Jettison

By Jeremy

(I wrote this article as a submission for a book which was an anthology about trauma in the punk rock community. Should it ever get published I will mention it here.)

Have you ever wished someone dead? I have. Not from spite mind you. That’s a temporary knee-jerk emotional reaction. The wish of which I speak comes from something deeper. It stems from a need of what feels like survival and a sense that you won’t be allowed to heal without the separation of six feet of dirt between you and someone else. It is derived out of helplessness rather than malice.

Two years prior to developing my morbid desire, I was blossoming full speed ahead…assuming, for a moment, that flowers can achieve speed. I was living in a new state with a new job and for the first time in my life I was openly queer. Not that any of these things feature in this story mind you. I’m just saying that it was one of the best times of my life. 

Then I started dating someone and things plummeted downward as I found myself in an emotionally abusive relationship. Nowadays, I prefer to avoid talking about the abuse I experienced. It’s not that it triggers me. It’s just that my need to have others know my trauma is becoming increasingly unnecessary for me.

Nonetheless, here is a brief description of my experience with a few examples so you can better understand the type of behavior I endured and the steps in my recovery. My hope is that this will help people if they have been through this, or if they haven’t, to help them support someone who has.

The person I dated used control and emotional abuse as the cutting edge of their blade. I was kept from my friends and given the third degree if someone messaged me. My social media had to be replete with mentions of her and yet, I was absent from hers. The writings for my blog were often examined to pass her censor. Eventually, she tried to turn my friends against me. There was also the continual attempt to control me with money which she actually said entitled her to special treatment in return. She was fond of taking gifts back each time we broke up.

Our breakups, of which there were many, generally happened as the result of an emotional tantrum when things didn’t go her way. This was all my fault because as she stated “I just made her so mad sometimes.” When we were apart she would use any means she could to reunite us. Usually this consisted of letting me know there was a ticking clock, by taunting me with who she was dating or having sex with next. 

A surprising number of times she was able to get herself admitted to a hospital in order to bring me back to her side. For example, her explanation of one hospital admittance was that someone had slipped a date-rape drug into her drink, she couldn’t tell me the guy’s name and said that the police went to his house, but forgot to handcuff him so he got away. I guess he disappeared from existence after that. Sometimes she would use the truth to bring me back. Once she admitted that she broke me and put me through hell. She said that if I went through that without leaving then she could finally trust me. You know…as if I was the problem.

She was very good at claiming to be the victim of the very treatment she was administering as part of her gaslighting strategy. For instance, one morning I said I didn’t want to have sex and wanted to wait until later in the day. This upset her, as it always did, and when she didn’t relent I went ahead and had sex for the “good” of the relationship. Afterwards, she would say that she only had sex because I wanted to. This was a common tactic of hers. It didn’t make any sense, but it didn’t have to. She got the behavior she wanted and was able to cast herself as the victim. It was a win-win scenario for her, meaning it was a double loss for me.

Whenever I would stand up for myself she would tell me I was mean. I didn’t know if this was true or not. At this point, my reality had been supplanted by hers. The distortions were palpable and I just couldn’t trust my thoughts anymore.

During our penultimate breakup she used the opportunity to tear asunder anything that I had left. She had me removed from the staff of a pro-women’s cycling team, something which was near and dear to my heart. I was also pushed out of where I lived as she began dating/having sex with my roommate. At her behest, most of our “mutual friends” walked away overnight.

Searching for support, I created a social media post about what I had endured. In response, I heard that she issued her own post to insinuate that I perpetrated some type of sexual impropriety upon her. She deleted it soon thereafter, but perhaps I should have been happy to finally make it onto her Facebook page for a couple of hours.

She made her emotions my responsibility to manage correctly. If I couldn’t then there was hell to pay. It was exhausting because, whether good or bad, it was all toxic. I was on the verge of a mental breakdown from living like this. Hell, in retrospect, I was probably living in the middle of the breakdown. 

Over the course of approximately two years with her, I had experienced a gradual wearing away of my logic, goodwill, and self-respect. It was a dissolution of self that resulted in me feeling empty. I saw the shape I was supposed to recognize as my body but nothing inside felt like me anymore. Even the outside seemed changed, the shine had left my eyes and I looked worn and defeated. 

I had been gradually put in an increasingly smaller box throughout my time with her. Once we were ultimately separated, the box was gone but I didn’t know if I could bring myself to stand upright and occupy the space I needed.

The question that loomed large was, how do I come to terms with what I’ve been through and become me again?


Like a plane crash that never hits the ground. 1

The first thing that gave me some unexpected healing was a general understanding of just who the person was who abused me.

I had read about narcissists and I knew some of the traits fit her, but I still wasn’t immediately convinced. What markedly altered my thinking was an article I read about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from being in a relationship with a narcissist. Ironically, I figured I could read this without repercussions. After all, that wasn’t me. I didn’t have PTSD and she wasn’t a narcissist.

I was woefully mistaken on all fronts. I quickly realized that the article was essentially a description of how I felt and who I was at that point in time.

I don’t want to go into what a narcissist is exactly, because while it is illuminating, such a description takes me too far from the topic of healing. Suffice it to say that a narcissist is not someone who is merely arrogant. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a deep-seeded, mental condition for which there is no cure or treatment. If you’re interested, I would recommend reading a few good articles written by actual therapists, if for no other reason than to be able to identify and stay clear of folks like this, but I digress.

As I learned more about narcissists, I began to critically question what she told me versus what I had experienced – two things which were nearly always at odds. I went back through the entire relationship and reprocessed what had happened devoid of the narrative she had told about herself. 

Each time I found that her actions consistently painted a shockingly accurate picture of her identity. It turns out she was a person who was controlling, yet emotionally out of control, insecure, unreliable, untrustworthy, cruel, and so on and so forth.

I had been struggling to reconcile a construct with reality. It is no wonder that I didn’t know what was real anymore. I had been lied to from the beginning. She had mirrored my beliefs and ethos in order to attract me. I wanted to believe that fairytale so much that I refused to see the actual words on the page. Gradually, I found my mental dissonance was gone. It all finally made sense. I had been in an abusive relationship with a narcissist.

I want to iterate that I don’t think it is overly important to identify an abuser with a personality disorder to begin the healing process. Narcissist or not, it wouldn’t change what I have learned. The revelations that began my healing process weren’t about a label or a mental diagnosis specifically but from the realization that I was the recipient of toxic behavior generally.

Why someone is an abuser is their problem to figure out in therapy (not that they will genuinely seek help). It is far more important for you to realize that what you experienced constituted abuse and that you didn’t/don’t deserve it.


I don’t want to know you, I don’t think we should talk anymore 2

She wanted to remain friends, but even thinking about seeing her was a trigger. My heart would start racing, the past came rushing back and I would get a warm, flushed feeling that washed over my body. My fight or flight impulse took over and I would descend into a state of panic.

I couldn’t keep going like this. There was no chance of friendship with someone who treated me with such utter contempt. She will always seek to manipulate me. A narcissist isn’t going to change. Therefore, I have to.

I broke off all contact. I didn’t clue her in that I was going to do this or make any other pleas for space. That would have given her the opportunity to go off the emotional deep end and make my healthy decision a problem for me. I had already been through enough of that. Instead, I just checked out.

I accepted that going no contact wouldn’t stop her from violating every boundary for which I had previously asked. It was never meant to. The point of no contact isn’t to guide someone else’s actions, it is to guide my own. It was a way for me to break the cycle of abuse. It worked on all fronts.

All the letters that she mailed anonymously, taped to my vehicle during the night, or sent digitally went unread and straight into the trash. I didn’t need to read them. I had read her writings before and I knew it would be a mixture of positive and negative; something a narcissist does best. She would say, I hate you, I love you, I’m so happy without you, I miss you, you’re a liar, you were right, I never want to see you again, and oh yeah . . . we should grab a beer sometime.

Nah, I’m good. I’m actually painting my nails that night.

As it turns out, therapists recommend no contact for those who were in relationships with a narcissist. Lucky for me, I instinctively knew that no contact was the only way forward. I couldn’t be subjected to manipulation and abuse while expecting to heal. Well, perhaps that was possible but there’s no way I was going to put myself back there. Since there were no ties that needed to be kept for the good of anyone else (i.e. children or family) I severed any and all contact.

This distance also had to be permanent. Reaching out to her or returning communication is tantamount to giving her permission to treat me the same all over again. I would be implicitly saying that I put her before my mental health and safety.

As an aside, there was one unexpected outcome from this decision. Going no contact was relatively easy. Granted, it wasn’t always so. Just seeing the messages and letters she sent would trigger me and that was difficult; it was an encroachment into the mental space that I was trying to establish. It took over a year for her to stop harassing me. Even so, there wasn’t as much drama as before. Not only had most avenues of harassment been severed during previous breakups, but refusing to engage her on those that remained kept the drama lower than usual.


All I wanted was a Pepsi. 3

Since what I went through was abuse, I knew I had to answer some hard questions about myself. The red flags were numerous and furiously flapping in the wind. So why did I stay? How had I contributed to my predicament? 

I want to exercise caution here. I’m not saying that the abuse I received was my fault. It wasn’t. However, there is no denying that I should have avoided this relationship from the beginning. Yet, I failed to sidestep tragedy. I had to understand why this happened so that I could avoid making this mistake again.

I discovered two reasons. The first was that I was hopeful. When the treatment wasn’t abusive it was agreeable. I had hoped that if we could eliminate her poor behavior that we could have an amazing relationship. I could give her the steady love that she said she had never experienced. I was sure this would calm her and make her see a stable future with me. All she had to do was get past her insecurities.

What I learned from this is that I am not accountable for fixing someone else. No one is. It doesn’t matter if you are a psychologist, a romantic partner, friend, family member, or write self-help books for a living. There is no one who can heal someone else’s trauma. That work falls to the afflicted person. Trained professionals can obviously help, but ultimately the work still has to be done by the actual person seeking counsel. My narcissist wasn’t seeking help. That’s a red flag in its own right. Regardless, the takeaway is that I am not someone else’s savior. In case you need to hear it, neither are you.

Furthermore, a relationship with a narcissist is always going to fail. It’s never going to be healthy. This is because one person is looking for trust and love and the other is looking for a supply of endless attention and control. 

This realization allowed me to release any notion that somehow the relationship didn’t get to be all it could be. It actually became the only thing it could ever be and no amount of hope and stability on my part was ever going to change that.


I’ll save my best for someone else. 2

The second thing I learned about myself was the hardest truth to internalize. I valued my vulnerability and openness so much that I entered into situations where I knew I shouldn’t be. In truth, I was low-hanging fruit for the first manipulative, ego-driven maniac that wandered my way.

Verdicts seem to waver on whether narcissists pick those close to them for their positive qualities or for the ease of which they can be manipulated. I think it’s both. 

Someone who is living authentically is a beacon that others want to be around. This light will attract a narcissist just as it does anyone else. They too want to be around that energy. This energy and attention a person can give a narcissist is dubbed “the supply” and it’s all they crave from others.4

When that energy becomes too much for a narcissist, such as when a person outshines them or won’t be reduced to the capricious whims of the narcissist, they will try and find a weakness in order to reduce the other person. This means a narcissist will seek to destroy the very beauty to which they are attracted. They will then often criticize the victim for no longer being the person they once were. It’s the paradoxical world in which narcissists live and subject others to. If narcissists can’t produce the effect they want then they often dump the partner and move on to the next supply. 

As I mentioned, I valued my openness and vulnerability. I used these traits as a key vehicle for personal growth. That wasn’t the problem as much as the fact that this was all I valued for my development. I had no counterbalance and unknowingly left myself open to harm. It’s all well and good to be empathetic, compassionate, open, and vulnerable. Those are the good things about me that I treasure and I will keep those traits. What I needed was boundaries.

Being vulnerable without creating and enforcing healthy personal boundaries is a form of self-harm. Boundaries are also equally important for self-growth. It is not my responsibility to give unconditionally to those who cannot reciprocate in a respectful and self-aware manner. Setting boundaries when necessary, guides me in a way that feels more centered. I am not a customer service representative for toxic people.

This is why narcissists irrationally explode when someone they are controlling wants to set a boundary. Healthy boundaries are a form of self-care and narcissists know that this choice will automatically exclude them or seek to reign in their behavior in a way they cannot tolerate.

I was forced to pick between healthy boundaries and a relationship for far too long. The only reason that choice was presented to me over and over again was that I kept making the wrong decision. My toxic partner always required concessions to my emotional health. Conversely, me choosing a healthy boundary would have only needed doing once. The relationship would have ended over my choice and I could have gone about my life secure in knowing I had stood up for what was right.

Stated another way, when someone continually refuses to take responsibility and be accountable for their emotions and actions, there are only two ways forward. The first is to simply accept their toxicity and make the burden yours, therefore normalizing the behavior and beginning a pattern of abuse. The other is to call them out, hold them responsible, and in the absence of change, walk the fuck away (preferably in slow motion as the building explodes behind you).


All the chaos is dragging me under. 5

The discoveries I have heretofore discussed came to me fairly readily and I assumed I was on the path to being completely healed. Then something blindsided me.

I found that even two years free of abuse, I was still having some of the same thoughts and behaviors resurface that I did while in the toxic relationship. My brain had essentially been rewired in response to my past.

Allow me to give an example. A couple of years ago I began a relationship with someone which has blossomed. However, I was self-sabotaging the relationship. If you remember, I intimated that my abuser faked her way into being admitted to the hospital on numerous occasions in order to bring me back to her side, literally and figuratively.

When my current partner found themself in the hospital I became triggered and distant. Truth be told, I momentarily ended the relationship. After all, that was the pattern I was accustomed to. My partner’s legitimate hospital stay made me realize that there are going to be unexpected triggers that crop up from time to time. This is to be expected, but what I do with these thoughts and behaviors is vitally more important than the fact that I’m experiencing them.

With the narcissist, talking about difficult topics or feelings was not accepted or allowed. I would suffer some type of punishment from my desire to have a mutually introspective moment. I learned not to bring difficult topics to the forefront. Admittedly, that is the wrong way to handle key mental health moments, but at the time I was in survival mode. I demurred from having my needs met because I was trying to avoid the narcissist’s vengeance and hoping to center myself in that ever elusive moment of calm. 

Contrast this with my current partner who strives to be emotionally aware and present in our relationship. The result of this, as it turns out, is that we can talk about the most difficult topics and they do not seem difficult at all. 

Accordingly, we discussed the fact that illness and hospital stays had come to be traumatic for me. I told my partner that during my harmful relationship I was in a perpetual state of emotional exhaustion from the day to day bullshit I had to endure. On top of that, during breakups when I was still seeking calm, I would have my empathy used against me to be manipulated into the position of caregiver in order to achieve my abuser’s ulterior motives.

This ability to talk with my current partner reinforces what a positive and healthy relationship should look like. I am learning not to act upon my impulses and that in most cases, just talking about them with my partner is enough to cancel out my fears. Because of this, an illness or hospital stay no longer triggers me. I am now able to be present when I am needed.

For the first time since that traumatic relationship (and in some ways for the first time ever), I realize that love is calm, not nervous fear of losing someone. Love isn’t about shouting, or storming out of the room, or employing the silent treatment. Love isn’t about posturing and overcompensation. That’s all the result of insecurity. Love is about feeling comfortable and secure enough to sit down with someone and talk about each other’s truths and difficulties. Love is about being with someone and acting in a way that does no harm. Love is reliably showing up for each other in a way that can be counted on in the future.

I’m not saying that a relationship can heal me or that it can heal you. This is not a story about being destroyed by one person and being healed by another. As I mentioned, that healing work needs to be done by me alone. Rather, this is just a way of saying what a benefit it is to find someone who prioritizes my emotional health as much as I do theirs. This coupled with my willingness to take responsibility for my emotions has been a help in my recovery.

As an important aside: people are fond of saying that a person has to love themself and heal themself before another person will love them. I think when people have been through an abusive situation they might have a tendency to believe this. I’m here to tell you, as English punks may say, that this notion is complete bollocks. 

I think the intention here is probably well meaning. I hope what these people are trying to say is that self-worth comes from within. That isn’t what is happening though. They are saying that you, me, and everyone else cannot be loved until we love ourselves. The truth is, you are worthy of love and capable of being loved despite not having every corner of your emotional house squared away.

Plus, there are some issues that can only arise from being in a relationship. I could have stayed single for 4 or 5 years until I thought I was healed and happy, but I would have never have encountered a partner going into the hospital to know that I had a hidden trigger. Trauma responses that form in a previous relationship often surface in a subsequent relationship, not while you are single. If you feel it’s important to remain single for a time then by all means do so, just do not think you cannot be loved as you are.

Ultimately, what is important is that you are willing to do the heavy lifting in order to solve your emotional difficulties and not make them the responsibility of others. If you are willing to heal then that can happen while single or while partnered. You are lovable either way.

And eternity, my friend, is a long fucking time. 6

As I sat down to write this piece, I had recently come to a conclusion that may be too soon to hear for some people affected by a narcissist and perhaps overdue for others. I had horrible things done to me. These things were done by someone who, make no mistake about it, is the personification of guiltless evil. And yet, here I am.

Why should I let someone so bereft of human decency and moral compass affect my entire life? The answer of course, is that I shouldn’t. I allowed this person into my life and they willfully and knowingly visited trauma upon me for two years. I have lived in fear for an additional three years. That is enough. They don’t get to scare me for the rest of my life. I do not give them that power. I don’t have time for childish, selfish nonsense, to derail who I am. The idea of her is approaching a state of total irrelevance. That’s exactly where I need to be.

I know what I went through is a serious matter and in a lot of ways it did temporarily destroy me. I also know that abuse is not a laughing matter. I was lucky that I did not experience physical abuse. However, there are times when I recall the outlandish meltdowns of my former partner and I have to admit that now I find it rather comical. Seeing what I went through as the product of an emotionally immature person has made me realize how silly I would be to let this affect me any longer. This too feels like healing.


I’m out of clever lines, I guess this is goodbye 7

I began by asking a very grim question about wanting someone dead. I’m thankful to say I no longer feel this way. Mine is still a story of partial recovery, but even partial healing is better than where I have been. Currently, I feel as if I’m about to break through to another level of well-being. It’s an odd feeling, kind of like a bubble that is building and about to burst.

None of what I have discussed here will resolve my past, it’s not meant to, that’s an impossible feat. I know I can never get back to exactly who I was before my trauma and anyway, I don’t want to. How I felt then was just as situational as how I feel now. I am better for having gone through it and come out the other side still full of empathy and with an improved understanding of who I am and what I deserve. I find myself in a much more centered position than I have ever been. I will take all of this and keep building the new and beautiful me. After all, I stood up for myself. I got out. I survived. I will thrive.

As we part, I want you to know that the road to recovery often seems dark because we have been driven underground. You will begin recovery within the dark tunnels of your psyche. There is nothing wrong with being here. It is where all self-searching journeys start. It allows you to see whether the foundation of everything above you is secure or if it needs rebuilding. It is work that is necessary to know who you are.

In this long dark tunnel, you can’t always see the light at the end. You may bump along the walls as you go, but it’s the going that is the most important part. Eventually, a dot appears in the black. It’s not a light at the end of the tunnel yet, but this infinitesimally small dot represents hope. As you get closer you bump into the walls fewer times and your path begins to straighten as the light becomes an increasingly blinding force. You are on the precipice of a simultaneously intimidating and exciting self-discovery.

You will emerge into the light basked in warmth with an appreciation that can only happen because of where you have been. The world now opens up before you. When you look back into the tunnel you will see black, but it is self contained. It is now the light which envelopes you. Where you venture from here is up to you. May all your dreams come true. I love you.

About the Author

Jeremy got his start writing philosophical and sociological articles which led to a desire to help others. He is currently writing at the blog Sex Love & Ire (sexloveandire.com) and working on a few books to help people live meaningful lives.

Works Cited

1 – Alkaline Trio, “Nose Over Tail,” recorded 1998, Asian Man Records,
track 4 on Goddamnit, 1998, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5FIxAb_QdhY.

2 – New Found Glory, “Happy Being Miserable,” recorded October 2016,
Hopeless Records, track 4 on Makes Me Sick, 2017,
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NLwxPReIZDw.

3 – Suicidal Tendencies, “Institutionalized,” recorded February 1983, Frontier Records,
track 6 on Suicidal Tendencies,1983,
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LoF_a0-7xVQ.

4 – Lancer, Darlene. “The Concept of Narcissistic Supply.” Psychology Today.
August 7, 2021. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/
202108/the-concept-narcissistic-supply?amp.

5 – Four Year Strong, “Brain Pain,” Pure Noise Records, track 6 on Brain Pain, 2020,
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lfjwGuRfN-A.

6 – Bad Religion, “You,” recorded June 1989, Epitaph Records,
track 10 on No Control, 1989, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2s7paN4AHpE.

7 – Face to Face, “Farewell Song,” recorded 2020, Fat Wreck Chords,
track 12 on No Way Out But Through, 2021, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/
So_Long_and_Thanks_for_All_the_Shoes.

My First Time

For decades now I have been crossdressing in private. In the last couple of years my desire to take a little bit of this feminine flair out into the world has been increasing. I was going through my clothes the other night and I noticed how much I liked wearing women’s jeans. Moreover, I realized that certain designs were not that far off from the men’s pants I was already wearing. Suddenly, wearing the perfect pair of women’s jeans seemed like a nice blend of masculine and feminine.

There was a slight catch. Because I acquired most of my women’s clothes surreptitiously from strangers (craigslist, ebay, etc), I didn’t get to try any of it on ahead of time. So while I have a huge collection of clothes (more womens than mens, truth be told), not all the pants fit as well as I would like. Accordingly, I knew that to be comfortable for everyday use I couldn’t shop blindly and hope for a good fit. I would have to go the conventional shopping route.

I had a pair of men’s jeans from American Eagle that fit me well. Based on that and the selection I saw online, I decided to give them a shot. Once there, I quickly settled on a pair of their Artist bootcut low rise jeans in an x-long, cuz “I gots legs for dayz yo!” I was curious to try the Boyfriend jeans in a more straight leg, but that style may be discontinued as I could not find it in the store.

I went for the dark color version of the jeans to help hide the masculine shape of my legs just a little bit more. The jeans were a good fit. The stretchy Artist jean fit snugly through my hips and upper legs and then relaxed around my knee and gently flared at the cuff. I was initially concerned that the flare was too much but once I put on my shoes that concern diminished. The bootcut flare on this style pants may still be a bit on the large side for my liking but I decided to go with it. 

Admittedly, one of my chief concerns was how my butt would look in them. I have a rather flat posterior and so my butt really gets lost in most of the sloppy fitting guys’ jeans – happily, it looks better than it ever has. I’m not creating anything I don’t have, I’m not about to pad anything, but it definitely helps me show off a bit. 

As curves are concerned, the front of the pants does showcase more than what folks with penises are probably used to. It’s not extreme, it’s just that we aren’t accustomed to seeing our form showing through (a trend that I would love to see reversed). The pants have enough compression to keep anything from being a spectacle. This aspect of jean fit does mean that the type of underwear I wear matters much more. I’ll touch on this in my next article but suffice it to say that the tighter you can bundle everything together the better the fit looks.

Now that I had found my pair of pants the only thing left to do was put them on and go outside. During my first wearing I was a little self-conscious but not because of anything I noticed from other people. It was just a reticence based on the fear of what could happen. Truthfully, if people were looking at me, I didn’t notice. I honestly didn’t even feel like I was making a scene. I was just being me. 

That last part is important because I have noticed that I am happier that I now wear these types of pants. They say (i.e. studies have shown) that people who have traits which cross the (artificial) gender divide have higher self-esteem than those who rigidly conform to it. My experience reinforces this finding. Living more authentically for me brings me joy, staying hidden does not.

After multiple outings in these new jeans I love them more each time I go out. There are differences based on what I’m used to with guys pants, that is inevitable. I am noticing more and more how they give me a feminine look, more than I had anticipated. However, I have come to love this as well. 

I have always been shamed for my thin body by other men. It used to bother me that I wouldn’t be perceived as masculine. Now, I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t end up with the compacted muscular frame I wanted as a kid. My tall lanky build lends itself well to my desired style of dress. I enjoy seeing clothes hug my body and accentuate the thin form that I have come to love. It’s all very wonderful to experience.

At this moment, I am wondering how to maintain my blend of clothes come summer (jeans are too hot in warm weather). I’m currently exploring women’s shirts to wear with my guy shorts as well as looking for a few styles of womens shorts to pair with some of my more form fitting shirts. This is an exciting new frontier for me and as few people seem to talk about this type of thing I plan on detailing my experiences here as I go along my cute, little, merry, crossdressing way.

Until next time, join me in obliterating those gender boundaries my beauties.

Footnote:

I have resorted to generic terms of men and women, masculine and feminine, for the sake of clarity. However, make no mistake that if these labels don’t fit you, then trust me when I say that I see you, you sexy gender trail blazing thang you (I really don’t talk like this, lol). I am also aware of the argument that there are not women’s clothes or men’s clothes, but just clothes that anyone can wear. I find validity in this viewpoint. However, for me there is a distinct appeal to wearing something that I know is designed for women. I also enjoy referring to it in that way. I feel sexy wearing “women’s” clothes. Doing so allows me a rejection of masculinity that feels more complete than wearing gender neutral clothes would.

This likely stems from the fact that I am exploring the identity of being genderfluid and with that the recognition that I sometimes feel a little more masculine and sometimes a little more feminine and never fully one or the other. For this reason, I’m starting to hedge on calling what I do crossdressing. Until I come up with a better term then this description will awkwardly suffice.

Article soundtrack: Every Time I Die – Post-boredom. Every Time I Die – Ebolarama. PUP – Totally Fine. Bayside – Strangest Faces.

State of the Relationship Address: Down Periscope!

Every now and then in life I bump up against people that truly help me see who I am. Sometimes it is because they compliment me in a way that surprises me. Other times it is because of the juxtaposition between who they are and who I am. This latter scenario is my focus here.

Some of these juxtaposed folks suffer from what I have dubbed Woe-is-me Syndrome (WIMS). These people manifest some type of negative attitude which pushes others away, whether it be desperation, despair, or anger. They often have also developed a type of “me against the world” mentality. Unfortunately, when the terms of their existence are that stark, the world generally wins. As a result, they begin to feel as if everyone is out to get them and their mental well-being suffers.

They can become so dedicated to their gloom and doom outlook that attempts to give them another way to view a situation are often met with their blatant refusal of said alternative, a doubling down on their original position, and in rare cases, outright hostility towards a new view.

I have a friend that is in the grips of WIMS. Seemingly, everything that happens in the world brings them down and everyone who looks at them is trying to do them harm. They are so lonely. They lament all their failed relationships, while doing nothing to make new ones or correct the destructive patterns which have led to this isolation. Their inability to control their emotions has negatively affected their career in the past and present. It has become so bad that, once, a guy gave my friend a business card for a job. Instead of thinking about the potential good fortune, my friend began to wonder if the guy was trying to somehow find out where my friend lived to do them harm.

When I broach the possibility to my friend that their view of the world, and their place in it, is causing them harm it is first met with an acknowledgement of “yeah, maybe you’re right” and then a litany of their experiences justifying why they should be like this. Most of these experiences, dare I say excuses, are borne out of no greater logic than the business card incident I just described.

The thing is, I understand this mentality well. At one point, I was clinging to an ideology that was clearly doing me no favors.

This part of our tale takes us back about 20 years. I was an emerging feminist and a trained sociologist. As such, I am very familiar with socio-economic stratification and the mechanisms which perpetuate class, gender, and racial inequality. In fact, if I were to pinpoint the moment that my WIMS kicked in it was during my time studying inequality in America during the completion of my Sociology degree.

I was also educated in the ways that numerous marginalizations can create a greater disenfranchisement of the individual, which is dubbed intersectionality. This means, for example, that a woman can, and likely will, experience different treatment than a man. This treatment disadvantages her by depriving her of the same opportunities that a man could expect to experience. Further, a woman of color can experience even more institutionalized forms of disenfranchisement than could a white woman. A woman of color who doesn’t speak English will likely experience even more. Each subsequent status of other (we could add to the list, physically impaired, homeless, queer, trans, etc) creates more obstacles for this person’s equality to those who do not embody these traits. It is basically a compounding of disadvantages based on the ideology of this person as being “other.”

While I was learning this I was also living in rural Illinois. It was clear that I had a personal growth ambition that outstripped my racist, sexist, and homophobic counterparts. That sentence is a little harsh, but I’m going to keep it.

Because of these things I felt both the ways in which I was privileged and disadvantaged. Feeling thankful and guilty for the former and rather constrained by the latter. I continually struggled with who I was compared to what everyone else expected me to be. I only fit in because I did not know how to be myself when that meant pushing against those expectations.

I couldn’t explore who I wanted to be without the disapproving comments of others. I was being policed due to their insecure need for conformity. This made it difficult to sus out if I was queer and later once I accepted it to find out what being queer meant for me. 

Once I had included myself under the umbrella of being queer, I felt marginalized due to bi-erasure (being viewed as straight if with a woman and gay when with a man) and never quite seen as the multi-dimensional person I was. Moreover, there were folks even in the queer community, my suppossed family, who would rather me not exist. My sexual orientation was a threat to them. I was hemmed in on all sides.

I pondered my gender (hell, I still do). I feel a little non-binary-ish. I like to crossdress and enjoy the pretty side of things. If I could switch between a variety of male and female forms based on my moods that would be amazing. 

There’s a good deal of folks who don’t have the space for someone like me. They don’t want me to figure out who I am if it means deviating from the behavior of which they approve. I know what these types of people say about transfolk because they think I’m a safe audience. I know that the same disapproval and scorn is also waiting for me if and when I deviate from the norm. The simple act of painting my nails elicited disgust from midwestern bigots (and others). Imagine if I showed up in women’s jeans, a cute top, and eyeliner.

I hated the stereotypes of what it meant to be a man (still do). They felt so ignorant and violent to me. It repulsed me to my core and I lamented the strictures around manhood that I felt kept me locked in place. As a thin, slight young “man” I never had the physique that I thought was masculine and I grew up thinking myself less because of it (luckily, what was a burden then looks good in a dress now).

I also struggled with my working class status and the ways middle and upper class America protected and elevated their own. I had no such footholds in life.

Religion was another way in which I felt like an outcast. I was fresh from relinquishing my priesthood position and I was a fiery, newly branded atheist. It was a view that wasn’t accepted in middle America, but I don’t think I was actually marginalized because of it. However, my determination to teach everyone about the flaws in religious thinking definitely put me at odds with folks.

So as a queer, non-binary, working class, crossdressing, atheist I was somewhere in the venn diagram of intersectionality. I felt pretty alone and isolated and didn’t see anyone living the life I wanted. I had crafted my image around these various forms of disenfranchisement. I was angry and felt as if my anger was appropriate and shouldn’t be mitigated. I felt as if viewing the situation any differently meant I was giving in to the powers that be.

During that time, if anyone tried to give me a different view of things I would tell them that they were wrong and that these things which held me back were real. I was not being a pessimist, I was being a realist.

I still hold that most of this is true. All of the marginalizations I mentioned above are in fact real and the effects of them can be pernicious, make no mistake about it. Folks have been killed just because they were living authentically and some insecure, fearful, mostly male, person couldn’t handle it. 

There will always be systemic forces at work in society and I am not likely to move the needle on those things greatly. However, one of the things holding me back was something I could completely change and that was my response to those injustices.

The “me against the world” type of thinking was not making me happy and was pushing people away. So I figured out that I could keep going down the bleak path I was traveling or stake out new ground and a new outlook.

I needed to be the best version of me in spite of those socio-economic forces. I wanted people to be attracted to my calm and positive energy. I wanted to be a source of knowledge and wisdom. Additionally, I wanted folks to be challenged by the fact that all these comforting things come from a non-binary-ish, feminist, socialist, anarchist leaning, crossdressing, big ‘ol beautiful queer. I wanted them to see that people like me are not to be feared. We are just folks trying to live our lives.

This would be my contribution to myself and to moving the inequality needle. It would help me to bring people closer and to counter their expectations of how someone like me is supposed to look or act. I would be a teaching moment by simply being myself.

Detailing how I changed my outlook would take me far from the scope of my message here. For now, I will just say that I learned how to relax a little more each day and gave myself the mental, and sometimes social, space to become who I really wanted to be. 

My endeavor has yielded results. I’m still a work in progress, I think that’s always true when self-improvement is the goal, but there are moments when I get a glimpse of how far I have come.

Recently, I began having a conversation with a person that existed within the nexus of intersectionality. Things were a little off from the very beginning. For starters, we picked out a week in which we would meet in person. They quickly put that idea on hold. Their comments indicated that they had given themselves over to the prospect of meeting too readily for comfort. It was clear that they were used to patterning their behavior from fear and were now in emotional retreat.

No matter, I had the time and mental space to see if things could progress before they torpedoed our connection in one glorious explosion.

Unfortunately, when we spoke I would ask about them and they didn’t ask about me. After a month of conversation, I can say that they literally knew nothing about who I was aside from a few identity labels and a list of hobbies I provided on our first day of chatting. Instead, we talked about what was going wrong in their life. I began to wonder if there was anything else to them. 

Then things quickly came to a head. They made yet another disparaging statement, this time about despising something. I had grown tired of the gloom and doom. I needed an extreme last ditch effort to turn this around. I was done with the dynamics that were occurring so, as imperfect as the decision may have been, I decided to call them on it. I sent two sentences saying they could continue to be angry over what they can’t control or they could take the reins and create something new and wonderful in their life. Then I retired to get a shower. 

That was pretty much all it took to flood tubes one through four. They made a number of assumptions about me and then became angry at me over those assumptions. They became angrier still that I hadn’t immediately responded back. Because of all of this, they said they didn’t want to talk for a week.

After I completed my evening ablutions I discovered the drama that had played out on my phone. I replied with the reason for my absence and that I would be around in a week if they were still up for talking. 

That was all I sent. I didn’t justify my actions or defend myself against their allegations. There was no point in trying to have a rational conversation where none had existed prior. It certainly wasn’t going to happen now that they were triggered. Perhaps a week without talking would create a little levity and we could discuss what happened and why.

Not a chance. The next morning, I awoke to a message saying that the universe had given them a sign and our connection wasn’t going to work out. They told me to stay positive because it is a beautiful thing and that this was goodbye. Compared to the last message I received they at least seemed calm.

I was perfectly fine with this outcome and I wished them a peaceful life filled with happiness. 

Their response was that they don’t get to live a happy life because society won’t let them (insert angry screed about social forces here) and that my positivity was toxic and a result of my privilege. Therefore, they are going to block my phone number. Fire all torpedoes!

Yikes. What a rollercoaster.

I can only assume that all of this was a type of posturing. After all, there is little point in blocking me after I made no attempt, nor did I show any interest, in messaging further. I suspect that calling me toxic and blocking me was meant to do me emotional harm (a one-upmanship of sorts). However, quite the opposite happened.

I’m not at all bothered by any of this. As I have written about before, I consider these occurrences to be a blessing of sorts. We are just in two very different emotional places and that is perfectly fine. If my outlook is too shiny and triggers someone with WIMS then I totally get it. 

However, I do not acquiesce to casting the outcome of my struggle to become a positive person under the generic woke nomenclature of toxic. Quite the opposite, I left that encounter feeling better about myself than I have in years.

You see, after emotionally conquering society’s downward gaze and crafting my new outlook, I ended up in an abusive relationship. Over the course of a couple of years this person systematically tried to eradicate my positivity and happiness. During my down moments (near the end that may have been all I had) they would chastise me for being unhappy. It has been a long journey to work through the PTSD that was created during that time in my life.

Since then, I have wondered if my positivity was even visible. I have been fearful that it wasn’t. I thought that I had failed to become who I wanted to be.

To have this new person try to use my positivity against me in such an erroneous way meant that I was seen. I, twice, built myself up. Once after battling systemic inequality and then after enduring the mental beatings of an abusive ex. This let me see that the good in me is still here and thriving. I felt beautiful, because I knew my past and what I had accomplished to blossom into what I am now.

I am exactly who I need to be at this moment and that is an amazing feeling.

I hope you too blossom. Be responsible, be empathetic, be lovely, and always work to build a better you. I wish you peace and happiness in your life.

Cis Is Not a Four Letter Word

I’ve been seeing an increasing amount of ire directed toward cis men. Primarily this is from some feminists and transgender folks.

For those who don’t know a cis person is someone who is comfortable with the gender in which they have been raised. So if you were called a male at birth, raised as a male, and have no problem with being male then you are a cis man. If you are not comfortable with the gender you were given at birth and you feel as if you should be another gender then you would be considered transgender. These are over simplified explanations, but for now simple works because my point here isn’t strictly about labels or identity issues.

Somehow cis has come to be slang for everything that is wrong with men. There is nothing wrong with being a cis man, or cis woman for that matter, just as there is nothing wrong with being a transman or transwoman. It’s just another form of being.

I understand that problems arise when cis men don’t check their priviledge and act in ways that marginalizes and harms others. I also realize that among all offenders, cis men are the largest group both as a population and as a percentage. 

A cursory reading of my writings here should dispel any notions that I go easy on men, quite the contrary. This is not one of those “not all men” writings. I’m not using this as a cop-out for me or anyone else. I give guys a lot of shit because I grew up around them, date them, and hear the dumb things they regularly say which indicates a lot of them haven’t done any personal searching.

What we should be fighting against is toxic behavior no matter who exhibits it. Having dated cis men, cis women, and trans women (sorry no trans men yet, but I love ya just the same) I can tell you that toxic behavior can be found in all of these groups. Also amongst these groups are some genuinely lovely people. Everyone has responsibility and thus should be held accountable.

There are a lot of cis men out there who can be or who are feminist and trans allies. We don’t need to push them away.

As you can imagine this is a little personal for me. I consider myself to be very much pro feminist, pro choice, pro trans rights, pro identity rights, and most likely a cis man. 

That last part depends on who you talk to; for instance Kate Bornstein in her book Gender Outlaws would posit that I am trans by bucking certain guy norms and by the fact that I’m also a queer crossdresser. Truthfully, how people describe me doesn’t much matter to me. However, since I am somewhat to mostly content with being a man let’s just say I’m cis for our purposes here.

If you’re trans, queer, and feminist, I’m doing my damnest to be there with you. I regularly check my privilege and allow others to check it for me. If I am called out, it does not diminish who I am. In fact, I make myself become a better person because of it so that I may help others, which is all I really want to do anyway. I live my life by a feminist/humanist ideology and owe much to the theorists from all walks of life who have helped me to see the world in all it’s complexity and with kindness.

And yet, I’m a cis man.

There are some real assholes out there, trust me I know, and I get it that men who have never had to question their privilege are most likely to be the ones to offend, but that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. Maligning all cis men is the same as when TERF’s malign trans women as murderers and pedophiles, it’s the same as when fundamentalists call feminists nazis. Surely we have more compassion and nuance than those groups. 

I think (and hope) that when folks generically write about cis men that they really mean the ones who exhibit toxic behavior. Without that clarification though they are throwing their allies under the bus.

We need to do better. 

To be clear, this is not a call for moderation. I’m not asking you to be less militant. I’m not asking you to curb your anger. You have every right to be angry and you too deserve a hold on the reigns that guide society. Instead, what I’m asking is that in your anger, your militancy, your passion, your fire, and your drive that you bring some level of honesty and nuance to the world along with it.

I thank you, I support you, and I love you!

Signed,

A cis-man (mostly)

Male Crossdressers Are Still Here

There are times where I wonder what people think about men crossdressing. I was watching the television series After Life and an exchange between two of the characters piqued my interest. One said something to the effect of “you never see blokes dressing like women for fun anymore” to which the other replied “good because you shouldn’t.”

I agree and disagree. In the past, I’ve seen guys do it as a spectacle. I remember in high school we would have assemblies where the guys would dress like women and then try to complete a ridiculous obstacle course. I never found it entertaining in the least and it’s probably part of the reason why I ditched school during those events. That stuff should go away. There’s nothing funny about a man dressing in women’s clothes. 

However, there are men out there for which crossdressing is derived from an emotional standpoint other than humor. This form of dress should stay around and it’s that which I will speak to. 

Can I get more options?

As you can imagine, I crossdress. I don’t crossdress in public (well, once but that’s a story for another time) but I don’t hide the fact that it is part of who I am. I dress around home for me and my partner. I’m sure there are a number of motivations for a guy to crossdress and I’m also sure there are a wide variety of people who do it, so I should caution you that this is my story alone.

For me, and I’m going to bet most other men (whether they realize it or not), traditional American masculinity, rigidly adhered to, is confining in the least and soul crushing at most. Men are supposed to act and look a certain way and I find both of those things incredibly limiting, toxic, and just generally non representative of what it means to be a fully actualized human being. 

If you look at men who are insecure about their level of masculinity they often overcompensate. It’s no coincidence that men become the majority of our mass shooters, militia nut jobs, gay bashers, racists, misogynists, and incels. While these are the most pernicious forms of our individuality denied, it should be noted that gender policing among guys is still shockingly common. Calling someone gay (as if gay is non-masculine) when they do something that isnt viewed as manly is stlll appallingly common. These things signal that manly is still a category that is heavily scrutinized and controlled. 

Given this climate, I figured I could go one of two ways. I could own a gun, drive a four-wheel drive and double down on my insecurity by hating anything feminine and portraying myself as over the top masculine or I could create my own version of who I wanted to be. So now, I own a gun, drive a four-wheel drive (because some things just don’t change), and flit around in so-called girly things.

So why do I crossdress? 

I have almost always wanted to feel desirable in the clothes I wear but what I find attractive are the clothing styles made for women. There isn’t much for guys to wear in order to feel sexy.

As men our physical sex appeal is mainly derived from our bodies which are supposed to be somewhat bulky. I am tall, I am also thin. In fact, I am probably thinner than most women. Because of that, I’m never going to carry a good deal of rippled muscle and any other bulk would have to be in the form of a beer belly which while obtainable, is not really my style. I have gone 40 years without having a body that others regard as truly manly. 

This bothered me as a kid but now I love being this thin. I’ve never found muscles or a strictly “manly” physique attractive. I’ve always been drawn to the slighter, softer side of anatomy in all types of folks and so in myself as well.

So donning women’s clothes allows me to feel sexy by virtue of what I’m wearing and there is something I find alluring, even empowering, in that. As an added bonus, my thin build pairs well with women’s fashion. At least as well as it can for a guy. Donning a cute skirt to accentuate hips I don’t have, and a crop top and belly button ring to show off the small waist I do have, is an exciting and fulfilling experience. I finally get compliments about my body that I have never received while dressed as a man; and that’s not hyperbole either. So that’s one reason but, it’s also more than that. 

Just one body?

The next reason may throw you for a loop, or you may understand. I’m perfectly happy in a male body and I readily identify as a male. Still, if I could also morph my body and have a female form, male form, or some other form depending on my mood then I would love that. This isn’t a fetish, it’s an actual desire to be able to live this way. 

When I see a woman walking down the street in a cute outfit I will do a double take but it’s not for the reasons most guys do. Rather, I’m jealous that I can’t look that cute in the same outfit and that I wouldn’t be accepted if I did. Both concerns stem directly from the fact that my balls tend to hang out of skimpy shorts. Physiology problems, am I right? 

Joking aside, I’m also aware that dressing as a man in women’s clothes could also put me in danger from closed minded bigots (those guys I mentioned earlier). Having a female form to change into would eliminate those worries. Since I can’t do that, cross dressing is a way for me to overlay a feminine shade on a masculine base color. 

It’s here I feel I should take a step back and clarify a few things. I worry that saying these things sounds privileged in some way because I’m a guy. The claim being that I want to experience different forms of being but not permanently and so without responsibility.

I, for now, claim the exact opposite. Different bodies come with different socio-political realities. If my body morphing powers came to fruition I would simultaneously be bearing the brunt and benefit of each body type I filled. I couldn’t take any form without it’s reality bearing down on me. I have no misgivings that if I were some version of female I would be the subject of men’s toxic behavior. If I had a combination physiology then I would have to fear people who can’t wrap their mind around anything but a gender binary (still mostly men by the way). My claim isn’t that there is no danger, but that wearing some of the things I want as a woman puts me under the radar bigots. Changing forms then would simply be changing realities and not escaping altogether. However, I want to explore this idea more fully in the future.

What do I call myself?

I know I am not transgendered. That’s how I initially started this paragraph then I read some material from trans folk that includes what I do under the trans umbrella. I have no problem with being called trans should people choose. I love my big, beautiful, queer family and that absolutely includes my trans brothers and sisters. I support them wholeheartedly. We have some similarities I’m sure and some differences. We can celebrate them all as facets of our uniqueness. 

Maybe there is a term for how I feel. I think of what I do as gender blending for the most part. I’ve seen the term transfeminine (male at birth, but identifying closely with femininity, yet not desirous of being a woman) and I think that fits closely but not exactly. I am desirous of being a woman, but also a man, and also configurations in between. To be perfectly honest, the name for what I do and how I feel doesn’t matter much to me. I’m just trying to embody what feels like the truest expression of who I am within the bounds of reality. 

I have always thought it would be an easy thing to explain; this way I feel. Now that I try to put it in writing for the first time the words seem too definite. Each sentence that I try to use as a tack to hold down what I am seems to have my feelings squeezing out and around every word. Nothing seems as accurate at the conclusion of my sentences as it did when I began them. Feelings are easy to experience but more difficult to write down. Still, this is a beginning and that’s an important step. 

My future

I don’t know what my future holds on this front. My everyday look is slowly evolving. I’ve picked up bracelet making and I’m trying to blend masculine and feminine styles, I paint my nails when I have the time, and I’ve been tossing around the idea of a choker necklace and eye liner. None of this is overly important other than to say, my goal is to blur gender expressions just enough to soften my masculine edge. I think that’s where my happy medium will be but the whole endeavor is an experiment and I’m enjoying the process. Life is more colorful, fun, and lacy now. 

As far as my advocacy goes, I plan to discuss this issue more often from a variety of standpoints. I also want to talk about useful things for folks that crossdress such as finding the right clothes (once I learn how), shopping tips etc. I want to make this issue more visible because there are more people like me out there and I want us to be seen and heard. 

Ultimately, I want the kind of society in which folks with all types of bodies and styles of dress can be accepted and don’t have to face the repercussions of closed minds. Perhaps then I would be satisfied with just my body, perhaps not. 

I imagine I will expire from old age before I will see the type of society in which I would be comfortable. The best I can do right now is to help expand what being male can be so that someday, someone else can live my dream. I want to help enlarge our circle of compassion so we may be the better for it. Crossdressing helps me wrap my mind around that from a practical and abstract standpoint. It helps me to feel things that I am not traditionally allowed to feel and to be closer to who I want to be. It puts me in touch with something rather intangible that I want to help others find. 

This One Goes Out To All The Queers

I fucking love you. I hope you’ve realized it already but if you haven’t let me tell you how special you are. In our society there is a lot made of the normal mode of being, which is to say heterosexual. As a queer person you firmly encompass a group that sociologists and philosophers like to term other. In a cookie cutter world (I’m not anti-hetero, I have straight friends) what a wonderful thing to be.

Chances are as queer folk you’ve felt at some point as if you are on the outside looking in. This can feel isolating at times, but it gives you a perspective that few hetero folks will ever have. This different way of seeing and interacting with society is why I love you. It’s for this reason that I wouldn’t want to be anything but queer. I love the insight and the way it sets me apart from most folks.

Let’s be honest. You will always encounter those who don’t get it. Worse yet you’ll always be able to find someone who actually says something shitty. Trust me, I’ve been called a faggot but there’s something very important to remember about these interactions. These people are afraid of what you are.

There’s probably a variety of reasons for this. People straight up (pun partially intended) fear what they don’t comprehend. There are also people who can’t handle their thoughts. Perhaps they are struggling with the fact that they really are queer or maybe its something way smaller like seeing some other person of the same  gender and finding something about them attractive. These are normal things for people to feel but some just can’t handle it. These people are failing to accept something about themselves and not only will they try and mask their thoughts with derision and hatred towards others, they will simultaneously dislike you because you have accepted what they won’t. You being the best version of you is a threat to them.

This isn’t your problem, though they sometimes do their damnedest to make it yours. Hold your head high and be fucking proud my beautiful gendered and agender family. You are part of a diverse and colorful tapestry of the world.

If you believe biology shapes us then we are a wonderful variant meant to define the nuances of life. If you believe nurture holds sway then we are simultaneously a part of and yet a defiant and proud offshoot of our parent culture. Either way if society thinks life is simplistic and deterministic then allow us to show them otherwise.

Even among our wonderful queer family we have many nuances. We are gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, agendered, transgendered, transsexual, asexual and even more. All I ask of you is to fucking love who you are because you are gods damn beautiful. Bloom, like only you can do and fuck the rest of the world. At the end of our lives we aren’t going to care that we played by the rules and fit in. And we certainly aren’t going to care what some muggle said to us as we crossed the street. Rather, we are going to care that we were out on that street in the first place, that we lived our lives by our rules, cared for those around us, and that we went after what’s important in making us whole.

So please, more than anything else, love who you are because who you are is amazing.

Postscript: Case in point: The finishing touches to this piece were done between sets at a She/Her/Hers concert in a garage filled with queer folk dancing their asses off. Such a beautiful thing to experience.

How Against Me! and Donald Trump Helped Me Get a Grip on Punk Rock

Punk has changed a lot in the time I’ve been involved in the scene. I started going to Midwest shows as a teen in 1995. Back then the crowds were adorned with metal studs, safety pins and liberty spike mohawks. Unfortunately, at times it could be cliquish, violent and racist (skinheads). It seemed for many that the purpose of a mosh pit was about causing as much carnage as possible.

Punk has mellowed since those days. Now I’m living along the front range in Colorado which has a much larger punk scene than I’m used to. Braces, spikes, piercings and mohawks can still be seen (thankfully), but the scene is also replete with hipsters and beards. Moshing now isn’t just for the brawny, but for nearly everyone. The scene is far more inclusive and welcoming. Perhaps both the aging punks (like myself) and the millennial punks just don’t have time for that shit anymore. Thank goodness for that.

“gathering . . . is an act of defiance in a society that tries its damnedest to eradicate us.”

Somewhere along the line though I started to get the feeling that punk just didn’t have the social impact it used to have. While still political, punk is undoubtedly less political as a genre than it used to be. Bands make entire careers singing about relationships and while the positive side of that is a diversity of songs, the downside for me has been that the social urgency of punk has felt more watered down. I just didn’t know if punk had a grand purpose anymore such as I had imagined it having in the 80’s positioned against Reagan and Thatcher. I began to wonder if it ever had such a purpose or if that was simply my imagination.

And this is where my thoughts had remained for years until one Sunday night. On this particular evening I went to an Against Me! Concert also featuring the bands Mobina Galore and Typesetter (Represent Illinois!). This evening was different in an important way.

You see, generally my evenings are starting to look the same. One could say dismally familiar. Because life is inextricably political with human needs coalescing and contradicting as they do my nights have come to be politically charged. See if you will recognize the scenario. It is one in which the carnage of the day is paraded before me by news outlets. The always deserved and hard fought civil rights of the people of this country are rapidly being eroded. It’s another day in Trump’s America where diversity is seen as something to be feared rather than heralded. The unique among us have become scapegoats for the more vehemently conservative portions of our society.

I know you feel it too. If you’re racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or a bigot in general you sense a surge in pride and excitement that the type of thoughts you nurture are no longer something you need to hide. You finally feel like things are going your way. You also don’t refer to yourself by those monikers but let’s call a spade a spade and move forward shall we. On the contrary, if you’re a Muslim, female, person of color, an immigrant, transsexual/gender, queer (like me), or a member of another historically marginalized group then you feel fear, sadness and anger.

It is in this atmosphere that I realized a punk show is politically alive and well. You see, it’s not that Against Me said anything political outside of their songs (which admittedly have plenty to say). Rather, it was what went unspoken. For those who don’t know, the singer Laura Jane Grace, is a transwoman.* What is beautiful (aside from her glow on stage)  is the way she and the rest of the band have just owned this reality from the very beginning. If you’re saying why wouldn’t they, then good for you. However, realize that not all people think this way. This acceptance, coupled with their songs, has created a kind of de facto safe-space. I’ve seen this in action before at one of their shows in Bloomington, Illinois but this is the first time that the gravity of what was happening became clear to me.

“There are those forces in the world that don’t want an open society.”

What I witnessed is awe inspiring and heartwarming. As I stood on a bench at the side of the venue and overlooked the crowd there was humanity in wondrous display. There were people singing their guts out to the band’s songs. The crowd was singing so loud at times that Laura Jane Grace’s voice could not be heard. It was amazing and I wasn’t the only one there who knew it.

In the mosh pit was a woman with “shoulders too broad for a girl” jumping her heart out (for the uninitiated that’s nod to a song lyric from the band about not “passing” as a woman, not me being a dick). The crowd was a smattering of people from a variety of identities and it was awesome (I’m old so I think I can still say that).

When my friend went to restroom she was checking for feet beneath the stalls in order to find a vacancy. In one women’s stall were a pair of feet facing the toilet. No one freaked out, no one cared. No one was checking birth certificates at the restroom door because fuck that noise. This punk show, at least, is a staging ground for how we want society to look and function.

I thought about the opening up of our society that had happened in the last twenty five years. Back when I graduated high school in 1995 I’m not even sure I knew what the term transgender meant. I’m pretty sure a transwoman could have never fronted a popular band without hyperbolic hysteria from a good majority of the public.

Then I thought about all the ways in which society isn’t as open as it should be and how we have so much more to learn. There are those forces in the world that don’t want an open society. They want people like Laura Jane Grace, and others at that concert, to exist in the shadows or not at all. Our presence offends them not because of who we are but because of who they are. We shine a light on their insecurities and make them uncomfortable. We force them to look inward. It’s easier for people to dismiss us, to marginalize us, to increase our disenfranchisement, to harm us and to kill us than it is to undergo personal growth or just be a god-damned empathetic human being. Art generally, and punk specifically, can be a good way to throw your own shortcomings in your face.

As these thoughts and sights paraded through my mind I was brought to tears. Yes, the 40 year old punk near the back was weeping tears of joy. The fact that so many people had gathered to rock their face off to a punk band singing about trans rights and issues was one of the most compassionate and intentional acts I have ever seen. These people and their spirits were beautiful. I realized that gathering in such a way and showing this unwavering acceptance is an act of defiance in a society that tries its damnedest to eradicate us.

Yes, punk rock is still politically relevant. It’s also much more than just apropos. Punk shows, much as they have probably always been, are places where we can come to recharge, to be safe, accepted and in many ways loved. This punk show is our society, our hope and our future. So if you want a place to feel accepted come on out to the show with us. When you’re here you can be and look however you damn well please no matter which way your feet face in the bathroom stall.

*I was going to say that Laura Jane Grace was a woman first and foremost and perhaps a transwoman second, but I don’t know her feelings on the matter. I don’t want to erase a part of her identity. I opted for the term that added context.

Why She Is A Slut And You Shouldn’t Care

A very short but useful article straight from the source. If you want to help her cause, stop slut-shaming when you hear it. I’m fairly easy going but I’m quick to interject my alternative view that there is nothing wrong with being more open with your body and sexuality than others may be comfortable with.

http://www.femalista.com/im-a-slut-and-100-proud-of-it-so-stop-shaming-me-already/

Why Being A Grammar Elitist Ain’t All That

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A tip for dating or relationships in general: policing someone’s grammar is a dick move. Here’s why following grammar protocol doesn’t show the good form that you imagine it does.

So-called correct grammar is an appeal to upper class views of what is proper and just in our language. Except that language has never really worked that way. Do you think the railroad workers, saloon owners, or sex workers in the 1800’s spoke perfect English? Me thinketh not. It was more a mixture of broken Chinese, Spanish, French, Irish (Gaelic), German and a whole other host of languages. And yet, these are the people that built America and they got shit done without needing to resort to the queen’s english.

Proper grammar is an elitist approach to the english language. It’s a way of thinking one person is better than another because of how they speak. Grammar elitists place their self worth and others on education without ever once imagining that not everyone has access to the same level or quality of education or sometimes any education at all.

It’s also a form of racism and classism which ignores the cultural influences that can exist in local neighborhoods and regions. Speaking like an upper class WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant) who is well versed in fine speak is not likely to garner you any special level of appreciation from a Tennessee mining community, the Dark Corner, Flint, Michigan or even in New York City.

Granted, it’s a fictional character but Malcolm Reynolds on Firefly spoke about being immortalized saying, “It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of a son of a bitch or another.” It’s not at all proper english but it’s a wonderful quote (one of my favorites I might add) which easily exhibits wisdom. Everyone who is idolized has a darker side that often gets swept away by the need for a hero. Proper word choice isn’t necessarily a display of intelligence, but rather an example of someone following rules just for the sake of it.

The important thing is that we try and understand what the other person is saying and not how they are saying it. If someone from my home town told me “I found bout 5 five pounds of shroons the other day over on Kuhlman Hill.” I’m not about to correct them and say “you mean to say mushrooms” because I would be a colossal prick and their meaning is easily obtained.

Focusing too intently on grammar can also hide our chosen identity when we develop a stalwart adherence to pronoun choice such as him and her as opposed to zir and ze or they. We disrespect people and who they are over word choice.

The final reason that grammar (and word choice) doesn’t matter is that those whose job it is to keep us abreast of the english language aren’t at all concerned about what is proper. This very month Merriam-Webster introduced the words “safe space” and “microaggression” to the dictionary. Since that will piss conservatives off to no end they might be pleased to know that “riding shotgun” is now included as well. The point of cataloging language isn’t about proper usage, but about documenting what is happening. That word that you despise if it persists will one day make it into the dictionary. The kicker is, it was a real word long before that happened.

So the next time you decide to chide someone for not living up to your language standards perhaps you should critically examine those expectations and their privileged origins.

Rape Fantasies: What are they and why they should be renamed

I’m including this as an article for men because I think it’s important for guys who may have heard the term rape fantasy to understand that this isn’t really about rape. Far from it actually as the fantasy is completely controlled by the woman and is lacking any of the harms normally associated with the heinous act of rape.

However, if a woman has thoughts like these and wonders if it is normal then this is a good place to start reading and ease your concerns. Congrats, you’re perfectly normal.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201411/don-t-call-them-rape-fantasies