Coming Out . . . OVER and OVER Again
I'm struggling under the weight of a lot of things right now. Nothing that should be debilitating, but the end result is that I've been acting almost completely disabled. Money problems, health problems, overwhelming-to-do-list problems, incompetency problems . . . you know, life.
The struggle on my mind right now is trying to figure out how much energy to expend on conservative friends and family who have issues with my work and/or with my partner being a transwoman
. Not that they know that word. And I should be patient because how many people DO? It's not THEIR fault, right?
And with me being in the kind of relationship where I even USE the term "my partner". My girlfriend. My not-a-man not-a-husband not-a-boyfriend.
My mom has been struggling with how to tell HER mom (my grandma) and her born-again-Christian-asshole brother (my uncle) so I haven't even seen my grandma in way over a year.God, it makes me tired even trying to blog about this bullshit.
Now one of my step-brothers, the one I WANT to be in touch with a little, is coming out with his family for a visit next month. My mom visited them in Pennsylvania last year before the election and came back so disturbed by his wacko right-wingerism that she doesn't really even want to see them again (AND didn't even want to get into the basics of telling him anything about my controversial-to-them "lifestyle").
Delia's family in the Midwest still doesn't know about her transition. We had a plan for telling them that we cooked up with her therapist who said that ideally you shouldn't break the news in a letter, but face to face. We tried to get them to come out here last year so Delia would meet them at the airport presenting as a male (a concept that now seems totally ludicrous, uncomfortable and weird to me), she'd sit down with them and tell them all about it, the next day she'd present as a woman, and we'd all go see the therapist so they could learn about transgender. A nice idea, but there's no way to lure them out here when the REST of Delia's family is in the Midwest and her dad can't take time off work; it just makes more sense for us to visit them there.
So Delia's parents offered to buy us tickets to come out for a visit, like, RIGHT NOW. It would work out perfectly for the whole coming-out-face-to-face (except we wouldn't be able to take them to our counselor) BUT Delia already changed her name so in order for them to buy a ticket she could actually get on a plane with, she'd need them to know ahead of time her real femme name (or we'd have to buy the tickets ourselves which we can't afford to do right now). So after some soul-searching and discussion she decided to write a letter which she's still working on.
As the word "transition" implies, it's a process. And part of that process is . . . all of this bullshit of informing, educating, explaining, confronting, and dealing with loved ones and not-so-loved ones.
It made me feel sad when my mom said she doesn't know if she wants to see my brother / can't handle his fucked-up views. And I know it makes HER sad, too, but I feel like it will only be a few hours and it would be wrong to shut him out completely. I wouldn't say this about my other stepbrothers or about my ex-stepdad, but this brother? I would. So I wrote him and his wife an email about "my lifestyle" so they wouldn't be hit with surprises and wouldn't ask about my job in person if they aren't comfortable hearing me talk about what it really is (and told them, in short form, that I make adult websites). And the wheels are turning and they're paying lip service to not judging other people, but copping to being "REALLY conservative". And expressing concern over their seven year old daughter. He doesn't want her to have to "learn too much about life" at this tender age. Like, what aspect of life does he feel he needs to shelter her from or that I'm going to so-inappropriately expose her to?
As usual I can't help comparing my apparently depraved lifestyle with other people in our family and in Delia's family. In both of our families there are those who have HUGE problems with my job, yet think nothing of letting the children be around people in the family who've actually sexually molested other family members. Nobody objects to the lifestyle of the family members who worked for the chemical company that made Napalm and Agent Orange
and other killers and cancer-causers. When I had a husband who worked for Boeing, it never bothered anybody in the slightest (including me) that a family member worked for a company that makes machines of war. Their job is something to be proud of, but MY job is a big, scary, society-eating disease. Excuse me, but as much as you try to fallaciously connect porn depicting consensual sex and non, I DIDN'T DO THIS TO KIDS
. Not even close. My brother doesn't have a problem with his kids being around one of his other brothers who has stolen cars and served in Iraq and laughs with glee at videos of US soldiers beating and kicking the shit out of Iraqis. But oh, GOD!! WHAT will we tell the children about Trixie and her tranny girlfriend or that she has a job making grown-ups feel pleasure?
I know it's hard, but it's not THAT hard. Especially given the truly fucked up things that people are perfectly willing to ignore, live with and even brag about. He's a soldier! He's a chemical engineer! He works for the military industrial complex!!
So easy to boast about. And even those other people who have actually HURT people -- kids -- get the benefit of the doubt: He deserves a second chance.
But how many people boast about "my daughter, the pornographer!"? Actually, my mom does and my dad did. In small amounts, but still. They are extra ballsy and good. And I guess if all these little things are hard, I still have that to be extra specially grateful for and don't know what I'd do without it.
It would be easier in the short run to just say we're going to be busy. Too busy to see my step-brother and his family. Too busy to fly out to the Midwest. Too busy to communicate on any deeper level with old friends than filling out those email quizzes about what our favorite colors and drinks are and coming up with a different reason than the real one for the last thing that made us cry.
I could do that (and have and still will to some extent), but sometimes you have to TRY. Because they're family or because you really need a better reason than fear and exhaustion to sever ties with them. No, you have to try your hardest to be patient with their ignorance and fears and confusion (thankfully people have been patient with MINE). You have an obligation to make yourself fucking vulnerable to being told that what you do -- whether it's selling pictures of your beaver on the internet or it's defying the status quo of letting your genitals define your gender or it's being in a non-straight relationship -- that you're destroying the moral fibre of the country, tearing families apart, degrading humanity, and damaging our sensitive youngsters and oldsters who shouldn't be EXPOSED to our depravity and perversion in their fragile mental and physical states!
You have to be gentle with them while they insult you and beg for your protection. Oh but mom is just too old to understand . . . oh god, I just don't want to upset Grandma
Seriously? These women have televisions and they've all HAD SEX. When I'm in my eighties I hope people don't think I'm too stupid to understand new shit or that I can't handle knowing that some women charge men money to get their dicks hard. I think they can handle it, and if they can't? OH WELL. I wish someone would protect OUR feelings for a change. Like maybe not insulting the girl on the television for having "too masculine of a jaw" right when you're sitting next to my trans girlfriend who might feel self-conscious enough as it is about her OWN masculine jaw. Like maybe not saying that I'm going to warp your seven year old when YOU are the one warping her with your stupid, bigoted views.
I know I'm being a baby to complain about it because so many people have had it so much worse, but I'm *sick* of coming out to people and trying to hold their hands through the process when I just want to scream at them. It feels like such a gigantic waste of time and energy for me, personally, when I don't even LIKE socializing with people. But I know it's not healthy to take the easy way out and be isolated. I know that talking to people makes a difference, not just to us, but in teaching tolerance and understanding on a broader level.
Basically I just feel bogged down. Getting together with family is expensive enough, emotionally & financially, and communicating with old friends that you aren't sure you have anything in common with anymore takes enough of a toll, that having to pay all these extra costs is really draining. It's like walking through a field of land mines every time you connect with someone who doesn't know who you are and what you're doing lately. Are they going to freak out or pat me on the back and laugh? Should I brace myself for them to say something inadvertently hurtful or let myself trust them to be wiser than that?
Once I started writing this blog entry I realized that the most important thing we can do when it comes to friends and family right now is to cultivate our relationships with people who FUCKING GET IT. Our porn friends, our trans friends, our not-so-straight friends. I'm not very socially energetic but there's no way I can cope with some people's bullshit without having the comfort of other people's understanding and similarities. And I can't help sort of resenting the amount of energy I'm putting into the one camp when I could be pouring it into the other. OR WORK.
Jesus, I can't afford this bullshit. Including my own -- all I want to do is sleep and read and eat and listen to music. I feel sort of guilty and wretched and oh-so fucking tired.
Labels: aging, education, emotions, family, fears, friends, my trans partner, rants, sex work, work, worse than porn