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.

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.

transition

picture coming out. the traditional setting. walking up to your parents and saying “mom, dad, i’m gay.” and whatever ensues, whether it’s “no son of mine” or “no matter what.”

now imagine you have to do it for months continuously in front of everyone in your entire life all at the same time and spend tens of thousands of dollars to do it. and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to hide.

transition is a scary word, innit?

the end result is seductive, of course. finally getting to feel good about my own body, hot damn. scratching a long lingering itch. take some drugs, get cut open in thailand, voila. it’s all legitimate and real and tangible and hearts and unicorns. it’s not real until the almighty gatekeeper tells you it is.

at the risk of sounding corny, i much prefer the term journey to transition. transition has so much baggage, such a strong narrative that it’s become toxic. maybe you sound like a space cadet when you call it a journey, but it’s more inclusive, more personal, and you don’t have to do anything that you’re “supposed” to.

my journey involved years of denial, on and off cross dressing, crying at a roller derby bout, dating a lady who saw me as a girl first, contemplating names, performing fiona apple and tlc at karaoke en femme, wearing skirts and getting an undercut, counseling others, writing policy, getting interviewed, talking about pronouns, consulting and blogging. lots of steps towards womanhood and i’m on the cusp of something even greater that excites me to no end. is that a transition? transition implies i know where i’m headed, but journey says i’m free to discover and experiment and find my own path to gender enlightenment.

when i do something to legitimize my gender identity that makes me so excited i can barely hold it in, it’s as important and meaningful a change as any, but it’s not a transition. it’s a journey. transition says you were one thing and now you’re another thing. but i’m just me, and i’m doing so many things to make my journey worthwhile. maybe i will be the other thing someday. but my whole life has been one gradual transition towards that thing, and i’m gonna keep transitioning until i die.

i am already 27 years into my transition. that’s a lot less scary.

choices

GLAAD, an advocacy group that seeks to educate the media about the LGBT community, includes both identity and behavior in its definition:

Transgender: An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people.

Such a broad definition could also be problematic. According to Logan Casey, a political science student at the University of Michigan, it could lead to transgender identities being dismissed as “just a choice.” Casey, who publicly identifies as a trans man, believes that could undermine support for transgender rights.

FiveThirtyEight

emphasis mine.

so, what’s wrong with choice?

you might have seen videos of smug gay rights activists asking generally open minded straight people when they “chose to be straight.” and the straight person chuckles in agreement, that yes, it is a ridiculous proposition.

i chose to be straight when i asked my grade school crush if she wanted to go out. i chose to be straight when i kissed the assistant stage manager of a play i was in freshman year of high school between act 2 and act 3 of the final performance. i chose to be straight when i accepted my first girlfriend’s invitation to the mall, and i chose to be straight when i first made out with my future wife on the floor of her parents’ living room nearly ten years ago. i did a lot of choosing.

dismissing choice as trivial was one of the most hurtful things to my recognition of my identity. for the longest time i couldn’t resolve it. i didn’t hate being male. i didn’t look at my body in the mirror and feel revulsion. i didn’t feel like i was one gender or the other. it was never where i was standing, it was the direction the wind was blowing.

i felt like being transgender meant i had to clear some sort of bar, that i had to ‘identify’ as female. but that’s not right. i don’t ‘identify’ as male either. i like to live my life transgender. minimizing the importance of choice in identity dehumanizes and can lead to a whole bunch of denial and self-doubt. my gender identity is a collection of the things i want to do, the ways i want to be perceived, but every practical concern is about not discriminating against me for making those choices and accepting those choices as normal and healthy, even therapeutic and positive. if i want to make a decision in a “girls only” or “boys only” space, my gender nonconformity should not be a hurdle. choosing is the action verb here.

what’s the difference between longing to put on makeup and craving a piece of pizza? shit, nothing. and working on my eyeliner and getting a slice at beggar’s have about the same cosmic impact on the universe. and should i do each every day, i might have unique healthcare needs down the road – bypass surgery and hormones, in no particular order. but we take care of people when they make the choice to clog their arteries – why not take care of people when they make the choice to transition?

saying that transgender isn’t a choice, it’s how you were born, talks about being transgender like it’s a condition or a disease. it asks for pity – we have no control over it, we’re subjected to this horror. but being transgender is actually awesome. no, it’s not awesome to be a member of a group that has a 40% suicide attempt rate. but it’s awesome to be able to make my choices, my beautiful transgender choices, that make me happy. i deserve to be happy on my own terms.

not all women

if there was a concise way to describe the #notallmen/#yesallwomen conversation, it is that women have to go through shit that men don’t go through, and when a man says that not all men are like that, he stops making the conversation about women, and starts making the conversation about him.

with that in mind, allow me to make this conversation about me.

i am currently for all practical purposes a white male, so i have the most demographic privilege a modern person can have. i aspire not only to be female, which would require a sacrifice of much of that privilege, but a transwoman, which sacrifices a large amount of the remaining privilege. i’ve had one experience with a dude getting too creepy while i was en femme, and that was relatively harmless. i suspect my luck wouldn’t continue.

for me, #yesallwomen is not about shutting up and listening to women’s experiences, nor is it about discussing my own experiences. it’s a terrifying future that someday i will have to face. i feel misplaced empathy with #notallmen, but that’s because i am scared and alienated. the unstoppable force inside me is on a collision course with the immovable object of society.

#yesallwomen is about highlighting what divides us, but the central friction in my life is that divide. the friction is that whenever a women’s issue comes up, i feel as if i’m on both sides, and neither. like i should be able to understand it, to represent it, to speak on it, but i cannot. that’s the misplaced empathy. there are those that understand, and those that can never understand, and then there’s us. what do i conclude? that i want to go out there and get some oppression under my belt? that the real way to foster sisterhood is to start suffering? that’s dumb. i’m all about self-love – there’s no such thing as being “trans enough,” but clinging to my privilege is more than enough to make me feel like i’m without a tribe.

being trans isn’t a choice, but pulling the trigger and transitioning is. so when i say i’m making this important topic about me, i really mean i’m making this about how the #yesallwomen conversation affects aspiring transwomen, because we’re invested in this conversation too. not in a “not all men are men!” way, though that’s the screaming impulse i have to suppress, but because we have to understand what we’re opting into. i’m certain that in the future i will have to throw off my security blanket and embark on a journey that is bound to be more personally fulfilling and self-affirming than anything i’ve ever done before. i will enjoy becoming what i’ve always known myself to be in pursuit of inner peace. but that requires an enormous amount of bravery – similar to the bravery that ladies need to have just to do ordinary shit. in the end the risk is worth the reward, and if millions of other ladies can find a way to live life without getting paralyzed by fear, well, i’m enough.

#notallwomen live with harassment, but that’s only because the reality of #yesallwomen is enough to push us back into the closet. and i guess that’s a kind of indirect harassment.

well maybe not all the way back into the closet, but I am definitely hiding under a coat.