When most people walk in the world, they carry with them a quilt that informs and protects them, a quilt made up of memories, experiences, beliefs and understandings. Their adult life is built on a foundation, mostly a shared foundation of the experience of growing up in a normie world.
As a transwoman, though, my quilt is threadbare. There are blank spots that leave me teetering; those moments when you were a pretty little girl, your first date, and on and on. Without the social experience of being a girl, traveling through all the joys and sorrows of being a woman in the world, there are big gaps.
Now I know that others also have gaps, missed foundations, but they are usually not as gaping as mine. For example, all immigrants have a somewhat different childhood than their present, but often they have at least similar experiences, or have been around people with those experiences.
When most women my age and size walk into a store and look at cute clubwear, they remember when they were young and hot, and even if you can’t or won’t wear this now, the experience exists.
Madelaine L’Engel said “The best part about getting older is that you are always all the ages you have ever been.”
Kate Bornstein heard that and chimed in “And all the genders too!”
But if you have never been that age and that gender, well, there is a gap, a hole, a blank spot. You don’t have that moment, don’t have those memories to call on to inform you, to support you, to give you context.
I have worked hard to learn from the experience of others, as any immigrant should, but it’s not the same as being there. To be the observer isn’t the same as being the participant, even if you are a very good observer who really can understand the world in context.
I have blank spots in my quilt, holes in my foundation that make me shaky sometimes.
And that’s part of my life.