tranniversary

today is not the anniversary of when i saw that episode of magic’s secrets revealed with the female ribbon twirler and i thought “man, i’d like to be her” only to tell my best friend and have her suggest something was wrong with me.

today is not the anniversary of buying my first two skirts at a thrift shop in park ridge and hiding them under my bed, then wearing one of them to a stage crew gig and having a friend yell at me for wearing it.

today is not the anniversary of the first time i masturbated, accidentally while surfing a british cross-dressing supply site, not entirely sure what i had just experienced, and having my therapist suggest a few days later that i go to a drag show to see how i felt.

today is not the anniversary of shaving my facial hair and putting on my first wig in my college apartment, staring at myself in the mirror and not feeling anything, the day before i interviewed to be editor of the college paper and then collapsed on my bed and had a text fight with another friend.

today is not the anniversary of crying at my first roller derby game because i wanted to be a derby girl and didn’t have the right parts.

today is not the anniversary of getting kicked out of my first women’s roller derby league as a closeted male-presenting referee and being called a sexist.

today is not the anniversary of giving an interview to the windy city times saying i wasn’t a dude even though i looked like a dude.

today is not the anniversary of transferring to a women’s roller derby league and then getting called too dangerous and crying in the corner.

today is not the other anniversary of that same thing at another league.

today is not the anniversary of trying to hook up with a dude because it felt more female and hating myself afterwards.

today is not the anniversary of visiting a club for trans women only to be assaulted by a tranny chaser.

today is not the anniversary of wearing my first dress to work because i had to tell HR about how my boss said a bunch of ignorant shit about me and i wanted to look the part.

two years ago today i sat in a doctor’s office with a syringe and stared at my thigh, breathing deeply.

“you can do it!” said one of the physician’s assistants tasked to help me figure out how to inject myself with delestrogen.

“i’m sorry this is taking so long, but it’s just my entire life has been leading up to this moment.”

but i did it. i pushed the needle all the way in, and then gave myself my first estrogen shot.

just me, in a quiet room, affirming my gender on my own terms for the first time. not asking for permission or validation or acceptance. just making my gender my own in the purest way, 5 milliliters at a time.

happy tranniversary to me.

transjedi

transgender people are jedi.

i hate to lean too hard on a star wars reference, but i’m referencing the phantom menace here, so i promise you i’m not just nerd pandering. and i’m gonna run a little fast and loose with this metaphor, anyhow.

remember when yoda said that anakin skywalker shouldn’t be trained as a jedi because fear turns to anger, anger turns to hate, and hate turns to suffering? and it turns out that he was wayyyyyy right? Continue reading

shrug motivation 101: persist, overcome, burn it down

my “new year’s resolution” a year ago, if you want to call it that, was #persist. i had just endured a rejection of my athletic ability and i was certain that the best way to beat being told i wasn’t good enough was to get better.

one of the the important tenets of #persist is being concerned with process, not goals. that seems backwards, i know. if you’re like me and get discouraged or defeatist, it makes sense. when you’re ready to give up, remember that a very smart person (you at your best) composed your training plan and you should trust that they knew what they were talking about. work hard, and good things will come. set yourself up for success and let go of the big picture, because too much focus on the big picture can lead to self sabotage.

#persist is a way to cope with the inherent uncertainty of having to place your outcome in the hands of others. i wanted to make a team, but i had no control over whether i was “good enough” for them. #persist acknowledges you need to be lucky, so work harder and your luck gets better. improving your luck is still an intangible thing, however, and even when the odds are in your favor, you can still lose.

i lost big. i persisted, but a glass ceiling reinforced by systemic transmisogyny does not shatter from merit alone.

that adversity led to an amendment to #persist – #overcome, for when you played a full house and lost to a four of a kind. there are things that are out of your control. #overcome turns that adversity into fuel. it’s taking down the names of everyone who doubted you.

#overcome says you can’t punch your way through a mountain – you need the tools to scale it. no mistakes, only missteps. if the system is failing you, take on the system. work within it, or work against it, but don’t ignore it.

bureaucracies are resilient, however. they’re built to stay stable when confronted with challenges from motivated minor actors. it was not long before i truly began to grasp the entrenchment of the bureaucracy i confronted, and that #overcome wasn’t a viable solution to the coded transmisogyny that kept me from succeeding. perhaps i knew in my heart all along that the writing was on the wall, because i don’t think #overcome resonated with me as deeply as #persist had.

whatever the case, i adopted the final step in my upward spiral of success.

burn.
it.
down.

2015 was a hard year. my personal achievement was exceptional, but the application of that achievement was stymied by bigotry. in june, something happened that revealed the institutional rot i faced. it also revealed the degree to which the actors within that institution turned a blind eye to that institutional bigotry. it wasn’t some big transgression or act of hate. there are relatively few villains in this story, if only because our societal bigotry rarely shows up like that. it shows up as disenfranchisement and gossip. if the measure of goodness is what you do when no one’s watching, there was a deficit of goodness.

flagrant transmisogyny can be easily dispatched: asserting my hormones make me more reckless, asserting that i’m less of a woman from my height and build, the mythological “weekend trans” bogeyman that trans-exclusionary individuals use to protect the many from the few. cis privilege showed up in ways that were harder to verbalize. a different standard that went unacknowledged by people convinced of their own goodness. passive-aggressive othering. a dismissal of my own concerns, because the system can’t possibly be rigged against me. a hopeless situation engineered so that the buck without accountability, where the only option to prove to myself that the system was failing me, not the converse, was by completely withdrawing from the system. every skater with a chip on her shoulder is gonna get self-righteous if she feels like she’s been screwed out of a roster spot, so why should i be any different? but i believed so firmly in the systemic corruptness of the process that i burnt it all down. straight up: i transferred to a better league.

as completely contrary as it seems to the spirit of #persist, the most important thing i did this year was quit. that’s not giving up. “giving up” is succumbing to internal pressures, abandoning myself. “quitting” is succumbing to external pressures. the abrasiveness of my environment was an external pressure. i quit, and i still persist. i’ve learned that what you do is as important as where you do it.

i bought my first workout groupon last year, during #persist, when i was externally motivated. my routine fell apart when things got hopeless, when i found out how few people put faith in me. to some extent i have always skated for others, but the alienation of the last year forced me to start skating for me. so i bought a new groupon this week for my own goals, for my own success. there’s no slight i’m looking to avenge. cosmic justice won’t be served. this is just me, at my best, in an environment that will permit me to thrive. for the first time in a long time, it’s actually up to me. hopefully, that will be enough.

the MRA story

lemme tell you about my brief flirtation with men’s rights, back in the late ’00s.

so i’m in the closet, mostly resolved that this trans thing isn’t gonna be my life, that there’s no good reason to ever come out of the closet. reddit is still a plucky little startup, an alternative to the libertarian cesspool over at digg. i just signed up, so i’m looking through the list of popular subreddits, looking for stuff to subscribe to, and find /r/mensrights. men’s rights? i didn’t know that was a thing, that’s super contrarian! i naively assumed people treated women and men basically equally and i could finally advocate for my own demographic!

they had a few issues that i thought were interesting. circumcision. custody. the message, of course, was “i’m male and i deserve more!” but it all seemed very niche to me at the time. harmless and contrarian. i don’t think i hurt anyone with it, just repeated some topics i found interesting to whoever would listen.

i wouldn’t say i grew out of it – rather, the bad press started to mount and i realized it was kind of a fucked up thing to identify with. i realized it was a lot darker than i gave it credit for.

i guess it was a demented way of trying to love who i was. i never felt as comfortable in male skin as i do in female skin. i am wearing a great dress right now and i feel fantastic. but there was a hole in my identity back then. male skin was the only skin i had, and i needed to do something with it. so much of myself has been completed by a femininity that i was convinced would never come out, and so i was looking for something to validate the identity i had. i spent all my life bored by masculinity, jealous of women, but i didn’t know what the solution was. i had privilege guilt at age twelve, jealous that there was so little that defined me, because whiteness was uninspiring and masculinity was empty for me. so flirting with men’s rights was an attempt to cure the symptom rather than the disease.

i once read a post-columbine argument that said that young white males were responding violently to not being delivered the total power they were promised, that they believed that multiculturalism was marginalizing them and they were lashing out. i don’t know what fuels cisgender MRAs. but maybe it’s partly emptiness. i didn’t know how much emptiness had been there until I started living as a woman. maybe MRAs are empty humans seeking identity in the worst possible way. allyship is not an identity, it’s a positive trait that needs an identity as foundation.

i love being a trans woman. i still have a lot of privilege, granted. but i’ve become a better ally to other marginalized demographics by filling that hole that i didn’t know was there. perhaps the best way for people to stay on the righteous path is to find and pursue passion. or maybe assholes will always be assholes.

anyway, death to cismen.

nom de whatev

you get a name when you’re born, and usually you stick with it.

i was born joseph james kaiser on november 25, 1986. when i was in preschool, my mom went to my classroom to tell my teacher that i was joe, not joey.my first two AOL usernames were JOE167 and Bigjoekaiz. i got confirmed by the catholic church as anthony (as in ‘of padua’). as a preteen, i hung out on forums as “marko,” and played MMOs in high school with pseudojapanese bullshit names like yumi oe and mai li hakori and raissa. when i started crossdressing, i lifted the name ‘madison cheyenne’ from the song ‘capital’ off the carmen sandiego soundtrack.

a couple years ago my mom mentioned that when i was still a girl, before i was born, i was gonna be elizabeth. i came out as joe. when it was time to start presenting female full time, i split the difference between my actual and hypothetical birth names and went with EJ.

i have over twenty derby names, three or four of which have been ‘official.’ and a few more that made it onto a jersey.

joe and rude gus are both boring, comfortable names. they’re familiar and beloved, and i don’t care to let either of them go, but they carry the significant baggage of coding male. my female identity is perhaps my most valuable emotional commodity.

a chosen name is a valuable bridge between how you see you and how the world sees you. that’s why i’m, honestly, amidst an identity crisis. what i want out of my gender often defies words, and finding a new label on my identity that i like as much as other chosen names has proven a challenge.

i’m not apologizing, and this isn’t just a case of me needing to “just be myself” because transitioning is a trial and error process of finding what “myself” is. i can’t speak for all transitions, but mine is not causal. it’s not “i want to wear that dress. okay, now i am wearing that dress and i am happy.” it’s mustering up the energy to experiment until something feels right. it’s not living without labels, it’s finding a label that makes me happier. it’s not “by any other name,” it’s by one or two specific names that are going to bring me a little more contentment for the rest of my life. i don’t get to be female, i choose to, and it’s really important to me that i find something in my gender that settles my spirit and makes my gender identity secondary in my life to something more valuable.

the thing that did a great deal of spirit settling, in fact, was roller derby, because it became the difference between being female and being female with a purpose. but that’s not the end of it by a long shot.

i might change my name again, derby or government. i’m not crazy about it, and i hope i get it right this time, but i might not. maybe you’re not super comfortable not knowing what to call me. i’m not either. that sucks for both of us, but i can’t make you comfortable until i am. i deflect by saying call me what you want, but that doesn’t mean i don’t care. it means i don’t know. there’s a lot about myself i don’t know. and that’s fine. i’m busy and it’s hard.

the reset button

one of the hurdles to leap while persisting is the inevitability that i will fuck up.

the last couple of weeks i’ve been pretty chronically unfortunate. car troubles. work troubles. life troubles. today, at tryouts, i didn’t do great. a few things went wrong, and i let that take me over. i got depressed, and performed as such.

when i fail in rapid succession – mistakes, bad luck, whatever – #persist does not seem like a great idea. giving up seems like a good idea. why keep on working hard if bad things keep happening? #persist gets me over my daily hurdles, but it’s vulnerable to a loss of faith in The Plan.

there’s a few things, though, that help me keep at it, keep strong. i have meditated on my fuck up, and i am stronger for tomorrow.

validation. pats on the head. the honest support of others. a reality check on my plan.
direction. feedback. course adjustment. ways to avoid kicking at the darkness.
meditation. peaceful reflection. honest self-assessment. pushing the reset button.

my tryout was wretched. i spent all day beating myself up about it. first i got some validation – there were things i did well. i got some direction – ways to do better next time. i still felt lousy. then i went skating and just reflected on my morning. i realized that i am not accustomed to wanting something so badly and caving under pressure. i am usually clear headed and calm, and today i was anxious and stressed.

today was the last day of my bad luck. i am calm and mindful. when i am strong, i will persist. when i am weak, i will seek validation, request direction, and meditate on my failures. then i will push the reset button and start tomorrow fresh with a chance to redeem myself.

persist

something that thomas jefferson said struck a chord with me today.

I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.

at some level i do not believe in myself. when faced with a potential athletic challenge, my gut instinct is to cower and defer. it has always been like this. i think of an upcoming practice and get discouraged at how much effort it will take. i survey my participation and wonder why it is i participate. there is another part of me that is able to continue on, to recognize that yes, i have done similar things before, yes, i can do them again, and it will be hard, but it is supposed to be hard. this part of me is very deliberate when trying to overcome pessimism, and i only get there through a lot of self-consciousness and effort.

upon facing staggering personal disappointment, i posted:

i failed.

i’m going to go cry, and then sleep, and then cry some more, and then persist, because i don’t know how to do anything else.

i worried that i would let this defeat me, even in the throes of motivation. i have made lofty goals before, and fallen apart in pursuit more than once. i have been thrown off track more than once this year, and i never rely on the coming month to be uneventful. i found a way to stay strong in pursuit of a goal i was determined not to let go – #persist.

persist is the guiding tenet behind a philosophy i follow but never put a name to. when i am faced with something unfathomable, i do not bother to fathom it. i put it out of mind and do it. persisting is not concerned with goals. persisting is concerned with process, and thereby eliminates pressure and fear from my mind when it stands in my way. don’t worry about the destination – keep your eyes on the road.

goals are important. i’m fully in support of goals. but when i set goals, i set them in such a way that i expect to succeed by accident. i separate the person who is setting the goals from the person who is doing the work, and in that way i am never tempted to self-sabotage by discouraging myself from doing work through fear of failure.

the reason this works well for me is because of my unsteady self-esteem. i plan where and when i’m going to do things. on days where i am terribly depressed, scared that i will fail, anxious about my ability to perform, and all the other things that i am anxious about, i do the work i have planned for myself. i design my habits, and i persist.

and so, when i am at my worst, i can have faith in my ability to persist. by separating the work from the plan, when things are darkest i can have implicit faith that someone smart came up with a solid plan and if i stick to that plan – if i don’t fall off, if i persist – that i will succeed. when i am depressed and feel like doing nothing, i persist, because it is just another appointment. when i am tempted to overdo it, go too hard and make myself sick, i persist, because rest and recovery is part of the plan. when i worry that i’m not keeping up, or that i’m embarrassing myself, or that i’m not enough, i persist. i accept that doubt and fear and depression are part of who i am, they come and i deal with them as best as i can, so i trust myself at my most motivated to make plans that do not affect those roadblocks. i know that mental turmoil is not going away, but does not have to be a handicap. i persist, because i don’t know how to do anything else.

kick at the darkness til it bleeds daylight

1. jump rope

after my broken ankle healed and i was finally back to normal, i bought the jump rope. i had to keep my ankle strong, and i was never explosive enough, anyhow. the packaging recommended you jump rope for 15 minutes, and that didn’t seem like a very long time. i walked to my car and popped the trunk. i put down my phone and set a timer for 15 minutes. i could barely make it through 5 hops without tripping, and i was out of breath after thirty seconds. i posted something self-deprecating on facebook, hung up the jump rope, and didn’t touch it for about eighteen months.

2. adrenaline crash

in april of this year, we won our first bout since october, 2012. thirty minutes after the bout was over, i got deeply depressed. i was upset at myself for being so depressed. we had worked really hard to win, and all through the next day i couldn’t fathom why i even competed in team sports if i couldn’t take joy in victory. i learned about adrenaline crash and forgave myself. not long after that i sunk into a month of the deepest depression i’d ever been in. i couldn’t work, i couldn’t skate, i couldn’t communicate with most of the people who loved me. it crippled me.

3. june gloom

i had a cold at brewhaha. our roster was short and we lost two games that we thought we could win. i spent most of the weekend announcing and sucking on cough drops. after the second game, i sat in the locker room, feeling bad about myself, feeling like i could have worked harder. emotions were high, and i was blaming myself. i had several people whose opinions i respect come up to me and tell me how well i did, how i was possessed, playing on another level. this made me feel worse. if i’m operating at my best and my team still loses, what do i do? how do i move forward? the cloud of depression had lifted, but i found myself seething and hopeless at every practice i went to. at the end of each i would get into the car and fought with lauryn about what i didn’t like about practice.

it was on july 31 that i made the decision to try out for the windy city rollers, and not long after that that i chose the name june gloom, partially in honor of the depression that led me to make a change.

4. estrogen

at first, i only wanted to attend some WCR practices, if i could, so i could spread my wings a little more. then i decided to join, but just to pursue membership on a home team. i was worried about what my nonbinary gender identity would mean. i wanted to take it slowly. but it felt very right, and not long into my first month at windy city i thought about how nice it would be to succeed with a WCR travel team. too bad i can’t compete, though, because the WFTDA has a restrictive gender policy, and i didn’t take estrogen. soon after that i thought, well, why don’t i take estrogen?

i realized that joining WCR felt very right because that was my version of living as female, and all of a sudden the idea of taking hormones seemed very correct. i no longer felt i had to ask for permission to be transgender. i could control my body. i scheduled my first appointments at howard brown for hormones.

5. finger

one week before i was scheduled to make my first estrogen injection, i broke my finger so badly that i needed surgery. and surgery means anesthesia, and anesthesia and estrogen injections don’t play nicely together. that meant six weeks away from windy city, too, so in a flash the progress i had made with my gender identity slipped out of reach. i started hormone replacement therapy on october 14, 2014, with two physician’s assistants at howard brown demonstrating the process and then cheering me on as i stared down the needle aimed halfway down my right thigh. “i’m sorry this is taking awhile,” i said, “but it’s just my ENTIRE LIFE HAS BEEN LEADING UP TO THIS MOMENT.”

6. assault

i was told that a few weeks after you start hormones you start to notice changes in how your mind processes thoughts, but the only thing i noticed was that my nipples hurt. all the feelings i had seemed so unremarkable and mundane. i was stressed out and feeling hopeless, and it felt familiar. i was underwhelmed by my emerging femininity. so for the first time since starting hormones, on november 29, i went out en femme.

late that night i was in a back room, a room mostly full of strangers. i started getting touched in ways i wasn’t comfortable with. and then more happened.

18 hours later, i admitted to myself that i was sexually assaulted.

7. draft
my phone was dying when the texts started coming in. vague texts. then i got a voicemail.

“a call is bad, right?”

i borrowed a phone and called back. i didn’t get picked. the confidence drained from me, replaced with embarrassment. everyone else present (and as it turns out, everyone else eligible) had been picked, and when it was time for them to leave with their new teammates, i panicked and hid in the back of the bar. it’s only hubris if i fail, i had said, and i had failed. i didn’t feel female. i felt, like i had for most of my life, like i was alone on the outside looking in.

8. jump rope ii
i left my phone and my wallet on the dining room table, grabbed my jump rope, and walked to the cemetery. it was dark. i found a spot and started jumping. 15 hops in a row, 30. 60. i was sweating, i was shivering, i was almost crying. i stopped counting and jumped and jumped and jumped and jumped. and when i couldn’t jump anymore i walked home. i kicked, but the darkness hadn’t yet bled daylight.

all about chemistry

i’m gonna tell you a story about the most eventful summer of my life.

there’s a long post in my drafts folder about the first half of the summer, about how i went from the best derby performance of my life at brewhaha to trying out for the windy city rollers two months later. i’m not sure if i’m ready to tell that story yet.

what i can tell you is that the fire i lost this summer returned furiously when i joined windy city. i was going to take it slow – join a home team, don’t make a lot of noise, prove i belonged there. then, as i attended practice after practice, i realized that wasn’t enough, and i was gonna have to try out for a travel team. the catch, of course, is the WFTDA gender policy, which requires transgender athletes to have hormone levels on par with their cisgender peers. i’ve burnt a lot of pixels on that issue – telling a trans athlete her hormones aren’t feminine enough and it wouldn’t be fair is akin to benching an NBA player for being too tall – but now i faced it in a real way. and i thought – well, now that i’ve taken that step and joined WCR, it wouldn’t be so bad to take hormones. i scheduled an appointment at howard brown, got my bloodwork done, and watched WFTDA playoffs, bitterly jealous and determined as i’ve ever been to put in the work i need to put in to make that charter next year. i’ve never fought with that fire before, and it serves as a testament to the importance of plotting your own journey. joining WCR was my next step. i went to howard brown the same night as the WCR black and blue gala, and while i first planned to go in a hoodie and jeans, i realized that not going en femme was the worst thing i could do for my own mental health, and god dammit i was cute as hell there.

i’ve been emotional a lot the last month. sometimes my fire turns into impatience and pissiness when things are moving slower than i’d like. sometimes i’m wretched and distant, and if you’ve been the target of my bad mood, i’m sorry.

sunday morning i went to practice. my formerly ingrown toenail was bothering me. my foot cramped. i skated back to the bench to adjust my laces, tripped and jammed my pinky finger against the wall. it hurt and i iced and taped it and carried on with my day. had some real good practices with some real good learning.

i was off work the next day and my finger was still bugging me. i had some extra time before i saw my therapist, so i walked into the walgreens clinic and got a flu shot and had the doctor look at my finger. he said it looked bad, and i should get it x-rayed. after my therapist, i did just that, and hours later, i found out i had broken my pinky. i splinted it and went home.

i still skated tuesday and wednesday, without incident, though i was again pissy on wednesday from toe pain. i saw a surgeon at rush on thursday morning and i found out that my pinky was not just broken, but badly broken. part of the bone chipped off and was jammed into the rest of the bone. i would need some very difficult surgery, including pins and a metal support. i also would have limited mobility in my pinky, perhaps permanently, and may need a second surgery next year. plus, i hear finger physical therapy is pretty goddamned painful. and it’s a lot of money out of my pocket that i do not have.

i worry the hardware might keep me off skates, which is super unacceptable to me right now. but what i know is that the hormones, which i was due to start october 1, are now going to be pushed off until i recover from surgery, to reduce blood clot risk. and i don’t yet know when they’ll be safe to take.

i broke my pinky, and in the eyes of the WFTDA, that’s going to make me less of a lady. i’ll be able to catch up. i’ve got plenty of time to train, and i still have my fire. it’s hard to put off hormones, to have the goalposts moved when i’m within range. but it’s a little dehumanizing to know that one trip, one broken bone in my pinky finger means that i’m not enough for some people.

i not long ago heard someone imply that in spite of my years of practice, my body chemistry makes me a danger to poor defenseless female skaters, as if my hormone levels make me reckless. that i’m some unstoppable machine destined to wreck a dainty little women’s sport. as if to imply that derby should only be played up to a certain physical plateau and that if i execute a block on a werb that it’s a health risk and it’s only acceptable that i adjust my body chemistry and bring my strength down to be comparable to, you know, some of the best derby skaters on earth. i’m sure the WCR all stars are quivering in their boots at the thought of having to skate against my dumb ass.

when MRDA was discussing transgender policies, i suggested, pushed for, wrote, and eventually watched the passage of a non-discrimination policy. that would ensure no one in MRDA would have to undergo that pointless scrutiny. it’s one of my proudest accomplishments from this year. it is as follows:

MRDA, pursuant to its mission of promoting men’s roller derby, does not and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. MRDA does not and will not differentiate between members who identify male and those who identify as a nonbinary gender (including but not limited to genderqueer, transmasculine, transfeminine, and agender) and does not and will not set minimum standards of masculinity for its membership or interfere with the privacy of its members for the purposes of charter eligibility. These activities include, but are not limited to, membership eligibility, disbursement of resources, and eligibility for office. MRDA is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all skaters, officials, volunteers, and fans.

 

i’m scheduled to undergo surgery on monday morning. i don’t know if i’ll be able to do my job, let alone skate, in the weeks following. but i hate having to feel like i’m somehow less of a lady because a doctor has to cut me open. i’ve bitched about the WFTDA gender policy in abstract before, but it’s starting to hit much closer to home.

hey, WFTDA: change the fucking policy.

ones and zeroes

i always resist the term genderqueer. on the outside it is such an effective catchall – not one, not the other, a little bit of both. my discomfort is that it erases all sense of where you came from – which i’m sure is fine for some people, but to me it feels like whitewashing my history. like i’m forcing people who meet me to make assumptions. being gender nonconforming is about doing you for sure, but giving others free reign to make uncomfortable assumptions about me and walk on eggshells for fear of offending me is definitely not doing me.

and a little bit of that is overcoming my own prejudice against myself. i don’t have to tell you there’s a lot in society that says that men are strong heroes and women are weak damsels. the broadest generalization one can make about trans people is that their birth gender does not tell the whole story. i don’t assert to know what it’s like for the female assigned assuming a genderqueer identity, but for me it’s really easy to conflate those two things – “male isn’t the whole story” and “i want to be weak and defenseless.” i can take an honest look at myself and say i hit the demographic powerball – white, suburban, upper middle class, straightish, male, tall. adding ‘genderqueer’ to that list always feels like saying “i also have unspecified qualities that detract from that” rather than focusing on the merits of said qualities. it’s the difference between effeminate and feminine. it’s the reason the first time i watched a women’s roller derby bout i was so affected. it was tangible proof that feminine was not effeminate.

am i male? yeah. i’ve had nearly three decades of male socialization, xy chromosomes, parts, roles. am I female? yeah. because i fucking said so. i have a female brain (if there is such a thing) in a male body in a patriarchal society that has conditioned me so. i have lady friends and lady interests and lady thoughts which i think are perfectly fine for me to have even inside a male body. transgender? that describes me. ‘trans’ means across, and i definitely exist across genders. am i transfeminine? that’s my velocity. it says i’m moving (trans) and where i’m going (feminine) and implicitly says where i’m coming from.

all the things that make me male – my biology, my experiences, my lifetime of conditioning – cannot be discounted. i could seek to erase them, and i one day might. but right now, they exist, and trying to purge my history from my mortal vessel would not make me any more female. i am female. i don’t “identify” as such. i just am.

this seems really basic to me. my brain is just a part of my body, so i fit into both boxes. but the world is conditioned to the gender binary, and i get the impression that some people think that now that i’m a girl, i can’t be a boy. wrong! i’m the same gender as i was yesterday, and the day before that. i’m just me, and i fit into each box equally well.

i’m a chicago bruise brother right now, and nothing about me has changed to disqualify me. however, following my tryout on tuesday, i am also a windy city roller. props to their progressive gender policy, of course, but i’m not doing this because i can or because of how i identify. i’m doing this because i am a lady, and because i want to.