Thursday, July 19, 2007

Personal Translations

Today I picked up an award from the student affairs office. It was an award for senior service that I was supposed to receive back in May, when families gathered and whiteness seeped to the surfaces of college graduation celebrations like dish water squeezed from a sponge. I know that graduation should feel like an accomplishment, but that weekend, I felt like the flavorless chewing gum stuck to the bottom of some white man's Birkenstock.

It's not like I revolutionized the college--well, wait. I helped 20 students come out, forced administration to reconsider transgender inclusive college policy, ran three student organizations, and opened up a Black Studies-Psychology research program through my thesis work. Maybe that's a big deal.--but when a dean approached me during the Class Day ceremony and asked why I wasn't up there (he was sure they'd considered me for the award), I felt that shit. Heavy. Any of eleven names could have fallen off that list, and my body felt the weight of being conveniently forgotten as the trans guy whom the college wouldn't want its trustees seeing in public.

I guess the reason I need to write about this here is that I've been thinking a lot lately about the intersections of my identities--about the shift from being perceived as a South Indian American woman who would be a model minority to show off to trustees, alum, and friends to being the trans guy that's best when kept under wraps, explained away, bound by contracts and silenced through omission.

I need to voice the kind of isolation that can come along with coming out as trans. For me, I just hurt inside. A lot. Even when I'm happy, even when I feel good about the things I'm doing, even when I'm around the people I love. I hurt inside because I feel the things I've done to try and make myself "normal." I loathe the parts of me that bent to society, that starved, cut, and hated me; that hid pain behind long hair and blouses; that crumbled when called a dyke.

When little things happen, like being denied recognition in a public forum, like being placed on medical leave, like seeing pain and confusion in a parent's eyes because they don't understand how I came to be this way, like remembering high school, like being told I must be intersex b/c trans people are just intersex people who were "fixed" at birth, like being poked and prodded by a doctor whose never seen such a strange specimen... when little things happen, I hurt more. Not because of other people, but because of how much I have denied myself and because of how I am therefore implicated in other people's denial of me.

And so I write explicitly from my transgender voice because I need to hear one right now, commiserating and forgiving.

1 comment:

Jay said...

thank you so much for being you, and writing so honestly. you inspire me.