Preface, if the article needs it: I hope to speak, here, to my experience as a trans woman and, perhaps, more generally, to the experiences of transgender and nonbinary communities at large.
Being a transgender woman (or trans* in general) is arguably the only way to be able to live with your brain and body completely disconnected. It produces in the self an intense, insatiable focus not on reality or tangible evidence, but, instead, on the could-bes.
And, as a result of it, a whole new set of obstacles and tricky situations crop up just for us: deciding which bathroom to use (“Will I get yelled at or assaulted using the women’s room?”), deciding if you’re willing to brave the comments if you wear a dress outside or whether today is a cry-in-bed or ignore-feelings kind of day.
Things Transparent, I Am Jazz or even those one or two characters on Shameless tried to explain and portray but could never do true justice.
It’s a life of fear and learning how to live comfortably within it.
It also produces and brings to light a new range of emotions, mired in self-hate and discontentment. Wishing there was a way to live truly, authentically the way you want. A wish to escape. It causes an almost Holden Caulfield–esque fuck-it attitude, along with a healthy dose of nostalgically mourning the past and wanting to return to earlier, simpler days before dysphoria and all those “complicated emotions” set in.
It’s a fixation on the urge to immediately change our bodies, yet without the courage or means to do it.
Being trans almost kills one’s spirit, but instead, beats it within an inch of its life and leaves it still breathing.
And Valentine’s Day is a particularly difficult holiday because of it. Not just because of the discouragingly small trans community (particularly trans women) and the feeling of loneliness that comes with it. Nor is it because Carleton is grossly unaware of the trans community here and trans issues in general. Rather, it’s because—seemingly—nobody can love a trans woman.
We’re in between. We are, as the media trumpets, “women in our minds” (though, as detailed here, we aren’t really) and “men on the outside.” We’re always imposters with a fleeting sense of pride that often gives way to remorse and discontent. We sit squarely on neither side of the spectrum and exist as fascinations rather than people.
And as if our transness doesn’t tear us up enough, people kill us, too.
So with every new person, instead of a straight, cis relationship, we’re not necessarily looking for momentary comfort or “that look they give you;” we look for safety—for a person that will, at the least, treat us like human beings.
We look for soft people. People who look beneath the surface. People who can recognize tenderness and vulnerability when it presents itself and not exploit it or shy away from it. People who—excuse the cliché—accept us, not as an idea but as people.
There’s arguably no “hookup culture” for us, as that in itself requires making one so vulnerable that it’s impossible to keep things “chill” or on the down-low. Most things become serious when looking to be respected.
And, above anything, transness is just weird to people.
So it’s an especially tough time of year not to live authentically. Especially when surrounded by such a cis, straight community.