A Place to Stand?28 March, 2013
This is difficult to say, i really don’t think there are words that accurately reflect the depth of my emotions on the subject or the pain i feel when acknowledging the issues involved. After a lot of time and consideration i have come the conclusion that i cannot participate in the trans* communities and support groups in my area because there is not a space for me. When i go, i feel i don’t really fit in or belong with members of the groups. It is not an issue of “being trans enough” (though that is a very real discrimination some trans* identified individuals face). Instead, it is an issue of whether i belong in attendance.
i had a group i attended regularly for a year and a half. There are good people in that group, but i don’t belong in their space. They are college-aged kids that are radical and experimenting and that’s not me. i felt increasing outside the acceptable attitudes of the group because i am not subversive enough. These young trans* and gender queer people call into question the ideas of a binary, cis-normative, non-kink culture through their actions, dress, and public discussion/displays of kink/sex. They are young radicals who stand against the myopic perceptions of society in a vocal, visible manner. This is good. We need groups like that. my presence in such a group, however, is inappropriate. As a woman fifteen years older than the members of the group, i am not subversive enough to be part of their community. i want to blend in, i want to go unnoticed, i want people to not question me and to not harass me. i fall into a pretty standard female role and i am okay with that; it’s who i am, but it means i don’t fit.
i attended another group on occasion. This group was the opposite of the first in both age and attitudes. It is a group of trans women in the metro area that are just trying to be themselves. i was one of the youngest members of the group, with the majority of the women being in their fifties (an age difference as great as the first group, only reversed). Most of the women in this group tend to be either post-op and stealth or pre-op and part-time. The path they walk is one of hiding and making sure that people do not under any circumstances learn who they are, ever. It is a hard road to walk, living dual lives, and keeping secrets. Ultimately, the women in this group believe every trans woman must receive surgery (not only sex affirmation surgery but also facial feminization, trachea shaves, and other “enhancements”) or she will never truly be female. i don’t fit in with these women. i do not believe every trans woman must receive surgery or she is not a woman and there were women in the group who were offended that i would not reveal if i had undergone affirmation surgery or (if i had not) if i planned on having it or any other “corrective” procedures. Though i live most of my life stealth, i reveal my history to intimate acquaintances who either should be given or would benefit from this knowledge. i walk an unusual middle ground that the others were not comfortable with; i am, ironically, too subversive for this group.
There does not seem to be a space for people like me in the community. i have not meet others who are like me and, in the end, who i am leads others to feel disappointment, discomfort, or disgust. For a community that stands outside the definitions of society, we create some very narrow definitions for our members to conform to. Not all of us can do that. Where does that leave us?