Friday, July 27, 2012

LGBT Me: Your Everyday is My Secret Life

I invest a significant amount of the space on this blog to my life as a trans woman.  Indeed, I invest a significant amount of my life dealing with issues of being a trans woman.  I think this in some ways overshadows the fact that I am also gay.  You may split hairs if you like, people often do.  Yes, I am genetically of the male sex, and that fact makes my relationship with a woman “perfectly normal.”  Thank you Doctor Ruth.  The truth is, whether you think of me as male or female (I greatly appreciate if you would NOT think of me as male, but I do not control your brain… yet), I am still gay… or some clever version on the spectrum.  I am attracted, somewhat equally, to both men and women.  And because I have acted at various times in my life on both of those attractions, considering me gay is technically accurate.

More importantly, that I am (regardless of my birth sex) a woman, and because I am legally married to a woman, I am gay.  Yes, we were legally married BY the state of Texas.  We found a tiny loophole… well… not tiny.  As a gay person, it has been impossible to overlook all of the recent discussions about the rights of gay people, of what constitutes equality under the law, and on what basis the law of the land should exist.  I find the discussion, and the vast majority of the arguments in the debate repugnant, honestly, and I would like very much not to have to think about it anymore.  The thing is, we cannot stop thinking about it.  It is not possible.  The reality struck me especially firmly this morning in the course of a casual conversation with a coworker.

One of the big criticisms I hear coming from the hetero-community is the notion that any sign of affection between gay people is “throwing our sexuality in people’s faces.”  Do not panic, I have no plan to start whipping out research data or statistics; I intend only to speak from personal experiences.  If you choose to criticize my lack of a scientific approach, that is your right.  I spend enough time on that crap doing schoolwork – I write here for catharsis, not scholarly recognition.  And now back to our featured program.  Another sweeping generalization that just goads me is this rhetoric about how our rights are somehow trampling the rights of decent (christian) Americans.

I walked into my place of work this morning at the same time as a coworker who sits near me.  We are friendly, but we have never had a conversation.  That changed this morning, briefly, when we exchanged casual pleasantries and a little small talk, which led to her discussing an anecdote involving her husband.  The complete ease with which her marital status was revealed and the underlying assumption that this was a completely normal and acceptable part of life completely set me back.  I tried to envision so casually referring to my partner in a similar way with someone I knew equally as little about as she about me.  The thought is unfathomable.

That is not to say I am ashamed, or that I have any particular hang ups about who I am; it is just a very different reality.  A straight person can discuss her marriage, her relationships, and even her relationship adversities without any thought of how it may impact someone’s views of her.  Imagine knowing that revealing details about your relationship to someone you just met could lead to awkwardness, or worse, to mistreatment or discrimination… or worse still, to some physical danger.  People in mixed race relationships, I am sure also share this reality – or at least once did.  For a straight person, this thought must be completely foreign, but for those of my readers who are straight; try for a moment to imagine living in that reality.

This is not a matter of being concerned about how people see me, or about whether or not I am liked; this is a concern for how people will affect my life based on their beliefs.  That is a real problem.  So, I ask, who's rights are really being marginalized here, and who is truly “throwing their sexuality in people’s faces?”  I have to watch opposite sex couples engage in public displays of affection almost every day.  I listen to heterosexual people discuss their relationships every day.  And on top of it all, I also have to listen to those same individuals discuss whether or not they believe they should bestow some gift of equality upon people like me, as if the right is theirs to grant in the first place.

I have done a lot of thinking about this whole equality question, and I have decided to start a different campaign – a campaign that is laughable and ridiculous, but a campaign that by its very ridiculousness highlights the absurdity of this whole debate.  I think the federal government should pass a constitutional amendment eradicating legal recognition of married status on the grounds that it is a discriminatory practice founded on religious doctrine, which by definition cannot be recognized or endorsed by the government.

If legal marriage is not equally applicable to all American citizens, it should be applicable to none.  And that is enough of my rambling for one evening.

Please remember to tip your bartenders and waitresses.  Thank you and good night!

Peace and Smooches,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What the Hell?

So, why am I getting a steady stream of SPAM comments all of a sudden?  I hear nothing from anyone except for fucking bots... excuse my language.  I have pretty much had it with this whole "cyber" experience.  So frustrating.

Is anyone else seeing this issue?  Is anyone out there?


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trans-Vacational Paradox

Fair warning: I just completed and submitted a ten page English Lit paper, so there is no foretelling the outcome of this post.  I am beyond loopy.

We just returned from a pseudo-family vacation trip to Branson, Missouri, the (as I have dubbed it) Knock-Off Capital of the Midwest.  It was not an entirely bad trip.  But pack two women, a precocious ten (going on twenty seven) year old girl, and a behaviorally challenged puberty riddled fourteen year old boy into a single hotel room for several days, and you may just unlock the mystery behind the disappearance of the Mayan empire.  You at least have the basis of an excellent murder mystery novel, but we will avoid those stories for today.  I would mention that if you ever need to feel humble, try spending an extended period of time in close proximity to someone who’s only predictable trait is that he will consistently do exactly what you tell him not to do.  That will knock you down a peg or two (and convince you that military schools might just have their merits)!

The trip was not without some very pleasant moments and was generally a good one.  We saw some really great shows, took a very interesting tour (more on this in a moment), ate awesome food, and saw some new and beautiful sites.  We also saw some very authentic human unpleasantness.  Peace and pleasant human interaction are never a guarantee in my situation, of course, but when one is a trans woman surrounded by red necks, blue hair, and bible churches; discomfort and discord take on feud-like proportions!  There is no question that I was well behind enemy lines at the very least.  I know that some of you are saying to yourself, (or possibly out loud, there’s no telling with this bunch) “well she put herself in that situation... what did she expect?”  

You know what?  You are right.  I did put myself in that situation.  I have repeatedly put myself in that situation, and I will continue to put myself in that situation; because I do not believe I should have to voluntarily segregate myself from mainstream society in order to secure my own rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Further, I repeatedly put myself in that situation, because more often than not, the result is positive.  Indeed, even on this trip, I enjoyed a few very positive (or at least not negative) interactions.  The unfortunate truth, though, is that this time the odds played out on the side of the negative.

Between angry onlookers, blatant oglers, and disrespectful hotel staff; I got the very distinct impression that there a lot of people in Branson who do not believe I deserve to enjoy any of the rights I mentioned above.  Possibly the worst offense was my very first interaction in Branson at the front desk of a Baymont Hotel (who, by the way, will be hearing exactly what I thought of my experience there), which started out very pleasantly.  The gentleman (and I use that term sarcastically) behind the desk was exceedingly friendly and joked smilingly with both my partner and I right up to the moment he looked at my ID (and the incriminating “M”).  In an instant, his entire demeanor changed.  The smile quickly disappeared from his face, he stopped making eye contact, and his voice affected what I can only compare to a growl as he as hurriedly as possible completed his dealings with me and turned away.  From that point, the worst encounters were little more than angry or baffled stares from overstuffed redneck men and angry old ladies, the latter of which I am used to... old women are the worst and most blatant offenders when it comes to human sensitivity... and you can quote me on that.

This is the screwy part.  Aside from the first night there, every negative encounter happened during the day when I was out and about (and sweating my ass off... sorry... glowing my ass off), and every experience was either with passers by or other patrons in establishments we visited.  The worst were restaurant visits, during which I spent my entire lunch being stared at from every direction.  I will say that with the exception of the hotel dude, every other “employee” I encountered in the businesses of Branson was perfectly courteous, even when an ID check was involved... so that was good.  What makes this interesting is that when we dressed up and fixed up to go out at night, whether to a show or a restaurant, I was treated with the utmost respect and courtesy.  Every interaction from friendly conversation to flirtatious banter was a positive one.  That was good.  But the whole experience really made me think.

What a strange paradox it is that in the space of a few hours and with a simple change of clothing, I can go from vile specter to lovely patron (and in some cases, "hit on" material).  I worry about that.  What if it never changes?  What if those awkward moments continue to happen?  I am about to spend an entire barrel full of money to fix most of the remaining features that “call me out,” but I will always be a tall girl with broad shoulders... a beautiful and sexy one, for sure, but the fact is I will always stand out.  What if in always standing out, the added attention continues to cast doubt?  Am I being foolish to even try to correct my non-feminine features?  I know what some of you are saying to yourselves (and at least one of you out loud, you know who you are): “So what?!  Fuck them all.  Be proud of who you are.”  

Thank you for that, and you know, most of the time that is easy enough.  One thing many of you know about me is that I look at all things with a certain amount of skepticism.  I never fully relinquish doubts.  It is one of the things that made me a pretty crappy christian (never mind the whole divorced gay transgender thing).  This trait has honestly served me well over the years, and I frankly consider it a strength.  I bring this up, because I want to assure everyone that I am not changing course, and I am not considering backing out.  It is important to me, though, to continue to recognize what is going on in my head.  And over the last week, I have worried a little about what will come after surgery.

There is only one way to find out of course, so anchors away boys!

Remind me next time to tell you about the “Sixty Six Million Dollar Man’s Problem: Nature,” Or, “Why should I move off this flood plain? You fix it.”  

Also, I have to tell you about a hilarious battle of wits between a ten year old girl and a zipline tour guide.  Spoiler alert: girls rule!

Peace friends,

Monday, July 9, 2012

Trans Woman Down: MIA or Something

I know that I start a lot of posts this way (sorry), but I apologize for my prolonged absences from this blog.  I vowed to myself that I was not going to be one of those transwomen who flooded the blogosphere with melodramatic crap all through transition only to disappear once I had it all figured out.  I figured on continuing the melodramatic crap indefinitely.  Okay, I promised myself that I would be there to support others, and yet, I gradually fade from the blog anyway.  The catch is, I do not have anything figured out yet... so nyah! =P

Seriously though, things are moving along.  I am still struggling emotionally, I will not deny that; but please allow me to rationalize for a moment (shut up, this is my blog, and I can have any delusions I like).  My entire world is upside down.  Certainly, I am making the changes and beginning to live the life I always dreamed I might, but it is all a futures game right now.  Lately, my weeks consist of pain and bills.  If I am not spending my free time playing Frankenstein’s monster meets Pinhead, I am frantically scrambling to finish schoolwork, or trying to maintain a household (something I have utterly failed at since taking on a new job, and school, and electrolysis, and doctors, and... well, you get the idea): all on the promise of eventually being whole.  And can I just say this?  For all you nuts and zealots out there who think this is a choice: I challenge you to sit for just five minutes of an electrolysis session (something I endure an average of three to four hours weekly), and then try to tell me that anyone anywhere would choose that.  Sorry, I digress.

The point - is it any wonder that I am a little down?  I am putting my body through hell, I am almost always in pain, and I am spending a fortune for the privilege.  Yes, it will all be worth it soon; but some days, it is just a little hard to “keep my chin up,” especially when my chin is swollen to roughly the size of Rhode Island.  I am not asking for understanding per se; I am asking that we do not further burden the situation with a lot of feel good crap, because, well... right now, it does not feel very good.  Just let me make it through the next couple months.  The big show happens on September 7.  I fully expect to be in pain to that point, and to experience a whole new level of misery for a couple months after that.  But then... then, my friends... look out!

In recent news, school is going well; but it is also a driving factor in my absence here.  I am currently turning out a few thousand words per week in school work; writing blog posts after all that is just a little too much.  I have made the physical transition (well, ninety percent of it) at work.  I still need to have the big talk, but that will come soon enough.  Until then, I have the satisfaction of not perpetuating any illusions.  Oh, and did I mention that I have a surgery date?  How could I have neglected that?  I have booked three fourths of the procedures for September 7.  Yes, I did.  I am a little bit excited about that.

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well.  Take care!

Peace and love,Kate