Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wounds Forgiven

By Aren

I read a book once with the title “All Our Wounds Forgiven,” and even though I liked the book, I didn’t really get the title. My brain kept trying to fix it: “All Our Wounds Healed,” or “All Our Sins Forgiven,” or something else entirely. But lately I’ve been realizing that I really, really need to have all my wounds forgiven.

I have a lot of sore spots around gender. I first noticed them when other people accidentally bumped into them—by calling me “she,” by assuming I was a dyke, by acting in general like the gender binary was true and made sense. I wish I could say that becoming aware of my own gender different-ness was innocent and gleeful, part of the natural explorations of a curious child. But really, I just kept feeling flashes of pain without knowing exactly why, like touching a bruise you can’t remember getting.

Eventually the flashes of white-hot pain got old. So I started trying to build some padding into my world. I envisioned a need for a bubble of space to protect me. I asked people not to use “she” or “her” to refer to me. I began to experiment with different, less-gendered spellings of my name, hoping they might give me more breathing room. When people didn’t respect my wishes or honor my choices (or even see why they should), I pushed the boundaries of my bubble even further. I gave Trans 101 trainings and hoped people would see the error in their ways. If they didn’t, I reasoned, at least I had given them a chance. I could now be free to hate and resent them as much as I wanted. And I often did—and do.

This is why I need my wounds forgiven. I need compassion for the fact that sometimes when I’m talking about gender, anger eclipses everything else. A friend once described me as reacting like a “gut-shot bear.” I liked the image even as I cringed at having it applied to me. Who wants to be a vicious bear, blinded with pain, roaring and raking their claws over anything and anyone foolish enough to wander within range?

Part of me wants to skip over the pain, the anger, and the hurt to some enlightened state of being where I love everyone regardless what they say or do to me in their gender ignorance. But deep down I know that isn’t possible. First, I probably need to accept that I am “wounded.” At some point, I will need to forgive myself for the harm I have done, automatically and reflexively, when some unlucky soul bumped into one of my wounds. After that, I’m not sure. If I don’t make it all the way to enlightenment, I’m at least hoping for some healing.

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