A moment together: My first gender odyssey

It’s done. The hotel is booked, as are the bus tickets. Come August 1st to 4th I’ll be in Seattle to attend the Gender Odyssey Conference for the very first time. I’m especially looking forward to being – for once – in the majority, surrounded by other transpeople. Where else does that ever happen? Nowhere, that’s where.

Life is pretty good lately. I keep waiting for the tide to shift again. I so want this to be the new normal for me. Let there, please, just be stability. Cautiously, tentatively, I feel more positive about the future. Part of it is, I’m sure, the wonderful sunshiny weather we’ve been enjoying lately. But part of it, too, is that I feel myself emerging from my crusty old shell. I’m still fragile, don’t get me wrong, but maybe, just maybe I’ll let myself feel like I’m OK. This life is OK. Everything is gonna be OK. And that makes me look forward to this conference. It’s an adventure.

Of course, who knows what’ll actually happen.

I’ve been thinking a lot about authority lately, and my lack of it. Part of what happens when I get into a real funk is that I start questioning my own capacity to add value to the world I live in. I feel like I’m just an energy suck, and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to live. If I can’t be a productive member of society, the voice in my head goes, then what the heck am I doing here? And sometimes, when the depression runs deep, I don’t feel like I am productive at all. Probably because I’m not. And it’s a struggle to get out of that space. It’s a struggle and it’s scary.

But as I said, I’ve been thinking a lot about authority, and about how, what’s important to me is to feel like I have something to offer. Because having a skill, a talent, or a gift, means that I’m not just dependent on others; I can give back. And I have something to give back. So that’s what I’m working on. I want to expand my toolbox of what I have to offer the world. Having spent such a significant portion of my life barely existing outside of my bedroom, I have a lot of living to catch up on. I have a lot of skills to learn.

It’s not just about feeling useful though. My partner M has shown me that. She is exceptionally useful and yet has no accreditations to show for it. Her usefulness is not the kind that’s recognized by the society we live in. Her voice is not taken seriously – at least, not without a lot of effort. Her friends, on the other hand, know better.

And that’s the key. Finding your tribe. Developing a voice that people listen to; that people find meaningful. How does one do that? Especially when money isn’t something you have a lot of, or degrees, or rich friends in powerful places.

How do you make your mark when you’re just a nobody in the corner that everybody overlooks?

It starts with having something to say. It starts with knowing that what you say has value, and that you have a right to say it. And it starts with knowing who you want to say it to.

It starts with knowing that you deserve to be here. And then it’s about really being here. In the moment. Alive. Learning as much as you can, so you can share it with others.

Meaning comes from giving. But first you need something to give.

That’s why I want to go to the Gender Odyssey Conference. To find my tribe, my people, and to learn from them what I can. And then to share, my own story, my own struggles. Who knows maybe next year I’ll be a facilitator for a workshop on how to blog your way back to health. Or maybe I’ll connect with someone who wants to collaborate on an art project with me. Or maybe I’ll find new inspiration for my personal writing.

And maybe nothing at all will come of it. That’s a possibility too. But that’s the serendipity of life right there. You never know until you try.

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