As I watched the closing ceremony for the Olympics, it occurred to me just how unremarkable it is to be female. There were so many of them, and they all seemed roughly the same — at least from the distance of a television camera. Some variations were vaguely visible, but the overall effect was one of identity-free interchangeability.
A full fifty percent of the world’s population is female. That’s a whole lot, right?
At the same time, it also seemed unremarkable to be male. Again, there were lots of them — the other fifty percent, obviously. How odd, I thought, that anyone should be on one side of that divide and wish to be on the other. You merely move from being an anonymous member of one gigantic group to an anonymous member of the other. How could such a change mean anything to anyone? Any one person is only a drop in the gigantic bucket of those who share their gender.
It’s especially mystifying to me that someone would be on the female side of the equation and wish to be on the male side. Obviously, my own desire to switch sides would mystify the vast majority of these seemingly interchangeable people.
I frequently have such thoughts when confronted by, or even just considering, crowds. In the context of a crowd, that one person would have crossed that line, or would even have formed such an idea, seems absurdly unimportant, a trifle, as minuscule a thing as there is. No one would notice or care. If they did, the moment would pass, and each party would be on to the next moment.
Sadly, it is only on the scale of our personal relationships, where we spend the bulk of our lives, that such notions are significant enough to cause discomfort. This is where the real problems of the transgendered are experienced.
But back to Rio.
In recognizing the unremarkableness of being born in one gender or the other, I suddenly became aware of the remarkableness of being transgender. Though our numbers continue to climb, it is still a very tiny slice of the world which experience what I (we) experience. Most of those gendered people out there will never once ask themselves if they fit their gender. In that way, we are remarkable.
This should give me comfort, but it does not. It seems like the one thing which can separate a drop from its ocean, and deposit it somewhere to dry and disappear like meaningless dust. A crowd can be a great thing, but ultimately we each stand alone. Scale matters.
So I am unremarkable. And I am remarkable. And I am unremarkable.