The thing I find interesting about racism is that very few people are ever willing to admit that as a result of being indoctrinated in a racist society that they have ever contributed to racism, even inadvertently. I know I have, and I know that it is extremely painful for me to admit that even to myself, much less publicly, but if I cannot face that fact squarely and honestly, then how can I ever truly be said to understand my own place in the world?
There is a 100% probability that I have said at least one thoughtless racist thing in my life directly to a person who I love whom it harmed. Were they to hold a mirror up to me and call me to account, I would feel incredible shame for having participated in the marginalisation of others even as I am marginalised for my own heritage. It has happened before, but as time has passed and I have learned more, those incidents have become fewer and fewer.
I believe I still have a long way to go, a lot to learn, not just in terms of how race intersects with my life, but other aspects of my personality that may cause pain to others. I hope that one day, through hard work, I can eradicate all vestiges of oppression from my being.”
– Gemma Seymour, 14 April 2014
Elemental Blessings, Redux
I had occasion today to speak about my ex, and it occurred to me that she is not “hunti through and through”, as I said, but a woman with a torz soul whose blessings are hunti, hunti, and extraordinary.
She is a woman who seeks from this life serenity, contentment, and the security of wealth. These are all torz blessings, but her gifts are the hunti blessings I identified the other day, synthesis, certainty, and power. With those as her blessings, she will surely fulfill her desires.
It’s funny, because I think that had we better understood each other, we would have seen that we each were trying to force the other into a mold which was our own, respectively, to embrace. She wished me to provide her with the stability, nurturing, and security that are the hallmarks of hunti and torz, whereas I demanded of her intelligence and imagination, clarity, vision, hope, and honot to match my own sweela and elay.
We’d have been much better off with her accepting her strengths as the financial provider, the productive soil and solid stone and metal, and me as the inspiring, carefree spirit of air and fire. Had we been able to properly understand each other, we’d have been perfectly matched.
I wonder what qualities my daughter will develop. I hope she does not find the need for the torz endurance that has marked the lives of my mother and myself, but as much as I recognise the usefulness of wealth and power, I have come to feel that in my life, I would have been happier pursuing a simpler existence more amenable to uncertainty and change. I would wish her elay kindness and joy, torz patience, coru surprise and flexibility, hunti courage, sweela clarity, and most of all extraordinary triumph.
But today, I placed my faith in hunti courage, and torz honesty. I am not the person she married, not even the person she divorced. I am, finally, at last, the person I was always meant to be. I did not wish the freedom she forced upon me, but I cannot fail to recognise that together, it is likely that neither of us would have found ourselves. Throughout the process of our divorce, I knew that being on her own would turn out to be the best thing for her. The past six years since she resolved to be rid of me have completely changed my perspective of the world and what I want from it.
I don’t think that anyone who is truly honest with themselves can deny that after spending 20 years with another person as an intimate part of your life that you will always bear a certain fondness and love for them. I have seen the evidence of this in women who are very close to me, most especially in the sister of my heart, Stephanie.
I am in some ways, still very deeply angry with my ex, but it is time for me to accept that she has her way, and I have mine, and I must accept that she has closed certain doors that I have no right to open. I bear her no ill will, and in fact, wish her nothing but the best this world has to offer. I myself will be content with far less. I find my security not in wealth, but in somewhat more ephemeral.
The hardest lesson I’ve learned in life is that no one, but no one, owes you answers, time, or attention, not even a reaction or notice, simply because you want them.
I wish that I had been taught that lesson by someone, anyone, who came before me—my mother, my father, anyone—but it wasn’t until I learned that lesson for myself that I understood the reason they never taught it to me was because they themselves had never learned it.
When someone disagrees with you, they are not beholden to you simply because they disagree to explain to you why they disagree. I cannot think of a single life lesson that will be more valuable to your development as a human being than coming to terms with this realisation. As someone who talks a lot about how equal dignity is the central pillar of my philosophy of morality, it surprises even me, now that I recognise it, that more people don’t understand this simple fact.
Your time, energy, and attention is yours and yours alone, and no one has the right to demand them of you. If you are willing to engage in discourse or dialog, then the only equitable means of engaging is by the exchange of equal value. The only exception to this rule is when you have yourself committed a prior wrong against that person; only then do you incur a debt that must be repaid upon demand.
Our lives impinge upon other people, whether we realise it or not; the statements we make and the actions we perform have consequences that we may not always see or understand, consequences that may harm others, even if our intentions are pure. People are within their rights as autonomous, equally dignified beings to choose how much and how little they will share with you. Be thankful that they offer you the gift of saying, “No. I disagree.” It may be all they are able to offer, and it may be the most valuable gift you ever receive.”
– Gemma Seymour, 3 April 2014
After getting my settlement credit from Amazon, I finally got around to buying Sharon Shinn’s “Royal Airs”, the second book in her Elemental Blessings series. I finished reading it the other night, and I enjoyed it quite as much as the first, “Troubled Waters”.
Sharon’s description of the mythology in the country of Welce reached me at about exactly the same time as I was forming my own vision of an elemental symbology, and she was already one of my favorite authors of all time. A long time ago, I made a graphic to show my personal elemental blessings. I am a elay woman, a creature of air and spirit, but my blessings are Intelligence¸ Imagination, and Endurance, which are sweela, sweela, and torz, respectively: Fire, Fire, and Earth. My personal symbology is slightly different, but I equate torz with organic Earth, and hunti with inorganic Stone, or Metal, if you prefer.
The three blessings of intelligence, imagination, and endurance represent to me my personal attributes, but my ideals, what I strive for, are all elay: kindness, vision, and grace. And so, while I am probably more accurately described as a sweela woman, I prefer to be known as elay, and choose to pursue elay qualities in my mature years.
I was thinking about it a little more this evening, and I thought it might be interesting to work out the blessings for those who have had profound effects on my life, my mother and father, my brother, and my ex-wife.
My mother is, I think, a torz woman, and her blessings are torz, torz, and elay—endurance, honesty, and beauty. My mother has endured more than most in her life, and is still indomitable. I wonder if my mother has ever told a lie in her life, and sometimes I wish she would. Her beauty in her youth was unmatched, and she has passed that on in part to me, and even moreso to my daughter. My own endurance stems directly from hers. Endurance is a bittersweet blessing.
My father was a sweela man, and his blessings were sweela, sweela, and coru—intelligence, talent, and travel. He burned out younger than I might have liked, and far from the land of his birth. He would have been happier as an artist or musician than a doctor, I think. His talent as an artist and musician was passed on to both myself and my brother. I got more of the music, my brother more of the art.
My brother is a coru man, and his blessings are all coru—change, travel, and luck. I wonder if even he knows where he will end up, but he has been many things and in many places in his volatile life, and is lucky, I think, to still be around.
My sister is also coru, I think—change, swiftness, and surprise. My sister is an odd one, but her life is nothing if not turbulent, like river rapids.
My ex-wife is a hunti woman through and through, and her blessings are hunti and extraordinary—power, certainty, and synthesis. If she reads this, I am sure that she will either think me quite mad, or wonder why it is that I could not see this before in her. I am also certain that she will be surprised to hear that I have such a high opinion of her.
The answer to that is two fold, first because these traits were hidden in her during the years we spent together, in some ways hidden even from herself, and second because I didn’t know at the time what I was looking at, exactly. I used to joke that I’d somehow managed to marry a woman exactly like my mother, but the qualities of my mother I didn’t like. That was, in retrospect, only superficially true. She has, I think, finally come into her own, a Queen of Pentacles, in tarot speak, as I am a Queen of Swords.
The last one is the one I will find, the one who will be my partner for the rest of our lives. I’m not sure what her ruling element will be, but I am betting on elay or torz, and I believe her blessings will be elay, elay, and torz—kindness, grace, and serenity. Kindness and grace, because that is what I need in my life, what I wish to share, and how I intend to spend the rest of my days, and serenity because she will need it to put up with me. :D
The first two books in the series have covered coru and elay, but I think it’s obvious from the ending of “Royal Airs” that the third book, whenever it should appear, will be sweela—Corene in Malinqua. Corene, a sweela woman with whom I share two sweela blessings, intelligence and imagination, but whose third blessing of hunti courage, I have never been able to muster as well as I might have wished.
You can see all 48 blessings here:
My friends treated me to a steakhouse dinner tonight for a special occasion celebration. One of my roommates just sold a large collection of her artwork, consisting of most of her life’s work, an entire career of illustration work bought by a single collector. She brought along a bottle of 1998 Chateaux Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classé from her collection, and it paired very nicely with my Prime rare rib-eye steak. I even wore my pearls and that Michael Kors top I keep forgetting I even have.
ermagerd! hi, me! #gpom
First halfway decent picture in a year that I can use for a profile photo.
Minimal makeup: Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel as foundation primer, L’Oreal Paris True Match W4-5 liquid concealer, L’Oreal Paris True Match W6 powder, L’Oreal Paris Lineur Intense Felt Tip eyeliner in Black Mica, L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes mascara in Black, Maybelline Great Lash in Clear used as brow gel, L’Oreal Paris Infallible Plumping 6HR Lip Gloss in #306 Plumping Red.
La Mer de Lune
I smile, tilting my head forward a bit, so that she can’t see the heat in my cheeks, as I prod again at the slice of lemon that I’ve been muddling for some time at the bottom of my Sour Godmother. I have to try to remember not to do that, to maintain eye contact, even though looking into her eyes is disconcerting. Her voice washes over me like the gentle waves I’d left 3000 miles behind me, and I feel slightly dissociated and more than a little frightened.
What are we? What am I doing here? Why can’t I even ask her if this is a date, or not? What’s Hecuba to her, or she to Hecuba, right? Why does it matter, right now? It shouldn’t matter, right? Why did I freak out when she asked me if I wanted to meet for coffee, and not immediately respond, “Yes”? I said all those stupid things, instead of “yes”, when what I meant was “yes”, and them when she didn’t get right back to me, I freaked out for days that I’d totally blown it.
And then she asked again. This time, I said “Yes!” Immediately.
I’m so used to falling off cliffs, I suppose, that what frightens me is not the inevitable sudden stop, but the possibility of finding out I’ve been doing it all wrong all along. That love shouldn’t be a thing that happens, but that you do. For which you choose to be available. That this…this deliberation (and what an ironic word that is, de-liberate) is the true secret of happiness.
I keep hearing my ex asking me that horrible question, “Why do you love me?” The question I could only ever answer with, “Because I do.” The answer that was not enough for her. How do you answer that question without your love turning to ashes in your mouth? How do you pin Love to a board like a dead thing you can keep under glass and hang on a wall?
Pisces. I just realised that. Same as my mother. My ex was a Libra, you know? And my daughter is a Gemini. Not that I believe in that sort of thing, I really don’t, but why do I get the feeling that this is no accident, when I am a Sagittarius? I am surrounded by dichotomy, and in a way, I am dichotomous, myself, but don’t tell anyone I told you that, okay?
Of all the girls I’ve dated in my life, save two, half have been Jewish, and half have been Irish. Except my ex, the one I married, and the one I thought was crazy, but who turned out to be probably more sane then I am at this point. Guess who is sitting at a bar talking with a vivacious woman who is both Irish and Jewish, and getting way too far ahead of herself?
Hello, me. Moth, meet Flame.
"when you are adrift on the sea"
when you are adrift on the sea
without sails, oars, or engine
you are at the mercy of passing currents
you can shift your weight
from side to side
in your lifeboat, if you have one
hoping to be pushed a little further along
thankful you are at least floating
you spend your days staring up
at an expanse of sky
blank like the datebook
you keep because
that is what successful people do
save for the one baleful, burning eye
of withering conscience
you spend your nights staring up
at endless possibilities
a trillion pinpricks
relentlessly out of reach
and forever racing away from you
countless needles of shame
plans are for people
who can afford to make plans
when you are adrift on the sea
your world condenses
to this space
that fits within the compass of your arms
to this one measureless moment
sargasso spun in stasis
buddha said ‘thirst’
but tears are made of salt water
—gemma seymour, 29 january 2014
1985, Late Spring, New York City
i am 16 years old, at the tail end of my Junior year of high school. i am deeply involved in theatre at my school, despite its focus on math & science. i am a keyboardist, a student of pianoforte as well as pipe organ, and i purchase the July issue of Keyboard magazine, desperate to read about all the latest developments in the music world. i want so much to follow in the footsteps of Depeche Mode, Yaz, Thomas Dolby, and Howard Jones, of Devo and Kraftwerk, of Herbie Hancock…and of Wendy Carlos.
there is a woman on the cover whom i have never seen or heard before, pictured with a Fairlight CMI. her beauty is otherworldly, and her name is Kate Bush.
the article and interview captivate me. after school, i rush to tower records at 4th & Broadway, and purchase “The Dreaming”, her latest album
("Hounds of Love/The Ninth Wave", the album that would finally garner Kate some attention in the US, with the hit single, "Running Up that Hill" didn’t drop until September, with the single debuting on WLIR 92.7 FM in August, and eventually peaking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100).
it’s an LP, so I can’t hear it right away. i tuck it into my danish school bag, and make the nearly 2 hour trek commute home to College Point, where i am able to finally climb to my bedroom on the third floor to hear it, in the apartment that once belonged to my great-grandfather Henry Seymour, who came to this city from Manchester, England, with my great-grandmother Lydia (née Haughton), and my grandfather Arnold, but 18 months old at the time in 1922.
i am transfixed.
her music touches me so deeply, it awakens a part of my soul that i was only vaguely aware existed. it is the first flowering of my womanhood.
to this day, Kate’s music transfixes me with its shocking beauty and unerring ability to pierce to the deepest core of my being. i’m not sure that words can ever really do justice to the visceral response she evokes in my heart. i don’t think i could have survived the next few years of my life without kate’s music.
(this image was used for a promotional poster for "The Ninth Wave", which hung on my wall for many years. i think i still have it, a bit worse for the wear.)
"The Dreaming", Kate’s fourth album, is widely recognised as one of the best albums of all time, and a must listen for any serious student of music. if you have not had the opportunity to become familiar with Kate’s work, as i suspect many of my younger friends may not have, i would recommend you begin chronologically with her first single, “Wuthering Heights”, from her first album, "The Kick Inside", from 1978. as a special treat, Kate was to revisit the vocal for "Wuthering Heights" in 1986, for her first compilation album, “The Whole Story”. the contrast between the two versions is remarkable, juxtaposing the crystalline 18-year-old Kate with the mature and rich 26-year-old Kate.
i look at you and see
my life that might have been
your face just ghostly in the smoke
this is where i want to be
this is what i need
this is where i want to be
but i know that this will never be mine
ooh, the thrill and the hurting
will never be mine
of all her music, it is perhaps the two songs from her album, "The Sensual World", from 1989, that turn me quite inside out the most easily, "Never Be Mine", a video of which i posted just prior to this, and "This Woman’s Work", because that song speaks perfectly of the abject terror i felt the night my daughter was born, utterly helpless as i was, not knowing if i would be going home that dark, hot night alone.
as a trans woman, to hear the lyrics from the father’s point of view sung with a woman’s voice is so poignant, like hearing my own voice that will never be coming from a place deep within.
i know you have a little life in you yet
i know you have a lot of strength left
i should be crying but i just can’t let it show
i should be hoping but i can’t stop thinking
of all the things i should’ve said that i never said
all the things we should’ve done that we never did
all the things i should’ve given but i didn’t
oh darling, make it go, make it go away now
there is one other piece of hers that shatters me, and that is "Waking the Witch", from "The Ninth Wave”.
spiritus sanctus in nomine…deus et dei domino…
GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY
of course, i am a witch of sorts, so that probably isn’t surprising, but it is entirely possibly that it was this song that lead me to my path.
sadly, Kate was to make only a single appearance in the US on Saturday Night Live, and has never since played live on this side of the Atlantic. she toured only once, briefly during 1979, and has since appeared live only rarely, preferring to release recordings only. she holds the honor of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Tonight, I was rebuilding a PC out of parts, and was copying files over from various old hard drives, when I came across this selfie that’s probably from the first half of 2009, so I decided to give you a bit of fan service…
I was not a boy, and you can’t make me into one.
I think it’s really important that people understand that institutionalised violence has an insidious way of getting us to kill off parts of ourselves in order to survive, even though we know that by doing so, we are going to be ostracised for being violent.
When you’re growing up as a trans girl, even before you have the words to express it, you exist in a role where violence is used against you in order to instill violence in you. You are expected to use that violence against others, and paradoxically, to use it in the protection of others, as well, whether those others want you to, or not.
When you are a trans girl, and even you don’t really know how to communicate that to yourself, even though its seeping out of every aspect of who you are, the boys around you will be taught that you deserve violence, and this is not the kind of violence that boys direct at girls, it is the kind of violence that they reserve for those they view as traitors to the cause.
And so, if you wish to survive this kind of vindictive punishment, often the only path open to you is to defend yourself with equal force, to tear out a part of your soul, light it on fucking fire, and shove it down their throats hard enough so that they finally leave you alone, because now they know pain, too, and now they know fear, too.
But none of this ever happens in a vacuum. Others see it, and you are forever marked as Other from those with whom you feel the most affinity, at the very time in your life when understanding the differences between is critical. Girls fear you in a way that you can never, ever repair. And you learn to hide that, because all that you have left is to cling to the knowledge that you’re still alive, that the boys they sent to kill you couldn’t take you down.
I was a strange kid. The smartest kid in town, terrible at sports, great on piano (and spending hours in a basement with only a piano and a dehumidifier and a kitchen timer for company isn’t exactly conducive to your athletic ability, such as it is, nevermind your social skills, let me tell you). I used to play Barbies with the two girls across the street, who were the older sisters of a boy near my age. That boy and my older brother made a practice of ganging up on me, until I would finally explode, usually in tears and frustration. This was the mid 1970’s, and I would become the test subject for what we now call ‘gifted and talented” programs.
At age 6, in 1st Grade, they started sending me to 2nd Grade for certain lessons. I think that was the year I played Little League, the only year I ever participated in sports. At age 7, in 2nd Grade, they started sending me to 3rd Grade and 5th Grade for lessons. Around this time, I started to emulate the girls around me. I spent hours and hours teaching myself to write like the girls I admired, daydreaming about spending more time with them. They started sending me around the school to teach the teachers how to operate the new film projector, and bought me a weather station to predict the weather for the school.
At age 8, in 3rd Grade, they hired me my own teacher, and converted a broom closet into my own little classroom. At age 9, I was taken from the public school I attended with all the other kids in my neighborhood, and sent to a fundamentalist evangelical school, where I found myself in a classroom with one boy and 11 girls, 10 if you don’t count me. Suddenly, I was the butch one, if you can believe it, the first one picked for sports teams.
I stayed there until I was 12, in 1981, when I went back to public school in a new town, now the new kid, but inexplicably shut out of the “gifted and talented” program, because that “Christian” school altered my transcript and gave me lower grades. At least they’d managed to let me skip 5th Grade, the only thing those zealots ever did for me that was positive. Otherwise, they did their best to crush the spirits of every child in the school and turn them into mindless born again drones.
I hadn’t quite hit puberty, yet. I was one of the smallest kids in 8th Grade, and my best friends were all girls. My favorite class was Math, mainly because the desks were arranged in pods of four, and I sat with Karen, Lynn, and Leni (my first real crush). I was visibly brown in a town full of white people, and I lived on the outskirts of town, pretty far away from most of the other kids I knew. The bullying started pretty quickly. I learned to fight back. My older brother wasn’t exactly the gentle type with me, so fighting was something with which I’d already been familiarised.
But the fights in 8th Grade weren’t just kids being kids, anymore. I learned how to be ruthless and dangerous at their hands. By 9th Grade, after one final knock-down-drag-out in the parking lot behind Holy Spirit High School after a school dance, I no longer needed to fight, but the damage was done. Puberty had hit. The girls with whom I’d been so close the year before were now distant from me. Academically, I was still an outsider, since I was denied the honors classes as a result of the fact that I wasn’t in the gifted and talented program the year before, so I was usually the only “smart” kid in my classes.
I started to get involved in theatre, got my first pair of Capezio tap shoes, but that was brought to an abrupt halt when my parents separated in January 1983, and we moved back to New York City, where, once again the new kid, I ended up going to Flushing High School, at that time, one of the worst in the city. I started carrying a makeshift knife to school, because people having guns pulled on them in the halls wasn’t as uncommon as you might think.
I had to get out of there. The last week of school, I found out about Stuyvesant, and I took the SHSAT and was accepted. Once again, I was in a new environment where I knew no one, but I got back into theatre, and discovered makeup and nightclubs. I had my first kiss and my first girlfriend. The next summer, my mother moved back to South Jersey, and I went with her for the summer, while my brother and sister stayed in NYC. My mother worked nights, and slept during the day. Again, I was alone in a town where I knew no one. I started hanging out on the boardwalk, a loner. I started smoking. I filled my days with books about the Vietnam War. I was 15 years old.
In the fall of 1984, I returned to NYC to live with my grandparents to start my junior year at Stuyvesant, while my brother and sister went to Ocean City, NJ, where my mother had chosen to live. Because my commute to school was 1.5 hours from College Point to lower Manhattan, and because I was involved in theatre, I had a lot of excuses to stay out late. My grandparents were fairly lax about it. The drinking age was still only 19, so getting into nightclubs was fairly easy.
My best friends were still all girls, and I started to dress like them, in any way I could without causing suspicion. I started experimenting with makeup outside of the theatre. I started to question who I was. But, as far as everyone else was concerned, I was a boy, and that was that, and all I could see in the mirror was ugliness. Nevertheless, I had a wonderful girlfriend, who was a senior that year (yes! I had a sempai/kohei relationship! :D ). Her girlfriends became my girlfriends, and when they all graduated at the end of that year, I felt a very deep loss. Incidentally, years later, she would become the first person I cared about to whom I came out.
My summer of 1985 was spent in Ocean City, where I still knew no one, but now had to contend with being “Bryant’s little brother”. I swear, no one there even knew my name, or at least, no one ever used it directly. But, having little affinity for the boys of our crowd, and already having a serious relationship, I didn’t involve myself that much with the girls there, either. I was an outsider, something I’d often been in my life.
By my senior year, I’d already decided that I wanted to pursue a career in theatre, and that year, I somehow managed to have three serious relationships with girls. In the fall of 1986, I headed off to Carnegie-Mellon as a Music Theatre major, and had already begun to grow out my hair. It grew like a weed back in those days. By the spring of 1988, it was halfway down my back, and still growing. I didn’t have a meal plan that year; eating sporadically, when I could cadge food from my roommate and friends, and drinking bottomless cups of coffee until my hands shook, I dropped to 130 lbs.
It was a common occurrence for me to be properly gendered in those days, or as you probably would have thought of it at that time, misgendered. As slender as I was, with the long hair, people routinely thought I was a girl, even despite my height of 6’ 1” tall. Whistles and catcalls were a daily bother. I ended up dropping out/getting kicked out, leaving CMU just after spring break of my sophomore year, for reasons.
On December 30, 1989, three weeks after I turned 21, I got spectacularly drunk and told someone else for the first time that I wanted to be a girl. It would be 19 more years before I would finally transition.
All of this only begins to scratch the surface of my childhood. I started writing this because I needed to express something of the facts about what I experienced growing up as a trans girl, and yet, I don’t think I can ever really capture it in words, the trauma that we face, forced into roles which we didn’t choose and wouldn’t have chosen, and not having the resources, the tools, even the knowledge of how to get out of them. As a lesbian, there were things I didn’t have to face that might have been more immediate had I preferred boys. But at the same time, being lesbian meant that there was always the sexual tension to contend with between myself and the girls with whom I felt kinship.
Being ripped from everything that is most like you in the world because the world says you aren’t what you are is not something that cis people can or will ever understand in quite the same way as trans people. And there are huge gaps in my understanding of those years, because of the fact that I moved so often during the most critical years of my development. I have often thought that no having had the experience of growing through those years with the same set of girlfriends caused me to miss out on some things, even if I’m not sure exactly what.
But, it’s not just a matter of being separated from the place you should occupy; it’s also about being shoved into a place from which there is no escape, no alternative, but to embrace your own capacity for violence, or accept bodily harm and possibly death in a very real way. We read a lot in recent years about the emotional violence young girls use as a weapon against each other, but I wonder how much we really understand the emotional violence that boys also employ, and back up with not just the threat of physical violence, but with actual assault, because we keep studying that violence as if it’s employed only against other boys, and not the trans girls hidden among them, as well.
I don’t know how well I’ve expressed this here, but there is a part of me that will always hate myself for what I’ve had to do in order to remain sane and alive. There is a part of me that despises what I became, bit by bit, at various points in my life, and how that made me into something that in the eyes of others was dangerous to the girls around me. It’s too easy to say, “just don’t be like that” with all the perspective of years. In the moment, for a child, we do the best we can.
I will never forget that night, that last fight at Holy Spirit High School in the fall of 1982, with that boy who outweighed me sitting on top of me, his hands full of my hair while he beat the back of my head on the pavement behind the school, with I don’t know how many people looking on with glee. I hit him as hard as I could, but I couldn’t get him off of me. If my brother hadn’t rescued me by kicking him off of me (and that only because the fight was obviously unfair at that point), I don’t know what would have happened. And then, the police showed up, and everyone scattered.
I was 13 years old, just shy of 14. I’d only just hit puberty a few months before. I was a 13 year old girl who didn’t even know how to express that or even really understand it, at the mercy of the world of men. And I certainly didn’t have the possibility of even one parent who could tell me how they handled their own journey in a way that was remotely similar to my own experience.
So, don’t come to me a tell me of the shame of getting your period. I know shame. Maybe not the same kind of shame, but shame nonetheless. The shame of your body letting you know in no uncertain terms that you are at its mercy is something with which I am intimately familiar.
And don’t come to me and presume to tell me what it means for boys and men to harass you in public, to put their hands on your body without your consent, as if I was one of them, because I know what it means to feel that touch, and their punches, and their kicks, too.
Don’t tell me how embarrassed you were to have hips and breasts, unless you’re willing to sit with me and listen to me tell you of the nights I cried into the bathroom mirror silently so my grandparents wouldn’t hear, convinced that I was a hideous creature that no one could ever really find attractive, much less love, and listen to me tell you of what I go through now, with a body that will never quite be enough of one thing or the other for too many people.
Don’t come to me and presume to tell me of my supposed male privilege, unless you want to hear me tell you what boys and men really say about girls and women when they think there are no girls and women around, and how it feels for a young girl to witness that first-hand, and the real fear of knowing that in order to obtain even a basic education, you must first agree to engage in warfare, to be sent to the other side of the world and kill innocent people whether you want to or not.
Don’t come to me, and don’t come to any other trans woman with these things, until and unless you are willing to listen, to really fucking listen without making it about you, to our stories, too, and accept us as sisters.
Tall Girl Problems: “Is this supposed to be a dress, or a shirt?”
I own a number of things that I’m pretty certain were sold as dresses, but which are just barely long enough for me to wear as tops. The perils of being in the 99+th percentile (5’ 10” and up for US white women). I’m actually in the 99.9+th percentile for US women.
Hell, I’m in the 95th percentile for US white men.
oh wow. you know that feeling when somebody says something that brings up a memory for you that should be happy, but then you realise that there’s a part of it that you try not to think about, because you didn’t live up to society’s expectations of the gender they imposed on you, and you feel embarrassed by that, but then you’re all fuck that shit because you were never that gender anyway, so why should i feel bad about this but i do?
yeah. i just had one of those moments.
and friend of a friend just said, “i got engaged there (this restaurant a friend was talking about)!” and I was all, “i got engaged (at this other restaurant)…”
and then i remembered that i got shit for not getting down on one knee. like, in the moment, it didn’t even occur to me to do that. i was so excited, i thought i was being so clever/funny by disguising the ring as one of her birthday presents (even though i knew she’d recognise the box for what it was, being as pretty much no one ever gives a box that size as a present to their girlfriend of 10 years without knowing exactly the significance of a tiffany & co. blue box that size tied with a red ribbon, like srsly at that point in a relationship a box that size is only for one thing).
like, all those little things about being dudely that i was just FAIL, because guess what, *not a dude*.
and…oh fuck i just realised that the 12th anniversary of that night is in two days.
feeling just a little nervous…
my hair’s gotten a bit longer…