Scary Tranny

You know, I suppose there are cute transwomen in the world, but I have long known that I am not one of them.

Years ago, after a Halloween party, I did the work of guiding a fellow so he could get his van out of a parking space.   I was a vision in sliver motorcycle vinyl, all zippers and fishnets .

“Thank you!” he told me.  “I’d kiss you if you weren’t so scary!”

After meeting me, Jeffery Roberson told a friend of mine that he found me “scary bright.”  When the amazing Varla Jean Merman‘s alter ego finds you scary, well, honey, you know that you are scary.

Even the arrogant Russian pulmonologist who misdiagnosed my father in ICU two years ago remembers me, according to my sister who saw him last week.

And tonight, at a Presbyterian presentation on Transgender Identities, Alex Patchin McNeill knew that I was trouble the moment he looked into my eyes.  I eventually got some thanks for my contribution, but the pastor of my local church who was down on “non-passing transpeople,” never chose to connect with me after I made my discomfort about that judgment clear.

The most valuable commodity in the world is human attention.   We usually dole it our parsimoniously, trying to interpret other people in our context rather than wasting the attention on really hearing and reflecting the other person.

When people threaten to demand too much attention, too much engagement, too much transformation, most people learn how to shut those people down and assign their own meaning to them.

I don’t know quite why I am scary.

I’m big boned, yes, which doesn’t help with cuteness, but more than that, I suspect, I look actively present in every moment.   You can tell I am seeing you, probably more of you than you intended to show.   I’m not looking for your affirmation or friendship, I am looking for respect.

One of the issues tonight was aging, how people expect older people to be either caretakers or be abject old fools.   Few people know how to reach into a mature life with grace and empathy, instead assuming that older people should take care of them.    So many people expect transpeople to do the same thing, be obligated to be their guide to a challenging and  scary subject, either aging or transgender.

When I end up opening my mouth, though, I end up speaking like a writer, with grace and authority, clear and sharp.   Somehow, years of exploring and polishing my own thoughts tend to leave me with that skill.  Ask enough questions and you end up with a few good answers.    People who see clearly and then speak those truths are scary, just as my parents proved when I was eight and they decided my family nick name should be “Stupid” in an attempt to devalue me.

In my family, my Aspergers family, I learned very early that cute just didn’t cut any ice.   I was left to fend for myself from as early as I can remember.  I  fought with and for my family from an early age, and that didn’t stop until 2012 when I helped my parents die.

I am not unpleasant or nasty.  I know how to be appropriate.  I am very good at using humour to make a point.   I do, however, know how to ask just the wrong question at just the wrong time, one that shakes up convention and rationalization to cut to the core.   Pleasantries don’t interest me, transformation does.

I have spent my life being a scary tranny, making jokes to an audience too afraid to laugh.    It would be lovely to think that some people see me as cute or at least useful, as one mother did tonight as we chatted about the issues around having a queer child, but I am more used to people not getting the joke.

My power is real and is seen, I know.  It just isn’t always engaged, especially by people who feel the fear and need to stay where they are.  I will go there and not back down.   In fact, I want to go to those deep places where emotion roils, because those are the places where healing is needed.   I show the scars and the wisdom of that journey, show my willingness to engage in every moment.

I’m amazing to be in conversation with if you want to grow, annoying as hell if you need to stay where you are, as I am often reminded.   Death and rebirth served here, often far too much for even the closest friend.

I am a big person, with a big brain and a big spirit,, paying big attention, and that can often seem to be too much for people.

In the end, though, life is, as I told the therapist when I was 11, about being who you are.  I am who I am.    And that seems to be a very queer, very challenging, scary tranny.

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One thought on “Scary Tranny”

  1. Hi Callan, It was a pleasure meeting and speaking with you last night in SS. I appreciate you taking the time to share your insight and wisdom with me personally, and believe your contributions to the group discussion more substantive than the presentation. To be fair, I really was not the targeted audience, but it only made me feel how far away our culture is from acceptance of anything outside the norm.

    And by the way, I found you eloquent, not scary.

    Peace,
    Pam H.

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