Our Shared Displacements: On Trans* and Post-Adoption Experiences

It’s become something of a joke on Twitter and elsewhere that so many people think I’m trans. In some instances, people seem to wholesale confuse me for @NyxLandUnlife — I’ve got no idea why. In others, it seems to be an assumption made simply by proxy. Many people do identity as trans* around these parts and so what are the chances that I would as well?

To be clear, I don’t mind people asking or assuming this. When someone did so on CuriousCat a few weeks back, my response to the question there still stands:

No. I’m just a cishet white boy who never fit in with his peers. Much to the shock of everyone I know, I’ve never questioned myself in that way at all. I had a tragic couple of years as a teenager where I kept inadvertently falling in love with lesbians. Like, it was comical. One after the other. Heartbroken again and again. But it was cool and my friendship groups have always been majority queer ever since. I generally don’t play that well with boys. Gay and trans girls always naturally end up being my closest friends.

tl;dr — no but I’ll die for my sisters.

As steadfast in this support as I claim to be, that’s not to say I haven’t questioned why. What is it about me that gravitates towards queerness without being queer? It’s not for the sake of being “on trend” and I never want to step on toes and take up space in some place that’s not made for me… But still, what is this sense of belonging with those who historically do not belong?

I had a conversation with @PartyPrat about this a few weeks ago whilst I was in the midst of writing my essay, “The Primal Wound.” We’d been talking quite generally and at some point I went on some rant about sleeping badly — if Prat and I ever get the chance to talk in real time, chances are one of us is up far too late — and ended up sharing an earlier draft of that essay.

I found it surprising at first that Prat found it so relatable but, in truth, it also made a lot of sense. That essay is, essentially, about how we might rethink — map anew — our displacements. Borrowing from Deleuze, the impetus of self-exploration is less on “finding the origin” of one’s self and instead better appreciating the very nature of becoming; of becoming-another.

As superficial and self-helpy as this might sound, we should note that when life is constantly being passed through the various expectations of society’s amorphous institutions, this cognitive nomadology is far easier championed than enacted.

But queerness so often finds itself having to approach and enact such manoeuvres, often without thinking. The very nature of being (or rather, becoming) transgender is perhaps the most explicit example. How could you possibly map the displacement of gender transition? How do you think such an ontological shift in a way that is not beholden to a “dead” origin; a “dead name”?

When we think about Nyx’s G/Acc Blackpaper, perhaps it is this sensation that is being attuned to.

If Accelerationism is the embrace of that which “capitalism cannot but obstruct”, of capitalism’s own unruly desiring-production which flies off the handle despite its own attempts to contain itself, of our being-moved as opposed to our naive belief in our own self-moving, we might be so bold as to argue that — affectively speaking — Accelerationism is fundamentally the affirmation of such a displacement.

It is here that the “accelerate collapse” school of 4chan Acc finds itself failing to understand Accelerationism’s most basic observations. They are far too concerned with the original system being antagonised rather than attuning themselves to the flows passing through it. “Smash the ground of existence” becomes “bury your head in the sand”, in the shifting grounds beneath your feet.

It is in this sense that I think there must always be an ethics of accelerationism in play somewhere — even in U/Acc’s anti-praxis mode, which nonetheless contains the call to “make ourselves worthy of the process” that I’ve written about previously.

In considering how best to respond to such displacements as these, queerness isn’t a bad place to start. This is something I’ve also discussed here on the blog previously — specifically in “Ethics of Exit” — but I have something else more polished brewing which emphasises the temporal aspects of this over the spatial. So, for now, watch this space for that…

Anyway, I’m writing all this because, in thinking more critically about the similarities between trans* and post-adoptive experiences in the aftermath of “The Primal Wound” finally making its way online, I found a lot more overlap than I had originally bargained for.

Take this study published in the journal Transgender Health:

Programs providing medical care for transgender adolescents have seen a dramatic rise in volume in the past few years, with many more children and adolescents presenting with gender dysphoria. As more patients present for medical care, important trends that can inform our understanding of gender dysphoria are beginning to emerge. We have noted a greater than expected prevalence of adopted children who present with gender dysphoria at our pediatric hospital-based multidisciplinary gender program…

Or this study from Human Rights Campaign which reports that “8.2 percent of the 184 young people seen in the [Boston Children’s Hospital’s Gender Management Service] clinic between 2007 and 2015 were raised in adoptive families [whilst] only 2.3 percent of children living in Massachusetts were adopted.”

In “The Primal Wound”, I quoted Nancy Newton Verrier who writes in her book that many adopted children experience “a feeling of incompleteness or lack of wholeness … not in the genealogical sense of being cut off from one’s roots, but in a felt sense of bodily incompleteness.” In hindsight, it is maybe in this sense that we have more in common than first appearances suggest, and, as such, the anti-Oedipal fission of U/Acc and G/Acc is surely not as surprising as so many seem to think it.

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