The Virginia Prince Awards

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #99, Fall 2002.

The following was submitted as a letter to the editor. Zantui Rose is Holly Boswell?s life
partner. Holly received the Virginia Prince Lifetime Service Award in April at the 2002
IFGE Coming Together conference in Nashville? Ed.

I had the privilege of watching Holly Boswell receive the
Virginia Prince award last April, which is given each year
in recognition of a lifetime of service to the transgender
community. Holly?s message over her 16 years of service has
been a continuous one of
transcending gender as it is
defined by our culture. Her
vision may seem radical,
but it is based on timehonored
traditions as well
as the critical element of
spiritual awakening.

This writing is not
about congratulating
Holly. It is about speculating
upon what this
recognition of Holly?s
work means to the community
at large. What does
this say about the transgender
community in the
year 2002?

I happen to share this vision with Holly, and over the years
have watched the response from this community to her words
of wisdom. I have seen and heard some of her peers confirm
this wisdom, while adding their own voices. I have also witnessed
fellow gender seekers seemingly agree with this vision,
yet continue on their gender path by accepting the binary
paradigm. The transgender community itself has a voice that
refutes this expansive gender vision. Friendly discussions have
ensued, as well as defensive responses by people who have
made binary choices. Given the varied responses to this vision
that Holly and others espouse, I find it interesting that a panel
of her peers choose to honor her with the VP award, thereby
honoring her words. This is all very curious to me.

I?d like to think that this recent honoring indicates that
deep down in the crevices of our true Spirit-knowing selves,
we recognize Holly?s words to be true and that we do long for
a world that exists beyond gender duality. Perhaps it was that
nagging voice of Truth which spoke to Holly?s peers as they
decided where this year?s VP award should go. I want to
believe that Holly?s name on that plaque of distinguished
service providers signifies a turning point in vision, thought
and action for this transgender community. Is that possible?
Let?s assume it is.

Then where do we go from here? What will it take to keep
the wheel of gender freedom turning? not the back and forth
of the seesaw, but a constant turning, spiraling out of this
vision which was so recently awarded?
We do not easily give up our acculturated ways, even
when they give us pain and eventually the death of our spirit.
Such is the nature of our programming. Albert Einstein once
observed that ?the significant problems of the world cannot
be solved at the same level of
consciousness which they
were created.? Similarly,
Carl Jung believed that often
the most important problems
in life cannot be solved?
they must be outgrown. Our
consciousness opens and we
move on. A significant
problem in the world is
culturally-defined gender
duality. It boxes us in and
restricts our play, our freedom,
our Spirit. We must
move beyond the gender
duality, and eventually outgrow
gender entirely. This
outgrowing requires a whole
new level of consciousness,
and I believe honoring Holly?s work with this award signifies
that an old level of consciousness is being laid to rest and has
played itself out. Let us believe that the gender duality schema
has exhausted its possibilities, reached its extreme polarity
with Barbie and Ken. I believe we are sloughing off an old
level of gender consciousness, and it is taking us a while to
grow a new one? one without the boxes and restraints.
It appears this death of binary gender is not happening
logically, but rather slowly dying when confronted with the
fresh air of moving beyond gender entirely? an idea being
created by a stronger life force than that followed by the
present paradigm.

Given enough time, humanity will emerge from the
confinement of the gender boxes. We must believe this and
continue to see it happening. We must not stop short by giving
in to Western Medicine?s solution to our unrest, as though
the physical presentation is all that hurts. The soul is crying
out through you and me. The people who awarded Holly
this recognition have spun the wheel a bit further. We must
keep this momentum, consciously opening ourselves to
proceed. Let us look closely at what has so recently transpired,
and build on it.