Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Dream As Clear As He

Has it been a year?! Goodness, how time does fly when your luxurious leg fat migrates to your uxorious back and abs! Where does the time go when you’re developing enough patches of hair to almost match every chick you know?! Time passages with tom-cat fat-face, crackity tranny vox, ½ inch of new real-estate on the forehead, with the biggest, the bestest surprise saved for your pants: the fantastic trouser gherkin! YAYASS!!!

I had wrung and wrung my hairless paws those first few months, abetted by a whimsical hormonal teeter-totter, as prescribed by my endocrinologist. Dudes, do not let the doctors prescribe a bi-monthly dose of T, unless you want to be at the mercy of the perverse plunge of the emptying gas tank of testosterone. A hybrid I was not, and those flips from T back to E were excruciating and suicidal. I’ve not “enjoyed” those moody swings since I insisted on shooting my dope every week, and I’m glad I insisted. I can be easily cowed at a doctor’s office; I suffer some sort of medical amnesia in which I am rendered incapable of recalling any symptoms or complaints in the face of an overly fluorescent, ill-decorated, acoustic tiled office. Particularly when wearing a “backless smock.” (if you ever need me to be docile, just dress me in a gown.)

Not knowing where I was going was a tremendous challenge. People are happy to tell you where you are going: you are going to be a man, right? but the truth is less…definitive. And I wasn’t at all sure that’s what I wanted, either.

But I did trust, intuitively, that the testosterone would tell. I believed it to be an oracle; I understood my body would, after some resistance, synch up with T’s rumbling vibe, if it was meant to. I believed the body would share with me what I was supposed to do, and I was right.

The hormones, after their initial jostle – it’s rather like being tossed onto a rugby field in mid-game and you forgot to change so you’re still wearing your “work heels;” and the hormones don’t give a shit that you’re in some ways totally unprepared for their masculinity, the back-slapping, head-cuffing, outright hazing initiation to this rough world – ease you onto the tarmac with a steady, light jog. They are singularly focused. They have a job to do. Testosterone doesn’t care if it takes months or years: it’s Japanese in its post-war reconstruction, and that’s almost soothing, particularly after the fucking war.

And war it has been, for this transguy. I had a long, intense convo with my sig.oth. at the Food Hole this evening. D was under the mistaken impression that I knew, I had known, my transgendered path a year ago, but the truth is I did not know, and I suffered and struggled and gnarled and gnashed; I laid on the floor and cried to God; I called 80 million people and especially Jessica and Judith who are neither gay nor trans but know heartbreak when they hear it and could be there for what felt like my brain exploding with uncertainty and even terror.

I didn’t know if I wanted to be a “man.” I was sure I wanted to “masculinize my body” was how I put it. No-one could have predicted how deeply I would fall in love with my new, hormonally enhanced genitalia, especially given that I’d had a terrible fear bordering on revulsion for that piece of transitioning. Come to find out my discomfort with my downstairs had more to do with that-there being “ladybits” and wotnot, and that its evolution to something else feels right and natural and as it should be. That should’ve been a tell, right? The more “male” my body changes to, the happier I am. Joyful, even.

And yet.

Even in the ecstasy of becoming this beautiful new sexy unicorn creature, I find myself in moments, doubting. Dreading. At a meeting with other transpeople last night, I heard a guy share that the terror of the unknown haunted him; he couldn’t imagine what he might turn into and he wasn’t sure he wanted “manhood.” We’re not sure. We just know something’s gotta change.

Anyway, I can report, after a year, I am (mostly) comfortable in the not-knowing. I’m surer that I will be a man, whatever that is, but what that will look like and how long it will take is impossible to predict. Today a woman told me I was in the “wrong” bathroom, and I said “no I’m not.” But I should’ve liked to reply “yes, I am, because we don’t make bathrooms for people like me.” And that’s the “bottom” line, really. I just want to be myself, whoever that is. Like I said to D tonight, it’s not always about T, and trans, and gender. Sometimes it’s about how we were crushed, and shamed, and oppressed, and not allowed to be ourselves – sometimes it’s just about getting in touch with that heartbreak.

And that’s just human. And heartbreak is the beautiful, dense, dark humus for the most miraculous growth, whether that’s in your soul or your pants. Happy new year Others!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Warm, Worn, Leatherette

I’ve been feeling very hermaphroditic lately. Unlike many a transman, I heart my vagina. I have no intention (today) of tabling it, sewing it up, stuffing it with spare change, or storing my Allen wrenches up there. It gives me a great deal of pleasure and I shan’t part with it.

Nevertheless, it does not make me “feel like a woman.” (Except perhaps in a Grace Jones kind of way, but who can say, really?) I feel very lucky indeed to have multiple penetrable pleasure regions, and yes, I’m including my ear-hole.

Having inhabited on and off, for years, some gray area of kink, I feel rather mutable in many regards. The men I know seem pretty committed to their shtick, whatever it is, but I seem to bounce from Butch Top to fairy to straighty-straight guy to daffodil without any sort of motion sickness whatsoever. And when one is accustomed to being with partners who say things like “I’m the Jolly Green Giant and you’re Mr. Clean and you are going to mop the floor with me” one learns to default to the changeable, chimerical even.

I feel uniquely suited to the vast expanse rather than the finite, is what I’m saying to you.

And vaginas are a vast expanse. Okay, some are. Anyway I was just trying a segue on for size and it is a tad…capacious. I’d like a glass of your best “cavernous vagina.” Sidebar: I have a friend who was told that she had “a cavernous vagina” by a “health professional.” I was once told, by a similarly imaginative nurse person that my “uterus was as big as a house.” It is nowhere near any such size, being, in fact, utterly unremarkable in anything except that it is in a man.

Or is it!? For me, the best possible world would be integration rather than excision. I have the opportunity for successful emergence, for joining the genders, uniting the units as it were. I walk like a man, and I’m beginning to think like one, thanks to testosterone, but I’d surely be hurting myself to believe I ever will actually be a man.

I know this is difficult for some transpeople, and we all have our own row of tubers to hoe, but I feel it is incumbent upon us to not discard what we have been so generously, cruelly, given. To yearn to live in the world as a boy, but be socialized (read: forced) to “act” like a woman is a brutality and a gift. Like alcoholism. If one survives the chaos and unmanageability, one may even have an advantage over other mortals. Any hubris or spiritual arrogance that might attach itself to the idea of the superiority of transpeople is mitigated by the sheer bedlam of living in this bicameral brain in this binary world. To be trans is to be mad, y’all.

But the madness is transportation; it’s a clue. Get on that tranny train and ride around the binary block a bit. Let the wind lift your thinning hair, frolic in your newly wooly eyebrows and nose hairs. You can see now, the sad little snow-globe of gender. Let others be trapped by a winter nostalgia, see the unconscious insistence on imprisonment – the extremists who try to ex the gays or even the palpable discomfort of fellow diners as you enter the room with your equally gendervague partner – you can see the pain they cause themselves as they scan and find no solution, no way to tag, no context for you. Your presence is vertiginous, sinister even. You are Springtime; so funny to think that a couple of pansies such as yourselves could initiate such a response.

Transitioning is the LSD of gender. Turn on, tune in, drop out of confinement. I’m a dude with a pussy, you’re goddamned right. I accept that stupidity and violence are human nature, and I insist that expansion and evolution are equally urgent needs of that same nature. My nature may ensure I call you my new favorite curse word, “cuntsack” (a nice amalgam of cunt and ball sack, if I do say so myself, and I do.), when you forget to use your turn signal, but if we meet in person I should like to hand you a moustache or some fake boobs, and say “check this shit out; it’s hilarious!”

And really, check this shit out. It’s hilarious.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Big Loose Shoes And Such A Bargain!

Man. I hate to be a whiney, always touching myself, tranny, but here goes. Will you people get on board with the motherfucking pronouns?!

Do I look like a “lady?” Seriously, do I?! Why is it so challenging? Inconsistency I understand, from you who knew, back in the day, when us transguys were stomping around uncomfortably in high-heels, our conservative wool camel blazer festooned with a gaily hand-painted scarf – oh how we tried. I had capitulated to female, and wore stockings and slips and Italian leather pumps, had until too recently an array of “men’s style” women’s shirts and jackets and pants, never quite daring to surrender – lest you bust me out – to my frozen, static, wooly mammoth-in-a-glacier craving to wear men’s clothes. “Craving” doesn’t begin to express my junky’s longing, my inner-child’s forehead and hands pressed against the window, my hot-blooded, Poison-infected, David Lee Rothian pelvis-thrusting desire to put on some men’s clothes. Amongst other things.

But you didn’t know me then.

Is the ejaculate of “lady” and “miss” and “she” and “her” from your maw to the transman you’re facing…is it similar perhaps to my own mouth’s commitment to using the “black voice” when around the colored folk, or its alarmingly persistent urge to opine about the Jewish faith with the Jew? I have watched my own conversation with horror, as it veers straight to the stereotype, climbs right atop the elephant that shouldn’t even BE in this particular living room – like, I don’t even usually THINK like that and now here I am saying the most calculatedly offensive thing my subconscious can muster.

A member of my family recently sent out a mass email sharing a list of names he’d found in his local paper, and how hilarious they were. It was an appallingly racist, classist, inventory of monikers - it made me ashamed to read it – but how to explain to my family, who justly pride themselves on their civil rights activism, who have worked long and hard with marginalized communities to ensure they have the same access to literacy, to health care, to a standard of living, as the “rest of us” that they, and I can still suffer from the disease of prejudice?

The transperson evokes for many, the same dark response as the disabled do for the same. You should like to put me on an ice-float, or jettison me into space, or simply pound the living shit out of me for so confronting and confounding your sense of “normalcy,” of safety even. I say this because I had the same response, once-upon-a-time, in the Grimmer version of the fairy tale – you know, the one where Cinderella’s step-sisters actually cut off parts of their feet to make it fit into the slipper. Which frankly, is what donning a camel hair lady-blazer felt like to me.

Just this morning someone said something about partner swapping and right out of my face oozed an “ick.” “Ick” I said, to the notion of partner swapping. I don’t actually believe or feel ick around this idea but I used to, and that’s what happened to fall out of my face. Ugh. This time I mean it. Ugh for being the lazy, reflexive human.

So the barometer, as D reminds me, is “would you say that if a fill-in-the-blank were here?” I’m not interested in policing my words, nor am I interested in “correct-ness” or not “offending” someone. I’m purely in it for me. Where am I frightened, selfish, self-seeking, dishonest? Good questions from the transguy. Personal growth-like stuff.

“What are the transguy stereotypes?” I ask D, the professional gay and avowed transguy-aphile. I love being someone’s sexual exotic; I don’t understand what all the fuss is about tranny-chasers, but then, I’m the guy that used this fabulous bit of exotic evidence: “most of the guys I’ve slept with were black!” to bolster my own liberal self-worth. Like somehow that fascinating bit of sexual racism made me a more open white person.

Yeesh, what a dickhead. Sorry, back to topic.

In response to my queery, D ducks his head and says shyly “Horndog. Transmen are horndogs.” Well shit, if I could get my hands out of my jeans I might respond to that.

I want to know what all the transmen shibboleths are. Let’s bust ‘em out. I can’t wait to state ignorantly, then vilify, then boldly reclaim, whatever the people are saying about the female-to-males. Bring it. Please tell me. I’d rather, at this point, hear from you that I’m a whiny ex-woman, a promiscuous male slut, a narcissistic man manqué, than listen to one more goddamn “she” from your indolent goddamn mouth.

Oh, and transguys have anger issues: did I mention that?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Own Private Guernica

On this day, says my online New York Times headline mash, “artist Pablo Picasso died at his home near Mougins, France, at age 91.”

On this day Kurt Cobain’s lifeless body was discovered dead in his Seattle home.

On this day, April 8th, my food stamps will be deposited in my Electronic Benefits Card. I will trot downstairs, in a bit, on this, a Wednesday, and jab my hammy thighs with 50mgs of male hormone. The elation of receiving money with which to buy manly comestibles is mitigated by the feeling that I should be doing a helluva lot better at managing my own life.

I sit on the long red couch, rapt as D recites transpeople statistics. He’s a professional gay person and learns these things on-the-job; me? I know this shit because I’m an avocational homo, a curious queer, an internet-traversing tranny. On my cyber-roams my digits have uncovered that:

Something like 10% of transgender people are homeless
Up to 40% are unemployed
Transgender and gender non-conforming people are disproportionately poor, without health care, homeless; are over-represented in prisons and institutions; are 7-10 times more likely than “normal” people to experience violence and even murder.*

Fabulous. I was a vocational homo in Austin for over four years, so none of this is particularly surprising to me, but it’s always heartbreaking. There’s something about the trans that’s particularly confronting to people, especially challenging; our evident “otherness” allows for easy dehumanization, if you’re the kind of human who needs firm ground to be the backs of his fellows.

My own poverty has more to do with my own choices, combined with circumstances. I wrassle with this. Frankly, veering towards Dude has made my reliance on The State and credit less and less comfortable. I feel like I should be able to support myself. Because I’m a Guy, you know, I’m the man. When the check arrives at a restaurant, I want it to go to me. It’s the little things.

I’m lucky to live in a place that accommodates transguys. I can’t speak for the women, but I can say empirically that transguys are not unusual here, and seem to find employment despite their sketchy facial hair and softened mid-regions. Maybe that’s just because Americans are accustomed to a softer Mc-softy version of the male. Maybe all those cheeseburgers are working in the favor of the tranny. Don’t judge: it’s my soft ass I’m talking about, not yours.

A gang of us T-boys watched Peterson Toscano perform a one-person play about transpeople in the bible. It largely referenced the Gnostic Gospels, the parchment palimpsest dug up by farmers in Nag Hammadi 60 years ago. I felt as if I had been unearthed myself, from some buried and sealed clay jar. Just as I am wired for some kind of bi-coastal gender, am I wired for an experience of God and I have always understood that this God loves me and my kind. Toscano is a recovered ex-gay, raised in that peculiar “Christian” orthodoxy that does not love its neighbor, whose Jesus I imagine, is like the Christ I saw on a billboard in Georgia once, a long-haired Rambo armed with an automatic, the Christ that understands homosexuality is like the Terminator: it’ll grab you by the balls even after you dropped a 2 ton crucifix on it and watched it die.

Me, I think gender is splendid. It is ganache, it’s buttercream. Let me spread it on generously with that big flat frosting knife, capping little waves of deliciousness with bi-colored sprinkles. I want it on my upper lip when I eat you, your gender, I want my hands to be sticky with it, annoyingly, sweetly everywhere. Not a threat. A treat. What playtime is this, that gods delight, making their mythologies with men and women dressing as each other, or neither? Surely they are bemused by a world where this is a struggle, where people are beaten and destroyed for being who they are. That’s the world Kurt Cobain had to leave, couldn’t take. Believe me, I know first hand the desire to not be here.

But here we are. Since I appear to be staying here, flaunting the argyle icing of my own unique gender presentation I think I’ll make a concerted effort to be more conscious about it. Nothing helps the people like visibility, like normalcy. I’m telling you out loud today that I am going to commit to kindness, and to living my life aloud as a transperson. You can’t stop me: don’t even try. I will spin you with my sugar like a spider traps its meal, only I will just kiss you with frosted lips, and cry for you out loud, in front of your face, so you can see your effect on me. I’ll set you free from your spun-sugar frosting bondage, hand you that spatulated knife, and then I’ll turn and walk away. What you do with that knife is entirely up to you. But mind, you’ve got some love on your upper lip.

*Check out the Sylvia Rivera Law Project site.