I Don’t Care What You Call Me. I Want You To Try To Feel What I Feel

It’s not about beauty. It’s not about sex or sexuality. It isn’t the clothes, the shoes, the voice, or the way I walk or what I enjoy doing. That’s all personal expression and it has nothing to do with being a man or woman or anything in between.

But the body… the body, the body…

If you have not thought about gender I beg you to think of it now. Maybe not your own. You may be perfectly happy with the gendered body you have. If you are, then I beg you please, please exercise the immense power of your imagination and pretend to occupy the opposite gender than you currently occupy. Imagine being the same person you are, but in the opposite body. If you’re a woman, imagine having a man’s body: flat hairy chest, a beard, a squarish face and skeletal structure. Imagine dealing with a penis.

I know there are those whose sexual parts don’t mean male or female. I’m happy for you. I’m not asking anyone to change how they feel about themselves. But listen to me now: IT MATTERS TO ME. It matters to a lot of people. 

I’m a woman. Always. All the time. When I sleep I’m a woman. When I’m naked in the shower I’m a woman. When I wear Jeans and a T- shirt I’m a woman. There is never a point when I am not a woman. The ” I” in me, the self, the person who feels and tells the body to sit or walk or speak or cry laugh think wonder doubt hope keep living love yes goddess of need I am talking about the self that needs to love and be loved back.

The person who carries this body from room to room, the great I AM of my self – that is a woman. She always has been and always will be a woman. To hell with the intricacies of gender. To hell with defining or proving or studying what gender means. It makes no difference. I don’t care about evidence. Fuck the evidence. It’s all smoke and distraction.

ALL I WANT IS THE RIGHT BODY. All I want is for people to try and feel the misplacement I experience. To understand how badly I want to get up out of bed, put on some generic clothes and walk outside without even washing my face and still be readily recognized as a woman. I’m tired of trying to “pass” as a woman. I want to be seen as a woman regardless of how I dress or if I wear earings or a necklace. 

I want people to see a woman because I have a woman’s body. I want to be a nude woman.

But today I can’t bring myself to believe that’s possible. And I don’t want to hear how that’s impossible to understand. We can understand each other better than we think. We can’t know, but we can understand. We can. Those who think they can’t understand should try harder. Or make a better distinction between knowing and understanding. I am not beyond anyone’s understanding. I am, after all, just as human as everyone else. 

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Dear Men

I never really understood you. I wish I did. But I never did and still don’t. I never understood women that much either. But now that I am aware of my womanhood, now that I’m spending more time with them as a fellow female friend, I’ve learned at least one thing. They openly express how they feel. And they feel a lot. They are conflicted and confident at the same time. Angry and gentle. Afraid and determined. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that men are no different. They only act like they’re different.

I’m not saying men should act like women. If I were looking for a man, I’d just want one who could dig deep into himself, know himself, and be willing to open up and be vulnerable and talk about what he discovers. He could be strong and tough and protective or whatever he is, just talk to us more. Don’t talk to my body. (I like compliments, don’t misunderstand) Talk to ME. Open up. Be vulnerable for a while. These are not traits that are limited to women. These make a complete human. For some reason society has told us that women are vulnerable and cry a lot and do all the emotional talking and it’s all bullshit. Vulnerability, open communication, being aware of one’s emotions and discussing them – these are qualities that make for a better society. A better marriage. A better relationship. A better sense of self.

Maybe this all sounds contradictory to my identity as a transgender woman. To be honest, I can’t answer the question “what makes me a woman” I just know I am. But I do know that it isn’t social conventions that make me a woman. I took that trip way down deep. I stripped myself of everything I knew about gender, about myself, and simply asked “what am I”? For me, the answer was a drastic one. For other’s it’s simply a stronger sense of the self you already are. A stronger grip on what you want and need and a greater understanding of what you are capable of. For most people, it’s not about gender at all.

Think of Spock in “Star Trek: The Voyage Home” where he is taking a test at a computer terminal and the computer finally asks “how do you feel?” Remember how stumped Spock was. Remember how irrelevant he felt the question was. Well, it’s not irrelevant. In my opinion, it’s the most important question a person could ask, and the most difficult but also most valuable question we can try to answer.

For whatever reason, women don’t seem to ever have much of a problem with this question. At least not compared to men. I know I’m generalizing. But just think about how often we’ve heard the phrase “what do women want?” Well we’ve been telling you what we want for ages. I think at this point, one of the things we want if for you to tell us what you want. Tell us what are you feeling. Be the complex creatures we know you must be.

I Don’t Know What to Write To My (My?) Congress-person, But I Have to Start Somewhere

I want to write to whatever is out there in my local government supposedly representing “us.” Trouble is, I’m sick of all of the “issues.” Gun control, homelessness, poverty, healthcare, on and on and on, each individual issue is merely a symptom of a larger … something. Also, I don’t have the time to research any one issue. I don’t have the time to research what my local government is actually doing about anything. And even if I did do some research, I wouldn’t know what to trust.

I think what I may write is a demand for answers. Direct answers, not from a secretary or speechwriter, but from the governor himself or representative in Washington. I want to cut through the bullshit and get a straight answer. Not excuses. Not ambiguities. I want fucking answers. I want to know why Trump is still the president and what will be done about Mike Pence and what is so goddamn difficult about the idea that we are all created (born into existence) as equals. When did military spending become such an open ticket while education, healthcare, relegated to little temporary programs (what the Affordable Healthcare Act seems to have become), that come and go with each president, each new election, hell it might as well be every Thursday of the month it changes that much.

When will we stop focusing on what we should be afraid of (foreign powers, terrorists of all kinds) to what we need to care about. What happened to E Pluribus Unum? Out of one, many. Meaning we’re in this together. We. Americans. But if we’re really adventurous, it also means the entire world. But let’s just stick with America for now. That seems hard enough. We THE PEOPLE are in this together. Not we the corporation, we the oil companies, we the Republican, Democratic, Independent party. WE THE PEOPLE. Have we all forgotten what a person is? Don’t we have our group of friends at work? Don’t we talk about whose having a baby, who just got their first house? Don’t we ask about that friend’s mother who’s in the hospital and won’t make it? Don’t we go to funerals and place flowers at the stones? Do we still understand what death is? Birth? Aren’t we all in the middle of life’s tortures and rewards, divorces, new loves, first loves, losses, failures. Who has not gotten out of bed for the fifteen-thousandth time, and gone to work (if you are fortunate enough to have work) and think, “is this all there is?”

That’s my question to these representatives. “Is this all there is?” “Is this what we are stuck with?” I can’t do their jobs for them. That’s why we have elections. That’s why we have a government. So, governor whoever-you-are, senator-of-the-moment, what are you doing for the people of this country? Because this state is only one of fifty and you should know that this is the UNITED states of America. It’s supposed to. The corporations don’t get a voice. Only the people who work for those corporations. The individual people, same as the individual who has no home and eats at the local soup kitchen, and the single mother who doesn’t speak English well, who is a citizen regardless of what people assume, and she’s working and paying taxes and trying to survive. PEOPLE have the voice. And we’ve elected you because we thought you could lead us. We thought you had the wisdom to improve our lives.

I’m not asking for handouts. Let’s step past that smoke screen right now. And I don’t want to hear about how much you care about this or that group of minorities. There should be no minorities in America. E PLURIBUS GODDAMN UNUM. What happened to that idea senator? What are you doing to unite us again? Anything? Look at your agenda and tell me what place does unity occupy on your hierarchy of things to do? Please tell me it is higher than “filibuster next proposed whatever.” Please tell me it’s higher than “to bomb or not to bomb.”

But enough. I feel sick. I have tissue shoved up my nose to keep the constant running under control. I’m going to listen to music and let the night come and when I breathe in and out I’ll tell myself “I’m breathing in and out.” Because that’s all I can do now. And whatever I can do, Mr. Governor, senator, current man in the white house, whatever I can do I promise you I will do.

I’m Fed Up With the Dissociated States of America

I’m fed up with our “freedom” chanting. I’m not sure we ever valued or wanted real freedom, or understood what it’s implications are. I’m not sure we ever understood what is required for the “pursuit of happiness.” I’m bothered by the fact that in spite of our country’s founding ideals to escape the rule of a king and requirement to belong to the king’s church, we still expect the president to attend some sort of Christian service, that pastors have any part in a president’s inauguration, or that many Americans somehow consider this nation to be a Christian nation.

Ugh. I don’t want to argue about that. I have no beef with Christianity. And really, I have no beef with the U.S. I’m just fed up with the place. I’m fed up with our strange obsession with “patriotism” whatever that even means. I’m fed up with our apparent ignorance about the definition of “all men (all people) are created equal.” Americans have never practiced equality. Never. Slavery. Women’s rights. The battle over gay rights and now transgender issues. People of color have always faced false assumptions, stereotypes, economic segregation. No one is equal. In America, one group of people or another will always carry more power, more value, than the smaller groups. The poor tend to be blamed for their own poverty. We expect those who can’t work for whatever reason, to deal with a pathetic social security system, a limited under funded nearly destroyed public healthcare system. Worst of all, we are a country of immigrants who show little patience towards those who don’t speak English, or speak it poorly.

God, now I’m just ranting. I’m just fed up with this country. I’m tired. I need a new language, a new people, a new everything. So help me gods.

What Matters

My computer doesn’t matter.
The sparkle nail polish my sister gave me
doesn’t really matter.
The good shape of my lips, the strength
and depth in my eyes
don’t matter.
Clouds that pass by like dragons don’t matter.
Sheets fresh from the drier I wrapp
around my sleepy body
don’t matter. My body itself,
a pink scaffolding that rattles in the wind,
doesn’t matter. My home
somewhere among the bundles of suns
inside the small arc of night
down here in southern Utah
and the distance and silence
and vacuum of space don’t matter.
And the blue heron’s
yellow eye, the warblers and fly catchers
tigers and bow-necked giraffes
who keep me company
in this borrow bedroom …
they know they don’t matter.
They gather close to me on the bed.
The birds place their simple tired songs into my ear.
My tiger stretches out beside my body
his head nuzzled against that tender place
between the cheek bone and shoulder.
I want to say the jagged lightning strike
of my life doesn’t matter.
But it does.
Also my imagined companions. The Earth
that isn’t mine. The quiet of this Sunday afternoon.
My four sisters, one mother and father,
every conscious life
with its rushed circle of blood that contains
the twisted code of all human history.
Everything that is. Everything that has been and will be.
Matter. Every atom of it.
Every small swept away thing matters.
Even this moment
twelve hours away from my mother’s mother.
One woman in seven billion.
Her last smile matters.
Her pain matters.
They belong to us now.
It’s hard to imagine that anything
else matters – this last human contact.
Her existence, our existence.
Everyone a child again.
Her child.
Willing and reluctant
to see her relax in bed forever.

Dear Aliens On Earth

Do you spend entire nights, as I do
looking at the stars
their strange arrangements
and wonder which on is yours
if any are yours?
Have you forced yourself to stop
as I’ve had to.
Because it seems our people aren’t coming back.
Because we are what’s left.

I’ve thought dying might take me home.
I’ve thought existing here wasn’t possible
the solitude more empty
than the space between our stars
but now I’ve heard you are hear also
that you exist as I do
and know as little as I know
how we came to be so far away
from everything we’ve ever known.
I still catch myself looking up at night
and standing still in the cool desert night.
I think I’ll never feel at home here.
I want to feel human.
How about you?  
Have you made a home on this planet?
Have you found someone to love?

The Only Way Home

stars

If NASA is ever given the go-ahead to plan and execute a manned (womaned?) trip to Mars, I will make sure I am the pilot and get to pick my own crew, because as soon as we reach the red planet, rather than falling into orbit, we’ll slingshot around and launch ourselves into the speechless nowhere.

We’ll shut off the radios, unblock the windows, set up a table in whatever largest room is available and play cards and make jokes about preserving humanity at the cost of our humanity. We would have spiked the packed fruit juices with cheep vodka, swapped dehydrated brownies with dehydrated edibles. We will laugh and express our excitement at our new course correction.

Some of us will sleep more than others. Some will want more time alone in the cockpit or in their bunks to enjoy the simple sounds of the craft, and project their thoughts forward or backward through space. Some will miss Earth a little. I will miss it. The way I missed China and Germany where I’d lived for a time and learned their language for two or three years and then left for what they said was my own “motherland.”

Of course, it wasn’t a “motherland.” Just a land with a strange people. I will miss them and their planet, but I miss my own people and planet more. Wherever they are. The whole crew will imagine their own homes out there in the feral fields of space. We’ll never make it alive, but at least we’re on our way. At least we have each other, fellow aliens going home the only way we know how.

Eventually we’ll drink the last cocktail, empty the cupboards and make our last ceremonial waste dump. Then we’ll lie down on our beds and insert the IV into our hands to start the slow drip into sleep.

And once the drip is done, the airlocks will release. The stale atmosphere will be like a storm that tears through the ship and out into space. The engines will be silent. Our bodies will instantly freeze. The distance between planets won’t matter anymore.