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.

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