I meet people, and a few I feel privileged to get to know. I see first a mask for a new acquaintance, a cocktail-party or professional persona, pleasant enough, then perhaps strength of will and a fierce questing intelligence. (Some say I am intelligent, though not intelligent enough for my liking- too often my “Oh, Right” moment is also, Oh, bugger.)
And then, as I see more, I hope to see playfulness. I find it hard to like someone in whom I see no sign of playfulness- it is a core characteristic in me as deep as seeking out community and connection, which I understand is a species characteristic- I was going to say characteristic of the Order, but I understand there are some solitary primate species.
And, sometimes, I see vulnerabilities, and this feels like a great privilege to me, a sign of trust. They are real even if about nothing: “No, it is beautiful, genuinely. I see nothing wrong there.” In other groups, swapping vulnerabilities is a good way of bonding. A common one is Does my bum look big in this? If you tell me yes, you will make me very happy.
All this is very different from the benefits tribunal, where people say what they cannot do, and are judged, and may be found more capable- how horrible, to reveal your difficulties and be disbelieved! In my interviewing, I am careful to show respect to people so that they will open up and tell me their difficulties. Sarah Breach, horrid chairman in Manchester, leans forward with an expression on her face like a visitor to the zoo who hates animals, and says, “Do you wet yourself?” The mental health ones, with the poor cripple surrounded by articulate middle-class people and with no paid representation, are nastier.
This is the same subject as last week’s Masks, though addressed from the opposite side. We soldier on, hiding our vulnerabilities, until in my case I could no longer, and I stopped, and have to find some other way of dealing with them. What I am trying is to realise that those things I am shy about are nothing to fear.
Lovely comment- “your identity honours us all as women. xx”. Thank you. I am tempted in my old pattern of discounting such a compliment, and I will not. But my existence does raise stuff for people. That woman the other day really needed to assert that I was a man, did not like admitting that I am a woman, and apologised as ungraciously as possible. This brings forth dark echoes in me, of my own shame, which I work to reduce. But unless the bigot physically attacks me, his strongly or subtly expressed contempt or derision can only hurt me insofar as it is echoed within me. If I accept myself then it is actually true that “names will never hurt me”.
And my vulnerability is my shame projected onto other people. If I am ashamed of an aspect of myself I imagine that others will judge me for it. Very often they will not. Understanding that takes away that vulnerability.
My facebook friend unfriended me, because she said there was too much tranny stuff on my news feed. She does not wish to be associated with it. She does not object if the subject comes up, but she wants no cause for it to come up. She has left all that behind. She calls it a “birth defect”, I call it “natural human diversity”. I think this is sad: such thoughts stop us from associating with each other, isolate TS folk, and deprive us of the support our kind can give. A lot of us say, “I am a woman, I am not transsexual because I am not crossing anything, I have done that”. I still hang between.