Contemplations on queerness, transness, and other Otherness.

Monday, December 12, 2011

truth in verbs

       i'd had an incredibly vivid dream in which everything in my life was exactly as it is now, save one thing. Rather than being the queer, trans-feminine person i am, i was a trans-man. Upon hearing about this, someone i know giggled and remarked, "It's almost like your transness is more central to your identity than your femininity."

       All humor aside — and this is rife with humor — this struck me as true. This is not to say that my femininity is not important to me or central to my identity; it absolutely is. My femininity is a shining gem that i hold outstretched in cupped hands for all the world to see.

      But to me, the noun is less important here than the verb. It is in the act of crossing, of transgressing our violently normative binary, that is most precious to me. It is in the active moments of this process that i have gained insight and compassion, that i have learned to be and to love. The becoming itself gained a meaning that i never could have anticipated.

       My transition — and i have to apologize here, because i hate that destination-based word, but don't have another — has given me a unique opportunity to learn about myself and the about the world. This ongoing process of growth and determination feels so much closer to my heart than my gender ever could be.

       My transness has also allowed me to come into a gender that is completely my own. i used to try to fit into the binary gender system. i very consciously hid my queerness behind a perfectly practiced masculine mask, and i used to conceive of a future that entailed a complete and archetypal femininity.

       The latter never really came to pass. At this point, i can't imagine fitting into the gender binary or being normative in that way. i revel in the fact that i get up every day and am consciously true to myself. On many days that absolutely means being really femme, but on as many others it means something else, something less immediately discernible.

       Again, here the significance lies in the verb. This searching, this becoming, this being is about being able to walk unencumbered in the world. Gender can be so heavy. Gender can define actions and responses faster than neurons can fire. But in being true to myself, instead of trying to achieve some sense of normative gender, i have shed a lot of predispositions that i may have not otherwise even been aware of. In breaking it down, in crossing, i've found a capacity to shed so much of that baggage and feel that, in this way at least, i'm not as weighed down as i once was.

       This verb, this trans-as-action is far more important to my sense of self than any sort of gendered directionality. The fact that i feel invisible when someone calls me "sir," instead of being rendered invisible by a "ma'am," seems so much less significant than the fact that i am rendered invisible at all, frequently even. i'm not trying to equate all trans and genderqueer experience here, it's as variant as anything. i'm merely saying that being different runs deeper than the details of that difference. And it's a difference i've learned from and grown with; a difference to which i've grown incredibly fond.