The Traditions Of My People

I did a poem at a Unitarian Coffeehouse, and I rememebered one thing that Kate Bornstein told me.  People, she said, need time just to look at a tranny and take them in before they can hear anything they say.

I wanted them to hear my poem “How Old,” so I took her advice.

“I am here tonight in the native dress of my people,” I joked.

In my world, see, part of being a transperson born male includes knowing the difference between a jeweled lash and a beaded lash. 

I rediscovered a quote:

If you really want to help the American theater,
don’t be an actress, dahling.
Be an audience.
 Tallulah Bankhead

Trans is so very much an indvidual journey, of that there is no doubt.  Like any journey, though, the only people who can help inform you are people who have traveled a similar path.  Now, all paths are similar — we are all human, after all — but I have learned much from reading everything I can find that contains even scraps of trans narratives.

That naturally means people who appeared in what I call “dragface”  — female impersonators, drags, and others who were the public face of transness for many decades.  So many of us learned to drag up, much as for a long while blacks could only appear on stage in blackface.

The traditions of my people are to have a public clown face and a private face that is kept hidden.

And this, well, this, is. . .

The Lesson

Isn’t “The Lesson” always the worst part of any reproach?

It’s not just “Someone forgot to flush the toliet upstairs and it needs cleaning,” rather it’s “Someone forgot to flush the toliet.  You go too fast and don’t think about things, and that’s why everything always ends up in a mess.  You need to slow down and think!”

What about the hundreds and hundreds of times I did flush properly?  What do those times show?

The Lesson, of course, isn’t about the incident.  The Lesson has been waiting there looking for another indicident to attach itself to, because it is truth just waiting for an excuse to be taught, pointed up again, highlighted and pounded in.

The Lesson is about how you do things wrong all the time, you fuck-up, and this incident just stands as another proof, another verfication of truth, another vindication of belief.

Of course, when you know that whatever you do right or good doesn’t count, and all that counts is when something does slip which validates The Lesson you will get it again, well, that tends to define you as only negative, right?

I screw up, I do. 

I would like to see those things in context.

Instead it is suggested that I see those things as proof of The Lesson, the one I am unable or unwilling to learn.

Disempowering, eh?