Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How Much Do I Have to Lie?

At a very young age I decided that the only way to be safe was to avoid attracting attention.  And I got really good at it.  I believe I'm better at blending into the wallpaper than anyone else I know.  Hopefully it helped.  It did not protect me from all unpleasantness, and certainly as I grew older it became more and more of a problem.  You cannot get jobs, friends or lovers without attracting attention from someone.

Is concealment the same as "lying?"  I don't really know.  What I do know is that the best way to lie is to believe what you're saying:  to conceal the facts even from yourself.  Of course, I didn't know I was doing that.  It was a perfect cover-up.

For years I believed that I didn't care what people thought of me.  And it's true that even though I never talked to anyone, I still set out to go my own way and do my own thing.  The big secret was still a secret.  Other things I never told anyone but I knew they were true.  It seemed to me that I had enough issues to work on.  The most persistent and ongoing problem that I was consciously aware of is the question: "Do I have any right to exist at all?"  And maybe that still is more important than the question:  "Do I have the right to be trans?"

I was trying to carve out a space for myself . . . and considering where I started from I've done pretty well.  At last I felt safe enough to reveal the big secret.  To myself, I mean.  As soon as I realized I was trans, I instantly understood what a huge coward I am.  I thought I was this big non-conformist.  Ha.  I thought I was honest.  I thought I cared about honesty more than anything else.  But I had been lying to myself for years. And I didn't see any way that I could tell anyone.  Horrible things would happen if I did.

So.  This blog is, among other things, an attempt to explore what it means to be trans.  (Terminology management:  I identify as transgendered. Some people identify as transsexual.  "Trans" is short for both of those.  Some people write "trans*" but please.  I save my geekiness for where it might do some good.)  I admit I still get distracted sometimes.  I spent years thinking about other things . . . and a lot of those things are still important. 

My transgender is central to me, in the sense that I carry it around in my heart.  But it's not the only thing about me.  And of course, I do want people to understand that trans people are, as we all keep saying, Just. Like. Everyone. Else.  So it doesn't hurt to write about other things too.

I'm digressing.  To get back to the title of this post:  how much do I have to lie?  We all have things to conceal.  We all encounter situations where it's socially advisable not to say what you really believe.  So perfect honesty is not desirable (if only because it gives the false impression that someone who is always honest is always right.)  But speaking as someone who learned never to admit anything to anybody . . . expressing yourself is a good thing too.  When it's safe.  Perhaps it's cynical of me to believe that the only function of society is to keep us all lying to each other.  But really:  what's the point of that?


  1. Hmm. It reminds me of a discussion I was having about Facebook. I do not like the fact that I do not get to choose what I share with whom as I do in real life. Thus, I use Facebook for only relatively banal communication.

    I value the fact that my friends come from different worlds. My world might only intersect with theirs along a very narrow path. Other friends share more. Sadly, if our shared story does not develop well I might never realize how wide a landscape I actually share with someone, but I can still value the narrow road.

    As far as I can tell, social relationships require "editing" (which, I suppose is telling only partial truth?) but to me that is related to the talent/gift/curse of storytelling. You tell a story to understand your world, your relationships, and yourself. Lying on the other hand causes harm, either to yourself or your relationships.

    My apologies for rather weak metaphors...I am very tired, but I care a lot about this subject.

  2. It's a very complex subject, for sure, and when I talk about "lying" I'm being overly harsh. For me it's more about, things that you believe to be true but for some reason you don't want to say them, things that you believe to be true, but you happen to be wrong . . . cases where there is no way to know the truth, so what do you decide to say instead? Often the truth is unknowable, so in a sense it doesn't really matter what we say. (What bothers me the most is that I was brought up to believe things that are not true. Ignorance masquerading as truth.)

    It wouldn't surprise me if everyone has a story of their life. But then again, you don't have to share the whole story with everyone. It might be the case that the story is only meaningful to you. It's your truth, but it's not the Universal Truth.

    Facebook is an interesting example of social interaction. When I first joined it I was shocked by the way people went around expressing their feelings. And there are things that I wouldn't put on FB. But I still like it. I guess it creates its own narrative.