Wednesday, July 11, 2007

i am angry at the world

I decided that maybe I'm going to be angry at the world. As a coping mechanism. Like not mad at my friends, or most of the folks I interact with, but just at y'know the whole stupid society I have to swim around in all the time.

I told Alex and she was like, oh yeah, like a sixteen-year-old!

I said, exactly! I did the thing where I bounce up onto my toes, cock a hand in the air, snap a couple times and point. Exactly! I think sixteen-year-olds are right on, to be mad at everything.

I've been having kind of a stupid time lately, because I get read as a boy sometimes. Mainly I only know because somebody refers to me as "he;" it's been a while (with one exception, I guess, when I was riding by and some ten-year-old kid on a bench at a bus stop was like Yo that is a TRANS (pause) VESTITE, which was stupid, and to which I retorted confidently "OH YEAH?" and kept riding) since anybody really felt like doing the transphobic violence harassment thing. Which is nice. But it happened a few times in the last couple weeks, starting almost exactly at the end of Gay Hell San Francisco Pride.

When I'm being read as a boy, I get shy and start dressing androgynously, which makes people read me as a boy more. Which makes sense, right? The reality of the situation is that I had boy puberty, got tall and grew kind of a chin, and THEN got on estrogen. So my body's this kind of, I don't know, indeterminate thing, and sometimes people need help knowing how to read it. As in, when I wear the country singer dress, folks usually gender me right. When I wear jeans and a hoodie, it's kind of a crapshoot, unless there is accessorizing.

Anyway, that all is an aside to the point: today I wore the long librarian skirt and got gendered right all night and it made me kind of mad that I'm not in charge of how I get gendered, really, unless I want to dress all girly all the time. MAD AT THE WORLD.

It's interesting how this plays into the thing about transwomen and residual privilege. Specifically, there's this thing that happens when people who are used to being read (and used to acting) as straight white middle-class men start being read (and acting) as women: they stop having all the privilege. It's funny what some folks do with that loss of privilege, and also stupid: mostly, we hang onto it however we can. Like, lots of people in that situation will make themselves out to be trans gurus, and tell other people how to be trans. (I have done this.) Others will keep their heads down, avoid eye contact anywhere and try as hard as they can not to be noticed at all. (I have done this.) Still others will demand that they be treated with the same respect that they were treated with before they transitioned. (I have done this.) (And called it feminism.) (Which is complicated and valid.) (Even though there's theoretically a flavor of this last thing that looks like transwomen walking into women's spaces and wanting to be in charge, which is what the whole Michigan Women's Music Festival thing is about: a made-up threat of that happening. It's pretty rare and unlikely. Gross.)

But so where do we go with that? I'd been upset with being read as trans, which means getting read as male, and it was squashing me. When you can't get gendered appropriately and you're getting desperate, it becomes hard to leave the house. But I had this realization: much like generations of ethnic minorities, sexual deviants, punkers women and sixteen-year-olds, nowadays I don't have the privilege to be in charge of how I'm perceived. Or, more specifically, not to care how I'm perceived because I see faces like mine on TV, at work, on election posters, book covers, and wherever I go.

Basically, nobody really knows what a transwoman's face looks like, or even really that they're real, so I get lumped either into male or female, depending on the whims of goddam fate. Which is stupid. So the reality- I had boy puberty, I looked and acted like a boy for a long time, and now I am working on not looking that way any more, but it is my experience and it's written all over my body- gets erased. Laid out like that, it's pretty simple, but in practice, I'm not interested in educating everybody who gets my pronouns wrong. So where do I go?

Toward anger! A valid, constantly simmering anger at everyone and everything that hasn't proven him-, her- or it-self to be a badass ally to transwomen. Or at least to me. It's not about flipping out all the time, and it's not about yelling at people who haven't done anything; it's just about recognizing the fact that the place and time I live in is pretty stupid when it comes to just about everybody I know. It's also about not being afraid of cultural inertia backlash if I say something about it, and the realization that I'd rather get beat up & killed for being trans (which happens) than hide out in my house. And also just keeping my head up: without anger, again, it's easy to get squashed. I'd love to be a big hippie and come from a place of love, but. Y'know. Eh.

Oh, hey, speaking of being mad and flipping out, I've got a date on Saturday to play punk rock with a drummer I found on craigslist. My ad: "queer female drummer wanted."

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