My sweetie pie gay boy co-worker took a vakay to San Francisco and now is going to move there. He’s roommates with the bisexual, recently raped, very femme- presenting, identifying as a trans boy person. Who has a beautiful singing voice they are about to wreck with T.
At least the mistakes I’ve made are very popular mistakes to make. I have a knack for making the mistakes everyone else is going to make 2 years later. I got into standup ahead of the boom, I threw myself on the rape joke protest pyre ahead of everyone writing a think piece about that, and now I’m over the trans thing a couple of years ahead of everyone else too.
So the question is, since all this harm is being done, and since in about two years a lot of young people are going to face up to lots of regrets about permanent changes they’ve made to their bodies and a whole lot of additional trauma they’ve taken on in that community, what do we have to build to keep them alive two years from now?
I think the big thing is building spaces where they can be believed. Because one of the most crazy-making parts of detransition is that people won’t let you out of being trans. At that clinic when I asked people to start calling me “she” they all called me “they.” Coming back to my hometown I had to assert over and over that no I wasn’t a different kind of trans, no I wasn’t gender-fluid or gender-queer or a queer femme, I was Done with the Trans Thing. People didn’t really understand why I was so assertive about being Done with the Trans Thing. It’s because my experience with the trans thing was that it brought me into all these really toxic relationships and social groups. When all these people want Out in 2 years we need spaces where they’re allowed to just be Out and Done.
That’s just the beginning. They’re going to need spaces where they can be Done with the Trans Thing, and then what’s next in their lives? What are the practices and treatments that are actually going to address their dysphoria? I think anti-anxiety medication can potentially do a lot in this arena. Trauma therapies can do a lot. There’s a lot of life re-design that ends up needing to happen- you need a lot of deep, quality relationships to be able to walk through the world feeling seen. That’s the promise of the Trans Thing- just take these hormones and get this surgery and then the world will be able to see the Real You. But the deal with the human condition is that you can’t do anything that will let strangers see the Real You. The Real You is only seen by people who care so much about you they’re willing to observe and invest in you for years. I think in American culture at the moment we aren’t very skilled at building those kind of deep relationships. We’re very scared of being deeply invested in the people around us. It’s more attractive and less scary to us to pack up and move to California.
I feel some ambivalence about building the infrastructure that will catch the coming ex-trans wave and doing my own healing. I’ve relied on a performed femininity to get through this past year, and I think it’s been a good financial and social investment to get caught up on how to do that femininity. But ideally I really want to build a life where I’m not performing so much. Where I’m in my body and reacting to other people and the world from that embodied place and I have a lot of opportunities to react authentically without catching a bunch of flak for it.
Ha, I think the not catching flak dream might be just that, a beautiful dream. I think authentic people just catch lots of flak whenever they venture out from a tight, deeply invested community. I just need to make sure I have that tight community holding me before I make moves that will catch me all that flak. I was super isolated, like all by myself in a new city, all new friends, had just given up my beloved puppy even, when I caught all the flak for speaking up against rape jokes. I think I made that lesson “don’t speak up,” but I think the better lesson is make sure you have a really good crew and community before you speak up.
Two years. I really, really think that’s the timeline when we’ll have a big ex-trans wave crash into the medical establishment. Two years to figure out some initial non-transition approaches to dysphoria. Two years to make some spaces where people can be Done and Out. Two years to make something new. 2018 here we come.