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Monthly Archives: December 2012

5 New Year’s Resolutions I’m Bound To Regret Tomorrow

Popular-Healthy-New-Years-Resolutions

In spite of all expectations to the contrary, I have managed to remain alive for the duration of 2012. I can’t say I’m not excited to see it shifted into the ‘old business’ file, but I did in fact survive it. It wasn’t the worst year I’ve ever had by a long shot. 2011 was the super suck ass year of my life, and 2000 wasn’t really a whole lot better. It’s OK, I’m not going to dwell on past, but look boldly forward to the ripe possibilities that 2013 is going to bring.

It’s customary for people to draft New Year’s resolutions on New Year’s Day, but I’m getting started a little early. Clearly not a whole lot unless you take into account that I drafted this post one rainy morning a few weeks ago, but still. It’s OK because it’s in accordance with the first item on my list. Get ahead of the game. Where the theme of 2012 was ‘Embrace the Awkward’, the theme of 2013 is going to be ‘Do Really Hard Things’.  With no further ado, my resolutions for this year.

1. Get Ahead of the Game: I’ll be perfectly honest; I’m what people usually refer to as a “horrible procrastinator”. I’m not sure why as I usually sneak in right under the wire in a flurry of confusion, sweat, and abject panic. I love to tell myself that I work well under pressure, but the rare instances in which I started on time have proven I work just as well, if not better, when I have buckets of time at my disposal. I’m going to go one better and not just start on time, but early. Why is this so hard? I don’t really believe in the future. I have no expectation that next week or even tomorrow is really a thing, so it seems foolish not to push unpleasant tasks forward into this hypothetical black hole of unreality. After being proven wrong for 41 straight years, I resolve to act as if the future is real, and imminent.

2. Conquer My Fear of the Dentist: Over the past 3 years I have managed to conquer almost all of my pants wetting fears. Specifically, heights, public speaking, and having everyone find out I’m trans. This is good because it just might give me the final push I need to face the granddaddy of them all. The dentist. While I blithely subject myself to endless hours of tortuous facial lasering or electrocution with nary a moment’s sleep missed over it, I wake up screaming from night terrors in which a pleasant dental assistant is coming at my mouth with that awful hook thing. Ugh! In the mean time, my teeth need some serious work as there is like one spot left I can chew on without blinding agony. So, time to face that demon. Crap, I just realized that to comply with item 1, I need to book an appointment like right now. Seriously, I’m my own worst enemy.

3. Be a Tough Mudder: OK, my motivation for this comes in three parts. A friend at work ran this insanely hard competition last year, and my competitive nature tells me that if she can do it, so can I. Second, I have a burning desire to get into fantastically great shape just because, and training for an obstacle course that makes Navy SEALs cry sounds as good a motivation any. Finally, I want to be able to tell people I’m a real tough mudder. If you know me, you will understand that the last one will probably spurn me on like nothing else. I probably should have started training already since the thing is in July, but well, that’s the reason #1 is on the list.

4. Complete Transition: Yes, this means what you think it does. I’m seriously sick of being in the middle of this transition business and more than ready to have it done already. Oh, it’s been fun and all, but time to ramp it up, finish the hair removal business, and schedule my consultation. My endo says I’m ready, my gender specialist says I’m ready, and more importantly, I know I’m ready. It’s going to be a big push, but I’m looking forward to the day when I can turn this blog into something with knitting or cute pictures of marsupials theme. Yes, yes, I still have to call and schedule my consult. I’m really fucking myself with that stupid first item.

5. Actually Write the Damn Thing Already: This is probably not a huge shocker, but I have completed a strong detailed outline for a book. Yes, I will most likely have to self-publish, but nevertheless, I’m going to do it. Why write one? Fame? Fortune? Ha, nothing of the kind. I simply want to lord it over two old friends who used to bicker about who would be published first. I think if I win I get treated to my pick of any Grand Slam offering at Denny’s. I probably could have been done by now if I worked on it instead of futzing about with this blog, but you know, old number one.

OK, I think 5 huge ass resolutions are enough for this year. It’s OK though, I’m going to do this. To all of you who have been reading my drivel for some reason I’m still not sure I understand, a very Happy New Year to you all!!

PS – I also resolve to stop doing this damn holiday themed posts. Except Arbor Day. The material is just a gold mine.

Transamerica

Transamerica

I finally got the chance to view ‘Transamerica’ in the worst possible circumstance. I had it on my to do list for ages, but it wasn’t until I was lying on a table having my face electrified for 9 hours until I really had the chunk of time I needed to give it my full attention. I have to admit, it was a real nice distraction to focus on while James worked his magic needle to fry my follicles.

As usual, I’m not going to bother giving you the whole synopsis on the thing because you can look it up and read it yourself without me laboriously typing in a much less accurate recounting. Plus I don’t want a lot a whining that I gave away spoilers. Wait, I usually end up doing that anyway, so… Spoiler Alert! A good possibility exists that I am going to ruin this for you if you haven’t seen it yet. Just to be safe, I guarantee it. Read on at your peril or if you take particular delight in being let down by an online buttinsky just so you can complain later.

The best thing about this film, other than featuring a trans protagonist, was the acting by Felicity Huffman. Short of actually putting a transgender woman in the role, I think they made the best choice. Felicity was exceptionally believable as Bree, and had I not known ahead of time that she was born female, I probably would have been super excited that they managed to find a trans actress I hadn’t heard of yet. She sold the role, even stacked up against a cameo by the fabulous Calpurnia Addams, who ironically played a much less believable trans. The scene in which they are together is an odd mix of Bree, representing pretty much every trans woman I know, and Calpurnia’s friends, who represented a caricature of everything people think we are. “come in! Debra is showing everyone her new vagina!” Ugh… seriously.

The movie overall is a pretty standard story; road trip quest to complete before super important deadline. In this case she has to bail her kid out of jail before her shrink will sign the surgery letter, and of course she’s already booked the operation in advance of all this and it can’t be moved. Naturally she doesn’t want to abandon her son, but also doesn’t really want to reveal herself either. I can’t identify with that last bit to be honest, at all. It’s nearly impossible that I have an unknown child out there, but if one appeared in my life, I would have to be forced to let go. In moving her son back to Cali, the typical daddy turned maddy scenes play out. A little bit of drug dealing, a car stolen by a hippy hitchhiker they immediately trust, some male hustling for quick cash, and finally a sexual proposition from son to biological father. The usual stuff that would make any sane parent want to kill themselves.

In her bid to ditch her kid, which involves an attempted drop of to gramma and grampa, along with a poorly conceived plan to reunite junior with his sexual predator step-father, Bree finally comes to the post-operative realization that the happiness of family supersedes even that of genital corrective surgery. It was a very moving scene actually, exacerbated by the very lonely scene of her in the hospital sobbing, with only her therapist there to give comfort.

I actually found the most interesting scene to be when Bree finally comes to the realization that this is in fact her kid. She visits his shanty of an apartment and he shows her an old pic of Bree in her male days alongside an old flame. The weight of responsibility comes over her and she slumps down on the bed. What I liked about it was that for all her hyper-awareness regarding her femininity, in this moment of being overwhelmed she sits down with a very male sounding grunt, in the classic ‘defeated dude’ open legged slouch. To me that captured in one moment the essence of the trans existence; the sheer difficulty of completely overcoming so many years of behavioral training.

While a tear jerker some of the time, and horribly uncomfortable at other times, there was also a degree of lightness to this and a few laughs as well. While atypical of anyone in particular, so wholly typical to the overall trans life and the inescapable awkwardness that remain ubiquitous through transition. And because some of you saw fit to complain (ahem!) of my lack of star rating for my movie reviews, I concede and give this 4 out of 5 Golden Michelleliannas, whatever those are supposed to be anyway.

Merry Xmas and Happy Festivus!

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As my personal attention is presently torn between calendar co-located Christmas and Hanukkah, I decided to concentrate my tiresome obligatory holiday post on Festivus. It’s for the rest of us you know, and yes, I know it was technically 2 days ago. This is going to be really tough because aside from that Seinfeld episode, there isn’t a whole lot of information out there. Even Wikipedia simply summarizes the salient points gleaned from Frank Costanza’s recounting. Don’t worry; I’ll come up with something.

In our house, out of a long standing agreement, we celebrate Hanukkah out of respect of the Jewish faith of my ex and son. It wasn’t a hard sell for him at all. We started when he was 4 and what kid is going to argue with 8 nights of presents? This, by the way, was a terrible idea. Eight days of hell as our gift crazy 4 year old talked presents morning, noon, and night. The nightly gift was about 10 minutes of distraction before, “when do I get another present?”. Ugh. Naturally we were apprehensive this year because when disaster occurs, the sane thing is to repeat the exact same thing. Very happy to say it went wonderfully with a year of wisdom added to his little head. Christmas remains at my moms, a beloved tradition of many year, though now with lots more stockings up on the railing. She already changed mine to read Michelle. 🙂

So let’s talk Festivus! As I understand it, there are three main components – the aluminum pole, the airing of grievances, and the feats of strength. I’m telling you right now I’m not getting an aluminum pole. They are not as light as they look, and I can just see my son managing to topple it through the bay window. I could probably drum up some kind of trans* symbolism about a pole, but you know, let’s just not go there. Too soon to find phallic humor super funny just yet. Talk to me this time next year and I might have something different to say.

Ah, the airing of grievances! In Costanza world, this means recounting to your loved ones all the ways they disappointed you in the past year. Yeah, I got nothing there either. My loved ones have been super, and even those on my ex’s side of the family really put away the recriminations and have been perfectly sweet. Well, at least within my earshot, and that’s all I really care about. I could air my frustration at my son for being only 5 and now able to deftly out maneuver me in arguments, to the point where I’ve had to break my vow to never close with, “because I said so.” I’m actually pretty proud of him for that though. OK, I’m zero for two now on Festivus tradition. Not so good.

The final Festivus festivity is the feats of strength, which apparently continue until the head of the household is pinned. I’ve never been under the illusion that I was head of the household, but even if so, that is a ridiculously easy task now that I enjoy the upper body strength of a 12 year old girl couch potato. I don’t think my ex can take me though (let’s see if she reads this). If we can reinterpret “strength” as some kind of inner resolve or fabricated esoteric concept, I think I got a shot, especially if I get to define it. I can define the living crap out of anything if it tips the advantage my way.

I think when all is said and done, you will find that I’m totally tapped out on Festivus. I love the idea of a holiday for the rest of us who aren’t particularly religious but want in on the year end festivities that now stretch back to Halloween. Then again, the glory of sacred traditions is that we kind of make them up as we go along and within half a generation it seems like this has been the way of it for hundreds or years back or more.

Oh sure, we’ll keep the name because the groundwork has already been done and people who like to appear clever without doing much work have latched on to it. We can ditch the pole for a shrub (no! no Monty Python here!) or especially sprouty spider plant. The airing of grievances can be the baking of cupcakes or yodeling of Ricola. No more feats of strength, but preservation of meats. Shaping up, right? Awesome low maintenance plants, yummy cupcakes or powerfully unpleasant cough drops, and a sausage making party. Shush you, I did not say ‘sausage party’! And the best part, the official greeting of Happy Festivus, Y’all! Gotta have the ‘y’all’ or it’s just not irritating enough.

So, happy Festivus y’all, and to y’all a good night, may your sausage be spicy, and cupcakes one bite!

The Faux Pas of Misgendered Rage

Pat

I’ve noticed that within my community there is a lot of bad feelings over the whole notion of being ‘misgendered’. I talked about a similar situation a while back revolving around the word ‘tranny’ and all the hoopla it seems to cause, so I thought it might be a good time to revitalize my stance. So, let’s talk about that.

For anyone who doesn’t know, ‘misgendering’ is the act of mistakenly or deliberately identifying someone as the opposite gender to which they are clearly representing. For example, approaching someone wearing a skirt, with breasts and makeup on and saying, “Hey dude, how’s it hanging? Ready to rock out with your cock out this weekend?” is a clear case of misgendering. Often times, however, this is unintentional. I know this happens to especially butch women from time to time and the person is quickly corrected. It certainly happens to the genderqueer population almost constantly because in many cases the individual feels that either answer is wrong, leaving people confused. I’m not talking about that though; I’m talking about when it’s deliberate.

The most common form of misgendering occurs in the male population when ‘ball-busting’ is involved. The easiest way for men to tease each other and impugn their sense of masculinity is to compare them to a woman, or better yet, a little girl. I never quite understood why is so ingrained in male culture, but it is, and even if outlawed, I think they would find some way to do it in secret. While clearly offensive to women, I don’t think there is any intended harm and merely speaks to the work ahead of us in terms of continuing to advance the notion of gender equality.

It is almost as equally employed against gays and lesbians due to a persistent confusion between gender and sexual orientation. Don’t make me get out the Genderbread Person again people. It’s also a well overused means employed to get the goat of transgender people. Some elements of RadFem and like-minded organizations like to do this because it’s a very easy way to attempt annoying someone who clearly understands themselves differently than these types would like. I wandered over there and got the whole misgender treatment, and I’ve seen other trans* bloggers get swarmed with commenters who like to employ this simple name calling tactic. Nice, right?

Getting right down to the brass tacks – please do not give someone a bright shiny red button right on your forehead to press!  A mistake is one thing, but when someone is doing it on purpose, they are attempting to provoke a response and nothing you say to them or accuse them of is going to make a difference. If you react and get all pissy pants about it, they got exactly what they wanted. “Hey, let’s spin up the tranny by calling her ‘him’! It’ll be a hoot.” When we give people the means to easily provoke an emotional response, they will take it. Sure it’s immature, but so is having a conscious, rationalized, and pressing opposition to a demographic recognized by the vast majority as innocuous.

My two cents is to not even bother with a response at all. With a mistake, there is opportunity to discuss and possibly educate, or at the very least correct. When it’s on purpose, not really worth our time and energy. If you know who you are, it doesn’t matter what someone’s opinion is. Besides, there is satisfaction in remaining calm in the face of attempts to provoke that generally paints them as unreasonable or mean in spirit. You came this far to understand who you are and no provocative little barb can change that.

I Guess It’s Like Doomsday or Something Again

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Well, today is allegedly the end of the world or something. I know, can you believe I’m jumping on that bandwagon? Just to be clear, I’m not inclined to believe in the significance of a really old stone indicative of anything more than someone had a clever idea on how to organize time periods. Of course the whole thing got me thinking about this whole end of the world business.

An awfully big number of people believe the world is likely to end in their lifetime, such the belief in one’s own importance. Personally, I hope not because I have a hard time conjuring up a scenario that isn’t the world’s biggest pain in the ass. Ice or fire; a vengeful Jesus or equally vengeful Shiva; hostile aliens or well meaning but disastrously incompetent aliens; asteroid or super duper volcano; or of course just us being the usual gang of idiots we tend to be. None of it sounds like anything I really need to bear witness to, and I will be really annoyed if any of it involves my corpse becoming reanimated for some reason, unless I’m decidedly not in there, in which case, have at it. I’m more than happy to contribute to a zombie apocalypse as long as no one is expecting me to do anything.

Those who are betting the farm that the end is nigh, and probably soon, tend to strongly act as if. They get rid of their possessions, try and let everyone else know about it, and sometimes even commit suicide. I never really got the last one. If they think they are going to kick it anyway, why not wait a bit and get to see something really cool? It really would be the chance of a lifetime and now they’ll have to hang out for eternity with everyone around them going on and on about how awesome it was. Trust me, everyone who leaves the game early to beat the crowd always regrets it when the big play comes right as they are gleefully dusting off their car in the parking lot. Let’s be honest though, the end is nigh crowd is a definite minority. A fun one to be sure, but they tend not to socialize with the likes of me and you.

In the middle of all this are the half-assed end of the world crowd. They don’t really believe in the whole imminent doom thing, but instead like to point out the rapid decline of civilization. They firmly believe that this is your fault. Yes, you. Any difference between the way things are now, and how they were in their idyllic youth is a clear sign of decay and corruption. “Gays couldn’t get married in my day. America is in the toilet!” Of course we all know that gay marriage signifies nothing more than the inevitable invention of gay divorce, child support, and having to figure out how to do their taxes. Fortunately, the belief that change is evil doesn’t counter the certainly that change is as inevitable as the waiter leaving the check on your table and immediately going on a 3 hour break when you have tickets to Lewis Black. Well, they like to worry and grouch, and if it makes them happy, so be it. If they could maybe just stand over there while the inevitable goes by, that would be just super.

My personal stance is that I have no idea if the world is going to end, and if so, when. Yes, I realize in 5 billion years the sun will likely expand and engulf the earth, but I’m not really planning on being around for that. I recognize that even at this moment, some monumental event is itching to break loose and wipe us all out, but I could not be less concerned. We have to act as if we are here for the long haul. We can’t shuffle problems down the road thinking no one is going to have to worry about it anyway. We can’t delay moving forward with the important things in our life because “you never know” thinking. Acting as if gives us the freedom to empower ourselves with the notion that what we do matters to us, and those who come after. It’s really the only way to live.

Just in case the wheels really do come off the who shebang right as you finish reading this, please take a moment to savor the irony of having spent your last few moments gobbling up my crackpot ramblings.

Call Me Miss Non-Anonymous

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I have officially forgotten what it was like to be anonymous. No, I wasn’t a hacker with the fearsome power to wreak global havoc or annoy the living shit out of people who probably have it coming. It was more the luxury of gliding through life never turning a single head or being remembered seconds after I walked out the door. I assume, by the way, that this only was true for people who didn’t have existing relationships with me, but I will allow that those who do also managed to blot me from their consciousness when out of view as well. All that has pretty much gone and I have officially changed my designation to non-anonymous. I’m not fabulous enough to be famous, or enough of a grouch to be notorious, so I think non-anonymous is an annoying enough designation to fit my personality.

I don’t really think I need to go into the reasons why this is so. I pretty much went from a nondescript schlub of a guy to kind of a freaky looking woman. Schlubs are a dime a dozen and worth our collective ignorance, but no matter how many freaky looking women there are out there, everyone seems to remember them. I don’t have pink hair or wear shortie short shorts with fishnets beneath them or anything. Actually, I resemble a professional office worker Monday through Friday, and a frumpy middle aged woman the rest of the time. It’s OK though, the trans thing totally makes up for fishnets, multiple piercings, and an uncomfortable amount of leather.

It took a while before I realized this, but lately it’s been reinforced. More than once now I’ve gone into a store and had the cashier say, “hey, I remember you!”. I was Wal-Mart, the one everyone shops at, and chances are every single person in her line has gone though it dozens of times. I’m the one she remembers though. It could be worse. At least I’m not the one she remembers for a weekly purchase of a case of Imodium or industrial sized drum of Vaseline or something. I don’t think, however, it’s for the charming way I end each transaction by saying, “Thanks! You too!”. Just must be something about my face.

This was really driven home when in another store I frequent less often. I was walking out the door, when one of the cashiers I was passing made a point to turn and wave, “Hi Michelle!”. OK, I had been though the guy’s line exactly once about a month and a half ago. I remembered him because he was extra nice to me, which I assumed was because he made me and was gay, so we shared that LGBT connection. But seriously, he remembered my name? We didn’t even converse much and I didn’t introduce myself I know for sure. Obviously he noticed it on my credit card and made it a point to remember. Not sure how I feel about that. Flattered maybe? I don’t know, but certainly non-anonymous.

This is going to take some time getting used to and really reinforces that I have to get off my widening ass and work on becoming more passable. I’m not sure I’m made for the limelight in this regard. While I did used to muse on the advantages of becoming a local character, this wasn’t what I was thinking of. I had more in mind something along the lines of being that person who rode around town on a unicycle everywhere with a large raven on their shoulder. You see, that would have been on purpose. When I want to buy new underwear or something, I’m really not that jazzed about pointed shouts, “Look! It’s Michelle and she’s going for the cheap-ass three pack this time!” Ugh.

I Was One Of The ‘Joe’s Boys’

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To my current knowledge, I was the only girl to graduate from St Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. Granted, no one knew that at the time, so the statement is just a little bit of a stretch. My friend Dan claims there was another, in a later class, but I’m OK just having been the first. You might think, given my earlier complaints of being uncomfortably shoved into all male environments, that my attendance was a forced issue. It wasn’t; I wanted to go there for years and was overjoyed to be admitted.

I’ve related often enough that as a child I was a social introvert. No, not someone socially introverted, but an introvert who was social. I know, I know, that sounds totally contradictory, but let me explain. I was an introvert by nature, but learned young that I would be left alone more by attempting to be social when given an opportunity that wasn’t too overwhelming. Left to my own devices, however, I would have sat in that cage all day and read. I found it particularly amusing last year when I caught an episode of ‘The Simpson’s’ where Bart does pretty much the same thing, sans reading of course. I guess I’m in bad company, but nevertheless. Anyway, I had a strong focus on academic achievement as well, as I had discovered that good grades also meant being left alone. St Joe’s really seemed to be my ticket to keep that going.

I was both relieved and nervous about attending an all-boy’s school. I had already had my big personal revelation in front of the mirror, but was doing a dynamite job of actively repressing it. I knew for certain I didn’t like all male environments from my experience at sleep away camp and any Boy Scout trip my dad didn’t come along on. The lads were a bit more on the rough side than I cared for, and I had not yet developed the defense mechanism to give it back. This was supposed to be a more refined set of blokes; so I was led to believe. On the plus side, I would be shielded from the sexual politics I had no clue how to navigate. In grammar school I just nursed the same ‘from a distance’ crush for years, which was fine for our age group, but I was reasonably certain that I would be expected to pick up my game. Talking to girls was no problem. It was pursuing them that left me frustrated and confused.

To my dismay, I learned that the image in my head, much resembling Glee’s own Warblers, was totally, totally wrong. I knew snappy blazers and posh  surroundings were a big forget it, but I was stuck wearing a tie everyday. With no care what I ever looked like male, I wore the same black one all four years, along with the soup stain sustained in the early part of my freshman year. It was split pea, and that’s one of the one’s you actually have to wash to get out. In addition, there was the ubiquitous bully, one guaranteed at every bus stop, who wanted to fight me for no reason I could gather. I refused every time, so he finally punched me in the chest one day and knocked my wind out. When that didn’t do it, he finally gave up or I had discovered I could easily walk the 2.5 miles home. I can’t remember which. I also found that locker room shenanigans were standardized throughout the country and this was no different. I pulled my usual schtick of wearing shorts under my pants and avoided the showers at all cost. You could not have paid me enough to wear a jock strap. Ew!

On the super bright side, I found a relatively large community of boys who were probably sent there for their own protection. This was brilliant and we glommed on together quickly. I brought to the table an appreciable level of quirkiness as well as size and strength well above that of the average geek. I loved my geek friends because they didn’t ask too many questions, most of them didn’t have girlfriends, and we could all relate to being otherized. I helped found and lead the Wargames club in spite of my absolute loathing for Dungeons’ and Dragons.  We discovered as a bonus that without girls around to try to impress, the rougher jock crowd could not be bothered labeling us and did not feel obligated to make big shows of force. In any case, we had a deterrent in my friend Paul who using a nonsensically effective formula could break into any locker and demonstrated whenever displeased.

All things considered, it was a true sanctuary, protecting me from much of what made me uncomfortable about my surroundings and myself. Without girls around for me to focus on with a weird mixture of interest and envy, I was able to focus on my game and graduate as what I thought was a man, dammit.  My 25 year reunion is in 2015. Should be interesting…

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