There have been some really awesome posts from fellow bloggers in the last few days and they’ve really got me thinking about this journey that we’re all on together and separately. Each of us has our own unique road with sometimes similar and sometimes very different destinations. Sometimes, the destination isn’t quite clear to us. But, seeing this as a journey made me think about the idea of this being a sort of Hero’s Journey that we’re all part of in some stage or another. Often we find other would-be heroes at similar junctures as ourselves. Others are further ahead or just getting started. We help each other navigate on this solitary journey to ourselves. Our True Selves.
After just a little research I found some very interesting correlations between the standard Hero’s Journey and my own current path. The journey has several stages and cast members. In the beginning of the journey the hero lives in the ordinary world as an ordinary person but doesn’t quite fit in and feels somewhat out of place. The journey begins as they are called away from their ordinary world to embark on a fantastic quest (transition or whatever your path is to authenticity). The hero must leave the ordinary world in order to go on this quest. Often the hero resists leaving their comfortable world and people they know. The new world is strange and different, full of “treasure and danger” for the budding hero. The hero is given a quest that only they can accomplish. At first, the hero refuses. They’re not prepared, strong enough, smart enough, worthy enough. Many excuses come to mind for refusing the quest. And, sometimes, the hero never does accept the quest, their destiny, but this only brings trouble for the hero in the end. Once the hero accepts the quest they can move on to the next stage.
The hero embarks on their journey and enters into the new, strange land (the land of gender identity which only the hero can define for themselves). There are many tests and trials awaiting (coming out, name changes, pronoun changes, therapy, letters, surgeries, hormones, etc.). They meet some helpful people who aid them in their quest along their path (doctors, therapists, fellow trans* folks, friends, family). These are their Talisman and Allies. Sometimes these helpers seem to have supernatural powers. The hero progresses through a series of tests and trials that makes them stronger and smarter for their final obstacle. This final obstacle is The Supreme Ordeal (this could be a surgery, or being accepted as our true self or something else entirely) which, once surpassed, the quest has been achieved. This is when they receive their rewards for passing the Supreme Ordeal (Living an authentic life).
The journey is not over though. The final stage is the journey home. The journey home often has a few obstacles as well but are handled easily with the new knowledge, wisdom and strength the Hero has gained from their previous adventures. The Hero’s quest is life-changing for them as well as others. They return home a master of two worlds and often bring with them special powers that helps them heal or improve their home world.
I started thinking about this concept quite a while ago. I was watching the movie A Knight’s Tale with Heath Ledger at home one evening. Heath plays a poor squire who wants to be a Knight. He trains hard to win tournaments with the help of a few of his friends. He enters the tournaments, which only nobles are allowed to participate in, by pretending to be Sir Ulrich and has forged papers to verify his nobility. Eventually he is found out as a fraud and is about to be captured. His friends and allies all urge him to run for his life and tell him how he can hide and get away with his deception. He listens to them and simply says, “NO! I AM A KNIGHT!” That moment in that movie, even though it’s not that great a film, hit me hard. It was like all of the people telling me my whole life, mostly myself, that I am not good enough, strong enough, tall enough, whatever enough to be who I really am were silenced. I can hide for the rest of my life and pretend I’m really a woman…sort of. Or I can claim who I really am and pay the price for that.
I don’t feel like a hero most days and I bet most of you don’t either. But, the truth is, we’re all heroes in our own right. We’re out here fighting every day for our right to be seen and heard and acknowledged for who and what we really are. The battles may be small or seem insignificant like asking someone to use your preferred pronoun or name but each battle matters in the end.
Keep fighting the good fight and journey on my fellow heroes. Stand proud!
* information and some language in this post came from mythologyteacher.com