If the root of the word trans-phobia is about fear, then perhaps I am afraid. Is this not an issue as well?
I’ve spent the past few days on the West Coast in Pasco, Washington. I flew into Seattle at first, then drove four hours to Pasco, and instead of being so sick with excitement, I thought about the community at home that I was leaving behind.
In my mind, the Rivers of Honey Underwear party is this Friday. The young people at the library are probably wondering why I hadn’t shown up to yet another shift, and then mommy calls for a moment with her daughter, so few and far between.
I sat with a cigarette in hand, and my phone, re-reading my blog that I wrote on Valentines Day of this year, Love on a Futon, and wondered about the dreams that I had, of love, and the feeling that I had, with deep deep pain nestled inside my gut, fighting with my urge to feel comfort, and so, I nestled on a futon, the only true community I’ve ever known: deep solitude.
Still, in these low plain desert fields, surrounded my mountains in Pasco, I couldn’t help but to consider the women.
The women who, like me, have found absence in community, and strive to find a space just for us. Does having a projectile phallus between your legs make you NOT a woman? And does wanting to exist amongst bodies with wombs, tattered and prodded and questioned, like ours, make me transphobic? Are we still having this herstoric conversation?
I wonder about the race wars people play in this country. Spectra spoke on it subtly -this necessity to align oneself with others because of their own grouping. Because one calls herself a woman, does that align her struggle with mine? Are we the same, you, woman? Are you like me?
If yes, then how are any of us different at all? Are we not all just roaming souls, finding our way closer to Spirit?
And still, I don’t want to give up on this dream of love, just like I don’t want to end this supposed community of female-ness.
A woman recently wrote on facebook that she felt separation as synonymous to phobia. And yet, my response resonates to a letter I wrote to a previous member of Rivers of Honey, who too, knew nothing of the need for a woman-space, the identification with the female sex, the claiming of the womb-power, the energy we’ve been granted at birth, before assignment, when our ancestors chose us to endure month after month of blood and ripping and memory of how killing is a part of life-cycle.
And it resounds for me, this amplification of intentional community. There is nothing exclusionary about wanting. There is only inclusivity in the affirmative. We affirm female-ness. We affirm womb-filled-bodies. We affirm sacred space. We affirm the Oshun-ness of that sacred-vaginal-secreted-connection. It is okay if others do not feel connected to this space. But some do, and this space is for them. For those who do not feel connected to this space, we hope they will find spaces that connects them wholly.
From the other side of the country, I look up at the star-filled sky and exhale my American Spirit.
He said to me, every holiday, when getting drunk and singing Karaoke to Nat King Cole, “nice teeth kid!” then flicked his fingers, the pointer aimed at me, his face glistening, and I’d blush. He’d choose me, his girl granddaughter over all the others. Lucky me!
Yeah, I do have nice teeth. $6000 dental bill in 2010 will prove it.
A child looked into my eyes today and smiled, she found love inside me, even though I was probably the first black woman that she had seen with snakes crawling out of her hair, large arms, and clothes fitted like a man’s armor. Still, she smiled at me, and this girl-child made me reaffirm my stance at community.
It is there, in those small moments of our youth, that we formulate our exchanges. Is it my fault that I feel my own worthiness? Is it phobia that leads me towards pride?
Language is something that we Americans can choose to embrace or walk away from. I choose female-bodied-women as my language of choice. Those who are Masculine of Center, like that announced in the Butch Voices Open Letter, resonate with me, the plea to maintain space that is owned by it’s creator.
As a member of the oldest lesbian archive, we have been measured by our trans-inclusion. We choose language that is lesbian, regardless of sex, you must be lesbian. It has taken years for there to be a space where women who have been beaten, and pained and hurt can be free and painless in the existence of safety. What is a safe space to some may include the penis, but for me, Safety exists in the affirmative: a space of only female bodies.
Lucky you, I say, to those who do not feel the need for this space. Lucky you! But do not demand my grouping with you, as I will not demand that you group yourself with me.
When in the dark streets of a desert, where wine country and nuclear waste fill the air, where the streets are filled with smiling children, and no one who looks like me, I think of my teeth. My white teeth, “nice teeth kid…”
I can proudly say to those who call me phobic that, then, this is not your space, it seems, and this is okay. We would like to affirm those who this space affirms.
But I ask it once again, if the root of the word trans-phobia is about fear, then perhaps I am afraid. Is this not an issue as well?
Have you ever had a penis thrown inside of your closed body? I wonder this? Have you ever had the core of a person whose body is larger than yours throw you to the ground and dismantle your only knowledge of wholeness? Have you ever known the fear that a male body can elicit?
Surprisingly, I am not afraid. No more.
But I am not afraid.
Staceyann yells it. IT WAS NOT MY FAULT, at Rivers in June 2009, the entire room silent, in tears, it was trans-formative. We heard her.
Do you remember that show?
It was not my fault!
she yelled it.
“Nice teeth kid.”
And I am not afraid.
Aimed at me.
I was then, but I’m not afraid now. Oh no! I can put a dick in my mouth, lick it dry, slurp and suck, is that what you want to hear, I’m so unafraid.
flicked his fingers,
Is that phobic to you?
Yes, I will suck the tip, yank the balls,
the pointer aimed at me,
Does that prove it to you?
and call its owner my lover.
his face glistening,
before I bite it off,
and I’d blush
not letting go!
My nice teeth will smile at her, and she can finally bleed like the rest of us.
I wish this were my argument, but it is not.
I’ve moved pass fear, and moved a lot closer to love.
I love my trans sisters. We have tea together in the sun sometimes. (Isn’t that what racists say about black folk, their black lover, their black brother in law), funny though, because power is required in that trans-action.
But those trans women who I have known in my life have so many things to tackle, so many things separate from my own tackling, that I will work with them to gather their own resources to create their own spaces. Still, never once has one asked to be included!
Never has a trans-woman asked to be here. It is the female-bodied women who stress me out about it all. Especially the masculine women, who cry inclusion… What gives you the right to speak for others anyhow? Is this really just a butch issue afterall, needing to speak for women more feminine than you?
This blog is too long, and most won’t read as far as all this, but it is aching at my shoulders, this issue of exclusion/inclusion/oppression wars amok. I cannot oppress someone whose childhood was not a young girl smiling back at me. I cannot oppress someone whose body doesn’t have to lay on a gurney while a suction tube is pulled from her core, a possible soul sent back to her ancestors.
So much of my existence is about survival. I pray and chant and burn and cast and conjure to survive being a woman. So many of us have opted out of this practice, of being a woman; I see you too, and I understand, that perhaps you and I were never the same, and I still love your presence, because for some reason, your ancestors chose to gift you a body as soft as mine. I say to my butch women and trans men, allow me to love you, your masculinity, an attribute of perfection and balance, and thank the goddess for you. I only hope that your escape was not simply a matter of survival.
For me, I need to be here. Because whether in Brooklyn or Pasco, my body is sucking my soul’s connection to herself. And I choose to survive this pressure, everyday.
I stare at her, this body. My breasts are shaped indifferently than those I’ve memorized on television. My hair comes from every pore, and at night, when I feel her growing and itching, I take a tweezer and pick at each strand on my leg, until sometimes I bleed, just to feel the parts that have numbed over the years. My body breaks sometimes, cracking and stubborn, she wants to relax, but is too tense performing for everyone who stares and wants and touches and decides for her. Sit on this side of the table, walk through this open door, let me get that for you, this skirt is too short. She is the only body that I have. How can I let anyone whose body was built to defy mine the opportunity to do so? In love, I have to embrace the wanting, and that wanting is too strong to move in any other direction but here.
Perhaps dis a war me-a-wage?!
No, It’s simply a separation. I’m okay with that. Separatist. A female body, without any kind of transformation, just raw, plain-ol-girl, with some plain-ol-girl stuff, remember us? We are not the enemy of trans women! Please don’t claim it. How dare you do it when you do?! How dare you tell me that I don’t deserve a space where my body reigns? One space. Must I ask your permission first to make it so?
Saturn. I’m just a girl from Brooklyn, whose only escape, is not on a plane, or in language, but the cushiony center of her dreams, and sometimes, once a month, a space in a black box, where my dreams are realized.
Don’t you want to see your dreams realized too? Why deny us ours? I wonder, what is it really about, anyhow? Perhaps it is Fear? Or the Love of blood…