GENDER MONTH–Week FIVE (Part One)–THE BINARY & THE HOLISTIC SELF

5 weeks of expanding the mind and beautifying the world with Queer/Trans/Intersex fabulousness!

ON TO THE FIFTH & FINAL WEEK OF GENDER MONTH!

Each week of this month I’m focusing on a different theme in relation to Queer/Trans/Intersex fabulousness. If you missed any of the last four weeks on NATURE, MULTICULTURAL AWARENESS, INDIGENOUS HISTORY, & EARLY US HISTORY check those posts out here.

This final week will be done in two sections allowing a pause in the middle to call in your full holistic self.

WELCOME TO the first part for this WEEK – THE BINARY & THE HOLISTIC SELF!

In the first section of PART FIVE of the gender series we open our eyes to the bigger reasons why. Why is the truth of queer/trans/intersex people and experience suppressed in so many areas? Nature? Across global cultures? Indigenous North America? Early US history, and so much more? Digging deep to understand the core development of Western culture helps us see how all of these areas are connected.

We begin by reviewing the cultural shift from matrifocal to patrilineal and how this has profoundly affected our current culture and created a false binary. We then look at how calling in our full holistic selves is a powerful antidote to the binary and the patriarchy and its effects. All this prepares us for the second section where we begin shifting our current perspectives to create a new, true world that includes queer/trans/intersex fabulousness, embrace holistic perspectives of gender and learn about The Gender Wheel.

"This is our world" - from The Gender Wheel (c) by Maya Gonzalez

WHY A WORLD OF FALSEHOODS?

As we review the last 4 posts from this series, a new world begins to form in our imaginations: a queer/trans/intersex INCLUSIVE world reflected in nature, global cultures, indigenous America, even early US history. This includes 3, 4 and more genders with multiple sexual identities and family formations. Perspectives that are fluid and inclusive to accommodate the breadth of nature have always existed, throughout the world, including North America. Perspectives like these are often associated with matrilineal or matrifocal, communal or nature/land based communities, common among many indigenous cultures. These communities once existed across the entire world. They certainly existed in large parts of Europe and the Americas pre-colonization.

In fact, today the patriarchy can seem so firmly embedded in reality that it appears as TRUTH, as if it is THE WAY THINGS ARE, even if it means that upon closer examination, there is a universal lie going on.

All this changed with the introduction of patrilineal and patriarchal systems. The shift toward patriarchy began a very long time ago and evolved as it spread over time. Although some matrifocal societies still exist today, the patriarchy of Western culture continues to dominate experience and thinking throughout the majority of the world and public sphere. In fact, today the patriarchy can seem so firmly embedded in reality that it appears as TRUTH, as if it is THE WAY THINGS ARE, even if it means that upon closer examination, there is a universal lie going on.

Why would a shift away from a matrilineal, communal, nature/land based perspective entail such a drastic measure as to recreate reality into a false one? One that denies the reality of what is and always has been?

Power and economics.

It took a very long time for the patriarchy to develop and there were numerous contributing factors along the way, but many significant philosophers and researchers believe it was rooted in war, violence, conquest and the domination of land and women as property. Like queer scholarship, study focusing on women in more and more truthfull ways is growing exponentially and providing greater understanding to our current culture. Here is a significant example of the shifting landscape long ago.

“As class divisions deepened in ancient Roman society, the sexes were assigned an increasingly unequal status. Once property-owning males ascended to a superior social position, those categories could not be bridged or blurred without threatening those who owned and controlled the new wealth. Ownership of property and its inheritance, paternity, legitimacy, and titles became vital legal questions for the new ruling elite. The heterosexual family, headed by the father, became a state dictate because it was the economic vehicle that ensured wealth would be passed on to sons.
Everyone who was not born a male heir to property bore the wrath of the new social system. Just as the status of women was degraded, so was everything that was ‘not male’—transgender, gender-bending, sex-change, and intersexuality. A woman could not become a man, any more than a slave could become a ruling patrician. Males who were viewed as ‘womanly’ were an affront to the men in power.”

– Leslie Feinberg, Transgender Warriors

This system evolved and firmed itself over centuries as it spread far and wide.

“The very fact that… rulers were still trying to ban any form of trans expression demonstrates deep beliefs still persisted from communalism. But the repressive laws aimed at further oppressing trans people, gay and lesbian love, and women formed part of the Corpus juris civilis—Roman body of law that was later used as the foundation for religious and secular law in Europe, England, and the United States.”

– Leslie Feinberg, Transgender Warriors

Indigenous European culture was decimated by the Romans and later by their law. Eventually, colonized Europeans went on to spread patriarchy across the globe through colonizing other indigenous communities. In order to maintain power and control, they used the same systems that had been effective in controlling them by manipulating ideas about women, nature, gender, sexuality and indigeneity.

Looking at the indigenous Americas and the European colonizers’ actions within this context makes it clear why our community was specifically targeted. It is documented that queer/trans/intersex people often held positions of more power on multiple levels in their communities, had greater resources, be it economic, spiritual, social, healing, etc… Third and fourth gender people, or what is currently called Two Spirit by indigenous, Native American people were consulted and valued. They greatly impacted their communities. Targeting queer/trans/intersex people is integral to patriarchy, to Western culture and to colonizing.

You can learn more about the patriarchy’s early development here.

Still queer/trans/intersex people persisted.

MAKING SENSE OUT OF MADNESS

With many centuries in the making, combined with system upon system created to firm and confirm Westernization across the globe, it can be challenging to step away from Western thinking and its patriarchal perspectives. That’s why uncovering and calling OUT the truth is so important. It has a way of clearing the path of false debris and clearing the mind and heart to feel more free.

Remember the queer/trans/intersex truth about nature—documented in over 1500+ animals so far

and global, multicultural awareness—to varying degrees, legal third gender already in Austria, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States-Oregon, California, DC

and indigenous history in North America—2 Spirits documented in over 150 tribes in United States

and early US history—countless records of queer/trans/intersex ancestors including the possible queering of 3 US presidents.

This larger, more complete perspective of reality brings into view the truth. Queer/trans/intersex people and experience are everywhere, all the time because we are a part of nature. It is toward this direction that we now turn.

looking at gender from a holistic perspective by maya gonzalezThrough the series we’ve looked at the world from:

the most basic: nature,

to the next biggest: global cultures,

then closer to home: indigenous North America,

and focusing in: early US history.

We are already beginning to create a holistic perspective of gender.

Each area of learning nested within the last. It goes without saying that each area is a brief introduction meant to hint at larger realities that warrant further study. This establishes a pattern of learning and awareness that is expansive and connected. Learning like this and drawing our awareness to it are ways that we can begin understanding how Western thinking has affected us and how we can gain perspective on it.

The patriarchy is by its very nature and necessity, predicated on division and not just any kind of division, but binary division in particular.

Binary opposition is the system by which, in language and thought, two theoretical opposites are strictly defined and set off against one another. It is the contrast between two mutually exclusive terms, such as on and off, up and down, left and right. Binary opposition is an important concept of structuralism, which sees such distinctions as fundamental to all language and thought. In structuralism, a binary opposition is seen as a fundamental organizer of human philosophy, culture, and language.”
“Typically, one of the two opposites assumes a role of dominance over the other. The categorization of binary oppositions is “often value-laden and ethnocentric”, with an illusory order and superficial meaning. Furthermore, Pieter Fourie discovered that binary oppositions have a deeper or second level of binaries that help to reinforce meaning. As an example, the concepts hero and villain involve secondary binaries: good/bad, handsome/ugly, liked/disliked, and so on.”

Wikipedia

When we place the cultural shift into perspective

From matrilineal to patrilineal,

From communal to individualistic,

From indigenous to Western,

we can see a pattern of power-over and can imagine the imperative for binary thinking to develop and become firmed. Eventually this extends into every area of experience, through its relation to gender and sexuality, as well as race and ethnicity. This is the foundation of Western thinking. Individualistic. Patrilineal. Eurocentric. Dominating. And it’s deep.Dismantling Binary Beliefs- from The Gender Wheel by Maya Gonzalez

Being able to see through Western culture and fully see through patriarchy must by necessity happen in steps. It is an evolving process or maybe an un-processing, as we become raw and natural again, healed from the effects of a system designed specifically to oppress queer/trans/intersex people, nature, indigenous people and women. It may be for sanity’s sake that it comes in steps. As one belief falls, it makes room for another to fall and another. Once the large lies are exposed, all the small lies unravel leaving everything exposed for what it is.

It’s not about one huge change, but a series of steps, a daily practice even, because what we need to change is quite literally how we think, because now, the patriarchy lives within.

Once the larger truths are told, all the small ones fall into place and reorganize. Everything. Truth this extensive and far reaching instigates a progressive and profound shift, but how do we begin and where?

Every step counts in a dance like this. It’s not about one huge change, but a series of steps, a daily practice even, because what we need to change is quite literally how we think, because now, the patriarchy lives within.

What helps with something like this? What makes sense out of madness? One of the most powerful antidotes to Western culture and the patriarchy and the impact it’s had on our thinking is a holistic perspective. This begins to change everything. Fundamentally. While giving you something to hold onto. Truth. Nature. Your whole self.

TOWARD A HOLISTIC PERSPECTIVE OF THE SELF

How do you come to know your whole self when judgment, conformity and performance are culturally embedded and valued? How do you find truth about yourself when rational, empirical, logical thinking are your primary options for thought within a Western frame of reference? How can you understand your own unique dance when linear, rigid, externally approved formation is generally required for physical survival?

We live in a box within a box within a box.

Now imagine,

what can you hold onto as you learn your way through Western thinking back to your fully fabulous queer/trans/intersex self?

I’ve learned that honing a holistic perspective means beginning as large as possible, with the intent of full inclusion. And then slowly and thoughtfully, you create the path inward, imagining as whole of a perspective at each step as possible.

To this end, I teach what I’ve learned about myself.

The HOLISTIC SELF includes: BODY, SPIRIT, MIND, HEART and the UNKNOWN.

The Holistic Self by Maya Gonzalez
CALLING IN the WHOLE self helps make sense out of our experiences. Many of us have had to separate or silence parts of our true self because of Western, patriarchal thought and society. In fact, a split between body and spirit, body and mind, even body and heart are as imperative as a split between humans and nature, males and females, queer/trans/intersex people and cis, straight people.

To become more aware of what the whole self is consider the following questions and perspectives. The more whole, the more present and embodied queer/trans/intersex people are in the world, the more true our world will be.

How to make it real? You can gauge the personal impact our Western culture has had on you by asking how free do you feel to be your true self? In your heart of hearts, are there places that you suppress and silence yourself to feel/be safe and supported in the world? Never judge. Just see. And feel.


Body: the physical body.

How comfortable are you with your body in public? In private? Is your comfort level related to safety? In what way?
Do you judge your body and by what standards? Do you judge other people’s bodies?
Have you experienced trauma? Health issues? How has it impacted your body?
When do you feel your most strong? Your most gorgeous? Your most free and like yourself?

Spirit: the power and mystery of nature that animates the physical body, perpetuates and connects all life on Earth. Spirit brings the body alive!

Power. Have you ever been struck by the beauty or sheer force of nature? When was the last time you were in a powerful storm and felt the winds whip your hair? Or been to the river to feel the eternal flow on your feet? Or the sea to see infinity? Or simply witnessed a child grow?

Mystery. Everyone has moments that transcend daily experience but are a normal part of human experience: birth, death, heightened creative expression, dreams, intuitions, visits from loved ones who have crossed over, near death experiences and more. What experiences have humbled you and left you speechless?

This power and mystery resides within us and makes us who we are.

Mind: the thinking, believing, communicating aspect of the self. The mind interprets reality and interacts with the world.

Western culture prefers and perpetuates a kind of thinking called binary opposition and it starts as soon as we’re born. This affects how we think, what we believe and even how we talk. It is inherently stressful because it doesn’t reflect real life or support figuring things out. It’s polarizing. On purpose.
How often do you see things as black and white? Right or wrong? Good or bad?
Do you have time to fully understand your self, your life, what’s going on in the world, etc…? Or do you need quick reads, easy answers and step by step directions because you’re already dealing with so much in your life?
Does your thinking affect how you feel? Or does how you feel affect your thinking?

Heart: the feeling, loving, connecting aspect of the self. The pull between parent and child; between partners, extended family- chosen or natal; the feeling for friends and coworkers, pets, mamiearth and all of humanity.

Can you express love freely in your life? Hold hands, kiss, embrace romantically in public, in front of family? Do you have to explain your love or attractions to anyone in your life? Or to any institutions in your life? Especially ones connected to your child or family? Church? University? Work? School?

What about other feelings? Do you feel free to have anger, sorrow, fear, or joy flow through your body and heart? What feelings do you have the majority of the time? What feelings set the overall tone of your life?

Unknown: the part of the self that we do not currently know or understand, but may sense and experience in different ways.

It is nearly impossible to fully determine what parts of the self have been suppressed that flourished pre-patriarchy. Some past and current accounts suggest that dreams, intuition, precognition, astral dream travel, energetic healing, and more, were/are practiced and used as personal and community support systems.

What mystery lies within you? What powers? Are you intuitive? Creative? Do your dreams teach you? Have you ever had a turn in your health and healed unexpectedly? Have your prayers ever been answered? How could your great unknown support you even now?

There are disconnects between all of these aspects of self in Western culture. Research in multiple disciplines show the importance of reestablishing these connections, for example  body/mind medicine, social/emotional learning in schools and more. Expanding and calling in the whole self makes a huge difference in our ability to heal ourselves inside and out and negotiate the world. It locates agency and authority about who we are within ourselves, but there’s more.

The self, however whole, does not exist in isolation. The self is not WHOLE until seen in CONTEXT.

Context includes: FAMILY, COMMUNITY, SOCIETY, HISTORY, ANCESTRY and the UNKNOWN.

The Holistic Self in CONTEXT by Maya Gonzalez

Similar to the holistic self, consider the following questions and perspectives. The more queer/trans/intersex people know our own history within each of our own racial/ethnic communities, the more our purpose and meaning will be understood.

Family: of origin. Siblings? Birth order? Adopted? Fostered?
Adult family? Single? Partnered? Kids? LGBTQIA2S+ family? Chosen family? Role/s?

Community: Who did you grow up around and who do you live around now? Who do you interact with on a regular basis?

Society: What position or role do you fulfill in our current society? (You can include outsider. I am.) What stereotypes and stories are attached to your position in society?

History: Where do you and your family/ies fit into US and indigenous American history? Global history? What stereotypes and stories are attached to your position in history?

Ancestry: What larger sweeps of history have your racial and/or ethnic ancestors been a part of? Do you know  your ancestry? What stereotypes and stories are attached to your ancestry?

Unknown: There’s always room for more. I will never claim to know everything. Myself and nearly everyone I know, including my natal family, have had experiences that can only be explained by the likes of quantum physics. What experiences have you or your family/community had that cannot be explained within current systems?

Western culture often wants us to compartmentalize, simplify, reduce, assimilate, sublimate our true selves only to be rewarded with living in survival mode. 

When we can see our WHOLE SELVES in WHOLE CONTEXT we begin to see our real selves more, as well as our position in the larger dance of life, and the world. This can help bring compassion to our survival skills and those of others. Western culture often wants us to compartmentalize, simplify, reduce, assimilate, sublimate our true selves only to be rewarded with living in survival mode. For many of us we fit into Western culture just enough and perpetuate the patriarchy just enough from the inside out so that we do not cease to exist. We get by. But the more we know our whole selves and our position in context, the more we can see the falsehoods and the impact Western culture has on us personally and create internal changes that make us stronger and stronger.

Seeing the HOLISTIC SELF makes you strong because it naturally helps you see through Western culture and the patriarchy. Through your own experience and understanding of yourself, you begin to transform Western culture and the patriarchy from a concept, a theory, something far away–into a personal story within the context of the larger sweep of history and consciousness. You step into history. Which means it is yours to change.

As Gloria Anzaldúa says, “We change ourselves, we change the world.”

Once you see, you can’t unsee. Once you know, you can’t unknow. There is a world of truth and beauty that includes queer/trans/intersex people and experience and always has. We have been invisiblized. We have gone underground. We have coded ourselves into history. We have hidden ourselves even from ourselves at times.

There is no place on mamiearth that does not have queer/trans/intersex expression in nature, including people. We are. We always have been. We always will be.

But always, we have persisted.

There is no place on mamiearth that does not have queer/trans/intersex expression in nature, including people. We are. We always have been. We always will be. That is truth. Our presence is a constant reminder that we as humans are a part of the power, mystery and diversity of nature.

The patriarchy and Western culture took a very long time to develop to this point. In some ways it seems that we are at a pinnacle moment. A heightened expression of the binary. But simultaneously, there is an awakening in the makes, gaining momentum. Lines are being cast, webs are being woven, bridges are forming between what is natural and true, between ancestors and spirit. We are becoming WHOLE again.

I ended this series at 1899 for US history because I wanted to court that moment when it seems gender and sexuality were still very fluid, before they tipped over into a more highly Westernized frame. I wanted to feel that moment before the binary became so deeply entrenched. When third, fourth, fifth genders were still singing through the edges of Western culture across the globe. Before colonization had obliterated or sent everything far underground.

The Bugis of Indonesia still sing today. They continue to believe that all 5 genders must be held in unity. Only if everything and everyone is connected can the whole world remain balanced and safe.


A MOMENT OF LOVE FOR YOURSELF before we fly on

Let’s pause here to try some exercises before we move on to the second section.

Calling in your Holistic Self:
  • 1. Learning to think HOLISTICALLY. This is the best trick ever! Gaining as large of a perspective as possible on whatever I’m dealing with has become my style. I learned that if I’m suffering or feeling great discomfort, I can ease it up a little if I can get a large enough perspective on what’s going on. It can take a moment, but it changes how I think, how I feel, how I deal. I call it ‘sitting on the moon.’ It works wonders. (I only teach what I know personally works!)
      • Then, when it’s time to drop back into real life here on mamiearth, I keep this bigger perspective and my place in it alive by seeing reality in concentric circles. I don’t always draw them out on paper, but sometimes I do! I’m committed to seeing the bigger sweeps in my life because I know they help me learn through my personal lessons. I begin to see the circles, the connections, the patterns, the larger sources and results in my life and from there in the world around me.
      • Thinking holistically changes everything, including gender. Every step away from the false binary dismantles the patriarchy’s effect, frees the mind and heart, and moves us closer to the truth of the world. It is a constant practice. And totally worth it.
    • With this in mind, here are two worksheets from my online school that you can use to explore your HOLISTIC SELF and your HOLISTIC SELF IN CONTEXT.
      Writing things down and using your creativity are powerful ways to integrate your experience.When looking at these worksheets you may also want to look back at the questions presented from above for each of the areas to help explore yourself and your experience more deeply.

  • 2. Extending it OUT. Thinking holistically is a whole new, true way of looking at everything, from the biggest perspective, nature all the way to the most intimate, your own personal experience. That’s how vast the impact of Western culture and the patriarchy have been. So truly-uly, every step counts. It’s personal. It’s global. It’s societal. It’s everything and every person has their own individual doorway into understanding it that is relevant to them. Personal experience that interrupts the falsehood of the binary is vital to deeper understanding. With that in mind, make it personal! Pursue holistic pathways in whatever ways speak OUT to you. They could be:
        • Holistic health and medicine
        • Holistic business and problem solving
        • Holistic education
        • Holistic spirituality
        • Holistic philosophy
        • Holistic parenting
        • Holistic therapy

    These exercises and explorations will be useful as we move into the next section for this week.

    Read PART 5: Section Two on “THE HOLISTIC SELF & THE GENDER WHEEL”


    Resources and References:


    Maya Gonzalez is a ferociously quirky queer femme with a deep love for daily drag and dress up. She’s also an artist, progressive educator and award-winning children’s book illustrator and author. She has been a close ally of the trans community for over 30 years and her partner is trans. Her work focuses on art and story as powerful tools of reclamation and transformation both personally and culturally. Currently her primary tool of activism is creating and publishing radical children’s books that tell the truth of who we are and what we can be. She invites grown-ups and kids alike to do the same through her online school and free kids program that teach a holistic approach to creating and publishing children’s books.

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