By Daliah Husu
When we think of the “trans experience,” we often think of the physical changes that we, as trans people, put our bodies through. We make it our goal to look more like the gender we identify as and to eradicate those physical and biological traits that remind us of our sex at birth and the gender to which we were assigned. This struggle with our exterior, which undoubtedly deserves our attention and must be addressed and corrected to complement our true identities, can become an obsession for many of us. We worry that the surrounding world will focus on those physical characteristics that we despise the most, and often that is the case. In the process, however, we end up becoming our own worst enemies and critics, hating our bodies more each passing day, and neglecting to nourish the most important part of ourselves: our spirit.
When we neglect our inner self, we inadvertently hinder the transition process. Our obsession with our exterior becomes the sole focus, but transition is and should be a process that unifies and sustains our body, mind, and spirit. If we think of the transgender experience as a spiritual journey, because in fact it is, we can better manage our anxieties and discomfort with our bodies and cope with the current moment, knowing that in time we will reach our goals and become the best version of our truest self that we could possibly be.
The word transition is defined as “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another,” which means that time is a major factor associated with it. Sure, we can run off to the nearest plastic surgeon and purchase the body of our dreams today or tomorrow, and that is fine in and of itself. But what happens to the rest of us, the internal part that alerted us that our bodies didn’t match our identities in the first place? Plastic surgery and hormones can drastically transform our bodies and deliver aesthetically pleasing results, but they can’t sustain the emotional and spiritual part of us. So who will care for it and ensure that it stays healthy throughout or transitional process?
As a trans woman, I’ve experienced this spiritual-physical imbalance firsthand and realized that having the body of my dreams meant little when my interior felt void. There is a beauty and privilege in being trans because we have been given an understanding of human duality and everything in between, and it’s those gradient energies that we must embrace and learn to balance so we can experience “our” totality. When our trans experience is limited to how we dress, talk, walk, act, and look, we are incomplete and missing out on other important facets of our selves.
If we think of the people we know for a moment and narrow those people down to those who are or identify as transgender, we can then further divide them into two groups: the ones that you know are happy and the ones that aren’t. We can now think about why those that are unhappy say they are so, and the answer is likely that they cannot transition for one reason or another, be it family, financial, or social reasons. On the other hand, when we think of those who are happy, even if they are affected by the same factors mentioned above, we find that they have formed a solid spiritual connection with themselves, and it’s this connection with self that allows them to cope with the exterior challenges and the anxieties that come with being trans. This is not to be confused with going to church every Sunday morning or chanting mantras on a mountaintop; instead, it’s an acknowledgement of the interior self and what makes it feel purpose.
To try and understand what makes someone happy, we can begin by asking the happiest person we know what makes them happy. I’m certain that the answer won’t be a pair of breast implants, a bigger bottom, or having Kim Kardashian’s curves, although these things are all very nice too. Instead, they might surprise you and say something like, “I enjoy being outdoors,” or “I enjoy spending time with my friends and family.” These answers, if we analyze what they truly mean, are clearly indicating that the spiritual connection and the exchange of energies between ourselves and the natural world is what enhances our overall experience. Connecting gives our spirit a sense of purpose, and we can enrich our trans experience by connecting with our community and sharing this message, rather than live a self-centered experience focused on how we look and how passable we are. We see the latter example all over social media, when our trans brothers and sisters post selfie after selfie and rarely share a post that is meaningful to others or uplifting in some way.
In conclusion, although I’ve lived through the angst that comes from gender dysphoria, I’ve come to understand that spiritual connections and emotional well-being are far more important than a passable exterior. And that if we truly want to live a trans experience that transcends far beyond what we ever thought possible, we must begin sharing more parts of our souls with our brothers and sisters.
You can follow Daliah on Twitter @DaliahHusu