My Delightful Publisher
I’m a paid part-time writer for a sex positive website in India. Much of the culture there is typically very repressive so my publisher is swimming upstream. She’s also trying to get a foothold in US culture because we’re sort of the cultural leader and also where the money is. She’s diligently working on improving her understanding of the problems we face here in the US, as to sexuality, gender etc. We ended up in an email exchange as to what repressed or suppressed people need most.
I think most of the focus is on celebrating what might be possible. For example, before Tumblr became bland, many of the trans girls I mentor(ed) would celebrate posting sexy pictures of lovely trans girls enjoying their sexuality and being not just tolerated but celebrated.
But, there’s also the need to sometimes talk openly to someone who cares, listens and understands. I like posting sexy pictures of myself and if that inspires anyone, then I’m glad, but I also have found that listening is a way in which I can add a tremendous amount of value that’s doubly appreciates when someone is in pain and pouring their heart out.
Self-Acceptance vs. Self-Punishment
The biggest hurdle for me was self-acceptance of who I am. I was only too keen to accept that there was something wrong with me, that’s why I felt like a girl mentally & emotionally even though based on my plumbing I was supposed to mentally & emotionally be like a male. I tried hard and failed, and I was very hard on myself.
I observe this self-punishment in many of my friends in the BDSM and/or LGBTQ commuities. We accept the cultural negativity of our worst critics, and we blend that with defense mechanisms, so many of us suffer from serious secondary challenges such as chemicals, whether alcohol or otherwise.
Most of our self-explorations are very halting and hesitant. We feel, and are, very vulnerable as we explore who we are, always cringing at the boot of authoritarian criticism that’s ready to descend to crush our hopes and dreams, telling us that society hates us, God hates us, our families hate us. It’s a complex maze for us to work to avoid all this negativity to actually even get a glimpse of who we are.
Many of my friends have tattoos, piercings and wild hair, as if to say to authoritarian critics: “I repudiate your conservatism so if you wanna hate me here, let me pile on some reasons by your superficial standards since based on my deeper values you’re my adversary anyway.”
At its worst, BDSM and/or LGBTQ folks, myself included, face a complex problem in which we crave to be happy and accepted as who we are, but we feel hopeless to get there, so when someone celebrates the happiness that’s supposedly available to us, it has a negative effect because the person feels “but that’s not for me.” It’s like someone depressed hiding in her dark bedroom, and the bright sunshine outside wouldn’t become any more tempting if it were brighter yet.
The key bridge to help people cross is to where they can feel: “wow, I might actually be able to experience that.”
Imagine what it’d be like to be totally unashamed and living one’s life not as an artificial counterpoint to the negativity of conservative repressive culture, but objectively joyous as if that negativity doesn’t even register on one’s personal radar screen except as a mild problem to be avoided, like taking an extra-long stride once to step over some dog poo in the way.
As an example, imagine being a trans girl and telling one’s partner, parents, work environment, friends:
Well, it turns out that the most likely explanation why I’ve always felt like a girl mentally and emotionally is because brain-wise, I basically am. I’ve been miserable all these decades trying to pretend otherwise, and that stops today. I intend to go live the rest of my journey as the woman I am. If that’s a journey on which you’d like to go along, great — I value you in my life, and I appreciate your support.
But, I’m no longer waiting. I’ve already lost far too much time. In the beginning, for me, everything will feel awkward and new. What most girls experience when 13 or so, I’ll be experiencing as an adult. It’ll be very hard for me but I have one life to live, so I’m going for it in full confidence in the rectitude of my right to live as who I am. If being with me is hard because I look like some sort of peculiar male-female blend, then feel free to avoid me, but know that for me it’s much harder yet. For me to know I’m visually peculiar by general standards, and yet choosing to go out as such — that’s me overcoming fear, me being brave. You can support me, oppose me, avoid me, abandon me, whatever you like. That’s your decision.
Mine is to live the truth, and every day I’ll get better to where eventually I won’t feel like an ugly freak but I’ll be proud and happy. I’m giving you the opportunity to see the caterpillar become a butterfly, but I have finite time and energy so I’m not dragging you along, resisting. I understand it’s hard for you but it’s harder for me. i’m not asking your permission, I’m just providing you with information. So decide what you wanna do.
Me, I’m proceeding at full speed.
Although it wasn’t that simple, and I had many setbacks, that’s pretty much how I approached it.
I felt beyond hideous but I powered through, and the courage of knowing I’m doing the right thing … that was immensely empowering.
For example, one day I was walking into the local Walgreens and some asshole teenagers were outside nearby, snickering and making nasty remarks about me. I paused, turned and walked directly toward them and said, essentially: “So, I’m observing your laughing and comments. Perhaps you’d like to elaborate.” I like the scene in Hunt for Red October where the submarine intentionally veers full speed into a dangerous torpedo and destroys it.
Confidence … it makes all the difference. If that’s what I can help spread, for people who are doing the right thing, then my life is being lived in support of a worthy cause.