Maybe one of the differences between normies and queers is that the normie life is seen as an arc, a journey from birth to school to marriage to death, while a queer life is seen as a sequence of episodes; childhood, school; coming out, loss, retrenchment. Queers twist and thwart conventional expectations as a matter of linguistics, as a matter of life.
In a normie life there aren’t any sharp turns that seem to be disjointed, breaks that seem to mark different lives joined together. When we hold a queer life up to normie expectations, there are just too many things that seem unexpected, with no ability to predict the future from the past.
One of the experts on trans sexuality came to us with a background in looking at those who had traumatic changes in their life; accident, injury, illness that left people profoundly changed. These were people who had to find a new normal out of the expected arc of their life, and that experience of transformation was jarring.
Your nice normie life turns queer when something unanticipated happens and you have to become new. If that’s true, it means that Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is always a tale of queerness, but then any journey where you have to slay the dragon with “thou shalt” on every scale to gain the gift of a lifetime, being who you are, well, how could that be anything but queer?
The difference between normative and queer is that queers leave the well trod path because they are called to, because of events or because of their heart. That makes sense.
Yet, when we do that, we often stop seeing our lives in context.
This is a big issue with transpeople, who, because their life has made a sudden veer off course, assume that there is no path beyond where they are now, that this is the alpha and omega, the point of whatever.
That’s not true, of course. Queer lives do have a path of growth and development, just one that can only be seen in hindsight, not in anticipation. They don’t follow convention, but they do follow truth, and the truth is that the human journey from birth to death has areas we all pass through.
The best part about these arx of queer lives is that when we see them we have grounds to affirm and to engage transformation.
When the only arc we have is the canned transsexual biography, for example, we expect that there is no way to move beyond the sorrow, the surgery, the cure. We cling to our syndrome.
But for me, the most powerful trans lives move far beyond that, creating new ways to express humanity, new catalysts to reveal and support deep connection, new incentives to take the hero’s journey in life.
I need other queers to affirm the arx of a queer life, so myself and others have the license to move beyond the normative we cling to and see our dramatic change in the context of the blessings of a long & empowered queer life.
Change is normal, even if it is not normative, and being committed to rounding the next curve, even if we cannot see beyond it, is the only way to become continuously new and better.
I need to celebrate the arx of queer lives, beyond the conventional, predictable and expected arcs of normative ones.
It’s the way I can celebrate my own possibilities.