This is what I heard myself called or referred to when I submitted myself to the ceremony/ritual of my first "vision quest", which I assumed, in my young adulthood naivete, to be merely a sweat lodge "experience". Hahahahahahaaa.... oh Spirit is FUNNY!!
No-one would translate it or explain what it meant, at the time. Many years later, as I was describing the journey I went on then, to a friend from that Native community; as I described the Sight that opened up for me in the months following that sweat, complete with astral travel and lucid dreaming, he laughed and laughed...
He said, I remember you being there. They kept using this title. It is an old old title, for a certain kind of soul, who is not who they seem to be. They saw you! You were recognized as being in need of initiation... so they made sure you took part in the man's ritual... to honor you as a man. They put you in there with only the one man, who is a holy man, so as to honor your sleeping spiritual skills and to awaken them.
My friend told me what the title meant and everything I had experienced way back when finally made complete sense.
There is much that I have been wanting to write about being a "man who bleeds", and what is has been to experience the deep initiations of this body... what it has taught me... what makes my experience of manhood richer, more profound; what makes me more sensitive to certain physical and emotional nuance that I might otherwise be ignorant of; what I understand about women and their flow and child bearing and birth and death and everything in inbetween... I have had a hard time coming to a place where I felt ready to write about this, in equal parts because,
1) I have had to come back into balance within myself after coming out as transgender and feeling a need to assert (even defend, at times) my masculinity and,
2) our culture does not make it easy for men to acknowledge anything about themselves that could be in the least "feminine", nor does it make it easy for women to allow men to claim any depth of knowing/feeling/experiencing without appearing to be arrogant or misogynistic, nor does it make it easy for trans men to own something of their real, lived experiences or the wisdom gained through the body without compromising their "manhood".
I have not wanted to write about this and then deal with fallout from other people's assumptions. That my owning the chapter of my life (a loooooong chapter ~ 30 years!) during which I experienced what it is to be a woman in body: menstruating, having sex as, becoming pregnant as, giving birth as a woman in physique... but also experiencing self as a man... this unique intersection of body and soul and this unique way of experiencing the human story that inspired ancient cultures to honor "transgender" people as holy, sacred, revered ~ given places to serve as shaman, guides, teachers, counselors, seers, healers... That owning that part of me would then make others question my validity as a man. I did not want to compromise the "cause" of trans advocacy, which is to promote and protect the fact that we are who we say we are.
I suspect that a great many other trans men choose to remain silent about this very thing, too. For similar reasons.
What a shame this is.
For, how are we to further the cause of gaining our human and civil rights AND also reclaim our identities as sacred beings who are living bridges between... between all possible apparently opposed extremes of human BEingness.. if we must but also cannot talk about what it is that gives us our depth, our texture, our wisdom?!
So... I am breaking the silence.
I am going to talk about those experiences and the depth of insight, realization, wisdom that has been gained through living them. I am going to talk about this body and what it has taught me.
I am a man who bleeds (or who has bled ~ I do not any more) and I am proud of this, blessed by this, humbled by this, deeply moved by this, taught hard lessons through this, given unimaginable gifts through this...
And I will speak.