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Fools Rush In (2000)

Fools Rush In (2000)

©2000, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (2000, Fall). A word from the editor: Fools rush in. Transgender Tapestry, 92, p. 6.






A Word From the Editor

Fools Rush In

By Dallas Denny


Everyone is transitioning these days.

Well, not everyone, but certainly there seems to be an increasing number of people opting to permanently cross the gender divide— and many of those who are not transitioning gender roles will admit in confidence that they would if they 1) weren’t so frightened; 2) had the money; 3) were single, or didn’t have minor children; 4) had a more tolerant work environment; 5) were not so old; or 6) felt they had some hope of eventually passing.

It’s understandable that the growth of our community and the ready availability of once-scarce information has created an infrastructure that supports those who are transition-minded, but why are so many, including some, like author Pat Califia (now Patrick Califia-Rice) who have long walked the middle ground now choosing to modify their bodies with hormones and/or surgery? Certainly, thanks to the groundbreaking work of transgender pioneers like Virginia Prince, Leslie Feinberg, Phyllis Frye, and Holly Boswell, we know it’s possible to get off the gender train at any intermediate point, to take on an androgynous appearance and role, so why do so many of us keep hopping back on the train and riding to the next station? Why do we keep cranking up the voltage?

No, no, don’t look to me for the answer! In truth, there are many answers as there are transpeople. We each have our own reasons, but I do know one thing— walking the middle ground is difficult. I admire those who do so, but truth to tell, a life lived in the middle ground between the two generally recognized genders can be very tough indeed. Many of us, including most of those who identify as transgenderists, find it more comfortable to develop and maintain an everyday presentation consistent with either the male or female gender. There’s societal pressure, and often pressure from community members, to go further.

Sometimes the pressure is internal. Transitioning fuels an inner need, a need we all understand and many of us share— but no matter how much better it makes us feel about ourselves, we must live in a world which judges us by what we wear and how we look. Life, as the tequila ads testify, echoing the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, is harsh. Transition— any transition, but particularly a transition from one gender role to the other— can and does wreck lives and should be approached with caution.

I’ve known folks who’ve lost their families, friends, careers, and worldly goods to transition, giving up everything for a life that may or may not be as anticipated. I’ve had acquaintances who, however good they felt about themselves, became bitter and twisted because of the harassment and discrimination they faced on a daily basis after transition. I’ve known folks for whom even a simple post-transition trip to the grocery store was an ordeal marked by snickers and hostility from clerks fellow shoppers. Conversely, I’ve known people whose lives improved immeasurably after transition.

Bottom line, there are no guarantees in this world, and certainly none for transfolk. Consequently, it’s important that we proceed carefully along our transgender paths, pacing ourselves, burning as few bridges as possible, testing the waters whenever possible, and doing whatever we can to minimize disruption. I’m not saying “don’t transition”— certainly I’m not saying that— I’m merely saying transition can be a mine field. Only a fool would rush into a mine field.

So please, proceed carefully.