The Transitive Property: Reconstructing My Life Narrative

Nov. 1, 2010, 12:26 a.m.

The Transitive Property: Reconstructing My Life NarrativeI don’t have a past. I can’t talk about the days when I was a little boy, when I played with trucks and trains and dressed up as a cowboy for Halloween. I can’t talk about my days playing in Little League. I can’t talk about my awkward growth spurt in high school, about hearing my name during graduation or reading my name on my high school diploma. I can’t see my school pictures and see myself. I can’t talk about those experiences because they never happened.

It makes me sad, thinking about how there are parts of my past that I simply can’t change. Regardless of whether or not I decide to reconstruct for myself a more normal childhood—to essentially lie—that doesn’t change the fact that I had to grow up as a little girl, with uncomfortable dresses and Barbie dolls, and to put up with 20 years of feeling miserable but never knowing quite why.

The narrative of my life, due to my transition, is incoherent, blurry. Whatever happened before sophomore year of college in my mind is simply a nebulous black hole. It was as if I didn’t actually start existing until I finally came out to myself as a guy. Whenever I have to refer to a time before my transition—from my infant years to the end of my freshman year—I get really uncomfortable. I realize that if I want to continue my life as a man, there are parts of my life I have to leave behind.

I realize that I probably can’t go back to my high school. I went to a Catholic high school, and I don’t think they’ll be a fan of the trans thing. No one will recognize me if I go back. My teachers did a lot for me and got me to Stanford, and I owe them. But I don’t know if I will ever be able to come back and thank them. Sure, high school wasn’t the best experience—I spent most of it feeling depressed and confused—but it was still four years of my life that I essentially have to erase from my life narrative. And there are people from high school who refuse to talk to me because of my transition, something that gets me upset whenever I think about it.

If I ever find myself a girlfriend—would she know beforehand about my identity as a trans person, or would this be a secret that I wouldn’t disclose until later? If I meet a girl at Stanford, she’ll be very aware of my transition. But if I meet someone after Stanford, at work or at grad school, once I look more convincingly like a guy, people will assume I was born male, and the trans issue isn’t necessary to disclose prior to or during the first date. But when will I tell her? I know I have to, eventually. Would I tell her when we’re finally seriously dating, when she sees me less as this anomaly of nature, as Cristopher the transguy who can tell her all about being queer and trans, but just as Cris, her cute and not short, but fun-sized boyfriend who just happened to be born as a girl, no big deal? I know that the time I come out will affect the dynamics of our relationship, and I’m not very sure how I would handle it.

When I have kids, will I tell them about their dad’s past? Do I want to give them information that will confuse them, give other kids on the playground an excuse to make fun of them? Or will I have to construct some new past that is more conventional, more consistent with my appearance and identity but is all a complete lie? Will I even need to tell them the truth at all? Will my kids live in a society where that sort of stuff doesn’t matter anymore?

I understand in order to become a healthy person and finally be happy, I need to acknowledge that my life prior to my transition—as uncomfortable as it all is to think about—is still part of my life. My past experience, despite how awkward and painful it was, has shaped me as a young man, and there are things I have learned in this life and this body that I don’t think many biologically male men ever learn. I should be thankful for the chance to live this life.

But if someone asked me once if I had the choice to change my biological sex and relive my life from the beginning, what would I say? And at the moment, I don’t know how I would answer. And that scares me.

Cheer up a sad transboy. E-mail Cristopher Bautista at [email protected].

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