Shelter in Place: Day 15

Hello Dear Readers,

It is day 15 here in Oakland, California. The sun is rising and the sky is a clear blue. I can make out the tip of the Transamerica Pyramid from where I stand typing this. I can also see the Salesforce Tower, but I don’t care about that.

Yesterday was Trans’ Visibility Day.

If you’ve read other things I’ve written including my PopSugar posts, you’ll know I have a deep ambivalence towards participating in acts of Capital-P “Pride”. It is part of my journey towards accepting myself as enough. In this case as being “trans enough”. Which is not a thing I would ever say to another human being, but which I ask myself almost daily.

Short answer: I am “trans enough” mostly because there is no such thing.

If you’re relatively new to this blog you may not be aware that I’m non-binary.

I am non-binary. I use they/them pronouns.

My transition, though, has primarily been an internal one. As I was ramping up to the realization, I experimented with a lot of drag make-up and clothing. I found that while this was fun and brought out another side of me, it wasn’t necessarily how I wanted to present myself. It wasn’t my most authentic aspect.

My most authentic aspect is something that I don’t think of as either “male” or “female” but something to do with constant seeking of knowledge. Something sort of weird and quirky with a deep affinity for birds, especially the flightless sort.

Although this was a breakthrough for me, because my transition hasn’t included hormones, surgery, or a sharp change in wardrobe (although I do now own a natty bow-tie and some sweet, sweet suspenders), it has been difficult for the people around me to understand what is going on.

I do my best to be proactive. I wear my little gender pin. I introduce my pronouns as often and as early as I can. I correct people ad nauseum. But after a while, I get tired. It is exhausting. It feels sort of like standing up in the middle of a giant collapsed tent. It’s really difficult to carry the weight of the thing all by yourself.

Not to mention, I sometimes fear for my safety. Even in the Bay Area, I receive catcalls and side-eyes. Leaving the Bay Area is a challenge. Even when I dress as “straight” as possible, my hair and nose-ring still receive a lot of looks and comments. On one memorable occasion someone spat in my face. (There were a lot of other parts involved, but I’m fairly certain that my gender/queerness was one of the motivators.)

I am always playing the guessing game in my head when people mis-gender me: “Did they mean it? I’m sure they didn’t mean it. I’ll correct them. But I don’t know them. And there’s a line forming behind them. Do I have time? Will it get ugly? Will they listen? Will they understand? I guess I should just make them a latte.”

It’s always a balancing act of time, energy, and safety.

I’ve been asked by very well-meaning people why I don’t do more to make appearance scream “I’M A TRANS PERSON”, but 1) I don’t know what that would look like 2) even when I do dress what I consider to be most “non-binary” people mis-gender me 3) sometimes I just want to wear something that makes me happy.

As with many things, I don’t have the answer. I don’t know how to live in this world as myself and help others understand who I am as well. I’m doing my best whenever I can, but I am only one person.

I had a realization last night that the transition I’m looking for isn’t really within me. I am who I am, and that hasn’t really changed. I’m looking for a transition in everyone around me. That’s a lot harder to create, but certainly something to celebrate.

On that note, I want to thank my friends and family members. For all that I’m still struggling in my day-to-day, I feel so empowered and frankly awed by the level of support I’ve received from my siblings, my parents, my grandparents, great-aunts, friends and co-workers. The people who love me have shown me again and again that they are with me, that they are willing to learn and grow. I can’t ever express my gratitude enough, but I’ll do my best.

Thank you, and I love you all.

Happy April,

LAF

 

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