Today, February 17, 2010, marks the 4 year Transiversary for o’l Midwest GenderQueer. It has been a long road, and will be longer still. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all who have been there, wanted to be there, and come and gone. Just as I am here, you have been here with me. I love you and I am eternally grateful. I would not have made it without you.
And now, a story that looks longer than it actually is…
On January 27th, 2006 I walked out of class, went straight into the computer lab and started a livejournal. I described what had happened in class:
“[My teacher] got off topic and started talking about gender queer. I’d looked it all up before but I had never heard people in real life talk about it….I was close to tears…”
That psychology teacher, a Dyke who was later fired for her “radical” methodology, changed my life. For the first time my life was described by someone else. For the first time, I felt that maybe I was not the only one. But I felt like the only one. I wasn’t alone but no one really understood what I was going through. My friends we supportive but confused, even a little worried.
“I’ve lived my hole life thinking no one was like me. I just don’t fit anywhere… Fuck it all, i’m finally gonna be something that I feel like i should be. Finally.”
February 17th was not officially the first date I started to ‘come out’ or recognize my genderqueerness, it was the first day that I had full and total recognition of who I was without denial, excuse, or exception. I recognized that I was not crazy, I was not multiple people, that I was not normal, and that I didn’t have to be. I recognized the desire to be a “girly boy” and not have to live within a certain binary concept, regardless of what body or identity I had. These recognitions were in no way matured or actualized, they were the seeds of thought that eventually grew into my own sense of being. February 17th, 2006 marks the day I took the first step on solid footing in a long, continuing journey to self autonomy and personal actualization. And even with that day being a great day, it was a dark day. I was exhausted, I was angry, I was afraid.
“Can’t i be who I am, shouldn’t I be who I am? I hate myself for some reason. I hate myself.”
The first appearance of the word “transgender” came in March, along with a slew of other new vocab words I had adopted. I had made a decision to take my life into my own hands for better or worse. I wrote:
“I am taking the steps I need to make it… I am myself and I will try to be as true to that as I can.”
A year later, my life had completely changed. I described myself as “at peace” and grateful, patient as well as stressed. I had become my biggest project.
“[I have never been] so at peace with my life… [I] wouldn’t trade the relationships I have and have had for anything… even if it meant avoiding the frustration and difficulty of this life. …I feel as if I know myself better than I ever have before, but I have never been so unsure as to how my life will be… it’s a very scary feeling. But I am willing to wait and work to figure it all out. I will work to be better in life…”
By October 2007 I had founded my first radical queer organization, GenderBloc. It was up and running with four members and a full agenda to change Cincinnati for the better of transfolk and genderqueers. I had been performing with the Black Mondays (then the FuckHers) for almost a year and had been living the Midwest drag star high life. I felt like I was living in a dream, and also a nightmare.
“Here I am, in a point in my life where more things make more sense to me than they ever have. Where I know myself best, where I am living the life I really want… How is it that I have never been so in place with myself and yet I have never been so out of place in the world?”
My year Transiversary marked my self decided moment to look into taking T, and finding some way around the hideous web of G.I.D. As my war with the system battled on, I became more and more worn down. I was stressing out, I was maxing out. As fear and anxiety filled me so did desperation.
“Sometimes I feel like I would do anything, anything I have to be what I am…”
The victories I won that year were immense. It was the year of what I called “the first day of the rest of my life.”
When I looked back on my Transiversary in 2008, what I saw most was people. And that is how I reminisce. My memories are made of people; The people who have been there, the people I love and who love me. This life I have lived, this transition and this change. My dear Sonja, who I grew up with, put it best when she said,
“You are not alone in this. This whole time we have been and will be right here with you.”
GenderBloc had spread its wings and flown, and I was working on building a bigger project, something for more than Cincinnati college students. Something for all of Southern Ohio. I started to network and travel. I began to push my performances and writing to the next level. I was on the edge, ready to move into my full self. Still I needed the courage.
By Febuary 2009, my 3rd Transiversary, I was coming into my own as genderqueer. I still couldn’t summon the courage to do genderqueer performance, and I kept genderfucking to a minimum. Dying my hair had become a significant form of self-expression for me, as well as a coping mechanism to deal with the general lack of control I felt about my presentation and recognition in the world. I had gained a strong autonomy of myself and my body. I was no longer dependent on binding and was gaining a stronger confidence in my physical appearance. It makes me laugh because I wrote about shaving every three days. A year later I barely need to shave every two.
Also, I had had one of my most significant experiences to date. I was presenting at a Midwest queer youth activist conference in Bloomington, Indiana. A ton of people came up after the lecture to talk to me, and as each one did I started to see a pattern. One student in particular, I remember their face. They had tears in their eyes and said “I have never met anyone like me before.” It broke my heart. I wrote:
“I saw myself in them… all the shit that I have dealt with and am still dealing with these past three years and these past 24 years… I listened without any real answers… I had nothing to make it better… I know one thing; I want to do more than what I do now.”
I described trans/genderqueer existence as:
“Just like any other kind of existence, it sucks. Its easy to think my life sucks more because of who I am, but it’s just another kind of life. How do you convince someone else of that? Someone whose pain you know as your own.”
This year, my 4th year out, I am still carrying that message with me. I still see that face, feel that pain. I know it is my mission in life to destroy that pain in whoever feels it, or at least lessen it as much as possible. Here in the Midwest is as good a place as any for a revolution. This weekend I am returning to that same queer conference, this time in Madison, Wisconsin. I am looking forward to the wonderful people I am sure to meet there. It is not about getting my name out there, or popularity or power. It is about something bigger than myself, something stronger and more significant. It is about creating community, creating answers to the questions no one could answer for me. And it is about breaking the bonds we are in. That we all can be what we are without feeling wrong or oppressed. A great conversation with Hawk at Creating Change stirred me into a new form of autonomy, of my disabilities. He told me it wasn’t about being unable to things, it was about being able to things despite my differences. I am going to own what I may consider my downfalls so I can create a better work method for myself so I may help others better.
I have had a lot of fun this year, and done a lot of work. I have gotten myself out there as a budding genderqueer performer. My genderqueerness has escalated, or should I say my femmeness has. It has been good though, I am femme and I don’t want to have to apologize for it. At the same time, I continue to long for more masculine mannerisms and passing ability. And while I do that, I wish there were more frilly, lacy clothes that fit me. I am still male identified, but I have been thinking a lot about how I don’t want to have to choose any one gender presentation, an irritating element when living in a bi-gendered society.
My family has come leagues in the past year and my friends are as dear and supportive as ever. I have been very lucky. I have been very loved. And I have been very, super gay.