We live in a balance between desire and perceived possibility, conventionality and authenticity, “consumed by either fire or fire”. Trans folk, further from “Normal” than most, live this most intensely: for “Normal” means death for everyone, but most quickly for us.
I have been reading A Very Short Introduction to Michel Foucault by Gary Gutting. Because the ideas in it intersect so closely with my own concerns, I bring my own understanding of issues to it. It talks of Samuel Tuke, Quaker founder of The Retreat in York and pioneer of the treatment of mental illness. Where before, the mad were consigned to Bedlam where gawkers paid to laugh at them, or allowed to exist in their home villages, objects of charity, Tuke (according to that book quoting Foucault) made the madman (sic) feel morally responsible for everything in him that may disturb morality and society, and must hold no-one but himself responsible. When the madman attends a tea-party and pretends to be normal, Tuke sees this as humanitarian, and Foucault (through the prisms of Gutting then of me) sees it as imprison[ment] in a moral world.
Being mad myself-
well of course! Wanting gonads, uteruses, breasts, facial hair, bits of the skull, etc removed is ridiculous! Seeing myself as female, while the only evidence that I am female is my own conviction makes no sense! It is clearly, objectively, damaging, and it is only because British society has collectively said “Oh, OK, then, if that’s what you want go ahead” that four thousand of us have been given Gender Recognition Certificates and more are living “in role”. Possibly, the Emperor has no clothes…
Being mad, myself, I could not bear imprisonment in a moral world which rejected my madness. I am Abigail. Having had those bits removed, I am freed to be my beautiful, wonderful self, loving, empathising, entertaining, living. It makes no sense. It is mad. But somehow it goes together. I cannot be this person, presenting male. Why Not? asks the sane, rational person, and I have no sane, rational answer.
Having no knowledge of it at all, obsessive-compulsive disorder seems to me to be a necessary escape from reality. I start counting the bricks in that wall with the need to make the total a multiple of six, or twelve, or twenty-four, and get absorbed, and forget all the shit. I get my pleasure- It Works!- or desired pain- no, that’s an odd number, a prime number, count again-
an assertion of my right to work no more than I can bear, in the only way I could (if I presented with OCD).
Hearing voices- well, what do they say? How do I respond? Possibly, the solution might not be only, take them away.
Because when it is obvious that the sun goes round the Earth, the assertion otherwise is mad. The new paradigm which will be obvious, tomorrow, today is mad.