An Analogy

Boys and girls are different, we know this. Sure, everyone is different and there’s not one specific trait that’s exclusive to either gender, it’s really more of a mosaic where you have to step back and look at the whole picture, but there is a difference. Male and female are different things. This is known and accepted as fact among pretty much all corners of human civilization. The real question is where does that come from, and why is it so hard to accept that it may come from the brain. 

Gender is the one of the first things we notice about someone. If you know anything about a person you know their gender, and if you don’t know their gender it bothers you, you want to find out. Mis-gender someones pet and there’s a good chance they’ll correct you. Point to a random cloud and ask someone if it looks like a boy cloud or a girl cloud, most people will think about it and come up with an answer. The human brain is hardwired to gender pretty much everything, why then is it so hard to accept that the brain would also gender itself?

We tend to like things we self identify with, we pay attention to them and internalize them. Everything we see and hear is processed and filtered by the brain before being presented to the conscious mind. We have surprisingly little control over what we notice or how we feel about it, and it takes a great deal of effort to go against those feelings. 

This gave the the idea for an analogy which I humbly submit, and invite any and all feedback as to whether you feel this accurately reflects the trans experience to some degree. Imagine a job at a toy factory, santa’s workshop or whatever. Conveyer belts are color coded blue for boys and pink for girls, because of course they are. The job is quality control, if person is assigned to a blue belt, whenever girl toys come down the line they must take the item to an appropriate pink belt. 

For most people this job is easy, the sorting mechanism is very precise and hardly any work is required. Except sometimes a blue belt continuously produces girl toys, or vice versa. This means the employee has to take every single item off the line to a different belt, and it’s exhausting. It also means that their toy box stays mostly empty. The first instinct is to wait it out, hoping that the problem will correct itself. It doesn’t so the next step is talk to the boss upstairs about fixing the machine. But no, the machine will be left as is. So really the only logical solution is to switch boxes.

Except now there is a pink box in front of a blue conveyer, and that’s against the rules. You can’t have a pink box in front of a blue conveyer, soon everyone will decide they can use whatever box they want, imagine the chaos and confusion that will cause, all the uncertainty, and won’t someone just think of the children. The innocent little girl who gets a toy that came off of a *gasp* blue conveyer belt – which is about the same level of logic employed by those who object to us using public washrooms, or you know, this

I’m not quite sure how this analogy extends to non binary and fluid individuals, a belt that produces toys which don’t apply to either box, or that sends items through seemingly at random perhaps. Anyway feel free to let me know what you think of this, and any ways in which the idea can be refined 🙂

Normalcy

One of the questions that comes up a lot is whether I’m more comfortable now than I was before. The answer I have to give is that it’s more like my comfort has shifted, in that there are times and places where I feel much more awkward than I ever did, but there are also scenarios where I feel totally at peace. 

This weekend I attended a writers conference in Calgary called When Words Collide, and I had an absolutely fantastic time. Everyone was friendly and open minded, and I was comfortable with myself the entire time. I wore some of my favorite clothes, including a new outfit that one of my coworkers helped me pick out. I didn’t wear my wig and I clearly read as trans, and I was treated exactly like any other normal girl, in fact for once I genuinely felt like a normal girl. 

I had some great conversations with people I’d just met. This is unusual for me, yes I know how to hold a conversation without coming off as a strange person (that is to say I’m good at lying) but I’ve never really felt invested in such conversations. Being closeted meant every relationship sat on a precipice. Whatever a person thought of me their opinion could polarize with a single revelation. Since coming out reactions have been better than I could have hoped, and even when I’m nervous it feels like I’m on solid ground. 

It’s hard to verbalize how I’ve always felt about myself, I kept trying to feel like a boy but the idea never fit. I guess I have always felt like an abnormal girl, a girl who was not allowed to be a girl. At last the doors have been opened, I am invited to the party. Literally it seems, I’ve been invited to an upcoming girls night with a number of long time friends. In previous posts I’ve written about not having that many close female friends, this seems to be changing 🙂

Ignorance

The more I think about Caitlyn the more I feel she is probably one of the best things that could have happened to transgender visibility. Yes she is far removed from many of the problems faced by the community at large (as am I admittedly), and yes she is only recently aware of most of these issues. But those are both things that make her an ideal point of view for a general audience. The people watching her story are also relative neophytes, which means they are able to take the journey along with her.  

 

Caitlyn’s contributions to the world are indisputable. She made history, set a world record, inspired millions and had an immeasurable effect on our society. Yet had the world known her truth, this would not have happened. She would have been the same person with the exact same ability and potential, and history would be oblivious to what we might have missed out on. 

Now her truth is revealed, and her path crosses that of a woman named Blossom Brown. Blossom says she wants to be a nurse and has the grades for it, but cannot get into medical school because she is trans. This is a person who could one day preserve lives that would otherwise be lost, who is being denied this opportunity based on factors over which she has no control, and cause no harm to anyone. To be blunt, this is absolutely stupid. 

This calls to mind the issue of trans people service in the military. A US political figure recently suggested that the military is not a social experiment. Except there is no experiment here, trans people are already serving in the US military (trans people have been serving openly in the Canadian military for some time now). The only issue on the table is whether or not it’s ok for people to know they are trans, and really why on earth should that matter? Again these are people who’s contribution to the world is unquestionable, but who would be unable to contribute if certain inconsequential medical details were revealed. 

The ramifications of denying our identity extend beyond our personal wellbeing. Wikipedia lists 17 names that have been taken from us this year alone, and we have no idea how many names are missing from that list. This isn’t a matter of conjecture or opinion. This isn’t about inconveniencing the masses for the comfort of a select few. It’s not about religious freedom. It’s not about understanding medical facts. It’s about a persons right to say their name and be heard, to stand beside one another and share our gifts. Every life matters.