“You didn’t tell me anything about what your intentions were! If you had told me, I would remember, you just bet that I would. All of this came out of nowhere, with no warning. You totally blindsided me, and not only is that unfair, it is completely on you!”
It is impossible to underestimate the wilful blindness of some people.
We try to communicate what is going on inside of us — and trans is all about internal drives, knowledge and pressures — and somehow the message never gets through.
Sure, we don’t have great words to express ourselves, coming out of our own struggle with denial and identity. We have tried to obfuscate and minimize ourselves for so long, creating facades and rationalizations, compartmentalizing off our own heart, that we don’t have a clear, shame-free and potent way to tell our story.
Communication, though, is a two way street. Without someone willing to listen, it can never happen.
Maybe people don’t hear because they have no context or understanding of transgender. There are a couple of plays in New York now that deal with the challenges parents face in dealing with an intersex child. Much of that drama comes from the fact that the idea that a kid can be M, F or O isn’t out there. They never imagined the possibility.
Maybe they don’t hear, though, because they don’t want to hear. This can’t be happening in their world. It happens to other people. Sure, there might have been mumblings, but only low ones; nothing that couldn’t be ignored.
“If you really loved me, you would shut up about this shit and never mention it again!” we are told when it finally surfaces. Instead of finding accommodation and balance, we are told it is our damn problem and therefore our responsibility to pack it away where it will never challenge the professed status and normativity of the family.
And maybe, they did hear but they need someone to blame, someone to be the betrayer, the liar, the bad guy. Maybe they need to save face and maintain their own denial by dumping the blame on us.
I know the limits of communicating truths that others are not yet ready to hear, know that everyone heals, everyone hears in their own time and their own way.
I recently commented on a post about “CIS People! I am not required to educate you!”
For me, the worst part of “educating” people is being blamed for their inability to get over the notions in their head and understand what I am saying. They often find my words triggering their fears, bringing up their own issues or just baffling them and then they believe that I have failed to teach properly, not that they have blocks to learning. It’s hard for them to grasp that they have no right to understand and judge my choices. Because they live a privileged, normative life, they assume that anything beyond their own comprehension is noise, warped and wrong. As a queer person, I know that I will never understand the drives of every human in the world. I just have to let them have their individuality unless what they do uses others without consent. When people assume that their failure to understand is my failure to properly explain, or worse, indication that my beliefs and choices are corrupt and wrongheaded, I know that understanding was never their goal. Instead, they just wanted to judge me by their limited view of the world. They have no obligation to details of my difference, treating me like I am an abject freak with an obligation to perform for the normal people. More than that, though, their obligation to learn is much more than my obligation to disclose, and when they fail to “get it,” blaming me just is their own myopia showing.
The author found my comment very strong, more than they intended to stimulate. It turns out that they were trying to educate anyway, but isn’t that the struggle we all face, to be seen, understood and valued for our unique contributions to the group?
When I watch ex-spouses say that “You never told me that this was coming,” I feel the effects of that slap on my own skin.
For decades now, I have been talking about the importance of letting transpeople find their own nature and desire early, rather than closeting it. This is the only way we can create relationships with honesty & dignity, rather than with walls & darkness. Relationships where we need to twist ourselves into pretzels to try and be who others demand that we be (2006) will always fail.
But there is no way we can tell the truth about ourselves if others are unable or unwilling to listen.
When we get blamed for their stubborn erasure of what we tried to express, nobody wins.