Friday, September 25, 2009

Don't Be Mad Once You See That He Want It

I’ve been experiencing a lot of grief and loss for The Dyke Sam recently. Unlike ThaManSam, The Dyke Sam isn’t anagrammatic of anything, although the internet says it can reconfigure to “Shamed Tyke” or “Hated Me Sky.” So I’m having the sads a little, and missing her (which is interesting – it begs the questions: where has she gone?). I wish I could get some therapy, for this and the litany of sadnesses and horrors I’ve participated in, but I can’t afford it right now. You may add poverty to the litany of sadnesses if you like.

Narratives about who I am or who I might have been had the world been good and kind and fair are gripping, magnetic even. Several years ago, I stood up into a metal shelf bracket and found myself with a business class ticket on the Fatal Ferry of Fibromyalgia. No, fibro ain’t fatal, although one might wish it were, but to stay on that boat for long could be. I have heard the sirens’ song of any number of compelling disabilities – I identified as “chronically depressed” for so long it very nearly came true.

Fibromyalgia was a gift, a fruit basket given to me by an amalgam of drunken car totalings, sexual assault, an abiding need to shoot drugs to near seizure and/or overdose, et cetera, et cetera, all calculated to disrupt my neurochemistry. It was just wonky enough, when I kissed that metal bar with my skull, to easily slide over to some sort of horrific schizophrenia, where all my neural impulses told me to (via migraine, twitching muscles, fatigue, unremitting neurasthenia, and a non-stop train wreck of agonizing pain) assassinate Gerald Ford, or at least, hurl this bowl of cherries at the backdoor in a tantrum of hurt and frustration.

I’ve been blessed by a ridiculously optimistic personality. You wouldn’t necessarily know that – you have to sieve through my snarkiness - but you will find, among the shark teeth, some candy corn and daisies. But armed with a diagnosis and a deep, dedicated love of drama (yes, Jessica, I am a drama King) I lay upon my sickbed and calculated the losses. I began to meet with others who inhabited this realm of adamant pain. Quickly, it was revealed: this is a world of Us and Them, it was a world of believers and unbelievers. The martyrdom to this diagnosis, however, was unbelievable. This made me sicker than the sick itself.

I watched an acquaintance turn her will and her life over to her multiple diagnoses and identities: bipolar, fibro, assault victim, rape survivor, alcoholic. Thank god it didn’t look very appealing – vanity probably has as much to do with my own survival as optimism or even access to clean water – and my own litany became less of a “who I am” and more of a “things that happened in my life.”

It concerns me that I see a number of transmen identifying as a “survivor” of this or of that. I wonder about the proliferation of disability identities I find on the interwebs. It’s a part of our process, to wade through pain, to pore over and attempt to find meaning in our tragedies. I salute the openness, the refulgent honesty my web siblings shine and I believe our secrets can kill us; I see the importance of frank discussion, of our abuses, our fears, our beliefs, the things that we feel fettered or broken by.

But I worry about us getting stuck there. A brotherhood of survivors is fantastic television but what feeds and nourishes and sustains this trannyboy is my unending, luminant gratitude for those very things that felt like curses. To land on the open sheet you’re all holding and be trampolined, buoyed above my low laying clouds – to see, even briefly, that open, sunny expanse, and then drop down, hard, held by your loving and splendid arms – to know, and I mean really KNOW, that we are legion, and we are loving and loved, and in this is a special place of sanity, the sanity only the gender-fluid can know and that is that we expose the ridiculousness of “him” and “her” even if only for a second and even if only for ourselves.

That luminosity you reflect, sister-brother, THAT’s what I want to hold on to.

I see catalogues of our fear, inventory of our pains – I can share first hand they’re just another bureaucracy. I find the sweetness in the details, the “mundane:” we are kitten-owners, child-birthers, cereal-buyers; no longer are we hanging by a thread of survival, we’re not eating cold out of cans – we’re catering the motherfucking party, we’ve transcended, we’re a celebration!

Know this, Handsome, Beautiful One. You are so much more than your cystic fibrosis, your cane, your Zoloft, your incest, your addictions, your overweight, your longing, your grief and your loss. You are The Sun; you are the most powerful light shining on Earth; you blind me with your radiance. Go out now and blast thee motherfucker, fucking torch down Target with your brilliance. I can’t wait. I’ll be there, shopping for shades, looking fierce in hats, and waiting to be awed.


Your brother in addiction, prostitution, sexual abuse, rape, poverty, domestic violence, fibromyalgia, IBS, IC, depression; making art, making love, finding hope, kissing kittens, brushing unicorns, painting pictures, meeting for coffee, calling you on the phone, meditating and praying, laughing until I pee myself, drinking the best cup of coffee, playing Fireman with Gus, reading a genius writer, loving, loving, loving and dancing with every sweet and open human generous enough to post their version of Beyoncé or Shakira on youtube now and now and forever amen.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh, the Things I Do For England

“Sam, Sam,” I hear darkly whispered. “Sam, c’mere man!”

I trudge up the hill to meet my friend halfway. “What’s goin on man?” I puff as I walk. “I saw your video, man, the one you posted…” “Well thanks for watching,” I say, preparing to be humble in the face of oncoming accolades. “It was really disturbing…I found it really disturbing!” he says, looking perplexed.

At the risk of being too self-referential, I’m referring to the video I’d posted to the right there, about fears around transitioning - which I’d also shared on the Book of Face, thereby exposing myself to a heap of barely–known pages - people who call me their “friend.” You know we don’t all KNOW each other, actually.

We continued to chat; I didn’t really get any more insight, and I did ask him directly what chapped him. I was moved that he felt he could have a conversation with me - him an assigned- at-birth male and me just super fabulous - and express this discomfort, and he took pains to let me know it wasn’t about me, personally – “you’re clearly a level-headed Dude” – that it was his stuff.

I live in my own little Warsaw. If it were in Manhattan it could be called “Little Trannytown.” My chosen interactions are with my chosen tribe: people who are generally socially conscious, certainly open-minded, and typically loyal. So I forget how challenging this gender stuff is, even as it has challenged me my entire life. Like most humans my default state is an intermittent narcosis, fueled by cookies, electronic over-stimulation, and a tendency to spiral down the dark side when faced with overarching human cupidity.

Gender is so fundamental, so deeply and immediately inculcated by society, that threatening its construct can fuck up your entire world view. We’ve all experienced those “floor-dropping moments,” when everything we’ve believed, up ‘til now, has been revealed to be, well, different than what we’d thought. I recall the first time I realized my parents were weird, were unlike other kids’ parents. It can be a deceptively simple moment. I remember Michelle Marcy and John Wilkinson talking about “heavy coats.” It was fall in Northern Virginia, and probably time to pull out the wool.

“Heavy coats?” I wondered. “What on earth could that mean?” In a blinding flash I saw Michelle and John around their respective, homey, breakfast tables, participating in the kind of conversations, ordinary and accessible, that the Petersons didn’t have. We didn’t speak of clothing; we talked of art and politics and I’m talking about the second grade here. I knew, I saw in that instant, the disability that would plague me for the rest of my school days: I was marked; we didn’t know about anything that mattered; we were smarty-pants freaks; it was a miracle my parents hadn’t been eaten alive by the parents of these children.

My life changed in that instant. My carefully crafted Mom and Dad origami drinking cup, now challenged to hold water, went soggy and failed. To pry open the eyes of another may feel like torture to them. I liken it to nudging your parents’ bedroom door open, you with your binky and blanket agape at the tangle of limbs and sheets and indescribable sounds. While that’s a fine example of a horrible awakening, there are moments in our lives that are wonderfully, painfully, opening and transcendent. What book did you read as a teenager that utterly destroyed your world as you’d known it, and wasn’t it delicious?! Is it just this ol’ Sagittarian or have you not experienced relief, or joy, or balls-out liberation when such a perceptual shift happens? Movies like The Matrix hold such resonance because we’re always making the blue pill/red pill decision, preparing to be slaughtered, hoping to find freedom.

I have got to remember that the gender thing is like that for the people, it’s primary, feels sacred. I have got got GOT to practice a little more empathy – after all, I have an agenda, and I want to persuade, right?

First it was the gays and their zany sexual confusion; now it’s those madcap ftms and their hair and clit growing antics! “In a world, where men and women change their genders at will…” I hear the announcer intone. (gift for the reader: say “In a world, where…” and fill it in with whatever you want, “kittens make breakfast” or “my ass no longer looks like a lunar landing site” – also, do Sean Connery imitations on anything. Hilarious for EVER. You’re welcome.)

In a world, where I am sensitive, touchy even, about my transition, about transgender, about the continued oppression of women and consequently the continuous suffocation of men – in a world, where I am about to be eaten alive by my neighbors, always, it’s Peterson status quo – IN A WORLD where I learn to stop serving myself up on a plate...Well, the transgendered are a tasty snack treat. You can’t fault us there.

So I bid you, go forth, transperson. Go shatter someone’s paradigm. Maybe you’ll get thanked later. Probably not. Nevertheless I bid you, go forth and scrawl some shit on the bathroom doors. If there’s no risk to your being, tell people who and what you are. There’s a whole bunch of us out here ready to love on you, when those other suckers can’t. Well, at least, Moneypenny, there’s me.