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Shout Out To A Decade Ago When I Was The Guitarist Of A Pop-Punk Band.

29 Feb

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One upon a time I was a tragically weird, hard-drinking scrawny homo working in a lesbian bar that was about to close down a few months later. I was dating a really cute drag queen at the time as well, but that relationship was kinda falling apart. I had also decided to part ways with Destroyed For Comfort’s guitarist/other founding member Dave Bates, and wasn’t sure if I could perform solo yet. Summer 2005, and damn near everything seemed up in the air.

So I joined a pop punk band as the 2nd guitarist.

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Secular End had just relocated to Austin, Texas from Phoenix, Arizona. I’d seen them perform a few times before then, and even booked one oft their early shows (the above is the flyer for it, but they aren’t listed). Shortly after I had joined, they released the album “Revenge Of The Phoenix“, and most of our live sets were based off that album. They had an undeniable clockwork tightness, and I brought a chaotic energy the band never had before or since. They performed in understated jeans and tshirts, while I spat fake blood and wore wild costumes and makeup. We played to larger crowds than either of our projects had attracted before; it was pretty damn cool, honestly. We even had a music video that had rotation on Austin Music Network, something else that no longer exists sadly.

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I was in the band for about a year before we parted ways and I started booking shows as Destroyed For Comfort again. It still remains this odd episode in my life, this surreal adventure.

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Some Behind-The-Scenes Photos Of My Appearance On Portlandia.

12 May behind the scenes Portlandia

behind the scenes Portlandia

Technically, I guess I could say I’m officially one of those professional trans women actresses that everyone claims don’t exist when they write trans characters now. I wound up earning a few bucks last year spending an afternoon glaring at Fred Armisen. This was in the course the shooting of what became my blink-and-you-miss-it cameo on the television show Portlandia. The episode (Season 5, Ep 8), first airing Feb 26, 2015, is called “House For Sale”, and the sketch I appear in (SPOILERS) was based on a creepy as hell true story.

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ALSO A TRUE STORY: The belt dangling out of my mouth in that scene is the cameraman’s, and the idea to have it in my mouth was director Steve Buscemi’s. This makes my Bacon Number officially 2.

meonportlandia4The closest I was allowed to get to Steve Buscemi with my phone camera.

It was pretty cool watching them set up the place. They packed all sorts of doodads and fake graffiti and junk; too many for the camera to even catch at once. I was actually surprised and disappointed that the “perpetually flaming shopping cart” barely wound up on-screen at all.

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And here’s some fake drug plants that were scattered all over the front yard, yet barely visible in the final scene.

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This dude showed up thinking his sweet yo-yo juggling tricks were gonna get some screentime. They did not.

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The shoot took about eight hours, and I was in front of the camera for maybe 20 minutes. Getting direction from Steve Buscemi left me kind of starstruck, but he was really sweet and down-to-earth the whole time, as was the rest of the cast. It was a pretty cool experience overall and I had a lot of fun.

LET’S PLAY (And Overthink): Conan: Hall Of Volta Apple ][ #Retrogaming #AppleII

15 Mar

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So first of all, I’m not writing about this game because it’s good… Oh Sweet Lord Satan No. But this game was a (incredibly vexing) part of my childhood, and it means a lot to deconstruct it. See, first of all it was the mid-to-late 1980s and I had a very serious fixation on hella buff dudes in loincloths for some reason.

conan8Let’s face it, at no point in my life was I ever heterosexual…

So anyway in one of my classes, along with the expectable classics like Oregon Trail, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego, and Karateka, they had a copy of this game. I made a copy to take home.

conan7The schools copy was “cracked“, by the way. Don’t Copy That Floppy!

Conan: The Hall Of Volta is a computer game by DataSoft, originally written for the Apple ][ and ported to other platforms. It was released in 1984 alongside the second Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan movie, although it has characters and scenarios independent of any canonical Conan The Barbarian storyline.

conan9One of the main characters is a bird, for instance.

It’s a pretty straightforward one-hit-death side-view platform puzzle game, one of the first of it’s kind. Adding to the replay value, there were stage-specific death messages when you game over.

conan5They were also terrible, just terrible, “puns” most of the time.

Getting through the stages takes some practice to get the timing right, but once you know what you’re doing, the game can be finished fairly quickly. Stage One gets you used to everything:

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You climb the ladders to go up, and you kill the Giant Bat (1) as soon as possible because it has access to the whole inside of the castle and has no qualm with killing you first. Once you reach the top of the castle, jump over to the tree (2) for a free life from your bird friend. Any time you see him throughout the whole game means a free life. Stage 2 introduces a new element (keys), but keeps up the same pace as the first and doesn’t have any monsters.

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You grab the key (1) to unlock the door (2). Pretty simple. You can also grab a free life from your bird friend (3) by jumping up to touch him at the end of the stage. Stage three brings in the third primary gameplay element (gems and gem holders) and is distinctly harder than the first two, the beginning of a difficulty jump that continues for the rest of the game.

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In stage three you use the teleporters (1) to get the gem (2) to place in the holder (3). Once the gem is in the holder, a bubble forms in the lava(4) that you can use to jump to the end of the stage.  Your avian friend is also here for the last time (5) to provide a free life, and keep in mind that the scorpions and ants on this level (6) are too low to the ground to hit with your weapon. The ants can also use the teleporter, which can seriously screw up any timing you were having for jumps and moving around the level.

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In stage 4, the length of time you can spend at this stage is completely random. You grab gems (1) as they randomly appear, and once you put two in the holders (2) you get access to the key (3) to open the door. Extra weapons (5) appear on the stage randomly as well, and you should keep an eye out for (6) the fall-away white parts of the platforms as well as the middle platform that periodically rises from the geyser beneath it. You can also snag extra gems on this stage if you’re patient, which makes the next level slightly easier.

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Stage 5 is a bastard. No way around it. Basically the best way to go about doing it is standing right around where pictured in (1) and shooting the dragons (2) until you get a key and gemstone for the door(3) and holder (4) on the top level. It might take a few tries to get it where you weapon comes back and you don’t lose it. With the gem in the holder, you get access to the other key (5) which you can use to unlock the door out of the stage (6). Hopefully the absurdly overkill number of gems (7) on the bottom level are clue enough that it’s a trap.

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Almost over… To get through stage 6, you need to kill the floating eyeballs (1) until the ladder (2) appears that gives you access to cut down the chandelier (3) that will smash the power generator (4) allowing you access to the door to the final stage (5). Also, you can get your weapons restored on the bottom level (6) if you need to.

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Final stage, and there is quite a bit going on. Your bird friend is in a cage (1) captured by Volta (2). Volta has some sort of device next to him that spits out gems and then turns them into green and purple magical bolts. Basically you wanna hit the green bolts with your weapon, which turn back into gems, and place them in the holders (3). With three gems in the holders, your bird friend goes free, throws Volta into the lava pit (4), and then flies you to the door at the end of the stage (6). If any of the bolts reach the lowest level, they can release one of the dragonflies captured there (7) which travel back and forth on that level. Also there is a pit in the middle of the stage (8) which drops you back to stage 6. Good if you’ve run out of weapons, not so great for any other reason. After this stage is the ending.

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For some reason, the Apple ][ ending features a knight in full armor instead of the barbarian. This is possibly a throwback to the first draft of the game, when it was called Visigoth. You can also see initials of the game designer and programmer snuck in the background as well (bottom left in blue and on the right in green). Later versions included a character much more recognizable to the theme of the game.

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This ending would have no doubt better satisfied the “burly barbarians in loincloths” fix I desired so much as a child “for some reason”.

conan19Seriously, who the fuck did I think I was fooling back then?

Named After The Bastard Son Of A Grifter: My Great-Great-Grandfather’s Obituary

22 Feb

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grandpa12grandpa7Have I talked about my non-immediate family much? I’ve talked about my uncles and my childhood and maybe mentioned some of my immediate family in passing but I don’t think I really went into my redneck-ass extended family background yet. Hold onto your butts, and enjoy these quirky 1906 print ads (from the newspaper the obituary was in) in the meantime.

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Quirky right? So first of all check this out. All three folks in this photo were born with the same name:

grandpa13I’m the genetic dead end of a redneck dynasty.

That elderly gentleman on the left is my great-grandfather; whose first stated memory was “when the servant brought home what was left of my father in a sack”. What was in the bag was “Grandpa Jack” after he had jousted a train. To impress a prostitute. While drunk. On the back of a donkey. No bullshit; swear on his grave.

grandpa14The grave I accidentally knocked over as a kid (another story)

 Seriously tho, it’s pretty impressive that I get to be the awful tranny black sheep of this family because wow. Holy shit. Realize that I kind of have to do some cheating, lineage-wise, here. Technically, this guy is my dad’s mom’s dad’s dad. Got that? Thing is tho, I couldn’t tell you what the name of my dad’s dad was if you paid me. I met him like twice, maybe three times, and I don’t even know if he’s alive anymore. He once offered to pass down an antique harmonica or some other shitty family heirloom to me, but never actually did. That’s all I remember about him. Dad kind of hated his dad, which is kind of funny because my daddy issues are pretty legendary too. Like father like… *cough*

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Anyway, I’m a divorcee, my parents divorced, both their parents divorced, you get the picture. Mapping out family and shit is pretty stupid; I have half-step-sibling-cousin whatevers that I never met. The point is: I’m named after the bootlegging (another story) bastard son of a “treasure hunting” grifter, and his dad was such an absurdly dirty rotten scoundrel I can’t help but marvel at the whole thing eleven decades later.

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Talking to dad’s side of the family about him (back in the day when they would actually talk to me), the dude was a legend. Tracking him down has actually been a sunovabitch: census records list him at various times as “Jacob” “Jake C” “Jack” “Sutherland” “Southerland” “Sotherlland”, etc.  Here he is signing his name as “Jacob Sotherland” and lying about his age on the 1900 census, the last one he got to fuck with before he died.

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Born in North Carolina in October 1847, he lied his way into the army as a teenager during the Civil War. God even knows what the fuck he did while there, but his gravestone has honor markers from both the Union and Confederate army. During Reconstruction, he was a “treasure hunter”which apparently was some grifter gray area between inheritance fraud and claimjumping. After amassing a small fortune, he moved to Tennessee and hitched up with a woman 32 years younger than him, presumably without mentioning so to the wife and kids he left behind in North Carolina.

Even then, living with the woman he was illegally married to and their kids, he was still out playing drunk chicken trains to impress other women. And yet I’m the black sheep of this fucking family. Fucking amazing.

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F*ggot As Gender Identity, Detransition As A Form Of Suicide.

28 Sep faggot detransition gender dysphoria

“I shall never forget the unspeakable horror that froze the lymph in my glands when the baneful word seared my reeling brain – I was a homosexual. I thought of the painted, simpering female impersonators I had seen in a Baltimore nightclub. Could it be possible I was one of those subhuman things? I walked the streets in a daze, like a man with a light concussion. I would have destroyed myself but a wise old queen; Bobo, we called her, taught me that I had a duty to live and to bear my burden proudly for all to see.” – William Burroughs

detransition gender dysphoria

I’ve brought it up a few times, but I grew up Assemblies Of God and went Southern Baptist at 12 because they were more liberal. I’m not even building up to a joke here. In any case, attending huge tent revivals was a common occurrence throughout my entire childhood and adolescence. You’d be lectured for an hour and then people would stand in line for several more hours to repent, to publicly beat at their chest and renounce all their sins and reaffirm their devotion to God or whatever.

Watch enough of them and you’d see repeat performers… folks that had suddenly hit a brand new rock bottom of fornication and decadence or whatever and would be up front with the others, beating their chest and confessing to increasingly absurd transgressions against their fellow man.

This is relevant probably.

Anyway, you waste enough time on the transgender corner of the internet and eventually you start stumbling across detransition blogs. They’re always anonymous, declaring an unnamed dread of being discovered by this shapeless mob of “trans activists” out to ruin their lives for telling “the truth.” There’s this flair for the dramatic amongst the conspiracies and the increasingly absurd confessions of transgressions; this idea that the curtain is being drawn on “what the trans activists don’t want you to hear.”

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What they all have in common is an assurance that they know what they are now. Many claim to be gay men, but others actually claim to have discovered with horror that they were autogynephiles the whole time. Seriously. I personally know at least half a dozen funny, sweet and brilliant trans women that have all killed themselves this year before they’d barely started their twenties and yet some pathetic porn-sick creatures can read the documentation on what autogynephilia is, decide “well hot damn that totally describes me” and somehow not feel inspired to stick their head in the oven.

This is why I know there is no God.

I any case, I don’t claim to know shit. I don’t have any answer as to who or what I am and am not really sure there is such an answer. I don’t “identify as a woman”, whatever that means, but have experience a lifelong disassociation and revulsion towards being socially processed through “manhood.” This has meant quite a few different things in my life, mostly because I had no language to describe or understand it.

rani bakerAnd I’ve been dealing with this for decades.

The thing is, I wasn’t really processed through “manhood”, at least not in the sense of being socialized like a heteronormative hegemonic man (as if there was such a thing in a universal sense). From a very young age I was coded by society as a “faggot,” and my socialization was filtered through that coding. I was groomed towards appeasement and subservience to men and coded as deserving of violence and marginalization without resource for complaint. I was groomed to desire approval from and to appeal towards masculine idealizations, while also being held at arms length from any chance of owning them.

I’ve been a eunuch my whole life, regardless of whether I had balls. Faggot was my “gender identity”.

detransition gender dysphoriaReminder that “TERF is a slur” but faggot is a radfem-endorsed social identity.

Anyway, a little over a decade ago, I was coerced into detransition by my radical feminist-devoted boyfriend at the time. He was my second (and second longest) relationship I’ve ever had. I loved him like crazy; hell, I still do. He was brilliant and wordly and passionate, had impeccable music and artistic taste, and he fucked like a goddamn howitzer.

True story: the first time we fucked, it was to the Mindless Self-Indulgence Song “Faggot“.

detransition gender dysphoriaI have no pics of us then, so here’s one from 2006. Yes I’m still friends with him.

But he was also a verbally abusive alcoholic that used to tell me shit like “you’re not a woman; you’re a guy that I fuck in the ass and I wish you’d just accept that.” I wrote about it in my comic, but have never until now included the last page online because it was too painful:

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detransition gender dysphoria

Where was the Trans Cabal during all this? The one that is supposedly out there pressuring all the gender non-conforming people to transition? Oh right, they were too busy not existing.

detransition gender dysphoriawell, besides existing in the imaginations of transphobic gaybros

But how did I get to that point anyway? Well, nobody gives a shit about tired old stories of pre-teen crossdressing and childhood dreams of being able to break my dick off like a pencil so I could stop fretting about it or whatever. Stories of shoplifting lipstick and a hollowed out teddy bear full of stockings and skirts. Boring shit that folks always trot out their own variation of. Nobody cares.

I feel it’s worth repeating however that literally the first thing I bought with my own money (earned from my job in the dorm cafeteria) when I’d moved away from family to go to college was a (truly hideous) dress and some (appallingly cheap) makeup.

detransition gender dysphoriaNo pic of that either, so here’s me at legendary punk club Einsteins in 1995.

I didn’t really have the language to understand what the hell was going on tho. “Transgender” wasn’t really a word I had back then, and I don’t recall whether I’d used “transsexual” either. In college I’d read “Transsexual Empire” and it’s spiritual sister book “The Pink Swastika” and similar anti-gay books, seemingly most from the 80s. This was literally the only literature on the subject available in a college library in the 1990s. So I became one of those late-90s internet-addicted transsexuals one reads about. Still have my copy of Creating A Feminine Carriage and Melanie Speaks circa-1999 to prove it.

detransition gender dysphoriaSays a lot that I held onto both through a decade of detransition, really.

Back then I still had no idea how to, like, be trans tho. I was a semi-professional drag queen, which gave me a place to explore presentation and also offered me a place to meet men that could potentially find me desirable. I ordered crap fake hormones from crossdresser magazines to bolster the hardcore hormones I was buying from drag queens that smuggled them up from Mexico.

detransition gender dysphoriaMe at infamous Killeen drag bar Krossover, circa 2000-ish

But, like, I knew I was something different than a drag queen, but what? I attended transsexual support meetings full of sneering old ladies sitting bolt upright with their purses in their laps. Women that wrinkled their noses at my leather jacket and Walgreens lipstick, called me “drag queen” and “misguided faggot” behind my back. Hell I didn’t even know if I “wanted to be a woman,” whatever that meant. For the majority of my transition, I only knew one other trans woman that didn’t despise me. And because my life is a fucking disaster, I wound up dating her after detransition.

detransition gender dysphoriaEven more awkward, now she’s a guy again and thinks I’m disgusting.

To add further insult to injury, I had met an actual relatively famous trans activist (Ann Tagonist) shortly before my detransition, and she couldn’t help me. She actually recognized me from my tattoos related to my gender-angst comic Why I’m Not An Artist, which she’d read at a zine library in Portland. We were pen pals for about a year then lost contact anti-climatically. The universe loves to fuck with me.

I remember someone asking me, after hearing about my detransition, “So you pursued a sex change and gave up; what does that make you now?”. Honestly, I had no clue.

After detransition I figured if I had to be a guy, I might as well have some fun with it. I embraced absurd, flamboyant male dressings; arrow collars and exotic suit jackets and such. My gender identity was Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue.

detransition gender dysphoria

I figured folks that had known me for so long would have gotten the joke; this over-the-top expression of rock star masculine swagger I’d suddenly adopted. Nobody got the joke. Hell, after long enough, I’d lost the plot so much I wasn’t getting it either.

A funny thing about being a dude when you don’t want to be; you can deliberately kill yourself slowly in front of everyone and get cheered on for it. You can drink to the point where your skin is flushed from puking and pick up another drink while sobbing about your childhood and everyone just pats you on the back and is like “wow that dude is a party animal.”

If you’re charming and funny enough, nobody questions your judgement.

I’ve had dudes tell me how “dramatic” I became post-transition, and it’s like “wait, you fucking saw me smash a whiskey bottle and cut myself in public once because I was sad when I was a guy”.

faggot detransition gender dysphoriayeah this dude had it all together and wasn’t literally imploding in on himself

Detransition was the worst fucking thing that ever happened to me. I regret it every day; dwelling on how I already knew things about myself and worked on them and then gave up. I was a coward and a failure and pathetic for doing it.

And yet going back to that misery is constantly advocated to me and folks like me.

detransition gender dysphoria“you’re not a woman; you’re a guy that I fuck in the ass…”

Let’s not fucking pretend what people really mean when the push for this is “hurry the fuck up and die and get out of my way”. Because that is what detransitioning again would do to me. And I guess the universe isn’t done fucking with me yet.

This Post Brought To You From The Emergency Room.

18 Sep

So, about two and a half weeks ago, I sprinted to catch the bus on a Monday night and my leg just went NOPE. Just this stab of extremely sharp pain and then it was extraordinarily hard to put weight on it. It wasn’t traumatic or anything, but definitely an embarrassing reminder that I’m getting kinda, well, old. It was hard to walk on for a few days but the pain went away after a week…

and then a week after that, this happened-

hospital2A map of Norway, Sweden and Iceland miraculously appeared on my leg.

That’s not good. Not good at all. See, one of the fun parts about being a trans woman is this thing called Deep Vein Thrombosis. Usually you don’t have to worry about it if you don’t smoke, which I don’t, (lol triple negative) but as an estrogenated trans lady of a certain advanced age that spends the vast majority of her day sitting down, I’m still a contender.

So I went to a nearby clinic, hoping beyond hope to be called a silly drama queen scared of a yoga injury or something. Except the nurse took a few looks at it, poked around and handed me this-

hospital3WELL THIS IS… UM… WHAT IS THIS

That’s an imaging request for an ultrasound of my leg. One of those nice humbling times that it sucks to be proven right, having a doctor pretty much say YEAH GURL THAT DOES LOOK EXACTLY LIKE THE KIND OF THING THAT COULD FUCK YOU UP BETTER CHECK FOR SURE. The rest of the weekend was dominated with stories and stress about things like strokes and pulmonary embolisms and, even worse, possibly having my HRT halted. To be honest, I’d rather spontaneously choke to death on my own blood than quit HRT (because we know how that turned out last time). I even considered seriously how well I could pull off a sort of Phantom Of The Opera/Vanilla Sky look if my face wound up paralyzed. I was going kind of bonkers because I was literally scared half to death at this point.

Funny thing about trying to book an ultrasound on a weekend, tho:

hospital4hospital5

After calling dozens of places, I finally just went to the emergency room because I was going to completely lose it if I had to wait any longer.

hospital6And here’s the part where I pretend I watched anything but Spongebob.

hospital8Emergency Room Selfies: Probably a thing I guess.

Because I’m so brilliant and much observant, I wound up in the ER of a Christian hospital. They even had a little disapproving Jesus fellow to watch me in disappointment as I “disrobed from the waist down” per doctor instructions.

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The staff was actually hella cool about everything, all things considered. I mean, thank Jesus (so to speak) for gender identity protection legislation, but they seemed to be genuinely eager to get chosen name/pronouns right and acted as though making someone comfortable whose life is at stake and literally in their hands was part of their job or something. A really pleasant surprise, to be honest.

hospital1Look how thrilled I am.

The thing about deep vein thrombosis tho is that if you haven’t died on the way to the hospital, once you’re there it’s fairly easy to treat. It was almost anticlimactic. They brought in the ultrasound (which they wouldn’t let me take a pic of, spoilsports) and they spread some goop around my leg and waved a wand on it while the machine made Darth Vader noises. Half an hour later it was clear that what I had was a bloodclot in the deep muscle, not in the deep vein. But of course, there was no way to find that out without the ultrasound. So the ER visit was necessary, but ultimately I turned out ok.

So, like I’m not gonna die or whatever. Not like whatever spiritual force that is keeping here isn’t doing it out of spite anyway.

hospital1Seriously, look how thrilled I am.

Life Only Allows So Much Time For Biblical Abominations; Make Them Count.

15 May

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This, my friends, is a bacon-wrapped prawn. A Biblical abomination wrapped in another Biblical abomination. (1-Leviticus 11:7-12). And sitting here, in clothes designed for folks of the opposite sex of which I was assigned at birth (2-Deuteronomy 22:5), there’s a whole other layer of abomination as I shovel these greasy bastards into my mouth. (3-Leviticus 7:21)

I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself for pulling this off. (4-Proverbs 16:5) Not to mention, I feel more than a little naughty for putting so much effort into it. (5-Proverbs 6:18) I’d spend more time justifying my decision (6-Proverbs 17:5), but fuck it and fuck you. (7-Proverbs 3:32)

Just kidding, I didn’t mean to insult you.  (8-Proverbs 6:17)

Only eight? Well, we could talk about butt sex (9-Leviticus 18:22) or my credit card bills. (10-Ezekiel 18:8)

Bringing A Trans Woman To A Men In Dresses Party…

9 May

That stereotype about transsexuals being all wild and criminal and bold and outside the norm and, like, engendering in the townsfolk the courage to break free from the smothering constraints of conformity? That stereotype is about drag queens. Maria is a transsexual and she is so meek she might disappear.” – NEVADA, Imogen Binnie

So, about a month ago I signed a thing about a thing. A couple weeks later it turned into this entirely other thing. I’ll have more to say about that in another blog. In any case, I had a lot on my mind about crossdressing and drag performance and how it relates to myself as a trans woman (who’s had a previous history with crossdressing and drag performance). With this in mind, I found myself heading to a “red dress”-themed party.

I’m familiar with the concept; they’ve had them in Austin as well:

reddress2Except in Texas, it’s too hot to wear a full dress.

In this case, I was invited out by my lovely friend Miranda:

reddress3Who is hilarious and wonderful and an absolute treasure to be around.

This of course meant shopping on my part, of course of the day of because I am literally the worst person ever. Which of course means I should take a moment to do another gratuitous dressing room post in the middle of this meditation, with my sad stringy rain-soaked hair.

reddress5 reddress6 reddress4

So I show up at this party well past fashionably-late, more like to-the-point-where-my-date-was-sending-me-wtf-texts-late, and yeah we still managed to have a reasonably good time. We ate a *lot* of tiny sandwiches, that’s for sure. Thankfully I made up for being hella late by being hella cute.

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So, like, I promise I had a serious point in here somewhere so I might as well get to it. Anyway, so here are this couple of trans chicks in this party that’s mostly cis gay dudes in dresses, and to say we stuck out would have been an understatement. Like, not even stuck out in the way you would expect a heavily tattooed and pierced transsexual and her date to stick out. Not even stick out in the way you would expect someone who refers to themselves as transsexual at a party full of mostly cis crossdressers to insist they stick out. Wait, what, you seriously thought I was gonna go that direction rhetorically? Even for a second?

You disappoint me, dear reader. Anyway, lets talk about costumes.

So, like, there are all sorts of busted theories and assumptions out there about why people like me (or maybe nothing like me) wear what we do. And, it’s like, I don’t get it. I’ve never gotten a boner from wearing panties or whatever. So, you know, let’s get that out of the way. There isn’t any escapism or anything to it, frankly I’d say it’s almost the opposite. I mean, in a lot of ways I dress *waaaaaaaaaaaaaay* less flamboyant now presenting feminine full time than I did when most people thought of me as a guy.

reddress8someone had to fuckin say it

But like, I don’t know, I’ve never been one that was up for using costumes, at least not in a sense that everyone else seemed to. It’s like, I spend so much of my life feeling like my body as the world saw it was just something I piloted, not inhabited. So I guess I’ve never seen the appeal of trying to take on a different personality or something for myself, because so little of my personality even felt like my own most of my life.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I faked my way through so much of my existence as a “man”, that I never really saw the appeal in dressing that “man” up as someone else to circumvent my inhibitions. For old me, dressing colorfully made me feel more authentic in a way because dressing as a “guy” made me feel like I’d disappear into thin air. In a ratty tshirt and jeans I wasn’t even a person, just a vehicle. An animatronic doll I controlled via a viewscreen buried so deep inside my skull noone could ever find me.

So like I’m at this party in my cute yet conservative Goodwill dress and Miranda is wearing the dress I met her in at the Against Me show a month before, and everyone around us is trashed and partying wearing these amazing outfits and stuff. And we’re just hiding in the back because people are literally stepping on us and we’re eating tiny sandwiches and wondering what we’re even doing here. *That* kind of sticking out like a sore thumb.

And like at one point some cute but very drunk guy with a spaghetti straps laying limp across his biceps and just sort of falling out of his sequined top leans into me to take a selfie kissing me on the cheek, which made me blush. He then tried to do the same to Miranda, and I thought she was gonna stab him in the kidney with her house keys.

And at that point we were just like fuck this lets get a cab.

Then I Learned All Angels Are Sad, And Everything Made Sense. (TW Suicide)

23 Apr

Once upon a time, I spent my rent money on a gun. I’ve joked my whole life that the only gun I would own would be the one I’d use to blow my head off, and I was ready to put my money where my mouth is. Um, literally. I found a little secluded spot in an unused lot on the outskirts of town, I had a handle of Jim Beam and a walkman with my “getting up the nerve for suicide” mixtape. I watched the sun set. It was poetic as fuck.

Unfortunately, I I’m not great with firearms when drunk. I’d clumsily jammed the bullets in the clip and while I was gagging over the taste of gunmetal and oil on the back of my throat, all I could get it to do was click when I pulled the trigger. I cussed a lot, drank some more, and then suddenly and accidentally it went off in my hand. BLAM. Holy fuck it was loud. I peed myself and lost my nerve. I walked home and called a friend and cried and told her I was broken and full of poison and all the other nonsense things your brain says when it’s drunk and wants you to die. I returned the gun to the pawn shop the next afternoon at a $100 loss and got behind on rent.

mental hospital
“Hmmm. Well, you don’t look gay.” – admissions Doctor at Austin State Hospital

Fast forward to about a month before my birthday in 2012. An interesting thing about being white and read as a heterosexual-ish male; unless you have a drug habit or a police record, they’re awfully reluctant to commit you to a state mental hospital. Especially if you have no insurance. I was explaining to the admissions doctor that my partner (listed on my admissions record as “male significant other”) was my girlfriend, not my boyfriend.

He was looking over the records and had cased me as some shiftless Gen Xer going through an early mid-life crisis or something. He told me I should consider going back to college, maybe get a degree in social work or even become a psychologist like him. I seem incredibly sensitive and empathetic, to a fault, he said. Don’t I want to help people? Ugh Christ dad whatever sure I’ll pick up some college applications on the way out if you’ll shut the fuck up.

I have a bit of an unconscious defence mechanism when talking to psychologists; I can’t even help but play down my symptoms because I’m scared of being locked up. Even sitting right there literally being prepared to be “locked up” I found it impossible to open up. Even with my brain obviously broken and near constant anxiety attacks.

When my parents divorced, both wound up locked away for periods of time. My dad came back with all these paintings he’d done. I’d never heard of him creating anything artistic before or after that. He was also looped out of his mind on medication tho; he would come to pick my brother at school and he’d only be wearing his underwear and house slippers. He’d park his truck blocks away, outside of the range of my mom’s restraining order against him, and stare in my brother and I’s bedroom window with binoculars.

“What are you even here for?” he asked. I was drifting off apparently. I replied that I was genuinely worried about what I would do with myself if I was allowed back out that door. I’d been binge drinking to the point of alcohol poisoning for a week straight, something absurd like five Mickey’s 40s or half a bottle of whiskey a night. I tried seeking treatment but all the meetings I’d found were really Jesus-y and queer unfriendly and I was quickly pushed out. At the “worried about what I’d do with myself” line, he begrudgingly signed me in, because that meant he had to treat me like a suicide risk. Even though he didn’t believe I was one.

mental hospital
I got some blood tests and some pills and they gave me a blanket and an under-stuffed pillow. I was housed with an elderly chronically homeless gentlemen that spent the nights reliving drawn out arguments with his dead father back on the farm from when he was a boy. He spent the daytime being a casually racist old crank, so I found it hard to be *too* sympathetic with him.

I spent the days doodling trees in the courtyard and the nights watching movies with the other inmates. I made friends with a girl that was said she was a distant relative of Kanye West, and that she was put there by the Illuminati so his fortune would go to white people instead of his blood family. She firmly believed that one day he’d get one of her letters and would rescue her. She told me that it wasn’t right that I was so unhappy, I was obviously an angel and that when Kanye West got her out she would treat me out to dinner every night.

She told me that when angels come to live on earth, they are always sad because they keep being reminded of heaven and can’t wait to get back.

mental hospital

I didn’t feel too terribly safe tho. One dude had a screaming fit that he didn’t want to share a dorm with a “faggot” (me) and smashed a chair and a window. He was placed in a different dorm but later charged at me during an outdoor courtyard period and had to be tackled by the guards. Another dude tried to rip the only working phone out of the wall while I was on a call.

I eventually gained privileges to use a different phone in an office away from everyone to call out sometimes. I didn’t throw fits or anything, I was just sort of moody and withdrawn, so the guards and counsellors were usually pretty cool with me. One of the counsellors said she would be willing to groom me towards working as a counsellor there when I was released. She said that more than one counsellor there was an inmate during rougher times of their lives.

I frequently felt like I was suddenly let backstage to a whole other world than the one I was taught existed.

mental hospital

At one point a nurse took me aside and said “You know… you’re on the state’s dollar now, if there’s any medical or psychological tests you want taken… you should do it now before we release you.” I coughed nervously and asked if they had a gender identity counsellor. She winked at me and told me we could schedule blood-work once the counsellor signed off. It’s surreal how certain people just can see through to that part of me. In hindsight I did a pretty terrible job of hiding it while living as a “man”. The rest is history.

Looking through my notepad I kept I found a little poem-thing I’d written while I was there-

And Then I Learned All Angels Are Sad, And Everything Made Sense.

She was staring at me, uncomfortably long.
“You look so sad” she said
“Well,” I replied, “that’s kind of why I’m here.”
The first two tattoos I’d gotten were angels on each arm when I was 18
My 2nd year Psych professor wrote a long letter to my mom.
She said she was worried because I had turned in my class study paper
and it was on Gender Dysphoria
I was writing weird cartoons in class that concerned her
She told my mom that people
obsessed enough with angels to get them tattooed on
were broken
She told my mom I may be confused
she asked about the men in my life – asked if I had any role models
The Sekhmet Hypothesis –
torn between friendly weakness and hostile weakness
I’m not ok, you’re ok

There’s something wrong with me, there’s something wrong with everything
And then I learned all angels are sad, and everything made sense

mental hospital mental hospital mental hospital

She Should Have Been A Son.

6 Apr

So like, I was pretty sure I was gonna come out as gay when I was around 13…

beenason1TOTAL. FUCKIN. HOMO.

The clues were all there… I guess.

Honestly, I don’t know what the fuck I was except I seemed to be completely unlike “other boys”, and everyone seemed to be able to tell. I couldn’t seem to connect to boys my age on any level and instead found myself socializing around girls which found me this nonthreatening asexual presence. Yet I was also being palpably groomed towards appeasement and subservience to men and coded as a “faggot” deserving of violence and marginalization without resource for complaint. I was groomed to desire approval from and to appeal towards masculine idealizations. I remember the first time I’d watched Velvet Goldmine, and in that opening scene where child Jack Fairy is beat up and spreads the blood across his lips I remember actually thinking HOLY SHIT WHERE DID THEY FIND THIS FOOTAGE OF MY CHILDHOOD.

beenason2A pretty reasonable summary of my childhood.

All I knew, honestly, was that shit that “doesn’t happen to boys” happened to me on a pretty frequent basis.

I found no analogous “shared boyhood” experience to cling to when I was 10 and my male friend broke my nose when I told him he was cute and “reassured” me that he did so “for my own good” to remind me “I’m not allowed” to say such things. Was it just typical “male socialization” when I was 13 and it became a running gag/twisted bonding experience between members of the football team to grope my ass and whistle at me and then threaten to beat me up if I complained? When I spent a night at a friend’s house, 30 miles from my home, and he goaded me into drinking vodka and casually got naked in front of me suggesting we “wrestle”, I’d had no preparation or warning or understanding to work off of.

I learned pretty quick that the same boys in the schoolyard breaking my face open and the boys in the back of the bus goading me to give them handjobs were usually the same. And that somehow that made them heterosexual, and me not. My pre-teen years were spent getting a first-hand custom education that what most people understand about gender and sexuality is 100% bullshit, but not in the way everyone tells you it’s bullshit. More like in the straight women creating gay porn way that everything most people understand about gender and sexuality is bullshit.

…and this is aside of my well-trod-out stories of hundreds of pre-teen nights staying up after my family went to bed to play with makeup, calling myself “Rachel” in the mirror. Mornings after when my dad would yell at me for any detected trace of glitter or color on my face, speculating out loud (and loudly) how many cocks his “son” must be already sucking before “he’d” even made it into high school…

So anyway I was a big old homo and I was pretty sure I was just gonna start admitting it to myself and others and then my parents had to up and divorce. I mean, the divorce was needed and an excellent idea, but it put a serious kibosh on my plans to come out. My parents relationship had been rapidly disintegrating for a while, but had accelerated after the suicide of my uncle Jim, an event that fucked pretty much all of us up, including myself.

beenason3One of entirely too few photos I have of my uncle and I.

So anyway my parents split up and it was traumatic and whatever, you know, the typical child of the 90s story. That legendary divorce is such a bore. What it meant to me was that we were relocating from Briggs, Texas to Copperas Cove, Texas, a place where there were people my age that I could feasibly, you know, hang out with and potentially have a normal childhood friendship with. I was 14 at the time and had no idea what that was like and, honestly, I was terrified. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to be my friend if I was gay, so that got buried. Between repressing that and my socialized fear of masculinity, I found myself drawn to and embracing bonehead white trash heavy metal music and lifestyle (of which, thankfully, no photos survive).

placesivecalledhome5The duplex we lived in when we first moved to Copperas Cove in 1991.

Amongst all the knuckle-dragging meathead metal I’d immersed myself in at the time, something else had broken through that fall of 1991. One evening after school I’d caught the near-inescapable video for Smells Like Teen Spirit and I was enthralled. I just didn’t even know how to comprehend what I’d seen except that I’d suddenly become obsessed. I wound up scraping the cash together for the single on cassette, and then a few weeks later the album, and studied the artwork and scrutinized the lyrics and just tried to absorb everything I could out of it. For years afterwards I hunted down interviews and tracked down bootlegs to gain a more cohesive understanding of Kurt’s oeuvre.

beenason4

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get down to brass tacks: here was a scrawny cat with a big nose and a cleft chin with a feminine gender expression, an obsession with anatomical models and other weird antiques, and an obvious chip on his shoulder about toxic masculinity. It was like looking in a mirror or running into the future version of myself or something. I was 15 or so when I first read that legendary statement tucked away in the liner notes to Incesticide:

At this point I have a request for our fans.  If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us — leave us the fuck alone!  Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.

I remember thinking wow this is like the opposite of what it’s ok to say these days and filed it away in a place in my brain similar to the place under my bed where I stashed my gay porn. Someplace personal and private until I worked up the courage to address and admit to myself. I find myself periodically reminded of the role Nirvana played in sparing me from white trash induced mediocrity and self-repression. By the time I was 17 and in colllege away from small-town and family pressure I’d moved well past being that weird kid that was painting his nails coral and writing sharpie slogans and had come out as bisexual and began to cross-dress and wear makeup publicly in increasing frequency…

18yearoldmeMe at Lubbock punk rock club Einstein’s in 1995.

…but then we’re starting to get into a whole other story.