Posts tagged: fear

Things that go bump in the night

By , March 8, 2011 2:00 pm

Two things defined my nights growing up: my huge collection of stuffed animals, and an extreme difficulty going to sleep. The former consisted of every creature under the sun, in all shapes and sizes. I still have a harbor seal with the whiskers cut off (so it didn’t tickle my face while hugging it in bed), a huge sheep dog with eyes buried under inches of fur, and countless others, all in a closet somewhere at my mom’s houe. The latter, the fear, consisted of an aching dread of…of…of something. Nothing so simple as a monster in the closet or under the bed, but the nevertheless undeniable knowledge that something horrible would happen if I closed my eyes. To say that – “something horrible would happen if I closed my eyes” – oversimplifies things: I had panic attacks. And not little ones, either. Great big crying-and-difficulty-breathing, staying-up-until-sunrise-out-of-fear panic attacks. “Read until you fall asleep” was a dangerous suggestion from my parents, because my fear would win over my exhaustion and I would read right on ’till morning. The stuffed animals could offer some protection, piled around my bed to obscene levels, but never enough.

While my days weren’t filled with stuffed animals, the fear remained. A memory sticks in my mind, of watching an eclipse in third grade through shadow boxes. We were warned not to look at the sun, even with sunglasses, because it could hurt your eyes. I looked anyway (you really could see the moon blocking the sun!) but was told by another third grader, something of a bully, that I was going to go blind as a result. He had me so convinced I was going to go blind – not years down the road, but later that afternoon – that I rushed to the nurses office, crying. I was unwilling to say why I was crying, because I knew I wasn’t supposed to look at the sun, but I was inconsolable. Ultimately, my mom had to pick me up and take me home.

Almost twenty years later, three years living fulltime as Rebecca, I confessed to my mom why I had been crying that day, and asked if she remembered it. “Yes,” she said. I asked if she had any idea why I’d been crying. “No,” she continued, tears of regret and past pain springing to her eyes, “but you were unhappy and asked to be pulled from school often enough that it wasn’t too unusual. I’m sorry I didn’t know what was wrong.” I heard in her words not only talk of an eclipse, but an oft-repeated apology for not somehow catching my trans-ness, bringing it up, helping me even when I wasn’t yet sure I wanted help. Continue reading 'Things that go bump in the night'»

Three Questions

By , June 24, 2010 3:01 pm

Another writing exercise from my director.

1. What do you love?

I love getting out of my head. The feeling of doing something purely physical: playing a song on the piano that I know really well and flowing into the music; biking along the lakefront; holding a really good handstand or whipping around on a Spanish Web; a mind-blowing and body-cleansing orgasm.

I love solving a problem that has been itching at me. Of making technology bend to my will, and deliver satisfying and consistent results. I love the relief that comes when a solution is Right and True.

I love my body when I’m able to feel feminine. I love looking down and seeing my breasts, feeling their weight. I love the wonder of skin and and bone and muscle.

I love a strong sense of community: artistic, social, familial. Of understanding, and being understood. Knowing, and being known.

Continue reading 'Three Questions'»

The terrifying market

By , January 24, 2010 4:45 am

As of this weekend, I’m on the dating market for the first time in almost four years.*

That’s terrifying.

Continue reading 'The terrifying market'»

The stuff of nightmares

By , January 16, 2010 12:16 pm

Trigger warning. (A link explaining what “trigger warning” means.)

Earlier this week, Little Light posted is a dream a lie if it don’t come true / or is it something worse. The post is now behind a password but I did have a chance to read it before it was password protected. The thoughts behind password protecting the post are here, and no, I don’t have the password, and don’t know how to get it. I’m going to write about the post anyway, as  best as I can remember. I apologize if any of the details are wrong, but the general gist is accurate.

The post was about someone Little Light knew, a trans woman we’ll call Alice, who suffered a serious injury and was hospitalized. Alice had been on hormones for a few years, and was living full time as a woman. She had not undergone The Surgery, but was happier for living as Alice, as herself. After being injured, Alice ended up partially paralyzed, unable to care for herself, and unable to communicate without extreme effort.

Alice’s doctors decided – despite clear evidence that Alice identified and was presenting as a woman – that forcing medical staff to use ‘she’ around someone with a penis would be too confusing. They instead used ‘he’ and Alice’s former, male, name.

Likewise, Alice’s family decided – despite clear evidence that Alice identified and was presenting and as a woman – to take her off her hormones.

Continue reading 'The stuff of nightmares'»

Internalized transphobia

By , December 8, 2009 4:00 pm

The first night of tech for Trans Form was last night, and I’m kind of a mess.

(For those of you who aren’t theatre people, tech refers to technical rehearsals, where lights/sound/etc are set. It comes before dress rehearsals and/or previews, the final rehearsals before a show opens.)

The show is going fine, although I’m planning to head out of work early tonight and finish up some sound and video work. And yet, I’m really scared about it opening on Friday. Not simply stressing out, but scared. And, after thinking about what parts of the show terrify me, I realized I’m not just dealing with stage fright (although there’s some of that) but with some deeper internalized transphobia.

Continue reading 'Internalized transphobia'»

I Hate ‘The Body Swap Episode’

By , April 22, 2009 11:29 pm

I’m currently working my way through Angel and, inevitably, they’ve arrived at ‘The Body Swap Episode.’ That’s the episode in every sci-fi and fantasy show where at least one of the main characters has a body swap with either another main character, or an incidental one-episode guest character. Specifically, Angel‘s episode is a ‘Grand Theft Me,’ as was the similar episode in Buffy. (As usual, TV Tropes can explain it better than I can, and gives so many delightful examples, so you should just check out the above links if you want a better explanation.)

I really hate the body snatch episode. Really really really. I hate it when it’s used for humor, I hate it when it’s used for drama, I hate it when it’s used to teach the good guy a lesson, I hate it when it’s used to teach the bad guy a lesson. I just hate it. And I think I’m starting to realize why. It’s a mishmosh of reasons, but I’ll try to make them coherent…

Continue reading 'I Hate ‘The Body Swap Episode’'»

The Penis Game

By , April 18, 2009 7:43 pm

This post is a little personal, rather frank, and took some effort to write. If you’re not interested in hearing my thoughts on having a penis versus not having a penis, and on the possibility of having sex reassignment surgery, you probably shouldn’t read on. Consider yourself warned.

My identity as trans hasn’t really centered around genitals. Sure, I’ve fantasized about what I’d look like without a penis from a pretty young age, but my concept of myself as a boy or a girl didn’t pertain exclusively around what is or isn’t between my legs. I’ve never really though about surgery as something I’d want to do, or would feel like I needed to do.

Likewise, I enjoyed being sexual  (alone or, ideally, with a partner) prior to starting my transition, and I never felt like I was forced into a ‘male’ role by having a penis, even though that may have been how things looked to an outside observer. Even as hormones have changed how I experience sex and feeling sexual, I’ve continued to enjoy those feelings – and managed to feel feminine – penis and all.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking more and more about the possibility of having surgery…

Continue reading 'The Penis Game'»

A Fear of Violence

By , March 15, 2009 7:39 pm

I haven’t truly felt my physical safety threatened since maybe fourth or fifth grade. It was in the gym class locker room, although I honestly don’t remember if it was before or after class. A few of my classmates had taken a liking to picking on me, and the locker room was (in a way that’s almost cliche) a space isolated from any teachers and perfect for making trouble.

In my memory, the locker room is huge; cavernous and echoing. I have no doubt if I revisited it today, my growth would have shrunken it down in an almost comical way. And, although I don’t remember any specific incident, I remember the faces of my aggressors, and the knowledge that if I didn’t say the right thing they would beat me up.

They never did beat me up. And, looking back, I don’t know that I was ever actually in danger; whether the training of our white, middle-class upbringing would have overrode their dislike of me. But I remember feeling that fear.

As I said, I haven’t truly felt my physical safety threatened in maybe fifteen years.

But I sure have been thinking an awful lot about violence lately.

Continue reading 'A Fear of Violence'»

Fashion(show)able

By , January 31, 2009 12:55 am

Edit, 4/8/09 – For whatever reason, this post has attracted tons of spam posts – maybe 20-30 a day – so I am disabling comments on this post (and only this post). If you really need to reach me about this specific post, email me at blog [at] fridaythang [dot] com. Otherwise, comment on a different post.

I knocked on my roommate’s door. “Can I come in?”

“What’s up?”

“Just wanted outfit input.”

“One sec. Lemme grab my robe.”

MG was in town for her birthday, and we were all meeting her at a nearby restaurant. She’d specified in the Facebook invite to be ‘dressy,’ especially for the girls.

I don’t exactly have many ‘dressy’ options. Most of the unreasonable amount of money I’ve spent on clothing in the last few months has gone to either comfy, every-day stuff, or things appropriate to wear to work. Neither category would satisfy MG’s request for ‘dressy.’

“So do you think I’ll get in trouble if I wear this?” I had on black pants and a black sweatshirt under lose gray top for which I don’t have the vocabulary.

My roommate, fresh out of the shower and in a red robe, said”I like it,” and my heart sank a little.

Continue reading 'Fashion(show)able'»

Racism? Classism? Where does vulnerability come from?

By , May 17, 2008 6:23 am

I’ve been trying really hard to bike to work when I’m able to. I biked today, but didn’t head home until after the show was done, at about 9:30PM. I have a route that I take to work and another one I take home if it’s late (different streets that are slightly less direct but I feel safer on).  I was in a less-nice neighborhood (in this case, that’s code for ‘poor’ or ‘black,’ depending on your perspective) and a group of black kids was walking on the other side of the street from me. I had a moment of nervousness, then got mad at myself for having an initially racist reaction, then tried to tell myself it was a class issue and that I would have had the same worry reaction to a group of white kids who were similarly dressed. Then one of them jumped out at me, saying “Gimme that!”Don’t worry – I’m fine. He went back to the group and they all laughed and laughed at the way I swerved  and sped up in my panic. So I (apparently) was never in ‘real’ danger.  But, while I’m obviously upset that it happened at all, I’m also A) pissed at myself for having that initially somewhat racist (or even ‘just’ classist reaction), and B) pissed at them for somewhat living up to my poor expectations.

But now I’m all upset and trying to figure out where it’s coming from. I like knowing where my emotions come from, and estrogen isn’t horribly helpful for that… I’m also trying to figure out how or if what happened tonight is linked transitioning issues. I’m watching Six Feet Under (which is a really good show) and  an episode where one fo the characters gets carjacked and then taken forced at gunpoint to take the carjacker around town, and feel like it wasn’t horribly helpful to my emotional stability, particularly because the character who was carjacked was gay and there were lots of calls of ‘faggot’ being tossed around by the carjacker. Likewise, at Julia Serano’s talk, she mentioned the potential dangers of having gender expression not matching legal papers, with asshole cops and the like.

I was just talking with SS, and used the word ‘vulnerable’ about the situation. It really sort of threw me – I wouldn’t in a million years have used it to describe how I felt or am feeling. I’ve admitted to feeling emotionally vulnerable before, but don’t know that I’ve ever said “I felt vulnerable” about a physical fear. I don’t like that that’s potentially a part of transitioning, or of living in the world as a woman (hell, it’s not potentially a part, it’s definitely a part). Again from Serano’s talk, she said some cissexual women (see this post)  will brush off transsexual women’s complaints of feeling objectified or fearful of interactions, as it’s ‘just’ part of ‘shedding male privilege.’ (These are not Serano’s words, and not even her words of other people’s words, just my impression of how some cissexual women see the situation.)

I don’t know. I’m kind of rambling. I’m just unhappy to find an intersection of two of my least favorite things: feeling vulnerable and feeling unsure of where emotions are coming from…

-R

PS – Gods, I like asking questions as the title of posts.

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