I live at the center of a Venn diagram – circles overlapping circles, the logical relations between a finite collection of sets. Each set a community, and each community overlapping to a greater or lesser extent. This set for theater (with a sub-set for Piven), that one for the queer community, this set for high school friends, that set for college friends, this set for A, that set for B, this set for 1, that set for 2. Overlapping circles and ellipses and shapes indescribable. A puzzle: Piven and theater overlap, Piven and queer do not. Queer and theater overlap, theater and family do not. Place all sets in such a way that they describe their relations; at the center of all sets lies me; the hub and nexus of my various communities.
Not the nexus in a self-centered way – I don’t believe I’m the driving force behind these communities. Rather, I describe myself as the nexus in that we are each at the center of our own lives. I can only describe my communities, that is to say “The communities in which I am involved,” as they relate to myself. But if I am the nexus of my life, the nucleus of my cellular makeup, what is contained within the greater structure? Why do I find it difficult to connect to a larger communal body? Continue reading 'The Venn Diagram of Identity'»
Yesterday was rather epic, and rather exhausting. I was at Noyes (the arts center where I work) beginning at 10AM, and didn’t leave until 11:30PM. From ten thirty to noon I co-taught a class of seventh and eighth graders, which actually went pretty well. It’s a great group, and I enjoy working with them and my co-teacher. Except, while demonstrating physicality, I over-demonstrated and really banged my knee. It hurt for the rest of the day, and sort of set the tone…
I had a brief break from noon to one thirty, where I got lunch and relaxed for a bit. It was lovely, and short-lived.
At one thirty I went into technical rehearsals for my high school class (focusing lights, checking sounds, etc). I really like this group of kids, it was just seven hours of tech, and of managing antsy high schoolers. And, midway through, one of the members of my cast had to leave for a “personal emergency.” I don’t like doubting my students, but she’d already spoken with me, two other teachers, and the theatre office about leaving early to go to a dance. Not even a dance, photos for the dance. So when her dad showed up for a really poorly defined “emergency,” I”m sorry. I didn’t believe him. (She was near tears, and I actually believe she didn’t know what was going on, which is even more fucked up.)
She’s back today, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but it really pisses me off. I assume my students and their parents are honest with me, and I really dislike doubting that honesty.
The class I was supposed to start teaching today – the one to take the place of the class of discrimination and firings – was canceled because of the snow. It’s now supposed to start next week, but I’m beginning to wonder if the God of Teaching doesn’t want this class to run…
Here’s the piece I presented earlier tonight. I’m still figuring out the best way to edit video on the Mac, so I may play around and re-upload a different version sometime tomorrow as I try to tweak settings to get a better-quality video clip. (Basically, it’s a question of which settings to use where while converting/exporting video. There are a lot of options, so I’m trying to determine what’s a reasonable set to use.)
I just got back from the fundraiser I was volunteering at tonight, and had an experience I wanted to share.
Throughout the evening, and particularly later in the evening as I was more and more tired and my mental filter dropped, I found myself looking down and being somewhat awestruck at the sight: Boobs (my boobs!) in a dress (my dress!) framed by hairless arms topped with painted nails (my arms and nails!) leading down to smooth legs (my legs!) ending in heels (my heels!) tipped with painted toes (my toes!).
This was the most femininely I’ve dressed up since starting to transition, and even though I was exhausted from helping out rather than having fun, I sort of couldn’t get over the experience.
I’m still alive, even though I haven’t written a new post for almost a week.
First week of camp at work, and even though I’m in the office it’s still a lot of extra work getting everything together for seventy kids. Everything’s been going pretty smoothly, fortunately, but things have been pretty laid-back at the office for a while so actually doing seven hours of work in a seven hour workday is a shock to the system…
Last weekend I went to my first baby shower, which was somewhat surreal. I think the feeling came from a healthy mix of being one of the youngest women there and one of the few who was not either married or engaged, and of simply not being used to being in such a decidedly “women’s” space. There was also more than a little bit of hearing everyone talk about childbirth and knowing that’s something I’ll never experience.
While at the shower, I spoke briefly with JP, the co-founder of one of the organizations I teach with (the shower was a co-shower for two other women who work there). She is, without a doubt, amazing. Old enough to be my grandmother, JP is nevertheless is empathic and intelligent enough to ‘get’ where I was with feeling somewhat out of place at the shower. She sat down next to me and said, “So this must be somewhat weird for you,” and we were then able to have a perfectly respectful and understanding conversation about how the transition is going. She’s one of the few people who I don’t know really well, but am willing to open up to simply because I’ve never been let down with her responses. I hadn’t seen JP since I came out to her, about eight months ago, and she was just amazingly supportive, then and now.
That made yet another round of “Obnoxious cis questions” from another woman at the shower all the more frustrating.
Is there actually a lack of an online FTM trans community, or have I missed it simply because I haven’t been looking for it?
I would like to be able to not look at every other woman and judge myself based on her (or, at least, judge myself and find that I sometimes can measure up…) I realize this isn’t unique to trans women, but I have a suspicion most cisgender women worry about whether or not their pee sounds right in the bathroom…
Someone at the Workshop today mentioned that someone else we’d been working with this past week was trans, and she wasn’t sure if she should say anything or not. I’m glad she did, because on the ride home I realized how powerful it is to have someone in my life – even if only tangentially – who is A) trans, B) successful in their chosen field, and C) passing. So thanks, you-know-who-you-are!
Here’s the coming-out letter that, with slight modifications, went out to the parents of my highschool class, the board of directors, and the rest of the teaching staff:
To the parents of [the class],
We want to make you aware one of our instructors had a conversation with [the class] members today where she explained she identifies as transgender. In general, transgender means people whose physical genders do not align with how they see themselves. Specifically, this means that R, who previously used the name J, identifies as a woman, not as a man. In addition, she is transitioning, which means she is moving from presenting herself and interacting with the world as a man to doing so as a woman.
Coming out to my highschool class ended up going pretty well. The board member liaison and I hashed out language for the email and letter going to parents, which included (basically) the following bathroom language:
We are sure some of you are curious about the restrooms facilities at our building, and we would like to reassure you that there are both public and private restrooms available.
Basically, this was a compromise to not explicitly indicate that I’d be using a private bathroom (I won’t be) but to let parents think that if they want, and let them tell their kids to use the private bathroom if need be. I still didn’t like it, but was willing to agree to it in the interest of diplomacy and compromise.
The previous post mentions this, but I’m sort of getting tired of how much the ‘bathroom issue’ has been discussed at work. Specifically, at the Workshop, where I interact with minors, with children, a member of the board has (grudgingly) backed down about addressing the ‘bathroom issue’ in an email out to parents but did say “We know we will be receiving calls about all kinds of issues but believe the most pressing will be in regards to the rest rooms. Pls advise how you would prefer this question be answered.”
I’m also getting tired of avoiding the issue – “this question”? If she’s worried parents are going to call in about a pervert in the bathrooms with their darling little angels then fucking say so.
EDIT: I’ve been sitting at the computer for 20 minutes trying to figure out how to respond to the email and I’m just at the end of my rope. I was originally trying to come up with multiple answers based on whether or not the inquery was polite, but now I’m just saying this:
For the bathroom issue, or any pressing personal question, I imagine the ideal response would be “Illinois state law forbids me from asking that question of Rebecca, but she’s been at the Workshop for fifteen years and has our complete support. More to the point, we would never employ any teacher who we did not trust or who would put any of our students in any potential danger.”
It’s slightly blunt, but I’m sort of done playing beat-around-the-bush. I’m so amazingly not comfortable answering questions about bathroom use, I’m not legally obligated to do so, and I don’t think I’m morally obligated easier. Yes, it might make some parents feel better, but there’s a limit to how far I’m willing to bend over backwards and I think I’ve been damn well accomodating thus far.