Not surprisingly, gender transition is complicated.
There were a lot of things I anticipated about this journey, but plenty that I simply didn’t see coming. Most surprising to me is that I find I have nothing to say. I have no words for others, no thoughts to share. Nothing to leave from me to you. All of my energy – spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological – is routed inwards and has been for awhile now.
I’ve been thinking about cocoons a lot lately. When I was a child, I thought that the caterpillar just wove himself a little bed and then went to sleep and woke up with wings. He slept for a long time, but he didn’t really have to do much to become a beautiful butterfly. When I was a young woman, I first saw the movie “Orlando,” whose main character falls into a deep sleep halfway through the film and awakens as a different gender. This character – played delightfully by Tilda Swinton – is filmed looking at herself naked in a full length mirror upon awakening and says “Same person. No difference at all… just a different sex.” This movie stayed with me for years, like a beloved secret that I kept even from myself.
However, a little education makes all the difference.
That little caterpillar isn’t sleeping. He’s dying. He’s dissolving into his most basic elements. His whole body liquefies as he is completely transformed. Organs are changed and move around, the exoskeleton is removed and reshaped. The living creature who emerges from that cocoon is not the same person. There is no way that he can be.
Science holds many beautiful paradoxes. We are all connected to one another in multiple ways. We are all made up of the same star stuff that first formed the galaxy. We are also all living in a complex ecosystem where each action we take impacts those around us, biologically and energetically. And yet, the natural repulsion of the electrons in our atoms ensures that we never truly touch anything. There is a magnetic field created between us and everything around us – our chair, our friends, the ground, our food – that stops us from ever truly connecting with anything. We are simultaneously inextricably interwoven into a complex fabric of time and causality AND perpetually and inescapably singular and alone. This is where I find divinity in the nature of existence.
And so, there must be some divinity in this process too. I am still the same me I have always been and yet, at the same time, I am transforming in ways I can’t describe and becoming a person I’ve never known. This process is far from a long night’s restful sleep. I am watching as everything I’ve ever known about myself and my place in the world liquefies around me and I must keep asking myself who I am, what I want, and where I am going. All of this doesn’t leave much time or energy for clever blog posts about current events. Or even phone calls and texts to tell you that I’m okay. But I am. Or I will be. Eventually.