Sunday morning I woke up to the news of the massacre in Orlando. A gunman with an assault rifle in a gay dance club. Forty-nine dead.
I was still on a high from my two days at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference (PTHC). I spent Sunday night at a vigil on Christopher St., and then went out for dinner with friends I knew from my ACT UP days. The vigil was supposed to be comforting, but it made me angry.
I understand self-hate. I understand hating your parents. I understand hating your abusers. I understand hating your government. I don’t understand killing 49 strangers.
I’ve spent a lot of time being angry. Angry at my mother. Angry at the government. Angry at a society that doesn’t see me or value my life. Angry at the media. Angry at the politicians who did nothing to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people dying from AIDS. The same politicians who do nothing to stop anti-LGBT legislation or to restrict access to assault rifles. They used AIDS as a political weapon against the gay community, just as they are using the Orlando massacre as a political weapon agains Muslims and immigrants. I hold them as responsible for the 49 deaths as the man who pulled the trigger.
Once, when I was a teenager, I lost my temper and hit my mother. I was in a rage. I haven’t hit anyone since, although I’ve been provoked and had to wrestle myself down. I learned to keep away from my mother. I learned to walk away from bullies. I struggle with my anger. I try not to think about revenge, but sometimes I dream about it. I’m glad I don’t own a gun.
The two sessions at PTHC that made me think about my future were Joe Ippolito and Jayden Sampson’s Baby Boomers and Gen-Xer’s: Exploring Aging Issues in Trans Male Communities and Micah’s Transition Your Way: The Gender Playbook.
Last year, I went to Joe and Jayden’s presentation (and wrote about it here). It convinced me that I had to get a Primary Care Physician (I went to Callen-Lorde). I found out I had high cholesterol, and am now under the care of a cardiologist (at Columbia-Presbyterian). This year, Joe and Jayden talked a lot about the dangers of social isolation, even when you have a partner. They were talking about people like me. I need to be pro-active; not sit around waiting for everyone else to make the first, second, and third move. I can’t smolder alone. I don’t want to implode.
Micah presented a “how to” for transitioning outside of the “standard” narrative; transition without a preconceived idea of where you are going or how you are going to get there. He explained the disconnect between how you feel, how you look, and how other people perceive you. That you will always be making compromises. My favorite graphic was the “gender iceberg”; a small visible trans peak sticking up above the ocean, with a huge mass of identity concealed below. It reminded me that I need a little more balance in my iceberg.
Notes: The Gender Playbook workshop is fun and upbeat; if you ever get a chance to see Micah give this workshop, go. In the interim, you can watch him giving the presentation at Gender Odyssey (on YouTube). It is in three parts – my favorite is Part 2: What Is Transition?
At the vigil Sunday night, my friends and I were approached by Bustle photographers asking us when was the last time we felt unsafe. Alexis, Nicholas, and I appear in the piece, which can be found here.