A beautifully written post over at Being T got me thinking about how my identities before/during/after transitioning all interact. The post, titled Picture Perfect Past, talks in part about how pre-transition pictures affect the author, and seems to be something of a followup to The Secret Origin of Riftgirl, a video piece which uses a lot of pre-, mid-, and post-transition photography. From Picture Perfect Past:
Being trans isn’t what I am. But it is a part of me. Just as being a writer, a candy addict, and, yes, even a woman. And a woman who happens to have a pretty unique – and fabulous – past. And I’m through selling myself short.
Since reading the post I’ve been thinking about my own life, and how transitioning around people who knew me pre-transition affects how I see myself.
On the one hand, I can sympathize with trans people, like the one mentioned in Picture Perfect Past, who diesre to live ‘stealth’ (meaning not out as trans). I’ve become increasingly concious of how ‘trans’ may be the key identifier people acknowledge about me, above ‘artist,’ ‘geek,’ ‘liberal,’ and certainly above ‘woman.’ I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought out carefully phrased genie-wishes: “I wish my life were the same, but I had been born female. Same friends, same relationship, same job, but without all the trans-ness. And only I could remember that things had been different.”
(As a side note, I’ve never fantasized about wishing to not be trans, because I do believe that it’s my body that’s ‘wrong,’ not my mind. But I’ve certainly fantasized about not having to transition.)
So yes, I’m a definitely seduced by the possibility of living ‘stealth’ post-transition, of not having to explain or justify the transition to friends, co-workers, total strangers…of fearing that I’ll forever be “the trans one” before I’m “the artist” or “the geek” or “the liberal” or any of the other identifiers I could claim. And of fearing that such identification by others will sink into my brain and cause me to never get over my own fears of transitioning and being out as trans.
But, on the other (much larger) hand, I love the people around me too much to consider that. I love my parents (yes, even when our relationships are strained), I love my roommates and the other friends I have dating back to high school, I love the theatres I work with – some of which I’ve worked with even further back than high school, I love the city I’m in and the community I inhabit. And I love the beautiful, amazing, strong woman I’m in a relationship with, who has supported me in transitioning even when it’s been hard for her (and played no small part in nudging me back into therapy to begin with).
I feel right now, mid transition, that I’ve been working too damn hard to pretend (explicitly or via omission) that I’m not trans. That doesn’t mean there are appropriate moments to be out and inappropriate moments, or that every second of my gendered life needs to be a political statement, or even that I’ll always feel this way.
But I can only echo Leith in saying that while being trans isn’t all of my identity (though it sure sometimes feels that way) it is a part of who I am.