Next Steps

I’m always kind of shocked by the reach of this blog. I’m shocked when I look at the daily stats, I’m shocked at the emails I get about it. This is pretty much my diary. It wasn’t supposed to be, it was supposed to be more like an author page while I worked on those long, edited pieces that maybe would get me a book deal or something. That idea was preemptive in the extreme. I needed a place to process and I needed to talk to other like-minded people about this crazy thing I’d gone through. Having an online diary that other trans critical people and especially all the lovely feminist trans critical women out there could connect with me through really kept me afloat the past year.

Recently the parts of my life have started to integrate. I spoke about the experience in class. That was a shock to the system enough I pretty much had to sleep all last week. Then I got to speak to my boss about it this saturday. That was such a wonderful thing. If I haven’t made it totally clear, I work for some women who I just really admire, and I feel like by getting to work for them I learn more about how I want to move through the world and what affect I want to have on the people around me. Anyways, I got to talk to one of them about the experience, and she reacted in the most amazing way. Just like, very receptive, when I told her letting the trans identity go was about figuring out I was putting energy into building that identity instead of healing from the various bad shit that had happened to me, she got it, and she was excited for me that I had been able to figure that out for myself. Especially at the beginning of last year it felt like when I would try to talk about the story in real life with people, they could only hear half of it. They couldn’t really hear me when I said, “This weird idea made a lot of sense to me because I was having symptoms and had no other explanation available for these symptoms.” But my boss got it right away.

Getting to tell her, and having that aspect of my life be integrated at my work feels like such a milestone. Having these big parts of your life that the people you are around everyday don’t know about is so strange. It makes things feel dream-like, in a creepy way.

It feels like I’m coming up on the time when a bigger integration makes sense. A time when I can feel good about having this story as part of my public identity and getting to share it more. The bigger the audience the simpler things have to be. It won’t make sense to process terrible dating experiences with a larger audience. So I don’t know where I will put that processing. I don’t know how I will balance the way I need to write about my life with the reality that some stuff you should only share with people who have good hearts and are on your side.

I do think all this yoga is a big part of why I’m feeling ready for a bigger integration. Doing all those heart openers has made me think hard about why comedy was the avenue I chose to express myself. Telling jokes is so self-protective. You can always say, “It was just a joke, don’t take it so seriously.” If you tell a story straight, if you don’t present it as entertainment, then people can call you on what you’re saying, they can challenge you about it. So you have to be wise and you have to know that what you’re saying is true.

The internet is so good for cultivating opinions and it’s not so good for sharing our hearts. After my last post, where I said, “I’m not going to call you a bigot for not wanting to go to the bathroom the cross-dressers convention is using” I actually got into a fight, with a cross-dresser, about whether it was acceptable to not want to share the bathroom at a hotel with a cross-dresser’s convention. That’s actually a discussion I for real participated in. His argument was I hadn’t ever been in a bathroom with a bunch of cross-dressers so how did I know it would feel bad to share that bathroom. We weren’t even talking about people identified with a different gender, we were talking about men who are clear that dressing in women’s clothing is an activity that gives them a particular set of pleasurable feelings, and lots of those men are very, very clear the particular set of pleasurable feelings they get are sexual. This man couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t want to use the bathroom with a bunch of men experiencing those pleasurable feelings, as a group. He said I shouldn’t make accusations of cross dressers attacking kids. I hadn’t said anything about cross dressers attacking anyone, I hadn’t said anything about the physical safety of children. I’d said it makes sense to give families warning so if they don’t want to be in a bathroom with a group of men experiencing those pleasurable, usually sexual feelings, they don’t have to be in that bathroom. No one has to think they are about to be touched for me to think it’s ok if people don’t want to use that bathroom.

And then I was like, why am I talking to this guy at all? Who is this guy, who for serious believes other people don’t deserve the courtesy of being told about a cross dressers convention in their hotel? Also, how can he be so open about not believing other people deserve those boundaries when republicans at the NC state capitol could totally use what he says to argue for the NC bathroom bill?

But that’s what the internet is good for, meeting people with ridiculous worldviews who you wouldn’t take seriously for a second if you met them in real life. That’s why they are on the internet, because if they had these conversations with people in real life they’d be laughed at. In real life even the other cross dressers would tell them to quit being weird and quit making them look bad.

It’s funny because I actually think it’s more dangerous to tell my story on the internet than in real life. In real life lots of people can follow the narrative, it makes a lot of sense- you wanted to feel safe and strong and like a full person, so you got confused and thought you were a man. On the internet people think I have a responsibility to edit that story so that the stories they’re pushing can be bought into.

At Fest I actually got confronted by a woman after the detransitioning panel. I’d been sitting at the campfire, having a good old time, hearing about what life was like in other cities, and this woman, who hadn’t said anything, says to me, “I actually wanted to talk to you about that panel.” I said ok. She said some other people on the panel had referred to trans women with the pronoun “he” and trans women, of color especially she said, were an important part of her community. The women on the panel who had referred to trans women using “he” were actually talking about trans women who had sexually assaulted them, so if I’m being totally real, I am not super concerned about the violence of misgendering someone who sexually assaults people. I’ve been misgendered, I’ve been sexually assaulted, I think someone who sexually assaults someone should actually have way worse things than misgendering happen to them. But I just said, well, so, I can’t take responsibility for the way other women spoke on the panel, is there something about what I said that you’d like to talk about?

She said she was concerned that my story would end up being used against her trans friends.

So I said, it’s a good thing you want to protect your friends. I have to tell my story because these are choices that affect people’s autonomy, and I want other people to be able to make informed choices about their own autonomy. People’s lives are all different but to make choices that lead to you being autonomous and healthy and happy it’s always good to have more information not less.

That was that. She got quiet. I hung out a little bit longer. When I left I told her if she ended up wanting to talk some more and she saw me around she could approach me and we could talk. She didn’t.

I guess that story is just to say I believe in real life conversations about this. I believe more and more in my own ability to talk about this stuff with an open heart. I believe less and less in just talking to whoever on the internet about whatever- that was a hypothetical cross dressers convention we were talking about. I’ve never been involved in organizing one of those and I gotta think I probably won’t ever be.

I guess I’m trying to prep you. I don’t know how much longer having this blog makes sense. I think I’m ready to not have a pseudonym and not have this weird fear of being outed. I think I’m ready to speak from the heart and yeah, also to be challenged, but not by people over twitter who are going to straight make up stuff they want me to have said instead of what I really said.

And also, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, and actually I’ll write under this pseudonym for 10 more years. I’m just putting this out there so if things change you can keep up with that.

 

6 thoughts on “Next Steps”

  1. This is very inspiring. I keep telling myself, pushing myself, to keep writing, keep processing, to someday get to the point where I’m more comfortable speaking about it all in real life, as you are beginning to. It’s such an admirable turning point. I also appreciate how you say those arguing on the Internet are arguing on the Internet precisely because they wouldn’t be taken seriously in real life. That’s a perspective I’ve been keeping in mind recently, too.

    Whatever you do, please always keep your readership here informed. I believe you have what may be called a “fan base” already, and hopefully the best kind of fans – those that will support and amplify the message – and not the, well, you know, weird kind.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lord love you, Maria, please keep using your voice. Seriously. Your. Own. Voice. The world so needs to hear this. The PSYCH COMMUNITY so needs to hear this. The young women who look at “grown up womanhood” and want no part of it, want to opt out of it — they need to hear this. The parents need to hear it. So we don’t keep seeing numbers like this:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36010664

    May you be blessed with strength and wisdom and insight and a thick skin, all of which you will need. The deep kindness always on display in your writing will shine through, I know, wherever you go and whatever you do.

    Like

    1. ^ I SO agree with Puzzled, Maria. Your voice is so sorely needed out here, by all of the above and then some.
      I so hope you will keep reflecting where others can benefit from your perspective. As you say, people need ‘more information not less’ in order to ‘make informed choices about their own autonomy’. And it seems that few who lived the transman dream and returned to accepting their womanhood are comfortable blogging about it – understandably, given the prevailing climate of denial, hostility, prejudice. (Though I think you’re right about ‘Two Years’, and the climate itself will change a lot, and maybe soon? Especially where even one voice is saying maybe the Emperor is not wearing what he claims?)
      Those tumblr-bewitched kids need to be able to stumble across your trail of crumbs in the dark woods. I hope you can keep it up, in whatever way seems comfortable for you.

      Liked by 1 person

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