There is no backwards button in life. So unkind, no rewind.
When Virginia Prince tried to read me out as a crossdresser way back in 1991, she told me that I must have purged, gone through the ritual of tossing all my wardrobe and telling myself that I would never dress up again.
That was just another sign that s/he had no idea who I am. I was never one of her femiphiles, never just playing with one put-on personae.
I don’t purge anything. My low levels of latent inhibition means that the past doesn’t slough off, means that I have to learn to live with it.
My goal, upon coming out, was integration. I wanted to connect things together, needed to find integrity and honesty. So many threads, so little connection.
Does anybody every really get to write a whole new story, create a totally different incarnation? Or do we just wear various masks, showing different facets of who we dreamed of being?
Moulting, making new choices, invoking new ways of being in the world, well, we all do that. Thank God that we don’t stay as clueless as we were at sixteen.
But really becoming new? The privilege of a lifetime, Campbell says, is becoming who you are.
Is the crust I carry really who I am? Or are there new stories to be written, new, different, liberated, loving stories? Even, dare I say it, pretty stories?
If I had to write a new story, it might cast me as the writer of stories, a sensuous novelist with a witty take on the foibles of the human condition. Having dreams with happy endings, or at least satisfying ones, seems appealing.
Women tend to see their lives as a series of chapters;
Men, as an arc with a clear trajectory.
— Sarah Crichton
A woman’s life can be a succession of lives,
each revolving around some emotionally compelling situation or challenge,
and each marked off by some intense experience.
— Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
For it is surely a lifetime work, this learning to be a woman
— May Sarton
To be a woman is something
so strange, so confusing and so complicated
that only a woman would put up with it.
— Søren Kierkegaard
In 1999 I wrote “The Guy In A Dress Line” which basically signalled the end of my political period. Is our trans history always the defining factor in our life, or is there life after primary transgender identification?
Of course, in trans spaces, especially on the internet, it is all about trans. There we assert, we argue, we politic, we posture, we declaim, we attack, we emote, we express about our transness.
For many transpeople, though, those spaces are not safe, comfortable or affirming. They have moved on, made a new chapter, created a new story around something other than trans. They don’t need to fight every zealot, engage every newbie, rehash every battle, inveigh every political trope.
They have, in some way or other, Transcended Transgender through Transformation, have gotten to that T3 level where trans isn’t at the front of who they are, rather it is just one component to a full and rich life.
The stories they live are incomprehensible to those who think trans is everything, be those people religious fundamentalists or identity politics fundamentalists; anyone who thinks that group identity always outweighs individual expression.
Having to choose, though, if trans means everything to us or trans means nothing to us is just another heartbreaking, bullshit binary choice, even if it is often forced on us by people who claim to be supporting non-binary expression.
As much as gender is framed as binary in this culture, no one, absolutely no one, has a binary identity. Who we know ourselves to be is always much more complex and nuanced than just being one thing or the other. There are always shades and intensities, from those who strive hard to be a very girly girl to those whose gender identity is one of the least important things they express in he world.
Is the essence of being non-binary crafting individualized gender roles with correspondingly tailored pronouns, or is moving to understanding that gender is not essential to identity? Once we are not primarily focused on our role in a system of desire, we can understand that who we are is much less about partnering and much more about doing, about all the choices we create in our life.
The essence of Transcendent Transgender Transformation, T3, is simply acknowledging that people are much, much, much more than their sexual characteristics which makes them much, much, much more than their reproductive role, which makes them much, much, much more than their gender.
T3 is beyond gender but is not opposed to gender. T3 doesn’t get stuck in the trap of putting gender first and foremost in human identity and then trying to soften that primary identification somehow. Being a man or a woman isn’t primary for us, even if those identifiers communicate our self knowledge, our outlook, our role and our choices in a concise way.
T3 puts our creative efforts first, valuing us not as one or the other but instead as a unique, balanced individual human with their own pattern of personal strengths.
How do we write a new story when we are bound to the binary expectations and assumptions of others? How do we become transcendent, transforming beyond the limits of gender when gender is held as primary & essential?
In a culture beyond simple heterosexism, we need to value people first for what they bring, not how they fit into some binary.
T3 people do that, announcing that they are not first and foremost their gender, but rather that they are human first, full of skills and history and possibilities that are not constrained by identity politics, by enforced grouping, by gender.
T3. It’s the future.
Or, at least, it’s my scratchy attempt to write a new story.