Today’s been interesting, if by “interesting” one means “painful as a dying tooth in need of a root canal that occasionally brings one to tears of wretchedness and frustration.”
My friend K says his early experience of testosterone was one of being “de-feminized.” He points out that he has since re-integrated a lot of feminine qualities, but initially that was T’s primary brain effect. I agree, that by degrees, nuanced female – let’s call them overlays, like one of those mylar human organ diagrams – are being lifted. One can sense them, traces of female disappearing like those old wax drawing boards, the ones with the sheet and the stylus, where you’d draw and lift the page…RIP!…the drawing would vanish with that satisfying sound and tension.
Even as I am systemically stripped of feminine complexities, even as I am distilled to a more masculine essence, the lavender and rose petal notes evaporating in the stronger whiff of pine tar and bicycle grease, I can still be made to cry.
Women’s Studies class was one hellish personal torment after another today. I don’t remember ever feeling as gay (or trans-)bashed as I can in that class. It’s the context. I expected to feel safe there; it was presented to me by the instructor as a class devoted to critical thinking, to deconstruction of ideologies, intact and ancient hegemonies, mores. Sadly, I have yet to hear much resembling a critical thought from certain quarters. Most of us seem firmly committed to whatever ideas we came in with. I hope this is not true for me, but I suspect I am just as resolute about some things as every other student.
There’s gay-bashing in this class all the time. Comments are made, about short hair, about dress – today’s will perhaps read as fairly innocuous: “I work at Chuck E. Cheese and one time this girl – she was about 11 – she came in and she was dressed just like a little boy and I called her a boy but she told me she was a girl. I just felt sorry for her!”
That’s fairly typical of the shit people think is okay to say in a college level (albeit community college) classroom dedicated to examining sexism in contemporary American culture. So we’re not talking about high-resonance brain function here. And frankly, this kind of obdurate ignorance doesn’t usually bother me in a personal sense – my reaction of anger and despair is generally for Humanity At Large. I don’t take it personally that people are fearful and hateful, in other words, I just get weltschmerz.
So why would an hour and fifteen minutes of that breed of “insight” render me weeping suicidally in my (sexy granny) Honda, stabbing number after number of men and women on my A-Team in the hopes someone would answer and talk me off the ledge?
The night before, a woman with an exotic name and manifold charms asked me if it was difficult, socially, to be betwixt and between genders as I am right now. “Sexually, you mean,” I replied, “more than socially.” She averred. I get asked a variation of this question not infrequently by well-meaning friends. I think they mean to color their curiosity, or even their repulsion, with sympathy for my “plight.” No-one’s had the balls (as it were) to ask “who will find you attractive?” but that is sometimes what is meant. One friend, a trans-Yenta-in-training, framed it much more kindly, “Who do you see yourself dating? Lesbians? Straight women? Gay men?” So it was like, now I have a choice.
When people ask me how I’m doing socially, or who will date me, what I hear is “You are freakish and hideous. It is likely you have doomed yourself to a sad, unyielding loneliness as bespeaks your inherent unlovability, by turning yourself into an even bigger circus event than you already were.” I have to then, at least in that Hellish Big Top, trot out the (now shopworn) list of women who have found me attractive since I began transitioning, who I’ve dated, whom I’ve turned down. I have to tell anyone who will listen “Hey! My last two partners were straight!” – meaning, “Look! Women see through the physical packaging to the succulent Sam center!”
Hearing these young women in class talk about girls who dress as boys with disgust and pity, on the heels of my inflamed self-loathing, was too much. One thing not mentioned in the tranny handbook was how injecting hormones was going to unearth some deeply buried mother-lode of the fear of unlovability. No one told me how acutely painful it would be to have attractive, brilliant, single straight women and gay men consistently view me as a short butch dyke, therefore successfully editing me out of their date-o-sphere. Now I remember why, as a short butch dyke, I never was interested in heterosexual women or gay men. I like to be attracted to people who will find me attractive. I don’t want to feel shitty about my attractions, and I’m kind of lazy too; I don’t really want to have to work at it either.
Despite feeling like I would like to don my flannel cowboy pajamas and hide under the covers with a flashlight and some David Sedaris in lieu of Archie Comics, I’m jutting out my jaw and sallying forth. Not so you’ll sock it, with your hetero-normative fist, but so I’ll be strong in my commitment as The World’s Sexiest Hybrid. I recognize you got to be tough to be with me. I’m the best (and worst) of both genders. That’s a lot to take on. Instead of being the world’s Big Ol’ Tranny Piñata for you to slug and bash, I’m gonna hurl my delicious candy at you. So stick that in your fear pipe and suck it.