Reflections on Trans Narratives

By Rob, aka ThePhntm

Last week someone posted a link to a post at Everyday Feminism online Magazine titled “These 10 ‘Acceptable’ Trans Narratives Are Actually Holding Us Back.”

Over the years I’ve heard and engaged in a lot of conversations abuot Trans Narratives so when I saw that titled I had some expectation of what I’d find. What I found was far more interesting. I was expecting the typical sort of stuff that I’ve seen for … years… (like the 20+ yrs I’ve identified as trans). Some of the topics are there, but come at from a different angle. Some of it … I wasn’t sure I was clear what they were saying in the end… (that was, I think, more about the writing and some lack of clarity on where the author wanted to take this) I’ll comment on a two of the points in there. (When I have time I wanted to address a third.)

(7) This one was the “no transition regrets” one.
So going back my 20+ years, there has always been that pressure to say “I have no regrets.” As the article mentions, not talking about regrets we have allows the voices like the one mentioned in the article to be the loudest ones. There was a discussion posted in another grip where someone asked about regrets. Most people replied with “oh I have none!” or “I wouldn’t change a thing!” Only a few expressed some. Now I don’t want to imply the ‘i have none’ replies weren’t genuine, but I do think that those who do have some feel it is not okay to express them.

In writing this, perhaps one thing is the use of the word regret as it implies that a person wishes they hadn’t transitioned. Looking the definition of regret up, one I found (similar to others): “feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity.”

Of course I feel loss and sadness related to my transition/coming out as trans. But that doesn’t mean I would have chosen not to transition. Had I not, I would simply have experienced a different sort of regret. And I also feel happiness and satisfaction. As I like to say… It’s all about choices. We should have conversations about both the things we are happy about as well as the feelings of loss as much as we do our feelings of happiness and satisfaction and around the good of transition/coming out as trans.

(9) The medical intervention one.
There is a lot of pressure for this one, but internal and external. When I came out as trans in 1993. I felt that. Being someone who wants to make sure I am doing something because *I* wanted to versus just because everyone else was doing it, I chose to wait to start T (until 1998). Then again for chest surgery (2006— although a lot of that was about $$. I didn’t want to put myself into debt to do so.) Personally I never understood why anyone cares what choices others make around what they do per medical intervention. So back to pressure. The trans-community at large pushed the narrative “well… transition starts when you start medical intervention.” The trans-guy community back in the 90s started the conversation of “nope… starts when I say it does…” and it doesn’t have to be tied to medical intervention. This is, at least, one I don’t hear much anymore. (Short story: I was on a listserv in the 90s and got into a huge flame war with a transwoman who said that if someone didn’t choose to medically transition they had no business IDing as trans. The community def privileged medical transition back then, and I think still does.)

What I do still hear a lot of is the “I’m being left behind! Everyone else is moving faster than me!” IMHO, that is all about the narrative that privileges medical transition.