One metaphor for gender transition I have often thought about is immigration. Something resonates about that experience of leaving the familiar behind, filled with hope and fear, driven by necessity. As a second-generation immigrant, I see parallels between my cultural background and my trans status. Both are journeys that shape my perspective. Both allow me to see through many cultural assumptions, a burden and a gift. Both are invisible to others.
But there’s something off about the analogy. Though it might feel like it sometimes, we are not foreigners post-transition–at least, I don’t feel that I am. If anything, I was a foreigner pre-transition, lost in a strange, hostile land.
I think we are immigrants. But we are not immigrants leaving our homeland, bound for a new country. We are second- or third-generation immigrants, formed in the new country, returning to the old. We have double-crossed the border. Immigrants in our own homeland.
Are we then strangers everywhere? Or are we multilingual? Are we ambassadors? Are we something that transcends the very question of old vs. new?