Tag Archives: dysphoria

What to Wear to Work – Dressing While Butch

What to wear if you are butch?

What to wear if you are butch and transgender?

After five months of slumming I laid out work clothes. I want to feel comfortable going back to the office. I tried on a few permutations of jeans, button down shirts, and sweaters in front of the full length mirror with the lights on. Five years ago this would have been a humiliating and depressing task. Now, I only wish I had sent my sweaters to the cleaners in April instead of throwing them in a heap to moulder.

Except for senior management, new employees, and ambitious scum, no one at Transit dresses to impress. There is a lot of cheap polyester. Dated and out of fashion. There is no incentive to buy new clothes if you can still fit in your old ones. There is no written dress code. The expectation for men is a shirt and tie; the expectation for women is nothing that I would wear. My perpetual dilemma. Continue reading

My Last Mammogram

Photo by Wendy Thomas (see notes)

Photo by Wendy Thomas (see notes)

I had my last mammogram on Monday. I put it off for four years and only made an appointment because my surgeon required it before he would clear me for top surgery (bilateral mastectomy).

I’ve had other mammograms. This one was no different except that it was the last one. I was anxious in the radiology clinic waiting room. The TV blasted the Good Morning America show and it was impossible to read the book I brought with me (Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin). All the women in the room were quiet. They dressed up for their appointments, as if they were going to an interview. I felt overly self-conscious; a parody of a butch lesbian in jeans and a plaid shirt. I wondered what they would think if they knew why I was there. Continue reading

Sustainability

I’m not writing about Atlantic Codfish or non-GMO corn. I’m trying to balance my butch identity with my transgender identity; to walk the trans-masculine tightrope. It is about being honest in my relationship, talking in therapy, being open at work, and showering at the gym. It is about the long haul.

Philippe Petit crossing between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, 1974

Philippe Petit crossing between the unfinished towers of the World Trade Center, 1974

It isn’t about labels. It is about asking for, and accepting, support for who I am. I am not good at the getting help thing. Sometimes I feel like I am lost, without GPS, and afraid to ask for directions. I don’t know if I am just around the corner from my destination, or if it is still miles away.

What does it take to live as a non-binary (genderqueer, agender, or neutrois) person? I’ve been visibly queer since childhood, but it wasn’t always intentional. I couldn’t stomach the alternatives. What does it take to do it deliberately and consciously? Continue reading

Hiding from the Camera

girls_with_vintage_camerasThere 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

Nipplemania

Michelangelo's David

Michelangelo’s David

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

Leaving Egypt

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 - Wikepedia

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

Gracie Saves the Day

gracie-saves-meThis 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.

Continue reading