I recently stumbled upon and have been reading Matt Kailey’s blog, tranifesto. Of particular interest to me was the “outing yourself for the comfort of others” post and the interview with Nick Krieger, author of, “Nina Here Nor There”. As feels pretty usual with the Universe, the timing is nothing short of fascinating.
Even though I’m pretty much legally old, I am so new to the trans community that I’m embryonic. The whole reason for this blog really, right? Anyway, I went to adult skills hockey practice last week and there was a trans-guy there. Adult skills is co-ed. The team I play on is a women’s team. We combine with the men’s league for skills night. So I walk in the door with a few of my teammates and I see this person standing in front of the locker rooms. S/he looks at me and there was this brief moment of understanding and recognition and s/he asked, “are there separate locker rooms?” I felt a pang of sympathy when I said, “yeah, men in locker room 5 and women are in 3.” I hesitated a moment as s/he turned and walked towards the men’s. Well at least I know which pronoun to use I guess.
The thing is that the whole trans-thing is so enigmatic to me, I have no real idea how to navigate it or what the rules of engagement are never mind the fact that I still can’t answer the question, “what am I” with any real or even feigned confidence. Reading Matt’s blog post just a day too late to help me with how to interact with trans-hockey-guy, I ended up sort of skating around the rink trying to acknowledge some sense of connection with him. Something he avoided like the plague. Leaving me perplexed and feeling both unappreciated and rejected.
If I could be totally honest, I’d be a hypocrite to feel badly about how he treated me. Trans hockey guy’s response to me is not so different than, actually quite a bit nicer than, how I was when I first met Ari. Ari is the first trans-guy I ever met. But before actually meeting him, I’d seen him across crowded rooms and in various social gatherings because he went to school with Emily. I always scoffed, sneered and rolled my eyes loudly at the merest glimpse of him. I was often compelled to tell Emily what a turd I thought he was. It bothered me that someone I’d never even been introduced to got under my skin so badly (of course now we know why). I remember hearing him introduce himself in a group, saying, “My name is Ari and I use male pronouns.” I mimicked under my breath in a mocking high pitched whine, “My name is Hali and I use foul language.” Scoff, eye roll, harumph.
As we left the ice center one of the women on my team acknowledged off-handedly that the person of indeterminate gender had gone into the men’s locker room. I wondered out loud how the men felt about that and she immediately responded with, “it really doesn’t matter anymore. I’m sure they didn’t care. I just think it must be hard being that person.” You can say that again sister.
A prayer forming at the edges of my mind:
Just for today, may I lead with my heart and not with my fears, seeing sameness instead of otherness, embracing rather than rejecting, supporting, encouraging, not deriding.