Sunday, February 28, 2010

Let Me Eat Cake

The day began like any other day, with me putting on my sweatshirt backwards. I do this nearly every time I wear it and am equally baffled to find my face in my hood. I trust this is an effort on the part of my higher self to keep me humble via mortification; if so it works. In Biology class that same afternoon I was seized by an irrational fear of this dude in my class discovering I’m actually some kind of lady. This particular fellow reads me as male, and it’s no small props: he’s one of those walking penis guys - a professional wrestler and obvious cocksman. There’s something so penile about his breed of masculine -like Christian Bale when he’s not starving for a role – their skin is taut and shaved over a topography of ridiculous musculature and hypertense vascularity. One imagines that as they sleep, they contract and tumesce, now a sleepy slug in a jowly skin bag, now a rigid angry tube.
I have my random trans-panics. In this place of (ironically masculine) paranoia I am sure that I am about to lose points by being exposed as “really a girl.” Dudes like this one – hell, I doubt I even register for him most of the time. His radar’s set for threats and tits mostly; I know this because we have had conversations.  He’s a smart kid and can certainly handle me being a transguy. It’s me sometimes that can’t.
I’m not sure when it happens. Maybe it starts with me putting my hoodie on backwards. Being read as male becomes extremely important. I forget in that moment that I am politically, spiritually and corporally above anything else transgendered. It reminds of when I used to be a lady (you know I’m cracking myself up every time I type that) and people would mistake me for straight. I know, that’s even more hilarious, but you know how the people are: they will see what fits their landscape. You and me? We’re lucky that ours includes minotaurs and blue monkeys. So I would get read as heterosexual and all of the sudden I’m editing my language. I would drift into this dreary narcotic numb, believing that whomever was talking to me would (what? Vomit? Kill me? Cease to love me?) change their mind about me if they knew I was queer. Suddenly, I cared what they thought. I was ashamed to be homosexual.
If you’re queer like me you know this comes from the outside. I’m looking for outward validation, right?  When I deconstruct my homophobia, I can see how it was given to me, a gift from an insecure social structure. Have a bouquet of snakes? Why thanks I will! The transphobia is more complex, has less woodsy notes and more sulfurous emanations. It has to do with a inhabiting a body, one’s relationship to something that most people have the luxury of taking for granted – their gender, their form. How does one feel about this…this thing one lives in when it is constantly rebelling, endlessly thwarting one from admission to The Club? I was at the physical therapists’ the other day, performing my medieval rehab on my rotator cuff surgery, and my therapist referred me as “her.”
I watched myself retract energetically as I was doing truncated pushups against the door, like a hasty telescope. I plummeted from whatever endorphin height the exercise had initiated, wax wings spitting feathers the whole way down. The room was clueless to my crash, although my own ears were full of keening. I saw as I dove down past it, the landscape of my childhood.  To be a transchild is to enter rooms of people you know and are happy to see but who don’t appear to recognize you at all. It was nightmarish. Boys would not see me as a boy, nor could my parents – although bless their hearts they let me play like one. Some girls saw through the mirage of the body to the essential Sam; the masculine signature beamed like a light through smoke for those in tune, those whose sonar bounced against the inner being. They helped give me meaning, shape. But they couldn’t give me ingress to The Club.
Waking up to my gender is phenomenal. It’s fantastic and delicious, rich with more insight and expansion than I could dream of. It’s also bitterly, sharply, achingly sad. But that place, that sad place, was a long time ago. I just have to visit it now. It is imperative to connect with this child-place, to observe what damage was wrought, to take inventory. I don’t know yet what I’ll need to mend and what needs throwing out, and I’ll never know if I don’t look. But it is not fun to go there.
E. relates, “I remember feeling like their eyes were always looking, appraising, judging, getting stuck in my skin like glass shards that I would have to extract at the end of each day. The shards left a poison that was less easy to extract, and it sickened me. Eventually though, the alchemical magic took place and I developed an immunity from these inoculations.”
Her “eyes always looking” were outside of her mostly, I imagine. My eyes are inside me, as arbitrary and thoughtless as jellyfish nettles brushing the inside of my skull. I am a transperson. I am not now a man nor shall I ever be, unless I want to. The pressures to be one are powerful, both externally and inside and the rewards are as enticing as a field of poppies. Oh to lay down and dream! But then I hear you whisper, I feel your lips in the skin shell of my ear, chin moving against my lobe, “wake up wake up wake up!” I am an extraordinary being who will someday notice but not feel the sting of the poison of the asleep and their careless cruelties, who will be done crucifying myself on some cross of normalcy. Maybe the world must doze and dream but we don’t have that indulgence. The cake is right here right now with you beside it and maybe even in it and I can’t wait to put it in my mouth.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

You Really Shake What You Got, And Girl You Got A Lot

I dreamed I was watching amateur porn clips. There was a woman fucking her husband. He was attending to the business half-heartedly while she whimpered, pulling him closer. At last he got up to go to another room, to find the thing or image or toy that would enable him to finish the job.

When he came back moments later, he was holding the hand of an Indian man. The woman was shaking her head and whimpering in a completely different way but the man was insistent and bade his lover to lay on his wife.

The camera pulled jarringly, abruptly close, as it will in terrible homemade porn. The man was atop his love sandwich, thrusting deep into the ass that we could now see was riddled with Kaposi’s sarcoma, buboes, pustules, lesions. It was the terrible, horrible, spectacle of desire: I choose to bareback my AIDs-ridden beloved over you, this convention. He is what gets me hard.

In envisioning a trans-world, I can’t discount desire. My desire is that we leap atop talk of intersectionality, of oppression, of convention, and try on new hats. My desire is that we appreciate gender’s layers, and wear them according to our desire. My desire, sexual at least, is for soft femmes, androgynous boi-women, and big, fat men. It wilts in the face of aggression, even if aggression is a hot woman in pursuit. I begin to feel like a long, lean and terrified hare on a field with large determined dogs – if I’m going to be a jewel in someone’s crown, I’d like to pick the crown and I kind of like DIY these days anyhow so if it’s sculpey and wrapping paper you’re on the right track. This kiss will decidedly not begin with Kay's.

“I-mag-i-nation!” I hear Spongebob marvel, and I couldn’t find a better guru for my vidya. Across his rainbow I see us swimming, pulsing and kissing like shiny fish, fish who understand: it’s all in the presentation. Sure we have a body gender, and it is defined by chemistry, by hormones, by surgeons, by everyone else sometimes if you’re me and you evidently can’t be seen with any clarity without special tranny field glasses. And even then you have to pull your eyelid tight over your eyeball.

Oh ye of weekly cocktail, ye of muscle-site injection, ye who have joined the hordes of tricksters, mudangs, berdaches and bearded ladies, and often diminishing faith! – what happens to you is out of your hands completely! Choose well, coyote-manqué, as you may find yourself estranged from everything you knew and thought you loved. Which is the point, really, isn’t it?

Lest we forget: the transgendered are the militarized dolphins, who, having acquired human technologies, can now swim off to do other forms of mischief. You carved us out of testosterone and scalpels, and gave some of us even your “privileges” but beware, Daddy. Don’t forget whom you asked to disarm the mines.

But we do forget, as we become these other beings. Particularly t-men – we forget, in the narcotic joy of becoming “a man,” we forget the greatest gift we were ever given: to have lived as a woman. We forget that it is cisgender technologies that crafted us, that our fantasies for ourselves flower from their consensual delusion of masculine/ feminine/ other. As we bend towards the sunlight of their hormones, their surgeries, their GQ and their Vogue, we may begin to mistake them for some last word, some final destination, some gendered Olympus.

Brother, it is your gift, it is your DUTY as a MAN, to bring what you know forward. This is what we have to model for our cisbrothers. We have lived in a very foreign land – some of us even adopted its customs – and at the very least we can share cuisine.

Transwomen, too – she who was once he knows: she was given the bittersweet poison, the Apple of Urge. Transwomen get this in pharmacologic purity and distillate in a way transmen may not – she bears the full force of misogyny from men and women and lesbians and “feminists,” and transmen too. My sisters bear the shame way out loud. Shit, Tranny, you and I get to share even our surgical scars! Our sisters close their legs as once I did, fearful that my stuff was ugly, that yours would reveal mine as hideous and unnatural. Our trans-sisters learn to bear the same grief and pain and blood that we carried as female-bodied men; can’t we honor them for that?

Desire asks me to become you. I desire another body, although in my mind’s eye I think it was more like Christian Bale’s, or even Russell Crowe’s, than this roughened-skinned, open-pored, bellied, hairy-assed being. Although believe me, I gladly relinquish my flawless skin, my fulsome hips – take my thighs, please, and even my pretty face I will give you, Rumpelstiltskin, to find my way home.

Desire shifts, like bodies do, with age, with experience, with hormones, in accidents and illnesses, in childbirth and with surgeries. You can’t see me because I’m never still. My longing was still for an instant, long enough for me to hear you whisper in my ear, “I want you.” I will never diminish YOUR desire, transman, nor yours, transwoman. In fact, I am kneeling before you, with so much wonder, and gratitude, and exposure. You were cast out in the snow naked, and you came back a glorious crystalline snowflake, and so I honor you. I don’t know how you did it, how you do it, woman-who-is-man, man-who-is-woman, but someday this world will know how extraordinary, evolutionary, ordinary we all are.

That is my greatest desire.