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im so queer that im over it

On the seldom occasion I personally announce my queer identity to folks, my own eyes roll back in my head. I’m bisexual, intersex, non binary, and a trans woman; what a headache. This compacted version of myself is thrown up on my twitter bio and sprinkled throughout my various social media accounts, with the initial intent of giving context to my life and work. I now often wonder why it’s there and I’m kinda fucking sick of it all.

I’m sick of it in the sense that it’s draining to make my queerness the axis in which my whole life revolves around (including this piece). Recently, I have become quieter about my layered identity in my personal life. Like, not everyone needs to know about the intricacies of my sexuality and the way my genitals are an configured. In an ideal world, sure, I could tell my boyfriend’s step dad about how I’m a pretty much a girl, but also sometimes I don’t feel like one, but I don’t feel like a boy then either and he’d go “Yeah, cool.” But as it stands, he thinks I’m a mentally ill man trying to prey on his daughters (he doesn’t have any daughters.)The world is gross and I don’t have the time or patience to explain my shit to everyone. I’m not about to try to do things like get my mom to understand what non binary means to appease some non-existent idealized reality of everyone being cool, because she hasn’t spoken to me in months. Managing energy is essential, right?

Also, I’m over being angry over everything for the sake of looking like an activist. Like, yeah, Pride is bad because it’s corporately owned at this point and I’ve known that since forever but I’m also over talking about how bad Pride is. People still need it whether or not you think it’s garbage. Also that TV show that has that bad thing where it makes fun of trans women in that one episode? I know it’s shitty but I’m still gonna watch it because if I didn’t watch anything that was bad there’d be no reason to have a netflix account. You can stay offended for me, that’s fine. Two years ago I would have yelled at anyone for liking a show or enjoying a book or talking to a person that did one bad thing, but I tuckered myself out and I don’t have the energy to scream anymore. These nuanced issues still matter, but I personally need to choose my battles or I’m just going to end up comically swinging my fists in circles.

Now I’m sure people are going to tell me about how I’m actually problematic now and that no one should ever talk to me again. But that’s ok, because I’m also over trying to build “community”. Queer community doesn’t exist, at least for me living where I do, and trying to grasp at people’s identity and focusing on it as a way of artificially creating a “community” is bullshit and feels gross. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to organize events with other queers only to realize, I don’t like them! Not because they’re queer, but because I’m antisocial and most people annoy me, including queers. And trying to look past the obvious personality clashes in order to pretend to be friends with people for the sake of being around other queers was shitty for everyone and dishonest. I used to think having a common denominator of queerness, or even the same identity would make for a great friendship but it turns out people are a lot more complex than that? Weird.

I remain open in my facets of my professional life, making art indirectly about queer things mostly via painting sad self portraits. Even this has become stale recently, though. After gaining a small amount of recognition for my art and writing in the last year, it seems difficult to have my work be seen outside of any context of “trans art”. Which, is that even a thing? At the same time it’s almost impossible to get any recognition when I’m not being tokenized, and when my income is heavily dependent on my online outreach it almost doesn’t feel like I’m able to turn away from making my identity a forefront when presenting my work. Opportunities arise from having a “unique” viewpoint now that it’s trendy to give lip service to them in certain circles, especially in the art world where the voices of marginalized folks have been essentially snuffed out. So I usually take advantage of these opportunities when they do work their way into my inbox, but I can feel the complexity of my work being reduced to a single adjective in the heads of non marginalized audiences. Who, unfortunately, are often the only ones with enough money to buy paintings of sad trans girls.

So here I am, playing Twister with myself, trying to have it all. I want my identity to be understood in its complexities while also not having to explain it to anyone, which is unrealistic. I want to be critical, but not exhaustively angry. I want my queerness to be seen in the context of my work, but I don’t want it to smother my art and I most certainly don’t want to be tokenized for it. So, can you please spin the wheel for me to tell me my next move?

This is the part where I feel compelled to finish with an anecdote about how trans women shouldn’t have to do blah, blah, blah, and how queer people are always having to explain themselves, and cis people need to do this and that, but I’m not going to do it. There is no imaginative solution to this crap, and I don’t really see a realistic way of making it better. So try less? Maybe.

- Cat
You can find me on twitter -@catgraffam and on my website catherinegraffam.com