I’m reading the book 50 Shades Of Grey and I like it a lot. This article has nothing to do with the book.
When I was a kid, I grew up with parents that possessed a strong moral compass. Something was either right or it was wrong. As I grew older I became very comfortable with applying “black or white” to issues as well. It was the shades of grey that could be troubling. I was fond of sayings like: “You can’t be a little bit pregnant.”
I think part of my over developed love of the binary came from my early knowledge that there was a particularly grey area in my life that ran counter to my 1960’s upbringing. I was assigned male at birth, but felt and knew I was female. I knew also that I had to keep this information on the down-low and I did for many, many years.
I have learned time and again that things often are not what they appear. (Knowing that I was not what I appeared) Yet for a long time, I was of the mindset that everything WAS what it appeared. This is a rather confusing paragraph and I will endeavor to explain it.
I think intellectually, I accepted the fact that we live in a world of grey and exceptions to the rule. Emotionally, it was important for me to believe that things were exactly as they appeared and set about proving the rule and writing off the exceptions. Why? Because I needed to believe that I was being perceived as a male. That my longings to live my life as a girl were never discovered. I was a living breathing exception to the rule.
Slowly but inexorably the intellectual understanding and actual love of grey broke down the emotional terror of being discovered. It didn’t happen overnight. In the end I revealed it more or less on my terms rather than being “discovered.”
One of my favorite mind puzzles came from the study of philosophy (there’s that word again – “Philo” (love of) “Sophia” (knowledge). It involves 2 people driving down a rural road passing through rolling green farm and ranch land – dotted with trees and large rocks.
The passenger remarks casually to the driver, “Look, there’s a sheep on that hillside.”
That comment is factually correct yet based on false information. In other words, there really is a sheep on that hillside, but what the passenger was referring to wasn’t a sheep. The passenger was both right and wrong at the same time. What the passenger in the car saw and was referring to in the distance was a large sheep dog with ropy fur and from a distance could quite easily be mistaken for a sheep. However, not far from the dog but hidden from view by a rock and a large Oak tree was in fact, a sheep. So the statement about there being a sheep on the hillside was correct but only coincidentally so, because the data being used to make the determination was false.
Sometimes you can “know” without “knowing.”
More than any other single thing, that puzzle helped to open my mind and also gave me some peace. It also comes into play in ways that make me smile.
For instance, if my friend Kody and I are walking down the street, someone might remark “Look at that guy and girl over there.” Factually correct – Kody was assigned female at birth and is now male. I was assigned male at birth and am now female. I am now comfortably ensconced in the land of grey and I am a better person for it.
Our world is so very often not what it would seem. Animals use camouflage all the time. Certain fish look like rocks and insects appear to be leaves or twigs. People use camouflage too. Not all crooks wear saggy pants and have tattoos. Many of the most evil wear sharp looking business suits every day. You just can’t tell.
My experience in living an authentic and very contented life was for me to reveal who I am. I have largely been warmly accepted which makes me happy. Being scrutinized or discovered would have been traumatic. So I try to honor that in others, accepting what they show me until they wish to reveal something else. I can marvel at the beauty of nature and the rich and varied hues of a rock and be fine with that – yet not at all feel betrayed when that “rock” moves and reveals to me that it was a turtle. I delight in this new revelation rather than question why the turtle would try to fool me.
While I would never believe I am a spokesperson for anyone other than me, as a transgender woman I would ask that you take at face value what I reveal to you. If I am dressed as a woman, wearing make-up and clearly making an effort, I am a woman. Leave it at that. Many prefer to dress androgynously. If you aren’t sure what pronoun to use, ask them. Please just accept us – don’t try too hard to figure us out or judge us. You don’t know what our journey has been. Besides, you might miss out on meeting some really beautiful interesting people.