itsyourears: Photograph of 'Taking Root' by Kate MacDowell (Default)
You may have spotted that comments are disabled on all entries in this journal. This post goes into the reasons for that.

I am transgender, and trans people are very poorly understood by the society around us. We are also a small minority who are decades behind most other minorities in the organisation and politicisation necessary for achieving a weighty, widely audible voice. The effect of that situation is that ignorance about who and what we are is so complete in society that even when we speak up for ourselves, we are drowned in an overwhelming tide of people who just don't see why their assumptions should have to change. The complacence and narcissism of that enrages me.

So, reason one: you can't comment on these entries because this is my voice, telling you how it is for me. You get to shut up and listen to what I have to say. If you want to think about and comment on what you've read, post in your own blog - and thanks for the free publicity.

Reason two is that there are groups of people who tend to concentrate on the Internet who really don't like transsexuals. Radical feminists, for one. I could waste days' worth of time and energy arguing with and being hurt by people who fundamentally don't want to believe that I exist, and I shouldn't do that. As a trans person it's hard to have self-respect - but even I manage a little more of it than that.

Reason three is that I don't like conflict. Never read the bottom half of the internet, especially not if you're trans. I know some of you would be supporting me, and I love you for that, really I do. But there would also be a lot of morons, bigots and trolls. And I just don't have the energy to deal with them every day. I can write well and I can explain things well, so for what it may be worth I'm putting some of my thinking out there for others to use; I just can't be a person who has enough mental energy to fight every minute of every day.

Get You

Dec. 18th, 2011 04:59 pm
itsyourears: Photograph of 'Taking Root' by Kate MacDowell (Default)
"Get you!" says the girl who opens the door to me. "I love you."

It's the summer of 2011, and I'm standing at her door in skinny jeans and a black shirt, nonchalantly layered over a purple T-shirt that bears a print of a pair of handcuffs and the slogan "Free". Epaulets on the shirt flatter my well-proportioned shoulders, and the jeans cling to the solid contours of my calves. I am lounging, weight on one leg, hands in my pockets, watching her with frank and curious eyes.

Her name is Lisa and she's known me for years; since I was a directionless, overweight housewife with an awkward personality. This is the first time she has seen me as I am. She is as startled as I am, both of us a little thrown by the wild inversion of friendship to something less known. It is the first time I realise I am truly crossing the line.
itsyourears: Photograph of 'Taking Root' by Kate MacDowell (Default)
"It's your ears," says my poet friend, who will later come on to me in a way I find faintly disturbing. She is bisexual, and clearly fascinated by the sensual thought of a physically female man.

"It's because you're so quietly spoken," says my boss at the part-time job I have. He is a man who has lived his whole life in such rude health that he believes all sick leave is malingering, and is abrasively energetic and cheerful.

"It's something about your haircut," says one of my oldest and closest friends; and I explain to him that actually, it's not the haircut, it's the shape of the neck and the head that lie beneath.

They are all seeing the same thing; the indefinable something, the otherness about my appearance. All the conscious cues I so carefully manage say one thing, but the gut-deep recognition they feel, their instant response to my shape and proportion, their touch-and-taste physical experience of me, says another. The blindness of instinct has remarkably sharp eyes.

I could intellectualise; after all any species which couldn't tell its males and female apart would be at, shall we say, an evolutionary disadvantage. But in the street and the supermarket it feels like magic. Like a vein of arterial blood, pulsing beneath the polite surface of shop-bought clothes and manicured style, people see the reality of my body. All the magic and allure of women, sung for so long and refined so highly in our culture, is in this animal, physical tug; we are animal and spirit both, neither is less sacred than the other, and the two halves are inseparably entwined. I was always a little in awe of the power of my body over men, always tried to use it to give happiness instead of to control; and I am no less so now that it's something I wish to redraw. I cannot control it, only divert its energies and blur its boundaries, and worship at the altar of hormones in the hope of being granted a second life.
itsyourears: Photograph of 'Taking Root' by Kate MacDowell (Default)
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)
I do not fit into your Earth binary.

If you're the kind of person who needs a label to slap on me, then slap on the one that says male. I won't bother getting to know you either. We can both accept the universal lie.

If you want more labels, then slap on the one that says "male in spirit, female in body". It's a lot closer to the truth - if you can accept it as a state of being, not see it as a problem.

But if you want to know what I am? What I really, secretly, in the nameless world of the infinite possible, might be when I'm not constrained?

Then I was born exactly what I am. DNA is beautiful; it's not an engine, a stultified machine that will only do one job, only run on one fuel. Put testosterone into my body and it will obligingly remould; shape itself anew, as close as it can reach to male. I was born exactly what I am now: a living being. My chromosomes are what they've always been.

I was born exactly what I am now: wired to feel male. Male in that very potent organ my body carries between its ears. Female in my curves, my rich centre, my astonishing capacity to carry a human child.

I was born exactly what I am now: mismatched. This miraculous, sensual, breathing body is alien somehow; I live in it, yet don't respond to it. I know what it can do, yet I feel nothing about that. And yet I do not want surgeries to take the miracle organs out of me, because I do not want to pretend to be something I am not. I was born exactly what I am: a contradiction in terms. If I can have that, why reduce myself to a label?

I was born exactly what I am now: both/and, not either/or. I am a contradiction in terms because your terms are inadequate. I do not fit into your Earth binary.


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

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