In my more egotistical moments, I think that I am sometimes able to witness and even help people close to me begin to realize aspects of their potential that they would maybe not access otherwise. People I date or befriend start playing their instruments again or more seriously, they change their eating habits and stick with it, they read more and different books, they begin using new words. It's not so much that I do anything as that I just try to fully support what seems to be happening anyway; this can sometimes become an enabling behavior (since my full support seems to know no boundaries sometimes, and that's bad), but sometimes it's positive and I love feeling like I was there for somebody doing what they wanted to do. (But it's not about me! I swear.)
With my ex Tabitha it's been a little more complicated. The enabling was a major issue between us, and a large part of why we eventually had to break up, but there have also been positive changes from our interactions. Here's the approximate story (from my side of things) of my very small participation in recent events: a few months ago, I got a text from Tabitha saying that she had been reading Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg's highly recommended novel about a transgendered narrator's experiences coming into hir own identity. The text didn't contain any explanation, but I knew that that can be a very upsetting book to read (a lot of sexual abuse and assault, and a lot of ideas and experiences surrounding gender that can be very intense to read about, and it sure upset the hell out of me when I read it) so I followed up on it. We talked, and I told her to read Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaw, one of my absolute favorite books and one that changed the way I think about gender forever. That's all, really.
Tabitha is going by Peter these days, and using masculine pronouns. It seems, in the grand scheme of things, like a small change and in a lot of ways it is, but on other ways it's been absolutely awesome to see. I've never watched someone I was so close to go through a personal transformation like this, and what amazes me over and over again is how different it seems to have made everything. It's not like the pronouns have switched and that's the end of the story; his whole life seems to be coming together in new and good ways. He's getting his shit together, reading and writing and creating more, talking in a whole different way, and positively on fire with ideas and passion. I feel like I'm watching somebody become who they are really, truly supposed to be, and it is incredibly gratifying to me as an observer. (Of course, I only know my side of things and he might think completely differently, but from here that's what it looks like.) I'm truly proud of him, for taking on his own life and making it what it needs to be.
One of the offshoots of all of this is that he's started a genderqueer activism group along with a bunch of the people who he works with at one of Chicago's feminist sex toy stores. (We have two! Both within walking distance of my apartment. Score.) They have a blog (and a facebook group, and a twitter), and although right now it's basically just a mission statement people in the group are hopefully going to start posting things soon. I went to my first meeting last night. It made me realize that I've been so busy dealing with life that I've become complacent in my views on gender, and also made me think extra hard about my own gender thoughts and what those mean. That's been pretty fun too. It feels good to get excited again, to remember that there's more to life than the day-to-day shit that I waste so much of my brain dealing with. Change and growth is in the air for everybody, I guess.