"I believe i can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away"
Fair warning, this is going to be an unpopular blog post. I'm under no delusions to the contrary. This post is going to get some hate mail. Please, be considerate when replying to this. Realize that we're all family here, and no one is singling you out specifically. There are no names or labels being forced upon any individual here. We are all just having an open discussion with love and respect for every individual al the table. No one is telling anyone how to live their life. OK?
Good, now that the formalities are out of the way, lets get down to the topic at hand, Transition. It is my studied and measured opinion that Transition isn't right for all people. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that for some, Transition makes things worse, not better. Not everyone is right for this process, and its important to state that up front.
First, a moment of clarification. What do we mean when we say Transition in the first place? A moment ago, I used the phrase "studied and measured opinion". The "study and measure" I'm referring to cones from both a lifetime of being a trans-female, and from ten plus years actively pursuing the process. I am not a sexologist. I hold no degree in gender studies. I am not an eminent speaker on GLBT issues. Nevertheless, I feel I am well qualified to speak on the subject, through sheer life experiences. And those experiences have lead me to a rather curious observation regarding this process we call Transition; it's entirely the wrong word to use. By that I mean that it doesn't actually describe the process we go through in any factual way.
Follow me on this logic. Transition, as a word, implies movement from one state of being to another state of being. The most commonly used metaphor is that of a caterpillar transitioning (metamorphosing) into a beautiful butterfly. The first stage of its life is gone, to be replaced by an entirely new stage of life. For many, this metaphor has powerful images and is strongly tied to emotions like hope, liberty, and transcendence above life's problems. Trouble is, it's complete rubbish. For the metaphor to ring true, one would need to begin, prior to the "cocoon stage",as it were, as a male. Having a male body isn't the same thing as BEING male. In fact for many of us, the whole "starting with a miles body" bit is even a bit of a stretch. Speaking for myself, very few bits and pieces of my body (excluding the obvious genitalia) are specifically male-coded. I have wider, more rounded hips, small hands and feet, a less pronounced brow ridge, narrow shoulders, and an almost nonexistent Adam's apple. These aren't traits of a standard male physique. And mind you I'm not the only one either. I look around at other women on this site and in real life, and find that large, squarely built male physiques in the trans population is the exception instead of the rule. So this whole concept of beginning with one physical gender then becoming another is a bit of a fantasy.
I've said it before in a previous blog post, but I feel its worth mentioning here again. I, and other trans-women like me, am now female, regardless of which gender my genitals are. I have always been female. Nothing I ever do or say can make me cease to be female in the future. Like it or not, I am, and always will be, female. So if I am beginning this process as a female, and ending it as a female where is the Transition? From what am i metamorphosing, and toward what? In order for there to be a Transition, one must have two different states of being, and so far all I find is one. There can be no Transition without something to Transition to.
So if I'm not in a state of Transition, what exactly do I call this process? Lets examine our metaphor from another angle. Let's say instead of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, you instead have a one-winged butterfly being given a new, prosthetic wing. And let us further propose that this butterfly had, for a large portion of her life, laboured under the misconception that, since she was wingless, and caterpillars are wingless, that she must therefore be a caterpillar. What would you call the process now? Its not so much a metamorphosis, as it is an awakening, is it? It's a process of introspection, of discovery, of understanding, and of acceptance. What word could one use to describe such a process? I have no idea, perhaps wiser minds than mine can suggest something.
So now I come to the unpopular crux of this essay, why some people shouldn't pursue this process we call (wrongly) Transition. The reason is simply this: some people actually ARE caterpillars, not butterflies. This is going to get me some hate mail for saying it, but its true. There exist people in the transgender community who simply are not. Not female, not transgendered, not coping in any way with GID. If you are one of these persons and you pursue body modifications, or even attempt to blend in average society in a female gender-role, don't be surprised if, instead of being treated as a woman, people who meet you treat you as a man in women's clothing. Its a harsh reality, I know. But if you are not female now, you never will be, and no amount of surgery or costuming will make the general public accept you as "one of the girls". You will in fact, have created for yourself a kind of artificial GID, being male, yet attempting to pass yourself off as female.
There is another, more subtle reason why a person should perhaps reconsider putting themselves through this process. Unfortunately, trans people are in a bit of a limelight right now in the news media, and therefore in the public's eye. Furthermore, this news coverage is rarely positive, and more often than not is salacious and sensationalist in the extreme - focusing not on what makes the trans person in question female, but instead focusing more on the bits and pieces of her that remain male gender-coded and then juxtaposing the two in the harshest light possible for shock value or comedic effect. Take this recent news article, for example, the headline of which reads "Girl Scouts Welcome Transgender Kids". This is only newsworthy if you accept the idea that the "transgender kids" in question are not in fact female. In fact, the idea is so widespread at this point that the newspapers take it for granted that you the reader holds that exact opinion. A headline reading. "Girl Scouts Welcomes Little Girls" wouldn't sell nearly as many papers, even though that is clearly what the meaning of the headline is anyway. The case in question is regarding little Bobby, and I dare you, reader, if you doubt me at all, to go Google the words "transgender" and "girl scout". I challenge you to find a single headline which correctly identifies little Bobby as female. Most even flat out misreport the facts by referring to her as a boy. This misrepresentation of the truth within hollywood and the media has caused the public to percieve trans women not as another kind of female, but as a third option beyond the standard male - female dichotomy. This awareness means that it is now possible, for the first time in the history of this nation, to pursue an acceptable lifestyle not in our preferred gender role as the women we are, but in the social role of "a tranny". In other words, because trans people are now being spotlighted in unfavorable ways, living life as a female may be an unattainable goal for many of us. Instead, the public will place us outside BOTH male AND female social roles, to the detriment of everyone involved.
You must be realistic. If you are a caterpillar, live a happy, caterpillary life doing caterpillar things, and having caterpillar hopes and dreams. If you are a genuine wingless butterfly, but one of the unfortunate souls for whom integration in the butterfly community is not possible, I humbly suggest you strongly reconsider not getting your wings. Life may be difficult on the ground, in caterpillar society, but being shunned by both caterpillar and butterfly society is worse. What's more, by insisting on integration with others as a butterfly, you only reinforce the misguided notion that to be a trans woman is to be something other than female.
Lovingly and respectfully signed,
--A wingless butterfly