Friday, October 28, 2005

Simplicity and transgender

I recently had a conversation with a f/Friend about trans issues. It's funny, I find myself often assuming the role of "expert" on these issues, simply because I have some friends, and have read some stuff. I am far from an expert.

Sometimes I think I'm a pretty sorry ally. But my heart is usually "in the right place" (heaven help us!)

My friend at one point said that it didnt' seem "very simple"

This goes to the core of my trans issues (well, maybe the core, deep in there somewhere) - I actually don't have a strong attachment to someone being one sex or the other, or being the sex they're "supposed" to be. But I do have a problem with people taking hormones for any reason, with the choice to have surgery (at least in non-life-threatening situations) for any reason.

So, I mean, not having surgery is simpler than having surgery, not taking hormones is simpler than taking hormones. These things make sense to me.

But, I was reading on Liz's blog (and I can't seem to make a link now, I'm pretty computer illiterate) about simplicity, and the idea that it is not so much about a hierarchy of how little can you have or do, but about being spirit-led in all your actions.

One thing I have read about the experience of being transgender is a tendency for children to focus a lot of energy on figuring out how to be the gender they've been assigned. That rather than experiencing "being a girl" as simple and straightforward because you were born with a vulva and everyone says you are a girl, it becomes an elaborate act - with constant attention required to laugh the "right" way, sit the "right" way, dress the "right" way (I myself feel that I experienced something similar - but the resolution for me turned out to be that I am a girl, I'm just not good at elaborate roles of any sort - I hope that I have mostly given up such games. I gave up the conscious attempt to play them well quite young.

So, in any case, then it would not be "simple" - not in the secular sense of "easy", and also not in the sense of being true to, well, the truth. (capital T?) Which would be loving God.

(I think)


Liz Opp said...

Hi there. Thanks for the nod about the post and comments about simplicity.

Simplicity is a tough concept to draw clear boundaries around. One Friend I know, who travels in the ministry often, drives a car that I would have thought is beyond simplicity. Except then I realized the long trips she makes in the car (she wants to be comfortable!), and the reliability that is equated with the manufacturer of the car (less time at the mechanics!).

I think of another Friend--male to female transgendered Friend--whose life without sexual reassignment surgery certainly didn't sound simple. The surgery seems to have simplified her life, though.

A quick read through your post (I'm really tired) gives glimpses of your clarifying for yourself what is simple and not simple: For you, surgery and hormones are NOT simple.

That's great. Now, how do we go about letting go of what may be simple for ourselves and support others in finding what is simple for THEM...?

Hope that makes sense.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

earthfreak said...

Yes, Liz,

that's (almost) exactly what I was trying to work out.

I guess that I feel that sometimes we are called to challenge others to question their values (like John Woolman travelling around to speak to slave owners - but I realize as I say this that he did not travel and speak to people to "tell them what to do" - a distinction that I, and many others I think, often find challenging to live up to in my own life.)

So, I often do feel it is my duty to question people about their choices to drive cars larger or less efficient than seems necessary (or, that said, to drive cars at all) - though often people have gone through their own process.

Similarly, basically any use of medical technology that isnt' about saving lives or lessening significant pain is something I would question strongly.

And I think that more and more I am coming to understand that sometimes sex reassignment surgery is about saving lives and lessening great pain. (actually probably always, I mean, it can't be "fun")

In addition to what seem slightly milder examples of simplicity (as in heeding God) doesn't look as "simple" as it might. Others are vegetarians who make the choice to eat meat offered to them as hospitality in another culture, where, for the moment, the insult and distancing that would be occasioned by "holding your moral ground" simply is "not worth it".

Thanks for your comment, and for your post that helped to inspire this one.


earthfreak said...


I feel like I did a poor job of articulating some of this, and perhaps it needs a new post.

This one was meant primarily to respond to a friend's idea (she doesn't read this blog) which I have held myself, that transgenderedism (?) isn't "compatible" with simplicity.

I am coming to learn that sometimes it is a quite complex process for us to come to our "true selves" - whether that involves sex reassignment surgery, airplane travel, or any number of other things that aren't in and of themselves the most simple "option"

This is bringing up another issue for me, though, (or you did, Liz :)

That there is simplicity - which is quite simply :) heeding Spirit in our own lives and daily actions.

Which is (sometimes) something different from the "simplicity movement" - a societal call to question our american overconsumption of resources, as well as things like substituting "busyness" for "substance" in our lives.

I feel strongly called to both (the broader, more secular form for quite a while now) and also to see them as seperate things (which I didn't before)

To be open to hearing God, I suppose, should he tell me to buy myself an SUV and drive around the continent (after, of course, much testing of such a leading!)

and at the same time to pay attention to the impact that my actions have on my ecosystem and planet, and other life forms. To strive to live as "rightly" as possible at all times. I find this a worthy aspiration.

And how I interact with the larger society comes into it, in terms of voting (and even lobbying for) better fuel standards, anti-driving incentives, mass transit, and perhaps, in the case of this post, where I stand on whether sex reassignment surgery should be covered by insurance, or hopefully someday, a nationalized healthcare system.