I’m swiping this quote (with attribution) from another blog because I like it so much (it also happens to come from a surgeon who took excellent care of two of my good friends):
“…We spend our whole lives feeling awful about who we are…feeling a need to apologize to humanity for breaking the most basic social norm. Then when it comes time to empower ourselves and rise above every social teaching that has metastasized from society to our consciousness, we feel a great ache in our solar plexus – guilt. And ironically enough, the people who want to block us realize this better than we do, and they dig in for battle, throwing back at us our greatest fear…’How can you be so selfish???!!!’ I say, how can we be so SELF-LESS!! We have spent a whole life trying to ease the sense of comfort in others by sacrificing our entire identity. If you don’t believe you are justified in being yourself, why should anyone else?” – Dr. Christine McGinn
This popped out at me today partly due to a conversation between E and myself last night. E reminded me that my extended family considers some of my recent actions to have been “self centered.” This “self-centered” activity involved coming out (by e-mail and phone) to my aunt and uncle (in Texas and California respectively) during a weekend when the rest of the family was at my niece’s first communion (an Iowa event we were neither informed about nor invited to attend). If that counts as self-centered, I shudder to think how “selfish” they deem the whole transition.
This captures yet another paradox of the transsexual condition. When, for the very first time in our lives, we attempt to be ourselves, we’re smacked back down with the label “selfish!”
But if it’s “selfish” for us to finally be ourselves, how should we describe our behavior all those years that passed before? Because, at least in my experience, no one wants to give us the least bit of credit for that part, no matter how anguished they acknowledge it to have been.
This is the big reason the taunt of being “selfish” has entirely lost its sting to me. If the only way I can not be selfish is to live entirely for the comfort of others while abandoning my own identity… well then I’m selfish. I can live with the label under those terms. The people so quick to judge me selfish on the other hand? I’m pretty sure I can mostly live without them.