The art of negotiating

by dominicdemeyn

It seems to me that every trans person needs some skills in negotiating. The terms of our existence are far from fixed, but ocassionally shift, sometimes in our favour, and sometimes in another direction.

A trans person is also lucky if they know some trans law and a way to communicate to people in positions of power. A trans person is like a fish swimming in an endless sea, trying to get back to where they live, a safe space that they call home, whilst trying to avoid all the nets and other traps set in place to capture and dissect them or even tear them apart.

How to negotiate an identity: First, get someone else, who does not know you and has never been an important part in your life but is considered a specialist to judge you and hope they judge in your favour.

Second, make sure you have enough money to pay to people who will then go on and tell you who you are or who you are supposed to be. If surgery is required, make sure the funds extend to that point where your body is cut open and revealed to complete strangers who then reshape it according to the terms that have been set.

Make sure you have time to run around here and there and confront people all the time on your identity, who cannot believe it is really so and would like to steer you in a certain direction or at least understand you. Be aware that what they call understanding might not be what you might call understanding, and their way of empathising with you might differ from what you would expect. Be aware that if they cannot believe in your type, they cannot understand.

Be prepared to get what you are given, to take what you can. Name change, fine. Under what conditions…you decide on which name? A neutral one, they say, but neutral does not exist. A name such as Alex or something like that. To me, that’s not a neutral name. In a gender-obsessed culture there is no neutral. This does not mean that I am less of a neutral. Just because nobody sees me does not mean I don’t exist. Just because nobody understands my language does not mean that I am not communicating. People just have not come to terms with me yet.

Negotiating is frustrating, when you have no tools at your disposal to help you out, to give you authority or to justify yourself. There is not much evidence I can use to justify my claims of being trans.

I believe I am transsexual. Just not the traditional type that wants to swap one gender role for another. My gender role does apparently not exist yet, eventhough I as a person exist alongside my gender.

Apparently my best option is to lie and cheat my way to some form of resolution that would benefit all parties involved, except mine. Oh, I forgot, I’m not even a minority enough to get credit for being marginalised, because I do not succesfully represent a group and can’t shout as loud as others. I am not represented in the media, my identity scares people more than aids or cancer. But I represent myself. I guess that’s not quite enough.

People make so many assumptions and mistakes and I am to reinforce them by playing along. How do you think that makes me feel? I feel like a criminal trying to escape conviction only to then be free and then serve the sentence of having to perpetually lie to myself and others. I don’t think I am a good liar, even with hours and hours of enforced training and accomplished survival tactics. I am sick of lying and having to defend myself and my core principles when there is really nothing to defend. There is absolutely no logical reason to attack my ideas and beliefs and the way I see myself. Me being Neutrois will not destroy the universe, so why try and keep me in line, in check? I am a good enough little citizen even without your intervention.

What do I need to give and what do I get out of it is the question? I want my freedom to express myself, I want to not get bullied into submission by complete strangers who don’t like me, I want to be left alone to make decisions about myself. But it seems I am not able to, because I will always need a specialist to hold my hand and some authority to approve of me.

I really wonder if this is really what true negotiating is about, what diplomacy is, or if this is just another form of majority rule, where I benefit less from the ruling than my majority counterpart human life forms.

I know what I want. That is also not good enough. I need to know what others want and need first and then fit my desires around their needs. I need to get back into the fold of a crazed social construct and function normally. Apparently my abstinence is an issue. It makes me happier and makes me much healthier (both mentally and physically), yet it must be a problem because others cannot fathom it. I think it wouldn’t be a problem if I had promiscuous unprotected sex, because that at least would better fit the description of trans, or even of a Borderline person who is also trans. But being happy with who I am at this moment, that’s called being diseased.

I am not saying I don’t have many issues, but that does not make it right for people to claim to know my identity and what is good for me and write the rules that govern my life.

I apreciate the help I am getting, but am far from feeling that I have found an advocate for my rights. I have found a person who does not beat me for being who I am, nor send me away, but listens to what I have to say. That is indeed something.

But what usually happens after the short phase of being delighted at having found someone who is versed in trans issues is a bit disappointing. Far from trying to beat the system, they reveal that they are, in fact, a part of it. They like stereotypes and ideals that everyone in the system appreciates and want to uphold. They enjoy priviledge, as anyone would. And they decide how to work with the system to further my rights.

like fifty shades of grey

Is negotiating really about me or is it more about how to become closer to the cis gender? I don’t believe negotiation is a win-win situation, and  it seems to me to come closer to conforming to established rules.

Authorities may be satisfied with the results, but I am still left to negotiate my life. I will still struggle to be seen, and the torment will go on…