Good Omens

Living a genderqueer life

Category: my trans story

A new direction

Today, I called a doctor for a referral to the trans unit at the Helsinki University Hospital.

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Microseconds that matter

Two kinds of people: some know my birth name, know my whole history; others don’t.

Two kinds of people: some, calling me by my name, hesitate for a microsecond before saying it: “How about you… Enne?”

So there’s actually four ways of saying the name. With somebody knowing and hesitating,

I get hurt. I don’t have the courage to say, “did you notice what just happened.” I don’t know why you did it, and probably never will, because it’s so difficult to ask. Was it a momentary lapse in your concentration, a sign of you thinking of me as something that is no more, and just pretending to respect my wish? These silent microseconds hurt me the most because they make me try to find them on everybody’s lips, hearing them even when they weren’t there, making me doubt even myself.

With people not knowing what was before, using the name I’ve given them to use,

I feel good and secure. This is my life as I want to live it, not as dictated by somebody else. I have the means to steer my life in directions I find meaningful. Sometimes it means steering away from difficult things in the past, and those things must be reckoned with at some point. People who don’t know who I’ve been, because I’ve decided not to tell them, can’t help me with those things.

With somebody not having lived it but knowing what I’ve decided to tell them,

I am open and fragile. I want to tell them everything about myself, and at the same time, I know that with telling, they may begin to think of me differently. Letting a new person know my old name is one of the most difficult things I know. But with the old name come so many stories, places, names, feelings, that have made me what I was and what I am. If I am to open myself to somebody, if I want somebody to understand me completely, I can’t separate my history from my present.

With people knowing everything and still saying the name, the name, like it is my name,

I feel loved and humbled. I am so important to somebody that they have wanted to let go of their old images of me, to understand me in a new way, not compel me into a shape easier for them to understand but let me be free and breathe again, freed from the prison of minds, both theirs and mine.

I (want to) live in a world full of trust and love

What if I told you that my trans experience isn’t something I had been looking for all my life, but something I heard about and wanted to try for myself, and found that I liked? Would that make my experience less true?

When I first started studying comparative religion (in a galaxy far away called year 2007), on the second day of the study year, all new students gathered in the department’s seminary room with the professors and other faculty members. We had sparkling wine (the university still had money back then), and were asked why we wanted to study the subject. I remember saying that even if the natural sciences or psychology discovered exactly where it is that religious experience originates, be it evolution biology, cognitive neuroscience, psychoanalysis, sociology, whatever, the experience itself would remain. And because of that, it is people’s experiences that I’m interested in, not the reason for them. I’m not interested in biology, and I’m not interested in the existence of God. What interested me then and still does, is what people feel and how they make their feelings & experiences understandable to other people.

For me, it’s the same with trans experience. I don’t want to need to know if being trans is something born with us, or if it’s something we choose, or something else again. All I need to know is that the experience itself is there, for me at least, and that other people have told me they also experience it. After that, it’s a question of trust. Do I require some proof from you, because I think I know better, or do I try to live knowing I don’t know everything, and might as well know nothing?

As a last school thing before summer, I’ve spent some time writing an essay about early Christian conceptions of God colliding with those of the Hellenistic world. In the latter, the word God refers to a perfect being. To be perfect, you need to be complete and unchanging. And to be unchanging, you need to be detached from everything else. Is that something I want?

It may well be that being genderqueer is something I wanted to try, tried, and found out it suited me better than being a man. When I had freed myself from the tight confines of being a man in this culture, I found I did not fit back in – not because I had been trans all along but because I had found freedom in it unlike anything before. Or it may be that I have been genderqueer all along, and finding the concept, I slipped into it, not by choice but because it was what I am.

But as I said, I’m really not very interested in the question. What is important to me is that living genderqueer has opened to me a world of good I didn’t know existed. It is a world that doesn’t reach everywhere yet, but it will eventually – a world of trust, of shared griefs and joys, of absurd moments when it collides with other worlds. Not an easy world, but one full of love.