In the territory of the mind, reason is the foundation. It was my mind that became my most important survival tool, working to apply good reasoning to understand the chaos around and inside of me.
Being reasonable, with clear thoughts bounding and constraining everything else in the world became my grail. In my twenties, I even had friends note how often I asked the question “Is that reasonable?” to confirm and validate my own choices.
Transgender, though, is an unreasonable force. It is Eros, deep and powerful, a drive of essential desire which usually is revealed at a very young age, long before sexual attractions. It is a force inside of us that pulls us to choices as simple as the kind of birthday cake we want — pink lemonade when I was 7 — to what we know will destroy and injure us.
It is reasonable to account for the unreasonable forces of human nature in constructing a life and a world. It is reasonable to not make demands which don’t directly matter, picking your battles and allowing discretion and choice where it doesn’t violate decorum and respect.
Wrapping transgender knowledge inside of reasonable bounds, though, does not make it reasonable. Reasonable arguments for supporting personal freedom may support transgender expression, but the demand for apparent reason may also create a culture of rationalization, of legalistic arguments that seek to use salami slicing tricks to sway the conventions.
I spent decades and decades trying to apply reason to transgender in the world. I got very good at it, and some of that discipline and reason carries on today in my quest to find and share understanding.
There came a point, though, when I realized that the most powerful and beautiful thing about transgender nature is its very unreason. Trans does not come from logic, science, law or reason, but rather from the deep, potent knowledge that lies deep within every human, knowledge humans have always held in mythical stories.
Forcing humans to be forced to be reasonable is taking away much of their power, beauty and majesty. Many of the empowerment programmes for women are specifically based on breaking out of the imposed demand to be boxed up and seen as reasonable in a corporate world, one created by men, and instead to trust their own intuitive powers.
Reasonable is always in the eye of the beholder. Others see you as reasonable when they are swayed by your logic and facts, which usually happens when you agree with them, when you come from the same cultural bias they hold. It wasn’t reasonable for darkies to complain about their slavery, wasn’t reasonable that the weaker sex would want the vote.
Stories of people being unreasonable and creating breakthroughs abound. One doctor was told it wasn’t reasonable to give children with cancers huge doses of chemotherapy that would harm them, but he countered that it wasn’t reasonable to just let them die without trying what we have. In his unreasonableness, he saved children, changing the paradigm and practice of how we treat childhood cancer today.
The reason of the other doctors turned out not to be based in rational thought but rather in long held conventional beliefs. They measured reasonable not by reason but by their own biases and assumptions.
It took me a long time to understand that trying to satisfy other people with my own reasonableness was just an attempt to keep others comfortable, trying to use the appearance of reason as cover for my own deeper choices. I was using reason to find explanations that I could use to convince others, rather than trying to figure out what was going on. I was, on some level or other, just creating rationalizations for my own choices.
Accepting that my desires didn’t need justification was crucial. I started to work on finding deep and true desire rather than just trying to rationalize my acting out, whatever it was. Using reason to get clear, integrated and actualized was very different than attempting to be seen as reasonable in the eyes of another.
If my trans nature was accepted and engaged when I was young and supposed to be unreasonable, my worldview would be very different. I would have been able to balance my desires and my reason in a more mature way than I was able to do while being required to deny, hide and demonize my own true and deep desires.
Appealing to reason, conveying compelling and thoughtful arguments doesn’t demand that you be reasonable, listening to the reason that others want to impose on you. Being considerate of others views and respecting decorum doesn’t demand that you be reasonable, surrendering your challenging pint of view for their comfort.
Some, I know, dismiss transgender views with pity, projecting abjection and disease over our experience. They choose to see us as broken rather than questioning the system that pounded us down, a system they see as real and reasonable. We are the ones with the flaws, not their simple system that divides the world into either/or groups, binaries with clear and crisp boundaries that transpeople clearly don’t understand.
We are, in our claims, demands, assertions and expressions, unreasonable in their eyes. We offend what they know to be reasonable and proper based on their own worldview.
I love reason. I love decorum and grace, love respecting and engaging the views of others. Reason saved me and it still provides me an important tool to help me understand myself, others, the world and my relationships in it.
I don’t value being seen as reasonable very much, though. My feminine heart knows what it knows and feels what it feels, and while reason may help me examine, clarify and communicate that, the expectation of being reasonable, of not demanding more than others feel comfortable giving, often feels like a prison. Attenuating myself to be seen as reasonable by the afraid has always had a high cost for me.
My rage, the power than makes me outraged and outrageous isn’t wrong, sick, broken or abject. My queerness, the character that moves me beyond normative, isn’t a medical issue, something to be fixed or palliated with a sop and a pat on the head, something to be dismissed with a doctor’s signature verifying a pathology.
We all struggle between wild and tame, standing proud and fitting in, fighting for our uniqueness and assimilating nicely into the group. Respect is vital for people to connect, both ways.
Unreasonable people need love and respect too as they work to claim themselves in the world.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world;
the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
— George Bernard Shaw
I’m often unreasonable. And I am proud of it.