My Dissonance Doesn’t Need to Make Sense to You
I get a lot of feminists, or really, a lot of cis people in general, who seem miffed about my dissonance as a trans woman. Or, in many other cases, confused. Apparently, a deep psychological or instinctual pain has to… make rational sense. Apparently.
This is illustrated best by a statement made by a cis woman I knew who I was speaking to about why I sought out hormone replacement therapy. Specifically, when I pointed out that I had dissonance regarding my facial hair’s volume (back before I got laser and estrogen, now my shaving is more of a safety concern and a lot less dissonance) she said, “but I have facial hair too! I don’t get how you can feel dysphoria over something regular girls have!”
Moving on from how she didn’t use cis and othered me, let’s take a look at this idea of “cis people have it too!” For one, this idea is based on a huge strawperson fallacy. Namely that our dissonance invariably comes from what we perceive certain sexes as having. This fail bomb of a fallacy sits within the reasoning of tons and tons of people. Bindel’s bullshit about gender essentialism depends on our dissonance somehow being caused by what we perceive others as having. Ron Gold’s bullshit depends on this same fallacy, that dissonance is just some kind of delusion built from what we see and perceive of another sex. But you see, it goes beyond that. This idea of “but cis people have that” is basically assuming that this is based off some sort of logical deduction gone wrong. When someone says that they don’t realize what they’re actually saying is, “your instinctual pain doesn’t follow logic!” Yes. If you think that sounds utterly ridiculous and unbelievably ignorant of even the basics we learn from our own experiences as humans, that’s because it is. Funny how that works. Deep psychological/instinctual feelings not being logical. Shocking, I know.
Now, no doubt, transsexuality and being transgender both come in a lot of different flavors (TG especially) and certainly many of us feel dissonance or dysphoria differently from others, in different intensities and due to different causes. So for the most part, this is going to be me, talking about me (and a contingent of trans folks I know who get it like me) and how I (and they) experience dissonance. In no way should these statements be applied across the board unless the trans person in question states they are accurate. Disclaimer stated, moving on.
My dissonance has absolutely nothing to do with what cis girls have. In fact, I am entirely indifferent to what cis girls have. You (you being directed at a hypothetical cis woman) could have a big bushy beard that birds live in and breasts flatter than a Plexiglas window for all I care. It is irrelevant (unless the birds were shitting everywhere, then it would be relevant to hygiene). Furthermore, and this goes back to all of this bullshit about how dissonance doesn’t make sense, who are you to expect a feeling, a deep psychological and instinctual feeling, regarding body structure, to be rational and easily explained? Last I checked, I didn’t have an awful lot to be sad about in my life (I actually do pretty well for myself, all things considered) yet I have depression. One could easily talk about how irrational my depression is. Yeah, except that depression isn’t rational. It just is. It’s a present internal feeling that has an effect on the mind and well being. It does not need to have a rational reason, just a cause.
And no one really knows what the cause of dissonance is. There are plenty of theories (most of which are made in complete ignorance of trans folk’s lived experiences) but the fact is, we don’t know what causes it. We don’t even know if there’s one single cause, or multiple causes or even multiple factors that merge together into a Voltron cause for dissonance. All of this combined, the fact that it’s a feeling, not a logical thought process, the fact that we don’t know the causes, all of this basically means that anyone who says that my dissonance “doesn’t make sense” is driving right off a logical cliff at max speed
Virtually all of the bullshit theories used to strip validity from us depend on some sort of socialization situation. And all of them arise from the fact that to cis people, our feelings “don’t make sense”. Shocking how a feeling that someone has never felt before wouldn’t make sense to them. Just shocking. The radical feminists say that it’s delusions that then make us hurt when we can’t get what we think other sexes have. The less intelligent gender abolitionists say it’s because we’re unhappy in our gender roles and instead of just saying fuck you to the roles, we change our bodies. Cisgays with an axe to grind say that it’s us trying to escape being gay and part of eliminationism of gay people (yeah, cuz everywhere = Iran. Apparently). All of this is ignorant. There’s really no nicer way to put it. In every single one of these blanket statements, there is an explicit ignorance of the counterexamples from among trans people and just a basic lack of comprehension of the fact that feelings ≠ logical. For instance, gender roles: I said a giant fuck you to gender roles before I transitioned. I went the gender apathetic route and did what I wanted for my self expression. Didn’t do a thing to change my dissonance. Also, I’m more annoyed by the expected roles for women then I am for men. I act as a counterexample to that bullshit argument and I’m generally ignored when I break it by existing. I actually act as a counterexample for the sexuality one as well, being that I only find individuals with vaginas, breasts, curvy bodies and a derth of body/facial hair volume attractive and this would label me fairly gay to society with my being a woman and all.
Yeah, if I was running away from gayness, I must sure be lost.
And all of this, all of this silliness would be completely avoidable if these people stopped believing that central fallacious fail bomb that dissonance is based on what we think people have, that it arises from thought at all. And let me tell you, this central bullshit pillar drives me up the wall so much. Because that one, I get to hear it from allies too, who are trying to comfort me and be helpful. Yeah. Thanks folks.
This crowd should know that pain isn’t logical. If any of them have dealt with disabilities that involve various forms of pain (or know PWD) they’ve got no excuse to think that a feeling of pain needs to make rational sense. Emotional pain, physical pain, none of it is something that you think about or arrive to through reasoning. So the sheer level of ignorant fuckery required to expect our pain to follow your arguments about rationality is just ridiculous,
Internet RadFems Radscums. And the truly unhelpful statement of, “hey, I have that trait too” doesn’t in the least comfort us, allies. You’re just being lazy. It’s not hard to research. It’s not hard to ask those of us who are willing to teach. Finding out more is the best way to avoid tasting your delicious toes when you’re trying to help. Omnomnom foot. I get that all of you are trying to be helpful and comforting but well, we all know my views on intent.
Let’s talk about dissonance. (A more basic, 101 level post on my dissonance can be found here.)
Me personally, I’m probably slightly atypical (or perhaps a lot of trans folk hide this from the gatekeepers, either way), the radscum bullshit theorizing is especially silly since the dissonance came first. Yep, that’s right. My identity as a woman congealed out of dissonance. Not the other way around. I’ve always been in pain from some of the features we commonly refer to as male that I possessed. Of course, not all of them, but golly we wouldn’t want to break someone’s theory, now would we? For instance, most of my body hair wasn’t a problem. Yeah it was asthetically displeasing but that’s not dissonance. I also don’t want a uterus. All of this shows that dissonance comes in all patterns, intensities and styles (and is not in the least dependent on what society says women should have). It’s important to learn this. This lesson is made even more abundantly clear by the presence of nonbinary folk and genderqueer folk. There are no sexes out there that match what a notable number of nonbinary and GQ folk need in body structure (for those that do require body modification). Yet that number still has bodily dissonance. Funny how that works.
I don’t know why I have dissonance. I don’t need to know why to have it either. It’s inexplicable, I don’t know where it comes from, just what it does. I know that my mind rejects the presence of a penis and accepts and expects the presence of a vagina and breasts. The dissonance for my chest faded as soon as I got development. They weren’t even big. And the dissonance was still aided and gone from that spot.
Not once has knowing what cis girls have changed this sensation. And that’s because it honestly is not about what cis girls have. My facial hair hurting me is as valid as any other deep psychological pain or instinctual response, no matter how many bearded cis women dance under the stars (or sit, sitting is fine too). I’m not dissonant about my wookie legs but if another trans woman has dissonance regarding leg hair? That’s entirely valid too.
Because pain doesn’t need to make rational sense. That’s not how it works. Get the fuck over this.
Filed under: activism, rant | 64 Comments
Tags: cissexism, feminism, kyriarchy, privilege, transgender