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Thursday, December 29, 2011

An odd storytelling

So the way I tend to describe myself, in trans terms, to people I meet, goes something like this.
That there tend to be two typical narratives for trans women. In the first they are very clear from an early age as to what they are and tend to transition fairly early in life. The second is of those who sat on that knowledge, or more probably weren't as sure or as desperate, who may have had to go through a variety of entanglements and typically transition later in life.
And that then there are the rest of us.
That I'm one that was born under the impact of accidental hormonal transition and started shedding my previous supposed gender with extreme speed.
And I'll tell them about the growing evidence for neurological explanations of transsexuality and how, in a small way, my own case is evidential. My normal model is that my brain was, with testosterone, just able to perform male, and then the change to estrogen  rendered that impossible and meant it now runs as it really always should've done, not so much genderbending but more a straightening up.
And I'll talk to them about puberty and going through that again. Talking with several hundred people, mainly women, that's when acceptance of the nature of the transitioning process seems to get through : that it's not about presentation as much as travelling through an equivalent period of struggle that was difficult and formative in their lives when their hormonal balance changed in adolescence.
Maybe I go on to say that probably the best test for transsexuality is HRT because without the appropriate neurological structures it has little effect beyond bodily changes.
And I'll probably mention surgery in fairly functional terms.
At some point I'll talk about the suicides, the murders, the assaults, the social pressures, the reasons far too many of us lead lives of solitary desperation.
Answering the questions is an interesting process. I'm fairly adept at talking about before and after states, and only really encounter problems with the usual suspects - people who've had some personal or academic exploration of gender which leads them to believe they truly know all about it. Contrariwise there are some who are accepting to the point of jealousy. Most temper a mild envy with relief that it's someone else going through it.Can't count the number of times people have congratulated me on having lived two lives. I don't know how the acceptance I get with my narrative compares with the more standard one of always being the target sex, but my feeling is that I get a lot more understanding from those I meet than normally happens, simply because their potential modes of interraction with me are clearer.
I'll enter these conversations, obviously not with everyone and now only a couple of times a month, for all sorts of reasons. My professional situation gives rise to a lot more intimate discussions than would normally be the case and the separation between social and business blurs. My place does conventional  business but it's also a club / salon type of thing with a constantly changing membership in which I'm fairly central. Being trans is a major part of my life, and it's one others find interesting, and given that I'm completely out here it's actually rather better to introduce the topic myself than have them find out from others or through reading me ambiguously. At present I pass perfectly well on the street or in casual meetings but my voice is still no thing of unalloyed beauty when my usual sinus problems crop up or simply when I'm tired.
On top of that I really do feel that if one is in a situation where it is possible to be out then it is a relatively good thing for the trans community as a whole. When I do the occasional interview I try to put some trans element in for the same reason. And for myself I think I'm not so much outting myself as trans as saying I'm someone in transition. When you're learning from all the women around you, I do believe it to be a more effective process when they're aware of it.
I wonder from time to time about how others of my kind tell their stories and structure their transitions. I know enough anecdotally to be able to say that I'm far from unique and that the numbers of those of us going through non-purposefully hormone induced neurological gender change are very understated, for obvious reasons. And standard trans narratives totally erase us. We're born like grey-eyed Athene, springing fully armed from the head of the god, or at least the pituitary thereof. And the beginning of our wisdom surely lies in seeking the best instructors at arms as we grow into our estate.
Now, after 3 years, the story telling gets less important. Most of the internal work is done, the queer world outside calls insistently, and I have no desire to hold myself back from it.Time to get active.