on writing, and not

November 15

Les,

I feel bad for writing after such a long absence. Have I any right to? Or write? Maybe it would help to share that since coming out to my parents, I feel a less urgent need to express myself and sift through gender and sexuality online. I’ve been doing more processing offline, such as contemplating changing my name. The poem I posted today was written in September. I forgot about it until seeing it in my drafts today. Since then, I’ve stopped introducing myself by my first name, outside of work settings.

I write now because I have a 3,000 word essay due tomorrow for my wonderful class but the words are not falling into place. Not for a lack of content, but for too much. The words and feelings are jammed in my heart, throat, and stomach, and so knotted they perhaps do not belong on paper just yet. I’m still trying to make sense of things to even begin writing. But maybe I just need to write a tangly mess.

It’s like this road, and in part caused by it:

The road is becoming overgrown. And I know that much of the debris, such beautiful red and brown debris, is from autumn calling leaves and needles to the ground, but there is more to it than that. This logging road in Mt. Hood National Forest has been blocked to vehicles, which serves the purpose of both preventing motor and recreational vehicles from continuing onward and inhibiting folks from easily shooting firearms at signs, bottles, and ornaments. The bridge sign is actually gone now. Maybe shot too many times. Maybe taken as a keepsake.

The road is also overgrown because people like my family haven’t been walking down it much.

And despite 9 years in the making, I’m having a difficult time saying goodbye to my favorite place in the world, my family’s cabin in Mt. Hood National Forest.

2017 has been a big year, bigger than paper or a blog, and the year our cabin was put on the market.

I don’t have the words out in the open quite yet for loss of place and certain traditions.

visibility

April 2

Les, after hours of thinking and writing, I posted the following on Facebook.

I wanted to write something on Transgender Day of Visibility on Friday but missed it. I’m posting now because I wanted to last year but wasn’t yet out to some of the people I really needed to be.

I wish I’d had the words for being neither a boy or girl as a kid. Because I never learned it was a thing, I didn’t know that I wasn’t a girl. I just knew that I was frustrated with the different options and rights for boys and girls, and felt an overwhelming urge to defy gender norms, and be myself. Sometimes I wish there’d been books, fiction and otherwise, featuring characters whose relationships with gender matched my own or otherwise ignited me. I read a lot of LGBT literature in middle school and high school, but didn’t linger on the few transgender characters I stumbled across, mostly because binary transitions (FTM or MTF) weren’t relevant to me. I still haven’t read a book or watched a movie with a character I truly identify with in terms of gender.

Can you imagine that?

With a personal history of vocal feminism (forever this) but also comfort with being called girl, sometimes I feel self-conscious about my past. I feel afraid that because I was comfortable being “girl-ed” in the past, people will disbelieve my nonbinary identity. But this is a fundamental truth: regardless of my education, I was just as nonbinary and genderqueer as my 5 year-old self twirling in dresses or pestering my mom for things to carry in my pockets as I was in 6th grade when people asked if I was a boy every week. Or, didn’t ask—just called me a boy, or wondered what I was in not-so-quiet whispers to their parents or friends in 8th grade.

I could tell you that at no point in my life have I been any less or more nonbinary than I am now, but honestly, there is a time seared into me: because of the ways it made me feel out of place in the world and my skin, the night I was crowned Homecoming queen in high school is the queerest and most transgender I have ever felt. Being queer and trans is never a problem, but feeling like there is no space for you to exist as you truly are is.

We get an inadequate education on gender and sexuality in schools and the media. The best education is everyday life but often it doesn’t feel like it’s easy or right or safe to ask questions or say to someone: neither girl or boy feels right to me, or sometimes my body doesn’t match how I feel on the inside, or I like my body but it makes people assume things about who I am that just aren’t true.

Or: I don’t see myself growing older in this society as it or I currently am.

And that last one is something we really need people feeling comfortable sharing. We need changes so that everyone, regardless of their gender, can live open and comfortably. We need a society with an emphasis on respect, inclusivity, and dignity. We need more conversations about the limitations of the gender binary system of man and woman, and the society that is structured around it. A binary system transgender people are reminded of daily on survey forms, in department stores, when we need to pee, join a soccer league, or are being Sir-ed or Ma’am’ed on the phone.

From a young age, we don’t get many discussion on the either or the neither or the both or the whattheheck of gender. It’s assumed that we are what was written on our birth certificates when we were born.

We aren’t given many safe spaces to ask and learn about gender and sexuality, regardless of what’s in our hearts or between our legs or who invites butterflies into our stomachs.

Because I grew up around families that didn’t match my own, and because I had parents who let me wear what I want, and let me chop off my hair even when they weren’t thrilled, I got to learn and grow and feel better about myself sooner than some. I got to like different things at different times and mostly not feel ashamed. Some shame, of course. That shouldn’t be an of course.

Because of some advances in education and policies, and sheer need to live authentically, more people are coming out as trans. Thanks to beautiful and brave humans like Laverne Cox and Parinya Charoenphol, there are are more openly famous transgender people. More, even, than when I was a kid. But we still have progress to make, everywhere.

There are about as many experiences with gender as there are people in the world. My trans, my nonbinary, is nobody else’s. One transgender identity isn’t representative of all, and I think that’s important to note. We need many representations of trans individuals in literature, film, and the public and private sector. We need people feeling safe, comfortable, and proud to be themselves without hiding or lying or avoiding the careers or people or sports they really want in their life. We need visibility and inclusivity as a habit and rule, not the exception.

Here’s to visibility.

a year on, still beating

February 18

Dear Les,

I’m housesitting for my sister, and found some photos on her coffee table. She’s a photographer and actually just said bye to years in the service industry to really give things a go so it was extra special to discover some film prints lying around.

I found this one and was a little confused. I didn’t recognize the setting, didn’t remember ever sitting in a chair like that or why I would. I wondered why she’d use film on me when I was full on cowlickin’ and carrying large bags under my eyes. When I was so quiet, and probably struggling with my thermos.

It took me several minutes to realize that this photo was from March 1, 2016, and we were waiting together with my mom at Providence for my dad to get out of cardiac surgery. I had stayed up late the night before, and wakened early to at least see my parents off to the hospital. I didn’t know if I’d see my dad again. I don’t take much for granted.

We all got to see my dad again. We had him for Father’s Day in June, our summer birthdays, and his birthday in October, when I treated him, my mom, and Elizabeth to pizza and Hunt for the Wilderpeople at the Academy Theater, where we all laughed louder than anyone else in the theater, and Elizabeth and I cried.

And I got to come out as nonbinary to both of my parents together in June the night before I turned 24. I had waited weeks for my mom to return from the east coast so they’d have each other when I told them. I couldn’t begin another year of life with the wrong nouns attached to me.

Just today I got to confirm that he didn’t subscribe me to the mysterious copy of Seventeen I found on my bed with my name this afternoon (I’m not their target audience, the mystery continues).

The thing about life is that it’s precious. It’s discarded McDonald’s wrappers on the sidewalk and sunsets that pull stranger neighbors outside to admire together. It’s friends losing parents and you carrying them letters with stickers and doodles or editing their grad school applications or helping them pick out a cardigan for a funeral. Not because someone precious to them has died and you feel pity but because goddamn you are tied together by tiny threads, colorful, translucent, there’s love, and simple decisions to be there. They will not be alone, even if you cannot share everything they are feeling.

It’s chronic illness, and watching inaugural season soccer games with your buddy’s mom in a bed across town from where they’re happening because it’s better to watch the games together, even if on a computer screen.

It’s even forgetting that a day is the five year anniversary of a day you decided not to write down your assignment’s due date if you weren’t going to live to see it—and not remembering until you see a reminder on Facebook, of that, and your promise to live.

It’s a friend coming out to you as queer from over a thousand miles away, because they feel safe enough to share their truth with you.

Life is not giving anyone the permission to take your fire, not even you. It’s jumping across puddles and still sloshing water on your shoes. It’s screaming with joy at the mess of storms and thunder during a downpour with your friend after you didn’t receive the Fulbright you applied for and her mother woke her up at 0700 with news of a divorce.

Life’s not a wide open plain, but maybe it is. It’s broken glass glittering in the sunshine, shards that could so easily slice us open, beautiful against gritty pavement. It’s mosaics. It’s what you have to say of it, love, some gummy bears, stale croutons, and more.

I’ve got some doubts about life sometime, but I think it’s something to lean into. In the waiting rooms, in the downpours, or on top of hills in the Gorge with wind ripping through your hair.

I show up, and I’m an average student with perfect attendance until it isn’t. I hope you keep showing up, too. What a ride, bumpy and smooth. What a gift to have so many options and stars in the sky, even when we can’t see them.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

letter from early 2017

February 5

Dear Les,

It is odd to return to this blog, even for a quick second, even for a short post, and find that it has just as much traffic as ever, if not more. Most of that traffic, after scrutiny, is for a url delivering folks to a pdf of your words, a pdf of Jess Feinberg, of Stone Butch Blues.

It’s 2017 and there are many stones, many butches, many queers, and many with the blues clamoring for recognition. Clamoring for hope and good news. Hoping and itching to see themselves on pages.

I’m not butch, I say it again. I don’t identify with butch or femme, masculine or feminine, but I’m still strung up and over the binary, still fighting the gender on the little band placed around my premature wrist twenty-four and a half years ago in a hospital after doctors and nurses saw what was between my legs. Tiny holes, tiny folds.

It’s 2017 and I’m speaking. It’s 2017 and there are some things too heavy to say.

Les, I hope you are well. Wherever you are, if you care to, please send energy to the resistance.

I keep walking

November 12

Dear Les,

If you’ve paid any attention from wherever you are, I think you know lots of us are scared, hurting, and rolling up our sleeves, wondering how best to move from grief to action. A demagogue is president-elect. After waking up on election day on the brink of an anxiety attack (with fear of this election’s outcome), I took care of myself all day and didn’t “tune in” to the news until vote tallies were well underway. Even with some hints from friends that things were not going well, I organized my thoughts and posted this beforehand. It’s about moving forward.


As a nondriver and someone who enjoys being outside, I spend a lot of time walking. I walk to buy groceries, pick up prescriptions, rid my dog of some of her tissue-thieving energy, grab a bite to eat, return library books, drop off my ballot, and simply listen to the wind rustle leaves. Often I just walk for the heck of it.

Much of this walking takes place at night when the earth has already spun so that we don’t see the sun. In the dark, walking in residential neighborhoods, I can see when folks have left their car’s dome lights or headlights on. Growing up, my brother and I made a great team whenever we noticed this. We’d guess which house the car belonged to, and one of us (often I) would go knock on the door while the other waited on the sidewalk with our dogs. I’d knock or ring the doorbell, ask if it was their car with the lights on, wish them a good evening, then continue into the night.
Alone on my walks, I do the same.

Most times, someone does come to the door, and although they are confused and/or stressed upon answering the door for a stranger, they are surprised and grateful once they learn my reason for knocking.

Doing what I do is very simple but it’s layered in complexity. In order to save others from dead car batteries, one must feel comfortable seeking out the owners at night. Night is a time I feel very comfortable in my skin, and hopeful. It’s something I refuse to cede. So is my faith in others. What I do also requires that people have enough trust in the unknown and faith in others to not just answer their door, but listen.

A sad truth is that one of the reasons many people likely immediately cancel “threat” from their minds when they encounter me on their porch, is that I’m white, small, and routinely perceived to be a woman. Due to centuries of systematic and interpersonal racism often only enhanced by divisive national rhetoric, I find it highly unlikely that someone of color, particularly a black man, or someone who is perceived to be transgender, would be as safe as I am knocking on a stranger’s door. Safe in both the physical sense, and from seeing doubt and prejudice flit across the resident’s face. As someone living in a body with breasts and a vagina, as someone who learned like water is life that I needed to be cautious around men, I know I’d be nervous about opening my door to a stranger at night, particularly a man.

For many reasons, that is a shame. Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s election, despite the months of angry rhetoric, I hope we wake up to a world tomorrow in which people suspend their fear (or better, analyze and resolve it) and open their doors to each other. I hope, no matter whom we elect, that we allow ourselves growing faith in others, trusting that we could possible mean and do well for each other. Trust that it pays to listen, and pays to speak up, even if it just means a saved battery sometimes.

I’ll keep walking tomorrow and the next day and the next night after that. As long as my legs allow me, I’ll walk, and I’ll gently offer help. I’ll keep my faith, placing myself at the mercy of those whose doors I knock on, because it’s an investment in my community, and I need that faith in others like I need water and I need air. I need to believe we can be good to each other. And I promise you, I’ll do my best to open my door with an open heart. I hope you will join me.

blood in the papers, streets, pumping from our hearts

July 9

Racism is woven into the fabric of our nation.  At no time in our history has there been a national consensus that everyone should be equally valued in all areas of life. We are rooted in racism in spite of the better efforts of Americans of all races to change that.

Because of this legacy of racism, police abuse in black and brown communities is generations old. It is nothing new. It has become more visible to mainstream America largely because of the proliferation of personal recording devices, cellphone cameras, video recorders — they’re everywhere. We need police officers.  We also need them to be held accountable to the communities they serve.  —Reddit Hudson, July 7, “I’m a black ex-cop, and this is the real truth about race and policing”

Les,
From Orlando to Istanbul to Baghdad to Falcon Heights to Baton Rouge to Dallas, I can’t remember a month of such constant, horrific acts of violence from so many corners. This is a time for healing and reconstruction. This is a time to listen to communities tell us what they need, and for us to support them. Black, Native, brown, queer and trans folks all over are hurting. The families and friends of the five slain Dallas officers are hurting. Istanbul and Baghdad have gaping wounds. This is not a time to build higher walls. This is a time to open doors.
 
Love yourself, love your neighbor. Take care of yourself. Take care of your neighbor.
 
There are times I shut my eyes and wish I could split myself into pieces of quartz to send to others for protection (Why have I been so safe thus far- privilege, privilege, privilege and luck. Why can’t I share?). Be safe, I wish. Be well, be well. I would die gladly if I knew no other human would kill another.
 
If only things were so easy. If only systematic oppression and personal prejudices could be solved so quickly. Fortunately, these things are not absolutes. They do not have to be forever.
We do not need to allow ignorance, pride, shame, and greed to keep us from seeing each other.

Confounding Blues: Why My Spirits Fell After Coming Out Even Though it Went Well

July 5

Hey Les,

This will be hopefully be short post because I want to shower then hop in bed with my book (The New Jim Crow) before sleeping.

It’s been a week and a half since I came out to my parents and I’ve been struggling. Rather than feeling emancipated from the stress of not being out to them (and I guess I am free from it now, in big ways), I feel caught in a valley. As if working up to coming out and actually coming out was climbing a mountain, but after catching my breath at the summit and seeing clouds shadow the sun, I realize that I am somehow in a valley alone.

My gender hasn’t really come up in the last week and a half and for the most part my parents haven’t misgendered me—both have had at least a couple of slip-ups, which is to be expected. On the morning of my birthday (the day after coming out), my dad’s first words (sung) to me were: “Happy Birthday to you, Girl.” Not knowing if he knew what he was doing, I kept a blank face and descended the basement stairs to obtain my dog’s morning snack. I didn’t know if he said girl unthinkingly or if it was intentional. He let me correct him during grace, however (my family isn’t really religious but we say grace every night…I leave God out). The correction was a bit abrupt but I wasn’t about to be misgendered during my birthday dinner.

No, other than those fairly isolated events, things have been pretty smooth. I’m thankful for this. A couple of times, I’ve just hugged my parents without explaining why. I’m grateful that conversation went well. So thankful. As well as it went, I don’t feel ashamed of waiting so long or fretting so much in the run-up. If I’d come out earlier, even a few months beforehand, I don’t think it would have gone as well. We all had growing to do. I needed to get myself in a better frame of mind. Previous conversations I’d had with them about P and Ellis, both nonbinary, had helped, whether they knew P and Ellis were actually nonbinary or not. During our conversation in which I came out, my dad asked if Ellis was nonbinary too. Being able to say yes, and talk about the ways in which P, Ellis, and I are similar (in that none of us identify with the gender binary), but also different, because every single human’s experience with gender is different, was very helpful and affirming.

So why have I been subdued? Why have I felt like crying at times or just finding a little nest to curl up in? Why am I sad even though I have a family that loves and supports me, as well as a Facebook community that showered my coming out post with likes, loves, and well wishes?

Here are some reasons I’ve identified:

-Daily anxiety about interpersonal and/or systematic rejection and discrimination due to one’s identity is draining.

Living with concern, for years, that my two biggest supporters would reject the validity of my nonbinary identity/or would otherwise really struggle to accept it was draining.

Not coming out to some other members of my family and other individuals and/or communities because of this was also stressful. I’m a very open person about this kind of thing. I like throwing it on the table then moving onto the next, more important thing.

Surveys, bathrooms, job applications, etc. Gender gender gender. Everywhere. For what reasons?

-After coming out, I’m feeling the weight of that build-up. I feel the weight of what I carried. Systematic stuff sticking around, and there will still be little challenges with my fam, in addition to sharing my gender with other folks and future employers, etc, but now that I can let some of my stress go, I realize how stressed I’ve been as both a nonbinary person and someone who loves and worries about trans folks.

-I expended so much energy preparing to come out to my parents that now that I am finally out to them, I’m left looking at the rest of my life through a magnifying glass. It’s not making me feel that great. It’s sinking in that I only have one part-time job now. I’m underemployed, struggling to identify work I can comfortably commit to and find jobs in, and I live at home at age 24. My city is rapidly gentrifying and even if I obtain full-time employment soon, I’m not sure I’ll find a place to live where I won’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.

-My depression is flaring. I’ve been feeling a little hopeless about not seeing either a short-term or long-term future for myself. Ashamed that after centering my work and studies around communities and social justice for years, now that I’m actually out of school for a time, I haven’t yet felt healthy enough for the work I want to do. Community-oriented work requires a lot of emotional stamina, and I’m an empath. I’m also interested in so many things, I’m not sure what to focus on. Voice in my head says quit dallying, just dive in. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer, apply, dive in. Whom are you serving?

-I didn’t exercise enough this past week. Looking at the fitness tracker on my phone, I realized that for the last week or so, I’ve walked at least half as much as I normally do. I’ve barely biked.

 

How am I lifting my spirits?

-Actually picking up books I’d been excited about but then too blue to read. I’ve been committed to reading The New Jim Crow since I first heard about it and have owned it for a year. Last night, I picked it up and started. It’s time to get myself back into my zone of living, loving, and working with a commitment to helping my local communities. Criminal justice reform, with an emphasis on racial justice, is one of my greatest passions.

-Tonight I ran nearly five miles, and in different neighborhoods. I worked my way to where my great-grandmother lived and where my dad spent much of his childhood, in the Foster-Powell neighborhood. A residential area with mostly single-family homes that doesn’t receive as much support from the city as neighborhoods like mine do, but a comfortable neighborhood that has also undergone much rapid change. I had never run in that area before. I felt like I was running through time. Not knowing that less “inner southeast” area well, I felt my privilege as I ran, I felt the stories the houses and streets told, I felt my roots. I felt the whispers of migrations of people who have been pushed from their homes.

I don’t remember the last time I ran more than 3 miles at a time—and I haven’t even done that much recently. I was extra engaged tonight, though, because I was (re)discovering more of my home on foot. I intend to work up to running further east, and to the north, to where my grandparents lived.

In observing and relearning some of my roots, and in observing the changes Portland has undergone, in addition to what neighborhoods have managed to retain, I imagine I’ll gain greater physical and mental health. I feel a little hope and humility.

This post was a little rambly, but it’s what I’ve got tonight. Time to shower.

 

I came out

June 26

Dear Les,

On Friday night, I came out to my parents. So much has happened this week and month, it was difficult for me to write anything anywhere. Tonight I finally shared some words on Facebook. I’ll include them here, but first I want to say thank you to everyone who has offered me support on this blog. Fellow queer and trans bloggers, other writers, and your own life, Les. I’m not quite done here (don’t mean for it to sound that way), but I do want to offer thanks. Writing about gender and sexuality has been a challenge lately, and I still need to respond to a post by Kameron (I appreciate your thoughtful nomination, and I want to do the same when I’m in a better headspace), but I’m grateful to have a place to help process this difficult and rewarding topics.

Below is my Facebook post.


Yesterday was my 24th birthday and yesterday was my first full day out as nonbinary trans to my parents. After years of working up to it, I finally shared that I am not a girl two nights ago. Yesterday was filled with love, sweet sunshine, and a raucous nearly naked bike ride. Yesterday I was on the verge of tears most of the day. I wanted to find a nest in which to curl up and grieve because this month has been filled with joys but also heartache and frustration.

Two weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Seattle with my cousins. On our second night, I scampered down Pike and Broadway ahead of them jumping off steps and yelling “parkour” then giggling. Passing storefront after storefront with Pride flags or safe place stickers, and with much anticipation, I finally got to skip across a rainbow crosswalk. I wasn’t thinking QUEER WONDERLAND because I question the protections afforded to LGBTQ people by corporatization of a movement, but I was celebrating rainbows. What a happy human I was to be laughing on rainbows. My cousins convinced me to remain still for a moment for a couple photos.

The next morning, while looking through those photos, I learned about the shooting in Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando on Latin Night. Casualties were still being counted.

When I laid my head to rest the previous night, shots were already being fired.

My first reaction was fear that Muslim communities and brown folks would be targeted. An act of violence by an extremist is not a reason to harass a community that that extremist person claims connection to. One attack does not justify another. Hatred displayed towards one community does not warrant hatred towards another (and no, being queer and being muslim are not mutually exclusive).

In following weeks, I have been in a state of grief. What do queer clubs represent to LGBTQ folks? For some, they are the only place a person can go and feel comfortable in their skin and more safely display affection for those they are attracted to.

Last week I attended PRIDE for the first time in my life. I started coming out as queer when I was 12 but Portland’s PRIDE parade has always been on Father’s Day. Over the years, I learned to not be interested. This year, I told my parents where I needed to be (“because Orlando”), walked out my front door, and bused alone downtown. I stood in a crowd alongside the parade clapping, cheering, and weeping. 8 days prior, the faces in photos had still been breathing.

Being queer means that every time I hold hands with someone I’m sweet on, another person could perceive it as a political act. Ask any queer you know if they feel safe holding hands at night when they see a strange man or group of men in the distance. I know when to let my lovers’ hands drop. Being queer means every time I use “her” or “their” in reference to a lover, I out myself as an other. This means much less to me than it did a few years ago. I don’t care anymore. Largely because I live in a place where I usually don’t have to worry about being mistreated or fired. I also forgot how to give a damn.

Survival means knowing how to adapt.

Spiritual survival is learning how and when to stand up.

While working up to coming out to my parents last week, I read about the attack on Michael Volz, a transgender activist in Seattle. They were leaving a fundraiser for victims of the shooting in Orlando. In Capitol Hill, near rainbow crosswalks and rainbow stickered storefronts I scampered past two weeks ago, their attacker said “Hey, Happy Pride,” made a sexualized slur, then beat them to the ground.

Loving queer and trans people means I constantly pray for their safety. Especially if they are black or brown and/or trans, I wish them protection. I wish them light, love, and safety from bigotry.

I wish my friends and lovers access to restrooms, healthcare, and employment.

Being nonbinary means every time I walk into a women’s restroom, I look at the sign and think “not me.” But I have to pee. I just need a restroom. Being nonbinary but being mistaken for a girl by almost every single person in my life every single day means that I am safer than many trans people. But being mistaken by a girl by almost every single person in my life every single day means that I feel less visible and less human.

I’m human.

Emotional survival is allowing “girl,” “woman,” and “lady,” to slide off me and picking another time and place to correct someone, if at all.

Being a gender other than woman or man means that I have to explain my identity to almost everyone I meet but I do not have the time or strength to explain it to everyone I meet. Being trans means that although my parents’ love for their children is a beautiful force of light, I made sure I had emergency savings before I came out.

Because 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ and I know my parents love me to pieces but transphobia dominates our national history and broad narratives.

Survival means being practical.

I worked full-time for above minimum wages as a white college graduate before being unofficially laid off by one of my jobs a couple weeks ago, and I can’t afford to move into my own place and save for next steps in this rapidly gentrifying Portland. Imagine how greater the challenges are for queer and trans youth of color and youth without high school diplomas or college degrees.

Despite progress for most communities, we are not a postracial, postcolonial, or post any kind of systematic and interpersonal discrimination society.

As a queer and trans person, I struggle to find workplaces where I can dress in a way that does not give me excessive gender dysphoria. I struggle to find work which aligns with my values that will not burn me out.

Last night I biked shirtless in underwear with my sister and first partner/now good friend. I wore shiny green shorts, a fannypack, and a rainbow spinny hat that whirred in the wind.

We were alive and laughing, but much of the time, I was also reserved and distant. I was finally out as trans to my parents and it had gone better than hoped, and I was still grieving.

I’m working for a world in which I do not worry about the wellbeing of my loved ones and loved ones I’ll never meet because they are trans, queer, female, and/or people of color.

Survival means dreaming of and working toward a better future.

We’ve got work to do better loving each other.

We hold each other’s lives in our hands. Every day, we hold each other’s lives in our hands.

I’m out. I’m queer and I’m not a girl or boy.

And I love life. I love life, and I love you.

 

t minus 3 weeks until i finish coming out to the most important people in my life

May 24

Dear Les,

I finally caught up on my reading for all of the blogs I receive email updates from. For three weeks, I took a break from WordPress. It wasn’t premeditated; it just happened, and it was necessary. I had no desire at all to write anything for the ether-net (yourself included), and felt overwhelmed at the prospect of reading anyone else’s work, especially that of fellow queer and trans and/or nonbinary writers—whose blogs I follow most closely, but just couldn’t bring myself to read.

I think I needed some quiet and space for myself. During this period, although it was never a major source of my focus, I realized something: I’m ready to come out to my parents. I need to have the talk. After months/years of fretting what to say and how to do it, I think I’m just going to go for it. I can offer to share nonbinary/transgender informational materials and/or stories with them afterwards, including posts on Neutrois Nonsense, such as guest writer Libby’s “Loving My Agender Child.”

This isn’t as spontaneous of a decision as perhaps it sounds, and it still requires planning. For example, I was tempted to do it a couple of days ago but realized it wasn’t fair to do so right before my mother left for Pennsylvania. She and her sister who is moving to Oregon, are going to roadtrip back here together. I didn’t want to send her off with that huge news. I think it’s important to initiate that conversation when she’s in a comfortable place and when my parents are together. I’m guessing she’ll be home in 2-3 weeks.

Now that about three months have passed since my dad’s heart surgery and recovery has been going very well, I think I can now come out to my parents without worrying about my dad’s health too much. I don’t know if this fear was valid before, but I wasn’t willing to chance triggering another heart event. Telling your parents you don’t identify as the gender they’ve believed you to be since the day you were born (they saw my parts!), and requesting they stop referring to you as “girl,” even to your dog, is big.

I need to do it. I need to finally move on with this part of my life.

It’s unclear why I feel so certain (as certain/calm as I can be, I suppose), that now, or almost now, is the right time to do this. Stuff with FKS and D wasn’t the best the last couple of weeks, and that’s taken a lot of my brain and heart space. FKS bailed on her suggested coffee date two days in a row, and D and I transitioning from a kinda-relationship to friendship hasn’t been as smooth as hoped. Somehow I think these things just helped solidify thoughts on what I need for myself. Coming out to my parents now is one of them.

Also, my birthday is in a month. I considered coming out to my parents for my college graduation/birthday last year (in a “because you asked, this is what I would like” sort of thing), but it never happened. I don’t want another year to pass without telling them.

I’ve realized I’m a very private person—more private than I ever realized, even with my topless photos on the Internet. With my parents, I hold my cards very close to my chest. Largely because of my nonbinary identity, probably.

I think I owe it to all of us to finally start this conversation. It’s time to finally put words to who I am and why I behave/act the way I do sometimes.

Honestly, I think it will help me become a better person and kid.

I hope it’s not too hard on my parents. And I hope that they can eventually comfortably regard and love me as their nonbinary kid.

lemonade, cayenne, and walking away

May 22

L,

I’ve lost my appetite again. Even when I think I want food, even when I have some, I struggle to finish even half of what’s before me. What I swallow is not enough to satisfy my hunger. Hunger I know I have, even if it doesn’t quite resonate.

One of my strengths is looking for the bright sides in my life (if not the broader world when I think about systems of oppression) and looking for the best in others. There’s a lot of beauty so that’s not difficult. But there’s a part of me that’s asking to be allowed to be express my hurt, too, when something is amiss. And also, what is not quite anger (or perhaps a small dose), but impatience and sass.

My main instincts are to be gentle, compassionate, and self-deprecating, but there is both cayenne and strawberries in the lemonade I’m sipping.

Perhaps someday the gentle me will smile and bow to the sassmaster me, and the sassmaster will laugh to those who need to hear it,

“Manners and all, I’m the baddest b you’ll never have again,” and walk away.

 


I didn’t need Lemonade when it was released, but I’ve listened to it nearly nonstop the past week. Thanks, Bey.

I don’t explicitly refer to gender or sexuality in this or some other pieces, Les, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t on my mind, or part of this. I don’t have energy for nouns on target today.