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.
I participated in Trans March for the first time ever—and just a few weeks after coming out. I went with Gabrielle Darone who has been
a loyal and supportive friend since we met in a support group months ago. Transition is not easy, and it shouldn’t be done alone.
In the past several years I’ve had that “Me too, me too” feeling in the back of my head when I encountered trans people, and I’ve been struck lately by how much they ARE my tribe, even when we don’t have anything in common other than our gender identity. I may not always LIKE them, but I always LOVE them, if that makes sense.
I’ve been in a few protest marches in my day, and I admit I always feel awkward as a protester, but this was different. I was the nice white lady in the big pink hat and was very aware of my privilege. I was marching with trans people of color who are fighting for justice, for freedom from police violence and discrimination, for jobs, for housing, for basic health care. I was marching with wonderfully militant gender queers who seemingly have to do daily battle with transphobia and the threat of violence.
The march ended on Turk street at the former site of the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria riot when the drag queens and trans sex workers of the day fought back against police brutality. It used to be illegal to even be a cross dresser, you know.
I shook hands with Miss Major Griffin-Gracy who was one of the trans women of color who led the Stonewall riots. She’s been getting long overdue recognition thanks to a new documentary and I was honored to meet her.
They are all freedom fighters and American heroes, the same as any solider, maybe braver. For decades they’ve been getting their skulls cracked and worse for demanding a better world. All people benefit from that, in my opinion.
This thing I am doing is not easy. It’s incredibly hard and scary sometimes, but I have so many advantages it’s humbling. The people who fought the fight before me have my respect and gratitude. I hope I can be useful going forward.
But that’s the end of Pride festivities for my weekend. Too hot and too many people for me. Happy Pride. Be fearless.
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 collage of my Fat-Man pictures. I showed these when I would speak at Overeaters Anonymous about my miraculous recovery from morbid obesity and alcoholism. He tried like hell to kill Robyn. She forgives him.