Last night I called to wish TBBB a happy Valentine’s day. The guy she has been hanging out with didn’t come through with a card or anything, so she was watching The Wedding Singer and commiserating with the part about how no one will very love us.
“People at the Saturday dance were asking me where he was. I mean, they see us as kind of an item, but he just gets scared. I am sick of having to negotiate his fears,” she tells me. Yeah, I know. Negotiating the fears of others is the hardest thing about being trans, which along with doing it alone and having people reject your gifts because they can’t accept you are the difficult and painful things.
This was the first Valentines Day that TBB allowed her womanself to be open and vulnerable, beyond the shell of having to play the guy and take care of the girls, and because of that, the sting of all those years she had to stay hidden was hitting.
One thing that didn’t stay hidden yesterday, though, was a pair a fur trimmed high-heeled ankle boots. “They are so crossdresser,” she told me. “I bought them like six years ago, and was thinking about throwing them out, but instead of the jeans I usually wear, I wore them to the office. And all these women who dress up, who wear their business suits and such, well, they loved them! They wanted to know where they can get them! I was so surprised!”
I wasn’t quite so surprised. Last night I got dressed up to go to an event in Troy in a private space, where there were going to be four bands. One was Evolution Revolution who dress up as animals and sing songs of mythic tales, not just because humans are animals, but because it’s hot, according to their MySpace page.
It was a party last night, a cross-species, cross-dressing party, so I dressed up — iradescent burgundy nylon ball skirt, too much decollote, black robe, and neon red hair. I took lots of time to do my face, and did a nice job with eyeliner on the inside rim of the eye, along with lashes of course.
I drove down there and I parked right across from the door, where I could watch people enter. As many people were leaving as staying, and I didn’t see many of the ones who stayed who I could talk to. If I don’t talk to anyone, I may as well not exist.
I came back and spoke with parents, which was nice. Then my sister showed up here, hot and sweaty from her trip to the Y.
I was uncomfortable because I hadn’t showered and scrubbed off my makeup yet. But she has known I am a tranny for almost as long as I have, has seen me many times, and it isn’t really an issue for her, just for me, because I work so hard to not make my family have to deal with this, to not look to them for affirmation while not exposing myself to their discomfort.
It wasn’t an issue. She has brought a box of strawberries as a Valentines gift, along with wishes that I feel special and cared for on this day, as she had the night before when I called her, told her where the secret strawberry filled dark chocolate gift was, and wished her every blessing that people would see and valuer her beauty and her tenderness. It was nice, and they were just strawberries, not those monstrosities dipped in some kind of chocolatey coating people pull out on this day. Chocolate is great, dark and rich chocolate, but the stuff you have to oil up to stick to fruit isn’t chocolate and just gets in the way of good fruit.
We chatted about challenges she has at work, me standing there in my ankle boots. We had chatted about them before and I had offered one take on the suituation, whichs she demurred on, as she didn’t want to have to accept that view. Last night, though, I heard my words coming back to me from her as her own, and that felt good, because she had accepted the gift I gave her and made it my own.
When she left, she even leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. A few years ago I started insisting she kiss me on the cheek, to remind her that she is the kind of gal who can actually kiss people when she wants, reach out and touch them. Since then, it has been kind of a game with us, with me kissing her head sometimes, with her sometimes squirming like a sister when I offer my cheek, or sometimes adding a smart remark.
But last night she looked at me, vulnerable and alone, and she kissed me on the cheek without any prodding at all. It was sweet.
I went upstairs and pulled off my gothy clothes, changing into business ones with more appropriate and naturalistic hair. When I looked in the mirror, I looked good, even with in all that dark and well-applied makeup. I looked powerful.
Maybe it was the fact that I actually had someone affirm me, or the moment when I was in the right zone, maybe it was the watching of the taped Gilmore Girls & House, which speak to two very different sides of me (I am both a sharp chickie and a cerebral iconoclast who deals with everpresent pain), but I understood that power lied not in hiding but in just being Callan, whatever I was afraid people would think about the makeup or the brain. My man-hands will never go away, I will never be insvisible, but my choices towards pretty, smart and potent might just be seen as beautiful.
You know, like TBB’s fur-topped “crossdresser” boots were seen as beautiful when she finally got up the “what the fuck” to wear them into the office.
TBB and I talked about tranny defense mechanisms, the TV ones where you stay a “Swedish Chef” speaking pretend woman and assuming that no one born male can do better, and the TS ones where you climb into the sex change bubble and close out anyone who offers challenges to your self-mythology.
She and I can’t really do that. We don’t know how.
But even if we forget sometimes, we know the only power we have is being big and beautiful, being ourselves. We can’t hide to connection, we have to reveal. And as people who have lived through the stigma, who are often not see as tender, open, vulnerable women learning to engage emotion, who are often told just to butch up, well, sometimes that’s hard.
But what other choice is there than to expose our own rich & potent selves, to get our external choices in line with our hearts and just wear the damn cute ankle boots, even if people might pigeonhole us some odd way because of that choice?
What other choice is there to be who we are and show that, not worrying about people’s comfort?
What other choice is there than to just be Callan?
Oh, wait. I remember. It’s to feel the stigma and hide for other people’s comfort and to respect my own pain and fatigue.