“I have always depended on the kindness of others,” says Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind.
Me? I have never depended on the kindness of others. Others kept telling me that I was too big, too smart, too intense, too overwhelming, too queer, and that I should deal with my own damn problems while helping them.
I can tell you lots of stories about when I needed someone to be there for me and they weren’t. My sister’s handling of the estate is just the most recent failure.
But I’m old, my body is aging — my damn feet give continuous pain, for example — and I know that I am a transwoman. As an elder, as a woman, as a person, I just can’t stay as defended as I used to be, just can’t do everything, just need some help.
After a decade of being the one who had to deny self to deal with vulnerable parents, well, that’s a big tumble. Big.
And I don’t find it easy, not at all.
I remember a crossdresser who shared this poem
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
William Butler Yeats, Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Putting my dreams in the world every time I walk through the grocery store, well, that feels tender. It only takes one woman who believes she knows what I “really” am to make a stink about me being in the women’s room, or about me being visible by children to create havoc. And then, my only defence is other women who stand up and say “No. She belongs here in this space.”
“It’s my world that I want to have a little pride in, my world, and it’s not a place I have to hide in,” wrote Jerry Herman in I Am What I Am. I spoke to a few board members of the local Pride centre on Tuesday, and they didn’t have much idea about what it’s like to walk in the world as an transwoman.
I understand the theory. My safety depends not on my walls, but on my connections, not on my fears, but on my love.
I need to depend on the kindness of others, need to be willing to trust my own vulnerability somewhere other than in the text of this blog. Not easy.
There is no problem a transwoman has that any other woman doesn’t have. The challenge is the order of magnitude, both in lack of training and in having others decide what she “really” is and deny her standing to actually be vulnerable and have problems. Ms. Rachelle has said that she felt her life was easier when she didn’t expose her problems to others, because they easily said, “Well, if it’s a problem to walk in the world as a woman, why do it?”
I was at the mall yesterday just after it opened. I went into one plus size store, and the woman behind the counter wanted to talk. Someone hadn’t properly closed down the computer the night before, and now it was going to take another forty-five minutes to get the registers up and running. I was a bit disquieted, but she was just someone alone in a store who wanted to share her story with another woman. Me.
Can I be out there, not in armour, but depending on the kindness of others?
Can I trust in my own vulnerability?
But we shall see, eh?