Comments Off on Reticence

One of the things that’s happened over the past year is that I’ve had a bit of a reexamination of my transition. This was undoubtedly prompted by reading The Sisters of Dorley. There’s actually a wonderful circularity to this for reasons I’m not going to explain right now. And I honestly don’t think it’d’ve happened, certainly not soon, without it.There’s actually a wonderful circularity to this for reasons I’m not going to explain right now. And The book deals with transition, it deals with examining and dealing with trauma. It deals with the importance of community. It slices in various places exactingly, directly, and disturbingly to some of the trauma that I experienced. And it, from discussions with a bunch of other trans people — trans people who have been transitioned and to whatever extent it’s ever possible, finished with their transition (or so they thought) — does tend to prompt you to reexamine yourself. Deeply. I am not alone in this.

I’m sure there are other effective ways to get you to dig down and reexamine yourself. To explore yourself and the decisions you made. And perhaps more importantly, explore the decisions you didn’t really make. The decisions which just happened, that got left in the dust of moving on with life. And obviously, for me, a lot of that centered around the trauma of the abusive relationship I was in immediately after transition. It’s something that kind of horrifies me. That I was desperate for people in my life I could identify with, people who I could talk to about what was going on, and this person took that situation and took advantage. And I’ve talked (either on here, or on mastodon) about the gradual realisation that, well, I am certain that I passed on impacts of that abuse.

No doubt some of it was reflected in the support group I took over from her and ran. I think that the best thing I’ve been told is that I wasn’t intending to be harmful, that my approach to things came from a good place. But I know and I am deeply uncomfortable with the fact that I reinforced ideas that she promulgated. And I hope that the damaging things I did are outweighed by the good. Looking back I know I had a lot of internalised transphobia which I’m not sure to what extent that came out in the group. But it was always intended to be young(er) trans people supporting other young(er) trans people, so there’s always going to be a chunk of the baby trans working themselves out in that kind of space. And while I’ve reexamined that, without digging into the backups of old, old computers — computers that have long been consigned to e-waste — there’s no easy way to look through the group – and frankly – I don’t think that me digging through hundreds of e-mails from myself and the other folks on the list would be positive or productive. Interesting, perhaps, as a snapshot of early aughts transition. Painful — seeing those lost along the way. But probably not helpful.

But where I’ve been really digging and working is on the things that my ex buried in me. The ideas she encouraged in me that I never really rexamined. About my presentation. About how trans people should be. About all sorts of tiny fractional pieces of me. And look, some of it’s fine. Some of it I think is fair – I don’t think that I should have to adhere to traditional standards of women’s beauty, because I don’t think any women should have to do that. And if I want to slob about it jeans and a teeshirt, that’s fine. If I want to wear that every fucking day, that’s fine too. But that she stopped me exploring my presentation, that she stopped me fucking about with clothes, that I accepted that being kinda androgynous would be safer, and less obvious — and that she planted and fertilized those seeds that meant I never really explored further with makeup and clothes than I had at the point where I met her.

That she nudged, pushed, encouraged, enforced, whatevered me back towards the presentation I’d had before I transitioned. A kind of androgynous but female coded. The easiest path, the one that didn’t really involve work? And that I accepted that and didn’t go back to reexamine that, or look at it as I moved forward with my life? That’s a disappointment to me. Because it turns out I do enjoy makeup. I do enjoy fun clothes. And that was obvious from the fact I clung limpet like to the purple slinky fucking party dress that’s one of the first pieces of clothes I bought for myself. And some of that is that I’ve lost weight – I’ve held steady at 66.7 kg for the past – oh, while. I bumped up by a kilo around Xmas and straight back down afterwards (damn mince pies and Xmas pudding) – and that’s made me much more comfortable with my body. And some of that is that I’m probably fitter now than at any point in my life so far.

And look, it’s not a case of assigning blame or fault. She had mental health issues and separating what was abuse from her mental health issues has always been tricky for me. Especially since they were undiagnosed for most of our time together. And I was young and new and shiny and impressionable and desperate for approval. And, fuck, it took me until sometime in the last two years to really grok that I am a survivor of domestic violence. That I’m a survivor of a deeply abusive relationship. And that that’s coloured who I am, and how I respond to things, particularly layered on top of the bullying I had at school. Basically there’s a solid decade of the time I’ve been on this planet, near a quarter of it, where I was in abusive places. And this isn’t an oh poor me, woe is me.

This is a fucking celebration of the fact that nearly 24 years after I transitioned I am getting to explore myself again. I’m getting reexamine some of the foundational stuff about how I present, how I think of myself in relation to others, and getting to play with who I am.

And that’s been really freeing.


Kate's allegedly a human (although increasingly right-wing bigots would say otherwise). She's definitely not a vampire, despite what some other people claim. She's also mostly built out of spite and overcoming oppositional-sexism, racism, and other random bullshit. So she's either a human or a lizard in disguise sent to destroy all of humanity. Either way, she's here to reassure that it's all fine.