Stepped Up

TBB went to a new bar with her woman biker friends, and at least one of their husbands.

As she sat down, she saw a barfly clock her. To be clocked is to have someone get your difference, though to be read is to have them read you out, tell everyone.

This drunk woman came to TBB’s table, and started gushing at how beautiful TBB was. She flirted, with hands and body, until she whispered “You’re a man. . . ”

The gang at TBB’s table fell silent. They know her history, but it’s not a big subject of discussion. How would she handle this breach?

TBB made her decision in an instant. Rather than being upset or resistant, she turned the tables.

“Why yes,” she said to the drunk woman. “How did you ever know? Usually nobody can tell. How could you tell?”

The drunk felt special, and TBB’s friends at the table got the irony right away. Regina Barreca, in They Used To Call Me Snow White… But I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use Of Humor talks about how women use irony to keep connected in the face of challenge, though I assure you TBB hasn’t read that book. She just gets it.

Later, a woman at the bar was sad, and TBB felt called to her. She had recently been widowed, and had just dreamed about her husband, though she couldn’t see his eyes. TBB knew she was supposed to be there, even if drunk woman was getting jealous at attention paid to the widow.

So often when we transwomen feel challenged it is because someone is attracted to us, attracted to some part of us we don’t feel safe exposing. After all, people who don’t feel that attraction have no incentive to pay attention to us, to talk to us or about us in ways we might feel invasive.

But when TBB had that happen to her, instead of shrinking down, instead of feeling captive, she stood up and felt empowered. Her friends understood, and TBB was open enough to go to the woman with the tear at the end of the bar who needed a moment with a shaman.

TBB, in other words, played it big rather than playing it small.

And it felt much better for her to be big, better than the bad mornings she cries at home wondering if she will ever again be small enough to be accepted as normative.

The Big Bitch went big, accepted her own powerful attractiveness, even though the attraction came very sloppy, and ended up being there to do her work.

And then she called me to tell the story.

A treat, indeed.

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One thought on “Stepped Up”

  1. To a friend:

    After TBB told me that story, I read her your breath-taking, heart-rendering paragraph:

    So the battle (currently) has so much to do with many of my ultimate isues. Selfhood, co-dependency, compassion, revulsion, feeling invaded, my not knowing how to accept love, my virginal mature, safety, surrender, acceptance and owning of my own power… yeah, just a few little issues like that.

    to which she replied, “Yeah, that’s the lot.”

    The new divide in the interlocked communities around trans seems to be between those who reject gender as oppression and those who still want to stand in the system of gender.

    Like most binaries, I think this misses the point. The people I admire are the people who live within the system of gender and still want to transform it, making room for hearts to rule over genitalia. Imagine how different the world would have been for us if, as children, we were taught that our walking around, between and inside gender was a gift to ourselves and to our community, and we were supported in finding our own expression rather than being stigmatized, abused and shamed into, well into not knowing how to accept love, enforced virginity, waiting for the third gotcha, self-loathing and denial of our own joy, power and grace.

    I hate being on the bleeding edge.

    But I can’t really imagine where the hell else I might fit.

    And when one of us stands up with strength & warmth, well, I hope it supports all of us.

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