Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Things She Does to Please

I keep remembering the weekend I spent shooting dope with Nico. Even 200+ pounds, with every last bit of health having long fled the pogrom of her junky mouth, leaving only corpse teeth and rotting stumps, Nico was still about eight feet of striking Teutonic Presence. Those cheekbones and that voice, almost sepulchral – both those bones and that voice would seize in your chest, catch you up like a sudden temperature drop.

Her caftan kept catching on her track mark scabs, which looked to me like sutures, stitched and black, and she kept a constant Budweiser in her enormous German paw. I found it baffling, upsetting even, that she would drink such a shitty American beer. I only drank Molsen at the time, typically purloined from whatever bar we were performing at. One can afford snobbery when one is a thief.

We were doing a Velvet Underground cover-band that night, opening for Nico. I “played” her, and sang “I’ll be your mirror” in sheer panic as my idol appeared to listen, with majestic tilt to her entire body. Afterwards she drawled “I haaate that song” to my apologetic (apoplectic) genuflection.

Several years before this zenith in my junked out rock-n-roll debacle, I had decided to at least physically emulate a Factory-era Nico. I loved the VU, but more specifically I was in awe of the boys in my life, all of who loved VU. At eighteen I’d cropped my unkempt seventies, no-frills, parted-down-the-middle hippie hair into sixties long, sharp bangs. I’d considered doing the whole white lipstick, white boots schtick; I couldn’t have come up with this on my own. At the urging of my boy friends I imagined morphing into this iconic, nearly abstract, monolith of all things powerful and female, German mystery, a ship’s prow, the seduction of Jim Morrison, Alain Delon, a nearly pedophilic relationship with a baby Jackson Browne. When it came to totemic femininity I had less than nothing, and so was eager to sell myself out to the wet dreams of (other) young men, men who evidently thought I could do a reasonable Nico.

But at the end of the day, I resented being told I looked like her, or like Chrissie Hynde whom I was now beginning to resemble with my black hair and bangs and excessive eyeliner. Truly I think I more closely resembled Robert Smith, but no-one said that to my face.

I cast about, sometimes frantically for a moment at least, for some model, some woman I might be. (My mother was about the least feminine woman I knew, occasionally needing Father’s aide to dress herself – she had an unfortunate predilection for vivid pinks and bright oranges.) My girlfriends seemed to have some birthright access to a sense of feminine style – even if it was androgynous they would rock that like Annie Lennox. There were hairstyles and skin care, boots and blouses; there was foundation and blush and powder and brow-liners, marching and replicating like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and there I was like Mickey, turning and double-taking and dropping things and tripping and falling, terrified I would get caught, be found out. Femininity was like an episode of Fear Factor, whereupon I was forced to endure powders and unguents, busy well-intentioned workwoman hands with sponges and brushes clogging every pore, blanketing my skin, my being, until I was choking, choking…

I managed. I found my niche. The eighties were a wonderful place to roam the labyrinth of Maybelline – makeup could be extreme, Kabuki, and men were wearing it too. You find your way, you make your peace, although when you’re a big dyke, gay men and pretty women feel obliged, eager even, to corner you into a makeover.

Like Nico, I eventually found my way to methadone. Unlike Nico, this enabled me to survive ten more years until I could start to find recovery. She died, I believe, after riding her bike on a beach, her body ill-equipped after years of destruction, to handle her new-found lust for life.

I’m lucky I got to be raised a woman, even though I feel like Mowgli in “The Jungle Book” sometimes: having learned the harsh and beautiful ways and laws of the natural world I now must walk amongst “civilized” men with little idea how to do so.

Having often felt I was doing a piss-poor job of being a woman, I now of course fear the same as a man. But this just makes me human, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s not your expression of gender that you “fail” at – maybe it’s being a parent, or a friend, or someone your age. These constructs are all just ideas – they’re not even real, and yet they sometimes trap me like that paralytic moment between dreams and awakening, where I panic because I can’t raise my eyelid and things are encroaching in the shadowy periphery, sleep threatening to gulp me down again.

But we will wake up; we always do right?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ne Plus Ultra Pants

Evidently none of those people I met in 12 step meetings are real alcoholics because none of them admit to having acquired the Herpes. I know I’m not the only person who made “poor partner choices” on alcohol. Having the Herp on your new man-dingle is about the most fabulous thing ever. I mean, there’s just more real estate to share the love virus, more shingle for the shack as it were. Just awesome.

I’m bitching about it because, like many a small pain, it is dominating my man-scape just now. I recalled my friend’s commentary on the whininess of men-who-used-to-be-women and held it up against my own experience. I’m whining, but I daresay I’m not a Whiner. And I will add: the whiniest people I know are born-men.

Several come to mind, two of whom I absolutely adore. There’s a flavor of man, a subset, that we’re all familiar with. They’re typically very sensitive. They’re the tooth in your mouth you try not to get coffee or ice-cream on. They’re broody; often things aren’t going well for them, things you and I can’t find flaw with. The men I’m thinking of are generally strong men with decently dark senses of humor – they’re not identifiable off the bat as Big Babies. But they will bitch about a thing ad nauseam. Because they’re, well, Big Babies.

It must work for them. I envision their fathers having been the same, or their mothers paying especial attention to every boo-boo, every sting, every time the world flagrantly disregarded the comfort of their little prince. In my house I got pats for being stoic. This is me, every knee and elbow gory as a Mathew Brady Civil War document from some implausibly fanstatic seven-bike pileup – no helmet mind you, it’s the 70’s - looking up at my mother for solace, succor, with an absolute poker face: “What a brave little soldier you are! Not a peep out of you!” I don’t think I cried for 27 years.

I don’t know women who whine, or more accurately, I don’t seem to hang out with any. The women in my life are tough. They’re like the type of lawn bag you want when you’re cleaning out your garage, and getting rid of broken glass, nails, and a random carcass, not that thin shit-sack you’re kicking yourself for buying because it “saved you” three dollars and now every piece of crap is on your floor, having burst through the herniated membrane of $1.99 polypropelene. My girl-peeps are QUALITY. SHTRONG. HEFTY even. They’ll bitch and moan, but – and here’s the critical difference – they never seem to take themselves seriously. My “men who whine?” Oh, it’s very serious. That little drop of black ink finds its way into their reservoir, coloring and tainting every life-sustaining molecule, graying the pond, darkening their brow. Of course, there’s a whole culture to support this, you know, starting with Romeo, to James Dean, and I’m sure at least one of the Jonas Brothers is moody.

What I’m really thinking about is that it has been about a year now since I decided to go all man stylie, man-in-the-pants. I had been hanging around this skirt, this tomato – okay, she was my girlfriend – and it was pretty evident that, at least in my mind, we were having a heterosexual relationship. I think it was the “ghost penis” phantom limb phenomenon that got me. The transvestitism, my chivalry, fetish for male accouterment, my love of the ladies, even the anxiety sweats and tremors when forced to shop in the “women’s” section of Target could be symptomatic of garden-variety sapphistry, but when you’re pretty sure there ought to be something there that aint, and when it frustrates you to near hair-tearing madness that the thing you feel down there isn’t actually there?….well, you might be trans.

I dreamt of surgery this morning, and it was wonderful. The surgery was unspecified, but upon awakening I knew it was about my breasts because in my dream I was so very happy. I wasn’t fearful, I was excited.

My friend Mxliwizt (alias) emailed me his chest doctor’s website. There were before and after pictures of my friend’s chesticles. Seeing pictures of boobs on this guy made me feel like my brains were sucking my skull like a supernova gone black hole. It made me feel like I do sometimes when I see me. It’s one thing to have a tiny dick, but it’s quite another to have these random fat sacks swinging from your ribs. The dick part I’m okay with; I’ve had a good run with the vadge, and testosterone has made me feel insouciant enough in those parts to compensate for a certain je ne sais quoi a more Jurassic member might give one.

Imagine, if you will, that you’re a woman who wants to stay a woman - imagine unzipping those jeans, you know the ones that make your friends jealous, envision ziiiiip, spreading that vee of zipper, pulling the elastic of the fantastically cute Craftmafia undies you bought off and lo and I do mean lo and behold, there hangs a nutsack.

I’m just saying.

This is not me whining, by the way.This is a manly kvetch. This is insightful stuff, right here. This is your friend Sam, reporting from the depths of his tranny pants.*

*what Jessica and Ed's two year old son Gus calls his training pants.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Love Your Liver; I Adore Your Pancreas

Jessica told me about riding in an elevator in Chicago with performance artist Orlan, back in her (Jessica’s) art-student days. Orlan’s hair was white and black, parted centrally, and at that time she was freshly sporting cheek implants on her forehead from experimenting with images of femininity and deformity.

I haven’t shaken that vision from my quirk-loving brains yet; it’s like an eternally long bright light after having been flashed by a camera. There’s something in the juxtaposition of the daily routine with the passing strange. Take your most mundane ritual – brushing your teeth perhaps – and put a monkey in it. Not just a monkey, but suddenly monkey! where none had ever been nor was expected. Make it a surgically altered monkey, while you’re at it – not that Orlan is a monkey; I think she’s quite remarkable and disturbing and I like to be disturbed by artists.*

It makes me wonder if any artists have changed their gender as performance. I don’t mean someone who’s trans: I mean someone who is not trans and is transitioning as performance, as art. If I can think a thing, and get my monkey to type it, then someone’s doing it.

If I was doing this transition 10 years ago, I’d be turning it into performance, because that’s what I did with everything. You are so lucky I’m compelled merely to write about shit now. Most of us artists who get sober at mid-life have to go through a delayed and extravagant adolescence, with all the self-absorption and fascination and acting out that involves, and none of the carefully constructed boundaries and gravitas one would think a middle-aged person might have acquired. My adult-onset immaturity stood out like the implants on Orlan’s face, only I didn’t really have a point to make: I just wanted some attention.

My friend Cole, in his beautifully articulated sketch for his play on the Trans-genre cd “Transfusions,” (SHAMELESS PLUG: I’m on it. Win yourself a free one. Check out the site on side here!), has his character sing “it sucks to be trans.”

Does it suck to be trans? Is it lonely to be trans?

Because that was the most poignant thing, to me, about that elevator scene. I saw this self-made freak, albeit a very very famous one, in her exaggerated monochrome, the hair, the multiple surgeries to craft her face into this or that iconographic moment of some equally iconographic painting, and I thought, “I wonder if Orlan feels lonely?”

Maybe not; the most unique personalities can be adept at drawing people to them, regardless of their looks or disturbing physicality. So who knows. Same with trans, I tell myself; confidence goes a loooong way here, Buddy.

I was having lunch with a transguy pal I met on a local listserve; we were talking about the occasionally whiney tone of some of the posts we read. “We’ve all been aculturized as women,” he notes, “and so are inclined to whine as men,” with only a soupcon of misogyny. A smidge. There’s a loneliness the freakshow tends to want to embrace, to isolate him/herself from the rest of yas. This gives us the option to say “this is why nobody likes me and the world is hard and I am lonely.” I have the Human Condition and I am doing it as performance for you.

Because that’s the performance, isn’t it? The Human Condition? Isn’t the subtext of body modification/performance, transitioning genders our way as a society in toto to use the artist, the tranny, as a human highlighter, to emphasize or alert ourselves to our commitment to things that ultimately will suffocate us? To elevate us to an understanding of the constrictions we clamp on our little human hearts by forcing ourselves to see this and only this as that and only that, you man, me woman, sickening pathologies bred from what was once the corset or girdle and is now liposuction? Lift me and suck me and stuff me with saline, or collagen; batten me with botox and dermabrade me so raw and sweet because I am nothing, nothing without outside approval and approbation. Which is the utter, ultimate loneliness: to be defined by everyone else.

The transitioning person’s loneliness is in reverse: we begin by being defined by everyone else. You told me I was a girl, and I didn’t believe you, at first; I suspected you were fooling me – particularly as those who didn’t know me thought I was a little boy.

Commitment to gender was killing me. For me it was slow and protracted, the way an upper-class Victorian woman’s identity as merely her husband’s wife might have choked her, like a creeper vine. I probably would’ve died of something else entirely, but upon autopsy my body would be found to be rotten with inarticulated longing.

It feels like Spring in here now. I hope I’m always trans. I hope I have the courage to keep challenging gender normativity. I pray transitioning means a deepening connection with who I really am, not male, not female, not even Sam, which are all mostly just ideas, albeit really sexy ones.

I stood behind the counter at Studio Supply, hawking tubes of paint, and in my mind I had a full, lumberjack beard and a handsomely flat chest. I was completely nonplussed as the customer kept referring to me as “she” and “her” – I almost left my body there for a second in bewilderment. But I didn’t love her any less for it, and I never felt alone.

*whereas I actually would not care to be disturbed by a monkey. I’m not a fan of the monkey, or more precisely, I’m not a fan of the human/monkey relationship. Putting diapers and a tie on a primate and making it polish the family silver is just wrong.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

That's "Mr. Manners" If You're Nasty

This has been an all-trans action weekend. Full-on tranny. In your face trans-man. Shut yer tranny hole. Okay, not really, not so much trans. But a wee bit, petite trans.

I know I’m fixin’ta (as we say in Tejas) bust a bitch in the face if I don’t get some tranny respeck around here. What is up with people who see me, week after week, in the same motherfucking jernt, calling me “ma’am” or “Miss Sam” or “she?” Seriously, I have to have the same ridiculous conversation with the same people EVERY WEEK.

I have been the very model of trans-civility. I have gently corrected the people, or just observed, even, as they bit their tongue with a “D’oh!” and hung their head abashedly. I figured I didn’t need to shame anybody – we all seem to be plenty good at doing that for ourselves – and I understand first hand the difficulties of referring to me by my chosen gender. I forget too.

Here’s the thing: those who persistently mis-tag me haven’t known me for 40urkle years. They don’t have memories and events and experiences dating back to 1960murp of me as a girlchik, a woe-man. These people have known me for maybe two years, and now for nearly one of them I’ve been going by “he.” This obdurate refusal to acknowledge me on my terms sometimes seems deliberate and even passively aggressive, although I suspect it is mere self-absorption or laziness. It’s not that hard, people. It’s not, but it does mean paying attention to the world that doesn’t reside in your interior. Or in some cases, posterior.

My apologies. It’s been a rough morning. My friend Susan, after watching me get publicly “ma’amed” in front of 50 people today by someone who really, truly knows better, who even made a trans joke (either on my behalf or at my expense, depending upon how generous one is feeling), observed my stunned and rubicund expression and said “maybe now it’s time to get angry.”

Susan explained, “You’ve been so patient and great about letting everyone have their process with this, but maybe now it’s time to start correcting people that can’t ‘seem to remember.’”

I lowered my head, looked up at her and replied “It’s really hitting me today for some reason. It’s really pissing me off. I don’t know what to do; I don’t know what I need, and I don’t know what other people need to make this work.”

“I think being angry is okay now. I think it will help people remember,” she urged. “It’s completely appropriate to be mad.”

I’m sincerely grateful to know that – I don’t always have the maturity to understand when anger is appropriate and am thankful when others can validate this feeling. Plus, she’s a social worker, if you couldn’t tell, which somehow lends credence to her diagnosis.

My mind says “You’re failing. You don’t look like a man so why should anyone kowtow to your invisible party line?*” I don’t know how I could look any more manly than I do. I don’t have facial hair; my incoming foliage has been sparse, and committed to rather more outlier regions, like my ass-cheeks or my elbow. Yes, my elbow. Not both. Just one. Such is the random beauty of hormone therapy. I seriously have a patch of elongated monkey hair on my left forearm and elbow. It’s about a 2 inch square of arbitrary mammal signifier left unfettered. The thicket of my lower legs gets pants-cropped, by which I mean it’s so primate long, it gets pulled and snapped off by my clothing, perhaps in envy for its luxurious coverage.

No such thicket resides on my face. Yet. It’s only a matter of time. I wear men’s clothing, my voice is as deep as many a man’s I know; my gestures are neutral to spastic and I’m not sure what gender that reads as. Sure, there are the boobs, but as my big trans-brother observed yesterday, “You’re kind of okay there, now it’s winter. Big ol’ sweatshirt and who knows the diff? Spring’s gonna be hard….” he predicts wistfully.

The bottom (surgery) line is this: when someone asks to be called a thing - a new name, a new gender – it is proper etiquette to respect that. It’s the civilized thing to do. One doesn’t question; one acts politely. It doesn’t matter if I am sporting 3mm worth of lip gloss and a Farrah do, atop an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse and knee high stiletto boots: if I ask you to call me “he” it is gracious and correct to do so. After all, what’s your investment in this? It makes you uncomfortable? Eight years of George Bush made me uncomfortable but did I take it out on my Republican friends? Don’t answer that.

My transguy coffee date relates that his lesbian ex refuses to call him by his name. She will only call him his former lady-name. There’s something distinctly, wrong-headedly lesbian about that – it’s like when the lesbians were hating on the bisexuals. Why are lesbians hating on anybody? You know I’m speaking from personal experience here: why were “others” always so threatening?

Well, for me it spoke to my immaturity, my ungenerous spirit. I needed a rock to stand on, certainty, and if that rock was your back, and your face was underwater, well then so be it. Just don’t move.

Certainty is still my little mind killer. I’m always looking for stability, stasis even, for a predictable, secure outcome if it guarantees that I’m not alone and not scared. And the truth, The Truth, THE TRUTH is there’s simply no such thing. I can pine and long and suffer all the do-da-day and I do, often, but those things which gave me comfort mutate and change like a new trannyman on testosterone.

Will I be forgiving and compassionate then, to those acquaintances who consistently fail to “he” me, for whom my transition is evidently a challenge to their personal hegemony? If all things are mutating and changing, then yes, perhaps I will forgive out of compassion, because I will become forgiving and compassionate. I believe this to be possible. But for now, for today, I’m freakin mad.

*should it be "kowtoe a line?"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On the Road With Rimbaud

When I was fifteen I ran away to find Patti Smith. It was another drunken morning – my two best boys had convinced me to slough off my job at the florist, work my canny parents got me in hopes of preempting any teen mischief my first summer not in camp. I don’t think I even called in. My boss was a revoltingly bald hairy guy who sang in a band at the Red Barn and played accordion and stuck his nasty, pointed tongue in my mouth at every opportunity. I was delighted to be trashed by 10am. It meant I was free.

We packed up a gallon of bourbon and a ham, got into Bill’s corvette and drove out of the tepid yellow Virginia sun, to stinky, muggy New York City. We slept in the front yard of Saint Mark’s Church. It was 1976. I threw up in CBGB’s that very first night. All that ham and bourbon you know.

We never did meet Patti Smith, although we did meet her drummer, JD Dougherty. I had forced my friend to let me wear his homemade “Iggy and the Stooges” t shirt, and I remember being really glad I had, pointing at it even, for JD’s approbation. We saw Lydia Lunch and James Chance playing their very first gig, and all of Saint Mark’s except Patti came to see them: members of her band, and Blondie, and the Talking Heads, the Cramps, and more. We were in Joey Ramone’s loft at one point. I was drunk, or hungover enough to be in another kind of altered state; I knew what kind of drama was waiting for me when I got home. The return was indeed bad, but in an emotional way. I cemented my complete alienation from my family then; they could not understand their miserable daughter and her need to run, run and stay fucked up. But that’s neither here nor there.

I still love Patti Smith. I recall, some years back, thinking, “someday this music won’t reach me anymore; it will seem juvenile and irrelevant.” But that never happened.

I spent a couple nights at the Zen Center at a meditation seminar this week. The sensei talked about grasping, clinging, how the little mind wants to hold on to things that it believes make it feel good, but how the truth is that nothing stays the same, there’s nothing to cling to. There is not even some essential nugget of oneself that persists. Everything is changing, all the time. Is there not an essential nugget of Sam-ness that endures? Who still loves Patti?

I’m a Clinger: I get that.* Clinging to my identity as a woman has created great suffering for me this past year, in the form of unseemly panic. But frankly, there’s nothing I could have done differently. Anyway, this is how pearls get made, I tell you, by holding on to, succoring, then coating our irritants, our discomforts, our obsessions, with our handmade mucous love. I may have clung to the crap in my oyster mouth, but the pearl I will give freely.

I tell you this: there is an organic process, and you cannot hasten it. There is grief to be felt, and change to fear. Surrender. But god damn it do not be attached to it. It’s a lost love. That ship sailed, Boyo, and yet I’m knee deep in surf, looking for the dock. I have respect for the ocean, though, don’t you? Ever been boogie-boarding, or wave-jumping, and you’re thinking “I’ve got a rhythm with this now; it’s happening for me” when WHAM, you’re somersaulting through salt water and sand paper, your nipples torn by the ocean floor, your lungs and face burning? My woman ship has sailed and I have nothing but honor, respect, awe and not a little fear of the ocean it’s on.

There’s something mythic about transitioning. Something classical. All of the sudden I’m Jason, only my Golden Fleece is a merkin, and I have to battle my way through seven kinds of transguy performance-rappers to get to some oracle with a chest wig. Doesn’t it seem that there’s a higher percentage of transguy performers than other demos? Are we all shameless self-promoters, or is it just me? Well, strictly speaking, I’m not without shame, so there you go.

Shame was the final challenge to Siddhartha’s ego, evidently. It was suggested, coyly, to him, that perhaps he was not worthy of enlightenment. What made him think he deserved Awakening!? Buddha didn’t bite; that’s why he’s all Buddha, all the time, but me? I’ll doggedly chew some shame.

What makes me think I’m worthy, deserving of happiness? Fuck awakening; let’s just talk about simple satiety. I have profound experiences of fullness, of connectedness. It’s up to me to use my transgendery magic for good and not evil, by which I mean, I can use it to isolate and embitter myself, or I can get on the dance floor with the other guys, and shake what God gave me, which is, frankly flawed, but not without certain charms. I’m not a Buddhist; I have too many madcap and zany mystical and direct experiences to deny a greater consciousness – but I love the Bodhisattva vow, which was explained to me as dedication to the ultimate welfare (awakening) of others (before oneself).

So I make this vow to you: I will dedicate myself to be ever-changing and expanding, with intentional joy and love, in the belief that this action will infect both you and me like a beautiful virus. I don’t think this will make you reconsider your birth gender, and it may not change our taste in music. Hopefully, it will make you rethink your shoe choices, which I’ve been meaning to talk to you about. Anyway, I’m not worthy, or I am, or it doesn’t matter anyway. I am becoming a man, who was once a woman, who was never a little girl, who might become something else entirely. Dinner is served.

*which sounds like something dingelberry-ish and dire in your short hairs...metaphorically, I suppose it is.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baby's Got the Bends

“You fucking ass-wipe, if you don’t stop riding my ass I’m going to punch you in the face.”

This is me, on testosterone, in mild traffic. The second this escapes from my mouth I break out in hysterics. I can’t sustain it. Road rage cracks me up. I never really had it as a lady, or at least, as a sober lady, but these little emissions issue from me now. They’re about as threatening as Habanero Cheetos – all promise of pain, but basically an overheated, hollow puff of non-peril.

I mean, how do people say things like that and not crack up? “Ass-wipe,” all by its lonesome, is warmly nostalgic, a reminder of sixth grade warfare, which in turn conjures up red-faced children ineffectually slapping each other. It would be a great drag name.

I can’t attribute my laughable wrath to testosterone per se; the need to let off steam some where might be from the pressure-cooker of transitioning itself. I’m sure I need some vents – and I can’t cry like I used to and that absolutely is a byproduct of hormone therapy.

I saw my GP the other day; I’ve been experiencing rather unnerving heart flutters and skips at night. I’m savvy enough to attribute this to anxiety, but old enough that I need to talk with her about it. This is also a byproduct of testosterone: I am increasingly anxious. My therapist warned me before I started by telling me “people who have a history of depression or are bipolar may find themselves depressed or manic. It’s something to be mindful of.” Fabulous. Because it’s not stressful enough, all by itself, to grow a mini-wee.

My anxiety is both specific and arbitrary – I have real stuff to be anxious about, but then there’s the stuff I’m making up in my own head. If you’ve dated me, and you know you want to, you know that I can be territorial and protective. I will fuck a bitch up who’s pestering my partner. Don’t “gross” me; it’s who I am. I learned, in rehab of all places, how to grab the nearest thing and slam it into a head. Again, don’t judge: you don’t know. Anyway, I mention this just to give you some insight for the following dainty internecine drama.

It popped into my mind, completely at random, that someone I once loved is dating someone. A crowd of anxieties shoved itself behind this thought, desperate to seek egress from this spontaneously burning building of my brain. Smoke was billowing, steam pressing the backs of my eyeballs as I stood, trapped by fear, amidst the towering inferno. Mind you, I’m confabulating all this; I haven’t seen this woman in a year and I have no idea who and if she’s dating. But this man thing…this man in me was inflamed.

I was not a generally jealous woman, or rather, I was estrogenically better equipped to handle or isolate it. I am a desperately, hand-clutchingly, hair-rippingly, jealous man. Insane. My mind is making shit up to care about, that’s how much this man part wants me to participate in some crazy male dance of ownership and territory. The “fuck a bitch up” piece is no longer pointed at the man who made some grossly offensive remark to my woman. It’s now directed at the (specter) male who’s (ghost) dating a (phantom) woman I’m (not) in an (apparition) relationship with.

Testosterone will fuck a bitch up, is what I’m saying to you. It’s awful, this feeling. I have new compassion for all the ill-behaved stalker men I know. I really want to punch someone in the face, repeatedly. The anxiety needs me to. I want to be the guy that’s strong, not the guy that’s psycho, but in these make-believe moments, moments of trespass, hurt, of sullying what’s rightfully mine? Crazy banana-pants, but in a Post Office poster, shaved-side of head, camo-wearing way.

It’s always been there, nascent, unexplored, or tamped down by the muted batting of estrogen. Male fury, rage, is a potent panacea to any freakout that ails you. I could be angry and scared as a woman, but this is substantively different.

Perhaps it’s just the unsettling newness of the hormones; they’ve amped me up in unpredictable ways. I’m making a connection between territoriality and testosterone, between my newfound anxious paranoia, and what I’ve observed as classically, albeit over-the-top, male defensive behaviors. Men are the border patrollers; men are the ones keeping Rapunzel in a tower; males are the ones who kill offspring not of their spermatage. I’m just saying. I think I’m getting a taste of this, even though my flavor is pathological and immature. I’m hoping it will iron itself out through this adolescence.

In the meantime, perhaps I need to find a hobby, an outlet for these heightened, overzealous expressions of ownership. I know a lot of guys who are into paintball warfare, but frankly, that looks like a lot of work and expense for something that makes you look like an ungainly 10 year old with a Human Growth Hormone disease and a gun. I hear tell men enjoy the sporting events and video games; maybe I’m beginning to understand why these things that evoke frustratingly bored, rainy Sunday afternoons where Dad bogarded the television have some appeal for people. There’s this fundamental drive to conquer, vanquish, and just generally beat the crap out of someone.

I give in. This free-floating, free-loading anxiety is kicking my ass like Becks with a soccer ball, a reference I only know from the Spice Girls, thank you very much. You humans must have figured something out – I guess I better pay attention. I need a team with some good colors – UNC has that horrible baby blue, but Duke’s is darker I think. There, I’ve picked a side. Let me know what I’m supposed to do next, ‘kay? If you should see me, sweating anxiously by the sidelines of Whole Foods or Harris Teeter, freaking out about this or that girl, please just unclench my fist and stick a pennant in there, slap me on the back and say “Gooooo, team.”

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Thought She Was James Dean For a Day

Like the mighty oak felled by tiny woodlice, the great big tranny has spent all of the new year at the mercy of some vicious spirochete. Strictly speaking, I don’t actually know its shape, but spirochete is such a fantastic word, isn’t it?

Being forced, and I do mean forced, because I will lumber through most things until I drop, to lay in bed for several days has given me ample room to, well, sleep mostly, but also ponder, roam, and generally survey the savannah of transitioning. I take the most provocative stance I can, on my side with a tissue packed ‘neath my nostril. “Sam, do you really, really, want to be a man?”

Let me see if I can give you a taste, a little Hannibal Lectorish sampling of my brains. My brain is literally inhabited by two people. One is the dude, the guy who sees himself in the mirror and shouts “Finally!” This guy could not be happier about the changes happening in this body he inhabits. The shoulder breadth, the lat flare, hip and thigh fat shifting; he marks each new patch of hair growth, the change in his hairline, with glee and victory.

Then there is the woman. She’s fought long and hard to find a place of ease and comfort in this body; she’s come to enjoy both it and the personality she’s crafted. She’s reluctant to go. She understands she’s not really going anywhere, but she also knows with certainty that if she looks like a man, she will be treated like one, and therefore on an important level, cease to exist. She’s the one that’s been around forever, forever Sam-time anyway, although I suspect at early childhood, these two were one. She sees the new hair growth, the fullness of face, and is circumspect, scared even. “What are you doing?” she asks me. “Are you sure this is what you want?”

No, nope, naw, I’m not entirely sure. But I’m mostly sure.

I look at myself in the mirror; I flatten my boobs. “You gotta move in the world like a man.” I say aloud with utter commitment while simultaneously wondering “am I really going through with this?”

My interior ten year old couldn’t be more delighted. How I longed to be one of the boys! The clothes they wore, the way they fit on their boy body, their swagger and confidence: those things should have been mine. What an ache, what a bitter taste; every moment I saw myself juxtaposed against their natural maleness felt like the time I ran barefoot through the field at kickball, feeling so free, so high – until I stepped on a wasp.

I plucked the hindquarters of that insect out of my foot and I kept moving, but my chagrin, my disappointment, my muted despair at being always put on the other side dogged my every tomboy step. I spent all my time in fantasy, on my bike or in the creek or living through the pages of a book. Always I was an explorer, a doctor, a centurion, a husband.

Now I’m an adult, an adult whatever, with a variety of experiences and desires under my belt. A friend of mine called from San Francisco; he’s been making out with a transguy. He asked me some questions I really couldn’t answer as a pre-op, possibly no-op, transsexual. I did share with him my own renewed craving to sleep with a man while I’m still a woman. Such as I am. One last drive around the old neighborhood or something. He laughed and pointed out that “you might find you like it like that!” “I might indeed.” I say soberly. Clearly, life is a crap shoot. You just never know what you may expose about yourself if you stick around long enough and pay attention. We all probably have something, some yearning, large or small, tugging at our pants leg, our skirt hem. Don’t even bother trying to kick that thing off; it’s just going to keep coming back.

Anysexchange, I’m exhausted and need to wrap this up. This is my first post for 2009. I am, indecorous spirochetes aside, amped for what’s next. This transitioning business is so terrifying, so wonderful, so fascinating – and I’ll never get to do it again. I’m glad I’m paying attention. I never did much to anything else. I always wanted whatever it was to be over with so I could be at the thing up ahead, whether it was adolescence or the next party. I guess I simply have no clue what’s up ahead, I can’t even imagine it. Certainly it’s been fraught with indelicate and delicious surprise thus far. So it could still go any kind of way, any way at all. We just don’t know. But I’d put my money on the tranny.