But anyway, what we actually talked about was transgenderism. Both our moms have problems with the idea, because they come from an era of feminism which asserted that people of either sex could have masculine or feminine characteristics. I have difficulty with it conceptually as well, but being here, i’m just like “okay.” For example, my parents and i went to the LBTA panel on Parents Weekend and Lee talked about “failing at being a girl,” but my mom and i often feel like we “fail at being girls” in many of the stereotypical senses. So how does one distinguish between not fitting into the gender stereotypes and actually feeling that one is in the wrong body? We didn’t have any answers. I brought up the concept of “transgressive exceptionalism” which i learned of in Queer Studies last year, the idea of identifying as “trans” just because “you’re so unique they don’t even have a name for you,” and how inclusionary terms like “queer” can become problematic when they become so “baggy” that they cease to mean anything. My friend said that there are some people who are just doing it to be cool or whatever, but there are some people who are real. I read Amy Bloom’s Normal today, and while it doesn’t really provide any answers, besides that one just knows, i really liked this passage which opens her essay “The Body Lies”:
What would you go through to not have to live the life of Kafka’s Gregor Samsa? Not to realize, early in childhood, that other people perceive a slight, unmistakable bugginess about you, which you find horrifying but they claim to find unremarkable? That glimpses of yourself in the mirror are upsetting and puzzling and to be avoided, since they show a self that is not you? That although you can ignore your shell much of the time and your playmates often seem to see you and not your cockroach exterior, teachers and relatives pluck playfully at your antennae with increasing frequency and suggest, not unkindly, that you might be more comfortable with the other insects? And when you say, or cry, that you are not a cockroach, your parents are sad, or concerned, or annoyed, but unwavering in their conviction—how could it be otherwise?—that you are a cockroach, and are becoming more cockroachlike every day. Would you hesitate to pay thirty thousand dollars and experience some sharp but passing physical misery in order to be returned to your own dear, soft, skin-covered self?