Wednesday, June 4

Those Who Felt Left Behind

"Any love that is love is right." - Baby Be-Bop (Francesca Lia Block)

A few months back, a friend of mine came out to me as Transgender.
We hadn't been all that close, but after that-- as I was the only one he'd told (which made me feel quite special and want to be as helpful and supportive as possible) -- we spent more time together. He talked about his problems with his medications, his changing body (and thoughts) and the troubles he had thinking about coming out to everyone else-- particularly his girlfriend.

"…Our apartment is teeny and you have to walk up eight flights to get to it but we have a fireplace with carved angels, a leopard-print chaise lounge, Maxfield Parrish prints of nymphs in classical sunset gardens, pink-damask drapes and silk roses in platform shoes from the 40’s and 70’s that Izzy has collected." ~Dragons in Manhattan

Being that my mind is almost constantly snuck up on by thoughts of FLB books and stories, it's kind of surprising that it took almost a month for me to realize that the exact thing he made me think of was "Dragons in Manhattan". 
A story from Girl Goddess #9, it has always been one of my favorites. It's sweet and beautiful and delicate and even surprising.
I immediately dug out my copy of the book and thrust it at him, thinking of his life and his girlfriend and the person (woman) he wanted to be.

This is a description of the book from oneteenstory.tumblr.com :
 Tuck Budd, the narrator of ‘Dragons in Manhattan’, is a young girl with two moms, Anastasia and Izzy, who she loves dearly. She is homeschooled with them in a magical art-imbued queer universe of delight—until she isn’t, and the kids in her new school make fun of her for having “two moms no dad.”
Tuck runs away from home on a journey to find her father. She imagines that, “he would wear a suit and go to a real job at an office like the other dads did.”
...
This story has a great deal of potential for heartbreak; a young teen with an absent father runs away from a nontraditional family that she is just learning to reject. But in the story’s heartwarming reveal, Block shows Tuck’s family to be more complex than she thought, more loving than she knew, and newly stronger than it had been when Tuck’s journey began.

I absolutely love this story, and if you've ever read it and don't love it, you must not have a soul. Seriously. Get that checked out.

But it took him another month to actually read it.
It sat on his bookshelf as he did other things, and I continued to bug him about reading it every time I was at his apartment.
"It's like this big!" I said, squishing my fingers close together, "It'll take you like an hour! Not even! The story alone won't even take you twenty minutes!"

But he put it off and off.
Finally we came to some stupid deal. If I played some game on my phone that he was obsessing over, he'd read the story.
Done and Done.

Later that night, my phone rings, and all he can say is how amazing the story was.
"I know, right!!" I squealed. I can't even explain how happy I was that he'd liked it.
And he did. He found connections to it all over the place, and read it over and over again. I think he even said he cried.
The next night he came over so we could sit outside, drink sweet wine, and talk about it. He was still reading it again and again. He even ordered himself a copy of the book-- just for that one story!-- not long after.

“No other kid at my school lived with two women who slept in the same bed and kissed on the lips all the time.” - Dragons in Manhattan

As of last week, she has moved to San Francisco with a new job, a whole network of Transgender friends and co-workers, and more courage than I could probably ever muster. From the little bit I've gotten since she left, she is really, really happy.
And why wouldn't she be? She has this entire new place, new job, new life, new person to explore and experience and discover!

It's very rare that someone who I've lent a book to actually reads it, which I think is a shame. I'm good at recommendations. I don't suggest someone read a book because I like it, I suggest a book because I think they'll like it. My recommendations are tailor-made, and yet I've lost a lot of books to people who borrowed one but never actually opened it up to read it, thus never becoming interested. It's a shame.

But he read this one, and he loved it, and I can't tell you how thrilled I was with that fact.

When he first came out to me, he was so nervous. He said he thought I was the most open person he knew, and that I'd understand.
I did. Of course I did!
I've never been there. I've never been in his position, but I was excited and happy for him, and worried about all his problems and wanted to be there for him. And I'd like to think I was, until she got that fantastic job and moved across the country.
Which, by the way, I am extremely jealous of, and will probably end up on her doorstep one day, having spent all my money on a plane trip, and insist on a giant tour of the wonderful city.

But throughout his (her) transition, she always felt alone. Our town is pretty queer-friendly, in that there is definitely a gay community, and the colleges have gay events, and sometimes you'll see related things about queer culture on flyers or ads. But even then, she was still the outsider. Among the new queer friends she'd made, none of them were Male to Female. So many were Female -> Male, but M->F is apparently as rare as a unicorn around here.
And she felt ostracized. Even among the gay community, she felt looked down on as a Transgender person. People even asked "Why can't you just be gay?"

When she did find people who were as open and friendly as she was, she thrilled in it, but still felt lonely that she was still the only M->F that she knew outside of the internet.
Now she seems to have a cozy network, which makes me really happy for him.
We can't go through life-- especially these difficult, life-changing moments in life-- feeling so completely alone and/or misunderstood.
I tried to always be there for him, but at the most basic level, I couldn't really relate to what he was going through.

Why do we do this to people?
Why do we make others feel so alone or unnatural because they are different?

In a perfect world everyone could be what they wanted. As long as no one is hurt by your choices, there's no reason for you to not be who you want to be. To not love who you want to love.
The idea that anyone is a lesser person is actually, frankly, the most heartless opinion that I can imagine. There is no hierarchy of people.
It doesn't go; straight married people on top, then straight unmarried people, gay people, bi people, trans people. Would intersexed people even get to be in the list? Single mothers? And where does that put all of the rest of the "alternatives"?
There is no such scale. There should never be such a scale.

How can anyone truly, deeply feel that one type of human being is better than another?
How can anyone not think that having that opinion makes them a terrible, cruel person?

People are people
love is love.

Who the fuck are we (the general we as a society) to tell someone they can't do the harmless thing that makes them happy?

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