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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Clarifications, honesties and fictions

I think I speak for many when I say that this post by little light was one of the most inspiring things I read last year. Fundamentally I do believe that honesty is a prime defining characteristic of trans people : that at least once amidst scepticism and hostility from others, allied with our own wished for doubts, we have been honest with ourselves about what we truly are. And, in whatever ways the world allows, we have acted upon that honesty.
Some clarifications then.
For myself, I have no doubts that I'm a woman.
I have some doubts about surgery which spring simply from the fact that I might not be able to have it, and consequent necessary ambiguities as to evading confrontation with that desire.
I have no doubts about transition. The thought of going back isn't anything that I concern myself with because it's simply too ludicrous to even contemplate.
Thinking further on my last post I'd say that a main area that perhaps I find most challenging is to find a personal formulation of how to iterate myself as a trans woman in a world grown strange through that knowledge of myself.
By trans woman I do not mean anything related to surgical status or to any doubts about being a 'real' woman. Rather, I take it as a term relating to history. On the one hand there might be the case of someone who was out at age three, got family, medical and general social support so that no real transition apart from a mildly delayed puberty and probable surgery ever happened. In such an instance I wouldn't see the term trans woman as having much relevance and certainly wouldn't see it as in any way dishonest to avoid it.
On the other hand there are those who have, to a greater or lesser extent, navigated through their own doubts and the male world to the congruence of transition. With such the importance to their lives of being trans as well as the importance of transition mean that they are more easily described as trans women. Of course the 'trans' is secondary, as with black woman, disabled woman, autistic woman, immigrant woman, mother, daughter etc etc etc. And equally if anyone wishes to simplistically call being trans a birth defect and permanently ditch that description, it's hardly an indictable dishonesty given the social enforcement of the gender binary. Like stealth, it generally has some fear component, and possibly a well justified one, given the figures for assault and murder, that can't really be condemned. Obviously it would be nice if such wouldn't universalise their experience and elevate it to sole authenticity, but, as one trans friend recently speculated to me, a high degree of narcissism may be a significant survival factor in transition.
Anyway, this is more of a personal post than a general one about labels, and the point is that besides these general considerations my particular narrative adds it's own spin on being trans. It's 4 years and a couple of weeks since I woke up different to the rather off beat male I'd always considered myself. Whilst social transition is important it's that transition, that tipping point and it's unravelling of male to emergent female circuitry, that is my significant trans identifier. In that way I'm transgressive not only of the gender binary but of the normal bounds of the trans narrative itself. And it's in confronting that, that the application of honesty becomes difficult. As transition goes, there's the negative side, the sloughing off of the male. I daresay that I'm reasonably typical in that sans hormonal reinforcement most of that vanishes away. But much of my intellectual life springs from more recalcitrant male bases and does need continuing critical analysis. My body language presently moves a little to be generally congruent with my socio-sexual identity - a somewhat butch area which is not so easy to navigate. (Can I be in any sense butch and experiment with wearing petticoats ? Questions, questions). More importantly, though, there's the question of knowledge gained through my (real) transitioning process. It's not a female or a male thing but something distinctly other. How to confront that knowledge, how to transfigure it in my life, these are the main questions that I'm still grappling with. It's not about presentation or being any given sex/gender and indeed I'm not sure if it really needs an iterative resolution at all. But it does seem to need some sort of resolution.
Sometimes I wonder whether all trans people are thusly caught in that bright moment where we learned our doom. Because that aha moment that we grasp and confront honestly isn't purely about our own identity but the world's. That our own reality shines hard and bright enough to cast the world as a shadowland around us, a trap of simulacra created through our lived knowledge.
A practical example might be this. I am someone who lives much of her life in a world of ideas. I can appreciate the changes in that mental life in some respects and be frustrated in others. It's really great to just sit back and think without needing stimulation of some sort to raise arousal levels.On the other hand the accessibility of certain categories of knowledge processes is lessened. In Nietzsche's terms, I'm less intellectually light-footed though hopefully not more german because of that. Basically I view that as a relatively normal consequence of new hormone / neurology congruence and a natural concomitant of the relegation of systematised weltanschauung from being closely tied to the day to day self and more part of reflective experience. But there's a dilemma here. A normal cis woman simply lives this experience and doesn't seek out cognitive habits to mitigate the occasional lessening of what could never be a part of her life. Am I undermining my own feelings of authenticity of gender if I do seek in those directions ? Of course there isn't theoretically any problem since the choices I make in this regard are a woman's choices. Practically though, that it also relates to the trans imperative to junk the rags of male life is part of the attempt to create a cis-like authenticity of unselfquestioned female being. But is it honest and authentic in itself ?
Putting it differently. As we wind our ways through the process of second adolescence that lies at the centre of every meaningful transition,we face the same issues as every growing girl.We explore our estrogenized capacities, we seek to find out what it really means to be a woman and the full capabilities we possess. If we shy away from this enterprise, if we simply say that it's really only some sort of passing intoxication,we run the risk of a life spent busy dying. But if we do enter into it how is it possible to avoid using the parameters gained through our first adolescence ? And if we try and ignore this factor completely through some artifice of innocence, what price authenticity ? 

I suspect that I won't be able to make this significantly more clear to myself until further advanced in process.

And then there are the fictions of the moment. Am presently reading through the 60 short stories, sadly not Barthelmic, that were submitted for the competition and confronting my fictive self in various guises. And then there's my rat of an ex husband who wants to use me for a version of the story that's her major project. Which of course I'll be doing. She may be a rat but her project is amazing, a retelling through different cultural matrices of a fairy tale through words art and performance. Take a look here for something awesome.

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