January 11, 2015

Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill

"People think we choose to be this way. But no one wakes up and chooses to be hated by everyone." - Katie Rain Hill

Katie Rain Hill's story is the first trans story I have read.  I am not sure why it has taken me so long!  I felt connected to Katie even though I have never been in her shoes.  Her identity struggle was expressed so vividly and so raw that I often had to stop and just take a moment to digest all of the emotions and information. I think it is one thing to know what a transgender/transsexual individual goes through, and another altogether to read the process of claiming one's rightful and truthful identity. 

"Often trans narratives might focus on how a child born male loved pink or only wanted to play house, and this is used to 'prove' the child's true female identity. I want to be clear that my love of stereotypical girl toys is not what makes me female. Frankly, I think all little boys would like playing house and dress-up if they gave it a shot. What makes me female is something I felt in the core of myself: that my external body did not match up with how I felt inside, and that I was being seen by others as something I was not. I know this can be a difficult, abstract concept if it's not your personal experience, but it was mine."  -Katie Rain Hill

It has been proven that children identify with one gender very early in life - between 3 and 5 years old. It's not that they want to take after the opposite sex role model in their life, they strongly identify with the opposite gender.  Katie Rain Hill felt it as a child even though she did not have the operation until she was, I believe, 16.  It was not a phase.  It was her entire life.  

While I have never felt like a male trapped in a female's body, I have often felt as an adult like an active, energetic, world-traveling adventurer stuck in a broken-down, weary, pain-ridden body.  My physical body does not match what I feel I am inside, in my core.  In this way, I understood where someone could feel trapped.  If I had a way to change my body to match my spirit, I would do it in a nanosecond.  I bet if many of you had the chance to change a small thing, like your nose or your fine hair or your bad eyesight, you would do it.  Think about how much bigger a deal it must be to feel like your entire body does not fit.  Can you even imagine the emotional pain that must cause?

Even though the ending was odd and felt like it did not fit with the rest of the book, the rest of it was a great read.  I recommend this book as a memoir not to be missed.

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