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Are You There God? It’s Me, Michelle. WTF?

AreYouThereGod1

I just saw on CNN that the greatest writer for tweens who ever lived (no, not the Twilight woman), the iconic Ms Judy Blume, is finally having one of her epic novels adapted for the big screen. Relax, it’s not the one you probably think if you were born within 10 years of me. Yes, I am talking about ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’. No, it’s ‘Tiger Eyes’ which came out long after I graduated to SE Hinton  and the rest of her good time crew. At least it isn’t one of the fucking ‘Fudge’ books, of which there are 152 or thereabouts, the most recent of which is ‘Fudge In His Depends’.

The reason I bring this up is because I know, and don’t lie to me here, that I’m not the only one bummed that it wasn’t ‘Margaret’. I swear by all that’s holy, if I don’t get at least one “I loved that book too!” comment, I’m totally going to lose it. So not cool to make me feel like a jackass freak here on my own blog. So yes, there is my big admission. At the age of 10 or so, I considered it the best book I had ever read.

Going back a few years, my sister received a box set of Judy Blume classics. It included ‘Margaret’, ‘Blubber’, ‘Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing’, and ‘Shelia the Great’. She actually read them first for a change and laughed so much I felt the need to check them out even though in my opinion I had totally outgrown such childish literature. I think I read ‘Blubber’ first and was incensed at the cruelty of the characters. You don’t see a lot of first person narratives where they are such a royal B, but she gets her comeuppance in the end. I also read ‘4th Grade Nothing’ and ‘Shelia’, but held off on Margaret at first. I can’t specifically remember if I was told I shouldn’t read it because it was inappropriate for me, or it was simply suggested, or it was in my own head that this was definitely not something I should be gushing over on the living room couch. Within a few months my sister lost complete interest and the box set ended up in the basement. I snagged ‘Margaret’ up to my room and hid the box set, so the empty slot wouldn’t be noted.

I kept it hidden in the wooden microscope case in my big pile of crap, where I also hid a few articles of clothing. Every chance I got where I thought I would not be disturbed, I took it out and read it. Up to that point, I don’t think I ever identified so closely to a literary character. I very much wanted to live Margaret’s life. I wanted dress up and go to a party where exciting things might happen. I wanted to increase my bust. I even wanted to put a napkin on a belt, even though I wasn’t completely sure what they were even talking about. I also knew I would never, ever get to do any of those things. When you think about it, the whole thing is a huge tease to a trans tween  right on the cusp of an incredibly shitty puberty process that would have zero overlap to Margaret’s.

Sometimes though, the vicarious experience is enough to help. Most tweens will never meet a sparkly old vampire who clearly has a fake ID but doesn’t make himself 21 for some reason and still has to take algebra tests. Most will never be whisked away to a magical academy where young children are made to fight ancient, unspeakable evil. Nor will they get yanked into some wrinkling of time business or fly on the back of big furry Bichon Frise looking dragon. And I was never going to wear a pretty dress to a party, watch my chest fill out, or worry about belting on a sanitary napkin when the flowering of my womanhood came about. It was OK though; these things allowed us to go to sleep at night with warm thoughts of what might have been.

I reread it until it was dog eared and the spine began to separate. Then my parents announced a worrisome plan to have my sister and I switch rooms, just to keep things interesting. This put me in a minor panic because I knew that in spite of promised oversight, they were just as likely to just go and do it one day when we were at school. Lord only knew what I had squirreled away in there that I really didn’t need anyone stumbling across. Clothing went back into the Am Vets bag, my sisters cast off magazines were disposed of late at night, and Margaret was reinserted into the box set after being smuggled down under my shirt. I was right to worry, by the way. We came home after a weekend at my grandmothers to find the room swap fully executed. By then the first threat of stubble began appearing on my face, and my voice began to break. Margaret stayed in the basement.

For Shame, ‘Shameless’!

Shameless

I’m a little ashamed of the show ‘Shameless’. I really shouldn’t be given the name, plus the fact that it’s about a family of criminals headed by a severe alcoholic who surprises me every episode with his depravity. In case you don’t watch, he’s been cashing his aunt’s social security checks since he buried her in the backyard 14 years ago, blocked a woman from getting a critical heart transplant and then sex’d her to death to take her pension, and left his own 3 year old as collateral with angry drug lords. Tip of the iceberg, but somehow I love it. And then they introduced a questionable trans girl.

A couple of weeks ago one of the characters went with his girlfriend to rescue her half-sister Molly from being shoved into the system. Molly appeared to be a young and pretty girl, which we never questioned, until she is caught peeing standing up. This immediately brings on the third degree, to which Molly replies that she has a ‘girl penis’. I was delighted at first. A trans girl on a show I love! Yay! Score one for us. I didn’t stay excited for too long.

The first problem I had was that most of the rest of the characters, including the most respectable and lovable one, Fiona, start calling Molly ‘he’ and insist on describing her as a boy. It’s true; this is a family of uneducated criminals from the very worst part of Chicago, but the speed with which they conclude that Molly is a boy and nothing but upon discovering a physical feature is disappointing. Even more so when you look at it from a high level and realize a writing and creative team decided to go in this direction when they could have easily gone in the one much more favorable. I cringed of course, but kept and open mind that they might be going somewhere with this. After all, they quickly turned the frightening ugly bully of the ginger teen into his bottom in a surprise homosexual twist.

Then the second hit came. Apparently Molly’s now deceased mom had a strong hatred for all men and thus decided to raise Molly as a girl. I think you can see where I have a problem with this. Anyone watching who may at one time or another, wondered, “Gee, where the heck do transgender people come from anyway?”, is going to immediately have a light bulb go off. “Ah ha! Their parents like girls or boys better, so of course they are going to want to be that! And all this time I just assumed it was because they were molested.” I’m just waiting for that furry little new nugget to start popping up in the old debates. Seriously, I could not be more annoyed.

The piss of it is that the character of Molly seems to be very happy about being a girl. Yeah, she stands up to pee, but given that she lives in a house with 11 people, most of them of questionable filthiness, with just one bathroom, I can’t say as I blame her. Other than that, she appears to love her identity, her clothes, experimenting with makeup, and even her name. Raised that way or not, it seems awfully atypical of someone with a male gender identity, equipment or no.

As Molly has only appeared in two episodes so far as I write this, I still have hopes that the writers take the opportunity to tackle this in a good way. Well, as good as they can given the overall depravity of the show. So far they have handled rough trade homosexuality, extreme S&M addiction, death, cancer, alcoholism, agoraphobia, child abuse and endangerment, and a host of other looming social issues with good cheer and warm heartedness, so I don’t see where this would be any different… We are screwed here, aren’t we, ‘cause that was not exactly a list we want to be inserted into.

Time will tell on this. It can go either way. Molly might suddenly appear as ‘Mike’ with short hair and wearing a hand me down pair of patched old dungarees and help the older boys sell frosty treats, joints, and illegal fireworks out of the family ice cream truck at the playground. Molly also might continue happily on as Molly and take to helping the 11 year old run the most insanely dangerous day care centers off all time out of her living room. I’m not kidding – just last episode the kids helped out trying to locate the buried aunt before the sewer authority came across her when doing upcoming maintenance. That’s actually what is going on in the picture with Molly on the right. I’ll keep watching, but with just a teensy bit more shame.

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