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.

Rail Lines

“I don’t want to go anywhere. I like my rails, thank you.”

– Thomas the Tank Engine

There’s no stopping it,

A new town’s always ahead,

A new place, for a new life

Or old ones returning again.

We’ve got time to pass, so settle in,

A train’s motion is not for wasting.

Wagged chins over rattling teacups

Resting in cacophonous carriages

Drown wasted time in dipped biscuits

As folded newspapers remain unread

And whole countrysides pass

Without so much as a thought.

A lonely girl writes in a quiet corner,

Alone but for her troubles, her suite

Better suited to the ghost of a poet

Whose eternity is in motion

Carrying emotion from one cab

To the next, delivering the full force

Of shaking fingers over bumpy tracks

Who just want to get off the line.

Auntie Tom

The Uncle buried beneath the tree.

There’s a place that exists

Between myself

And my self,

Where lies;

Beneath the surface

Undermine me–

They spread like wildfire,

Burning us, like dead tree stumps.

“Auntie’s a man! Don’t you see his XY chromosomes?

A man named Tom and that is all– that is all!”

“She’s a woman! DNA doesn’t matter, SHE

is not like any male I recall.

…And her name’s Nell,

A female;

S H E

never was ‘Tom’.”

“Stop it!” Nell cried,

Struggling;

Grappling;

With him again:

“My name was Tom,

it hurts to say..

There’s baggage with it,

and hell to pay..

You can’t know what it’s like,

Living on edges so grey,

To carry the burdens of Uncle Thomas,

Auntie Nell never having her say!

What’s a scorned woman to do

With such burdensome men?

But kill them over

and over again?

He might rest in peace,

If you’d just let me live,

But instead here’s Uncle Thomas again,

Cursed by you to live among men. “

“THAT’S TRANSPHOBIC!” one activist cried,

“THAT’S MISOGYNISTIC!” another replied.

Auntie Tom walked onward with a sigh,

Back into the place between herself and her self;

Tripping, over

Misunderstandings;

Like brambles in time,

Cutting through, and through and through,

Uncle Tom died:

Then revived;

Revived;

And revived to be shed,

By Auntie Nell with her ever-waiting edge.

“Stay out of my spaces!” a woman cried through her lips

“Keep out of mine too, faggot,” boasted a man with his fists,

Twisting Nell into Tom

And Tom into Nell..

Contriving her soul

Into liquid-like hell;

Wringing it out, pouring

Into the void of themselves.

Cursed, they now carry on

With the truth of their lies;

Knowing the hells of Auntie Nell

And the heavens Tom will never find,

As a man who wants to, but just can’t die.

Humanity 101: Life, the Universe, and Gender

“There is nothing either Good or Bad. Only thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare, Hamlet

What is humanity anyway?

And for that matter, what is the consciousness we use to infer such things? Are we just bodies here to reproduce or is there something that exists beyond that flesh?

Humanity is what you will find locked in the eternal struggle between the two possibilities of that question.

Is it the flesh itself that drives our intent through to the impact we make upon the world, or is it something that exists beyond that, which drives that flesh?

Are we corporal? Or are we spiritual?

Or is it all just cognitive?

Cogito ergo sum!

Sed quis ego sum?

Do we even exist at all?

Is there an afterlife?

If I am a woman here, am I a woman there?

Do we have any choice in the matter, really?

Regardless of your answer to those sorts of questions, welcome to humanity! This is our condition. We cannot know truth. We can only have opinions of it. This is the human condition.

We are eternally locked in that state of knowing/not knowing the answer to this riddle. This, to me, indicates that there’s really not much point in making a fuss over what we might see as “facts” or “truths” about our reality and we should all just begin to live in respect to one another’s opinions so long as those opinions lead to harmony and not dissonance with the rest of humanity.

As this relates to myself as a transgender person, I am happy to agree to disagree with those who believe differently in this eternal debate of humanity. As such, my approach to the world is to enact as much good intent upon it as I can and leave a positive mark, so they say. I wish not to hate those who hate me. I wish to help them understand me and show them the good will of my intent.

I wish to show comfort to those who find discomfort with us. The best way to go about doing that is to allow them the freedom of their own agency to interpret their understanding of human conditions and to, in spite of that disagreement, not become mired in our differences and instead just work together to end the problems of humanity, all to bring us out of dissonance and into greater harmony.

No matter what you may believe is the answer to the riddle of humanity is, we should all be working together to end the dissonance of our condition in order to bring as much harmony to humanity as possible.

This is why I am happy to lay down arms against the trans-exclusionists. Our disagreement will be eternal because our disagreement is a disagreement on the human condition. That runs deep with people and I understand that I cannot control such beliefs.

All that I can do is encourage harmony and spurn dissonance where I see it.

All of this said, please lay down arms as well and work together as human beings to improve the condition of humanity.

An incredible way you might do that right now is by giving to your local shetlers and working with them to improve these spaces and allow the survivors who need such care access to safety and a harmonious pathway to recovery.

Here are some resources to help you find shelters in need:

Volunteer your time to them and donate to them for the betterment of all humanity.

Thank you.