Rationalizations, Exploitation, and Selfishness

Today I read a discussion elsewhere that attempted to rationalize the decision to not transition when someone clearly wanted to transition. Excuses included relationships with people who could not accept the truth. This specific argument bothered me greatly.

The argument that “I can’t transition because [insert family member here] can’t accept it” is a rationalization. It marks someone who is in a dependent relationship, not a healthy relationship. It also marks someone who knows very well that they are not loved unconditionally as a human being but instead is “loved” very conditionally. This is called being in a codependent relationship. It’s not healthy.

I experienced all this and looking back on it, it was pure and utter nonsense. How do I know this? How would these same family members react if I said I had cancer? Well, I know the answer to that question because I had and beat cancer eighteen years ago. And for that medical problem, people constantly urged me forward, to not give up, to have hope, to get well. The exact same people who today openly, viciously, and cruelly condemn me for addressing this health issue supported me when it wasn’t a health issue that challenged their own world view.

And you see, that is the height of selfishness.

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognises infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one’s neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.”

― Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man and Prison Writings

Oscar Wilde’s comments ring true today too.

It’s not the person transitioning who is selfish. That person is simply addressing a verified medical condition as per the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association. Transgender people aren’t mentally ill. It’s a treatable medical condition.

And yet the exact same people who urged me forward, who supported me as I sought treatment for cancer to become well again, have treated me with deliberate, cruel, vicious disdain for seeking treatment for gender dysphoria caused by an accident of birth.

I do not question those who choose to not transition out of fear of reactions of “loved” ones. I understand that fear all too well. But what I would question is whether those people truly love you or whether you are a mere convenience in your current form for them who would become an inconvenience in another form.

Because, having lived this, it sure looks to me like a lot of people who claim to “love” their transgender relatives do nothing of the kind and instead are selfish individuals who are using their transgender relative for their own purposes, whatever those might be and who fear losing whatever convenience that relative currently provides.

Those of you who are trans need to ask yourselves whether you are really loved or whether you are just being used. I suspect that you’ll find that you’re just being used. I certainly discovered that sad truth and I sacrificed hugely for what turned out to be nothing in the end.

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5 thoughts on “Rationalizations, Exploitation, and Selfishness

  1. Your post was very difficult for me to read and it brought me to tears more than once. It is well written and true but it is real mirror to my soul. Hard to see my image. Please keep writing. Reading your work is very cathartic but very very emotional for me.

  2. I really like this and it gives me a lot to think about. I’ve long been concerned about the selfishness of my actions and desire to transition because of the impact it will have on others. For example close family members may be picked on, bullied or find themselves subject to a lot of awkward conversations because of my actions and their association with me.

    • I come back to what I said above. If you told your loved ones that you had cancer or needed surgery for an ulcerated colon or anything like that, they’d be right there urging you on. But this, because it offends them (because they have bought into someone else’s nonsense) causes them to want you to suffer. And then we choose to continue suffering which is exactly the symptoms of co-dependency. That’s why I added that link to WebMD about co-dependency.

      1 Cor. 13:4-8 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

      Does the “love” of your family always protect, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres? Or does the “love” of your family demand you suffer, in emotional pain for the rest of your life, for their comfort? If the latter, that’s not love no matter what they claim it is. And in those cases you are better off leaving those people behind.

      That’s a painful thing to say and it’s a painful thing to hear but the sooner more transgender people hear this and realize it, the sooner they will be free of false shackles forged by others who want nothing more than to exploit us in a form they find convenient.

      Harsh words? Yes. But they are the truth.

  3. *
    Cara, your blog is well-thought, well-written, and to the point. I think the best of your words are ‘it offends them’. You make the argument that those others selfishly see themselves as the subject, not you. It illustrates their lack of comprehending that this is not about them.

    Transitioning is a major life change. I had no one to lead the way. I started by changing at home; my work and residence were hundreds of miles from family and friends. That part was easy. Then I had to convince myself that I looked okay to ‘pass’. That was a major barrier of fear.

    My first time out (1978), i drove to another community during the evening where no one knew me. Success – no one made untoward glances at me. I felt that if no one paid attention to me, that meant I blended well as female and brought forth no notice.

    My counsellor advised me to not wear too much make-up; practise at home – less is better than more. He also advised me to wear the most feminine attire within my style preferences; that will help others perceive me as female.

    I was gradually shifting from male clothes to female clothes beginning in 1979. I bought misses’ / woman’s jeans rather than men’s jeans; they actually fit better as my body and frame feminised. Jeans were acceptable attire for both men and women where I worked at that time (1980s). I bought female sweaters and tops to wear over my male business shirts. My shoes were women’s wear loafers or ‘Hush Puppies’ type comfort shoes. My socks were from the women’s department. As were, well, underneath it all. I did not wear a bra to work where I was employed as a male; I had to wear at least one, maybe two, T-shirts to hide my growing chest (I grew one cup size each of the first two years and was ‘C’ by 1985).

    Wearing the same clothes as either male or female taught me that presentation was also part of the transition. I learned that I could wear the exact same outer clothes (jeans, top, shoes) and present myself as either male or female – I have had long hair since 1971 so I styled my hair accordingly.

    Next I chose simple activities during quiet times during evenings or after business hours. I went to the Post Office to buy stamps at the indoor machine (I accumulated plenty of spare postage stamps). I went downtown to the spring water taps to fill my water bottles. I attended a prominent Christmas pageant; the security personnel knew me as a male when I attended other church activities during the course of four years, yet they did not recognise me as Sharon that night. I drew up the strength to actually go to the medical center as Sharon where I had my operations but known there in my ‘male’ persona; no one recognised me. I went ice skating a couple times at the city’s outdoor frozen lake wearing a very feminine skating outfit (I was 27 years old during Winter 1984 – 1985); some teen / 20-something age girls asked me to join them in a skating activity.

    One accidental ‘pass’ as female came while employed at the office where I worked as a male at a large, multi-story office building (1985). I was post-op now and had to sit to urinate; I always sought distant restrooms at another floor from where I worked so I would not be recognised frequenting only the stalls. I finished my business and was washing my hands. A man entered, gazed at me with a puzzled look, and asked if he had the men’s room or not. I dug down deep for the best possible male falsetto I could find and confirmed that yes this is the men’s room. The lesson to me was that there I was doing my best to appear and present as a male and this stranger saw me as female. Of course I was wearing female jeans, sweater vest, and shoes; I no longer had facial or body hair; hiding my ‘C’ girls was not getting easier. It’s no wonder he thought he saw a woman and not a man.

    Those are events that tell you that you’ve passed your ‘passing’ tests. These were all pre-tests that boosted my confidence that I ‘passed’. I hope my examples help someone who is stuck. Try little steps at first before advancing to major activities.

    I had no one to ask about my appearance. My counselling was mostly group therapy immediately after work once per week; I had no time to change from my male appearance to feminine presentation. My counsellor was okay that I would not discuss my change during group; the others were not quite ready to deal with my sex change topic.

    My parents were divorced and residing at distant, separate cities. I told my mom (1977) but she thought I was blowing smoke until she saw my pills (1979 and again 1980); she just shook her head. My dad also certainly lived with my ‘feminine protesting’ to change throughout my entire life – I was in a regular state of ‘feminine protesting’ to resolve my inter-sex anatomy while growing up. I saw little of my dad during the 1980s until 1985. My biggest presentation was to be my dad; that would be special and it would wait until 1985.

    I quit my job (they were trying to fire me as a sex change) and stayed at my dad’s home a week or so until I found my own apartment. That was weird temporarily reverting to my male persona when I had been Sharon. I had to make my presentation to my dad, not just tell him. I needed my own home as my safe place if anything should happen, not at his home. It was about this time 1985. I set out my best dress, matching pantyhose, and matching shoes. I made my hair up and down-played my make-up; no heavy perfume.. He did not see me arrive as I walked from my car to his door. I knocked. he opened the door saw me and at first he did not realise it was me, then he turned away leaving me at the door.

    I entered quietly, approached him, and softly told him that I was happy now. He never wanted to know anything about my transition or process so telling that I had my operations was pointless; that omission made little difference to me; it literally would have killed him if I told him. That was also one thing I never told my mom. My dad adopted me to be his male heir son and now I was his daughter. Fact is I kept my operations mum to most my family because of the fractured family that we had. I told my sister for the first time only last September – inviting her to celebrate my 35th year ‘legal’ and 30th year since completing transition. I have not received any reply from her.

    Everything you wrote, Cara, is so accurate to my family and ‘friends’ – so far, none have passed their test of real love and friendship when put to it. I had a best friend relationship that began in 1973. He was discharged from the Navy in 1979 ill with Agent Orange. I nursed him through seizures caused by that drug. We did many things together as ‘bros’ during our years. He picked me as his ‘best man’ for his wedding – it happened during that temporary week at my dad’s home; hey, the ‘best man’ for the job is a woman. I told my ‘friend’ a few days after his wedding. He initially took everything with a seemingly positive curiosity but he lacked comprehension of basic biology and A&P so I went only as far as he understood. That initial acceptance soon collapsed into violence. He sicced a gang of his buddies on me – four former college football players. I escaped a certain beating, or worse, when my car started promptly that morning as those guys approached me at the apartment parking lot..

    There are few people who actually supported me at my change – few family – few ‘friends’. The rest are ‘fair weather’ friends and I know that so I do not test them. Those people who are holding you back, dear reader, are not your true friends. There is that saying popularised during the 1960s if you have a butterfly, let it go. If it returns, it was yours; it it does not return, it was never yours. You need your freedom to fly where you choose.
    *

    • I am sorry you experienced these things. There is so much misunderstanding about us. All we can do it be ourselves, be as open, authentic, and loving as possible, and try to stay safe. The rest is largely out of our hands.

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