about Japan, trans talk

Hot December

Hot december

makes me happy.

As does this:

“Who can be here every class to take attendance?”
“I can.”
No hesitation…what??
I would have never volunteered myself to anything that required 100% attendance, especially in college.  No way.  I study the individual who must either really like school or is one of those magical people who completes everything they set out to do simply because they decide to do so.

Let me tell you, Tokyo kids surprise me.  All the goddamned time.  And I love them for it.

I don’t know what I expected from the eager volunteer, but certainly not this lithe individual wearing a satin-back, black vest, formal white button-down with a very sharp collar, black slacks and black dress shoes.  His hair is andro and fashionably asymmetric, sweeping down over one eye and his skin— more immaculate than any I’ve seen yet, like soft snow cream.  As I take him in, I realize that he’s trans to some degree.  Call it living with S through transition or frequenting any number of trans joints on two continents or simply that my radar doesn’t lie.  Either way, I am in instant like with this volunteer (he volunteered perfect attendance, for fuck’s sake) and I wonder how free he feels to be him/herself.

Two weeks later, I walk into this snippet:
“Wow…this is you?  You know, I’ve worn makeup before.”
“Really?”
I whiplash to the male voices and it’s my sweet volunteer’s surprised reaction to the guy sitting next to him, a nice kid but not anyone that I would have pegged as being particularly sensitive or open to donning dresses and getting made up.
“Yeah…my sisters really wanted to dress me up then my friends in high school did, and I thought, why not?  By the way, it’s a cute pic.”
As he hands the card back to the volunteer, I peek at his photo, which captures the very essence of the ideal Japanese female (read: big eyes, soft features, small face = cute).
“Thanks…sometimes this is how I want to be.”

Sometimes a share about crossdressing or being trans can be that simple and without judgement.
I love this moment.

Neither of these guys lowered voices for this conversation as there’s nothing to hide, no reaction to fear if someone in the class happened to hear or see the trans talk or image.

For this easy acceptance, I love the younger generation.

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relationshipping, trans talk

Flashback:

flashback:

their first ‘out’ Halloween.
They go to New Orleans because not only is it the most fun-debauch city in the South, but also the most accepting of all types of queer.
He’s come out as a crossdresser but transsexual is not an articulated option.  Yet.

He dresses up as a femme fatale secretary with breast forms, blouse, tight pencil skirt and 5-inch black patent, Mary Jane fuck-me stilettos.  She’s a Southern belle vampire.  He’s nervous, especially riding down the elevator and walking through the posh hotel lobby but no one gives a second glance their way.  And once they step onto Bourbon Street, they are given mouth-to-mouth pink shots within minutes.  Between street shots, topless women, beads thrown for baring tits and all-around Halloween debauchery, he talks to loads of people and she is given a steady supply of absinthe and whiskey.  They go to countless bars and laugh, dance, drink and chat.  At the oldest bar in the Quarter, she sits on his secretary lap and they share a beer and a sweet, quiet kiss amidst rowdy, drunk-as-fuck jocks, professionals, costumed insanity and constantly thumping beats.

It’s after 4AM and they’re walking back to the hotel.  His feet HURT from the heels and he needs to pee.  Badly.  She suggests he take off his heels so they can get back faster and he’ll be more comfortable.  He refuses.  They trudge on.  He asks how much farther.  He wonders if there’s not a place to stop.  She tries coaxing him again to take his heels off.

“It’ll save time.  We still have a good eight to ten blocks.”
“NO.”
“Okay.  But I really doubt there’ll be a place to stop.”

She looks in all directions as they walk, wanting to relieve him of foot pain and bladder discomfort but along these smegma-lined streets that reek of old booze, there’s nothing but residences and an occasional bodega that may or may not be open.

“You’re walking too fast!”
“I’m sorry…I was trying to get us back quick.”

She turns around and he’s many feet behind her, his body language reads total exhaustion.

“What are you doing?  We’re almost there…only 10 more minutes, I think.”
“I’m in pain.  It hurts so much.”

She’s mad.  The only option is to keep going.  But he keeps stopping, which wouldn’t be so bad except he’s about to piss himself.  She’s damn frustrated that he won’t hur— no, she’s frustrated because she has become intolerant.  She can’t be nice, offer to support him, take some of his weight off those damn stilettos.  She’s too concerned wondering if this is how it’s going to be from now.  His costume isn’t just a costume, after all.

They argue back and forth, he’s too slow, she’s too fast.  She’s fed up with his complaining.  He takes off his heels.  As soon as he does, the defeat he feels is palpable; he says he just wanted to begin and end the night in his heels and he cries.  She is finally silenced and her face discloses her sadness and guilt: the heels represent a self-imposed test that he would have passed if not for her.

They deal with their own grief and regret as they silently ride the elevator and enter their room.  He immediately goes to the bathroom then to the balcony to smoke.  He looks down at the NOLA cityscape as dawn breaks.  She has crashed before he finishes his first smoke.  She wakes up after some hours to puke up excess absinthe.  She wipes the tears induced by vomiting and looks at her tired eyes in the mirror, ringed with Halloween makeup and studies the countertop: makeup strewn about, bras, underwear and various outfit incarnations.

Her face mirrors the trepidation that her heart can no longer contain.
She doesn’t know if she can be the supportive girlfriend she’s been as (s)he figures out who (s)he wants to be.

 

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about Japan, trans talk

Cut

cut

to S.
(surprise surprise.)

But seriously, the girl needs legal advice of a super specific nature.
Let’s see if I can get her need-list straight.

First, for those who aren’t aware, quick recap: we got married after we broke up because by doing so, my Japanese citizenship grants her a spousal visa which then enables her to live in Japan.  It’s hard to find an employer who will sponsor a visa and when you’re a transsexual the pickins are really fucking slim.

So this is where S’s recent questions come in.

She wants to change her passport to read sex: F because the M and tremendously male passport photo really hampers shit when looking for work.  Also, she gets questioned by authorities when she tries to clear immigration in Japan.

She can change her passport stat; she has a doctor who will vouch for her and that’s all that is required.

But.

Gay marriage is not recognised in Japan.  When it’s time to renew her visa, she must present her passport and if it reads sex: F, what happens to our marriage?  And her visa status as a result?

International living and sorting thorough visas are tricky.
A transsexual in a lesbian marriage isn’t something most countries accommodate.
Tricky gets trickier.

Things are never simple with S and I but I’m feeling doubtful of finding a lawyer in Tokyo who can answer her questions.
Of course we’ll try our damnedest.
And it’ll sure as hell be curious, frustrating and hilarious trying to pull those damn answers.

 

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trans talk

Transvestites and crossdressers

transvestites&crossdressers
mean the same thing but sure as fuck transvestites and crossdressers are not one and the same.

Basically, anyone donning clothing because such clothing is associated with that of the other gender is crossdressing.  Doing the action doesn’t necessarily make one a crossdresser.  And though the terms are interchangeable, some are highly offended at being referred to as transvestite rather than crossdresser and vice versa.

Why?
Perhaps because when the word transvestite first appeared, deriving sexual pleasure from crossdressing was part of its definition whereas the fetishistic element is no longer associated with its definition.
Simply put, the transvestite or crossdresser label— it’s personal.
Respect.

As requested, I attempt to name transvestite actors or musicians.

Boy George could do some fierce makeup and crossdressed here and there.  In the States, I remember my favorite childhood band, Nirvana, and Kurt Cobain sure did rock some dresses (very endearing, btw).  Eddie Izzard is probably the most famous (Executive haha) transvestite in the West but I’m hard-pressed to find other examples of dedicated cross dressers.  Sure, many actors and/or musicians crossdress but it’s rare that it continues after the role or performance.

Interestingly, in Japan, crossdressers have always been a part of popular culture, especially on TV.  There’s an expression, talento, that serves as a catch-all for B and C-list celebrities, be they comedians, musicians, actors etc. who are also on any number of Japanese variety shows (think a cross between Celebrity Jeopardy! and The View) most nights.  And you can always count on the token popular transvestite personality du jour (Matsuko Deluxe) as a regular on said show.  Aside from the made-up-for-TV-ultra-glam transvestite, many guys crossdress in Japan.  Skirts on men aren’t an anomaly on Tokyo streets, makeup for men is a thing that’s not just for a fringe group and here’s an interesting article regarding one aspect of crossdressing from RocketNews24.  The old man with pigtail-beard-braids in the schoolgirl uniform is a noted figure in Tokyo who makes quite the rounds at trans parties (and he’s so damn cute).

Although public crossdressing in the States is relegated to drag queen culture, in Japan it is a much more seamlessly integrated part of popular culture.  There are degrees to which one can crossdress without anyone giving two shits whereas in the States there seems to be a stringent need to categorizecompartmentalize, classify.

In the States:
Wait, you cross dress but you’re not a drag queen?  Or gay?  Hold up, you’re a transvestite and straight? (Research indicates that this is actually the case for the vast majority of transvestites).
No.  No.  Yes.
What. The. Fuck.

Whereas in Japan:
Your hair is so long!  Are you using a special shampoo?  And where did you get that skirt?!
Nah, I just brush it a lot and I got this at Parco (big department store), ladies department.

 

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trans talk

A variation

variation

 

on an unrequited love theme:

Him: I like her.  A lot.  And the fact that she has a penis?  Hotttt.
Her: How do I know I’m not just a fetish object if he’s so damned turned on by my penis?

A conundrum, indeed.

It’s not just about the body parts, it’s not objectification but a turn-on is a turn-on.  Historically, it seems that anything that deviates from the publicly broadcast hetero-norm (ahem homosexuality) is quickly labeled deviant or a fetish.
How conveniently dismissive.
How fucking willingly ignorant.

I sit at a trans bar as my friend crushes on this beautiful-cute woman.
“So…how do you describe your sexual identity these days?”
“I say I’m bisexual.”

I look at him, confused, and we simultaneously blurt:
“But I—you’re not.”

“Right?”
“Right.”

“But what do I say?”
“Hmm…you’re not gay.”

“I’m not gay.  I like women.  I just, you know…”
“Yeah, I know.”
“So do we say transwoman-oriented?”

It’s a tough, lonely world for transsexuals.
But.
In a sad twist of irony, it’s pretty lonely for those who are trans-oriented as well.

I hold this thought and questions happen.

Then I hear S in my head: What’s the point, if he wants me pre-op and my entire aim is to eventually have SRS?
He wants her to stay as she is, honing in on the one thing that causes her enormous grief.

Okay, so probably she ought not date a pre-op-trans-oriented individual but to assume that those who show interest are probably fetishising her for their fun time isn’t the fairest attitude.  People want romantic relationships and usually it’s best with those who turn us on sexually.

And what about the inevitable pre/post-op question?
(Or is she undecided?)
Asking this upfront is an awesome way to lose and get dismissed as a prying fetishist.
Besides, it’s really about getting to know her.
A-n-d…sometimes, say, even though pre-op is usually his type, it doesn’t matter so much when he discovers she’s had SRS.
Because he likes her.  A lot.

They don’t know about lasting into the future but in the here and now, they’re happy.
Maybe they’ll try a happily ever after, maybe it’ll be a damn fine chapter, maybe they’ll make each other shudder in the next six months.

Either way, the romantic in me wants them to have the story.

 

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random love, trans talk

A simple come on

come on
Sometimes it’s like this:
The woman carefully examines the art on the walls of a classic, white gallery cube-style room.  There’s no perceivable order to her perusals but from time to time a smile breaks through as her eyes dart across the canvas, stopping for seconds at particular points of interest: brilliantly saturated color contrast, curious manipulations of media, abstracted sex.

She doesn’t fit in with the usual museum guests; she’s not here killing toddler time yet it’s in the middle of a weekday afternoon…what kind of work does she do?  Does she work?

It’s a quiet day, she’s the only one in this room and there’s something about her that compels me to say something.
Anyt-h-i-n-g.

“Where are you from?”
“Oh…hi.  I’m from around here but I don’t live here anymore, just visiting.”

She holds my gaze for a second then goes back to the work.  She really digs this guy’s art; she must, as she’s oblivious to everything else around her.  I try to take my eyes off her but the floor vents make the hem of her dress flit and tease up, which makes me need distractions, bodies squinting and peering too close to wall labels, daring to touch frames and beyond.  Basically, I need to be working the Van Gogh room.

She’s disappeared into another room and soon she will have gone through this exhibit.
Shit.  Why do I need to talk to her?
I just do.

“My name’s Mike.”
Why I’m reaching out to shake her hand, I don’t know.  Except when her cool hand clasps mine, it’s awesome and her smile is everything.  I want to take her out but that’s out of the question.  I’m lucky she doesn’t see me as a creepy museum guard with stalker potential.

“I just need to tell you how beautiful you are.”
The words that make me sound like a maybe-douche just fall out, I never come on like this.  Maybe it’s knowing that she’s just passing through town, maybe it’s something about her that reads detached openness.  At least I know her name.  And making her smile is incredible.

***

And sometimes it’s like this:
I sit in café.  I don’t give shit for coffee but inside, there is A/C.  August heat makes me sweat before I leave apartment.  I look at people, of course the women.  No one here is my type: too skinny, too much make-up, too much trying to be perfect for fun, I think.  Then I see her— curls, dark brows and beautiful eyes.  I study her, try to catch her eye.  I smile.

Nothing.
Damn.
I try again.

This time small smile.  Good.  I go to her table and try small talk.  I look closer at her and I start wondering…
“Maybe this is odd question, but are you shemale?”
Uh-oh, she doesn’t like this.  But it’s just wondering.

“I don’t mean it bad, I think you are pretty.”
I have offended her?

 

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trans talk

She gets jealous

jealous post

and it’s really fucking cute.

But also, the fuck?!
This is unexpected.  When she was my boyfriend, he didn’t have an iota of jealousy in him.  I tested his J-meter: nada.

So what gives?
Becoming female.  With boyfriend.

He’s a really good guy, one who doesn’t shy from expressing feelings of love and hurt.  He freely compliments her physical and mental everything as he feels it, which is pretty damn often…so sweet, new love.  Insecurity doesn’t exist, yet as soon as she hears another female in the background, a knee-jerk response articulates: Who’s that?  She surprises herself with this iteration— a serious first— but in that moment her heart can’t help but feel a possessive tug and a quick flash-beat of disquiet.

As she tells me this, I can’t help but quietly wow at the psychological change I’m witnessing; for a split second my emotional whirlpool produces a thin line of sadness, reminiscing that I never did trigger this kind of possessive want from him.  But that was a different time, a different relationship, a different person.  I snap out of my flashback moment and smile; the woman before me is a changed individual, indeed.

Which leads me to another funny-cute moment of late.

S is really popular with the boys, especially Americans from the West Coast.
“So he’d fly me out to visit him.”
“Wow, S…he’s really into you.”
“Yeah…but I’m not so into him.”
“Oh?”
“Umm…squirmy gaze avoidance…”

I wait.
This is going to be good as she’s rarely shy around me.

“He’s trans.”

Oh.  Interesting.

“Except he doesn’t even fully realize it yet but he totally is.  I think that’s partly why he likes me so much.”

Head cocked, slow smile, raised eyebrow.

“Shut up, Rumi!”

I continue to look at her, put my hands up and shrug to show amused non-judgment.

“Look, I can’t be with a transsexual.  I have no interest.  Plus…he has the whole coming out and transition process ahead of him and…I just…can’t.  He needs so much support, I’d feel like I was his…mother.”

At this point I’m outright smirking as S tells me to shut it for the nth time.
We can’t help but bust out laughing as she’s heard those exact words come out of my mouth when we were going through a painful break up.

“I get it, Rumi.  I thought I did then but I really get it.”

I get that life is often full-circle but shit, I wasn’t expecting that one just yet.
Sure does give me a smile moment…significant changes.

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