July 14, 2013

The Transmigration of Alison Edwards

transmig72_6.5 Kira Moore of Kira Moore’s Closet posted a very thoughtful response to my last post. You should all go and read it before reading any further.

The truth is that as a blogger I’m a bit of a sycophant. I need readers in order to be motivated to write and I thrive when I know they’re out there. So I’m just happy she found it worth responding to!

But in reading it, I realized that Kira viewed the question in a very different way than I did. As such, I agree with much of what she says. Part of the problem may have been a failing on my part to provide the context in which the question was asked.

The conversation that prompted it  was in part focused on some of my own frustrations about the pace and quality of my transition, and whether or not I’d ever be able to extricate myself from my life to a degree that transitioning would not shatter everything I’ve gained in my adult life (that’s not shattered already — see my marriage, for example). In other words, the question was asked not in the context of “maybe you’re not really trans, maybe you’re a crossdresser,” but more in the context of “Do you think that you could live your life the way a crossdresser does — moving back and forth between Him and Her — than transitioning all the way?”

“No single thing abides, and all things are fucked up.” 

I’ll quote the concluding point of Kira’s post, as it’s where she directly addressed the question my therapist had asked. Kira writes:

To me, this is what separates me from Crossdressers, they put on a persona. An almost separate identity from themselves, becoming something else while presenting as the opposite gender, yet inside, in their heart of hearts, they are the same person in a different costume.

For them it as much about the presentation as anything. For myself it is only a outward expression of my inner truth. I do not “become” Kira; I am Kira, and this is just one of the ways I express myself.

That’s an answer that I can certainly agree with. But I think, in her own way, Kira is putting on a bold face in this statement. The problem of identity is something that every transperson faces. It’s the very definition of dysphoria.

Further, my self identity has always been tied to the way that others perceive me. It’s simply my nature. As a kid I was unpopular, bullied, and so I kind of became fixated on being liked and being accepted. By the time I got to adulthood it had become an almost an obsession with being viewed as “normal.” Calling attention to myself was out of the question, unless it was guaranteed positive attention. To say it could border on neurotic wouldn’t be far off the mark; I once went into a panic attack because guests came over and the house was not presentable.

I’ve made a lot of progress recently in letting go of this issue. I don’t think I could ever have set foot out the door in a skirt if I hadn’t! However, the question of how others see me is still important. And it’s at that level that the question of the crossdresser vs. transgender arises.

Kira said in her post that:

Being Transgender is as shallow as your skin and as deep as your heart.

That’s a fair description. For me, it means that being transgender is something I am both on the inside and on the outside. To be one but not the other is … well, dysphoric. For me, not being able to be seen, to be acknowledged is damaging to my sense of self. I may feel like Ali inside, but if everyone sees me as Him, treats me as Him, expects me to be Him, then isn’t that my reality?

For me, my exterior is a necessary reflection of who I am inside. And it frustrates me when what’s inside and what’s outside are out of sync.

“The problem with introspection is that it has no end; like Bottom’s dream in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it has no bottom.”

And of course, to even be seen as a reflection of my inner self requires effort. There’s no gentle way to say it: I have a man’s body, and a not very flattering one at that. To date I have not taken the step of making any true alteration to that body — hair can be cut, beards grown back, weight regained. And to think that even with all that effort I might still be “read,” might still not be recognized for who I am inside …. that’s just downright demoralizing.

I can’t imagine that any transgender person isn’t frustrated by this state of chimeric semi-existence. I think we all just handle it in different ways. For me, it brings dysphoria, depression, and doubt. Am I always the same person inside? Of course. But unfortunately I can’t be that person, not all the time,  not even most of the time. My life is dominated by the expectation of being Him to nearly everyone that matters, in nearly every situation I’m in. At what point does the role become the reality?

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  • I **ALWAYS** look forward to your posts! I’m humbled by your tightly-reasoned prose, organizational skills, and the gentle, understanding way you treat contrarian viewpoints. Todays post was a perfect example of all three. Bravo!

  • I am Danielle. David is a product of birth. Danielle a product of my heart and soul. She exists in me always. Even as David, I am Danielle at heart. Though I have to remember to walk like a man, and act like one far too often these days, lol.

    My realization, and joy of discovery is very recent and very real. I lust after my gold sparkly pumps. Cannot wait to change clothes to reflect my self. I am Danielle. David is a product of the world, the expectation of normal male ritual, the Genesis of having a penis.

    I am a reasonably manly man as David. But, as the hours and days tick by, I feel a Morphism of change coming over me. My ability to be David is slowly being overtaken by my desire to allow myself to emerge full time. Although I am real as Danielle, I am also realistic about my life. As a father of 3 great kids, and as a business owner, it is just not really an option to allow myself to display my feminine side, and certainly not in dress, or even in mannerism beyond a certain context.

    As a father, I have always probably been more maternal in many ways than my ex wife was. She is a manly female in some ways, but was a good mother nonetheless. She is cute and petite, but just had some male mannerisms and seemed stifled by the female perspective of childraising. I didn’t mind though.

    Anyway, it would be difficult ultimate for me to transition my outward presentation to match who i am, so I’ve learned to accept it, like alot of females do. That’s the point. A woman does what she needs to do, to provide and nurture. A man generally just does what he wants. As women, we have learned how to put ourselves second to the needs of others. That shows your selfless soul, and proves in many ways just how feminine your mind can be.

    I am Danielle. I always am Danielle. Even when I look like David. The trick is not to try and make it obvious, no…the trick, is to make it look like I AM David. That is the hardest part. See? Presenting as a male is harder for me, than being who I am.

    I am Danielle. 🙂

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