Saturday, February 16, 2008

burning bridges

I really struggled with Max Valerio's article from This Bridge We Call Home. To start with, the article hits close to home for me. I also identify as trans, though in a very different way than Max does. Max identifies very much as a man , and a heterosexual man at that. Max's obsession with masculinity seems to be an obsession with hegemonic masculinity.

And this type of masculinity, and his embodiment of masculinity honestly scares me. And maybe it's partially because I haven't taken testosterone yet. Maybe it's because I don't know what the physical changes actually feel like. I feel like Max went from one end of a spectrum to another, and I'm worried that I would do the same.

It's actually one of my biggest fears about transitioning, losing some of the aspects of myself that I like. But then again, maybe I've read his experience wrong. I understand the difficulty of letting go of a prior identity, of letting going of being dyke, lesbian, whatever you want to call it. As Max wrote, "the transition from female to male completely and entirely changed not only my physical body, but also my most closely held values and deepest perceptions." I don't think anyone would be able to approach an experience that will potentially change their "most closely held values and deepest perceptions."

Another aspect of the article that I found challenging was the fact that transsexuality itself shows the bridge (to use Anzaldua's metaphor) between female and male, yet after he's transitioned, Max almost disregards that bridge. He also doesn't really talk about having privilege. He does, but he also sidesteps when talking about privilege. I understand that trans-people completely lose their privilege when they get discovered, but when you pass for most of the time, even if you are freaking out about being discovered, you are still passing, which means you've got privilege.

Even so, I also don't want to disregard Max's experience. This is his life, and how he experiences it and how he interprets it is valid, I have no bearing on its validity. Just because I'm uncomfortable about parts of it doesn't mean it's not right or true. And who knows, it's entirely possible that testosterone will completely change how I see the world as well. And while that is a really scary proposition right now, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

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