Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Letting Go of Privilege

As I discussed in my previous post, I have been increasingly dissatisfied with the disparity between my internal sense of gender and my outward presentation. The primary reason for this has simply been that in a lot of ways it is easier to present this way. I spent a very long time being very confused about my gender (in many ways I suspect I always will be) and during that time it seemed pointless to adjust my presentation.

I no longer feel this way. At some point in the past six months, being continually mistaken for something I am not stopped feeling like success. Now I can't ignore it. There's a constant crawling under my skin, a never-ending cry in the back of my brain.

I have spent over a decade desperately cultivating a semblance of femininity that I have never felt. Ever since my body started to change, becoming almost a caricature of what our culture sees as female, I have tried mold myself, my thoughts, looks and actions, to the way that my body is perceived in society. This effort has had mixed results. Passing as cisgender has become second nature to me in the years since puberty, and retracing the path to myself has not been and will not be easy.

However, now that I can see myself, and now that I've been seen by others, I can't go back. So instead I'm moving forward, and I would be lying if I didn't admit that I am terrified. If I had been honest with myself I would have done this years ago, but giving up my cis-privilege is a big deal, and it's scary.

I still seem "normal" right now. A little odd, definitely, past 25 and still a tomboy. Quirky, but certainly not threatening. That's probably going to change. People can get upset when they come across someone who they can't classify. I know, I've seen it. I know exactly what I'm giving up, and what I will be facing. But now, for so many reasons, it's finally worth the price to be free.

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