In a blog post titled “Unlearning the ‘Trapped’ Narrative & Taking Ownership of Our,” People.com editor and trans advocate Janet Mock writes:
“Do you feel trapped in the wrong body?”
Whenever this question is posed, I find it to be more of a leading statement rather than a true inquiry or invitation for a trans subject to speak about their life experience or outlook on their relationship with their bodies. Frankly whenever it’s posed it never sits well with me, and I shared my frustration on Twitter, saying: “‘Trapped in the wrong body’ is a convenient, lazy explanation but it fails to describe #trans people & our bodies every time.”
To me, “trapped in the wrong body” is a blanket statement that makes trans* people’s varying journeys and narratives palatable to the masses. It’s helped cis masses understand our plight – to a certain extent. It’s basically a soundbite of struggle, “I was a girl (boy) trapped in a boy’s (girl’s) body,” which aims to humanize trans* folks, who are often seen as alien, as freaks, as less-than-human and other.
Since sharing my story, I admittedly have been faced with unlearning many so-called trans truths that have been passed to me as a woman who’s grown up with an abundance (not meaning diverse) of media portraits on trans lives (or rather trans people’s transitions). I’ve learned to take what is depicted as our truth and analyze them against my actual lived experience as a woman who grew up trans. One so-called truth that I’ve analyzed over and over and over again is the “trapped” narrative. And through this ongoing analysis, I’ve learned to take ownership of how my body is viewed as an “out” trans woman.
After inviting people into my life (I prefer “invite” rather than “come out” because I’ve never hidden who I was a second in my life), I’ve been a subject in many interviews in which I’ve been confronted with this rhetorical “trapped” statement – and others pertaining to my visible and imagined body.
Why don’t I like it? Because it places me in the role of victim, and to those who take mainstream media depictions as truth I’m seen as a human to be pitied because I’m someone who needs to be saved, rather than a self-determined woman with agency and choice and the ability to define who I am in this society and who I will become in spite of it.
Continue reading on Janet’s blog Fish Food for Thought.