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A Sign Post - Play with Paradox

by Zander Keig


Zander Keig is a prolific contributor to dialogue among transgender communities. His co-edited book Letters for my Brothers: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect in 2011, is one of many notable accomplishments.

Zander's Tao of Transition blog from 2007 has been set aside for the time being, but even incomplete, it offers many insights. This blog entry is reprinted with permission.


Paradox: A statement or situation that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is still true.

Play with Paradox

     Paradox exists. To refute it, ignore it or resist it does not make it not so. Therefore, to acknowledge it is the path of least resistance. Beyond acknowledgement is acceptance and then integration. This integration of paradox is what makes it a playful experience. 

     Whenever I encounter a paradoxical moment, interaction or circumstance, I have the option to react, respond or relate to it. For instance, when someone approaches me at the end of a Trans* 101 training stating that "only two biological sexes exist and one cannot truly change their sex," I could react by arguing, respond by refuting with academic and medical findings or relate to the persons authentic confusion (unknowing).

     I choose to relate, because there have been, and will be, times when I am unable to grasp new and paradoxical information too. I will agree with their overall message, stating that I realize the distinction between assigned sex and asserted gender identity is a new concept and that it bumps up against what they have been taught to believe is true about human physiology. 

     Cultivating a playful response to paradox is one of the many practices I engage in. One of my favorite paradoxical principles in Taoism is Wu Wei. Wu Wei is often translated as inaction or emptiness. Both terms tend to conjure up the notion of passivity, laziness, weakness or apathy. Wu Wei is neither of those.

     Wu Wei may be appreciated, paradoxically, as going with the flow - being aware of the constraints, requirements and consequences from each action and inaction we engage in and flowing with, rather than resisting what is.

     Embracing paradox not only lessens the stress from internal struggles, it lessens the desire to  engage in struggles with others, which communicates openness and understanding leading to less combatative encounters with others.

     My transition, from socially defined female to socially defined male, has been a journey, which has manifested in one paradoxical circumstance after another. I intend to keep playing.


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