There was that time in the cab, nearly kicked out. Something about our credit cards, or the way our voices burned too bright, something about your charm kept our seats. We stopped at every intersection, but just barely made the turns, holding on to each other and cackling til’ we almost puked. Spent too much money on cocktails and imagined bar fights. The bartender hugged us on our way out. The night like a medium weight blanket, air still and salt smelling.
Your family was my family and my arms were your arms and I don’t know when you’re working anymore, so am not sure when to call. Which is a shitty way to say I can’t remember the way your car smells anymore, am always cooking and never bringing the wine, have lost track of which Murder She Wrote episodes I’ve already seen.
That conversation in the italian place, some crinkled corners of eyes, a promise of new into the world. A promise to figure it out. I’m still here and all of these words are stand in’s for stories we’ve yet to tell, voices breaking over sunset after sunset.
Your heart was my heart was your heart.
Since moving here I’m nothing but honeyed with promise. Shut
away from my failings like a thicket of blackberry blush. Your
cheeks on my chest, your sweet sweaty hope on my tongue. I can
smell you, hair stuck to forehead and pumping each gear of
those hundred mile legs. Just a few whispers north of my
stumble, shake, and steady.
Since moving here I am anything but movies alone, more like
April rain, perfumed. More verse than riddle.
You’ve offered me trowel, said,
“This fertile part, that’s ours.
That’s the way our names sound together.”
Since moving here I am everything if not heavy breathing and sprint, no longer
a crawling season, heating up to overflowing and
Every liter of the root of us blooming.
Happy Nat’l Poetry month, Y’all. I’ve been all over the place lately, poeming with sweet friends and comrades and loving it. This past weekend, we took a trip to Bellingham to do a few shows for Bent and had the best time. It was wholly inspiring, and just really holy to be in the company such incredible talented hearts.
Of course I’m gonna try my hand again at this 30/30 deal. Here goes (day one, yesterday)
I would be red,
sweating and blistery,
blustery and brand new under the tips of your fingers.
Vibrating through the peach fuzz on the backs
of your hands and whispering more clearly
than ever before that I
You smell like a tree I’d crawl up and sleep in and I’d
rather walk to your house barefoot and bruised
steer clear of that way of you;
all easy laugh and careful planning.
I would be red,
deeper and deeper until there was nothing else.
Edging under the corners of your comforters
warming the flush of your cheeks in the dark.
I don’t even know you,
but If I weren’t this way I’d tell you:
Also, you should watch this video of my dreamy friend Elaina Ellis reading a piece she wrote about bears that makes me swoon with poemantic love:
Underneath the tide it was quiet and the water was warm. The ocean was full of life, and colonies of animals lived safely and happily swimming. They were full of color and breathed easily and blew bubbles and things were just the way they were supposed to be. There were an infinite amount of creatures, and they did not keep to themselves, but rather preferred to frolic and play together.
The smallest and most timid of these was the baby turtle, and though he was not the only turtle in the ocean, he was the most shy. All of the other creatures said his shell was the most handsome thing they’d ever seen and when they told him, he hid inside it, blushing his shell into a pure rose color.
The tiny turtle liked to spend his days slowly sauntering along the soft ocean bed smiling at the flounder and yellow tang, and nibbling on tall green grass and pebbles (because everyone in the ocean was a vegetarian). One day, as he wandered he came across a magical looking horse with a nose like a trumpet who seemed very upset. The turtle tried not to turn away and hide for he knew it was the best thing to be able to comfort another creature in a time of need.
The tiny turtle approached the horse slowly and asked in a whisper what was the matter.
“I cant get my trumpet to blow!” she said in a groggy sad tone.
“Oh my!” said the turtle “what happened?
“Well, I was swimming at the very bottom of this cave, and the water around me was soo very cold, that I felt like I couldn’t even move my hooves anymore, I was very frightened. My mother told me never to go that deep, but I wanted to prove that I was brave and so I did!”
The turtle was startled by this story. He had never though to go into the caves, much preferring the warm green water around the rest of the colony, because even though he was shy, he loved hearing the happy sounds of other creatures playing and laughing together.
The horse went on, “It was beautiful and scary in the cave, and I just kept getting colder the deeper I went, and I thought I could see a beautiful silver light so I swam just a little further. I could see some bubbles and more light and then… a great flash of lightning burst forth and flew past my flanks!”
At this declaration both the turtle and the horse shook with fear, even hearing something this unexpected was almost too much for the little urchins. “…” Go on!” said the turtle, hoping desperately the end to this story was happier than the beginning.
“After the lightning, I saw it!”
“IT WHAT!?” Screamed the turtle and snapped his head inside his shell at the sound of his own voice, it was so loud.
“Why, an Eel!! The biggest, most silvery Eel you ever did see!”
Both the turtle and the horse began to laugh at this. Eels weren’t scary at all! Though rare, and mysterious, they were much loved creatures in the colony, because they were so beautiful and always won all the races for their long bodied speed.
The tiny turtle’s tummy ached from all the giggling they did, and when they finally calmed down, he asked “Well! what did the Eel do?!”“Well, he flicked his tale at me in a wave, and said that I should swim back up or I’d catch a cold in the deep water!! It turns out he was right. By the time I got up here, I could feel my trumpet filling with snot, and now I cannot practice any songs. My mother is going to be so upset with me, and I don’t know what to do!”
“Oh gosh, horse. This is terrible! You play such pretty tunes, they will surely be missed on the floor. What can we do? hmmm”
The turtle thought and thought, and as he did, he began to slowly pace (almost invisible to any other eye) and tiny bubbles of concentration floated up and out of the corners of his shell. The horse looked solemnly at the coral plants sprouting out of the side of a boulder and sighed.
“I’ve got it!” exclaimed the turtle. “We just need to go visit my cousin the hermit crab. He can surely help you find a way to heal your trumpet!”
So the turtle and the horse set out to swim to the hermit crab, who liked to hang out near the sea cucumbers (who smelled particularly heavenly) and ask for his assistance. The turtle knew they would probably be scolded for disturbing the crab’s afternoon nap, but he couldn’t help feeling proud that he might be able to help his new friend. Sure enough, when they reached the edge of the cucumber garden, they found cousin crab, blowing sleepy bubbles toward the sunlit afternoon sky. The turtle softly jostled the crabs shell and very quietly mumbled, “cousin crab, wake up. we need your help. please!”
The hermit crab snorted and shimmied and spun around in a circle with a loud grunt and bellowed “WHO’S THERE?!”
It’s just me, exclaimed the turtle from inside his shell. So sorry to www wake you. I…we need your help!”
“Well, out with it then! I’ve only got a few more decades to rest my shell. haha!”
The turtle and the hose shakily recounted the story, as the crab listened closely and nodded at all the right times.
Well, this is a simple enough fix, little one and you’ve come to the right place! You see, the slime these slippery smelling cucumbers make is the perfect cure for what ails you, and here we are near a surplus of the stuff! All we have to do is scoop some off of this mighty bolder and rub a little on your snout. You’ll be right as rain in just a few hours!”
“Ohh! thank you so much cousin crab! You are the best!”
At that the crab smeared a dollop of cucumber slime on the horse’s trumpet, and the horse coughed and sputtered and cried, “That certainly does not taste as good as it smells!” The three laughed heartily and patted each others shoulders.
The horse thanked both the turtle and the crab, and invited them to a concert that very evening where he would (hopefully) be playing a brand new song, and off he went to rest until it was time to face his mother.
The tiny turtle beamed golden and grinning, having helped someone in need and made a brand new friend. He felt less and less with each of these revelations, like hiding in his shell. It seemed that spending time with other creatures and not just near them could be even more rewarding than he’d ever imagined! The turtle was so glad to be helpful and tired from all the laughing and adventuring that he fell into a deep and sweet sleep curled up near the crab’s shell in the cucumber garden right then!
When the turtle work up, he had just enough time to wipe the sleepiness from his eyes and begin to amble toward the concert. along the way, instead of blushing and hiding when a stranger or friend swam by, the tiny turtle waved his stubby turtle paw and smiled up, saying “See you at the show!” He really was enjoying this new confidence and was excited to see his new friend performing.
the concert was beautiful, and the whole ocean floor cheered and cheered for all of the horses, crabs, blow fish and the sword fish (on trombone). Each new song was better than the last and everyone agreed that the horse sounded better than ever! at the end of the show everyone bowed and the horse turned to face her audience and asked everyone to stay just a moment longer for she had one thing to say.
“Earlier today I was very sick, and not sure I could play these tunes for you, and I had no idea what I was going to do until the tiniest turtle in the sea stopped by to help me. He listened and laughed and did not shy away from a friend in need, and for that I am eternally grateful. I am so very proud to know you, tiny turtle and I am excited to be friends for life with such a handsome and smart creature as you!”
The turtles shell did turn rosy, but he kept his head held high and smiled bigger than anyone had ever seen. He was ready to be seen and participate now more than ever!
It just goes to show you what a little kindness and an open ear can do for a bashful little turtle in the big, beautiful world.
Recently some buddies of mine asked if they could photograph me for their super awesome queer photo zine – #1 Must Have.
Of course, I agreed. We had a blast hanging out, eating potato leek soup and feeling awkward (on my part) about taking photos. The results are pretty great, and silly. Adrien and Slaven are total sweethearts and this project is really lovely and queer and all of that. Check them out, and pick up a hard copy of the zine as well.
Direct link here: maybe more topless-ness
I’ve been trying for a minute to suss out what it is I want to write about. I’m still relatively sure that I don’t even now what I’m doing pretending to have like, a blog or whatever this is. It seems, short of discussing my personal life in great detail on the internet (Thanks for teaching me the skillz, Livejournal), I don’t have much experience. But! I’m spastic-ly enthusiastic about it, and so I continue to come back to you, little blog.
Life is still pretty fun and funny over here. The fall is definitely upon us, and yesterday I had to turn on the heat in my drafty apartment and crawl underneath a pile of flannel when I returned home from playing in this queer kickball tournament. After consuming three cups of throat coat tea and watching two episodes of Battlestar Galactica, I passed out at 9pm. Because, that’s how I like to roll in the Autumn, dudes. Other important activities that i’d like to note are: eating peanut butter at three a.m., wearing scarves, having nightmares about pivot tables and bar graphs (thanks, day job!), having not-so-nightmares about slow dancing to R & B hits from the mid-nineties with a pretty lady, and buying flowers for myself at the farmer’s market.
Anyway here’s some other news and things I’m excited about/amused by:
– The folks at The Portland Review put up a few more of my lil’ poems on their rad blog: here, here and here. This one is trending on tumblr now, which sort of freaks me out a little, but hey. Who doesn’t love a rampantly metaphorical emotionally stunted poem about my ex-girlfriend?
– A little story by me about my intense and strange relationship with my mother is going to go up on the Original Plumbing blog sometime in the next few months. So, that’s cool and totally nerve wracking because like, that kind of realness isn’t something that my fam really does on the regular.
– I’m sort of obsessed with St. Vincent, and missed her show in Seattle (doh!) but am somewhat satiated by this hysterical and insightful post from Mr. Boehmer on the Ironing Board Collective blog.
– Have I mentioned that I am in total LIKE with The Ironing Board? Well, I am. This morning I snickered so much while reading this post that I blew a big splash of emergen-c water out through my nose (grody/warranted).
Hey Y’all. I’ve been a little slacking on the blog-arama lately. After NaPoWriMo sapped away all of my poetic energy, it was my birthday, and so I went on vacation to Texas.
I made a mix for my buddies in Austin. Its called Seattle Sauce. Click the link above to download it.
Today I’m working on answering this question from ButchLab.com, a fantastic sight run by my dear friend, Mr. Sinclair Sexmith. I really value conversations about identity in general (except when I feel over processed of course, haha), and am so stoked about what this particular site has to offer to masculine identified folks and their allies.
On to the questions:
What do people think “butch” means? What are the stereotypes around being butch?
When I was very young, and just coming out as a dyke, my mother was afraid I’d be one of those ‘butch’ lesbians. When I asked her what she meant by that she said, “You know, a woman who looks like a man! They are aggressive, and will try to take advantage of you too. Don’t be like them and don’t hang out with them. Please!”
Now, I love my mother, but this is not one of her finer moments. In addition to being totally untrue and stereotyping statements, it really scared my baby butch self. For years, I was afraid to appear masculine; I struggled with feminine gender presentation, referred to myself as a ‘lesbian’, and felt totally…awkward.
I also grew up in a conservative town, where any woman seen as not being feminine (i.e. passive, submissive, quiet, etc) was sometimes referred to as ‘butch.’ This word was bad, it meant nasty, un-feminine, not to be trusted, disgusting. The women labeled thus were often not even masculine gender presenting. Many were outspoken, domineering, in charge of something in their fields of work, or simply unmarried.
In the gay community, I think that stereotypes of butch-ness exist too. Specifically in communities where there may not be a lot of masculine gender presenting folks. Again, for me, this looks like the towns where I grew up. There was a lot of ‘dabbling in butchness’ going on. People just barely sticking their toes into the masculine gender presenting pool, afraid of being seen as butch but unable to control it, and judgment of these presentations ran rampant. People in the bar (not that I had a fake-id or anything) would openly state that they ‘didn’t want to date butch girls’ etc.
What do people assume is true about you [or the masculine of center folks in your life], but actually isn’t?
Often assumptions about me include, that I am a either straight or gay identified cisgendered man. Most folks, I don’t think, even get so far as to examine what could be my butch identity. This is frustrating, but understandable being that I am a mostly post-transition male presenting transman. Though this is sometimes frustrating, I also get it.
Another assumption is, (if people are aware of my identity as a butch at all) that I am not faggy, or shouldn’t be faggy in any way. I’ve seen this play our around other masculine of center (butch folks) in my life, community as well. Just like other identities, we know that being butch is complex, its fluid, and its not meant to be trapped in a box. Identities like, Dandy Butch, or Faggy Butch are really discounted, and sometimes put down. I think that folks have a hard time processing a complex identity, even in the queer community.
What image or concept do you constantly have to correct or fight against? How do you feel about these misconceptions?
As far as my butch identity is concerned, I think most people who are aware of my transness, assume that I was butch identified before transition and am now not. This is not the case, and can be hurtful to me sometimes. Being a butch is a very important part of my identity. I really value interactions with people that respect that part of me, just as anyone would about an important part of who they are.
How do you deal with them? Do you respond to these stereotypes or clichés? How?
When confronted with a stereotype about my identity (whichever part it may be) I try to be compassionate to the sterotyper. I (try to) assume that other people are good as often as possible. It is difficult, of course, to bring up an incident where I’m feeling hurt, but if I do, I assume that the other person is probably just unaware. Usually this has been the case, and when I say, actually I am butch (or I never stopped being butch), the assumption is dropped, or at least the conversation changes. I love having discussions with people about how it is that I am still butch and am a man (as long as these discussions can be respectful on both sides of course).
I think that continuing a dialogue with people about identity (butchness) is important. I definitely become complacent sometimes, tired of fighting for my identity to be seen in a complete way, etc. Also, I’m not perfect at getting and understanding everyone else’s identities right away either. I do, think that these questions are so thoughtful and important, and are a really positive step in keeping this kind of dialogue open!
I’m sure I have more to say, and will definitely be participating in more symposiums. But for right now, I am ignoring a Monday morning rush at work.
>I’m seriously steamed right now.
>I’m headed to Butch Voices: Portland this weekend (on the fly) and its got me thinking about identity politics. I went back to Sinclair’s journal and found our interview from so long ago about relationships between trans men and butch women. It was so good to read again, and I can’t wait to have some face time with Sinclair this weekend. I so hardcore value our interactions and conversations. I’m also excited to drop myself smack dab into the middle of a queer community for a couple of days. But also, I do have some nervousness about it as well. Mainly that old worry about the tenuous interactions between female identified butches and male/trans identified butches. I’m taking some time to meditate on putting out some seriously loving positive energy, and respect this weekend.
Here’s the interview (for easy reference):
butch & trans in conversation: interview with Cody
Sep 10th, 2007 by Sinclair.
When I went on that gender tirade back in August, Cody & I talked a bit about the butch/femme identities, and I was really curious about the ways that my arguments translated into arguments for why trans identities are subversive genders as well. He was graceous enough to agree to be interviewed about his gender opinions. Here’s the transcript.
Sinclair: I’m looking over the transcript of the chat we had a few weeks ago about butch/trans identity…
Cody: Okay. Are we beginning the interview? Should I put on my game face? Not that gender is a game or a construct. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that Id joke about something so serious.
Sinclair: That’s a great place to start. If gender is not a game or a construct, or a “role,” what is it?
Cody: Well, Actually, I was kidding. I think it’s all of those things, and none of them really. Gender is whatever you make of it. I also think (and I’m going to get a little woo woo here so bare with me) that gender is also this internal thing something you feel, some, internal energy that informs you about yourself. This is obviously informed by outside forces etc. But not completely. Does that make sense?
Sinclair: That absolutely makes sense. I’ve been writing a lot on Sugarbutch about the ways that butch/femme are not reproductions of some sort of heteronormativity, and I came up with a couple of major arguments about why those genders, though appearing to be hetero, are actually subversive of the whole sex/gender binary, and compulsory gender as a whole. And while I was writing this stuff out I kept thinking, you know, I bet these same arguments apply to the trans identity as well. It’s frustrating – I still hear so much transphobia kicked around in the queer/dyke communities.
Cody: Yeah, there’s a lot of that. But watch out, we all THINK about kicking back now and again.
Sinclair: Oh yes. I kick back, that’s for damn sure. So my question is, how do you think those arguments translate? More specifically, how is the trans identity subversive? Because it appears to be a heteronormative reproduction, especially (obviously) when the trans man is straight, or dating femmes or straight girls.
Cody: Well, the simple answer is that simply by the nature of my physical body [my trans identity] is subversive. And when I am dating femmes, the identity is subversive for a lot of reasons, but if we want to get down to bones here, I’d say the ways in which we have sex are subversive. Also, here’s something I realized the other day that made me laugh: I can never ever have straight by the book hetero-sex. It is physically impossible for me to do so. If that doesn’t make me fucking goddamn subversive I don’t know what does!
Sinclair: I love it! Hell yeah!
Cody: To get back to the question: what I mean about the nature of my physical body, is actually something I’ve been having a weirdly large amount of dialogue with folks about lately. This discussion of my junk (and by junk I mean my genitals) because that’s really what it comes down to in most discussions about trans shit: “What have you got between your legs?” Which has, frankly been making me very angry lately. Because, hell, I’m not a shy dude, but when people (even people in my queer community) are asking me about my dick (or my cunt) I feel kind of well, a little put out. But then again, this is how we end up understanding each other. By our genitals and how we use them to fuck, and how all of this informs who we are presenting to the world (meaning our gender).
Sinclair: Interesting – so that equation is, genitals plus fucking equals gender presentation. That seems accurate, although I would say that’s not everything that goes into gender.
Cody: No, of course not. But for the purposes of this particular vein, yes.
Sinclair: Would you tell me more about what you said about the nature of your physical body? I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that yet. By the nature of a trans body? Born into one sex, but altering it physically?
Cody: Yes. I mean, the fact that I’ve altered or am merely presenting my body in a different way from which I was told upon birth it was, makes the mere nature of it subversive. I mean, it’s a small part. But it’s an argument I like to use, because it’s easy to understand, and If people make you feel uncomfortable (which you totally aren’t, just an example) it’s a good shut down.
Sinclair: Ah I see. And it’s subversive because our sex/gender binary paradigm says that your body informs your nature? Or – your biology informs your self, perhaps is a better way to put it? I don’t want to put words in your mouth here.
Cody: Exactly! No you’ve got it. The binary says that my body should inform everything, right? So if I change my body, I’m fucking with the entire paradigm!
Sinclair: I like that. I know what you mean, I feel that way about the butch identity, too. And that’s one piece of that “butch/femme are not reproductions” argument, definitely. That it fucks with the sex/gender paradigm, by its very nature.
Cody: Definitely. The fact that it is NOT what it seems on the surface makes it so subversive.
Sinclair: Are there places that you feel the trans identity does become reproductive, perhaps sometimes in a negative way?
Cody: There are all kinds of ways that the transmale identity can become negatively heteronormative.
Sinclair: You mentioned before that you have noticed trans men rejecting the butch identity when they transition, perhaps because butch never fit them, and yet that’s something that you have held onto.
Cody: Yes! [I did not] reject the butch identity in favor of my trans identity. It’s more about embracing it because it INFORMS my trans identity. I figured about butch stuff (re: myself) around a similar time in my life that I was discovering trans stuff.
Sinclair: The identities seem closely aligned – or can be. Some of my best trans guy friends have explored so much about butchness with me.
Cody: Its funny, my best friend and I would sit down, and he would tell me about butch stuff, and it was SO HARD for me to understand it (because I was scared I think) and I would explain Trans-ness to him and he would balk. Now, well, now we are both butch trans men.
Sinclair: What changed? Was there a moment when butchness “clicked” with you?
Cody: Well, I think we were both scared, of all of it, of identity politics. Of talking about all of this. I don’t even think we knew at the time, that what we were talking about was so huge. We were just trying to work things out with ourselves and the people we cared about. God, saying that makes me feel like it used to be so much easier before we had to worry about a whole community, too! I mean, it wasn’t suddenly I passed the butch test with myself, but over a period of time, things started happening that helped me to nurture that part of myself, and understand that’s what I was doing. The other thing [that happened was] that I started meeting femmes. Something that I had never really experienced before. Where I grew up there was an incredibly small pool of queers.
Sinclair: How did that start altering your identity?
Cody: While now my butch identity is strong enough to stand alone, in the beginning [of its development], in order to build yourself up, let’s be honest, we need femmes. Let’s be really honest and say, butches need femmes all of the time. [What changed was that] I stopped feeling so ashamed of the ways in which I was masculine, and the ways I wasn’t. I worked out how to feel less shame about being a butch, and about being a man. The man part took way longer.
Sinclair: What was different about the man part & the butch part?
Cody: The butch part I think was easier, because honestly I had more support from those around me about it. The man part, well, I got a lot of shit about. The man part made me into a patriarch. Dykes, butch dykes, femme dykes, lesbians, straight feminists… In the small community I was working shit out in, the backlash was INCREDIBLE. I didn’t call myself a ‘man’ until I had been out as trans for years, partly because of that. I identified almost exclusively as a Butch-Trans-Boy
Sinclair: That [backlash] is so sad. We need to be allies!
Cody: It is [sad]! I had this idea, that if I didn’t align myself with the identity of being a man, I didn’t have to take responsibility for any misogyny.
Sinclair: Yes! I think that’s the same reason it took me so long to come to a butch identity, because I was picking and choosing very carefully what traits of masculinity I wanted to adopt, and I was scared as hell about betraying my feminist politics and enlightenment.
Cody: Funny, when you are trans, when your gender is male, no matter your history, you’ve got to ‘step up to the plate’ about it. It was like, white guilt. Plus, being a boy is all about fun and flirting and whatever. It’s easy!
Sinclair: That’s a huge concept. So, dare I ask? How does one do that? Step up to the plate about it?
Cody: Take fucking responsibility for yourself! Stop forgetting about your feminism because you have passing privilege. I think it’s almost more subversive to be butch, or to be a man, and be a feminist, if you are stepping up to it.
Sinclair: I like that. Is this why we have a serious lack of butches (and/or trans feminists) but we have this new fad of “boi” and “bro”? So many dykes I meet who I would perhaps label as butch tell me they don’t identify as such, but sometimes do identify as boi.
Cody: I think so. I think that’s a big fucking part of it. It’s fear. It’s [seen as] not hot to be a butch, or a man. Because you have to work for it.
Sinclair: It amazed me how much I felt socially policed while I was still coming to this butch identity. All those comments from other butches about toughness, competition, objectifying women. I still get those comments – they just don’t effect me as they used to. One comment would throw me for a loop for days.
Cody: Every time someone put down my butchness, or my male-ness, I regressed like YEARS in my discovery and comfortability with it.
Sinclair: [Masculine identities are] so sensitive! I wonder if this is also what teenage boys go through, all that fag/pussy-bashing stuff.
Cody: Homophobia: the deconstruction of masculinity. Homophobia is all about the construction of masculinity. It’s more about gender than sexuality – sexuality is a part of it, but its more about gender. It’s all about ‘othering’
Sinclair: And [it’s about] misogyny. I would say that’s perhaps because masculinity has historically been defined as not-woman, not-female, not-feminine, and as the gender revolution opens up more and more places for women to occupy, and expands the definition of feminity, that the space that masculinity can occupy becomes smaller and smaller.
Cody: Instead of cutting out any way that it’s okay to be masculine, why can’t we just look at better ways to be masculine?
Sinclair: Which is why I still think we need a masculine-gender revolution. It’s brewing, I think, and trans guys are at the forefront.
Cody: I think you are so right! But we aren’t alone, I think butches are up there on the line with transdudes about this masculine gender revolution. I think we have to hold each other up. This may all sound very idealistic, and utopian, but you’ve got to dream right?
Sinclair: Absolutely. This is what I aim for, even if I feel that it’s going to be a hard bumpy road to get there.
Cody: Oh, man, is it EVER.
Sinclair: So how do we encourage the butches & trans men to be aligned? For some reason, we are often so threatened of each other.
Cody: I think by doing what you and I are doing right now: by fucking talking to each other. By realizing that we’ve got a lot in common, even if it’s scary. By being okay with the fact that this doesn’t mean either one of us is presenting ourselves wrongly. Trans men aren’t ‘abandoning’ the community, and butch women aren’t too scared to ‘man up.’
Sinclair: Well said – that neither of us are presenting ourselves wrongly. That’s a big part of the intimidation factor, isn’t it? That these identities are so fragile, so hard to grow and to maintain, but then when we see someone with something so close to us but very different it becomes a worry that somewhere I’ve made a mistake.
Cody: Exactly. Also, we’ve got to keep in mind, that for some trans men, the ‘trans’ part of our identity fades once we have passing privilege and we’ve all got to respect that. I think that the queer community has a serious peter pan complex going on. Butch ‘bois’ and tranny ‘bois.’
Sinclair: So, you’re talking about respect a seeming rejection of queerness?
Cody: To be honest, there isn’t a cut and dry answer to it (which I think you know and is why its so hard). Every single trans man is different. Sometimes, it IS about rejecting queerness.
Sinclair: Of course. I definitely agree with you about the Peter Pan complex – especially when it comes to the butch/male/boi/tranny boy identities. It’s safer to stay young, perhaps? Not as much examination of identity is required?
Cody: Exactly, and its CUTE, right?! It’s so cute to never grow up.
Sinclair: It’s safer, too. And cute means not threatening. Because when women move into a masculine identity, they are moving UP in the hierarchy, which is threatening.
Cody: Uh huh. Not threatening means no need to examine masculinity means no responsibility. “Oh! Isn’t it cute that that little butch boi just called his partner a bitch?” Gross.
Sinclair: That’s an aspect of masculinity that I don’t want to take on, that I have worked SO HARD to reject. This is why we need a masculine manifesto and revolution!
Cody: You are very right! Also, the word revolution gives me such a hard-on for change!
Sinclair: Oh, that is seriously hot.
Cody: Of course! T-shirts anyone? Also, I really appreciate you even asking these questions about how to not hate on the trans. 🙂
Sinclair: Thanks! And likewise I really appreciate you answering my questions! I suppose the last thing I want to ask you is something I hesitate to bring up, which is that idea about trans-ness as a fad. it is definitely becoming more prevalent, and it does make me sad to loose the butches, and I am concerned about it as a ‘trend’.
Cody: Mm…Okay. Well, I want to tell you first that I’m glad you brought it up. It’s a hard question to answer/dialogue about.
Sinclair: It is hard to talk about. ‘Cause, you know, I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s identity. But it definitely comes up in conversation; at least, it does with the dykes. Not so much when I’m talking to trans guys.
Cody: Because I think this is why butches and transmen have a lot of disconnect sometimes, this issue puts us all on the defensive.
Sinclair: But at the same time, I know people who have transitioned and then transitioned BACK, I know people who have ALMOST transitioned and then at the last minute decided not to. It makes me nervous that younger and younger kids are doing this seemingly on a whim.
Cody: Here’s the thing. I think that in some ways it is becoming a fad. Just like when all the girls in high school I knew were bi. Yes, I’m comparing the two. This is VERY controversial of me to say and if a lot of dudes read this they might vote me off the island. But sometimes I feel like my personal struggle is getting fucked with and devalued because dudes are making this whole trans thing into a big goddamn joke. Like its something fun. Here’s the secret: Being trans ain’t fun most of the time. It’s not fun to realize that you feel fucking uncomfortable in your skin, or uncomfortable with the way your gender is in the world. It SUCKS. It ain’t fun to get your shit cut open and cut out and stick yourself with a needles every two weeks for the rest of your life. But, young (and by young I mean, new to transition) dudes are making it all into this GAME. It makes me very …well, it makes me very angry. My fucking life and experience isn’t a game, and it ain’t fun. It wasn’t EASY for me to, figure shit out, to be alone, to find a doctor who would give me T, to pay for surgery, etc. Also, I think its GREAT when people fuck with gender for themselves, when they work out how they feel most comfortable, I think that’s AWESOME ‘cause that’s what I did, am doing. But don’t make me feel like shit ‘cause my struggle doesn’t align with your PARTY.
Sinclair: So what is that other part for you – you don’t align with the party?
Cody: I just got so hot under the collar. Okay, I guess what I’m saying is, when people turn all of this gender business into a big game, it’s a way in which they aren’t willing to examine their privilege. Because that’s hard, right? My struggle don’t play. My life is hard, and I’m down for it. I’m down to work on it.
Sinclair: Ah, so it’s about privilege and examination? That makes sense. That’s exactly the places where gender is the most frustrating for me, skating by on some sort of butch/masculine privilege without even realizing that’s what it is, no examination, no understanding of what you’ve taken on.
Cody: It’s like walking around with a bandana tied over your eyes, and putting your nasty little fingers everywhere.
Sinclair: I don’t know, maybe for some people this identity comes more “naturally”? I just feel like I really really had to WORK at mine.
Cody: I mean, its all ‘natural’ in a way, cause it ends up making sense and feeling like you are at home when you work it out. It takes a much stronger person to realize something about their identity, feel comfy in it, finally! After all of this time! And then KEEP working on it, to keep improving upon what is there and makes you feel good.
Sinclair: Yeah, it really does take constant work, I definitely agree. Everything can be refined, everything is a process, all that. And gender is so complicated! We live within this huge gender system, and it is the source of major agony/pain for pretty much everyone involved, in my opinion. Those places where gender is liberational, and subversive, and fabulous, they are worth navigating the fucked up system for. But man that takes a lot of work.
Cody: Very, very true! All of it. Why can’t we take the shit we need to work on, plop it right down into a comfy space, get out the glue sticks and go at it?
Sinclair: Glue sticks! I love it. I guess first we have to MAKE a comfy space, for everybody involved, right? A forum in which to discuss these things, for as many people as possible. Which is definitely one of the goals of Sugarbutch — to bring this stuff TO LIGHT so that people feel more comfortable exploring, sharing, and articulating to begin with.
Cody: Which is hard, cause we are an exclusive goddamned bunch, aren’t we? Our communities are so INTENTIONAL, that I’m not willing to compromise. But, if we keep creating dialogue and space for those we WANT to work on this with, it will bow out. Get bigger. We are talking grass roots here. But that’s where I operate best. With my hard-knuckled fists working the wood of the problem. Yo! That’s why we butch! That’s why femmes are femme! Because we WORK.
Sinclair: It’s that old quote from Airen Lydick: “Femme is knowing what you’re doing.” As in, being aware and conscious of the identity you are developing and presenting and taking on. And maybe that comes back to other gender questions I have, too, about how to view these roles as celebratory rather than confining, as liberational rather than limiting — by creating dialogue and space to explore all aspects of these complicated identities.
Any closing thoughts?
Cody: Just that this is the beginning of the conversation. Include my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and my blog address (codycoquet.blogspot.com), and encourage people to write if they want to discuss/ask anything of me.
Sinclair: Thank you, so much, for the conversation.