Its been a year. In more ways than one. Mostly, its been a positive year. A bit late, but 2010 feels very much like the year when I started to live properly. Again ? For the first time, even.
Definitely lots of scary stuff although, on balance, a lot less scary than I thought it would be. I’m not going to diss the experiences of those trans women, trans men, too, who have suffered at the hands of the transphobes out there: transition brings its problems. Loads of.
There’s places I don’t walk alone any more. There are confrontations I’ve had, stares, put-downs, and worse, which I can’t imagine having to endure if I had continued as a 50-something bland middle-class male. But I’ve not lost my job, not actually been hospitalised, and only once, twice, maybe, been in genuine fear for my safety.
(Nah: much of the most scary was my own fears about how it would feel just to be me!)
I’ve found out a lot about people. One of the strangest discoveries was the fleeting nature of tolerance for some who wear their way-out trendiness like a badge. Because the one really hurtful loss was a connection who boldly proclaimed her tolerance of all things non-conforming. Until I happened to wash up on her doorstep, and I discovered she was a lot less tolerant than she liked to believe.
The approximate phrase used, as she cut me out of an activity I had been very much enjoying, was that it was “for my own good”. What with all the hormones and stuff and…doncha know, us trannies need other people to be concerned for us!
There was a lot of curiosity at first. I didn’t mind, because often people were asking me questions I needed to ask myself. Why? Where do I think I am going? What does it mean to be trans?
There was also some rather more prurient stuff. Mostly, I haven’t minded that, either, when its come from the heart. People DO want to know how it feels, at middle age, suddenly to be changing: they wonder what could possibly impel me toward THAT operation; and find it hard to credit that I could be contemplating having THAT BIT removed. More, perhaps, of that shortly.
I certainly have minded when the questioning got over-intrusive, but I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the times that that has been so.
Slightly stranger have been the people who have tried to “own” my transition. At one extreme, I think of it a bit like the old superstition, immortalised by Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins”, that “good luck will rub off” if a chimney sweep shakes hands with you.
Well, its like that, only there are some people who seem to like having a trans woman around the place. To be seen out with? To party with? Its never totally obvious, except in the most extreme cases: and its hard to separate, at times, from genuine concern.
I’m not even talking about the (yuk!) t-chasers: blokes, mostly, who seem to have a thing about sex involving t-girls. No. I can’t even go there: it seems to be a fetishisation of the whole “chicks with dicks” thing. The idea that my transition is about sex…and that my being “half-and-half” is somehow done for the erotic convenience of others. Puh-lease!
No. I was talking about something much milder that lies halfway between ordinary socialisation and something else. A vicarious thrill from being seen out and about with a trans woman. No different, in its way, I guess, from people who like to be seen out with the school captain, or the class athlete. Just annoying, in that its about being taken for what I represent, rather than who I am…and the fact that its not always obvious.
Still, I can console myself with imagining how it could have translated to Disney and cartoon form. Back to Mr Van Dyke once more.
Dick! Oh, how his name is just crying out for spoofery.
On every level.
[to the tune of “Chim-chim-cheree”. In cockney.]: “Tum-tum-ti-tum. Tum-tum-ti-tum. Tran-tran-ti-tum. A trans is as lucky as lucky can be….”
No. Honest. I haven’t been smoking anything. Not tonight, anyway.
Happy new year,