Tag Archives: lesbian

Are You Going To The Women’s March?

i-cant-believeFor me, that is an easier question to answer than, “Are you a woman?” or “What are you going as?”

Yes. Donna and I will be going to the NYC Women’s March on January 21, a satellite of the “big one” in Washington, D.C. Right now, neither Donna nor I can handle the logistics of a 5 A.M. bus trip down to Washington, the cold, figuring out where to pee, finding a place to warm up, get something to eat, and finding someone to walk and feed Gracie while we are away. We can, however, roll out of bed and get to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza by 11AM. If it is too cold, if Donna gets too tired, if we need to find a bathroom, or if we have to drop out of the march, we will manage to find our way safely home by public transportation. In time for dinner.

I looked at the web site for the Women’s March on Washington (and the satellite marches in 200 other cities) to double-check that it was clearly open to all regardless of gender and gender identity. It is, but there is no list of demands, or issues, except for a mission statement which condemns the hateful rhetoric of the election, and reminds us that “women’s rights are human rights” and that “we will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society”.

Nothing about the right-wing attack on reproductive rights, abortion, and health care. Nothing about voting rights, poverty, and mass incarceration. Nothing about rape culture, misogyny, homophobia, or transphobia. Nothing to scare anyone away. Nothing for anyone to disagree with.

I have a complicated relationship to some traditional “women’s issues”. I never wanted to have a family (marriage or children). I was never attracted to men, or dated a man, or slept with a man, tried to get birth control, or tried to get pregnant. I was never afraid of getting pregnant or needing an abortion. While I was, and still am, afraid of getting mugged or bashed by men – I was not consciously afraid of being raped. I haven’t been groped on the subway or cat-called since I was in high school. This puts me in a very small minority; almost all of my friends actively use or used contraception, have kids, and/or had abortions (legal and illegal). Continue reading

Microdysphorias

microdysphoriasIf 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

On Not Using The Locker Room

vintage-women-changing-on-beachI 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

Same Time Next Year

butch-body-shop

When you need an inspection miracle…

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

Born Blatant

malefemaleMy mother used to ask me “Why do you have to be so blatant? Why do you have to let everyone know that you are gay? Why can’t you keep your sexual life private like everyone else does?”

Her next line of defense was to ask “Why can’t you at least dress nicely when you visit or when we go out in public together?”

The subtext was that I should try to look normal so that no one (i.e. my grandmother or the neighbors) would know and so that my mother could pretend that everything was fine.

My mother knew that everything had gone wrong. It was only possible to deny reality. To hide the truth. To keep other people from seeing what she saw. To control what was visible. My mother believed that gay people should stay in the closet.

She tried to get me to look like the daughter she wanted. I couldn’t do it. I was born blatant. I will die blatant. Continue reading

Mind/Body Congruence and a Gray T-Shirt

This is the shirt on the Gustin model, not me!

This is the shirt on the Gustin model, not me.

While on vacation, at the beach, in Gloucester, I experienced a moment of mind/body congruence. It was fleeting, but notable.

I was getting dressed to take a walk. I put on a new gray T-shirt, old olive hiking shorts, and gray sneakers. The new T-shirt looked good on me. I looked in the mirror and thought “If I saw a guy coming down the street wearing this outfit, I’d think that he was nicely, if monochromatically, put together. I’d make a mental note of it.” I liked how I looked in the mirror. There was no dysphoric distortion.

That sentence should be in bold caps. I LIKED HOW I LOOKED IN THE MIRROR. One day, I hope this will be a normal, daily, event. It doesn’t happen often enough, but the possibility exists.

I’ve chosen my own clothing since I was old enough to get working papers and an after school job. My mantra was “everything goes with blue jeans”. Since then I’ve owned and worn a steady supply of T-shirts, flannel shirts, button-downs, sweat shirts, and jeans. I’ve bought lots of clothing that I liked in the catalog or in the store. I liked them in my dresser drawer or hanging in my closet. When I wore them, though, they didn’t look right on me. The clothes were simultaneously too loose, too tight, and too long. I was too short and too round, and too female. The solution was to never look in a mirror. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned From Women Who Detransitioned

boxing-butchHow does someone decide between living as a butch lesbian or a trans man? What if you make the wrong choice? What if neither identity feels authentic?

These questions stick with me through my journey. At first, and still to some extent, I was envious of trans men who were absolutely certain they wanted to transition. Who knew they were men. Who wanted everything to happen as fast as possible. Reincarnation. To make a clean break with their past.

I watched videos and read blogs. Some were too pat. Too insistent that everything was fabulous. They weren’t struggling, except to get coverage for top surgery. They proudly documented their changes on testosterone week by week. Then I watched a video about going off testosterone. They stopped because it didn’t feel right. Because they didn’t like how they felt on it.

Each detransition story I’ve heard is unique, but the unifying message is that they didn’t feel authentic being a man. It felt false, they didn’t recognize the face in the mirror, or they felt they’d lost their soul. Some accepted they were transgender, but were closer to genderqueer or non-binary than male. Some went back to butch. Some (re)embraced being female and gender non-conforming. Continue reading