The Tree That Would be a Bridge

A tale of self-sacrifice.

Once upon a time, there lived a tree.

This tree grew up like any other tree.

Her roots planted firmly into the ground,

She grew up tall and she grew up right,

And took in each day and absorbed all its light,

Casting shadows, where her fruit fell,

To feed the creatures at night.

But this tree was special,

She saw things a bit differently,

Like you and me, this tree could see,

And she knew an important thing.

She wasn’t the only tree in the world,

There were others, so many others.

She was happy for the few that surrounded her,

Even though they were very different from her.

But so many were on the other side of the creek,

And many, she saw, looked just like her.

“Other trees like me,” she thought,

Stretching her branches wide.

When she noticed across the river,

On the other side, those other trees who looked..

Like her, did the same.

It took some time, trees are very slow,

And very patient, but she raised her branches,

Stretching them tall, and to her amazement,

So did they all.

This repeated for days until finally,

She thought, “I must meet them.”

And began an arduous plot,

She would stretch her branches every day,

Reaching, slowly but surely, to meet them.

Season after season passed, as bit by bit,

She made her way across the creek.

Until suddenly, she felt a sharp pain in her trunk,

And everything went dark.

Other, strange looking trees came,

With their axes and saws,

Uprooting the tree, cut without flaw.

She was aware of it all, aware the whole time.

And there really isn’t an appropriate rhyme,

To convey the horror of this crime.

But, the tree thought,

As she was reshaped into a bridge,

And stretched across the creek,

To help others live,

“There are worse fates for a tree,

than being a bridge.”

And in the fall, when the fruits and leaves,

Of the other trees like her covered her completely,

Like a warm blanket, she felt her wish came true.

And the bridge lived happily ever after.

As for those other strange trees that moved over her, they lived less happily, but the bridge was happy to help them move across the creek, as she had so desperately wanted.

Roots: Orientation

An exploration of the interplay between identity & orientation.

Sexuality is a complex, personal thing.

We have many concepts to describe it and varying aspects of orientation.

People tend to have incredibly deep, personal feelings tied to their understanding of their own sexuality/orientation and thus project those feelings on to others when semantic interplay takes place between those terms as we intermingle in society.

This is an especially complex, personal matter when it comes to interplay with transgender people.

For us, traditional ways of thinking about our concepts of orientation just don’t fit. No matter how hard you try to shove us into whatever box you might like to shove us into, we just don’t fit.

I’m personally fed up with extremist views on anything to do with the whole semantic argument that springs forth from this complex interplay.

Everyone has it wrong.

Let me explain the conflict as I see it. One group believes that sexuality is tied irrevocably to chromosomal sex. Another believes that sexuality is tied irrevocably to gender identity. A third believes that sexuality is tied irrevocably to phenotype/secondary-sex characteristics. A fourth believes it’s tied irrevocably to genitalia. And there are many varying degrees of belief in between, with huge amounts of conflict between each and every one.

Simply in reading that description, I hope you begin to get a picture of the myriad of ways people perceive constitutes orientation.

Extremists in every grouping assign absolute truth values to their way of understanding these words and it’s causing a cacophony of conflict which, in my view, is almost completely unnecessary as one will realize if they step back and detach their beliefs and emotions from the conflict.

Once, I believed that orientation was tied to identity. That sexuality was like a light switch turning on/off on the basis of identity. If a man were dating a man and one of them transitioned, each would become straight or the relationship could never work.

I was wrong to think that way, and I see many people in the world today making the same mistakes, or even worse mistakes. It’s deeply frustrating for me.

This exact conflict manifests in other areas too, such as family/community life and it’s such a great and unnecessary burden for all people to be carrying as I see it.

To explain, let me talk about one of my favorite films. “Normal” (which is also a play by the same name, but I’ve only seen the film) it is about a trans woman who transitions late in life after marrying a woman and having two children. As you might imagine, it’s an incredibly complex and emotional affair.

There’s a great deal of conflict over identity represented in the film as each family/community member struggles with coming to terms with what her transition means for them. And of course the audience is part of the experience too. We are also challenged to consider what these conflicts mean to us as well.

Sexuality is never explicitly discussed in the film, but what would you make of that if you were these characters? Put yourself into the shoes of the trans woman’s wife. Consider all the emotion; the attachment to decades of knowing someone, and knowing yourself through them suddenly in flux. What does that do to you? Does it change you too?

One has to wonder how a woman who’s mothered two children and carries this mountain of emotion could ever manage to find balance again. And sadly, many real people in situations like this don’t. It can truly cause families and relationships to fall apart. Transitioning truly can wreak havoc on your circumstances as you change and adapt to reality and reality adapts to you.

But balance is possible to find. I’ll be spoiling the film here, so skip this section if you’d like to see it for yourself.

Things work out for the family in spite of *many* awkward challenges. They hold themselves together by respecting one another and giving each other space to adapt and grow together. We see them all, slowly but surely come to terms with one another and themselves. Several years of transition are shown as the main character transitions. Her wife struggles deeply, but in the end maintains love for a woman who she still sees as her husband in spite of her new identity. Her kids struggle too, but in the end find a similar happy balance in their dad becoming a woman. Nothing else changes or has to change, it may be confusing to other people but it works for them and that’s all that matters.

At the end of the film they are depicted happily sharing in mundane conflicts, two women, a husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. It’s a very happy ending for them. Perhaps it wouldn’t be for you, but it is for them.

What that balance looks like is again, a deeply complex, personal, emotional affair. What would you be if your partner transitioned? What would your parent be to you if they transitioned? What if how you saw them hurt them? Would you change for them? I could go on and on with the questions, but the point is to paint a picture of how utterly challenging and personal it all is.

It’s far too much so for any one ideology to ever wrap itself around. People have been forming cults/religions centered around their beliefs of the absolute “Truth” about their understandings of the answers to these questions and again I maintain, everyone is wrong.

But also I’d say, everyone is right.

Every ideology has a little piece of the truth and all would assign absolute truth values to it, but they’re all wrong to do so even though their truth is indeed truth. My deepest wish is that everyone might stop trying to shove theirs down the throats of others.

Because, let me tell you.. I’ve known straight women, lesbians, and straight/gay men alike who have all dated trans women. Every one of these configurations has made perfect sense to me, because I see the full complexity of the trans experience and I know that none of it is black and white. I know how complex and personal it is. I do not judge any of them for how they understand themselves, and I believe that doing so is a truly horrible thing for anyone to do for any reason.

Orientation, be it sexual orientation or familial orientation, is a deeply complex and personal interplay between external and internal realities. I’m sure I sound like a broken record at this point, so I’ll reveal now that’s the truth I’ve been trying to sell you on all along; a broader way to look at the realities of the transgender experience.

When we see it this way, we begin to wonder, what exactly has everyone on social media been so angrily arguing about for decades now? Trans people are just people living out their lives, seeking balance for themselves and their families. Happiness and self-content are about all that most any of us want. We want to feel right with ourselves and find balance between ourselves and the world.

It’s difficult enough to do that without all these wild ideas interceding as ideologues attempt to shove their views down your throat every day. Why everyone is so obsessed with this is beyond me. Your obsession really shows us more about you than it does anyone else. Why are you so obsessed with controlling language? Who made you the arbiter of others realities?

For me, orientation and the descriptors thereof constitute inviolable personal boundaries for me. These boundaries, like all boundaries, are no one else’s to control. This should be a non-issue but it seems to constitute about 90% of the arguments over orientation on social media. It’s all very pointless if only we respect each other’s boundaries.

What does have a point, the 10% of conversation around this, comes from anxiety over what all of this complexity means when it comes to sharing spaces with one another. Those are concerns I do understand. To those I’d ask everyone to give some thought.

Would a trans only space be okay to create? I think most of my trans siblings would agree yes. But would a cis only space? I think most might react very differently. If separate spaces are okay to create, then also we should ask why are they necessary? What is their utility? There’s a lot of complex, productive conversation we can have have around this, but it’s counterproductive and often dehumanizing to focus in on challenging one’s personal boundaries and understanding of themselves.

Personally, neither of the segregated space possibilities bothers me as long as the point of the space is just for people with similar preferences to come together and isn’t for gathering into separate tribes and commiserate in hatred of the group that’s not welcome. All I’d say in either case that matters is that the preference is well-advertised so that no one steps on anyone else’s toes.

Most spaces, I’d hope would be advertising themselves as all-inclusive. I see the need for separate spaces in many instances but I don’t at all believe this separation should be all-encompassing as some people seem to believe.

At any rate, moving forward I hope we’ll see a lot more discussion around respect for one another in these areas. Productive conversation; that sees all the nuance of the broader reality we all occupy together. We need to get out of these black and white conflicts over orientation and break free into colorful conversation on how to best find mutual respect for each other’s boundaries and strike a balance together in society that leaves no one in the margins.

We’re all integral characters to this story we call society together, let’s start acting like it and build our way to happy endings.

Someone

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.

We are all Dysphoria

Trapped together alone

Forever in atonement

For what we only know

They say my body is me

Searching for a soul

Lost on the highways

Plowing through our homes

At once, we are ancients

Of tales untold before

Greatness unbecoming

For one such a bore;

With selves who’re not

And selves whoever are

Afraid to be becoming

Hopelessly bound to bars;

Imprisoned by reality

With billions of dying selves,

Locked in loops eternally,

Just bodies shedding cells

As cages of emotion

Hold on to every one

In lost minds wondering,

Who could Euphoria become?

No One

A helpful and compassionate poem.

Erase me, baby..

I need to be gone,

Define me out of here

Don’t let it take long

Say it never happened

Break me before it’s real

Shove it down my throat

You can take it from here..

Project yourself into me

Take what you know is yours

Every word that describes me

Those are words you need more;

Control is all your’s, daddy..

We all know what it’s like too

When you lose it, don’t worry,

No one will be here for you.

Astral Projection

“Youth without youth, born without time, youth without youth, can you read my mind?”

Why do we look to the stars,

When we could look to ourselves,

For answers unringed from our furtive bells?

Externally valid in our navigating–

Our selves stay at home, hidden awaiting,

Bodies in spaces where no one is screaming,

We cling to Orion’s belt, foiled and seething;

Desperate, we seek our forsaken divine,

Lost to the ebb and flowing of time.

Until at last we fall from this grace,

Embalmed with dirt masking a face–

Self-service eroded by forward procedure,

We’ll keep looking on, when no one is here;

Burnt away in life’s fortune and flames,

Wandering hollow with forgotten names,

We’ll look to the stars reflected in the mere,

Without ever knowing we’ve always been there.

Realitea

“..where stars make dreams, and dreams make stars.”

Nothing’s harder to fix

Than broken people,

Fallen from beginnings yearning–

Never together in the first place,

But always fools will be cunning

As others are shamed for our shortcomings

And those awful, awe filled memories

Drunken in certain flaw filled teas;

But what do we do without

Maps to our properties?

When trauma roots itself in

How do we repair the lonely

One never known beyond

“Me, me, me,” in spite of you

And “You, you, you” in spite of you

We pour our hearts out in spite of you

As we project our spite of ourselves

Look up there on the silver screen

Touched with your light as it plays the scene

Of failures fixed on fermented fruits

Wrapped in lies we can’t stop growing

With every ticket sold at the booth.

Overgrowth

“We are, I am, you are, by cowardice or courage, the one who find our way back to this scene carrying a knife, a camera, a book of myths, in which our names do not appear.”

– Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck

Here’s another Garden

Another Well lying, unfalsifiably deep,

Overflowing.. Trickling drops roll

Down the mossy cobblestone

Absorbed whence they came,

Back, into the dark ground

Refreshing dying weeds,

Brambles, and that single

Gnarled tree, still fruitless.

What happened here?

I wonder, as the Well erupts

Some invisible force propels me

To the brink, to drink, drink, drink,

Absorbed whence I came, refreshing

Dying gods and monsters, black arms

Drawing me back into the dark.

All the answers are here, I’m certain

If only I dive deeply enough,

I might find the source, and link it

Might I bring it back to my Garden,

The one that isn’t dead, the one

That little girl frolicked freely through,

Unconcerned with evaporation,

The one never neglected, never decayed;

No overgrown invaders deeply rooted

Into impassable walls of thorns..

Choking, gasping toxic air, I find myself

In another Garden, but not the Garden;

Not the one left behind, nor sought,

Under another sky, some new place

Where the Well still lingers,

Consuming time, space, and matter

What is my purpose? It erupts again,

With it, memories of that day she climbed,

Reached for the fruit, and fell

Fingers clenched to that bell-shaped prize.

Back again, I feel the impact of the fall

But not the fruit it was worth..

Sorrow without joy; Doubt without

Certainty; A woman without fruit

In a Garden without life, drowning

Wishing for death, if only for the weeds..

I tear at them furiously, every root pulled

Leaves behind seeds for a hopeless future

Without space to grow, but I keep going

I stop looking to the Well for answers,

And work, though I know not what I do,

A Garden becomes a Wasteland,

Just dirt, the Well, the tree, and me

Where I carve these words, humbly

And offer my fruit to the tree.

Lying Lights

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

Electric glow

Burning on,

It’s no longer dark

Before any dawn,

Take me out too

To these worlds beyond

Where nobody’s hollow,

Where we can all belong,

Where we’ll all follow,

Twisted and shaped:

With certainty swallowed

Through troughs of our hate.

Confirm us, absorb us

Oh Light, won’t you turn us?

Lift us out of this hell

And make us, not spurn us?

When you ring the voltaic bell–

Will it fill us with certainty?

Not doubt, not sorrow,

But safety and security?

We’ll make believe in you

If you show us a way to be

And we’ll dance together

Lost lovers in empathy

Gone, like evening suns

Sorrowful, lonesome, afraid

When these lying lights go out

And truth finds us in the shade.