“The Notion of No”

-Jennifer Carron is a transgendered woman of 12 years. She is a Critical Incident and Immediate Intervention Counselor. She specializes in short term, focused interventions and obstacle planning for the transgendered, as well as conflict management and victimization risk assessment.

“The Notion of No”

I would like to talk to you about no. Not as in the word no, but the notion of no. The reason why, is that this is a powerful emotion.

I want you to think back to the first time you were told no. You won’t remember the word, but you know the feeling. Of being put in the one down position, not the one up position. We all want to be in the one up position, but it isn’t going to happen all the time. That’s a reality and you can thank your animal instincts for that. We are still humans, we are affected by
emotions. Hesitance happens, thats natural, it gives us a chance to step aside and think of our next response, but we are driven by our reaction to ‘no’.

Let me take you down a trip on memory lane. Our planet’s memory lane, our own species memory lane. The good thing to know is that, after the billions of years we have been on this planet, the notion of no, is not a new thing. The basic chemicals did it first, they resisted each other in certain ways, they established a code of conduct, if you will. We carry that in our hearts to this day. We have seen, and its a curious thing to take into consideration, that we continually place each other in the one up, and one down position.

Why is this such a strong emotion for the transgendered? Popular beliefs are that we have these silent arguments in our heads everyday, about the notion of no. And we are pretty good at beating outselves up over an issue that really wasn’t an issue.

One of my favorite exercises is to show a group a card, one side is light, one side is dark. I show them the light side, and I tell them that the card that I am showing them is dark. And of course, they disagree, but I hold my stand, and I tell them that the card is dark. Usually some form of aggression happens and the group mentality goes into mob mentality. And of course, it forces my hand to show them that the side that I was looking at was dark, and they saw the light side.

The point of this exercise, its a moment of realization, that something so simple can cause so much strife. When I show them that the card has two colors, we always have this moment of realization that all of us were wrong. But I was in the one up position, because I knew the exercise, but that didn’t make me feel any better when the group becomes furious that I am saying that the card I see is dark.

What does this all mean? There must be some sense to everything. Well, you’re in luck, there is. We have things like validation, acceptance, there’s courage. The fiercest in the family of lions can be knocked down in a moment. So the one up position isn’t so coveted, its protected. But it can change in an instant. That’s where I mean that the notion of no
actually has some meaning, its got some guts to it. ‘No’ is an opportunity for us to evaluate. When we hear no, its not a finality, its a chance to back up one step, and have another look at what just happened.


PS: Editor (Pam): I posted this article because of chat. I see this all the time, a comment is misunderstood, taken the wrong way, was meant as humor but taken as serious, etc., and feelings are hurt, unkind words are said, people get angry. As Jenn points out “When we hear no, its not a finality, its a chance to back up one step, and have another look at what just happened.” Not assume the worst, but try to understand what the other was trying to say.