There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio
Sometimes I feel like I am following in the footsteps of Dan Briggs, Jim Phelps and Ethan Hunt. It matters not that these are the various fictional leaders of the Impossible Missions Force. You see, I feel that I have many missions that I have been given, and so many may be impossible. That is ok with me. Back during my engineering days, I would always say that it is ok to ask me to do the impossible, just don't ask me to do something stupid!
The more opportunities I get to do trainings with different groups about gender variance, the more I realize I am on a mission to "Break the Binaries." I spend a good deal of time talking about anatomy and biology; about gender identity; about gender expression; about sexual orientation; and about sexual behaviors. Not a single one of these constructs can truly be described as fitting in only a choice 2 boxes -- the cultural view of the male and female "binaries." Then, the overly simplistic view that all of our feelings, identities and sense of who we are, across these different construct must be aligned within the same binary view of "M" or "F" must be better understood. We humans have feelings and desires as varied as there are the number of people that exist. Yes, Hamlet gets it right in this case, There are more things...many more things than just male and female in this heaven and earth.....
Now, back to the impossible. How can we break the binary? How can we break the boxes that we use as categories, and learn that each of us is a unique mix of the infinite and the infinitesimal. How can we rejoice in this beautiful differentiation and still connect and belong to each other in the ways that really count?
Perhaps I can share a story from my "things that I forget" department.
I remember as a child back in the early 1950s when my mom took me to the local Woolworth's and bought me a box of crayons and a coloring book. I was so excited to learn there were 8 colors in the Crayola box. I happily colored, even thought it was never easy to stay within the lines (clearly a projection of my personality, I think.) That was it; the world was described in only 8 colors! It was easy, it was simple! By the time I became a teenager there was the premium box of crayons available -- a box with 64 colors! How the world expanded for me. There were new names to remember, new labels, and new categories. I was excited to see the color called Burnt Sienna, but there was also now a crayon called "Flesh." I could not at that time imagine that I could remember all the names or there could even be more choices.
Today, with our computers we seem to have so many choices on colors that seem to defy the naming and labeling. We have learned to accept that the choices are so great. For example, we see a color wheel below where we can choose any point to choose a color. We have learned the jargon of saturation, and hue, and intensity and gradients.
Some of us still choose to look at the world in terms of black and/or white. Yes, choosing from a choice of 2 is generally so much easier -- as many studies point out too many choices can easily overwhelm us. However there are very few important choices in our lives that can be reduced to a binary choice.
As Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman teaches us in Thinking, Fast and Slow, we humans are reluctant to invest the energy to think through complex issues as it is easier to assign a simple answer -- or what I would suggest a binary value to the most complex of issues. This is just an observation and not a reprimand. If we learn to be aware of it, then perhaps we can change it.
I am pretty sure this is the way to do the impossible, and "break the binaries."
What have we "dreamt in our philosophies?" Can it be that our culture's view of gender and sexuality that so neatly fit into an aligned binary model, has developed because the complexity was deemed to be just too overwhelming to describe, and perhaps for some even "control?"
I believe this even if I have to give up the idea of naming, categorizing and labeling all the variations possible in heaven and earth.
If some of this makes sense to you, and you do not reject it in its entirety; if even I get a "maybe" from you where it is something you will spend the energy to consider, then perhaps my mission is not so impossible.
If you find yourself in agreement with me, can you bring yourself and all of your own colors....
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
- Writer(s): John Kenneth Wetton, Geoff Downes
...to join me or create your own mission to help break the binaries.
Grace Stevens transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her journey to live authentically. Grace is available for speaking with Live Your Truth: Discover Paths to Improved Performance. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .