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.

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Goodnight US

In the once great land
there was a television
And a red-state map
And a picture of the world gone to crap.
And there were two little queers sitting on the couch
And a whole lot of despair and pulling out hair
And a mean little louse soon in the White House .
And a box of tissues
And a soon-to-be lush
And an inner dread now whispering, “Hush.”
Good night, land. Good night, map.
Good night, world gone to crap.
Good night, rights and all of that.
Good night, queers. Good night, couch.
Good night, despair. Good night, hair.
Good night, little louse. Good night, White House.
Good night, tissues. Good night, issues.
Good night, nobody. Good night, lush.
Good night to the inner dread whispering, “Hush.”
Good night, stars. Good night, air.
Good night, progress everywhere.”

Assholes on the Street (what would you say?)

Yesterday I had just finished lunch and was walking back to my office when my ears perked up to a conversation by the two men walking ahead of me.  They looked like they were in their late forties or early fifties, dressed business casual, and engaged in a conversation where I heard the word “transgendered” batted around.  I tuned in and heard a rant going something like this:

“Well, now they’re talking about this transgendered shit. Who needs to hear that? And in sex ed they’re teaching about being gay and all that. If these were health professionals, they’d focus on talking about all the diseases that come from anal sex and those terrible lifestyle choices.”

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Locker Room Memories

Concerned moms of the internet want to know:

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Just last week my boss’s boss (who knows I’m trans) told me in conversation that if “someone with a penis” was sharing a locker room with his teen daughter he would personally march over to the school to rectify the situation.  No amount of delicate explaining about the realities of trans kids and teens made a dent in his perception that all teens with penises were pervy teen boys.

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The Personal is Political (with a capital Pee)

…And there’s nothing more personal than taking a piss in public. So, just my luck that the month I’m easing out of the closet about being transgender, we have decided to start a national dialogue about trans people.  And when I say dialogue, I mean series of misinformed rants, hateful statements, boldfaced lies, and unsuccessful attempts to counterbalance with facts.

For people like me, all this debate has a very real, very practical effect. I’m literally scared shitless. Since this debate has started on the national stage, I’ve been nervous to be called out for using any public restroom. I still mostly get called ma’am, but not always, and I have a fear that whether I’m in the ladies’ or the gents’, some riled up asshole with a point to prove is going to shame me or hurt me for being where they think I don’t belong.

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