Archive for February, 2016

You Know I Dreamed About You

One of the cool things about modern life is the ability to connect. As a trans woman, that would have been awesome when I was younger, but I was not quite savvy enough for the channels that were there then. These days? A Twitter handle and a hashtag will do the trick. And once you end up connected to the periphery, you soon find yourself connected to exactly as much as you want to be, whether that’s a lot or a little. Perhaps I would have been more connected, but I had already been out a long time before I really came to Twitter. No matter though. It’s still nice to be connected to a community no matter when you find it. One of the messages I see kick up is that you (you being the trans person) are worthy of love. Which is all fine and well. It’s a great and true message. But where do I find that?

Perhaps at a previous in point in life, I’d feel that I were not worthy of love. I am wise enough now to know that is not true. But I feel live pithy wisdom elides over the gap between “you are worthy of love” and “you can find the people who are willing to be those people”. Which hey, I get it, we all face that. It’s neither fate nor does it happen on accident. Some degree of it is just putting in the effort. It’s not the most glamorous way to think about relationships perhaps. In a society that shoves true love down your throat it’s definitely not how you want to think of it. But all relationships are work. Love doesn’t obviate the need for effort. Perhaps it makes it easier, but it certainly does not obviate it.

I’ve mused on it before. I still don’t know an answer. I vacillate between whether I need to put more work in or not. Sometimes I agree with that, but I don’t know, at a certain point diminishing returns kick in. There’s only so many guys you can meet that are already in relationships, guys you meet who can’t get your name right even though it’s simple (and yes, I know what that means, thank you very much), only so many “ur hot” and 5,000+ character exegeses you can receive on dating apps before you just realize that you are working with a limited pool. There’s nothing wrong with me for being trans, but I still need to bridge the gap between nothing being wrong with me and finding a pool of guys that I connect with that also feel that way. Then narrow that pool a bit more and find guys that I actually click with. It’s not so easy. It’s especially not easy when you are trans. It’s easy to blame yourself. It’s easy to say so many things are wrong with you.

But like I said, even when you realize it’s not your fault, that there’s nothing wrong with who you are, that doesn’t change anything. I’m still moving through a cissexist world. I’m still judged not on how much I am like myself but how cis I seem. Or I have to find people who exist outside those standards, but good luck with that. This isn’t to say that it’s easier or harder than it is for other people, but just to say that it’s hard. It’s really fucking hard and I want you to understand that. Even if the rest of my life is in order, it still feels like there’s a big hole there. Part of that is societal. Even as more people live alone, it still feels like we should all be together. Some of that is messaging, but some of that messaging comes from how we feel. Beyond that, I still feel like learning how to form relationships is a skill I just missed out on, something that a lot of trans people miss out on when they don’t get to have a normal adolescence, and now I don’t know how I am supposed to catch up. I still have to deal with the fact that somehow disclosing trans status is a material admission that could have an effect on my personal well-being, not just something about me like where I grew up. I may see examples of positive relationships, I know they exist and certainly can be (and am) happy for people who have found them, but they still appear Barmecidal at best from where I stand.

So how do I connect with the person I’m looking for? How do I find him? What do I try now? Who else out there can’t decide between whether “Slow Show” by The National or “When You Sleep” by My Bloody Valentine would be a better first dance song? I don’t know. I go through fits and spurts of just not trying at all. I am ebbing out of one of those, but there’s still that hopelessness, gnawing, waiting to pull you back in. Everyone interesting I meet personally is in a relationship anyway. No one is going to try and set me up with anyone. I’m not saying you should. I am saying that to point out subtly how you think of me. I don’t think that’s just my personality. But again, that’s not a challenge. It’s just an admission of how the world thinks of me. A better world does not mean a good one. We are not there yet. Plenty of people don’t think of me as a man, but that doesn’t mean they think of me as a woman either. I’ve written a lot of these entries before. Chances are I’ll write quite a few more. It’s how I process these kinds of feelings. I’m good at being alone, but I’m terrible at being lonely. Like anything, though, it’s a skill. You learn how to live with this feeling. Even if you want it to change. Even if you know there’s nothing wrong with you. I may have come that far. I may have done all that I can. Perhaps I just need the world to catch up. Perhaps it just won’t. All I can do is keep dreaming about that world. All I can do is keep trying to make that dream real. We all need to dream. If we don’t dream, we die.

Live Deliberately

Maybe this time I’ll get it right. No, no, that’s not the right approach. There are plenty of things in life you will not get right the first time. Perhaps I shouldn’t foist that upon you, but I know there are plenty of things I didn’t, haven’t, and likely won’t get right the first time. It’s taken me a long time to come around on tenets that comprise the core of my being, whether that’s as a vegan, a non-driving city dweller who wants more city for everyone, or as a woman, to mention a few key ones. Each of those has taken me years to refine. It’s never about being the best. What’s best, anyway? It’s about being a better person than I was yesterday. Sometimes I don’t do a good job with that. We all have our bad days. Hell, some of us have had bad lives. Perhaps a younger version of me would have blamed a lot of people for that. The current version knows damn well a lot of us are doing the best with what we have and some of us don’t have nearly as much as we should.

As I become a more realized version of myself, though, I live in a world that does not seem prepared for it. I trundle through a city with laughable bike infrastructure, wondering about what the next pothole or trolley track or car might do to me, aware that the article would inevitably point out that I was not wearing a helmet like that excuses the body count of our car-first culture. I watch as your jaw drops a little when I say I don’t really miss bacon at all, because that’s a difficult world for so many to comprehend. I stand mortified, afraid to correct a co-worker who misgenders me because I hope against hope that no one else even noticed and then my heart drops when I realize they probably didn’t notice because that’s how they think of me too. I used to think they were all demonstrably different aspects of who I am, the cyclist, the vegan, the trans woman, and in some ways, they are but they aren’t really, inasmuch as they are all elements that very much set me apart from the mass of men who lead lives of quiet desperation,  trapped in their cars, trapped in their masculinity. Efforts to push against that will not be tolerated.

Of course, in some ways, they are demonstrably different. People give me strange looks when I say I bike to work, they look like they pity me when I say I’ll pass on the milk chocolate, but they give me downright hostile looks just for assert myself as a woman. There’s a slim chance I’ll get in an accident riding, and I might go hungry for a meal, but being trans is enough to put your life in danger. Less so for me than for many others, less by virtue and more by luck, but it is still a more real possibility than any other danger I face. Some days, I feel I am living less deliberately and more defiantly, though that is just a function of a society that treats any deviation from the norm as defiance. We may encompass vast ranges, but so much comes down to binary choices: yes/no, man/woman, black/white. Ours is not a culture of nuance. It is barely a culture of change. We stake to calcified opinions that we do not question. It’s hard to change your mind on something, and it’s even harder to share that with the world. It always requires an explanation, and even then, we still hold old versions of ourselves over each other. Even as I have changed so much, I still do it. I know this is something I have struggled with and continue to challenge myself on; I understand it is difficult. I know it’s easy to forget how everyone else’s life is in motion just like our own when everything appears static from the outside. I get that our realities complicate and compromise our best efforts to live deliberately. So many things outside of our control affect it. I get that we all have to make choices with the finite time we have. I get that what is right for me may not be right for you, as there are so many different ways of living. Or at least I get that now, though I doubt I understood that nearly as well even a few short years ago.

It’s not about getting there first. I want to live in a culture that celebrates trans realities, and if you are already there and realize that trans people are just that, people, cool. But there’s no special ribbon for getting there first. And it’s also worth remembering there was a time when perhaps you didn’t think of it that way. I don’t take that as a sign that some people are more evolved or anything like that. I take that as a reminder that there are areas that I probably don’t challenge myself on that I may come to realize in the future are absurd. I take as a reminder to be open to thinking another way. I may have once struggled to see myself as the woman I am, but now I can’t see myself as anything but. The act of living deliberately isn’t about questioning every little thing all the time. We still have to function on a daily basis and it can be paralyzing to always be like that. But it does mean we should engage those questions. Being trans is really great preparation for that. Perhaps you have a different teacher in that regard. We can’t change the past. But luckily, we aren’t those people anymore, even if we see ourselves and others that way sometimes. I know it’s hard. I know other people may not understand, perhaps now, perhaps ever. I know it’s a lot easier to look back and ascribe a purpose to all of it than it is to see in the moment. Maybe I will finally get it right this time. But if I don’t, then how am I going to be better tomorrow?

More or Less

More or Less

Less concern about what others think

More concern for others

Less drinking by myself

More drinks with you

Less television

More reading

Less half-scribbled thoughts

More writing

Less collecting records

More spinning ‘em

Less reunion tours

More the first time around

Less buying bread

More baking it

Less excuses

More running

Less travel elsewhere

More California

Less crankiness

More sleep

Less noise

More focus

Less worrying

More adventure

Less blame

More acceptance

 
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