Been there, done that, ate the t-shirt, as the amazing Lindsay used to say.
I’ve been thinking about the challenges in transwoman performance, and I realize I have already done this work.
In 2002 I said that the most difficult thing about trans is negotiating other people’s fears. The idea that somehow, because we are the phobogenic object, what people fear, that we have the obligation to negotiate other people’s fears is just impossible.
On the local list, a crossdresser just wrote that it’s hard to be trans, but it is a thousand times more difficult to be the spouse of a transperson.
Huh? Do they have a lifetime of stigma? Do they have zillions of impossibly hard choices? OK, sure, they get it in more like one lump sum, and they get less benefit from us coming out than we do, but a thousand times more difficult? No. It’s just that we want to take care of others more than we want to take care of ourselves, and being trained as men, we especially want to take care of women.
Problem is that stops us from seeing ourselves and other transpeople as women, and that’s a huge loss.
I wrote about that big cleft in 1999, The Guy-In-A-Dress Line.
It’s funny reading Femulate; Lana is so clearly coming to trans, but her model, that the best people born male can do is emulate females (femulate) leads her to such binaries. She has to identify people like Christine Jorgensen as men so she can say “He femulated,” when clearly Christine identified as a woman. But Lana needs to defend that line to hold onto being a man for her wife, who won’t see her as trans.
I don’t want to be a man in men’s clothing. “People who see you as a man must think ‘Oh, what a weird guy!'” TBB told me last week.
And I don’t want to be a man in women’s clothing. In many ways that is even worse, because to pass as a tranny the defenses have to be even more defined.
TBB wanted to give my sister a break because “they are emotional, and have come to express emotionally.” “But you are strong,” TBB tells me. To her, that means I can’t be emotional, because that makes me “defensive,” and what is worse than being “defensive?” Lots.
Problem is that the they vs. us paradigm leaves me out of woman. Bite that.
The fear swells, so we hang onto our assigned gender, and then feel as constrained as men-in-dresses, which we hate.
How do we claim our own gender, especially in the face of so many who want birth genital status to be final, even so many who also identify as trans?
How do we jailbreak?
In my old writings, I find great descriptions of the problems.
The solutions, though, well, not so clear.
But I take heart in the words of a transfan who works with TBB.
“You did all this to become a woman. So be one.”