Sunday, July 27, 2008

27th July
Last weekend I went to a dance workshop whose theme was THE TREE OF DESIRES.

One of the many curious things about the world we live in is that we are trained from a very early age to mistrust our own desires....

It's in the story of Adam and Eve: Eve, wickedly, desired the fruit of the forbidden tree and so did eat....

And in the confession I used to have to repeat in church every sunday for most of the sundays of my young life:
"We have done those things which we ought not to have done
and we have left undone those things which we ought to have done.
We have followed the devices and desires of our own hearts, and there is no health in us."

"Want doesn't get', I was told endlessly. And children who got what they wanted were apparently 'spoilt" which was somewhat mysterious but undoubtedly A Very Bad Thing.

But desires tell us who we are; desires are a kind of star that helps us navegate through all the mysteries of our amazing and confusing selves.

I loved the story of how the mother of Achilles learnt that her son was going to be a great hero and would be killed in battle. She didn't want him killed in battle, so she did two things: one she bathed him in the waters of the river Styx to make him invulnerable. But she had to hold onto him by his heel to stop him being swept away in its black waters: so his heel was never dipped in the stream, and remained vulnerable.
And the other thing she did was disguise him as a girl and have him/her hidden away on the island of Skyros so no-one would find him.
But the wily Ulysses discovered where he was hid, and travelled to the island, disguised as a pedlar.
Ulysses was completely indistinguishable from the other girls,a nd Ulysses couldn't tell which one was him.
So, in disguise, he unpacked his bundle of jewellery and scarves to tempt the girls with. But among these feminine things he also had a sword: and Achilles wanyed it.
So that was what gave away his identity.

When I read the story I always envied Achilles being free to be a girl; and felt very sorry that Ulysses found out who he really was.

And so my desire to be him, disguised as a girl, revealed who I was.

But also, as I look back on things, I realise that my story was a bit like Achilles in reverse. For my mother feared very deeply for me and had me disguised as a boy, and brought up in a very male environment, and surrounded only with male playthings.

(There is one so-called 'expert' on transgenderism who claims he can "cure" transgender boys by using this method...)

And the one time I came across a doll, I wanted it so desperately I stole it....

The difference is that whereas Achilles' 'core' identity as a warrior was recognised as encouraged, my equally core, identity as a trans woman was concealed and repressed.

Achilles went on to kill many people and cause much grief before finally meeting a violent death.

Thank the Mother I have gone in the opposite direction....


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