The Path To Queer

You don’t have to be trans to be queer.

You don’t have to be gay to be queer.

All you have to be is yourself in a world of people who are trying to fit in.

To be queer, you just have to honor the unique, the different, the powerful, the wild in yourself and in others.  You have to respect yourself as an individual, standing out & standing proud, rather than trying to fit nicely into the expectations of those around you.

One thing Helen Boyd & I have gone around on is if her position primarily the partner of a tranny, or if her position is primarily about her own individuality, her own uniqueness, her own queerness.  She finally seems to be coming to that position, and it’s good to see, even if the transition to ENDA support seems somewhat forced, although very topical.

As a transperson, I know that the cost of having a relationship with someone who hasn’t engaged and accepted their own queerness is just too high.   The price to me is the price of meeting their expectations about who I should be, about how I should fit in, about how I look to their friends.

For example, Jeanette would date straight identified guys, and when she was read as being born male, when her passing slipped a tiny bit, their internalized homophobia would kick in, and she would get blamed for it.   They knew they were dating someone male bodied, but they needed their rationalizations, their myths, and when those were torn, even a bit, their own training in staying normative, training in fear and loathing their own Eros, kicked in.

To desire me is to out yourself, and too often that means you think I have some obligation to keep your own facade in place, if even to yourself.  I don’t.  That expectation makes me responsible for your fears, fears only you have the power to control.   I have seen too many trannies twist themselves into pretzels trying to meet normative expectations, and then still be punished for the failure to quell the fears of others.

I may have a tiny PPP — potential partner pool — but the one thing that is required is that someone be post-therapy, with at least the commitment and the skills to engage their own assumptions, prejudices & fears, instead of pushing that work off onto others.  That’s required, otherwise you find me draining & intense.

I even know that people who identify as gender queer have big issues with this, because they have assumptions, prejudices & fears about people who appear too well assimilated, or even as Tommy had at SCC, about anyone raised as a man.  Oy.

You don’t have to be trans or gay to be queer, affirming individual expression in yourself and others.  In fact, many people who identify as trans or gay are determinedly not queer, ready to explain at the drop of a hat why others are sick, perverted or queer, and they are normative.

But that path to affirming the uniqueness and specialness in everyone, in supporting them in doing things that scare us, as long as they don’t hurt others without consent, well, that path to queer seems very, very important to me.


It’s been six days of going out in the world, and to tell you the truth, I am disheartened.

On the promos for season four of Project Runway on Bravo, theres a gal who announces “I’m a woman. Of course I’m emotional.”

I too need that heartspace like I need air.

I have a theory that the reason there are so few femmes with blogs is that the act of blogging has to come from some intellectual space. Just the requirement to make sense in writing means you have to think. I got a call for submissions from a femme anthology, and the editor had to say in big letters NO FICTION! THIS IS NON-FICTION ONLY! I guess lots of us wanted to tell stories, felt we communicated best in stories, not in prose.

But after my week in the world, well not enough soft and safe for me. Life turns into just a drag, if you will pardon the pun.

My defenses are in my head, and so when I need to feel defended, it’s my head that comes into play. And when I do that, it’s just too easy to stiffen my spine and snap back into that space where I am not vulnerable, not open, not pretty.

It is the moments, like church on Sunday, where the emotional comes to the surface & I drop my defenses that I feel most alive & present. I know that’s hard for people to understand when they see my big brain surface; if I am so smart why should feeling be so important to me?

When that shared emotional component isn’t present then being invisible seems like a good option. I don’t need to keep up the same defenses, and I can live my private emotional life. Just me in jeans and polo shirt, out and easy.

The flip? Being invisible pretty well assures that shared emotional component will never be present. Catch-22 was my favourite book for years.

How do I be vulnerable enough to be open, and how do I be open enough to vulnerable? This challenge has been the biggest point of resistance to open trans expression in the past, that swell of defense that leaves me disconnected and disheartened.

Some would tell me that the trick, as it almost always is, is time. Let people and yourself wear in, develop relationships by having people get to know you, feel more confident and comfortable. It’s a great idea, but for me, a seemingly impossible one.

The challenge, it seems is how to stay heartened, to not get disheartened.

I was seeing a pastor who did counseling, and he asked me what situations I was happiest in.

I told him that they were the same as everyone else.

This surprised him.  He was sure that people all had different things that made them happy.

“Well, I am happy when I feel seen, understood and valued for my contributions,” I said.

He thought for a second, and then agreed; yes, those are the things that make everyone happy.

I feel heartened when I feel seen, understood and valued.

When I get discombobulated, like I did at the gas station yesterday, and I hear a voice telling me to slow down and relax, recognizing that voice as from the man who fixed my shoe at Perimeter Mall, calming me as I looked for the little pad lost in the Macon Wal-Mart, I am heartened.

When the older fellow in the van offers to help pump up my tyre, I am heartened.  When I fear that he will hurt me if he finds out I am trans, I am disheartned.

When Q Diamond loves my perfume, I am heartened.  When I have to go to earnest places with no-scent policies, I am disheartened.

When I go to United Presbyterian I am heartened.  When they don’t answer my e-mail I am disheartened.

When the democratic leadership in the house wants to take people like me out of ENDA, I am disheartened.  When Tammy Baldwin, NGLTF, Lambda Legal and a host of other organizations stand to fight for the inclusion of people like me I am heartened.

When I feel comfortable and confident in the world, I feel heartened.  When I feel the pressure of putting everything away and maintain the status quo to comfort my parents, I feel disheartened.

Being disheartened is the way I stay small in the world.

But being heartened is the way I walk in my own power.

Gotta trust that heart space to take you to the edge of possibility, the intensity of Eros, the potential of life, eh?