I read what transgender activists share on the internet.
Most of these stories are about places where transpeople have to fight to have their rights, their identity and their truth affirmed in a world which has the tradition of affirming birth sex based stereotypes over individual expression.
They are stories of transpeople fighting to be seen, affirmed or even acknowledged for the contents of their character over their birth assigned sex.
Even the supposedly good stories freak me out. A newly out tabloid transwoman is set to get Glamour’s Woman Of The Year award, because apparently, you don’t even have to identify as a woman for a whole year to make the cut.
These “positive” stories seem more exploitative than affirming, a chance to put an audience grabbing freak out front without actually engaging the deeply held sex/gender binaries that keep people divided into comfortable and convenient binaries. To me, they don’t hold real understanding and acceptance, they just continue the war between the sexes with a pat on the head to wacky mascots dressed up in interesting outfits.
I’ve done my fighting over trans. And I don’t want to have to fight like that anymore.
I am more than aware that it is possible to live a decent life as a guy-in-a-dress as long as you carry the armour to slough off the attacks and narrow views of others. You can wear what you want and be somewhat effective in the world, no doubt.
If you don’t really care what others think about anything but your professional contributions, you can be part of organizations that make change in the world.
This is better than the old days where you had to pass as something to fit in, but it still has limits.
The fight isn’t about if transpeople can find a way to enter the mainstream and serve a role in organizations. Many brave and bold transpeople have proven that to be true as they engaged their own courage, worked to fit in, had something clear and identifiably valuable to offer and played their part.
The fight today is if transpeople can be a part of society without having to do the work of silencing and making invisible any challenge they hold to the status quo. Can we actually show ourselves in the world, or do we have struggle hard to fit in?
The very presence of transpeople may be the edge of the wave in the world as we slowly penetrate consciousness, creating change over time by our very presence. By being trans and present, we move the understand out, especially with young people who are still open to deeper understanding.
I support and encourage every vigorous transperson to do this work. I have seen the understanding and acceptance of lesbian and gay people increase much over the decades and I know that this kind of social change can and does happen.
For me, though, the long term game feels like too much to play. I have spent my vigor, done my work and need what I need now.
I just don’t want to sign up to fight like that, out on the bleeding edge of a revolution for which I will just end up being cannon fodder. I need personal salvation, not the chance to battle on and get what I can from a world that is changing.
I have fought my battles and doing the conceptual work of bringing together the challenges and the possibilities. The loneliness of a long lost transperson, though, has a high cost, one I paid with my skin.
And now, that skin is in breakdown, without the enthusiasm to go another round in trying to claim some space that might just possibly get me a tiny bit of the mirroring and caring I need to keep going.
So, while I bless and support the battles of others, as for me, well, I just don’t really want to fight like that.