. It provided the rich nutrients necessary to allow this to grow and it still feeds it even now. Perhaps it is silly of me to say, but many of my efforts have been offered with the hope that Kate, were they ever to become aware of me, would find merit in my work and my words; that someone, as giant as they are, could look upon the offspring of their life’s work and smile proudly that a new generation of gender outlaws were rising up.

Imagine then, my excitement last night when I discovered a picture tweeted by Caitlyn Jenner (who I follow) which included her standing among a group of trans* rock stars that included my favorite (and idolized) author, Kate Bornstein! I immediately replied to that tweet and asked if that was who I thought it was and discovered that Kate Bornstein is on twitter!! I, of course I followed her like immediately because how could I not?

My excitement turned into elation when my response to that tweet was not only favorited but also responded to by Kate Bornstein!! I about fell out of my goddamn chair last night when that happened. I know this probably all sounds so silly but I’ve been day-dreaming about the opportunity to meet Kate ever since I started reading their work, so for them to descend from the throne of Gender Outlawry to interact with a lowly acolyte such as myself was like a mini-dream come true.

Realizing that I may never have the opportunity again, I did something I wouldn’t normally do and tweeted back at Kate that I loved their writing, that they had inspired me towards gender outlawry as well, and that it would make my life is they read my blog.

And would you

Fucking

Believe it

They did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know this because They tweeted about my post contrasting my two years at PRIDE! “@R_T_Edwins Lovely piece, contrasting your two years at Pride works very well. xoxo Auntie”

This time I really did fall out of my chair. OMG, did that really just happen? Did my idolized author just read my writing and then compliment it? Perhaps they were just being nice to me with the compliment but the fact that Kate Fucking Bornstein took the time to read my words just makes my entire year (and possibly life). I know, this post is completely ridiculous, and if Kate ever comes back to read my words again they will likely just roll their eyes and yawn at my blatant fan-girling (of which I’m sure they are used to by now), but I don’t care.

When things like this happen to me, when I get offered opportunities to be in a news story because of my transition, when an idolized author compliments my writing, when my lesbian-girl crush acknowledges my existence, and when my readership nearly quadruples in the span of a month I start to feel like I’m really on the right path in life. Perhaps that sounds cheesy but I recently wrote to one of my emailers about something I haven’t really discussed much here. Right before I had my famous “I’m a lady” dream, I came across an idea that has changed my life forever.

Right before, and I do mean right before, like maybe a few weeks before the dream, I learned about this teaching. It was framed in terms of the Law of Attraction, which I leave up to you to believe in or not (I absolutely see it at work every day of my life, just so you know) and it was based off of something Joseph Campbell once said. He said, “The cave you fear to enter, holds the treasure you seek.”

On the surface that saying doesn’t really seem all that profound but when you come to understand exactly what he meant and the amazing possibilities that come from understanding and using that principle, the saying takes on a whole new and deeper meaning. In short, the idea is that every person has something (or many things) that they really want to do but are just deathly afraid of doing it (entering the cave). They would like the results that they may achieve if they did do that thing, but their fear stops them. It creates a sort of barrier between them and the object of their desire (the treasure). This fear barrier is so powerful, so strong and pervasive, that it seems insurmountable to the person, but it isn’t. An example of this fear barrier would be the immense denial mechanisms and fear I felt about transitioning genders. It can manifest in many different ways in each person, but there is almost always something that a person wants to do, be, or have that their fear prevents them from trying to achieve. This could be becoming a writer, a singer, an actor, a painter, a business owner, an athlete, or any other kind of thing.

Most people just allow this fear barrier to prevent them from going after this dream. They tell themselves that it’s impossible for them to achieve it. They might begin to try but they almost always just give up at the first sign of trouble. Metaphorically they go into the entrance of the cave, see a shadow on the wall and say, “Forget it, it’s not worth it.”

That is what I did when I first realized I was probably transgender. I dressed up with my girl clothes and my wig, looked in the mirror and decided that the road to becoming feminine would be too hard or impossible for me; so I gave up. I entered the front of the cave, saw a shadow I didn’t like and turned back. The fear barrier successfully prevented me from doing something I knew I wanted. Fast forward a few years and I was at the entrance of that cave again. This time there was the sweet melody of a siren (the female version of myself in the dream) calling to me from inside that metaphorical cave and I knew that if I ever wanted the treasure inside that cave (happiness, peace of mind/body, the life I wanted to live), I had to just go for it. I pushed past the fear barrier and entered that cave with as much determination as I could muster. I navigated through the winding cavern, avoiding pitfalls and having to double back when I hit impasses, until eventually I found the treasure I was looking for. The last thing I had to do was make one last leap of faith and I could claim the treasure for myself.

I did that and went fulltime as Emma; and doing that has been like finding a treasure that just keeps on giving. My life is literally transforming much like my body is, and it is getting so much better. All of my dreams and aspirations are starting to come true. The things I want to do in life are starting to happen. I’m being given opportunities I would have never thought possible before this transition to Emma.

“The cave you fear to enter, holds the treasure you seek.” Never forget those words. Never forget what I just told you about the fear barrier. Is there something you want to do, but have been too afraid to try? Is there some dream job out there that you’ve always wanted to do but have convinced yourself you weren’t good enough or there wasn’t enough opportunity? Is there some passion you’ve been secretly holding that you’ve been too afraid to openly embrace? Is there some way of living that you really want to try but are fearful of starting? If so, then I want you to know, unequivocally, that that is your metaphorical cave, and the treasure you seek, whether it’s happiness, love, joy, success, or even fame, it’s waiting for you inside that cave. Hopefully the thing you are wanting to do, be, or have isn’t something bad like becoming a famous serial killer or something (I’m definitely not encouraging that; don’t do that! You are right to fear that!), but if it is something that you think would be good or would make you happy, then please do it, not for me, but for yourself. You will always regret never being brave enough to enter that cave if you don’t at least try, and you will be even more disappointed if you try and then give up at the first sign of trouble.

If I hadn’t transitioned or I had given up at the first sign of trouble, I wouldn’t be living this amazing and rewarding life right now! My idolized writer wouldn’t be reading my words! I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to engage in the most meaningful work I’ve ever done (volunteering for Dara)! I wouldn’t have found a way to revitalize my marriage and re-foster a deep sense of attachment and love with my wife (things are going really good there, but more on that later)! I wouldn’t have figured out at long last what I wanted to do with my life!

You cannot let fear stop you from achieving your dreams. Even if you fail to achieve everything you hope for, you will still go to your deathbed (which is an unavoidable date, sorry my lovelies) and be proud of how you gave it your best shot. Don’t squander your precious time on this Earth worrying about the things that might go wrong. Start embracing your precious time on this Earth by making every second count! You can’t get any of it back, all you can do is look back on it either fondly and proudly, or with disappointment; it’s your choice.

Anyways, if Kate Bornstein is being extra amazing right now and still reading my words, I want you to know that your tweet, while it might have only taken a moment to type, meant the absolute world to me! You really are the best!

Oh, and we should get lunch some time! (can’t receive if you don’t ask, right?) >;)

 

-Emma

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