This paper was written for a class on Anthropology and Gender. ANTH215 second essay gbooker
This presentation examines the movie view of cross-dressing and contrasts it with real life experiences. Insights into female fashion and culture are also discussed.
This was read yesterday at the Erotic Literary Salon (http://theeroticsalon.com/) in Philadelphia.
The safe quiet hell
Back story: After coming out as transgender in April, I’ve gone through a flurry of changes. Outwardly my fashion choices have become much more feminine, even to work. To my surprise, the world has not ended as a result. Of course I work around a bunch of geeks, so I’m guessing half of them haven’t even noticed the difference.
I have become a cliché overnight. My walk in closet is already packed to the rafters, and yet I still walk in, look around, and realize … I have NOTHING to wear.
But the deeper changes are slow in coming. I’m trying to find my people, and I can’t quite tell who they are yet.
I spend most days in predominantly female clothing, yet I also don’t see myself living as fully female in the future. As I look around in the trans community, I noticed that a huge amount of it is focused on crossing the gender binary. As in: I look like a man, but I want to be a woman. Or the other way around. But even in the trans community there is a relatively small minority that either enjoys being both male and female, or sees themselves as neither male nor female. The gender fluid or gender queer, to use current labels.
And so just like the lost bird in “Are you my mommy?” I find myself exploring, looking for the world that feels like home. Or seeing if I need to create my own world that doesn’t exist yet.
The greatest challenge for me now is emerging from my social hibernation. I never understood traditional male roles for dating, so I did it as little as possible until I found women assertive enough to pursue me. This, for the record, is not a very effective strategy in our culture.
My problem boils down to a severe fear of rejection. I never could connect with the attitude that you should take a statistical approach to dating, namely if you ask enough women out, some of them will say ‘Yes.’ And likewise, if you ask enough of them to fuck, some will say yes. Bingo, problem solved. Got laid. That always struck me as cold and heartless and to use feminist lingo, objectifying.
In recent months I’ve gotten better at asking women out and basic dating, but making the leap to intimacy is my goal now. The life I’ve lived has kept me in a safe, quiet hell. Like the vision of hell as a frozen wasteland, where nothing moves but also nothing ever dies. It is a land I have to leave, but the familiar hell often seems safer than an unknown.
I’m told that a relationship with true intimacy allows you to experience higher highs than you imagined possible. And it also requires complete vulnerability, to put your heart and soul and true self on the line. You don’t get the highs without risking the lows.
A couple of days ago I was reminded that I have an ally on this journey. Her name is Jennifer, my feminine aspect. For so many years I felt like I had to apologize for my feminine side, to hide her, to pretend to be the Perfect Man in order to find True Love. I have discovered that I’m not James Bond. Or Brad Pitt or even Johnny Depp. Love and intimacy can’t be based on a mask, can’t be based on an illusion, can’t be based on presenting what I think you want me to pretend to be.
So I need to love and accept all parts of myself, and present them honestly, not just to find someone who thinks that’s exciting and hot, but more fundamentally to be true to myself. Whoever that turns out to be.
This is a paper nominally written for a women’s studies class, but has a tremendous amount of personal history and description of where I am now.
Letter to Jennifer
Backstory: This is a love letter that was inspired after working with Monica Day and Michele Younger over the last two months. Most of the pronouns in this piece are wrong. English is quite inadequate sometimes.
Thank you for being patient with me. It’s taken a long time to acknowledge you. Welcome. In perfect hindsight, the clues were building for a long time. Finding girls’ hair accessories on the ground as a boy, and examining them like an archeologist trying to decipher a long lost civilization. Mom always hid in the bathroom to do her hair and makeup, so those female mysteries remained … just that. The home ec class I really wanted to take in junior high as my very first elective, but couldn’t because boys don’t take things like that. My pickup truck had your name, and I hopped in and greeted her out loud so many times. Was that the seed of recognizing you? The curiosity to buy a pair of pantyhose by mail order shortly after leaving home, but soon gave in to the forbidden nature of such a thing and threw them away. Shopping in recent years for ‘unisex’ clothes from American Apparel, and yet not knowing why. These were hints that I was missing something.
I was missing you.
As someone wise said, it doesn’t have to be difficult now, it doesn’t have to be painful. That’s over. Gone. Let those memories be a movie you can watch safely and calmly. They can’t hurt you now. Now is the time for joy! Now is the time for celebration of life and your body and all dimensions of your Self. You have earned this gift, this rebirth, so take it and run.
You can’t have a pussy or give birth, and I suspect a fake pussy is about as satisfying as a fake orgasm. But that won’t stop us from exploring other ways to be receptive and savor all aspects of us. We can make a time and place to explore being receptive in enthusiastic and loving ways. Ok, how about many times and places?!
It’s okay to be truly masculine too, as we discovered driving home last week. We can be strong and confident, assertive, and peacefully in control. Power without oppression. We claim that aspect too.
I feel like you’re both very grown up and an innocent little girl. I delight in getting to know each other, and celebrate this new connection. A new awakening.
Your clothes feel so much more expressive and alive and downright SEXY! Delicate fabric fluttering against my calves is so delicious I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t enjoy it. A suit feels like a cage to me, but an Eileen Fisher skirt is simply delicious! I know we often have to conform to society’s bullshit, but at least we can find more ways to let you come out and play.
For now we can be whole, and that will ease stress, produce calm, and confidence, and open doors for new friendships and new intimacies. Only when we embody our genuine authentic selves can be connect with others who appreciate and love us for exactly who we are, not who we pretend to be. Put aside the masks, lower the shields, be ready to accept more possibilities and more love than you ever imagined.
And no more ‘me’ and ‘you’ crap. We are one.
Hello! I am Glenn, and I am Jennifer.