The trail divides, a befuddling bifurcation for those wary of selecting their destiny. Rather than choose, three set up camp at the fork and study their alternatives. Lost to them is their guiding map, a handy contrivance passed to them by the aggregation of knowledge across decades, even centuries of time. Here, they are on their own. Which way, oh please, a sign. Which way?
Panic might ensue from the fear of choice, or for those of more experience, reason. Yet reason alone cannot overcome obstacle in every instance; it can only narrow the odds a choice is a worthy one. Sometimes, choices have no precedent in memory.
With guidance lost, if lack of precedent disarms reason, well, what can we do next? We have this handy thing called intuition, experience washed through the filter of emotion. If our intuition fires off and we accept, we have a path.
Ah, wait a minute, one might rebut. Intuition can be insanely inaccurate, and those who rely upon it for choices will stumble sooner rather than later. Perhaps.
So here we are, looking at each other and at twin roads meeting at a Y, left tine, right prong, handle tethered back where we came. Ahead, our choices have the same width, same surfacing, and go in the same general direction, at least not enough to render either an invalid choice.
Three people standing at the fork scratching our heads. One chooses to go left, one right, and one turns around. Who is right, and who is wrong?
Well, we only know where one road goes, and that is the one from whence they came. We don’t know the desired destination of the three, and really, does it matter? What do you do at forks in life? Do you turn around and embrace the comfort of your life to date, even if something feels lacking? Do you gamble on odds that give you a half chance to find the right path? Will you regret if you are wrong, or will you celebrate the spirit of discovery and glorify in where it has taken you? Will you consider yourself wise for retreat and survival, or will others celebrate or vilify you for advancing human knowledge or society to points unknown?
In human history, we tend to celebrate the succeeding fork taker. Those who do can find the spectacular path, a road, a mountain, or an entire land named for them. Those who retreat to safety go nameless in history.
All have their place, and no one can say which choice is right. We humans are arbitrary and somewhat capricious in our praise. For the two who set out ahead, each had equal chance at discovery. One society will celebrate as genius whilst the other will slide from mention, as nameless as the one who turned around. Our retreater is likely a nurturer, guardians and sharers of what we accumulate in knowledge. They prepare others. There is a fourth one, heretofore unmentioned, all who stay behind and never leave.
I write all of this because I am not the first to face being genderqueer, a condition likely extent through the length of human existence. In 1928, Radclyffe Hall wrote The Well of Loneliness, a novel of a young woman named Stephen, never comfortable in a world expecting a woman of means to fall into a narrow niche of behaviour and dress. Stephen today would likely be someone we would call a butch dyke or transman, and here was Radclyffe penning her story the year my 83 year old mother was born. She paid a price for the write, what with her book banned and she placed on trial.
In the early 1950s, Christine Jorgensen underwent sex reassignment surgery, the first in history to choose physical correction to make her sex match gender. She was at a fork, not with two compatriots, but alone. She chose a path and walked it. Today, there are thousands and thousands of us, not spread like the spores of a mushroom, rather uncloaked from under shroud, thanks to Christine.
Some of us choose to walk the road to physical correction; some just quietly live as the correct gender, eschewing surgery. Still hold their silence, sympathetic but not desirous of the turmoil revelation can bring.
No road is wrong, if chosen sincerely and without judgement of those on different paths. We all contribute to the whole, like Christine, like Radclyffe, and all the multitudes who never left.