A little while ago, Natalie put up (as part of a longer post, naturally) a meditation on the stories of trans people.
I suppose there’s a lot of things that I find strange or complicated about trans people “telling our stories”. It feels like it’s something we’re sort of frustratingly expected to do, and like there’s a certain kind of particular genre in which we’re expected to tell it. It’s supposed to be a story filled with struggle and pain and suicide attempts and ostracization and so forth. A bit of a grim tragedy thing. And people often seem annoyed when we tell our stories in different terms… like as comedies, epics or fantasies. Or when we swap out the expected tropes, metaphors and archetypes, such as The Victim, The Bully, The Wrong Body, The Last Resort, The Transformation, and instead articulate ourselves through new, self-determined terms and frameworks.
Story is part of the way we construct and manage meaning. Our cultural expectations of story and our retellings of stories both have an effect on the retention of the memories from which those stories are told. It is simply easier to deal with memories that conform to what we think story should be.
And us? Well, we’re lazy sods, so we gravitate to the stories that meet our expectations, that are easier to deal with. Not always, but it’s true in the general case. So, when we see a study (pdf) that tells us that self-identified heterosexual men who score highly in homophobia also show a greater degree of “penile tumescence” in response to graphic male-on-male pornography, the lazy response is to use this finding to prop up the idea that “everyone knows” that homophobes are compensating for being secretly gay. [Read more…]