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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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

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A Message in an E-Mail: The Heart of the Struggle for the Transgender Soul

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

How did I survive all this?  When I look back on all the times I could have died in obscurity, I can’t help but think that some uncanny intelligence intervened.  Is it God?  Is it the universe?  Or does this intelligence even cater to individual understanding?  I don’t think so.

Throughout the ages, many other words have described this intelligence: Spirit, Being, Noumenon, Superconsciousness… but more accurately these terms probably speak of aspects, not the fullness of an essence.  None of us fully grasp that essence.  We barely grasp our own, provided we had a chance to allow ourselves that essence to unfold in the first place, an unfolding that might be compared to a plant that unfolds from darkness to light, like the sunflower that springs up from a seed.

It might be described as a soul, more than just the union of flesh and breath: that which discovers its capacity to commune with that which is greater than one’s self, yet realizing in that communion how it’s as it were the ripple in a pond.  Its rings fan outward from a mere drop as a seed and fades into the greater vibratory milieu.  Scarcely more than analogy can speak of it.  Parables continue to elude those who haven’t tasted.  But that something in the transgender heart desires desperately to dance like that exquisite ripple and, if obstructed, will find a way to rebuild that vibration.  The struggle for the transgender soul is like that.  It’s verily the struggle for liberty.

 

AWAKENING TO INNOCENCE

I didn’t realize what I had encountered when it knocked on the windows of my soul.  It took the form of an e-mail from a friend back in 2001, a dean of Religious Studies at an east coast university.  He sought to encourage me, signing his communiqués, “With thoughts of metta.”  “Metta”, of course, is a term for “compassion” in Japanese Buddhist terms.  He said in his e-mail, “You are beautiful, smart, and also innocent.”

I demurred, remembering how in the year following being victimized by rape I had engaged so many and had never forgiven myself for my promiscuity.  I said, “I am not innocent.”

He said, “You may not see yourself as innocent because of your past.  But no matter where you may have been or what you may have done, you are innocent because you never lost your capacity to wonder, even as a little child.”

None of this made sense to me so I dismissed his words as flattery, setting the matter aside while pursuing my assessment for transition.  I wouldn’t revisit the matter for another 3 years when I faced another crisis.  For I had to choose between a life partner and the manipulations of a corporate cult that had sought to swallow up a large swath of the Southern California trans community.  This threatened me enough that I could have lost my home and even my life.  At that time I had begun to write a journal that should be found with my body perchance law enforcement would find it and needed information about me beyond just a statistic.

What I had begun to write became much more.  I revisited the issues of dreams and relationships, seeking what they all meant.  For while I might have resigned from my order of Magians only months before meeting my online friend, the issues generated by my own gnostic experiences resonate to this day.  I had to account for them and their continued relevance.

In most cases I speak of more than just having a dream.  I speak of dreaming as an intentional art.  I catalogued 40 dreaming mechanisms in 5 genera:

  • Hypnagogia: dreams occurring at the onset of sleep before Stage I.
  • REM: dreams during sleep characterized by rapid eye movements.
  • Trance: dreams during waking but with eyes closed.
  • Eidetics: dream phenomena during waking and with eyes open.
  • Coma: a loosely defined genus centered around comatose episodes and others not fitting the above categories.1

That’s when I remembered my friend’s words and for a moment it struck me how much of a gift he had unwittingly given me.  He regarded me as “innocent” in a different way from the vernacular.  I had been locked into the view in which innocence follows a legal declaration.  But suddenly I began to realize it was not so.

It eventually became a foundation for my philosophy.  I introduced the idea thus:

“There’s one trait specifically, the true innocence manifest in children, which is precious beyond all price; for by it we owe the continuance of the world.  It’s the capacity to wonder, to dream, to be in awe.  From such things we invent all that mankind has made: the affairs of state and education, the assemblies of worship, and the arts of love; for there’s nothing in our world that did not begin somewhere in a dream, including you who are also dreamers.”2

That realization set the theme of the first book I ever wrote: The Téssara.  I took the name from the Greek word for “4” (τέσσαρα), applying it to 4 sections.  That book would mean little to most people.  But that book began my philosophic journey through which I would begin to understand the stigma that had dogged me from childhood, into the university, a Bible college, and in every shop in which I would work over the decades.  It also enabled me to come to terms with my life’s meaning.  Instead of providing final information to police it affirmed my life’s purpose.  My living situation stabilized.  I built a career.

 

FACING THE IMPENETRABLE STIGMA

The stigma which so readily becomes attached to those of us who may eventually transition from male to female arises out of the judgments of others who say, “he isn’t a proper boy,” or “he’s queer,” or “he’s weird.”  Nothing I could say or do changed these perceptions.  Nothing I could imagine would be allowed any other interpreted than psychopathology.  Many religious people demand regimentation of action, speech, and even thought.  To do anything creative often invites some form of rejection or even violence.

A choice persists for all who face this stigma that hangs like a thick cloud through which light doesn’t penetrate:

  1. Does one escape violence and go with the herd?
  2. Does one embrace her/his/eir uniqueness though none would tolerate it?

The former leads into a world of games and gangs in which others always become the “king of the hill” and the religious typically sanction this.  The latter leads into a world of science and art that demands questioning through which one forever confronts dissatisfaction with dogmas and the inevitable human hypocrisies that arise concerning them.

That also confronts those phenomena that come naturally, like dreams.  My dreams awakened me at an early age to my gender identity:

“Growing up I preferred dolls to sports.  As boys attacked me I developed friendships with girls.  One night I had a dream where I looked in the bathroom mirror and a pretty girl looked back.  I felt my hair, my skin.  I was certain I had turned into a girl.  I was happier than I had ever known.  Then I awoke and saw it was a dream and wept bitterly.  I began 2 things: a lifelong study of dreams and cross-dressing.  In both cases I was desperate to bring back the girl in the mirror.”3

Many other transwomen to whom I have spoken had dreamed such a dream at an early age.  Dreams have a way of signaling life issues, often more loudly than any other activity.  Virtually all of us can recall having been zapped by a dream.  There’s a reason that happens.  The numinosity thereof screams at us through the limbic system’s emotional tags.  The hippocampus arranges and rearranges these memory traces in the dreams of the night, and if the issues represented thereby become important enough, they’re amplified even more in a surge of emotional energy that can jolt us awake with trembling.4

Though a dream may be forgotten, and in fact most are, traces may infect the course of our day or even our lives.  Knowing this, I’ve long believed that transpeople are a people of dreams, though most of them remain largely e asleep and unaware of their potency.  Many transpeople have shut out their dreams, dismissing them as entirely unreliable for any purpose.  But those dreams reveal their most basic desires, unconsciously amplified as the playback of tapes they might not understand, but are the stuff that impacts our thoughts and actions.5

 But if those dreams have been pondered and understood in terms of their emotive language, the same open to higher vistas.  Certain aspects of meditation address these things through its own lucidity as a vehicle of mindfulness.  Together they work to promote self awareness, and consequently, an awakening to a higher intelligence.

Of all spiritualities, none represent anything more fundamental or more primal than those formed about an oneiric muein.

 

ONEIRITY AND AWAKENING

Oneirity, or one’s propensity to dream, is more potent than we think.  Picture the mind as a field (agros).  Even a field at rest grows plants after the rain.  Thoughts develop much the same way, forming as they were, living networks.  Edmund Husserl described such networks of thought as noemata.  They’re more than amalgamations of sense perceptions.  Sometimes these networks touch what an individual cannot account for by any physical means and so must turn to the higher noesis whose conceptions are somewhat different, comparable to the actions of a bee as it carries pollen from one to the next.6

But if one questions thoughts to their sources, one must find them hidden in an early fixation or resonance.  It may begin with the joys of a family.  It may begin with recitation of verse.  It may begin with an insight through mathematics.  It may even begin with the imposition of a creed.  It may even begin with a dream.  These initial resonances I call a muein.  In the aforementioned list a muein may be familial, lyrical, mathematical, dogmatic, or oneiric respectively.  Others exist besides these.  But a muein (plural, muousi) acts with noemata much the same way as an executable file gives life to a program and is set in motion by some intelligence, human or otherwise.  Some may think of a muein as angelic or demonic.  But it’s neither.  It’s a resonance, a source of enchantment reflecting a mystery, in fact “muein” (μυεῖ = “he initiates” + moveable nu) comes from the same root as “mystērion” (μυστήριον = “mystery”) in Greek.

These construct through noemata the tapes, the stories we live by as narrative creatures.  Muousi are the seeds of those life-giving narratives of personal myth.  Nobody explores one’s own soul without also exploring those narratives.

Every muein carries with it inherent benefits and dangers.  Where a dogmatic muein may set forth a wild growth of noemata that stimulates a form of scholarship, but also judgmentalism, lack of tolerance, and reliance upon things preconceived.  This, more often than not, develops the form of spirituality most desired in and imposed by religious cults.  An oneiric muein stimulates a plethora of ideas, even philosophies, but also an ethereal and elusive quality that requires a lot of grounding.  This, more often than not, develops the kind of spirituality one may encounter in sage and sorcerer.  Both need the discipline of philosophy.

More than one muein may take hold upon a person.  But once planted they cannot be uprooted.  All that can happen is a decision to cultivate certain noemata over others or implantation of a new muein.  But the suppression of a muein can also be a dangerous thing.  If suppressed it could burst forth at a future time with a vengeance building new thought networks at a dizzying rate.  Those who transition late in life often experience this.

That breaking forth of the action of a suppressed muein translates into awakening.  In the case of transpeople, that awakening can translate into a twofold revolution of thought relating to gender identity as well as a spiritual revolution.  So often do questionings concerning the origin of this revolution reveal an oneiric muein taking hold, whether or not dreams are accepted as relevant, I believe that dreams are key to development of the transgender soul.

 

SPIRITUALITIES AND SEXUALITIES

Natural innocence is something much maligned by religionists.  It’s ridiculed and dismissed.  Worse yet, it isn’t even recognized as innocence.  They delegate innocence to what they declare as self-appointed judges, juries, and executioners to whatever extent they can.  By doing so, they inflict immense harm.

So pervasive is this harm scarcely anyone sees around it.  Consider this exchange at a radio station when I asked other announcers their thoughts on innocence:

 

One announcer declared that innocence is the same as ignorance because young children are innocent and don’t know anything.  A rabid Evangelical affirmed the same idea.

“Wait a minute!” I said, “If innocence is ignorance then an all-knowing god can’t be innocent.”

The Evangelical said that was true.

“Are you for real?” I said.  “God judges our innocence when He can’t be innocent Himself?  I’m astonished that an Evangelical, eager to defend the character of God should make such a pronouncement.  But it has been suggested, children are innocent.  Does everyone agree?”

Everyone did.

“And do we all agree that innocence is something to be preserved?”

Everyone agreed.

“Then innocence can’t possibly be ignorance.  Why have schools?  Why be concerned with moral development?  By teaching we would lead children away from ignorance and therefore destroy innocence forever.”

Another said, “We know that innocence means one has done no wrong.”

“As in ‘sinlessness’?”

“Yes.”

“Then if children are our example of innocence, I couldn’t agree less.  If ever a human demonstrated wrongdoing, it’s a child.  That’s why a child needs instruction.  But since we all agreed that children are innocent, innocence can’t be sinlessness by a longshot.”

“But children aren’t accountable because they don’t know any better,” the Evangelical interrupted.

“Then we’re back to an issue of ignorance rather than wrongdoing and we already saw how ignorance isn’t innocence.  Wrongdoing likewise isn’t the issue of innocence.  Innocence is necessarily something else.”

“But what about the courts?” another said.  “They declare innocence and guilt every day.”

“The courts,” I said,” are a subterfuge.  Don’t take their words about innocence and guilt at face value.  Here’s a similar example regarding legal words, “several,” which though we commonly speak of many, in the courts refer to the responsibility of only one entity.  Courts can’t judge a heart. They only judge actions through what is evidence they can see.  But what other terms can we offer them by which to judge?  They make do with the language we offer and at times redefine words so as to estrange them from their deeper meaning so they could execute the duty assigned to them.  They work around natural limitations.  When a court declares innocence or guilt, it does so to establish and preserve a milieu where true innocence can flourish.  In so doing, a court is a blessing so long as it’s circumspect.”7

 

When questioning further to religious ideas about innocence as a declarative judgment, one sooner or later encounters the idea that the innocence of children amounts to ignorance concerning sex.8 If a child sees someone naked, accusations fly like, “He took away my child’s innocence!”  In recent cases in which a child encounters a transperson, similar claims fly, presuming, of course, that the claimant stigmatizes all transpeople as “sex perverts” much the same way as we were typically treated under Hitler and post-war American society before Stonewall.

This treatment of sex and innocence is nonsense, of course.  It has worked its way into a problematic intergenerational ethic built upon malapropism.  If the lover finds within the other the fulfillment of a dream and will even die to preserve the other, such is innocent whether or not a religionist chooses to accept it as such, tolerate it as a provision of religious dictum, or refuses to accept the innocence thereof, opposing like the stereotypical in-law.

Likewise, our own gender issues demand that we face and explore what these issues mean.  While religionists may summarily condemn such exploration, the only thing that detracts from the possibility of them being innocent is an issue of dogma concerning interpretations of religious tests as a matter of Divine Command.  But whether a presumed “command” may be accepted or not has little relevance to whether the exploration is innocent.  After all, if we should accept the religious idea that “every command is also a promise,”9 then the appropriation of that promise of negating gender issues should destroy them outright as a miracle.

But we typically don’t find this, despite the claims of certain “ex-transsexuals”.10 Once in a while a dream may awaken one who isn’t genuinely transgender to that person’s internal truth.11 Detransition is warranted for such an individual but this cannot be applied to all.  What typically happens in these cases is the acceptance of subjugation as a condition for desired cult acceptance.  Nobody who does not form his/her/eir own conclusions should be considered a proper candidate for transition in the first place.

The charge that a transperson “takes away a child’s innocence” also presumes that innocence, once lost, is irretrievable.  But not only is innocence recoverable, it’s something to be cultivated, a virtue between the vices of gullibility and gross cynicism.

This maligning of innocence and sexuality results in something much worse:  internalization of condemnation due to the simple fact that one naturally has sexual feelings.  This internalization has actually resulted in not a few people turning against anything that smacks of spirituality.  It has also resulted in not a few becoming so internally conflicted they’re set up for mental illness and this complex may be reinforced by incarceration.

 

THE HEART OF THE STRUGGLE

This is the heart of the struggle for the transgender soul:  those forces arising from dogmatic muousi demand subjugation and suppression of those with oneiric muousi.  Those with noemata and spiritualities developed from other muousi are forced to choose between them, and that may be determined upon convenience instead of conscience.  Factors endemic to the characteristics of each muein also appear.  The integrity of those with oneiric muousi encounter constant challenges from those determined to force others to give up their dreaming selves.  They also face challenges unaccepting members of their own community.

The integrity of those with dogmatic muousi also faces challenge in like manner but with an additional stressor:  the need for their respective egos to see their judgments enforced.  If those judgments suffer damage as a result of non-acceptance, so do their egos.  It may end in bitterness, or may simply demand rest till such can fight another day.  It’s a conflict that ends only with the end of religious institutions and even then their adherents typically realign with new entities.

For those of us who are transgender, the issue amounts to a desire for liberty; and if not liberty, then at least tolerance.  Liberty and tolerance aren’t the same.  Tolerance presumes the right to impose judgment against another, but makes some degree of allowance.  Human consistency in judgment doesn’t exist and neither does human tolerance.  Germany was one of the most tolerant nations on Earth till after the Weimar Republic.  Then Hitler imposed his death camps.  Liberty, however, permits no presumption of a right to judge.  Wherever entities seek political power in order to enforce what they regard as Divine Command, liberty dies and tolerance runs thin.

But those of us with oneiric muousi can take comfort on other levels for the transgender soul, even in the face of the threat of extermination.  Because we dream, we can always repair to the higher, beyond the reach of the intolerant.  Our paths may be hidden and we may be driven back into the shadows as they have for centuries.  Our paths can lead us into places of repair where perchance we might also encounter that higher intelligence: in quiet abodes set apart, in temples unknown in the heart.

_______________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  portions of the ‘Etz Chayim consisting of the sephirot Malkhut, Y’sod, and Netzach with their associated paths depicted in Universal Kabbalah superimposed over a path along Santiago Creek, Santa Ana CA.  Images are by the author.

  1. Stuart, Lynnea Urania. “Hiereika”, Ch. 3, The Téssara. (Unpublished, 2005) pp. 121, 122.  It’s stated in Lynnea’s will that The Téssara must not be released in its full form till her death.
  2. Stuart, Lynnea Urania. “Enthumesia”, Ch. 1, The Téssara, p. 207.  This view is followed by a discussion of concepts of truth, the nature of which distinguish innocence from selfish ambition, the latter of which also dreams and wonders but does so destructively.  Lynnea refers to ambition as the “counterfeit of innocence” and different from the essential trait of drive.
  3. Girschick, Lori B. Transgender Voices (2008, quoting Lynnea Urania Stuart from a 2002 statement) University Press of New England, Lebanon NH, ISBN-13: 978-1-58465-645-6, p. 51.
  4. James R. Phelps, M.D. Memory, Learning, and Emotion” org (updated December, 2014, accessed September 13, 2017) http://psycheducation.org/brain-tours/memory-learning-and-emotion-the-hippocampus/.
  5. Dan P. McAdams “The Stories We Live By” Kirkus Review (May 20, 2010, accessed September 13, 2017, summarizes the author’s thesis) https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/dan-p-mcadams/the-stories-we-live-by/.
  6. William Large. “The Noesis and Noema” Arasite (accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.arasite.org/noesis.html. This summary article should be read carefully and critically.
  7. Stuart, “Enthumesia”, Ch. 1, The Téssara, pp. 205, 206.
  8. Marie Winn. “The Loss of Childhood” New York Times (May 8, 1983, repost n.d. accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.nytimes.com/1983/05/08/magazine/the-loss-of-childhood.html?pagewanted=all&mcubz=3.
  9. As generally taught, all promises come with prerequisites of obedience as defined by clergy. See Graham Pockett.  “The Bible is an ‘iffy’ book” Anointed Links (accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.anointedlinks.com/iffy.html . It’s a reverse view of the classical position that no obedience can possibly take place without taking promises on faith.
  10. M. “My Turning Around” Transgender Christians (accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.transchristians.org/archive/brooke-my-turning-around.
  11. Matt Sorger. “I was Transsexual.  Then Jesus came into my life” MSM  (accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.mattsorger.com/miracles/article/i-was-transsexual-.then-jesus-came-into-my-life.
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