Dec. 31st, 2014

talkswithwind: Carol Danvers having a good hair moment (CarolGoodHair)
The suicide of Leelah Alcorn has reawoken discussion over the perils that transgender teens and early adults face. This sparked both the #LeelahAlcorn and the #RealLiveTransAdult hashtags on twitter. The former focused on tragedy, calls for support, and expressions of love. The latter talking about adults who are living or transitioning, doing well with it, and overall focusing on the positive.

I find my own trans-adult experience doesn't match either narrative very well. I wasn't a troubled teen; I didn't figure out my gender issues until really late, and it took years before I did anything about it. I'm not a successful trans-adult, in that I'm barely recognizable as trans and I most definitely have not faced down negative opinion to get where I am now. The 'transition' I'm doing is from unquestionably-binary to questionably-binary, which doesn't really have an established narrative to adopt or rebel against.

The reason it took me years before I did anything about my gender issues was in part due to the lack of pain I felt over the whole thing. I had some, yes, but it wasn't nearly intense enough to get into the clinical categories needed for medical intervention. I didn't even know if I wanted medical interventions. I was running up against the fact that medical transition would give me most of the body I wanted, not all of it, and was it really worth the trouble?

It was only after a lot of internal interrogation and extended exposure to the body-acceptance corner of feminism that I came to understand what body feature I wanted but couldn't get: bones. If a magic wand came into my hands but only had enough mojo for a part-way transmogrification, a female skeleton would be my first pick for changing. If I had the right bones, the rest would come a lot easier if I so chose. I came to my gender realization about five years too late for the medical interventions that would give me such a skeleton to work.

[Had I realized a lot earlier, I still wouldn't have gotten it. When I was 12, there was no protocol for hormone-therapy of pre-majority children with trans issues. I even had a pediatric endocrinologist. It just wasn't done that long ago. I do not expect my parents would have strenuously tried to buck expert medical advice to get it for me, nor do I expect the endocrinologist to risk his licensure by doing so. And I sure as hell wasn't conflicted enough to try and force both parties to see my way of thinking. Realizing it earlier would only have bought me a lot more pain]

The final thing to come across that gave me a name for my identity were stories of college kids going by the name of 'genderqueer' and 'non-binary'. These were kids who didn't always identify as transgender, had found something else, and didn't come with the narrative of pain that transitioning did. It was a narrative that matched mine, and there seemed to be a name for it forming. Awesome.

Not all trans narratives need suicide prevention hotlines.
Not all trans narratives need it gets better campaigns.

This is why I have trouble claiming a trans identity: I haven't paid my dues. I don't speak up unless the tone of the discussion is about lived experiences and doesn't have the subtext of 'triumph through adversity'. Some trans people have trouble including me in their space because of my non-binary nature, as their own internal experience is one of fighting to achieve a binary-like identity. There is an assumption that I'm going to line up into something recognizable binary after enough time, and will do so through medical interventions. A case of this happened this past weekend when I met some members of the trans support-group at my parent's church.

Don't hold me up as a paragon of success-while-trans, I got here by being recognizably my assigned-at-birth gender for most of my career.
Don't hold me up as a living example of surviving to adulthood in spite of constant messaging that I'm not worthy, I didn't get that.

So I remain in the panel audience and not on the panel.

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