Variation

Much trans discourse arises from oppression. When I first came across other trans women in the 1990s, all pre-transition, I heard of The Script, what we had to tell the psychiatrists. “I knew there was a problem when I was three, and I knew what it was when I was five. Puberty was disorientating and distressing for me. At school, I could not understand why the girls were affirmed for certain behaviours, but I was condemned.” Actually that last bit is a quote from someone who, I think, meant it in all simplicity, but it would have been a fib for me. We told them that so we would get what we wanted.

Finding it unbearable to present male, even in a bigoted environment where I had to move house because local kids scratched and dented my car and abused me in the street, I retreated to the box marked “transsexual” and the understanding my culture has of it. I sought more to convince myself than others that I was not mad to do this, that it was not a perverted fantasy, that I could really do what I Wanted, just because I Wanted it. I did this in part with arguments about the BSTc which may not even apply to me. When I realised I did not really fit that box marked “transsexual”, that was a reason for me not doing what I wanted- I must be deluded.

The Gender Recognition Act, under which I have an extract birth certificate giving my sex as female, was a wonderful liberation for me. I felt accepted and supported by the law of my country in doing what I had done. Accepting my own transition, presenting female, liberated me to go further. The first symptom of this was resenting the classification. Under the previous law, I was called a “man” (Corbett v Corbett, orse. Ashley) and now I was labelled “woman”. Those were the choices. I am really something in between. Given what I had wanted, I could now rebel against that too.

A further liberation comes from the concept of “Variation”, for which I am endebted to L’Organisation Internationale des Intersexué-e-s in Australia via Angela Erde’s comment. It liberates me from the need to justify to my inner policeman how I behave. An Episcopalian priest discerned in me the desire to “shock”, but really I wanted to shock myself- the Variant part of me wanted to shock the timid, conventional part of me.

I care about how others react to me. There are some who are simply hostile, because of their own hang-ups, to anyone who is not “normal”. Others, though, may take their lead from me- if I can gentle away my own fears, and accept my variation and my spontaneity, they will too. They will be as comfortable with me as I am. This is the working theory, anyway. Alternatively, they are always comfortable with me, and it is only my projection of my own discomfort. Right now I do not know which.

The word “Variation” also helps to free me from being hurt by hate-filled Radfem nonsense about how trans women oppress real women, etc. They may express opinions about what I do, but they have no right to judge who I am.

There are still boxes and classifications which I might find useful: neutrois, for example, or trans*. However, these are now opportunities rather than traps: I see what is possible, and expand my awareness of the range of choices, rather than beat myself up because I do not fit. I have done enough of that. After struggling for so long to be something else, I now struggle to release my bonds of fear, so that I may be only me.

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