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.