Getting Dressed

If you are trans, the odds are high that the most important thing you consider when you get dressed in the morning is how you can be well enough defended to walk through the world.

You see, if a non-trans person goes into the world dressed less than perfectly, some might think them sloppy or without taste.

But if a trans person goes into the world dressed less than perfectly, some might consider that a reason to deny them their gender.

There are lots of ways to dress for defense.

Some make it clear that their outfit is a costume, attempting to defend the normative identity beneath.

Some dress in androgynous ways and don’t expect to be gendered. They avoid gendered choices so those choices can’t be considered as wrong, and also to avoid the gaze that potent gender expression can bring.

Some work very hard to conceal their biology and history, dressing to hide rather than to project.

Some just put on a magical talisman, and let the amulet protect them.

Ms. Rachelle says that in her early days, when she didn’t pass she felt like a failed transsexual.  After all, can’t a true transsexual always pass as being born female?

It’s this notion that passing is the mark of a true transsexual that becomes so challenging.  It can feel like people want to rate our truthfulness by our believability, and only if we can be believably female-imitating are we really transsexual.  This, I suspect, is why many transsexuals go to extreme lengths to alter their body, because every procedure they pay for and submit to makes them more credible, at least in their own minds.

I have real issues with the idea that the more doctors who stitch their name into your body, the more credible and truthful you are.  My truthfulness, I fear, comes from acknowledging my biology and history as well as expressing my nature and spirit.

I just wish others always saw it that way.

When I get dressed, it’s very easy for me to get immersed in concealment too.  Heck, I want to be female bodied, too, want it do bad I prayed for it every night of my youth.  It’s just that I don’t believe that being altered to appear female by doctors actually does make you female, even though I damn well wish it would.

I understand how to dress for work.  That’s simple.  But if I don’t have a work appointment, well,  jeans, shirt and fleece are jeans shirt and fleece, right?

To close doors, though, is to open them.  Yet closing doors means being exposed, and too often I see transpeople whose exposure leads them to defense, a closing off of their own vulnerability.  After all, it’s not everyday we feel powerful and divine enough to suffer more slings and arrows than absolutely necessary.

We get up in the morning and we get dressed.  And we wonder how to be both true to ourselves and blended into society today, again, one more day.

We hide and expose, reveal and conceal, trying to make that balance, every time we get dressed.

In His World, I’m Shit.

My father has been, as he gets older, getting deeper and deeper into his private world.

This isn’t new, of course.  It’s just more so.  His Asperger’s style symptoms have always meant he has trouble understanding and having compassion for others who don’t think like him.  He has always liked to imagine the motivations & intentions of others and deride them, even if his own imagination bears no reality to how they actually think.

For decades, I have been put in the position of translating between him and others.  I rewrote papers and letters, and then watched as they were scrambled again.  I tried to explain things, and felt beat up as he fought me hard to retain his tiny view.

His technique is the same.  If you don’t understand, or even if he thinks that you don’t understand, he explains it again. This means that rather than having discussions, your comments or questions just trigger repeats of the same monologue, most often one where someone is portrayed as a fool or a slacker for not understanding in the first place.

Since he doesn’t think he needs an interpreter — others are fools if they don’t understand as he does — then anyone in the role of questioner represents all those shitbrains, and suffers the abuse that they should get.

We had an accident in early August.   And since then, it has been a cause for hell, from endless rehashing to muddled reports — the other driver strong armed the reporting officer into a report that doesn’t match the damage to his car, nor the witness reports of us — and lots and lots and lots of bloody angst.

I was left with the duty of creating a claim to the other driver’s insurance company, six months after the accident.  That meant I had to go into his stuff and get the crap he has been boiling on for all that time.

This morning, after putting it off, I tried to get him to help me pull stuff together.  Bang, shit, bang.

I needed to find the documents.  My most used words in this were “Be quiet,”  which, after provocation, became “Shut Up!”  I needed time for him to be patient while I looked, but he felt the need to explain again and again, offering no use, only frustration.

I needed to understand what he wanted.  But when I tried to explain back to him, he would seize on a word and explain how I got it wrong.  When I said, for example, he wanted me to write a “claim form style letter,” he told me it wasn’t a form.  I restated immediately, “a claim letter,” but it was too late.  He needed to explain again why I was wrong.

This is a man who cannot take yes for an answer.  Even if you agree with him, he has to assault you again with his view, his world, and explain how others get it wrong.

And, of course, in the middle of all this shit, I get slapped.

“I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you with that paper, that you would lose it,” he moaned as I was looking for the scrap with his scrawl on it that I found momentarily.  Of course, by then it was too late; I had already met his expectation of failure.

“I know.  You couldn’t do it by now because you are so overbooked,” he said in fierce mock pity, trying to make a point of my uselessness.

No.  I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to have to enter your world and get beat about the fucking head, that’s why I didn’t do it, you old myopic bastard.

But that’s not possible for you to understand, is it?  Not any more than my mother can understand the challenges I face.

This is just one incident, certainly survivable.  It’s the pattern, though, that lead me screaming away, pounding my head in frustration.

All I tried to do was have a conversation towards a shared goal.  What I got was abuse and indictment, another glimpse at how in his world, I’m shit.

A life of this, and a half decade up close to it, leaves me broken and bleeding, ready to quit.

And he’s sure that I’m just fuckup for not understanding how the world works — how his world works –in the first place.

Shit, shit, shit.