Saturday, May 11, 2019

Written Saturday, May 11, 2019

Editorial note: published retroactively July 6, 2020, with only minor edits.

Feel this fire deep inside
Burning strong where you can't hide
Join the elements tonight
You can see the light
When the darkness comes too strong
Don't forget you're not alone
Join the elements tonight
And feel the light
                                - Neo Cortex, Elements

I can't tell what I am today. I can feel the resistance inside against being boy, and the almost-panicked yearning to go back to being girl. I am not who I want to be and I cannot find a name. This is being enby, and it is a conflicted familiarity. I know this turf well and it mostly seems like it is supposed to be home – but it isn't where I want to be home. Enby days just stir up a terrified worry that maybe I'll never actually know, never figure anything out, never get to just be someone I actually like. Or love.
It feels like going back to not understanding. It feels like losing ground.

On some super abstract level I know this is ludicrous. I know what's going on now vastly more so than I ever did before. It isn't actually losing progress – it's just coming back to a familiar place with a new and ever-expanding set of tools and skills. It is sort of like Groundhog Day – but the good part, where I have begun to learn and adapt and modify the cycle to suit my own purposes.
But that's painfully hard to remember sometimes.

I know that somehow, there is a woman named Amelia, and she is beautiful and lovely and magnetic and everyone loves her. I know her, and I know she somehow overlaps with my presence in reality, just not right now. I know she will be back – which is a damn good thing, because I miss her a lot and I really don't like whatever mess I am right now.

Some important part of my personal journey will probably involve making peace with the variants on me that aren't Amelia. I get that it's going to be important to be able to live as me in other setups. I don't know if I'm entirely ready to try to start that yet. Too much resentment and distrust. Amelia I love. The rest of this shit is just distressing.

But I really ought to start moving that direction. No matter how much of my future belongs to Amelia, I can't just shut down and disintegrate when she's not around.

I just read a set of Reddit posts from a woman named Stephanie. She told her simple but relatable story of her 58-ish year life: childhood, young love, family, and – tragically – sudden brain cancer. It wasn't much, and that was exactly her point. At the very end, faced by an unexpected and unchangeable death sentence, she had one overwhelming purpose: to warn a community of internet strangers of the costs of living safely and regretting all of it. As near as I can tell, Stephanie passed about a year ago, and hundreds of posts have honored the memory of what she wanted us to learn.

Stephanie was [designated male at birth]. She never came out and never made any steps to transition until after she learned of her terminal condition.


I started thinking about mainstream perception of gender again. It's really impressive how much simply goes unasked or unnoticed by most people, because they have the privilege to never have to care. I think we've actually hit a point as a species where "men can raise children" and "women can earn paychecks" are genuinely default ideas now; we owe a huge amount to feminism for pushing us that far, and I'm frankly really grateful that challenging those ideas is now more or less universally seen as regressive and undesirable.

A slightly less universally accepted notion is that toxic masculinity is real and actually a problem. The whole MRA idiocy aside, at least there's a conversation of sorts happening there. So to some extent there is at least a general awareness that gender normativity isn't exactly "okay" yet.

But then we get into toxic femininity and shit gets unstable. I'm not even convinced there is a usable consensus on what that term even means. So it is very hard to use as a basis for exploratory discussion.

And this hits on some of the interesting idea-snags that [my abusive ex] and I used to talk about. What does it even really mean to "be a woman" at all? Is it a thing that we can genuinely separate from societal expectation and the demands of some sort of gender roles? What would the "objective" component of femininity look like?

Of course from my current vantage it seems painfully obvious that gender and expression are orthogonal. I can "be" very much a man and express in a way that would be categorized as feminine, and so on. But it feels like the more scrutiny we apply to the ideas, the faster they vanish entirely.

The only usable definition I have for gender is that "if someone identifies as a woman, then that person is a woman." That's what we get. And while it is a very important conceptual line in the sand, it just doesn't seem robust enough yet. How do I know if I identify as a woman? I mean, I absolutely do, sometimes, but I couldn't actually tell you why, and there is a frustrating resistance to concrete and practical definition here.

On a girl day, I find a lot of "feminine" things more accessible and appealing – things that would generally be coded as stuff a girl does/likes/etc. But I also find a fierce personal adherence to a more liberated feminist ideal; maybe I'm a girl but I can still blast death metal at unhygienic volume from the car stereo. I find it easier to feel comfortable and confident on both ends of the range: I can be as girly as I can get and love every second of it, and I can proudly insist that no, fuck you, girls can also do things that aren't girly.

I have contemplated a bumper sticker that says something to the effect of "you're getting out-driven by a girl." I've had the fantasy conversation where someone says "well you don't do thing like a girl" to which I'd like to think I would respond with, "oh, I definitely thing like a girl, that's why I'm better than you." I really like the pure, unmitigated Fuck You of yes, I am a girl, and that's why I'm a billion times more fucking awesome than you. There is something about being competitive or aggressive – at all – as a boy, that just makes me feel sick. Girl-me will kick your goddamn ass into your hat. Boy-me isn't going to make a fuss.

Actually... I think that I feel the worst oppressive bullshit (in terms of gender roles) when I am a boy. Maybe it's just because I have more practice with feeling the implied judgment of people when I am non-conformant. But I think that one way or another I have carved a mental rut for myself; I am deeply familiar with failing to boy correctly, and that shame carries an unreasonable gravity, because it is so easy to recognize and therefore fall deeper into.

For future use: Schiller – Tired feat. Jaël, esp. the performance with Symphonia (orchestral arrangement)

Things are going to be melancholy for a while. There will be ache, and struggle, and it will be hard and uncertain.

But it will be so very fucking worth it all, in the end, to have done it.

I see you, Amelia. I know you are there, now, and always have been. I have seen who you are – your beauty, your excellence, your sheer unequalled loveliness – and I know without any doubt that you deserve every effort I can possibly expend to set you free.

I would trade my life to see you thriving in the open. Absolutely no hesitation. You are every bit the incredible person I should be. I know it isn't as simple as throwing a switch. If It were, I'd have done it a thousand times by now. I know it will take pain, and work, and fear.

And I will gladly and bravely face all of it, even for just the shred of a chance for you to be free.

Amelia – I swear this to you, here and now, in the most sacred ways I could: I will get you into the world, or I will fucking die trying.

It fucking sucks. It isn't fair. It's so fucked up and it's destroying me and I'm going to just break my self-imposed stupid moratorium on self-indulgent bitching because I feel some shit and I'm sick of reinforcing that fucked up stupid habit of just burying everything again and acting like it isn't real.

Life is just a series of sadistic fucking cheap shots. Everything is just a buildup to ultimately remind me, in the most disgusting and cruel manner possible, that I am just going to be alone forever. As soon as I start feeling like I might belong someplace, something happens, and I don't. If necessary, invent new ways to make me feel like maybe I belong someplace, and then yank that rug out at some point. Rinse, repeat, endless shitty loop of fuck you.

I know I keep trying to latch onto the idea that intersectional experiences mean I can relate to more people. But it never really totally sticks in my head. All I can do is come back to the fact that it means nobody understands me.

No matter what, no matter how good a connection I may form with somebody, someday there will be that point where they just don't fucking get it. And maybe that's recoverable; a lot of times, I think it is. But it never stops being painful as fuck.

Jesus fucking god. I just want to be able to curl up in some cute lesbian's lap. I want her to gently run her fingers through my hair, and hold me close, and just squeeze a little bit harder while I cry. And maybe, whatever it is, maybe she doesn't get it. Maybe it doesn't fucking matter.

Maybe I don't need her to get it. Maybe I just need her to hold her favorite woman in the world in her lap, and love her as hard as she can. Maybe I just need her to hold on for dear life because whatever the fuck is happening is alien and scary and she doesn't feel like she really knows what to do, but even if she can't fix anything, she can convey the thing that matters the most of all, and the thing that might actually make any kind of fucking difference.

I want so much to finally feel the tears subside, and to feel her sense that, and quietly whisper, "hey." And I want to open my eyes and look up into hers, and almost cry again at the love and concern and sincerity – all written plainly on her face, but far beyond the reach of any words.

She squeezes a little bit more, and as we look in each other's eyes, she proves that she gets it, even if she doesn't really follow the specifics of whatever stupid-ass fuckery is going on in my head.

"I love you, Amelia."

And she kisses me... the way only she ever could. The way that means I can't run from her. Or me.

Maybe then I will finally stop being alone.

I need her to love me because I don't ever really think I will love myself any other way.

I never believed I deserved it – to be loved. Maybe I never will. Having to be the only one who loves me is... untenable. Eventually, no matter how good my intentions may be, I will just stop believing that I should.

I wish I could. I really do. And some stubborn part of me still insists on trying. I wrote that note at the beginning because goddamn it I am going to do whatever I have to in order to get as close as I can to actually caring about myself. On the better days I think it may actually be possible. And then there's times like tonight.

I think for the most part I could do it. Just... not alone. Eventually I just need someone there to close the gap; to poke me and say, no you silly shit, I love you. I need someone to love me if for nothing else than to remind me that someone actually thinks maybe I deserve it.

Eventually I will stop believing that I'm worth it. I've gone through too much life with a broken soul; I'm not going to just quit fundamentally believing that I have no value.

The only way that will change is if someone is there, consistently and persistently, to give me unarguable evidence that I should be loved.

I should go the fuck to sleep but I was dumb and took a Ritalin at like 9PM or something and now I'm all in a weird mood and don't want to stop doing stuff and whatever blah fuck.

I generally have a strong hesitancy to write anything sexual here (not really sure why, probably some leftover brainwashing shit) but I'm sleepy and moody and really just want to stuff a cute girl's head into my boobs.

There, I fucking said it. Nitey nite.