“And I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door.”
In my journey to myself, I find myself tangled in acronyms and words as I orbit through the blogosphere and touch down to read about so many other bloggers’ journeys. Some are raging a fierce battle within themselves and with society in their quest for identity and acceptance – square pegs in a Chinese checker-board world.
Been there, done that, even bought the t-shirts with “Butch” and “Trans” on them, as I so boldly proclaim in the subtitle to my blog, “Deceptions of a Transgender Butch.” But words are powerful little breasts, twisting and shaping themselves in the minds and on the tongues of the people who use them, dragging images along with them. Images of conformity and deviance.
When and where I grew up, gender was binary. It was literally the gospel truth, as I grew up in a Christian Protestant rural society in an Apartheid South Africa in the sixties and seventies. Sex was not even spoken off, except in crude jokes. People were either male or female and had sex with the opposite gender. But the underlying subtext was orientation, this vague, undefined “otherness” that was not spoken of in polite conversation, collectively thrown into a hotchpotch labelled, (oh, don’t we humans adore labels!) “queer.” When this “abomination” appeared in Biblical passages read in church, it was seldom if ever discussed. If referred to, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was used as illustration of the ultimate sin, homosexuality (I still cringe as I write this). At that time, “gay” in South Africa still meant “happy.” The government only started television broadcasting in 1975 and then television and radio broadcasting were still heavily censored, so the public exposure to “milder” slang came later. “Homo,” when used, was almost always preceded by a swear word and intended to be vulgar.
As my body had XX chromosomes or gonosomes packaged together, but my mind screamed, “XY!” I was lost in the mist of ‘queerness’ (how ironic that XX chromosomes or are labelled ‘homo’-gametic!). I would have chosen ZZ as ‘otherness’ chromosome, if I could (the third gender Sky mentions in his post where he recalls Plato’s Symposium and The Myth of Aristophanes?).
I very well knew I did not belong to the flutter who labelled themselves ‘female;’ longing to be one of the pack taking ownership of the ‘male’ label. I felt I belonged to a less defined category, of which the boundaries were blurry. By this time, I had tentatively and openly attired myself in “Gay,” “Butch” being an even better fit. But my dysphoria became acute, leading to therapy and top surgery. The “Trans” cloak provided the psychological comfort and peace I sought.
After years of introspection, catching speculative glances from strangers, having scornful and hate-ridden verbal missiles dent my sensitive Tin-man armour, I time-after-time realize, Judgement is in the eye of the beholder.
It does not matter what I do or how I look, what label I hang around my neck, it will not change other people’s perception of me one iota. They will still use their labels to categorize, classify and judge. And it hurts.
As Ivan E Coyote writes, “…the truth is that every time I am misgendered, a tiny little sliver of me disappears. [..] Just a sliver, razored from the surface of my very thick skin most days, but other times right from my soul, sometimes felt so deep and other days simply shrugged off, but still.”
So there will not be a second coming out. I withdrew into a category in which I fit like a square peg in a square hole. It is a category in my mind labeled, “Me, myself and I.” My thousand miles walk has ended. I have become Kris and for now I am content.
Maybe I have arrived at my destination. But, as Rimonim wrote, ” …human beings seem to have deep longings to express ourselves through gender”. So maybe my journey is not over and I will need to express myself openly and out more through (some sort of) gender in future. Time will tell.
Postscript: I apologize for the number of quotation marks in this post. They were necessitated by the topic (at least, that’s my excuse!). I also did not intend to join any erudite, eloquent and philosophical gender debate. Neither am I offering any opinion about gender, it is purely a post about my own personal journey, as was this blog’s intention.