There are three boxes of Streit’s Passover 100% Whole Wheat Matzos on my kitchen counter. I don’t eat bread during Passover. I don’t eat any chametz (wheat, barley, spelt, oats or rye) for the eight days of the holiday. I’m not particularly observant, but eating matzo and creating a queer/feminist seder help me feel connected to my heritage and to other people who are struggling to be free.
The rule to “eat matzoh but nothing else made from flour” makes sense to me. My parents explained that we made matzo because we (the ancient Jews) were fleeing persecution and didn’t have the luxury of letting the bread dough rise and baking it in an oven. Once Moses set foot in the Red Sea there was no turning back. I understood it symbolically, but I wished that matzo tasted like a pancake instead of a burnt cracker. Continue reading →
The Beatles in Miami, 1964. Photo by Charles Trainor.
It has been almost two years since I went swimming. It is a shame. I love the beach and I love swimming in the ocean.
I stopped going to the beach because wearing a women’s swimsuit hit the perfect trifecta of dysphoria, negative body image, and self-consciousness. My Speedo made me look like I had breasts (or more accurately, I could not ignore my breasts when I wore it). My Speedo displayed my hairy armpits and a tract of dark hair running from my crotch to my big toe. I wore a T-shirt and shorts over my swimsuit except when I was in the water.
I was envious of the guys. Gangly teenagers in baggy knee-length board shorts. Collegiate life guards with ripped abs and a full body tan. Pale dads with beer bellies rolling over the edge of their trunks. There was not a woman on the beach whom I wanted to look like. Not even the other butch lesbians.
I don’t want to look like a woman. I look a little less like one now than I did three years ago, but I’m not sure what I actually look like. I’m not sure what I want to look like; how much further I want to go, what I’m willing to do to get there. 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 →
Every year I make a resolution to do something about my swimsuit. Then the weather gets hot and I think about going to the beach. I have nothing to wear.
My default for the last decade has been a black Speedo one-piece, with a racerback and a “shelf bra”. This is the most neutral women’s swimsuit that a butch can wear. It’s the “women’s swimsuit” that throws me into dysphoria. There is no equivalent of Levi 501s for genderqueer swimming.
Last year, my compromise was to wear a lightweight T-shirt and quick-dry shorts over the Speedo. I changed out of them right before I went in the water. When I got out, I toweled off, and put them on again over my damp suit. This is not an elegant solution, but it works. I don’t want dysphoria keep to me from swimming.
I am fine once I am in the water. It is the distance from where my clothes are to the water that is the problem. It feels like a perp walk. The crime is impersonating a woman. Continue reading →