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. . .

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