Sunday, May 9, 2010

Choice and non-choice

It's difficult sometimes to discuss the idea of what is a choice, because people tend to disagree on the actual place where you draw the line between what is a choice and what is something you HAVE to do.

In the most literal sense, EVERY thing is a choice. I'm sure all of you would say of something in your life that you have no choice, but really, every action is a choice. For instance, you might say "I have no choice but to go to work" but that's not true. You can choose not to go. sure you will likely get fired but all this really means is, you choose being employed over being unemployed and do what is necessary to get that which you have chosen.

So, since that definition covers everything we do, it's too broad to be of any real use to a discussion of choices. Let's rule that out and agree that when we speak of what is a choice, it's not THAT definition that we mean.

So short of that, what then do we literally mean when we say that a think is a choice? There has to be some common frame of reference. Here's one possible illustration: Some schools of Christianity believe that the Bible prophesies a time when true believers will be subject to torture or death if they reveal that they are in fact Christians, and that the test of true faith is that the believer not deny that he believes. Does that person have a choice? Should they hide their true nature lest those around them have a very negative reaction, or should they be true to themselves and to their God no matter the cost?

But even that is a side-track because the choice to be a Christian or not is free-will. It's difficult for me to present a really effective analogy for the situation of which I speak. How do you explain to someone that the thing you do is that which you MUST do?

What about the patriotic young man who reacted to 9/11 by joining the Army and going off to fight in Afghanistan. To his young bride, or his worried mom, perhaps it seemed that this man made a rash CHOICE to do a thing he didn't HAVE to do, but to him it might have been very clear that he could not have been true to himself and done anything else.

Not having been cut from that particular cloth, I don't think it's for me to say but I can see some parallels.

The point I'm making here is that for those who accuse me of making a choice to live my life as a woman, the claim that I am engaging in a purely optional activity is set up as a no-win scenario for me before I ever discuss it because there's no way to "prove" the statement wrong without a common definition of the words being used. The very claim that someone else chose to say or think or act in the manner they did becomes a self-supporting rhetorical loop. A circular argument.

But consider, before you accuse me of "choosing" this path, what the choice involves, both now and in it's potential ultimate outcome:

Who would chose -
To painfully pluck out tens of thousands of hairs every week?
To become a laughing stock to many who know them and an outcast to many others?
To know they would become a pariah in the only field of employment they are fit to be hired in (after investing years and thousands of dollars to become so qualified)?
To have even family members that mock you and others who won't even consent to give you contact info?
To risk the loss of a very very happy 20 year marriage?
To have their kids deal with strife and conflict in the home?
To give skeptics reason to doubt the truth of the faith you profess because your "lifestyle" is at odds with the traditions of that faith?
To set one's self up for years of fear and worry that you will be attacked or killed as so many others like you have been before (blessed in this regard so far but the danger is real)?
To be in a position that you know not even law enforcement can be trusted to treat you humanely (there's a story going about now of a post-op transwoman in Washington DC who was nonetheless knowingly housed with male prisoners and purposely put in harms way bt DC policemen)?
To set one's self up for who knows how many months or years of always wondering how many of the people around you have figured out your secret and are at best mocking you and possibly hostile?
To put yourself on the road to expensive and painful procedures which will be necessary to even remotely approximate the outcome you want to achieve (start with laser or electrolysis for hair removal - even the beard alone is a massive undertaking - and then consider various surgeries)?
To become a person who very likely will never be taken seriously by the great majority of people again?

I ask you, gentle reader, what possible train of thought would lead a person with any passing acquaintance with sanity to make a free-will choice to step into that life?

Even if you argue that I could have chosen to suffer in silence and not act upon this, you come back to the same place - if it were really possible to suppress this and live an at least marginally contented life without acting on it, then no sane person would ever chose to act on it.

Is it REALLY credible for anyone to think that someone does this on a whim, or a kink, or a "mid-life crisis" or any other casual reason? Call me crazy, if you wish. Call me mentally ill if you want to be kinder. Say I have a birth defect (hell that's MY point of view) - by all means no one is asking you to call me NORMAL because I make no claim to be. But please, don't be shallow enough to suggest I CHOSE to be this way.

Now, why is this on my mind tonight? Well, it was just one of those depressing days when I was keenly aware that my decision to "butch it up" in order to maintain at least a temporary peace at home has the huge potential to communicate to everyone who knows about me that it is a free and easy choice to just "knock it off" whenever i want to. Every time I go out the door in a more-or-less male presentation, I reconfirm in many minds the exact WRONG thing about the nature of my original "choice" to come out full time as a female.

That pisses me off. I completely understand the value in why I'm doing what I'm doing. I accept that circumstances make it necessary, even though I sincerly which the circumstances were different. But it still grids my gears to give anyone any grounds to say "if you can control it now, why couldn't you just have controled it in the first place?"

The answer to that, in case you are wondering, is this: I have declared myself now, I'm not repressing, hiding, faking, or lying anymore. Before, I tried to make you believe I was a "normal" man because I was afraid to let you know who I really was. Now, i have said and will continue to say - I am LAURA, and I am not ashamed. If I chose to wear less feminine clothing or makeup than I would prefer, it's for a reason - just as any other woman doesn't go out to feed the horses or work in the factory in her best heels. But it's not a compromise of who I AM - even if it confuses some folk. for now I have to remind myself of that and endure until things get better.


  1. The answer to your question is that the person who would choose to harm themselves in the ways you have mentioned is an unhealthy person. It sounds eerily similar to cutting yourself.

  2. I wouldn't dispute the finding of "unhealthy" out of hand - though I'm sure we'd disagree on the proper "course of treatment"

  3. There is no doubt that there has to be a physical abnormality that causes a feminine mind to be paired with a male body. I don't think any Trans who is a thinking person would call their birth situation "normal".

    Being unhealthy or suffering abnormality is no reason to have to suffer quietly and in silence. And anyone who can sit in self-righteous judgment over anyone who is suffering is about as far away from God as they can be.

    It is they, who should suck up their discomfort and suffer in silence that there are people in the world who are different and there is nothing they can do about it.