Monday, August 24, 2015

Still a quarter

What an education I've gotten today and in such short order!!  If you have been reading of late, you'll note that a "Miz Know it all" has been posting in the comments section of my blog. She recently mentioned that she, also, has a blog.  One of her recent posts, mentioned the Six Steps of "Passing." the discussion of which can be found at- 

For parents whose children have recently informed them that their child's gender is inaccurately reported on the birth certificate, "passing" commonly refers to a person successfully "appearing" as the gender with which the person identifies, and is contrary to both the birth certificate and the 1% of the body that is said to "define" gender: their genitals. 

The Six Steps are as follows:

  • Step 0, No passing
  • Step 1, Pass in a crowd
  • Step 2, Pass with longer person-to-person interactions
  • Step 3, Passing with a lover
  • Step 4, Sustained Passing
  • Step 5, Having your memory rewrite itself
  • Step 6, Knowing that you have always been female
I'd like to focus on Step 5 as this was the topic of an important conversation between a neighbor and me.  She and I were chatting this weekend and she was asking about DJ's transition from community college to a four year university, far from home.  As our conversation continued, it eventually turned to the time when DJ first came out.  This neighbor is in her 70s and is probably the coolest woman her age, out there.  She shared with me how, admittedly, she wasn't sure if she would acclimate to DJ's change well; wondrously, she explained how it's like she can't remember DJ any other "way" despite the fact that DJ transitioned (outwardly) only five years ago.

She and I discussed this at length because both of us find it so fascinating that our memories have essentially "rewritten" themselves, as well.  It's the most interesting phenomena because I have clear memories of JD and yet that kid seems like another kid entirely.  I've said this before and it bears repeating to those parents who are doubting their ability to accept their children wholeheartedly:  JD "became" (in my mind) DJ's fraternal twin who went to spend the night at a friend's house and simply never came back. I remember JD quite clearly...but he is not DJ.  And yet, they share remarkable qualities.

JD could turn anything into a toy and amuse "him"self. Fifteen years ago, the 5 year old "boy" would pick up the loose end of the seatbelt on his car seat and it would become a space ship. Currently, DJ still exhibits that quality of imagination by turning some inane object into something that piques her curiosity.  There are certain "person" qualities that transcend gender; those qualities are constant and unchanged regardless of hormones, surgery, or the lack thereof.  Yet, in many other ways, DJ is so different from JD; in this way, gender is the lens through which a person both sees the world, and perhaps is seen by the world. In this way, my pre-transition youngest child is clearly "family" to the post-transition counterpoint; simultaneously, the two are no more the "same" than two siblings are.

I cannot pretend to understand this dichotomy beyond my rudimentary attempt here.  All I know is that all of us routinely use the female pronoun in referring to DJ, even when we are speaking of her pre-transition years.  And it's just so... normal.  Early in the process, I wasn't sure how I would remember her past without remembering her as JD, and yet, it's just so easy.

Here's how:  if we related to each other only telepathically, we would likely "sense" the  gender of other persons with whom we interact.  However, I think we would also be far less likely to "categorize" others because so many of us have varying degrees of "maleness" and "femaleness" that we manifest in our daily lives.  I'm not going to even try to define what I think of as "maleness" or "femaleness" because it's nearly an impossible task.  But what if our "gender" identity is similar to a dialect?  What if someone from New England said, "I love you" and someone from Louisianna said, "I love you?"  Each would clearly sound different from each other and each would have a "culture" that has helped to shape his/her language and dialect...but would the message really be that different?

Anyway, rewriting memory doesn't make the rewritten memory false-it's just looking at the other side of the coin.  Heads or tails-it doesn't matter-it's still a quarter.  That's how I see it anyhow...Thanks for the inspiration MKIA.  BTW-what the heck does HPWT stand for?