“all we want is to disappear”

Ms. Rachelle liked this quote from Jenny Bailey, the new Lord Mayor of Cambridge:

“People can take me as a role model if they want,” The Times newspaper quoted her as saying.

“But for transgender people, all we want is to disappear and become normal, so I don’t want to let it define me. When you go through transgender experience and come through the other side, you are just happy to get on with normal life, normal problems, so this is a wonderful opportunity.”

Ms. Rachelle offered:

I especially like that her partner is also ts. Not exactly the strategy for disappearing, is it? Dr. Randall would never have approved.

I replied:

Still, if she had have believed it was impossible to disappear, she probably wouldn’t have done the company and become deputy mayor. It was that belief in the possibility of assimilation that created the assimilation.

Ms Rachelle asked:

The question is, can someone become assimilated without disappearing? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that.

My response:

I don’t think someone can become assimilated without the intention to disappear, the intention to be just one of the crowd. One may not actually disappear, even if assimilated, because assimilation is never total, but if you aren’t trying to blend in, to fit in, at least most of the time, you will resist assimilation like hell.

There was a transwoman who was confronted by a jerk on her return visit to an eyeglass store, and she wanted to know what to do.

Most people offered that she should raise a fuss, complain, confront him.

I suggested that she learn to treat jerks like other women treat jerks, with ironic comments and eyerolls. I suggested she had to deal with this not as a man who won’t take this crap, or a tranny, who wants to demand they be treated based on their claims, but as a woman who knows that some people (and by that, of course, I mean “some men”) are going to be jerks about something — boobs or weight or whatever, thinking they have the right to mock you because you aren’t __________ enough, where ________ is whatever they consider attractive. Or worse, they will find you attractive and will need to be jerks to keep distance.

This was not well heard in a board full of trannys who don’t really have a commitment to assimilation, to walking in the world as women, with all the concomitant challenges and benefits.

You have to want to disappear, even if you also want to keep unique power and individual self-worth, rather than just hanging on your group identity labels as so many people do.

Wanting to disappear won’t make you disappear, of course, and at some time, like this gal, you will have to be upfront and out, but at least it will help you with the assimilation bits.

Life is about being tame & assimilated enough to be part of the community, while also being wild & individual enough to have something unique to offer, to the world and to yourself. Wild/Tame is the primary duality.

It’s this balance that’s hard, hard enough that my thirteen year old niece looked at me like I was a freak when I tried to explain that starting to learn that balance was what high-school is all about.

For transpeople who feel pounded down, it’s often hard to assimilate, to surrender again, especially if we believe that no amount of assimilation will allow people to see beyond our biology & our history. Can you hear me over your own assumptions & fears?
Without assimilation we are always outsiders, and can’t serve. Without individuality, we are always lost to ourselves, and have nothing to nourish our spirit.

To have the scary bits disappear, and to be seen as someone with something to give, well, isn’t that what we all want?

Conversation Stopper

I have contributed to a few threads over at Susans.Org and I remember my most powerful skill.  I can stop conversations dead.

There are two parts to this talent.

The one is what Robert Oppenheimer was said to do at Los Alamos, sit in a meeting where people argued, then offer a summary that tied the threads together and make the next step obvious.   I used to do this a lot when I participated in the Trans-Theory list, recap posts that acknowledged positions, marked differences and highlighted commonalities, and tended to calm down debates.  Apparently Opje knew how to ask the good questions too, and while he wasn’t the kind of thinker who would go deep, his ability to make connections helped many deep thinkers move along their own work.

The second, though, is the kind of conversation stopping where you say something so beyond that people just are boggled.  Domina Blue, who was in the Army, noticed how guy tended to like conversations where no one knew anything about the topic under discussion, and in their shared ignorance, they could babble on forever.  Of course, that’s the premise on The View, too, where their lack of expert understanding allows everyone’s opinion to be equally valued.

Now, this doesn’t always stop conversations, though it often does, but it always requires me to be ignored so the babble can continue.

Some people are surprised that more people don’t value my work, more people don’t embrace my connections & summations, more people don’t share what I offer.

After all these decades, I’m not surprised at all.  I’m the grad course, and to value me you have to value moving beyond ignorance rather than staying fixed in it.  And ignorance, well, many people take it for bliss.   It was the apple of knowledge that got humans thrown out of the garden of eden, and the woman who violated innocence was cursed with pain after searching for wisdom.

My bliss isn’t in ignorance.  I was talking with my sister yesterday about the fact that change requires you to be a new person, but if the ties around you don’t let you change, that’s a very hard task, as they pull you back in.  Family dynamics.  That’s one reason that a diagnosis or treatment is so powerful, because it’s an authoritative statement that you have to change or else, a tool to use to force others to see you differently, to treat you differently.

Following my bliss means that others who engage me have to bite the apple, lose some of the walled off innocence/ignorance/comfort they have learned to crave.

And that bite, the requirement to see the connections that take us deeper, well, it always seems to be a conversation stopper.

Like me.