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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