There are many people in the world who know that they don’t understand much about transpeople and their challenges in the world.
These people feel their own stuff come up when faced with trans. How can they deal with someone who wears their Eros on their sleeve?
Do they ask us to hide our trans for their comfort, wanting us to stay invisible in the world so they won’t have to feel disquieted at all?
Do they see us as a porno come to life, a real she-male right in front of them and then ask us to meet them behind the mini-mart and suck their dick?
Do they tell others that we are an abomination and shouldn’t be allowed to use the same sanitary facilities that they use?
Well, all that was one recent day for a transperson of my acquaintance.
Negotiating the fears and drama of other people is the hardest thing transpeople do, as I wrote in 2002.
Often, though, just being the target of their unhealed shit isn’t enough for them, though.
They don’t just want us to absorb their own ignorance, crudity and discomfort, they want us to absolve it.
People actually want to confess their panic to us and then have us bless them.
“There, there. It’s perfectly alright to slight a tranny, to act out your own internalized issues upon us. You can’t help it, of course. You are just doing the best you can, I know that.
“You are now totally forgiven for violating the golden rule towards me, and if you do it again, that will be fine. I am here to absorb whatever shit you want to spray, because, after all, it is I who walked through the abuse and shaming of culture, so it is I who should continue to take whatever blows are left for me.
“I have had to transcend so much that what is one more blow, or a sequence of blows, or even everyday abuse? I am here for your discomfort.
“Please, don’t feel bad just for acting out against a tranny. What else could you possibly have done?
“You are absolved my child. Go in peace.”
There is an old Bert & I joke:
An old guide tells the city fella to go fetch a pail of water from the spring. He comes back in just a moment, an empty bucket and looking white as a sheet.
“There’s a bear in the spring!” he blurts out.
“Don’t worry about it.” the guide replies. “That bear is as scared of you as you are of him.”
“Well,” the city fella sputters, “in that case, you don’t want any water from that spring anyway.”
Bears know that humans are much more dangerous to bears than bears will ever be to humans. Trying to explain that to a human, though, is very difficult. Shit, it’s a goddamn bear!
Walking into a place and not knowing what gotchas lie in wait is very, very difficult. All it takes is a couple of drunk redneck women or a fundamentalist crew at a UPS store to make our life difficult and painful.
Having to walk in and be ready to be the bigger person, reaching out to connect and soothe fears of others, ready to absolve their acts and make them comfortable again, well, often that’s just a lift too far. The very thought can make you want to stay in a basement rather than having to absorb, educate, absolve and then do it all again.
I know why people want absolution, claiming that they are just doing the best that they can, so they deserve to be let off the hook.
I also know, though, how this usually plays out. The transperson has to do all the work for the whole network, absorbing all the issues as others resist healing. We have to be the shock absorber, working to make others feel safe in our presence while we feel completely unsafe in theirs.
Gender binaries make people crazy. We swim in a sea of gender and everyone who is gendered has some strain, some twists, some challenges around how they had to comply with the rules. The enforced binary keep us suspect of the people around us, keep us having to play gender games to stay effective in the system of desire. It’s a challenge.
Those of us who felt the deep calling to walk into that no-man’s/no-woman’s land to find a role that fits our own heart seem to be exceptional, able to go where no normal person ever could. If we can face those stresses in ourselves, then facing those stresses in others can’t be all that big a deal, right?
We are to be held separate, heroes or villains, on a pedestal or in a hole, not really normal humans but something profound, scary and different.
Transpeople are not here to let you act out your issues around gender and desire. We don’t stand up as targets for you. You have to do your own healing.
Taking the blows to be ourselves, well, that’s hard, but we do it because we really, really, really need to.
Absolving your actions, though, based in your own internalized issues around gender, well, that’s just too damn much to ask.