twostatesystem ([personal profile] twostatesystem) wrote2010-05-17 09:16 am
Entry tags:

On acknowledging history

I'm going to stop apologizing for missing days. This is my project, and I'm learning what I am and am not capable of regarding writing, and that's more important than meeting an arbitrary (if self-imposed) goal.

I've been mulling over a post about the use of FTM (female-to-male) and MTF (male-to-female) to describe trans people. Essentially, the author's argument is that these terms emphasize a trans person's assigned gender to the detriment of their self-defined gender.

I see that. I do think that, as a whole, cis-dominated culture places a premium on always noting a trans person's so-called "original gender". Which, come on!. That's bullshit.

However, I cannot stop seeing this post as saying that trans people should not talk positively about or acknowledge our lives when we lived as our assigned gender. I know that reading is not actually textual for that post, and I don't think the author would agree with the previous sentence. But I can't stop seeing that.

I resisted transition for a long time (well, a long time in teenager-time, three years) because I was happy. I had a great life with great friends and a great school and a great job.* And trans people, pre-transition, cannot have those things or be happy. And that message wasn't just sold to me by cis people, but by trans people too, partially under the guise of "not trans enough" and partially under the guise of "well, you'll lose all of those wonderful things if you do transition".**

And you know what, some of those good experiences that I had before I transitioned came as a result of living as a girl/woman or are only explicable by acknowledging that I was living as a girl/woman. Or have pictures of me smiling happily on an Italian hillside, dressed in a tank top that makes it abundantly clear that I once had breasts.

And now with the exception of some of my awesome friends, I can't talk about that history. Not with cis people, because I fear them latching on to my assigned gender as more valid that the one I now present. Not with trans people, because I fear them saying that those experiences invalidate my trans experience or saying that my willingness to discuss my early life positively reinforces the idea that our assigned genders are "real"/that if we just tried harder we could be happy in our assigned gender.

* Yes, I realize that I was phenomenally lucky. Yes, I realize that many of those things came because of the large amount of privilege I carry.

** I've since met trans people who didn't do this. But damn if it didn't take me a long time to find them.