I’m not sure whether cis folks can understand how empowering it is to finally have a name you can relate to, and how disturbing it is to have your previous one disinterred. I didn’t hate my previous name when I was living with it. It was a fine name, and my reality at the time, but the speed with which I dissociated myself from it astonished even me.
From Dedicated Follower of Fashion to Lola to Out of the Wardrobe, the English band the Kinks were well ahead of the rest of the world when it came to trans folks, and their understanding of alienation had something to say to us too.
Perhaps the true measure of how well trans people are accepted in society is, paradoxically, how readily we are accepted in our intimate relationships.
Trans women’s lives, like those of cisgender women, are still regulated. I was reminded of this while reading Vivek Shraya’s I’m Afraid of Men. At one point she writes, “In the morning, as I get ready for work, I avoid choosing clothes or accessories that will highlight my femininity and draw unwanted attention.” Ah, women’s eternal dilemma. But was this me too? Was this why I had returned the hat back to its shelf?
This past year I have spent a surprising amount of time conversing with my 22 year old self.
I was 22 in 1977. It was a bad time to be trans and a bad time to be me. I was out of university and I knew what was supposed to happen next: a career and a wife. But that idyll seemed very unlikely for me. I was a closeted 6’3″ trans woman who saw no future for herself. In between bouts of excessive drinking, I thought my best chance at life was self employment. Perhaps there I might carve out an independent space so I could breathe a little. It wasn’t a bad idea, but my hopelessness stifled my motivation and I could never turn it into a credible plan. What I did instead was barely survive on a succession of suffocating government jobs.
I’m probably not the best person to be hosting a trans web site. I’m one of those people who from time to time gets sick of being trans. I don’t mean sick of being myself. I mean tired of having my life consumed by this issue that has dogged me despite my best efforts to have it go away. More