If you were to catch me at night, between clothes, you would see a male body and short grey hair. You wouldn’t see a man’s body, because it isn’t owned by a man. Ironically, you would see a woman’s body that doesn’t look female. But if you could look inside, beneath the skin, you would see me; I would be her. Close your eyes and hold me, and what would you feel? The gentleness of a woman, or the hard reality of the body? What might you kiss, a male mouth or another woman’s kiss in return?
I am like a classic ancient riddle, where a series of intriguing statements can be made, apparently paradoxical, but true. And when you hear the punch line it all makes sense; cue applause at the cleverness of it. I know, riddles were used by jesters to tell awkward truths to monarchs. Am I the Joker, or the Riddle? (And if you’re a Batman fan, stop right there! Batman just gives me the creeps.)
Living with this paradox is no joke though. If I asked people ‘What am I?’ they would be polite, telling me I am a woman, of course. That’s lovely, but since I need the love of a woman, does that make me lesbian? In other words, does it actually change anything about me, or does it just correct that much-needed label? Last blog I wrote of labels being tickets. Where does this one let me in?
Ask another person in the shadow of the wings, offstage for a moment, and they might say ‘He’s a man who wants to be a woman.’ They would be trying to be honest about what they see. They may be kindness itself, but it wouldn’t change their label. Where would this ticket let me in?
My ticket, or label, says neither ‘Stalls’ nor ‘Grand Circle’. I am not a man; no, really. I am not really a woman, because I have a male body, albeit subtly changing. I am not hetero, because I am not a man, I am not gay, because I am not a man, and no, I am not attracted to men. I am not lesbian, because I do not have a female body, and I am not bisexual. But I still yearn for the understanding love of a woman, and to love a woman with understanding. What? Because she is a woman? No; because she is not a man. But could a woman love me because I am not a man?
Catch me at night, between clothes, and tell me: ‘What am I?’ Maybe you find out by touching me. Do I change you? If you hold me, and I am a man, does that alter what you are? If you hold me and you experience a woman’s embrace, does that change you? If I change you, and it is because of what I am, not who I am, does that help you decide: ‘What am I’? What would you say I need, if I am not to change the other person by sharing love?
The answer to what I am, is someone, just a person, in a transition that will never be perfect, that will always be a patch, a substitute, but with which I am immeasurably more comfortable. Maybe I don’t need ‘a woman’s love’ at all. I just need a person’s love, who can see the male/female paradox, but experience me as a woman, without that changing them.
This is all terribly personal, and it is about what I am feeling inside. I know plenty of other trans* people who have no paradox: they are 100 percent the gender they express, and the rest is just a biological disaster from birth. I respect that. Just as I respect those who can live and express alternately their male side and their female side, whatever the stronger preference may be. I know where I need to be; my life now is as a woman, unequivocally, while not denying that I still have male aspects, like everyone else. This is not about being definitive or setting a paradigm, nor about any particular person in relation to me. It is just my personal paradox, which I may never resolve. Unlabelled, unticketed, unaccessed …
What am I?
I am just a person who wants to be loved for who they are. Completely. For being wholly strange, yet strangely whole. I want to be riddled with love again.