Field Notes In/On Transition
Our Lady Of Accessories (Excessories?)
Sometimes these blog entries flow out of my fingertips like the proverbial wine, (pun intended) from water, other times it’s a bit more sloggy, than bloggy, to figure out what it is I want to write about. After my last entry, which had the highest word count I’ve had yet, by far, I was a bit emptied out. Refreshed, and feeling stronger because of that purge of the things that I fuss and worry over so much. I’m still fussing and worrying some, but I also feel more at home in myself every day.
This last week the only time I wore pants, anywhere, was one day that I wore leggings in the morning, shorts in the afternoon as it got too hot for those awesome shiny black leggings. Dresses and skirts all week at work or play. I have been getting more and more positive feedback on how I’m putting together my outfits, every day. It’s weird having body image/presentation pride. Not something I’m used to at all, feeling good about how I look most if not all the time. As a dude, I dressed well I think, having a sense of fashion, too. But it was never what or how I hoped, wanted to present myself in public. The new hair, eyebrows really really have gone a long way to help me feel so comfortable presenting as a woman.
Which brings me to the reading/performance piece I saw last Wednesday night; the great Kate Bornstein (Aunty Kate to so many) read some of her favourite performance pieces, from her various books, stage shows. Her first Trans-memoir “Gender Outlaw” is/was a life changing book for many, myself included. I’d read “Conundrum”, the Jan Morris book on switching genders, and only related to it on the most basic level, as with most all other Trans biographies I’ve read over the years, save for Julia Serrano’s “Whipping Girl”. One thing I think that held me back a bit was that often the stories I read or heard from Trans folk, back in the day were so not my story.
Kate’s tale was more relatable , though still, I never had or let myself have those longings for the feminine, the wistful daydreams of being a girl, except fleetingly, and occasionally, when my internal fantasies would burst through the shame that I inherently felt for even letting those thoughts into my head. I’ve mentioned before that my experience was more akin to having my gender dysphoria, issues, whatever, as more the background noise in my life: permeating every decision I made. Usually holding me back from any sort of “spotlight” for fear of people “finding out” that I was really a girl under all that boy.
One of the things that (I can’t recall if she wrote of this in Gender Outlaw or not, but she mentions it in her current book “A Queer and Pleasant Danger”) I definitely shared in common with Kate, was my introduction to Trans people in “literature”... Anyone old enough to remember when porn was something you read in Penthouse Forum, or lurid sexploitation novels will recall that there was almost always at least one “forced feminization” story in most of those “journals”. Kate went into great detail at her show about these books, quoting long passages (always by “Anonymous”) from stories where some young man found himself “forced to dress like a girl, and usually have sex like a girl. For many of us, this seemed the only way, other than through magic, wishing upon a star, that we could ever achieve being the girl we wanted.
No wonder so many of us (and by us I mean me) had pretty stereotypical ideas as youths at least as to what being a girl really meant. It seemed to me that at best I could hope that someday someone would sense I was a girl, and guide me through it by most likely treating me roughly, forcing me to be as stereotypically submissive(aka feminine) as possible.
Ironically perhaps I found these stories by devouring the cache of straight porn that my stepfather let me have when he was finished with it. I had naked pictures of women (70’s bushes on my walls as a teen) with all kinds of playboys, penthouses, and other more lewdly named mags like “Screw” and “Jugs”... but it was those stories of forced feminization which I went back to over and over. I became very blase about naked lady bodies by the time I was 15. I’ve really only ever been turned on by ladies in clothes, in fact, since then. Naked women are just that, naked. But a well dressed woman, looking sexy, refined, someone who knows and cares how she’s presenting herself: that’s what got/gets me going, to this day. She takes her clothes off, and I’m not nearly as interested.
I think it’s easy to see the psychology at work there. I see what I want to be when a lady is dressed in a way I grok. Naked, she becomes far more of a reminder, that I’m not her, not a woman. Not that I haven’t found some great moments of joy with naked ladies, mind you. The sex part of being me is pretty fluid. What is a shame is that so much (as in “all”) of my exposure to being a woman, or “becoming a woman” until now when I’m actually doing it...has been wedged into completely sexual terms.
Women are and always have been over sexualized in pretty much every culture there is, or has been. Sometimes in reactionary ways (hiding of her sex in burqas, wigs, long complicated dresses, and so on)... but more so women are the way we in western culture “sell sex,” (and every product under the sun) which is just as misogynistic and horrible as it sounds.
Trans people are never going to be seen as people until women can be seen as people by the eyes of culture. These days “Shemale/Tranny” porn is a huge internet thing. It does nothing to help Trans people. Except that like for many natural born women, it’s the only way they have to eke out some kind of living. It’s pretty sad that such a large percentage of the human population are in some way forced (through poverty and/or actual physical/psychological force) to sell their bodies in order to feed themselves, their children, families, or simply to make a living. Until the male gaze becomes less destructive to women, Trans women are not going to gain any equality either. Julia Seranno makes these points far more eloquently than me in her book “Whipping Girl”.
But back to Kate, during her show she performed a piece about “coming out as Trans” to her mother, an old Jewish lady from the Jersey Shore. As she sat channeling her mother in a big overstuffed chair, she was directly in my eye line, me sitting in the front row. Despite the big cultural differences, this coming out story was perhaps, of course. the most universally grokked tale she told by the queer-heavy audience. There was a chorus on cue when in response to son Albert (who was already calling herself Kate) saying “I have something to tell you”, The mother quipped back, “Oh are you gay?”
This was my exact same experience (and from the reaction of most of the audience, theirs as well) to coming out Trans to my mom, and to many others as well. My answer to that question, also echoed Kate’s: “Well sort of...” Then , the explanation, that... “it’s just that well, I’m a girl, or at least I want to be”.
My mom’s reaction wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Kate’s performance, but nonetheless it was a pretty hard pill to swallow, especially in that day and age...(1993) my own coming out, was around the same time as Kate’s but I was unable to follow through on it until now. I’ve detailed all my reasons for not transitioning until now, over and over again on this blog, so I’ll just say that I hope that in time, like Kate’s mom, mine will understand more and more that by doing this thing that is yes a bit bizarre, I’m becoming who I really am inside, on the outside, that I’m not hiding that anymore, and that especially I have no pre-conceived notion as to where the journey is taking me.
The fact that I’m taking the journey, rather than sitting on the shore skipping stones into Lake Gender makes me as happy as I have ever been in my life.
We are upping the dosage (BTW I’m not one of those trans folk who’s obsessed with “the dosages”. If it works, that’s fine, I don’t really care about the chemistry)to slowly get me to lady levels of testosterone.
I haven’t really being trying that much in terms of “deportment”; I’m really just dressing how I want to, the rest is as usual with my personal learning curve, my own adaptation to my environment. That said, I had a really good day in terms of the outfit I was wearing. An old dress I bought ages ago and forgot about.
It turns out to be one of the most flattering outfits I’ve put together. I spent the day getting compliments. As well, before and after the show, I got to spend time with a couple of friends who I hadn’t seen much recently, and who asked me all sorts of smart questions about my transition, and we had a quality discussion of Kate Bornstein’s performance.
This weekend I spent a bit more money than I wanted to, as usual, mostly at value Village. But I scored an awesome pleather motorcycle jacket, and some great accessories. I continued the awesome accessory shopping all weekend, and have now finally got a few bits and pieces that I think work for me. Also had a lovely Tea reading this afternoon, with the fabulous Madame Bergamot at “Artful Sundays” on the Drive by the library, in between accessory shopping.
I’m a happy lady, I really am.