Friday, October 17, 2008

Samson Agonistes

Sometimes I get the feeling that I’m not transitioning quite RIGHT. I suspect people think “Well why doesn’t he do this or that to make himself look more like a man?” Like why are my tits all out and my hair thusly (shakes mane)?

I particularly feel this from a couple of my (incredibly butch) transmen friends. They get to bear witness to the worst of my neurosis, my hand-wringing, my wretched self-loathing, as I clutch the hem of their cargo pants and whine about people not seeing me for who I am. I’m always bitching about the boobs. “They’ve got to go,” K says, not for the first time. “I know, they make me miserable.” I reply, over the mam shelf. Then he says “And your hair…”

Okay, that’s where I draw the line. On my scalp. He knows it, too. He knows he’ll get nothing but truculent resistance from me here. My hair is not good right now, I’m waaay overdue for a cut, which I hate, but I’ve got an appointment with Amy-Jae next week - but that’s not what he means. He thinks my hair is too dykey, too femme. I’m touchy about the hair. Last time I got it cut, Amy-Jae was out-of-town, and I’d been listening to all my guy friends go “the hair, the hair” as if it held some secret ingress into tranny evolution, so I went to see Gwen at Syd’s, the best hair place in Chapel Hill. I told her “Man me up, but make it cool, ‘kay?” She did a great job. It was very male and very short. I definitely got “Sirred” more than I did before, with my longer, rocker do. But I hated it. It was not pretty. It was too manly. I met my friend M for coffee soon afterwards, and he said “hey! You cut your hair! It’s definitely more…BOY.”

K tells me: “When I wanted to pass as a guy, I got a flattop.” I almost threw up in my mouth. He saw my revulsion, my gurgle, and shrugged, “I’m just saying…” “Look, that’s fine for you, but I’m not THAT GUY. The guy I am wouldn’t wear that!” He looked at me with great transguy empathy and patience, and not a little pity, and replied “I didn’t get my ears pierced until much later. I had to become the guy I was.” What he meant was, he had to really butch out, really man himself down, before he could add any flourishes. I dug in my heels. “This is what I’m comfortable with, Dude. I can’t make it go any faster.”

He gets that, that it’s an organic process. I’m where I’m at. I want to look like a regular guy but I can’t stand looking less than attractive. I’d rather look like a Sam. Which is what I am, by the way. As a guy, I’m part lesbian, part DIY tough guy, with a wide swath of mother, uncle and flamer. Everything I know about femininity I learned from gay men. It occurred to me, less than a decade ago, that nellie guys weren’t born with particular hand gestures and styles of speaking – they learned that stuff by modeling women. Recognizing that it was too late for watching women and modeling their behaviors, that that had been outside of my comfort-zone as a child, I figured I could just observe queens and see how they did it. Every wave of the hand, anything resembling female in my speech, I got from faggy gay men. And when I do “feminine” gestures, they’re not even nuanced and “real” like my gay men friends’ are; they’re totally OTT and clearly fag. I think of myself as that straight guy whose sexuality is like a pair of corduroy slippers: comfortable, practical enough to wear burgundy silk pajama pants with. Inotherwords I’m that straight* guy who will kiss a man on the mouth in public.

My hair appointment is a week away. I reckon I’ll wear a hat until then. I found this fantastic Ben Sherman boiled wool chapeau on the ground at school – that’ll serve as my weeklong wig. What a drama. My hair wants to come out all gray and silvered too, and I’m tempted to cease the dye. That would definitely push me in the masculine camp, although my friend Felipe insists that my gray makes me look washed out. I guess we can’t have that, can we? You have to trust a gay man with gray hair on these things.

My own hair is like a Bravo Reality series. Even I don’t know how it will go until I sit in the chair. I make all kinds of pronouncements, commitments, before I go, about how I’m gonna have her just shear it off, down to ½ inch all over, and I feel very good about my decision, but when I sit in her chair I’m just as surprised as anyone by what comes out of my face. I had no idea I’d say to Gwen “Man me out.” No idea.

As far as the boobs go, it’s a dilemma. I have paid, thus far, nearly $100 for a variety of compression garments, all of whom do their job fairly well. Unfortunately, I have a herniated disc in C-5 that they compress as well, which makes wearing these undershirts like being a cat who has been spun in an office chair, been forced to navigate a heavily boxed maze and this after having had its whiskers cut. I have no sense of balance and I feel like I’ve been slammed into walls. Every week or so, I try them on again, having had the magical thought “oh Sam, it couldn’t have been THAT BAD,” only to be shocked, each time, by how awful it actually is. I’m making (another) mission to Target today; I hope to find some sort of jog bra that’ll flatten Mount Samthamanjaro.

Well, another day, another tranny dollar donated to a failing economy in the hopes of being the next piece in my personal evolutionary symphony. Meantime (I just typed “mantime”) I’m scrutinizing every hair on my body. I think there are new hairs on my hands. God I hope so. How weird that I’m looking forward to becoming more apelike. What kind of evolution is that! Please Jesus, do what you will with my body, devolve me into this primitive species, but Jesus? Do not let me vote for John McCain.

*I’m also sooo that straight guy that will have sex with other men. You know who you are. (Call me, ‘kay!)


  1. Thanks! That means a lot coming from a member of The Family of Fantastic Hair! ps - You're an amazing writer. I love your blog.

  2. Dude! Amy Jae. Yay!. Flattop. Nay!
    Yer hair's awesome. should know. I read your blog in my head, in your voice. Which btw, has gotten deeper in my head over the past few months.
    Maybe you should get a fade.