There Can Still Be Love

Posted August 8, 2018 by C.K. Ajig

Terms used in this article:

Cisgender: To identify with the gender you were assigned at birth.

Cis-Heteronormative (cis-het/ero): A state of living/mind that is dictated by cisgender and heterosexual lifestyles and behaviours.

Queer: An umbrella term meaning non-cis-heteronormative, and can be used as an identity term for either sexuality, gender, or both.

Heterosexual: To be attracted to the ‘opposite’ sex.

Listuguj [List-uh-gush]: A reservation in Québec across the river from Campbelton, NB.

Mi’kmaq [Mig-maw]: A First Nation of Aboriginals residing in eastern Canada.

 

The further I delve into this mysterious world of gender, biology, and spirituality, nothing is truly how it seems. After coming out as two-spirit to my peers in grade eleven, I have been answering the same questions from all the curious folk about what it means to be transgender: “How did you know you weren’t a girl”; “Does that mean you have both sets of body parts?”; “Does this mean you like boys or girls?” So as my spirit grew into the body the Creator blessed me with, my answers to those questions began to change the more I came to understand myself, and the world around me. With time and loads of education, not only did my answers change, but my ability and approach to teaching have also changed drastically. 

 

As discussed in my previous blog - Peml’ka’t Ala Newt Piskaqn - to be Pisk meant for me to exist in two worlds. This persistent theme in my life has granted me the ability to see things from another’s perspective. Having developed this trait specifically to reconcile my feelings for volatile family and friends from my reservation, I was able to tune this skill for volatile or negative people of all sorts, in all aspects of my life. I am able to take their confusion, anger, frustration, and uncertainty, and turn it to see it from their perspective - which in turn allows me to empathize with them in a way that allows me to better educate them.

However, this is not the only key necessary for educating negative souls. They need to be self-aware as well. The ability to be self-aware is something that can be taught, but is usually a natural instinct. To be self-aware means to have the ability to understand your own behaviours/actions, and why you think the way you do. Being able to root those thoughts and actions to personalized core truths is crucial for being a self-aware individual. I say personalized core truths, because these are not fundamental truths about the world; but instead these are truths that are fundamental to the specific individual which were created from previous life experience and environments. For some, it is a simple flow from core truth, to thought, to action - but for others there is only action and no thought on the core truth behind it. That is the difference between being and not being self-aware.  

To enlighten the understandings of negative minds, being self-aware is vital. This is because you are not changing their thoughts or actions, but instead you are attempting to change their core truths. For that they need to be not only willing to learn, but able. For most negative souls, the willingness will almost always follow later. For a self-aware individual, if the seed for enlightenment is properly planted, and given some attention every now and then, it will begin to sprout and can blossom.

Once the will has sprouted the teaching can begin. Together both could rewrite the personalized core truth to an enlightened stance on the world, full of love, patience and acceptance. In order to work through the murky waters however, the teacher must be able to see the roots of their pupil’s core truths and why they have formed to begin with - empathize. This is the way I have been taught to cleanse negativity from a damaged soul. Not only have I applied this method to myself, but I have also applied it to family members, friends, and strangers. Especially during conversations about gender and sexuality.

When one has has viewed the world through heavy filtered sunglasses their entire lives, you cannot expect them to openly accept the blinding truth of the sun upon their first bare glance. It takes time, understanding, and a re-wiring of heavy cis-heteronormative thinking that had been embedded in their core truths since day one. Step by step they will move through sunglasses, lightening the filter at each step, until they are able to fully grasp the truth shining down on them.

Some will need a couple months; others years; maybe a lifetime; or never at all. That is the unfortunate reality we all need to live with. For those who may never enlighten their core truths, as long as they are able to keep their thoughts and actions from harming any other human being on a holistic level, I’d say that is as good as it could possibly get for them, but never lose hope.

Many of my extended family members are like this. They believe deep in their hearts that my gender identity is strange and untrue. But every time they see me they will keep their thoughts and comments to themselves and continue to love me no matter our differences. Even though every person has the ability to change, there is no way I can force them. As long as they don't attempt to harm me, or any other living being on a holistic level, and we can keep our differences aside, there can still be love.

My ability to empathize allows me to sit comfortably with the idea that some people just can’t change, because I am able to understand why they can’t. However, this does not allow them to use their past as an excuse for cruel behaviour. This is a similar case for some people in my family. Even if they have had a rough life, and their situational circumstances rooted some deep and dangerous roots into their core truths, it does not excuse them from lashing negativity at any other living being. There is always a place for anger, rage, and pain - but that place cannot, and never will be, another living being. Those who have been hurt need to channel their rage in fighting the creatures that created their pain.

To empathize with a damaged soul is very easy to do, given the events that allowed their roots to grow so strong, but to empathize with a misguided soul is a different story. These are those that nurtured their roots through relentless cis-heteronormative teachings. These are the people who just can’t seem to understand, or refuse to learn about anything besides what they have been taught their whole lives. My empathy comes from the fear they must feel coming across something so unknown. Like I had mentioned before, how would you expect someone who has worn heavy filtered sunglasses their whole lives to stare at the sun bare eye for the first time? It would be a scary and painful experience.

In no way am I calling myself scaring, but I am calling myself unknown. It is natural to stick to the teachings of your youth because it is what has kept you safe all along. In these cases, as long as they are self-aware - and are willing to learn - there is no problem educating and rewiring those roots. However, for those who are unwilling to learn, there is nothing much one can do besides plant the seed for a potential enlightenment that can take as long as it needs to blossom.

Although I personally have been able to reconcile my relationship with people who refuse to remove the heavy filtered sunglasses, it is definitely more difficult for other transgender folk. This is because approximately 90% (maybe even all) of those who refuse to remove their sunglasses simply cannot, or refuse to, use the correct pronouns/name; unless you are a transgender person who is able to ‘pass’ by cis-heteronormative standards - but even then it may not work out. For transgender folk, being able to be called by the correct name and pronouns is crucial to a healthy mental state and well being spiritually. To some trans folk, the use of incorrect pronouns and name could be seen as a passive (or aggressive depending on the relationship they have with the individual in question) form of abuse, and should not be tolerated.

But for me, the name and pronoun game is a little different. My comforts come from my cultural backgrounds, and it is thanks to this that I am able to live freely as I am, regardless of others perceptions, and behaviours towards me. Due to the lack of information on my culture’s understandings of two-spirit people from Listuguj, I did the research myself and gathered bits and pieces from all eight territories of the Mi’kmaq Nation. I had come to understand that there is the physical body, and the spiritual body - both needed to be cared for properly in order to have a fulfilling life.

It is here that we learn that the vessel you are provided by the Creator is not who you truly are, but it is your spirit. That spirit may be, masculine, feminine, a mix of both or none at all. However they flourish within you is how you find your place in the world. All this meaning that how one looks physically is not who they truly are. This allowed me the peace I needed to become one with myself. This is what I needed in order to fall in love with this body I was blessed with and respect the spirit within me.

This also allowed me to be free of the restrictions society tried to place on me. I was not she, it, her, Cassandra, or any other name they wished to call me. My spirit is strong and proud within this body, and I know his true name. I am C.K. Harris-Ajig, and I am Peml’ka’t Ala Newt Piskaqn. So this is why my tolerance for negative souls, or those who refuse to, or simply cannot use the correct name or pronouns, is much higher than some of my transgender friends. Here again we can see each of my feet in a different world; the present and the past; the cis-hetero and the queer; the spiritual and the physical.

 

Terms used in this article:

 

Cisgender: To identify with the gender you were assigned at birth.

Cis-Heteronormative (cis-het/ero): A state of living/mind that is dictated by cisgender and heterosexual lifestyles and behaviours.

Queer: An umbrella term meaning non-cis-heteronormative, and can be used as an identity term for either sexuality, gender, or both.

Heterosexual: To be attracted to the ‘opposite’ sex.

Listuguj [List-uh-gush]: A reservation in Québec across the river from Campbelton, NB.

Mi’kmaq [Mig-maw]: A First Nation of Aboriginals residing in eastern Canada.

 

 

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