transDestinations, enroute and post-root
I have been oscillating in my attitude to secondary sex characteristics. On the bus home from Melbourne last weekend, my breasts seemed like uncomfortable alien growths protruding from my chest, possibly because the nipples were going through that hypersensitive rapid growth stage, with the stretching skin causing a distracting sensation.
TransDestinations, at Gasworks arts space in Melbourne last weekend, was a blast. I took the overnight bus on Saturday, sung a few of my genderqueer songs as part of the lunchtime entertainment, and spoke on a panel in the afternoon. Then I was totally blown away by the Tiwi Sisters closing act, featuring two indigenous performers from the Tiwi Islands (off the Queensland coast), telling their personal and family stories with cutting honesty and life-affirming humour, and mixing up the harsh socio-political realities with some brilliant and sassy song and dance. One of the performers. Crystal, later told me that, as an educational performer, I had been an inspiration for her, and I felt both awed and humbled, sensing my relaying role in the great chain of being.
I had travelled down with about twenty bucks and no idea where I could stay on Sunday night (with my return bus leaving the next day), so I just threw myself at the mercy of fate and the kindness of strangers. As it transpired, I ended up staying above one of Australia’s most influential GLBT bookshops, Hares and Hyenas. One of the partners who owns this business, Crusader, is a gay man now around my age who changed his name when he was twenty and who has long been instrumental in nurturing GLBT culture and expression. He is also a curator for Gasworks, the arts venue hosting TransDestinations. It did my soul good just to share space with this caring community-minded individualist.
I had no idea how I was going to pay for travel to the interstate bus station, having spent the last of my cash on breakfast, but Crusader did some creative accounting and found cash for my travel expenses as an interstate performer, and I was most happy to see my financial fortunes reversed!
Being around so many gender-queer folk had pushed many of my buttons regarding my own gender expression, for I am turning my back on being the champion of androgyny for the past sixteen years. There was a workshop on sexuality, mostly attended by transguys, who seem to have little trouble in finding partners, no matter their gender preference. Perhaps that’s because the male hormones give them more sexual initiative, or because (for those attracted to women), women are more flexible about their partner’s morphology, and those who identify as gay men have a male confidence that I am far too femme for. I figured there was little I could do to feel better about my romantic chances except be patient and wait for my secondary sex characteristics to match my primary. So, I felt a little isolated from human possibilities, and even moreso at the sexually charged soiree of Butch and Femme that evening, where I felt straight in a gay gay world.
In the small hours of the morning, on the bus trip back, I became increasingly disturbed at my gender dilemma, fighting the loss of my hard-won hard-line androgyny, wondering why I was abandoning my commitment to the principle that everyone is lovable as they are, then starkly facing the poor results this blithe evasion of gendered realities has given me personally, seeing a personal price for my living out the ideals of genderqueer theory and realising that I have decided this price is too expensive for me to keep paying, and so I am copping out and joining gender normativity. And then I would wrestle with the alien protrusions growing invasively on my chest, and get into a frustrating angst caught between an idealistically repulsive notion that seems pragmatically necessary, and an idealistically attractive notion that seems proven unsustainable. And I’d look back on my love life to see if it was really that bad, had I really given androgyny a fair go, but I have, and my love life was that bad.
I’m just letting go of the idea of myself I held so strongly for so long, but it’s just an idea, and ultimately not compatible with my own personal sexuality, which has always been fairly single-gender directed, for that’s the way my brain is hard wired.
My previous housemate was moving out the weekend I was in Melbourne, after living in my house for three years. Maybe it was just time for him to move on, but he did indicate he had become uncomfortable with my instability these last few months. Our communication has always been a little difficult with his Polish accent and different English abilities, but we had a shared intellectualism. Whatever, I was ready for change.
As it happened, a friend of a friend, well, actually, an ex of a friend, answered my bulletin on myspace looking for a new housemate. He moved in the day I arrived back from Melbourne, and I have an instantly changed household. Ironically, he had challenged my hormone decision when I invited discussion on my blog, and now he’s moved in with a hormonal queen! Fortunately he’s so young he thinks I think he’s the crazy one. It’s okay darl, you’re a creative, sensitive, and a thinker; you don’t have to be normal.
The day after he moved in, the house next door was ram-raided by the police, who in a case of either complete incompetence, astronomically bad luck, or standard copper corruption, found absolutely nothing and no one.
Luckily, my new housemate was so distracted by his own relocation that he was apologising to me for the noise made by his moving boxes, and he didn’t even notice the racket from the police taking the angle grinder to the grate next door before physically bashing the door in.
Later that day, I saw my doctor, who seemed displeased with my recent parasuicidal tendencies, and increased the frequency of our appointments. I begin to suspect I am manic depressive in more than just a joking way.
That night, I cycled out to a creative (anarchist) arts space in Newtown for the monthly performance night Creative Dissent. The music was great and often hilarious, and I must say Chris Lego’s poetry is getting more confident and funny.
When I arrived home, I found my bag and contents soaked with the mixed drink that had been in a bottle there. My phone was vibrating incessantly, with no response from any keys. I remembered what had happened with my last water-damaged phone, so I frantically worked to disconnect the battery and separate the parts, and left them to dry.
Alas, the next day the phone was still cactus, just vibrating with a blank screen when I connected the battery. It was insured, but the customer service of both the phone company and the insurance company are so understaffed it took me two days to work out I had to post the damn thing to some place in Adelaide. So, here I sit, having another unscheduled holiday from mobile connection, cut off from all my friend’s SMSing and party invites and contact details.
I didn’t even realise that my Best Friend had left the mainland on Friday night, until I checked my landline messages on Saturday! (He’s in Hobart for a week.)
Friday night I had dedicated to trying to make some money on the street. As it turned out, between the discount rate I accepted from my first and only job and the room fee and taxi fares, I barely broke even, but more importantly, I had a successful shag with a skinny muscley boy JUST my type, and was too happily weak at the knees to try for another job after that! A successful Friday night all up (so to speak).
And there’s my heterosexual sexual reality again. Why on earth have I been playing the androgyne, I wondered, when what presses my button, floats my boat, and takes me to heaven, is being the female in acts of heterosexual copulation. Breasts seem more appropriate then, even as I struggle to incorporate them into my self image. They will give me a better chance of getting what I want, if I too have bits that interest those who have the sort of bits I am interested in.
It’s a bit startling for me to be this pragmatic, but I hope I am flexible enough to change, my body and my self-image, and enjoy the same range of love options open to those who are either men or women. Jeez, that shag was good!