Today, a friend of mine reposted this image of a tweet that resonated with me. I want to share my thoughts on it here:
The same can be said for any person from a historically marginalized group of people. I think often of my Black ancestors who had to flee because of the violent law making in this country (which by the way, anti-Black laws are rising just as high transphobic laws). And when ur Trans and Black, these two experiences overlap so often. It’s almost like transphobia and racism can’t exist without each other 🤨. Even with the limited experiences of anti Blackness I’ve experienced in my life, my white presenting body has quite literally saved my life even during instances of violent transphobia. If I wasn’t read as white, I know the things I have survived would have killed me if I didn’t have this privilege.
As we see more overt transphobic and anti Black laws being passed, we are also witnessing the last cry for help from capitalism and white Cis-hetero patriarchy! They know they are loosing and that the people are winning-they are scared and choosing to be violent .
Now it’s more important than ever to extent outside of yourself and help build communities that are more loving and willing to evolve-communities that prioritize being teachable. I cannot only act on things that only effect me-i need to go outside of myself and my life experience I want to invest in knowledge and praxis that benefits the most vulnerable in our world. I hope u do the same.
I want a future where we don’t need to flee, I want a future where we get the choice to move.
2022 has only been a few months long but it has continually shown me lessons about grief. Grief spills and laps like waves on the shore in moonlight-Dark blues and purples with speckles of light that briefly show what I am truly looking at.
I know grief has been a lesson and an emotion many of us have been learning and feeling for many years, especially since Covid. I am trying to remember that love is to grief what inhaling is to exhaling.
Grandma Mae, you were a survivor and even while you were surviving, you publicly reigned in joy and inclusion all around you. Privately, I knew you had a turbulent rage that you so rarely showed-I hope you have found peace with the trauma you have survived and that it has been released into transformative energy. Thank you for getting us here.
I was so scared that while I was medically transitioning I would be subsequently erasing myself from your memory because of the effects of your dementia. I started hormones just a week before the world shut down and suddenly I wouldn't be able to see you in person for two years. I was scared that as I medically transitioned and wasn’t able to visit you during Covid, I would look like a strange man in place of a granddaughter you knew. Even though you knew me when I came out as gender fluid-HRT is a whole different ballpark. People have a whole different experience of me which turns into me having a complete different experience of the world. You haven't seen me since I was living in my past life.
3 days before top surgery in November 2021 I visited you in person for the first time in two years! I was so nervous- not just about how you would react to seeing me but also how the staff who worked at your nursing home would treat me after I would more than likely be outted due to your dementia. You really valued that I was a little girl, a female-I was scared I would disappoint you now that I appear to you as a man. Especially with how men have treated you in the past.
But you were so brilliant with your intuition and really had a natural gift for tapping into to the spiritual parts of life. You and I exchanged an understanding and everything fell into place. Me and Sean brought you photo albums. You saw a picture of the two of us when I was just a baby in a swimsuit and you said “look at that little boy, look how’s he’s grown”
That felt like magic. Just total understanding. Thank you for your infectious joy that you have passed down to me and so many people in our family. You were a survivor and a courageous person who spoke her mind freely even after living in the south during Jim Crow. Growing up with you was joyous.
I loved how you spoke about funerals in New Orleans-that it was always an emphasis of public joy and celebration rather than a sorrowful hidden pain. It’s very fitting that you died during Mardi Gras. I hope a big band greeted you as you transitioned into becoming an ancestor.
Thank you for getting us here.
February 12th 1933-February 2022
Ryan Chard Smith took more photos of me for our series, Ryan Meets Ryan to celebrate my body before top surgery and to visually say thank you to my old chest.
I have more to say about all the things involved here:
I thought one of the requirements for wanting top surgery is that I needed to violently dislike myself. Wanting to have a surgeon cut into my flesh and release something inside of me means I need to hate the part of me being cut out, right? That there cannot be any joy or reverence in my body each day I am living my pre-op life?
I so fiercely oppose this singular narrative stamped onto my transgender life! I am not miserable! At the same time, I still choose to radiate empathy for my trans community that is suffering.
The performance of a tormented transgender person comes from decades of medical gatekeeping meant to keep trans people from having access to affordable surgeries and hormones (ie: The Real Life Test and Medical gatekeeping in the US). We quite literally have to perform misery in order to get access to our needs. Quite a lot of us are miserable because human beings are in a fishbowl soaked in transphobia and racism and patriarchy. It’s bouncing off the walls and then ricocheting into violence in our own communities. I believe we have been in desperate need to reevaluate the entire concept of health insurance and medicine because the way it currently operates is unhelpful at best, violent and oppressive at its worst. The resources we need to live shouldn’t be privatized!
But I did not choose to have this surgery because I am walking in agony; this was me advocating for myself to receive joy and connection with my body.
This was not an execution. My chest was reshaped and reborn into something new. That is the most human experience I can think of! The ability to shift!
It’s like leaves falling off a tree, ice melting into the lake, tears falling from your eyes.
It’s a thank you and a goodbye.
New Air on New Skin learning to walk, breath, and talk all over again. I’m connected. I’m floating but not spiraling. It’s wet here. sticky from where I was melted. Now I’m standing in the parts that are meant to remain liquid.
I am having a much more accurate relationship with myself.
It’s no longer flashes of lightning briefly showing what I am.
It’s the sun on my skin, freckles glowing on my shoulder.
And the sound of my heart
Doesn’t sound like the pounding of a wooden door- breaking and entering.
It sounds like the percussion section of a choir- Gospel.
top surgery 11/11/21