Tag Archives: transgender

The magical, mystical butch

W’s brother is getting married this weekend. On Sunday, W and I coordinated our outfits for the rehearsal dinner and wedding, making sure my ties won’t clash with her dresses. It’s so exhausting being a lesbian power couple.

Sunday evening, I ended up running out to Kohl’s department store to pick up a few things. I am mostly over the awkwardness that comes from shopping in the men’s department. But on this particular shopping trip, I found myself feeling a bit like a strange mythical being. Kinda sorta like a centaur — one creature from the waist up and another from the waist down.

images7RMEIAOUWhile I was standing in the checkout line, I channeled my inner unicorn and reminded myself that I am a magical, mystical creature. I am a big, bad, beautiful butch. I stood head up, shoulders back.

As I daydreamed about rainbows and flying horses, I heard the cashier’s overenthusiastic cry.

“Can I help you, sir?”

I strutted to the register and placed my items down one at a time:

IMG_0472One Chaps-brand purple plaid necktie.

One pair of navy suspenders.

One Casio-brand retro wristwatch.

One white, wireless brassiere.

Welcome to my world, I thought. Imagine what it’s like to be me.

The young woman quickly rang up the items and placed them in a bag and sent me on my way.

I hurried home to show W my new wares.

* * *

For fun, check out this quiz that answers that age-old question: What kind of magical creature are you?

imagesAFUH18YFI got Liger. “You are like a lion and tiger mixed bred for skills in magic! You are unique and not afraid to be yourself. (And you actually do exist.)”

How did they know?

What kind of magical creature are you?

You can take the quiz here or just respond with the creature you think is most like you. Oh c’mon, it’ll be fun.

 

 

Advertisements

Bathroom strife

This morning, I camped out at Panera’s.

I was focused on writing a new story but my ears perked up when an older woman a few tables away started talking about President Obama’s mandate that all schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice.

IMG_0217

My new favorite notebook. Oh to be as dashing as this zebra.

It was the word “transgender” that caught my attention and caused me to reach for my rainbow zebra notebook.

She said the word like this — TRANS gender? — as if she were angry and it weren’t a real thing. Like fat-free butter or a lesbian who has never attended a potluck. I avoided looking at her, but I imagined her shrugging her shoulders and making a sour milk face.

“All it does is cause more strife,” she said.

I wanted to tell her about the strife I feel as a butch woman when I’m out shopping or to dinner and need to use a bathroom. About the strife I feel when I have to determine whether I can skip using a public restroom and make it home in time.

imagesAOKP5L5M

Um, hello, that doesn’t look like me.

About the strife I feel when I open a door emblazoned with an image of a person in a dress with an impossibly round head and arms thick like salamis and the word “WOMEN” or “LADIES” printed below and prepare to be misgendered and humiliated.

About the strife I feel when I rush to the first empty stall and hold my breath and let out a tiny puff of air when I lock the door and hear the click of the slide bolt.

About the strife I feel as I wait in the stall and try to pick the right time to leave. Now. No, not now. Now. This time for real. 1, 2, 3. Now.

About the strife I feel when I notice my heart beating too fast in my chest.

About the strife I feel as I try to blend in when I’m at the sink washing my hands, even though I haven’t been able to blend in for most of my life.

About the strife I feel as I fast walk to the door and try to look “natural,” whatever that means.

When I am safe on the other side, I wonder why using a public bathroom should cause anyone so much strife.

 

Weekend recap

images[1]

Imagine Miss Daisy in flannel and Doc Marten’s.

W and I ran some errands this weekend. As is our routine, we completed them Driving Miss Daisy fashion with W driving and me riding along in the passenger seat. This is what happens when you are an old married couple with way too much to do on a Saturday afternoon.

W prefers to drive, and I prefer to be driven. I’ll wait until all the giggling stops before I continue …

Anyway, I’ll jump out of the car to run into the drycleaner or return something at the hardware store. And there’s W waiting for me curbside.

This weekend while we were running our errands, I stopped inside a Starbuck’s to grab a late afternoon pick-me-up and use the restroom. It was one of those deluxe Starbuck’s, and I found myself walking, walking, walking to get to the back of the store. In back, a gaggle of college-age girls gathered around a large table studying and chatting and sipping giant plastic cups of coffee through long green straws. They had painted fingernails and long hair pulled back in various fashions or stacked on top of their heads.

In the midst of all of that femininity, I braced myself as I approached the bathroom. Without thinking, I put on the invisible armor I wear whenever I need to use a public restroom. I steeled myself and prepared for anything.

And then I turned the corner and saw two unisex bathrooms. I felt my heart lift and my shoulders relax. I think I heard Sarah McLachlan singing “Angel” somewhere.

imagesI3D4BPMY

In no time, I returned to W and our great errand excursion, a hot cup of joe in hand.

 

Restroom heroics

images[7]This is for everyone who has ever felt uncomfortable using a gender-specific public restroom.

And for everyone else, too.  Those individuals who have never felt uneasy or unsafe using a public restroom that corresponds with their gender.  If you fit into this category, see what it’s like to be butch or genderqueer.  Walk in my big butch shoes for just a few minutes.

Read what happened to me when I used a public ladies room when I was on vacation.  My story has been published at The James Franco Review.

Middle-age Butch looks like a celebrity

I’ve been getting sir’d a lot these days.

At Best Buy.  At the pharmacy.  

Pretty much everywhere.

I had been on a ma’am streak for awhile.

What changed?  I haven’t lost or gained weight.  I’ve been wearing the same clothes that I always wear.

I hadn’t been able to figure it out.

Until I was looking in the mirror.  And noticed that my hair is at that in between stage.  Not short and spiky like with a fresh cut.  Not so long that it needs cut.

Here’s what I decided.  I look like this guy: 

 
Yep, I’ve got Barney Rubble hair.  I guess there are worse looks.  So, I’ll rock what I’ve got.  At least until it’s time for a haircut.

Here’s what put the “Fest” in OutFest

Philly PrideI think I’ve finally recovered from OutFest.  If you don’t know, OutFest is the national Coming Out Day block party in Philadelphia.  Tens of thousands of people attend every year.

This year, I paid for a table to promote Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.  I sold books, handed out business cards, talked with anyone who stopped by and raffled off some sweet bowties to people who signed up to follow The Flannel Files.  A big shout out to all of my new followers!

I pretty much broke even after adding up all of my expenses.  But still, it was a beautiful gay day.  And me and W’s anniversary day to boot.

So, here are my top 10 highlights from OutFest:

10. Everyone who stopped by and talked Fun Home the Musical and “Ring of Keys” with me.  You really know how to make a butch’s day.

9. Those people who gave me fist bumps and high fives and said “I respect that” after I gave them the elevator pitch to my book.

8. The woman who wanted her picture taken with me because I had written a book.

7. The mother who wanted to buy her fresh-out-of-the-closet teen daughter the book, but the daughter wanted nothing to do with the book or me. “Buy it for yourself,” I told the mom.  And she did.  God bless you, mom and good luck.

6. All of the butches in all of their ball cap and cargo shorts and spiky hair glory. You are my tribe.  (Silent head nod.)

5. The guy who told me that he liked the cover to my book.  “We should all wear capes,” he said.  Amen, brother.

4. All the bois who read the back of my book, nodding their heads and saying “yep” to growing up tomboy, being called “sir,” etc.

3. Drag queens.

2. Me and W wearing matching “I Love My Wife” buttons and having everyone congratulate us when they learned it was our anniversary. I felt that people were truly happy for us and understood how big a deal it is that we were able to marry.  Marriage is something our community doesn’t take for granted.

1. Dinner out at a Cuban restaurant with family and friends after.  Our friend who married us last Oct. 11 — the “Right Reverend” — toasted us.  And everything came full circle.  And all was right in the world.

Biggest lesbian ever contest

Last weekend, I did, perhaps, the lez-iest thing ever.

I went to the vet with my lesbian wife and two of our cats.  Bodhi and Sammy.  We are a walking, talking stereotype.

We had brought them in for their annual exam.  They passed with flying colors.

However, we had to bring one of the cats back today.  He had a cut on his paw that had gotten infected.  I didn’t feel like a giant lesbian today.  It was just me, my lesbian wife and ONE cat.  Totally different.

Here's Bodhi after his vet appointment.

Here’s Bodhi after his vet appointment.

They wrapped his paw in pink leopard print.

They wrapped his paw in a pink leopard print bandage.  He doesn’t seem to mind.  He is not a very butch cat.

All this got me thinking.  What about you?  What have you done recently that left you feeling like the world’s biggest lesbian?  Organized a potluck after your softball game?  Went on a shopping spree and only purchased cargo shorts?

I’ll pick the best answer and send out a copy of my book as a prize.  Or if you already have the book, I’ll send you out some other butch swag.  A bow tie or beer opener or something butch.

So, what are you waiting for?  Leave a comment now!

On Wookies and books and other stuff

Guys, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

Chewbacca and me. Abducted by a Wookie in Target of all places.

Chewbacca and me. Abducted by a Wookie in Target of all places.

This explains why I haven’t posted in so long.  It’s a complicated Butch in Spaaaace tale.

While I was away, my book got a really great review on the lesbian website Autostraddle.  You can check it out here.  Perhaps the best compliment any butch writer can get: “A smart and eloquent memoir about becoming butch, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender will resonate if you have a proud copy of Stone Butch Blues on your shelf, or listen to “Ring of Keys” from the Fun Home musical on repeat.”  That’s pretty great company, folks.

Speaking of Fun Home, just 15 days until W and I become official Fun Homies!

cc

I wanted to be this guy.

I just wrote a new memoir piece about my obsession with my brother’s Big Josh action figure.  Does anyone remember Big Jim and Big Josh?  Geez, Barbie was so lame in comparison.

If you like free stuff, I’m giving away two signed copies of my book on Goodreads.  You can enter here.  But don’t wait too long.  The giveaway ends Sept. 30.

That’s all the news for now.  What’s new with you?

Masks

RaccoonWhen I was a kid, my favorite animal was the raccoon.

I loved these little guys.

I collected ceramic raccoon figures.

I drew raccoons.

I painted raccoons.

They were mischievous rascals.  Cute and cuddly critters.  (I didn’t know about rabies back then.)

They wore furry black masks like they had something to hide.  Or were ready to knock over a liquor store.

I never made the connection until recently.  That I was the raccoon hiding behind my mask.

Raccoons don’t hold the same appeal for me these days.

Raccoon plaqueI found this little guy in a box of stuff that my mom had given to me.  He had been affixed to my bedroom door in my parents’ house for many years, guarding against ghosts and kidnappers and a little brother.

I think about getting rid of him but can’t seem to do so.

I look up raccoon totem and this is what I find:

Masks are one of the tools of transformation.
It helps us to change what we are into what we want to be.

Raccoons also teach you how to put asleep the part of you that is not needed
and awaken the aspect of yourself that is.

I will place my raccoon friend on my closet door as a reminder.  A reminder of change and growth, of new beginnings and being who I was always meant to be.

 

Me and Xena: Warrior Princess

Xena: Warrior PrincessToday is Xena’s 20th anniversary.

A big ayiyiyiyiyi Xena battle cry to all of my Flannel Files followers on this very special occasion.

I’ve been reading the Xena posts and tweets on social media, and I must say it’s taken me back in time.  Not to ancient mythological Greece when Xena roamed the countryside thwarting evildoers with the help of Gabrielle, her trusty sidekick.  But the late 1990s when I was struggling with my sexuality.

The first time I watched Xena: Warrior Princess, I was hooked.  There was something about the show, something I couldn’t explain that left me wanting more Xena all the time.

Let’s be honest.  The Warrior Princess came with an extra helping of cheese.  The bright orange kind that comes in a can and is spread with a knife.

But I was transfixed.

Lucy LawlessWhen I finally admitted that I was attracted to women, I told myself that was it.  I mean, Lucy Lawless is gorgeous.  Why not watch a television show that features a beautiful woman, even if it’s campier than a weenie roast and ghost stories told around a fire?

Here’s the thing that took me a long time to realize.  I never wanted to be with Lucy Lawless.  I wanted to be Lucy Lawless.  Or, more accurately, Xena.

It was her special blend of girl power that I craved.

That I’ve always craved.

Wonder WomanIn the 1970’s, it was Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman and Jaime Sommers, TV’s Bionic Woman.

But those women had nothing on Xena.  With her sword and her chakram, her leather, her armor and a hot blonde by her side.  Xena was badass.

I think about the name of the show — Xena: Warrior Princess.

And I think that was always the attraction for me.

Warrior.  Princess.

Not that I’ve ever been a princess or wanted to be one.  (Makes gagging gesture with fingers and open mouth.)

It’s that blend of masculine and feminine that I find so appealing, that magical combination that I live.

There’s always been a lot of Xena: Warrior Princess inside me.

I just never realized it until I started watching the show.

If you’re really into Xena, you can read my Xena sword story here.

* * *

What about you?  Xena fan?  Yea or nay?