The Right to Dream: Defying a Kafkaesque society

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

Transpeople are a people of dreams.  I’m convinced of that, even if many transpeople I know have shut themselves off from their dreams.  Doing so is a mistake.  Some of us awakened to our trans nature through dreams because, if we listen to them and understand them rightly, they don’t lie.  In fact a Jewish maxim says, “A dream is one-sixtieth part of prophecy.”1

More than that, dreams should be cherished and cultivated.  This may be difficult for some people to understand because most people think that a dream is something you have, not something you do.  But working with dreams can be richly rewarding, offering greater meaning to life as a whole.  As a result, they contribute to our overall health.

Society has long repressed our capacity to dream, delegating them to something laughable.  When Simon and Garfunkel sang, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls,” exactly who were the prophets?  Weren’t they the voices of the inner personae struggling to find expression in a Kafkaesque society that delegates those voices to the most banal and impoverished blight?2  When we ignore that voice, it may surface in a nightmare one may not successfully shake.  How then, should we make friends with this voice and tap into its creative energy?

 

THE DREAM GENERA

Years ago when I wrote The Téssara, I developed my philosophy within a theory of dreaming and priestly practices.  The Téssara was never released to the market in its full form, largely because its esoteric aspects were overly substantive.  But in that book I cataloged 40 species of dream mechanisms in 5 genera:

  1. Hypnagogia: dream phenomena occurring prior to entry into Stage I sleep
  2. REM: dream phenomena occurring during the final stage of sleep associated with Rapid Eye Movements
  3. Trance: dream phenomena when engaged in waking but altered states of awareness with eyes closed
  4. Eidetic: dream phenomena when awake and eyes open
  5. Comatose: a loosely defined genus mostly consisting of phenomena during comatose conditions and at sleep stages not normally associated with dreams.3

Some of these terms may be completely new to some people, especially if they have grown up with the belief that dreams only happen during REM sleep.  They clearly aren’t so restricted.  In fact, Sigmund Freud wrote about hypnagogic (sleep admitting) dreams in his monumental work The Interpretation of Dreams and quoted a series of experiments by F.M.A. Maury pertaining to the incubation of hypnagogic dreams.  Incubation is the practice of inducing a particular theme in a dream through some kind of stimulus.4

Trance states are most commonly encountered through transcendental meditation but also include such phenomena as guided imagery, psychometry, mediumistic and shamanic trance states, and certain forms of pathworking.5

Eidetic phenomena are more widely reported in children than adults, the latter of which only 12% report.  It consists of actually seeing images in the visual field when one thinks a certain way.  Skrying, hypnapompic (sleep dismissing) imagery, visions in ritual work, tulpas, and the “Sorcerer’s Dream” are all eidetic phenomena.6

Those of the Comatose group include night terrors, eroto-comatose lucidity, hyperventilative lucidity, and the near death experience.7

 

FACING THE DREAM

Two things prevent many transpeople from giving attention to their dream lives: (1) a general lack of motivation to dream due to obsession with daily affairs and (2) a basic fear of dreams that they would only be nightmares instead.  Of these, the second is the one less prone to remedy because fear can become the greatest of all obsessions that choke out natural innocence.  The dreamworker is an intrepid soul, one who has learned not to “crap out” when faced with the “shadows of the night.”

A shadow figure may appear for good reason and a dreamer would be amiss to ignore it.  Psychologist M.L. von Frantz described the shadow as representing, “little known attributes and qualities of the ego aspects” belonging to one’s own “personal sphere” that may take a life of sorts.  In other words, it could “just as well be conscious.”8

The shadow sounds like a demon and in a personal level that’s exactly what it is, though not a demon in the same way as one might encounter through a Goetic treatise like the Greater Key of Solomon.9 The shadow personifies one’s dark side that must be faced, at times fight, and at times embrace.  It is, after all, one’s dark side, and in its strange way is close to God.

 

GETTING IN TOUCH

Virtually everyone has dreams and those who think they don’t simply don’t remember them.  Dreams have an effervescent quality that could dissipate into forgetfulness as soon as someone looks for a claw hammer to smash the alarm clock to smithereens in the morning.  Remembering requires attention, even mindfulness.

 Nothing cultivates this better than a simple dream diary assisted with a few pages on a clipboard with some key points of a dream jotted down immediately upon waking and reviewed the next day.  Those jottings jog the memory and aspects of the dream return.  Further details reveal themselves when the dreamer “fleshes out” the story in the dream diary.

The dreams most easily observed are hypnagogic dreams. Encountering hypnagogic dreams are easier than you might think.  This writer became aware of them in 1972 by accident when falling into slumber after returning home from school and noting the time on the clock.  Then, realizing a dream had taken place, I looked again at the clock and saw that only 2 minutes had passed.  If dreams happen only in REM sleep and it takes maybe 90 minutes to get to the point of REM sleep, why did that dream happen in those 2 minutes?

So after repeating the event several times, I compiled a list of 18 such dreams of short duration and brought them to school the next day.  An classmate in Biology class claimed dreams only happen in REM.  I disputed this and produced those 18 dreamlets as examples.  The instructor seized the opportunity and began to coach us in dream interpretation, something that would also assist me in literary interpretation.  After all, our literatures not only begin with experiences in waking and with philosophic perspectives but also begin with our dreams.

Once one learns to recognize a hypnagogic dream, one can go the next step: choosing a dream subject.  This is surprisingly easy to do.  Simply hold a thought about the subject one may choose to dream while entering that “fuzzy state” between waking and sleep and the dream will assimilate the subject the dreamer holds in his thoughts.  This is incubation of hypnagogic dreams and can lead to other methods of incubation as well.

Something else happens when one takes on such exercises.  As one works with hypnagogic dreams, dreams in REM also start to come alive.  Within a couple of weeks, a dream life can reveal its richness even after years of silencing through inattentiveness.

 

MOVING TOWARD LUCIDITY

Of course it’s pointless to simply see dreams happening.  We must also understand and transcend them.

Left to themselves, dreams recall memory traces and resort them based upon emotional tags via the hippocampus.10 This sorting and resorting of information helps to keep the cerebrum relatively compact.  In comparison, the echidna, an animal that does not dream, requires a proportionately much higher ratio than human brains in the size of its cerebrum in comparison with other brain structures.11

Those emotional tags imbue memory traces with energy that become a big factor in why certain memory traces get recalled as numinous dream elements at any stage of life.  If those energies resonate with an emotionally charged issue, even if immediately hidden, it could jar the dreamer into emotional shock.  This return, called “regression” (literally a reversal of synapses from the motor faculties to the perceptual to return memory traces to the Preconscious) forms the core of Freudian theory with respect to dreams.  When Freud described this in The Interpretation of Dreams, he achieved something monumental.  He established a workable theory that still resonates today, a theory that set him apart from the oneirocrits of antiquity.12

But apart from working through issues with a psychiatrist, what can the dreamer do to overcome the issues he faces?  Enter lucid dreaming.

Lucidity is a state in which a dreamer is no longer bound by the dream.  He realizes in a dream that he is, in fact, in a dream and is fully awake within the dream.  The dreamer realizes some starkly exciting changes in the dreamscape.  The dream becomes intensely lifelike, even luminous.  The dreamer is free to consciously explore the dreamscape and dream scenario, doing as he wishes.  He can rationally overcome shadowy elements in his dream.  The experience is like walking through a motion picture screen and living what’s on the other side in stark 3-dimensional clarity.13

Lucidity can be achieved in REM by declaring, “I’m dreaming!”  The dreamer may repeat this, with the clarity associated with lucidity responding accordingly.14

A dreamer can also achieve lucidity from hypnagogic episodes.  In one common technique, the dreamer must quickly find his dream hands.  One may encounter a surge of energy by doing so.  But the dream can also be sustained by taking quick glances to various objects in the dreamscape and back to the hands.  This has the effect of stabilizing the dream in full lucidity and, at the same time, extending the life of the dream to the duration of dreams in REM sleep.  But this happens directly from waking.15

 

BENEFITS OF CONNECTING WITH THE DREAM

For all their zaniness, few things inspire as much as a dream; and as many as embrace their dreams may awaken to the greater Dream.  Dreams not only offer immense creative potential and can promote health, they also raise philosophical questions of their own, questions which address life’s meaning.

One of those questions pertains to the soul.  The soul, beyond being a blend of body and breath as a link to consciousness, can hardly be demonstrated to one lacking experience.  It’s like trying to prove the existence of God with theorems or the blueness of the sky to a man blind from birth: a fruitless exercise.

However, the experience of lucidity and the explorations implied thereby raise the issue of the soul all over again.  When engaging in practices like pathworking, rising through the planes and entering levels beyond astral projection, one encounters states beyond those reminiscent of Alice Through the Looking Glass.16 Different levels seem to operate by different rules.  One also encounters the flow of energy from a higher unity to lower plurality.

It’s reminiscent of Schopenhauer’s unitary description of the noumenon.17 Ever since Parmenides filled the Greek world with the Eleatic idea of everything being an ultimate unity, philosophers have pondered the differences between things that are (noumenal) and things as they appear (phenomenal).18

It also addresses the state of the person whose consciousness penetrates to higher levels.  Kabbalists refer to this differing state in terms of the soul as an inductive realization in 3 basic levels.

The first, a nefesh, consists of the union of a body or a corpse (gūf) with breath or “spirit” (ruach).  At death the nefesh no longer exists.

The second, (ruach), pertains not only to breathing, but the faculties of thought and consciousness which may be expressed or continue in a neutralized state.  In lucidity, thought is cultivated in a fully conscious manner.  By exercising lucidity, the ruach strengthens.

But the ruach, when it faces the unity of the noumenon, must undergo a further change.  This is what Kabbalists call the “neshamah.”  Kabbalah addresses this neshamah in 3 ways:

  1. A lesser neshamah in which the greater neshamah builds understanding of the noumenon;
  2. A chiah in which life faculties become subjugated to a singularity;
  3. A yechidah which alone unites with that noumenal unity and is itself actually that unity because no “one and another” exists in a state of pure unity.19

The yechidah reaches a state that might be thought of as reaching the door of the cave in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in Book VII of The Republic.20 When approaching the soul this way, the realization thereof isn’t deduced from another principle.  It’s an inductive approach based upon powerful experiences.  While experiences don’t prove anything to the next person, it’s a different matter when those powerful experiences are your own.

In the process, issues of ethics become important in ways one may not have previously considered.  Ethics become facilitating energies that enable one to reach higher.  In this context, things like charity, sacrifice, faith, and hope become ethical acts and virtues that do more than just keeping people out of jail.  They’re rewards not comprehended by those who fear their dreams.

For those who pray, those prayers can also become vehicles of transcendence.  The dream with a negative energy will burst when the dreamer prays.  But the dream with a positive energy will intensify instead.  The prayer becomes the teacher.21

 

THE BIRTHRIGHT

Like it or not, humans are dreamers.  It’s our right to dream, not by decree but by birthright.  It’s a birthright full of a sacred responsibility to defy a society that diminishes their import and delegates them to silence.  That’s no less true for transpeople whose dreams awakened us to our gender issues.  We can fear them.  We can cultivate them.  Only the latter yields benefits.

In understanding them we need to respect them as we would any teacher, knowing that the rewards are more favorable than consequences of resistance.  The fountain of creativity lies deep within us all and that fountain must be honored for it to flow freely as a blessed source of refreshment and life.

That also inspires us to honor others with respect.  When anyone dies, an inner universe literally dies with him.  How much could we preserve the enrichment of our people if we honor those who embody those worlds?

But if we should do that, we must first respect our own inner universe and listen to its messages those dreams teach.

 

Honor your dream,

And if you do,

Your dream will be waiting

There for you. 

It will.

It will.

It will.

It will.

_________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  Titania and Bottom in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, detail of a painting by Edwin Landseer (Wikimedia Commons) with a lucid dreamscape (Flickr).  The star points toward the white rabbit which has been a symbol of natural innocence since time immemorial and revived by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland.

  1. Berachot 57b, Mishnah
  2. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. “The Sound of Silence” YouTube (posted by Jack Lim July 20, 2013 with lyrics, accessed December 12, 2017) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–DbgPXwLlM.
  3. Stuart, Lynnea Urania. Hiereika, Ch. 3, Téssara (2008,book not to be released before the death of the author) No ISBN. p. 121, 122.
  4. Freud, Sigmund. “The Interpretation of Dreams” com (Online English version, Chapter 1C accessed December 12, 2017) https://genius.com/Sigmund-freud-the-interpretation-of-dreams-chap-1c-annotated
  5. Op. cit, pp. 130-135.
  6. Ibid, pp. 135-138.
  7. Ibid, pp. 138-141.
  8. Jung, C.G. Man and His Symbols (Laurel Books, Dell Publishing, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., NY, 1968) ISBN: 0-440-35183-9, p. 174.
  9. Mathers, S.L. Macgregor. The greater Key of Solomon (Digireads, 2007) ISBN-13: 978-1420928181.
  10. Erin J. Wamsley, Ph.D. and Robert Stickgold, Ph.D. “Memory, Sleep and Dreaming: Experiencing Consolidation” NCBI (March 6, 2011, accessed December 13, 2017) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079906/.
  11. Robert Kanigel. “Understanding Dreams the Work We Do as We Sleep” Washington Post (February 8, 1987, accessed December 13, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1987/02/08/understanding-dreams-the-work-we-do-as-we-sleep/445125c2-77f2-49f2-9ca4-9812dc2eda68/?utm_term=.39a4df04f639.
  12. Michael, Michael T. Freud’s Theory of Dreams: A Philosophico-Scientific Perspective (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) ISBN-13: 978-1442230453, p. 52
  13. Waggoner, Robert. Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2008) ISBN 1609255399, p. 6.
  14. The author relies upon her own experience, but this is also recorded by various dreamworkers including Le Berge.
  15. A process LeBerge described as “Waking Induction of Lucid Dreams” but is also described in various publications by Carlos Castaneda. Rebecca Turner. “Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (The MILD Technique)” The World of Lucid Dreaming (n.d., accessed August 2, 2017) http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/mnemonic-induction-of-lucid-dreams.html.
  16. Carroll, Lewis. Alice Through the Looking Glass ( Lot 17 Media, 2017) ISBN-13: 978-1537859699.
  17. Beiser, Frederick C. Weltschmerz: Pessimism in German Philosophy, 1860-1900 (Oxford, 2016) ISBN-13: 978-0191081347, p.. 247.
  18. Parmenides 129, 130.
  19. The author relies upon her own interaction with Kabbalists concerning these aspects.
  20. Republic 514-517.
  21. The author relies upon her own experience here.
Please follow and like us:
0

Rites of Passage: Welcoming New Trans Friends

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

Rites of passage seem like a silly affair to many people.  They certainly can be, unless they awaken to deeper, transcendental truths concerning one’s identity and existence.  When it comes to welcoming new transpeople to the “tribe”, few have welcomed with any kind of rite.  They can be as simple or as ornate as you wish.

Welcoming rites have been alleged to have taken place in New York City before Stonewall.  There are many ways to conduct such rites and there’s no right or wrong to it so long as they don’t rely upon hazing or anything that would cause public humiliation.  Instead, what matters is to provide what’s the most meaningful experience to the person you want to welcome to the “tribe”, something to which they can look upon later in life and smile.

Most of us didn’t have the benefit of such a welcoming rite.  Not everyone would find such a rite useful.  Those who may benefit from such a rite are those with convictions concerning trans identity but who still question what it all means.  For such people, a rite of passage can fixate truths from which the neophyte transperson may draw for years to come.

Holly Boswell designed a beautiful welcoming rite in her work as an activist which remained on the Kindred Spirits website till her death earlier this year.  Holly’s rite was based upon a Native American-Wiccan format with the quarters divided between male to female, female to male, intersex, and gender non-conforming.  But her rite had a serious limitation.  It required several people to make it happen.  Holly had the Kindred Spirits staff. Most of us don’t have such a luxury.1

So here’s a sample rite of my own designed for one or more officiants which you can use in whole or in part as you deem appropriate or simply generate ideas for your own rite.  Italicized portions pertain to what the Officiant speaks and the Candidate follows accordingly.  It’s built upon the idea that transpeople are essentially a people of dreams and connects with early trans history.

I’ve long held to the belief that transpeople are essentially a people of dreams despite the fact that many transpeople have determined to shut them out, something which I believe is a serious mistake detracting from the cultivation of natural innocence.  After all, dreams and dreaming have a purpose for health and individuation to which a person must awaken on a practical level to fully grasp.  But like most rites, it should be approached as if the candidate being received enters an intense semilucid dream.

 

PREPARATIONS

The paraphernalia associated with a rite can be as simple or as ornate as you wish.  For most of us, simple is better.  For those of us who may have spent years with one tradition or another, it’s desirable to set certain items aside as dedicated to that purpose.  Doing so can add to the specialness and energy of a rite. But this isn’t absolutely necessary.  Here’s a list of items applicable to this sample rite:

  • A central table as a Telestrion that you can fit with candles for illumination.
  • A small unlit torch wrapped in a transgender flag.
  • A cup of water with a sprig of hyssop or some other means of sprinkling.
  • Incense: sandalwood, frankincense, sage, or rose are all good.
  • A plate of bread and salt like that used in the countries of the Russian Federation for welcoming.
  • A cup of wine or grape juice.
  • A lamp or thurible.
  • A box with rose petals and cinnamon or cassia.
  • Food and drink to use afterward.

If you have 4 smaller platforms (trays are adequate for this purpose), they can be set to each of the quarters: North, South, East, and West.  The bread and salt would be placed at the North, the cup at the West, the lamp at the South, and the box at the East.  If those platforms are unavailable, they can be placed at their corresponding positions at the Telestrion.  The small torch wrapped in a transgender flag can occupy the center between them all.

If more than one person officiates in any capacity, they can contribute in the roles of the guardians of the dream gates at each of the 4 quarters and join in the celebration in the waters.

The Candidate changes into loose clothing he/she/eir doesn’t mind getting wet and takes a shawl for veiling.  The face is covered for much of the rite because the Candidate is accounted as one yet to be born.  Most of the Candidate’s preparation, however, is internal.  A Lakota maxim states, “Silence is the mother of truth.” As the Officiant prepares space for the rite, the Candidate would do well to quiet the mind.  Transcendental meditation is an excellent exercise for this, though one who cannot bring himself to do it can simply wait in the softness of lamplight with only his thoughts.  But meditation is easy to do and the Officiant can lead the Candidate into a simple light meditative state if the Candidate wishes, even if such is unaccustomed to traditional postures of meditation:

Sit upright, spine erect, feet flat on the floor.  Close the eyes and take two deep cleansing breaths.  Then breathe in through the nose to the count of 4, hold to the count of 4, exhale through the mouth to the count of 4, hold to the count of 4.  Repeat.  Let the Candidate allow the count to fade into a general rhythm and let meditation take its natural course.

The Officiant asks the Candidate in who’s name he/she/eir wishes to dedicate this rite.  The Candidate may state any deity held sacred or simply declare “Truth”.

While the Candidate waits the Officiant prepares the circle.  When ready, the Officiant comes to the Candidate and takes him by the hand, saying, “Arise, Child of Dreams.”

 

ENTERING

The Candidate is halted at the edge of the circle.  “Unpurified and unconsecrated, you cannot enter this circle.”

The Officiant takes the cup of water and sprinkles the Candidate.  “Child of Dreams, with water you are purified that your heart may be awakened against guile.”

The Officiant takes the incense and censes the Candidate.  “Child of Dreams, with fire you are consecrated that your heart may burn with love of your people and of liberty.”

The Candidate is led to the central Telestrion.  “Child of Dreams, you have been brought to the sacred center a symbol of the center of your psyche.  From your center you awaken to the truth of your identity which as yet shall remain unnamed.  But your journey will take you through many dark places with ordeals that will test you to the utmost for such has been the way of transpeople and others not conforming to gender.  Do you wish to continue?

If the Candidate answers negatively, then the rite is ended and he is led out without prejudice.  If he answers in the affirmative, continue.

“Then I ask that you make a solemn promise witnessed in this circle that your journey will be for the seeking of the highest good for yourself and to others.  Will you do this?”

If the Candidate answers negatively, then the rite is ended and he is led out without prejudice.  If he answers in the affirmative, continue.  It is fitting that a decision to enter a transgender path should exhibit an early connection to the cultivation of moral agency.

“Repeat after me:

 

 “In the name of (the chosen deity or “Truth”)

I declare before all that I seek the highest innocence

and to that end I affirm

with the clarity of my mind

and the integrity of my heart

that I shall seek the highest innocence for others.

I will not consent to debase my mind

for the nefarious purposes

of others who would seek to subvert it

by manipulation,n

that I and all in my charge

will remain free moral agents.

To this end I reject the unbalanced use

of drugs, alcohol, sex,

or any other device

of enslavement or exploitation.

I dedicate myself to the unfolding of truth

and the advancement of liberty,

knowledge, charity, and wisdom

within myself

and for others

to the best of my ability

and the pursuit of the highest

with the love to all sentient beings,

as many who are willing to accept it in good faith.”

 

“Arise, new friend, and enter the gates of dreaming.  Remember your promise, for it will assist you in your passage.”

 

ENTERING THE DREAM GATES

The Candidate is led in a clockwise circle, then stops at the North.

“Child of Dreams, you cannot pass the gate of the North unprepared for I am the Guardian of the First Gate of Dreaming, of the gravity, solidity, the Crystallization of Ideas in the process of Creativity, and Empedocles’ element of Earth.2  I am Prithivi3 and the volcanism of Muladhara.4  I am the mythic Chavah of the Anima, 5 the Man of Physicality of the Animus,6 the Twin heroes,7 and the final Heh of the Tetragrammaton.8  I am the Assinnu, Kugarru, and Kuluu who remembered Assushunamir in the release of Inanna from the underworld,9 and the Enarees who thrived in the Northern Steppes.10 Have you declared yourself to be a Child of Liberty?”

The Candidate answers in the affirmative, though may need to be prompted to remember the promise made at the central Telestrion since the experience may seem too strange and overwhelming to connect.  The Officiant takes the bread and salt and circles them around the head of the Candidate.

“Let repose be balanced with industry.  Let attraction be balanced with charity.  Watch for your hands in your dreams and use your gaze as a vehicle from dream to dream.11  Pass now through the gate awakened and continue to the Second Gate.”

The Candidate is led again in a clockwise circle, then stops at the East.

“Child of Dreams, you cannot pass the gate of the East unprepared for I am the Guardian of the Second Gate of Dreaming, of the force of winds, lightness of gases, the Articulation of Ideas in the process of Creativity and Empedocles’ element of Air.  I am Vayu12 and the opening of Ajña.13  I am the mythic Helen of the Anima, the Man of Action of the Animus, the hero of the Red Horn cycle, and the Vav of the Tetragrammaton.  I am the Hijra and Mukannuthun who, though untouchable, served in the highest estates of the East.14  Have you declared yourself to be a Child of Knowledge?”

The Candidate answers in the affirmative.  The Officiant takes the box with rose petals and spices and circles them around the head of the candidate.

“Let reason be balanced with innocence.  Let analysis be balanced with compassion.  And in your visions, let the images change and let yourself maintain mindfulness in your sleep.  Pass now through the gate awakened and continue to the Third Gate.”

The Candidate is led again in a clockwise circle, then stops at the West.

“Child of Dreams, you cannot pass the gate of the West unprepared for I am the Guardian of the Third Gate of Dreaming, of the floods of desire, the flow of liquids, the Nurturing of Ideas in the process of Creativity, and Empedocles’ element of Water.  I am Apas15 and the Hara of Svaddhisthana.16  I am the mythic Mary of the Anima, the Word-Giver of the Animus, the Hare cycle of the hero, and the Heh of the Tetragrammaton.  I am the Qedeshtu and Gallae who served Aphrodite, and the Magna Mater on many waters of the West, and remembered the travail of Hermaphroditos at the spring of Bodrum and the temples of Paphos.17  Have you declared yourself to be a Child of Charity?”

The Candidate answers in the affirmative. The Offriciant takes the cup and circles it around the head of the Candidate.

“Let love be balanced with steadfastness.  Let dreaming be balanced with detachment.  And in the energy body look upon yourself and know, moving about with intent.    Pass now through the gate awakened and continue to the Fourth Gate.”

The Candidate is led again in a clockwise circle, then stops at the West.

“Child of Dreams, you cannot pass the gate of the South unprepared for I am the Guardian of the Fourth Gate of Dreaming, of the flames of passion, the dance of plasma, the Flash of Ideas in the process of Creativity, and Empedocles’ element of Fire.  I am Tejas18 and the fortitude of Manipura.19  I am the mythic Athena and Sapientia of the Anima, the Man of Spiritual Truth of the Animus, the Trickster of the hero cycle, and the Yudh of the Tetragrammaton.  I am the Megabyzes who served Artemis in wisdom and beauty in the land of Philosophy’s birth and the Sekhetu-Cnaedi who danced for Aset in Egypt and other lands of Africa.20  Have you declared yourself to be a Child of Wisdom?”

The Candidate answers in the affirmative.  The Officiant takes the lamp and circles it around the head of the Candidate.

“Let passion be balanced with responsibility.  Let sexuality be balanced with virtue.  And let your dreams be filled with intent, intending others in your travels.  Pass now through the gate awakened and continue to the Telestrion at the sacred center.”

The Candidate is led again in a clockwise circle, ending at the central Telestrion, having completed the circle 7 times.

 

THE KINDLING

 “Know, Child of Dreams, of Liberty, Knowledge, Charity, and Wisdom, the unfolding of dreams in the course of individuation happens in patterns of four, but gates remain beyond.  To the 4 you have been awakened.  But at the feet of virtue you will continue to learn and to gain cunning.  Know, Child of Dreams, that the gates of dreaming are thresholds that advance the cultivation of innocence as you cultivate impeccability.  Cherish them forever and you will continue to know their blessings and they will add to who you are as a transperson, a representative of a People of Dreams.”

The Officiant unwraps the small torch from the transgender flag and spreads the flag over the Candidate.

“The gates beyond the 4 demand sacrifice, and renewal in dying and rebirth, for the energy body overcomes the physical body.  The Baptai knew this in Thrace, for all who approached likewise passed beneath the waters.21  In the waters are death and renewal as one becomes as it were a fetus in the womb.22  But in that renewal is the kindling of life as a flame in a passion of service to others and the highest aspirations of the heart.”

The Officiant takes the hand of the Candidate and together they kindle the flame of the torch.  The Officiant leads the Candidate out of the circle, to a suitable place of immersion, both holding the torch.  Preferably this is a natural body of water, but a pool or any vessel will serve the purpose.  The flag is removed and kept dry.

 

ENTERING THE WATERS

The Officiant, holding the torch with the Candidate continues to lead into the water, then removes the torch from the hand of the Candidate.  If others participate in the rite, they join hands in a circle around the Candidate with a second person holding the torch with the Officiant.

“That which takes place ritually are archetypes of internal truths that will continue to awaken in you in the future.  Know that this is not an act any of us can do for you but we can support you in your endeavors any way we can.23  Enter beneath the waters like the fetus about to be reborn, and re-emerge as one to reveal your new name.”

The Candidate immerses.  When the Candidate comes up again the Officiant takes the torch and circles the head of the Candidate before the Candidate takes hold of the torch.  The Officiant lays hands upon the Candidate, offering blessing in the Officiant’s own words of welcome.

 

GATHERING, REVEAL, AND NAMING

The Officiant leads the Candidate to the a private chamber to prepare for the reveal and naming.  The Officiant instructs the Candidate to dress as his, her, or eir true self and to knock 3 times on the door when ready.  The Candidate retreats to a chamber alone or with an assistant, removes the veil and all wet items, dries, and dresses according to the identity to be revealed in the Naming.  The bread and salt, box of spices, lamp, and cup are brought out from the circle if a dedicated place is different from the place of feasting, otherwise they remain.

When ready, the Candidate knocks.  The Officiant leads the Candidate to the place of feasting.  The Officiant announces upon re-entry, “I (We) stand for the one who walks anew among us.”

The Candidate emerges.  The Officiant asks, “By what name shall we know you?”

The Candidate reveals his/her/eir name.

“I (We) welcome you, (use the name given).  Let this name be known among us all as your true name.”

If others are present, the Officiant announces, “Let us all commune together in the feast of receiving (name of the Candidate) as our own.  May the bonds of affection and unity demonstrated this day never dissolve.”

The rite is ended with feasting and embraces of acceptance.  Any tokens of the event are presented at this time.

 

DESIGNING YOUR OWN RITE

Rites can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish.  They may follow this tradition or another.  It really doesn’t matter.  What counts are these principles:

  1. Overall quietness of the mind.
  2. A dreamlike experience.
  3. Connections of the rite with history of the demographic.
  4. Connections of the rite with strong archetypal ideas.
  5. Application of the rite to a new beginning.
  6. Connection of the rite with ethics.
  7. Revealing of the true self.
  8. Love and acceptance.
  9. Celebration and joy.
  10. Sharing of food and experience.

So if your sensitivities follow a more Abrahamic approach, by all means, write your rite of acceptance accordingly, but maintain these 9 principles as you do.  You won’t go wrong.  Your success should be measured in what happens with the person you receive after many trials, years from the present.  The energy of a rite can empower and fixate those internal truths, not only for that person’s health, but as a springboard for greater levels of creativity.

_____________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image: Providing no toxic chemicals have been used, or other hazard precludes use, an artificial pond like this can do well for a rite like this.  But most any body of water will work, whether natural or artificial. (Photo by the author)

  1. Kindred Spirits Website: http://www.trans-spirits.org/who_are_we.html.
  2. The Pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles was the first to advance the formal idea of the universe consisting of the elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. They still provide popular motifs for the 4 quarters.  Empedocles’ idea was that Earth consisted of cold and dryness, Air of heat and moisture, Water of cold and moisture, and Fire heat and dryness.  However, today’s understanding would apply these elements to the 4 states of matter: solid, gas, liquid, and plasma. DHWTY. “Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: Empedocles of Acragas – The Pre-Socratic Philosopher with a Sense of Style” Ancient Origins (October 28, 2018, accessed October 26, 2017) http://www.ancient-origins.net/history-famous-people/earth-air-fire-and-water-empedocles-acragas-pre-socratic-philosopher-sense-020596
  3. Prithivi is the Tattwa applicable to the element of Earth and its earliest source is Hindu. It’s represented as a yellow square and used in meditative trance.
  4. Muladhara is the Root Chakra located at the genital region. It’s associated with Earth, gravity, and volcanism.
  5. Pronounced cha-VAH, “ch pronounced as in the German “ich”. If the Hebrew is objected to, one may use the English equivalent, “Eve”.  For information of the fourfold unfolding of the Anima, see Jung, C. G. “Man and His Symbols” (1964) Doubleday Anchor, NY ISBN: 0-385-05221-9, pp. 184, 185
  6. For information of the fourfold unfolding of the Animus, Ibid, p. 194
  7. For information of the fourfold unfolding of the Hero Cycle, Ibid, 110-113.
  8. The association of the letters of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) with the 4 elements is well established in multiple traditions.
  9. The Assinnu, Kugaru and Kuluu are early Mesopotamian transgender priesthoods Asushunamir (Pleasant Looks or Good Looks) was created by Ea to rescue Inanna from Erishkigal and the Underworld. Launderville, Dale.  Celibacy in the Ancient World: Its Ideal and Practice in Pre-Hellenistic Israel, Mesopotamia, and Greece.” (2010) Liturgical Press, ISBN:  P. 337
  10. The Enarees were Scythian transpeople who were known to have developed treatments for feminization. Lynnea Urania Stuart.  “The Enarees” Transpire (August 29, 2017, accessed October 26, 2017) https://lynneauraniastuart.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/the-enarees/
  11. For details on this version of the dream gates, see Castaneda, Carlos. “The Art of Dreaming” (1993) Harper Perennial, Publisher. ISBN: 0-06-017051-4 (cloth)
  12. Vayu is the Tattwa for Air and represented as a blue circular shape.
  13. The Ajna Chakra is located at the forehead, the “Third Eye” and has been associated with Air.
  14. Hijra consist of communities of various sex and gender variant people in India. Many of their existing estates were bestowed by the Moghul rulers they served, attaining high positions.  Lynnea Urania Stuart. “The Subcopntinent’s Sacred Record of Transgenderism” Transpire (August 5, 2016, accessed October 27, 2017) https://lynneauraniastuart.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/the-subcontinents-sacred-record-of-transgenderism/ Mukannuthun have been transgender Arabs known at the time of Muhammad and still exist today.  Some have served as chamberlains to regional rulers like Al Dalal served Sulayman Ibn Abd-Al Malik.  Iqra Mehmood.  “Mukhannathun – Unfolding the Concept of Transgenders in Islam” Parhlo (June 22, 2017, accessed October 25, 2017) https://www.parhlo.com/mukhannathun-unfolding-the-concept-of-transgender-women-in-islam/.
  15. Apas is the Tattwa for Water and is represented by a silver crescent.
  16. The Hara is located just below the navel and an important Tantric center, applied also in meditations associated with Bellydance. It’s the same as the Svaddhisthana Chakra, associated with Water.
  17. Qedeshtu are those transgender priests associated with Astarte at Apheca in what is now Lebanon. Lynnea Urania Stuart. “The Pillars of Gender” Transpire (July 29, 2016, accessed October 26, 2017) https://lynneauraniastuart.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/the-pillars-of-gender/. Astarte later became Aphrodite who, despite her Phoenician origins, is more closely associated with Paphos on the island of Cypress and the Greek island of Cythera.  Images of Hermaphroditos (Hermaphroditus to the Romans) may be found at Paphos today, though the actual Spring of Hermaphroditos is believed to now be located below sea level at a military base near Bodrum, Turkey.  The story of Hermaphroditos comes to us today through the Metamorphoses by the Roman poet, Ovid, whose exile very likely put him in contact with Enarees of Scythia.  Gallae (the name preferred by them today) are transgender priestesses of Cybele [pronounced ku-BEY-ley].  Modern worshippers of Cybele have a website at www.gallae.com.
  18. Tejas is the Tattwa associated with Fire and represented with a red triangular shape.
  19. The Manipura Chakra is located at the Solar Plexus and is associated with Fire and internal fortitude.
  20. Megabyzes were the transgender priestesses of Artemis at Ephesus, known for their beauty and wisdom. Ephesus was the principle city of Ionia and near to Miletus where also we trace the roots of Philosophy.  Lynnea Urania Stuart. “The Pillars of Gender” Transpire (July 29, 2016, accessed October 26, 2017) https://lynneauraniastuart.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/the-pillars-of-gender/.  Sekhetu (Egyptian) and Cnaedi (Latin) were transgender servants of Aset (Egyptian), also known as Isis.  Romans knew these people after Isis became the consort of Serapis in Rome.  But Aset appears to derive from an earlier African deity. Hubbard, Thomas K. (ed.), “Homosexuality in Greece and Rome. A Sourcebook of Basic Documents.” (2003)   Berkeley:  University of California Press, Pp. xvii, 558; ills. 26.  ISBN 0-520-23430-8.
  21. The Baptai were a cross dressing priesthood of Kotys in Thrace. They were so named because they also immersed candidates they received. Senelick, Laurence. “The changing Room” (2000) Paychology Press. ISBN: 9780415159869,   25
  22. The association of immersion with rebirth has been employed by many traditions besides Christianity including Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu traditions who use it regularly and not as a “once for all” experience commencing a Christian journey. The rite use here has no Christian connotation but takes a more generalized, classical approach.
  23. In most immersion rites of the world a person immerses himself. Only Christians require one “baptizing” another, emphasizing that a Christian cannot be a Christian on his own, but must receive conversion as a gift.  The transgender path, however, isn’t like that.  One must make the decision to live one’s truth as a transperson by himself/herself/eirself.  Therefore, if a group participates, the others form a circle around the Candidate as a matter of support.
Please follow and like us:
0

YECH! The Return of a Pest that Can Drain You at the Worst Time of Transition

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

They can drain you in more ways than one and represent more than Halloween creepiness.  If you get the hint from the featured image, I think you’d feel a healthy sense of natural revulsion unless you’ve spent too much time catering people with strange appetites.  That detail isn’t a jack-o-lantern through I wish it was.

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are costly in terms of time and money to eradicate.  They can upend transition schedules and potentially contribute to disease.  They’re being addressed by municipalities in various locales nationwide after the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control reaffirmed in a 2010 statement that they’re a public health pest.1

A bug bomb won’t work on those hemophages. In fact the bed bug issue and misuse of bug bombs have caused some localities to consider ordinances to take bug bombs off the local market.2

“Prepping”, consisting of removing property into a state of quarantine while moving furniture away from walls, can turn into a protracted effort.  A professional will cost about the amount of several hours of electrolysis and that’s a problem for those of us who often live on the edge of disaster, thanks to the rising tide of discrimination after the Attorney General declared that Title VII protections don’t apply to transpeople but “religious liberty” trumps all other human rights (pun intended).3

Face it.  The current rebound of bed bug cases since the discontinuation of the insecticide DDT demands planning and prevention.4  We might even see expanded insurance demands in the future of tenancies if costs spiral out of control. It’s no longer the stuff of filthy people deemed too dumb to tell the difference between a bedbug and their own spilled pepper.  Social stigma attached to bed bugs is misplaced because a pregnant female can hitch a ride on anyone.  They enter through bags and clothing from most any public place:  the bus, the train, the library, even the local hospital lobby.  Even your most sacred sports jacket isn’t immune.

Too often when you discover a bed bug in your home you’re already infested.  They’re a big deal to property managers.  Letting them go carries legal liability.  This is a scourge to be understood.

 

I TAKE THIS PERSONALLY

Why do I write about this now?  It’s simple.  I had my first episode of staring down those blood-suckers just this month when I felt something on my leg, grabbed it, and stuck it in a jar for identification by someone with some entomological experience.  There it was, something that could as easily been taken for a carpet beetle or a tick crawling around in listless circles while wondering what he did to deserve this.  But sure enough, the declaration that it looked like a bed bug sounded like an impending prison sentence.

What sealed that sentence, though, was an inspection of my chair.  Inverting it, I inspected the undersides, lifting the edges of upholstery, and sure enough, I was shocked to find a colony of a couple dozen bugs packed together under the edge I unfolded.  These bugs had been feeding off of my body for weeks or months and I had no idea it was happening because I never experienced any reaction to their bites.  I sprayed, spray painted, and discarded that chair, then signed an order for an exterminator with the property manager.

It meant taking down all the books, CD’s, and DVD’s and sealing them in plastic bags in a hot garage.  Clothing and bedding had to be laundered hot with 30 minutes on a hot drying cycle.  Even clean items still needed that hot drying cycle to kill any eggs and even then only those items to be immediately used may be brought inside during that period of prepping.  Food and utensils get emptied from cabinets.  It’s campout time but we’re doing it under the ceiling instead of under the stars, literally living out of garbage bags.  I almost felt like a homeless person again.

Perhaps the bed was the least of our worries because we already had our mattress and box springs encased in plastic consistent with the requirements of property management.  I didn’t find evidence of bed bugs in the bedroom.  Neither did the exterminator when he did his initial inspection.  But I wasn’t about to wait for them to appear.   I pulled the bedding for hot laundry treatment with each of the exterminator’s applications.  I dismantled the cheapo headboard that had already snapped when moving the bed.  But it’s just as well.  Bed bugs are known to typically enter a bed from the headboard because it has broader contact with the floor than the casters do.

 This happened at a bad time too.  It meant missing out on a number of pending writing projects.  But what else can I do, especially when it comes to family health and potentially that of the neighbors?  I could only be thankful this happened after “completing” transition, because had this happened in the months prior to surgery, I may have had to put it off.

 

HEMOPHAGES AND DISEASE

Bed bugs have been suspected in the transmission of 41 human diseases but none have to date been proven.  An infected blood-sucking insect isn’t necessarily a vector for transmission.  One research group detected Human Immumodeficiency Virus (HIV) in bedbugs for up to 8 days after exposure to highly concentrated virus in blood meal.  A South Africa study found groups of bed bugs testing positive for Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and the Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAG) has been detected in bed bugs for at least 7.5 weeks after experimental feeding.  But none of these studies have proven actual transmission of these diseases, at least not yet.5

Does anyone want to volunteer as a subject for a study to prove disease transmission from bed bugs?  I know I don’t.  But these blood-borne pathogens cause me concern about impacts upon the trans community because HIV and hepatitis have been diseases we’ve faced more often than we admit, especially among those who have felt compelled to enter sex work.

But perhaps the biggest toll is psychological.  Bed bugs can interfere with sleep and if a person reacts to the bites with itching and welts they can drive a person batty.  Entomologist Jerome Goddard, PhD, of Mississippi State University told The Atlantic he examined website posts and compared them to a checklist of symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  He found 81% of people on those sites described similar effects:

  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Paranoia
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Depression6

I suppose I fit.  Whenever I feel something tickling I’m ready to slap myself and know how dangerous my making this personal fact public can be.  I inspect floors and furniture with a flashlight with the intensity of Jews looking for leaven prior to Passover.  When trying to find something to write, the first thing I think about is a vision of one of those hemophages the size of a Volkswagen Beetle looking me in the face.  It grins and asks like many leering men have done in the bars I’ve visited during transition, “May I buy you a drink? Heh heh.”

So I might well describe myself similarly to what Rose Eveleth described after interviewing Dr. Goddard:  “Bed Bug PTSD.”  Given the evidence, it’s really not a joke.  One woman with a history of mental health issues even committed suicide over bedbugs. 7 I sympathize.

 

FACTS AGAINST THE DESIRE TO SCREAM

While bed bugs proliferate persistently, they aren’t insurmountable to eradicate.  My exterminator told me, “They’re good hitchhikers, but they’re not good travelers.”  While they demand immediate action for removal one shouldn’t panic.  The earlier you act upon a bed bug infestation, the easier it will be to gain the upper hand.

Here are some general facts about bed bugs as provided from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington, annotated by comments from my exterminator:

  1. Bed bugs appear from yellowish white to reddish brown.
  2. Adults reach about ¼ inch, about the size of an apple seed.
  3. Eggs can be detected with a magnifier. They’re elongated and clear to white in color.
  4. Bed bugs have 5 nymphal stages before reaching maturity and all of them are able and willing to drink your blood. In fact they have to feed on you before passing to the next nymphal stage.
  5. They’re insects with oval-shaped bodies, 6 legs and 2 antennae. Their shapes vary from flat to balloon-shaped depending upon how recently they last fed on you.
  6. They leave dark feces marks, dark because of the iron from blood they drank, staining hiding places like mattresses, cracks, and crevices.
  7. Each time they molt they leave nearly clear exoskeletons behind as well as blood spots on bed sheets after feeding.
  8. They aren’t particular in terms of whoopee. They can breed directly with their own offspring.
  9. They tend to breed faster during the summer months.
  10. Adult bed bugs can live over 1 year (my exterminator said they could go 18 months without feeding)
  11. Bed bugs lay eggs intermittently in clusters and may be found in several locations.
  12. Eggs are harder to kill than adults or nymphs.
  13. Bed bugs can regenerate infestations even when one pregnant female survives treatment.
  14. Bed bugs have developed some resistance to pesticides and may require repeated treatments or different approaches. Widespread resistance to pyrethroids (a common class of pesticides based upon pyrethrin, originally derived from chrysanthemums) has been noted.
  15. Adults can hide from pesticide applications or move along wires and walls to other areas. This is one reason why it’s absolutely important to immediately report an outbreak of bed bugs upon discovery. While they can do this, they prefer to remain near their feeding source.8

Because the eggs don’t die off like nymphs and adults do, an exterminator will typically need to do at least 3 treatments and maybe more, spaced according to when eggs are likely to hatch.  The exterminator gives special attention to furniture, baseboards, and tack strips where they could hide. But most of the work won’t be done by the exterminator.  That’s your job.

That includes intense vacuuming of furniture and carpets.  It includes emptying of the vacuum cleaner receptacle each time.  I don’t mean vacuuming only the following day.  I mean vacuuming thoroughly on a daily basis.  The eggs don’t release easily.  In fact a wand with a brush on the end may pick up eggs and deliver them elsewhere.  Best to use as thin a wand as possible to get into corners and tight spaces.  You want one that isn’t equipped with a brush but can concentrate the narrowest suction.  Vacuum furniture aggressively, giving special attention to the insides of folds and loose fabric layers.

 

QUERRIES ABOUT QUARANTINES

Bed bugs don’t do well with heat.  Car seats don’t get easily infested precisely because the car gets left out in the sun and the hot seats cook those critters worse then they cook your keester when you first sit behind the wheel on a warm day.  Application of 120 degrees Fahrenheit would cause them to die off in a few days.  During the summer, many garages get hot like that.  It’s one reason why during prepping it’s recommend to bag and seal items from the household and stick them out there.  The other reason is to reduce clutter within the dwelling.  More clutter, especially around the perimeter of a room, allows more cover and that makes them more difficult to kill.

Extreme cold can also kill them.  But if you want to treat an item for bedbugs with cold you need a deep freeze.  They can survive a simple freezer.  You need temperatures more like zero degrees Fahrenheit and keep those items in the deep freeze for at least 4 days.  Use a thermometer to verify freezer temperature.9

For the same reason it would make sense that after treatments have been completed by an exterminator to steam clean the carpets.  That should destroy any remnant of those hard to see eggs that may have fallen into carpet and remove them.  Check with your exterminator to verify how long to wait before you do this.  There’s a special reason why.  A series of treatments should be good for 120 days against any new hatchlings.

But what about when it comes time to remove items from quarantine?  Clothing items can be run through the dryer on high temperature for a half hour and reinstated.  But other items require inspection.  CD’s and DVD’s need to be checked for eggs and young nymphs.  Eggs can be spotted with a magnifier, especially when in clusters.  The disc, container, and whatever it may include need to be wiped clean.

Books are a special problem.  My exterminator said he’s only encountered 2 cases in his career in which bed bugs had infested a book and so didn’t particularly worry about them.  But I do worry because many of my books are sacred texts including some rare publications that I want to be sure to preserve.  If they had been stored on a shelf, chances are they haven’t been touched unless perhaps the infestation has become advanced.  Pages need to be checked of each book as well as the spine if any separation exists between the cover and the pages.  But to be really sure, the only possible way to combat them is with heat or cold.  Books can be left in a metal container in the sun for a few days.  What if the weather turned cold?  There do exist on the market boxes that can heat books safely without danger of fire or embrittlement of the pages.

An extra precaution would be to store the books in airtight plastic containers.  That effectively continues their quarantine.  You can always continue to inspect them upon removal when you need to use them.  You can place books upon a broad plastic surface like a lid whose edges can act as an interceptor and then wash the lid in hot water after use.  Wash hands afterwards, a practice that should be done before and after handling books in any public library anyhow.

Interceptors for bedposts have also been placed on the market.  Interceptors are designed in such a manner that hungry bugs gravitating toward bedposts can become trapped in an outer ring where you can spot them and clean them away.9 They work well as long as your bed covers don’t touch the floor.  Any bed spring encasement cannot be allowed to touch the floor either.  That means forget about storing anything under the bed.  Keep the bed at least 3 inches away from the wall because bed bugs often follow along baseboards.

Drawer cabinets are less of a concern, though they should be regularly cleaned and inspected.  An exterminator will check drawers for evidence of the insects before applications. The reason is simple why they’re less of a concern.  The bugs want easy access to living bodies for dinner and drawers don’t provide that.

 

PUT ON YOUR SUIT OF ARMOR AFTER SPRAYING IT

Bed bugs can change your life in a fundamental way because you realize you have to make changes for prevention.  You can’t allow clutter to take hold in your home.  While laminated corrugated cardboard is less a concern for bed bugs than it is for other pests, it’s “out”.  Tightly sealing plastic boxes are “in”.  I’ve resolved now to periodically spraying my shoes with a compound designed for bed bugs.  It means also that when I come in from public places, I shed my clothing for the laundry, and hop in the shower.  I suppose it’s hypervigilance out of my own status as a victim of Bed Bug PTSD.  But it’s comparable to those precautions we use in hospitals.  While a room may become downgraded from isolation to regular status, hospitals still follow some pretty stringent procedures when it comes to soiled linen and hand washing with special procedures to be followed for blood-borne pathogens.

But when it comes to transpeople, bed bug issues can take an enormous toll.  If an infestation spreads to other units you don’t have just the cost of your own dwelling to worry about.  You become liable for eradication of the pest for the entire building.  That can cost thousands of dollars to treat and even that might not be the end of the matter.  By concealing a serious problem and allowing it to fester, you can even wind up with an eviction.  That’s trouble for any member of an already oppressed demographic who tries to secure a residence, especially in a state in which anti-transgender discrimination has been sanctioned.

People discriminate but bed bugs won’t.  It’s trouble I would spare any of my brothers, sisters, and anyone in-between.  I think you would too.  They’re more than a nuisance.  The legalities that exist as a result of non-action can literally threaten a transition process.  When it comes to hemophages, most of us would prefer to leave that role to a dating partner-a-la Bella Lugosi, not to potential vectors.

Have a Bloody Mary and Happy Halloween.  I’ll take mine virgin and from my exterminator.  And you can have the crunchy treats too.  I’m not very hungry these days.

______________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image: An infestation of bed bugs with a detail of an individual adult. Eww. (Flickr)

Unless otherwise noted, all information derives from an exterminator hired through the author’s property manager.

  1. Adrian, Benjamin; Dooley, Olivia; Huang, Chen; and Levkowitz, Michael. “Tackling Bed Bugs: A Starter Guide for Local Government” Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington (June 2015, Revised May 2016), p. 1. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ncap/pages/17/attachments/original/1452107062/tacklingbbstarterguide.pdf?1452107062.
  2. Ibid, p. 25.
  3. Lynnea Urania Stuart. “Time for a New Religion?” Transpire (October 17, 2017, accessed October 17, 2017) https://lynneauraniastuart.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/time-for-a-new-religion/
  4. Op. cit., p. 3.
  5. Jerome Goddard, PhD. “Bed Bugs Bounce Back – But Do They Transmit Disease?” Medscape (n.d., accessed October 17, 2017)  https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/463778_2.
  6. Rose Eveleth. “Bed-Bug Madness: The Psychological Toll of the Blood Suckers” The Atlantic (October 16, 2014, accessed October 17, 2017) https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/bed-bug-madness-the-psychological-toll-of-the-blood-suckers/381447/.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Adrian, Dooley, Huang, & Levkowitz, p. 5.
  9. (n.a.) “Do it Yourself Bed Bug Control” Environmental Protection Agency (accessed October 17, 2017) https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/do-it-yourself-bed-bug-control.
  10. Ibid.
Please follow and like us:
0

Billiards to Astral Flight: The Awakening of the Transgender Soul

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

Author’s note:  this article is related to a previous article here in TransMusePlanet Magazine.  See “A Message in an E-Mail: The Heart of the Struggle for the Transgender Soul” by Lynnea Urania Stuart, posted September 16, 2017.  Click here to access it.

__________________________________

He probably never thought about what billiard balls might eventually set into motion.  David Hume (1711-1776) didn’t care about religion and his probable exposure to anything transgender may have been restricted to socially accepted performances in Scottish theater and talk about molly houses in the local pub.  Ironically, his atheism would spark a re-evaluation of spiritual experience as explored today in laboratories and temples alike.  Just as ironically, the current reassertion of trans spiritualities cannot help but contribute to this exploratory milieu.  This current of re-evaluation represents yet another theater of the struggle for the transgender soul apart from dogmatism:  the crisis within when faced with spiritual awakening.

 

SCIENCE ALMOST DERAILED

Hume came along during a heady time in science.  Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and Gottfried Leibnitz (1646-1716) had introduced Calculus.  Newton had proposed his Laws of Gravitation in the Principia (1687).  The sciences were beginning to blossom.  But Hume made an important observation, illustrating it through the collision of billiard balls, and this observation nearly turned science completely on its head.

Observe carefully the collision of those billiard balls.  Do we see the cause of the collision?  Look closely.  Newton might have spoken of forces, but did we see those forces in play?

No we didn’t.  Those forces were surmised as a result of theory, even if they may have had predictive results.  Could those actions observed correlate to any knowledge about them before the fact (called “a priori”)?  Do we have the right to call laws of motion “universal laws”?  Or might those observations be skewed at another time?  Hume denied we could know these events for certain a priori.  All we might claim to know must be after the fact, after each time of observation (called “a posteriori”, an idea without sexual implications).  Of course, Hume didn’t have anything spiritual in mind.  He wasn’t even concerned with metaphysics.  His argument was a purely epistemological one as an empiricist.  But it was an argument with far reaching implications.1

Hume’s idea, called Hume’s Fork, divided possible knowledge claims into relations of ideas and matters of fact.  Relations of ideas can be known independently of what’s observed.  Matters of fact can only be known from what’s observed and only in the context of what was observed for that time and could not be relied upon in any other.2

So if we can’t be certain about universal laws, how can we claim to have a science?  That would be answered by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) when he proposed the Transcendental Aesthetic in Critique of Pure Reason after being awakened by Hume’s writings about causation.  He revisited what happens on the side of the human mind past the veil of perception.

The veil of perception, a fundamental concept in philosophy, might be described in terms of a person stuck in an office with an errand runner between him and another office.  The person stuck in his office cannot know what’s happening in the other office except through what that errand runner tells him.  By analogy, the man stuck in his office is like the individual locked inside the confines of his brain with his senses acting like the errand runner.  The office about which the errand runner reports is by analogy, the outside world.  We can’t accept with absolute certainty that we can take those sense impressions at face value.

Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic addressed what we can know a priori, building upon Hume’s relations of ideas, being himself very interested in universality.  He described general affection of the mind (Gemüth – see the diagram in the featured image) that exercises a receptivity of the mind through the senses (Vorstellungen) which in turn supplies intuitions for the mind (Anschauungen), and forms a seed of thought through understanding (Verstand).  These empiric impressions of the world occur a posteriori.  This process also produces forms or conceptions (Begriffe) from thought.  These thoughts are returned to Gemüth a priori.3 As a result Kant claimed that we can reliably know a priori that if we knock the supporting pillars away from a house the whole structure will catastrophically crash.4

Upon this, Kant continued to examine various areas of thought to which this a priori knowledge may be applied.  From this came Categories of Understanding in Judgments5 and the closely related Categories of Pure Concepts of Understanding.6 Through these ideas, science moved onwards and quit feeling the hot breath of logical deconstruction due to extreme empiricism.

 

A GLARING PHENOMENOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE

Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic also provided the grist for the later phenomenological theories of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and his student Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), particularly regarding intentionality (Husserl) and temporality (Heidegger).  But Husserl would understand something subtle but significant about those forms to which Kant referred.  The forms don’t match observation 100%.  He took extra steps to articulate it.

 In the beginning Husserl considered what’s given to consciousness in terms of Kant’s impressions supplied by as a “manifold of appearances” developed from the “thing-in-itself” as received by the affection of the mind.  The “manifold of appearances” for Husserl consisted of objects of consciousness separate from its total reality.7

This difference between a priori forms developed in the mind and a posteriori impressions from empiric observations could be dramatized in an exercise commonly taught in preparation for astral projection from either REM or trance states:

 

Stand in front of a full length mirror, naked, with a strong light behind you (most who do astral projection do so unclothed or “skyclad”).  The image you see will be shadowy.  Use that image to form an image of your body in your mind.  Do this repeatedly for a long while.  Notice the shift between your mental image and the image you see in the mirror.  Notice also shifts in your awareness between the 2 images.8

 

The effect may seem a bit disorienting, and in fact other exercises for these practices get even more disorienting than that.  The important thing in this regard is to recognize the difference between the fact observed a posteriori (the actual view of one’s body in a mirror) and the form returned a priori (the mental image of one’s body).  These differences have been addressed variously by different authors on dreaming practices including Carlos Castaneda who spoke of the synchronizing these disparate images in terms of “completing the energy body.”9 The same disparities also arise when comparing images recalled during episodes of astral travel as a dreaming phenomenon and examination of a target area thereafter.  Few astral experiences resemble fact in beginning attempts.  Even experienced practitioners encounter differences.  Comparable disparities have also been noted for remote viewers who form mental images of a target without any sensation of separation from the physical body, judging by comparisons of sketches with photos of targets.10

For transpeople, the preceding exercise has raised an extra issue specific to gender identity when engaged during early transition.  A transwoman may see a predominantly male body in that mirror, but the initial mental image thereof may be completely female, coming across in a flash till the mind reworks that image (vice versa in the case of a transman).  It could also happen that since that flash of a mental image is perceived as female, the participant may prefer for that mental image to remain so.  That feminine image may become accepted as regular projected image of the astral body before a transwoman experiences any sensation of her consciousness being transferred from her physical body to that energy body.

Episodes like these can accompany a more general spiritual awakening.  The internal image of an astral body, described by various authors as a kind of “soul” impacts that experience of awakening.  It reaches beyond epistemology, entering the realm of philosophical psychology.

 

NOESIS AND LUCIDITY

In Husserl’s Theory of Intentionality, noema consists of content types as ideal and timeless components. Noesis, is an act of thinking and ruminating.  A noematic moment will correspond to a noetic moment.  The 2 always happen in relation to one another.11

But a noematic-noetic moment may or may not happen when you expect it.  Noematic structures develop out of the body of forms derived from impressions.  But noesis pertains to what someone consciously does with noemata. Without such a corresponding moment, intentionality doesn’t happen.

Perhaps a delay in a noematic-noetic moment may be best illustrated in terms of dreams and dreaming, the former as passive experiences, and the latter as an intentional art.  A mundane dream represents a purely noematic action because it goes no farther than the preconscious while the dreamer remains asleep.  The noetic response to that action doesn’t happen till the dreamer wakes up and recalls the dream.  Noesis demands conscious interaction and that doesn’t happen in a mundane dream.

But this changes entirely when a dreamer gains lucidity.  Only through lucidity does the noematic-noetic moment happen within the dream.  When that takes place, the effect can become literally life-changing, generating deep personal inspiration and awakening to natural innocence while forcing a crisis in which the dreamer must think through new modal realities when others may condemn them.

Here’s a description of the lucid dream experience to readers who either haven’t encountered the phenomenon or haven’t known that sleep labs have studied it.  In fact it has become a subject for serious scientific inquiry since the 1980’s:

 

“I run away from a charging dinosaur then realize an incongruity.  Dinosaurs are extinct.  Therefore I must be dreaming.  I declare this realization, saying, “I’m dreaming!”  As I repeat the entire character of the dream changes.  The dream becomes incredibly lifelike and clear.  The dreamscape becomes strangely luminous.  I have greater interest to explore the dreamscape.  I step aside and watch the dinosaur charge past me, knowing I’m no longer bound by the dream.  I do so, freely and rationally examining various components of the dream.  The lifelike clarity of the dream is so intense that it’s as if I had stepped into a 2-dimensional flat screen television and actually live what’s on the other side in 3 dimensions. 12

 

Though many Conservative religious circles condemn lucid dreaming as “demonic”, as they do dream phenomena generally, the vast majority who experience lucid dreaming have no occult ties.  Lucid dreaming occurs with people of all religions, typically by accident, though some prefer to suppress lucid dreams because of learned dogmatic fears of what they don’t understand.  But the perceptions of changes endemic to lucid dreams are really tied to a physiological event in which portions of the brain that had been off line while sleeping switch on during REM sleep.  “REM” refers to the stage of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements and dreams have been most commonly noted at this stage, though dreams do occur at other times.

 

A NEUROLOGY OF SPIRITUALITIES

Of special interest concerning those brain structures coming online during lucid dream episodes is the frontal lobe of the brain.  This area is normally off during REM but springs into activity during Lucid REM episodes.  Elisa Filevich of the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development announced in a January 2015 press release that their MRI scans demonstrated how participants in a study who reported highly lucid during dreams had larger anterior prefrontal cortexes.  This area of the brain also controls conscious cognitive processes and plays an important role in self-reflection.13

Another researcher who noted this action of the anterior prefrontal cortexes is Dr. Andrew Newberg, author of The Metaphysical Mind:  Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought.  He cited that practices of concentration either through prayer or mantra based meditation tend to activate this part of the brain.  It also has a role in directing attention, modulating behavior, and expression of language.  Conversely, when one surrenders the will as in mediumistic trance or speaking in tongues, activity decreases in the frontal lobes and increases in the thalamus where flow of sensory information to much of the brain is regulated.14

Dr. Newberg noted in a study of Buddhist monks an experiment in which during experiences of high ecstasy in meditative trance they would pull a kite string, triggering injection of a tracer dye for brain scan.  He told the BBC in 2002:

 

“There was an increase in activity in the front part of the brain, the area that is activated when anyone focuses attention on a particular task…  In addition, a notable decrease in activity in the back part of the brain, or parietal lobe, recognised [sic] as the area responsible for orientation, reinforced the general suggestion that meditation leads to a lack of spatial awareness…  During meditation, people have a loss of the sense of self and frequently experience a sense of no space and time and that was exactly what we saw.”15

 

Brick Johnstone, Professor of Health Psychology at the School of Health Professions at the University of Missouri, declared in 2012 that many parts of the brain are involved in spirituality.  He noted concerning impairment of the right side of the brain:

 

Since our research shows that people with this impairment are more spiritual, this suggests spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self.  This is consistent with many religious texts that suggest people should concentrate on the well-being of others rather than on themselves.”16

 

This stands as a warning for many transgender people whose construction of the self can swallow them up in self-obsession.  Reasonably, anyone who transitions also needs to balance the experience of reconstruction of life consistent with construction of the self through charitable service to others.

It’s more than just an issue of spirituality.  It’s an issue of health and well being.  It also can build communities.  It would also be a reasonable conjecture based upon that warrant for service to others that those transpeople engaged in such activities should be less prone to suicide.  Future surveys including those on the order of the U.S. Transgender Survey should examine this, and if confirmed, should be made an integral part of regimens designed to sustain mental health.

 

ANCIENT INSIGHT

The link of the anterior frontal lobes to spirituality, lucid dreaming, and higher thinking comparable to the action of noesis upon noemata seems to be more than just a modern consideration.  Consider the work of a genius from long ago.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonorotti Simoni (1475-1564), Renaissance sculptor, painter, and one of the most brilliant artists of all time, painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in The Vatican.  His work, the subject of many books, articles, and television programs, even the motion picture The Agony and the Ecstasy, features numerous scenes from the Bible.  Perhaps the most inspiring of all is a central depiction of the Creation of Adam (see featured image, upper left hand corner).

In this image, an anthropomorphic depiction of God the Creator, reaches outward to touch the hand of Adam to deliver a spark of life.  But that touch seems to represent much more.  Not a few people have commented about the God figure, wrapped in his shadowy cloak and accompanied by other spirits to witness this crowning act of creation.  To some the cloak and entourage represents a womb.  But to most it vividly takes the form of a brain viewed from the side, the pituitary gland and brainstem clearly visible.  God reaches out through the frontal lobe of a brain to give life to Adam.

He painted this scene centuries before the invention of MRI and PET scans.  How did Michelangelo connect the frontal lobe of the brain with the making of Adam as a living soul?  Or did he connect them?

He may not need to have consciously done so.  Artists often experience very close connections with their faculties of dreaming and meditation.  The detail of Michelangelo’s work suggests that his degree of exact representation of conceived impressions gave him a higher level of technical insight than most artists.  The dynamism of his work suggests enhanced noematic-noetic moments leading to thematic insight, even extending to the underlying geometry that governed his compositions.  But the genius of the Creation of Adam suggests more than technicalities in art, extending to archetypes like those described through the work of Carl Jung (1875-1961).17

Might Michelangelo’s dreaming proclivities have led him, even unconsciously to the dynamism of his composition?  The similarity of God’s cloak to the brain in the Creation of Adam may have emerged through Michelangelo’s dream mechanisms as a structural archetype, the mind unveiling an insight of itself to the world as the inner genius with whom every artist craves to connect.

 

Some of us who are transgender and with Abrahamic connections to our spiritualities may see this creation of Adam with a bit of a twist, following a Kabbalistic belief centuries old.  Kabbalah relies as much upon dreaming proclivities and lore as upon persnickety logic and commentary upon sacred texts.  One of the Kabbalistic texts, The Zohar, makes a claim incredible to many not accustomed to it, but advancing a Rabbinic view concerning Adam:

 

Rabbi Yirmeyah son of El’azar said, ‘When the blessed Holy One created Adam, He created him androgynous, as it said: Male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).’  Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said, ‘When the blessed Holy One created Adam, He created him with two faces.  Then He sawed him and gave him two backs, one on this side and one on that.’”18

 

These aspects of mind pertaining to the interactions of noema and noesis have the capacity to awaken us to life issues including those relating to gender with mechanisms far above those described.  They also have the capacity to interface with the various spiritualities throughout the world and to warn us when we lose balance through obsession as the enemy of innocence.  As such they play a pivotal role in our health, quality of life, and understanding as harbingers and awakeners of insight.

For most of us, unless hampered from antagonistic sources imposed by the dogmatic seeds of noemata sown by others, we can find them worth cultivating, knowing also that by cultivation we also must face social and psychological currents designed to destroy us.  The struggle for the transgender soul is more than a struggle for domination by religious and political parties.  The struggle is internal, one of which we often find ourselves at a loss to grasp.

Our philosophies touch upon them but the bulk remains a deep mystery.  But we can admit one thing:  we’ve come a very long way since Hume’s colliding billiard balls.

_________________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  Superimposed glyph of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life with the sephirah of Binah superimposed upon the part of a diagram expressing Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic at the circle pertaining to Verstand (Understanding, also the meaning of Binah).  The spheres representing the sephirot are themselves reminiscent of Hume’s billiard balls.  A graphic limitation exists here because while in Kabbalah, understanding pertains to Binah, the development of forms is deemed to be more a function of Chokhmah.  Beyond is a detail of Michelangelo’s Creation of Man from the Sistine Chapel, Vatican in which not a few have observed the uncanny appearance of the Godhead figure and cloak to a brain.  The Divine appears to reach through what appears to be the frontal lobe at the Ajña Chakra, to give life to Adam (Flickr).  The diagram concerning Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic is by the author.

  1. M. Lorkowski. “David Hume- Causation” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (n.d., accessed September 20, 2017) http://www.iep.utm.edu/hume-cau/.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Kant, Immanuel. “Critique of Pure Reason” The Basic Writings of Kant (Allen W. Wood, ed, transl.,2001) Modern Library, Random House Publishing Group, NY, ISBN: 0-375-75733-3, pp. 42,43.
  4. 25, ibid.
  5. 57, Ibid.
  6. 59, ibid.
  7. Zack, Naomi, PhD. “The Handy Philosophy Answer Book” (Visible Ink Press, Canton MI 2010) ISBN: 978-1-57859-226-5, p. 275.
  8. An exercise known by the author since the 1990’s as a teacher in various classes on the subject. In settings where the participant does not act alone, clothing is loose-fitting or with the wearing of a ritual robe.
  9. (n.a.) “The Art of Dreaming” Biblioteca Pleyades (Quotations and comments from Carlos Castaneda, accessed September 21, 2017) https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/cienciareal/esp_donjuan9.htm.
  10. Observed by the author.
  11. Rassi, Fatemeh and Shahabi, Zeiae. “Husserl’s Phenomenology and two terms of Noema and Noesis” International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, ISSN: 2300-2697, Vol. 53, pp29-34 (2015, Sci Press LTD, Switzerland), pp. 29, 30; referencing Husserl, Edmund. Ideas:  General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (2003, W. R. Boyce Gibson, translator, George Allen & Unwinm LTD, London).  Available through https://www.scipress.com/ILSHS.53.29.
  12. A commonly reported example of awakening within a dream. Scientific inquiry began with Stephen LeBerge of Stanford University when he proved the existence of lucid dreams in the Stanford Sleep Lab.  Much material is available on his work from The Lucidity Institute. http://www.lucidity.com/
  13. Fiona Macdonald. “Scientists May Have Found The Part of The Brain That Enables Lucid Dreaming” Science Alert (January 26, 2015, accessed September 21, 2017) https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-may-have-found-the-part-of-the-brain-that-enables-lucid-dreaming .
  14. Lynne Blumberg. “What Happens to Brains During Spiritual Experiences” The Atlantic (June 5, 2014, accessed September 21, 2017). https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/what-happens-to-brains-during-spiritual-experiences/361882/
  15. BBC Staff. “Meditation mapped in monks” BBC (March 1, 2002, accessed September 21, 2017) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1847442.stm
  16. Brad Fischer. “Distinct ‘God Spot’ in the Brain does not exist, MU Researcher Says” University of Missouri News (April 18, 2012, accessed September 21, 2017) http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2012/0418-distinct-%E2%80%9Cgod-spot%E2%80%9D-in-the-brain-does-not-exist-mu-researcher-says/
  17. Jung, C. G. Man and His Symbols (1968, Laurel Books, Dell Publishing, NY) ISBN: 0-440-35183-9, p. 32.
  18. Zohar 1:13b, from Matt, Daniel C. The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Volume 1 (2004) Stanford University Press. ISBN: 0-8047-4747-4, p. 94, footnote708.
Please follow and like us:
0

How to Talk Sexuality with Trans and Non-Binary Teens

By TMPlanet

According to  Rachel Lynn Golden, Ph.D via Psychology Today, there are sex positive ways to approaching the topic of sexuality with your transgender or non-binary child:

1. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

There are a variety of resources you can access to better understand aspects of sexuality, sexual identity, and gender identity. Planned Parenthood , Scarleteen , both have comprehensive websites with information on sexuality and gender identity. Trans Bodies Trans Selves also serves as a textbook with helpful and informative chapters on many aspects of sexuality. It is written from a multitude of voices and perspectives and highlights a diversity of experiences.

2. Start with identities and build from there.

With any adolescent make sure to ask early and with genuine interest and authenticity about different facets of their identity. Create a space for them to tell you about how they understand their gender identity. As romantic and sexual attraction reflect the complexity of the experience of attraction, ask about sexual orientation/identity, and romantic orientation separately. Gender, sexual and romantic identities are distinct parts of the human experience, and there are myriad ways in which the three can converge in each of us. Consider yourself lucky to be trusted with a process of self-identity and discovery. Find ways to let your patients tell you about themselves and describe their experiences on a spectrum or continuum, rather than trying to fit their experience into rigid boxes.

3. Question your presumptions about sexuality.

Know that people from all experiences have their own relationship to sexuality. This means asking every patient about sexuality and not picking and choosing the individuals you have decided are more likely to want to have sex. Challenge your biases about gender, (dis)ability, body type, mental and physical health and their relationship to sexuality. Access resources challenging presumptions about sex and disability as well.

4. Be open in your discussion of pleasure and erogenous zones.

There are all sorts of ways to experience pleasure. Necks, arms, legs, ears and nipples, you name it, there is room for seeking out pleasurable experiences all over our bodies. In addition, conversations about pleasure open up conversations about the exploration of sexuality on one’s own. As with anyone discovering their sexuality, it can help to first figure out some basic aspects of pleasure on one’s own. It allows for individuals to take things at their own pace. This may be particularly important for adolescents who are beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) that may be physically shifting their body.

5. Affirm asexuality.

Being sex positive does not imply that all sex is good, or that not having sex means that people will miss out on positive experiences. Rather, it means trusting your patients to know their identities and what experiences of sexuality will be most affirming, including desiring no sexual relationships at all. Affirming asexuality  also means affirming it as an identity, and not just as a route to risk reduction.

6. Talk about dysphoria.

The way in which dysphoria manifests can affect how people experience aspects of sexuality. For example, parts of the body that individuals are comfortable touching or having touched can vary by levels of specific dysphoria about those parts. Remember, individuals experience dysphoria differently. It can be diffuse or specific, and may not be there at all. In your conversations, be gentle. Talking about dysphoria can aggravate dysphoria. You can also ask your patients to let you know how their dysphoria interferes with desire for sexuality. Much like depression, dysphoria may lessen sexual desire altogether.

7. Refer to body parts in a way that makes your client feel affirmed.

Ask your patients how they refer to the parts of their body. Using their terminology provides another opportunity to affirm your patient. Do this both when you are talking together, and in situations where the patient has first consented to your use of that language with other providers. Another option your patient may prefer is that you use parts-first language such as: “People with penises…” and “People with vaginas…” You can also fill in your client’s terminology here. Note that, when you are talking about sexual behavior there are also a variety of ways you can refer to behaviors by just referring to parts.

8. Challenge heteronormative scripts around sexual identity, sexual behavior and gender roles in sexuality.

What truly constitutes sex is up to the person having it. Thus, sex is not only considered sex when it involves penetration. Broadening how you conceptualize sex will allow you the opportunity to talk with patients more authentically about their desires around pleasure, partnership, and sex roles.

9. Talk about consent.

Talk about enthusiastic consent. Talk about it being absolutely OK for your patients to start something intimate and change their mind. Talk about their right to say: “I used to like that, but I don’t anymore.” One way to practice saying yes and then no is to role play with your patients by practicing saying “yes” to talking about a neutral topic in your office, and then having them practice changing their minds and standing their ground. For example, you can practice with examples from the consent video here (link is external).

10. Practice communication.

Communication is essential with sexual partners, and it is critical in supporting affirming sexual relationships. Successful sexual communication allows people to talk about their desires, the areas of their body that provide pleasure, and do or do not provoke dysphoria. Practice asking and answering open-ended questions. To emphasize the importance of communication with sex partners, help your patients to practice how to start conversations about sex on their own. Talk about key points they want to make, and talk about how to ask partners about their desires as well. The goal is for the practiced communication to allow for your patient to flexibly express their experience of desire, consent to participate in sexual behaviors or decisions not to.

11. Be ready for things to change.

As adolescents grow and develop, their desires and motivation to engage in sexual behaviors may shift. Flexibility is especially important with pubertal and HRT-related changes. For example, dysphoria may intensify with puberty. If this happens, parts of the body that did not previously provoke dysphoria may now do so when they are talked about, or touched by self or others. In addition, when adolescents start hormones, changes that come with HRT may shift aspects of desire, pleasure, and dysphoria. Again, be gentle.

12. Make plans for disclosure and safety.

It is by no means a requirement for transgender and nonbinary adolescents to disclose anything about the gender they were assigned at birth or their body parts. Each individual likely has specific goals regarding sharing their gender identity. In addition, they may also face greater risk in intimate relationships and disclosures. This is incredibly important as this risk is well-documented, according to the Williams Institute, 30 to 50 percent of transgender people experience intimate partner violence as opposed to 28 to 33 percent of the general population. Therefore, talk openly about the risk posed to transgender and non-binary individuals without victim blaming. Talk about ways to mitigate risk, as well as is possible. There is excellent information in this  post about disclosing. Some possibilities are to disclose online first, to disclose in public places or with a trusted friend around.

13. CREATE access to care.

Make your office a place where patients don’t have to ask you for information, but where they can get information without even asking. Keep a jar of non-expired internal and external condoms, lube and dental dams in a visible and accessible place. Make sure your patients know they do not need to ask you to take one, two, or as many as they need. Create partnerships with gender and sexuality-affirming medical providers that are easier to access. Build relationship between your patients and these providers. One way is to make phone calls with your patients to help them schedule and connect to services. In addition, have resources at the ready like Vibrant , a company that makes sex toys for parts (not people). They have a section of their blog dedicated to gender-affirming toys. Scarleteen also provides information about sex toys. 

14. Help caregivers affirm their child’s sexuality. When caregivers are involved, work with them to facilitate an understanding of the variety of ways their child’s gender identity, romantic or sexual orientation/identity and desire for sexuality intersect. When caregivers are only beginning to understand their child’s identities or are invalidating about aspects of their child’s identity, it can be very dysphoria provoking for adolescents to answer questions about their gender and sexuality. Be prepared to provide education about the intersection of identities and the diversity of ways that identities present. Talk with the adolescent about having conversations with their caregivers without the adolescent having to be present. Have them let you know what they are comfortable with you answering on their behalf. Work with caregivers to understand that their participation in conversations about sexuality is a critical way to engage and affirm their adolescent and an opportunity to help reduce risk and encourage positive outcomes.

15. Mistakes happen. When you make a mistake, fail to be affirming, or your presumptions make themselves known, just apologize. You can also state that you will work to not make the same error in the future. Then move on. Be sure not to place the burden on the adolescent of working through your error with you. Later, work on addressing your error on your own. One way is to practice your affirming language no matter where you are, or what you are doing.

With gained confidence that a provider is truly acting from a place of affirmation and self-education, transgender and non-binary adolescents may feel free to be more open about their identities and behaviors. Greater openness in conversations can lead to greater accessing of sexuality-related medical care, and a reduction in other risks as well.

In addition, you too may be able to learn, grow and be even more affirming in your practice- and perhaps in your own life as well.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM

Please follow and like us:
0