The Art of the Retcon and the Erasure of the Past

Do you know the word, retcon? It’s the short form for Retroactive Continuity. It’s employed in fictions where previously established facts are surreptitiously changed to reflect the current situation. It is most common in comic books and science fiction and is sometimes necessary, but also a little bit of a cheat. People who know what happened before are keenly aware of the change and, in these days of nitpicking for lack of a better thing to do, nits are most definitely picked, especially here on the interwebz.

I often find myself retconning (the verb form of the word…I can do this) my life to some degree. There are times when I am relating a story from into history back and the proper name would have been the name I used then or the proper gender for the story would have been the one that I was known for and, yet, I find myself making those little edits to reflect the current continuity. Is it a a small fiction? Sure. But it hurts no one and I do it with a wink and a smile.

The other day a show poster in my classroom fell off of the wall (my classroom has a gallery of posters from every show I have directed in my time there). The poster had a cartoon drawing ¬†of me in the before time. I had a similarly drawn cartoon of me in my current incarnation on the cabinet behind my desk. As the poster was down, I took the opportunity to “correct” it. There was no need for the older representation of me to linger there. I let the artist know of the edit and she heartily approved.

The fact is, while I remember my life before through the things I did and the people I have known and loved, I am having a harder and harder time actively remembering what it was like to be that person or act as that person. The physical reality of it has passed beyond the point of recollection. What I look like now…how I feel now is my reality. The reality of the before time in history back is gone when it comes to the way I perceive myself. So it seems only natural in some measure that my brain has begun to rewrite my memories…to retroactively create a timeline where who I am now is who I have always been and, yes, this is an imperfect process as no amount of editing will ever change my relationships with my spouse and children (nor would I want to).

But it’s still strange to see old images of myself. I know that was me, but it doesn’t seem like me. It’s not the person I am now and I know everyone changes over time, but these changes are much greater and I imagine I have a much more keen sense of erasure that someone who has not gone through this kind of transition.

It makes me think of those who are deep stealth, who have erased their pasts rather completely. I wonder if they have experienced a more profound sense of erasure to the point that while they recognize that there was a before time, they no longer have any evidence to support it and, as a result, it hardly seems real anymore. I wonder if that is why they often take some measure of affront at the idea that we are, in some sense, always trans. If they have retconned their pasts to the point that even their trans experience is barely recallable. I can understand how that might happen.

My life as it is now is still relatively short in comparison to that other life I lived. In the years to come, I wonder how foreign that previous experience will become. How little will I recognize what it was to have lived as I did?

 

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On Trans Fakers

Strange but true: some people who say they are trans (or were trans…) are lying.

Hmmmm.

Seems a strange thing to do, but the internet lends itself to strange fictions. It allows people to pretend to be other people. It is a game of sorts, role playing in a world where most of the characters are who they say they are. It’s not just a trans thing. It’s an internet thing and it happens in every corner.

But trans fakers are interesting to me. Some are easy to spot. Some are more difficult.

For instance, when I was in recovery from my surgery, I was befriended on Facebook by a person who was friends with some of my other trans acquaintances there. This person was very sweet and her positive messages were nice to hear whilst I was convalescing. One more supportive voice among many and I didn’t question it. We take all the positive energy we can, especially when healing.

And this person kept up with me for a time. I was interesting as I healed I suppose. But after a time, the messages stopped coming. Someone else was in recovery I suppose.

This person posted a lot of pictures up on FB and they were always of a young,  beautiful woman who was enjoying her life and, to be fair, I would never have read her as trans except that she said so. Additionally, an awful lot of space was spent discussing her marvelous breasts and it was kind of weird to me. I eventually turned off her feed. It bored me.

And now it has come out that this person is a faker, a role player who has been at it for a long time and I wonder at the dedication to the play.

The same way I wonder at any of the other fakers, the ones who claim trans identities for any number of reasons that I am not qualified to identify (there are a great number of lay psychologists out there who know a term or two to apply and are eager to do so…I’m not one of them). I’m not entirely sure why this would be the community to choose to role play within except that trans people on the interwebz do tend to be chatty and, in general, do not question the validity of someone else’s identity…

Oh. I wrote that. Ha.

Perhaps it is because there are so many questioning the validity of others that it is easy to turn this kind of criticism around as a spiteful or jealous attack or an attack by someone who feels they have the right so say who is or who is not trans.

This makes me wonder if these fakers are completely dishonest about their trans identity. Perhaps the only way they can express their trans identities in their lives is through this online role playing. Should I feel for them if this is the case? Does their online fiction make my reality less valid or damage my ability to live in this world?

It hasn’t directly as of yet that I know of. Perhaps their actions slowly chip away at the overall validity of trans people everywhere.

What I do know is this. A relative stranger on FB who had some validity because she knew people that I knew befriended and comforted me, was kind and lovely and chatty and ultimately boring and banal. And it turns out she was not really who she said she was.

And life goes on with no real harm done.