Trans Joy: Child-Bearing Shoulders
Ahead of Smutathon 2021, we’re publishing a series of Trans Joy posts. As we’re fundraising for Gendered Intelligence and Trans Lifeline this year, we want to flip the script on trans people being asked to perform their pain over and over again to prove that they deserve human rights.
Instead, we want to celebrate trans joy and gender euphoria. We’ve teamed up with Quenby Creatives, whose Trans Joy series highlights the positive side of trans experiences to bring some balance to trans discourses.
Today’s Trans Joy post is by the wonderful Rebecca Blanton. Rebecca Blanton (aka Auntie Vice) is a writer and performer. Their current work focuses on sexuality, gender, and power. They hold a Ph.D. in Political Psychology and served as the Executive Director of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. Their academic training and political work strongly informs thier current work. They identify ask kinky, queer, agender, and disabled.
It was early fall in the early 1990s in Davis, California. Fall on the UC Davis college campus was not the idyllic fall of East Coast elite Universities. There are no changing leaves, no warm wooly sweaters, no late-night bonfires. Early fall meant sweating in your hoodie you wore because you left the house at 7 when it was still cool and now damp titties are raining sweat over your belly. There are no crackling late-night bonfires, only the sounds of the local cows and frat boy parties.
Sitting in the green-hued lighting of an institutional classroom with false ceiling tiles and old, uncomfortable desks my “Introduction to Women’s Studies” was discussing the construction of gender. The attributes of males and females. The social power of masculine. The oppression of feminine. I sat there thinking, “This is bullshit.”
Not that gender is not socially constructed. But, even at 18, I understood that the binary was bullshit. Since high school, friends had proclaimed, there are men, there are women, and then there is Bec. I was lodged somewhere in-between and outside the binary at the same time. I was the gender equivalent to quantum superposition particles. I was also in a Women’s Studies class and not Physics so the metaphor fell flat.
For decades I lived an unexplainable existence in a gendered world. I tried living as a man. Passed enough to sneak into a few sex clubs but never bold enough to do more than watch the porn streaming on some television in a dark room. I tried high femme and fell low. Regardless of make-up, hairdos, dresses, and heels, I was never really femme.
I never passed as either male or female. I boarded a plane and the stewardess said, ‘Welcome, Sir.” I was in a skirt and full make-up. She later came to my seat and apologized for the mix up and gave me free drinks on the cross-country flight. A cashier at a bank called, “Next, Ma’am” and then apologized for the misgendering and waived the fees for my transaction. Wearing turtlenecks in New York City caused men and women to desperately search my neck for the presence or absence of an Adam’s apple before deciding to hit on me in bars.
Their confusion, momentary or not, always surprised me. I am not androgenous. By fifteen, I had D-cups which I only hid when I tried to pass as a man. I have child-bearing hips and shoulders. Even fully corseted and in heels, I am greeted at my local men’s leather bar with a split second of confusion and then, ‘Oh, It’s just Bec,” because they know I’ll give pointers on BJs they are about to give in the shadows on the patio.
I never fully fit until I entered the warm embrace of trans women. Not the high femme looking drag queens so popular now. Actual living, breathing, loving trans women. Women who cause people to do a double take because they don’t quite pass yet. Women who make my six-foot height feel normal. Women with big breasts and big shoulders. Women who make people search for an Adam’s apple before deciding if they want to make a pass.
A dear friend opted to complete gender affirming surgeries a few years ago. She lovingly detailed the experience on Facebook. Each step of her affirmation graphically described for those of us brave enough to read it. Upon healing, she threw herself a woman’s coming out party.
That day, I sat with two dozen women, most at some point of transition, celebrating and welcoming her to our lives. We toasted her courage and journey. We sipped champagne and listened to music of our youthful clubbing days. I finally felt at home.
Here were the women who understood me. Here was the first time, big breast, bigger shoulders, talking about gender and sex and second puberty, I felt I had found my people.
These women understood what it meant to exist in two worlds at once. They understood what it was like to struggle with your body. They understood what it meant to not fit, to have the women of Sex in the City feel like invaders from another planet because that is not your womanhood. They felt the need to shed body parts, to add them, to transform before you become yourself.
We laughed about the struggle with chin hair. Each lamenting the years they had dedicated to eradicating those tiny invaders who belied our identities. We exchanged tips on removal. I exchanged tips on removal. Although assigned female at birth, I still grow a beard reminiscent of a thirteen-year-old Irish boy. This is not attractive on anyone, including the thirteen-year-old Irish kid. Here were my people, these are my women, these are my kin.
Donate to Gendered Intelligence
Donate to Trans Lifeline
At time of publishing, we’ve raised: