Sunday, 18 July 2010

Choice

The catch-all come-back for any hardship I've had to endure as a result of transitioning is that it was my "choice". This has been thrown at me a few times, sometimes directly or maybe just implied in explanations of someone's upset, confusion, or recalcitrance at accepting my 'new' persona.

I usually give the pretty standard response about the facts of gender, sexuality, biology, chemistry, etc, the "science bit" as it where. Few people fully grasp or appreciate that approach, probably including me, as it's all very interesting, if ultimately quite complicated, but doesn't really get away from what happened in my life seeming like I took a choice. It's also very hard to convince someone that there is no aspect of free-will in it because there is nothing to compare it too; no-one has the frame of reference to deal with transition unless you go through it yourself (or are one of the few partners that stick it out when their other half flips).

So "your choice" gets applied to everything, and extended to the point of incredulity; what has followed has all been foreseeable and was part of the original "decision" that I made, every possible consequence was deemed to be included in my plan.

The reality is that I took a small degree of control in my life, I took a certain path based on what I knew, how I felt, and what seemed, to me at least to be the most sensible and practical thing to do. I put things off for a long long time and buried feelings (I'm *really* good at that now, what a wonderful skill to have) but eventually life had to change.

At no point did I have even an inkling of what really lay ahead, I just felt so strongly that I must proceed a certain way; we're talking beyond addiction or desire or something that one may be cured of or control, it's even getting past obsession and reaching the point where it's not fully understandable "why" but simply that by becoming what I was fixated on was the only way to have some peace. That seems rather dramatic and slightly exaggerated now but it's unimaginable to me to go back to how I was before; while I can't claim to be completely happy with me I certainly don't obsess in the same way with trying to achieve a result, rather about improving it instead.

I know there will be those people who will not accept the above; I will be the person who has chosen to break up families and destroy lives with my selfish choices, I deserve what I get. Dismissing the fact that I had previously been thought of as a kind, caring parent and partner makes it all the easier to condemn me; I obviously have no feelings any more so I deserve what I get. Really? Who actually made a choice about that?

2 comments:

Diana said...

I think it's the "frame of reference" aspect handicapping us most of all. All they can look at are the effects, without any understanding that the cause is locked inside your brain.

Sadly, the only thing that seems to have persuaded some people in my life is when I tell them I didn't choose to transition so much as I chose not to kill myself. They remember me from before, so they no that's not an exaggeration. They still don't get it, but it does tend to shut them up from yammering about "my choice."

Please let us know if you discover a proper response to this.

Fiona Bianchi said...

I always had a pretty sensible approach to suicide; I never felt my life was bad enough for me to go that route, I thought I'd be selfish for contemplating it.

I don't mean that I think anyone who goes to those extremes is selfish, people do have a much harder time of it than I have, but it's just that I personally have never considered that an option - even before I realised I was trans ... was quite handy when I finally did hit all of this 'fun'.

So, I don't have that comeback, it would be blatant lie in my case. I think the point is that there is no good response to this accusation; if someone believes it's a choice then they really haven't understood.

I think the only thing you can do is ask why someone would do this out of choice? There is no-one why someone would subject themselves to all of this. Even if someone comes back with the myth that it's all for kicks, you really just have to get them to think: would anyone go to these lengths for a thrill? Seriously, it's just not credible to put yourself through this for fun!