Yesterday, I had a pretty interesting talk with a friend of me. He is transitioning as well and we were talking about how people “see” us after finding out we are transitioning. Its always interesting to watch how others respond to and treat us once they find out “that” part about us.
Some people have a very difficult time viewing us beyond the physical aspects of how we were born. Using an extreme example, lets look at how people who flirt with me often respond once they find out I am transitioning. The majority of the time, once they discover I am transitioning, whether it is because I tell them or because they read my profile or blog, there is this dramatic shift in how they act towards me. Suddenly, instead of being all flirtatious and funny, they either become eerily silent or the conversation takes on this extreme air of formality. In some cases, they suddenly TP away or, and this one is always fun, they suddenly fetishize me and everything becomes more about certain parts of my body and less about the person I am. As I said, I am using an extreme example here to make a point. That point is they are laughing, smiling and flirting with me until they discover this one aspect of my life. Suddenly, they can’t see beyond that one part of me to take note of who I, or anyone transitioning, truly is inside.
Thinking of more a day to day example of this would be those family and friends who have rejected me or anyone else transitioning. They become so stuck on certain physical aspects of us that they fail to see who we really are. And sometimes, on a more subtle level, people still get so incredibly caught up on that “trans” label that sure, they accept us and support us in our transition, but they seem unable to truly see beyond the fact we are or have transitioned.
This is one of the reasons I am so hesitant to voice with people I don’t know well. I have done a lot of work with my voice and considering the biology I have been fighting against, I am extremely proud of what I have achieved. Yet, its this fear that they see my avatar and view me as this funny, charming, intelligent woman at the start and then, once they hear my voice, everything is suddenly going to shift and all they will be able to see is the “trans” label. While some may think its a bit of an irrational fear, when you encounter people shifting in their interactions with you because they discover you are transitioning, it just serves to reinforce that fear.
Thankfully, there are so many of you who have become dear friends to me who have never changed how you have treated me. You still view me as the woman I am regardless of the voice you hear or the body you see in a picture. All of you who do that help make this journey so much easier.
I will say though, the reaction of those who can’t see beyond that in conjunction with the fear of being seen differently does, at times, impact what I write here.
I shared with my friend, as we were talking about this, that I find myself sometimes shifting what I write about here in my blog. I know I go through these spells where I share a great deal about what it is like on this journey called transition. Then, there are times I back away from it and write more about just routine daily life than the troubles, fears and joys of being on this journey. Sure, part of it is deliberate and a means of trying to say, “Hey! See! I’m not that different than the other girls you see walking down the street.” The other part of it, and this is more subconscious I think, is because I don’t want the “trans” label (and we know how much I hate labels) tied to me all the time, resulting in that being all other people see.
Its a bit of balancing act to be honest…what, when and how much to share. Sometimes the shifts are intentional. Sometimes they are completely unintentional. In the end, all myself and anyone else transitioning wants to be seen as is the person we are and as the gender we identify as. Along with all the fears I have shared about with disclosing to begin with, that was one of the other great fears I had with disclosing publicly and not remaining more stealth…would most people be able to see beyond that label to just see me?
I know…my thoughts are a bit of a mess today. That conversation spurred a lot of internal dialogue and the conversations have been going on in my head like an unruly town hall meeting since yesterday. I do think, however, that question will always be somewhere in my mind when someone discovers I am transgender…
Do you see the real me or do you just see the label?
See it on Flickr.
Foxcity – City Life 4 & Cigarette Prop
Foxcity – City Life Photobooth