Monday, December 13, 2010

What's In A Name? (Or, How A Blog Title Came to Be)

I enjoy a literary romance with analogies.  I find them terrifically effective when trying to explain myself to others.  If I could draw and paint and sculpt my thoughts in a way that properly conveyed my emotions, I might never talk again.  In this case, however, the written word is my chosen medium.

Whenever I go about trying to make sense of my gender issues, the proper analogies never fail to avail.  I find I could go on for pages!  But the one I always return to is Alice, of Wonderland fame.  The title of my blog obviously reflects my fondness for this imagery as it pertains to the gender curious.  It's very easy to see myself in her shoes (an exciting thought on several levels, but let's save that discussion for another time!), as she finds herself drawn into a world where the rules change with every step.  The only way to regain footing on the familiar territory she left behind is to keep moving forward, even if it means facing madness in myriad forms.

Does that sound about right?  Okay.  Now, about that mirror.

The "looking glass" is the same as Alice's rabbit hole, insofar as it serves to transport a body to worlds of which you've only dreamt.  However, mirrors and tunnels each contain a unique symbolism, and where gender identity is concerned mirrors are much more significant.  I'm sure I don't have to explain it out loud...but I will.

Maybe you're anticipating that I'll say, "The Mirror signifies self-image, and that who we see in the reflection is as important as who we actually are."  Sure.  That's a gimme.  But what else?  Well, let me be honest.

Narcissism.  Yes.  In my experience, we transgendered folk can be obstinately preoccupied how we appear.  This can definitely be a problem, but instead of talking up that touchy point, for now let's focus on the positive.

Really, it's excusable for Alice to be a little obsessed with herself.  A hallmark of growing up entails beginning to pay attention to one's own needs, shedding dangerous naivetés, learning self-control and accountability.  So long as we don't shut out everyone else entirely, and eventually learn to accept the image we see as a truth (or change it without compromising the value of our character), a limited obsession with self may well be a necessary rite of passage.

Now if Mirror stands for "reflection of self," and to observe one's reverse form in its bare gleam means "self analysis," then for Alice to employ it as a metaphysical portal would imply that the cross-dresser (moi, vous, quiconque) seeks to immerse herself into the reflection she's been studying, likely with the hope of assuming the form of said reflection once she's crossed the proper threshold. "On this side I'm more like this; on that side, I'm more like that."  This transcends narcissism - since Narcissus found he was powerless to interact with his reflection in any tangible, fulfilling way - and poses a more optimistic possibility: a true, positive connection to one's identity, along with the promise of somehow making contact with an elusive fantasy floating mired in the shadows of mere imagination.

Thus, may it please you, see me sitting here before the mirror, occasionally lost in thought as I ponder the quiet, lonely woman looking back with that glint of eagerness and hope in her eyes.  From time to time I carefully test the glass to see if its hard, unyielding surface finally gives way.

"I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!" - Alice

Oh, Wonderland...so close, so far away.

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