Update and Ring of Keys(!!)

So there’s not much new on the boy front.  I still feel overwhelmed when I think of it, but I talked to my therapist about it and she told me how the stories we tell ourselves can overwhelm us or lift our spirits.  So I’m trying to think of each element of this story separately: That my romantic night that I’ve planned for him is a simple romantic gesture that doesn’t have to mean that we’ll be together forever (hell, we’ve only with each other there 5 months so far); that I am excited for him and for his transition; that even though I love him I don’t have to commit my life to him because we’re still getting to know each other.  I feel physically relieved as I type some of these things, even as I feel a the pressure on because I’m thinking about it again.  So there’s that.

Then there’s last night.  I didn’t watch the Tony’s but I heard on NPR that Fun Home won for best musical.  At first I was uninterested because the (very) little that I read of Fun Home was a bit of a downer; but then again, I’ve always had a crush on Alison Bechdel (super hottie!) and Mo from DTWOF and wanted to catch a glimpse of what the actress portraying her looked like.  So I checked out this: 

and oohmyygod wow.  I was taken back to the time right before I began coming out at about age 25.  I remember seeing the butch janitor at my mom’s school when she, my niece, and I were getting her room ready for her first year of teaching.  She came, no, swaggered in, and I couldn’t stop looking at her.  I thought maybe she recognized me too.  I didn’t know what to say to her, and despite her butchness (I didn’t know what to expect), I think she was a little quiet.  Shy, like me.  When little Alison in the song sings, “Can you feel my heart saying hi?” I lose it every time.  That’s how it is sometimes, huh?  It was then, and was when I first went to the Castro with my mom (again, lol) and one gay boy my age just looked at me.  He had dark hair and was wearing an orangish polo and gave me a friendly, non-invasive gaze, recognizing me.  He didn’t look away. I’ll never forget it…..it put me at peace and filled me with such anticipation and wonder.

Anyway, I’ve seen this behavior again and again in the gay community.  People quietly acknowledging each other, listening to the newbies like they were little puppies discovering the world, not wanting to guide them but just let them be curious and playful as hell and scared as they are.  One of the things I love about my community, even though as I’ve become slightly more involved since then I haven’t seen it (I’m around families and allies and out youth more these days).

Another thing about that play that captures us well is the divide that gay men and lesbians/butches/faab transfolk sometimes have.  We sometimes have different tastes, and sometimes it feels like we’re from entirely different worlds.  When Alison’s dad, who’s secretly gay, tells her to put her barrette back in her hair from the Tony Awards performance, (which can be seen here: http://www.justjared.com/2015/06/07/fun-home-cast-performs-at-the-tony-awards-2015-watch-now/ it reminded me of the disconnect I’ve felt with gay men sometimes.  They celebrate our/by butchness and, yes, hit on us, but they also sometimes have the glittery taste that it has taken me awhile to embrace, even though I love it now.  Or when I’m talking to my gay professor and when there should be an instant bond with us, but there isn’t.  I’m just another student, and gel much better with my straight male professor and my female-identified hippie one.  It’s just all interesting.

We tend to talk about ourselves as community, but it’s important to remember that we’re sometimes from different worlds and we all have different tastes and personalities.  Just like family: none of us get along all the time, and there’s inevitably politics and misunderstanding, but, hopefully, we’re there for each other when we need it most.

Processing

So I’m in a relationship with a great guy.  He’s non-binary/”in the middle” identified.  We started talking around February and it got deep fast.  I love the way he treats me – with respect, with humor, and with love.  He has a voluptuous laugh.  I love the way he holds me.

He started transitioning about a month ago.  It was kind of a shock because he was just going in to check out the possibility and his doc, a gender specialist, asked him if he wanted to start that day.  He was like, “Sure!” and totally excited.  He got his first shot that day and called me / IM’d me on Facebook about it.  I was suuuper excited but also a little scared.

Now it feels like we’re living on borrowed time.  I don’t know if I’ll lose my attraction to him.  I told him so a few weeks ago….it made him sad.  He’s waiting for me to break things off with him or tell him the inconceivable.  My bestie knows that he’s transitioning, as well as a friend who has a trans son, but other than that we’re waiting to tell my world until after he comes to visit in a couple of weeks (he’s in Montana, I’m in Cali) and lets people, namely my mom, get to know him as a person first.

I sometimes feel like I’m wasting his time.  We had a heart to heart about him transitioning yesterday and he ended up with a huge, proud grin on his face after shaving off his blonde (he’s a brunette/bruuun 😉 so that was weird but whatever) hairlets for the first time since he started transitioning.  They were long.  He IM’d me last night with “goodnight my love” while I was waiting for the bottom to fall out.

What I really want to do is cry and tell my dad all about it.  I love my guy, but I don’t know if it’s enough.  He’s moving all the way from Montana to my town to be with me, and I keep telling myself that I’ll know more once he’s in town, that it’s just the strain of not being with each other that is implanting this doubt.  But at the same time I know it’s deeper.  I wonder if I’m going to have to break up with him.  I feel sadness when I look at that picture.

At the same time, I’ve posted my Facebook photo as the pic we took together behind snowy trees from when I went to visit him in Montana in April.  I want to live with him.  I don’t know what to do.  Continue as if everything is fine, wait til he comes to visit and see how I feel then, wait for the bottom to fall out?  I hate making him feel like I’m gonna reject him as he transitions.  This is usually a euphoric, jubilant time for him, and that’s as it should be.

I’ve ordered flowers and necklaces that are puzzle pieces (because that’s how I feel sometimes – that we’re each other’s matching puzzle pieces) that have our names and read “Boifriend” and “Boyfriend” respectively.  The manager of the condo’s we’re staying in the night he flies in is going to “prepare the room” for us with these two mementos.  I have this playlist in my head with Piano Dreamers playing one of our songs (Sara Barielles’ I choose You) on my bluetooth speaker, which I might pack with my luggage.  Fuck, I’ve even bought flameless candles for our special night together.  But now when I look at that pic of him, I wonder if it’s all too much.  Will the memory of us together just hurt more if he breaks things off with me or if I break things off with him?  I feel like I don’t want to put my feelings on hold because it might end up hurting him more.  I don’t know what to do.

I had a dream about him last night.  I was travelling to Yellowstone with my mom (which we’re gonna do) and the two of us were walking along a riverbank where there was a cut bank so that I couldn’t get there if I wanted to.  He was happy and I was like, “Oh, there’s ____” and we smiled at each other and waved.  Then we were walking along and there he was again, in an island thing made of sand in the middle of the river.  Then was in the middle of the river and he was the one looking from the riverbank, waving and smiling at me.  Hmm.  I guess it reflects that we’re both processing change and can’t seem to meet each other in the middle of it, yet or ever.  I hope yet.

Another Therapy Appointment

Well, another therapy appointment.

This one went about the same.  I feel like I’m having to teach her about non-binary genders and substantiate my identity through argument.  Which is not what I signed up for.  She has my best interest in mind, but I think she has been influenced by the whole “Gender role = gender” (second-wave feminism?) construct and I keep telling her that I have no interest in gender roles.  Even in, especially in, romantic relationships.  Ugh.

But she’s helping me, and has helped me, with my longer-term goals like agoraphobia and stuff, so that’s good.  I honestly thought when we were talking that I might need to see another counselor who’s more up with gender identity and genderqueer things for the genderqueer on T (or maybe not?) issues.  But that could get really complicated because their perspectives would probably be worlds apart (she’s a behaviorist, which I really like and need, but I just want to stop arguing.)

I think I had the upper hand, though.  Which I shouldn’t think about in a therpay session, but that’s how it goes. I told her that I never had an interest in gender roles (thanks in part to who I am mentally, and thanks in part to my dad and mom who eschewed them pretty much all the time, especially my dad) from the start.  And that makes me independent of all of the gendered bullshit that I have to consider about transitioning.  This doesn’t sound quite right, but I’ll go with it since it’s early.

She said that my gender presentation is pretty in the middle, reflects my non-binary identity, but at the same time, I a) don’t know what that means (should have asked her but I was trying to counter something she said) and b) I’m unhappy with my appearance at this point because by body appears way too feminine and I feel like I’m “passing” as female.  But that could have been different from what she was thinking.

One point that she made that I need to think more about is whether I’ve internalized at some level the negative images of female masculinity.  I was talking about Hedwig and the Angry Inch movie’s Wig in a Box and the shot where after Hedwig has transformed herself into these fabulous people, and then looks in the cut mirror, and is like, “Wtf?  Who the hell am I?”  I’ve always thought that was a brilliantly empathic piece of understanding by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask etc. to understand how some trans people feel – go to great ends to make themselves up into something that they can accept, nay, celebrate!, and then look at themselves from a new angle in the mirror and they’re still, in my case, female, and so, wtf.

I felt good about being a kind of gender shape-shifter, read as male a lot but not all the time, when I was skinnier.  I reminded someone of his dad who had passed, and I took that as a *huge* compliment.  But have I internalized some piece of societal crap that says “women” (etc.) shouldn’t “do those things?”  I don’t know.  I worked through that when coming out b/c of who I was, and had a lot of pride in my appearance, and thought changing both by my own means and surgical/biochemical means was reasonable and maybe in the works, if I wanted/needed it at the time.  Optimisitic is what I would say about my take on my body.  Even though I’ve always had a little bit of shame about being chubbier in the thighs and stuff than I thought I should be.  Still, general positivity.

So that’s what happened at therapy regarding T.  She’s done a lot of medical research on the side effects of T, and called it T in her email to me, both of which I really feel appreciative about.  Like she’s meeting me on my level.  I haven’t picked up the Genderqueer: Beyond the Sexual Binary book yet from my dad’s house, so I haven’t sent her that essay that I want her to read (with a disclaimer, of course, to mention that I’m not trying to tell her that she’s policing my decision (although kind of is) the way that the doctors policed the writer’s decision while they/he/she/ze was trying to go on T.

She’s an excellent therapist, but there’s a learning curve here.

What I still feel is that I need a change.  In the gender arena, or otherwise.  I know that’s vague, but that’s how I feel.  More understanding to come.

I don’t feel like she’s oppressing me but…

How do you counter someone who has doubts about your want to go on HRT?

I have doubts myself, and my therapist, whom I trust and like as a person (she has the bestest laugh!) thinks that I should think about whether I’m imposing unattainable male images onto myself.  Or was when I was skinny.

It’s something to think about.

I remember wanting to look more like a guy when I was in Portland, but too scared of all of the other changes that would happen.  So I didn’t go on T.

I’m still afraid of the changes that might happen, even if I go on a low dose of Androgel – I don’t know if I want to think more like a guy.

At the same time, I feel like I need a change.

Is this the change that I want?  It scares me.

I don’t know how to explore if I’ve internalized gay male images.  I said I wanted to look like a young gay boy, which is only partially true, but it was a red flag for her.  She’s done work, I take it, on male and female body image and pointed out that a lot of women want to look either like a 12-year-old girl (androgynous, no hips at all, angular face) or a young gay man.  she pointed out that most modes – male and female – have eating disorders to acheive that no-curves look.  She’s new to the whole trans* thing and I can teach her stuff.

But the thing is, it’s my face that I want to change.  I know that I have some shitty body image issues that are related to being fat / being too curvy (in the past), but I don’t really regard my body with the same kind of ambivalence that I do my face.  

Like I said in an earlier post, I want to look like Mark from Rent.  I think that’s a healthy face aspiration to have.  He’s not overly skinny but still has a male jawline and cute hair like mine.  Same for Trey Anastasio.

I’m thinking, though, that I should wait and lose some weight before I make a final decision to go on T.  That’ll clear up a good portion of the body image issue that is just really intertwined with the wanting to look more like a boy issue.

It’s funny.  “Would losing weight clear this up?” “Would a more masculine haircut do it?” These are the questions that I regularly ask myself.  I haven’t done either, but since they’re so pervasive maybe I need to address them first.  How much is enough?

I know that I’m going to have to educate her on genderqueerness – that I can not want a male body but still want to be on T – in the long run. She said that I’ll have a few weeks before my next appointment to research. And I think I’m gonna do some research for _her_ – get and print out an article or two from my Genderqueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary book for her to read.

She’s open-minded, but needs to know a little bit more about where I’m coming from. What’s better than an article or two to supplement what I’ve already told her?

 

 

 

Dream 1 – Rainbow baseball bats and a toothy fish

So I had an interesting dream last night.

I had fallen asleep in the living room listening to NPR’s “Latest Stories” and this dream occurred there.

I remember a drawing of a two-headed fish with teeth, or maybe a shark, like a child’s drawing.  Done in a colored ink.  It was kind of janus-y, with one side reflecting the other, except that one of the heads was full and clear, and the other was a little shrunken.

Then we went on to meeting with Joe Stevens of Coyote Grace (I recently contacted him about doing a workshop at a conference I’m involved in; alas, no deal, because I did so prematurely without realizing that there wasn’t enough time for him to do his thing).  Anyway, I met with him, and he had a multicolored small baseball bat, with streaks of purple, yellow,and orange snaking down the length of the bat.  He taught me how to color my own bat that way – a rainbow-colored bat.  We didn’t use the bats for hitting things, just swung them.

Then during that swinging session, a tall man in all black, kind of like a menacing cartoon character, intruded into my field of vision.  Started walking towards me. It was so scary that I woke up and screamed.

******

I’m thinking that this dream has to do with gender.  The two-sided fish could represent my gender – one side is fine, and to be complete, the stunted side needs to grow.  I like the idea of gender as a circle, kind of the way these fish appeared (or maybe an oval), and to be full, that other side, whatever it is, needs to be complete.  Or maybe it doesn’t – maybe it’s my perception that it needs to grow.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair lately.  It’s one of the reasons why I get read as female, and maybe as straight, most of the time these days.  It really bugs me, but I don’t want to cut my hair short again because I’m going to Idaho with my dad this summer and really, really don’t want to get harassed and stared at.  I want the passing privilege that my long hair gives me even though I hate it.

The compromise that I find could be to cut my hair shorter, but still below my face, and layer it in a way in which I could part it sideways, thereby giving me a more masculine look.  That’ll help as I begin to (fingers crossed) lose weight and genearally feel better about my face, which, to my eyes, is really fat now.  There’s nothing like looking in the mirror and not seeing what you think you are.  This is only exacerbated by the weight gain, and I also hate it.

The bat sounds like something phallic.  Maybe.  Or a way of relating to the world – reaching out, and swinging back in.  Being taught by Joe Stevens is significant because he’s an important singer to me – his songs have helped propel me to Portland, console me when I came back.  Transitions of all kinds aided by him.  Rainbow means I can do it in my own way, my queerish way.

So that’s my dream.  I thought I would put it up on here as a record, and also so people could offer their thoughts, if they have any.

With every person I tell this is becoming more real.

That’s all, really.

I just emailed my friend from PFLAG and added it to the bottom of the letter.  Wondering what her (supportive and fabulous, obviously) response will be.

Is it okay to be uncertain of some of the changes, even if I want my face to change?  Like, I’m genderqueer, and I like parts of my body.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be okay with everything but I hope it will balance out in the end.

Nervous about using mens’ restrooms already, if I go that far that I pass.

Needing to Process

Buck Angel is okay, but I don’t want to be like him.

I want to be like Mark from R.E.N.T. – quirky (already), nerdy, with a striped scarf hanging from his neck.

I remember sitting on the light rail train, and the woman next to me tapping me and saying, “You know who you look like?” Smile.

“Who?” I squeaked out.

Her eyes got big.  Her face blushed.  She had thought I was a guy.  “Nope.  Never mind,” she said, smiling.

Now was curious.  “Aww, tell me, please?”  Let it be Anthony Rapp (Mark from R.E.N.T.)

“Nope, not gonna happen.”  She grinned.  She was embarrassed.  Couldn’t get it out of her to tell me who she thought I looked like.

We sat there in happy, although slightly befuddled, silence until the next stop came up.

“Bye.”  “Bye.”  Grinning both.

 

“Dad.”

This is what an Irish American man said to me when he saw me get on the bus from Winco.

“You’re the spitting image of my father, except that you’re a lady!  Oh, I’m sorry!”

“No, it’s okay!  It’s flattering!”

“No, you’re not an ugly guy” was his message.  It never stops confusing me when men consider themselves, even the handsomest of handsome, unbeautiful.

 

Now I want to be in that state.

I’m getting read as female 100% of the time, and it bugs me.

Part of it is from the weight gain and subsequent boobage, but maybe there’s more?  Will my face continue to feminize itself if I don’t do something about it?

I want to be like Anthony Rapp.  A cute, nerdy, bespecacled gay boy who can belt out showtunes wherever he damn well pleases.

And that, my ladies and folks and gents, is why I told my best friend today that I want to go on T.

Actually, decided to go on T.  

I told my dad and everything.

But now, in the quiet house, I wonder if I’m just playing.  What if I don’t want that after all?  After I’ve told everybody?

I know that I’m tired of being jealous of one-month before and after shots of folks who have gone on T and have a slightly handsomer (to me) angle to their face.  

I want my face to shine through.  I want to be able to see it and not just superimpose it on myself when I look into the mirror.

I want to look at myself and feel better than I do right now.

I want to look like Anthony Rapp.

I’m a little bit more scared of how the way I think will change; I’m just getting used to, and starting to like, how I think now.

Men are different, my dad tells me.  You’re going to change.

It’s been years since I’ve felt fluid and a gnawing to write.  What if that goes away, or changes?

I know that I will be jealous of before and after / 1-month shots.  And I also know that I need to lose weight.

There will be time to do this as I save up (I don’t even know what T costs, or what it’s called medically, except for Androgel) for my scripts.  There will be time to build up an arsenal of information to tell my mom.  To come out to the rest of my friends, and to get support.  Lots of time.

I just can’t believe I’m doing this…….that I’ve made this decision.

Anthony Rapp.  Anthony Rapp.  Anthony Rapp.

I guess I’m still conflicted, aren’t I?  Does that ever go away?  Do you usually feel scared and uncertain before starting this, even as you see visions of a more masculine self and more masculine-perceived ways of doing things (I’m already kind of a show off, when no one’s looking) around family and close friends who are, in essence family.

So many questions.

Memories, Catie Curtis, and Andrew X. Pham

So one of my favorite musicians has released a new CD this year.  Yay!  I’m listening to it on Spotify right now.  (Spotify is an online music service/doohickey that lets you search for and listen to thousands of albums free of charge.  I highly recommend it!).  The singer is Catie Curtis (http://catiecurtis.com/index.php?page=video&display=4207), and her new album is called Flying Dream.

I first found Catie Curtis when I was first coming out.  I was already high on k.d. lang’s music, and Melissa Etheridge was kind of meh to me, and I remember thinking, “There have to be more lesbian artists out there.”  Lo and behold, AfterEllen produced a whole list, many with a kind of electro sound.  Which is great, but not really in my taste profile.  I prefer acoustic geetars (as in, “I’ll let you touch the geetar.” “You mean guitar guitar, right?”) to sonic thumps and bumps.  Although Tegan and Sara obviously rock.  But I saw Catie Curtis, with her lil’ acoustic guitar on the list, and hopefully googled her.  And fell in love with her songs that night.

I remember wandering around my apartment, topless, dancing to her music, much to the chagrin of my downstairs neighbors, as there was absolutely no insulation between our first and second floors of that low-slung apartment square.  I would bake whole wheat chocolate chip muffins to “Troubled Mind” and really think about “Fusco’s Song”….which was a hidden track on A Crash Course In Roses, and thinking that it was probably about a trans* guy, or a trans* girl.  The implications of suicide in the trans* community was hitting me hard, after stumbling onto Andrew Pham’s Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam (http://www.amazon.com/Catfish-Mandala-Two-Wheeled-Through-Landscape-ebook/dp/B004L62EU8/ref=la_B001IGLVHG_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394301335&sr=1-1), in which the author’s brother commits suicide after coming out and not being accepted by his community.  I’m not super religious, but I felt that I had found that book in my college library for a reason: to serve trans* people.  Trans* guys in particular.  Why else had I found this book in particular, as I was coming out, in a library full of travellogues (safarnameh’s!) and ethnic studies articles?

Somehow I got away from that goal.  Part of it is my panic attacks around queerfolk which dog me even today.  It’s hard to help folks when you feel sweaty and scared around your so-called brethren (I’ve had some bad experiences, so yeah).  At least PFLAG is my little niche of support and love that we’re building right now. Somehow, I need to reconnect myself to that goal.  Idk how….. I’m not therapist material, but I can be a role model.  I can be there for the young genderqueer and trans* folks in my community.  I can live my life as authentically as possible so that others can feel that their own lives can be full of love and happiness.

But it requires a commitment, doesn’t it? More than just hoping that life will treat me well.  Actually making it do that.

As my friend Evy, who has a knack for bucking me up when I’m down, says, Time to get swimmin’ boi! 

I wanna be like you, but not really

I wrote this about a year ago about the feelings I have being around trans* guys. I always get antsy, like I want to change, but I think I’ve been through the whole “to T or not to T” process and have come out on the “not” side. It’s kinda conflicted and indecisive, kinda, and I hope it doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.  I have this image, like, I could experiment with T, just to see how it feels, but I feel conflicted about the changes it would bring.  I don’t like my face, but I like the softness of my body, the things that mark me as female/feminine, but still….I’m still wanting to “experiment”

I’m posting this as a part of the Brag Board on The Gender Book, http://www.thegenderbook.com/, an excellent book explaining non-binary genders in words, pictures, and, hopefully, song. 🙂

I wanna be like you, but not really: A Genderqueer Ballad

I wanna be like you,

but not really.

I wanna look like you,

but not really.

You have your path

I have mine.

You look great and

I look fine.

I think.

I think I see myself

in the mirror sometimes.

I think I see someone else

in the mirror too.

When my life is going right,

a glimpse, an eyelash, a nose

that is who I can be, who I could be

maybe.

I wanna be like you

but not really.

I wanna look like you

but not really.

Your voice glows and it growls

in a way that I want

but not really

Your face I see it, it’s becoming you

And I think, Is that me?

No, not really

Or maybe.

I’m me,

and I’m objectifying you

into something I could be

because…..you’re a possibility

a change

that I want, and that I envy

that could be me.

but that I don’t think, I don’t think

I really want.

Genderqueerness

http://www.xojane.com/relationships/it-didnt-happen-me-i-am-genderqueer

 

 

“What does a not-girl, not-boy transition to?”

 

I can so relate to this post.


I remember first hearing the word t*y being used by transguys on YouTube.  “I’m a trannyfag,” was the most frequently occurring one.  I used it on a guy a little after that, and was swiftly kicked in the butt.  He most certainly did not like being called a *, and how dare you use that word in the first place?  He hated that word.

It’s weird, though, how language changes the context of things.  Being normalized by guys on their vlogs, I thought it would be fine for me to use it. 

Now I realize that it’s not mine to use.  While other people identify me as trans*, I don’t identify myself as such.


Because for me, being trans* is something that does require more than a social transition, a change of names and/or pronouns.  Or even driver’s license.


It’s the need to change your body in a way that requires pharmaceutical use.  (Not always, though.  There are plenty of folks who don’t transition biochemically but keep their trans* identities, their names, their true pronouns).


s.e. smith makes the point that the word t*y doesn’t belong to me: it’s not mine to use, ever.  Even with explicit permission, in my opinion.  Those reclaiming it are trans* women, who’ve been called that while just doing daily things, as well as while being raped, being killed.


Not my term.


The closest term that resonates with me in the same way is “it.”  I was called that once by my brother’s neighbors who had just moved in.  Sitting on the hood of my brother’s car with my nephew.  Whenever I hear that slur, I wonder if the person using it has gender issues that manifest themselves in the form of a slur: self-hatred inculcates a particularly violent kind of acting out.


But yes, transitioning.  What do you transition to if you don’t identify with male or female parts?  If you’re in flux so much that doing something permanent feels particularly drastic, as it does to me?

Reminds me of a series of photos that Antony, of Antony and the Johnsons (http://www.antonyandthejohnsons.com/samples/samples.html), did a few years ago.  A fellow genderqueer,ze/she (not sure of her pronouns) covered her body in white paint and eliminated all gender markers.  It scared the crap out of me at first, but there was a feeling that I was like that too.  That I wanted to experiment with genderlessness.


So I dressed like a boy and, yeah, got called names.  But what freedom!  Feeling that I was finally in the role that I was finally supposed to be in.