“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.” How many times have we said this about something? I know a number of trans people, especially among those of us who are transsexual and transition who use it in reference to being transsexual. I have said it myself. As someone pointed out to me this phrase does not help discourse about the subject of trans issues. Further, by allowing myself to transition I have been able to discover who I really am and thus be my true self. So why use this phrase?
The reason I have used it is not because I didn’t want to be who I am meant to be, but rather out of stress, frustration, anger, sadness and hurt. Transition in our society is not easy. It usually comes with a price that can only partially be measured in dollars and cents. Those who make the decision to come out as transsexual face a myriad of barriers, challenges and discrimination. This is especially true for those who are not white. Further we risk losing a lot when we come out. It is not uncommon for people to lose their jobs., their families and their place of residence. Even with recent advances in human rights in Canada there is discrimination against trans* people.
The social impact of transition can be subtle, or it can be overt. One example of overt discrimination would be going into a store or a restaurant and the person providing service continually uses incorrect pronouns and dismisses any correction to their use. More subtle are the constant messages about what it means to be male or female in our society. For those of us who transition from male to female there is the added impact of messaging that someone who is assigned male at birth who is feminine in any way is someone to be ridiculed.
In addition transition itself can be very draining emotionally, physically and mentally. The challenges involved in changing one’s identification, adjusting to a new way of interacting in the world all add up. So when I use the phrase, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy” it comes from a place of frustrations, not regret.