Monday, September 17, 2007

In The Spirit

Over the weekend I was checking out the seminar topics that were presented during the just concluded Southern Comfort Conference when this one caught my eye.

Fractal Femininity (Masculinity); Changing Gender a Better Way; from the Inside Out that was taught by Dr. John O'Dea. I chuckled to myself as I read that.

One of the things that African-American transpeeps have known for years is that transition is an inside-out process. Anybody can acquire the body if you have enough cash to do so. But since we only earn .70 for every dollar a white person earns, we by necessity had to focus on the internal process first.

I'm a voracious reader, and one of the first things I did after I started transition was subscribe to Essence magazine. It has a wonderful column called In The Spirit by Susan L. Taylor that focuses on many of the spiritual, emotional and other issues that African-American women deal with in their daily lives. She also published a book by the same name that deals with the spiritual side of womanhood.

By listening to the advice that was given to me by my sistafriends, doing tons of reading, having Dr. Cole tell me the same thing and simple observation, I learned that femininity is internal and between your ears, not the genitalia configuration between your legs.

It's a lesson that was reinforced by observing the way some white transpeople approach transition. I noted there was way too much emphasis on SRS and and not enough time focused on dealing with the emotional aspects of femininity. One of the reasons that WPATH calls for the one year Real Life Test is to give you time to get the mind and your new body configuration in sync and get comfortable with it. It's also getting you prepared for dealing with the reality of living as a woman in a male-dominated society.

Too many times I saw peeps blitz through the process, then get upset or wonder why they were still not accepted as women even though they had gotten surgery. It's because while they may have the bodies, the thoughts and actions are still consistent with the masculine behavior patterns they grew up with and didn't address before hopping that flight to Thailand or wherever they had the snip-and-tuck done.

One of the keys is a basic one. Loving yourself. You have to not only feel comfortable in your own skin, but look in the mirror and love the reflection staring back at you. Sometimes that's a tough job with all the negativity that can get hurled at us on a regular basis, but if you have enough self love, you can deal with almost anything the world throws at you.

You also have to believe in a higher power. Be it God, Allah, Jah, Yahweh or whatever you call the higher power, you must acknowledge that there are forces at work that are greater than yourself. You must come to the realization that you are a child of God that is created in His image and that as a transperson, you are part of the divine plan as well despite what fundie 'christians' have to say.

Finally, dealing with the spiritual side of womanhood is an ongoing process. The paths we take toward that spiritual growth and enlightenment are varied. But in the end the goal is still the same. You want to continue evolving to be a better person than when you started your journey.

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