Futon

I ran into a young trans woman in the Haight today. Some friends and I were leaving a boutique that only sold obnoxiously loud tie-dye. Tie-dye yoga pants. Tie-dye bandanas. Tie-dye miniskirts. Tie-dye bell bottoms. Tie-dye tapestries. Trucker hats. Polos. Lanyards. Handbags. Tie-dye sea captain’s coats. It was like walking through a color wheel, or an oil slick, or a pile of iridescent barf. I had purchased what I considered “a very queer belt,” a little rainbow to wrap around my waist.

There was a voice behind me. “Ma’am? Ma’am?” I stopped, scanned the passing crowd. “Ma’am?” There. “Do you know where I can find some E?” What? I leaned in and asked. “You know. Estrogen?” I didn’t. I was so sorry. I was not from these parts, just passing through.

She was young, easily under 20. She had these sores on her face too big and dry to be zits. She wore cutoffs and a crop top that showed off her midriff. Her eyes were bright, lively. Her hair was kempt. Her name was Stelena (stuh LAY nuh). We shook hands.

If I’d had any estrogen, I would have given it to her. I want to help, ya know? She’s family, and she’s in need, so fuck yeah, girl, have as much E as you want.

But it wouldn’t have done her any good without androgen blockers. Maybe she didn’t know that. Maybe the sores on her face weren’t meth sores, maybe they were testosterone-related because she’d been taking estrogen without an androgen blocker so her body was just converting the extra estro into testo and breaking her.

But giving her both wouldn’t have helped either. It took two months and a bunch of doctor visits and a bunch of analyzed vials of blood to gradually adjust the amount of anti-androgens I would take until we found the amount that drops my testosterone enough to make my body receptive to estrogen. It wouldn’t have helped her. It would’ve hurt. She needs more than I can provide.

One of my friends says San Francisco has a thing where trans people can get the healthcare we need without having health insurance or a lot of money or anything. Some kind of social service. She could get hormones, someone to help her manage them, potentially surgery. Was she not aware?

After the handshake, she asks if I’m pre-op or not. If an employer or a teacher or a coworker or a bouncer or a clerk or an acquaintance asked if I were pre-op or not, I would slap hir. Hard.

But I don’t even think about slapping her. I tell her, because it is so rare to meet someone else like me, because we are connecting, because I want her to know she’s not alone, that things can get better (not fast, but they can), that you don’t need to alter everything about your body to be able to smile in public and mean your smile and go window shopping with your friends, that you don’t have to pass to enjoy life. I tell her like I would tell someone I enjoy pistachios in my ice cream, or that I play MMORPGs, or that I am six feet tall and over two hundred pounds and have trouble finding flattering tops.

Later, in a Thai restaurant, one of my friends was like, Maybe she’s a prostitute? And I looked at my hand, my hairy-knuckled but clean hand she had shaken, wondering about disease and connection, distance and contagion, stigma, family, and why was she here, asking me for estrogen? Probably worked up the guts to tell her family, probably got disowned and kicked out. Maybe she couldn’t work up the guts–maybe she just fled. Maybe this was the life she chose, and it sprung from better circumstances than the stereotypes, and she takes great pleasure and empowerment and real joy in her work. Still, so many of my sisters go into sex work because it’s the only paying work they can find. So many are addicts. So many are homeless.

I have pills. I have a doctor checking my blood to see if things are what/where/how much they need to be. I have a job that doesn’t monetize my body or ask me to entrust my health and my safety to people I have never met over and over and over. I have family who let me share their roofs, even if they fuck up my pronouns and still can’t use my correct name and don’t know what gender dysphoria or gender identity or tucking or passing or internalized transphobia or institutional discrimination or binaries or misogyny are. I am lucky. I am so lucky.

There needs to be some kind of transgender housing network, like a trans AirBnB.

There needs to be some kind of hormone bank for trans people in need.

There needs to be more substantial support. More substantial everything.

You need money to do things like this in our stupid culture where profitability and affordability and budgets more often than not trump compassion, empathy, community, justice. I have a little money. I have more debt than I have money so technically I have negative money. I have worth-less-than-nothing. Still, I give money to political campaigns. I buy clothes. Food. I fly around the country to sit in little shops with friends and drink tea, espresso, laughter. I rent cars. I’m ok. I’m very ok. I could help. A little. Somehow. Surely.

I am sleeping on a futon tonight. My friends don’t have a spare bedroom, or a house. They have an apartment. They have a futon. It’s what they offer. It’s all I need.

The futon let taking a detour to San Jose from Oregon seem affordable, even practical. The futon is how I ended up in the Haight today flinching at tie-dye, meeting another of my invisible sisters.

When I can afford to rent again, I can get a futon. It doesn’t feel great to let resolving to buy something be the answer here. Buying something will make me feel good, but it won’t directly affect anyone besides me and the company who sells me the thing and the hypothetical future people hypothetically using it. Is that something? Is that a little? It doesn’t feel like enough. In fact, it feels kinda selfish.

And while I hope the woman I met with the sores on her face with her midriff showing and the appetite for estrogen finds what she needs, I know hoping is the same as doing nothing at all.

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Dysphoria

From Queer Voices. http://queer-voices.com/2015/10/dysphoria-bodily-mentally-socially/

The article categorizes three forms of gender dysphoria: Social, Mental, and Physical. Before hormones, I would get a lot of Physical dysphoria. Treating that is the reason I take hormones, which help immensely but not completely. Mental dysphoria I used to deal with more pre-transition as well, but it’s easier now that forces beyond myself (friends and sometimes family) are helping validate my gender (and that my physical form and my inner narratives are now more validating of it too).

Social dysphoria I still get all the time. I don’t pass as female as often as I pass as male, so people misgender me lots still, which causes its own sort of pain beyond social awkwardness.

I was in a bowling alley a few weeks ago watching two high-school-age women in the seats across from my team. They were being…I think the appropriate phrase is “TOTES ADORBS.” Sitting in each other’s laps. Hugging. Giggling and fawning at cute things on their phones. It was a display of proto-femininity I found difficult to ignore, partly because I have always wanted to express my femininity so easily in public, partly because I was envious of the acceptance and invisibility they received from their friends and passersby while behaving like…like themselves. Partly because I envied it so much it hurt to watch.

Watching the girls ended up killing the evening for me. My mood plummeted, I noticed I was tearing up when I gutterballed, I withdrew from conversation with the friends I was bowling with, and I started to despair, to feel lethargic, to want skip my turns or leave the alley completely.

But I didn’t say anything, because my friends were enjoying themselves, catching lucky strikes and telling Star Trek jokes. Later on, David spoke in the car: “That was fun.” Ben said, “AGREED,” doing his best Picard. I was sitting in the front passenger seat, nexus of car conversation, so I had to respond. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, or like I was sad because my scores were bad, or like I didn’t enjoy socializing (though that’s becoming increasingly true) since we hadn’t gone out much in the past few weeks. So I said yeah, it was fun, which was a lie, and therefore disrespectful of my friends.

Had I said it wasn’t, would that have seemed disrespectful too? I didn’t want to talk about why. I had told Ben earlier about my mood and the women. He said he could understand why social situations were hard for me. As much as I appreciated his words, I knew he couldn’t mean them fully.

Does the Buddha say Desire is the source of all suffering? Am I wrong to desire the type of easy outward public femininity the high schoolers were displaying? Am I a coward for avoiding the scorn such a display would invite? Whose lap would I sit in? Who would I take to http://www.cuteoverload.com to gush over images of baby polar bears and hedgehogs and hedgehogs again? To be honest, so much of these feels feel so instinctual it feels wrong to resist or interrogate or question them. How can one not desire what one is drawn to?

I bring this up to illustrate social dysphoria. Something as simple as encountering femininity in the world can trigger it.

I suppose I am lucky that I do have respite from the dysphorias. Hormones mitigate the physical dysphoria to the point of restoring function to my life. When I say “my life,” I mean the whole thing. Being alone is the easiest way I’ve encountered for mitigating the social dysphoria–the job I just received lets me work from home, and I love that. The mental dysphoria, feeling “trapped by gender confines,” interplays with all the others, but I don’t have to go through the crippling self-doubt that kept me from transitioning until two years ago anymore, at least.

Anyway, there is that. Thanks for reading.

Hormones Running Out, Need Help

Hey folks.Sorry I haven’t been posting for the last few months–been trying to focus on the book of poems I’m finishing, and other writing drains my available daily writing energy.

Today I write because I need some help. My scrips for hormones and antidepressants are about to run out. Most of the doctors and clinics I’ve researched are either too expensive to pay out of pocket (no health insurance, Obamacare is too expensive, basically unemployed yatta yatta) or won’t take on uninsured patients.

Some of the clinics I researched would have made me pay for two visits just to renew the scrips (the first visit is an assessment for the new doc to see if I do in fact need hormones, ie if I am still transgender, ie if my last docs were not kooks, and the second visit is the occasion upon which the new doc says “Why, yes, Z, my profesh medical opinion is that you are still transgender and you do still have gender dysphoria and you do still need this medicine that anyone can see you will need to take for the rest of your life so how can we justify making you do this expensive ritual every few months anyway beyond general cultural stigmatization and pathologizing of transgenderness?”).

I can be all “This is bullshit!” and “Fuck the capitalist patriarchy machine!” and “You are not the authority over my body!” and “Why isn’t there some over the counter remedy for this yet!” and “Fuck the gatekeeper medical establishment!” And I have been like that, but right now I need resources and solutions.

If I don’t get my hormones renewed, my neato gender dysphoria will kick back in. I often say things like “It’s a big future out there” and “No worries, things can change” and “Who am I to shut down possibility?” but based on past experiences, if I don’t have these goddam chemicals in my blood, things will get bad, and fast. That’s a euphemism for saying something like “I’ll get really, persistently depressed and suicidal again, and I’ll risk getting overwhelmed by my body’s wrack to the point that I won’t be able to function as a social creature or a semi-responsible adult.” Mental health don’t fuck around. Not fun to think about, but that’s reality: not a cakewalk, not a barn door, not a placid day at the beach.

So if you know of any general practitioners or endocrinologists who are trans-friendly, who prescribe hormones, who take uninsured clients, and practice in St. Louis, or if you have any friends in St. Louis who might know about these things, please email me whatever you got. Greenteawithdali@gmail.com.

Be well. Fuck the capitalist patriarchy machine.

On “Transvestite” and “Transsexual”

I hate these words. The first sounds like a pathology, like some medical term for a psychological disorder, which makes sense because it used to be one. It’s also cissexist, since it’s rarely applied to trans men and usually just gets stuck to glammed-up guys.

Transsexual in particular is immensely misleading! It makes it seem like being trans is all about SEX, like, copulation, because that’s the root of the word–SEX.  Meeting this word when I was younger fucked up my idea of who I was for years. I thought being trans (which I knew I was) also made me a pervert, some kind of bizarre orgasm-seeking creature obsessed with being prettified. THAT IS NOT THE CASE. BEING TRANS IS ABOUT GENDER DYSPHORIA (for me) and subconscious gender and brain maps and the relationship I have with my body and the relationship my body has to itself. None of that is about orgasms. No more transsexual, please. It creates unnecessary ambiguity about the person taking the label, and can mislead hapless cishetero folks into stigmatizing us.

Fuck these words. Get them out of the lexicon.

Thank you and have a nice year.

List of Plans

1) Read more.
2) Get a car that moves.
3) Read more.
4) Get a job I don’t hate.
5) Read more.
6) Read more poetry.
7) Take more risks with my relationships.
8) Take more risks with my genders.
9) Write more bad things.
10) Be afraid of things and do them anyway.
11) Be a better ally–the struggle affects us all.
12) Legal name change.
13) More yoga, more often.
14) Read more.
15) Deathblow to the beard remnant.
16) Read more.

When my brother calls me prissy for asking him to turn down his fucking stereo blasting Lord of the Rings at 2am on a Wednesday

Patrick, Why we don't get alongYes. Only took me a week of fighting him and I’m starting to give up. Be like, “Well, what if I change my sleep schedule. What if I get earplugs? Could I find another place to sleep…every night of the week?” Some people are so selfish that they can’t imagine how their actions affect other people. Or they do realize how their actions affect other people but it’s more important for them to finish their fucking movie. I’m mad. Fuck Murica.

Also, I’m not crazy or oversensitive or prissy! I have a beard! HOW CAN ANYONE BE PRISSY WITH A BEARD?!!?!?!?

So now I know my brother is misogynizing me. If I were still male and asked him to turn down his music so I could sleep/write/not be watching the movie with him when we’re on separate floors of the house, would he call me prissy for asking? Of course not. He’d call me a jerk or an asshole or something. But because I’m female now, it must clearly be my femininity that’s the problem here. Not the volume of his stereo in the dead of night. Of course. I’m crazy. I’m unreasonable. Because of my gender. Fuck him.

That’s not fair. I mean, it’s not ACTUALLY him saying this to me. It’s the patriarchy. Speaking through him. He didn’t actively try to learn these awful ideas. He’s not trying to be selfish–in fact, he thinks he isn’t being selfish at all. He thinks I’m being selfish. I’ve always wondered if he was a sociopath or something because of shit like this, but now that he’s using my gender against me in these shitty little squabbles, I’m more willing to believe our issues stem from growing up in white suburban Murica, and the ideas that setting taught us to believe about the people around us. Can’t wait to get a job and get out of here. Again.

Anyway, I suppose I’ll shop for cheap noise-cancelling headphones now. Sleep tight ya’ll.

Options

gender is

I don’t know who made this, but I like how it suggests gender is/can be more than one thing. Options! Of course, as a writer, I want there to be separate words for all this stuff. Here’s a few:

Right column, descending: the gender binary, biological determinism, sexuality, biological determinism.

Left column, descending: The gender spectrum (as opposed to a binary…I read that as gender is about degrees, not categories), gender expression, this one might be getting at subconscious gender identity, and then visible gender identity.

Remembering Leelah Alcorn

I was so moved when I read Leelah’s suicide note on her blog this time last year, I wrote about her in my thesis. She sparked the best essay I wrote for the two years I was in Oregon. She is the mother of #fixsociety. She took every step she needed to take to try and find support, and she was rejected, isolated, judged, and essentially bullied to death by her own parents. We still have a long way to go. But at least in the community where Leelah lived, there have been changes reflecting her wish of fixing transphobic America.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/12/28/1218-transgender-Ohio-teens-message-continues-to-draw-attention.html