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Thursday, February 25, 2010

A life turned sepia

This interrupts the yearly round up posts I still want to make.
I don't know if many other trans people feel this. I don't think that in any way its a consequent of having a narrative of changing gender, as opposed to always having been a woman, more the other way around. Oddly enough, I think that, in a small way, it might be more of a general cis phenomenon.
Its a memory thing, and how we colour recollection with emotion. The way that some childhood memories bloom in brightness through the sheer intensity of the feelings we had. Other times though it goes the other way, and memories are fainter because the emotional cues aren't there. But there's also another kind of fading that comes from no longer having an emotional repertoire that encompasses childhood.
An example might be remembering the early 'Dr Who' series as a young child. I can recall the action, and the fact that I found it new and exciting...but how was I excited or why or at what particularly, that's back somewhere in the mist. I saw 'The Prisoner' in my adolescence and that's totally different. I remember relating to the allegory, to the style, to the place it attained in the culture around me and all the feelings associated with these. It happens with recalling relationships too. It used to be that whilst earlier relationships were slightly less accessible in that I grew in experience to an expanded, more complex emotional repertoire, I could recall quite clearly how I felt during them, ( 2 relationships over 10 years, a couple of dozen shorter ones and virtually no 1 night stuff ).
I still see a couple of exes and get on better with them now, as friends, than I did before. I can still recall the events,the life styles, the changes they brought on. But in general, those parts of the past have turned alien. It's nothing to do with seeing things now from a female identity. It's got quite a lot to do with things that make me female, though. I can imagine myself falling in love again, but absolutely not in any way that I've been remotely familiar. The emotional conflation, the whole exogenous thing, the iconifying...Well, I suppose they could somehow spring up anew, but judging by their comparative absence from my emotional world it's not something I'd hold my breath waiting for. Most emotions are still recognisable, but as seen through a scanner darkly, and I inhabit a very changed set of emotional processes.
I don't have much motivation to distance myself from a male past. I suppose I was never that closely identifying with my gender, but certainly far more than identifying female, a thought that never entered my head. And I did, in the main, have quite a satisfying life as a man.
There's so many new and wonderful feelings and relationships now, and I'm so much luckier than the vast majority of trans people in having had no difficult struggle for self acceptance. But there are always prices.
I remember a friend telling the story of a bass player at a party who put his hand on a hot electric plate for 30 seconds. After that it hurt, and the guy pulled his hand away, looked at it, smooth and lacking calluses, and said 'that's 15 years gone'.
And just like that, I'm newly smoothed and sensitive with a past burned off. In that first rush of change, 40 years of memories have turned sepia.

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