In 1991 I was a pretty young transvestite and wanna-be drag queen in San Francisco, exploring my gender and sexuality. I called myself Robyn. I was very happily “out”, I had lots of fabulous friends and support in the queer community, but also had a punishing, self-destructive, and addictive side that eventually won out. Continue reading “A Short Story About A Long Trip”
A friend of mine said, with love and humor, “Robyn is the most self-satisfied, self-celebrating transwoman I know. She’s always so frikking delighted with her transition….it’s inspiring.” Hell yes! Today with fresh new amazing red hair color that makes jade green pop and sing I’m definitely in a place of gratitude and delight. We all have so many diverse tools of self-expression, it’s just wonderful when they resonate for us. Everyone should have fun being themselves and sometimes that’s the hardest thing to reach. I feel like it’s my life’s work, making friends with myself, being good to myself, celebrating who I am.
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
Laura Dern in Wild at Heart
I loved this performance and the insane romance with Sailor. She was someone I wanted to be.
I have not just changed my clothes and hair and voice and name. I have not simply changed my face and chest and genitals. I have crossed from one dimension to another and have been reborn into a new being.
We try to strip the magic away from being transgender. We insist we are perfectly normal variations in the human experience with deep historical and cultural histories, observable scientific phenomena, prescribed medical interventions. We are quite mundane. All we want is to live our authentic lives, be accepted by our community and society, go to the grocery store and use the restroom in peace. We are not mentally ill, we are not confused about who we are, this is not some split personality disorder. All very true.
And where’s the fun in that? Continue reading “We Are Inter Dimensional Travellers”
Invisible Men was story I did for the Prism Comics “Alphabet” Queer Comics Anthology edited by Jon Macy and Tara Madison Avery. I started the story when I was still in the midst of struggling with what it means to be a bisexual married man and to give some feel for the discussions and conflicts I had with my wife. By the time I finished the story I was already into transition and moving into a completely different category of person which I do not address. I leave my character in his life as bisexual cis-male and wish he and his partner luck and peace whatever they decide to do. I think the story does a great job of distilling most of my thoughts around being a bisexual man in a monogamous relationship and in the society at large. I’m proud of how the story is structured and how the characters are revealed. I am glad to be out of that particular closet and gender, but I am a big believer in bisexual liberation and in bi-men in particular being more visible and seen with honesty and compassion.
Read the PDF story here and please consider buying the Anthology, it’s filled with work by amazing queer artists. I was flattered to be asked to contribute by my longtime friend Jon Macy. It dragged me out of retirement from queer comics and I am hopeful I will manifest some new stories soon.
Social media can be useful sometimes for boiling down complicated thoughts like this one on the question of how my gender and sexuality work together. A recent comment I shared in a discussion:
This has been the great struggle of my life, sorting this confusion out. Functionally, I am very bisexual, but I had a very hard time connecting romantically with men as a young gay man. I concluded I was mostly straight because I easily ended up in long, complicated, emotional relationships with women including a recent 12 year marriage.
I NOW understand my overall attraction to women has more to do with wanting to be like them. Since transition I have chosen to date only men as I feel that is where my truth lies. I certainly prefer them sexually, especially now that my body makes sense to me. I am learning the puzzle of being emotionally connected to them, which is still not so easy but I am open to it now in a way I was not before.
I prefer being a woman who loves men, however difficult that may be.
When I came across this sketchbook page I gasped out loud and almost cried. It’s a document of me struggling with holding onto Robyn 1.0. “Remember what you were. Remember ROBYN.”
TBT, Tranniversary* post.
Two years ago this week I first used the word trans to seriously describe myself. It’s breathtaking how much changed from that day forward, but it doesn’t feel at all to me like things moved that fast.
I had been circling around it for awhile. Mainly I was bothered by my sexual orientation, but the more open I became the more was revealed. It was like unpacking a very large trunk and discovering buried underneath the denial and regret and rationalization there was this whole other person waiting to be reborn.
I thought “Well, maybe I’ll do some cross dressing, have some fun, play with that again”. I chose a cross dressing event to go to in the city, Halloween themed, I did modified Red Riding Hood. My wife helped me find an amazing red sparkly dress on Haight street, and I had picked up a decent wig at a local shop. I got ready at my friend Amy’s salon in the city. It was the first time in 25 years that I’d put myself together en femme.
The event itself was kind of unremarkable. A few nice people in various states of feminized disrepair. A tall trombone playing cross dresser, a short fireplug-shaped truck driver in an overly lacey babydoll nightie, and a married guy I had corresponded with online with who maintained a stunningly complicated life as a closeted cross dresser.
It certainly WAS NOT the kind of event that leads one to completely upend their life and declare themselves to be transgender.
But there was a moment. A very sweet transgender woman noticed me looking at myself in the mirror and she said “You are just the cutest thing”.
And just I said, “Yeah. I know…”
I thought Robyn was DEAD. I had killed her. Suffocated her under 200 pounds of weight gain and an ocean of alcohol. And then miraculously I had become someone’s husband and father and that was amazing and all was forgotten.
And now here she was looking back at me in the mirror. And it wasn’t “Oh, this fun. Oh, this is sexy. Oh, this brings back memories.”
It was like finding out your lost love or your best friend or your twin sister had come back to LIFE. I can’t overstate how happy I was to see her and how heartbreaking it was to remember losing her to begin with.
The next day I began to seriously question whether the answer to years of discomfort and unhappiness were due to being transgender. Each day after that the answer was yes and yes and yes even as it set my life on fire and burned everything to the ground.
It’s awesome, and it’s terrible and it’s hard to believe, but it’s the truth. Once you finally know the truth what else can you do but try to live it as best you can?
*I got some blowback about the term Tranniversary. I think it’s a witty and apt description of the event. I also believe Tranny is our term, not “theirs”.
Yesterday I finally got the nerve to join a gym. I’ve had this vision of taking a spin class. All very ordinary but not at all. Presenting female while sweating and not being able to rely on hair and makeup…I did fine, it was really fun.
Everyone was very nice, so nice, in fact, the ladies invited me to take their extra ticket to the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Holiday concert and join them. The spin instructor is a member of the choir and she insisted I come.
So I went! Me and 4 cis women plus two husbands had dinner beforehand and it was quite lovely….and my mind was continually blown away by how I am perceived and I am worrying a lot about the appropriate way to introduce myself to people with dignity and integrity.
I always assume people know I’m trans but that doesn’t seem to be the case mostly, but you can never tell. I certainly don’t start conversations with that disclosure and yes, of course it’s nobody’s business, but it doesn’t take long before it gets sticky.
So last night I had a conversation about our kids with a woman who had no reason to think I hadn’t borne mine. She was telling me how much she loved being pregnant and could
assume I could relate. I didn’t find a natural way to set her straight, I don’t know how to even construct that sentence? But I need to work on it because it comes up. I punt and later casually mention that my son now lives with his mother but I’m not sure that registers and even if it does I’ve now outed myself as a
lesbian when I am not. That’s a whole story I don’t want to get into with her. But I guess it doesn’t matter because she forgets and later asks me where my husband is. I don’t have a husband. That was an easy one to answer! But she looks a little sad for me that I lost my husband. Oy…
It all feels very validating of my femininity. Holy shit, I’m successfully passing as an adult woman and I didn’t think that would happen. That’s fun for a minute but then it starts to feel scary, like I’m going to get called out for being dishonest or pulling a fast one. One lady in the party seems like she’s maybe clocked me. Kind of a funny sideways look. Maybe she just thinks I’m odd, maybe she suspects I’m trans. What’s that conversation like after I leave? If she points out I’m trans do the people who didn’t realize that feel violated or something? I hope not. I’d really like to be friends with this one lady.
Given time and opportunity I’d happily tell her. But then that makes me sad too. I like blending in and being one of the girls. I’m a Piedmont Avenue lady (which is as much an illusion as anything else with my funky in-law apartment and deluxe hot plate stove). But getting to know me is tricky. I have all these years of life that don’t jibe with the person in front of them and the simplest conversations skate on the edge of a lie and a casual question can lead to a whole messy and confusing biography that isn’t required.
I just am trying to figure out the right way to play all of this. I’m not a stealth transperson, but I don’t have to inform everyone I meet either.
I’m really glad they invited me. It felt really good. I really like who I am but I guess I’m still grappling with feeling like it’s not okay to be who I am, one way or the other. In the extremes I’m either a fraudulent liar or an honest freak. The truth is I’m a good person navigating a complex situation and trying to do so with some dignity and integrity.
Meanwhile the concert was nice but there was an air of doom as America is rapidly spiraling to the ground. I’ll figure myself out just in time for the end of the world.