The Tao of Transitioning
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. -Lao Tzu
Taoism seems to be a running theme in some of our conversations lately, and I find it fascinating, and absolutely relevant to viewpoint diversity. In our latest podcast — The Tao of Transitioning — Zander Keig likens his transgender transformation to just “being in the flow”. He is also a proponent of viewpoint diversity, even when that sometimes puts him at odds with the trans community, some of whom have slandered him as transphobic. The theme of viewpoint diversity and the appreciation of our differences, both within and outside our own communities, is a necessary corollary to finding the Tao, or the “way”.
Zander reminds us that the trans community is not monolithic. There is not a meta-narrative or a singular voice. And yet, often diverse individuals come together in community to support a common goal. However within that community itself there is disagreement, and even east coast and west coast coalitions frequently use different lingo in their movements. For example, to some, the term transexual is akin to blasphemy — a word that came out of the scientific community rather than the transgender community. To others, to discuss natal birth, is similarly sacrilegious. And then there are also those, like Zander who is now legally male, who feel it is necessary to mention his female natal sex, specifically in medical contexts where biology does affect prescription types and doses and certain medical conditions.
Zander also speaks with compassion about exploring different ways to approach gender transition in therapy from being gender affirming to discerning rapid onset of gender dysphoria. And in finding his way through the messy middle, he also advocates for affirming the grief of “ambiguous loss” as part of the process for a family supporting a transitioning member. Navigating these divides and divisions within the trans community has not come without a cost, as he frequently encounters slurs and threats.
Despite this vitriol, Zander continues to embrace the trans community with love, acceptance and compassion for the different individual voices that make up the whole. Ultimately, his balancing act, or the Tao of Transition if you will, is probably why he has been named National Social Worker of the Year. Understanding the complexities of community interaction among unique individuals and encouraging viewpoint diversity within the community is the foundation for both an empowering and vibrant movement. And so he carries on in the flow, letting go of the division to embrace his full self, and that of others.
You can find Zander’s transition story and in his own words in the Tao of Transition.
In the Hold my Drink — navigating the news and politics with a chaser of civility — and Counterweight Podcast — Episode 25, The Tao of Transitioning, we speak with Zander Keig, a Wellness & Belonging Consultant, Social Worker of the Year, Coast Guard Veteran and a first-generation Mexican-American Transexual Man. His appreciation of viewpoint diversity sometimes has him at odds within the trans community and he speaks with us about his challenges to find his “way” or his Tao, and how he shares this in his own practice. Like all communities, the transgender community is not monolithic, but comprised of unique individuals with different experiences. Zander shares with us his own journey, all with a chaser of civility, of course, and an Argentinian Malbec.
Hold My Drink welcomes all people with all kinds of beverages to join us as we discuss what it takes to imagine a new American identity, together.
What Zander is Reading
The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Ryan Holiday
A Path With Heart, Jack Kornfield
What Jen is Reading
The Campaigns of Lies Against Journalist Jesse Singal — And Why It Matters, Quillette, Jonathan Kay
Cis Men Like Jesse Singal, Dan Savage Don’t Decide What is Transphobic, The Advocate, Mey Rude
Zander is a proud Coast Guard Veteran and an award-winning Social Worker, Educator, and Public Speaker with subject-matter knowledge and experience in developing LGBT diversity and inclusion programs, interpersonal and organizational conflict management training, clinical peer consultation and mentorship, and corporate mental wellness program development. He has served in various capacities: clinician, trainer, speaker, consultant, coach, advisor, facilitator, mentor, networker, educator, leader, and community builder.
2020 WPATH Harry Benjamin Distinguished Education Award | 2020 NASW National Social Worker of the Year | 2020 WPATH Certified Gender Specialist | 2018 NASW CA Social Worker of the Year | 2014 San Francisco CARES Social Worker of the Year
You can find more of Zander’s writings here.
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