About a month ago, I got an email from a lady from ALAN to talk about my panel and what kind of questions will be asked etc. and if I was okay with the introduction for me and then as an ending note to the email, she said something to the effect of, ‘now this is a little bit awkward, but you have an unusual name, so I wasn’t sure if you’re male or female. On your Goodreads profile, it says you are male and I have assumed that to be correct. Please correct me if otherwise…’ And I sat there and just kind of stared at the email for a while, because honestly I’d never had the questions before and now what do I say?
Yes, that is correct.
No, that is not correct.
Actually, it’s sort of correct.
(My life needs a ‘pass’ button. Programmers I know? Please? Program the pass button?)
In the end, I wrote something like, ‘yes that’s correct, I’m trans.’
It was weird to write that. I’m not sure I’d ever written that about myself before. I suppose it had never come up. Either it didn’t come up for me or it didn’t come up for them, because times in my life it mattered very much and other times it didn’t at all, or it was so obvious even to myself what it was.
My good friend: Oh jesus, you told her you’re trans, what if now everyone thinks you’re trans because of this? And I told her, what if they do? It’s the truth.
You know, when I was growing up, I didn’t want to be a boy or a girl, I wanted to be a cat. I remember we were walking on the streets of Budapest and my mom ran into her old flame (who incidentally looks like Keanu Reeves, Lord Have Mercy.) And she, having not seen him in years, trying to look as good as she could introduced me and then she said, darling, why don’t you say hello to Peter? So I nodded and said:
:mother buries head in hands::
::old flame gets an expression like god DAMN am I happy I didn’t toss my hotdog down that hallway::
I remember looking at porn magazines in the magazine stalls (they had them out, not really hidden either) and the old lady would shoo me away, stop looking at those, you filthy little boy! It was weirdly humiliating and satisfying.
When I was a teenager, I talked about cutting certain parts of my body off when I became an adult. I didn’t know you could actually do this yet, but it seemed like a gold idea to me and everyone thought I was just saying weird radical shit. But I think about that still. I look in the mirror and I think if I had the money, and if it wouldn’t absolutely kill my mom, I would go in today and say cut this please and add this please and here is my money and thank you very much.
The thing is though that even amongst trans peoples everyone is generally in a big rush to get somewhere. “I’m a boy but I want to be a girl; I’m a girl but I want to be a boy,” Oh, so when will you start taking hormones? Me: Probably never? There is nowhere to take hormones TO. There is no destination, only a feeling that neither zero or one is what I am and when I think about am I a man or a woman, saying either feels like a lie. It’s like, no. My answer is no.
I draw like a girl and I X like a boy and I love like a cat and I wear clothes like a woman, but only because I think that makes me look better, because I’m silly and vain like that, but it feels like a costume. Platform shoes and pants tight enough to tell my religion and this perverse joy in thinking, I fooled you. This is a costume and it’s a lie.
Clothing. This goes way back. You know holidays like Halloween and Carnival, where you dress up in a costume? And incidentally, a lot of guys will dress up as women? The whole purpose of these ‘dress-up’ holidays started because of sumptuary laws designed to regulate what type of clothing people could wear. Essentially, in many societies and through much of history, people have not been allowed to dress counter to their gender/religion/social status, it was considered subversive, but on these special festival days in the year, those rules were relaxed—you could be a prince if you were a peasant and a woman if you were a man.
Then women started cutting their hair short and wearing pants and a few decades later Katharine Hepburn and her pantsuits and all of that was again considered undermining men who are in Power and women shouldn’t be trying to grab a piece of that pie, but now at the turn of this century, more and more teenage boys want to be cute and wear makeup and female clothing and grab a piece of the Cutie Pie Power girls have always had. You have more little boys being allowed to play with dolls and people are wringing their hands and oh this is a sign of the End and what I want to know is: When will it stop being shameful to be a girl or to want to be a girl? When?
I had a conversation about this with a good friend not that long ago. He was commenting on an earlier post where I said I had put my kid into a dress. He didn’t like it, he said it was pushing my agenda on the kid… and I said, what agenda? The one sex isn’t better than another sex agenda? Because I don’t see anybody putting little girls into pants being accused of pushing agendas on little girls. Because being a male is still better somehow.
Now I want to be a good mother, father, whatever the fuck. And I honestly DON’T believe in pre-emotively confusing kids, because I feel many people are truly happy in a gender box and totally satisfied and there is nothing wrong with that. And if my kid wants to play football, have a crew-cut, play with firetrucks boy stereotypes ad museum aha, that’s cool. Whatever. But it’s very hard to subscribe to this whole idea when 1. I don’t believe being either gender has any more or less worth than the other and 2. I spend literally a week vacillating as to what I should respond when a woman asks me the simple question, are you a man or are you a woman?
I want to be eight again and write her back ‘meow meow’.
There, I said it.
My sex is cat.
PS: If someone who does feel strongly about this but on the opposite side of my opinion happens to stumble upon this post, could you do me a favor and leave a comment as to why you believe it IS important that clothing and certain behaviors remain gender restricted? I am dying to hear an educated opinion or have a conversation about it.
Further reading, thank you, Paintblotch.