The most interesting things about a young woman is how she looks, who she fucks. That’s our range of action. We can say a lot of things, we can move in a lot of ways, making choices about who we hang out with and listen to, who we lend our money to, where we pick up trash, who we babysit for- but that’s all extraneous. Those choices don’t show where our loyalty lies. There are two sets of choices that show who we really are, fundamentally, the core of our characters, our moral trajectories. How we look, who we fuck.
If you are a young woman acting intentionally, with a vision for the world resting in her heart, people will be able to see what that vision is by how you look, who you fuck.
You can go to the right stores and buy an identity for yourself. You can go get the right haircut and put the world on notice about what you’re about. Everyone will be able to tell- that lady listens to bands I’ve never heard of and is on some special diets. Everyone will be able to tell- that lady supports the protesters, that lady has read the right books, that lady has a whole crew of friends with those haircuts.
Except this only works for a little while. It only works with young faces. At some point our moral trajectories carry us into jobs where you have to have boring haircuts and no one can tell what books you’ve read. At some point people can clock our ages and not the subcultures we’ve moved through. At some point you better hope you learned some skills no one else bothered to learn, because people aren’t interested in how you look or how you fuck, they only care whether you can do what they’re looking to get done.
The saddest contradiction of trans-ing yourself is that you try to wrest yourself away from the object and the object only defines you more. You try to get out from under your face and body, which everyone is always talking about, always trying to talk to you about, so much more interested in than the inside of your head, and you can’t get out. They want pictures. They want pictures of every moment. They want you to say the object is you now, now that you’re wearing bowties and suspenders, the visuals are now correct, the cage is comfortable and fitted to you individually now. They can trust what they see in the pictures. The inside of your head now rests on your skin.
I decided I was done bringing the inside out. I decided I owed the world not one clue about who I was. I decided the only people who deserved insight into the inside were the people who worked for it.
Then I made a video. And the object came roaring back. And the object spoke louder than I could. And now people want to talk about the object. And now my range of action, how I manifest my will in the world, is shrunk back down to how I look/ who I fuck.
What does a detransitioned woman look like? Many have beards. Many are balding. Many have had chest surgeries. Many have short hair. Some have long hair. Some have traded their money to shoot lasers at their facial hair, once so strongly desired. Some never had chest surgeries. Some use the women’s restroom. Some use the men’s.
We all started out little girls. We all started out little girls who were promised that they could be subjects not objects. And then we grew up and we learned what defined us was how we looked/ who we fucked. And we tried to get out. And we couldn’t. The body is a cage.
And yet I want to live in mine for a 100 years. The cage will change shape, and whether people care who I fuck will change, and popular opinion on the best way for me to look and the best people for me to fuck will change, and all the while I will be inside of myself, losing the argument that I was always the same force, striving towards the same vision, as time washed all around me.
When you see a women who has had a chest surgery, can you remember she came into this world a little girl promised subjectivity? Can you remember she wakes up in the same body every morning, that it is the only body she can move, the only body she can feed? Can you speak about that body with the reverence it deserves? Can you resist treating that body as exhibit A, a headless photograph, a symbol? Can you remember she’s in there?
When you see a woman with a beard can you remember the little girl? When you see me with mascara can you remember the little girl?
I want to gather with all the little girls who got lost. I want to gather to remember we aren’t how we look or who we fuck. I want to gather to hear about the inside of our heads. I want to sweep away the quiet desperation that stalks all our choices, that has settled over the best parts of our souls like lead dust. I want to find what rests under the tense shoulders, the legs spread wide on the train to pass, the body shrunk tight in on itself the next seat over. I want to find who we were supposed to be before the ideology of image corralled us down the chutes.
I fear my face has cast me out. You fear your face casts you out. How do I escape my fear? How do you escape yours? When we have sought each other for so long, and facing each other still feel so separate? Is this my sisterhood? Is this yours?
My real life sister and I don’t talk, and we don’t talk to other people about how we don’t talk. Our great secret is our separation. I want to seek her but she can hurt me too bad. It’s the same with detransitioned women. We all need safety so badly.
I want to be the saint who can create that safety. But the reality is I am a messed up woman who is so afraid of being whittled down to her appearance. I am a messed up woman was trained to whittle down others to their outsides. I am a messed up woman who is as scared of your power as I am sure it will be my salvation. I cannot help but to seek you. With all my sins and baggage I am seeking you. With all my fear and woundedness I am seeking you. With all my habits of hiding I am seeking you. Ragged and tired and stupid I am seeking you. Defensive and angry and bleeding I am seeking you. Aware that when you show your pain I will fail you I am seeking you. Aware that when you cry I will fall apart I am seeking you.
I’m not strong enough to be the sister you deserve. I never was. I was always too scared. I could only feel safe by being the good kid. You need a warrior sister. And instead here I am.