Tag Archives: trans

The Theatre

“Misery loves company.” – John Ray

I can’t say that I have experienced or seen anything that leads me to disagree.

There are three types of victims: The Innocent Bystander, The Self Fulfilling Prophesier, and The Perpetuator.

The Innocent Bystander is the victim that we are the most familiar with, either from our own experiences or from the experiences of another. Nothing and no one can stop the inevitable, no matter how hard we try, or how much we’d like to think we can. Occasionally some tragedy or unfair circumstance creeps its way into our Fortress’ of Perfection. That’s just it though, nothing is perfect, and life goes on, and usually the Innocent Bystander does too.

The Self Fulfilling Prophesier and The Perpetuator are different. They start as the Innocent Bystander, but something happens, something that makes it impossible to let go of the feelings and thoughts surrounding the moment that they felt themselves shatter. They go on, but that moment replays over and over, and instead of letting it go and making peace, they scrutinize every detail to its most infinitesimal degree. The constant replay of the horrors makes them feel as though they are at fault, that they could have and should have somehow stopped the horrors that came. Because they failed to stop them, they deserve them. You and I both know this is NEVER the case, no person deserves for any horrible thing to happen to them. No one deserves for their dignity to be stripped from them. This doesn’t change the fact that to The Self Fulfilling Prophesier there is always something lurking around every corner, and that they deserve whatever it is that may or may not come, even though IF that something were to ever come, they would be Innocent Bystanders in the matter. It is said that a victim is twice as likely to be victimized again. The Self Fulfilling Prophesier knows that this day is coming, they “feel it,” even though that day may never come.

Then there’s The Perpetuator. They too started as an Innocent Bystander, went through the stages of being The Self Fulfilling Prophesier, and went a step further: deep into the land of self-made Stockholm syndrome. The Perpetuator has taken tragedy to a whole new level. They continually invite it. They know the choices they make are the wrong ones, but somehow manage to convince themselves that “this time” will be different, this time I won’t let them do that to me. If they do that one more time, I’m gone for good.”

Those words sound like the words of someone in control. Someone we want to believe will ride the tides to better days, but there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. With The Perpetuator there is now a system of Unfortunate Neurons that are in control, misfiring like Dick Cheney on a hunting trip. The words are said, the words of change, hope, self-love and that which no one can dispute are of what is right. Sadly they are just that: words. They inevitably lack the courage of their convictions. Is it because the person who utters those words is/are incapable of action? I do not believe so; they have become the victims of their own never-ending prisons. There is perhaps a fleeting moment in time that we have all been here; some of us still are. Maybe we just couldn’t stop ourselves from drinking too fast, knowing full well we’d puke; just like the last time. Maybe we had to have that outfit, knowing it would mean we wouldn’t have the money to pay rent or eat; just like last month. Maybe we said from now on we’d be more responsible and go to bed earlier so that we would actually start showing up to work on time, but we didn’t; just like yesterday and the day/week/month/year(s) before that. Maybe we said just one more hit and then never again; but we’re still pushing the needle and further down the spiral than we have ever been and cannot see ourselves any other way. Just maybe.

Here’s the problem with The Perpetuator that doesn’t de-escalate back down to an Innocent Bystander: they are NOT the only casualties. When this point has been reached there are always victims of war that are Innocent Bystanders. The problem is that more times than not those that are Perpetuators are the ones we love that we want the best for, and because we are bound to this love, we rush to their aid time and time again. We tell ourselves “this time will be different; this time they won’t do this again. They have to have learned a lesson by now; they know not to fall for this again.” Or maybe it’s “this is the last time that I am going to sacrifice everything for them, I am not doing this again if they continue down this path.” But it never works, it never ends, and we too become Perpetuators.

When I think of a Perpetuator the only thing I can relate to is an old time nearly abandoned run down theatre. The kind of theatre that’s on the other side of town, and it’s cold, dark, and damp. It reeks of stale popcorn, sex, and cigarettes, so much that when you leave it’s not just in your clothes, it’s in YOU. You have to dive head first into the purging fires of Mordor to thoroughly cleanse yourself of the stench. A theatre that only plays those old black and white films and they’ve played the films so many times that the reels cannot be spliced back together anymore. During the most pivotal scenes, the film cuts out or the audio screams ahead like a chipmunk burning alive while hopped up on cocaine.

We all have that friend that just can’t seem to get enough of those theatres, those films and the nostalgia, the costuming, and the scripts. Normally that would be ok, but the problem is that they are only interested in ONE movie. The same movie over and over and over. They’ve seen that movie a thousand times, they know every word, every pause, every tear, the subtleties of the character progressions, what the writer really meant as they were attempting their fifteen minutes on sociopolitical commentary. Everything. They’ve seen it so many times that they have abandoned reality and go through every waking moment as their favorite character of the film. Everything they do and say is another line from the movie. Someone will sweep them off of their feet and everything will be “perfect.”

They asked us once to come and see the film, and we agreed, because it was so important to them. We sat there and watched. It was a painful thing to endure, but we kept our mouths shut and did it: out of love, respect, and devotion. But that wasn’t enough. It never is. “Just one more time,” they cried. “It will be the last time, and I will never ask you to do this again. It’s just that I hate experiencing this alone.” And we cave. We always cave: love, respect, and devotion.

Some of us are still going to that theatre and watching that horrible film. We know how it ends: yet we keep going. Others of us are at the point that we tell ourselves that if we see the film one more time, it will be the end of this so-called friendship. Then there are those of us that have stopped going all together and when that friend calls and cries for us, we simply turn away. We no longer return the calls. It’s not because we don’t care, in fact it’s quite the opposite. We do. We care about them and we care about us. We care enough to no longer feed into the cycle of abuse, hoping that one day they will realize that they are sitting in that cold, dark, damp theatre alone.

I’ve become that person. I cannot and will not let those that say they love me continue to drag me to the theatre. To appropriate and paraphrase the words of Bernie Taupin and voiced so eloquently voiced by Sir Elton John:

“I’ve seen that movie too… The one where the players are acting surprised… Well their actions become so absurd … So keep your auditions for somebody Who hasn’t got so much to lose… I’m not the blue print for all of your B films… Because I’ve seen that movie too.”

The pill that I really can’t swallow when it comes to The Perpetuator is when what we have given is not enough, when we have given all we can and have over and over, and what we hear and get in return is “if you really loved me you would…” That’s when I draw the line. When all we can and are, are cast aside with last week’s garbage, I am through. Who are you to deign what is and isn’t our best? We loved you unconditionally, sacrificed ourselves every time you cried wolf, and claimed it was another emergency. We dropped everything; we put our lives on hold, missed our deadlines and let down everyone else that was counting on us, including ourselves FOR YOU. Just so you could cast us aside and tell us that “we don’t love you,” “we don’t care about you,” “we don’t know what it’s like.”

To that all I can muster has already been said by Maynard James Keenan, and once again I will appropriate and paraphrase:

“Threw you the obvious and you flew with it on your back, a name in your recollection, thrown down among a million same. Difficult not to feel a little bit disappointed and passed over when I’ve looked right through to see you naked and oblivious and you don’t see me… but I threw you the obvious to see what occurs behind the eyes of a fallen angel, the eyes of a tragedy. Here I am expecting just a little bit too much from the wounded. But I see through it all and see you… You don’t, you don’t see me, you don’t see me at all… apparently nothing. Apparently nothing at all… oh well.”

For those that want to say it and can’t: “Guess what? FUCK YOU. We’re through. More importantly we are through with you. I AM THROUGH WITH YOU.”

Surprisingly this isn’t about me. This is about watching someone else that I love and care about that sits in that theatre time and time again, for the sake of love, respect, and devotion. I wish them well. I stopped entering that theatre a long time ago. However I can no longer sit idly by, and haven’t. I have witnessed the abuse for longer than I care to remember, sadly when it happens the most placid thing I can and have mustered is: “I would rather suffer childhood again and be raped every day, and physically beaten until I can’t stand, then deal with that.”

I know that is not an appropriate response, but it’s honestly the best that I can give. I want to give more. I want to stop them from entering that theatre. I would rather take the abuse; I am willing to deal with it again, I am used to it from ones that claim it’s out of love.

Watching you suffer is killing me, it’s killing us. I just want to see you smile again. I would give anything to see you be happy. Out of love I am willing to be your whipping boy.


in passing

I’ve been struggling lately with the ideas around the subject of “passing.” As I am writing this I stumbled upon this article: Trans people will never internalize ‘passing privilege’.

The opening paragraph states this:

“Trans people who may appear to have the privilege of ‘passing’ in their realigned sex or gender can never expect or take advantage of that privilege since at some time they experienced prejudice due to not passing – a fear that never truly goes away, argues Marilyn Pierce.”

Recently I volunteered at Sienna booth for Louisville Pride and a trans* woman after finding out about my ftm status responded with:

“You’re so lucky. It’s so much easier for you.”

I was taken aback and I’m sure it was incredibly obvious that both of my eyebrows had completely lifted off of their usual position on my forehead and were now hovering well above my faux hawk. After finding some semblance of composure I responded:

“I have good days and really bad ones, there doesn’t seem to be a happy medium.”

That whole situation took me by storm. I wasn’t prepared to be confronted with an underlying sense of hostility from another trans* person. After that the comment stuck with me, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it yet. Not until just recently.

This week I was interviewed for a trans* tv show. One of the questions I was asked to respond to was my thoughts on trans* people and “passing” or as the hostess referred to it “blending.”

My response opened with my own experiences with passing, the conversation at the Pride booth, and that it’s not going well. After committing to being a trans* person full time, I have found that I am being ‘ma’am-ed’ and ‘ladied’ more now than I have my entire life, and it’s infuriating. I continued my response to say that whatever this drive is within us to be another sex or gender, none of the above or even somewhere in between is so strong that we are willing to sacrifice everything, even though we are praying that we won’t have to. That often times the idea of passing is up to the individual’s interpretation, needs and comfort, but it often comes to safety. When you are the abject or other it makes it very easy for you to be a target. People suddenly think it’s “ok” for them to exercise their opinions and fears upon you. So menial tasks like using the restroom or going to the gas station suddenly become hostile war zones. That a person’s safety should always take precedence over anything, and if passing allows you to achieve that then so be it.

I have continued to think about that response and realized that the can of worms that question brings up for me is a box of mixed feelings. Often I have found even though a lot of queer or cis people don’t understand trans* they sure have a lot of assumptions of what it is “supposed” to be. One of the biggest is around the idea of ‘passing.’ We are ridiculed for even daring to cross or throw away the gender lines by communities that fight for the right to celebrate their diverseness but we are expected to hold to the idea of ‘blending in’ and not being seen. People are so hung up on the idea that “seeing is believing” that when someone says “I’m female” or “I’m male” that instead of taking their word for who they are, because only they could ever know that, we impose what we think they should be. Those beliefs are founded on what we think we should and shouldn’t see.

Another issue with trans* and passing comes to another all too painful subject: privilege.

Not every person has the means to afford hormones, surgery, voice lessons, a new wardrobe, make up and anything else you could possibly contain in your Trans*-Bat[person] utility belt of misunderstood needs. Then again, not every trans person even desires to go through those things.

Privilege is given, whether you did or did not earn it. Passing is a trans* privilege, one we have not always had the fortune of having. I have met several trans* people recently that I feel “[DO] expect and [DO] take advantage of that privilege” and have forgotten where they came from. They have somehow forgotten what it was like to be ridiculed for not passing. They now have that privilege and exercise it upon those that do not have the same. Another example of what I like to refer to as  ‘trans*traitorism’. (I will write about that philosophy another day).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, especially within the trans* community, we need to lift each other up. Judging each other is the worst thing we can do. A community divided is a community that falls. So fucking stop. Seriously, we have become those we fight every day by placing these same standards on one another. My message to those not in the trans* community is fucking stop. Seriously, I don’t tell you you aren’t good enough because your penis or breasts are too small, I don’t tell you aren’t good enough because you can’t afford $300 shirts and $3000 handbags.

Two great points, by two amazing people were addressed this past weekend at the Trans Ohio conference I attended. The Keynote presenter talked about how we can keep change and activism going, mentioned that we strive so hard to find that which makes us different, that we forget there are far more things that make us the same. In recognizing those commonalities, we can achieve so much more. Another presenter talked about the ways in which performance art affirms and is a necessity in queer spaces, shared a personal story of a time when he performed and audience members were uncomfortable because they saw him and he presented male, but through the course of the performance as he began removing/revealing clothing they realized he had breasts. He was delighted at their discomfort and stated:

“if you are uncomfortable because you don’t know what I am, what does that say about you? You can’t even recognize your own kind,  A HUMAN BEING.”

We are ALL human. We ALL shit, piss, fuck (however that is accomplished for you), eat, love, and fear. We ALL experience loss, pain and joy. We ALL have wants, needs and desires. We ALL have that relative [at whatever holiday you want to insert here] we don’t want to be cornered into a conversation with. We ALL have bills to pay. We ALL want something better for ourselves and our future legacies. I can go on and on, I know I’ve done it.

Passing or not, I am who I believe I am. You are who you believe you are. Don’t ever let any one allow you to believe anything different.

I’m sure in this moment I was a firefighter, and considering my vigilance in fire safety, the fire safety training I am writing and conducting for work, and that I have run into a burning building in an attempt to help someone, I still am.