Archive for June, 2015

It’s Something You Learn

It’s Something You Learn

“I’d love to see that beautiful mouth on my dick.”

You think about what you would say in those situations

will all that verve telling him to go fuck himself, though

it’s difficult in the moment to actually say those words.

But it’s something you learn to say because

tonight it might be the corner of 18th and Van Ness,

tomorrow it might be at someone sidling up as you order a Racer 5

or waiting at 16th and Mission to catch the next BART,

hell, it could even be someone swinging by your cube.

But it’s something you learning to say because

it’s important to call out that kind of behavior,

to put the onus back on back on them,

after all, it’s something you learn to say.

In The Right Place

Pull out a fresh towel,

wipe down the plate,

one, two, three times,

top left cabinet, middle shelf,

grab the next one,

until the rack is empty.


There’s still (always) a full sink,

so run the water, pour in soap.

My parents probably wonder

where this person was years ago.

I do too, but it’s not like

anyone else is here to do them.


Besides there’s simple pleasure in

taking care of what I can,

right in front of me, making sure

everything is in the right place,

ready to go the next time I bake

cookies at midnight on a whim.


The bubbles are poised,

ready to attack.

So shut off the water,

drop the dishes in,

grab a sponge and

start scrubbing again.

Most Mornings

Most mornings I lie in bed,

awake before the alarm goes off

after eight years of 9-5s.

I reach for my phone,

(who doesn’t these days?)

nothing urgent, just reminders

of what I need to do today,

only half of which I’ll get done.


Most mornings I lie in bed

for a few more moments,

trying to determine whether I need

to slow down to take care of myself

or push myself to keep doing more

even when I don’t totally feel like it

but if the former were true,

I’d rarely get out of bed.


Most mornings I lie in bed

for those last few moments

wondering when two beers became too much

but there’s no time for that.

I cannot continue to lie

in bed, so I swing my feet over, sit up,

and promise myself an early night.

Me Looking Back

Was I really living before I had a brow lady?

I wonder as I arch my eyebrows in the mirror

I mean, really? This coming from the girl

who rarely makes time for make-up

with hair that insouciantly lives up in a clip.

But even those looks are practiced, looking like you look

like you don’t care is a look too, after all.

Perhaps I’m overthinking it, caring about how I look

still feels novel even if it’s not that new, besides

it’s really more about me liking how I look.

It took me a long time to learn to like the me looking back.

The Price I Pay

The Price I Pay

480 dollars

for a piece of paper from the county of San Francisco

along with another piece of paper I paid Hennepin County

400 dollars

for just so I can pay the Commonwealth of Virginia another

22 dollars

for yet another piece of paper to finally update two more pieces of paper for

168 dollars,

altogether a fraction of what I’ve spent over the years if I really did the math.

Some might say with all this money, I’m just papering over my old self,

though I am not trying to hide anything, just the opposite really,

no one asked me what I thought all these pieces of paper should say in the first place,

so this is just one of the many prices I continue to pay.



All this talk of San Francisco running out of space

feels so distant when you’re driving down the 5

over rolling hills, between fertile and fallow fields.

Just almonds and alfalfa, cars and cows, the occasional town.

Even in this discrete place we call The City,

I’m surprised by how many empty lots I see riding

through the Mission, how many dilapidated homes I find

wandering out Geary toward Land’s End, where I go to look

at a 75 year old bridge that continues to captivate so many like me,

surrounded by trees planted by those who tamed these

western dunes not that many years before that.

The trees, the buildings, the people, we were all once

transplants competing for a foothold, and I think if we look,

we’ll find there’s still space for us all to grow,

even in this discrete place we call The City.

I Never Will

That’s a clever announcement on Facebook

followed by the inevitable “boy or girl?”

As if those are the only options. 

As if you need to know. 

No one ever waits to ask

the person who could tell them best.

It’s a question I’d never presume to ask,

never presume to know.

I’d never want to find out

but I never will.


Do you remember a time when you weren’t you? Never mind, that’s a paradoxical question. You are always you and yet you were never this you. And you won’t be ever again. Perhaps a more honest way to ask that question is this: do you ever remember a time when you lacked the tools to lessen the distance between who you were and who the world around you perceived you as? Do you remember a time when the dissonance that caused was all that you could truly hear? Because I do. Coming out as a transgender woman didn’t change who I was; whoever she was, whoever she is, who she will be, they’re all me. Coming out and accepting myself for who I was simply signified the start of trying to live a more fully realized, harmonious life. I have always been myself; now I am just more myself.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since I made the most demonstrable efforts to be who I am. My life is not perfect, but perfection is Barmecidal. I have enough to satisfy my basic needs, and many of my wants, and that is more than many, and more than enough. I also had an easier starting point than many, not through anything I did in particular. If I have learned anything in the past seven years it’s been that. Life doesn’t work out for a lot of trans folks. Not through any fault of theirs. It’s easy to find the near-constant reminders of how society views us and how society treats us. So being with the same company for eight years where being trans does not hinder me professionally is a big thing. That also makes me an outlier. At least based on what I see statistically about what I hear anecdotally. That’s just one example of ways society needs to change and get better for trans folks. I’d like to think change is like a fault line, splitting open after so much pressure, causing great upheaval, but change can also be like erosion, slow, so slow you don’t even notice it at times. Both kinds work, and I’d like to shake things up more, but I can also slowly help carve out a place that many people slowly helped carve out before me too. They aren’t mutually exclusive ways of trying to make things better for those who are yet to come.

For a long time I thought there were things I had to do better; certainly I can be better as a person, but that does not mean I have to make anyone comfortable with my transness. I am neither required to make myself seem more cis nor immediately declare my transness to make you aware if you weren’t. The transphobia of others is not my fault. Yet it’s still my problem. It’s why I can still be fired in 32 states just for walking through the door as myself; it’s why GRS is required to update my birth certificate because that means I’m sufficiently trans enough for the Commonwealth of Virginia to deign to recognize me as female and I am lucky to even be able to do that; that’s why I’ve had people shout out me on the streets that they ought to kick my ass for impersonating a woman. All for having the audacity to get up and walk out the door every morning as myself after not having done so for the first 27 years.  Being trans doesn’t involve anyone being a certain way other than being their most authentic self.

Living like that instills you with a sense of furtiveness if you can manage it. I have never been terribly successful at it, but I have learned when the time and place is. Being trans has no bearing on a trip to Safeway, so it’s not like I’d bring it up. Until the cashier calls me sir. Then it becomes an issue. Then I have to decide whether to correct the cashier even though it’s not my job to educate others on demand. Then I have to decide whether it’s even worth it, because I’ll be frustrated either way and so many people are not worth the time. I don’t necessarily intend to center everything in my existence on my transness. But how can I not? I see how the world perceives me on a near-daily basis. I’ve seen that look countless times when I walk into public restrooms, when I’m trying on a dress, when I’m getting change at a register. Even if I am a more open person, I rarely let my guard down in regard to taking care of and looking out for myself. How can you blame me? Even if I’m fortunate, I’m still trans in a world that largely despises trans people. Most people I encounter aren’t overtly transphobic, but like any form of discrimination, it’s a folly to think of transphobia as only direct actions. It lurks in so many places.

Most trans folk may not be lucky when it comes to how we are treated. But we are fortunate in that we know ourselves. We have been forced to interrogate what makes us who we are. I am lucky that I found myself in a world that does not go out of its way to support my existence. I am lucky to live a more fully realized life, a much more examined one, at least. Not because I’m smarter or better or anything, just because I had to figure it out. I had to decide. Did I want to be who everyone wanted me to be, or who I wanted to be? I don’t blame anyone for looking around and feeling like they can’t do that based on how our society currently is, especially if they’re trans. We need to make a more accepting, supportive world for people to interrogate who they are. Because everyone should be able to do that. Everyone should get to be who they are, not who they’re told to be. My lived experience defies what I was told was possible for so many years. Hopefully, just living my life every day can be a small demonstration of that. I am always in the process of trying to become more me. Perhaps I can help set an example or do something to help you in the same regard. That difference does not feel as large as it did seven years ago, when I really truly began the process of being myself, fully, without shame or regret. But there are always things I can do better. If I’ve got mine, the least I can do is something to help everyone else get theirs too. My experiences should be the baseline, not the exception.

My life is full of so many great people, and I have much better relationships with you now than I ever thought I would just by virtue of being myself, of being fully present. So, to everyone out there, wherever I met you along the way, whether it was just recently or years ago in high school, thanks for being there. I cannot stress how great it is to have so many supportive people in my life, people who continue to challenge themselves and grow just as I try to do the same every day. I do not take any of that for granted. I am lucky to call you friends, to know there are a great many people who support me, who do want a better world for trans folks. I look forward to whatever’s next and I can’t think of a better group of people to discover that with.

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