Pride 2017

I’ve managed once again to fall through just about every crack in something I want to be a part of.

Not only am I transgender, I’m also older, an alt guy, and gay. I feel like I absolutely don’t fit in anywhere.

For the longest time, especially pre-transition, I searched from place to place thinking I’d belong somewhere–in different cities, at different schools, in different relationships. And it sucks, because not only did I not fit in anywhere, and sometimes get ruthlessly rejected, but the baggage of all that instability hangs off my neck now and makes it hard to be taken seriously as an adult.

Now that I know the score with myself, I feel like I’ve spent the past six months in a dual headspace–staring like a deer in headlights at the very real prospect of never finding an emotional home, and simultaneously learning that I really like myself and always have, and that I only want to become more like myself as time goes on.

And a kind of dumbass faith that eventually someone will see what I am and like it, if I can only keep steady.

Pride this month was a jungle of bad feelings. It hurt like a bitch to be confronted with what feels like an especially passive-aggressive gay cis male energy this year (reacting against the new administration?), but also being told over and over how nice it must be to live in such a permissive and accepting city.

No it isn’t.

There’s a certain way you’ve got to be gay or queer here, and I’m just not part of it. And there’s a humongous difference between permissiveness and progressiveness.

I skipped every last Pride event in New Orleans this year, because I didn’t feel like getting the knife of the last 8 months of social isolation twisted by a bunch of people who would just look at me and see a fucking out-of-place woman anyway.

Not only that, but the organizer of the Pride parade threw political queer protest under the bus in the newspaper, in such disingenuous language that Frank Luntz would have been proud. I think the cis gay community needs to take an honest look in the mirror about how far they’ve fallen from real social justice, and eradicate the proto-fascism before they dominate any more Pride parades.

So yeah. I’m pretty pissed off. Maybe I’m just in the wrong place, and I need to be in a city where there’s more opportunity for both support and genuine activism.

I could have done with some actual Pride this year, though. It hurts especially bad because Pride last year felt particularly inclusive and loving.

Re-Pierced My Labret

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I’d had it pierced in 2004 in Richmond Virginia. But I took it out three years later, on the ill-advice of a boyfriend who only lasted a fraction of the time that the piecing did.

I’d always wanted it back. In the intervening years, though, the lies told to middle-aged women about what they have to look like in order to be tolerated took root in my head, and intimidated me out of anything so “punk” or “immature”.

I felt I was just barely skating by, appearance-wise, as a female-presenting person. Better not rock the boat, or I may not be allowed to make a living.

Obviously I’m now past caring about any of that.

So I looked up piercers in New Orleans for the third time. The first two investigations had led me to getting my nipple done during Pride last year — but both the initial piercer, and the repiercer at another store, poked it crooked. So I’d taken it out after a week. I’d also eventually realized that I’m not ready to have pierced nips again until my chest is flat.

This time I went to Pigment Tattoo on Magazine Street. I was happy with the piercing placement. The piercer managed to get the jewelry to line up exactly with the tiny scar left by the old piercing. It was a bit low on the inside of my lip, but I didn’t expect that to make much difference.

Instantly after the jewelry was in, all the memories returned of when I’d had a labret stud before. The sense of alien heaviness in my lip, the feeling that the jewelry was way bigger than it was, but pleasantly so. It was meant to be there, it felt good there. I’d get used to it.

I walked out of the place feeling proud and defiant.

It might not seem like a big deal to other pierced people. It’s a small piece of jewelry, and it’s my only body piercing at present. But it’s a facial piercing, on a middle-aged transgender guy in the conservative South.

And to me it feels like both an assertion of my gender, and of the fact that I’m not going to be a gender-conforming man even when I do pass as one. So it’s a big deal to me.

The same piercing, 2007 vs. 2017:

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I Am Non-Binary

I’ve always been some sort of queer, and known it since at least high school. I’d assumed it was a sexual orientation thing, but while I knew I liked guys, I was never all that into girls. So what could it be?

I’ve been thinking about this since right after the Pulse shooting. And I think it’s time to finally say it out loud. It’s a gender thing.

Nonbinary to me has a couple of aspects. One is that it describes my overall life. I am at least bigender (male & female, and possibly something else), as well as genderfluid. Over the course of my life, there have been times I was almost as comfortable in feminine identity as a cis girl would be, though never quite all the way.

But there was also another part of me, that only got expression as a “masculine girl”, which wasn’t super satisfying. It was a male aspect of me. In the era of my childhood and teens, there was no concept of nonbinary or genderfluid. So I had to content myself with going between feminine, and masculine-girl, states.

And in the South, the latter invited a lot of bullying and ostracization, especially since when I was in that state, I wasn’t a tomboy–I was actually a manly “girl”.

The states lasted a few years each, more or less. As my twenties wore into my thirties, “manly girl” was less an accepted possibility for me to express. The demands put on adult women were forcing me further and further into feminization, and female aging took away some of the chance to be comfortably boyish, without the potential to be masculine replacing it. So that sucked, and started to hurt.

I went into this extended period of dysphoria and trying really hard to feminine myself and be an adult woman. But all it did was just burn my female aspect out once and for all. There were a few years I felt basically genderless, depressed, agoraphobic about even leaving the house. Only moving to New Orleans has really helped me emerge from that.

Now I’ve learned about nonbinary genders. And it has explained my whole life. It’s not really like having multiple me’s or anything. It’s more akin to being polyamorous, or having more than one career at a time, or being ambidextrous. I wish I’d known about it in time to kind of “save” the girl part of me from being burned out. And if she comes back, that’s ok. But what I have now is the identity that was always also in there, the man.

And he’s waited a long time to even exist in the world, so I’m really excited to be transitioning this year.

It makes me grateful to think I love in a time and place where this sort of exploration and admittance is finally gaining visibility and legitimacy.

Some people don’t understand it, or think it can’t exist, or think it’s wrong, and try to get you to limit yourself to one. That’s what happened to me, though the guy side always eventually found an outlet. I just hated how, when he did, it was always misunderstood or mocked. Never seen correctly, because it was coming from a “girl’s” body and face. I hope that when I can pass as a man, that aspect of me will finally be seen and appreciated.

So nonbinary is in part, the overall story. And in part, too, it’s what kind of man I am. I didn’t want to be a masculine girl. I want to be a feminine man. So the man I’m going to be will have this feminine streak, and be queer, etc. Not a guy trying to be a girl, but a male-emphasized balance of male and female traits, traditionally speaking.

When They Come

I’m meant to be dashing around odd corners in my rain boots, camera and notebook and pen in hand, ready to catch life by the tail and ride it.

It takes you to a dying man who glows blue, and you help him pass, and he says “Damn!” when your power explodes forth, and the sky shatters and falls with your scream.

I went deep and heard the howl of the everlost, and underneath, the chiming cries of the planet it’s raping. What do you do? Call the authorities? There are none–gone over or in hiding. You become the authority in those situations. The authority to look the world in the eye and say yes, this is better than that.

Say yes and no from the bones of your soul, and build the bridges you need from the sawn-up timber of the life you thought you wanted. Do it. Do it now. The hour’s late and there’s damage to repair.

Rise and walk with the gods, in kindness, creativity, gratitude and generosity. And above all, Truth, on which this authority is founded and rests.