Field Notes In/On Transition
My life as a PKD novel
This was meant to be my 50th post, but I’ve had a hard time getting my head about what I wanted to talk about. I am torn about the idea of writing here about the broader Trans issues out there, partially because I don’t participate heavily in “the community.” I have though made some awesome new friends who I see as often as most of my pre-transition friends (all of whom are still my friends despite my lifelong fears that everyone would abandon me, if I really “did it”. ) But I’m still not super comfortable going to Trans Events, let alone going out to a bar or anything like that.
In fact, there is an event wrapping up right now that I was planning to go to this afternoon, but I was still feeling wonky from a stressful few days of stuff so personal that I’m (yes, me who shares everything) not going to get into it, other than to say that as has often happened thus far in my transition, when I’m feeling at a low ebb with the immensity of it all, someone, friends or strangers offer me a kindness that I was not expecting, making me realize that I have a lot of people who are willing to stretch their minds, their hearts to include my brand of different. This happened this morning in a big way that still has me kind of floored, yet again it’s a tidbit I can’t share just yet.
But what I was getting to is that I’m getting close to being comfortable going out more to events and stuff. I’m generally at ease with at least one person to hang with wherever the “out” might be. Gals need wingmen too.
I go to work, a few cafes, restaurants, friends’ house in the neighbourhood. Once in a while I venture downtown, main St, or somewhere to see a doctor, or go to a gig/restaurant/hang with friends. Some times. Most times, though, I’m at home. One reason maybe I feel my transition has been successful so far is that I (just like before transitioning) as I’ve gotten older, I get out less and less to social spaces like all the open mics, openings, book launches, house parties and random Bar Flying that I participated heavily in until my early 30’s.
Most nights after working all day at my very social job all day, I don’t feel like going somewhere crowded. I yearn for my comfy chair, big screen TV, and/or computer for a few hours, I make myself a light dinner (okay a big dinner and lots of post supper snacks) and waste some time, or maybe work on my blog, or one of my Role playing games. Lately I’ve made good on a vague half resolution I made to myself a few months ago to start reading more everyday, reading something that wasn’t the internet, that is. It took me a couple of months of starting and not getting very far in several novels, so much so I was starting to think I’d never finish another book. This is really weird for me, but my reading habits have declined in a very obvious reaction to the ever increasing amount of reading random “new” and factoids, status updates, tweets and whatnot online that I read. Now I’m even on Pinterest?
I’ve been getting a bit of screen fatigue, is what I realized, so being a post modern weirdo, I cured my screen fatigue by reading books on my ipad, that I also own in paperback. The first was The City & the City by China Mieville. Great writing it seems is what I needed to get out of my reading doldrums, that and the convenience of having my Ipad with me at work or a cafe waiting for someone, I had fallen into a reading only at bedtime routine, thus causing the major slowdown. Most of my adult life I have red one or two novels a week, as well as several comic books, and watching of 3 or 4 hours of TV and/or movies a day.
After my high blood pressure incident at the end of 07, though I think my online time started really increasing, and my reading a book time decreasing. The second book I read both digitally/analogly was Phillip K. Dick's “Flow My Tears,” the Policeman Said.
Dick’s protagonists are almost always at least a little insecure about their core identities. Essential Trans reading, in my view. Chapter 11 has a minor character give a monologue about Grief and Grieving that combines compassion, empathy and yet is not at all maudlin. She talks about how essential the grieving process is, and as crazy as PKD may or may not have been, there is so much to be learned and relearned by reading even the simplest of his books.
The Mieville book, BTW was about two cities existing in one physical space, and how the inhabitants see and un-see what goes on around them. The author handles this high brow concept with poise and sentences, dialogue that must re read and reread, just for the flavour.
The Double, or Other, Shadow, has an obvious thematic relevance for me, I guess.
I’ve gotten my reading up to a more respectable daily habit. It makes me feel more engaged, than scrolling through huge Chris Hedges articles online, or other peoples’ blogs does. Don’t let the Speculative Fiction writers referenced lead you to believe that all I read is Sci Fi or Fantasy, it’s just most of what I read. I’m also ridiculously well read in Can Lit (at least until my recent slide) and crime fiction. I’ve lost count the amount of times that I’ve read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or Knut Hamsun’s Hunger.
Lubing my mind in this way, getting reading more has me piqued to do other creative things in my day. Less facebook/surfing time, more time writing, reading, and I’ve even started doing a bit of drawing/painting again. It’s terrible, but I enjoy it. Talk about atrophied muscles though. I still can’t draw hands even worse than when I was a cartoonist. I bought some craft supplies the other week, and have begun my usual spring purge of some of the stuff I tidily hoard: books, clothes, dvds, comics, etc.
Today I dropped off some totally random books (books I really liked) at the little book trading post near my house. I like that kind of sharing, rather than leaving them on the sidewalk in a box or donating to charity, or the worst is selling books. It depresses me. Sharing them at the little trading post in my neighbourhood makes me feel all warm inside. There is, I think a better chance of them being read again by someone who appreciates them like I did. This act also makes a bit of room for my more recent more careful purchases.
I’ve talked about this before that, I’m well aware that Transitioning doesn’t change as much in your life, that you hope it might. Still though a lot of people seem to think I may be “pinning all my hopes on transition” uhhh No. Transition is part of my life. It is the most obvious part, it’s all about presenting myself honestly. It’s one of the criticisms uninformed folk (almost always in a well meaning way I think) have levelled at me, as well as the “you won’t be gorgeous, you know”. Again: D’uh. I may not be gorgeous, but I’m beautiful, so Pfft to that one. But these are small things, like people asking too personal questions.
People always seem to think there is some one magic “why” for people who wobble in the gender spectrum: Nature/ Nurture. It’s contentious with all sorts of camps of internet trolling salivating over any article that dares to come down on one side or the other.
This is purely the distillation of me writing this blog entry three time, entirely differently each time: But my take is that it is completely ludicrous (sure politically expedient, but really, fuck that) to think that a person’s sense of their core identity, whatever their gender identity, sexuality, culture, religion, environment, class, life experiences... all these things affect the development of both our minds and our bodies all the time, from the time we are born, until we die. To say that the only reason little jimmy has green eyes, is sure biology, but it’s also due to certain cultures being at certain places at the same time. Time and space exist together, not as separate entities.
People who have known me since I was a kid have commented (more in the past when my attempts at transitioning were half hearted, and really i was too scared to commit) that i was never girly, and you see all these Oprah, Dr. so and so new pieces about young trans kids who fall right into that so called opposite gender mold pretty well. Many of us “knew our dreams to be bad” and tried really hard to fulfill the usual gender roles as best we could. I have no idea how people perceived me in this sense. As hard as I tried to be a dude, was nowhere near the effort that say an athlete, or a biker might put into the whole “male thing.” I made the bare minimum effort, which I feel is due to my own inner cultural, spiritual, psychological, chemical laziness :p.... But I also made an effort to not be seen as the opposite, as all my instincts and fears told me that were I to do so. I avoided as many of the cliched rites of passage as possible for reasons I could never really fathom. I never learned to: swim, skate, drive... some unknowable fear kept me from making anything but the laziest efforts at “milestone” things like these. I ditched my date for the prom, even.
I can now, after decades of reading, watching cheap psychological gimmicks in pop culture action, to realize that the after school special take home might be that if I avoided the milestones, I wouldn’t become a man. In that, my early grok of personal gender figuring out, was as much if not more about not becoming a man, which I feared as much, or more than anyone finding out I was actually a girl. If I became a man, I probably wouldn’t get to be a girl. Luckily In the intervening 30 odd years, I kept reading, watching, learning that indeed anyone can be a girl.
There are lots of examples of the non-girly/non-tomboy as a kid, Trans persons. Renee Richards, Jan Morris, Kate Bornstein, Chaz Bono all tried to live the big path set down in front of birth gender.... A great many of us, I’m sure seemed relatively together in our unwanted gender roles. Maybe we even thrived ( I won a pie eating contest and came in third in arm wrestling in a winter fair one time in high school) in those roles, maybe we even really wanted to thrive in those roles.. .and like I said above I don’t think its fair to anyone to say that I was “born some way or another”...
well, sure but I was also raised working class, single Mom, stepfather, I hung out with kids from all the cliques, but also had my own clique. I went to University in one of the most creative, happening cities in the world, Winnipeg. I was out as Trans for almost 20 years before finally taking the plunge. My story may have some points in common, physically, psychically, psychologically, chemically, but just one of those small aspects of what makes us human doesn’t make me, me, any more than it makes you, you.
It’s very recent, that kids have been able to tell their parents they feel like they feel, boy, girl, someone in between somewhere. In ages past, the option of coming out was usually for adults, but even then.
We are more, all of us than can be dreamed of in any single philosophy, I say, to ruin a quote.
I want to end on the real problem with all the “Why” theories. They matter not a lick. Who gives a crap? No one, who sees being Trans as a positive stage in a life. The why stems very much from a need to explain away a bad thing, a wrong thing. I am not a bad thing, a wrong thing. Nor am I doing or a bad thing. Being Trans is not bad, not wrong. I am who I am, my reasons are mine to mull, to pontificate on, or to ignore. I came up with a tagline for my email back in the early 2000’s that I still use.
“Believe In Who You Are Today, Not Who You Think You Were Yesterday.” - Josie Boyce.