The paradox of existing, the double standard of living
Aside from knowing I was different as a child, I knew there were certain things I wouldn’t be. It’s not because I can’t be, but because I don’t fit the standards, and that has always been my point to rebel. It was always as if we were born into a To-Do list, playing by the rules designed by society to ward us off from being ourselves.
Growing up as an androgynous child, I never really struggled internally with my gender identity despite not knowing exactly what it was. I just wanted to live life. I remember vividly how I would stand in front of my mother’s mirror with her dress and heels on, admiring myself while mentally carving imaginary lines around my body. The most challenging part of my childhood was the constant need to validate my gender identity. I long struggled with gaining social acceptance, as certain masculinity standards and behaviour were expected of me that I couldn’t perform.
I vividly remember when I was 10 years old when my very homophobic and misogynistic uncle badgered me and body shamed me. The only explanation he had for a child with a non-conforming body was to call me GAY, when I didn’t even know what that meant. Some of us wouldn’t be here if our queerness had been treated positively by our parents or more attention was paid to the developmental part of our lives. What gender we were attracted to was more significant than other vital aspects of our lives. I wonder, however, what fear caused a loving mother to send their child away from the safety of home the moment they found out about the deal breaker. I’ve heard parents threaten their children with isolation and conversion practices if they ever turn out to be Queer.
As an asexual and agender trans person who has had the priviledge to medically transition, many people wonder what it is like to be me, tearing up the list and owning up to my true form.
As the years passes, through self-introspection, positive interaction and relationships, I gained a better understanding of myself. I became more positive, political and politically conscious, and I could see beyond the past. I realise “transitioning” is more personal. It extends beyond seeing myself imprisoned in a body I do not want or aspiring to be in one that I want. We all undergo change at different points in our lives, but the difference in time is
a privilege – we all grow. As a transgender woman, transition is more than a journey. It is liberation in every aspect of her.
I live my life based on life-taught lessons and experiences. As I grew older and met other people, applying these lessons and also continuously learning and evolving changed my perspective of life. It made me see myself as I truly am. I had no choice but to love, love myself and build a house for love to blossom. My matrix changed when I began to see myself as truly a minority in a minority.
However, my bargain also grew with me, from the need to constantly validate myself to the struggle to be socially accepted and now the denial of my existence. Whenever people have even the slightest chance, my transness becomes a point of opinion. Regardless of their own gender identity and sexual orientation, their opinion is usually about me not keeping up with the norm and not living up to the demeaning perspective they choose to have against transwomen.
It erases my own experience as an individual, whatever the standard may be. Personally, the base of my transness is freedom and for me to be truly free, rebellion became remedy.
As a woman who lives in a body that breaks binary boundaries, my existence is continually debated. There is the yes that says you do not belong here and the no that says this is where you should be. There is always this constant pressure to validate my femininity as a trans woman and also align my struggles as a woman when in queer affirming spaces. Transgender people do not owe you normalities nor do we owe abnormalities.
Some transgender people do not subscribe to what society deems to be valid explanations for their identities. Our individual understanding of ourselves and circumstances is based on our personal experiences.
Being a person who doesn’t fit into any definition or box, I am constantly in need of doing ten times as much as I can to be truly visible. Since the socially constructed perspectives of what it means to be a transgender woman do not entirely reflect my reality, I am constantly made to question my existence and values.
We must realize that as conscious and evolving creatures, we possess the potential to do many things and to be none at the same time. Therefore, why do we construct standards and try to force everyone to live by the rules? People who reinforce the status quo are rewarded while those who do not are pushed away.
Transgender women do not have to prove their femininity by wearing makeup or glamorous dresses. Gender nonconforming people do not have to prove that they are who they are by getting a septum piercing.
It costs us nothing to acknowledge people in the way they want to be. Literally nothing.
Adunni Tiwatope is a trans/non-binary writer, creative director and storyteller specialising in gender literacy and community management. She writes about sociopolitical and cultural issues that impact the lives of minorities, most especially gender-diverse minorities, highlighting concerning situations while fostering positive visibility. She is the current Programs director at Queer City Media and Production, a community-based advocacy media network and a Research officer at AreaScatterAfrica, a trans research network. Adunni is a multi-talented creative hoping to explore her creativity beyond limits. Adunni is currently spearheading a Transitioning Home housing project designed to support pre-op transwomen to receive housing in their first 3-6 months of hormonal therapy use while they move forward with navigating life, securing employment with community-based network setups and acquiring empowering skills. To support Nigerian Trans Transitioning Home, click on the link below https://t.co/D0RBlsumY3 She believes in a world where minorities are empowered to make change happen.
Thank you for sharing this. As cishets, we do not know your struggles. An like you rightly pointed out, we fall into the habit of expecting things from you and other transgender people.
Keep shining your light. It matters a lot.