Monday, 9 November 2015

Airbrushed Transition

Doodle & bra.
Bit-ler’s too busy with curling irons and HRT patches and chasing a bra-snatching Doodle to realise, but it’s true – there’s power in transitioning. 

We weren’t the easiest couple to work with, Bit-ler being a doctor and myself still a trauma therapist at the time.  A handful of tattered professional egos lay in our wake when we met with Newest Counsellor.  She stressed not putting me in the position of co-counsellor, so Bit-ler and I thought we’d found a keeper.   

Until Bit-ler admitted to being trans.  Newest Counsellor gushed about her one and only other trans client, someone who hadn’t transitioned (please transition o goody o goody o goody).  I was a bit creeped out.  

When Newest Counsellor realised I’d been side-lined, she made a rule that a portion of each session be allotted to me.  The next session ended with her saying we didn’t have time for me that week, Bit-ler’s issues had been so pressing.  The following session, Newest Counsellor decided I was an attention seeking whiner who got plenty of air time. 

Our wonderful Newest Counsellor was more than a bit trans-fixed, one of those folk who have a diversity bracelet and’ll give their eye teeth for a trans charm.  This is the power of the transition – it shows people for what they are.

Like Bit-ler’s friend and colleague.  The more she had to drink, the more honestly (offensively) she expressed (1) her fears of how Bit-ler might’ve presented as female, (2) her relief at being wrong, and (3) her conviction Bit-ler should never wear a bustier and fishnets.  Ever. 

What could’ve been an afternoon of culinary debauchery and raucous laughter became a ‘First Viewing’ of the female Bit-ler in an environment where, if necessary, awful things could be said.  In other words, while the transition was the catalyst to Friend & Colleague’s reaction, her emotions had more to do with her needs.  It’s what I call subjective compassion. 

Bit-ler’s patient with this onslaught of subjective compassion from her friends.  Gender transition is uncommon enough that however a person may think they’d handle it, they’re never prepared when a transition’s happening in the office or living next door or is attached to the memory of changing clothes in front of someone before they knew.  Normal concepts like gender, friendship, honesty get turned on their head.  How you apply those concepts to the person transitioning, well, that says something about who you are.  Maybe something you never expected yourself to be capable of.  Something you really don’t want to know.  

Me, I’m usually not so nice as Bit-ler, but when I watch this struggle in people, I witness a psychological awakening of sorts that often forces me to accept harsh things about myself.  It’s honest and intimate.  It’s a process that demands patience from everyone involved, even the little dog SOFFA, too.

Unfortunately, this interpersonal process gets swept away by advocacy guidelines on what language to use, protocols for sharing information, agency expectations on getting it all done and dusted after a 30 day absence from work – for both the trans-person and innocent bystanders. 

Airbrushed transition, I’d say.

Little dog, SOFFA, too.
We stopped going to Newest Counsellor because she objectified us.  As to Friend & Colleague, Bit-ler loves and respects her as much as ever.  I, as the little dog SOFFA, feel gifted to’ve seen Friend & Colleague’s bravery at facing the power of transition full on.  She was real and that’s all anyone can ask for.  It’s the best a friend can be.

1 comment:

  1. "One of those folk who have a diversity bracelet and’ll give their eye teeth for a trans charm..." Brilliant.