Posted by: Emily | 11 June 2012

Loving my own narrative

There’s very little I can do this morning other than point to Erica’s most recent post and say, “This, this over here, this is the truth.”

let’s make one thing abundantly clear: because all trans people are valid, all trans narratives are valid. …

it’s time to dump the expectation that you have to have a certain narrative to be trans. …

we enforce these narratives because we believe we’re not valid without them, because we need to tell the right things to gatekeepers to survive, or because transfundamentalists often control structures within the community and rule them with an iron fist and expect complete narrative compliance.

My life is so full of shoulds and woulds and if only I coulds that I don’t even know where to start. And the truth is that all those bullet points of the “standard narrative” which I think I should be doing, or the things that I think I ought to have done however long ago and are now worth kicking myself over, or the things that I know in my heart of hearts I will never like or wish to do and yet feel like I’m supposed to—the pain that comes from these things is frightening and upsetting, and that’s just when it can be looked in the eye and acknowledged, because the rest of the time it’s just so paralyzing that I can’t even incline myself to see it and call it by its name. We police ourselves better than any group I’ve ever been part of.

And in my case, where did this come from? Not from an external gatekeeper who told me I must behave in a certain way, not really from any HBSer who poisons trans women by telling us not to transition if you have any doubts, not from any source other than my own damn self. Yes, these things all contribute, and at their worst they can have serious, critically derailing effects (maybe someday I’ll post about some of mine). And it’s very easy to extrapolate from this and to regard oneself as “less valid” because one’s transition isn’t following a particular story. But I am (very slowly) realizing that I am my own worst enemy, my own greatest barrier to getting what I want. And the way I have to deal with the pain caused by the perception that I am supposed to do certain things, to like certain things, to behave certain ways, in order to fit into some kind of expected narrative, is by self-love.

Calling this pain by its name is self-love. Recognition of the source of these feelings is self-love. Some wise people have told me that transition is not a science project, to be written up and turned in, marked by a teacher, and you have to get an A or you fail. It’s not a race, to be won or lost. It’s not a competition. (Of course, it’s much easier to write these things down, to tell myself these things, to know them intellectually, than it is to grok them, if you see what I mean.) I need to do what I need to do. That means I need to take possession of my own identity and call myself on my bullshit. I need to embrace my own narrative, love my own story, be the best Emily that I can be and not anybody else’s Emily.



  1. “I need to embrace my own narrative, love my own story, be the best Emily that I can be and not anybody else’s Emily.”

    it may not make you popular with the narrative police but it means you’re being good to yourself (and your self) and that’s part of making the best Emily there can be if you ask me.

    the narratives, i see where they had some need back in the day but they’re a relic and a dinosaur now, and the people who stick to them often harbor some really scary, nasty thoughts about people like you or i. we can’t be our best selves on their terms since their terms erase us anyways.

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