you make me feel like a natural woman

me and barbie Just prior to the election I was talking with a colleague/friend at work who was deliriously gleeful over what Hillary’s nomination has done for women.  The exposed misogyny, she felt, had been like a rallying cry for women to come together, to speak up, to act, to take charge and demand equality.  The secret group on Facebook went from a few members (there were 2000 members when I was added by a friend – primarily, but not exclusively women) to over 1 million members in a matter of weeks (and is actually now up to something like 4 million).  Women power!  Women pride!  Women, women, women!!   {cue Helen Reddy}

This work friend is someone I positively adore.  I have quietly confided in her, though never have I spoken directly about, the fact that I am transgender.  She has watched over the last few years the changes in my clothing, appearance and mannerisms.  I have hinted at, if not  referred to specifically, in an open-and-shut sort of way that offers absolutely no space for dialogue, that I am transgender.  I trust her enough to have let her know this (even while I am not interested in actually engaging in a discussion with her or anyone else).  She is a remarkable human being – a quintessential chaplain in many ways.  When she looks at people she sees their souls.  She is compassionate, nurturing and above all kind.  She is deeply empathic and as I think about it, I probably couldn’t have hidden from her even if I had wanted to.

glass-doorThat said, as I said, I have never spoken directly with her about me being transgender.   Neither of us has actually said the exact words in precisely the right order that would form the sentences that would allow for or encourage any actual discussion about my transgender being.  So we were sitting in my office and, like I said, she was ebulliently expostulating over “I am woman, hear me roar” et al and she looked at me and very seriously said, “Maybe this changes things for you.  I mean, maybe you can stop, or, erm, ah, maybe you don’t need to, you know, go all the way?” {cue needle scratching off the record}

The awful silence that followed was quite literally physically painful.  Though it was all of 3 seconds.  It had that surreal feeling you get when suddenly plunged into darkness (like when the electricity goes out) and you can’t tell if you’re even breathing or whether your eyes are open or closed.  I both could not believe she said it and hoped that I heard her incorrectly.  But I knew enough to not ask her to repeat herself.  When the lights came back on and the familiar hum of electricity surrounded us again, our conversation resumed like a dvd clicked from pause to play, only edited slightly.  As if the words were never spoken, the suggestion never made, we recovered and continued our conversation from an imperceptibly different place.  And neither of us acknowledged her comment.

Once our familiar connection had resumed I put the gaff out of my mind.  As I drove home later that day I had one part of my brain cringing, fighting shame and uttering my all-too-familiar invective, “what the fuck?!”  While the other parts of my brain were wondering at the abysmal lack of understanding there really is about transgender issues and people.  Even among compassionate, caring, well-educated people.

So clearly, some folks think that being transgender is a wish either to be or not to be a specific gender.  The assumption is that the trans-person doesn’t like being the gender they were assigned at birth for any one of a variety of reasons, one of which might very well be wanting to avoid sustained misogyny.  Though I’d expect many millions more women to identify as transgender if that were the case.  At any rate, regardless of the reason, it seems there are people who equate transgender with desire.  I have been asked too many times, “have you always wanted to be a boy?”  I’ll say again, it isn’t a *want*.  I would *prefer* to have curly hair.  I *am* transgender.  Getting a perm fixes the curly hair preference.  Dressing like or getting a men’s haircut does nothing for my internal dysphoria, the asymmetry between what I feel/know in my heart and what external body I have.  It’s the difference between essence and exterior.

You know those “lord-of-the-flies” social experiments?  I’d like to create one.  I just can’t think of the right scientific set up.  It isn’t a desire, a preference, propensity or even a predilection.  Being transgender is psyche and soul, not body and mind.  Explaining it is hard enough – how can I explain it to others when I can’t even wrap my own mind around it half the time.  Being misunderstood in this way feels humiliating on top of everything else I feel.  It is slap-in-the-face painful.  But I’m at a loss as to how else to explain it.

Several hours into the evening I received a text from my friend/colleague.  It was actually a series/flurry of texts, sent rapid-fire one right after the other.  All of which I heard, in my head, in her voice, deeply apologetic.  Each of which I read with a growing gratitude and serenity in my heart.  Paraphrased, “Can you find it in your heart to forgive my stupidity?! My ridiculous blunder/error/failure?! I didn’t mean what I said, don’t believe the message, can’t believe I even thought it never mind said it.  Basically, I’m an ass.  I’m so sorry.


About halitentwo

i am. god is. we are. as soon as i write something about me i change, am different, evolving. i am trans. i am a parent. i am a partner. i am a human. i am attempting to live a well-lived life in the spaces in between, beyond definition, fluid, dynamic, omnifarious and always changing. hopefully growing.
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5 Responses to you make me feel like a natural woman

  1. Casey Brown says:

    Oh boy*. Oh person. lol. Nonbinary erasure is America’s favorite pastime! Move over baseball!

  2. Sis says:

    Hope I don’t step in it with you on this but know I could because I’m human and fallible. PLEASE call me on it. I want to be called on it because I’m always trying to deepen my understanding and would never want to cause pain and upset.

  3. Jamie Ray says:

    Go All The Way (a great tune with bad lyrics by the Raspberries). At least she apologized, but what exactly is “go all the way” and where does she think you are, second base? Name change, Top Surgery, Hormones? Pronouns? Bottom Surgery?
    And why would you stop because Clinton lost or Trump “won”? She needs to think a lot about what it means to be trans and queer, and how she sees you and your struggle, and the need to support LGBTQ folk in the coming years. I hope you can repair it.

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