Subject: mything the point
Date: Thu 29 Jul 1999 - 03:20:17 BST
Robyn suggests that the reason trans narratives often sound alike is because
they are assembled from the same mythic archetypes, culled from the
narratives of others and included as part of our own origin myth, how I came
to be this way.
This explains Suzan's suggestion that it is her stories which bind her to
others and all coming out stories are the same story, because they are made
of the same stuff.
I agree with Robyn completely on this one: trans-narratives become myth
stories, based on belief and the "common knowledge" of the tribe. We build
our stories in ways we believe have power and dignity, including facets we
see as valuable, discarding facets we see as contrary, weak or irrelevant.
If, as Robyn suggests, our narratives converge because they represent myths,
then they represent common or shared beliefs. The issue I was raising is
exactly that point: how do people who don't see their life in the context of
those shared beliefs held as myth in the "gender community" respond to the
pressure of those beliefs?
Ruthie explains her story simply: she couldn't buy into the victimization she
felt was required, saw other facets of the trans-myth that she felt were
oppressive and erasing, so she just stayed away from people who were
promulgating myth stories she found limiting, who had some social pressure
into shaping stories into common myths.
It's clear that the "gender community" represents a very small segment of
those people who could be identified as the "transgender population." Some
groups may be FTM based, others CD based, some queer, some lesbian, but in
any case, I know of no city where the "gender community" comes anywhere near
even a minimal estimate of the potential trans people in that market. We run
with 20 or 50 or a 100, even when there are a million people in driving
The myths of the gender community seem to exclude so many people: Prince or
Benjamin, you pick. And both have ways to enforce the myth, be that the
therapists who need to approve resexing or the membership committee that
excludes queers from SSS. Where are the trans people born male who grew up
desiring men, for example?
Unless the claim is made on the same level as every life story is the same
story, I have a hard time believing every coming out story is the same story.
The range of narratives is sweeping, the truth that every individual is as
unique as a thumbprint.
Campbell talked a lot about myth, but he said that the important thing about
myth is to move from the level of symbol to the level of meaning. "Staying
at the level of symbol is like going to a restaurant and eating the menu," as
Our challenge is to tell the universal truths in modern language, as Campbell
also said. We need to go to the meanings in our lives, and then construct
out stories, bring narratives from spirit rather than repeating stories whose
meanings we have not entered into. Maybe that's the difference between
theologians and missionaries -- one group pounds out the myths, while the
other deconstructs and questions them.
Narratives of those who enter the "trans community" converge as people
assemble their own origin myth out of the available stories.
Some can't find value, can't find themselves in those stories, so they never
Some enter, but when they need their story to diverge, to grow beyond the
limits of the myth, they leave.
And some of us work hard to find new myths which are more potent for us, more
inclusive and effective paradigms.
Makes sense to me.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2a23 : Mon 02 Aug 1999 - 01:25:28 BST