On an episode of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, President Bartlett is preparing for a debate. His advisors are concerned because they can’t find a way for this smart, sharp man to not seem arrogant to many people.
Finally, they come up with a solution. If they can’t eliminate the perception that because he is smart he is arrogant, they should use it. Let him be arrogant and show up the other guy, rather than trying to hide it.
“We were convinced by polling that said he was going to be seen as arrogant no matter what performance he gave in the debate. And then, that morning at ten past three, my phone rings, and it’s Toby Ziegler. He says, ‘Don’t you get it? It’s a gift that they’re irreversibly convinced that he’s arrogant ’cause now he can be.’ If your guy’s seen that way, you might as well knock some bodies down with it.”
I know what I want, what appeals to me. I want to walk in the world as a woman. But I also know that my body will never be female, and my life experience will never just be that of a woman. Too late for that.
And that means I have to walk in the world as a tranny. I can do that by keeping my head down, trying to be invisible, but that requires denying my voice. It’s easy to blend in as a tranny if you want to be an extra, someone bland who blends into the background, but if you want to be seen, if you need to be seen, if your calling is to speak up, well, you are going to be noticed. And being visible means that your biology and history will be visible too, on some level.
If people are irreversibly convinced that trannies are scary because they are strong enough to face down the scowl of dissaproval that keeps most people inside the expectations others have for them, well, then, isn’t that a gift we have to accept?
I mean, I may know that I am a tender flower torn up by a life facing stigma, facing the stick of separation, but other people don’t know that. They just know I have the balls to follow my heart rather than stay cowed. I would love them to know that just means I am a ballsy broad, because my power is more centered in she than he, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that when I walk in harmony with the song God put in my heart, no matter how much the little clues let leak I was not born female, I am walking in my own power.
I want people to know how much I hurt from a life of being slammed, but they don’t really want to know how broken I am. They want to respond to how I can do what they could never imagine having the strength to do, moving through and beyond gender lines.
And that’s why big hair and ecclesiastical garb suit me more than mousy. The ground trembles where I walk, because people tremble around me, and trying to soften that up by becoming invisible just is a strategy to deny something that others of which are irreversably convinced.
It’s hard to get support for this, because it’s hard for others to support the power that scares them in others, harder still for others to support the power that scares them in themselves.
But I do know, know in my bones, that there really isn’t any other choice for me. I can’t not be seen as sharp, smart and transgressive.
I can only trust the God who made me and let my power flow.
No matter how much that scares tender me.