Cold Comfort

This quote…

“Your worth
is determined by you,
and with no need for
an explanation to anyone.”
Wayne W. Dyer

Here is the problem for the person who struggles with self-worth issues:

If you see yourself as unworthy and worthless, then you are doomed.  And I have heard it more times than you can imagine…”well just see yourself as worthy and you will be”!

That works as well as the last time I saw myself as a billionaire
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Apologies to Jim Croce…

…but somehow, this seemed to fit the last 6 months, his song “Lover’s Cross”, with the word gender substituted in.  Not a perfect substitution but it gets the point across.

It is NOT my final or even best answer…but it is a color, an element that I want to introduce to those who think “It’s all in your mind” or any other number of illusory and totally mistaken things about me (which are also called judging in some worlds)…

I guess that it was bound to happen
Was just a matter of time
Now I’ve come to my decision
And it’s a one of the painful kind
‘Cause now it seems that you wanted a martyr
Just a regular gal wouldn’t do
But baby, I can’t hang upon no gender cross for you

You really gotta hand it to ya
‘Cause wow you really tried
But for every time that we spent laughin’
There were two times that I cried
And you were tryin’ to make me your martyr
And that’s the one thing I just couldn’t do
‘Cause baby, I can’t hang upon no gender cross for you

‘Cause tables are meant for turnin’
And people are bound to change
And bridges are meant for burnin’
When the people and memories
They join aren’t the same

Still I hope that you can find another
Who can take what I could not
He’ll have to be a super guy
Or maybe a super god
‘Cause I never was much of a martyr before
And I ain’t ’bout to start nothin’ new
And baby, I can’t hang upon no gender cross for you

‘Cause tables are meant for turnin’
And people are bound to change
And bridges are meant for burnin’
When the people and memories
They join aren’t the same

But I hope that you can find another
Who can take what I could not
He’ll have to be a super guy
Or maybe a super god
‘Cause I never was much of a martyr before
And I ain’t ’bout to start nothin’ new
And baby, I can’t hang upon no gender cross for youtumblr_nm7ikrNGZJ1sg3ziao1_1280

Someone Tell Me That I’ll Live: On Murder, Media, and Being a Trans Woman in 2015 – xoJane

I am starting to think that trans women and trans femmes — all of us linked by the cardinal sin of being named boys at birth, yet breaking the rules of boyhood and manhood — are trapped inside a traumatized story. From an early age, we are inundated with the story of our deaths, we relive it over and over many times before we actually die.

This same story is taken up, commoditized, and mass produced by communities outside of ourselves — media outlets looking for sensational stories, academics looking to produce research, and as Morgan Collado points out, even “LGBT” human rights organizations eager to use the statistics of transphobic violence to garner funds used to pursue the interests of cis, white gays and lesbians.

Even well-meaning liberal cis people, eager to earn “ally” points, consume and exploit the narrative of the doomed trans woman in their way.

via Someone Tell Me That I’ll Live: On Murder, Media, and Being a Trans Woman in 2015 – xoJane.

Constance, you know my thoughts about this topic.  This article states them far more eloquently than I do.  There is a part of the article speaking about how people who “knew us then” feel as if we have died already…

…in light of the murder of trans-women being an almost ritualized offering of human lives to the bloodthirsty god of patriarchy, it feels so eerie, as if my own loved ones consign me to those fires with forked fingers and muttered incantations invoking protection against the evil (trans) eye…

My deepest sorrow is that my life seems a curse.  If I exist as I was, then I am doomed and serving life in a prison invisible and undeclared and I am forever derided because I am depressed or despairing or I am resented because I hated myself…

…and if I exist as I am, then I am resented because I am the cause of death of a man who never was and never could be, except in the thoughts and minds of everyone around me.  And all they offer me is the promise that they will give me their illusions and fears to prop me up and costume me and call it liberty, or they will call me Patrick Henry and give me death.

It is my choice they say.

Yes…it is…my choice.  And I choose Tikkun.

I choose to live, and let go of all other things I cannot control.  And if I die before you wake, then I pray the Lord your soul will take…to the fountains of truth and revelation…and then I pray that He will take you across that river you so proudly declared you would never cross…I pray that He will ferry you across Himself, and show you the blood-soaked ground that constitutes the banks of the river called Rejection.-dcaa8f4b5344b04a

 

always ever treasured

in the silent moments,
when nothing speaks
(you did know that, didn’t you?
Nothing speaks.
Have you not heard its voice?)

and to stopper its relentless words
my mind goes elsewhere,
and I wander back thru pages of the days
and chapters of the years
and past volumes of the decades
until I stop at last
in children’s books well thumbed
and read nearly to death.

it is there I see you still,
and in your running laughter
released and giggly grasping
our guts in gales of mirth.

i see your eyes unguarded,
your innocence intact,
your trust still whole, unshattered
unsullied by grief’s touch.

I see your wispy curls, I see your toothless grin,
I hear your nonsense singing always
and you there, secrets within and harbored deep and lonely
I see you there within.

you cannot know how I feel, here
now…because the books won’t open
into your life unlived and yet to be discovered.
Well…you could believe and listen
when I reach out wholehearted
and full of love to give
and wanting to redeem all
that depression ruined
and self-loathing polluted.

lovelies I was always there
though trapped so deep inside!
I was shipwrecked just as you
when you felt choked by your hometown
well I was dying in my body
smothered in its horror.

The present yous swim into view
and lay yourselves upon
the little yous there innocent,
those brand new perfect yous
and I see at the same time
the spectrum of your beings
in scintillating sharpness
so smudged by separation
and blurred by longing tears.

I see your cold and austere looks
I hear your voice demanding
your questions stark, commanding

“what does your flaw have to do with me?  What is your point?
So you suffered, big deal! Worse, you broke me mangled, mutilated
folded spindled, permeated all the air I ever breathed
with your dysphoric world!

“I was not given a choice! If I was, it would not be you!
so just step back, just go away and fade into the pages back
before our volume started, we are now ever parted”.

But as I said…they cannot read into their future
those pages remain stuck together, gummy in a messy wad
of yet to be determined, yet to there be written
in the blood of choices made and in the ink of voices raised
to speak of deeper things…or not.

regardless, I can still take out those books
and thumb the well worn pages
and read the much loved stories
of long lost wholesome glories.
and I will always love my babies there so cherished
and kissed and ever treasured, ever, ever treasured
always ever treasured.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

 

My Trans Story is Not Your Growth Experience

My Trans Story is Not Your Growth Experience.

This is one of the sharpest and to the true point essays I have read in recent times.  I am going to copy the whole thing here, but encourage you to follow the link as well…she deserves sober consideration for the topic she raises, and her pointing out of how we have unconsciously taken the other and turned their struggle into the affirmation of ourselves and thus have inadvertently reinforced the sexist and privileged paradigm that dictates thought is quite insightful and perhaps on the border of revolutionary.

When I say “we” and “our”, I am speaking of our society today collectively, and not myself specifically…but I will admit here that the lightbulb went on for me…and now, when I encounter people who do this around me, and some who have even done it with my own story, I will be armed to speak truth to power, albeit in my own way with Grace and Mercy and Kindness as my riverbanks, that the water from me will edify and build even as it challenges and changes.

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The Toast’s previous coverage of trans* issues can be found here. This post brought to you by figwiggin.

Last year, my girlfriend and I spent our first Christmas vacation together in my hometown of Dallas, TX. We’d been together for only a few months at the time, but she was excited to see the town I grew up in, so we boarded a flight after finals and landed a miserable 10 hours later. At the border an agent accosted me over discrepancies between my passport and my appearance.

This began happening more regularly after I started taking hormones in 2010, and for obvious reasons. Why a terrorist would be dumb enough to get a fake passport with an opposite gender marker, an opposite gender picture, and an opposite gender name is beyond me, but apparently the USA is absolutely terrified of such an eventuality. As the Hank Shrader-looking fellow glazed dumbly over the 5 pieces of ID I placed before him, I wore the same expression I always wear in these situations. I cock my head slightly, narrow my eyes, and swallow my lips as if someone is presenting a desiccated cat to me and I’m pretending to be nonchalant about it.

Several days later, my partner and I went to Barnes & Noble and I spied a book out of the corner of my eye bearing a name like My Husband Wears My Clothes or From John to Jane or something like that. Ever since I became aware of my trans-sexual identity I’ve become very attuned to this sort of thing. I suppose it’s like gay-dar, but much less sexy. I have a knack for immediately noticing any piece of media that even suggests trans-sexuality, as if I had heat-vision goggles on.

I cracked open the book, and immediately shut it. Of course. This was a memoir of another cis-woman who finds she isn’t as enlightened as she thinks she is when she finds her “husband” raiding her panty drawer and is subsequently transformed into a better person through the grace and patience of her partner.

As a member of a minority whose voice is very rarely heard, much less listened to, seeing such a piece of media unfailingly irritates me. It makes me feel like Richard Pryor in The Toy. My presence in another person’s life leads them to grow as a character, to undergo an arc. Character arcs are what define protagonists in stories. If a character goes through some trials and challenges and ultimately comes out of the story a different person, for better or worse, then they are a more fully realized character. As a trans person in this narrative I am relegated to a plot device. An obstacle. Something that must be overcome in order for the real protagonist, the cis-woman, to complete her arc.

Obviously the stories of partners, parents, and friends of trans people are valuable. The existence of this book and the multitude of books like it (see: Sex ChangesAlmost PerfectTrans-sister Radio) as well as films like Normal, provide comforting narratives for these people who are struggling with deep emotional questions about their own identities, attitudes, and beliefs when confronted with a profound change in someone close to them.  Transition is hard for all parties involved, and all emotional struggles are important. As a feminist it would be unbecoming of me to suggest that some perspectives are not valuable.

That said; I am completely sick of it.

Trans-sexuals are one of the most marginalized groups in North American society today: 1/5 of us are homeless for a portion of our lives; 57% of us are rejected outright by our families; 30% of us have a physical disability or mental condition; we have double the rate of unemployment of the general population, and half report being harassed on the job; we have four times the national average of HIV infections; 41% of us have attempted suicide; and these numbers get even worse when whites are separated out from the rest of the sample, leaving only racial and ethnic minorities.

One very effective method of countering all of these effects is the introduction of an accepting network of family, friends, and partners. In this way cis-centric narratives about trans people are very valuable to the trans community. My partner, who is a cis-woman, owes a small portion of her awareness of trans identities to a book she read at 14 called Luna, a young adult novel about a cis-girl and her transgender sister. I probably owe my sanity to my girlfriend. I love her, and if this book played a small part in expanding her mind, then surely it deserves to exist.

Please understand: it is not the cis-centric narratives themselves that I take issue with, but rather the prioritization of these narratives over stories of the actual marginalized population here, which in the case of trans-sexuals, in particular trans-women, means a population that generally lacks positive role models and protagonists of our own. We need role models in order to understand ourselves, and to have positive self-conceptions, especially considering we live in a society that largely despises us. It is not difficult to extrapolate that such a hateful cultural landscape would instill in us a profound self-loathing, a feeling of being freakish and different.

Yet, the most privileged narrative about trans people is not our story, but rather the story of how the cissies learn from us to not be complete asswipes, and are subsequently showered with praise and hole punches on their liberalism card.

Stories from the perspective of the “normals” which look in, almost voyeuristically, on the lives of the non-normals, are baby’s first empathy. It is far easier for the privileged to view the oppressed through the eyes of someone they can identify with, and that identification comes from a shared privilege. It’s a stepping-stone to truly feeling empathy for those who are different, even radically different, from you. However, it feels like many simply stop there.

On this level it makes perfect sense to me that stories like mine aren’t the ones getting the spotlight. Trans-gender people by their very nature fly in the face of thousands of years of shared cultural expectations of the immutability of gender, gender expression, and sex itself. Some see us as traitors, as traps, or as generally incomprehensible altogether. Even some feminists and gay activists shy away from us, or even go so far as to outright detest us. We complicate matters of gender and sex, changing them from static constructions to mutable shades of grey, just as the gays do, only more so. In order to understand us it makes sense to me that people would use a metaphorical telescope to view us instead of getting up close and personal. Cis-centric narratives are that telescope. They keep us at arms length and view us through a lens that is at once reductionist and familiar.

This is a necessary stepping-stone toward building empathy, but it is just that. A step. It is very worrying to me that this step is given so much more prominence than the actual lived experiences of minorities simply because it is easier and more palatable to the privileged.

At the time of this writing I haven’t traveled back home yet for Christmas 2013. My partner will be coming with me again, and for the first time since I embarked on this journey I will finally have a passport that reflects my true self. I received sex reassignment surgery in May, which made me woman enough for the Canadian government to stamp a tiny F next to my new name (yes, our stories continue on after the big surgery in the 3rd act.)

My girlfriend has never once said anything remotely transphobic to me, has never asked any prodding questions without my consent, and was fully supportive of me getting my surgery without ever suggesting that I don’t know what I need or how to run my own life. She doesn’t just owe this to some book, but to her own intelligence and introspective abilities, as well as her willingness to listen and learn. It is really not that hard to treat us like human beings. She is proof of that.

 

Desert Tryptich

Crunch-snik skitter-slide and trudge
has been my journey
step by step for long years.
The shifting sands lugubriously,
mockingly move and break promises
of direction, affirmation, guidance
and I am left thirsty again,
having drunk not even gall.
Yet sands still mount in dunes,
in waves, in mute grinding grains
of dull grey gold, and
will not end,
will not stop,
will not relent.

I have discovered
that one doesn’t die of thirst
when the water-words never come,
when the oasis is a cruel ostrich
buried in sand to avoid seeing me.
No, one lives on, persistently
dead in that cruel and sharp core,
throbbing and pulsing pain

(who knew
death hurt
so much,
so long,
so wide,
so deep?)

I turn to survey the cold and thriving
stubborn rim of flourishing thorns
and brush and stunted trees
that snigger behind my back
as they spot one of their own
without the sense to stop
walking and put down roots
and become assimilated.

Mountains stained
blood-light red and purple-bloat
rise in front, and promise a desert end.
Rain falls and I feel blessed relief
on my cheeks, eyes and tongue,
thirst promising to slake
and they touch the sands
and are swallowed up
by hunger so great it is as if
the rain was never there.
Crunch-snik scrinch skitterslide
towards those lofty promises
capped with frozen drink that
shouts to my heart

“Your fire, your fire will melt me and
I will soothe your dry throat always and
you will thirst no more”.

But when I get there, I find I was wrong,
for the snow crunch-sniks like sand,
I skitterslide and trudge as always
thru the same cold and empty world
And I see that like sand,
snow will not melt to become elixirs
I so desperately long for.

I will always long to be beautiful, desired, worthy…
but those jewels belong
to sun, sand, snow and
shall never be apples
in this cactus orchard of desert
to which I cross.

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