Circling Back To Queerness

When I first started exploring my gender, I was a proud outlaw. Then I was a conformist: I wanted to be just a regular dude. Today I am a proud outlaw once again.

I’ve noticed a pattern of identity development among binary trans folks. (Not sure how this applies/doesn’t apply to nonbinary people. Feel free to fill me in!) As we discover and express ourselves, we often have a shifting relationship to queerness and gender norms. These shifting feelings often follow a particular trajectory, which I’ll dub circling back to queerness.

Initially, many of us embrace being queer or different. We may have spent years or decades living in silence and shame–but as we dip a toe into the great lake of honesty, we start to feel okay with being different. Many times, we feel passionately about our difference. We are proud rebels, outlaws! We are rule-breakers! We have no use for sexist bullshit or gender stereotypes. We are going to be free, goddammit!

But as we wade deeper into these waters of genuineness, something changes. We get real with ourselves about the longing, hurt, disappointment, and exclusion we have felt for so long. We admit it: we always wanted to be just another one of the boys or girls. We wanted to belong. We wanted to be recognized. And we still do. We want to be a woman or a man, period. We want everyone to be able to spot our gender with just one glance or a few words on the phone. We want to look and act and fuck just like all the other dudes or ladies. We go stealth, if possible. We begin to insist we are normal–we are just like everybody else. If we could erase our painful former lives and be cis people of our post-transition genders, we would do it in a second.

Months pass, then years. We continue our march into the lake, and the water gets deeper. We know ourselves better. We are recognized more often for the women or men that we are. Dysphoria eases, a lifting fog. We begin to relax a little. We are not so painfully insecure; we are not so alienated from our bodies. Something changes.

We begin, again, to notice that we are different–and that being different might not be such a bad thing. We notice all that we’ve learned from our suffering. We start to actually like ourselves, and we realize that being trans has helped to make us who we are. We get more comfortable. We begin coming out about our trans status, if safe and possible. We get our outlaw spirit back. We realize it’s not an either/or choice: we can be men and women and we can be different. We stop pretending and we stop making concessions. We have no use for their bullshit system. We don’t have to be just like them–and we don’t want to be.

We are rebels. We are queer again. We have learned to swim.

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5 comments

  1. Unexpected Amy

    Awesome post, I had to read it twice. I just love how you can compress these massive spiritual points so eloquently and so concertedly, it just has me here thinking a lot. Uck, such a fangirl :P

  2. Rai

    Nice!

    When I came out I appeared to skip the initial “proud queer” part of the cycle. I went straight to conforming, because that is what I thought I had to do to be taken seriously. I’ve learned a lot since then, and now I’m slowly starting to embrace a more diverse version of myself.

    I am in fact non-binary, and it’s taken me a while to start to accept that… I never will be “just a normal guy”, or even a full trans man… which kinda makes me feel inadequate. But I know I’m not really inadequate. There needs to be more decent representation of non-binary people. Doctors especially need accurate information. I am constantly afraid that if people find out my gender isn’t strictly male, they will attempt to block my transition. So I hide.

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