Sunday, February 23, 2014

on bea*ginnings

I was talking on the phone with a good friend of mine yesterday about the extraordinarily shitty week I'd had, which centered in large part around one particular item of interest—or identity, rather.

"The funny thing is," I told her, standing in the library, where I spend a good deal of my time, "is that there hasn't been a single day since my Revelation that I haven't fixated on it.

"It's like, I'm a ginger, but I don't consciously think about being a ginger every day, even though that's a rarer trait too. I don't go around thinking, 'Oh no, that person can tell I'm a ginger.' Why can't it be more like that?"

The that to which I was referring was gender, or in my case, being transgender. I admitted this fact to myself on October 3rd, 2013, 6 days before my 21st birthday. I spent the following week in an internal panic, followed by a week by myself in the Andes, where I hiked and prayed and wept and remembered. By the time I returned to Buenos Aires on October 16th, I had made peace with my identity. After coming out first to my parents and then to my brother over Skype, I publicly came out on October 19th. And since then I have yet to experience a day without fixating on this condition of being Different.

The trouble isn't that I identify by feminine pronouns (she/her/hers) even though I sang bass for four years in high school and have the natural rumble to show for it; the trouble is that most people don't see those two traits coexisting. Like being a ginger, it's a rarity. Unlike being a ginger, it's normally not so much a "fun fact" or an opportunity for a rude South Park reference as it is a motive to not be hired, or to be refused an apartment, or to be medically neglected, or to be physically or sexually harassed, or to be not loved or, perhaps worse, to be only ever loved in secret.

And while I am fortunate enough in my circumstances to be able to live publicly as a translady within my family and friends and university—whereas many people can only live out their trans* identities on isolated nights in tucked away places, if at all—I nevertheless have my own struggles to face.

I do not wish for this blog to be an exercise in self-victimization. I do not wish to compare my trials to those of people with different identities and backgrounds than myself in an attempt to see whose scars run deepest. I do wish, however, to speak honestly about what I find to be challenging and what I find to be affirming as a human being navigating a culture and society that predominantly excludes, denies, and pathologizes her. As I embark on what is still a new phase in my life (it only having been about four and a half months since the Revelation), I hope my stories can be useful to those who find themselves in similar situations as myself—for solidarity, for hope—as well as to those who fit more neatly into such a culture and society, to help illuminate how we all can live more inclusively.

This week, though, as I told Amy from the lobby of the library, felt more on the excluded side. A combination of unrequited flirtings and correcting friends one too many times on pronouns or even my name led to the slow accumulation of that ugly monster called Difference rising itself up from the dregs of my subconscious, feeding on my fears being left alone, culminating in a 48-hour period of hopeless desperation.

Upon the termination of this period—or rather how I eventually conquered it, along with the help of some very dear friends—I decided two things.  The first is to make an effort to seek out "my people," to find a trans* community somewhere, people who get it and not just support it, because even that Difference can be exhausting.

The second decision was to start this blog: transpose because it means to change, to render anew, to translate into another language or, in music, another key; and I believe, after trans* activist Les Feinberg, that gender is a poetry we make for ourselves.  It is music, it is expression.  It arpeggiates home.  And pearls because let's be honest, do I wear anything else?

Despite the Difference, I refuse to be defeated by a society set against me on principle. The time has come to change the principle itself, to get to a place where gender identity can be as little of an issue as is the color of one's hair. This starts from within, with us, here and now. To intentionally misquote revered author Tony Kushner:

The Great Work Bea-gins.

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