The Goddess in Every Trans and Cis Woman, Plus How I Discovered My Own
A few months ago I posted on my Facebook page that I submitting a proposal for a workshop to be given at the Gender Identity Center’s annual Colorado Gold Rush Conference. Before I did so I wanted to know what everyone thought of my idea.
Nothing could prepare me for the flood of excitement, positive feedback, and encouragement I received.
Here’s how I described the workshop:
Which Goddess Are You?: Reclaiming Your Sacred Feminine Self
Spiritual activist Starhawk says, “Through the Goddess, we can discover our strength, enlighten our minds, own our bodies, and celebrate our emotions.” Are you seeking this deeper sense of connection with your sacred feminine self? It is a part of you which is rightfully yours to reclaim! During this workshop we will explore a wide variety of goddesses from multiple backgrounds and cultures. You will then have the chance to “find your goddess fit” and learn ways in which you can use your selected goddess as a guide and teacher in your life.
Comments streamed in from trans women, cisgender women, trans men, cisgender men – they all loved it! I submitted the proposal and found out on New Year’s Day that it was accepted. Groovy!
IT TAKES MORE THAN A GREAT IDEA…
So now I had a great concept. But what should be the nuts and bolts of this workshop?
My rule of thumb is before I can teach something to others, I need to be sure to reflect on my own experience with it. It helps me connect more emotionally to the topic and, therefore, with the audience. It also gives me a chance to examine any unexplored territory within myself that the topic brings up. If I don’t take the time to do that we’re left with an workshop that will, at the very least, bore everyone and at the very worst come across as inauthentic.
So I’m going to do something a little different than usual. Instead of doing this in privacy, I’m going to let you in on this process.
This is going to be a look into my own experiences with the Inner Goddess and the Sacred Feminine. While doing so I’m always making sure to keep in mind my audience, which in this case will be transgender women. I ask myself questions like, “How does my story help me relate to my audience? How is mine different? How can I use this to connect with them? What do I need to admit that I don’t know?”
I’m ready if you are… Let the delving begin!
REALLY, THERE’S AN GODDESS IN ME?
In 1994 I was a junior in college at the University of Kentucky. That year I was introduced to a book called A WOMAN’S WORTH by Marianne Williamson. Marianne was, and still is, a best-selling author and spiritual leader, not to mention she is currently running for Congress!
My mom introduced me to the book – she was going through a divorce, instigated by my step-dad. Interestingly enough he is the one who brought her attention to Marianne’s book. Although that seemed puzzling to me at the time, I eventually went through my own divorce and did indeed buy my ex-husband a copy of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CLOSET.
I was intrigued by A WOMAN’S WORTH the moment I read the first sentence.
It’s very difficult being a woman.
I honestly never thought about that before, as if I hadn’t realized it was a thing that even existed. That there were ways that me, as someone with a female brain, was experiencing the world differently than a man. And now she was saying this was something I was allowed to sit with, to explore, and to have feelings about.
I felt hesitant to read on. “What makes me think she’s talking about girls like me? Has my life really been that difficult yet? I’m only nineteen!” Although at the time I didn’t have words for it, I see now that I also felt a bit more “masculine” than the other girls I’d come across in my life. This was something I tried try change once I realized (unconsciously) that this energy I was giving off wasn’t helping me get a boyfriend.
I hadn’t known I was repressing my same-sex attraction, but looking back I can see I was playing up my femininity in order to do so. My relationship with the masculine and feminine energies within me had already been jacked up and I hadn’t even known it!
My final excuse for not wanting to read the book were the God references. They flung out at me like trapped flies as I thumbed through the pages. I was a recovering Catholic and could feel my brain hitting that word like a deep scratch in my favorite record. That’s when my mom taught me I could replace God with whatever I wanted (Higher Power, Universe, Source Energy). “Just read it, dear.”
So I did. During Sociology class when I was supposed to be taking lecture notes. In between songs during my shifts at the college radio station. In my bedroom while my apartment mates were gathered in the TV room/dining room/living room watching “Friends.” I became entranced by sentences likes this…
Today we embark on a quest for our own enchantment. It will take us to a place where what is feminine is sacred…There we can become what we are meant to be and live the life we are meant to live.
When the Goddess is ready to re-emerge, she re-emerges. There is no person or law or institution that can hold her back…The Goddess finds her way into the hearts and minds of millions of individual women, and they change.
Things then really started to click. Even if the word “woman” didn’t fit me quite as comfortably as I thought it would, the idea of feminine energy, of the Goddess, and the power that lies in that… Now THAT was something I could connect with.
Marianne even made it clear that men have access to feminine energy too, plenty of it! It’s just that we’ve all been shamed to see “feminine” as “weak.”
She was blowing my mind.
OH THE TIMING…
I was reading this book during a pivotal period of my life. It was around this time I saw actress/singer Sandra Bernhard (with her band The Strap Ons) perform at my university. I was totally mesmerized by her “woman power.” She was real, raw, passionate, and a beautiful hot mess! At this point I was still in denial about being gay, but I know something started to stir in me during that concert. I wanted to be authentic too.
Within three weeks of the Sandra Bernhard experience, I met the person who eventually became my husband and the father of my daughter. Looking back I can see this as a movie plot unfolding. The audience is wondering, “Will Dara face facts and admit she is gay? Or will she push it back down and marry this nice guy instead?”
This is the point in time during which I was reading A WOMAN’S WORTH. The more I read it, the more I questioned if I should be with him or not. Not because of anything he did or didn’t do. But because, albeit unconsciously, I wondered if this was really who I was “meant to be.” A wife to a husband.
The Goddess was stirring.
Six months after we began dating we were in a fairly serious car accident. In somewhat cliché fashion we trauma-bonded through the crisis and married shortly over a year later.
The audience is bummed. “Aw, she didn’t follow her true self.” (Sound familiar to anyone out there?).
PATIENCE MY DEAR, PATIENCE…
Over the next ten years I bought every female who entered my life a copy of A WOMAN’S WORTH. I joined a Women’s Empowerment Group. And a Women’s Book Club. I bought every Indigo Girls and Ani Difranco CD the exact day they were released.
So yeah, it’d make sense that I eventually went back to trying to figure out whether or not I was gay. Which means, instead of admitting this to myself in October 1994 after a Sandra Bernhard concert, it happened in April of 2004. I needed those ten extra years to learn many more lessons about who I was. Not to mention the oft-used but so very true reason of having a daughter who was clearly meant to have both mine and his genes flowing through her.
All of that was meant to be part of my movie plot, and the audience just needed to be patient with me as I took care of what needed to be taken care of first.
THE PRESENCE OF THE GODDESS/MERYL STREEP
If this could indeed have been created as a movie of my life then throughout the entire ten years that I was with my husband there would have been the presence of the Goddess. Maybe she’d be played by Meryl Streep.
No one else would be able to see her but me. She’d whisper reminders to me as I dreamt of tsunamis, as I journaled, as I played with my blossoming toddler, as I stared longingly at the Gay & Lesbian section at the Barnes & Noble where I worked. She’d gently remind me to keep reconnecting with that sacred feminine energy that carries with it wisdom, nurturance, strength, and power.
And then she’d literally shove me into situations that left me both terrified and invigorated, moving me closer and closer to the truth of who I was.
TEN YEARS LATER
So picture it, on the bottom of a black screen, the words TEN YEARS LATER. Fade into a close up of my face as I search through the bookshelves in my home, trying to find that copy of A WOMAN’S WORTH. “Yes, I still have it!”
Even though I had created the idea for the “Which Goddess Are You” workshop several months ago, I wasn’t sure where I’d draw my inspiration from for it. And yet it was there the entire time.
A book I had first read twenty years ago, and book whose teachings were guiding and supporting me when I came out ten years ago, is the book that will now help me introduce the notion of the Goddess to transgender women.
Couldn’t have written those plot twists myself even if I tried.
I was fortunate enough to discover Goddess energy at the age of nineteen. Me being a lesbian-in-denial didn’t stop this from happening. That’s because I was, from the start, identified as a girl at birth, which just happened to (closely enough) match my gender identity as female. Therefore my mom didn’t think twice about giving me a book entitled A WOMAN’S WORTH, nor did I think twice about reading, and then allowing myself to connect with it.
Imagine instead that I had been born a transgender women. That biologically I was identified as a male, and yet in my mind and heart I knew I was female. No one was going to give me a copy of A WOMAN’S WORTH. Even if I had seen the book sitting on my mother’s coffee table, I wouldn’t have dared to pick it up. Even if everything inside of me was telling me that this book had something in it I needed to see. Even if the audience, with their popcorn flying out of their bags, lurched forward and urged me, “Pick it up the damn book!!! You know you’re a woman!!!” I wouldn’t have done it.
Through this workshop I’m hoping to provide to trans women the chance to claim what is rightfully theirs, and has been for their entire lives. The chance to explore the Goddess within them. I know some folks might feel like it’s too late for them to be able try this, or that maybe they never even had a Goddess in the first place.
I hope they realize that their story has unfolded just the way it needed to up until now, that their Goddess has been patiently waiting for them all this time, and that the audience is more than ready for them to meet their inner Meryl Streep.
If you know any transgender women might be seeking a deeper sense of connection with their Inner Goddess, please share this post with them. Even if they are unable to attend to the Colorado Gold Rush Conference (which is free, by the way!) they can still pick up a copy of A WOMAN’S WORTH for only 1 cent + $3.99 shipping on Amazon and begin the journey of discovering their sacred feminine self.
I also plan on creating a booklet, as well as YouTube videos, using the material from the workshop, so stay tuned for that!
If you are a trans woman and are interested in attending this workshop, be sure to register for the Colorado Gold Rush, which is going to be held February 21-22nd, 2014 in Denver. Again, if you are unable to attend there will be opportunities for you to get this information at a future date.
I invite everyone, both cisgender and transgender, to share their thoughts on the Goddess and the sacred feminine in the comments section. I’d love to hear what your experience has been of this, as well as allowing others the chance to hear them as well.
P.S. Trans men – I haven’t forgotten about you! Information on tapping into your Inner Warrior to come…
Photo credit (first one in the post): The Mountain by Josephine Wall