Just a little bit longer…
Hang on, Natalie. Imagine how much sweeter your terrible, cheap, back-pain-inducing mattress will feel if you make it.
And then sleep ’til Monday. Wake up and then PARTY FOREVER BECAUSE EVERYTHING WILL ALWAYS BE GOOD FROM THAT POINT ON WITH NOTHING BAD EVER AGAIN.
I think I might be just about all used up in terms of things to talk about, or things I’m actually capable of talking about in my present state.
I wish there was some kind of grand, awesome, sweeping, thematically-unifying thing I could think of to write here, to somehow tie it all together, but I’m sorry, I just don’t have that. I barely even remember what exactly I’ve written about.
There’s a not insignificant chance I’ll want to just delete it all when I finally wake up.
I have talked about a lot of personal things. Details of my life. “My story”. Things I haven’t ever openly talked about before, and I was never quite sure I wanted to ever talk about. Things I’m not so sure it was a good idea to have finally gotten into.
The thing is, I really don’t trust the “story” approach. I don’t trust how people clamour for them. I don’t trust how everyone seems to believe that our stories and histories are owed, that they belong to some collective effort to comprehend us and what we are… an effort that positions us as alien to the “shared” culture.
It often seems like, perhaps uniquely, perhaps not so much, that trans people are reminded of our “place” through the medium of questions. People want to know the details of our bodies, our genitals, our medical history, our relationships to family and friends, what medications we’re taking, our sex lives, our birth names, how we “knew”, etc. etc. etc. People feel totally secure in spontaneously asking us what we think of Random Trans Celebrity X. Demanding our take on Hypothetical Question Y. Insisting we provide clarifications on Thing That They’ve Wondering About Z.
It ends up creating this sense that our lives, thoughts, feelings, who we are… it doesn’t really belong to us. Does it? If they’re to tolerate our presence, we owe them in exchange that we gladly entertain their fascination, curiosity.
What power dynamic does that suggest?
But it can always be so politely suggested. We’re just trying to understand. It’s interesting that the exchange is actually EXPLICIT in that framework. “If you expect us to tolerate you, you should answer our questions.”
Our existence and rights both become information-commodity.
Who has the intellectual property rights to the life I’ve led?
What am I willing to exchange knowledge of those experiences for, and why? What does it mean when our human rights are dependent on an exchange, rather than an assumed given, something we’re owed regardless of what we may or may not offer to the society that grants or withholds them?
But in withholding the information… in being scared of those dynamics… in wanting to keep my story and experiences my own… what is that suggesting?
Sometimes the best way to resist commodification is to offer something freely. Gift economies can be a wonderful answer.
I don’t know who I’m exactly I’m giving this information to, or what it will result in. I don’t think I divulged any of it for my own sake. But I do know that withholding it felt proprietary, and I’m not sure that was the most comfortable relationship to have to those experiences. In making them open and available, at least the possibility of them benefiting someone enters into things. I know holding onto them wasn’t really benefiting me at all.
My story didn’t do me any good, but maybe someone else will be able read something there.