Friday Night Post #3

I’ve had a hard time staying on track this past week. I’ve been a day behind in life as well as on the blog, so this weekend will be about catching up.

I’m working on improving the “Resources page.  I’m asking you all for resources relating to faith, self-care, trans* existences, and POC existences.  What do you read? What are your go-to educational resources?  Have you read/seen/listened to anything lately that’s changed your life?  I’d love to know about it.  Leave a comment on this post or message me through the contact page.

I’m still in the process of trying to find a new name and a new look.  I’ve narrowed down a couple different themes, but the name will really help to determine which one I pick.  If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Thanks for reading ya’ll!

❤ Taj

 

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Found In Philly

As the bus pulled into Philadelphia, I started to feel anxious.  I hadn’t really thought about my expectations of the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, and at that moment, the thought of what I would be walking to was overwhelming.  I’ve never had the opportunity to spend time with more than 10 trans* people at a time.  I couldn’t even conceptualize what it would be like to spend a few days with over 50 let alone thousands.  So I panicked.  The bus slowed, I gathered my suitcase and messenger bag, and set out for my hotel with shaky, sweaty hands.

Continue reading “Found In Philly”

‘I Own MY Body’ (and Other Capitalist Stories)

The other day, I was having coffee with a friend.  We laughed and talked, and as our conversation took many turns, we found ourselves mucking through the subject of bodies.  I don’t mean bodies in a necromantic sort of way, but as a philosopher would talk about bodies.  The body in relationship to the Self.  The conversation took another turn when I mentioned a word that is so often used without thought: ownership.  What does ownership have to do with the body?  Is it a concept that should be in relationship to bodies?

At once, I defended my position, but now I’m not entirely sure.  I fancy myself a feminist so it’s hard to think about what it means to own my body without thinking about the direct opposite.   The concept of ownership has a negative meaning in this way: it is defined by what it is not.  To own something puts me in direct control over it, which implies struggle with another and eventual recognition.  I own my body because no one else does or can.  Others recognize that I own it, and therefore, it is solely mine.  In cases where recognition is not won, I do not own my body and another can take control.  (This is all Hegel right here)  Minorities and women do not own their bodies because they are still subject to dominance and control.  With this, ownership means freedom from dominance and control.

My body is not property.  I have family a few generations back for whom this was not the case.  They were very familiar with the concept of ownership because they knew that they were not in control over their bodies, which is something that is necessary to be considered a person.  After almost 150 years, black folks are still not free from domination.  I know that a routine traffic stop could easily turn deadly.  I fear for my life when I see a cop beelining towards me even though I don’t do anything to get her attention.  In those moments, I fear that I will not be recognized as an owner, but as a subject in need of correction (literally and figuratively).  In those moments, I fear the exertion of dominance over me.

The one reason I like the idea of “owning” my body is because it reconnects me with what my dysphoria keeps at a distance.  My mind and my body are so disconnected at times that my physical appearance is jarring in the mirror.  Less so now that I’ve undertaken physical transition, but before I started the process I ignored my body to the point of not being able to recognize it when I saw it.  At this point in my life, I’m reclaiming my body.  I’m fighting to own my body through the ability to recognize my body.   The concept of ownership, in this light, makes it seem as if my body as MY body is a quest where at the end I am free.  I like the idea of freedom.  On the other hand, “freedom” is also a loaded concept.

What would the world look like defined by concepts outside of economics and property?  If I weren’t concerned with “ownership” what would I think about?  I mean really… I go to school and work hard so I can own things.  OWN. THINGS!  Bodies are not things.  It seems as if they should just exist and merit respect by means of existing.  But respect is recognition and with recognition comes ownership.  With ownership comes power and with power comes… a number of things when used differently in context.

I am a man in a constant process of reclamation.  I think that’s why I’m drawn to use the word “ownership.”  I can’t abolish a term that I don’t own in myself.  So I have to own it, then destroy it.  It’s a step in a process towards liberation.  It’s not the end goal.  I am reclaiming myself as MY self so that eventually, I won’t need to say that I own anything.

I’ll just be able to be.

Intentional Healing Through God

“Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all you mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these”

Gospel of Mark 12:29-31, NRSV

This is possibly my favorite passage in the Bible.  I love it because it sums the whole of the Christian mission into a few succinct lines that speak to the heart.  The first passage is pretty straight forward: love God with every fiber of your physical, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual self.  God is the one through whom all things happen.  I don’t mean this in a dualistic sort of way, where God is responsible for only the “good” things, thus leaving the rest to whichever name for evil you want to conjure.  I mean all things.  Of course, “all things” means something different to a cynic than it does to an optimist.  That’s not to sat that those are the only two kinds of people; those are just two examples.

I’m learning to be an optimist.  Since I started walking deeper into faith a few years ago, I find it difficult for me to justify my cynicism.  Each day I wake up, and notice that the sky is a different shade of blue or grey than it was the previous day, or that the leaves grow slightly more yellow as the season progresses.  These things are beautiful, and the plight of the world cannot take away from me the natural beauty of it. That said, I’m still learning and I have hard days too.

For me, the meat of this passage rests in the simplicity of “love your neighbor as yourself.”  I love this because it’s so simple, and often repeated, but one of the hardest things in the world to do: Love your neighbor as yourself.  This command is two-fold.  Love your neighbor and love yourself.   Why? Because both you and your neighbor are worthy of the love of God.  Period.

I’m learning to be an optimist by learning to love myself through the love of God.  Tonight, I tapped into the deepest places in my muscle memory where I store some of my worst memories.  As I sat holding my shoulders and crying the hardest I ever may have in my life, the things that ran through my head were the times in my life when I thought that God had abandoned me.  I remembered “good friends” in high school telling me that I couldn’t be a Christian unless I turned my back on myself.  Flashes of people telling me that they worried for my soul because I didn’t know the grace of God even though I was sure in my heart of hearts that God was rooting for me.  In those days, I was depressed, suicidal, and lonely.  These were themes that would repeat themselves up until I decided to medically transition (not to say that medical transition is for everyone who is trans* identified, just my experience).

These days, the muscles in my shoulders are tight from carrying all the weight of those years.  Tonight, I imagined all of it melting away and coming out of me as I held my hands to my shoulder.  It did in the form of tears.  They were tears of hurt, yes, but past hurts that needed to be washed away in a sea of healing.  I am trying to heal myself.  I think it is working.  Since I’ve relocated, I’ve been able to feel in my body where anxiety happens.  I am cognizant of my triggers and actively working through them in all the manifestations of my spirit.  I’m happy.  Adjustment is hard.  It always has been for me, but I know that the difficulty will make me stronger.  So now, I grow into the happy person that I’ve always wanted to be.  I can safely say that I love myself in that I am committed to keeping myself healthy so that I can be the best me possible.  Loving God has helped me to love myself.  Each day that I love myself a little more, I love God that much more.  It’s a cyclical relationship in which I am happy to take part.  Love is a journey.  I’m in it, going through it, fighting for it, and, often fighting with it.  Above all, I’m intentional about it.  I can’t go in to it hoping that I will maybe change someday.  I work for it so that I change every day.

Each day, I get a little stronger.  Each day, I get a little more me.  It’s–seriously–the best feeling in the world.