Sharing experience

Should I give a talk on my personal experiences of being trans?

There are reasons not to. Trans women are women. The law is clear. For single sex spaces, treat someone according to the gender they present. Only in exceptional circumstances can a trans woman be excluded. Trans children’s mental health improves when they transition. Let doctors decide what treatment they need.

So people asking to hear my experience want to sit in judgment on me. If the current position is acceptance, the point of “hearing experience” is to decide what less can be given. If the current position is less than acceptance, should I speak to them at all?

If they want to convince doubters, why can’t allies do the work? Having a specific meeting might make the doubters think they had a point. Should I have to do my little dance for the normal people, for their entertainment? Should I face their judgment- what level of pain or authenticity will convince them to accept me? Must I prove I was “born that way”?

My friend who performs has to process an issue before doing a show about it. Then they can act, use past feeling to create a dramatic experience for an audience, communicating what it is like.

Am I communicating information, or feeling? Feeling, I think. What is it like? I share personal experience so others can empathise. And I have powerful feelings, not all processed. If I talk about personal experience they could come out. All I ever wanted was to be normal.

Why should I make myself vulnerable, exhibit my scars and my wounds? People like stories of things going right- the cops catch the criminals, the boy gets the girl, the trans person transitions into life and freedom. It’s not that simple for me. When I presented male, one evening a man decided to check whether I was wearing anything under my kilt. He was bigger than me, and he- overwhelmed me, speaking almost gently. I froze. He confirmed the answer to his friends- I can’t remember if I was or wasn’t, now- and I went on to my black tie dinner. Since then I hate references to the “fight or flight response”, as I don’t do either. This is not the most uplifting of tales. I tell it to note that sexual assault is ubiquitous in our society. I could tell of others.

Should I tell of lying on the floor, curled in a foetal position, weeping “I am not a man”? Or of regretting the operation? They might get someone who finds transition an answer to her problems, who is well-adjusted and contributing to society. But that prejudice and hate stresses me, that transition has not been the complete solution to my problems (yet), does not mean it was wrong- it was the best option available. That’s a difficult truth to process: we can still be deeply hurt, and damaged, even after transition.

How does it affect things that I like showing off, I like an audience? Well, I am good at speaking and it is fulfilling to do- what I feel created to do.

If I speak of the experiences with the powerful, unprocessed emotion, this may create drama for audiences and pain for me. Perhaps I should just not speak. And yet, I want to be understood. I want my kind to be accepted. I want to do something to advance that goal- to be active, rather than waiting on the sidelines. I can’t quite believe anyone else is better qualified. Speaking from hurt or perplexity may make the experience more immediate. If I trust to speak from inspiration, heart to heart, I may say something I had not consciously known. After all the pain, I remain alive. And, I have experience of gender and sexuality which might increase understanding, is unique, and is worth hearing.

All comments welcome.

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