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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two pictures

Having come to the conclusion that I can't post meaningfully on sisterhood without making certain things about my process clear, two pictures, fairly new ones that I try and put over.
So imagine a place where all the inhabitants speak either french or german together with an inbetween slang dialect. The germans are mostly tall, blonde, blue eyed, and wear lederhosen ; the french smaller, dark-haired and wear strings of garlic over striped tops.
You're german, but a bit atypical. You've spent more than usual time talking with the french, and your slang forms reflect that.
Then one day you wake up and everything's changed. You understand french, and your german starts to fade. In ways you don't clearly understand, french makes sense. And germans...those pointless drills, those martial endeavors, that ridiculous allergy to wearing could you ever have been locked up in all that germanness ?
And you wait for it to go away, and it doesn't.
And you know you have to be german still in some ways, so maybe you need a dual passport or something...but then you understand that you WERE german and german stuff just doesn't work anymore.
You read about born germans who could never really speak the language, but tried in various ways to speak french, thereby changing their nationality. And you read the stuff about how such germans go against the will of Wotan, and are nothing but secret garlic lovers. And you read how language is just a constructed social interface and that the roots of language, which are now part of everything you do and see, aren't really there. And you change inside, because german throats can't pronounce french. And you change outside, and try to change yourself more, because you know you can't live in a world where everyone speaks the wrong language to you.
And you start to learn to speak french, because whilst you understand it as your native tongue, speaking the forms still have to be learned. And the spirit of french gradually grows in you, altering you in ways that only a french child knows.
You know you'll always be a bit tall and blonde, but the clothes can maybe alter. And though its hard for germans to understand, really its the french and their recognition and support that are important.
And though a new passport will be useful, to go with the clothes, they're really not that important. It's the language and the way that changes you through use that's the thing, not 'identity' as in a passport, but to speak the world as it now is in the shapes that now have meaning for you.

Then there's a picture which goes somewhat further into the ground of gender. Try to imagine, as seems indeed to be the case, and is a striking perceptual change as far as I'm concerned, that women have a significantly finer discrimination as regards colour, compared to a male vision where the differentiations of shape are more foregrounded.
Confront these extremes with a jigsaw puzzle and the proto-woman might adopt strategies for initially sorting pieces by colour grouping, whilst the imaginary male might sort by lines. As time and puzzles presented, both learn the others strategies and in the end it may not be too easy for the outside observer to tell which way either is biased.What price gender then ? But for the participants and their journeys, it's totally different for each. The finished players may even have identical strategies in the end, but the foundations and building are anything but identical. There is not anything like the shared commonality that the finished articles suggest. And the lessons learned along the way, they too are separate and distinct.
My condition, and I believe the condition of most transexuals, relates to those basal layers, the heart and ground of gender rather than gender in the world.

I don't know how far these are representative purely of my own experience or not. I put them forward as that, and potentially as reasonable descriptions of processes and distinctions that might be common in certain ways to other trans people. Feedback on this specific aspect would be deeply appreciated.


  1. as i have been born with garlic strings all over i appreciate the picture you've drawn very much. it gives a tremendous insight. there are oh so many pictures and facettes to be understood and appreciated...

    love, salwa

  2. I wondered whether you had been natally gifted with Kinbaku-bi talents, and now I know, my sweet, queer sister.

  3. Bookmarking this. The best explanation of transition I've yet seen.