Earlier this week I caught the David Bowie Is exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibit was totally worth going to, although at $25 was a little pricey. Still, I’d recommend it. That’s not what this post is about, though.
One of the (many) awesome songs from Bowie’s discography is Rebel Rebel:
Hearing the opening guitar on that song immediately takes me back to the late ’90s and to Boys Don’t Cry.
Continue reading 'David Bowie’s Throwback Thursday'»
Fuck the Willis Tower
Fuck US Cellular Field
Fuck Ryan Field and Macy’s and Westfield Shoppingtown
Places have names have meanings
To simply change that –
to impose your understanding of a place over mine
– rewrites memory and experience and story
Of course, that’s what we do
(We’re good at it, no doubt)
The Battle of Belmont, 1861 Missouri
Now run from Boystown out to O’Hare
(Itself originally Orchard Field Airport
hence its airport code, ORD) Continue reading 'Places have names have meanings'»
Originally posted at In Our Words, and reposted with permission.
March 1998, from March 2012
Can I call you Rebecca? I know you haven’t told many people that name. It’s one of the names mom and dad chose for you before you were born, one you’ve been using in your head since mom mentioned it while working on that genealogy project with you. I know it’s a private name for you right now, but things change. I promise they do.
This letter is coming from the year 2012, fourteen years in the future. You’re thirteen, I’m twenty-seven. You’re exploring your identity on the Internet, trying to figure out what “transgender” means and whether it applies to you. I’m writing about my identity on the Internet, trying to explain to others what “transgender” means and how it applies to me. And, from that perspective, I wanted to write you this letter.
Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. You know who you are. You know what you are. Doctors and therapists and family can help with that journey, but that can’t decide it for you. They also can’t do it for you. I know you’re dying for someone to step in and take the lead, to transition for you, to tell you what to do. And you’ll find doctors and therapists who will help along the way. But no one does it for you.
Put another way: it doesn’t get better. But you will make it better. Continue reading 'It Doesn’t Get Better (But You’ll Make It Better) – A letter to my younger self'»
When my brother graduated from college, I was just finishing my freshman year at Northwestern. With one or two exceptions, I was closeted to most of my college friends. (Or is it “closeted with?” ACT tutoring is messing with my head. What’s the proper idiom?) My first major negative experience with a therapist – the one who told me I “probably wasn’t trans” – had scared me away from seeking medical or therapeutic help in figuring out my trans identity. I was still figuring a lot of things out, something which is probably true for most college freshmen.
A moment of my visit to my brother’s graduation sticks out in memory, and still occasionally gets me ribbed by family members. We were at a restaurant in town, my family and I, celebrating my brother’s impending graduation. People were ordering drinks, and someone (probably my dad) made it clear I could have an alcoholic drink, too, should I so desire. So while everyone around me ordered beer or wine, I ordered a rum and coke.
Looking back, the reason I did it (and the reason my family finds it funny) is because I didn’t understand that there was a difference between beer or wine and mixed drinks. So while I probably could have ordered beer or wine without incident, ordering a rum and coke was cause for conversation.
Remembering all this still makes me a little embarrassed, because I hate not knowing how to behave. A big part of my transition has involved figuring out how to behave, how to present, how to interact, how to identify. And a big part of my hesitation around transitioning stemmed from not wanting to feel like I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know how to do something, not wanting to feel like I didn’t understand. Continue reading 'In defense of awkwardness'»
Just over a year ago, in a post called Reconciling Regret, I wrote about the conversations I used to have between myself and “Rebecca,” my mental construct of the female version of myself:
My conversations would usually start when I was feeling particularly stupid, or sad, or masculine. She’d start, this Rebecca that I imagined myself as in some alternate universe, speaking to me across the barrier which separated our realities: “You’re never going to be happy if you keep on like this.”
“Rebecca” would often continue to berate me and, when I didn’t talk to my parents (or talk to my therapist, find a doctor, find hormones, or whatever standards I/she set for myself) she’d turn the talk to suicide:
“Then why don’t you just kill yourself?” This line was always particularly seductive. Why not kill myself? Clearly, nothing was ever going to change. Friends would be happy, family would be happy, I wouldn’t. Maybe for brief moments, sunlight shining through the clouds, but never for long.
“Just do it. Kill yourself, and it’ll be over. You’re never going to be me.”
A version of one of these conversations is in the script for Trans Form, and today at rehearsal Kristen (my director) and I worked on it. It was hard to do. Really hard.
Continue reading 'Going to Hard Places'»
I’ve been having a tough week. Very briefly, I was a victim of transphobia to the point where I’m now seeking legal representation. I’m not comfortable blogging about it until said representation gives me the go-ahead (which probably won’t happen) so I won’t expand upon that here other than to say I’m OK, it was not a physical attack, and none of the important people in my life were the instigators.
As a result of all that, though, I’ve been trying to focus on things that have been uplifting: seeing friends, not feeling guilty about eating sweets, looking at ridiculous websites, and just generally giving myself a break from working on my show.
Thinking about overcoming adversity and battling bigotry, my memory goes back to my eighth grade trip to Washington DC, and a trip to the Holocaust Museum.
Continue reading 'You will remember'»
Earlier today, I was interviewed by someone from the Chicago Gender Society about my upcoming remount of Trans Form. We were discussing my history, things I feel proud of, things I regret. I said that I wish I’d transitioned earlier, but I’ve been trying to remember a realization of mine: Everyone wishes they had transitioned earlier.
I’ve been told, by trans people in their forties or fifties, that I’m “so lucky” to be able to transition when I am, with the support I have. And that’s absolutely true. But it would have been nice to be able to transition ten years earlier. That’s true, too.
I imagine that, whenever you realize you want to transition, and begin that process – be it at six or sixty – you’re going to say, “If only I’d transitioned earlier!” Because being trans is about realizing something isn’t quite right, and going about fixing it. And even if that something is only wrong for a few months, it’s still wrong.
Continue reading 'If only I’d transitioned earlier'»
A life map is a visual representation or walk-through of one’s experiences. It needn’t be linear, though that’s often easiest, and can be an interesting way to access or discover new things about how you (consciously or unconsciously) think about where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you’re going. Here’s part of my life map, done a few weeks ago as an exercise with my director:
Becca's Life Map
And so, a tour of my life map.
Continue reading 'A Life Map Tour'»
This post was prompted by an article in Yoga Journal, given to me by my mom, called “Forgiveness Heals.” There will be a companion post, a writing exercise about forgiving myself, sometime soon.
I’m sorry I stayed silent too long, spoke too softly to be heard, gave in too quickly.
My kindergarten classroom stretched along an endless hallway. There was a finger-painting station, a corner with cardboard building blocks, a book nook, a playhouse with a kitchen. Trim along the ceiling had numbers, one for each day of the school year, and we would hold a little classroom celebration every time we hit a number ending in zero. We sang, and drew, and played tag at recess. Once a week, I would leave the class and go down the hall to talk with the school psychologist. Even then, my parents knew something was wrong.
I’m sorry I didn’t tell her – in her office with reassuring colors and a calm far removed from the kindergarten class – that there had been some mistake, that my bowl-cut should have been reserved for a boy, could I trade in my button-down shirts for pigtails, please?
Continue reading 'Apologizing to myself'»
The saga continues!
- Are there advantages to being a woman as opposed to being a man?
Advantages for who? For me, yes: I’m happier with myself and with my body, enjoy wearing clothing and makeup, enjoy being perceived as a woman.
For someone who identifies as a man? Probably not. I think women – in general – have more clothing and presentation options today than men. That is, a woman can present from relatively butch (even going so far as to wear mens clothing) to super-femme, and still be a ‘woman.’ Men, on the other hand, have fewer options for clothing/makeup/etc without having their ‘man’ status questioned. But those are all subjective; being a woman isn’t “better” than being a man, just different.
But it is better for me.
- Are there advantages to being trans?
Being trans gives you the opportunity – hell, forces you – to think much more in detail and at length about your own identity and gender than being cis. I feel like the choices I’m making about presentation and how I gender myself are a lot more conscious than for many of my friends, and I’m doing so with more intention. They haven’t had to think about their own gender, and so many of them haven’t. (Or, hadn’t until I forced them to by transitioning and talking about it at great length!)
Being trans has given me the opportunity to dive into the trans and queer communities both on- and off-line, this blog being a big example of how I’m doing that.
Is all that worth the pain and difficulty of being trans? I’m not sure yet; I’m still too much in my transition to make that call. But I’d be lying if I said there were no advantages to being trans. At least, I’ve had a few places where I’ve been able to make lemonade out of lemons. I’m just hoping that I’ll ultimately feel that way all the time, not just every once in a while.