Writing a transgender story without an omniscient narrator seems almost impossible, simply because it is the inner life of transpeople that make us different from the rest of the world.
From the earliest days, we are taught to internalize rather than externalize our transgender nature. The common experience of all queer people is being shamed into silence, feeling pressed into the closet.
All transpeople have this inner monologue going on to some degree or other.
TBB has said that she was almost happy once and it scared her. She hears all the strained pronouns and feels all the judgments, even if she is very good at sloughing them off, leaving them behind and getting on with her amazing life.
For those of us with low latent inhibition, the ones who carry the experience, we don’t so quickly let go of the feelings. We hook onto them and replay them, having them pop back up at almost any time.
We get very good at talking about our challenges, but rarely do we do that out loud. Inside my head, I talk to myself, holding a running chatter full of doubt and encouragement and analysis. At least, with my early discovery of my “Jonathan Winters” energy, at least those inner discussions are never dull or boring.
No one who has ever read this blog should be surprised about this. For the last nine years, this has been a supreme example of talking me to myself, letting my own experience echo in the loneliness.
The weight of these unspoken conversations is a burden. I may know how to enter the conversations in other people’s heads — ShamanGal uses my talents very freely — but in my experience, few people can enter mine. I quickly become too intense, too enduring, too noisy or just plain too hard. My conversations seem relentless and focused on tough issues that most know that they have to avoid to move on, issues that they believe I need to let go to move on.
The vast majority of my conversations are analytical, scanning and assessing my environment. Mostly, I see how I exist in a liminal space between the poles, neither this nor that. I do look for places where I think I can offer something, can get a smile or at least an “ah. . .” Over the decades I have become very good at taking care of myself, able to keep going, but there are limits.
The problem even with colourful and vivid internal conversations is that my partner tends to see the world pretty much the same way I do. I don’t get surprises, encouragement and affirmations that exist outside of my own experience.
I search for allies, for people who can reflect me, defend me and encourage me in new choices. That’s not an easy ask, I have found, because it involves entering my world, speaking in that rich, dense and sharp conversation that I already have inside my head.
I end up talking to myself, just like I learned to do when I was a toddler without parents who could effectively engage me, who were struggling in their own worlds. It’s not that I don’t know how to talk with other people, as I prove that again all the time, it is that they struggle to talk with me, or more often, that they don’t bother trying at all to go beyond their own expectations and comfort level.
If no one else can talk to me about what I struggle with, then I am stuck talking to myself.
And that isn’t getting me very far.