So I’ve been pretty lax in my writing these days. A lot of my time has been spent disconnecting. The rest of my time has been spent connecting, or at least attempting to. I have started a number of blog posts that I never got around to publishing. Bits and pieces that never quite felt like complete thoughts, or that seemed to echo what others were saying elsewhere. Here then are some of the random thoughts I’ve been putting to paper over the last few weeks
So the decision wasn’t anything like a specific moment in time. I remember thinking I had to come to a decision, I remember the rationale I went through. Basically there were two or three schools of thought depending on how you looked at things.
First is the fact that pretty much every trans person I’ve ever come across has said it wasn’t a choice for them. I have actually been looking for a trans person who claims otherwise, I would like to hear their opinion. What I’m saying is I’m sure this person exists somewhere but they’re a long way from the majority.
Then there are the people who suggest that being trans is the result of some experience or another, and that with enough disassociation the feelings will eventually fade. They prescribe complete annexation of the offending gender. This has led me to the point where my single biggest dysphoria trigger is cis women. I’m aware that sounds a bit hyperbolic, I wish it were.
Another viewpoint I encountered fairly at a young age is this idea that it really is a choice some people make, and that this is an obvious well established fact. To be clear, I have not once read about or otherwise heard of someone who actually claims to have deliberately altered their gender identity. I think some people confuse gender identity with gender expression. Like when we tell people we’re choosing to transition, they fail to appreciate that all we’re talking about is the way we express ourselves, we are not changing who we are.
Anyway with these three perspectives in mind I considered my options and the decision was obvious. Three possible scenarios. 1, It’s not a choice and nothing I do will change things. 2, It’s the result of certain experiences, and all I need to do is control my experiences. 3, it is a choice some people make, and if this is the case the choice seemed very, very obvious. If I could be a boy, I should be a boy. If it was 1, my actions wouldn’t change things in any case. If it was 2 or 3 then there was no sane reason to present myself as female, or indulge in female things.
These days it bothers me when I hear non trans people present ideas 2 and 3, with no clue of the fairly intensive research and suffering that has gone into understanding the matter. Attempts to alter gender identity have been made, several studies over many decades by multiple parties. Pretty much every plan to alter a persons identity has gone poorly. Sure there are people who de(or re)-transition, but each of them ends up saying they were never trans to begin with. No doubt there are people who have transitioned, realized they weren’t trans, and decided to stay, but again I’ve yet to hear of them.
A tiger in the park
One of the things that continues to frustrate me are the people who reject the notion of gender identity out of hand. All evidence is significant, whether it be scientific or anecdotal. A person is welcome to believe what they like, what they cannot do with any amount of intellectual integrity is state that transgenderism is impossible.
There’s an analogy I first heard from a high school science teacher, which he called the tiger in the park. It applies to concepts such as interstellar travel and gravity manipulation, things that aren’t currently possible, but might be. The question is how much merit should these ideas be given. It can be argued that anything is possible, but that doesn’t mean everything needs to be taken seriously. So how to decide what ideas are worth considering, and which ones can be ignored.
The rule of thumb is that for something to be taken seriously you need at least one viable theory. Imagine a child tells you they have seen a tiger in the park, assuming you live in an area to which tigers are not native you can laugh and send the kid on their way. Kids have wild imaginations, they like to play games and make up stories, realistically there’s no way their statement is accurate.
But then imagine you come across a news report saying a tiger has escaped from the local zoo. At this point you should probably call someone. This doesn’t prove there is a tiger in the park, the kid could be lying, maybe they saw the same report. Even if there is a tiger in the park it’s not necessarily the same one that escaped from the zoo, unlikely as that may be. Whatever the case, the fact that there is a viable theory means that the statement has merit.
This is why the science behind gender identity is so important. It doesn’t matter if you agree with the science, it doesn’t matter if the science pans out. The researceh is signifigant because it means a person who states that it’s impossible to have a gender identity at odds with the reproductive bits is flat out wrong.
The LGBT Agenda
Something I see a lot from pundits is this idea that the LGBT community is pushing some kind of agenda. That we have formed a coalition of some sort dedicated to unspecified yet no doubt nefarious goals. Well let’s be up front about things, we do in fact have an agenda. That agenda is to have people treat us as if we’re not LGBT. That’s it, the whole purpose of everything every LGBT activist has put their time and effort into.
The ancillary issues, anti-discrimination and marriage, bathroom bills and acceptable verbiage etc… these are all areas where people feel it’s ok to treat us differently. And oh my goodness all the absurd and convoluted ways people manage to make it sound as if what we’re asking for is unreasonable. Most of us would be perfectly happy being invisible, except that so far invisibility hasn’t worked out so well for us. Historically the non conforming have operated mostly under the radar. A few standouts made their way to prominence, rare individuals who were tolerated at best but who could expect their lives to be taken from them if they shone too brightly.
The Stonewall riots seem to be the generally agreed upon tipping point, the moment when invisibly was no longer an option. Invisibility is what allowed those who would abuse us to get away with it. We need to be visible, we need to be overt and aggressive, otherwise we will never be left alone. And believe me I am not a person who enjoys being visible or aggressive.
When I first began my transition I read absolutely everything I could find, but having read the same uninformed opinions repeated over and over my interest has wained. The whole Rachel Dolezal thing gives me a headache. In short it’s really inappropriate to compare one minority to another. Racial identity and gender identity have nothing to do with one another. One is affected by environmental factors, the other isn’t.
I guess that’s the problem with increased visibility, everyone now wants to add their two cents but many don’t bother to educate themselves on the basics first. It’s one thing to suffer such opinions when they can be considered patently absurd, I never thought the brain-dead anti trans rhetoric about being transracial would actually get a real world example. There’s a lot more I could say on the matter but as stated it gives me a headache.
Emotionally investing in inanimate objects
Some might use this as evidence that I am crazy pants, of course I’ve never denied this. When I was young I recall finding a rock in my shoe and throwing it away, only to feel a pang of guilt, as if the rock might feel bad for being rejected. This happens with old shoes and toothbrushes, all kinds of things really. I mean I don’t actually hold on to these things, I’m able to recognize that my old toothbrush does not have feelings and that it needs to go in the garbage, but I still feel bad when I put it there.
I suspect this might be connected with my tendency to disassociate, I’m the kind of person who would rather get hurt than watch someone else get hurt. Of course I’d much prefer a solution where no one gets hurt at all. The point is I think these feelings stem from a lack of self worth. How this relates to my gender identity is something chicken/egg paradox. Is my self loathing the cause or result of my dysphoria?
Fear of violence
I remember the movie Boys Don’t Cry. I’ve never seen it and I really don’t want to, the idea terrifies me. I’m constantly afraid of being attacked, one of the reasons I stayed in the closet as long as I did. Whenever I’m out in public en femme I can’t help but worry that some random fist is going to come flying at my head out of nowhere. I’m well aware of the privilege I enjoy, and there are many who have things much worse that I do. For me this fear is a tad irrational, for others it is a regular occurrence.
Acceptance of my femininity
This is still a hurdle for me. How exactly does one ‘feel’ like a woman? It’s a bit like trying to describe any other feeling I suppose. I’ve spent a very long time trying to convince myself that this feeling was something other than what it is. Part of the problem is that transition feels like a Sisyphean task, I wake up each morning to see that guy in the mirror, so much effort goes into presenting myself as something more palatable, then bedtime rolls around and once more a great deal of effort to revert back to where I started. I hate having to wear a wig and padded bra, to regularly shave my face and apply makeup. But it sure is nice to banish that mirror guy for a few hours.