They Burned Witches Too!

So many of us suffer needlessly with feelings of low self-esteem, guilt, and embarrassment. That shouldn’t really be a surprise when our society is rooted in a belief system that has little room for anything or anybody outside the status quo. Most us were raised in that belief system. It’s ingrained in the depths of our subconscious and so to express ourselves outside the norm contradicts what we were taught. Larger groups, and even countries many times deal with conflicting views by killing each other – so apparently, the mainstream doesn’t appear to have all the answers either. After all, killing defies the very God that Christians, Muslims, and Jews (to name just a few) they say they worship. I was raised in a mixed religious household, both Jewish and Christian, which either makes me more confused, or less, I’m not sure which.

I was at a family reunion during the 4th of July weekend and was -- in my brother’s absence -- confronted with questions, and fishing expeditions, as to how I felt about my brother and his partner raising an adopted 16-month old baby. My Midwestern relatives love my brother, but don’t agree with his lifestyle, they say. The idea of a gay couple raising a child to them is “against the laws of nature.” On the more practical side they argued that a child needs a mother and a father. My brother, and gay activists would argue that a child needs love. I informed them that their approval wasn’t required, and that my brother and his partner would make great parents – and by the way, it wasn’t so long ago in Salem that they burned witches too!

I went to Sunday school, I was taught the Bible, the stories, and what it meant. Suddenly, the recent events got me to wondering who gets the privilege of determining the social order by which we are told we have to live? If time has shown us anything, it is that things evolve. One cell became two, and the world, as it was, changed. The dinosaurs no longer roamed the Earth - except of course those on the extreme right. Hey, the 50’s have come and gone, get over it, move on!

Conservative societies need to recognize that their way isn’t the only way. Transgender people have been around as long as recorded time. The thing that has caused transgender people such hardship in recent years is that they crossed the boundaries of gender expression. Some felt like woman trapped in a man’s body, some identified as feminine men, while other’s just liked to crossdress. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, how many guys would be killing each other in their Sunday best? “War? I might get a stain my new dress, no thanks, I’ll sit this one out.” Society seems to prefer a frustrated, angry and dangerous-to-society “macho” guy as opposed to a happy man who simply likes to expresses himself with feminine things, or, a well-adjusted contributor to society who happens to be attracted to the same sex. What is it about being different that scares everyone so?

Many people outside societies description of “norm,” have felt embarrassed because they were made fun of, guilty because they were “taught” that it is wrong, and continue to believe it because it is enforced in the collective social mindset. To break the emotional and psychological chains that bind them might require a change in thinking altogether; questioning everything you’ve been taught about God, heaven, hell, society and nature. In the end the only person who can answer those and other questions … is you.

If you choose to believe what you’ve been taught, that’s fine, as long as you have questioned it, and then decided it makes sense to you. Not that you believe it because you were told to believe it. So what do you believe? Are we physical beings created by God in search of the spirituality necessary to get us into heaven, or are we spiritual beings simply experiencing a physical world? There are many books with views that go from one end of the spectrum to the other: one version describing us as eternal beings and another defining us as animals that live and die – game over.

In a world that is so marred with the here and now, it is easy to loose sight of the larger picture. We all find ourselves caught up in the drama of life, you know, the little things -- that in the end --weren’t really all that important. So I asked myself one day, “why are we here? What purpose could it serve?”

While I don’t profess to have any of these answers, I wanted to explore the possibilities. Maybe, as it has been theorized for centuries, we are born out of a collective entity, part of, yet less than God - a collective consciousness. This is not a new theory, but let’s take it a step further and ask, why then are we here, on Earth? One explanation might be that we are here to experience that which we can’t experience in our higher form: an individual body and singular consciousness. Such a thought would suggest that the “human experiment” is simply to “experience” individuality.

By experiencing what you’re not, you can better understand what you are. Coming from a united body of collective consciousness connecting all things, it would then be reasonable to understand why we as humans would feel the need, and be comfortable with, belonging to groups - whether they were ideological, social, political, racial, religious or any other like minded circle. But if the singular consciousness theory were correct then the purpose of being here would be exactly the opposite of what most of us do: to celebrate our diverse individual expressions rather than engage in “heard-like” behavior.

How does that make you feel? Does it make you afraid, or fearless? Are we limitless? When we look in the mirror, is that WHO we are, or is the body merely a taxicab to carry "us" around in this dream on Earth? Are we really then just the sum of our thoughts, love and spirit? And if we are limitless in our abilities, are we confined to a belief system based on form, which "we," the collective masses have taught ourselves? Like the Elephant who as a baby had his leg shackled to the stake in the ground, as an adult cannot shake loose the concept of not being able to break free. The idea becomes the reality.

For so long the medical and psychiatric community has tried to understand why a person is “gender dysfunctional.” What if being transgender isn’t dysfunctional at all. What if the quest to express our individually is in fact the entire object of the exercise? I don’t know the answer. But either way, I do know that if you are not ready to question everything, to discover what rings true to you, then you will always be at the mercy of someone else’s belief structure.

As always, be happy, be safe, and think pretty.Brianna Austin


RE: They Burned Witches Too!, by Brianna


Dear Brianna,

This is an excellent article, and I really appreciate you posting it here on GenderEvolve. You have really touched upon some deep issues, and posed many questions which are not easily answered, if at all. The article is certainly very effective in causing the reader to think.

While there is no solid "proof" as to the nature of God or the reason for human existence, I feel that we are far more than what meets the eye. The notion of collective consciousness resonates with me, yet because we are veiled from the accessible knowledge of our interconnectedness, we live under the illusion of separation. Part of the human "experiment" is to live within a realm where individual experience and human diversity are key to our purpose.

In your analogy of the baby elephant with his leg shackled to the the stake in the ground (subsequently borrowed by Stacie), I believe you are saying that our entire human experience may be a result of the imposed limitations of collective thought, rather than true impediments. As you said, "the idea becomes the reality"... I truly believe, at minimum, we have a far stronger hand in creating our own reality than we realize. There is a great deal of human potential which remains untapped within every one of us because of socially ingrained, self-perpetuating limitations.

My favorite statement of your article is "What if being transgender isn't dysfunctional at all? What if the quest to express our individuality is in fact the entire object of the exercise?" In my perception, you hit the nail on the head with this statement. I think a big part of the human life experience (if not the very object itself), is to discover our true selves, and evolve within our individuality. For those whose truest selves are not yet compatible with society's definition of "normal", the life experience is all the more daunting... yet the object remains the same.

As Sweet has mentioned in other postings, God gives challenges commesurate with our individual ability to prevail. Further to this, I believe God allocates the most ground-breaking or significant challenges to those souls who are best equipped to overcome and evolve as a result... in other words, the greatest challenges are placed on the shoulders of the most advanced souls. You as transgendered people emerging within society, are working through not only the individual task of finding your true identity, but also as the catalyst to social understanding which will change the face of humanity as we know it. While this front-runner existence is difficult for you individually, the social evolution taking place as a result of your life experience is reshaping the collective consciousness for generations to come.

Like you Brianna, I don't know the answers, yet I am ready and willing to question everything, with the express purpose of discovering what rings true for me. Thank you again for sharing this article, and providing us with food for thought.

Much love,
mymoviewpicks said…
Just a footnote to your comment that "In your analogy of the baby elephant with his leg shackled to the the stake in the ground (subsequently borrowed by Stacie)", I have to say that I don't know who stacie even is, and I first write that line back in 2000. Just wanted to be clear that I don't wipe things from others when I write.

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