I used to think that being trans meant being restricted. It meant clutching at a binary and begging it to recognise you; it meant constricting clothes and horror stories of broken ribs. It meant reading lists and lists of labels, trying each one on like a badly fitting pair of jeans. Maybe this one will work. Mm, not quite right. I guess this one could fit? Pride was a buzzword, a requirement. It was part and parcel of The LGBTQQIAP++ Community. A community made of shitty jpegs covered in compression artifacts reciting suicide statistics. Care about us; we're dying.
Passing was a pipe dream; passing was just out of reach; passing was a myth; you weren't trans except for when you were passing. "Positivity posts" were an ineffective medication for an illness nobody let themselves speak about. Gender, a massacre - trans bodies, the victims.
It makes me sad to think about that time. What's worse, though, is the threat that my past is someone else's present. If I am sad for my younger, gender-questioning, terrified self, that sadness is mitigated by my present: I am no longer questioning, I am no longer terrified. That doesn't apply to everyone.
I'm not sure when it started to change.
It might have been:
- when I saw someone and couldn't determine: boy or girl?
- (As it happens, they were neither.)
- when I tried out a name, for a joke, for fun
- when that name stuck
- when I began to see my body as a friend instead of a traitor
- when I said "They/them, but it's not important,"
- and he told me that "No, I think it's important."
- the first time I passed, really passed
- and the second
- and the third
- when I chose glasses from the men's section
- when I bought my first flannel
- and boxers
- when I tried eyeliner
- and eyeshadow
- and black lipstick
- and shorts again
- when i started wearing skirts
- and going swimming
- when i got my real binder
- and dyed my hair
- cut it short
- grew it out
- and cut it short again.
Maybe it was none of those things. Maybe it was all of them.
- reading stone butch blues
- reading "on anarchism"
- finding horror
- making straight friends
- and losing them
- beginning to find trans bodies beautiful
- when i began to find myself beautiful
- listening to trans music
- reading trans books
- loving trans friends.
- hiding myself away from the words that hurt for reasons i can never quite articulate
- (getting introduced as a tranny.)
- and later, finding those words again on my own terms
I'm not sure how I would change it, if I would change it at all. The internet played a complicated role. Without it, I wouldn't have had the language to describe my experience. Maybe, though, I would've found my own language.
For a while - a long while - femininity was abhorrent to me. It was stifling, false, nauseating. I tried so hard to find true neutrality. I killed every interesting part of me to do it, and still failed at it. I tried masculinity, and found it equally unfulfilling.
So I gave up.
Somehow, that was the best thing that could happen. I'd created my own, equally constrictive set of expectations - swapped out one hell for another. Giving up allowed me to do... well, whatever I wanted.
It turns out, that what I want to do varies. I was close, I guess, with the genderfluid label, but even then: it was boy OR girl OR (carefully androgynous) enby. But now I'm
- a pansy with eyeshadow rivalling Bowie
- a boygirl in heels
- a butch wearing a floor length skirt
- the punkest kid at the bus stop
- the prettiest boy in the room
- a tranny, a faggy femme, a weird guy, a queer
- and happy.
I hope you're happy too, or will be soon.
I believe that trans means being free. Free to break rules, to be uncategorisable, unidentifiable. Free to wear dresses with packers and makeup with unshaved legs and all the rest of it. Free to experience joy, love, religion, language, family on our own terms. Free to live the lives that past queers fought for.
Gender's a performance, bitch, and I'm going to win a fucking Oscar.