Another Place

A friend picked me up from school tonight, a little after 10p. We drove to my gf’s place to pick up my stuff. My stuff: a small canvas backpack, a small tote bag mostly filled with dirty clothes from this week, a small duffel bag full of my school books, and a larger duffel bag filled with my clothes and grooming stuff. My friend has a room in a 6 bedroom house. It’s a nice house in a nice neighborhood. I’m staying in his room tonight.I’m sleeping on a comfy duvet. He’ll introduce me to the woman who owns the house tomorrow and maybe I’ll be able to sleep on the couch for the duration of my stay here. Which may be just a couple nights. He’s trying to find another place for me that has more space and privacy. By next weekend or the week after I should have my financial aid and I’ll be able to rent a room for May and maybe June and if I get the deposit back from my old place I’ll be able to rent a room for June and maybe July.

Yesterday, I went to my old clinic and asked to be put on the waiting list for a therapist. I decided that I want to talk to a therapist and get an official diagnosis for gender identity disorder. I started my medical transition at a clinic that allows a person to start without a therapist letter. It’s an informed consent clinic. There are clinics in Los Angeles and San Francisco too and I’m sure New York and other major cities. Informed consent is saying that I’m an adult and I understand what I’m doing with my body. I chose the informed consent route because I didn’t want anyone therapist acting as a gatekeeper to such an important, personal, completely life altering/affirming decision. To start my transition at the clinic, I had to have an interview and a full physical work up, blood work, papsmear. They want to make sure you’re healthy enough to take the hormones and also establish a baseline so they can monitor what’s going on in future. During this time, I found out I had a heart murmur. To get the prescription I had to write a 5 year life plan. I got the script a couple months after I had started going to the clinic and I started injecting testosterone on June 3rd 2009.

Last fall when I was going through a hard time it was all transition related. I am estranged from my parents. My only sibling and I are just recently starting to reconnect, I’ve been dealing with poverty. If I can’t afford the dentist, clothes, eye exams, food, an apartment, how can I even think about surgery (chest reconstructive surgery)? I’m just so absolutely over wearing a binder. A binder is what I used to flatten my chest so it appears male looking. It restricts my breathing and cuts off blood flow to my arms and fingers. I’m out all day usually and last fall I didn’t want to go to school or leave the house really because I didn’t want to put on the binder. Recently I’ve been bringing a baggy sweat shirt and a button down shirt and taking off the binder when the sun goes down. Most people are gone and the people who are still on campus are not paying any attention to me. I mostly stay in the computer lab until the library closes or in the piano practice rooms.

I’ve really gone off on a tangent here. Back to the Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis. My being a transsexaul and my transition is affecting my physical and mental health. My self esteem and confidence are affected. My main worries before starting transition were whether or not anyone would ever love me and if I could support myself through transition. That’s one of the reasons I went back to school. So as to get an education with the hopes that I’d be able to find work in a field of interest that fills a social need and I’d be able to financially take care of myself. If I hadn’t transitioned I wouldn’t be alive today. Period. I had done all I could to try to live the life I lived before and I just couldn’t anymore. Even with the mess that goes along with being trans and queer in this society, it’s been worth it because ever since I started T..well it feels like bonus life. But last fall, especially last fall, and sometimes now, I find myself thinking, “I can’t afford to live.” I can’t afford life. It’s a false thought. Obviously false. Because I’m here, Dear ___ I’m here. I have learned to live off of so little. It’s truly amazing. But I want to live better. I want to be healthier. I’ve gained 20 pounds in the last 4 months. Stress eating. Junk eating. Late night eating. Wanting to have something to hold me here. Hold me down. Wanting to be solid and heavy and here and present. But my nature, my inner nature is light and spacey and free, and joy filled. I don’t want to be afraid like I’ve been afraid this week. I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

Not having a place is scary. Being dependent on other people’s kindness/charity is too. I’m trying to find the lesson in this so as not to repeat myself. It’s hard to think properly though because I’m in it and life keeps on happening. I’ve made it through the week. Almost. I’ve gone to all my classes. I didn’t turn in a paper in one of them but my teacher said I could turn it in late. I have a test tomorrow in Astronomy. It’s the 2nd of 3 tests for the semester. There’s a lot of material. I’m about 60% prepared for it. But it’s not for another 11 hours. If I get a couple more hours in I’ll be fine. I can pull off a B at least. I’m hoping. For the first test I missed 3 and I set the curve so I have 100% in the class. All my homework I’ve gotten A’s and attendance is 12% of our grade and I haven’t missed a class.

School is my lifeline right now. If ever I am a teacher, I’ll be more than aware that sometimes for some students, school is the safest, most caring, place they know and my awareness will dictate my behavior. One of the things that comes out of hardships is the compassion that is developed for others and one’s Self.

Gratitude:
School.
My friend for picking me up and letting me stay in his room with him and offering to help me find a place for next week.
My gf for having let me stay at her place for the past 6 days and her friend who said I could stay at her and her mom’s place if I need to.
The netbook that I’m typing on that my Aunt gave me. I don’t know if I mentioned this but my cousin bought my Aunt a new laptop and she gave me her old netbook which she didn’t like. It’s been sitting in her closet for almost 5 months and now it’s mine. I’m really digging it. My computer is 8 years old and has been chilling in my friend’s shed along with my printer since April 1st.
I am thankful for the blue sky and being able to lay on the grass this afternoon and study and nap for 35 minutes.
I am thankful for the good times my gf and I share, especially the conversation we had this morning and early afternoon on a wide range of topics.
I am thankful for our physical chemistry/relationship too.
I am thankful to the actors and creators of Switched At Birth. I watched one and a half episodes tonight while taking two online quizzes for my music class. It’s a great show and really comforting. I’ve been signing more! because of it. I have 2 and half more episodes of Season 1 and then I’ll be scouring the earth or waiting very patiently for the Season 2 DVD release.
I am thankful for my class tonight. We were talking about communication and how to be an effective communicator. Our professor let us out an hour and a half early because he needed to catch a train to go to a conference tomorrow. Being let out of class early is what enabled me to watch/listen to Switched At Birth tonight.
I am grateful for MTS (bus/trolley system) for getting me around.
I am grateful for my inner resilience.
I am grateful for Spotify and my Glee playlist.
I am thankful for my relationship with a friend who lives near “where Dorothy left on her way to Oz” and or mutual love for Dr. Who *hugs*
I am thankful for the internet and the connections that are made through it.

The Rainbow Web Desires Creation

I read Eyes of Desire: A Deaf Gay & Lesbian Reader edited by Raymond Luczak for my Intro To Deaf Culture class this past semester. I had gotten this book from our library towards the end of last summer and had been reading it off and on. When I found out we had to do a written book report I emailed my Prof. and asked could I do mine on this one. I also had to do a presentation to the class about the book. I picked the book as a bridge between a culture and community I know well to one I was unfamiliar with. While reading the book there was nothing I couldn’t relate to. The stories had the added experience and perspective of growing up both LG within the larger straight world and growing up deaf/Deaf and/or becoming deaf/Deaf while living in the larger hearing world.

In my class I was introduced to the word audism. Seriously, had never heard it before. “Most people are familiar with the concept of homophobia, but many may not be so with the idea of audism. Simply put, it is discrimination against Deaf, deaf, or hard of hearing people because of their hearing loss or their choice to use sign language to communicate. ” (1)

The similarities between our two communities is a comfort to me. As LGBT people we have been given the number 10%. I think it’s more like 40% and have thought so since I was 17 in the mid 90’s. I think the number is way too small an estimate. I don’t want to leave out all our closet cases :p But back to 10%. That means 90% of the world is straight (not that there’s anything wrong with that *smiles*).

90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.
Which is another way of saying that 10% of deaf children are born to deaf parents.
Which is another way of saying that 90% of children born to Deaf Parents are hearing.

Lots of folk think it’s abnormal to be queer. Lots of folk think it’s abnormal to be deaf. Some of us grow up in situations that are hostile to our very beings. Some of us feel that we can’t be ourselves. Love and accepted for who we essentially are. The perpetual other. Our self-esteem, self-image, social development are effected. So much to overcome. We come from every background. Every gender. Every race. Every nationality. Every class. Every economic status. We cover the full spectrum of humanity. The Rainbow Web. I think this is why there is such a large percentage of LGBT American Sign Language Interpreters.

For me, interpreting is something I decided to pursue as a practicality. I started medically transitioning last June. It’ll be a year!! tomorrow. Because of what was going on in our economy and because the way the world at large treats transsexuals, I felt I needed to have a skill. I realize now that I am plenty skilled. But I digress. I’ve always wanted to learn sign language. When I was younger my brother and I watched Reasonable Doubts (NBC) starring Marlee Matlin and Mark Harmon. I thought Marlee was so beautiful and was fascinated watching her sign. I also grew up in Los Angeles and Compton. The gangs used signs to claim their territory, define themselves, separate, and kill. I see the perversion of this use of sign (My Professor told me about a black deaf kid in Long Beach, I think, that was gunned down in a driveby because he was signing and other gang members thought he was a member of a rival gang) but when I was a kid I was fascinated by the power of it. That hand gestures meant something. The power of language. The power of communication. I thought school would be the best place to transition. The safest place for me to transition. American Sign Language is a beautiful language I’ve always wanted to learn and I could be an interpreter. Good pay. Specific skill. I could communicate with people without having to talk. Blah blah blah. Meet a bunch of different type of people. Freelance in hospitals, courthouses, schools. I could be of service and help people and I could do it part time. I could be an interpreter and do other things. Hang out. Write. And I would never be bored. All true. All good.

Going to school, learning ASL and learning about Deaf Culture has influenced me and enhanced my life in so many ways.
I’ve met awesome awesome people. My confidence is way up. I’m more in touch with my core (soul/source) than I’ve ever been before. American Sign Language is a heart/soul language to me. Born from the natural desire to communicate, connect, share, and express. It has survived and thrived despite all attempts to demean and destroy it. Because of my Professor who is so proud to be Deaf and who loves sharing his history and culture with us..well it made me more proud of my multiple identities and history. My most explored and developed aspects of self are about growing up and growing up queer. So a lot of the time I’m seeing things though these filters. A child’s perspective and a person who’s always been outside of what is common or commonly sanctioned, as far as sexuality goes. These filters color my world.

My Intro to Deaf Culture class also made me want to explore my least developed identity. My racial identity. It is my least developed because it is a very old, deep, wound. I didn’t want to be consumed by the grief and the anger and hatred associated with it. I didn’t think I could overcome it. When I was younger I hated adults. I thought they were stupid and cruel and hypocritical and ruined the world out of laziness, carelessness, and lack of imagination. When I was about 13, I realized we were all like that. It took me that long to admit to myself that kids suck too. And that adults used to be kids…When I was 16/17 I hated hets for pretty much the same reasons. Some of my friends and I would use the term Breeders. Which to me, meant, mindless animals. When I left that 1st class, I wanted to fall down, curl up, and weep. My Professor talked about how language and community go hand in hand. It’s how we pass on our history, how we connect generations, how we express ourselves, how we develop our culture, pass on information, share experiences, thoughts, dreams…How identity and language and culture are linked. I have always felt English to be a foreign language. I will never know my family’s original language. I could wail forever for our loss. Stolen. I think of the sea and our journey of vomit, death, sores, rape, beatings..being taken from home, and forced and forced and forced to be and live somewhere and some things we are not. I could drown in all that fear and sadness. How do you hold on to who you are when it’s been taking away from you so violently, with such cruelty? Doesn’t assimilation annihilate? We speak in a language of those who have enslaved us. How can I tell my story, piece together the fragments of my soul with this language, and not hate. Forced upon me, as in no choice, no option, as a child, as a descendant of slaves. Rules of grammar, syntax that I know so well and don’t know at all. I break the rules with intention and sometimes with ignorance and indifference. This is how it is. English is my first language. Would I have chosen this foreign language as 1st choice to express the contents of my soul? No. But there are so many ways to express our souls. There are so many ways. Integration heals.

Learning ASL and about Deaf Culture made me have more respect for English as a language. Language as malleable. As living. As a way to communicate and connect. This is why I play with words. Why I make things up. It starts with desire and love and wanting to be whole. To piece together the fragments. To weave a web of love. To create family. To create peace.

A black classmate and I talked before the next class about how we felt about hearing a bit about Deaf History. From the 1880’s til about the 1960’s in US schools Deaf people were not allowed to use sign language. The oral method was king. Speak only. Speak English only. Speech being superior to signing. English being the superior language. This belief and enforced methodology caused so much harm to deaf students. The repercussions are still being felt today. And we talked about never saying it or thinking it again about spanish speaking people we encounter every day. We would never say again, why don’t they just speak English? We talked about it how it stemmed from jealousy. How they could slip into communication with each other and have that connection and how we could never have that. We felt left out.

The recognition that they still have their language and culture and they should nurture it and preserve it.

I came to this understanding in school. On the first day of class. Education is liberating. And school has mostly always been a safe place for me to grow. I realize that this is not the case for many people. And this has turned out longer than I ever intended.

What I will say before I close, is that we are all connected. We are a rainbow web. Nothing is done to the other that does not affect the other. We are each other. We are The Others. Let’s love Each Other. Let us love one another. Let us love one an(d)other. This is a time where we can be the I and the we in perfect supportive harmony. This time now. The time is now.

Peace and blessings ya’ll

endojé

(1) from an interview with R. Luczak by Lamda Literary. The capitalization of the word “Deaf” refers to Deaf people who use sign language as a primary means of communication versus deaf people who choose not to sign.