Happy Queer Holidays

A History –

Christmas morning 1984: I snuck into the living room in the middle of the night. The lights from the tree seemed like a gentle hug as I surveyed the presents clustered around it. Teddy Bears and bikes twinkled merrily under the lights. No pink I noticed, and breathe an internal sigh of relief. Hopefully I would only get one or two unwanted Barbies that year. 

Christmas morning 1990: My face fell immediately upon opening the present in my lap. Underneath the delicate tissue paper and shiney silver wrapping paper is a universe of pink and teal discomfort. There was  Teen Spirit deodorant, hair gel, hair spray, lip gloss, and other small pieces of feminine coded frippary. I looked up in bafflement at my dad. My step mother smiled a tight lipped smile at me whispering “We thought you might be better at…if you had more tools” as she gestured vaguely at her body. Shame and confusion writhed over me as I peeked at the comfortable and beloved Who Framed Roger Rabbit sweatshirt I was wearing. What was wrong with me anyway? 

Christmas morning 2005: My semi estranged husband had created a beautiful winter wonderland with every day items laying around the house. We both awkwardly hyper focused on our babies and their magical experience of Christmas. I was sad but also relieved that no one was trying to force glittery baubles and pretty blouses on me or reflecting tearfully on what a lovely wife/daughter/sister I was. New words were darting in and out of my awareness nervously: transgender, genderqueer. I wasn’t sure how  yet but I knew my entire universe was shifting.  

Christmas morning 2007: My girlfriend and I cuddled on the couch while our children opened presents. She gave me gifts that didn’t leave me feeling ashamed and confused. I felt like I might actually really exist for the first time in my thirty some odd years of life. 

Christmas morning 2010: I was a single parent, certain that I was not compatible with humanity in any meaningful way. “not fit for human consumption” I joked. But I knew myself and I was happy with the person I was becoming. I was confident and content for the first time in my life. Though I believed I was beyond love, I had language to define my reality more clearly. It was a blessing I never expected.  I watched my sons open presents joyfully. life was good. 

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Christmas morning 2015: such a full and surprisingly wonderful morning. Beyond all expectations I had met a lover and friend who really sees and embraces all of me. Together we have been able to build a fundamentally healthy and nourishing relationship dynamic. My chronic illness had relatively recently forced me to quit working outside our home. There were many challenges ahead of us. It will be hard, but that day we watched our four oldest children open presents as they laughed and fussed over the new baby. Life was great. 

Christmas morning 2017, A prediction: The last two years have been hard, the last year has been the hardest. My nesting partner and I are worn down in a lot of ways. Our meager social network and resources have been stripped further down outside of a deeply appreciated online community that we have deep love and gratitude for. I have in my partners and online community, people who really see and wholeheartedly want every part of me, for the first time in my life. Something strong and fragile, uncoils in my chest. Perhaps I am fit for human consumption after all. The presents are small and few but the love is very real. My nesting partner is hopefully preparing to visit our/his oldest daughter in Texas. Our holiday, whether celebrated on the solstice or X-mas is an honoring of us all as individuals and a family. Life flows on. 

 Life is magic. Life is hard. Life is my Blessing. 

Happy holidays for all my beautiful, sad, joyous, struggling, celebrating humans!


<< This post is part of the Renaissance holiday blog roll! Find out what it’s all about here.>>

A handy list of everyone’s dates is posted in there, make sure to check
it out!


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It’s my Birthday

And other random bits and bobs 

Today I turn forty. For the length of my thirties I always expected to some day develop some anxiety about aging but so far that hasn’t happened. I find myself happier with and in myself every year, though my body becomes exponentially weaker and more tired every day, though illness and otherness are perpetually isolating it seems.

In a surprising twist for me this year I had some good luck and will be able to take advantage of a scholarship for an online Doula class via DTI. They have scholarships available for both trans and IBPOC birthworkers. I have been passionate about people having the best possible birth outcome and post partum period for near 15 years. Now, thankfully I get to learn how to support that passion professionally, hopefully helping many marginalized and at risk families and helping my own family thrive. So many things could go wrong but for now I am going to go ahead and feel some hope that between my writing, my commissioned knitting, and Doula services that perhaps my family and others may thrive. 

That’s the dream right? 

But for now we are broke and I feel mildly bummed out that no one really seems to care that it’s my birthday (even though I know I am an adult and adults just don’t get fussed over on their birthday). This is something I seem to go through every year, even though I know it is silly and probably pointless. 

I’m taking the weekend off for my birthday. Monday I will have things to knit and things to write. Life will go on just fine, maybe even a little better maybe. 

That is definitely the dream. 🙂 

A Universe in Their Eyes

Star child

You were fire once

Dust child

You wore infinity so well

Fingertips ablaze and heart blood weeping

The embers of all your resolutions burn through clammy palms

Perhaps they will spell fortitude in cold ash on your coffin

Will you allow yourself then, to remember how to live?

Or will you remain forever whispering into the dark? 

Unforgiving and unforgiven

Despair and loneliness knit into your bones

Hovering like concerned mothers right behind your eyes

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…my eyes

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Burning

Exalted

Empty

Reborn or something like it

I will stitch my dignity into a shape I can wear

An eternity in the span of a breath 

An unqualified absolution

An uncertain victory to be sure

Poverty Math

Talking about this gives me anxiety but being poor is not a shameful state, it’s not a moral weakness, it’s not an indication of personal failure…so I am going to talk about it anyway. 
My brain is caught in a loop right now, 60% percent running life numbers that don’t quite add up. This started this time because I have another infected tooth, right now during the holidays. So it goes like this…

I need this tooth pulled, which will cost me minimum 100 dollars. We will be able to pay for that next pay day, in two weeks. Also there is something wrong with my ear, it’s hurt for weeks, there is swelling, maybe fluid, it may be another sebaceous abscess. My immune system is so tanked these days, I get other secondary illnesses more easily. I need to go to the doctor for that as well. If I go to the er I will need an extra 20 for antibiotics for that…I’d probably need another 100 to be able to go to urgent care instead, for copays. 

Until then I’m just gonna have to take to much ibuprofen and hope I’m not damaging my liver irreparably. 

Spending money on medical stuff in midnovember will push back holiday shopping for the kids until the mid December paycheck and limit is to 150-200 spending for 5 children. Ahhhhhh 

I have three pending commissions, that will be another 150-200 dollars. Will we have the money for groceries next week? It’s gonna be another tight week. If can I can make 2-6 more commissions by Xmas it will help us with groceries and allow us to buy a small something for each one of the kids. That will exhaust me but we will survive. I have been having difficulty writing often enough so that is a missed payment opportunity. I wish my body would just give me a break. I need to be able to do both. Milton is writing a ton, but he never gets paid as often as I do for it, no matter how beautiful and powerful his writing is. If only I could make sure that would happen. Is that what we really need to get by? I better do the math again. 

We will have to wait to go to the dentist for two weeks…

…Around and around I go. 

We work hard to take care of our family with the limitations and resources we have but it never seems enough. It can be deeply exhausting, frustrating, and hopeless feeling. We keep going and we always make it, though to often it is just barely so. One way or another my brain has been semi permanently turned into a bad math hamster, rerunning and rerunning those numbers. I’m always hoping we missed something that will help, that will make a lasting difference to our well being. Sometimes that even happens, sometimes we find something, make an opportunity happen that helps. 
Sometimes. 
Fingers crossed

Coming Out Day or Something Like It

coming out is a process

coming out is a defense mechanism to protect us from your cis-heteronormative view

coming out is choosing between physical danger and emotional anguish-every day

coming out is colonized 

coming out is gate kept

coming out is not pretty or easy

coming out is as often as not, not at all empowering

coming out is not the answer for all our woes 

coming out is a laundry list

 • diamoric bisexual

 • nonbinary transmasculine

 • aro/ace spectrum

coming out is virtue signaling

coming out is bullshit

coming out is never done

coming out is ignored

coming out is erased

coming out is vilified

coming out is dismissed

coming out is survival

coming out is death

coming out is heartache

coming out is ecstasy

coming out is terrifying

coming out is comforting

Coming out is not our salvation

Coming out is not our salvation

coming out is not our salvation

!

coming out is just a thing

and you can do it 

or you can not

.

coming out is just a thing

and they can do it

or they can not

The Long Way ‘Round

Thirteen years ago, drenched in pregnancy hormones on an otherwise inconsequential hike, I realized I was transgender. It took me months to even be able to say the word out loud, longer to begin to tackle what, and how I would live that. 

For two years I tried to figure out what that gender place meant to me, what my identity was in the terms of the language of the time, what my transition would look like. I had so much internalized transphobia, the vanity of relative youth, and a partner who was having trouble dealing with her own unrealized covert transphobia in a few different ways. 

Eventually, after a very tense or tearful exchange at the peak of my physical dysphoria, in which she told me she was afraid of the health risks of my taking testosterone, I decided not to transition, basically, though I refused to acknowledge to myself that was what my choice meant. There were a lot of reasons I made that choice, fear, lack of sincere support, lack of ideal results, distrust in doctors, survivor/ptsd fear of surgery/anesthesia, internalized transphobia, and non binary transition being unavailable in my experience, were all big parts of that decision. 

But even a bad decision can offer a brief repose and having made any decision, there was a certain amount of relief. My instant relief also allowed me to wield my tendency for being hyper focused, in order to figuratively box up my trans status and get on with living whatever life I could. I told myself it didn’t really matter as long as my friends and loved ones knew I was not a girl. Maybe on some level, for a time, that was even true. 

When my girlfriend and I broke up later, finding myself a single parent with an office job at a very large company, I slowly put my gender even further back in the closet…I didn’t mean to do that, in fact I would have and did rationalize it many different ways if I was asked about the presentation change. None the less, I slowly shifted my gender presentation to a more socially acceptable geeky manic pixie dream girl style femme. It happened slowly over time, my work pursuit of a dangled promotion that would never come to fruition. To cope ai was almost entirely disassociated from my body during the time. I even went so far as to only own a full length mirror in which I could not see my body and head in it at the same time. 

If I was asked, while I still used the terms transgender and nonbinary transmasculine, I rarely discussed with anyone what that meant to me, only explained in cis palatable terms, and had very few healthy or protective boundaries around that identity.

It was fine I, I would repeat indefinitely. What boy wouldn’t want to have such a great rack? *bemused sigh* 

Then when my health had deteriorated so far that I had to quit that job, I suddenly found myself again, the master of my own gender identity and expression. Slowly as I started talking to people more about what being nonbinary transmasculine meant to me, my gender presentation and gender feels started sliding slowly and quickly back to where they had been so many years ago. 

So here I sit, yet again desperate to start hormones and have nonbinary top surgery, finally unafraid, feeling profoundly sad about wasting so many years of my life trying to maintain familial, romantic, and friendship relationships with people that have been burned away by time, ableism, my poor health, my anxiety, my autistic difficulty reaching out, and covert racism directed at my family. 

I remember how afraid I was that I would never be deserving of love, that no one would ever see me past everything that makes me different than them.  I wish I could have told my then self about my now self, about all the loving community I have found, how much confidence and self love I have grown, how complex and expansive my chosen family and love network has become. 

I wish I could tell my past self that I was not and am not a failure, a waste, or a “freak”. Knowing it now may not undo this seemingly wasted decade of transition pause, and it may not soothe the panic in my heart right now, it certainly doesn’t silence the constant list in my head of physical transition bullet points I will never be able to afford

~

• a wardrobe that actually fits and allows me to feel confident and comfortable in my skin

• nonbinary symbol tattoo in nonbinary flag colors

• trans symbol tattoo in rainbow colors

• low – medium dose T

• top surgery or radical reduction – no nipples or entire nipple and areola saving

~

It won’t muffle the desperation and despair  that not having access to these things causes, but it isn’t actually less than nothing either. 

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I have grown as a nonbinary man. I have grown as a human. It isn’t enough but it is something, and something will just have to do for today. 

That Thing Where We are Expected to Suffer in Inspirational Silence

There is an attitude in our dominant colonizer culture that struggling in silence is both a sign of moral superiority and open suffering is either embarassing or infuriating for those viewing and consuming that pain. This no doubt serves to weaken and divide people, communicate to them/us how little value their/our lives hold for those that would judge that perceived worth. 

If I(and others) suffer in socially accepted and enforced silence* I’m told that I am sooo brave just for living, that they couldn’t fathom living my life which they perceive as terrible beyond measure,  then fundamentally patted dismissively and sent on my way to continue not bothering them with my hardships. 

If i have the temerity to speak up for myself or others, if I have the audacity to name my pains and pressures, I am called a complainer, faker, overly sensitive, mean, fanatical, angry, dramatic, or a liar. All labels meant to take away my value, to render my feelings and humanity meaningless and empty. 

This process is even more dangerous, insidious, and pervasive for IBPOC who are less likely to be believed, empathized with, supported,  or given the benefit of the doubt by white people. Black women and enbies particularly carry intersections of oppression that leaves them most vulnerable to this slow social death in “nice” comfortable middle America. 

My whiteness, my ability to speak in a way socially acceptable to middle-class white America, and my relative stability all protect me from broader and larger social violence no matter what other ways I am harmed by my culture and my people. That is not anything that I can or should ignore. I have much relative and literal privilege and protection.

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Even with those protections, if I am silent I am a sweet nonthreatening paragon of virtue dismissed and held as example to guilt and control others. 
If I speak the shape of what harms me, speak my reality, I am an embarrassment, something to be avoided and ignored, something to be shamed, blamed, and silenced. 

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What does it say about our culture that we have so little ability to sincerely empathize with people who have experienced different things than us? What does it say about us that we would rather ignore those around us that are hurt in different ways than we are or were, than acknowledge that we are part of that harm, or that it indeed exists at all? What does it say about us that we protect abusers and ignore the abused?*

It’s been said that existing is a radical act when society wants to peel you away from the world. I think speaking in the face of that crushing pressure is radical as well, even when that speaking is to simply say, this shit is terrible, I’m tired, I’m hurting, I’m not sure I can take this anymore. It matters. You matter. Your life and feelings matter. 

Today I am struggling with financial anxiety, deep painful and abiding dysphoria, physical pain and fatigue, acute asthma, months of autistic burnout,  executive dysfunction that makes everything ten times more complex or impossible, depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and isolation. I refuse to carry shame for saying that outloud. 

I am a person not an inspirational video, you are too. 
Name your pain, struggle, your despair. 

Taste the shape of it without shame.
Share here if you feel comfortable

You are allowed to live, not just exist for others benefit, for others sense of self. 

Please also support, pay, and share writers, activists, and articles that have inspired you to be less ashamed or helped you feel less broken if you would like. Let’s give credit where it is due, spread some of that empowerment around. 

*Rhizome speaks often and with great artistry about the social pressures applied to oppressed people, especially multiply oppressed IBPOC in both wider society and numerous superficially socially liberal microcommunities, to keep them quiet and unobtrusive to the majority. I strongly suggest you check out X’s body of work. 

*Michon created the term abuse culture to describe this phenomenon, it is quite apt. Michon is involved in multiple endeavors to dismantle abuse culture including Cuil Press  and Postmodern Woman. Michon is doing important work that you should definitely check out. 

If you learn something or appreciate their work (and other IBPOC writers, thinkers, activists, and advocates) share resources and funds with them.