trans talk

Stare a little harder

Everyone's feels guiltywhy don’t you?

Or you could be the asshole on the train who yells at S, “Are you a man or a woman?!”
And keeps at it*.
She lets him know— in his native Japanese— that he’s being offensively rude**.
Then puts in her earbuds, volume high and tries to ignore his bulging frog-eyes and limpdick stare.
He comes closer.
She changes seats.
He follows.
She walks to another train car.
This dude is an insistent fuck.
She keeps walking.
He stops.  And stares through the sliding door glass separating the cars.

S went from holding the highest seat of privilege— white, heterosexual male to bisexual transsexual, which is about as drastic a drop as possible on the sexual-gender identity hierarchy.  As S goes from looking unmistakably male to slightly androgynous to very androgynous to fairly female to undeniably woman, visibility is an unexpected but oft-mentioned word in our household.  It’s amazing how visible she feels and how it highlights and detracts from her goal of invisibility.

I remember a time in the States when S said a friend of hers had stopped by my vintage pop-up shop.  She was with her boyfriend and S proceeds to describe them.  I have no memory of this couple.  She keeps describing them and I think I remember the guy.  But her friend, his girlfriend?  No recollection.  S smiles, satisfied.  Her friend has attained the ultimate goal— to go unnoticed or in this case, to simply be a woman in the background.

Transition is hard and the hate— wow.  The true feelings behind curious looks, stares and gawks are easily felt.  I’ve discerned the varying degrees of judgement over the years, stemming from racial, homosexual or most recently, transsexual prejudice.  And over the years my danger radar has been honed—it’s a matter of safety after identifying this bigotry.

How safe am I?
Is she?
Are we?

*Of course no one pipes in and gives support because that’s Tokyo hesitation and apathy for you; this happens in many scenarios, whether the person is a victim of harassment or physical injury.

** A tough thing about Japanese being my non-native language in this mostly polite society: I do not have an arsenal of situationally appropriate comebacks.  This drives me mad at moments.  Because sure, a cutting look can shut down many assholes but there are moments where there is no substitute for whip-smart articulation.

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about Japan, trans talk

This is reality:

The other day

S goes through multiple stages of the interview process and people want to hire her.
Potential employers talk salaries, start dates and contracts.
Great!
Last thing is proof of ID.

Fuck.

One detail.
Sex: M

Will they call back?
Most don’t.

Names can be legally changed, no problem.
Sex…at minimum a doctor’s note is required.
In Japan, three conditions have to be met: SRS (sexual reassignment surgery), be unmarried and have never had children.

This little detail is the difference between protection and endangerment.

A man is pulled over for speeding and hands over his ID.
The cop doesn’t miss that sex reads F.
Wow, how quickly attitudes change and the harshest penalty is enforced.
And when hateful young, drunken men approach the car, law enforcement turns a blind eye as violence erupts.

A woman is pulled over for a busted headlight.
Her license reads Sex: M.
The cop raises his eyebrows more than a little but says nothing and slowly nods.
Her out-of-state license is expired.
She is padded down and put in the backseat of the cop car while he background checks.
It turns out that she has a valid in-state license in the system.
She is let go with a ticket for the headlight and told to be careful.
(Meanwhile her friend in the passenger seat has been sweating massive bullets through the brick of weed that’s been the albatross around his neck during this exchange.  His first weed deal, by the way…oh memorable virgin shenanigans.)
Phew.

Sometimes the world is the most dangerous place in the face of law enforcement.
Sometimes those who get pulled over get really lucky.

But.
Human protection ought not be regulated by luck.

The world is not a safe place.
If one’s livelihood is greatly dictated by natally matching sex and gender— and it is— then Japan is not an idyllic safe haven as reputed.

The transgendered among us have no protection.
And it’s damn hard to witness.

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trans talk

I’m a coward

I'm a coward

and dishonest, sometimes.

I’m memory tripping twenty months ago, recollecting a shopping trip (one of many) with my GF.  We’re sifting through racks of maxi dresses (she really wants a maxi and she’s tall enough that it won’t do the shapeless sack thing) and the palpable relief on her face breaks my heart a little.  She feels so much safer and less self-conscious when I’m with her; my presence seems to dull the voices in her head that make her feel like everyone is suspiciously staring at her.

When we started shopping for her, I would rationalize her still very boy presence amidst flowy, lacy, short and tight things by saying things like, who are they to know you’re trans?  You could be buying clothes for- STOP.  What kind of stupid am I talking?  Why am I considering other people’s hate and intolerance?  Why do I have this compulsion to accommodate their discomfort?  I don’t like this tendency within myself.  It makes me feel like a coward and that I’m not a true supporter of my GF.

So I work on permanently shifting my perspective.  My instinct to justify behavior that highlights her transness through other people’s lenses is to protect us from hate, I tell myself.  Transsexuals are on the very bottom of the LGBTQ totem pole (that there is a hierarchy is so maddeningly ironic); they are and have always been targeted by everyone else because apparently it’s okay to be completely (and violently) not okay with transsexuals because they’re so fucking weird (huge, exasperated eye roll over here).

But I’m not being completely honest.

I give hateful people an iota of consideration because focusing on them deflects and delays my acceptance process because a part of me is still holding onto him.  Because the shameful truth is that I’m not yet able to be 100% supportive.  Yes, I’m absolutely her best friend and biggest cheerleader but I’m dragging my feet- big time- at fully accepting that BF is not coming back.

But…tick tock…tick tock enables me to ultimately accept that my BF is part of my past, which further enables me to unabashedly retail therapy with GF whilst making judgmental and ignorant fools ridiculously uncomfortable- that’s right, we’re buying dresses for him, thank you/fuck you very much.

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random love

Happy freedom day, America

gay freedom

from Tokyo.

Funnily and unexpectedly enough, this holiday has struck a deep chord within me.  Perhaps it took moving to a foreign country, one in which I’m a citizen, to make me think damn hard and comparatively about American things like:

change, weed, immigration, conflict, acceptance, hate, cops, motherfucking Hollywood, documentaries, fast food, abuse, Vegas, the fucking judicial system, abortion, beer, AA, puppies, capitalism, goddamn public transportation,
Planned Parenthood, traffic, swimming pools, guns, NYC, libraries,
the homeless, privilege,  infomercials, love, Prince, reality TV, the death penalty,
fucking musicals, Apple, vegans, fly fishing,  NAACP, the public, goddamn Texas, telemarketing, Sesame Street, equality, drag queens, fucking healthcare.

I could go on.  And on.

But really, it’s just this:
Love you, America.

Oh fuck, have I just become patriotic?
I’m aight with that.

Love y’all, Happy 4th, Peace.

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