Sunday, September 24, 2006

historical fiction

Been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be where I am now with the past I have trailing after me- thinking about questions of historical accuracy, disclosure, revisionist history, etc.

I was chatting with a student worker today about various small conversation topics- cheerful, get to know you type stuff- our names and nicknames, family, etc. Everything we talked about, though, seemed to have possible hidden dimensions that I held back on. Needless to say, she doesn't know I'm trans- she met me just a couple of weeks ago. When we talked about names, I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying "Oh, but I picked mine myself!" or "Yeah, I used to be named after my aunt, but now I've renamed myself after my grandfathers." I guess I refrained because it felt like bringing it up would add an unnecessary layer of complication to the conversation. On the other hand, not bringing it up feels like a lie of omission. Surely there's some sort of middle ground, where I don't feel like I have to bring it up all the time, but I also won't feel nervous about mentioning it when it's relevant?

I mean, is this something that it's possible to be casual about? Can I someday offhandly drop into a conversation "Yeah! When I used to menstruate, I got so frustrated with how expensive tampons were, too!" and just expect it to be fine? Well, maybe if I did it with less shock-value but similar nonchalance.

I was talking about this over the weekend, and equating being trans with some kind of personal information (medical history, perhaps, or some personal history) that your friends know, but strangers don't. I guess the question is where to place myself along that continuum. I'm a pretty open person, but I also value my privacy.

I also value not being tokenized or delegitimized or otherwise reduced to solely my trans identity.

And, last but not least, while it's important to me to be an educator, it's almost as important to be able to feel normal- not like my whole existence is dedicated to Trans Awareness 101. Again, I hope I can find a balance.

Good thoughts to be thinking around the equinox, eh?

Speaking of names....your friend and mine, the honorable Jose Padilla, Jr. has finally reversed his decision and granted my petition to change my name. Hurrah! Though his order made it very clear that "this name change shall not be relied upon as any evidence that the sex of the petitioner herein has in fact been changed anatomically."


I'm still frustrated at his obstinence and fixation on wanting to see 'medical documentation' of an 'anatomical sex change.' More frustrated because of the outmoded and narrowminded thinking which puts forth such a requirement. The term "sex change" is old fashioned and insufficient- it's improperly defined, and in fact, probably oughtn't have a definition at all, save the one given to it by those of us following a sinuous gendered path. Perhaps we could replace "sex change" with "gender travels."

Although even as my radical anti-binary gender activist is typing those words, there's another part of me (the virgo, I've been told?) who longs for order, stability, solid ground. I'd like to see a solid definition for being trans- I just want it to be broad enough and flexible enough to encompass all of us.

Really, and most importantly, I just don't want arbitrary and/or uninformed dogma to be used as gatekeeping devices to prevent trans folks from going about our transitions (and our lives!) as best we can.

Anyway. As soon as I can get myself published in the Village Voice (calling 'em tomorrow), I'll officially be Elliott John. Not bad, eh?

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