A few months ago an article on the Native American concept of Two Spirits to describe transgender people enthralled me. One of the aspects that awed me was that they were well-regarded members of the community due to their unique perspective on gender and their ability to ‘meddle’ between the masculine and feminine worlds. I had heard my therapist saying something about my transition being a sort of gift, something that made me special instead of the freak I used to think I was. But I hadn’t fully understood her until that article got me thinking about gender, privilege and the potential of having two spirits.
There will always be a big difference between a cisgender man and a transgender one. A trans man remembers. It may hurt too much at first, when the path begins and one can only hope to leave all that behind and grab the sprouts of hope of a life as one’s true self. But with time, slowly, one remembers.
“Not long ago I was asked what privileges I thought I had gained by transitioning to male.”
Not long ago I was asked what privileges I thought I had gained by transitioning to male. Two memories flashed in my mind before I could even begin to articulate an answer. I remembered being seen as a girl when I walked alone, no, not a girl, a piece of meat, the perfect receptacle for all the bottled up lust of random guys on the street. I remember the rage, the fear that this one was not the average macho who felt satisfied by hooting some obscenities disguised as compliments, that this one may hurt me. Standing up to them anyway, as they just laughed. That doesn’t happen to me anymore, I told the people who asked me. That is privilege.
But a different memory was persistently poking my mind. The first time I realized a woman was scared of me walking behind her. It was a shock. I recognized her worry, the rushed steps, the side glancing. It felt so awkward, so wrong. I wanted to talk to her, to tell her I was incapable of hurting her and would never mean to. But I realized it would only frighten her more and I just crossed the street and got away fast, not even looking at her in a weird kind of reassurance. I have mastered the art of avoiding them when I walk at night or through deserted streets, to smile harmlessly and keep a distance that doesn’t threaten their personal space. It still feels pretty horrible, sometimes unfair, but I understand. I’ve been there.
Most gender issues arise from the fact that the other person hasn’t really been there and never will.
“Sometimes it is hard to relate to the person I used to be.”
But we have. Even if I know there has always been something primarily masculine about my spirit, I have lived as a woman, as a teen girl and a young lesbian. Sometimes it is hard to relate to the person I used to be. I feel so far away, nothing left unchanged. Nevertheless, she will always be part of the man I am. Those experiences, and that vision of the world, have shaped me as much as T has shaped my body and instincts.
Like Two Spirits from the past, I feel that we can make a difference in our communities with our unique perspective on gender and its roles. It is plain to see that things aren’t fair on either side of the binary. Couldn’t we help bridging the gaps to build a better future? It’s not always easy to release ourselves from cultural stereotypes of what men and women are supposed to be. But we are the deviants. Our simple existence has come to question them as the only choice. There is power in that. And as superheroes have taught us, great responsibilities come with it.