Safe To Grow

I watched a video some local t-girls made of their night powl through consignment shops and bars.

They ended by stopping outside a closed local gay bar and talking about buying it to be opened as a trans-friendly space.

In their imaginations, they wanted it to be open for new girls so they could have somewhere to come out.

My dream is different.

I want a place that is safe enough to bring out old trannys.

I imagine somewhere that the experience of years can be brought out and shared.

This is no small challenge.

Transpeople who have achieved some level of assimilation in their lives also have something to lose.

It’s easy for us to believe that we have claimed a life based on being silent about our biology, our history, our transgression, our queerness, and breaking that silence risks everything we have gained.

I remember being asked by a WBT person what I would say about a woman who had a husband, who had mothered a family, who had a network of girlfriends.  Wasn’t she really a woman?

Yes, I agreed.  And really proof that it is the choices you make that define your life, and not your birth sex.  She proves that being a woman is about being a woman, and not about what is between your legs, now or in the past.

The visible trans experience is usually all about the adolescent and the iconoclastic transpeople.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if the assimilated transpeople also had a voice, had a place to share?

But they know the cost.  They won’t just jump into interviews, expose themselves to abuse and pressure.  They have been there and done that.

And much of that pressure comes from newly out or not out transpeople.  You see, they live in the “should” of trans, the claiming experience, rather than in the reality of trans, the life experience.

I have seen new transsexuals claim that they would never go back, and dismiss transpeople who live complicated lives in order to satisfy their obligations.   In a film I even saw a leader dismiss any transwomen who let their teenage kids call them “Dad.”

I have seen crossdressers assert that anyone assigned as male at birth must be like them, and gay men assume that transsexual women are “in drag.”

And when mature transpeople share their experiences, and the limits of them, I have seen them shouted down by baby trannys who need to hold onto their dreams.

There is a reason that so many transpeople walk away from the structures of the interlocking communities around trans as they mature.   There is little point fighting the same old fights and exposing yourself to the same old attacks when you can focus on the much more important and nuanced job of building a graceful & potent life.

For a number of reasons, this notion is hard to explain to transpeople who are just coming out, or who have resisted transforming and assimilating.  I suspect these are the same reasons it’s hard for adults and teenagers to be peers; they have different goals and different experience.  Stories only stay simple until they are not simple anymore, and then they are twisted, detailed, challenging and real.

I don’t imagine making safe space for people to come out.

Rather I imagine making safe space for people to grow up.

And that means respect for challenges and nuance, means honoring not just our dreams but also our scars.

That seems a long way away, though.

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