Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Is it safe yet?

Geez, you'd think finishing a MA degree, working almost but not quite full-time, and doing an internship would leave a guy some time to write regularly for a group blog, wouldn't you?

My degree is finished, and the full impact of the ridiculous amount of student loan debt I have is starting to hit home, so now I have the leisure and the desire to distract myself from my financial woes by writing here and introducing myself. My name is Kerrick, and I live in the SF Bay Area. I grew up and started my transition in Florida. I am fortunate enough to have fewer horror stories than allies to be grateful for, which is possibly why you will too often see me morph into Wrath of Khan over the many slights trans people are subject to—I've never become inured to it.

In the SF Bay Area there's a lot of celebration right now. Pride this weekend is expected to be big—bigger than big—downright huge—and that's not just the assessment of the baskets of goodies those attracted to men expect to see strutting down the street. Last year when I was doing my safety monitor training, if I am remembering it correctly, I was told that SF Pride is the largest event in California—bigger than the Rose Bowl. For a weekend, the city I live in (well, near) is going to absorb a quantity of visitors approximately the population of Disneyland, if everyone in California decided to go to Disneyland at once*. It feels like everyone in the area is going to be forced to don rainbow and force-marched out to the parade site. I'm a resister. I'm definitely gay enough, I just get panicked in crowds. I had planned to go to the relatively small and well-behaved Trans March at least, but my classmate is having a low-key farewell party and alas, I feel I must attend. My partner will have to represent me; he has marched in Trans March every year for the past mumble, while I've only been involved every year for the past year.

Trans March, unlike Dyke March, welcomes all who want to march. I've never heard of anyone drummed out of TM for not being Trans Enough. That's important to me as someone who's never quiiiite felt trans enough to prove that yes, I do actually deserve to have my gender acknowledged as legitimate as everyone else's gender, no matter how I described it in the past. "Trans Enough" boundaries among trans people fragment us and keep some of us from accessing health care and social support. Further, it's been a source of strength for many trans people to see non-trans allies marching with them, when so often we receive the message from the media, from the legal system, and from our supposed lobbyist friends in Washington that everyone is against us. I wish for Dyke March participants to have their space free of domination by non-dykes and also the security to erase Dyke Enough boundaries so that all dyke-identified people feel welcome, so they can see that their numbers are even greater than they thought, their diversity even richer—not only in terms of gender history, but in terms of race and ethnicity, ability, class, and sexual persuasion. I would always self-exclude from the Dyke March so long as they ask non-dykes not to take part; unlike many of my fellow trans men I have never been dyke-identified.

At any rate, it seems like the hype is even huger this year because of the marriages. About which I am very excited. It's not about being happy for my non-trans gay allies. I identify as a gay man. Same-gender marriage is for me, too.

Or at least it could be... if there weren't a presumption of monogamy and normativity that I'm not drawn to. I've been a little taken off guard when some of my coworkers, classmates, and casual acquaintances have asked me "Are you getting married?" We've been together two years (Brucha at Yah); were you ready to marry your boyfriend/girlfriend after two years? We weren't going to let the state tell us when we couldn't get married, and we sure aren't letting the state tell us when we should. Besides, if we'd felt that strongly about it we'd have taken advantage of my legal document procrastination and gotten married already. Instead, I participated in this historic occasion by helping with the celebration this past Friday when three couples, one men, one women, and one mixed, together received the seven blessings of marriage from the rabbi of my synagogue (oops, "Jewish spiritual community") in full view of G-d and everyone. We are really lucky; some people's faith of their childhood won't even let them walk in the door. I'm new to Judaism, but have been around long enough to realize that my Woo-Jew community is by no means representative (some local Jews call us the ashram, referring to the fact that we started out as a meditation center). It's just one of the many things that makes me feel holy, along with evolution, the expanse of the universe, pagan seasonal festivals, and the complexity of the living earth—how about you?

(*all figures brought to you courtesy of Hyperbole.)

1 comment:

Fredrik said...

Interesting. It seems that trans people in general are more including than gays and lesbians.