On learning to be a pregnant man in public.
This essay is wonderful. These are truly the highlight of my Saturdays. THANK YOU.
Wow. And, may your belly grow with grace and ease as your writing evokes.
A brilliant, searching essay, dear friend. Truly brilliant.
One sentence still has me intensely reflecting about my own experience.
"Besides, I am trans. Outside of direct threats to personal safety, why would I mind if someone noticed?" you asked.
Direct threats to my safety on all levels, mental and physical, are so pronounced and ongoing in my life. I wish I could "pay it no mind," as Marsha P. Johnson would say as as you hauntingly invoke here with the use of the phrasing involving "mind."
The more "in-between" genders yet feminine-queer-gay I am and/or look, the more verbal and physical violence I endure. At the same time, the more feminine I look, the more sexual harassment I endure, even harassment that men feel are compliments, but that cut into my Spirit.
In August I wore Black fisherman pants and a brown V-neck T-shirt (tented out with my breasts) on a quick walking trip to the grocery store. I wore a brown head scarf, no wig, no veil.
As I rounded a corner, I felt something hit me. Someone threw two used soda cans at me, one of hit my left shoulder from the back and the other just spilled it contents on my left side torso.
I figured the person threw the objects from a car or window...anonymously. The person also shouted something, but I'm hard of hearing and couldn't figure it out with my earphones and music pumping.
Overwhelmingly, I sensed that my gender ambiguous appearance is what triggered the attack...déjà vu. And I get these attacks very frequently, especially when I'm not wearing a dress and veil.
I've always been unusual on all levels. I've never been able to "pass" as anything "successfully." I've known this instinctively so I root only in the clarity of my feelings: that, assuredly, I was a Black girl and am a Black woman who, since I was a toddler, felt drawn to what I knew as a "witch"...the feminine, twisted, bent, yet somehow powerful person outcast from most society. When I turned 40, I began to allow myself to voice this openly. When I turned 50, I began not caring, embracing the sublimity of a crone, a personhood both feminine and societally foreign.
Apart from feeling good in my body with certain kinds of "female" contexted clothes, these days I guess the only thing I think about when it concerns my appearance in my older age is whether I will be attacked.
I am adamant when I declare my Black womanhood first and foremost, and my gender variance second-most. I am adamant about rejecting the paternalism inherent in mass mediated notions like "transwoman" or "Black transgender woman," which, as the 2000s droned on, seemed all about our maiming, death, and destruction or about shallow "firsts" of achievement than anything truly deeper about our experience.
These days, my womanhood only registers to me when I feel incalculable oppression for who I am, and if not for this daily, constant oppression, the intensity of my life's other work and my rejection of all other narratives save my own of highly particular experience—but for these things, I wouldn't ever think of my gender, race, etc. anymore...similar to the manner that I never think of my teeth unless they are in pain.
So my gender dysphoria seems to bubble to a similar place as my body dysmorphia (to use these frustrating, hyper-clinical terms). Both root and branch in trauma and CPTSD surrounding other people's violence towards me for who I am. Yes, who I am and have always been, not who I "identify as."
Thank you for helping my think-through and mull these things...
What an adventure you are on! I love reading about your explorations into the unknown. May your insights help guide others who might follow in your footsteps.
Powerful and moving, Finn, thank you for sharing this. How bodies are encountered, confronted, assaulted, considered, and cherished in this world fascinates me—i say this as a CIS woman who was raised to believe my body was not beautiful, and who has gone through 8.5 rounds of fertility treatments and lost 7 pregnancies, my body ebbing and flowing in and out of pregnancy mode jumping from a size 6 to a size 20 over the last years. Your piece was filled with grace and I find myself looking at myself with more kindness. Thank you. x