There are only a dozen family photographs of me as a child. There are a handful of elementary school portraits and class pictures. My high school yearbook. Then I disappear from sight.
There are no pictures of me between 17 and 24; between when I came out and when I met Donna. I hid from the camera. I felt fat, ugly, and awkward. I didn’t want to be reminded of how bad I looked.
Donna came with her camera. She loves to take photographs.
I hated my childhood pictures. They were proof that I was a girl. There are no candid photographs. No happy, relaxed shots. I am posing. Stand up straight, look up at the camera, smile, don’t move. Continue reading →
I am still in top surgery purgatory. Purgatory implies hope and patience. Donna is slowly reconciling herself to my having surgery. I’m trying not to pressure her because I don’t want to sabotage her efforts to come around to it on her own.
I’ve tried to take a break from thinking about top surgery, but I can’t. I’ve got the money, I’ve got a doctor, but I don’t want to proceed until Donna says she can handle it, or is willing to try. She mentioned the end of the year. I mentally put the Prosecco on ice.
Meanwhile, nipples are on my mind. I am obsessed with chests. I chest gazed while on vacation. Italian men take more care with their appearance than American men do. They wear their dress shirts, T-shirts, and polo shirts tighter. They show more. I’m not attracted to men, but the Italian men are very attractive. Continue reading →
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. The first night of Passover is next Monday. Donna and I are having eight friends over for seder. It is a feminist seder with an alternative Haggadah. I’m sorting through my recipes to decide what to cook. I’m sorting through how I am going to relate to being a transgender butch reading a lesbian-feminist Haggadah.
Second night seder is at BC and Ruth’s. It is a queer seder, with a lot of people I know from AIDS activism. I am more relaxed at it because I am not cooking. I bring one dish, home brined pickled salmon. It is easy to make; I just have to remember to start it five days in advance.
The Sinai Desert – Wikipedia
The Haggadah includes the retelling of the story of the Exodus. The story of Moses leading the Jews out of slavery, out of Egypt. It about their hesitation to leave, their doubts, and their impatience while wandering in the desert in search of the promised land. The rituals of Passover require us to experience Passover as if we personally went out of Egypt. It reminds us that liberation and transformation are possible. It reminds us that we are in the diaspora; we are still in the desert.
I am still searching for a place for myself within the Jewish tradition. I don’t want to make Aliyah to Israel or claim a birthright. I hated the gender rigidity of my synagogue and the language in the prayer-book. Yet I continue to experience myself as Jewish (cultural and culinary) despite distancing myself from mainstream Judaism and the state of Israel.
A few years ago, at second night seder, Richard challenged us to think about leaving our own Egypt. To whom, or to what, am I a slave? What does it mean to be free? From whom am I fleeing? Where am I trying to go? These are questions I’ve struggled with all year. My Egypt is not the Egypt of my ancestors; my Jerusalem is not an occupied city in contemporary Israel. Continue reading →
This week I was happy that I have a dog. Happy to have an excuse to take a walk and go up to the dog run. Dogs don’t think you are a freak. Dogs don’t need to talk everything out. I would say that dogs are simple, but Gracie is quirky. I’ve had her for over six years, and I still think of her as my “new” dog. I’ve watched Gracie, I’ve studied her, I’ve paid a lot of attention to her. I don’t completely get her. We are not a perfect match; but we are good enough.
I don’t walk around my apartment naked. I wasn’t raised that way. My older brother and I shared a small bedroom in a small apartment. We wore clothes until bath time or bed time, changed into our pajamas in the bathroom, and went to bed.
Once we were old enough to wipe ourselves and dry ourselves we were not naked in front of our parents. Nor were our parents naked in front of us. They were buttoned up. They did not hang around in pajamas, bathrobes, or loungewear. If you were awake you had all your clothes on. Except at the beach or the pool.
The four of us shared one bathroom. There was a mirrored medicine cabinet over the sink; the only full length mirror was on the inside of the door to my parent’s bedroom. To use it you had to close their door. I never looked at myself in it dressed. I never looked at myself in it naked. I did not want to. Continue reading →
It is 10° F in New York. I am surfing the internet for swimsuits. Gracie is curled up on the floor in a patch of late afternoon sunlight. I’d like to know what she is dreaming about.
I have the perfect wardrobe for January; for 12 inches of snow, slush moats, and arctic windchill. I’ve got high-tech long underwear, three different types of fleece jackets, a down sweater and a down jacket, lightweight and heavy weight Gore-Tex shells, boot socks, windproof gloves and moisture wicking glove liners, neck gaiters, wool beanies, and insulated waterproof work boots. I can mix and match for any winter weather condition. If you wanted to throw an outdoor party in January I’d have the ideal outfit. I’m an urban slumberjack.
Last year I waited until June to think about swimming. I swore it would be the last season that I’d wear a black racerback Speedo in the water, topped by a pair of quick-dry shorts and a damp T-shirt on the sand. A black racerback is the butch equivalent of a little black dress. It is elegant and understated, but I don’t wear dresses. I promised myself to start looking for genderqueer appropriate beach wear in January. This is my 2014 swimsuit challenge. Continue reading →
One side of the mushroom will make you larger…but which side?
It is a parlor game. If you could swallow a pill that would change your body shape into whatever form you wished, what would you wish for and would you swallow the pill?
My first reaction is I’d like to be a few inches taller (5’7 instead of 5’4) and have a masculinized chest (i.e. top surgery). My second reaction is whoa slow down and think this through. I’m good at procrastinating. I can wait until I am clear about what I want to do, or until I have no choice but to take action. I promised Donna that I if I was going to have top surgery, I would wait until she was ready. I am still waiting; neither of us is ready.
When I first started to think about what it meant to be transgender, I was both intrigued by and repelled by top surgery. I am still ambivalent. I’ve tried to write posts before about top surgery, but they have not felt right. This is yet another attempt. If the thought of a butch (or me in particular) considering top surgery creeps you out, stop here and read another post. Otherwise, continue down into the rabbit hole. Continue reading →
It finally dropped below freezing in New York. That means layers. And flannel. I love winter. It takes the edge off my dysphoria.
The official start of my flannel season is the weekend after Labor Day. I take stock of my shirts. Which one needs a button, which ones are so scruffy that they should only be worn for chores, and which ones should go into the rag box. One of the sad things about flannel is that it doesn’t last forever. Continue reading →
My mother took me shopping for my first bra during the first week of 7th grade. I was a chubby prepubescent eleven year old. It wasn’t clear if I had breasts or chest flab. We took a trip to a store with a back room and an old lady wearing a cardigan. She wielded a tape measure. I took off my shirt and my undershirt and she wrapped it around me, proclaiming “38AA.” I didn’t want to wear a training bra. I wanted to wear my undershirt. My mother wanted to make a lady out of me. By any means necessary. Continue reading →
I was an overweight child. I was short and didn’t fit in clothes for my height. Everything had to be shortened. I popped buttons, busted seams, and split zippers. I could not be contained by my clothes. My mother took me shopping in the chubby department (now called girls plus). I didn’t mind being a butterball, but I wanted to shop in the boy’s husky section.
I was rough on clothes. Especially girl’s clothes. In first grade I had a dress that was navy blue “dotted swiss” with red smocking across the chest. I detested it. I accidentally dropped hot dogs on it and spilled grape juice on it. I pulled at the smocking to snap it or stretch it out of shape. I told my mother I was clumsy. I could not outgrow that dress fast enough. Continue reading →