A vacation from being trans
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.
I know this is not original. Recently I’ve come across many stories of trans people who, having transitioned and finally finding themselves in a self they can live with, paradoxically fall into depression. The typical narrative is that they feel they’ve spent their entire lives addressing the challenges of being trans and then just when they should be celebrating they find themselves asking instead if being trans was all there was to them. In the book To My Trans Sisters, the most common advice is to nurture your interests before you transition to avoid this scenario, but while I think that’s certainly worthwhile, I don’t think it solves the problem.
I experienced a mild low after transitioning also. I didn’t think it was because I had no other interests. I have many. It seemed instead like I was regretting having spent so much of my life reading about being trans, thinking about it, coping with it, and pondering how best to live my life with it. I wondered whether there was a day in my life when I didn’t think about it and decided I may have taken a day off sometime when I was around 8 years old. That’s a consuming subject by any measure. I felt somehow like I could have spent my time more productively. Even as I was thinking this, I recognized how pointless it was. Plenty of us get assigned a lot in life we would rather not have had. You just do your best and keep going.
Nonetheless, being trans is exhausting business and it’s good to take a holiday from it if you can.
After I finished publishing the print edition of Triple Echo in 2004, I largely dropped out of the trans community. I told myself that I was tired of the bickering and that I had done as much as I could living the way I was, but I realize now there may have been more to it than that. I was suffering my own little version of a burn out, and I think I wanted to live a more “normal” life for a while, even as I knew a “normal” life wouldn’t solve my problems. I still had no clear path on how I was going to live, but I just didn’t want to think about it anymore. You can only go around and around so many times before you get dizzy.
My respite from the trans life ended when I went forward with my transition. I’m generally happy to be back. I certainly missed the many good trans friends I abandoned for no reason. It’s ironic that having trans friends can be the best break you can have from being trans. If you agree not to talk about trans issues you can have free ranging conversations with people you never have to explain yourself to and who always get the pronouns right. The feeling of being different vanishes before your very eyes.
Nonetheless, after compiling Ottawa’s trans history and writing the article for the Ottawa Citizen, I suddenly felt like I needed to take another holiday from both this web site and, as much as a 6’3″ trans woman can do, from being trans. I went to Montreal to see the Leonard Cohen exhibit at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, read a few books, watched the first season of Orange is the New Black (forgetting entirely there was a trans character in it!) and spent time with colleaagues who share my other interests.
All holidays end, however, and I’m back writing about the subject that has consumed so much of my time already. You can’t run away from your life. Over the years I have acquired this body of knowledge on trans culture that I now feel an obligation to share whenever I’m confronted with ignorance. I’ve made my own bed and I intend to lie in it. I’m relieved, however, to be in a space where I’m no longer obsessed about it and can maintain a better balance to my life than I’ve managed heretofore.
So the next time this web site goes silent for a few weeks, it most likely means that Tara is just taking another vacation from being trans.