I attended a trans conference organised and chiefly attended by cis people. I didn’t know this would be the case before I went, and it was an awful experience. The worse parts don’t merit being repeated but I’ll touch on one aspect of it that particularly stunned me.
I wound up sitting next to the parent of a trans boy. In answering someone’s question, I implicitly disclosed, at which point, she began asking me all her queries about what might be next for her child. In the midst of answering those, I explained I was there in part to gather resources as part of disclosing to my twins. This visibly disturbed her. After trying to politely let it go, she finally asked, “but why tell them? You’re done transition, why bring it up with them?”
Yes, I found myself having to justify why I’d disclose at a trans conference, to someone who was in the process of benefiting from my remaining involved in trans advocacy. No, I was not impressed with these judgmental inquiries.
I explained that they had already begun being fascinated with my surgical scars, esp the skin grafts, and I wasn’t going to lie to them about why I had them. I explained how it was relevant in explaining why I don’t have a genetic link to them. “But many cishet people adopt! That’s no reason!” I explained that though they weren’t adopted, her point stood, many cishet people came to be parents via similar means as me but their relationship to said circumstances would be different, and it feels important to me that they know the unique history of how they came to be.
I found myself having to justify disclosing to my twins. Gross. I was not impressed with this unsolicited advice to erase parts of me to my own family.
I explained that my deadname has this impressive way of cropping up when I least expect it, even after all these years, and I would rather be the one to set the framework through which my medical and legal history is understood rather than have cisnormative people disclose me on their terms that make my skin crawl and invalidate my lived experience.
By the time I’d responded to all her inquiries, she remained visible upset with my choices in life. One of the things that helped me keep composure was this blog. It’s my space to document and unpack this constant pressure to never disclose again, and instead construct my life in ways so I don’t have to, as if I lived in an AU where all events in my life are under my control. This is govern by the false belief that my medical history hasn’t come up since some point of time. Perhaps when I began being read as male all the time when dressed in public and no one had access to my ID? Since legally amending my sex marker on all documentation? Since completing lower surgeries? No one seems to know, and my ongoing experience is that there is no such point in time. This constant pressure also reinforces the notion that to never or very selectively disclose is more desirable, indeed it is the goal of transition.
I’m not knocking non-disclosure as a concept. I have many younger relatives who don’t know my medical history. I also don’t live with them. It is highly unlikely they will be around the next time my zombiename rises, as it seemingly always will, sooner or later. These relatives are also unlikely to meet any of my trans friends. Or be aware of the next time I jab myself for testosterone.
It’s important to me the twins know at least some of my medical history. It’s relevant to them.
I can’t believe this happened at a trans conference of all places. You don’t have to agree with someone to respect their choices in their lives that don’t impact you. Trans can be relevant to some of us, long after whatever point you think a trans person can never again consider their medical history. Disclosure isn’t a blemish or statement on someone’s transition. It’s a multi-layered choice for some of us, that we make in differing ways in differing parts of our lives.