A slow week this week – which makes for a nice change. So… umm… not much to say really :-)Not that that’ll stop me. I am a blogger 😛
While poking around this blog, I stumbled upon the Blogger news feed. I don’t know if you read that feed or not, there’s an entry about Plinky. Not a person or the sound a coin makes when dropped in a jar, but a web site that asks you a question in case you’ve got blogger’s block. When I looked the neural prod was: name a book that changed your mind or opened your eyes.
Well, I used to read. Not quite as voraciously as other people I knew but over the last year or so my reading habits have dwindled to just about zero. Oddly, so has my television viewing. I might catch the news while eating my tea, but a quick flick through the telly’s what’s on feature and most of the time I give up and go and do something else.
I am, at heart, a fantasist… or perhaps more accurately: an escapist. I like to day dream and the obscure and the whimsical hold my attention. To that end, I don’t read biographies, watch soaps or straight dramas. I’m more of a science fiction (or fantasy) fan.
The BBC recently ran a series called Being Human. That I thoroughly enjoyed. Sure, it was effectively 3 people sharing a flat and while the motifs of the vampire and werewolf as people first, monsters second isn’t brand new, I was gripped.
While I said I don’t watch dramas, I did watch Queer as Folk when it was on. Why? Because it was a subject outside of my world. The characters interested me and while it was still very much this world, the side world that they seemed to inhabit was so different to my middle class white boy suburbia, it could well have been Moonbase Alpha. 🙂
So to get back to the question in hand: which book? Gibson’s Neuromancer holds a special place in my heart. I came back to sci-fi after a long break and while it was a good eight years after its release, the idea of a broken future seemed fresh and it appealed to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like were I live (now anyway), but a dystopian future was an interesting place to read about. It certainly gave my imagination something to mull over. Perhaps it was my teenage nihilism, but looking through the cracked mirror you saw people who while flawed, strived against the environment. Is there a moral to this? Maybes… If I give my head a shake [ow!] some fortune-cookie soundbite may rattle out. Now doubt something along the lines of: no matter how bad it seems, there’s always hope.
So, it is Neuromancer? No. Excellent though it is, it didn’t change my world view. Neither did the Bible (in case you were curious) nor a couple of self-help books I made my way through. Instead it was a book the dear Mrs Jones gave to me in passing. It was one of those society/psychology books you get, although to be fair that doesn’t to it justice. The book is Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps by Allan Pease & Barbara Pease. It’s by turn serious science, witty anecdotes and wry personal observation.
The book discusses the differences between men and women in a friendly, light hearted manner. Frankly, it’s a miracle either couples manage to stay together when we’re so seemingly damned incompatible. 🙂 But beyond the witty banter, the more serious subject of us being very heavily influenced by our brain chemistry started to ring true for me.
So why did this change my world view? There’s a section on gay folk where the authors state that being gay isn’t a lifestyle choice: it’s a physical state of being. If that’s true of gay people, my brain wondered, is the same true of trans folk? For years I wondered if I could or should stop. Why did I keep coming back to this ‘lifestyle’ if it – as it did years ago – freak me out? Why do I share the same pattern of behaviour with other trans folk? The early memories, the teenage panic, the 20s purging and then the deep dive back into it during my 30s. [ Although technically, that’s not 100% true: I was seriously off the wagon in my late 20s – just seriously in the closet. ]
I settled on brain chemistry… or hormones… or genetic differences – whatever science you want to wrap it up in, that’s cool. The key thing – and to be honest, it’s more my interpretation of the book rather than proven science – is that I’m wired this way. Which brings us back to Neuromancer and what Molly Millions said:
“‘Cept I do hurt people sometimes, Case. I guess it’s just the way I’m wired…”
Wired. I am built this way. To me it’s a natural as breathing or wanting to care for my family.
I felt… relief? No, more than that. Like… like I had the answer. It may not be the answer for you, but it was the one that made a little light go ‘ting’ in my head. After that wee Epiphany, the whole ‘Sh**! I’m trans’ gig slowly wound down and fizzled away, until one day, I realised it just didn’t bother me. Sure, I have the odd blip, but then I do over being a good husband or doing the right thing as a dad.
So you go. Plinky to the rescue. Stay safe and I hope you have a good weekend!
[ Today’s lyric: Kissing the Sun by The Young Gods ]
ps: Talking of writing, you know what they say: you wait for ages and then two TG themed articles appear on the Beeb’s website :-). This time it’s the turn of Boston Belles.