Its never been a secret.
I just got home from an intimate dinner party in the Panhandle, San Francisco. It was dank to catch up with a couple of my boys after almost a year. They were pleasantly surprised to find me in a dress and lipstick, with a neck-length woman’s hairstyle, seasons-faded magenta dye, and a pink patchwork zip hoodie. The last time they saw me, I was in purple hospital scrubs and techy t-shirt with a shorter male-leaning non-binary hairdo. My head still stuck in C++ land. I had been morbidly obese just a year ago, and now I was at target BMI, glowing without realizing it. It had been so long that they had missed the gender-transition of my wardrobe, and were now meeting me further along my social transition. I had basically forgotten to have the talk with them at the time it was fresh, so it was like finding an extra nug in the couch. It was dry and stale but we still smoked it.
Naturally, there was some loving and respectful [emotional] processing — and I’m used to this topic, having had it in every permutation possible from a year of being a Bae Arya social butterfly. I patiently fielded their newbie questions, and I realized I could just go down a clickbait faq, addressing each bullet point. It had been a couple seasons so I felt rusty. I realize I’m changing pretty rapidly. If I didn’t write down my straight-facing coming-out message now, this endeavor may fail to even compute for future me. I’m afraid straight friends might get rhetorically left behind out of my own sheer exhaustion. My goal here is to provide sufficient covfefe of the topic such that I might begin to re-use this article with friends from past lives, and start to invite you back in carefully, one by one.
I had to leave loads of people behind recently, but it was more complex than queerness, and had more to do with surviving abuse. I’ve also sadly been forced out in some cases. As a result, I feel lucky enough to be welcomed in by new friends who have already known me as a “she/her” for a year, and I love them lots 💧. This writing is not for them, because they’re not wondering what happened to the boy.
I’ve never closeted any of this. Even if I don’t believe I’ve ever “come out” or needed to, I understand it’s a word we use sometimes, and I will humor it here, in regards to my wardrobe and pronoun change. But that’s totally not how I see things.
The moment it clicked for me that bigender and gender-fluidity was a type of queerness, and that I had already been unconsciously transitioning, the first thing I did was compare gender dysphoria with friends. I opened up to many people about it and we shared experiences in general, sometimes bonding over the discussion. I found more than enough reading online.
I learned that gender-dysphoria is not usually at my levels, in cis-males. I learned that my gender-dysphoria is a pain that could be treated. I learned that I might benefit from a certain kind of therapeutic self-care: presenting differently to other people, rather than stuffing my internal woman spirit+soul all the time. I began loving and appreciating myself for having that mental/emotional flexibility. I began experimenting with ways to negotiate a preferred gender pronoun with everyone I encountered. It was a precious moment, as I discovered that this was all feeling so natural and right for me.
I haven’t switched genders.
Basically, I’ve always been who I am, and I’ve always seen my internal residual self-image as gender-nonconformant (not just non-binary). That life-long belief had been deeply repressed partly by the programming of gender-binarism. Imagine a left-hander being trained by a misinformed teacher to write with the other hand. I am “switching” to a headspace that consciously acknowledges that. That doesn’t mean I won’t gender-shift in the future. I’m just saying that a garment shopping spree or pronoun change does not necessarily indicate a mental change in gender. It’s a presentation upgrade. This is me actually bothering to design my own appearance for the first time, and the results have been spiritually awakening. Sorry I confused you with my boy-clothes, but that turns out to have been a huge mistake. I did not switch genders. I jumped off an ancient, obsolete bandwagon so foundational that I believe most of you don’t even know you’re plagued by it.
I haven’t switched sexual orientations.
Inevitably, the innocent question came up. “So does that mean you’re going to start dating men now?” Not so much; it’s not like that at all, and I don’t date. I understand why you would ask this question. If I have on a summer dress and shave my legs, I must be trying to impress a man, right? This is a compounded misconception; it varies across individuals. But first of all, I’m not dressing to ensnare a cave mate and it’s weird to assume that anyone else is that sexually codependent and desperate. I dress so you know what kind of person you are dealing with. I dress because I do what I must to feel confident, relaxed, empowered, protected, and graceful. I dress that way because I already love myself. Not because I need you to love me.
We all work differently, so please don’t use the details of my experience to create expectations about other friends. I have the same attractions I have always had — to non-male identifying long-term friends. The best label is les/bi and I’m describing the relationship harmony and wavelength, not the dovetailing of genitalia at all, because I don’t care about that. I have dated women exclusively in the past, and orientation is an independent set of sliding axes than the gender axes. They move freely, unbound from one another. I am hoping that some day, the world will grok this separation, and know not even to ask me about my orientation during a trans discussion, because I consider it an unrelated topic. I would prefer to be far more discreet about my orientation in the future, as I consider it to be personal, private business. I admire the artist La Roux for having that boundary with interviewers.
The simplest big-box orientation label for me is bi. Just once here, I’ll say I was born pan, then my demisexual attraction to cismales was traumatized out of me fairly early, as I was exposed to toxic masculinity and conservative culture in my childhood. As I write this, I am more importantly polyamorous and on the asexual spectrum (gray ace). I do not have an insatiable hunger for a monogamous sexual partner; I keep up with my companionship needs via robust platonics. I bask in my independence, somewhere between crazy cat lady, and shawty in the club. I sjw against codependency and trauma. The spiritual reward of giving to a community that loves me back is better than sex. I strongly consider reclaiming my virginity more ceremoniously.
Again, labels are only expressive to a sad-trumpet degree. It helps to pay attention to the actual individual and just be open. For example, I have said yes to plenty of cishet men as they advance, on the strict condition that they consent to being hogtied, ball-gagged, and sissified. Particularly if they interrupted my homegirl.
Doesn’t that just make you straight man?
Not so much. I already tried and tried that. It’s like trying to act normal when you’re on drugs. Crossdress once and you might see what I mean. Proper gender expression turns out for me to be very important, like more important than being polite in some cases. I’ve been mistoke for a bloke my entire life, often by myself. It’s a reason a lot of people vibe wrong with me in communication. I understand too much about the wrong aspect of the conversation, and I can’t empathize nearly enough with the conversation you expect me to, even though vectorized sexy bullshit scripting and being art directed by straight guys was most of my graphics career. Some have independently used the label Sassy.
Keep in mind, I also painted some second-wave feminism content when I was 15, my immediate flock of friends was mostly cisfem and visual arts. There are too many clues in my history to further ignore it. I’m just sorry it did not hit me sooner, but you are not speaking to a man, and you never have been. I literally do not belong in your toilet anymore, nor in your psychiatric therapy groups. My AA sponsor needs to be non-male identifying. I can no longer live inside the binarix with you.
I may have changed in the boys locker room and tinkled in the urinals, but that also means I was exposed to all the homophobic and transphobic banter of early-90s Palos Verdes, California. At the time, phobias was jumpin like pog slammer. I couldn’t tell you how waspy conservatown is now because I’ve not bothered to look super closely ever since. I’ve lived with the weaponized F word, and had my feelings hurt only because I empathized with intent; not because my masculinity game was subpar. I frankly don’t care; you can call me a sissy all day, i’ll look back at you like a curious kitten. I find my aggressive sides to be a problem, even a disease. There are men I know who treat it more like their primary gift — the kernel of their essence. I was beat up by boys (i mean who wasn’t), and forced by my family to go to baseball camp for oddly no reason. I hated the entire paradigm and was only able to get away with they-leaning-he for a couple decades. Then I inched naturally to he-leaning-they, and so on. Straight-masculinity makes me very uncomfortable. It feels to me like Sonic the Hedgehog: drowning music (queerness feeling more like Vertigo Scene d’Amour). Gonads do not prescribe gender, and gender does not prescribe sexual orientation.
Ok, so we got that rant over with, where I attempt to convince you you’re talking to a trans woman, but with all due respect, that’s a conversation I’m not so down to continue. Please be considerate of just how triggering all those memories are for me. I’m writing this down so I don’t have to hold it on my tongue for the rest of my life. It’s heavy. I would rather talk about other things, also because it’s a conversation that everyone seems to want to have with me as we transition the relationship. They want me to make a case for them about why the gender situation makes more sense this way, and that is exhausting for me. This is life-long, and has been largely unconscious. The present is the most important thing to consider. The present is a miraculous gift. Please let go of “Joshua.” It’s painful to hear that name, and I don’t even turn my head anymore when I hear the name. Josh is someone else.
Who ever is left over is far happier and at peace. It’s a woman. And a woman who is into women is definitely a gay homosexual. A trans woman who is mostly into women is not a heteroflexible transvestite. She’s a homoflexible homegirl. She’s a transdyke, Mike. U-Haul renter just the same. Just like a real woman, she’s tired of the mansplaining and maneuvering. Just like a real woman, you’re not allowed to touch her without consent. Yes means yes. Her name is Sista JT. She walks with dignity.
Sweet, so what’s in lady JT’s future?
Um, if you mean what I think you mean, I’m very happy as a non-op. I’m warming up to the idea of hormone replacement therapy for psychiatric improvement, and Kaiser Permanente’s there for whenever I’m ready. I’m totally down to spend on laser/electro to remove my facial hair. I’ve been down for that all my life actually. I just feel so comfortable right now that none of that is a big hurry.
Sadly, when you slip with the pronoun in conversation, particularly when you tack on “man” or “dude”, I don’t support the “i even use it for my wife” theory, and it still can be distracting for me. If you will allow me to tack on “girl” after things I say to you, then maybe that’s ok. Like you said, it’s the “royal girl”, like the “royal we.” But to dismiss it by falling back to that excuse just sounds like a resistant protest against inevitable change. It’s an extinction burst and I’m at peace with this human behavior — even at the scope of a political party. Sorry we moved your cheese, and if you slip, I’m even totally fine if you fail to acknowledge it and waste no further time in the conversation. Micro-apologies take time real-estate. I understand what you meant, and I usually give people a long time to switch over. I don’t hear it anymore. What I do still hear is the underlying psychics. I still sense when someone’s modeling me as a male character, particularly obvious when they get combative, competitive, ranking, hostile, or forget how much of a feminist I am in what they are saying. My tolerance for the royal dude fluctuates unpredictably. Sometimes I am triggered by it, other times I am not only indifferent, but eager to move on. If you want to accommodate me, please google around for tips and pointers; the etiquette is thankfully jelling.
Art-wise, I feel much more in tune with my own body. It feels like I stepped out into physical reality for the first time as my primary alternate avatar, and I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m re-examining a lot of media from a drastically different perspective. I’m basing my projects on friendship, rather than basing my friendships on project. I had that one twisted, my bad. I currently focus on relationships, identity, collective consciousness, love, and as always, synesthesia. I look at feminism, EDM, and cocktail industry civil rights. I’m finally getting my clubbing phase out of my system, but I’m also about to buy a DDJ deck for the first time. I’m enjoying my confidence to go out in public. I’m identifying abuse from my past and processing it. I feel able to connect with people more genuinely, and building new strong-ties is not the struggle it used to be. I’m regaining my trust in the social contract. I’m finding my voice. Don’t call it falsetto . . . i been here for years.