One of the cute little names the bible comes up with for Satan is the ‘The Great Deceiver’. Not surprising as one of his big things is to spend a lot of time maliciously tricking people in ways most foul for the sole purpose of misleading them to grievous harm. Apparently this is all cool under the rules for reasons I was never really clear. Sometimes he seems to be trapped in a lake of fire, and in others destined for it but wants to get his licks in first. Anyway, no one is arguing that ‘Deceiver’ is appropriate for the worst guy ever. Transgender people have a good idea how he might feel about it.
It shouldn’t be surprising that trans folks are often called deceptive. Here we were, one day vetted members of our highly exclusive and secretive gender only clubs, and the next day peeling off rubber masks and yelling “gotcha!” at our stunned friends, family, and loosely affiliated peripheral folks. Well, so it seems to them. Some of them, particularly spouses, children, and sometimes parents, had huge vested interests staked on the reasonable presumption that we would in fact remain the same gender for the duration of the relationship, which is often life. This kind of assumption seems like a super low risk given as the alternative only ever happens in the movies, where it is more expected they would be an alien or some kind of unusually agile secret agent. I’m pretty sure ‘Honey, I Gots Me Some Boobs’ is lagging in production behind ‘Mr and Mrs Smith III: Try Not To Shoot Me In the Ass This Time’.
It’s hard to argue the label with loved ones. It’s true, I did paint myself as a man, and a masculine one at that, and all my words and actions were in appearance as such that no one would have any reason to suspect I was otherwise. When critical life altering decisions are based on this knowledge being accurate, it’s not hard to understand that less than joyous feeling might arise when a huge component of my identity turned out to be sham, an illusion, a deception. Of course that is only a little bit true. Let’s get back to that in a bit.
To add to our woes, we are often depicted as deceptive by members of society. These are people with no real stake in our existence, but somehow take it personally that we are attempting to “fool” them. I don’t understand this mentality at all. All I can imagine is that these are highly ego-centric personalities who can’t comprehend that something isn’t at all about them, somewhat like my 5 year old who is rapidly growing out of it. I think they are probably equally offended by the iconic ‘crying Indian’ who I’m sure they feel is personally accusing them of littering and yell at the TV screen in enraged indignation.
Finally there is the misimpression that we are out there attempting to trick men into sleeping with us. This one is a little trickier to address for two reasons. The first is that there is a great debate in the trans community regarding whether or not disclosure of our past is ‘need to know’ information for sexual partners. I’m going to write about this another time because it’s complicated. My personal opinion is that disclosure is the better part of valor, but then again, if I were ever to become intimate with anyone again, I can’t foresee getting to this point without that person having a clue as to my first 40 years. It’s also tricky because I can’t speak to the cross-dressing community who may actually have individuals who engage in this sort of behavior and make the rest of us look bad. Again though, I don’t appreciate the ‘deceptive’ label out of some cosmetic similarity being drawn.
I think for the moment, we are just going to worry about the first one. After all, it’s the one that hits the hardest, makes us feel terrible, guilty, like really bad people, and causes the most harm overall. In most cases, we can’t argue that there was no deception. Sure, there are some in the trans community who had absolutely no idea up until the moment of epiphany. No cross-dressing, no mental anguish, no body dysmorphia. I think this is relatively rare. Most of us had some clue that we didn’t fit the old ‘Average Joe’ mold or at least suspected it. From the nosebleed section, it looks pretty cut and dry that we knew something critical, but neglected to disclose. Maybe it was dark and malicious, and maybe it was a lie of omission. Looks like case closed, we are deceptive and therefore directly comparable to Satan himself.
On a closer look though, there is much more to the story. For the lifetime leading up to the final self-admission, after which we generally go about telling absolutely everyone, we live in a miasma of paradox. I am male. I am female. The following statement is true. The preceding statement is false. For so much of that time we are missing the critical link that makes it all make sense, and even when we do come across it, it proves far too slippery to comprehend. Our minds scatter the evidence into self-contained, unlinked pockets of unfavorable information. Sequestered tightly with bright red warning tape and shrieking sirens that go off at the slighted approach. The concept of speaking of them is equal to someone with a crippling fear of heights egging themselves into a bungee jump. Another step and it’s all over, in the worst way imaginable. Confession isn’t so much as a considerate disclosure but a court admission of murder in the first of a white good ol’ boy in Texas where we are sure to be strapped into Ol’ Sparky for it. How can we plea to this terrible thing that after some highly selective rationalization doesn’t really apply to us anyway?
It’s not so easy though to communicate what it felt like to live in that mental prison. When we spring free, it’s with exuberance and unabashed honesty most have never seen in us before. All the dots connected, we paint a clear and compelling picture demonstrating without reservation that we are what we are and always were. After years and decades of denial, it becomes a mandate in our minds that the truth of our reality is validated not only by ourselves, but everyone around us. For anyone not living in our heads, this really, really looks like we pulled a fast one. “Ah ha! I got you, you silly gullible thing!” It’s easy to see how there might be hard feelings about this.
There was information that wasn’t shared and people got hurt as a result. It feels terrible and it can’t be undone, no matter what we might wish otherwise. ‘Deception’ though reeks of malevolent intent, and in most of our cases, that doesn’t really apply either. Much about us was far too incomprehensible to communicate. That which we did know was both too fearsome to speak and clothed in a disguise of meaningless trivial nonsense to contemplate bothering anyone with. In the end though, whether the fire was arson, or caused by simply being unable to admit that smoking in bed is dangerous, the result is the same. Destruction is destruction, and when it starts with you, you will always bear it, and it hurts the same each time you are reminded.