Thursday, February 23, 2017

on Ms.

Ms was a hard-won title. I remember the drama of my childhood, and the weight of having to constantly explain being unmarried on my Mom. The disrespect engendered by being addressed as Miss, and the distain when people explained that my Mother's maiden name could not be the same as her married name - the one I used - people treating me as if I didn't understand, and then behaving pityingly, and worse, disgusted when I finally got them to understand. So much bullshit. I am sure it still exists in this world that is centered around the cisgendered heteropatriarchal construction of the family, but I also want to somehow reconcile with the fact that no matter how hard won, or how well intentioned, I still hate being called Ms. I don't identify like that. Never have.  I didn't always mind being a Mrs when I was married, because it was about being part of a unit, and it was a construct - I was being "Spouse 2" and the femme half in a butch/femme partnership. It wasn't exactly right, but it was sometimes right, and I didn't mind being Miss when I was a kid, because it had a kind of princess power to it. I did always like stories of being pretty and rich  - who doesn't love a fairy tale?

But Ms to me is about standing in power as cisgendered and female, and I don't, and have never wanted to do that, not since I was part of christianity.  Once I came out as queer I started wanting to disrupt ideas of how gender works, and I guess that's when the gender queerness started. I had all kinds of radical ideas about how everyone should just adopt Mr, but mostly that's because it's my preference.  I just didn't know it at the time, and it didn't seem possible. I don't really want anyone to call me anything other than my name, but if they have to use a prefix, I prefer Mr, and gender neutral pronouns. 

Off to school in a hailstorm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Three plus years after the last post I am sitting in the Pacific Northwest in the middle of my first year of a PhD after the election of Donald Trump and wondering what the hell is going on. I am also in the midst of some kind of lupus flare and my brain is not functioning properly.

I am occasionally overwhelmed by panic attacks and people keep going on as if the world is not about to end, has not ended, is not burning around us. Yes, the US Customs and Border Patrol has always had the power to search and examine everything you have with you at the border, but they're generally as relaxed as pistol-carrying uniformed automatons can be. Mostly they let me through with only occasional harassment for being visibly queer, or trans, or a bit too brown... I'm a bit old, crippled and fat to be too exciting. Usually, if anything, they just use a pat down as an excuse to publicly try to humiliate me for not fitting gender norms.

Mostly they are decent and do what they are supposed to do, which is scare people who deviate from the norm. The threat being that normative behaviour is always what is implicitly being policed. As am international student I have been warned to take down my social media profiles and my online accounts.  There is nothing seditious here. I am kinky. Nothing new. I am mad and traumatized. nothing new. I am a feminist. Nothing new. I am disabled. Nothing new. I am mixed race. Nothing new. I live with pain all the time. Nothing new.  This then is the manifesto.  I will bend but not break like a reed in the wind. I will reflect light like a pebble in the moonlight, so that together  with others we will make a luminous path. I will listen for birdsong, and for the voices of the trees and the grass. I will add my voice to the multitude crying out for justice. Whether from a classroom, a street, a bed, a car, or a park, our voices will rise and be heard.

In the meantime I will go and work on my PhD, and not give in to the terror that threatens to overwhelm me, that grabs me by the throat and steals my voice. I am here, and I have things to say.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The agony of gendered costumes

I'm going to a costume party tonight.  I'm supposed to be going as a 70s porn star, but I couldn't get the 'stache right, but I spent two hours in the bathroom creating perfect facial hair with fake fur and double sided tape and it looks great and instead of wanting to go to the party it makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.

Admittedly it's shark week, (Yes I'm mitigating it with my own special brew of teas) and that doesn't help with emotional lability but being pre-transitional, gendered costumes all feel particularly shaming and/or fake. 

Wearing a mustache, binding and packing, however suggestive or comical, just highlights the gender dysphoria I already feel.  Wearing a girly outfit would be like stuffing myself back into a closet for a night.

Right now I just need things to change and I don't have much of a sense of humour about anything.  I want to go as a sofa cushion or something similarly sexless.

My heart hurts. I don't want to wear my sex or gender/identity as a costume. Maybe I'll get my sense of humour back when I stop feeling so shitty and scared about things.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

November of 2010 I wrote: "It's the people who believe this stuff that scare me."

I am those people now, and it's awesome.  I meditate, have visions, read runes as part of my research praxis, and feel so much more at home in my skin that I ever could have imagined.

Part of that is working out, and part of it is being on a right path. It's terrifying, but right.

I have come so far, and these moments of clarity are overshadowed by moments of realization at the distances I have traveled.

I'm doing good.

There's awful things happening at my university though, and I have a meeting today to try to figure some of it out.  I'd like to figure out what's happening for other people, especially people I care about, but maybe I can at least figure out what's happening for me.

Gender is a complicated thing. There is a new book out called Sex/Gender:Biology in a Social World! It is a pretty decent primer and covers biology and socialization theory. It just came out this year.

Why is it relevant? Well, this is the second coming-out for me, and it has to come along with a major apology to my ex-spouse, which I am afraid has to be public as well,  not in the interests of self glorification, or self abatement, but simply in the interests of truth telling.

The catalyst in my coming-out and getting thrown out of the house was a book by Paul Monette, called Becoming A Man.  I was asked if I planned to become a man, and denied it, but admitted to being a lesbian.

I bent a lot around gender in the early years, but it was easier to catch the interest of the people I was interested in, butches and GQ folk, when I dressed as a girl/femme. It was reasonably easy to put on the clothes and makeup, I like sparkles, love makeup, and have no trouble with getting attention, or being told I am pretty, who would?

The trouble came later, when my unacknowledged gender-essentialism started surfacing. Butches do such-and-such, femmes do such-and-such. I had taken it out of biological determinism, and stopped applying it to particular genitals, but I had not stopped applying behaviours or modes of dress to roles, and trying to reinforce them in myself, and in my life...

Here's where the apology comes in. I had no right to have any expectations of my partner's behaviour, gender, role, or identity. That was appalling, and the fact that I had no idea I was doing it, and that it stemmed from my own terror of who I am , and my own confusion about my own identity, is neither here nor there. I am truly sorry.

Who you are, and how you present yourself to the world is entirely yours. I should have had nothing to say about that, and it should have had no bearing on my identity. My insecurity in my own identity was mine to solve not yours. Again, my shit, and I am sorry.

I needed clear delineations for myself within which I was safe, and yet, every time I ran into those I got mad. I know it was rough, and I hope you can believe that I didn't know why. I never meant to hurt you. Not in a million years would I have wanted to do damage to that sweet glacier-eyed butch who stole my heart. I thought I was supporting you, because it would have been supporting me to do those things, to let me "be the man" or what I thought a man was. I was sacrificing so much, and it hurt that you couldn't see it, because I didn't know what it was, and I couldn't articulate it.

I was giving you my chance to be a man, and I had no idea. Put in writing it is so insane a concept it hardly bears repeating. My dreams are mine, and I am sorry for putting them on you.

I was hurting and angry because of the bonds I put on myself, and I was jealous of your ability to move between worlds. When I could have been listening to and supporting you, I wasn't, I was blinded by my own unseen unhappiness and fear.

So we get to the crux of the matter, I am femme, and I am a man. In a female body. which is partly why it took a long time to figure it out as well.  No objection to makeup, girls clothes or pink.

I have transgender, transsexual, and gender queer friends.  I have watched and supported people through transition, so why the terror I feel over this?

One, I have a history in my family of being sent away, culminating in being kicked out for being queer. I am afraid to lose the people I love. Two, I ruined a marriage over this, more history of losing people. Three, I have a partner I adore, who is a lesbian, and we are both worried that this change might herald the end of our romantic interest for each other.