I really wanted to go to the last transparty of the spring tonight. Linda did a good job in hooking up with a lesbian dj, and she promised she would be able to get the upscale lesbians who won’t be caught dead at the local blue-collar bar to this venue. Plus, I could see some pals and it would be good.
Well, it would be good all except for the whole trajectory thing, blasting out of this lethargic house hold, the work of becoming visible and relaxed, then having to be stopped like a jet fighter on an aircraft carrier, hitting the arresting wire so hard I become ruminant and invisible in a moment.
Then, this afternoon, I had that thing in my throat and I knew I was getting sick. It’s rare, but it is real, the tough swallowing and lymph node aches, some kind of infection starting to lay me low with my inner fight. No go, no show, oh no.
My parents haven’t noticed, of course. Not much compassion there.
My father, well, he is just so literal. The valve bracket on the grill rusted out and I had to repair it. I figured out how to do it, but eventually needed a hand, so I asked him.
Of course, that means that we have to do it his way. He has never understood other people’s plans, and when asked for help, the only way possible is for him to understand it and do it his way. I eventually had to reset everything for him, lots of work, just so he could get access and use a hammer, something I was trying to avoid. But he was happy he solved it, not thinking of what I did.
I had already secured the valves by the time I needed him to get the burner feed tubes over the venturis. I told him “I pinned this here.”
“That’s not a pin,” he said. “That’s a screw.”
Yup. I didn’t describe the type of fastener I used, rather I described what action I took. I described it in a transitive way — “I pinned it (with a screw)” — while he heard in an objective way — “That’s a screw, not a pin.”
I don’t know anyway to describe transgender by describing objects rather than actions. As I have said many times, trans is about engaging the poetry of our lives, not about just changing the plumbing.
As for my mother, well, her response was simple. “I don’t want to hear about it!” she said. “Don’t involve me in any differences or conflict!”
I have, for some reason, been thinking about this show that A&E had the brits produce for them, where they had two males and two females change gender. They didn’t want trannys, and they didn’t want performers, they wanted real people experiencing gender shift.
Problem was that they had trans-type people help the transition rather than normatively gendered folks. They all would mope around the house as birth gender and then have to go out as cross gender. There was no sense of immersion, so no assimilation, no mom to have daily expectations of her “girls,” no dad to enforce expectations of his “boys.”
Needless to say it was a bomb. The closest they got was making trannys, and that was just odd, far far away from the sweeping cross-gender experiment that they promised.
It is, in the end, affirming (or rejecting) the choices that someone makes that changes their behavior. These people in the “experiment” weren’t getting affirmed for making women choices all day long, from dressed right to proper breakfasts to what they loved to everything else, rather they were being affirmed and cajoled for performance.
As transpeople, that’s usual to us. We aren’t kids when we start to emerge, even if it happens in our late teens or twenties, and that means we don’t get the kind of parental style affirmation of our gendered choices. And we are always told to be suspect about choices, because we don’t want to be called out as a liar.
While thinking about the voice lessons, I imagined that one of the sessions was sitting in an observation room watching a focus group panel through a one way mirror. This group would watch videos of us and be very positive, saying how attractive we were, being surprised when we were identified as trans, saying that we should be more feminine and play up our natural beauty, wear more pretty clothes and such.
Now, of course, that group would have to be actors. No real group would want to be so affirmative, rather they would probably think their job was to find fault that could be fixed.
But we are so good at finding fault, so good at having fault found in us, that we don’t need to do that. Rather we need to be able to trust that the womanly choices we make are being read as the choices of a woman, so we can be affirmed in making more of those womanly choices, making more bold choices, making choices that trust our womanhood rather than choices that keep us defended.
The choice I made tonight is not to try to go ballistic, shooting off after dinner and coming down before breakfast, aiming at a star or two before going splat and eating more mud. I chose that for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the illness my strangled throat informs me about.
But it’s not a choice that feels affirming, even if it is one that feels affirmed.
My eyes are scratchy though.
Time to sleep.