Sorry everyone, life has been a bit hectic since Christmas. I’m going to make a concerted effort to get back into writing again!
The last week has been hard.
My nameday went unrecognized.
I was sexually harassed.
Too many transphobic comments, too much victim blaming.
My parents gave me a stuffed rainbow horse for my nameday.
My wife made a nice meal and my family visited.
What’s unique about how difficult this week has been, is not the bad parts, the hard parts, and the awkward situations, it’s the fact that interspersed between those events were nice things, warm moments.
Sometimes nice things happen. Not often in my experience, but they do happen. The highs and lows contrasted in the same day is abnormal for me. It’s an emotionality I don’t usually experience. In really took the wind out of my sails.
In my experience, I’ve generally survived by being able to handle the worst situations, because I’m well accustomed to misery. The loss of a good feeling feels much worse then things just not being good and getting worse.
It’s an emotionality I’m going to have to learn to accept, it’s probably healthier anyways.
Loneliness is a common theme that runs through this blog. It’s common, because it’s common in my life. I very often feel alone.
Yesterday was the first anniversary of my name change. I don’t celebrate my birthday, so some people in my life had asked if I would be open to celebrating a nameday. My wife and I had already talked about the idea, because she had hoped to have a day to celebrate me, since I guess she likes me at least a little bit.
Needless to say, all of the people that asked about it, those that I work with, friends of mine, even my own parents. Said absolutely nothing yesterday. After pushing me to get excited about it, and open myself up. To make myself vulnerable, so that I could be surprised and delighted about actually having something meaningful and good happen, that was exclusively about me. They couldn’t be bothered to recognize the day with even a simple message.
Having a day to feel special is not something that’s ever really happened for me. So I’m not going to lie, I was kind of excited, I thought hey, it’s a little different, but it gets me closer to feeling a little normal. Everyone gets a day that’s about them, that’s the whole point of birthdays, so it’s a second chance at a slice of regular, plain, normality.
So when no one even notices, an anniversary of something as spectacularly meaningful. I still remember the smile, the tears, the elation I felt when I held that stupid piece of paper in my hand. For something so small it meant so absolutely much. Even among all of the difficult and terrible things that had begun to unfold, and the year of pain and hardship that sits between yesterday and the same day last year. It’s still a testament to a lifetime of struggle to achieve something. To the labour of becoming oneself, and the effort of self actualization.
So to celebrate something so monumental seemed worthwhile to me. It was an important accomplishment. It was a defining moment in my life, and one I will treasure forever.
I just won’t celebrate it, because I now know, unequivocally, I am not worth celebrating. I’m not worth knowing, and I am especially not worth anyone’s time.
There’s a comfort in knowing where you stand. I know who cares about me, and even if the list only has one name on it, I at least had the foresight to marry her.
Netflix recently added a new special by Dave Chapelle called Sticks and Stones.
First off, I thought the special was hilarious. Especially, the segment about the alphabet people as he calls us.
You should go watch the segment, Here’s a link to an animated version.
I’m going to assume you’ve watched it. This interpretation of the community to me, is spot on.
To explain this I’m going to tell another story. Recently, I worked with my town to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance. It would have been the first time the town did. I didn’t have a lot of time to organize anything, but I did get the town to agree to light up one of their buildings in the trans pride flag.
Well, they did the rainbow instead. When we went to go see the building lit up, I was pretty immediately disappointed. What was more disappointing was what happened when I shared a picture of the building to a group of local folks in the community. Where I was somewhat crushed to see the town, on a day specifically for the trans community reduce us to just ‘the rainbow people’ none of the queer folk saw anything wrong with it. They’re trying they said, what should I expect they said.
A more polite way of saying “just shut the fuck up.” sure, but still not nice, and definitely not very inclusive. There’s the unspoken line right there, and it manifests in so many different ways. It’s why the trans community had to wait until the gay community was more settled before we were invited back in.
Everyone says that pride was started by trans women of colour. Yet no one cares that the T wasn’t widely added to the acronym until the late 90’s, 30 years after Stonewall, what happened between those points? No need to speak of that. Gay political groups undermined the advancement of trans rights in order to secure their own, as gay rights were seen as more politically palatable and advancing the community as one would hold them back. We don’t talk about it, but it’s a part of our history.
“Just shut the fuck up.”
It’s why when I talk to an old gay man about how we were both hurt when we came out to our parents he was brave and he told me I’m selfish and need to understand my parents perspective.
Because it’s hard to love trans people, it’s hard to accept trans people.
Because we’re different within the community, Because it’s their community and they’re generous enough to allow us in.
I often feel the most accepted by the community when I’m perceived just as a lesbian, not a trans lesbian, I can’t bring that up. Acceptance to them is accepting that I’m gay just like them, the trans part is messy and difficult and better left out of polite society.
I’ve spoken of this before, and it’s so pervasive. This idea that because trans people are begrudgingly accepted in the community, that we should be happy. So they don’t need to try and meet any of our unique needs, because we should appreciate that they let us in at all. So we shouldn’t be upset when they expect us to “Just shut the fuck up.”
They’re trying, and that’s supposed to be good enough.
Belonging is a hard feeling to quantify. You can be welcomed somewhere and not belong. You can have the warmest reception and everyone be kind and gentle with you and still not belong.
Belonging requires that you not just exist in a space but that you have a right to it, that you aren’t just allowed to enter but to take up that space and be free to express yourself within it.
Talking about taking up space and claiming your own expression is a concept that is difficult for some people to understand. Those are people that have never had issues with that concept. If you’ve never felt like you haven’t belonged, it’s hard to imagine how others might feel.
There’s many reasons space is denied people, children are often denied space because as adults we feel they don’t use it the way we want them to. Beyond that there are countless reasons we deny space to our fellow humans, and in a lot of those cases I doubt there’s any credible reason. We deny space to women, we deny it on racial lines, we deny it on the basis of sexuality and gender, we deny it to the young, we deny it to the old. We deny it to the ugly, to the poor, to those that are sick, to those that suffer from mental illness, to those that are disabled, and to those that look different, act different, think different.
The elegance of belonging, the crux of politeness culture, of rules of professionalism, of guidelines for etiquette, is that it goes unspoken. Belonging is the responsibility of the unwelcome. Conform or move on. When you walk into a room and the conversation immediately stops until you choose to stop bothering others, or you choose to continue to take up space that is silently not offered to you. Each act you take after that reinforces the fact you aren’t’ welcome and that you are disrupting some unspoken status quo.
It takes an incredible amount of energy and nerve… yes it do take nerve, to claim space. To exist freely and openly, to flaunt that which makes you different, even where there’s no reason that you are different.
Sometimes it takes nerve just to exist, to belong in your own head. The pressure outside of your mind forces it’s way in sometimes. The internalized hate that infects your mind and makes you feel less then those around you. I’ve talked before about the shame that I feel about my own life, the weakness I felt growing up, the control I tried to exert because I felt helpless. Belonging starts in your own heart and head.
Finding places that you can just be, space that is given freely and without reservation is often rare, but it’s important to find those spaces, because I believe we all have an internal battle with our own issues to fight, and sometimes relieving the pressure on the outside is what’s needed to keep your own house in order.
As far as claiming space for yourself and being able to just exist.
Well I’m still working on that.
One of the most looked at posts I’ve ever made is I Don’t Hate my Penis I don’t really know why. Maybe hating your penis is something that resonates with folks, or the fact that I don’t hate mine is controversial.
But I wanted to have a bit of a penis appreciation post right here. If you’re not comfortable with that, then please stop reading, I don’t want to trigger anyone’s dysphoria here. Or make anyone more uncomfortable then they currently are. If you’re along for the ride though, it’s going to get personal up in here.
Often transness is reduced to very medical terms, it’s often a discussion of surgeries, of characteristics. Which is totally okay, but sometimes it would be nice to be positive about one’s body. It’s mostly bad, but it’s not all bad, I know positivity coming from me, very off brand.
I like my lady dick, which for all intensive purposes is just a regular dick, maybe a little smaller then usual, definitely smaller then it was pre-hormones, but a dick nonetheless.
And that’s A-okay.
Maybe it’s a result of my trans experiences, maybe it’s just a flaw in my worldview but I’ve never made the connection that genitals = gender. Maybe it was a product of my time, it’s not like anyone was talking about this stuff almost thirty years ago, so I got to grow up thinking whatever I wanted about it. Sex and gender have always been fairly separate in my own head. Which has come in handy. It’s got me in the situation I am now.
The scarier thing, and I know it’s scary because I’ve scared people by sharing this fact. Is not only do I not hate my penis, I even like using it. I was at a conference recently with obviously still gendered gender neutral bathrooms, which is a story for another day. The point I’m going to make is I pissed at a urinal for the first time in a long time, and I’m not going to lie, I kind of liked it. There’s something powerful about peeing while standing in five inch heels. Not an every day necessity, but on occasion, hell yeah.
Another point in the penis-euphoria section… It still works, and I use it.Here’s some fast answers to some of the questions I get.
- Does it work the same?
- Does it feel good?
- Yes, but in different ways. For example it’s not a prostate heavy orgasm, as there’s very little ejaculate.
- I also ‘arrive’ more then once now.
- Can you have sex?
- Yes, you don’t need a penis to have sex.
- Also yes, I can still have penis-vagina sex, don’t have the staying power I used to and sometimes there’s some discomfort afterwards, but I am able to ‘get it up’ and use it.
- Yes, you don’t need a penis to have sex.
I’m sure there’s more but those are the big ones, yes my endocrinologist was amazed when we talked about this, so this is not a particularly well understood thing. The only thing I can think of is that since I don’t really have any genital dysphoria that there isn’t really a block on having an erections. Erections are part mental and part hormonal, so there’s not the hormonal support, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
So there you go one trans woman’s opinions on her penis. Solicited or not it’s here, and if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
This isn’t a post that I thought would get a follow-up, but it’s interesting how our perspectives change. As I come up to the first year since coming out completely and socially transitioning and all of those big milestones There’s a few things I find interesting, and some new challenges to deal with.
If you’d like to read the first part it’s here: Remembering Without Wallowing
One of the most interesting parts of this is the fact that I now have a life lived, as a woman. Which needless to say is a very interesting experience.
Before transitioning all of my memories had one thing in common, they were coming from a male presentation, a life that didn’t feel like it belonged to me, but ultimately that maleness always changed the tone of something negative.
I remember going out to buy clothes before my first day of school in Junior High. My parents must have had some extra money, because it was the first time my mother had ever shown any excitement toward me spending money, and she wanted me to ‘find my style.’
It was really a free range offer to express myself. The problem? Expressing myself as a man isn’t something that really works well for me. So an experience that should have been foundational and important, and really could have been a good memory was ruined by the maleness attached to it.
As a tangent, I bought clothes that looked incredibly similar to what most of my friends wore and was made fun of for it for years. I didn’t emulate, I copied, and it showed. I learned to be slightly unique after that, still male, but a unique one, it wasn’t really my own expression or related to anything I felt. I just needed to be different, to be overly male, to fall into easy stereotypes. The best way to hide is to be so obvious no one notices you don’t belong. Yeah, I wore dress shoes in high school, and button up shirts.
Anyways, getting back to my point. I have the interesting challenge now of addressing my life and my memories, of a life that does feel real. Of decisions I’ve made and am not only accountable for, but really don’t have an excuse.
Memories are a weird thing. They don’t always mean the same thing to you twice. I had no intention when I started writing this to tell the story that I did, but it fit where my head space was. Really, it’s a good story, at the time it was terrifying to me, expressing myself was dangerous. If only my mother had of known that pain and difficulty it caused me, but I know to her it’s probably a good memory. It was one of the first times I’d really had the chance to be more mature, and make my own choices. It was likely an important milestone for her as a parent, and could have been a good one for me.
If I can describe my experience as a trans woman growing up, it’s that dichotomy. My transness took away even the good memories because I wasn’t in the moment and I wasn’t experiencing what I was supposed to be. Those foundational elements of your life are always wrong, they don’t quite fit who you are. That’s the hardest thing about remembering the past is the parts that are good, but weren’t good for you.
That’s a good memory, and I need to learn to appreciate the goodness in it. Even if it doesn’t feel good immediately, I need to learn to focus on the good.