I saw a newsfeed come up on Jenny Boylan’s FB updates that seemed to cause a lot of hullabaloo. Rather than get lost among the many dozens of commenter’s, I thought the notion deserved a little more thought than a quick “yeah!” or “here are 17 points of disagreement that will never be read”. Imagine, me with opinions! I’ve become such a cheeky lass in my middle age.
The big issue was that Jenny congratulated a FB trans friend for having the courage to decide not to transition, or at the very least delay it until a later date. Yes, yes, I can hear you gasp from way over here, but stay with me a moment, because it’s the reason behind the gasping outrage I would like to discuss. It does hit a nerve though, doesn’t it?
We all know no one transitions on a whim, waking up one morning, stretching, and thinking, “yeah, I think today I’ll start living as the gender other than the one I had been.” I can only speak for myself, but until I was able to come to terms with my identity, make the leap forward to do something about it, I was seriously starting to lose it. If I could look into a parallel dimension and view the me who decided to tough it out as a male, I’m very sure I would be looking at a wretched wreck of a human being, probably jobless and single but due to a much less amiable path. Ugh. No way! If it looks like I’m going out either way, I’m at least doing it as me. Those of you on the path of transition know what I’m talking about.
Here is why it strikes a discord when we hear of those who decided not to transition, or worse yet, changed their mind mid transition. It can be frightfully invalidating. After all the endless explanation to everyone affected by our transition, defending the absolute necessity in the face of all catastrophe, anyone can point to this person and say, “well, she didn’t have to do it, are you sure you did?” It was a real piece of work convincing yourself to begin with, then everyone else, and right there is an example to the contrary. It’s hard not to get rankled by the concept. It falls in parallel with a gay man saying he acknowledges his homosexuality, but is sticking with women.
Where I understand naary feelings this idea engenders, and I do get them as well, I also have to acknowledge that we don’t really know what it’s like to be in those shoes. In mortal terror of both the devil and the deep blue sea, sometimes going with the known evil is all a person can muster. They certainly aren’t doing it to give you a harder time with it all, but making the best possible decision in alignment with their capabilities. We know what it’s like to be hanging on by a thread, and sometimes that thread is all we have until the right time comes.
Did this person have courage to make this decision? I think so. Think about it and take your own sensibilities out of the picture, because really, aside from a little kick in the cred, it doesn’t mean much to you. They got to the point where they were able to admit being trans. They probably already told a whole lot of people about it. They may have begun the process. Then to go back and decide not to continue. Ugh! No one who knows is going to look at them the same again. Everyone is going to wonder when the shoe is finally going to drop. The specter of transition out of necessity to survive always lingering, just waiting for the right moment of mental weakness. It takes courage and grit to know thyself and chose the other path. I’m reasonably certain it is not any less bloody than our own, but without the benefit of at least being you. I don’t understand it. I just don’t have that. I can admit it sounds much harder than anything I would like to do though.
At the end of the day, no matter what our feelings are about it, this person is going to do what is best for their situation. Whether we agree, disagree, hate them, applaud them, or ignore it completely, it doesn’t matter. On that point I think we can all agree from experience.