I think in my life the one belief I can’t seem to shake, I have to act from, and have paid over and over again for acting from is the belief that getting raped is a big fucking deal in someone’s life.
Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Of course it is. Of course, of course.
But that’s certainly not how my family or friends have ever responded to my rapes. I was thinking about the conversations I had with them when I had just started transition. Most of the people closest to me tried to have some kind of conversation with me about whether transition was right for me. They didn’t know where to begin. They mostly went through the “does wanting what you want mean mean you’re not a woman? what are the boundaries of what a woman is?”
Philosophically interesting questions. But how many years had I been waking up in a body I wanted to throw away? How many years had I pondered what on earth was wrong with me I couldn’t seem to get my shit together? How many years had I been sad?
You can argue ideas all day long. Same way you can try to argue someone out of their feelings. Same way you can tell someone they’re being dramatic, that they need to move on, that you can’t believe they’re still talking about that thing that happened so many years ago.
You can’t tell someone they weren’t raped and then have any credibility when you tell them they aren’t trans.
If it wasn’t a rape and it wasn’t wrong and my feelings were just nonsense, then where did they come from? It was left up to me to figure that out. If rape was funny, if I was being over-sensitive, if the other girls didn’t mind, what was up with me that I minded?
What was up with me? I was left on my own to find a question. The kind of girl who hated being a girl. The kind of girl who couldn’t ever do a right thing. The kind of girl who was bothered, all the time, annoyingly so, always upset about something.
(The kind of girl with a bad body, a body not worth much, that’s what my rapist told me about myself a couple weeks after, he said if I was a whore I would have to charge a lot less than my friend. My mom doesn’t know that. She doesn’t know any of the details because when I tried to tell her she said it wasn’t a rape. She doesn’t know much at all about my life. I feel silly for caring that she doesn’t know. I feel silly for caring what my rapist said. I feel silly for my whole life.)
What do you do with feeling bad every day? You go through periods of trying to act like that’s the human condition. You go through periods of acting like all that matters is other people. You go through periods of trying to fix it once and for all. You go through periods of finding a thing to do that will make it all better, and if you find a big group of people telling you yes, this is it, this is the thing, just work hard at this, once you transform yourself in this way it’ll all be better, you believe them because you want to feel different so badly.
What do you do when sometimes people talk like rape is a big deal but they have no suggestions for what to do to live with the first hand knowledge? What do you do when people say “of course rape is a big deal” but then also say “a good comedian can make every subject funny.” What do you do when people say “of course rape is a big deal” but then also say “but in this particular case that woman is crazy.” What do you when people say “of course rape is big deal” but also “but when people are drinking signals get crossed and misunderstandings happen.”
What do you do when people say “of course rape is a big deal” and then say “you have to talk about something else, you have to move on.”
What do you do when you know who the rapists are in your community, because lots of people know, and you can’t get people to stop putting them in rooms full of women drinking?
I have a fantasy I meet a woman and she takes stock of me and she says, “Here is what you have to do to not feel crazy when almost everyone has committed to this particular kind of insanity.” She tells me what I should eat, what exercises to do, what prayers to say, what books to read. She says, “They all let you down but they let you down to teach you what needs to be done.”
I want a very normal life. I want a husband and kids. I see my friends becoming mothers and I wonder what human experience I cut myself off from when I decided I was trans. Sometimes friends of mine who are married tell me I’m the kind of person who doesn’t need a man. What I hear when they say that is that they don’t ever see me landing one. One women who got her cute little lesbian wedding told me I should be some kind of high priced escort. It was a joke? It was a joke that made me hate her.
I have lots of friends, and lots of would be friends. They all think they should be enough for me. They are not enough. I don’t need conversation. I don’t need endless friends, endless coffee dates, endless hanging out. I need something else entirely.