Relational Choice

Choices must be made. Every choice has a cost. Life is a trade-off between what you want and what you want more. You can have it all, just not all at once.

Right now, you have made the choice to be a woman in the world. You love the kind of benefits you get from being a woman, but you also hate the fact that you lose benefits you took for granted while being a man.

This is a BFD for transpeople, who understand the cost of gender in a profound way that those who have not walked between gender roles never will. Most people never consider the price of gender, they just get good at their assigned role, shaping themselves with their assigned context. There are millions of ways to be a good woman, from very butch to very femme, lots of choices to be made, but they all, too, involve trade-offs, though not so dramatic as crossing between man and woman.

Too many transpeople decide that the problem is “the binary,” so that gender should be eliminated so there are no trade-offs to be made, no losses to endure, no price to pay for being who they are.

“Liberate people now!” they cry, making an emotional case disguised as just political triumph over oppression. Why should we have to choose? And why should choosing have a cost? That’s just keeping people down!

The laws of physics, though, give us some insight into choice. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. As heat rises, so does pressure. Factors are connected to each other; weight changes momentum, for example. None of these are binary, but they are all relational; change one factor, and the system changes too.

Why shouldn’t human life be the same? Change one factor, and the system changes too. We don’t get to keep what we want constant while introducing change into the system. Factors are related. Choices have effects, and effects include unwanted effects, which we see as costs. When the system changes, it responds in new ways.

I get the whole tranny in no-man’s/no-woman’s ground thing, where it feels like neither women’s choices or men’s choices quite work for us. My first question at my first gender conference twenty tears ago was “Men and women take power in different ways.  How do you shift your power in the world as you gender shift?”

How do we exist in a world where people have preconceptions, knowing what they think they want, knowing what they fear? To find people who understand that relationships are just relationships, and dividing people by birth reproductive biology is just sexist and silly is a hard thing. People are taught that we are defined by the shape of our pee-pee, and any crossing that line is just satanic.

But that is changing. And you are much more likely to benefit from those changes than people 20 or 25 years older than you are.

I know why people get stuck in gender transition. We get stuck because we fear losing what we had in conventional gender and never being able to achieve what we need in our true gender. We fear letting go of what we have because we don’t see how we can get what we need if we leap.

Does that mean the answer is to try and strike down the Newtonian laws of physics, the truth that every action has an equal and opposite reaction? Or even the new quantum laws of physics, like the truth that observation itself can change results? Is railing for a world where actions don’t have consequences really a good use of our energy, or is it just pissing into the wind?

We live in a finite world, where a choice for one thing is a choice against something else. We can have it all, just not all at once. Every creation is a negotiation of trade-offs, even trade-offs we would rather not have to make.

We live in a world of related factors, a system where everything is connected. We don’t get to cut those strings and stay standing up.

And railing about that as being an unfair binary isn’t going to change it.

Make a choice. If that doesn’t work, take what you have learned and choose again. There are no perfect choices, only a range of good ones.

Because everything is a trade-off, everything is related, every action has a reaction, everything has a cost.

And no human has ever figured out how to change that truth.