Hello, Old Friend.

There used to be a trope in movies and tv that included a school reunion that someone had undergone a sex change.  It was a cheap punchline, based on shock and discomfort for those putting the pieces together.  Oh, quarterback JOHN is now JANE.  What’s this weird boner?  
But how do you play these scenes out in real life?  Last week, I had a work meeting during which I had to re-introduce myself to someone I had worked with several years ago.  Someone who knew me prior to transition and who has not seen me since.  Someone who I don’t think would have found out otherwise.  Someone who is now at the top of my food chain and is my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.  To make it all the more awkward, this re-introduction would be in public, in front of colleagues who have only known me post-transition.

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The Body Trap

I was on reddit yesterday, and someone posted this question:

“Is the ‘woman stuck in a man’s body’ or ‘man stuck in a woman’s body’ a narrative invented by cis people or [do] trans people have that kind of experience?”

It was a “holy shit” moment.  This “trapped in the wrong body” narrative is what I had heard from childhood as the very definition of being trans.  Yet it has never once been a phrase I would use to describe myself.  I was never more trapped in my body than anyone else is.  My body never quite described me, or looked like me, but it wasn’t a cage I wanted to escape.

But what makes it a holy shit moment is that the wrongness of the phrase is part of what made it take so damned long for me to realize that the word transgender applied to me.  That it described the condition of my life.  Or that I had a case of trans-ness “bad enough” to merit treating.  I’d never felt “trapped in the wrong body” after all, so I could probably just ignore it.

I frequently reflect on how public descriptions of being trans miss the mark, and how isolated that has made me feel through the years.  The internet is a beautiful thing because it can bring us together so that we can tell our true stories in our own words.  It was also through reddit, after all, that I described my feelings and heard from trans people around the world who experienced feelings just like them.

There is no single trans narrative.  And I assume there are trans people who do feel trapped in the body of the wrong sex.  But sometimes I wonder if these narratives also come about in trying to justify ourselves to people who can’t imagine what it feels like to be us.  I am grateful that such justification is no longer necessary to simply live a decent life.  And I am grateful that even if a strong belief in a false narrative may have delayed me from finding my truth, it did not preclude it.

I am here, in my strange trans body, and I am free.