I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I am quite skilled at manipulation. I’m not sure if I’ve managed to make clear just how much I hate that. All communication is to some extent an attempt to manipulate, the reason we speak to each other is because we desire a specific response. I’ve spent my life being hyper aware of my words and behaviour, all for the purpose of blending in, of going totally unnoticed.

Do I use this ability to get what I want? Absolutely I do. I have a loving and supportive family, a good job and a nice apartment. Of course transitioning means any one of those could disappear at a moments notice (note that there used to be a fourth item on that list). Part of the problem is that it becomes habitual, I already analyze every word I say, why wouldn’t I choose the most productive. The other part of the problem is that human beings absolutely hate to be manipulated, and will react strongly when we feel that way.

The solution is to understand that sincerity is of the utmost importance. Does that sound pretentious? It may be a bit pretentious, but I do believe that’s the key to success. Well ok maybe not sincerity so much as perceived sincerity. Even so I think the best way to achieve this is by being as honest as possible. Except when it comes to things you really don’t want people knowing about. And again why wouldn’t I use my skills when it suits me?

It’s a viscous moral cycle, my abilities are prone to abuse and the sad part is I’ve devoted these skills to mediocrity. I’ve noticed I tend to hold back whenever I begin to excel, until a few months ago my primary focus has been anonymity. Attention is still something I’m not comfortable with. I don’t want anyone looking too close, I still don’t feel ready to be completely myself around most people. I do everything I possibly can to stay under the radar.

Drab clothes, appreciation for popular music, good manners, proper annunciation, overt magnanimity, genuine altruism, strong work performance with minimal sick days, keep in touch with family, remember pleasantries and small talk, always agree with the majority opinion, be responsible, make good decisions, always wear sunscreen, blah sincere, blah blah kind, blah de blah boo bleh bi bo bopptiy etcetera de blah blah.

The point is to establish trust, the above are all things I think about obsessively. I want people to think well of me and allow my to go about my life in peace. Afraid that if I stand out, if people see the real me I will be falsely accused of all kinds of terrible things. I’ve experienced this a number of times in my life, I don’t look forward to seeing it play out again. So I hide.

Goodwill evaporates with mistrust. I am honest because I want people to trust me, all so that I can lie to them more effectively. And now the big secret is out, so where does that leave me? Have I traded one shell for another? Being trans means being judged far more harshly, there’s a reason the term cis-privilege exists.


3 thoughts on “Trust

  1. It sounds like you’re lying to protect yourself. Not sure if you’ll relate to this, but I really related to your post so I wanted to share.

    One of the most important realizations of my transition is that I have long been obsessed with being good, following all the rules, social approval, appearing normal, etc. I think as trans people we feel that if we show our true faces, others will reject us in disgust. So we get addicted to whatever approval we can garner–through being a dutiful family member, or getting good grades, or whatever–because it temporarily alleviates the panicky secret knowledge that we’ve somehow always already broken the greatest taboo. It’s perfectionism, actually, and it is a mask. But like any addiction, it provides brief relief at the cost of longterm damage to ourselves, our mental health, our relationships, our self-image, etc.

    For me, as I open up about my gender and let everyone in on the secret, a very important project has been letting go of this need for approval. As I accept myself as trans, and find out that it’s really not as bad as I feared, I no longer have such a desperate need to compensate. At the same time, the addiction to approval has a momentum of its own, and requires some attention–consciously letting myself off the hook, saying it’s okay to make mistakes, not be perfect, do things others might not approve of, etc. It’s a huge relief.

    There is a narrow path between masks. The door is love and self-acceptance.


  2. This is a really insightful post. Trust is a really big deal – people close to me trust me and I’m scared of the damage it would do if I came out as trans. Hopefully I can find a solution soon!


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