Buck

A tale of misconception.

Buck was a giant.

Like most giants, he was angry for no real reason.

Well, he thought it was real. It was real to him, you might say.

Buck was so big that he couldn’t hear the little people in the nearby village. Buck didn’t know that the people in that village were afraid of him and afraid of the trolls who lived under their bridges. And how could those little people understand the pains of a giant like Buck?

Every night, the trolls would come out from under their bridge and go in two directions:

One group would go into the village and harass the people there, the other would go up to Buck’s cave to taunt him and steal his goods.

Buck was so big that he couldn’t tell the difference between the people in the village and the trolls when he saw the trolls fleeing back to their bridges.

One day, as he spotted them fleeing, Buck grabbed the biggest rock he could find and hurled it at the village. He stomped, kicked, and smashed his way through its walls shouting, “Where’s my goods?!” in a language the people couldn’t understand.

Terrified, they screamed as Buck picked up a screaming child and hurled her across the countryside.

Buck smashed the whole village that day. It was obliterated, nothing left but dust, stains, and splinters.

But, he never found his goods. He never checked under the bridges.

And the trolls lived happily ever-after.

Predictive Text

We don’t choose our beliefs, but we’ll choose yours for you.

Who’s who? We don’t know,

Fragments of disinformation

Anonymous, coercive, flow

Outbound to digital waters

Brought here from below

Where men cry, “lonliness”

And women cry to be lone

As bad mutations cross generations

While nobody puts down phones..

When forgotten gods speak–

Predictive text proclaims all:

We don’t know, we don’t know,

We don’t know,

We don’t know each other,

We don’t know ourselves,

We don’t know our failures,

We don’t know our cells,

We don’t know what we mean,

Or why we feel like we do,

We don’t choose our beliefs,

But we’ll choose yours for you

Roots: Grotesques

Something’s off.

Did anyone else feel those attacks Bloomberg was throwing at Sanders about his supporters being mean online last night resonate with them?

Because that’s how trans people are treated all the time. We are treated as this monolithic entity constructed out of online experiences.

And so is Bernie. Like trans people, he’s being treated as this monolithic entity and vilified as this largely nameless/faceless mass of supporters who supposedly represent him.

How many could they name, I wonder? How many trans villains can they actually name..?

To me, it feels like almost every time I’m talking to someone online that they come at me with all of this emotion wound up in interactions with nameless / faceless masses on social media mingled with how they feel about those few villains they might name.

But that’s not me.

One of my favorite authors, Sherwood Anderson would call these “grotesques,” which, as you might imagine, are these grotesque mental representations of truths we become convinced of; when applied to people, these can manifest in especially nasty ways.

Think about it for a sec..

Are there any grotesques floating around in your head now? What’s the one of me look like? How about your loved ones? Your pets?

I’m sure you can conjure many. But here’s an important thing to remember; since we are imperfect, so are those representations.

They are not reality.

Whatever your grotesque of me might look like, that’s not me. And this is true of even my own loved ones. Their representations of me aren’t “me” either.

So, I find it important to be critical of these flawed parts of ourselves. I’m not saying doubt everything you know..

I’m just saying doubt constructively, stay curious, and avoid carving your grotesques out of amalgamated cement.

Let them be flawed as you are flawed, let them change as you change, and do the same for the actual people they represent.

I understand how this might cross boundaries for some people, as we all endure our traumas and burdens in life.

Sometimes we develop wounds so deep we have to inflict that pain on others, or protect ourselves. Our truths can become weapons and armor for us in these moments.

All over social media, I see people picking them up and using them. We’re almost always wrong to do so in any instance of our lives, but we keep on.

We who’ve been hurt in some way are especially prone to do so, I find myself doing it too often. I’m never right.

Fact of the matter is that our windows into each other’s lives are as limited as, well, actual windows; be they on a house or computer screen.

You might have a lot of ideas about me, but you don’t know me. Bernie’s detractors don’t know him. Yours don’t know you, and so on.

One thing I can say is worth doubting though is any baggage that comes with your grotesques from those who are adjacent to, or like them in your mind.

Think for instance of Jessica Yaniv’s non-existent relationship to me. If you judge me based on her, something’s off.

If you judge me based on any of the other scary trans people you might conjure, something’s off. If you judge me based on some largely nameless / faceless social media mass, something’s off.

How would you feel if someone judged you on a basis like that? Something’s off.

Roots: Orientation

An exploration of the interplay between identity & orientation.

Sexuality is a complex, personal thing.

We have many concepts to describe it and varying aspects of orientation.

People tend to have incredibly deep, personal feelings tied to their understanding of their own sexuality/orientation and thus project those feelings on to others when semantic interplay takes place between those terms as we intermingle in society.

This is an especially complex, personal matter when it comes to interplay with transgender people.

For us, traditional ways of thinking about our concepts of orientation just don’t fit. No matter how hard you try to shove us into whatever box you might like to shove us into, we just don’t fit.

I’m personally fed up with extremist views on anything to do with the whole semantic argument that springs forth from this complex interplay.

Everyone has it wrong.

Let me explain the conflict as I see it. One group believes that sexuality is tied irrevocably to chromosomal sex. Another believes that sexuality is tied irrevocably to gender identity. A third believes that sexuality is tied irrevocably to phenotype/secondary-sex characteristics. A fourth believes it’s tied irrevocably to genitalia. And there are many varying degrees of belief in between, with huge amounts of conflict between each and every one.

Simply in reading that description, I hope you begin to get a picture of the myriad of ways people perceive constitutes orientation.

Extremists in every grouping assign absolute truth values to their way of understanding these words and it’s causing a cacophony of conflict which, in my view, is almost completely unnecessary as one will realize if they step back and detach their beliefs and emotions from the conflict.

Once, I believed that orientation was tied to identity. That sexuality was like a light switch turning on/off on the basis of identity. If a man were dating a man and one of them transitioned, each would become straight or the relationship could never work.

I was wrong to think that way, and I see many people in the world today making the same mistakes, or even worse mistakes. It’s deeply frustrating for me.

This exact conflict manifests in other areas too, such as family/community life and it’s such a great and unnecessary burden for all people to be carrying as I see it.

To explain, let me talk about one of my favorite films. “Normal” (which is also a play by the same name, but I’ve only seen the film) it is about a trans woman who transitions late in life after marrying a woman and having two children. As you might imagine, it’s an incredibly complex and emotional affair.

There’s a great deal of conflict over identity represented in the film as each family/community member struggles with coming to terms with what her transition means for them. And of course the audience is part of the experience too. We are also challenged to consider what these conflicts mean to us as well.

Sexuality is never explicitly discussed in the film, but what would you make of that if you were these characters? Put yourself into the shoes of the trans woman’s wife. Consider all the emotion; the attachment to decades of knowing someone, and knowing yourself through them suddenly in flux. What does that do to you? Does it change you too?

One has to wonder how a woman who’s mothered two children and carries this mountain of emotion could ever manage to find balance again. And sadly, many real people in situations like this don’t. It can truly cause families and relationships to fall apart. Transitioning truly can wreak havoc on your circumstances as you change and adapt to reality and reality adapts to you.

But balance is possible to find. I’ll be spoiling the film here, so skip this section if you’d like to see it for yourself.

Things work out for the family in spite of *many* awkward challenges. They hold themselves together by respecting one another and giving each other space to adapt and grow together. We see them all, slowly but surely come to terms with one another and themselves. Several years of transition are shown as the main character transitions. Her wife struggles deeply, but in the end maintains love for a woman who she still sees as her husband in spite of her new identity. Her kids struggle too, but in the end find a similar happy balance in their dad becoming a woman. Nothing else changes or has to change, it may be confusing to other people but it works for them and that’s all that matters.

At the end of the film they are depicted happily sharing in mundane conflicts, two women, a husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. It’s a very happy ending for them. Perhaps it wouldn’t be for you, but it is for them.

What that balance looks like is again, a deeply complex, personal, emotional affair. What would you be if your partner transitioned? What would your parent be to you if they transitioned? What if how you saw them hurt them? Would you change for them? I could go on and on with the questions, but the point is to paint a picture of how utterly challenging and personal it all is.

It’s far too much so for any one ideology to ever wrap itself around. People have been forming cults/religions centered around their beliefs of the absolute “Truth” about their understandings of the answers to these questions and again I maintain, everyone is wrong.

But also I’d say, everyone is right.

Every ideology has a little piece of the truth and all would assign absolute truth values to it, but they’re all wrong to do so even though their truth is indeed truth. My deepest wish is that everyone might stop trying to shove theirs down the throats of others.

Because, let me tell you.. I’ve known straight women, lesbians, and straight/gay men alike who have all dated trans women. Every one of these configurations has made perfect sense to me, because I see the full complexity of the trans experience and I know that none of it is black and white. I know how complex and personal it is. I do not judge any of them for how they understand themselves, and I believe that doing so is a truly horrible thing for anyone to do for any reason.

Orientation, be it sexual orientation or familial orientation, is a deeply complex and personal interplay between external and internal realities. I’m sure I sound like a broken record at this point, so I’ll reveal now that’s the truth I’ve been trying to sell you on all along; a broader way to look at the realities of the transgender experience.

When we see it this way, we begin to wonder, what exactly has everyone on social media been so angrily arguing about for decades now? Trans people are just people living out their lives, seeking balance for themselves and their families. Happiness and self-content are about all that most any of us want. We want to feel right with ourselves and find balance between ourselves and the world.

It’s difficult enough to do that without all these wild ideas interceding as ideologues attempt to shove their views down your throat every day. Why everyone is so obsessed with this is beyond me. Your obsession really shows us more about you than it does anyone else. Why are you so obsessed with controlling language? Who made you the arbiter of others realities?

For me, orientation and the descriptors thereof constitute inviolable personal boundaries for me. These boundaries, like all boundaries, are no one else’s to control. This should be a non-issue but it seems to constitute about 90% of the arguments over orientation on social media. It’s all very pointless if only we respect each other’s boundaries.

What does have a point, the 10% of conversation around this, comes from anxiety over what all of this complexity means when it comes to sharing spaces with one another. Those are concerns I do understand. To those I’d ask everyone to give some thought.

Would a trans only space be okay to create? I think most of my trans siblings would agree yes. But would a cis only space? I think most might react very differently. If separate spaces are okay to create, then also we should ask why are they necessary? What is their utility? There’s a lot of complex, productive conversation we can have have around this, but it’s counterproductive and often dehumanizing to focus in on challenging one’s personal boundaries and understanding of themselves.

Personally, neither of the segregated space possibilities bothers me as long as the point of the space is just for people with similar preferences to come together and isn’t for gathering into separate tribes and commiserate in hatred of the group that’s not welcome. All I’d say in either case that matters is that the preference is well-advertised so that no one steps on anyone else’s toes.

Most spaces, I’d hope would be advertising themselves as all-inclusive. I see the need for separate spaces in many instances but I don’t at all believe this separation should be all-encompassing as some people seem to believe.

At any rate, moving forward I hope we’ll see a lot more discussion around respect for one another in these areas. Productive conversation; that sees all the nuance of the broader reality we all occupy together. We need to get out of these black and white conflicts over orientation and break free into colorful conversation on how to best find mutual respect for each other’s boundaries and strike a balance together in society that leaves no one in the margins.

We’re all integral characters to this story we call society together, let’s start acting like it and build our way to happy endings.

Someone

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.

We are all Dysphoria

Trapped together alone

Forever in atonement

For what we only know

They say my body is me

Searching for a soul

Lost on the highways

Plowing through our homes

At once, we are ancients

Of tales untold before

Greatness unbecoming

For one such a bore;

With selves who’re not

And selves whoever are

Afraid to be becoming

Hopelessly bound to bars;

Imprisoned by reality

With billions of dying selves,

Locked in loops eternally,

Just bodies shedding cells

As cages of emotion

Hold on to every one

In lost minds wondering,

Who could Euphoria become?

No One

A helpful and compassionate poem.

Erase me, baby..

I need to be gone,

Define me out of here

Don’t let it take long

Say it never happened

Break me before it’s real

Shove it down my throat

You can take it from here..

Project yourself into me

Take what you know is yours

Every word that describes me

Those are words you need more;

Control is all your’s, daddy..

We all know what it’s like too

When you lose it, don’t worry,

No one will be here for you.

Astral Projection

“Youth without youth, born without time, youth without youth, can you read my mind?”

Why do we look to the stars,

When we could look to ourselves,

For answers unringed from our furtive bells?

Externally valid in our navigating–

Our selves stay at home, hidden awaiting,

Bodies in spaces where no one is screaming,

We cling to Orion’s belt, foiled and seething;

Desperate, we seek our forsaken divine,

Lost to the ebb and flowing of time.

Until at last we fall from this grace,

Embalmed with dirt masking a face–

Self-service eroded by forward procedure,

We’ll keep looking on, when no one is here;

Burnt away in life’s fortune and flames,

Wandering hollow with forgotten names,

We’ll look to the stars reflected in the mere,

Without ever knowing we’ve always been there.