Ah … teenage memories

It’s simultaneously both revelatory and utterly fucking disturbing that so many old memories have insisted on bobbing up recently. Revelatory, because I’m incrementally, a teeny smidge before I hit 50, getting closer to working out who I actually am. But it’s also quite disturbing to be constantly reminded just how powerful denial can be when it’s tyres are being kicked by trauma. Of course I get that to have realised who I was back when I should have realised who I was, would have most certainly led to me suffering far worse trauma, yet I am still often left wondering how I have made it this far, having managed to, even if only temporarily, stuff so much of what quintessentially should make me me into a collection of unmarked boxes and then abandoned them in the deepest storage levels of my brain. 

One of my most recent flashbacks was to either a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon in early 1986. I was 16. I hadn’t thought of that particular afternoon for many years until several weeks ago when Youtube’s algorithms helpfully suggested that I might like to watch a music clip from the mid 1980s. It was spot on. I was a huge Mental as Anything fan in my teens, and in early 1986, their member Martin Plaza had just released his monumentally successful solo cover of Unit 4 + 2’s Concrete and Clay. I had somehow managed to get my hands on a promo poster for it, which I guess, with hindsight, must have come from a friend’s copy of Dolly or Cosmopolitan. I remember looking at the poster that I had just blu-takked to the bedroom wall (shared then with my younger brother), almost nearly recognising that my universe had just rotated a little, yet it has still taken me until now to realise what had actually shifted that afternoon. Martin Plaza had just become my first nearly-outward man crush, yet my denial was so strong because of the time-and-place layers of my existence, that it has taken me another 33 years to be able to visualise myself in my teenage bedroom gazing longingly up at Martin Plaza gazing longingly back at me. He was sexily clad in a pair of mechanic’s overalls and his face and hands were liberally smeared with grease. To perfect the scene, both of his hands were tightly wrapped around the biggest wrench you have ever been lucky enough to clap your eyes on. Swoon.

Until 2 years ago, my attempts to retrieve memories of my life up to, and including, my late teens had mostly drawn a blank, especially where my gender and sexuality were relevant. Thanks to some stellar help from my most excellent psychologist, and some really intense memorial excavations on my part, the past two years have witnessed a deluge of returning childhood memories, all neatly slotting into place in my psyche like a game of Tetris, all helping me to contextualise the trauma experienced from attempting to squash my gender into the ultimately misguided binary male/female model. I am confident there are many more memories and revelations still yet hidden, possibly memories that will cause even more trauma in their resurfacing. 

On the one hand I want them all to resurface now. I feel that the more memories I have Tetrised, the faster I will be able to get on with the rest of my life. On the other hand, the sudden resurfacing of each additional memory brings with it the trauma that it was packed with, like so many foetid foam packing peanuts. As I am limited in the amount of additional trauma I am able to process simultaneously, I have decided that it is probably best to sit back and let them rise up at a time and place of their choosing. I have crossed my fingers that they are clever and kind enough to self-organise in order to pace themselves out.

 

 

 

Money can’t buy you love and acceptance, but at least it can buy your lunch

Today a young shop assistant remarked on my red finger nails, and how she wished she could achieve the nail length I have. I smiled and thanked her, but admitted that I need to use shellac polish as the hormones I am taking cause my nails to be extremely brittle, and that they otherwise too readily, and too often, peel, shatter and split past my quick. Despite my extensive reading beforehand to search for all possible outcomes, I don’t remember reading any references to the possibility that a drastic reduction in testosterone could interfere with my body’s ability to lay down keratin in my nails. My hormone specialist has promised to trawl the journals to try to find a solution for me, bless his little cotton socks. It is unlikely, though, due to the dearth of studies on cross hormones and transitioning.

The shop assistant replied “oh … the hormones my boyfriend takes cause his nails to be really hard, so he struggles to trim and file them”. It took me 0.25 second and several blinks of my eyelids to realise that she had just very probably told me that she has a trans boyfriend experiencing the effects of vastly increased testosterone. I wanted to ask, but there were others behind me waiting to be served. 

I left the shop, sat down in my car and promptly started crying. I shed tears for how comfortable she was in telling me … someone that she sees for a matter of minutes not even once a week, and someone who’s name she doesn’t know. I shed tears for the joy that future generations of trans folk, generally speaking, in Australia at least, will have vastly improved and much more fulfilling lives than those that have beaten this path before them. I shed tears because … well that’s just who I am now.

THIS IS THE LEVEL OF TRANS OPENNESS WE ALL NEED TO FIGHT FOR!

Transgender Awareness Week

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November 12 – 19 individuals and organizations around the country will participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces.

Between November 12 – 19, individuals and organizations around the country will participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces. Also, after Transgender Awareness Week is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. You can read more about Transgender Awareness Week and the Transgender Day of Remembrance below, and find out how you can participate. More about Transgender Awareness Week >>

What is Transgender Awareness Week?

Transgender Awareness Week is a time for transgender people and their allies to take action and bring attention to the community by educating the public and advancing advocacy around the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that transgender people face.

What is Transgender Day of Remembrance?

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor her memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Participate in Transgender Day of Remembrance by attending or organizing a vigil on November 20 to honor all those whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence that year.  Vigils are typically hosted by local transgender advocates or LGBT organizations, and held at community centers, parks, places of worship and other venues. The vigil often involves reading a list of the names of those who died that year. See the TDOR website at www.transgenderdor.org.