This post by Gender Outlaw and the comment by Genderkid made me reflect on the common portrayal of trans people as miserable, near-suicidal individuals who would not survive if they did not have access to physical transition through hormones or surgery. I understand that this might be t he case for some people. I’m sure that in some cases, transition is a life saver.
However, I resent that this has become a generalised statement as though it were applicable to all trans people. I’ve read it time and time again on blogs or on listserves. “We transition because we have no choice. It is that or death.” If they said: “I am transitionning because I have no choice. It is life or death for me,” I would have no problem with it. “I statements” are good things. It is the we that bothers me.
I resent it when other people speak for me with the assumption that my experience and perception is the same as theirs. I resent it when my protests are silenced because my pointing out that I don’t share their experience or perception bothers or scares people. I resent it when my experience is looked at by other trans people as “abnormal” or “fucked up” because it is not aligned with their experience.
There are a variety of paths to transition and no one trans person, or group of trans people, can speak for all of us. Not everyone experiences or perceives gender dysphoria in the same way. Not all of us are miserable and on the verge of suicide before transition.
I have always felt uncomfortable in my skin. Always. I didn’t know what exactly was wrong with me as a child, teen or young adult. I didn’t have the words to express my feeling of not being a “real” human because I felt like an imposter. However, I did find ways to be happy. It wasn’t ideal and I wasn’t very happy with how I felt, physically, but I didn’t spend most of my life being miserable and depressed. I found other ways to be happy. I had beautiful times with wonderful people. I learned a lot about myself and I grew a lot. I experimented with different ways of living and being.
My path led me to transition not out of necessity or as an alternative to suicide. I got here because the more I learned about it, the more I felt that it was right for me. I knew that I could survive without it. I knew that exploring alternate gender identities was possible for me without physical transition. I knew that, ultimately, I would always consider myself in-between, or beyond, male and female. However, I also knew that male came closer to expressing who I am than female and that living as male would allow me to develop in other ways – in ways that would make me feel more fulfilled and happy. In ways that would build on and complement what I had achieved as female.
Transitioning has changed my life by helping me feel right in my body and by eliminating the overwhelming concerns that I had about it before. Transition has allowed me to deepen the textures and colours of my life by allowing me to focus on things other than my gender. But it hasn’t saved my life because my life was not lost before. To say that my life was lost before would be an insult to everything that Nancy accomplished in spite of the difficulties. Had I not been able to transition or had I not chosen to, there would have been other ways to build on the past. It might not have been ideal but it would have been possible. I probably would have continued having gender issues all my life. But I don’t think I would have become depressed and suicidal. I really don’t.
I’m sorry if this pisses anyone off. It undoubtedly will. It undoubtedly will lead some to think that my reasons for choosing transition – yes, choosing . . . in my case) are invalid. I don’t care. I only speak for myself. I do not seek to create a general narrative about the trans experience based on my own.
I chose this path because it is the one that felt right to me. I’m staying on this path because it still feels right. If others do it out of necessity, then it is great for them that they have access to something that is saving their life. But that, my friends, is not my case and I will not shut up and adhere to a story that is not mine just to avoid being told that I don’t deserve to identify as male or as transsexual.