One of the unanticipated consequences/gifts of hormone injection is that I feel a new kinship with other species. My friend E. offers her suggestion that MtFs used to take Premarin, the hormones of which were synthesized from horse urine; therefore these Premarin transwomen are part horse. I understand testosterone was “gathered” from bovine testicles and tested on dogs, but in 2010 the version I inject is made in a lab. Nonetheless I feel a brotherhood with these animals, both because they took part in the creation of meta-monster-sam (for monstrous I am, shunning this given body and rejoicing in a series of mutations) and because the hormones have restructured my brain. I “feel” connected to animals. My loss of a certain empathy, of information I received in my “female” brain is maybe not a loss at all, but another transformation. (any time I use a “trans” word I’m positively itching to separate it with a slash like I did in all my 80’s poetry. Trans/formation. Did I mention I was raised on Patti Smith and French symbolist poetry? Yes I wore a beret in high school – shut up.)
Now more than ever, I feel related to all things. I feel the elegance of photosynthesis with the humility of a mammal who has to eat light-eaters to get my nourishment – it puts me in my rightful place as a barbarian next to the fashionably outré dandelion or the voracious and steamy Night Blooming Cereus. It’s humbling enough to make me wonder why we don’t worship more plantey things, as opposed to these inelegant variations of humans – more monstrous than me even! – not one of whom has the superpower of converting light to energy that I know. I have always loved animals, and now I’m certain I am one. While I have no way of knowing if this is actually related to hormone injection (could it be a gift of age? A spiritual leap conferred to me by My Little Pony?) it suggests itself as a new conversation, a new aperture, one of the neat presents TrannySanta popped in my stocking that took time to unwrap.
Maybe it’s just me showing up late to the party. Skinny jeans hold no appeal for me now, but mark my words in two years when they’re done and done I’ll be stuffing my wide receiver in tight pair. Maturity is something that often eludes me, no matter how fucking old I get. Maybe this is just me coming to speciesism 35 years after its etymologic invention – I always feel like the last guy on the block, still stepping on pronouns, still devolving into a gruesome chauvinism in a butch heartbeat, only I don’t find it erotic. Certainly every other intersection has begun to chafe and bore. But it is clear to me: we’re just another bozo in the taxonomy, and all our touted superiority resides in that strange organ that also makes people think they’re Jesus or like my friend’s aunt, married to George Bush Senior (they’re insanely happy together, by the way), or consider clothes made by Lohans. (Would Jesus wear Lohan leggings? Not likely, but you can bet she’d be on RuPaul’s Drag Race.)
To paraphrase my friend Tanya: In a cruciform world, I am an asparagus. Solitary, isolate, yet grouped in an overpriced bunch at the grocery store. But I feel broccoli. Or better yet, a spore, part of the Mushroom Mind, the Mother of All Mushes casting me southerly with a wind that I may populate and spread on this moist log and that. Maybe it’s not the testosterone per se, but the very momentum of transitioning that has taken me to a place of oneness, of serious relationship to every living thing. We can isolate hormonal phenomena, like hair growth and fat migration, but what about these vaguer vagaries, these nuanced neurochemical chimeras? I suggest to you, Dear Transperson, that you too, are a spore, are riddled with spore. How yours manifest may be unique to you and your lovely personality – me, I’m wired for connection with others, I’m swimming in a sea of Divine interstice, canals that connect me chemically to others. And by others, I mean OTHERS.
What I mean, in all that salad, is this: I think the trans-brain map is chartable. I think there are phenomena that simply occur, for all of us. But how it looks varies from trans to trans. I’m soul brother to dogs now; I feel kinship in their canine agitations. Two years on testosterone I can sense animal fear down the block– I believe this is a truly masculine brain function, an adaptation of male neurochemistry only I don’t have the science to prove it. I’m curious about the brains of other transpeople: how do these gendered chemistries revise us, alter our senses? I know in my skin why dogs roll in dead things but much like certain cousins, I can see and feel our blood union and it doesn’t make me like them better.
What I can share with you is how amazing life forms are of any kind, how brilliant and sacred in a non-Christian, non-hierarchical way. There can be no judgment in taxonomy; there should be no ontological one-upmanship. My maternal empathy seems to have been trans(/)mogrified into a different understanding, one of a literal interpretation of cells and their transcendent vibrance. This transmale flesh is clay, the clay of river beds and bentonite that leaches these heavy metal sins of ownership from my stomach. I certainly hadn’t anticipated these lysergic expeditions into Oneness – but what the hell. Maybe it’s here that guardianship is born, a masculine leaning, the desire to protect one’s sisterbrother asparagus or soulmate.
Think about it, Sibling. We’re all of us equal. Snakes, snails, and puppydogs’ tails. I’m as kin to a squirrel or sorrel as you, my dear. How tender! Maybe this is the place we can reclaim, heal our sick and suffering masculinity and his bitterly abused and traumatized twin sister. As I turn my head to meet this new sun warming this sweet earth and my all my newfound fellow creatures, I hear the sagacious echo of the only living Saint amongst us, Sister Ru: “Don’t fuck it up.”