Being trans is a gem of an experience.
What sucks is how needlessly bloated full of shame the experience is.
Society currently seems willing to interact with trans people only on society’s demoralizing terms. We’ll be halfheartedly tolerated as long as we perform as penitents. There’s always a creeping threat, even behind a lot of the help we get: “Show us your pain, or we’ll drop you back in the deep end”.
As long as we suffer, and center our suffering in our narrative. As long as we accept that suffering as inevitable, so cis people can feel magnanimous in helping us a little and forgetting again.
And we’re supposed to forget, too. We’re supposed to quietly get transition over with, get it behind us, hide any essential differentness that we’ve discovered, and go back to hiding in plain sight as soon as we can–just in another box. We’re supposed to be embarrassed.
Anybody mind if I laugh at this and reject it? To stand there and say, I’m right between genders, and I like it here. I like my chest hair and glitter nail polish. I like doing my shot, because I’m a kinky motherfucker, and with music and incense it’s a sweet little ceremony.
Societal acceptance that hinges on shame, self-minimization, and humble crumb-scraping is blackmail, and it’s abusive. Trans people have the right to love this process, and bring its unique joys to the table as well as their grievances.
This isn’t about being stealth if you want to be. It’s about silence and meekness as a prerequisite for safety, and about having what could be an inner revolution hijacked and steered back towards self-hatred.
What sort of sick system holds “passing” as the only real goal, demanding the eradication of all traces of the “wrong” gender, even if they’re part of who you truly are?
Imagine if being trans didn’t equal suffering or strain. If there were balms for the pain people already felt, but no obligation to keep hurting just to be taken seriously, or to carve off parts of your soul to fit a dying narrative.
Imagine a world where trans people are understood, accepted, and valued as precious perspective-checks against social rigidity and hierarchical thinking. Imagine if trans people were seen as what they are, the embodiments of possibility and authenticity.
Imagine if hormones were readily available, surgery was respected and well-subsidized, and trans people who didn’t want either were just as welcomed to the table.
Imagine if being transgender were a pleasure, or an adventure, or an insightful social role.
And lifelong experimentation were every person’s right, not just trans folks.
I’m not asking for a debate on how “likely” this is to ever come to pass. I’m just stating what I see as the options–either we hold out for better terms now, or we shrug our shoulders, submit to bigots, and kick the problem down the road for the next generation of transgender people to pick up.
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.
Some trans people get uptight about transgender visibility.
On one hand, I can see where they’re coming from. They might be closeted or stealth, and worried that increased visibility might out them. Or they might be struggling to put a traumatic past or painful transition behind them, and not appreciate the reminders of what they went through.
I try to be sympathetic towards that, though I feel like it’s a short-sighted position to adopt.
On the other hand, I think it’s more important to fight bigotry and familiarize allies with how to help us, than engage in a fruitless and frankly pretty hurtful campaign to force out trans people back into the closet. What might seem like the best idea in the short run, is actually playing right into bigots’ hands. The info is out there on how to spot us. It’s done. Now it’s time to protect ourselves and each other by normalizing what we are, not by re-hiding it.
I also can’t help but think, somewhat selfishly, of what I would have done without the examples of out trans guys. Perhaps not survived.
If you’re out there, whether you want to be seen or not — I care for you. Do your best, beautiful. We’ll get there together.
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.