“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.