Friday, June 26, 2009

Ooh, I Bet You're Wonderin How I Knew

My dick is shrinking. I’m sure of it.

“Honey, c’mere and look at it! It’s…little!”

D peers between, corroborates and prognosticates. “You’re on a lot of medication…maybe that’s why?”

I’ve been felled by the mighty woodsman of corona virus, or swine flu maybe, and have resorted to popping (in optimistic hopes of hearing again someday – my ears are that occluded) Sudafed, ibuprofen, and benadryl. If 2008 was the year of the Dark Night of the Soul, than ’09 has been the Dank Day of the Sinuses.*

The stuff that was so magnificent over the weekend, so virile, so…majestic, is now singing “Heard it through the Grapevine” with the rest of the Raisins. In this area I am evidently just like any other man, obsessed with size and certain that both my partner’s and my pleasure depends on it. Shrinkage terrifies me. This confirms a few things. One, that I am authentically trans, an identity that’s challenged me all muddy, febrile week.

Samantha has been demanding some attentions, insisting on living, ripping out all the IV drips, oxygen, feeding tubes I’d thought I’d so generously left her on: she’s not going gracefully, but that’s never been our thing. I was a woman of a sort for 47 years. I’d made some peace with that. I had little idea that in changing genders, I would lose any of her that I cared about. But there’s a death that’s happening here, a loss so vast, such an annihilation – this concurrent with the nearly inexpressible joy of finally allowing myself to be free – the best one can do is be bludgeoned by it occasionally.

All week long I’ve been looking at my scrappy, barely visible, adolescent chin scruff thinking “Really! That’s what you want!?” It’s so unglamorous, the facial hair development, for this guy anyway, whose overarching genetics seem to lean to the Scandihoovian side of the family. We are not a hairy lot, we Peterson men, and we are not a lot hairy.

I know a guy who talked about the death of him/herself, how unprepared he was to have to grieve the woman he had been, and how remote that person can feel to him sometimes. Our previous incarnations are like a dream, the opium smoker’s vision of something unreal, ephemeral. We lay in a den together and pulled on a collective hookah, conjuring up something feminine, some will-o-the-wisp or genie even to do our mothers’ bidding, be our fathers’ daughters when called upon, showing up for Prom, wearing heels to an interview, stepping behind our brothers and bosses and knowing our place.

It’s no coincidence in my life that Tim Burton’s version of “Alice in Wonderland” premieres soon. My world is richer with synchronicity than ever before – if as a woman I was intuitive, as myself I am constantly engaged with phenomenal reminders. Being Samantha was being Alice, showing up for social tableaus that made no sense whatsoever, except to themselves; it meant being prosecuted for disobeying random, constantly shifting rules that I could somehow never grasp. A real woman might’ve felt somewhat at home in this Wonderland, although misogyny makes it impossible for any person, man or woman to ever truly relax.

In those moments I think “what the hell ARE you doing Peterson!?” I ask myself: would you get off testosterone? And the answer is always, emphatically, no. At the very least I love being able to eat more. Lest I risk sounding completely shallow and cavalier, the truth is I reject my old body. Samantha was a fantastic construct that allowed me to breathe as naturally as I had the resources for. Sober addicts often remark that their addictions kept them alive, able to move about an overwhelming, difficult world, until this ceased to work. The saran wrap of Samantha that kept her freshness, retained something of her crispness, became a suffocating prison, a leaky reformatory, until I penetrated and broke free. Still, it’s sad to leave a delicious sandwich behind.

How does one prepare to grieve? I think a really good suit is an excellent place to start. And then maybe a practice of acknowledging who I have been, and what that’s given me. And some really spectacular wingtips to go with the suit, which I could wear while paging through old photo albums, immersed in all the hilarity and tragedy these documents evoke – and I’ll be sure to bring my sandwich, sodden and nibbled, but all the ham and cheese intact.

*seriously, I’ve been hammered nearly once a month by something. Maybe God is telling me to stop putting my finger up my nose.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

When Will I Be Him?

I’ve delayed writing about this, in part because it was genuinely traumatic, and it didn’t feel terribly “masculine” to “whine” about it.

I was taken out by a drunken dyke spider-monkey at the Peaches show Tuesday night.

Now, being the Bringer of The Diversity that I am, I have a vast array of lenses through which to view this fracas. I could write about this from a sober perspective; I could opine through the voice of maturity (Whippersnapper!). I have an ex-dyke take, a trans-masculine stance, and a pissed-off consumer who spent $40 he could ill afford to have to leave after 2/3rd’s of a fucking song.

Let’s just do it all, a veritable Chex mix of anger, fear, posturing, and anxiety flavored with nauseating sprinkle of PTSD! YES!

D and I muscle up to the stage. He’s 5’10” but me, I’m stretched at 5’6” on a really tall, just-been-rolfed day. Neither of us particularly want to be there – we’re homebodies – but this is Peaches for godssake, THE disco-flavored “Fatherfucker,” a veritable margarine tub of gender-spread on your delighted prone toast. So we show up and try to see through a couple packed rows of baby dykage, general faggotry, and someone's dad.

The crowd feels hostile. I’m old and my back hurts. I have spent my day scraping, bleaching, and painting an antebellum porch and I’m as tore-up as the waitress at the Last Supper.

But I’m with friends, and I’m excited to see this performer I admire. I’m out of the house because Peaches is amazing.

Little chickie in front of me is angry. Later, D would tell me this baby had clocked me, checked me out with red in her eye. We’re all holding on to our dance floor real-estate for dear life, but it feels aggressive, antagonistic. The beautiful freelove queerspace of the Cat’s Cradle is feeling less Woodstock and more Altamont. The drum track pounds and we all stiffen like warriors. The woman in front of me begins to push, to throw her body back. She’s deliberately shoving me backwards, but I’m committed. I eyeball D; we’re like “what’s up with this crazy crowd?” but we’re dedicated to this spot on the floor we’ve staked in way that, in retrospect feels a tad…insane.

Chick’s still pushing, I push back. I’m shouting at her to cut it out – part of me is trying to argue rationally with a drunk – I’m yelling “what the fuck’s your problem” and “you’re going to hurt someone.” At one point D steps in; by sheer towering height and aggression he backs the woman down and we all relax just a little.

But up it starts again and this time it’s on. Every time she throws back, I spike her with my elbow now and it inflames her. She turns and attacks, going for, of all things, my hair, which, much to my almost galvanizing astonishment she is pulling. She is actually pulling my hair out. She starts throwing punches; I’m pushed back into a packed and baffled crowd; being a smart nerd my hand seeks my glasses as it occurs to me in that moment that they will go flying and be trampled, and I will be blind.

D hurls himself into the fray; someone is holding me back, and I see that someone is holding the lesbian primate too. In that moment, I make a decision, a decision hindsight tells me I would not have had to make as another dyke on the dance floor. As a sober woman, I would have moved long before the monkey caca hit the fan.

As a dude, the adrenaline is pounding in my temples and my fists are curled in the shape of a pitbull’s skull. There is something so primitive happening here – it defies description. I would like to sidebar and tell you that since I’ve been on T, I’ve become taller. Not literally. Everyone looks smaller to me. People I was convinced were bigger than me I now can see are actually the same size or smaller. I don’t know if being a chick shrunk me in my own estimation of myself, or there’s some testosterone-induced grandiosity, but boys and girls? You don’t look so big to me.

Anyhoo, in that second, I make a decision, and the verdict is in: I will not punch this cunt in the face. Plain as the blood hammering in my head is a vision of myself with the po-po, having to explain to them that some young woman was all up in my space so I hit her. That’s that masculine insanity, the flag-planting, leg-lifting, imperialism of My Space. And there I was.

The truth is, I’m not a fighter. This little chicken would have kicked my ass with her crazy spider-monkey, hair-pulling ju jitsu. So there was a piece of this that was totally emasculating, too, even knowing that I had made a tacit “gentlemen’s agreement” – and I also had the horrifying insight that all those times I thought I had “won” in a showdown with a guy - in a bar, in a parking lot, on the dance floor – maybe the guy was doing the gentlemanly thing and not punching me in the face. Because I was absolutely that dyke that would try to mix it up when there was masculine presence in “my” space.

Here’s the thing: I think I may have been perceived as male. At the very least I was perceived as a masculine woman. What I’m saying to you is that that male privilege we all read about? Transguys are fish-in-a-barrel for lesbians targeting men as the source of their ire, their frustration. Believe me, I even smell like a guy, but I forgot that. I wish I could say I was all “here we are in happy-go-queerland together” and this bitch fucked things up, but the truth is I was hateful myself at these three fags who were taking up more room than Kanye’s ego – they had masculine noblesse oblige and it was pissing me off big time. I haven’t learned how to take the space men do, nor how to hold it. Being read as male is so new to me I almost don’t know what to do with it. I’m also way more reliant on using my femininity than I ever could have known. The very characteristics that disarmed strangers when I was a woman - my puppy dog friendliness, my toothy smile - can seem weird and invasive from a dude.

I’ll summon the Muse, to end this one. With the help of the very sage, I shall quote:

you got them all
by the balls
causing water falls
stone walls
bar brawls
climbing stalls
at concert halls
to you they crawl
body sprawled
smoking Pall Malls
close call
stand tall
doll you make them feel so small
and they love it –

“Boys Want To Be Her” ~ Peaches

Let's keep it safe, have a great day, and stay out of the gender binary, shall we?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Did (Surgically Remove) It My Way

My horoscope urges me to use the pie-throwing model of conflict resolution, even directing me to a youtube snippet of Three Stooges. I am relieved to read this; it’s only Tuesday and there’s been hella conflict. One of my dearest friends wants to know if she needs to keep a little book with everyone’s sexual/gender preferences in it. Another near-and-dear blanches as I explain that the “I” in LGBTQI is for “intersexed.” It’s a lot, I get that. It is a random alphabet jumble that in a mere six letters defining merely six margins of humanity has the ability to piss everyone off. And you’ll get NOTHING FOR IT IN SCRABBLE.

All I can say is “it’s not personal.” Some people want to be Hispanic, some Mexican, some lesbian, some queer, some differently-abled, some crip. I’d like it if you called me Sam and sir and him and he. Four little words. It would be fantastic if you’d lose lady and girl (unless by “girl” you mean “GIRL!” ala gay homo stylie). I remember, not too long ago, as a dyke, having to school a man that when he calls out to a couple of butch-looking lesbians, it’s unlikely they’ll respond to “girls.” I was referring to myself and a friend, both tough-as-nails, short-haired, tattooed lesbonians, and possibly a little threatening a deux. I’m such a cupcake I forget my presentation sometimes. Oh well. (tucks finger in lip.)

More than this anterior conflict is the interior, the deeper, less definable, the smoodgy. I’ve been applying for a lot of jobs lately and I realized that this person who is filling out these applications, laboring over cover letters, re-writing for the macmillionth time the resume, is not the person who showed up for these former employments. I really feel like a different being. I’m not sure who is filling out this paperwork, sending these emails. I’m not sure what this worker is capable of. I suspect a piece of my brain believes that testosterone has conferred some new special powers that I’m unaware of. I may even believe that testosterone has redacted some as well, has edited my capacity to multi-task, smudged whatever small sensitivity to others in a workplace environment I may formerly have sharpened.

Well, the mind is a bad neighborhood you don’t want to go into alone, and yet, there I am, like a Norwegian tourist on Avenue A in the 80’s, all by myself, black socks and sandals, looking down at a used syringe on some badly cracked pavement, excited and optimistic. Being stubbornly ingenuous works in one’s favor sometimes; I don’t anticipate the worst and it rarely comes for me, but it does mean not always behaving like the sharpest scalpel in the lobotomy kit.

Nonetheless, here I am, kitted out with a pair of strikingly globular chesticles and a necktie, pretending I don’t look like a babydyke on her first date. I’m a man, goddamnit, now aside from viewing copious amounts of porn, how do I act like one?

Apparently the same way I acted when I was a chickity chick. With integrity and sensitivity. These are qualities that both define and elude me, depending on the situation and the amount of fear I’ve scooped in my little fearscape sandbox - you know – that little box of litter you go sit in when you find yourself faced with a fog-befuddled, impenetrable vista, like interviewing for jobs? The one you plunk-ass into when someone points out your behavior is less than stellar, that “manning-up” might mean being wholly and totally responsible for your own actions, without relying on some twisted “victim” entitlement? Just because I’m a tranny, and you’re mean to me, evidently doesn’t entitle me to kick you in the pussy bone. Being a man sometimes means jutting my chin out for the right-hook of an enlightening blow.

But the universe is not tapping me on the mug because it dislikes me – it wants me to wake up. It’s been trying, for years now, to get me to pay attention to who I really am. And while transitioning to male brings me closer to comfort, nearer to the being I have repressed and cordoned and otherwise 86ed from Club Sam, it is not who I really am. And I don’t want to forget that.

So when others ask me to call them elders rather than the elderly, or challenged rather than retarded, or open rather than slutty, I shall endeavor to do so. It is not, as my friend &*()$%^ (not his real name) explains, about being “politically correct” – it is about being sensitive to the needs of others. It is being kind.

If I had my druthers, I’d probably rather point out how difficult you’re making my life, with all your demands, but I’m trying to do better than that today. This is my attempt at strong, sensitive manlitude. I’m also reminded that much as it is impossible for me to appreciate my quad (gimp) friend Keith’s daily trials, is it impossible for a gender-integrated person to value the gender dis-integrated experience fully. The best we all can do is, and I mean THE BEST, is just try to respect each other. Which I’ll promise I’ll do, even if you show up on my doorstep having added a third leg through elective surgery, asking me to call you a Tripod.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

El Diablo Está En Mi Bigote del Fuego

It was a festive weekend of folderol and faggotry. I traveled with my nancyboy and the Cuntry Kings of Durham, NC to the great, unrelentingly hot, city of Austin to watch them perform their glittery magic at Freakshow-a-Go-Go.

The sum of the gender presentations there was greater than their holes. There were versions of humanity I hadn’t known existed before, beta-versions of neo-tranny perhaps, untried until that night but there for your assimilation, should you be so inclined. Only in a Dot Com city like Austin would the people trot out some just-constructed transware for the delectation of the masses. Be careful what you download, Friend, you may find your commitment to some aspect of yourself blurring or disappearing entirely.

I joined up with my friend Archer, a super hot gay man with a queer spirituality and sensibility, to watch the burlesque of tap-dancing, cat-identified, klezmer-benders. We’re the same age, meaning: twice everyone else’s, and had the same sense of our gay corset being unlaced. “The kids are bringing the next thing,” he observed, “and it’s beautiful to watch.” We talked about the spiritual evolution of trans, how we’re not really “male” or “female” spiritually, and these kids know it. Or at least, they embody (literally) this evolution intuitively.

Archer and I were in a “spiritual community” (or The Cult, as I called it, to watch the elders panic) together, and we were shown the truth of this, that there is no gender in greater consciousness. What I call “God” doesn’t have a body, much less a gender, and neither do you, Mamsirmam. The kids are breaking it down, but as Arch and I noted, the rest of the world feels slooooow on the uptake. If we would stop slamming triple lattes and chicken fingers for a second and breathe, we might discover the new taste in town is trans and it’s already in our mouths.*

At some tender point in the evening, Arch looked at me plaintively and asked “would a transguy be interested in a guy like me?” No matter who we are, or what’s in our pants or head, we’re sure we’re no-one will like us. He loves the t-guys. I had to be an asshole and bait him: “How would you feel about being with a man with no dick?” – because I wonder myself, laboring under the prejudice that all gay men are dick-identified and cock-centric, but he doesn’t disappoint. He walks the talk, and will take pussy with the cock – as he pointed out, this body is just a dream anyway.

He went further and asked me if I’d be in a relationship with a non-trans guy. My knee-jerk is “of course!” because that’s my Sagittarian party line: commit to everything and everything is possible. He’s my kind of gay - rugged, whiskered, un-edited. My aversion to the gay male is that too-tidy, tip-toed presentation, the uber-manicured, depilated, skin peel gay. Maybe this is because I can’t even approach tidy myself, I don’t even have baseline tidy. I am physiologically incapable of keeping a neat appearance; my shirttail will untuck, my soup will slop, my tie will skew, and my hair will awry. Thus it has always been. Neat and pressed is not a look I admire in others either, so good for me.

But a rough, rugged, dirty man? Hells yes! I think that a relationship with a man might be achievable, if I’m more of a man myself. I’ve always liked sexy-times with the mens but the off-screen power imbalance was more than I could stand, and so a relationship was out of the question. The implied superiority of the male does not elicit a hardon for me, and if you’re thinking “what ‘implied superiority’?” about your own relationship with your guy, then you are not paying attention. But if I am a guy, maybe parity is possible; therefore maybe love would be too.

So keep on taking us higher, Children of the Corndog. You, with your Heidi wig and your soft-packer poking askew from directly below your belly where it should not be, I bid you take me by my hand to this begendered Eden where you, and your second-bedroom-now-walk-in-closet, reside. Let us recline together like Cats on Broadway in a softly warming sun, and stretch like snakes in springtime and burst our skins. Crinolines and neckties will spill out of these rents, like entrails from a hope chest, only we don’t need hope, see, we have it, and it’s wearing your mom’s vintage cocktail dress and your daddy’s suspenders. If you were blind, and you felt it, your description would vary to a man. But everyone who feels it and describes it can say emphatically “that’s mine.”

*for some of us, trans is exactly what’s stuffed in our delighted mouths right now. Lucky us.