Most of us have heard about the Three Big Lies:
(1) “The check is in the mail.”
(2) “I’ll love you in the morning.”
(The original third lie is quite obscene and disgusting so I will not use it here. But my Third Lie is even more appropriate for the article.)
(3) “You can do anything if you want it badly enough.”
A lot of very smart people repeat this saying as if it were the greatest revelation since the Second Coming. They put it out there in big red letters. They really mean it.
My reaction is to ask these smart people not to insult us with this empty platitude. It is clearly and totally wrong. It is true that we can do a great many things that we might not think we could. But to tell a person that he or she can do anything is simply silly.
Think about it. We all have physical limits on our abilities. That fact alone makes this statement meaningless. I will never climb Mount Everest. I will never play a sport as a professional athlete.
In the realm of non-physical activities, it is beginning to look like I will never succeed as a recognized writer. I have not given up yet, but I know the odds are almost a million to one against me. Nowadays, the few writers who make it seem to do so through the luck of the draw. A lot of very talented writers never come close to making it.
What else will I never do? I will never be elected President or Senator or Congressman. I will never be an actor – I figured that one out in high school when I did a school play. I was okay but Helen Hayes and Patty Duke had nothing to worry about.
I could go on, but you can see the point. The self-help gurus who push the power of positive thinking simply go much too far with their religious belief. And we let them.
Some of you may now be wondering how any of this connects with the transgender world, since that is supposed to be the subject of this column. It’s a fair question.
The answer, and the main point of this effort, is: as transgender persons, there are many things that we simply cannot do or have, no matter how much we may want them. These things may be physical qualities or states of being.
Of greatest concern to this piece, transgender females can never have a standard female anatomy. They can have surgery to make their parts look and feel somewhat like those of a birth female. If they are lucky, they may get feeling back into those areas after the surgery and be able to have some kind of sexual response. But it does not happen for everyone who has the surgery.
The transgender females will never have the full range of functions and feelings of the birth female. They will not be able to conceive a child, carry it to term, and bear the child into the world.
I dearly wish I could have a normal female anatomy. I would give so much to be able to be a complete woman. But I can only go so far. Even an operation would not guarantee a full feeling response, which is part of the reason why I have chosen not to have that surgery. It would only give me a pale imitation of the real thing.
The situation is even worse for transgender males. The available operations give the person something that looks somewhat like a penis. But it does not function as an erect penis without assistance. I do not know for sure, but I doubt that the person would ever feel much from that area after the operation.
Medical science has not gone far enough to give us the fully normal and functional parts that we were not born with. Maybe these options will be available to our future transgender relatives. Who knows?
Let us move on. In a case that is closely related to our Third Lie, there are the people who tell you that you can be happy in any situation if you just will yourself to be happy. I know these people sincerely mean what they say. But they do not always appreciate the absurdity of that statement.
According to the Happy Ones, I am supposed to be happy if I am in prison or a concentration camp like Auschwitz. “La di da. They may execute me today, but I am happy as a lark.” Really?
This is not to say that one cannot remain true to one’s self in a truly evil situation. We know that it can be done. We have heard the stories of people in camps like Auschwitz who did it. Also, I am not in prison or a concentration camp. (Not yet, anyway.) But I am old, isolated, and transgender. I have only had a few short romantic relationships in my life. The odds are heavily against my having another one. I am lucky to have a few friends, whom I do appreciate.
Nevertheless, it very much looks like I will live the rest of my life living alone with only a small amount of social interaction. And I am supposed to be skipping across the meadow, deliriously happy? It feels like an insult to my intelligence.
Yes, it is true that some people are able to live their lives while living alone with practically no interaction with other people and be reasonably content. I once watched a documentary series about an old timer named Dick Proenneke who went up to the Alaskan wilderness to live completely by himself for over thirty years.
Proenneke had to get up there and build all of the shelter and other things that he needed to survive. He had to hunt and fish for the meat he would eat. He planted a garden to grow a few vegetables. He did have somebody occasionally ship in supplies that he could not get in the wilderness — but probably not very often. If he had had a major medical condition, he probably would have died up there. He seemed to be content in that solitude. (To purchase the DVD, search the PBS website for Alone in the Wilderness. The current price is $29.95. You may also be able to find it on YouTube or similar sites.)
Other people go into isolated areas for long periods of time and survive. They may be military forces or fur trappers or miners. It can be done. But I could not do it. I like a certain amount of solitude, but not that much. I do not want to be alone all of the time. It makes me wonder how I offended everyone else.
To continue our look at factors affecting happiness, I know therapists who firmly believe that a person’s childhood experiences help to determine one’s future happiness. After looking at the question, I have come to believe that some people’s early lives were sufficiently traumatic that they may never be truly happy in later life. They suffered too much damage from lack of love or mistreatment in their early years.
I now believe I did not get much love from my mother. It is not that she did not care. But she had her own problems and had to spend most of her mental energy working on them. She did not have much left for me.
Are there other things that transgender persons cannot realistically hope to do in their lives? Certainly.
Some of us can pass as our adopted gender with more or less effort. But some of us will never pass, no matter how much work we do on ourselves. I see a few photos of transgender females who have overwhelmingly male facial and bodily features. They will never be able to pass. God bless them but they got the male body to the nth degree, no matter how much they see themselves as female. People will always look at these transgender females and see a stereotypical male person.
If I had been in that position, I might not have made the transition. Before I decided to live as female, I did a photo shoot in female clothes and makeup to see if I had any hope of passing. It looked like I might pull it off, so I went for it. But I have no idea what the answer would have been if there were no hope of looking female.
That is a definite physical limit on our ability to function in life. What else might be a limit?
We are facing a real limit right now. It has become all too clear that the haters are coming after us. A social conservative activist named Charlie Kirk recently called transgender persons “a throbbing middle finger to God.” I have a joke about that but will save it for later use. Besides, as a Christian, I prefer to stay away from blasphemy.
We transgender people definitely cannot change the minds of people who hate us as much as this. What is worse is that a few states have legislatures which are now dominated by people with this attitude or who do not wish to challenge the haters. In those states, these haters may be able to pass legislation to attack us quite meaningfully. I can imagine two main modes of attack:
- Take away our transgender medical treatments like hormones and surgeries.
- Tell us to completely leave the state on pain of being put in prison.
I keep asking myself what I will do if either of these attacks is passed into law in my state. It seems quite possible. And no amount of positive self-talk will help me if those things happen.
I now admit that I am becoming worried about the future for transgender persons in the U.S. The anti-trans activists clearly want to call the wrath of God down on us. The courts may protect us, but we cannot count on it. A few courts have ruled against us on one question or another.
So let us think soberly and clearly about these issues. Positive self-talk can help us significantly. But it will not solve all of our problems. We may need to take action. I do not want to end up in prison or be forced to live without female hormones. We need to start facing up to the threats against us and come together to protect ourselves. As Ben Franklin said, “We must all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Originally published on Michelle’s SubStack blog.
Category: Transgender Opinion