The WeaveMothers were one and several. The collective imagined a HereNow. But the autonomous units were going to do what autonomous units do. The distance between imagination and image on the one hand and reality on the other was immense through the eye of any disinterested observer.
As if there existed such a concept as disinterested observer...
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It started out in the comments to one of my essays. I have rewritten the comments just a bit for the purposes of readability.
1. is there abandonment of the gender identity you, Robyn, had before your surgery?
2. and a full embrace of the gender you had surgery to become?
3. or is there a sense of identity with both genders,
4. or this there an identity awareness of a new, blended gender?
and the reason i mentioned this belonging in your Friday essay was due to the quote pulled from Friday's essay that prompted these questions. you notice, i hope, that i'm finally taking you up on your offer to answer questions, Teach!
So I responded, with full knowledge that sharing even this much diminished the probability that venturing inside will happen...
My initial response, which was totally inadequate:
3. Maybe, but that probably depends on perspective.
4. Politically, yes...socially, it probably depends on time and place. But since so much of my daily existence is often a political act, I'm not always so sure about the SpaceTime dependence.
Each of those answers is highly qualified...dependent upon a lot of definitions having common connotations between us. :-)
Eg. I abandoned the identity I had before the transitioning (a better marker than the surgery). But on the other hand, I am still me. Parts were shed. Parts were added.
I am reminded of a story about a guy who had a hammer. The head had to be replaced twice and the shaft three times, but it's still the same hammer.
I gave kj some short answers. Too short. As I had already said to kj in a previous comment,
There is no short answer.
Isolation can happen in an instant. A slip of the tongue...or the mind...and everyone sits there with me being the one who is different...having to find a way to politely make someone aware of a mistaken word choice. Instantly I become aware that it is in truth impossible to explain something in any way close to how I feel in less than several dozen chapters and that still people who are not gender-variant will not be able to understand what it all means because it is nearly impossible to describe non-feelings. Explain sound to someone born deaf or sight to someone born blind.
How do people change who they are? How do people discover who they really are? How do people pursue their true identity? Is there such a thing as "true identity?"
All very good questions. One arrives at those questions when one starts searching for answers.
I came to a time and a place. The world in which I felt the True I was existing was shrinking. That fact that I could discern a difference between the True I and the External I was disconcerting, to say the least. The fact that I was forced to enter the world of pornography in order to learn about myself was extremely disturbing, not to mention being a real blow to my self-esteem.
I abandoned the identity I had before the transitioning (a better marker than the surgery). But on the other hand, I am still me. Parts were shed. Parts were added.
A comment about a comment: If transition is done well, in my opinion, the surgery itself is just a natural step in the process...for whatever values of "natural" one might wish to apply. The real work of change is mostly done before surgery. And it continues for the rest of one's life. It's called growing.
Transition required letting go of past entanglements in order to escape the maze I had been stuck in for so long. All aspects of my past personality were available to be jetisoned.
As one might imagine, this brings up a huge number of questions about who one has been...and who one desires to be. That's why we have therapists to help guide us in learning about ourselves.
Our (officially, at least one year, but more likely two or more) mission is plainly stated. We must live 24/7 as the target gender during transition. There are, of course, no guides as to what it means to "live as a woman" or "live as a man." So we have to figure that out for ourselves. I figure I spent over half a year being stupid enough to try.
Then I figured it out: I am a woman. If I live as myself, then I am living my life as a woman.
So I needed to pursue my own identity. I still do.
Life does not happen in a vacuum however. All this was happening against a backdrop of considerable resistance and not a little hatred. I was, after all, living in Conway, AR at the time. Now it was my choice not to run away to someplace where I was unknown and attempt what might have been a smoother transition (like such a thing truly existed) because there wouldn't have been people who knew me from before. The alternative, in my case, turned out to be that everyone knew enough details about my life and had so many misconceptions about what it means to be a transperson that living as an uncompounded woman was impossible for me. Months were spent defending my right to be who I am. That stretched to years. From time to time, it is still necessary.
Along the way I picked up a mission in life: to improve the lives of people like me, in whatever way "like me" is interpreted.
Unfortunately that mission has been marinated in frustration. I spent several years studying, discussing, deconstructing and reassembling gender with my friends and some of the people who hate us on general principles. I could still be doing that if I chose. But is a neverending process and requires new blood as time passes. And in the end, the problem will still be how one transmits those conclusions to a public who doesn't have that time to spend...or the inclination to do so.
At least not in the last millennium,...and perhaps not in this one.
And we are left with the sound byte story of our lives. I was born in the wrong body? Really? Can someone tell me what that really means and end up with something constructive, something that is not dismissive of my existence and the process I have gone through?
But it is what people expect to hear, whether or not it is meaningless drivel.
The truth is that some of us spend years analyzing gender in order to discover just who we are, while most people are such experts on the subject that they don't even give it a second thought...let alone give us a second chance at life.
I do not embrace "both genders," from my perspective, because the concept of "both genders" is too limiting, too reductionist, in my opinion too damaging to our society. I have my own personal gender, just like everyone else.
And I am too cognitively complex for a sound byte.
From at least one point of view, no discussion of my gender can ultimately prove fruitful until the people participating in that discussion have examined their own conceptualization of the subject. But that requires people who are willing to do that examination. Perhaps even before that, it requires people wanting to participate in the discussion.
It requires people of all genders.
So I keep plucking that thread, hoping the vibration caused will become a standing wave and some year begin such an open dialog.
The WeaveMother might be pleased. On some happentrack this might provoke progress.
More likely is it the case that I will once again prove inadequate to the task I attempt. There are so many concerns which are ever so much more vital. Who cares about this?
Perhaps in some WhereWhen it could instigate change...but the likelihood is small that it will be this one
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about what it means
for me to be
must clearly begin
why you are not
I shall wait
--Robyn Elaine Serven
--May 30, 2008
The WeaveMother sensed the twang and measured the message. And exuded a fluid from its visual sensory organ.
Communication with any WhereWhen could be so difficult. Trying to communicate with one of the units was unheard of.