Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friends and a Far Way

Last night my mother-in-law came to visit, and Kristin and I left her with the kids and went to a play put on by our local high school. One of the actors was formerly Kristin's student, and we enjoyed watching him perform. In the years since he was a troubled pre-schooler under Kristin's tutelage he's become a big, talented sophomore. He yelled out when he saw Kristin after the show, hugged her, then turned to me – and hugged me, too. I was accepted and embraced by all at this performance, including the significant crowd of women who mobbed the ladies' room during intermission.

Later on in the evening, after spending a crazy hour at home, I lay in bed and thought about my life. I gave thanks. And I thought about what I want.

I am most comfortable when I forget my body and feel myself completely female and socially embraced as such, in whatever social role or event that might be. There is something jarring and profoundly disturbing about becoming aware of my body as a male part of me. This is a measure of how the extent that my body and my soul/mind integrate. To the extent that I perceive my body as male, I cannot integrate at all; I am faced with an unresolvable incongruity, and this incongruity rocks the foundations of my identity, my self, my world. It is completely disorienting, perhaps like it would be to live in a world without gravity. For years I lived a coward's life, trying to resolve the incongruity by forcing my mind to accept – tolerate – the role that was expected – that I expected – of my body. All it did was drive me to within the thought of its effect on Kristin and my children away from suicide.

One of the transwomen I admire the most is my friend Tobi. She appears to be completely comfortable in her skin. She makes no effort at all to hide the butch side of her, nor the fact that her body is genetically male. She even lets a dusting of whiskers stay on her chin. As far as I can see, she has integrated her body and soul, resolving the conundrum by recognizing her male body as female.

Be patient. I'm working my way to a point.

The performance we saw last night was Rent. One of the most memorable lines, for me, was from Angel, who is described as a "gay drag queen." My perception from the acting was that she was transgendered – not necessarily transsexual, but certainly female gendered, and as such, I didn't have the sense that she would be gay, even with a male lover. Anyway, the line was given as the characters mourned her death, and one of them mentioned her going up to a "skinhead" who was harassing her and saying, "I'm more of a man than you'll ever be, and I'm more of a woman than you'll ever get."

Those words resonate with me.

I would really like to integrate to the point that I can look at and feel the "male" aspects of my body and yet perceive them as female – as part of me, and not this separate entity that has nothing to do with me at all except that it's an inadequate vessel that carries me from place to place. Ideally, everyone around me would perceive the same thing – not that I have a male body, or even that I'm trans, but just that I'm a woman with a mildly misshapen body. I want to live the deep, connected friendships that are unique among women.

I think it's possible. I've had a few glimpses over the last week, when I almost get the sense that my penis is a female part, or when I just melt into my role as a woman.

And I have friends. Oh, I have friends. My own mother-in-law has embraced me, and likes Seda better than her former son-in-law. Anne, and Davin, and Ilana, and Kristin, all have embraced me into that magical circle of feminine friendship. It will happen with others. It appears to be more difficult with people who knew me before transition, which isn't surprising.

And rising from the ashes of that fake male persona I used to wear, is the phoenix of something new, something precious – a deep, fierce pride in who I am. In being a transwoman. (See Angel's words, above.)

I do not deny who I am. No, I embrace it.

So far I have come. I'm on a path, creating a life that is, as I am, beautiful.

And if that's a paradox – well, shit, my whole life is a paradox!

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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our