transition 101: phase one, knowing me knowing you
Please note that this is the second post in a series entitled Transition 101.
“Know Thyself”. It’s one of those horribly over-used clichés that get tossed around all the time, and end up meaning very little. Which is a shame, because they are words to live by. Unless you really get to know yourself, you’re always going to be floating around in life just reacting to whatever gets put in your way. After all, journeys don’t start with a step, they start with an intention. Magick is the same. If you want to plot your own course in life, but you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? Likewise if you don’t have a clear understanding of where you’re coming from.
For somebody who is gender-variant and planning to transition, to whatever extent, knowing who you are and who you want to be is even more vital. Alchemy is not something to be taken lightly. You need to make sure that you know your subject as well as you possibly can, and have a clear, precise understanding of what you will be transforming that subject into. Transition is risky, lonely and all-consuming, and the subject is you. Know it well your subject well, or you risk failure.
When I finally faced up to the very real possibility that I was, in fact, a “freaky tranny”, (Yeah, I really didn’t want to be, I’m ashamed to say.) I resolved to make damn sure first. My personal memory sucks and always has, so I thought hell, maybe there’s something in my past that is making me like this, maybe I’m confusing these feelings and they’re actually something else, blah-blah, etc. So I bought a blank exercise book, closeted myself in my room and just wrote randomly for the next three weeks, trying to recall bits and pieces of memory and use them to unlock other bits and pieces that I might have forgotten. A particularly useful technique was something I’d picked up from Scientology (DON’T say a word!), which basically involved randomly picking sensations, like feeling afraid, or tasting something sour, or seeing something evil, and then trying to recall an instance from your past where you actually experienced that. It took a while, but eventually I managed to build something approaching a picture of my past, and I kinda had to face up to the fact that these feelings I’d been feeling had always been there, despite my best efforts to suppress them or explain them away. It also forced me to be honest with myself for the first time, and admit that they wouldn’t be changing. I was in fact a transsexual. One with lots of baggage.
So knowing where I had been, I started to think about where I wanted to be. This was a much more gradual process. Having faced up to being trans, I spent a few months just surfing the internet, reading web-comics and personal pages and lurking on forums, trying to understand what it all meant. Gradually though I got an idea, realising that transition was not only possible, but that I might actually have a chance at a successful, happy life afterwards. Key to this was finding inspiration, people and stories that I could point at and say: “Hell, just look at what they achieved!”. I think this is quite vital. Unless you have people to look up to, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that what you are attempting is foolish and impossible, that you can’t do it. There are going to be many people telling you that, so you need some positive influences to counter all that negativity.
Reading about Harisu and Dana International proved to be the catalyst I needed. They inspired me with their beauty, determination and success, and I realised then and there that, however my parents might react, or the community, or the church, or whatever else, none of them could argue against the reality of these remarkable women. If they could do it, I could at least get part-way there.
I had to figure out where “there” was though. Where did I want to end up? Who did I want to be, and what did I want to achieve with my life? If you can’t answer those questions for yourself, then I don’t think that you are ready to transition yet. After all, what would you be transitioning to?
So gradually, I formed a mental image of the woman I wanted to be. What she looked like, what she did with her life, what other people thought of her and what she thought of herself. I drew pictures, I wrote about her. And finally I started to get a sense of her name.
I keep those drawings and poems and bits of prose near at hand to remind me of what I’m working towards whenever I get despondent or think this is all just too hard. It doesn’t always do the trick immediately, and I can wallow in self-pity with the best of them, but being reminded of who I WILL eventually be, always seems to get me back on track sooner rather than later. I don’t stop there either. I try to recall and review that image of my future self regularly. A big part of magick lies in visualising the effect you are trying to achieve, in putting your Intent out in the universe on a regular basis. The more often you do that, the more real it becomes to you.
I would suggest that this is an important and necessary step, even if you are entirely sure of and comfortable with yourself. Doing an introspection like this forces you to face up to your strengths and weaknesses, to face the mistakes and ugly things in your past and really put them behind you.
Just a final note on this process of self-exploration. Be honest with yourself. Nobody ever has to see any of this stuff but you. You can explore your deepest fears and dreams, the stuff you’d never tell another living soul about. Don’t be afraid of yourself.
Don’t be afraid of your dreams and desires either. Be realistic, absolutely, but keep in mind what people achieve on a regular basis when they really put all of themselves behind it. If you need to, plaster your walls with pictures of your role-models and their achievements, and just keep reminding yourself that you’re capable of equally amazing things.
Well, that’s it for today. Sorry of today’s instalment was maybe a bit more serious than usual – I get all weighty when I start waxing philosophical. I promise that the rest of Transition 101 will be lighter fare.
Up tomorrow: “Part Two: The Long and Winding Road”, which will look at the essential research and planning needed to give one’self the best possible chances at a smooth, relatively risk-free transition.
Laters! (Shoo. Go away now. Nothing more to see here.)