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.
I collected and hoarded all sorts of “types” of girl clothes for years and years, trying to be prepared for the day when one of those female identities finally revealed itself to be the one for me.
Ended up donating, no lie, about fifteen large trash bags of clothing. My closet is so sparse now and filled with guy clothes that make me smile. It’s been the lighter side of transitioning so far, all the things I no longer need to hang on to, just in case I finally figure out “how to girl”.
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:
Today I’m thinking about what I’ll be like a year from now. Testosterone, top surgery, all the changes I want to make to take better care of myself and build a life as a man. I feel so much happiness and gratitude to even know what my goals and dreams are now, finally, after years of chasing the wrong things. I wonder what that future me will think of this present-day one. I hope he sees that I’m doing my best.