Giving birth, being adopted, becoming a “transphobe,” hating reality TV, and generally entertaining revelations against my will

For months now my posts here and at catholictrans have been building up to a new direction. I realize in retrospect that everything I’ve posted recently, original material or otherwise, have been the contractions leading up to massive labor pains. For many insomniac nights I’ve been squinting at my dark ceiling and seeing patterns of motion, webs of ideas, and clashing good n’ evil in such a large vista that my small human mind can’t actually piece it all together and I feel literally insane. But slowly, the different pieces that I feel to be interconnected are presenting themselves to me in an orderly queue. Continue reading

Quote

Who Decides What Makes a Woman?

Who Decides What Makes a Woman?.

“Womanhood is not an exclusive club. So many people are in it, and we are all so very different from one another. We shouldn’t imagine any of us hold the keys to womanhood. Yes, trans women have some different lived experiences than cis women—though fewer than one might expect. The trans women I have gotten to know share my struggles to overcome internalized sexism, and constantly confront the kind of suspicion of the feminine that trans theorist Julia Serano describes in her book Whipping Girl (required reading, truly). They face employment discrimination at rates even higher than cis women. It’s hard to imagine a trans woman who doesn’t know what it feels like to walk down the street and be afraid for her safety because of her gender. I bet I have a lot more “womanhood” experiences in common with my trans women friends than I do with the Queen of England, who has certainly never worried about birth control, gotten her period on the subway, or scraped by on half a man’s salary. Surely her brain has also been shaped by her experiences, which are very different than mine. Are we going to revoke her womanhood, too?”

Read more here.

Aside

The Existential Woman OR A theory of sex and everything from a transgender filmmaker

I’ve been getting back into screenwriting again, and the rush of adrenaline from listing all the short films I want to make and the ineffable tug of the Muse that comes with it sent my soul hurling into a space of… shall we say: inspiration. What follows is a stream-of-consciousness meditation that may become the narration script for an art film.

THE EXISTENTIAL WOMAN or A THEORY OF SEX FROM A TRANSGENDER FILMMAKER – I think there are two trinities. One with an uppercase T, another with a lowercase. There is only 1 Trinity, but 2 trinities. The first is Father, Son And Holy Spirit, the second is universe, mankind, and the human soul. The first is beautiful because it is the lover, the second is beautiful because it is loved. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This seems so intangible, so subjective. But when the beholder is Divine, the beheld becomes real. Gender is not just performance – it is relationship. There is something so horribly sexist about saying that woman exists primarily in the eye of man. Yet there could be a truth here that defies misogyny, usurps heteronormativity. It is this: that we aren’t just figments in another’s imagination, nor are others figments in ours, but that we become real when we are seen. The problem with our world is not that woman is seen, but that she is not. The problem with pornography isn’t that woman is under the scrutiny of a beholder, but that she isn’t. SHE doesn’t exist; only a simulacrum of another’s pet sexual peeve remains. We so desire to be seen, to BE. I desire so much to be. I want to incarnate, to solidify, to apparate into a space where other people exist alongside me. I want to end this long loneliness. People ask me why I went for transition. Why subject myself to the horrors of knife and pill? Aren’t I conforming to some narrow feminine ideal? Is my pleated skirt and brassiere now the sum of my existence? These things are strained sometimes, fought for too hard, admittedly. But the straining is toward something beyond, something needed, something realer than real. Gender identity: this is my relationship with myself. Gender expression: this is my relationship with others. And we are only real with others. | I hate to sound corny, but I’m already sounding pretentious, so allow me yet another sin of expression. I think it just might be all about love. How is sex love? It is relationship. There was this guy who once said that the greatest love is to lay down your life for another. Why is this love? It seems so far from the desire-driven panting of this world’s amour. To lay down your life for someone is relationship. By laying down your life, you tell someone that they are real. That they are more real than pain, than suffering, than sacrifice, than all the myriad of potential pleasures and anxieties that might come later. And in making someone else real: this is when you yourself become alive, become real, become incarnate in flesh and spirit and not just simulations of impulse or survival. Is this idealistic? Hardly. The point is that we cease to deal with ideas when we love: we deal with something that is for once real. For a moment a breeze comes in from higher country, and we smell sea salt and freshly cut grass and every other smell of a life more tangible. The long loneliness becomes short, temporary, a thing of the past, and we dwell in something eternal and present. Sigh Talking about it makes me want to crawl out of my skin. So… much… desire… sensual panting  and what to do with it. Homeless desires, shipwrecked agony and ecstasy. Groan We all need something more. We can’t deal with how much we need from this life, so we duck into any shop that will sell us a moment of distraction. We dare not face our desire head-on, for that would pull us toward an eternity, a reality, that might not exist, God forbid. We are cowards. | After reading some smug articles from a collection of what philosophy calls Existential writing, I began to call myself an existentialist. I’m not sure what it means – I’m not sure anyone who calls themselves an existentialist really knows what they mean by it. Because it’s not a syllogism or a path to the Good Life. It’s a gut feeling, an ongoing experience of displacement, no, of… of something we can’t slap a name onto. It tugs at your heartstrands while cutting them loose, with a sharp twang like a violin string being severed. There is a divine disconnect in the human heart, like an ever-frustrating green light or red sign that represents everything there is and isn’t, and everything in between, and all we desire from it. God, take me up in flaming wheels like Elijah, take me away like Enoch, take me to a place where we touch reality and it responds. | People ask me why I would transition. I don’t really have a good answer. My answer is shit, but at least it’s honest and true. I would transition not to escape, not to conform, not to medicate or anesthize, but to live. To get down in the muck with sleeves rolled up and learn what it means to give everything and make maybe just one person’s life real. And then maybe I can be real for a moment, and so can that other one, and then maybe there will be something real that’s more than this or us or here, a relationship that is harder than granite, that you can knock against like a fist against wood, like a God against the universe. With a gigantic Bang, something might expand and grow and hurl forth, and the universe might be born again.

Home Again? Not So Much.

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I just got back “home” from my last year at my university. Admittedly, my initial feelings about coming back were very positive; I was so excited to see my little siblings, and the sign for my hometown literally brought a splitting grin to my face. Every square mile of this city is pregnant with wonderful, nostalgic memories.

That being said…

It didn’t take more than a few hours for the seemingly comforting walls of my parents’ house to become prison bars.

Something strange happens to my personality when I live with my family. It’s like I become a different person, or rather a half-person. When I’m away from home, I grow in leaps and bounds as a distinct, coherent, real human being, with hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes. When I come home, whole huge parts of my soul just shut down. My whole body goes into emergency mode. I’ve had two panic attacks already. I’ve only been here about 26 hours and I’m already sick in bed.

It seems like I revert back to how I was in high school. I turn into this horrible person: angsty, depressed, moody, insular, antisocial, lazy. I spend half my time trying to avoid the other people in my family because being in contact with them means interacting with them, and interacting means turning more and more into this soul-less monster.

When I climbed into my childhood bed last night, I had a very palpable flashback – almost like a mini post-traumatic stress episode – to those unhappy high school days when I’d lock myself in my room and be so scared: of myself, the world, my gender identity, my sexuality, God, everything. That bed is the unhappiest place on Earth for me, and I have to sleep in it for a whole week.

Another way I’m reverting back into my old high school self is I feel emotionally, physically, and socially exhausted all the time. I crashed real hard in the middle of the afternoon. I was comatose.

When I napped, I did so downstairs on our study couch. Apart from fleeing the horrors of my old bed, I was also standing guard over my three boxes of papers and binders which I was busy organizing. The papers are my summer research material – 1000’s of pages on transgender theory, feminist studies, Bible studies, theology, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and everything else under the Sun that is relevant to the kind of stuff I write about on this blog. Well, despite the fact that I was sleeping – more like hibernating – my Mom crept in and looked through my binders. She woke me up, saying: “I need to talk to you about your stuff in here. I’m not happy with this. I just saw a binder that says ‘Transgender Studies Reader.’ You can have a few hours to pack this stuff up, but then I want it out of the room.”

So I can’t even read about my own condition? What, should an autistic person not read about “autism studies”? Should a teenage boy not read about “teenage studies”? My parents are so unable to grasp reality that they even have to control what I read.

I feel like every move I make, every possession, every expression, is scrutinized.

The problem is I feel so guilty some days. I see seven large brown pairs of eyes staring me down with ignorant love, begging me to stay with them and be the half-dead person that fits into my family’s structure. There’s only room for half of me at home, and it’s the worst half. The better half of me is in agony. My family doesn’t love that half because they don’t understand it. What is distressing is that the robotic, play-acting, ‘brother’ half of me that is such an unhappy jerk, that struggles to even be around people without having a panic attack, even though it isn’t really me but only a small part of me – that angsty, unhappy, gender-conflicted teenager is who my family wants. And I want to give it to them because I am in love with my family. But as long as I live this half-life, shutting down the majority of who I am, I really don’t have any love to give. When I’m whole, when I’m all of me, when I’m this cool, bohemian, tomboyish transgender girl named Anna, I have so much love to give. When I’m this unhappy, repressed, antisocial faux-bro named Anthony, I have nothing to add to the family.

Maybe this conflict is all good. I’m leaving for St. Louis in a few weeks, and maybe this is God’s way of getting me ready to leave this all behind. I’ve been home hardly more than a day, and I already want to move out yesterday.

I love my family, but reality is what it is. There’s not even much of a choice here. My growth is stunted at home, and I need to go where I can actually become a human being and not a robot.

Despite what my parents think, I still don’t know where I’m going in life, but I at least know I’m going away. It’s not even a question.

Video

Trailer for my upcoming trans*themed short film ‘REPARATION’!

This semester I finished up an undergrad film degree at my University, and my final project was to make a 5-8 min. short film. My film partner and I chose a script I wrote in January based on my own experience with and what I’ve learned about reparative or ‘conversion’ therapy of LGBT people.

SYNOPSIS: A young transwoman must escape a reparative therapy hospital where she is being held prisoner before the evil Dr. Fitzer rewrites her personality for good.

SPECS: 1080p Full HD, 24 fps, 9 min. 30 sec. Filmed on RED One MX in  4K resolution.