Ask Andrew W.K.: How Do I Make My Family Understand I'm Transgender?
Photo by Rick Day
[Editor's note: Every Wednesday, New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or — no surprise here — a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]
Last month I came out as transgender, beginning my transition to female. My mom has repeatedly tried to get me to move back home and see a therapist to "fix" me. My oldest sister called me a "sexual deviant" and forbid me to talk to my nieces and nephew, all of whom I was very close to. It's now been a month since this has happened. My question is, how can I reach out to my mom and my sister to help them understand better?
Sincerely, Rejected Trans Woman
Dear Rejected Trans Woman,
First and foremost, I commend you for moving forward with an incredibly intense yet deeply important choice: the choice to be yourself. Choosing to be true to one's self — despite physical, emotional, and social challenges that may come with the journey — is an integral part of realizing not just one's own potential, but of realizing the true nature of our collective human spirit. This spirit is what makes us who we are, and by following that spirit as it manifests outwardly, and inwardly, you are benefiting us all. This is what defines and furthers our shared journey of discovery and individuality.
You are you, and as you progress on this adventure, you are striving to release more of that "you-ness" from deep within and out into the world. And this "you-ness" is truth, truth as expressed through your life as a unique person. It's your song, your melody.
Each of us has a melody that is meant to be heard loud and clear. Our purpose in life is to transcend all the aspects of ourselves and our surroundings that seek to block out or interfere with the pure and uninhibited singing of this music inside us. The degree to which we are truly successful as humans is the degree to which we have mastered the art of being one and the same with our own song, so that it's not even a separate melody we're singing, but rather we are the melody itself.
Some of us struggle with our greatest enemy — fear — and often do not get far in our efforts to release our true self out into the world. You should feel proud that you have already conquered the hardest challenge, of conquering and freeing your self from yourself. The remaining challenges may be painful, but they are really only disguised opportunities for you to expand your heart and spirit to even larger and truer dimensions. Trust in the ordeals.
There are many things that can stand in the way of our efforts to release our true self, but most of these things don't have much power over us in the end, despite their apparent material or psychological impacts. Ultimately, there is no single outside person, circumstance, or force that can crush our human spirit once it has found the strength to embrace itself.
You have done this. And now it's time to use this power for even more good.
I would tell your mom that you love her. Then tell her you love her again. And then again. Don't even get into her absurdity about being "fixed," or talking to a therapist. Look at this obstacle with your mom as another opportunity to set yourself and your spirit free. It's a test to see how high you can rise, how big you can be, how much compassion you can summon, how much unconditional love you can develop.
Tell your mom that no matter what she says or thinks, you know that deep down inside she loves you. She brought you into the world, and started you on this journey to realize yourself and release your spirit from her care. Remind her that it is your journey and your spirit and your life — not hers. Far too often, parents truly think of their children as "their" kids, rather than seeing the truth that they're simply custodians with the privilege of helping bring another sacred spirit into being, to give it love and the nurturing support it needs to thrive and develop the strength to become itself — your self — and not your mom's or anyone else's.
Tell your sister that no matter how upsetting this may be for her, and no matter how cruel and drastic and hurtful she may try to be, you still love her. Then tell her you love her again. And then again. And tell her that no matter what she says, you know she still loves you, even if at times she herself doesn't realize it.
You can tell her that you are still yourself. In fact, you are even more yourself than ever before. And you can add that you don't need her to say what she thinks about your choice or even need her to understand it, because you love her beyond all understanding. The love you have for your family transcends all logic and norms of behavior and rules and ideas that she or anyone has about you and your spirit. All you have is love, and all you care about is letting that love shine out from within you.
Your love is big enough to compensate for the shortcomings and challenges others are facing. Your love is big enough to love your family even when it doesn't feel returned. Your love is big enough to envelop all the hurt and confusion and pain of life in one enormous, warm embrace.
Your love is the ultimate love that empowers all your efforts, a true love for what is indestructibly and perpetually you. This is more than self-love; this is a pure and blinding love of all existence and the glory of this amazing and perplexing adventure called "life."
Focus on this love, and more love, and even more love. More love than necessary. More love than possible.
You are this love. And this love is what you are releasing from within you as part of this journey. I'm proud of you. And I love you.
Your friend, Andrew W.K.
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