When conformity means death, survival means non-conformity

I have the enormous privilege of being a transvestite, although this is the first time I have called it a privilege when for much of my life it has been painfully difficult.

In these incredibly dark days of humanity, my alter ego, Joanna, has become a solace, a haven and an unexpected yet incredible ally.

My experience with Joanna is that she completes something in me that is absent when I am plain old Keith. It feels like coming home, which itself feels expansive, an opening up into a sense and awareness of completeness.

I wish Joanna was writing this and I very much hope that one day she will speak in her own right and consciousness, but that requires a rise in my consciousness which has yet to happen, so for now I must speak for her and about her.

What is remarkable about her is that she has none of the social conditioning or pressures I have grown up with and experience as a man. She had none of the dogma of my education, of getting a job, meeting someone, settling down, having children, work till my retirement, grow old, die. A dogma that I unconsciously absorbed and in which most of my life has been lived.

None of that means anything to Joanna, it’s never applied to her and she doesn’t give a shit about it. She has nothing by way of complaint about it or of protest as it is entirely irrelevant to her existence. The only constraints on her are those that I impose and she might have a very great deal to say about that, but this is not the time for that.

She will never have to explain herself to anyone, nor confirm her existence via a passport, driving licence or utility bills, but what she does do is to impact my experience of such impositions in an age of suspicion, increasing intolerance and hate, and an ever more draconian state. Her perspective impacts my perspective and that is just wonderful and why, one day, I hope she’ll speak for herself.

Right now, I feel she’s trying to tell me some stuff I need to know and I am frustrated because I am not yet free to hear it. For that to happen I have to go up a level, expand my consciousness, open up, however I might put it. Inside I feel our hands are reaching out to each other but we haven’t made that contact yet. She wants it, I need it, and it’s me that’s holding it back.

Learning isn’t the problem here, my internal walls, including fear, are the problem, any process of expanding awareness and consciousness inevitably comes up against internal resistance because it means allowing uncertainty to come into play and living with uncertainty is not comfortable. If I want to learn anything I have to be prepared to leave my ‘comfort zone’ where all my hidden assumptions lurk and hidden assumptions can be extremely resilient, rigid and ungiving. It also means facing fear.

Because Joanna is not a voter and has nothing invested in voting, she looks out at the government and sees corruption, deceit and cruelty and has no patience with it. It’s not her problem, it’s mine. She has no reason to get angry about it, she is not of their world and they are certainly no part of hers. I am constantly wrestling with the Tory problem, she is not. She’s not apathetic towards the world and in so many ways she sees it far more clearly and sharply than I do. In witnessing government corruption she isn’t offering an opinion, she’s absolutely certain of it in the same way as I am absolutely certain that the little post box on the street near my house is red. She sees a fact and, for her, that’s all she needs to see.

I have often said I am not a democracy when people express an opinion of what they think I ought to be doing. Joanna is the same. She has no interest in engaging in an internal debate with me. She leaves all the internal debating up to me, and there’s always a lot of that going on as I am the one who has to pursue government motives and meanings to make sense of their appalling behaviour. That’s my job, not hers.

Joanna is, for me, the libertarian to my oppression. She is my internal compass pointing at freedom of being. I do not understand how she came about other than through the eyes of someone who was living in the hell hole of depression. I feel some part of me sheared off, even down to my biologically driven sexual identity. Depression threatened my life, the split that occurred to give life to Joanna was an incredible, complex, solution, even though I had no understanding of any of this at that time.

Survival is built into us and if our survival is threatened we can go to extraordinary lengths, both consciously and unconsciously, even biologically and organically, to ensure our survival. Suicide is a solution in extremis, when all hope is lost and all our resources exhausted. It is our last resort to escape suffering and anything that keeps us alive for another day is a blessing.

At a time when I am living in an increasingly hostile state and with cancer to boot, it is no surprise to me that Joanna has powerfully stepped front and centre again. I fought her before, this time I am working with her. She is my ally, friend, companion and wise counsellor for which I count myself very privileged.