I have long said that it’s only when we spend more than 10 minutes talking with someone that we begin to erase their preconceptions and prejudices about transpeople. Shorter than that, and well, they just usually project their own beliefs onto us, which leaves them self-satisfied and leaves us flattened.
When I walk in the world, people who just casually see me don’t automatically see a transwoman.
It’s only when they have some cause to examine me, to interact with me, that they see the vestiges of going through puberty as male; the bones, the skin, the throat, the voice, whatever.
When we spend five or ten minutes talking, though, after they get over that revelation, well then they start to see my soul. “She, definitely she,” Lezlie told her daughter when she asked if I was a he or a she. She had to think about it, but only for a second, and then her vision was clear. I was a “she.”
It’s that time from between people apprehending me as a trans to when they see my nature that feels like the bubble, and it is that bubble that I hate. It’s in the bubble when people think they are being smart by warning others about trans, in the bubble where people have heightened fear and apprehension, in the bubble where we both feel unsafe. Everything roils, everything is suspicious, everything is in question.
It’s the time between when they get it and when they get over it that is the bubble, which feels airless, hot and claustrophobic. And if they don’t get over it, well, life in that relationship just stays that way.
Of course there are many people with whom you never have the engagement and interaction to deflate the bubble. For example, you only speak with a cashier for a moment, long enough for them to look at you closely, but not long enough for them to get much of a deeper glimpse. That means you never have a chance to get through the bubble.
It’s this bubble that I hate. It’s this bubble I avoid, like so many transwomen who find ways to deflate it or not enter it.
But unless I go through the bubble, I can’t achieve more connection, more depth, more life.
Every day, every relationship, bubble.
That’s what being trans in the world means to me.