As a woo inclined psychedelic exploring imagineer and sci fi fan it can be hard for me to think of time as something that is neat enough to fit along a line. I understand it to be wibbly wobbly and one of the things that is actually more detailed and complex than our human brains have an easy time getting wrapped around.
While we have over the centuries devised systems like centuries and clocks and calendars and philosophies and eras to try and count and keep track of what has been and what is to become.
Prophets, astrologers; wise magi as they were add up the push and pull of planetary bodies to try to understand when it is that we are.
This year in the lead up to Trans Day of Remembrance I found out about and participated in this collaborative magical holding of our dead. I spent some time lighting fire, offering water and witting in a meditative prayer state. I cried. I wept for those we have lost. I wailed for the violent ends that too many of them experienced. I wept for those of us who can feel, between the weight of dysphoria and the pressures of an unwelcome society, on an edge of time.
Those of us whose liminal lives happen on knife’s edge. I wept for the children who will never know the struggle, or the secret hidden joys, of growing up into themselves.
I asked our dead what I could possibly do with this limited and liminal existence. If there were ways that I needed to be to make this grief and injustice driven pain more manageable.
The answer was clear to me.
Do your work child.
Make it real.
Tell your story as a part of this beautiful tapestry we make up.
And in this, counting and numbers be damned, I was also struck by this understanding of time and how trans resistance, resilience and identities fit into it all.
Trans people have been subjugated, repressed, and mistreated for really only the most recent chunk of human history, which when you look at time in a planetary or galactic sense, we are reminded that human history itself is pretty tiny. Leslie Fienberg explains in Transgender Warriors,
“…the oppression of women began with the cleavage of society into male-dominated classes based on private ownership of property and the accumulation of wealth.
I believe the same historic overthrow of communalism was also responsible for trans oppression.”
If you are wanting to explore this history more I highly recommend taking “the Burning Times Never Ended” with Rain Crow, she explores this and has expanded her course resources to include this text and contextualization of gender rebels in the content.
Around the world this process of division of classes of people and oppression and systems to protect private ownership has happened on different time lines, world wide, it’s happened gradually over the last couple thousand years. When considered in the larger time-line of human development, this misunderstanding of trans identities and treatment as outlaws, has only been happening for a small flash of time. Some anthropologists date “humans” as existing and using tools and organizing in complex groups somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 years. Squishing the low number into a one year comparison (as is done in the cosmic year linked above) we can understand capitalism, oppressive class structures, violent police states, slavery and private ownership to be an incredibly hard last week in the year, where the other 51 weeks were relatively co-operative in comparison.
The ancestors from that other 90% of human experience, as well the much older planet itself and the many longer established species that also demonstrate persistent presence of diversity of sex and gender presentations/experience all come from a position wherein we are a part of the big picture, a beautiful component of diversity.
The haters are outnumbered.
We have a really long history, from before we even really started trying to keep track of such things that includes a wide range of rebels, resisters, organizers, artists, speakers, visionaries, prophets, healers and ceremony holders.
Some of the folks in our lineage would back away from associating with us if time were bent for us to co-exist in time. For some, their survival and safety hid in the promises of divide and conquer- hide and conform to survive. I wish to acknowledge those folks and their work, as well as others who may have confusing or unsavoury aspects to their stories. That’s sort of the thing about humans- especially humans in struggle- we aren’t flawless, any of us. And knowing that one of the things that gets wrinkled beyond recognition when we bend time is the words to stories translated from languages short on comprehensive descriptors.
As registrations have been rolling in for Resilience Building for Trans Folks and Our Allies, one of my favourite parts has been reading the responses that learners have given to this question:
What is your gender?
Use as many words as needed.
The answers that have come through have reinforced to me that we are in a spectacularly beautiful place on this time line/corkscrew/vortex/story/etc. The complexity of ourselves and our beautiful diversity is kaleidoscoping its way back towards the old story, the one where we all exist and are celebrated in our ways.
We exist in all places. All times.
Our stories borrow words from those whose shoulders our work stands on. We add the words together with poetic concepts, metaphors and question marks.We hold room for each others answers to change, grow and evolve.
This graceful shift is happening at a time space crux point where it seems unclear how the human story may continue. Or if it may end. Climate change and economic systems collapse are starting to get more people thinking more seriously about if humans will survive and how.
The time is crunchy. We know that we need solutions that are more complex and quick and effective than it seems there is really room in time space to come up with. We need thinkers who are adept at thinking off the line, out of the box and beyond the limits of our current paradigm.
I think I know just the folks. And I want to do everything I can to make the world more hospitable, supportive and celebratory to ensure that the visionaries we need survive to bring their work to the world.