Finding Our Voices. And Sharing Them
We’re starting a podcast!
I am so tired of the politics of constant fear. The politics of constant fundraising. The hyperbole of it all makes everything an equal crisis. And that’s not possible. But it does make us all either numb or angry.
I don’t want to spend my time angry.
We have lamented the ever-increasing polarization of American politics for decades. And with good reason.
I think we each need to know what we’re “fighting” for. I don’t know what happened to “live and let live” but it’s a fine adage we need to return to. Of course I know it never really was thus for a good many folks, but it should be.
I’d say we need a return to “common sense” as well, but that term has almost no meaning anymore. It is used as a cudgel to justify some ugly legislation. “It’s just common sense that babies born with a penis are male, and babies born with a vagina are female, and we don’t talk about variants or Bruno.” Nope. I want to talk about it.
Sorting human beings based on an assessment of their genitalia is crude and not all that useful in a “modern” society. This utter fascination with children’s private parts feels pretty sick. The number of politicians jumping into arguments of “biological” determination and a return to “common sense” around issues of gender is almost as high as the number of them that hypocritically get their freak on as they see fit — but feel dirty after. Enough already. They do their shit in the dark then legislate against it in the light. Political power really is in too many of the wrong hands.
I am a white trans femme (not debating my womanhood for anyone, thanks) engaged to a black cis man. None of our “issues” — OUR issues — involve race or gender.
Any of our consternation, fear, feelings of unworthiness, routine struggles or depression — are caused by our gender expression, orientation or race. ALL of the “issues” are external to us, coming AT us and about us, but have nothing to to do WITH us. Neither of us decided to weaponize the way we showed up in this world. Our great “problem” is having the nerve to live with authenticity in a society that warns us constantly there may be prices to pay at every turn. And the full expression of my own authenticity is still emerging. Finding the courage — let alone the requisite stamina — to transition has taken me 5 decades. I’ve never been fully accepted anywhere without contortion and too much quiet, and its been thoroughly exhausting.
We’re both evidently “uppity.” We have the audacity to exist without apology. This world is not always a comfortable place for folks like us, because of folks who find us strange or “icky” or less than, and make it their business to other us. Our daily lives are not a lot different from anyone else’s. We both love and have worked with children. I have 2 grown kids myself. We are committed to literacy and education. We have pets, grass to cut, dinner to make and dishes to do. We fret over bills and argue over chores. Our lives are pretty banal on the whole, were it not for our creative work.
What is different are the imprints we each wrestle with. We’ve both lived lives knowing we were different. It has been pointed out in big and small ways for the entirety of our time on the planet that we carry a uniqueness many here find off-putting. Neither of us ever mastered “masculinity” to everyone’s satisfaction. Again, that has nothing to do with us — except for the fact that we’ve come to a place in life where our own comfort level matters more to us than yours.
Being different in America (I especially like to use the term “Rare”) comes at a price. We are grateful we aren’t living in a state like Texas where there is an all-out assault on trans lives being waged. Or Florida, where they don’t want you to “say gay” to children. It’s big business stirring up the fear of us.
And my partner is “mixed” race. His mother was as white as my own was. But because his father was black, he is black. Unless you ask the black folks who say he isn’t black enough, or the white folks certain he’s not white enough either. He has endured struggles around race and identity his entire life — but I repeat — none of it has anything to do with him. He’s just here, as he showed up.
Racism, homophobia, transphobia… all of it — doesn’t take away our humanity one bit. But they certainly erode the humanity of the bearers. The carriers. The ones who find a way to turn ignorance of the less familiar into a real rallying cry and big dollars.
If all of us who find ourselves marginalized decided we have collectively had enough of this nonsense, it would end a lot faster. But that would also mean WE would have to stop othering one another as well. We would have to challenge ourselves first. Get the motes out of our own eyes before we go logging. But as long as assimilation and passing are bigger goals than peace, its unlikely to happen.
The idea of assimilating is fine on the surface. “I want what they have.” Or even, “I am as entitled as they are to what they have.” Ending “separate but equal” should have made life better and more fair for everyone — it didn’t. Turns out, black folks will shop in white businesses, but it remains infrequent that the favor is returned. An untenable system was dismantled, but who paid for the dismantling?
Queer folks will frequent cishet-owned bars and restaurants, but — with the regrettable exceptions of bachelorette parties and fruit flies — that’s another favor largely unreturned. And of course Grindr made queer bars unnecessary to the large number of folks living all the dreams. (Yes. Now that married men can arrange to suck dick online, they no longer frequent our bars.) Ahem.
There was once an ethos where trans folk were concerned: Leave behind everything you know, transition as stealthily as possible, reemerge doing your level best to pass as cis, and don’t tell anyone. I revere those who transitioned back then — especially those who weren’t about to keep their “secret” a secret. They are trailblazers. And they paid heavy prices.
Passing (as cis) — where that is possible — is fundamentally a safety issue, and I condemn no one for wanting it, or having it. Trans medicine has come so far (with miles to go) that we can make sure kids don’t have to suffer the indignities of an unwanted puberty, and they can grow up largely free from the burden and expense of many of the surgeries older transitioners endure.
I once had a conversation with a sage trans elder who I was fortunate enough to call a dear friend through the last several years of her life. I said, “I’m pretty enough— but I’ll never pass.” And she said, “As WHAT?” Those two words changed my outlook entirely.
The ensuing discussion was about encouraging our own authenticity, and essentially being the best self one can be. Appearances are just that. I’ve learned to relax and seek my own comfort level. My alternatives are misery or death. Not a fan of either choice, thanks.
So, together, two misfits who found each other over the cacophony around race and gender in America, are launching a podcast. We don’t hide well — we are noticeable. And we value our own authenticity too much to be beaten into hiding. We just take frequent naps to deal with it all. And we laugh a lot.
I write to make sense of things that don’t make sense to me. I write to sort my feelings and my thoughts. And I like to talk this shit through with my Dear Ones.
He makes films, writes, and choreographs to sort the nonsense. And we have these radio voices we haven’t given much exercise over the pandemic.
We are working to use our strongest gifts in the service of sorting the madness that is 2022. In our home, we talk about race, gender and orientation all the time. We talk about politics, and pop culture, and acknowledge every attempt we see made “out there” to help us all understand one another a bit better. It’s safe and comfortable in here, and our podcast is a way to invite more folks to join us around our table.
We may not find answers, but sometimes the knowing that we are not alone in this mess is enough to keep us going for another day. And that has value. We may never slough off all that has been thrown at us, but we can come together and give it a go. I truly want to see more of us come together — to talk beyond the noise and the avalanche of propaganda, and maybe see one another as we really are — not as we are told we are.
I hope you’ll find Full Circle (The Podcast) — with Charles Tyson, Jr and Martha Madrigal and give us a listen.
We launch tomorrow, March 1, 2022 on whatever platforms will have us.