Thursday, March 18, 2010


On a message board I visit regularly, a thread was posted discussing the "things you didn't think about before you transitioned." There were a lot of good replies, about things big and small. One thing that occurred to me lately is not answering the phone in the ladies room, because if you hear my voice without seeing me I'm "outed" and that's not where that needs to happen. There are probably a thousand of those little considerations that you just can't see coming until you get in the middle of the situation.

But the reason that question is on my mind right now is something a bit bigger and more complex. Those of you who know me in real life know that we had a death in the family this week. My brother-in-law's son shot and killed himself Tuesday night. For someone in what is still, in many ways, in the early days of transition, that presents a complex situation.

Let me be clear up front, I do not consider my situation to be the center of the universe and thus everyone else has to put up with whatever results from it. I do think I'm within my rights to expect to be taken seriously and to not have it dismissed as trivial, but I do not mean my observations here to come off as complaints.

That said, the occasion for this train of thought is how to reconcile my right to be myself and express my identity with the fact that a funeral is the most delicate and emotionally raw of all situations. I have chosen to give up some aspects of my presentation in order to respect the sensitivities of the family (and, to their great credit, there's been no backstream messages telling me I needed to do so) and I can live with that. But it does make me wonder, what happens when I'm well into transitions and no longer even own any male clothing? When I'm physically past the point of a male presentation? where is that line in which I have "crossed over" so that those around me, regardless of their level of approval, take it as a given I'll show up in a skirt and heels instead of a jacket and tie? And when that day comes will I be "disinvited" rather than sully the event?

As an aside, I suppose I should be offended if that were to happen but I don't think I would be. I really am not interested in forcing you to accommodate me in your personal space if it can be avoided.

Thankfully, this one is made more easy by the fact that the family insisted everyone wear jeans - but it's not really this one I'm thinking of, so much as the future.

Not, of course, that I have a firm grip on the future anyway. I know that ultimately this transition will be completed (insofar as money allows) or I'll die before I get the chance (which, by the way, I could write a whole other post - and probably will - about what happens to this shell when I do pass on) - but what sort of reversals, delays, and consequences appear along that road I cannot now predict. Certainly it might never happen to occur that some loved one passes and I'm in a position of not being able to present a credibly male image. But it might.

This world turns out to be a damned messy place. And if it's anything we've learned in my household in the last year, it's that many situations don't have a "good answer" - only a less bad one.

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