Field Notes In/On Transition
Happy whether I 'pass' or not?
So, I have been working pretty diligently on my memoir, writing writing writing. As this is the just get it all down 1st draft, my average number of words per day is way up. When working on a novel, often I average 1500-2000 words a day. So far working on this memoir, I have been averaging from 3000-3500 words a day, a number that is steadily trending upwards. I don’t know if everything I write is usable, I am just getting it down, the next step is to refine it all. I am hoping to do that in October, November if need be. There are enough pages from this blog alone, to winnow into a book, it’s a bigger project than I realized, but in a good way.
Once I have a readable draft, I will be submitting to a publisher who after seeing my campaign, has asked me to submit the manuscript. Hopefully they say yes, and publish it, which means either I do a private unedited/less professionally edited run for folks, and/or they wait for the publisher to help me make it more accessible, and easier to get into folks hands around the world. But if they don’t or take far too long to get back to me, I will do a private ‘galley’ run for those 30 odd folks who have contributed (thus far, maybe I will get that late surge!) and chose to get some books. The rest of my perks will be easy to fulfill from credit, which is what I am living on, really. It seems weird to me, that i am not more freaked out about this. I am pretty sure that before last Christmas, I would be in hysterics, job searching, abandoning the memoir, begging, borrowing, selling everything I own to try to stay afloat.
Despite at this writing anyway, not having made it to 19%, even of my goal. I feel confident, I am working hard on my project. I am going to finish, I am going to submit it, and I am going to be published. (and I want to reinforce how a ‘no’ from the publisher means little to me, other than a bit more work to get the thing self published, which was/is my goal the whole time anyway. A query to submit is by no means a sure thing on getting published. This memoir is being written by me, for me, and for anyone who wants to read it. I hope folks might understand that actually getting published and waiting a few more months will definitely mean a better book, better work from me. The few times I have worked with editors at local magazines and papers in Vancouver, my work improved tenfold each time. I really value having a good editor to guide to the best version of your story, whether it’s a snarky movie review, or a Transgender memoir.
Speaking of Transgender, this is supposed to be a blog about my transition, so let’s go there. I am having a lot of inner turmoil recently around ‘passing’. For me the only time I was passing was anytime in my life where people assumed I was a Cis Het guy. The older I got, the more I have been out as Trans, even before transitioning. And I have never until recently ever assumed I could or would remotely, in a dark room full of beer goggled drunk people ever ‘pass’ as a cis woman. I am proud to be a Trans woman. If I get some kind of second tier status out of it, I shrug at your classism, and take my second tier status proudly, hoping it doesn’t get me shamed or attacked very often. I am very open about who I am, and that I am Trans. That said, I want people to see me as a woman before being trans. We all judge and categorize each other, consciously, and insidiously unconsciously as well. Sometimes folks who have only ever known me as Josie misgender me.
It happens. They usually catch it before I do, as it’s unexpected from either of us. Strangers are the ones who oddly, are harder to forgive, especially if they make a scene out of your identity. This happens more in my world at least in small ways, like a change in expression when the stranger reads that you are somehow not quite what they assumed you were.
My most recent example of this was crossing 1st avenue the other day, and this older than me gent comes up beside me smiling, and tells me how much he loves my style, and he is giving me this dorky flirty look. Kind of adorable. But then I spoke. I smiled back, “oh you know I wasn’t sure about the hat, thanks so much.” He visibly blanched hearing a bit of that old “Joe register” that still creeps in and around my voice these days.
He said, “uhhhh” and walked backward out of the crosswalk. I glanced back, and I swear he literally vanished.
Wow. Passing sucks when it stops happening. A better ‘passing’ is the kind that has been happening to me with cis women lately. I meet someone and we are chatty, and then the trans something in the news comes up, and I speak, “Well as a Trans woman.... blah blah patriarchy, cis-tem, blah blah” most of the women in these cases sort of quietly with wrinkled noses, assess and move on yakking, we continue chatting, and two conversations tend to emerge, one where the woman asks me all kinds of questions, mostly polite, and I educate, sometimes all night.
I mostly don’t mind doing a bit of educating folks on things Trans, but I always preface a lot of things with, “In my experience,” as we are a diverse tribe under the transgender umbrella. But sometimes it gets to be a bit much, and I start think of asking for an appearance fee from whoever is hosting where I am. The validation I get from cis women shrugging at my trans status and continuing to include me in whatever is going on, is something that is beyond my poetic turns of phrase.
I will put it over and over again, as a kid I thought like most folks in very binary terms, you were a boy, a girl, male female, man woman etc ad nauseum. so I always ‘wanted to stay in the kitchen, not go out to the garage.’ I wanted needed that feminine intimacy that felt like home, and the opposite of male bonding, which to me held no intimacy, and thus I can’t even write male intimacy, without pausing and going, “wha?” For me, a big part of my transition has been transitioning out of the poorly suited to me male community I was hanging onto the frayed edges of, while admiring the lovely intimate femme community I knew was out there somewhere.
It was. as I discovered the Femme City Choir, and the growing empowering Femme Community here in Vancouver. Were I young, I think i would gravitate more to the genderqueer identity, but the heart wants what the heart wants. The hormones, I think if you go that root are almost oracular. Very quickly as my body started to change, my mind also has changed, and my heart. My heart is still wide open all the time, but I seem to have lost all the grudges there the anger, resentment, feelings of being left out of some club every single other person was a member of. I am as calm, and creative as I have ever been in my life. You also have to credit time, as a healer of things. As my hormones have healed me of my sexual anxiety, along with my libido for sex.
Recently I have been a bit lonely, not having had any kind of intimate play in almost 3 years now. But I feel like I have the patience to wait for someone who is interested in me, to make themselves known. I am not like I was while running that man level sex engine interested in sex for the sake of sex, my libido says meh. I am interested in having an experience that I felt was denied me by the universe, having someone I loved love me back, in that intimate partner kind of way. Hindsight tells me, that probably the only thing holding me back from meeting someone who could love me at the same time I did them, was me and my own loathing of my physical self. I never felt I deserved love, and thus never had it requited, not once.
It would be nice, and it is my small dream to one day receive a compliment from a flirty ponytail guy and not have my trans status be an issue that changes that attraction. Men and Women who find themselves attracted to trans women have to be able to get past transmisogyny and internalized homophobia, just to be able to see us as something other than their secret shame. That my friends is just sad. If two consenting adults aren’t even allowed to be attracted to each other without feeling like pariahs, I say love ain’t worth it, neither is sex, under such ridiculous terms.
I have in my younger days, had maybe a bit of a promiscuous sex life, and before I was out I had a lot of sex with men, and a few women, whilst being Josie ‘only in the bedroom.’ All of those guys identified as straight, and each one told me so... every single one had to make sure I knew they were straight. I bet they could pass a lie detector test on it. But could they kiss me or be seen in public with me? Did they otherwise treat me well? Yes, they did (mostly). I am glad my libido, even a year or so before transition, had so little interest in that lifestyle anymore. Give me something real, tell me you like me, before have to work up the nerve, because I probably won’t, being the pursuer was Joe’s sad schtick that never worked, not mine. I have no schtick.
Moving on from love/sex yak, which really just makes me annoyed. I am not ready.
Here is a shocker for you: I haven’t worn any makeup since sunday, nor have I left the house, except to go to the corner store and the backyard to sit in the shade. One of my goals is to someday feel comfortable enough to go somewhere sans makeup. but except maybe early morning coffee runs, or late night pizza, it hasn’t happened since about two months into my transition, that I have gone nearly four days without slapping on at least some powder, lippy, and brows. I have been writing, not going out to eat, making food, and playing some video games. You need some balance. I had a big week last week of socializing, and spending too much money, and I dipped in my writing. Not that I regret all the social time. I love being out with friends having some food and yakking, it’s all I need social wise these days. I just need to rein in the beer at my normal 1 or 2, instead of....
So, now all I am focussed on in my life is having a life, I’m writing, working harder and feeling more rewarded by that and my flagging indiegogo campaign, than anything else I have done in my life, save transitioning, as without transitioning, I wouldn’t be doing this, likely I wouldn’t have been here to write 100 updates to this blog.
I have a few 'cross blog' posts from my other blogs, or picture only posts, that I am not really counting. So...
This makes 100 overlong TMI blog posts about the life of an aging writer who happens to be trans and happy about life for the first time, maybe ever. Thank you all my readers for following my journey.
There is lots more to come.