itsyourears: Photograph of 'Taking Root' by Kate MacDowell (Default)
[personal profile] itsyourears
This is half a reply to this post, and half just me thinking aloud.

sometimes, things break through the wall of blissfully oblivious, physically detached, narcissistic self-belief that makes trans*-ness so easy for me.

I'm starting to think that a certain psychological type is common among trans people who don't have strong physical dysphoria. Detachment is a hallmark of my personality too - more because I survived a childhood somewhere between abusive and neglectful than anything else - and I'd be lying if I didn't say narcissism runs in my family.

They said they just wanted things to be the same with me as they always had.

Now in my head, things are the same as they always have been. I have always been this person [...] Have my parents been seeing me through a female filter? - overlaying characteristics onto my personality which just aren't there? Would they really feel they didn't know me, feel I'd changed, feel I wouldn't be the same person, if I began to look more masculine on the outside?

Have they ever really known me at all? Has anyone?

There are so many things I remember. Realising when I worked out who I was that I'd been living in the dark inside myself all along. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can feel a room around me, a space so familiar it feels like a second skin, and a feeling like the bluish glow of a computer monitor; as if it was a little coffin of habit, in which I sat watching my life as it was projected onto my skin. I'd been acting that other role to the hilt, tweaking and re-polishing my own personality as far as I could towards the female. Making myself someone different, overlaying a veneer of feminine performance on top of my awkward, assertive, impatient true nature. I was, and am, grateful to that "female filter"; I'm grateful that it made people accept me even as far as they did - it let them believe I was normal enough to love. I am still grateful to the crazy cult mentality of the gender binary even now I can see it as the extraordinary make-believe game it really is, because it still gives people a reason to see me as lovable now. The symbol Man is a model to compare me against, next to which (in my better moments) I seem endearingly gentle and sensitive, painfully well-mannered and low in self-esteem. I've never thought that I could live as anything but binary, because I know I need to fit in well enough to belong. And I know all too well what fits in.

I have, now, barely decided that chest surgery is the right thing for me. It's not that I don't agree with R, that the problem is societal and not my fault. It's that when I think back to the pleasure I felt with my partners, I loved to watch them play with my breasts; I was pleased that I could please them with my body. But I was watching their pleasure from that dark and silent inner room; detached, and not really feeling the touches they gave. I'll never know what it's like to feel someone touching me if I live my life covered in a layer of padding that is an unshakeable symbol of something I'm not. It isn't fair that something so inoffensive, so loved, has to be cut away from me to give me that freedom to live - but there's no way to make it unsymbolic, not in my lifetime and not in this world.

And I remember the slow peeling away of the detachment, the self-isolating self-belief; I remember slowly realising that there were deep layers of unhappiness in me I never even really knew about. I remember once laying a hand on my partner's back and feeling a flash of absolute, bone-deep certainty that my hand should be bigger, my arm longer, the bones more solid and the wrist coarse-haired and thick. And it was inseparable from an equally bone-deep grief: the silent acceptance that that is not what I am. I think my mind is both wise and clever; it protects itself from a pain that could drive me mad.

Like the poster of the original article I'll always be a loony, different in and of myself, and as such I'll have more trouble passing than the football lovers and the rhino-hided straight boys. I already do - as I've relaxed into myself on testosterone and given up my typical bloke veneer, I pass less and less well all the time. I'm waiting for the end of androgyny, when I can become a strange little guy instead of a question mark.

Detachment is a two-sided privilege. The world is a raw and strange place now; I live in it undetached and unpadded for the first time. I don't know what I will become; who will I be when I know what it feels like to be loved and touched as I am? But I remember, too, the moment when I realised - this is what I am. And what I felt was that, for the first time, my nerves reached all the way to my skin, and the world was alive.


itsyourears: Photograph of 'Taking Root' by Kate MacDowell (Default)

August 2012

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