Am I really just some parts?
Am I really not allowed to start?
Am I really just a laughing stock?
Am I really key to hatreds lock?
Will I really feel the pain?
Will I really be treated sane?
Will I really be a nanny?
Will I really always be some Tranny?
I am more than your insanity.
I am risen above your animosity.
I am more then any part.
I am more within my heart.
I’ve talked before about how it feels to start working towards medical transition.
Here and here.
There’s definitely more to discuss there but I wanted to step back even further and talk about what it feels like when Transition is not on the horizon.One of the things I hadn’t noticed at the time was how dehumanising the process of transition is. The reason for this is that its taken transition for me to feel like a person, to in turn understand what I’d experienced.
Things might be a little different now but where I grew up and when I grew up being Gay was still considered a largely negative thing. The existence of Transgender people as a concept, let alone as members of the community was unheard of. As such, though I knew there was something different it took me until my teens to start to understand what I was.
One of the worst effects of being in the closet at such a young age is the isolation. This feeling of wrongness that pervades your whole being is not something you fully understand or could point out if asked. Its this element you quickly learn to disguise. My way of coping was to mirror expectations. What I mean by this is that if someone thought I was angry, or mean. I was angry and mean. If someone thought I was quiet and reposed, that was what I was. It was exhausting trying to balance people with different expectations co-mingled but I did.
The other downside is that I didn’t build very deep friendships. I had long term friends, because I was consistent in meeting their expectations so there was little to complain about. Yet I couldn’t really connect to people because I was incapable of connecting to myself.
That’s the meat of the problem. Using an onion analogy when speaking with a therapist I met later on that, though gender isn’t the core of your personality, it’s not many layers past it. If you have an underdeveloped or neglected sense of gender. Your societal expectations are out of whack. Your sense of self is impacted. Who you are and what you are begins to atrophy because you have no working context for how to express that socially. Humans are inherently social creatures. We relate to ourselves largely through how we relate to each other. So as I was unable to build any sort of consistency in my relations to others. Eventually I became nothing to myself.
There’s a lot of consequences of this that I’ll discuss more of them later, but the main message I have with this is that realising that I was Trans was not as simple as understanding who I was and finding my soul. It took a lot of background work just understanding what had been lost and what needed to be built. The pain of not having an identity, which is what I consider myself having missed out on during my normal development. Isn’t so easily reconstructed. When you talk about developmental milestones there’s certain ones that are very hard to recreate once missed. You just have to try and figure out how to be you with all of the pain and missing pieces anyways.
Because the alternative is much worse.
I’m always thinking about how offended I should be. It’s a trade off. If you’re too sensitive you push people away. If you never correct then people never learn and change. It’s a bit of a conundrum.
I do’t like getting offended, my natural state to some of this stuff is ambivalence. Most of the time this is perfectly fine but sometimes things irk me. If you’re Trans misgendering is a part of life. It begins from the very first moments of your life. I haven’t fully transitioned publicly, I’m comfortable, though not thrilled, with being misgendered by strangers. I don’t think its their fault. What bothers me is when I’ve told people who I am. I know it can be tough. I don’t present particularly femininely so people go on autopilot and I get gentlemen d and sir’ed d a lot more then I’d like.
Understanding and acceptance are slow. It takes a long time to overwrite such basic life experiences as identifying the gender of another person. It plays into why Trans people make accepting people uncomfortable. By our very existence we challenge their minds expectations. This isn’t a conscious decision usually, our brains are both presumptive and lazy. When confronted with information that differs from our expectations we are forced to either make further assumptions (the more likely outcome) or put effort into evaluating new information and creating a new response (far less likely).
So with that in mind I try to air on the side of caution with getting offended. Challenge occasionally, not constantly. It takes a while but eventually people learn to start correcting themselves. Then it becomes normal. It’s a marathon not a sprint. If something really bothers you talk to someone about it. Getting annoyed and belligerent doesn’t’ encourage people to reevaluate their bias and discomfort.