This I Believe is a venerable (American) Public Radio series on values. For his Year of Belief project, Dylan Horrocks was looking for something more specific: insights into the formation, structure, and transformation of the religious/spiritual beliefs of individual people. I was thrilled by the invitation to participate, but after an effortless first draft, I hesitated.
No, it’s a lot more than that. I experienced one of the most severe blocks of my writing experience. I set aside the draft for most of a year. I couldn’t bear to look at it. It was a revealing piece, but that wasn’t the problem. It was also definitive, and that was a painful paradox for someone who religiously rejects the definitive, who is normally comfortable with paradox, much more so than with the grounded and definitive.
In the end, a large part of why I had to revise it and send it off was a mounting awareness in other parts of my life of how not speaking gives away one’s opportunity to signify, to mean anything but what others first assume. 2013 was a year of loss for me, but it was also a year of growing openness, as I explicitly came out as trans* to large numbers of people for the first time. I’ve spent far too long only showing people the parts of myself that I thought they would accept, the facets that I felt they were prepared for.
My beliefs are different from my gender identity: there is nothing about them that requires your acknowledgement or craves your acceptance. Here they are anyway, in shifting approximate display cases of words, gnawing at the bars and bleeding through the seams.