You (Meaning I) Don’t Need to Know Everything

The original intention of this blog post was to review Ikeda Riyoko’s Claudine, a scandalous and emotionally intense look at a man born in a woman’s body and the complications it brings. It provides an interesting contrast to Ikeda’s most famous work, The Rose of Versailles, whose protagonist, Oscar, is raised as a man but is ultimately a woman inside.

However, as I tried to shape my thoughts on Claudine, I began to worry about whether or not I was the right person to be writing about a transgender-focused manga, never mind that Ikeda herself, as far as I know, isn’t transgender either. It’s not as if I haven’t written about similar topics before, but I’ve been increasingly self-conscious about it. My concern with writing about Claudine was that I do not know how actual transgender people might experience its narrative. Is the dominant tragic aspect of the manga considered a step backwards?

Then something dawned on me. While I consider my constant desire for knowledge a strength, this pursuit of expertise has its downsides, one of which is an inner need to say things from a place of authenticity that isn’t necessarily in reach. I expect myself to be able to understand everything eventually on a deeper level, but in some situations, as with the transgender experience, there’s only so far I can go. While there are many ways I don’t match up to the ideal male image society upholds, I don’t know what it’s like to feel uncomfortable in my own skin to that degree—to feel like who I appear to be on the surface isn’t who I am.

What I’m realizing is that it’s okay that my knowledge will forever be limited to a certain degree. I don’t need to try and be an expert in everything; I can listen to the voices of those with direct experience and those who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of equality. Support when I can, guide when I can, and learn when I can: that’s the way to approach life, especially as I grow older.

PS: I’m well aware of the irony of me taking what should have been a review of a manga about a member of a trans man and making it all about me realizing the limits of my emotional knowledge when it comes to trans people. I hope you’ll forgive me.

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2 thoughts on “You (Meaning I) Don’t Need to Know Everything

  1. I read Claudine and it is a work of its time.
    No one outside of the bounds of “normal”
    in those days was allowed to have a happy
    ending even in US popular fiction.

    I used to read cheap paperbacks about
    Gay and Lesbian people and they all
    must encounter hardship and disaster.

    And if they came to the attention of authorities
    in most parts of the USA they would suffer for
    being too obvious.

    The most optimistic story I read in those days
    was the multi-volume saga of Beebo Brinker and
    her friends and enemies by Ann Bannon.

    I tried to read it again recently and was turned
    off by the milieu depicted and the tobacco
    smoke consumed. It was another novel
    of its time when smoking was a more
    tolerable vice and the Lesbian Recovery
    from such vices had not been dreamed
    of…

    bliss

    Like

  2. I didnt know about this blog… and i come here for Gaogaigar post. Nice blog! you are a perosn of culture! i will see this blog now on! XD

    Like

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