If They Could See Me Now … And Why They Refuse To
The Cis-Het Ransom Note to Trans Persons
I can pare down every objection to my trans identity to this core complaint:
Grieving Cis-Het Folks: “Your transition is a struggle for me and my culture. Rewriting how I once knew you impairs my formative memories/traditions. It’s not just toxic to me to have to revise my memory and expectation of you, but, worse, your transition poses a fearsome power over, and menacing future for, my personal and our societal identity.”
You Can’t Not Remember Me
Trans persons aren’t asking you to wipe your memory banks. I don’t expect anyone to not remember my beard. I want you to be faithful to you and your memory. Yet, that coin has a flipside: my being faithful to me demands your faithfulness to who I am right now.
An Analogy: Say that you and I were work peers, and I got recently promoted to being your supervisor. Both of us might harken to when we were workmates, but the new paradigm shakes the friendship/cohesion we knew. And it’s not just you who has to adjust to my new status; I have to adjust — with everyone, including me.
I have to do so in a world that sees trans folk as the exceptions—oddities who are expected to do 100% of the adjusting. I am commanded to defer to how others once knew me — under the rubric that I’m the one who’s upending “normalcy” — when, like anyone else, I’m just being me.
Maybe you don’t do this for trans folk because … you’ve never dared do it for yourself.
Oh, That’s Tender!
Here, cis-het folks explain to me (as if I had no clue) the tenderness of this experience for them!
Must I therefore conform to the gaslit rules of engagement lined out by discomfited cis-het folks? Fuck that noise. I don’t even have to come half-way, ‘cuz all my life I went all the way to be someone I wasn’t so that others wouldn’t reject, hate, kill me.
Yours won’t cease to be memories. Acknowledging that they are memories is your job.
You Have One Job: Grow Up
Boo-fucking-hoo for you cis-het tenderloins. Your cherished memory of us and the world before we came out has to die to give way to new life. Yours won’t cease to be memories. Acknowledging that they are memories is your job.
You have to do what all persons must do — accept that the past is indeed past. Therein you might see the stunting that your cis-het privilege has cost not only us but you and the world. The past, no matter how comfy it was for you, does not determine who we are now, and where we go next.
Be present to me — not to your memories of me. You and I are more substantial and worthy of each other’s attention, compassion, and respect than your fucking precious past that you don’t have the integrity of a two-year-old to get over.
It Might Just Be You
Maybe you don’t do this for trans folk because … you’ve never dared do it for yourself. Stop demanding that trans persons pay the price of who you were, who you are, and who you’re becoming.
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