Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Early Mornin' Singin' Song

Sometimes I feel like I’m slapping myself upside the face with my own shlong. I feel just as stupid and clueless as I imagine a man can feel, rendered ever more helpless by the overarching urge. I’m leaden like a paperweight in the head yet emboldened like a fire-dancer in the pants.

Ah, the effervescent yodel of testosterone in the groinal regions.

Immersed in the realm of the transgendered, is where I’ve been. Traveling to and fro, hither and yon, for coffees, dinners, group shares, cupcakes and board games, dates. We’re an often blurry gang of folk, being neither here nor there, yet clearly in a place of our own. The blur is that in this trans-space/time we create, non-trans people may be incapable of focusing on us. Even other trans-people may have to squint. Nonetheless, there we are, vibrating like a fantastic sexual Easter egg, pastel and perhaps sequined, for your delectation. Or not.

I don’t want to be part of a group. I never have. But I have found my own survival often depends on it; to stay in the center of the herd is to perhaps not be swung by the entrails by some larger, less friendly beast on the edges. Typically the less friendly beast is whatever dreary tune is top ten in my head. A fine example might be “Who Will Love Me in a Body Like That?”

Echoing my fears were the brave men, women, and beyond at the tranny Round Table last night. How bold, how chivalric, how generous to share aloud our fears of unlovability! Who will love me in a body like this? Who do I love?

There’s something so magnetic about that mantra, so compelling. It’s the Minotaur in the center of our labyrinth, waiting to flog us with our own purse, beat us with our European man-bag. Interesting that a minotaur should mock the body of another. I know I’ve wrung my own hands, watching with despair as I succumbed to the unpluckable charms of another straight girl, feeling doomed like Tantalus to stand in pool of water that recedes every time I kneel to drink. I wasn’t interested in straight girls until I got my T on, which is hilarious only because my last two partners were heterosexual.

So I’m listening to these humans, sorting out their fears and their desires, and I’m reminded that people are either into me or they’re not, and I have no control over that, AND, it’s unpredictable. Every time a straight woman’s “gone south” on me I’ve had that moment of terror: oh, here comes the gag, but it’s never happened. Whatever they had fallen for in me seemed to make all my parts palatable, if not downright delicious for them.

As for my own desire, I had this mix-tape jammed in the boombox, that it was girly women I had to have, femmy-femmes. I had begun to create this narrative about high-maintenance chicklets, and my penchant for them. I had donned the headphones of painful, if glittery, limitation.

You could practically feel it in the room last night, the collective and icy breath of a future alone, unloved, unloving. “I’m a man and I want to love men, but who will love me without a penis?” “I’m a man in a relationship with a lesbian who wants her lover back, wants her woman back.” “I’m a woman with a penis; what man will love this body?”

I had to unclench my own claws around ideas of what love should look like. Why this need to define, always, my desire, my focus? “I like femme women.” Oh, really?! Granted, most of my partners have been more “feminine” than me, and certainly femininity has fetishistic elements for me. It’s so exotic. I really don’t get it. Also, I love when a feminine person punches my masculine card. It’s a total hard-on.

But the truth is more delicious, more fluid. I climbed atop the conical Mt. Girl and turned to face it, spreading my arms and falling backwards. Down I fell, past Brazilian waxes and pedis, flying flash past plucked eyebrows and thongs, lacy undergarments and vast skin care regimes, flipping my head from side to side to see ass and thigh, tit and neck, smelling exotic smells, feeling overly soft well-scrubbed skin. Is this what I need for love to happen?

Thank the gods I land in the arms of another. This other is perhaps a boy, perhaps a girl, maybe even a man. I don’t get to know what love looks like. Peen or no peen, puss or not puss, the sweetness is in our relating, your finger on my pulse, my hand on your forehead. We know what each other’s temperature is: it’s HOT. I find myself, in this trans-place, open to another kind of experience entirely, one of a gender so kaleidoscopic, so acrobatic, I can only hang on for the ride. Once I limit myself to an idea of desire, I’ve fallen into the net again, and the ride is over, the big-top falls down. My desire is HUGE. It’s astronomical. Sir Isaac Newton will tell you it’s attracting everything, all the time, and it’s attracted to everything, all the time. I’m on some tranny ellipse, pulled towards your sun and I hope it’ll be scorching, scorching hot. I like that you’re wearing boxers, I like that you have breasts, I love your hairy ass, I’m hot for your estrogenically reduced dick, your hormonally enhanced clit. It’s you I love, and me you’re hot for. Me. Always and forever, in trans-time and space, amen.

Brothers, Sisters, Others, let's be Lovers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Call Shotgun!

I’ve been traveling deep, deep undersea, feasting on the marine snow of my old dead ideas. Marine snow, for you for whom cephalopods don’t fascinate, is the soft, downy flakes of detritus, composed of dead fish, fecal matter and plankton, that travel from the floaters atop down to the briny leagues. It can gather some girth by the time it hits the ocean floor. Me, I don’t let anything go to waste, especially not a good meal.

There’s this adolescent phenomenon, whereby youngsters tear down an institution and then rebuild it while trumpeting their ingenious originality. What I’m saying to you is that I forget, sometimes, that I didn’t invent transitioning, or that I have anything at all to offer to the larger world, regarding my own experience.

It’s humbling, to meet 17 year old transpeople who have waaaay more experience at this thing than I. I’ve discovered, in my dotage, that there’s a lot of stuff I know little about at all, boat-load of opinion aside.

When I came out as lesbonian, there actually weren’t many doing it my way, and so I did feel slightly original, if by “original” one means lonely and weird. In that, I was no groundbreaker. But there weren’t a ton of arty Patti Smith-style dykes, even in D.C. in 1978. We did manage to find each other, thank the gods (and who would they be? MC5?) but I do remember walking a gauntlet, in a women’s bar, of drunken flannel-wearers, who, to my newly-out 18 year old horror, groped my tuxedo pants-wearing legs and ass in a dykey approximation of a Pasolini film. It was the seventh circle of Hell. There was no-body who looked like me, no dyed-black, teased-up tresses and heavy eyeliner, no flat-soled soft boots, no chicken bones taped to their faux leopard jacket. Yet.

Those of us who were punk or New Wave queer found a place; we gravitated to each other with near desperation in clubs like 9:30, gouging our gay niche with Klaus Nomi, Bauhaus, Bush Tetras.

Now, here it is, 2009. I’ve lost my transgressive card, have you seen it? Last I looked it was the nineties and I used it to get too many facial piercings.

Trans? I got nothin. Show me something. You kids have been doing this shit for a while now. I got hip to the trans-thing sometime in the early new millennium. Women I knew started changing, first their names, their pronouns, then something else, ineluctable. It was the testosterone what done it.

In my forties now, I find myself kneeling at the feet of wiser, younger men and genderfucks. These guys, these people – they’re so fucking smart. They have a generosity of spirit, a compassion I never had. I was always too afraid, too scared you’d scope me out for who I really was, which was someone who was basically scared and afraid. Who knew? You can’t travel deep when you can’t catch your breath, you’re corseted by how you want to be seen, who you think you are. Transitioning is so good for me. I’m forced to disrobe, unbuckle, riiiip the Velcro and unstay the whale-bone so you can see my real gut in all its splendor. Diving’s easier then, too, naked and curious.

I guess I’m reminding myself not to reinvent a good wheel. I’m remembering to thank all my brothers, sisters, and whatevers for having paved this sweet golden trail. For me. There are so many helpmeets along the way. There’s a nearly unfathomable regression to puberty with hormones, so I know my kin will be kind when I mistake myself for a trail-blazer. I’ll probably break curfew, too, and embarrass my family in public. At least, I hope so.

What men and women and others have endured, to become themselves! I salute you; I’m in awe. And I want to thank the dudes who have connected with me, buoyed (boyed?) me in these occasionally choppy waters, dudes like Amrit, and Vegan BattleBot, Elliot and the rest of you guys. This shit is weird and hard. This shit is fantastic and transcendent. Only my boys (and I see us all, the boys under some tranny Fagin) know what I’m on about: the mood swings, the dysmorphia; the ecstasy of leaning into something new entirely; the sublime terror of same; the frustration, the tears, the insane sexual yank, in and of itself a new organ; the grief; the lost relationships; the deepening of old friendships; the family drama; the new wardrobe….

I’m going to borrow my mom’s station wagon and drive for miles, until the college radio station fades and I don’t even notice - I’m too deep in my desire, too tantalized by the road, smitten with the scenery, too captivated by your company. You can stretch out now, relax into the rhythm of asphalt and white lines, knock off your kicks, and hang your feet out the window. We’ve got nowhere to go but someplace amazing. Thanks for holding the map.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fire, Walk With Me and While You're Here Could You Get Me Some Ice-Cream?

I just got off the phone with one of my fellow spirit-travelers, Kat Nas, who was preparing her fire-walking workshop in Long Island. She’s going to take a gang of New York men and women and show them how to break arrows in half by jamming them point-wise into their own necks. She’s very brave, that one. Kat and I used to do the S/m circuit in Manhattan; it’s what many of us stumbled into on our search for expansion into freedom and bliss. Now she workshops fire, and I stick myself with hormones. I jest, sort of; my freedom and bliss, my dive into sublime Consciousness continues organically, and my body is like a crystal in a kaleidoscope, rearranging into newer, sometimes just different, glorious calls of love to my creator.

I know, don’t gag. I really feel like that though, like I’m fractally imploding into Love…I’m typing this and I looked up at this Klee print I have and it started expanding and moving with my third eye. That’s just how it is for me. Shut the fuck up. Get your own print if you don’t believe me.

Two weeks ago, I was deeply concerned about the shape of my body. Dysmorphia plagued me. I was a dolphin trapped in a tuna net. These breasts, these thighs, this overall inclination to a certain, dare I say, Zaftig physiognomy? Oh this female fat threatened to smuffocate me, headlock me with larded thighs; I was half-nelsoned with swinging underarm ladyfat, choking on a mouthful of Secret, bitch-slapped by two mammoth teats. Could this really be my body? How could I possibly go on, much less leave my room, if this was the form I took?

This was a whole ‘nother level in self-loathing. Of course, dysmorphia is an American illness. How am I different from someone who has come to believe they cannot have love with their current nose, cannot find a job without a more substantive bosom, cannot go on one more day with this wretched body, this betrayer, this Thing – what did I ever do to deserve this Thing?!

Yes, arguably the transgendered host their own insidious breed of discomfort, and perhaps it is righteous even. But I’m old, and I want peace.

The fire-walker learns to transcend, not pain, but space/time. The universe will accommodate this, is what I’m told. The fire-walker, the one who rends arrows on her neck, is the one who has transmuted her terror into joy, who has shifted energetically into a state of willingness to meet some goal. This is my goal: to walk twenty feet on burning coals. This is my brain: how the fuck am I going to walk on fucking coals without scorching my fucking feets!? How am I going to be a Sam-man if I’m blanketed with delicious womanly lady-lumpage? How the fuckity fuck!???

Transmute the terror into joy.

Well that’s easy for you to say, Tranny, is what I believe you’ll be muttering. Let me tell you what happened, allow me to guide you on my coal-walk…

Chapter One: Whereupon our lad reaches for his whaling knife, to scrape the blubber from the mammal’s skin.

I had a thought. It looked like this: if I could control my food, if I could diet, if I could drop twenty pounds, I’d have NO TITS. Because it’s true; I wouldn’t. I’ve been skinny, and I can tell you empirically “I have no tits.” I would have no mams, and no hips. Easy peasey. When you’re on crystal meth!

Chapter Two: Our hapless hero is daunted by this Sisyphean task, and so regroups for a more...economical solution.

I realized, no matter what I did, how I “controlled” any bit of my body, there would always be something. I was never going to have peace with this Thing. That’s a stunning piece of information, that’s very useful. It means I need to make some peace, find a place of ease in this…me…this corporeal construct.

JL said to me “You’re on a journey. I used to think ‘when I lose this 10 pounds, when I get this job, when I have this money’ in some future I would be happy. But you’re where you’re at right now, and in this moment you can’t change that. Be happy for Sam! He’s changing, every day! Be sweet with this person!”

I didn’t throw up in my mouth. You can hear certain things from certain people. JL is one of them.

I’m standing on the coals but I don’t feel them now. I can’t make the world “see me for who I am” – when do we ever see one another for who we are, except by intimacy or by accident? I have to love this little Sam who is on this scary, wondrous journey, who likes the wind and the tumult yet wishes it weren’t so tempting to hide beneath the bed.

This body, it’s a body. It does wonderful things – it makes all kinds of pleasure, and noises which I like, and movements, although last week it threw up out of its butt. I love this body. If it loses weight, cool, that’s awesome. Two less things to worry about. Perhaps. If it doesn’t, I’m still me, still making toast of the soles of my dogs, watching and laughing aloud because there’s no meat sizzle, no blistering, and you’re still holding my hand, which means we’re both standing in the middle of a motherfucking fire, yo, and look, look what’s happening right now. We just alchemically transmuted pain into joy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Faigelah Verklempt

You know, just when I begin to fall into the narcotic and compelling fantasy that it’s all about where there’s hair, and what makes a man, I’m jostled awake by the weirdly sweet, clotted cream voice of Antony. If you don’t know Antony, let me introduce you briefly. He’s a deep-visioned, deceptively gentle-voiced singer and performer who identifies as transgender. His work is hard to take…his sound can be challenging and he can, at first listen, read lyrically very dark. I’ve always stuck with him, though, since being introduced to him a few years ago – stuck it out through my discomfort and unease because his work is so transcendent.

His resonance, and what resonates most about this idea I call “transgender,” is this un-bittered place of violation; he sings from a waking dream of dancing motes in sunlight while being sexually abused. He speaks of transgendered children, and gay children too, as being those kids who were often found “dancing alone in the light.” He thinks of homosexuality and transgender as a gift.

It’s a very romantic notion and the cynic in me thinks it’s a delicious conceit – but there is some truth there too, for me anyway. I never felt a part of the rest of humanity, and I knew, I’ve always known it had something to do with my gender, my sexuality. It’s tempting to focus on the mechanics or the sexual aspects of the transgendered or gay but as Antony points out, this is reductive. It fails to reveal the true essence of the gender outlier, which is shamanic or alchemic.

The gay or transchild often lives in a place of beautiful magic. As we grow up, we think we are imaginative, that we developed “coping skills” of escape, of self-creation. Artists think this too. But what if that realm exists for all of us – what if we didn’t make up a “safe” place in our heads? What if we just went there?

I see us all, alone on wooden floorboards; all the children are outside playing raucous, bellicose even. We are dancing with a broom and all the things that are sparkling in this sunbeam. We are never alone: look at all our friends!

I was trespassed time after time after time. I know this is true for many gay and trans kids. This is the cauldron where this mettle is tested. I was trans, a true outlier, before I was ever touched, or made to do things I didn’t want to do, or lived in a kind of choked fear of my fellow first-graders and certain adults, day after day after day after day.

So we don’t retreat into this inner-world to hide, we expand inviolate into a dimension only some of us can travel, and I recognize you and you and you there. My whole family is a family of outliers. Weirdos, smarty-pants – never picked to be on the team, or only picked because we had developed tremendous ass-kicking skills and so were feared but not exactly liked. We find, by degrees, that these picked-on kids were sometimes portals, offered windows into other worlds, and that often they were sweetly eager to show us what they saw. I know I love sharing this place with you. It makes me feel connected.

There’s something about this culture that does want to take a trans-person and reduce us to titillating parts. Shit, we do that with everyone else, right? But if I’m incautious, if I’m not paying attention, I do it to myself. Sometimes the way I know to connect with you is to make myself a buffoon, a little less-than. Sometimes I just want to fit in, and what “fits” better than dick and pussy? And I’ll seek entertainment over epiphany many days – that’s why I’m more often listening to the usual indy pop than an artist like Antony. It is true you can only take so much.

The secret trick is to not get lost in that, not mistake artifice-for-art kind of thing. The artifice is make-up and passing; it’s the freakshow glamour of pregnant man or Amanda Lepore. That’s the E-Tranny Channel. Totally necessary, useful in its way. But at the end of our program what shall we have learned? Some of us break through Maury and become healers. RuPaul did it. Boy George not so much. The judges are still out on Thomas Beattie. Who do I want to be when I grow up?

The fruits rot when they ripen too long in front of a mirror. The temptation to narcissism is superb. That’s why flamboyant men and women get stuck; they forget all that peacock was supposed to be a spacesuit to another dimension, and fell asleep into a dream of a large showy bird.

I am not a man and I have only ever been a woman for minutes, and those are suspect. I think I’ve only ever been a woman as a sexual kink, a perv trip, kind of like I’ve been a horse and a gay man and a cop, depending on what you needed at the time. I really am something else entirely, or some midpoint, some gender chimera. I think I’ll spend less time worrying about the kind of man I’ll be, or what it means to be a man, or how I should act or dress or piss or smell, how I should swagger or cut a fart, how I should garden or tie my shoes or vote. I got into this meshugass to wake my damn self up, not to trip over the garden-hose of my own dick. Oh, I wish, don’t I!?

Let’s make a list of the gay people, the possibly trans-people we know, we grew up around, who changed our way of seeing things. Let’s test this thing, let’s see where it goes. I’ll start with my best friend in high-school, who taught me about Iggy and Lou, whom I “dated” and to whom I said “you know, when I put my hands down here, this is not what I expect to find.”