Rigid Memes to Justify a Personal Story: Our Inability to Acknowledge the Elephant in the Room

I had a friend I knew from junior high school, when we were both 12.  We did our homework together and were really close, and we were really heavily into video games.

Elephant in the Room

Elephant in the Room

By the time I finally transitioned in 2011, we had been friends for 20 years.

He didn’t take it well, but concealed it well at first.

But I caught on…

When I finally had to see him in person last year, when my computer crashed, he was very sneaky about what he said.

While we waited for my computer as we reinstalled Windows, we put in the old Street Fighter 2 cartridge on Super Nintendo, and played the game just like old times.

I picked the same character and fought the same way.  I was still the same person, after all, except I was presenting as myself, as a woman.

He muttered distinctly: “You’re still the same, nothing has changed.”

He said it in a way that affirmed for him that I was still the same, and that gender transition didn’t do anything for me.  To him, crossing and breaking the gender binary was too much to handle.

I had known Kevin for 20 years by last year, and I knew his political and personal views quite well.  I knew that being a very conservative person, it was hard for him to acknowledge that his best friend had done this, had changed her gender.

His ego would not let him let go of the image and categorization he had put me in, and so he seized the first opportunity he saw to confirm his erroneous suspicions, to uphold his old memes: that gender transition, in his mind, was something foolish that I did, and I wasn’t fooling anyone, and that most of all, I wasn’t fooling him.

He could see the emperor had clothes on…

Or so he thought.

So the question is, how do we go about informing people that gender isn’t a strict binary?  How do we go from convincing people we are who we are, rather than fooling them into thinking we are who we are?  Where’s the balance?

How do we convince people that who we really are isn’t about if we keep our old habits or not?  How do we affirm who we are in a world that doesn’t give us any leeway in finding our new identity?

How do we own our new truth and present it proudly, even if it associates us immediately with our past?


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