I remember my first experience of someone surgically changing her gender. I was about thirty-three years old, and most of the people now opting for the actual medical procedure were not yet born. A couple undergoing the change had originally been two females. This occurred in a psychology class, and while we all admired their courage and determination to go through the grueling surgeries and hormonal treatments, it was still very rare, and I’ll admit that it seemed odd to me that these two who had started as a same sex couple would decide to be a heterosexual couple at such great cost. I realize now that I thought they were either undecided about who they were, or else wanted to have a unique and special impact as a couple. The wow! Effect.
Standing Deer’s exit from this 3-D world has given me uninterrupted access to YouTube, and I’ve had time to catch up on some of the looming social issues. I’ve been watching psychologists, educators, and the subjects themselves discussing the increase in medical sex change procedures among young people. Many of them are in their early teens when a sense of identity and one’s place in the world are still developing. Of course, that is also a time of life when we are willing to make deep and often courageous dives into ideas and actions far beyond the safety of social constructs accepted in childhood. It is a time of questioning normalcy and exploring one’s new body and mind. In line with the questioning, is a tendency to make decisions that feel brave and right at a time of very limited experience yet can reframe the rest of one’s life. However, I was troubled by the ease with which professionals can approve something as permanently life changing as a sex-reassignment and are even required to legally support such a decision made by an adolescent. Making permanent decisions about changing something as core as one’s gender identity during such a tumultuous stage of personal development in the setting of a world in tumult seems overloaded with personal risk.
There is a growing discontent among many young people with their assigned gender at birth, given the many flaws in our socially assigned roles. Perhaps this is an indication that a critical time has arrived to sort out the natural values attached to gender roles, and what is socially worn out and won’t work for the world that is coming. Nevertheless, we can never be free of all nature’s assignments as long as we live within this physical vibration. Science has imbued us moderns with a goal of unlimited freedom to choose one’s role in life, including one’s physical role. These two, in my opinion, often wrongly coupled issues seem to be approaching a dangerously confused entanglement. It is even becoming a legal issue. I’ll propose that freedoms exist to enhance the creative progress of the universe. Yet, how do we determine progress, or the differences between progress and dissolution? When are the base rules of existence in the universe being disregarded? Is nature even allowed a voice? Or is the hubris of scientific materialism and the belief that we humans are the ultimate authority in the universe a done deal.
Gender is one of the primal dualities of life, and nature doesn’t function without duality. However, it is being regarded increasingly as a matter of personal choice, rather than a choice made for us by Mother Nature. This impresses me as very dangerous, because nature has an intelligent wisdom based on a complete ecosystem developed over eons of time and tested with infinitely more rigor than human scientists, sociologists, and psychotherapists could produce in the short timespan and limited experience of their existence, not to mention philosophical arrogance.
Duality is perhaps the first basic feature of existence on this dimension, and it involves every aspect of life and even the source of life. The interface of opposites is literally the engine of creation. It seems to me that much of society and even sociology and psychology is confusing individual experience and an artificial social construct with innate reality. Duality is not only a reproductive mode of nature, that involves all of life from the simplest to the most complex but is truly cosmic. There are simple life forms that carry within themselves both male and female reproductive functions, but they are still operating within a dual system.
Of course, Gender Dysphoria, the dissatisfaction with one’s gender of birth, and identity with the opposite gender is not the denial of duality, but the belief that nature has misassigned which side of the sexual distinction one was born into because an individual experiences social identity and physical body as inverted. Some individuals even believe that they were wrongly reborn into a gender that was attached to them as a karmic malalignment, with a body they were wrongly assigned. I just don’t believe in mistaken births or rebirths. If you came back in a gender you don’t want, it’s because there is something you need to understand or explore for your completion as a person and a cell in the body of Gaia. However, after many centuries of gender inequality, and rigid roles based not on nature’s values but on distortions of culture and religion. It is not surprising that in this time of re-examination and doubt, many feel that something essential is yearning to come out. They are right, but where can the young (and not so young) find reliable guidance? Can the problem be solved surgically on the body when it arises from a soul’s desire to understand and heal the painful rift between the sexes?
However, I’m concerned there is great potential danger in choosing one’s gender with the ego, which is so vulnerable to seductive cultural trends and historic impositions. Part of our modern hubris is the notion that the ability to do something technically is the same as clearance to do whatever one’s ego chooses, and intellect can accomplish. Both sexes have been misused socially. Both male and female are of natural design, but within a healthy and creative duality there must be balance and equal value. I believe our current confusion is the result of ages of inequality and crippling gender assignments. There are many values and abilities from both sexes that are repressed or exploited to accommodate artificial cultural beliefs that go against nature. A sex change may be more unusual, but not necessarily more unnatural than some of our more common impositions on the natural world. As I write this, I’m being reminded that to even speak of nature as a thing, is to behave as if it’s outside my skin.
Our modern world is culturally destitute regarding natural symmetry, and I personally believe this is the source of many current problems including climate change, constant war, exploitation of natural resources, the mechanization of creativity and human interaction, and the rule of an artificial value such as money over all natural entities. There is a powerful flow of creative energy back and forth between opposites, Thus, positive, and negative functions act throughout the cosmos. However, when they become chronically and systemically unequal, they begin breaking up the encompassing structure. Our perception is tilting at a dangerous angle and gender confusion is just one of many symptoms of a world put out of kilter by disrespect for the existence of cosmic laws. Ego is a tool and was never meant to be a master.
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)
W. B. Yeats wrote The Second Coming in 1919, after WWI. I see our present world view smack in the center of the world he is describing. The past is never gone in a timeless dimension. The Lion and the Lamb are always among us, with us, are us. The best and the worst are always ours to choose. But belief in our own invented truth brought culture after culture down, throughout history and prehistory.
Our political entities are becoming so polarized that neither will go anywhere near the truth. What are conservatives conserving and what are liberals setting free? Neither shutting out changes and progress nor removing all social and natural forms is functional. Unless there is respectful dialogue in a sincere search for the best compromise, there is only endless blaming. If we care to have effective dialogue, we each must respect the Cosmic intelligence that brought us into being and respect the duality that charges the universe. To ignore the basis of creation is to invite the bull of chaos into this earth house to rearrange the cosmic furniture. Is this the only way we will respect our source. Must we take down the house of Gaia. There are many stories from past cultures about such a hard restart. This is our school; will we pass this test?
Freedom and progress must come from a source above our mortal perspective, or we have a crumbling stone on which to build our home. “Things fall apart.”