I realize that this is all a bit strange to you and perhaps even a bit silly at times. I assure you, it is nonetheless real – despite my inability to articulate it with any degree of accuracy. I have lost count of the number of different analogies I’ve used – all which fall far to short of conveying the confusion and complexity it is I feel living in the world.
I don’t expect you to get it – hell, I don’t get it completely and its my life. I mean, how could you get it? It such a bizarre notion – being trans. My gender is wrong – or my body is wrong – or society is wrong… Its a big f’ing mess, that’s what it is. And maybe I am ‘just confused’, but that does not change the fact that, again, this is something very real for me.
Being trans hurts. It hurts to feel out of place in your own body and to look at people who are (for the most part) comfortable with theirs. It hurts to long for a sense of ‘rightness’ and to never have that – or to not know what it even might feel like. It hurts to look in the mirror and have the image looking back at you be wrong, alien – other. It hurts to be the subject of mockery and ridicule – to be held up as an example of that which is not human in society. It hurts to be rejected by people because I dare to admit that I am somehow different.
Even more, it hurts to be patronized: to be told, “It can’t be all that bad” or “You’ve lived with this for this long, surely you can wait a bit longer…” or move slower… or “Why can’t you just live with it?” or some other such comments. It hurts to be told over and over how there are more important things in life about which to be concerned – to not be taken seriously about this.
Most of all, it hurts to be flat out dismissed. I don’t need to be reminded about how much worse my life could be, or how there are other people suffering in the world. I know this and I don’t for one minute think that my hurt somehow trumps theirs. But this is my life and my pain is real. I cannot escape myself, there is no ‘magic pill’ I can take to make this go away. At best, I can hope to mitigate this to some extent and learn to live with it – because it will never go away.
I understand all too well how lucky I am to be married to a wonderful and understanding wife – to have two beautiful daughters – to be able to provide a a good home for for my family. I am thankful every day for these things – for having a wife (yes, a wife – not an SO or spouse or partner – a wife) who is willing to make this a part of her life even though she’d rather know nothing about trans-anything. I am thankful for having daughters who – thus far – are fine with having a father who is a little more than a bit left of center – who accept and love me despite my ‘quirks’. I am thankful for being able to have a career wherein I can be trans and it seems to not really matter. I am, every day, thankful for all this and more.
This doesn’t, however, stop me from lying awake some nights acutely aware of the difficulty it is to simply be me at times – to have to face a world wherein I am now and forever will be other to nearly everyone I meet – to be in the world, but never truly a part of the world – to challenge the accepted vision of the world wherein I am that which is ‘unthinkable’. And despite all my rationalizing, it doesn’t stop me from retreating to that dark corner of my psyche where I can escape the homunculus I’ve send out into the world – and, if even for a brief moment, allow myself the luxury of pretending I could, someday, actually be.
Butler notes that “The thought of a possible life is only an indulgence for those who already know themselves to be possible. For those who are still looking to become possible, possibility is a necessity.” Because what I am is not a possibility in society, I exist only to the extent that I am intelligible as something other than what I am. I am at a loss to explain what it feels like to know that what I am is quite real – and to simultaneously realize that what I am is not considered as ‘possible’ in society. I am at a loss to explain just how isolating that in and of itself can feel.
I don’t pretend that this is easy for you – it may even be harder for you than it is for me – I don’t know – but this doesn’t change what I feel. I have to live with this every moment of my life – I have lived with this all my life – and sometimes, despite all the support and love from family and friends, it can be so damn overwhelming. If you don’t experience this, if it’s not a part of who you are, then I cannot expect you relate to it – and I don’t. But what I hope for is that you can acknowledge that this is real for me – that it is a part of my life – and that it hurts in a way that is deep and profound: not more than any pain you might experience, just differently.
Sometimes, I just want to be able to express this pain – to speak it out loud and not have it judged, compared, minimized, explained or otherwise commented upon.
The pain is real – not more real than anyone else’s – but real nonetheless.