It may just be me, nutty old Michelle and her crazy ideas again, but being transgender seems to lend a certain plasticity to the whole notion of “reality”. I am actually kind of wondering if it really is just me, so please feel free to speak up on the subject, or alternatively, call the men in the white suits and big net to haul me away in a cartoon van. That’s OK by the way, so long as I get to run the asylum. My point, however, is that it occurs to me that a lack of clarity and strong sense of fluidity about something so basic as gender may make a person somewhat fluid about the nature of existence as well. Put your existential hats on girls and boys, time to take a ride.
I started thinking about this after someone at work campaigned, quite successfully, to be the go to person on an effort I was managing. I promised her that she would get right of first refusal on this, which wasn’t hard because in my experience someone begging for the opportunity to do work that others might find unreasonably difficult makes choosing them a no brainer. When I said yes, she asked, “Really for real?”. I must have given a look because she explained, “If you say really for real, I’ll know it’s true.” I complied without hesitation. It occurred to me after that simply by stating my intention, I codified a reality for her she could take to the bank where without there would have been a nagging sense of uncertainty. I liked that because it felt like I carved out a pocket of reality, gave it a rule unique to that environment only, and obeyed it as much as I do gravity. The whole thing was entirely a fabrication, made up, and even after I took shit for it later, refused to reconsider.
As a child all of reality seemed extremely malleable to me. Having moments of understanding that I was a girl will do this to a person, especially as the doom of puberty approaches. I devoured everything I could get on fantasy poking into the “real” world, attempted magic, levitation through yoga, and even to control the weather through extreme concentration on cloud banks. In spite of some minor successes easily attributable to random chance, I became reasonably certain I was barking up the wrong tree. It was fairly disheartening, even though I retained the ability to vector my mind off to an alternate reality at any given moment through complex dissociation. My dismay, coupled by the incontrovertible yet nonsensical understanding that I wasn’t the gender I was presenting, led me in another direction.
By midway through college I had abandoned religion all together, stopped reading comic books, and considered myself a burgeoning hardcore skeptic. If the world could be codified in hard, fast, and inflexible terms, “really for real”, there would be a sense or pattern I could always bank on. I could walk through the woods of the Pacific northwest with no fear of encountering bigfoot. I could swim the Loch Ness without a single concern about Nessie biting my feet off. God, fairies, ghosts, and devils were all figments of the imagination; the stuff of children and adults who insisted on living in Neverland. I could also not, in any logical sense, be a girl. I buried it all in the same landfill along with psychics, UFOs, and anything unexplained.
The real piss of this was that the whole girl thing kept digging its way out and started walking around, proud as punch, on the surface. Heavy machinery and miles thick capstones of lead and concrete worked for a bit, but only that. The other stuff stayed buried where it was, but I was forced to rethink reality once again, and concluded that there was a certain liquidity to my gender. I was clearly both at once, sometimes the pool tilting and the contents gathering to one end or another. I thought this made me more of a complete person and went with it for as long as I could. Of course this was doomed as well.
Flashing forward to nearly the present, as this story is waxing kind of long, I came to find that the pool really only had that one end, and a funhouse mirror that made things seem otherwise. Appearances aside, the male side was the fabrication all along, like a mall Easter Bunny on the job too long and forgetting that it was just a suit. Early on in the old ‘gender assessment’ process, I told Dr. M that the whole thing was really a pretty big mindfuck. He liked that enough to write it down, even though I didn’t think it was really all that clever. It came as no big surprise when one of the creators of “The Matrix” came out as transgender.
Going through transition, reality once again has taken on the elasticity and malleable qualities it had when I was a child. The existence of a higher power and afterlife are back to unknowns instead of a hard no. Maybe some people did have a tenuous mental connection to things unknown and not all were malicious hucksters attempting to bilk the credulous by providing false hope. Perhaps the qualitative evidence of transexualism is more than sufficient to declare it a firm part of objective reality while the quantitative evidence slowly trickled in.
Just as the actions I took after accepting “really for real” as a truism validated it, so do my actions and those of people like me validate the reality of transexualism. Declarations of falsehood on either count change nothing whatsoever. Honestly, it’s nice to have this back.
As a final note of clarity, so none of this is misconstrued, I am in no way making the case that being transgender is a contrived condition, or exists only in the subjective minds of certain people. The intent was to explore the effect that being transgender has on their perception of the world all together; if it sways anyone other than myself to or from a ‘2+2=4’ outlook to a more flexible “sometimes ‘Y’ is a vowel, sometimes not” one. Questioning your sense of what is remains highly recommended.