Thursday, February 09, 2006

are you out there/can you hear this

Reading back over these posts, I wonder if they're not being influenced by the fact that, as yet, no one else is reading them. This blog is supposed to be equal parts outlet (so I can make room in my brain for yet MORE thoughts), historical record (while life is a series of endless transitions, such that "finished" is not particularly appropriate here, I hope that I will someday be in a more settled, steady place with regards to this particular transition, and at that point it will be good to look back and reflect on how I arrived at such a place), and...what's it called, the thing that makes other things sharper and better? Refinery?

By typing away and forming into words the thoughts rattling around in my head, I hope to be able to sharpen and clarify and generally enhance my ideas. And a real good way to do that is to not only get out of my own brain, but also to invite others to witness the thoughts and offer feedback/support/new perspectives/questions. So someday soon I'll invite some of y'all to read this.

Speaking of feedback and support, though. Last night I went to the first session of this spring's Gender Identity Project TransMasculine Drop-In Support Group. The group is as big and unwieldy as its name, but wonderful nonetheless.

Part of its excellence is the very fact of its large size- for all the problematic aspects of identity politics, there's something inherently powerful about gathering together with other people who look like me, feel like me, think about the same things as me, have similar experiences to me. I call it the necessity of comradship. Hard to overstate the importance of ending that defining and often dreadful component of being trans: isolation.

True, it's hard sometimes to feel easy sharing and connecting with so many (usually 25-35) of us jammed into 90 minutes and a small room that invariably contains n-1 chairs, where n is the number of folks who show up that night. I'm glad that I don't really struggle with social anxiety or group situations. And there's too much of a moderator in me not to feel frustrated sometimes at the dynamics that arise in such situations- individuals taking up more than their share of conversational space, or saying thinly veiled, pointed remarks about other people or their opinions. (which is not to say that I'm not sometimes the perpetrator of such dynamics! I know myself. Especially with the taking-up-too-much-space with my words and opinions. That's one aspect of male privilege I've always had down pat.)

But those difficulties are offset by the excitement and vitality that I can practically feel radiating off of all of us as we look around the room and share little bits of our lives, and finally finally see nods and smiles and "Oh man, me too"- it's refreshing, and invigorating, and inspiring. And comforting.

Oh, and it's also important, I think, to see so many variations on our theme. There are FTM archetypes, and looking around that room you'll see a lot of button down shirts and thick-framed glasses and short-but-not-too-short hair. But there's also a real wide range of expression among ~30 "transmasculine vectored" (as Kyle put it) folks, and that's important for us all to see- important for those of us who are more archetypal, in order to recognize and acknowledge that range and so head off any potentially developing hegemonic transmasculinity, and also important for those of us who are the outliers, or at least several standard deviations (ha, I'm sensing a pun) away from whatever norm there is for being transmasculine, so that they feel validated and less alone.

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