After writing once a week for four years. I’ve finally decided is time to switch things up and stop posting on schedule and only post when I feel like it. I like blogging. I like the community and the intimacy. I like reading about other people’s lives, especially people who are trying to figure out how to live authentically without blowing the rest of their lives to smithereens. But blogging takes a lot of time, and at this moment in history I want to focus on political activism and building community. I don’t want to resent how much time I’m spending writing.
Four years ago, when I started this blog, I had just legally changed my name and accepted that I was trans. I was struggling to hold onto my relationship with Donna. I had read enough books to practically get a master’s degree in queer and transgender studies, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do about my gender identity and gender expression. I set it up as a false dichotomy; stay butch or transition to trans man. It took me a while to see that although I always wanted to be a boy, I didn’t necessarily want to be a man. That there was a lot of space, and a lot of room for experimentation, in between butch and trans man. I am still exploring that space.
I haven’t run out of ideas for blog posts. Today, I was thinking about letting go of the self-imposed pressure to decide about testosterone (not making a decision is still making a decision) and my fear that not going on testosterone means that I’m not really trans. Another post I want to write is about setting high expectations for myself and dealing with my disappointment when I can’t live up to them. I also want to write about what it is like to do political work with LGBTQ folk I know from ACT UP 25 years ago (and anti-war work 15 years ago) and their difficulty accepting that I am in a different place now than I was then (including getting my name right!).
Donna protesting outside Trump’s hotel.
Donna and I are also working together this time, along with our friend Alexis. It is great to be protesting with friends. The political group we are working with is Rise & Resist. It is so new that the website isn’t up, and you don’t get anything when you Google it. The Facebook page for Rise & Resist is here. It isn’t an LGBTQ group, but there are a lot of LGBTQ activists in it (the B and the T part of the acronym have been pretty quiet). There are a handful of people who look like they are trans (I know, I shouldn’t judge based on how people look) and at least two other people who introduced themselves with they pronouns. I’m hoping to chat them up so we can support each other.
It is hard to know what to do to fight Trump/Pence and the Republican agenda. It is easy to get frustrated and sink into despair. It is easy for us to turn on each other. I’ve been in groups that have self-imploded, and I’m hoping that Rise & Resist can work through those problems. Stay tuned.
If I were the resolution making type, I’d be making a bucket list for 2017. A list of what I thought I ought to do, or worse, what other people expect me to do. If I followed that list, I’d probably end 2017 lean, deep voiced, and on testosterone. Instead, I’ll probably continue my journey looking like a well-worn Steiff Teddy Bear.
What I would actually like to do in 2017 is to continue what I started to do towards the end of 2016, which is to focus on microdysphorias. Things in everyday life that cause me small amounts of pain or cognitive dissonance around gender. Some of them are microagressions, things other people do to me, e.g. when someone calls me Ma’am with attitude. Most of them, however, are caused by things I do without thinking, or because I didn’t plan ahead, or forgot to tell someone, or neglected to submit paperwork. For example, the other day I had to use a public women’s restroom in an unfamiliar place because I didn’t know a safe unisex alternative.
The things that kick up the most dust are: entering women only spaces (bathrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms), receiving mail sent to my birth name instead of my legal name, being called by my birth name (some people never got the message or “forgot” even though it has been over 4 years), being Ma’am’d or referred to as a lady, wearing men’s clothing that doesn’t fit properly, wearing a women’s shirt that buttons the wrong way and worrying that I will run into someone who will notice, and filling out forms that require me to check off female. Continue reading →
This month, I celebrated my two-year anniversary of top surgery, and my one year anniversary of my nipple revision. My chest is not perfect, but it is perfect enough for me. It is a little uneven. I have a small dog ear under my armpit on the left side (that I somehow didn’t notice because I was worrying about the size and height of my nipples). The scars are visible across my chest. I look like I had surgery.
If I took testosterone it might not look as wonky when I’m shirtless. I’d have more muscles, a little less curvature, and maybe some chest hair to normalize it. Since I’m not planning on sunbathing or going topless in public, it will do. It looks great (I look great) with a T-shirt on. Even a thin light-colored T-shirt. I’m happy with it. Every day. It is a miracle.
I’m relaxed about my chest, except when I’m in a locker room, or when I’m getting an EKG from someone who doesn’t know my medical history. When I’m dressed, I completely forget about it until I find someone staring at me trying to figure it out. Face, chest, face, chest, face, question mark. It feels natural to me. It doesn’t always look natural to them.
Donna was concerned that my post top surgery euphoria would be short-lived. That my dysphoria would resurface and I’d focus on my face or on my bottom, that I would be restless and dissatisfied until I completed a binary transition. Even though I did not experience bottom dysphoria, and I never considered phalloplasty, I shared her fear. Continue reading →
I went back to the gym after taking two months off. As soon as I entered the New York Sports Club, I remembered why I hadn’t been back. I didn’t want to use the women’s locker room. There have been several critical moments in my transition where parts of my routine that I could previously tolerate suddenly became unthinkable. Where my ability to dissociate snapped. Where the cognitive dissonance broke the sound barrier.
Every time I entered the women’s locker room I steeled myself for a question, a comment, or a dirty look. Unpleasant incidents are not unusual when you are butch, gender non-conforming, queer, or transgender. I thought I should be strong enough to handle the occasional negative reaction. That it was their problem, not mine.
I expected that as my dysphoria decreased, as I became more comfortable in my body, I would feel more entitled to use the locker room. Instead, the opposite happened. I felt increasingly out-of-place there. I was forcing myself to do something that felt wrong. To me. I was actively misgendering myself. Continue reading →
Last week I brought my 2006 Subaru Outback in for its annual safety and emissions inspection. Twice. Cars registered in New York City must be inspected within the city limits at a privately owned auto repair shop that is also a licensed Official Inspection Station. Each year it is a struggle to get a new inspection sticker without the repair shop trying to upsell or overcharge me for work that may not be necessary. I always think it would be easier if I were a man. If I were a rich man.
I let the Subaru dealer perform all the routine maintenance on the car. The master plan was to bring the car in to the dealer for its 90,000 mile servicing before the 2016 inspection sticker expired. The dealer can’t give me a sticker because they are outside the city limits, but at least they would catch anything that might cause me to fail. I didn’t follow the master plan. Continue reading →
I thought I was mentally prepared for a Trump victory, but I was wrong. I knew the odds. I knew he had a chance. I’m glad he didn’t win by a landslide. I’m glad he didn’t win the popular vote. I can’t believe he won the election.
I’m trying not to pin the blame on anyone. I don’t find comfort in saying if only Bernie Sanders had run, or if only James Comey hadn’t sent the letter about the emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer. I have a deep anger at everyone who voted for Trump, everyone who stayed home, and all the people who tell me “Don’t worry it won’t be as bad as you think.”
There is a good chance that Trump’s appointees will define being butch, queer, transgender, or gender non-conforming as “un-American”. Deviant. Degenerate. Perverted. It happened in Russia under Putin. It could happen here. I am expecting to hear a lot more right-wing Christian propaganda. I am ready to fight against FADA (First Amendment Defense Act). Continue reading →
The barrista recommended the Sumatra Mandheling Dark Roast. He filled up my thermos cup and I told him that “I like coffee that puts hair on my chest.” It’s true. I like coffee that has a little oil and a little sediment. At home I drink Mountain Java Supreme French Roast brewed in a French Press.
The idiom came out of nowhere. I’ve never uttered that line before. I haven’t even allowed myself to wish for chest hair since I was a child. At the time, I wanted a chest like my father’s (slightly pudgy, and hairy, but definitely manly).
There are other things I could have said. That I like coffee that could strip paint off a car. That I like coffee as thick as mud. Coffee that builds character. Coffee strong like bull. I half wish that drinking coffee would put hair on my chest. Or that eating spinach, would make my biceps bulge.
When I was seven I wished for a hairy chest. While the other girls were dreaming about being blonde and wearing a bikini, I was hoping for a happy trail to go down to the top of my (imaginary) navy blue swim trunks. I still thought it was theoretically possible, but I knew not to talk about it. Girls only talked about removing body hair. Continue reading →