When Universe Whispers In Your Ear

Still resonating. Even more so. Last year, I was starting into the tunnel vision that a countdown to transition typically brings as it takes over your life.

This year I’m starting to settle into my “new” life, now that I’m past the physical difficulties over the first half of the year. Transition can be more than just an opportunity to live one’s life congruently gender-wise, it can also be a chance to reinvent oneself and one’s life.

“Living as your authentic self” goes far beyond gender, and I’m still finding my way — but that’s part of the adventure. Thankful for the chance to hit the reset button in a way that most people don’t get.

”I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

~ Brené Brown

Well, I Do Declare!

During today’s session, my speech therapist had me experiment with using a character voice as a way of getting out of my usual speech patterns.

I broke out the “Southern belle” voice that I’d developed for m y stage persona — and I do declare that my voice improved dramatically!

The slower pace of a Southern accent helped me avoid pitch drops that occur when I’m speaking faster. It improved the legato between syllables and words (which women typically use more of). Most surprisingly, I was able to raise my pitch almost an octave without straining — taking my voice from the top end of the typical male pitch range, solidly into the typical female pitch range.

(I’ve been frustrated in recent months because my pitch had dropped back down as I was focusing on the other vocal characteristics that typically differentiate women’s voices from men’s. Pitch and resonance are the big ones, and the only ones that are physiological, but there’s half a dozen others, most notably, huge differences in inflection.)

My homework is to practice switching into my Southern belle voice and dialing it back into my normal California-accent voice, while retaining the vocal improvements.

So if y’all hear me slipping into a drawl, now you’ll know why.

Hair, Not-So-Long Beautiful Hair

I’m grateful that the second round of hair transplants started growing in far sooner than expected. The transplanted hair goes into “transplant shock” and falls out because the follicles go into their dormant cycles, and typically it doesn’t regrow until about three months afterwards, i.e. for me, the end of June. But a few never fell out, and the there was some regrowth starting as soon as a month after the transplants. The bulk it did start regrowing in the past t month. But it’s growing extraordinarily fast — my acupuncturist, who hadn’t seen me in two weeks, remarked on what a different there was.

There’s still a long ways to go, but:

  • It’s covered the lengthy scar running across my forehead from the facial surgeries in January.
  • I now have enough of a “typical female” underside down U-shaped hairline (i.e. no more male baldness recession on the temples) that I’ve been able to start wearing my hair pulled back when I want to.

Still short, and still thin. But time will take care of that. So glad I did it.

Ally Is A Verb

Appreciative of all the cisgender allies who’ve stepped up during the past 24 hours, in the wake of Trump tweeting that he was banning trans people from the military (and presuming booting those currently serving). Especially those who worked to educate others so that trans people didn’t have do 101 labor on a very trying day.

“Ally” isn’t a noun, it’s a verb. It’s also a title that’s not self-adopted, rather it’s an honorific for meritorious service, bestowed by the folks on whose behalf an ally is acting on.

Klinger Was Not A Trans Solider

I say this more in sorrow than in anger, but I just had to unfriend someone on Facebook who I’ve known for a long time over that damn Klinger photo, and his doubling and tripling down on it.

I don’t care if Klinger was your childhood hero, he’s not an appropriate poster child to oppose the ban on trans people in the military. Why insist on using a fictional character who wasn’t trans, when you could use photos of actual trans veterans, such as Carla Lewis.

I know you’re trying to be supportive on what’s been one of the roughest day for many of us trans people in a long time, but….

Klinger wasn’t trans. In fact he was donning the dress to get a Section 8 discharge from the Army for being mentally unfit for service. I.e. someone who was actively trying to get out of the service, rather than someone fighting to serve as their authentic self.

Equally important, that photo reinforces the notions that 1) trans women are just “men in dresses” and 2) that trans identities are something just casually put on and taken off at will. Both of which are used as justification to discriminate against us.

It’s inappropriate comparison to trans members of the services and trans vets at all times, and right now, it’s just salt in the wounds.

I’m serious about this shit, don’t try me.

The Nose Knows

Going on estrogen re-wires your entire body, and one of the changes is that your sense of smell becomes more sensitive (on the whole female humans have a better sense of smell than males).

That was really brought home to me earlier this afternoon during my stop in Carson City. There have been thundershowers today and the petrichor (the smell after it rains) was so strong that it was pungent at times. Never had that happen before.

A Detente With My Armor

 I Like Armor I've my thing

Looking at my Armor
Still shiny but battered and worn in places
Covering me from helm to sabaton
Forged decades ago
Long before I realized I was trans
Long before I even knew what trans was
Protecting me from a world that too often
Felt harsh and lonely
 
Feeling my Armor
Piece added by piece
Layer built up upon layer
Moving stiffly, moving all too carefully, under its weight
These days feeling too tight
A steel carapace tight-corseting me
 
Speaking to my Armor
I honor you for protecting me all those years
I would not be here today without you
But I’d like to lay you down for awhile
Although I know you’ll always be there if I need you
 
Armor speaking to Me
She agrees she’s also a bit weary
And could use a rest as well
She worries for me
But knows it’s time for me to move more freely
She assures me she will be always be there
Should I need to beckon her back to the front
 
Negotiating with my Armor
A roadmap of progressive milestones:
I can lay down my armor when I choose to, and when we both feel safe
I can lay down my armor when I choose to
I can lay down my armor
We hug and agree to terms
 
Still far from fully unencumbered
But my soul feels lighter already

Terms Of Un-endearment

There’s a lot of folks in the burlesque world who need to take a hard, hard look at themselves and their behavior right now.

From seeing a people defend an alleged sexual predator who’s been accused sexual assault and inappropriate behavior by dozens of women, to seeing people defend a venue/owner host who used racist and ableist language (especially since said venue has past racist incidents on stage), I’m not exactly feeling the sparkly sisterhood right now. In fact I’m disappointed and irate.

WTF is so hard about it?! There are simply words that don’t belong to you.

  • Unless you’re Black, the N-word doesn’t belong to you.
  • Unless you’re intellectually disabled, the R-word doesn’t belong to you.
  • Unless you’re LGB, “faggot,” “homo,” “dyke,” “queer” don’t belong to you.
  • Unless you’re trans, “tranny,” “shemale,” “he/she” don’t belong to you.

You don’t get to reclaim them — only those targeted by those terms can, if they decide to do so.

If those targeted don’t feel anyone outside the group has a right to use them, guess what: YOU DON’T GET TO USE THEM!

It’s not hard, and neither “being a good person,” nor “good intentions” ultimately make a damn bit of difference.*

If you step on my toes, and I say “that hurt me, please don’t do it again,” the normal human reaction is to apologize and not do it again. Doesn’t matter if you stepped on my toes accidentally. You don’t try to excuse yourself because you’re a good person, or you had good intentions, or you just wanted to spark discussion.**

Same thing if you’re friends of the person who stepped my toes. Nor do you accuse me of a “witch hunt” for speaking up about the fact someone stepped on my toes (or my friend’s toes). If you’re a good friend, and the toe-stepper is refusing to own their actions and apologize, you should be pulling them aside and letting them know why that’s fucked up. If the toe-stepper is going around and intentionally stepping on toes, then you need to condemn their actions and disassociate yourself from them.

Get with the program, this shit ain’t hard.

* Yes, I’m aware there is a difference between intentional malice and oblivious disregard, but I wanted to drive the point home because white, hetero cisgender get so hung up on “intent.”

** Being able to treat other people’s lives as a philosophical question to be debated is an ultimate expression of privilege. Just saying….

I’m Not the Type Of Girl For You

An interesting interpretation of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Your Type,” where it reads the song as being about a trans woman who’s in love with her best friend but she will never say anything because she knows that her friend isn’t into trans girls.
“I’m not the type of girl for you
and I’m not going to pretend
I’m the type of girl you want more than a friend”
 
is the kind of line that speaks directly to the fear every trans girl has while attempting dating, especially if she’s stealth — that disclosure will lead to an immediate lack of interest, that no one could be into us for our true selves, that the only people who will ever “love” us are chasers or clients….
Many trans girls have felt the pain of “I’m not the type of girl for you” when attempting to date, whatever the other person’s gender. Conversations abound, especially in queer community, about whether it’s problematic to “not be attracted to” trans girls. It seems like we all have stories about being rejected upon disclosure, or never even being considered if we don’t “pass.””
I think the vast majority of trans people who transition decide the sacrifices (or potential sacrifices) involved. A friend of mine decided she was willing to sacrifice being an up and coming actor, if she could live her life successfully as a woman.*
 
In my case, it was accepting that I might never date again.
 
Partly it’s simply statistics. While men are fun to play with, and I wouldn’t rule out a possible relationship with one, I’m emotionally attracted to women. So that automatically narrows the dating pool to about 5 percent of the population. Then looking at the subset of lesbian/bi women willing — let alone interested — in dating a trans woman and the pool gets very narrow indeed. (It’s one reason it’s not uncommon for trans women to be in relationships with other trans women.)
 
Partly it’s a similar problem that LGB folks face when they see someone of the same sex that they’re attracted to (outside of queer spaces) — because odds are that they’re heterosexual and you don’t know how they’ll react. As the author says:
“All trans girls have rules when it comes to dating. Some of us never disclose until we absolutely have to, some of us are super “out.” I almost never hit on anyone or express romantic interest because I’m tired of being disappointed, and am afraid of a negative reaction. We always have to be careful and follow the rules, because you never know what will happen when you don’t — the reaction could be harsh, even violent.”
Partly it’s being a femme, and facing the problem many femmes face in lesbian spaces, where we’re ignored because people assume we’re straight women crashing the party.
 
Partly it’s me having to get over the feeling like I’m seen as “damaged goods.” Being the trans woman that chasers want to fuck — but not be seen with outside the motel room. Being trans, being a trans woman who don’t always “pass,”** being fat, being a women of a certain age. It’s hard not to internalize at least some of the negativity society expresses toward each. As a wise friend said, it’s hard to swim in a sea of poison and not swallow some.
 
Partly it’s been not having the time or spoons to be in a relationship, to deal with rejection — whether it’s because I’m trans, or for other reasons.
 
Despite all that, I still yearn for that feeling of being loved, of being desired. I’d like to feel that there’s *someone* (or someones) out there for me. It may be a long journey to find them, but it’s time to take that first step come what may.
 

 
* I’m happy to report that years later she’s started acting again and recently earned accolades for her co-starring role in her first big screen debut, in a movie that won a best in category award at the LA Film Festival.
 
** “Passing” is a term I hate — I much prefer blending — but I’m using it here because it’s used in the article, and because “passing privilege” has a long and history important history as a sociological concept.

I’m Not The Girl

I’m not the girl who’s ever featured on a show poster
The girl who’s invited to do private burlesque gigs
I probably never will be
I don’t have “the look”
I’m not the droid they’re looking for

But when I’m on the stage, I can be beautiful
I can seduce my audiences
I can make them love me
Even when I’m not the droid they’re looking for
Even if it causes weird boners

I’m not sexy despite looking like I do
I’m sexy because I’m unconventionally beautiful
Jolie laide” as the French would say — “beautiful ugly”
We jolie laides have to work twice as hard for half the recognition
Make ourself so unforgettable that we can’t be ignored

Our sexuality, our self-confidence, and most of all, our self-love
Has to be thundered to beyond the back row to even be heard
In a society that shames us for not being “pretty enough”
Not having the “right” curves, not having the “right” equipment in our panties
In the face of all that, there’s many times when I feel more ugly than beautiful

Fuck that shit

Yes, I’m an acquired taste
And if you can’t handle me, you need to acquire some taste