Many times in my life, I have been pushed to the brink, and found a way to reconcile within myself somewhere along those margins.
Take for example, the choice to reconcile my intellect with my emotions, in relation to my gender. The dysphoria is involuntary. It has been maddening at times. I have actually wanted to die to end it, because I could not reconcile these powerful emotions with the ease of moving about the world resembling the superficially female person I was ordained to be from the moment of my birth. I reached a breaking point and decided to become a transgression against a lifetime of social gendering. I chose to embrace being a trans person, rather than continue to deny it in the hopes that the burning urge would be buried alongside me. I chose to embrace testosterone injections and side effects and monitoring my blood. I have chosen to accept that while the dysphoria is not a choice, the treatment for it is.
I also had to reconcile within myself in terms of my sexuality. The self-hate I experienced going to bed with men was just as involuntary as my gender dysphoria. It was unbearable. I would emotionally split away from myself—I would dissociate—trying to run away from underneath my partner’s body, which pinned me against a mattress on the floor. Or on all fours in a cement stairwell. Or on my back on the grass. I would sustain this running away within myself for years if needed. If that’s what it took to push him away so that he would never have the desire to return. Always, I would run into some other aspect of myself that longed for the delicate touch of a woman’s lips on my own. And because I was already running, scared, being confronted by this along the way startled me. I fumbled and at times appeared to drop and break it. At almost the exact same breaking point in my gender, I reached the end of my endurance with relation to compulsary heterosexuality. It was far beyond compulsary for me — it was impulsive, and it was landing me in grave danger. I chose to embrace becoming queer, rather than wait for the trauma to escalate in proportion to the rapes.
I’ve recently determined that my maternal family surname didn’t exist prior to their presence on this continent. It does not exist where we come from. This was the first thing, apart from deciding to leave, that they did to convey to us that they never intended us to return. The last thing they did was decide to never speak of this secret, or what motivated it, to their own children, or their children’s children. There are no records of their arrival, because they exist by another name that has been erased from our history. It has been drowned with alcohol and buried in the earth. Our true name has been laid to rest. In the territories I live in, it happens that this is the single greatest shame that can happen to a family. In the mental landscape I live in, it is a wound so great that to give it any name at all is to have already understated it. A wound I have been grieving all my life without even knowing, until I determined the true nature of the shame, where such an endless well of sorrow came to be. I now choose to embrace all that this means, and to send that healing back to my ancestors—generation after generation—rather than deny it and fight for answers in paperwork that I will never find. My mother’s ancestors’ home is not mine to return to.
I learned some time ago, that in the territories I live in, there were once very close to 100,000 people living as their ancestors did for thousands of years. But just 250 years ago, these three mighty nations were reduced to under 3,000 people over a period of 150 years. And just 100 years ago, when a nation that once was nearly 40,000 strong was systematically reduced to just 14 who were strong enough to survive any way they could through mass murder, epidemics and weaponized disease, invasion and occupation by the militaries of several countries overseas, violent displacement, starvation, land theft, child theft, and the theft of their ancestors’ ways, this nation went into hiding like my ancestors would just decades later. There were just 100 people in that nation when my ancestors arrived in their territories, fleeing their own genocide by forever burying our name. That nation is now 1,500 strong and rising. This territory is their home. I have made the conscious choice to remain here in the wake of what I’ve learned — which serves me to my benefit despite how horrified I am by the atrocities that serve me these privileges — rather than run to some other place where I can be ignorant again of what has happened to make space for me to be there. I make the conscious choice to accept, rather than fear, that they might not want me here and they might never embrace me. I am, after all, from a family with no name.
They don’t owe me anything. In fact, the burden of servitude is upon my shoulders, where it will remain until they tell me otherwise.