The Best Way To Be Awesome And A Minority

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Photo: Levi Saunders

WARNING: Contents of this story may be triggering.

In our opinion, a person can’t for long explore transness without furthering exploring race. Both topics are near-identical.

And while we prefer not to refer to ourselves in certain, socially-accepted ways, it is this socially-accepted identification which prompts our writing.

You see, before 2015 or so, we identified as a black male human being.

However, since that year, we’ve discovered some number of things which make that identification irrelevant. That is, unless, we feel the impulse to write about topics like this one.

Then that identification adds credibility.

Today, we are writing about our blackness, our maleness and our cis-ness because sharing our experience might help just one person. If it helps just one person, we consider the time investment a win.

 

Transgender is the new black

Humanity continues to expand into itself. What that means is, the potential that is humanity, is being explored by humanity. Some of what humanity discovers about itself shocks itself. That shock often causes reprehensible-seeming human behaviors.

Eventually though, everything balances. And the exploration continues merrily.

It took a while for example, for humanity to begin seeing “blacks” as worthy enough to merit rights and privileges “whites” enjoy, at least under law, if not socially and culturally. We are putting “blacks” and “whites” in quotes, simply because that distinction is a fiction. There really is no appreciable difference between a human described as “black” and one described as “white”.

Indeed all that stuff was made up specifically to divide humanity. Briefly: In the “new world” wealthy land owners created the idea of “black” and “white” to cause poor “white people” to reject their economic and human peers who happened to have darker skin. For a time in colonial America, many “blacks” and “whites” who were poor, lived closely with and felt solidarity towards each other. They slept together. Ate together. Had sex with each other. They married. They ran off together. They saw each other as comrades.

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Photo: Jose Escobar

That is, until the wealthy divided them with this made-up distinction.

Why? This multicultural group far outnumbered wealthy landowners. That was a problem. So the wealthy concocted a new belief: whiteness.

Over time poor “white people” began believing they were better than poor “black people”.

The rest is history.

And that is enough history.

· · ·

Our point is, we no longer see ourselves through many false lenses which have no relevance to who we really are. But many people still do. Even though they are fundamentally no different than we.

Most humans identify themselves by something which separates them from the rest of their kind. Hard to deny, right?

We don’t have a problem with that.

Except that while distinctions can bring people together, the “coming together” is always also an exclusion: those who are not distinctly similar become outsiders.

Comparison happens. And judgement. In judging, insecurity rises. “Judge not lest ye be judged” is a reference to that. Insecurity always fosters fear. And in that fear and insecurity one always finds external life circumstances that justify one’s fearful and insecure feelings.

Whether you’re black, trans, gay, latino an original people, or, in today’s, world a cis-het-white male, nearly everyone goes in and out of fear and insecurity.

We suggest being transgender is the new black when it comes to social justice and equal rights. That’s because transgender people experience today, socially, what blacks did in the 50s and sixties and earlier. There are differences, of course. Rarely was a black person shunned by their family, for example, the way many transgender people are.

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Photo: Ken Treloar

It’s a common, although unnatural human reaction to try to “one-up” one’s historical suffering. It’s as though humans see suffering as a badge of honor. It isn’t. So when we compare the black experience with the transgender one, we are not saying they are equal. What we’re saying is transgender and black people face many similar struggles. And in that similarity can be gained huge leverage towards positive change.

But neither can do that while standing in fear and insecurity.

For example, segments of both groups appropriate self-referential slurs and recast them as terms of empowerment.  “Nigga” is the most obvious from the black community. “Tranny” and “bitch” are similar in some parts of the transgender community. The more impoverished the subgroup, the more empowerment such appropriation seems to be. That’s been our experience.

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“Blacks” taking on such identity have participated in their own oppression. Photo: bimo mentara

And, while “nigga” as a term of empowerment in the black community is well known, “tranny” and “bitch”  as similar empowering terms may not be as familiar to some transgender community members. Among transgender people of color, however, it is far more common and understood.

Of course, enormous experience diversity exists throughout both groups. And, while it may be taboo to acknowledge, it can’t be ignored that intense inter-group hatred also exists within both groups. It’s odd to us that members of an oppressed group would turn around and oppress one another. Behavior we see between in-group members sometimes rivals that which comes from those who are recognized haters of said group.

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Two transgender women attacking one another.

 

This is so consistent, one has to wonder why more transgender and black people aren’t more understanding of the people who hate them. For the same insecurity and fear transgender and black people feel in their lives, is identical to that being experienced in the minds and hearts of those who hate them, don’t understand them or who refuse to acknowledge their very real existence.

Human is human.

It doesn’t matter what triggers fear and insecurity. It is a fact some “white, cis, males and women” feel fear and insecurity when faced with both the “transgender movement” and the “black people”. It doesn’t matter why they feel frightened and insecure. The fact is, that’s what they are feeling.

And if you think about any time you felt those strong emotions, you’ll remember how difficult it was for you to think straight. Let alone open-mindedly.

If you’re triggered right now, you may be feeling that lack of ability now.

Now we’re not denying the very real power and leverage other groups have over transgender people and “black people”. Our experience with the few people we’ve worked with however tells a compelling story.

The story is corroborated by our own life experience: A belief is a powerful thing. Humans are far more than human. When an individual human does something about the beliefs they have, instead of directly confronting their life experience, their experiences faithfully reflect work done at the belief level.

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Photo: Steve Johnson

In other words, when a person examines then changes their beliefs about life rather than confronting life experience directly, their life experience begins reflecting the newly held beliefs!

This is not the case at the group level. Groups, for example, have a hard time accomplishing what we’re sharing here because individuals comprise groups and individuals are the main event, not the group. No group of people shares life experience. Each life experience is unique. So making changes of the type we’re describing at the group level is not possible.

But when an individual chooses to change their beliefs about anything, the reality of the thing that is the subject of the belief changes!

This is why we do not advocate humans joining other humans, even though that seems like the expedient method of change.

An individual human is always more powerful than millions of humans grouping together when that human becomes aware of what they are underneath their humanity and exercises that in the direction of what they are wanting.

But when a human lives in fear, insecurity and vulnerability, they have no power at all. They are literally at the mercy of their life experience. In that, it seems their world and the people in it have far more power than they do. And while they remain in fear, insecurity and vulnerability, other people do have more power. And so, it makes sense so many would want to join forces with each other, in order to even the odds.

Now more than ever

We’re not arguing against joining others in pursuit of what you want. We’re just offering perhaps a new perspective for individuals, which can make individuals more powerful.

Whether they join with others or stand alone.

 

“Black” and “transgender” are deeply disempowering

A person who identifies with an identity such that that identity disappears becoming part of their “what is”-ness, the belief and identity also diminishes who they are into a single dimension. A belief held long enough becomes “just what is.” It is no longer questioned. It is no longer thought about. It’s just there in the background. There, in the background it shapes all life experience to be consistent with it.

That’s how powerful beliefs are. They are alive and are literally the stuff of life.

When a human creates for themselves, or takes on a belief such as this, they lose their connection with their natural invincibility and instead experiences directly the disempowering nature of the belief.

When a person identifies as “black”, for example, they take upon themselves all that is conveyed by that. Both the good and the bad and all the experience lumped under that story/belief. Same with transgender identity.

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Taking on labels can empower. Usually though they greatly diminish one’s real identity.

A “black” person therefore acts in cahoots with those on the other side of that belief. He or she reinforces perspectives held by “the other side” as well as those on their own side. It doesn’t matter if that “black” person is financially, materially or socially successful. They become a function of everything it “is” to be black.

Taking on the belief, they look out in life and identify with experiences of “blacks”. They look at people attacking “blacks” and identify with the vulnerability of those being attacked. Identifying with that vulnerability, they get angry. Anger is a natural response to feeling vulnerable because vulnerability is decidedly not what any human is.

But the moment that vulnerability is embraced –– and it happens in milliseconds –– life experience begins reflecting that. Held onto long enough, life experience will reflect more and more overt experiences consistent with being vulnerable.

Until the person chooses a more empowering belief.

A personal example may clarify.

· · ·

We remember when very young, after our parents’ divorce, our “mother” moved us from California to the east coast. She needed support from her family as a single black mother of three boys. We (the we that is Perry) loathed that move. Our love of California was absolute. Leaving it filled us with resentment.

Arriving in Virginia, we were immediately treated poorly by people who looked like us. Our manner of speaking, our scholastic excellence, our west coast behavior attracted attention that was stark in comparison to how people who didn’t look like us –– “white people” –– treated us in California.

Thus anger, resentment, then fear and more vulnerability fomented in us. Did the life experiences generate the feelings and beliefs? Or vice versa? To gain clarity, lets back up a bit.

In California for a time we lived in a black community. Our family experience was not the best and so we developed beliefs quite consistent with being vulnerable and fearful. Taking those beliefs outside the house, we had met people who looked like us which reinforced those beliefs. We were bullied, got into fights, were attacked by dogs, etc.

There’s a saying: every old sock meets an old shoe. It applies to beliefs and experience: every belief will draw to it a corresponding experience.

Later, we moved to an all-white community as our prosperity increased. We felt relief leaving an environment we interpreted as hostile (not recognizing the connection between beliefs and reality).

There, we made friends. Everyone around us was “white”. Life got better. Our feelings of insecurity and fear soothed as our family situation improved. Or seemed like it. We were there long enough so that we developed a sense of peace, security and comfort, even as our parents’ relationship deteriorated.

When the divorce happened and it was clear we’d be moving, our old beliefs resurfaced. Landing in Virginia rekindled more underlying fears. Every old sock meets an old shoe: experiences with “black people” consistent with those beliefs returned.

We attempted to compensate becoming proficient in martial arts. It helped shift old beliefs into new more empowering ones. But the momentum of old beliefs weren’t done with us.

One day while delivering papers on our paper route, a gang of “black” youths cornered us in an apartment complex and attempted to rob us. We had no money, but the experience was insightful.

It wasn’t until three months ago (some 40-plus years later) that we saw how our beliefs created all our youth experiences, leaving us with a profound sense of empowerment.

What insight!

Recognizing how our beliefs created our life experiences inspired new possibilities in us.

Those possibilities implemented in the last five years leave us where we are today. Today where we no longer feel the need to identify with labels created by those seeking to soothe their insecurity by keeping us in our vulnerability.

We now look into the world through these insights. What we see are humans doing their best to make sense of a world around them, not understanding how much leverage they have over that world as an individual. So they join into groups and fight against that which they want changed, not knowing that in their fighting they are allying with their oppressor.

Again, we’re not saying don’t join groups and don’t work to change the status quo.

What we are saying is, individuals can be far more productive than they are when they assume identities (beliefs about themselves) that, paradoxically both give empowerment to the individual and legitimizes within the person their “less than” status.

We’ve noticed an interesting phenomena around this topic among transgender women of color and trans-attracted men of color. Before we detail the peculiarity, we’ll provide some context.

· · ·

Three years ago, we launched The Transamorous Network. It was an exploratory project. Through it we intended to help men who are attracted to transgender women and transgender women interested in having wholesome relationships with cis-men. We felt we could help soothe the struggle both parties have finding love in their lives.

Our own trans-attraction, and our struggle to find meaningful, wholesome relationships with transgender women legitimized our desire. We believed our approach, which has eliminated the struggle we experience through our trans attraction, could be helpful for others. Others who resonate with our message.

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A meme from our work at The Transamorous Network

Over the years we received emails from different kinds of people. Not just trans-attracted men, but women and transpeople wanting help. We consider these people, people who are attracted to transgender people, part of a “broadened” transgender community. All of them were relieved to find a website like ours, one that assures them their trans-attraction is wholesome and normal.

Not long after launching the website, we began interviewing people in this demographic on YoutTube and through a podcast. Then we began a Facebook Live show talking about more urgent issues our audiences was interested in from our unique perspective only.

From the beginning we’ve always approach each topic from the same accurate perspective. This perspective can be frightening and off-putting for people deeply immersed in the struggles of their lives. So we have some experience hearing the thoughts and beliefs people in the broader transgender community have about themselves, their struggles and why they think they struggle.

Curiously, a far larger share of men of color seem to comprise the population of trans-attracted males. In one private Facebook group of 100 such men, 60 of the men are men of color, for example.

When we look at that, we believe it represents an “entanglement” between male people of color and transgender people. But that’s another story.

Our perspective in our content is highly confronting to transgender and black people. What we are essentially saying is if you change how you think about yourself and your world, then take action from those new perspectives, your world will easily change. But if you try to change the world first, before changing the way you think about it, you are going to have a frustrating, painful and unhappy life experience.

The reason we believe this is so confronting to these two particularly oppressed groups is because they can not fathom that they are at the center of all they are experiencing. And, being in the center of it all, they have all the power to change their experience.

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Excerpt from a letter from a trans-attracted man.

Consider a person who believes in “man” and “woman” so deeply, the belief disappears into their consciousness, becoming simply “what is”. Then that person is confronted with what they see as a “man” who claims to be a “woman”. The dissonance, incredulity and shock of such an experience blows away this deeply held concept of life, even though life is sitting right there in front of their eyes, telling that person that their belief is too narrow as it regards human life.

Such a deeply intimate relationship between a person such as this and their belief can’t tolerate confrontation. The only response to such confrontation is retaliatory confrontation. Feeling intimate insecurity of a deeply held belief, this person will knee-jerkingly try to control the circumstance (the life experience) so that it reconforms to the belief.

When instead, the more simple, more powerful approach is to just change the belief.

We know. Easier said than done.

Well the same is true for a person whose deeply-held belief goes thusly:

“I am a single, vulnerable, fallible, mortal human being. Here for god knows what reason, in a physical world that is scary, upsetting and cruel. Sure there are moments of happiness, but on the whole this thing is a struggle. And the fact that my blackness/transness makes it so much more of a struggle is so unjust! What else am I to do about it???”

So when we suggest to a human to change your story and your life experience will change, and we offer evidence from our life, our clients’ lives and our colleague’s life demonstrating the accuracy of what we say, we get the same response from transgender people that blacks get from white supremacists and transgender people get from transphobic people (and that gay people get from homophobic people): They can’t even fathom the possibility that what we’re suggesting will work.

Transgender people and the people who love them, particularly trans-attracted people of color, are here as powerful examples to the rest of humanity. Part of them being here is to live their wonderful, joyful and convincing example of the farthest, further-forward-est edge of what it is to be human.

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Possibly the leading edge expression of humanity. (Photo: Jorge Saavedra)

But they also are here to demonstrate something to themselves. Like we were in our youth, many have temporarily forgotten to examine the beliefs in our backgrounds.

What’s great about this is the sweetness of the return to awareness is so directly proportionate with the amount time one is oblivious.

When we hear “social justice”, we think about the day when “the meek inherit the earth”: when those who appear to be oppressed realize they can at any moment turn the tide with but a thought, consistently applied. That’s what is happening underneath advances we are seeing in entertainment, business, politics and more. As more transgender people as individuals come into their own individual power, then decide to act from that, they change the entire world.

The same is true for ordinary individual black people.

And ordinary individual trans-attracted people.

The most powerful potential lies in transpeople of color. For they represent “both” “and”. What a powerful human combination.

Coming into the world for every human, was a decision you made in joy and eagerness. The world awaits the imprint you came to make upon it. We too are eager to see what you do as you explore who and what you are beyond what you think that to be.

 

 

 

 

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