transgender gender identity
Opinion

‘A world determined to misunderstand us’: Identity and queer resilience

I get out of my second-hand car, held together by duct tape and good intentions.

The air here smells so good, like I’m out camping.

Looking around, I get the distinct feeling that everyone here owns the house they live in.

I walk around the back of the house and greet my masseuse at the top of the stairs.

I can’t afford this session, but I’ve been in so much pain I’ve decided my budget can get fucked.

‘Feminine energies’

Laying on the table, I tell her about the pain that settled into my knees and hips when I was living in my car, about the lower back pain I’ve been ignoring for 10 years, and the migraines I’ve been having for 15.

She stretches and manipulates my body as I keep jabbering on about my life.

“There’s a book in that,” she remarks.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard it.

But I think to myself, “How interesting and unique is my life really? I’m just a standard queer young person trying to navigate through life.”

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

How many of us have been told we’re “so brave!” just for going to work, the shops, or whatever.

My masseuse comments on my body and my energies, telling me that despite my masculine body I’ve got very clearly feminine energies.

She laughs at my assertion that I’m a bull dyke (albeit a futch one).

In her next breath she compliments an achievement of mine with “Oh my, good man!”

I close my eyes and breathe into the stretch.

She was referred to me as a trans-friendly therapist.

‘Only two genders’

When I first came out, I came out as non-binary and genderfluid and used they and them pronouns.

My parents struggled a lot.

My dad told me there’s only two genders.

I was consistently gendered male in public, regardless of how I presented.

I was often perceived as a cis gay man and as a sexual threat in queer spaces.

Eventually I changed to a non-binary trans woman, using she or they pronouns.

I wanted to make it easier for my parents.

I wanted to be as far from manhood as I could be.

I changed the public aspect of my identity because having it wilfully ignored hurt too much.

At least the world has some concept of trans womanhood.

At least my dad thinks women are real.

‘True brilliance and intrigue’

As I drive away from the affluent suburb, my back decidedly less angry, I keep thinking about the words she said.

“There’s a book in that.”

I find myself wondering if there’s really anything innately interesting in the lives of queer people.

I think the true brilliance and intrigue of queer lives is our resilience in the face of a world determined to misunderstand us.

We are brave, but not for the reasons they say.

We’re brave because we’re fucking badass.

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