Okay, so something is on my mind.

One of the criticisms trans people get, especially those of us with a little bit of a platform, is that all we think and talk about is being trans. This criticism is not unfounded, springing neither from the aether nor manic, hostile paranoia.
Yes, we *do* talk about being trans all the time. And of course we do. We're all still trying to understand it, and our lives, and the choices we've made, and why we made them, and how that fits with the stories we tell ourselves, and our politics, & the "ungovernabilty of want."
So, riffing off (and doing zero justice to) Andrea Long Chu's amazing essay, we're figuring out what we wanted, why we wanted it, and what it means for us to want it. We're sorting out not only something as fundamental as identity, but how it manifests, nplusonemag.com/on-liking-wome…
and why, and what it means to want to be woman, and what being a woman means, and what the *choice* to live as one means for us.
We're always hesitant to talk about choice. We like to talk instead about destiny, and identity, and things that feel immutable. But that immutability crashes headlong into the practical, everyday reality of choosing to live as woman: an immense, endless series of choices.
Chu discusses something that we never really admit to: a lot of trans women, even those of us who have transitioned, just...want to be women. Which doesn't make sense when we're always saying that we already *are* women. And that so much of our lives are spent in the banality of
desire: of wanting a thing, even a thing we often suspect we can't ever really have, impolitic as that is to say out loud. We want lots of things we can't have. I want the last thirty years of my life back; I want the uncomplicated knowledge that I'm a woman; I want a girlhood in
my past; I want a body I don't have to shanghai into femaleness. And we never want to talk about this, because it gives ammunition to our enemies; it's so much simpler to say "I am a woman, I always have been one, I always will be one," rather than to say, "I wanted this, so I
chose to do it." But the second statement is, at minimum, exactly as true as the first; I *did* want this. I wanted it with a fire I can barely describe, a sort of preliminary ground upon which my life was situated. I wanted it as long as I can remember. And one day, I chose to
do it. For most of my life, the only coherent statement I could make about this is "I wish I was a girl." It's a primal sort of first principle: that it would be better to be a girl in a way I can't entirely describe. It wasn't entirely bodily (although it was and is that), and
neither was it entirely social. I never said "i am a girl," because that statement seemed absurd on its face; but the absurdity of it drove me into the sort of wailing, desert depression you would use Biblical imagery to describe, such as "I died on locusts."
It was desire as much as identity that exiled me from myself, that made me look at my life and see it as inadequate in some ineffable way. I wanted a thing, right from my core; I wanted it more intensely than I wanted to live.
So one day, I decided I was going to do it, buoyed up by a structure of thought that said "trans women are women" is a fundamental truth of the universe, which is in many ways semantic (which doesn't make it less true, as words mean things, and reality is so often conceptual)
and in many ways viscerally experiential, like the feeling you might get having a moose burst into your living room. That structure empowered me to make a choice; but having made the choice, I am still beset by desire; the "now, but not yet" of transition means satisfaction still
eludes me. And yet, I have no shame or reluctance in saying I am a woman, and whatever the etiology of being trans, whatever it's nature -- something raw and fundamental, or something chosen and enacted, or both -- that remains true: the core experience of transness is one of
desire, enacted or no; the core miseries are those of fear and shame; the core frustrations of incompleteness and denial. I identify as a woman, which is identical to saying I am one; I chose to live as one, and that is no less a choice for my being trans. And that dichotomy,
that weird, simultaneous separation and collaboration between what-I-am and what-I want-to-be, that perpetual in-betweenness, is something I don't entirely know how to make sense of *except* to say that I chose this because I wanted it, because separation from maleness was as
vital to me as the embrace of femaleness. There's nothing *wrong* with saying it's a choice, and that it's a choice that often anchors itself on the pettiest, most superficial things: I wanted the kinds of friendships I saw other girls having; to do ballet like my sister;
to do my makeup in secret after I left the house; to flip off guys who catcall me. These are dumb things, none of them built into womanhood by its nature, superficial and insubstantial. But they are also emblematic, totemic, pre-natural to me: they are *things women do*, and I
wanted them for that. "The heart wants what the heart wants" is a universal truth. In my more lucid moments, I can say to myself "of course I wanted those things; I was a girl who wanted to be treated like one." But who cares why I wanted them? I just wanted to be a girl.
So there is, and will always be, that element of desire, of the disconnect between what I have and what I don't, what I needed and what I was given and what I took. To me, to want to be a girl was obvious and natural. Being a girl looked like the coolest shit in the world.
I don't know what causes being trans. I don't care, either. I don't give a fuck if we find an etiology. I don't want to medicalize it, or pathologize it, or explain it, or justify it. It's pre-conscious, for whatever reason; it's dominant and inescapable and often miserable.
But it is always, absolutely always, centered upon and relative to a choice we make every single day: to be a woman, or not to.

Every day, I wake up, and choose to.

And that's enough.
That was obviously supposed to be "i dined on locusts" up there.
h/t to @theorygurl for making this little essay possible. On Liking Women absolutely floored me, and I will be turning it over in my head for years to come.
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