I just promised my best friend that I’ll wear a dress and be her bridesmaid in her wedding next fall. And now I’m freaking out.
My thoughts are whirling about; my emotions are all over the place. I’ve pretty much been panicking since I found out about this, fewer than 24 hours ago.
On the one hand (and apparently the most influential hand), I couldn’t say no to her. She’s been my best friend for ten years. She’s the closest I have to a sister, really. This is really important to her, and it means a lot to me to be involved in the wedding (politics about gay marriage and the issues with the institution of marriage itself aside). So, of course I said I would be her bridesmaid. Continue reading
Coming out is important to me. I know for some people, it’s not a big deal — they can really take it or leave it. For others, it’s this awkward thing that would perhaps better be circumvented by dropping hints, letting people draw their own conclusions, or an offhand remark about their past (prior to transitioning or coming out as not being cisgendered). And all that is fine; however people choose to come out, or not come out, is their business.
For me, though, it’s important to directly, explicitly come out as trans. Part of this is for people who knew me before — before I started to use different pronouns, before I started going by Ryan, mostly before I moved to Chicago. I can drop all of the hints I want, I can go on for ages about how awesome GQC is, and unless I specifically tell them that I’m trans, they’ll still consider me a woman (after all, the clothes can be attributed to me being a “lesbian,” and the interest in trans issues can be attributed either to my involvement with the LBGT community or to my concentration in Gender and Sexuality in college, including my thesis on dismantling the binary systems of gender and sex). Continue reading
I guess I’m still trying to figure out what my gender is, or rather, how to express that. When I started identifying as trans, it was largely because I realized I didn’t “feel like” a woman, I didn’t identify as a woman. That led me to reassess so much about my gender presentation. I stopped wearing make up, nail polish, sparkly anything, fitted shirts, flared jeans. It wasn’t really because I didn’t think female-bodied transfolk could wear that. Partly, it was because I didn’t want people to see me as a woman. And partly, I’ve realized, because it made me feel like a woman, and I couldn’t handle that. I never stopped liking it; I just stopped liking it for myself.
I’ve recently (very recently, a week ago recently) realized, though, that I want that back. I want to be able to wear sparkles and makeup and flared jeans sometimes and not feel like a woman and not be seen as a woman. Plenty of gay cisboys do it. There are even transfolk and genderqueers who pull it off, too, which I’ve just realized and sort of taken to mean that I could, too. Continue reading
So, I told my parents today that I’m going by Ryan now, at least to the new people I meet. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped it would. Don’t get me wrong — I love my parents, and they love me. I am very lucky, especially compared to a lot of queer and trans people, and I completely recognize that. Continue reading
No, I’m not referring to the tv show. I’m actually talking about a group I recently joined here, GenderQueer Chicago. I’ve only been to two meetings, but it is changing my life. I know that sounds incredibly hyperbolic and melodramatic, but I’m actually serious.
I’m partly referring to the group itself, but I more mean the people in the group and the cameradrie they have so freely extended to me. Last week, a group of us went to eat afterward. This week, a largely different (and much larger) group of us took over the back corner of a nearby bar. Beer and wings were consumed, much conversation was to be had, and there was even a particularly queer (and awesome) makeup application session going on. It was grand. Continue reading
Is there a way to think of one’s childhood without a narrative, without viewing it through some kind of lens? Or by the virtue of thinking about it, do we change it? By the way we construct our past, what we focus on and what we leave out, how we interpret our actions, do we inevitably cast some kind of slant on our past?
I’ve posted before on my childhood and how it certainly isn’t anyone’s “typical” trans narrative. I’ve felt much pressure, and had to deal with many feelings of illegitimacy, because there are so many “girly” parts to my childhood. Most noticeably, I never thought I was going to grow up to be a boy; I never felt that being a girl felt wrong or not enough. But then I realized that it’s not as though my childhood was exclusively filled with moments of stereotypical girlyness. In feeling somehow inadequate in the “trans-ness” of my childhood, have I actually gone the other way and constructed my childhood narrative as being more gendered than it truthfully was? And is it even possible to tell a story without constructed it, changing it, in some way? Continue reading
I’m probably never going to meet any of the people who were in my life before I met my parents, before I came to the US. Oh, I might be able to track them down — unlike some of my friends, I was one of the lucky ones. I have the names and cities of my birth parents. And part of me really wants to find them, part of me really wants to meet people who are actually biologically related to me. Part of me wants to know whether I look like them, whether I inherited any of their traits or skills. Part of me wants to know — know for sure, know for certain — whether they loved me. Did they give me up because they didn’t want me, or because they wanted a better life for me?
One of the things that’s most holding me back from delving into that unknown is that I don’t think they could handle who I now am. And I know I can’t currently handle bringing who I am to them. How would you tell a woman that her baby girl, the baby she gave up those many years ago, isn’t a girl? With the language barriers, the cultural differences, could it even be possible to explain who I am in terms that they would understand? Continue reading
I’ve been thinking about changing my name for a while now. It’s interesting how much a name can mean — how much emotional and cultural significance can be attached to a name. I don’t really have much of an emotional attachment to my given name: it’s what I’ve been going by for most of my life, but that’s about it. However, people make assumptions about me — specifically, assumptions about my gender — based on my name in a way that makes me really uncomfortable. My given name generally causes people to immediately put me into the “woman” category, regardless how I present myself, and that is immensely frustrating. Furthermore, my given name doesn’t actually feel like me; it’s a distinctly feminine name, and it’s just not something with which I can happily associate myself.
As much as I’d truly like to have a different name, the idea of changing my name is also a definite source of anxiety. I think my biggest worry has to do with my parents. I love my parents; they’ve been the best parents I could ask for. And they gave me my given name. I don’t want to appear that I am rejecting the name they gave me, and I don’t want to hurt them, but I don’t think I can keep the name I now have. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking a lot of restrooms lately — public restrooms, in particular. It’s such a strange topic: it’s completely innocuous to some, yet it’s absolutely a source of anxiety and tension for others. For me, it’s definitely the latter.
There are so many reasons why restrooms are so stressful for a lot of trans folk and gender-nonconforming people, but I’m not trying to speak for anyone other than myself. Personally, it’s not as though there’s a particular gender-specific restroom that I want to use. I realize that for many people, using a particular public restroom is hugely important — using the “women’s” room or the “men’s” room is essential — but that’s not the case for me. Continue reading
I refer to GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary (Edited by Joan Nestle, Clare Howell, and Riki Wilchins), and the collection of essays in the beginning by Riki Wilchins, constantly. I referred to it last night, actually. It’s a wonderful anthology, and it shows — in real people’s voices, not just academic theory — that there’s so much more to gender than merely “man” and “woman.”
Perhaps one of my favorite quotes about gender is in Wilchins’ essay “A Continuous Nonverbal Communication“: “In fact, throughout our entire waking lives we are carrying out a continuous nonverbal dialogue with the world, saying, ‘This is who I am, this is how I feel about myself, this is how I want you to see me‘” (12). To me, that statement sums up why it is so important to allow people to identify and express their gender as they will — to do otherwise would be to deny who they are. Continue reading