To a list member who wants to engage her trans while not upsetting the wife too much:
I need language that helps me talk about the nuances of gender.
While social sex and legal sex can be changed, biological sex cannot. I was born male, and that’s not going to change, no matter how much I female my body or am seen as female in the world,
Gender role can be changed, but not easily. Changing gender changes the way we take power in the world, changes the role we play in relationships, including romantic relationships. To become a woman we first have to be willing to be a girl, learning from other women and our relaionships with the world.
So, choosing to engage the role of woman in the world, to make the choices of a woman, requires the willingness to get naked and choose again, to drop the habits we learned to present as a man in the world and find new ways of being in the world.
When I came out as trans, it was my goal to engage my androgyny, or gyandrony as I might call it now, leading with the woman. I used my given name, rejecting others attempts to “feminize” it, and was very clear that I wasn’t pretending to be a woman or be female, and tried to drop the man-up stuff and choose from a wider range that I might be more authentic and honest.
As I kept exploring, I realized that wasn’t enough for me. I moved to a new name, one that was androgynous in this culture, but whose root meaning is feminine. And as I tried to become more authentic, I realized that I had never been one of the guys, and that my heart & my power come out of a femme place, My defenses, well, my defenses have always been based in my sharp mind, and those still haunt me a bit, but I know lots of women born female who are also too smart for their own good.
My own clothing choices have always been more towards men’s clothes that can be worn as a woman rather than women’s clothes that I can sneak around in as a man. No secret panties for me. Over time, though, I began to understand my own style, preppy meets art, clerical garb that includes flashes of bold expression, and that’s been good, but I still boggle when I see all the clothes I had to try to find that center.
That’s my point, I think. Expression and understanding are inextricably linked, and only by making choices and getting feedback, starting with choices of dress and continuing through our other choices can we really begin to understand who we are.
While we can understand some by making some choices and resisting others, to really find our center we have to remove the stops and set the pendulum free to find its own center. In my experience we can’t find the balance point by creeping up on it, rather we have to be willing to go a bit beyond and fall back, like any bob finding its neutral.
Stability & equilbrium are inherently dynamic things. If we aren’t willing to let go of stability, we will never be able to walk, to move forward to find new ways of being. Being human isn’t like being a rock, it is more like being a surfboard rider, always changing as conditions change, as we get better.
Holding on to the present always means compromise. Change requires the willingness to engage death, entering the cycle where spring follows winter.
I understand your wish to hold on to what you value while also moving forward to release what you have suppressed, and I hope that it happens for you.
But remember that it is your life and in the end, your death. You have the obligation to claim what you need to claim, to learn what you need to learn while you are here.
And that is your journey.