“It’s a lonely road you’ve chosen,” muses Bill, “I mean, it’s not like you have a room full of 30 alcoholics welcoming you to your new life.” He’s right about that – being trans is not like recovering from alcoholism where any number of people are there to greet you with embraces and then drive you to your community service obligations. But it hasn’t been lonely. After all, it’s been in transition that I met my sweet dear double D, atop “Doopie Ridge” I like to say, which is my name for D’s expressive sternum. It was in transition that I gathered an assortment of faces for which I feel nothing but unfettered joy when I see - ck, Ethan, Melissa, Mo and Adrianne; it is here I met K. and M., my stealth buddies, mentors, my brothers. Here is where E. resides, my newest, deepest friend, and right here, on these internets (I typed “internest” and I like that a lot) is where I’m so often buoyed by Amrit, or Rafe, Carson, Joshua, and Aeron.
There was loneliness in the beginning. I think of the narrative that I’ve been entertaining, the one where I’ve been a female who’s becoming male – I have the best of both worlds, I’ve seen it from all sides - but I wonder if that’s true. Perhaps what’s closer to the truth is that I’m incapable of experiencing gender as anything but a trope, that I was never-a- woman who will never-be-a-man. E. calls this “unwoman.” I like trans. I like to think I had a flavor of the gender, the way someone whose Scandihoovian parents moved to Guadalajara and lived there for 40 years has a flavor of being Mexican. The loneliness of transitioning was perhaps the disambiguation of a connection I understood myself not to feel, and that was with a gendered body of any kind.
Last week a local reporter attempted to interview me for a “human interest piece.” Maybe it’s my testosterone-induced paranoia but “human interest” seems like margarine on the dry crust of journalistic sideshow. “Human interest pieces” are always about “overcoming the odds,” succeeding in the mainstream despite one’s unique flavor of, oh, let’s say, limblessness, or homelessness; it’s always about triumphing over some “lessness” however subtle, like “whitelessness.” Yeah, it’s my paranoia. But how to talk about being-ness, how do I describe my incarnation, how do you describe yours? Could he, the reporter? My embodiment is a dark liquor I sip in the night, and I do it alone in a field under a cloud-strewn moon. Maybe spells and incantations might reproduce it for others, pull it from this absinthetic ether I travel in, force it into a shape like Harry Potter’s wand might, but I would tread lightly here: the figure you conjure might swallow you whole.
Shirlette states emphatically, “I will not deconstruct race for anyone, anymore.” I’m shocked and delighted to hear that; once again, smitten as I am with my own experiences, I have forgotten how non-white people live in this world most of the time. The ridiculous, outrageous, innocent and egregious things people seem to think is okay to say to me are the sort of things black folk have to put up with every day. I entertain fantasies of an empathetic technology, one that allows the speaker full brunt of the impact of their words on others, but we might all stay in our houses then, shaking with shame, recovering from wounds we were neither prepared for nor worthy of receiving.
Meantime, I’m swimming with my fellow (!) fishes - you know us’ns – we’re the ones you read about, changing gender to meet the need of the river. That’s all we’re doing, Ladles and Jellyspoons. The river requires this. We can’t say why, or, like Cassandra, when we do you may be cursed to not believe us. But some of you know - you suspect - and you are all aboard, even as you have no desire to change yourself. Thank the River God for men and women like you – you’re the white woman marching with Reverend King in the 60’s, you’re the straight dude cheering his best friend at Gay Pride; you’re the committed Christian baffled by the uncharitable views of your brethren; the father that won’t buy guns for his children, the mother painting her son up with Maybelline. I got thrown out of bed but you’re waking up on your own.
Alone? Yes. Lonely? Only by choice. I can swim with my school, diving through your open legs as you cool in the water, minnows nipping at toes dug in clay and mica, or I can heave myself ashore and gasp for oxygen while others wonder with bemused laughter why it is I don’t breathe air. So just for today, as we ex-loners like to chant, I’ma stay right here. The water’s fine.