Friday, April 12, 2013

Why the T in LGBT?


In U.S. culture today there is a conflation between sex, gender, and sexual orientation. It is my argument that this conflation spans back into the 19th century and the beginnings of sexology. In this era there was little distinction made between sex, gender, and sexual orientation which helped to create a discourse around these identities that often muddied them together or failed to accurately describe the significance of behavior and expressions within cases of “deviant sexuality”. Beginning with Ulrich’s description of the Hermaphrodite and moving through the vague language of Krafft-Ebbing into Herschfield’s discussion of the transvestite, it is clear that this conflation was the norm in scientific works of the 19th century. With this foundation for modern discourses around sexuality in mind, I argue that trans* communities are intrinsically connected to gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities and therefore should be considered as part of GLBT movements.
            Karl Heinrich Ulrichs is often cited as the forbearer of the modern gay rights movement. His work which argued for the rights of Urnings particularly in marriage challenged the church’s laws against same sex unions in the 19th century. Urnings were understood men attracted to other men. Ulrichs took this definition a step further by saying that an Urning had a female soul. Though this philosophy breaks down when concepts around female passivity come into play, it is nonetheless notable that this definition is one of the earlier written examples of a conflation of sex, sexual orientation, and gender. Ulrichs continues to gender the souls of lesbians (Urningens) as in opposition with their assigned sex. When applying modern language to this categorization system, one might assume that Ulrich’s meant to imply that homosexuals could be understood as transsexual as well. However, with contemporary feminist views about the separation between sex, gender, and sexual orientation it seems heavy handed to make this assumption.
            In fact, Ulrichs had another category for human sexual attraction that he termed the Hermaphrodite. In this category there is perhaps the deepest level of confusion around whether Ulrichs means to link the three categories of identity we are discussing together or if Ulrichs was speaking outside of binary notions of sex, gender, and sexual orientation altogether. It may be interpreted that by hermaphrodite, Ulrichs is referring to someone who is bisexual and or transsexual. Unfortunately, with the language he uses, it is unclear whether or not Ulrichs is explicitly labeling these individuals as both or one of these identities. What is clear is that Ulrichs claims the hermaphrodite has two souls; one male and one female. One could argue that in this definition Ulrichs means to refer to what in modern language we might call genderqueer, but the precise meaning is lost because of the conflation between sex, gender, and sexual orientation.
            After Ulrichs had published his work on the subject, Richard Von Krafft-Ebing took to writing diagnostic manuals around sexual deviancy borrowing heavily from Ulrich’s work to diagnose and describe cases. Krafft-Ebing believed referred to homosexuality as inversion and bought into Ulrich’s concept of the male souled lesbian and the female souled gay man. Much of his discussions on these categories of people seek to explain their sexual orientation by stereotyping their genders as more congruent with the opposite sexes supposed natural gender inclinations. Already confusing at this level, Krafft-Ebing’s descriptions of cases continue to mix-up instances of biological sex variation, gender expression and identity incongruence, and “deviant” sexual orientation. Particularly in instances of cross-dressing, Krafft-Ebing has a tendency to assume that this violation of normative gender is indicative of the opposite sex’s soul residing within the patient and therefore homosexual orientation. Note that sexual orientation was not seen as a hard and fast identity in the same way that is can be discussed today, but rather as a collection of behaviors that indicated inclination and desire.
            Perhaps the starkest case of this line of assumption from gender expression to biological sex to sexual orientation can be seen in his accounts of “The Woman-Hater’s Ball”. The scene is set by describing the event as a “Grand Vienna Fancy Dress Ball”, however, Krafft-Ebing notes early on that the dress is surprisingly casual for its advertising. From there, he voyeuristically and not without an exploitive tone, describes the partygoers in great detail. Largely, he comments on their femininity and grace, apparently in order to shock readers by disclosing in narrative style as he “discovers” that each of these women is “male”. It is unclear whether or not he intends to describe these partygoers as deviant in sexual orientation, gender, or sex specifically other than that he assumes that they must all be homosexual and as this description occurs beneath the heading “Cultivated Pederasty” it would seem that he is also assuming that these men are pederasts.
            To deconstruct what is happening here, we will look at the chain of assumptions that lead Krafft-Ebing to label the partygoers as pederasts. First, he explains that these individuals are exhibiting feminine gender expressions. Then, he says that though they are expressing femininity that they are truly male because community members can identify them as such, largely because of their deep voices and vocations. He then links the cross-dressing behavior and assumed maleness to homosexuality by assuming that in order to express femininity one must have a female soul. He takes it one step further to say that these men must be tricksters because of the lengths he assumes they have gone to in order to disguise their maleness and that therefore they must also be pederasts and prostitutes. He claims that it is not uncommon for homosexuals to suffer from “genital neuroses” which one can interpret as being similar to body dysphoria so often attributed (perhaps over enthusiastically) to trans* people today. The problems with his logic are not difficult to point out especially from a modern perspective. However, is it important to recognize that his assumption that gender should equal sex should equal sexual orientation are not far off from a lot of today’s discussions around homophobia and Transphobia in that the identities facing the brunt of social angst challenge the linkage between these three concepts.
            The last example I would like to submit regarding historical conflations of sex, gender, and sexual orientation comes from Magnus Hirschfield’s groundbreaking work entitled Transvestites: The Erotic Desire to Cross-dress. While it is tempting to spend the rest of this paper summarizing the numerous progressive ideas that Hirschfield’s book brought forth, instead the focus will be on the books title. Hirschfield uses the word Transvestite in a way that is nearly opposite of Krafft-Ebing’s ideas of the cross-dressing behavior at “The Woman-Hater’s Ball”. Instead of associating gender transgressions like cross-dressing with sexual orientation, Hirschfield seeks to separate the two and his definition of the transvestite seems more in line with present day understandings of transsexuals rather than cross-dressers.
            Hirschfield routinely makes the argument that one’s sexual orientation should not be assumed based on gender-expression, but that instead the two should be seen as largely separate outside of mainstream stereotypes. In fact, where cross-dressing is seen by Hirschfield much as it is today as often based in fetishistic behavior, transvestism is described as something that is internal to the individual and has little to do with sexual arousal. Instead, transvestism is seen by Hirschfield like transsexuality is seen today, as a part of a person’s identity that means a person’s sex assigned at birth is incongruent with their expected gender identity. Hirschfield notes that there is something incongruent about the person’s sex assignment and their gender assignment that is helped by transitioning in various ways across genders. Clearly, this definition is more in line with modern definitions of a transsexual versus a cross-dresser. So, it is not as much Hirschfield who is making perpetuating this conflation of sex, gender, and sexual orientation, as it is the society he lives in. Hirschfield aims to debunk some of this mixing through his work.
            Though examples like Hirschfield’s work exist, today’s U.S. society often falls into the trap of some of his predecessors of confusing sex, gender, and sexual orientation. All too often, stereotypes allow us to make conclusions about a person based on one facet of these three aspects of identity or our assumption of one of these aspects. Prior to the Stonewall Uprising and arguably the beginning of the GLBT movement, there was less labeling of individual identities under the queer umbrella and for the most part, the communities were relatively united. Post-Stonewall, understandings of distinctions between gender, sex, and gender orientation became more prevalent which partially contributed to the labeling system we have today. It is not the aim of this paper to devalue this system or to comment on the worth of identity labels. Rather, it is my goal to highlight the similarities between modern GLBTQ communities and to reaffirm the necessity of maintaining relationships between and within each community under the larger umbrella.
            As can be seen from the limited historical accounts above, conflation of sex, gender, and sexual orientation has long contributed to discrimination of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, and queer individuals. Stereotypes that lead people to jump from an assumption or knowledge of someone’s “deviant” gender expression and assumed identity can lead to inaccurate conclusions about their sexual orientation or about their biological sex. The order of these indexes may change and interweave depending on the situation, but regardless, they can all lead to moral judgments placed on the individual under scrutiny which can in turn lead to acts of discrimination, hate speech, or other violence both mental and physical upon the person. Because being a gay man or an assumed gay man comes with stereotypes about gender and value judgments about whether or not you are properly enacting your gender, gay movements that seek to challenge discrimination are linked to movements of trans* individuals because each discrimination has foundations in gender expectations.
Today’s GLBTQ movements may have a tendency to dismiss one or more communities beneath that umbrella as being irrelevant to issues typically associated with one community over another. This practice is flawed for several reasons. Firstly, to fall under the trans* umbrella does not exclude a person from also being a member of gay, bisexual, lesbian, pansexual, queer, or heterosexual identities because trans* identities are related to gender and not sexual orientation. Secondly, all identities under the GLBTQ umbrella have faced discrimination related to gender, sexual orientation, and sex assigned at birth whether or not individuals transgress normative standards under each of these categories or not. Regardless of reality, because of historical conflations of these three facets of identity, the persecution of GLBTQ identities are inter-related and interwoven with stereotypes related to this conflation. Ultimately, the perception that to fall under this umbrella means that one must be deviant in sex, gender, and sexual orientation links these communities together and should be seen as a uniting factor between them as movements for equality progress. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reminiscing

I found this piece in a journal of mine. The person I'm writing about has been in my thoughts a lot lately. She has given me so much strength over these few years, I hope by posting this the universe will send some positive energy her way.

Incense, sweet and mellow fills the room. I sit, drinking bourbon on the rocks. I inhale the smoky sweet incense smell and my nostrils sting as it melds with the sharp wooden tones of the bourbon. Ice cubes clink as I tilt the glass idly from side to side. I murmur in contentment, my back resting against the alter. My friend reenters her bedroom- sipping her own bourbon. She smiles at me and I smile back. Strangely, I sense that she is less comfortable with me in her own bedroom that I with her in this foreign place. I think that maybe it is because this place is not so unusual to me, filled as it is with things that remind me of her. She seems to be struggling to fit my oddness into her normality.

I feel that I understand her more than she does me. I scold my ego. She comes to sit by me, invites me to the bed. I decline, thinking that this alter behind me is a grounding point that promotes my sense of security. I look fondly at the alter. I see many things that somehow comfort me. There is the incense gently smoldering on a hand-carved stand, its tendrils of smoke writing messages in a forgotten language. Coins are scattered about on a deep purple cloth, along with pictures of her ex lovers, including my current girlfriend. I'm filled with empathy and happiness for the love they once shared and the new kind of love that keeps them emotionally close even when their correspondance is strained.

My eyes settle on a thin object that is rectangular in form and covered by a dark piece of crushed velvet.  The image entices me and I feel my graze linger.

"For scrying," says my friend- observant as always.

 I blush, thinking that she must have have been watching me. Something about this brief exchange stirs my unconscious, I think I see something glimmer, bright and vibrant green out of the corner of my eye. I turn my head, but the sparkle s gone.

"Strange," I murmur.

 "What is?"

 I shrug her inquiry off. She nods in understanding and reaches into the cubby in her nightstand. I watch her fingers enviously. I admire their long, straight, strength. Eventually, she pulls out a book. It seems familiar  but not in a placeable way: The Last Poems of Planet Earth, she begins to read.

Though she stumbles over the words. I can't help but feel drawn to her voice. I've missed being read allowed to. I take a turn reading and am filled with a hunger to continue devouring the words on the page. She compliments me on my reading. I feel my cheeks redden yet again at her compliment. The hour grows late and the bourbon in my glass makes me feel fuzzy. I catch myself looking lustfully at the warm softness of her bed. She, observant as always, acknowledges my look and lies down. I snuggle in beside her and we pass the night the night that way, grounded in our mutual fondness and caressed by the the whispering smoke from the incense.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Glossary (comments welcome, as always)

For one of my classes this semester I was asked to make a glossary. It was too much work not to share it. Haha. Also, this is for an intro class, so it has a lot of holes and a few problematic points. I hope it does the job.For one of my classes this semester I was asked to make a glossary. It was too much work not to share it. Haha. Also, this is for an intro class, so it has a lot of holes and a few problematic points. I hope it does the job. Comments welcome!


Glossary:
The following is a collection of terms likely to come up in our discussions this semester and beyond about gender and sexuality. The goal of this collection is to act as a starting place for our discussions. The following glossary is to be used as a guide, but not to be seen as firm definitions. Gender and sexuality vary immensely from person to person and definitions may change based on the intersectionalities of those involved. Please, keep in mind that the best way to describe someone is to find out how they self-identify and to use the terms and pronouns that they are comfortable with. Feel free to make notes on these definitions to add to their depth and also to add your own terms that did not make it on this list, which is by no means complete.
• Sex: Assigned at birth based on biological factors, such as internal and external genitalia, hormones, and chromosomes. It is important to realize that these factors are measured against socially determined standards for what it considered “male”, “female”, or “ambiguous”.
• Gender: Socially constructed bank of roles, behavioral expectations, and presentations based on a person’s levels of masculinity and femininity. Note that gender expectations vary cross-culturally.
o Gender Identity: One’s internal sense of their actual gender. This may be different that the gender they are perceived as by society and may be incongruent from the expectations of gender based on biological sex. There are many different gender identities and it is important for people to self-identify their own rather than to be categorized against their will.
o Gender Expression: How one presents their gender. This consists of clothing, behavior, patterns of speech, etc.
o Gender Identity Disorder (GID): “A controversial DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-variant people” (Really Awesome Trans Glossary). This diagnosis refers to the gender identity of a person being incongruent with their assigned sex and therefore assumed gender. The term is controversial because it has been used to pathologize trans* individuals and to treat their gender identity as a malady.
o Gender Dysphoria: Feelings of intense dissatisfaction and malaise towards one’s assigned sex and gender.
• Sexual Orientation: The summary of a person’s physical, emotional, spiritual, etc., attraction to others. Note that sexual orientation is separate from gender identity. A trans man may be attracted to other men and would like self-identify as gay, or could be attracted to women and may identify as straight.
o Sexual Expression: The sexual/romantic behavior of an individual. Sexual expression may or may not reflect sexual orientation. A self-identified bisexual woman may have sexual or romantic relationships with women the majority of the time, but that does not indicate that their sexual orientation has changed. Similarly, a self-identified gay man may have sexual or romantic relationships with women, but still identify as gay with complete validity.
• AMAB/AFAB: An acronym meaning assigned male/female at birth.  Often indicating that the individual had no choice in the assignment and that it may or may not reflect their actual identity.
• Intersex: “Describes a person whose natal physical sex is physically ambiguous. Parents and medical professionals usually assign intersex infants a sex and perform surgical operations to conform the infant's body to that assignment, but this practice has become increasingly controversial as intersex adults are speaking out” (Really Awesome Trans Glossary). The term, “hermaphrodite” is typically seen today as improper when referring to the intersex community as it is laced with misconceptions, discrimination, and misinformation about intersex individuals.
• Cross Dresser: Someone who dresses in the clothing typical of the gender assumed opposite of their own gender. Cross-dressing behavior or identity does not indicate sexual orientation. Many self-identified straight men engage in this behavior and it does not mean that they are homosexual. This behavior should also not be used as an indicator of a trans* identity. The term transvestite is today often seen as inappropriate or offensive. Cross dresser is the preferred term.
• Femme: Can be used to indicate an identity, presentation, or behavior relating to gender. Though often associated with lesbian communities, “femme” is not necessarily indicative of “womanhood”, rather it is used to indicate leanings towards femininity. For instance, a male-identified person may also identify as femme, or feminine.
• Butch: Similar to femme, but on the masculine end of the scale. Once again, this term is often used in the context of a lesbian community, but “butch” may be an entirely independent gender identity or may indicate feelings of masculinity. One may identify as butch in tandem with another gender identity or by itself, i.e. butch, butch trans woman, butch man, butch genderqueer, etc.
• Drag: Extravagant, dramatic, performative gender, usually as a vehicle of entertainment. Most commonly thought of in terms of cross dressing, but any combination of gender identity and sex can enact any gender in drag. For example, a female-identified person could act as a drag queen successfully, just as a male-identified person could act as a drag king.
• Trans*: An umbrella term representing a multitude of gender identities that involve identifying, outside of, in-between, and across gender binary (masculine, feminine) lines.
o Transgender: A person who identifies across from the gender assigned along with their sex at birth. Trans woman is a term indicating someone who identifies as feminine/female, but who was AMAB. Trans man indicates someone who identifies as masculine/male who was AFAB.
o Transsexual: A term that usually refers to someone identifying across from their assigned gender/sex who is seeking to transition. Note that both “transsexual” and “transgender” should be applied to individuals based on how they self-identify.
o Intergender/Genderqueer: A term of some ambiguity that can refer to a range of gender identities. Often genderqueer people identify as androgynous, or in between masculine and feminine. However, genderqueers may also identify as outside of gender norms completely.
o Genderfluid: Similar to genderqueer, but indicative of gender variation throughout an individual’s life. This may mean that they see their gender as constantly in flux, or it could be that they shift slowly from one gender identity to another.
o Bigender: Refers to someone who identifies as both masculine and feminine. This could mean that they see themselves as primarily one or the other at certain times or that they exist in a consistent combination of masculine and feminine.
o Gender fucking(er): Someone who intentionally uses their gender expression/identity to challenge cultural norms surrounding gender.
• Cis: Where “trans” means “across” in Latin, “Cis” means “the same”.
o Cisgender: Someone whose gender identity/expression is consistent with their assigned birth sex.
o Cissexual: Someone who does not seek to transition physically due to having a body that is socially congruent with their gender identity.
• Chaser: A person who eroticizes or fetishizes someone based on their gender or sexual identity. Often this term is used to describe cis individuals who dehumanize trans* individuals, often in a sexual context.
• Passing: The notion that a person’s identity is able to go unnoticed when they wish. In a gender context, a person who is passing may be a trans woman who is seen as having an outwardly appearance and or behavior that renders her able to disappear among other women, unless she chooses to out herself as trans. Passing is complicated by the fact that who passes as what is socially determined and out of the hands of the individual. Rather, it is society who decides if a person passes. “Passing” in some ways cannot be defined because the nuances of what qualifies vary widely. Passing may refer to things outside of gender or sexual orientation including race, social class, etc.
o Passing Privilege: The idea that a person able to “pass” as their identified self is able to avoid some challenges that those with less passing privileges may face. This may include not being seen as a target for violence or discrimination, or may come down to whether or not someone is interpreted as “other” by society.
• Transphobia: Fear, distrust, hatred, etc. of Trans individuals and Transconcepts that can lead to violence, “othering”, and discrimination.
• Homophobia: Fear, distrust, hatred, etc. of homosexuals and homosexual concepts that can lead to violence, “othering”, and discrimination.
• Heteronormativity: The assumption that heterosexuality is unnatural, normal, expected, or mandatory. This concept can be enacted through non-inclusion of non-heterosexual identities or non-cis identities. Contributes to the “othering” of identities that fall outside of heterosexual and cissexual expectations.
• Transition: The process of physically and mentally becoming congruent with one’s gender identity and physicality. The terms below are often used to describe various aspects of transition. Note that no one should have to be reduced to their body parts and that each of these terms is not a stage or a step, but a part of transition for some people.
o Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Gradually taking hormones to become physically and mentally congruent with one’s gender identity and physicality.
o Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS): The act of undergoing a surgery or combination of surgeries to alter one’s physicality into a state congruent with one’s gender identity.
o Non-op: A trans* individual not seeking surgical procedures in transition.
o Pre-op: A trans* individual who is seeking surgical procedures in transition, but who has not yet undergone said procedures.
o Post-op: A trans* individual who has undergone surgical procedures in transition.
o Top Surgery: Refers to surgical procedures to remove the breasts of a trans* individual.
o Bottom Surgery: Refers to surgical procedures to remove/alter/construct the genitalia of a trans* individual to help them physically align with their gender identity.
• Queer: Can be used as an umbrella term for the GLBTQQIIAAP community (that’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, intergender, ally, asexual, pansexual.) Or can be a separate identity. Queer can mean different things to different people. For this definition, queer is a term that refers to an individual who identifies under the trans umbrella and also identifies within the homosexual umbrella, often as bisexual or pansexual.
• Monosexual: A sexual orientation based around one gender.
o Lesbian: A woman who has a sexual orientation geared towards romantic, sexual, or spiritual relationships with other women.
o Gay: A man who has a sexual orientation geared towards romantic, sexual, or spiritual relationships with other men.
o Straight (heterosexual): A man or a women who has a sexual orientation geared towards romantic, sexual, or spiritual relationships with genders opposite from their own.
• Multisexual: A sexual orientation based around multiple genders.
o Pansexual: An individual who has a sexual orientation geared towards romantic, sexual, or spiritual relationships with other individuals without stipulations of gender identity.
o Bisexual: An individual who has a sexual orientation geared towards romantic, sexual, or spiritual relationships with other individuals who are male or female identified.
o Heteroflexible: An individual who is primarily heterosexually identified, but has a sexual orientation that is open to romantic, sexual, or spiritual relationships with same gender partners.
o Homoflexible: An individual who is primarily homosexually identified, but has a sexual orientation that is open to romantic, sexual, or spiritual relationships with opposite gender partners.
• Asexual: An individual who has little to no interest in sexual partners. However, this individual may still seek out romantic partners and may consider themselves gay, lesbian, pansexual, straight, etc. based on their preferences toward genders of their romantic partners.
• Aromantic: An individual who has little to no interest in romantic partners. Often aromantic individuals identify as asexual as well, but this is not necessarily the case.
• Monogamy: A relationship style wherein the individuals involved have only one sexual and or romantic partner.
• Polyamory/nonmonagamy: A relationship style where the individuals may have more than one romantic or sexual partner with the knowledge and consent of all parties involved.
• Ally: An individual who acts in support of marginalized communities. In the case of the GLBTQQIIAAP community, an ally acts in support of those who are marginalized specifically for their gender or sexual identities.
Terminology to avoid/pejorative terms:
The communities of which they apply see most of the following terms as highly offensive. However, in some cases, individuals may self-identify as these terms, in which case identities should be respected, though it is important to understand the history of such terms and to look at their influences on communities most affected. There are many other terms not on this list, which is a brief sampling of words out of an ocean of defamatory language. Use common sense and be respectful if you have a question about whether or not how you are referring to an individual or a community is appropriate or offensive.
Bio male/female or genetic male/female, she-male, trap, reverse trap, he-she, it, tgirl, tboy, tranny, dick girl, lady-boy, chicks with dicks, runts with cunts, hermaphrodite, transvestite, faggot, fag-hag, fruit fly, dyke, etc.
Sources:
“A Really Awesome Trans Glossary” by erinhoudini 
https://docs.google.com/document/edit?id=1YKAAZgij2… (used with permission)
Transgender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg (1997)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dating my Dysphoria


This summer, I am enrolled in a creative writing class. A lot of what I'm writing is gender/sexuality related. I thought I would share a couple of experimental pieces with you all.

 Dating My Dysphoria (Draft 2)

            I met him online. He was intriguing and mysterious and all those wonderful things that everybody thinks they want in a partner, but which never play out in the end. Early on I felt an intense connection with him, something that I could not quite put my finger on. In all honesty, he wasn’t very nice and he was arrogant. I liked him more for it. He was often cold and always distant. He rarely talked about himself. Each tidbit about who he was only made me more curious. As time went on I became aware of how similar we were to each other. In some ways I felt like being with him was like watching myself. Every move he made seemed perfectly in sync with my own movements.
            I began to notice physical similarities between myself and him. The way his eyes shone green with flecks of gold, the way his hair curled around his shoulders. When we were apart I would state at myself in the mirror and pick my features apart comparing the two of us. I realized that it was sort of creepy how obsessed with him I had become, but I could not get enough of him.
            Over time, his distance began to fade and he became softer, warmer. He would lie in bed next to me and talk about his insecurities and he would pull me close and whisper in my ear that he needed me. I pushed back at him, I demanded to know what had changed in him, constantly questioning what was wrong. I had grown comfortable with our relationship and its oddness. I appreciated the awkward barriers that I no longer felt as such, but rather truths that strengthened our connection. He was hurt by my suspicion, I could feel that, but I could not bear to let him relax- to become too close to me.
            I became afraid of the bond we had formed. It was too strong, too familiar. It seemed dangerous. He dominated my personality and I submitted, but not with my affection. I kept my emotions away from him even as he became more vulnerable. Part of me was worried that beign so physically and mentally similar that if I shared my emotions with him that we would meld and that my identity would be lost. I realized later how na├»ve I was for this anxiety. The relationship couldn’t last. Where his initially distant attitude had drawn me to him, my behavior drove him away. My obsession grew as his desire flickered. Eventually, he stopped returning my calls. I felt lost. It was a peculiar feeling, not like the heartbreak I had faced in the past. This was new, and I could not describe the feelings welling up inside me. My identity seemed lost. I wondered if we had melded after all. It took a long time for me to start to understand what had happened in that relationship. I began to realize that physically we had nothing in common, something I should have known after all that time looking in the mirror, I guess I hadn’t really been seeing.
            One day it clicked into place. It was not that we actually looked alike, but rather that he looked like I feel I would look as a boy. It was a complicated idea, which may not translate well onto paper. With this understanding came a wealth of pain. Every day it became more apparent that my attraction to him had been less about my interest in dating him and more about my interest in being him…or being like him. It is all confusing, as I am sure the readers of this might feel right now. It is not that I feel transgender exactly, but maybe it is similar.
            The reality is that I have always thought of myself as foundationally male with a female outer layer. Maybe that makes me genderqueer. Maybe it just makes me weird. I admit that I am not sure. I do know that through this experience I have found that I am often attracted to similar kinds of men who are arrogant and distant and sad, but who I see myself in and therefore cannot rest their company. Despite this, I feel especially delicate around them. The connection formed is immediate, strong, and dangerous.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pools


I know better than to be here
stretched out on the grass
Cool moonlight pooling around he and I,
Habitat for mosquitoes.

Come with me into this scene beneath the willows
The spring sugar smell
Playing like a lute-
Lifting he and I up
Laughing.

The song is deceptive,
Juxtaposed against a canvas bought with unearned money
Painted upon by another’s hand
And stolen-
 touted as my own.

I forget that I should not be here,
Stretched out on the grass
Cool moonlight pooling around he and I,
A lamb for the slaughter.




His eyes tell another story,
They reassure me,
The hour is late,
Salty, grey light pierces the black veil

I forget myself-
there beneath the willows.
My caution turned to wanderlust in the wind
And lost.

I know that I should not be
Stretched out on the grass,
Cool moonlight pooling around he and I,
Creeping morning reminds me.