processing…processing…[dealing with invalidation as an anti-stealth]…processing…processing…
(this following was originally posted on http://charismaticsaredangerous.com and appears here with the author’s permission)
i would not be surprised if this is what my face looks like to other people:
it’s certainly how i feel.
kinda all the time.
too many interactions in my life cause my brain to jump into hardcore “processing mode”. and it kinda sucks. i sometimes wonder if it’s an improvement over the visceral, emotion-based reactions i used to have. or if it’s worse. or if it’s just an entirely new beast all together.
i am certainly glad that i don’t [usually] feel like someone kicked me in the groin HARD when they invalidate my gender in any of the myriad ways that happens every day. it’s a hard thing, that going through life feeling like everyone is kicking me in the balls. or maybe i still do feel that way, but i recognize it and move on. my groin is resilient.
but the issue now is that “moving on” doesn’t mean “putting it down.” oh, no. not at all.
instead, my brain moves on to:
“why did that happen” “what does that *mean*?”
in a proximate sense, it’s great ’cause i don’t uncontrollably burst into tears in the middle of conversations [usually] any more. no that just happens when people titty tap me [jeeeesus dude, that hurt]. but that’s a small price to pay for having my brain really wrestle with what just happened. brain-wrestling is an endurance challenge. and my brain really likes to wrestle with things.
sometimes it’s awesome to get a chance to really think through gender stuff. i mean, shit, i am well-trained in critical thinking and gender is certainly something that one can critically think about for a long time.
but most of the time, i’m like “brain, stfu. i want to think about other things”.
good lot of nothing that does. turns out my brain has a mind of its own.
— — — —
in the midst of a group conversation focused around another woman’s inability to find clothes that fit her right [she's about as tall as i am], she responded to my empathy with “yeah but you’re a guy.” [despite the fact that we had just been having a conversation about my being trans*].
i didn’t respond. not because i was ashamed. not because i was scared. not because i didn’t want to correct her. but because my brain was already hard at work trying to figure out what the fuck had just happened. certainly this was something that could have felt like a kick in the groin. but it didn’t. go figure.
the key point is, the person who said this to me, she knew i am trans*. we had been talking about it not that much earlier in the night. [this kind of shit comes up in conversation normally now.] but [i'm pretty darn sure] she had known about it for a while.
and yet it still happens. she invalidated my identity. not on purpose, but she did.
believe me, this is not an isolated incident. it happens all the time: someone who knows that i’m trans* still invalidates me. invalidates my identity. it’s not that i think they do it on purpose [although some do, and i know who are. jackasses.], no no. it’s just their instinctual reaction.
and i think i finally get it.
most people have a cultural stereotype of/template for/awareness of gender non-conformity to some [relatively small] degree. ya know, tom boys and drag queens and such [some level of not conforming to "traditional" gender roles]. and certainly most everyone has a cultural stereotype of/template for/awareness of transgender people [in a more strict, non-* way].
but not of transgender people that are also gender non-conforming. that’s a new one for lots of people. they expect transwomen to be high femmes and transmen to be bears. not that there’s anything wrong with either! i love femmes and bears! and femmebears! but just as not all ciswomen aren’t high femmes, not all transwomen are either.
but these things work countergradient to each other. and that’s a difficult one for lots of people. that sentiment can [crudely] be boiled down to: “why would you transition from being a man to being a ‘masculine’ woman?”
good question. but it’s one that requires much unpacking. there’s a lot wrapped up in that question there.
not the least of which is trying to figure out why people feel like it’s their right to have a CLEAR explanation of someone else’s gender when they’ve never had to explain their gender to anyone else. and if they don’t get a clear explanation, they don’t quite understand, and if they don’t understand, it’s harder for them to break habits.
that’s a basic thought pattern: it’s a lot easier to do something if you “get it”.
it would be much easier if i “passed” or “presented” or whatever…if i were femme, it would be easier for them to get me, to believe me, to understand me. and they would be more prone to validating me.
i’m not out to shame anyone, i think this is just the situation we’re in. i don’t think many people i know and interact with want to be sexist [or "cissexist"?] in such a way. it’s just a pattern of semi-innate behavior that some folks have. in order for them to validate me by default, they have to understand me, and a large component of their understanding is how well i conform to their notion of what they think i should be like, given that identity.
it’s a shitty thought pattern. and they have to overcome it. we all do it to each other. and we should all work to overcome it.
the validity of ones identity should not hinge on others’ understanding of what that identity means.
but it does. and now i know it. and that’s why i wear myself on my sleeves. that’s what i’m open and out and have shit about gender all over the place… “like a rash” a friend said.
this is how i get people to believe me. this is how i get people to validate me.