Monday, January 23, 2012

Addendum: People don't get it

It's a rare non-transsexual person who can truly have empathy for someone who was born with transsexualism. It's probably easier to imagine having been born with just about any other congenital condition.

One of the problems that the "out and proud" cause those who have dealt with their birth defect (or are in the process of doing so) is that people think they can speak freely about the condition. Yet would someone say, "I remember when you had cleft lip," or "I saw this movie about someone with cleft lip"? Would a discussion of your birth defect be considered a topic for casual conversation? But people do that about transsexualism.*

They don't get it. And given just how unusual this condition is, they really shouldn't be expected to get it.

At the same time, those who have put their birth defect behind them have to protect themselves going forward. Those little casual slips and intrusions hurt, and they hurt all the more because the one who makes them doesn't know how hurtful the slips and intrusions are. It's no wonder some people born transsexual still try to go stealth, or at the very least avoid those who knew them before. Many if not most of those people will never be able to get the wrong image and however many years of memories out of their heads. Even if they never slip, even if they never say anything inappropriate, they will probably never see you as you really are.

To some extent, how well a person who knew you before will do probably depends on how present-focused they are. Those for whom past is past might do better than those who are very tied to old memories. Some people see what is in front of them. Some people can never get beyond what they used to see.

Just as most people don't understand how you feel, they probably won't understand if you avoid them or cut them off. They'll probably feel hurt, because they're sure that they're doing all the right things. But unless they are extraordinary human beings, strongly observant and very present-focused, they will continue to hurt you unintentionally.

*To be fair, people do similar things to those with other conditions. I recently saw a list of things that hearing people say to those who are hearing impaired. It was appalling.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Addendum: Much ado

I don't pay a lot of attention to the so-called trans blogosphere (although I do appreciate the traffic from T-Central). After your congenital disorder is fixed, most of that writing is no longer relevant, if indeed it ever was. Most post-corrected women just live their lives, growing and learning as anyone does. Continuing to dwell on the problem that was fixed is counterproductive. Once the clubfoot has been repaired as well as it can be, then it should be only a receding memory, not an ongoing concern.

Even brief forays into the world of trans blogs reveal an absolutely incredible amount of noise. It's right up there with politics and religion. Very much like religion, actually. The seekers are (hopefully) finding their way, often expressing anxiety and confusion but also little bursts of joy. The true believers are thumping away as loudly as possible about whatever their true belief is. There are fewer true believers than seekers, but the true believers make a lot more noise. And a few who have come to terms with it all are quietly trying to talk sense amid the din (the claim of this blog—you be the judge). They do it out of concern for the seekers, because the thumpers are so loudly misleading that it can be hard for the seekers not to be overwhelmed.

Beware of true believers.

Some of the noisiest writing of all has to do with who is and who isn't—transsexual, of course, or a "real woman." Try to imagine a stupider argument. Why should anyone care? I was born with a congenital disorder. I followed the recommended course of treatment. I now I get to live the life I always should have. Anyone else's claim to be transsexual (or whatever) or claim that someone else is not transsexual has no more effect on me than it does on any other female human being.

The amount of energy wasted on all this would probably power New York City. Except that much of it seems to be negative energy, so perhaps instead of lighting up the city it would plunge the place into darkness.

The only transsexual vs. non-transsexual argument that makes sense to me is not when it's a pissing contest but rather when it's about legalities. Those who change sex don't need special rights, but they do need certain things to be able to live a normal life: namely, change of identification and any identifying records and sealing or destruction of previous records. People who don't actually change sex but who lobby for the same kinds of changes can harm those born transsexual by increasing confusion and provoking a backlash among legislators and the public at large. Every jurisdiction that refuses to allow a change of name and sex designation on primary identifying documents is one jurisdiction too many. The last thing people born transsexual need is for that process to be more difficult than it is or even impossible.