Recently, I had a thought provoking conversation on Twitter that’s given me pause to reflect on the concept of “normalcy” and explore my beliefs on the matter. If that sounds interesting to you, I hope you’ll follow along into this rabbit hole as I explore it.
All of this began when someone made an argument I’ll surmise as, “Trans people are not normal.”
I’m not sure if you know what it’s like to be told that you are not normal, or that your thoughts / actions / experiences are not normal, and this may vary from person to person, but for me it invokes an intense defensive emotional reaction.
To me, “normalcy” is synonymous with commonality. What is common is what we sometimes call normal. My understanding of myself is deeply rooted in a belief that I am a very common person not unlike those who I cherish in the world around me.
I’m a small town girl, I’ve had a very rocky and uncommon life, but all throughout it my Midwestern heart has yearned for simplicity and commonality. Like most very common people, all I’ve ever wanted is to relate and be related to; to form relationships that mutually benefit our common experiences in our common environments.
Basically, I just want to live a “normal” meaningful, relatable, and valuable life.
So, when someone tells me I’m not normal, it’s like a signal I’ve failed in some way to be myself; that my experience is NOT meaningful, relatable, or valuable. It feels wrong to me, and I think most everyone I’ve shared experiences with would agree that in spite of uncommon challenges in my life, I live well within the range of a normal human being.
But, their perception of “normal” as well as mine or anyone else’s is founded in subjective experience. Does it even matter what I or anyone else thinks is normal?
Perhaps it’s just my protective thought processes leading me on to prevent oncoming emotional damage, but questions like this are where my mind is drawn when I think about normalcy, especially relative to my own normalcy.
Am I normal? I don’t know. Is anyone? Is anything?
One could, quite reasonably I think, argue that nothing is normal. Our universe itself is abnormal. It defies all logic and probability that it or we could ever exist, yet here we are thinking about it and trying to understand just what it is and how we all got here.
That person who provoked these thoughts also suggested that heterosexual procreation is normal, while homosexuality is abnormal. But what’s really normal about heterosexual procreation?
So far as we know, life as it exists on Earth is incredibly abnormal relative to our universe. None of our senses or tools have thus far been able to establish whether or not life exists elsewhere. Whether or not it does, it certainly does not appear normal for life to exist as it does here in the grand scheme of the cosmos. Heterossexual procreation might seem “normal” in the broad subjective sense that it is common and caused the existence of most life as we know it, but we only conceive of it that way because it’s common. But is it really normal?
Of course, there’s always the chance we might discover extraterrestrial life somewhere, somehow, someday. It’s easy to assume it should and does exist in such a big universe, it almost has to!
But if it does, is the life there anything at all like it is here? Would it procreate similarly? Seems highly doubtful. If there’s more than one, which forms of life in the universe are normal? Who decides?
Given how downright abnormal everything about existence is, it seems absurd to call anything “normal” outside our subjective sense of commonality, which is going to vary from person to person in the same way varies from lifeform to lifeform. People who know me and share space with me tend to find me normal because they share that sense of commonality with me and together, we craft an illusion of normalcy; a social construct to which we belong so long as we’re interested in maintaining it.
Others, say who might come from another part of the world might have a very different sense of normalcy and feel quite out of place here. Some might even find our sense of normalcy around here disagreeable, but does that make our normal any less normal? What about theirs?
I’d say no, none of it was ever normal to begin with for either party. Any sense of normalcy is and always was relative to a subjective sense of commonality.
That brings me back to the man who provoked these thoughts, who suggested transition and LGBT relationships are not normal.
It may be true that transition and LGBT relationships are fairly uncommon among humans, and perhaps they may not be relatable or valuable to you for subjective reasons, but that just means we presently lack commonality.
It doesn’t mean either of us is not normal.
We aren’t normal because normalcy doesn’t exist.