Don’t ask me to be the spokesmodel for trans-etiquette – when it comes to gendered language, I’m just as dick-fisted and cunt-mouthed as the rest of you. There’s something about the presence of a gender non-conformist in the room that incites an outbreak of trans-tourettes, and there are some inelegant slang words I’ve been accustomed to using since before I was even noticeably a girl, much less a boy. “You guys,” for instance – it simply won’t leave my vernacular, even though every time I utter it I experience the noxious fumes of its jet stream backwashing my face. “Guys,” like Bugs Bunny, simply had no gender whatsoever for me for the longest time. I remember asking myself, “is Bugs Bunny a girl or a boy?” It seemed like the kind of oracular conundrum of classical literature, or like those obnoxious smarty pants riddles about the hanged man and the water puddle. Bugs seemed to inhabit a space between those clearly delineated outcroppings of “boy” or “girl,” at least for this five year old. I could only distinguish between genders by play, both forms of which – either brutality or dolls –repelled me. My love for Bugs began with a purely dopaminergic response to a being who playfully donned, mocked, trounced and flounced gendered presentations in a way I’ve yet to experience – but work to emulate – in real (non-animated) life.
I find myself “Madame-ing” the blurry, and “Sir-ring” the lady. I am as awkward and as prone to subterranean blurtations as someone who doesn’t know better. I have experienced and invoked the sensation of falling like Jimmy Stewart down a vertiginous rabbit hole of disassociation, the place where deep shame can take you, the place of no voice. Shame from either side is rarely a helpful emotion, I find. I’m sure it has value, I’m sure it’s larned me a thing or two, but more often it’s clipped my wings, or merely stuck me in a cage and left the door open and laughed as I believed myself too disabled by it to leave.
I’m going to try to look at this phenomenon another way. What if, when people mispronoun us -what if, when I trip all over my big clown feet in room full of transpeople - what if I’m experiencing an outburst of confusion, one that perhaps I do well NOT to suppress? What if gender-confusion is WONDERFUL? The very fact that I’m being so neurochemically disrupted is FANTASTIC! Of course I don’t wish to hurt anybody – there are only about two people in this world I’d like to hurt intentionally, and one of them likes it. But I see this phenomenon, in me at least, as part of the neurochemical rewiring process, one which must begin with interference and disorder, a static intrusion violent enough to force my brain to its default setting. Which, again in my case, is sometimes idiocy.
Gender non-conforming people change space and time. We queer everything. Just yesterday a young person came up to me with tremendous sincerity and asked,“is this going to be part of your one-woman show?” after I had literally just invested ten minutes performing the heartbreak of being misconstrued as female. I’m going to revisit these moments as being ecstatic, as serving as part of the architecture of Awakening, for both of us. Whenever a human blurts something, the thing they’re trying to avoid saying, the thing they may be subcutaneously grappling, the gendered stutter of the mind that is attempting to do something new against an ego that is mired in the old, perhaps there is something healing in it. I’m not speaking about the resolute, those awful humans who will not pronoun you correctly because it “goes against their belief” (in their own absolutism, their superiority), or who repeatedly “forget” because they’re too self-involved to really care about how you feel, or even your benighted family members, although it could end up working on them too: I’m talking about the Trickster Tic, the mischievous brain spasm ejaculated from the mouths of We Who Know Better, who stand frozen in our tracks as the leaden word balloon leaves our mouths and thuds to the floor, or the feet, of the transperson we’re addressing. The Trickster Tic, or Trans Tourettes, is simply a symptom, some gas expelled from a depth that has been newly churned.
I’m going to embrace this idea, to save myself another shame enema, and to witness neurologic/shamanic alterations in others. Loki dances everywhere, but especially where there’s need – a signifying monkey in the lair of the lion. This is what Trans does, this is our job, I am an ambassador (I wrote ambassODOR first, which is more accurate) of interstitial mischief, a messenger from the Gods, so if I think I’m going to be exempt from humiliation it’s only a sure, short amount of time before I’ve got to display my humbled rump for the masses.
So “she” me, “he” me, what can you do me? I love you.