Tell Us As You Write Your Story: What You Don’t Know and Might Learn

Leave room for growth

Tucker Lieberman
5 min readAug 11, 2023

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seaweed in the hand on an approaching wave
Photo by the author

We often think of not-knowing as an opportunity, and it is, but often it’s presented rigidly: We’re in a classroom or workplace, and we’re supposed to learn a fact or skill that someone else already knows and wants to teach us to do exactly whatever they’ve decided we should do.

The state of unknowing can also be a state of wonder, creativity, and openness. The hope of there being something to learn is the hope that we can grow, stay connected and engaged, and do something important. It doesn’t need to imply there’s a predefined fact or skill to be acquired.

Our unknowing is wise when we know that we don’t know.

Our unknowing is electric when it’s an openness to grow in any direction and we let ourselves be changed by it.

Gender Unknowing

How does someone know their gender? Is gender transition like hopping from one stereotyped category to another, in the hope that the grass is greener elsewhere?

Well, “gender” does literally mean “category,” so gender unavoidably deals with stereotypes. But gender is bigger and more flexible than that. Gender is based in part in ideas and feelings, and we already know those will change. Your gender can be like a home for the parts of you that change. This can involve one big transition between categories, shifting between categories frequently, challenging the categories in a way that seems trans to ourselves or others, or abandoning categories altogether.

Trans people often talk about feeling most at home in a gender category where we feel we have more room for growth. We know we’re going to change. We designate a space in which we can do it.

We can make lists of ways in which we fit one gender stereotype more than another, and there’s nothing wrong with that exercise, but there’s a limited amount we can learn from those lists, and those lists may not take us into our futures.

Gender transition is like other big commitments to ourselves — what we’ll study, what we’ll do for work, where we’ll live, who we’ll spend time with — insofar as we begin with our knowings but also leave room for the unknowing…

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Tucker Lieberman

Editor for Prism & Pen. Author of the novel "Most Famous Short Film of All Time." https://tuckerlieberman.com/