Archives for posts with tag: transition

Jenner

Millions of words will be juggled today on the confusion, the social complications and the circus surrounding Bruce Jenner’s coming out at 65 …

How should we behave?
How should they behave?

What is the social etiquette around a middle aged transition?

‘It’s all SOOOO complicated!” A thousand media commentators will say. “It’s sooo complicated,” a bunch of trans commentators will parrot.

It’s NOT … and they’ll all be missing the real question: WHAT IS OUR SOCIETY GOING TO DO NOW TO ALLOW AND SUPPORT TRANS KIDS TO BE THEMSELVES FROM THE GET-GO SO THAT SOCIAL TRANSITION ITSELF BECOMES A THING OF THE PAST? Because then the kids will never have felt they had to conceal anything. It’s not rocket science.

Jenner knew as a child but could see no viable way to be themself. They first attempted to transition thirty-five years ago in 1980.

I find it heartbreaking to see somebody, as entitled as Jenner is in all other respects, feeling not entitled to chose their own name or pronoun for the Diane Sawyer interview and having as their main worry not wanting to let anybody else down. Of course that’s an honourable sentiment but FFS cis society has historically let down every trans kid (and indeed LGB kid) … FOREVER.

This needs to be the narrative from now on … please.

Yesterday David Allen Green spoke powerfully on the World Tonight   [at 25mins in] about the tabloid monstering … as for example by Richard Littlejohn … and the subsequent apparent suicide of Lucy Meadows . He also wrote about Lucy on his Jack of Kent blog.

I felt a dull familiar thud at the news. In my own acquaintance I’m aware of two similar circumstances and cannot help being reminded of Christine Daniels’s suicide in 2009. I’ll make no apologies referring to her as Christine because that’s the person I first became aware of.

Unlike Lucy, Christine had a high public profile as a sportswriter for the LA Times. She decided to announce her transition publicly because … what other option did she have other than ditching her career and disappearing to begin from scratch anonymously in a new location? So she began to write a diary column about her transition. Here’s how she began:

“I am a transsexual sports writer. It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words”

As with Lucy, the hope that she would be allowed respect and privacy for the more intimate details of her transition was denied by a salacious tabloid press. There’s one aspect of this which I haven’t seen touched on by other commentators … the extent to which tabloid monstering can destroy the delicate process of renegotiating your identity with your nearest and dearest, for whom your transition can already resemble a bereavement, and with workmates and acquaintances, who may already imagine it is a big ask for them to let go of your old persona:

” … How do you go about sharing your most important truth,” Christine wrote, “one you spent a lifetime trying to keep deeply buried, to a world that has grown familiar and comfortable with your facade?”

I think many people, whose natural instincts never present them with the possibility of full-on social rejection even by those they thought were closest, have little concept of how intensely devastating this can be. To put it baldly we are social animals and you don’t have to look far in nature to understand how little chance of survival a social animal has when faced with rejection by the herd. In humans, real or imagined, it’s probably THE major cause of suicide.

There are certain commentators in the tabloid press whose stock in trade is to stoke the fires of social rejection against vulnerable individuals for no reason other than prejudice. They instigate witch hunts. That we tolerate these individuals and give them a platform in the 21st century is a poor reflection on our claim to civilisation.

According to Rolling Stone ‘a major rock’ star is planning to transition.

I’d never heard of Laura until today and don’t know how high profile she is but I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for her.

Historically transitioning in the public eye has been a horrible experience. Perhaps it’s a good sign that Rolling Stone seems to have removed their hideous 2006 hounding and speculation about a very well known film director and writer from their website. There was also a high profile US sportswriter in 2007 who had a tragic end after much lurid speculation in the media. Since Jan Morris, the most high profile transitions [as opposed to outings] I can think of in the UK were an apparently well known cyclist and one lees-distinguished member of a famous rock band, who both took the wise decision to transition well away from the public eye … although equally why should this have to seem to be a wise decision? One of my own early memories is of Jan Morris being cruelly pilloried by bishops and establishment ‘worthies’ on the BBC for being a delusional crank.

I say ‘as opposed to outings’ because once one has transitioned to a place where one is comfortable with one’s gender and hopefully been fortunate enough to repair and rebuild one’s social support network, the self-doubt and questioning are over. The undermining shit the world can throw at you becomes just that … shit.

Despite the negative impression those who read the Trans Media Watch Facebook may get, I find it astonishing how the media has changed even just over the last five years in response to a public, which is now far more accepting of an individual’s right to seek self-fulfilment. I desperately hope Laura’s privacy is respected. Transition is such a vulnerable period. Transitioners can so easily be  traumatised by the reaction of those around them as if growing up aware of being trans yet feeling unable to acknowledge it were not already enough. A common feature is to start out with optimism and faith in humankind only to have one promise after another broken by those who swore they would always stand by you no matter what. It’s not entirely their fault. They are often as innocently unaware of the possible bigotry they may be subjected to for supporting their loved one as the transitioner themself. Perhaps they still want to give love and support but find they are struggling to keep afloat themselves through their own coming to terms with external social pressure … that pressure can sometimes prove unbearable.

I so hope that Laura’s transition can be a gentler, kinder journey than for those who have gone before. If we can look back in five years time and say that it was, we will have truly made some progress. By then Laura will be well established in her target gender and in a far better position to take on the world … and I will long before have removed this blog from google’s tentacles. My heart goes with her.

Is transition TRAPPED IN THE WRONG adult ‘before and after’ narrative by the media and/or by trans people themselves who comply with cisgender ideology?

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