Tag Archives: trans

4 Weird Things That Happen To You When A Love(d) One Kills Themselves

4 Sep chloe sagal suicide

chloe sagal suicide

Someone I used to be in love with and lived with for two years took her life. Depending on the sort of story you were expecting, this could be seen as a beginning or ending. For me it still seems like some sort of limbo, moments and feelings trapped in amber that I can see but not touch. Hopefully writing about it will help me move forward.

This isn’t news to anyone that follows me online through either my own social media and posts, or filtered through your favorite online stalking/roasting site/FB group. From Fall 2014 to Fall 2016 I was in a tumultuous relationship with video game designer Chloe Sagal, and we lived together for much of that time. We separated during a particularly tense eviction, where I moved to downtown Portland to prepare for an impending surgery and she moved elsewhere with another of her partners. I ceased contact shortly afterward, and heard little from or about her until she hobbled into a downtown Portland park and set herself on fire to protest her lifetime struggle with inadequate and unsympathetic mental health care.

And then things got weird.

I found myself lamenting that there really isn’t a whole lot of advice out there for this sort of situation. What do you do with yourself and your thoughts and your pain? Everyone has hot takes about why this happened, but you don’t hear many stories from/about those left behind. So here we are.

I figure this could be a good resource for a lot of people, even if you don’t literally have Washington Times journalists openly wishing on Twitter that you would also commit suicide.

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1) Your Memories Are A Fuck

I mean, this isn’t the first time I lost an ex. A guy I used to date when I was much younger drank himself to death around his 30th birthday. Another ex of mine (another trans woman in the video game industry) passed away peacefully during a camping trip. This isn’t even the first time I lost a loved one to suicide; I’ve brought up more than once on this blog my uncle that killed himself when I was a pre-teen over his inability to reconcile being gay with his Christian faith. It’s not like I don’t still have unprocessed and complicated feelings about them all, most of all about never being able to say goodbye.

This one is different, because my relationship with Chloe was… not great a lot of the time. She screamed and hit walls and could be very threatening. She broke a lot of my stuff, specifically targeting things she knew had sentimental value like childhood possessions. She would send harassing messages to people I cared about and in the end was sending nasty messages my way as well. It got to where I woke up in a panic when I heard her typing in the wee hours of the morning creating a new manifesto. I wondered who was targeted next, what damage control would I have to devote my day to rather than my own life.

But she also wrote songs about me. Not just full romantic ballads, but little ditties she would make up while I was cooking dinner or cleaning the room. She would riff off of themes songs of shows we watched together, cuddled under the covers, when things were good. We had a whole language of in-jokes and references. She always looked better in my clothes than I did. I still remain convinced she was one of the most effortlessly brilliant artistic minds I was ever blessed to spend time with and be inspired by.

I fell in love with her while she sung “The Calendar Hung Itself” by Bright Eyes to me. Honestly that should have been a red flag this would not end well, but I was starry eyed. This shit is complex.

I don’t think she was a bad person, or a martyr. I think she got so accustomed to online abuse from the fallout from her GoFundMe incident that she compulsively sought out negative attention over positive. She was so terrified of ever completing a project because of anticipated backlash she just devoured herself like a snake eating its tail.

2) People Show Up Out Of Fucking Nowhere

chloe sagal suicide

I found out what happened on my birthday, when a reporter contacted me for a statement. I was on my way to a date with a guy at a club so I said I would give a statement first thing tomorrow. He got me so drunk I overslept and never contacted the reporter.

I got an email from him the next day giving his condolences. I hadn’t told him during the date, he had Googled me and found mention of it on a roasting site. He concluded by admitting he had a wife he didn’t tell me about. That meant, he insisted, that future dates would have to be more discreet since he was now aware of people watching my social media. I deleted his number from my phone.

Happy Birthday To Me.

Those first few days I got messages from probably a thousand people. Limiting it to supportive messages, it was still broad swaths of individuals with widely varying connection to me. People I was on good and bad terms with. People I hadn’t spoken to in months or years, and some I honestly never wanted to speak to again well before this.

The messages came so frequently I barely had time to formulate how I was feeling, much less summarize it. A lot of vague offers of “support” “if I needed anything” that I had no idea how to respond to. Even a handful of folks that genuinely seemed to be looking for an odd sort of absolution. Like I could pat them on the head and be like “well fine I forgive you,” and give them closure.

Fuck that, when do I get closure?

3) The Narrative Becomes A Disaster

People are still actively talking about her on Twitter. Everyone has their pet story about what happened. I see articles written in like Portuguese that have photos of a completely different ex of mine in them because a right-wing blogger fucked up the Google Image Search for her in a hitpiece. People use her death to make a point scolding other people using her death to make a completely different point.

A month ago, a Canadian balladeer I hadn’t heard of previously wrote a song with her name in the title and I realize this is bigger than I can comprehend. Like, she’s not the person I lived with and woke up next to and she’s not the person I had to separate myself from. This whole thing is bigger, even to people that never even met her. She’s now a symbol, a metaphor. A horrible, grisly death turned to legend that means whatever anyone wants it to mean.

In a way, kinda got what she wanted; people talking about what she went through. People taking it seriously. For the rest of us, however,

4) You Never Stop Wondering What This Means

chloe sagal suicide

Stories have a beginning, a middle, and end. Something bad happens, and you learn something and grow stronger. Ghosts haunt you, and you put them to rest and you both benefit.

Otherwise you just… sit there.

Do you let go? What does “letting go” mean? Is it better, is it required of me, to preserve the good she has done over the bad? How much responsibility do I have for sustaining her legacy?

Why did this happen? What’s the lesson here? What’s the next step? How do I put this ghost to rest?

Do you ever get to find out?

Does this story ever actually end?

Article Feature Image: Tristen, Flickr

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Rayon Is A Punk Rocker: Arcade Fire’s New Video Fucking Sucks.

19 May

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Arcade Fire is one of those bands that everyone used to try to get me into for years and I was like “naaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”. Probably for the best, because it probably would have bothered me more to have a band I actually like churn out yet another piece of what Kat Blaque totally nails as “trans pity porn“. As I have admitted more than once, I’m kind of a guilty-pleasure sucker for the genre. But this campy paint-by-numbers bullshit just hit all the wrong buttons in the wrong order for me. I’m already willing to say this is the second worst music video I’ve seen all year.

So like first of all, as a trans woman born and raised in Texas, I am sick to fucking death already of the whole “gender-non-conforming person in redneck hell” trope. Like there isn’t homophobic and transphobic assholes all over “enlightened” big cities, but no we gotta keep that self-righteous white liberal boner going because you know what those dumb hicks are like. And it’s like, I’ve lived this and women in my community have died this way, so it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see yet again a watered-down version of what some jackass imagines life is like for someone like me in the south. Just, ew.

But hold on a second, lemme tell you a thing or two about what I actually like about this video. Andrew Garfield manages to make little pouty faces at some interesting points that kind of hit home… invoking sad mirror feels while trying on clothes you have no practice wearing-

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-those awkward first times out in public where you have to unlearn male social posture defense mechanisms to fight off your own uneasiness and sense of vulnerability, convinced everyone is looking at you disapprovingly-

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-and just invoking this sort of wordless sorrow and desire to fit in somehow to a world where it feels impossible to do so-

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But like, when it comes down to it, this video is ultimately more an exploration of gender performativity/expression than identity. None of the characters, including the protagonist, is given exposition past the flimsiest of stereotypes. Even this fucked up Thai love song manages to give some (kinda creepy and busted) backstory to it’s trans character, but then it’s also like three times as long.

Basically what happens in the video is that the protagonist makes a bunch of sad faces into the mirror while deciding what to wear until she decides to go with what appears to be a Leg Avenue costume of Jessica Simpson in Dukes Of Hazard-

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She walks to the nearest bar, where she pouts a bit and then she’s (probably) beaten to death.

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Seriously, that’s her entire story. She’s sad and she’s dead. Also, jazz hands.

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Then, everything gets stupid. She finds herself alone in the bar, doing an interpretive Flashdance, because why not. And then this bullshit happens:

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YOU

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FUCKING

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KIDDING ME

So like I have to imagine that the thought process that went behind the scenes of this video went like this:

VIDEO DIRECTOR: “Transgender stuff is trendy right? Let’s make a sensitive portrayal of their lifestyle to look like hip LGBT allies!”

*awkward homerotic dance number intensifies*

VIDEO DIRECTOR: “NAILED IT”

So like then the gay cowboys lead the protagonist THROUGH AN ACTUAL RAINBOW DOORWAY OH MY FUCK.

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Where she comes out at an Arcade Fire concert lo0king like a pallette swapped Twiggy Ramirez and oh christ I’m so fucking bored and done with this.

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No Homo: On Jared Leto And Destroying A Beautiful Creature.

16 Jan

A lesson I’m learning over and over in life is that pretty boys can’t be trusted. They’ll break your heart as soon as they open their big stupid mouths.

So remember that part in Fight Club where Edward Norton sees Brad Pitt and Jared Leto embrace tenderly and gives them both this look of utter jealousy and betrayal? Remember how the scene immediately shifts to Norton cheap-shotting Leto and pounding him into hamburger meat and later admitting to Pitt that he did so simply because he was beautiful? Remember how technically (spoiler) Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are the same person?

Have you ever *really* thought about that scene? No homo.

nohomo1In case you forgot this part, I’m totally not joking here.

Anyway…

I haven’t seen Dallas Buyer’s Club, but I intend to. I have a soft spot in my heart for what Julia Serano would call “sad trans” movies. So let’s get that out of the way.

And I’m not gonna get into the “should cis actors play trans women” argument in this article because that conversation has been done to death. Smarter people than I have tackled the subject better than I ever will. I am, however, eternally frustrated by how said actors spend their interviews screwing up and misrepresenting our lives even as they try to broadcast us into mainstream visibility out of the supposed goodness of their cis ally hearts. I mused about this frustration on my Facebook page while on the train a couple days ago:

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This post inspired my friend Diana Tourjee to do an expanded write-up for Original Plumbing magazine on the subject. She says it with far more nuance than I am willing to.

Cause really, it’s not even the terrible sexualized jokes which are honestly more boring and sadly predictable than offensive. What gets under my skin is Leto not only rhetorically separating himself from the character of Rayon, but also divorcing this character he brought to life from having any sypmathetic reality or social consequence. Referring to her as a “creature” and an “impossible person” at a time when the lives and experiences of actual trans  women are still considered up for debate, for instance.

I think we really get to the root of the problem, however, by noting how neither him or costar McConaughey mention AIDS once regarding their roles in a movie whose entire plot focuses on the AIDS crisis.

See, male privilege is a funny thing, and a lot more nuanced than people allow by simply equating penises with institutional social power. I swear, to hear some people talk you’d think you could post a dick pic on your resume or whatever. So much of it is conditional and hinged on gearing not only your presentation but your narrative towards patriarchal heteronormativity. And it’s not only among cishet dudebros like Leto and McConaughey. See also: LGBT assimilation movements, “straight acting” gay people (whatever the fuck those are), and femmephobia.

Considering how even certain feminists present the idea of masculine presentation as a social default and femininity as this socially constructed demeaning performance, it’s amazing how society treats masculinity as this fragile, breakable thing. Seriously, how many times are people gonna spout that tired idea that allowing boys to enjoy feminine things will “ruin” them with no irony? Yet the idea persists. Think back again to that scene in Fight Club, that paean to toxic masculinity, where the only time a man can tell another man (or really anyone) that they are beautiful is after they’ve destroyed them. Remember that whole story was written by a hypermasculine heavily-closeted gym bunny that frequently looked like he could grace the cover of a 50s gay muscle magazine before he finally got over it and was ok with being out.

nohomo3Totally wasn’t joking about that either.

Tell me again how masculinity isn’t performative.

So really,  it’s transparently obvious why a guylinered prissy metrosexual like Jared Leto would be so prone to blatant overcompensation after playing one of us Super Saiyan transfairy gaymosexuals on the big screen. He’s trying to bounce back, prove he wasn’t ruined by the experience. While Dustin Hoffman could realize women were people, realizing trans women are people is apparently way too much to ask for Leto.

I get it.

So why don’t you just shut the fuck up pretty boy and just admit you’re using us for Oscar bait. No homo.

I’ll go on living my beautiful impossible life and making better music then you ever will. *hair flip*

So, I Can’t Even Find A 38A Bra In A Lingerie Line Marketed Specifically To Trans Women. FML

1 May

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So, after months of excitement regarding the debut of Chrysalis, a lingerie line specifically marketed towards trans women, I have to admit the initial launch is full of disappoint. 32-36 strap size, and no A cups? What the fuck is even happening here?  And don’t get me started on these prices; I really feel I should just save up and get myself personally fitted and sized at Victoria’s Secret. I’d go home with cuter looking undies.

So, Fuck It, I Just Compiled A Whole Stack Of Literary References To The “Singular They” Pronoun.

26 Apr

For your perusal and pleasure. This is by no means exhaustive (hell, it’s not even a fraction), but hopefully it’s enough to get the pedantic d-bags in your life who wanna claim “grammar” as an excuse to marginalize your identity to shut the hell up. Enjoy.

“According to the number that yee shall prepare, so shall yee doe to euery one, according to THEIR number.” – Numbers 15:12, The King James Bible

“So likewise shall my heauenly Father doe also vnto you, if yee from your hearts forgiue not euery one his brother THEIR trespasses.” – Matthew 18:35, The King James Bible

“And whoso fyndeth hym out of swich blame, THEY wol come up and offre in Goddes name, And I assoille them “ – Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, The Pardoners Tale

“Yf a psalme scape ony persone, or a lesson, or else yt. THEY omyt one verse or twayne.” – Wynkyn de Worde, The Pilgrims Perfection

“And every one to rest THEMSELVES betake” – Shakespeare, The Rape Of Lucrece

“‘tis meet that some more audience than a mother, since nature makes THEM partial, should o’erhear the speech” – Shakespeare, Hamlet

“Little did I think… to make a… complaint against a Person very dear to you,… but dont let THEM be so proud… as to make THEM not care how THEY affront everybody else” – Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded

“Now, nobody does anything well that THEY cannot help doing.” – John Ruskin, The Crown Of Wild Olive

“a person can’t help THEIR birth” – W.M. Thackeray

“no man goes to battle to be killed. — But THEY do get killed “ – George Bernard Shaw

“Glancing at a lampshade in a store window, I observe it is too hideous for anyone in THEIR senses to buy” – W. H. Auden, Horae Canonicae

“She kept her head and kicked her shoes off, as everybody ought to do who falls into deep water in THEIR clothes.” – C. S. Lewis, Voyage Of The Dawn Treader

If you guys have any other compelling quote suggestions, please leave them in the comments and I will continue to expand this.