I don’t think you’ll need one
Fri Jun 15, 2018 01:45

Claudia probably didn’t know that she had brought up a point of contention in the trans community. Trans people were often expected to perform hyperfemininity or hypermasculinity to “prove” that they were “trans enough.” Gender was a social construct, but gender stereotypes could be survival tools to help trans people avoid judgment or harassment. A transwoman who was butch or a tomboy was less likely to have her identity acknowledged than a femme transwoman. It was unjust, and ideals were worthwhile, but real people had to live in the current world. Not everyone was in a position to risk their safety on theory.

Holland had never been closeted, although for their own safety they did dress in a more binary way if they were going somewhere unfamiliar. It wasn’t difficult for them to pass for either sex. They usually felt most like themself with an androgynous look, but Holland’s feelings and presentation varied from day to day. “Not letting society dictate how gender should be expressed and experienced is a good ideal, and it’s worth striving for,” Holland agreed, “but living as a binary gender would still be suppressing a major part of who I am, even in the absence of stereotypes. I was non-binary before I transitioned; I just didn’t have the vocabulary for it then, and I was miserable every time someone used the pronouns for my assigned sex, or acted like my anatomy was more relevant to who I am as a person than my mind. So I decided I’d rather transition than spend my life screaming on the inside.” Holland knew the statistics on what their life expectancy would have been if their parents hadn’t been supportive. “It makes some things harder, but that’s a small price to pay for being happy with who I am and how I represent myself. Other people’s opinions on this subject don’t matter to me,” they continued, agreeing again, “because I’m not performing my gender for their benefit or understanding. It’s for me and my own comfort.”

They had thought Claudia would have more to say about communities, but she responded with just one sentence, with which they disagreed by half. Community relied on the participation of individuals; the function of society was to benefit its individuals. That was why the first people had banded together into tribes in the first place: they decided they would get more out of life if they lived with others, sharing work and resources. “Everyone makes a choice about whether and how they participate in their community,” Holland pointed out.

Holland managed not to react externally, but they felt a spike of anxiety at Claudia’s next comment. Holland was eighteen and didn’t especially want to think or talk about their boyfriend discussing their hypothetical offspring with his parents. Having kids was important to Danny, and the two of them had discussed that to make sure they were on the same page before he’d argued in favor of their relationship to his parents. (They were.) However Holland had no intention of acquiring children in the next decade even if they stayed together (‘acquiring’ was the right word, because there would be no heirs born of either of their bodies), and they didn’t especially want to have a conversation about that with Claudia now.

The thing about the betrothal was a new interpretation of information they already had, and it surprised Holland enough that they needed a moment to process it. Elinor had suggested the betrothal over the summer, when Danny was still dating Marissa, but they had broken up—in part because of the betrothal offer—before he’d needed to make a decision. When Danny had discussed that situation with Holland (on their second date), he’d said that he could wait to answer her until the end of term, but that he wasn’t interested in accepting right now and didn’t want to string Elinor along. Holland had only thought of his rejecting Elinor’s offer in that context. The implication Claudia was making—that Danny had refused Elinor for Holland but not for Marissa—hadn’t occurred to them. Holland felt an unlikely combination of incredulous, bashful, and giddy. Claudia was right: he hadn’t taken his time in deferring the offer. That wasn’t insignificant.

Instead of verbally addressing that point, Holland nodded acknowledgement and said, in a measured tone, “Danny and I have discussed his commitment to the Dubois family at length. I’m prepared to support him to the extent that I can, in accordance with my values. And I’m also prepared to fight for as long as I have to.” They had thought that this would be obvious by now. Their whole life, Holland had had to fight for things most people took for granted. They were better at fighting than the privileged people they would be up against. They were willing to fight for what was theirs with everything they had.

“I find it hard to believe that Danny’s the only person who’s ever wanted to deviate from your society’s norms,” Holland said, not bitingly, but with simple and absolute certainty. Holland would guess that when non-heterosexual relationships had happened in the past, society purebloods had covered it up or refused to talk about it. It was like 1984 and newspeak; you were less likely to try doing something when you had no examples of others doing it. “If no one else has done it openly before, then we’ll just have to be the first. It’ll make it easier for the people who come after us. Everyone makes a choice about whether and how they participate in their community,” Holland repeated. “Someone can choose to leave their community, or they can choose to stay and uphold its ideals. Or,” Holland looked at Claudia evenly across the table, “someone can choose to stay and change the community.”

  • Duly noted - Claudia, Thu Jun 14 16:11
    If she had realized Holland would start to answer her questions right there and then, Claudia would not have asked them: she was only intending to give them an idea of the things she was pondering,... more
    • I don’t think you’ll need one - Holland, Fri Jun 15 01:45
      • “Not letting society dictate how gender should be expressed and experienced is a good ideal, and it’s worth striving for,” Holland said. Until this year Claudia had not given much, if any, thought to ... more
        • Can I guesstimate them? - Holland, Sat Jun 16 01:10
          “You don’t get to choose the society you’re born into, but you still have choices about how you participate in that society,” Holland said patiently. “If you attend a ball with your family, you can... more
          • How are you at divination? - Claudia, Sat Jun 16 15:47
            Holland breezed over agreeing that you could be born into a society, but Claudia didn’t miss it (in fact she considered that it would be easier to discuss things with them if they just allowed her to ... more
            • I dropped it - Holland, Mon Jun 18 15:17
              “ Or it’s a quick way to become unpopular and ostracized. ” Holland had nothing reassuring to tell Claudia about that. Yes, that was a possibility, maybe even the most likely outcome, even in this... more
              • That's why you didn't see this coming - Claudia, Tue Jun 19 15:41
                Claudia didn’t see how her current community could thrive on equality in the proportions Holland was advocating. She was confident there were many social prejudices that did not apply to her... more
Click here to receive daily updates