I saw a lot of people over the weekend who were cheerleaders of my transition. I picked up a lot of cheerleaders pretty quickly when that was going on. Transition is inherently a public process- it’s about manipulating a public persona, about what strangers see and how they approach you.
But we are also a people living our lives in the public square these days. I spent my youth both performing comedy and chasing an authentic self in those performances. I felt so controlled and powerless in my work/family/partying life that the stage felt like a respite.
But that feeling is an illusion. The stage is the opposite of a safe space. Believe you me, people do have rotten tomatoes at the ready when they’re looking at a stage. If you’re chasing authenticity chasing it through other people’s attention is not the most direct route.
I saw a lot of people who were cheerleaders when I was transitioning and the thing is I feel pretty scared of those people. They’re normal people, they meant well during that time, but it became clear to me during that time that a lot of people would like a person to publicly be helpful to while also getting some kind of public ego reward from that. So when I was transitioning suddenly as a performer people were a lot more interested in booking me and giving me press. And when I was transitioning a lot more people wanted to be my friend but especially to get some IG photos with me. And when I was transitioning suddenly a lot of women who had not particularly been great friends to me were interested in taking our friendship to the next level. The taking off pants level. (Not actually a level of friendship, btw.)
So now when those people see me they don’t know what to do. And I don’t really know what to do either. I navigate life from behind a lot of makeup these days and sometimes these people want to make me another kind of trans person, or they send me facebook invites to queer femme stuff. These people don’t actually believe me when I say testosterone turned me straight. It’s funny because that’s a joke and a commonly accepted truth in the trans community, but the idea that it would turn you straight enough to be an actual problem in your life that you need to problem solve around just doesn’t make sense to people. I guess I was supposed to more joyfully embrace the trans fag dream.
But honestly, when I think about what that life entails, and my current life, I’m just really grateful I turned around. I feel like I can’t quite talk about the sexual ethic and culture around trans guys without reflexively getting anxious and coming off as judgey. I really hate being fetishized, and I saw a lot of trans guys embracing it. Different strokes. I’m not ready to get into that.
I saw some women who were cheerleaders, and they looked sorry for me, and one said, “But are you happy?” Yeah. Life’s not perfect. But literally everyday I wake up grateful I get to live this particular life I’m living. I really think of transition as a way I was trying to throw it all away. And then once I lived the experience of throwing it all away- lived through having a surgeon draw on me, lived through people try to coach me into a stereotype of bro-itude, lived through the low expectations for the quality of my new trans life my healthcare providers had for me- yeah, I turned around. Yeah, I realized I was chasing a fantasy, and chasing that fantasy was going to wreck my liver and finances and self-respect.
I told these women I was indeed happy, I was so happy and grateful to be where I’m at right now, and they looked sorry for me. I felt so angry right away. But you know, they’re trying in their own way, and they’ve bought into a lot of stories about the chase. That you pick a chase, and you go as hard as you can at that chase, and at some point in that chase you pick up happiness. That’s not how it works for me. I get happy when I realize no chase is required of me. I get happy when I can appreciate all the good luck I was the recipient of before I even left my mom’s body.
I’m not someone to feel sorry for. This is maybe a rough situation to be in, being detransitioned, but if I hadn’t gone through it, I wouldn’t have met all these incredibly women I now know who went through it. I wouldn’t have gone to Fest. I wouldn’t have the spiritual life I have now, and that has made life so much more joyful and real. I wouldn’t have realized how beautiful and powerful I actually am, as I am, with my big ole booty and saggy titties and the weirdly scrunched face the camera captures when I’m really honest to goddess smiling. I like myself and more than that, believe in and see my own power in a way I just didn’t before.
How do you learn who you are if you aren’t tested? How do you learn that you’re grateful to be you if you don’t learn who you are?