Friday, July 3, 2009

Is That a Sparkler In Your Pants (Or Are You Declaring Independence?)

What kind of person changes their gender!?

Okay, here’s a better question for you: What kind of person gets their own name tattooed on them? There’s narcissism and then there’s narcissism. I have no idea what I’m talking about except that transitioning requests your audience, please. After yet another conversation (okay, monologue) with D about ass hair growth, observance and inspection of same – and I insist, absolutely insist, you look too – I have the grudging civility to inquire “are you bored with my tranny obsessions yet?”

Adolescence, for me anyhow, was a secrety, secrete-y, shameful affair. While occasionally one would be asked to share how many pubes one might be sporting, one never got to fully revel, fully GLORY, in the onset of menses, swelling breasts, armpit smells, changing stature. It was an odorous, odious event, lowlighted by the constant thrum of social anxiety sprinkled with sebaceous cysts.

I wish I could’ve enjoyed it, particularly my burgeoning sexuality, but everything, sexuality included, was so baby-fresh and tender, so easily stifled and crushed by another’s malicious or merely awkward, foot.Transitioning needs you to pull up a chair and sit a while. It wants to give you a cupcake on a china plate because it loves you and it wants you to feel comfortable in your own skin and enjoy this moment.

Somewhere, a couple months ago, I started getting clocked as a dude.

I don’t know what happened, what shifted these past 60-90 days. I’ve been sitting in a lawn chair with my cake and a hand-mirror, looking for any nuance, any move towards man. I don’t think I look substantially different. But something has shifted, something definable only to the naked and whole eyeballs of strangers.

If you’ve known me, these alterations are largely indiscernible, subtle and energetic, and, too, you may be resistant to seeing your friend in a new way. We’re all like this about all our friends. We’re the last to see weight loss, clearing skin, last to sign on to the upgrade, the latest iteration of something we’re so comfortable with. Me, I just added some more bass to this funk, and the people I pass suddenly want to dance. I’m totally the Tranny From Ipanema. I kid you not and D will vouchsafe: women and men are shining on me in public all the time. Women smile and stare as I beam back, and even men, clearly unsure why their faces want to do this, allow for a bemused grin. Transitioning is bursting at the seams like springtime, a three year old with a new Conductor’s hat that can’t wait grab you and push you onboard the “train.”

So why, people with a camera, why are you taking the same old picture, time after time? Every photo series of transmen I scan looks like this: Black and white, a punk’s portrait, maybe a little edgy, and then of course, the shirt off. Top Surgery pics maybe. A video of same if we can get some. How many of these do we need, when there are SO MANY STORIES? I’m not a photographer – this here is my shtick – but if I were, my pictures might look like:

Mo and Nolan knitting together at the Open Eye.

Cole ringing up customers at Weaver Street Market.

Danny and Terry calming the roiling anxieties of newly gay UNC students and faculty.

X and Y and their new infant Zee.

Red Bear riding his bicycle, shirtless and panting, all over Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Me, forced to play an inflatable guitar while wearing batman mask by my “nephew” Gus.

My docu-drama is I have resisted, to the worst of my ability, the most visionary, most important, most life-altering changes I have been forced on my knees to make. Getting sober, falling in love with God, and transitioning are the best things that have ever, EVER happened to me. And I fought ‘em all, the whole time.

Maybe the best picture of me would be one where I’ve just punched one of those punching bag/balloon guys and it has come back up and popped me in the kisser. So the photo would be of me knocked on my ass with birds and stars tweeting and spinning a merry halo around my head, staring loopily and with obvious adoration and gratitude, at your face.

Happy July Fourth. This is one national holiday I'm going to co-opt for my own.

1 comment:

  1. When you have your magical photo series, count me in. I have no brooding b&w shots of my chest scar -- but I might be snapped somewhere, not quite by accident, reading a mystery novel, teaching a freshman comp class, falling in love with rainbows, or decoding the arcana of a dogshow catalog. I am going to tell everyone I know to read your blog -- because it's beautiful and funny and sweet, and it's NOT like the transman story we keep seeing everywhere, as if we are all them. Thanks Sam.