You can see my new account here.
I find it difficult to update frequently on wordpress because I feel like I have to write a novel every time I sit down and sometimes I just want to post a picture of my makeup or a snippet of found poetry.
I got a new haircut. I’m not happy with it. That’s not true. I’m happy with it. Exalted, even. I’m just not happy about it. By the time I began transition, I had a very pronounced widow’s peak, and while hormone replacement works wonders, it does not a miracle make. I’ve traditionally worn my hair long to keep my temples warn, and for years it’s been great, but after temporarily switching to a lower concentration of estradiol, the thinning returned. It could have also been the relapse into disordered eating, two messy breakups and/or not taking my prescribed vitamin supplements. A veritable rogue’s gallery of stressors. Any of them could have robbed the bank.
I was losing a lot of valuable time staring at myself in the mirror and crying over the impending loss of my mane. I decided to get it cut short to make the most of what I had left, as its generally understood that shorter hair gives the appearance of thicker hair. Let my scalp figure out this whole hair loss thing. If it all falls out, then when I shave my head, people will just assumed that was the plan all alone and I won’t have to find a place for all the “Get better! You can beat it!” cards.
I was feeling pretty good about it. I was proud of myself for trying something new (this is the shortest I’ve ever had it since I was 12) and for doing, what I felt, was the mature, fashion-conscious thing.
Without thinking, I updated my look in my dating profiles and in a new CL ad.
And without thinking, other women wrote me.
“I like feminine women. They don’t always have to be in dresses and makeup, but they need to have a feminine look to them. Your hair is too short to be feminine.”
“Are you a butch or a femme? I can’t tell with that hair.”
“You saw you’re a femme, but idgi (translation: I don’t get it [and neither do I!]) with your hair. Did you mean that you like femmes or are a femme chaser?”
“Are you a guy?”
I took down all the new photos, deleted my CL ad, and now find myself checking my hairline at EVERY reflective surface I pass.
The moral of this story is that when some radscum asks me where do I get off calling myself a woman and what shared womanhood experiences do I have that warrant that identity, I will say that I, like every woman ever, has had every inch of her weighed and judged. From the width of my hips to the size of my breasts to the length and part of my hair. All to determine whether I’m all the woman (or the woman I claim I am) that I can be.
In a way, radscum, you telling me I can’t be a woman because of my penis, by policing my body for not meeting your standard of aesthetic validates my womanhood by imposing on me the shared experience of body policing. Checkmate, radscum. You’re out of your element.
BUT NEVER MIND THAT SHIT.
Ms Black Dahlia,
I’m a 30-something bi lady currently dating a guy. I recently found out, after meeting his family, that my guy was a bully in high school and college. He told me he dropped out of college to pursue his passion, but in reality he was expelled for assaulting a gay classmate. I have confronted him about this, and he shrugged it off, saying “it was taken out of proportion”. Do I push it further? Should I be concerned that he hasn’t “reformed”? Am I a bad queer if I stay with him? Do you think I’m leaving myself open for future violence?”
You are already “open for future violence” by being a woman and in a relationship with a man. According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. The Bureau of Justice Statistics predicts that three women are murdered by a boyfriend or husband EVERY FUCKING DAY. This is important shit to consider after discovering that your partner has a published record of hate violence. This isn’t one of those “what happened at the San Joaquin River” stories. He was expelled. They write that kind of shit down. In someone’s file cabinet, right now, there is proof that your boyfriend caused intentional physical harm to another person, and furthermore, that record is likely annotated with notes on why your boyfriend attacked him. Given that he lied to about why he did not finish college, I can guarantee you those notes do not end with “and so they dueled, for they knew there could be only one.” Take that to the bank. If I’m wrong, you are entitled to my collection of Kaiju Big Battel DVDs.
I’m not going to tell you whether staying with him makes you a bad queer. That’s up to you to figure out. But I’ll tell you this much. Your boyfriend beat somebody so bad they fucking threw him out of school. Almost certainly because the other student was gay. If you bring your queer friends around this shitlord without disclosing his history, you are a terrible friend.
This isn’t cancer, or working without documentation. Violence is not a private matter. Violence mars the victim, the victim’s support network, and those who may have witnessed it and were triggered by what they saw. Publicly assaulting somebody is essentially throwing a trauma grenade into a crowd. And even if he doesn’t punch any your friends in the face, I personally don’t trust him, with his record, to avoid saying anything shitty to your friends. As a friend, we are obligated to do our best not to knowingly invite harm into our friends’ lives. Inviting your friends to hang out with you so your boyfriend with the violent past can call them names and make veiled threats is needlessly endangering them, physically and emotionally. He’s a homophobe, and a violent one. These things are likely to happen. Whether or not you continue to fuck him is your business and your business alone. I didn’t get into the queer liberation movement to tell people what they could and could not do with their bodies.
You are not a bad person for dating him. Even if he begins to abuse you. Which I think he will. Does he know you’re bi? I’m guessing no, because if he was, his response to you calling him out on his lie would be “yes, I beat up a gay student in college, and I know that was a terrible thing to do, and I can imagine how that would make you feel unsafe, and I’m sorry and mindful of it”. It would not be “taken out of proportion” WHICH ISN’T EVEN A THING YOU CAN SAY OR DO. You either blow things out of proportion or take them out of context. His excuse was so terrible he didn’t even bother to make sure it was grammatically correct.*
*This is, of course, negated if English is not his first language. Or if he’s Ricky from Trailer Park Boys.
An abuser does not cap themselves off at one victim. They might get caught before they get to their second, or be so overwhelmed with guilt they get themselves some help, but nobody, ever, says “okay, I’ll do this once and never again”. The longer you stay with him, the greater the probability you will be next. If he doesn’t abuse you for being queer, or because you make him feel less adequate of a man, than he’ll just hurt you because he can. Just as you can’t deter a rapist by “dressing less provocatively”, you can’t deter a violent abuser by keeping them away from the things they’ve lashed out in the past. They will, without help, always be violent. It is not your job to be that help. Do not fall on a grenade for him. He is not worth it. Your love, no matter how pure and true, will never be enough to “redeem” him.
If you’re so concerned of whether he’s reformed, advise him to see a therapist.
And then leave him. Explain why you’re leaving. Tell him you’re leaving because he has established a history of violence and you do not feel safe around him and his lies about his past. Whether or not you keep him as a friend is your business. As is whether or not you decide to stay with him anyway.
Like I said, I’m not telling you what to do with your body, but you did ask me for advice, and this is what I’m telling you I would do.
I would leave. I would leave and be thankful that I avoided the possibility of violence.
And focus on my band, my zinemaking, and other things that make happy and whole and remind me that I do not, ever, need to stay with an abusive partner, or anyone at all, really. I can do this all on my own. Sharing myself with others is a privilege I afford others. It is not necessary to my survival.
What’s love got to do with it?
You can write to me at BlackDahliaParton@gmail.com
There has been a lot of fervor on the internet about a certain trans woman who has coerced/forced herself upon a number of other women. We shall call her A, for even though I’m willing to take a stand and speak out, I am still paralyzed with fear of retribution and harassment from within my own community. One letter is as far as I can go and still feel safe. Those who know who I’m talking about will get it.
I, too, was coerced into sex with A. By A. I’ve kept silent all this time out of fear that talking about it would hurt my standing in the community and provide more kindle for the radfem bonfire of vanity. Because of my fear of excommunication, I told no one about my experience. Not my then-partner, not the other people who were in the house at the time. It wasn’t until I met another woman who had experienced the same that I finally opened to myself and others about what had been done. We inhabit a community where accused rapists and abusers are defended in the name of the good they’ve done or how many friends/inroads they’ve made.
Fuck it. I don’t care anymore. Between processing this and the recent transphobia/cis apologism in the kink community that has led me to stepping down from Folsom, I have been hollowed out to apathy and back. Tell me I’m making it up just to get attention. See just how little of a rise you’ll get out of me.
I want to thank everyone coming out.
And say I’m sorry. For only coming forth with it now that it’s become a thing. I feel like I’ve failed the community, and myself, for keeping silent, even participating in community events alongside this person, when I knew in my blackest heart of hearts that I wasn’t and would not be an isolated incident. This has fucking racked me, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to resume organizing again.
The guilt and shame will haunt me ’til the day I die (again).
As you were.
While the attendees of Pride™ weekend took the fight to the queer community’s greatest enemies, homophobia and public sobriety, I took Gay Christmas off this year to bury the hatchet on one of my longest-standing grudges: my totally imaginary and one-sided feud with a famous singer-songwriter. I dare not say her name, for fear that it will summon her to my blog to consume me with celebrity anxiety. I will offer that she is in a famous two-person band and married to a guy who wrote an episode of Doctor Who.
I don’t actually know her, and despite my obsession with her writing style, hope to never meet her, digitally or otherwise, due to my celebrity anxiety–
Which I guess I should explain in greater detail.
Celebrities make me anxious. Or rather, famous people who’s work/art has had a significant personal effect on me. It certainly wasn’t anxiety that compelled me to request Todd MacFarlane sign my Family Guy action figure or follow Sheriff Joe Arpaio around with a megaphone, narrating his day ala Waylon Jennings circa Dukes of Hazard.
But I can’t fathom what else would compel me to give a fake name. Lie about where I live. Tell jokes that offend even myself, in the hopes they just leave me alone. These are all things I have done while meeting people I admire. Living on the corner of Fear of Disappointing My Role Models and Disappointment In Myself For Feeling Like I’m Not Worth Even The Slightest of Human Connection. Feels bad, man.
The first time Hugh Jasoll told me I was, in fact, a queer celebrity, I refuted his claim on the grounds that no one I’ve met in the community has pretended to not know me to avoid talking to me. Or ask me if propositions for sex go through my agent.
I have a love and respect for this singer/songwriter’s lyrical style that borders religious reverence.
You caught me, babe. That time I told you “I barely breathe when you are near”? I lied. I didn’t pull that out of my ass. I pulled it out of someone else’s.
I have, on more than one occasion, “quit songwriting” because a certain song on a certain day was enough to convince me I would never amount to that.
I grew tired of this, so I switched genres. Numerous times. My lyrics weren’t heartfelt enough for country, not linear enough for comedy, and not artsy enough for folk. I came around full circle and found myself comfortable with writing “punk”. I stopped comparing myself to the verbose and loquacious songwriters of genres past and focused on the other fish in my pond. Not to toot my own horn, but I make a pretty good punk lyricist.
Last week, I had a dream that I met said singer-songwriter, and fainted (another thing I have actually done). Dream celebrity then mocked me for the duration of my slumber to anyone who would listen. I woke up, made breakfast, and put Pandora on my iPad. One of her songs came on. I immediately deleted all the lyrics I had written over the last week. Defeat seemed inevitable. Not even my wall of “How to write better lyrics” books and daily affirmations of how great I am was going to protect me.
This was a force.
Many friends offered their sagely wisdom, but it was bandmate and collaborative life partner Miles who tied the anchor to my hot air balloon by pointing that said celebrity stand-in was probably representative of my doubt and not, in fact, a cosmic message that I should give up my dream of being a queer songstress. Which explains a lot, like how the aforementioned singer/songwriter looked nothing like herself in my dream, and why she used the phrase “You didn’t just lose your shit, you had it repossessed” which is something I and I alone say. Along with “Cool User Story, Bro” and “I swear I didn’t know she was a cis apologist”.
Even if I did suck, I deserve to suck in public, and no creepy obsession with another’s work that I should have probably just kept to myself should keep me from my Tori Amos-given right to suck it up to the max.
Somehow, the thought of attending Pride, where I would have to watch Sarah Silverman waving and blowing kisses to straight girls in bikinis, knowing that I and anyone like me will likely never be chosen to serve in such a capacity despite our credentials, would only reinforce this idea that I’m nobody until some major media outlet shits on something I created.
So instead of going to Pink Saturday, instead of going to Pride™–
I thrashed about in Miles’ living room.
Screaming. Clenching a notebook. Adding, subtracting syllables.
Dude, what rhymes with mutilation?
I twirled the skirt of my dress and imagined that I was in a bar in the Mission, playing for every person, famous and non-famous, whose opinion would mean anything to me.
I falsetto’d with reckless abandon.
It was a fucking blast. It was wholeness.
You see, I never had that moment of “ahhhh, this is how to live, this is who I really am” that the popular trans narrative informs us we’re supposed to have. Because being out, being visible, those things were never enough and they never will be.
It is not enough that I am living as a woman. I must perform. I must sing. And dance. Until I am in full commitment of this obsession, I can never fully enjoy a sunny day or a night out with friends.
As I laid on Miles’ carpet, a pen entangled in my hair, I imagined that every single person in attendance, every person who’se shoulder I cried on, every person whose autograph I would keep in my Dr. Pepper lunchbox, was thoroughly, utterly embarrassed and disappointed with me.
I sucked. I failed. In front of everyone.
And it didn’t matter. Like, at all.
Because fuck ’em. If they don’t like it, they can do it themselves. Every one of them could have laughed in my face the next day, in front of strangers, and it still would not have taken away how much fun it was.
For reasons I promised not to disclose, I had to step down from my role in organizing with Folsom Street Fair. It was heartbreaking, and many tears were shed. After I had cried it out and made many an empty threat to just move out of the Bay entirely because I am tired of dealing with these mainstream organizations, I told Miles how excited I was we’d have more time to write Birthday Princess songs.
If activist drama, which is at least 10 times more real than my celebrity anxiety, won’t stop me from putting on a paper crown and singing of cannibalism, then yeah.
You’re not so big. None of you are. We’re all just living room Luba Lufts, occasionally put on display.
Nothing is worth surrendering the sensation that I, for 5 to 20 minutes at a time, rule the fucking world.
It wasn’t Pride, but I was pretty fucking proud of myself.
And that is how I learned to stop comparing my work others and psyching myself out of doing something you love.
BUT NEVER MIND THAT SHIT.
Dear Black Dahlia Parton,
What do you think the single greatest issue facing trans people is today?
Violence, in all its forms.
We need to fight back against the violence of physical assault, especially against trans women of color, in our/their homes and in our/their neighborhoods.
We need to fight back against the violence of capitalist power exchanges which denies trans people housing, medical care and employment, and seeks to starve us into submission and silence.
We need to fight back against the violence of the police state that criminalizes and incarcerates trans women for surviving.
We need to fight back against the violence of the media, both “straight” and “gay”, that informs the public on how to dehumanize, to ridicule, to expose us to danger.
We need to fight back against the violence of ignorance and indifference in the medical community that turns trans people away from emergency rooms, denies us agency of our own bodies, and falsely labels us as mentally unstable in an effort to silence and discredit us.
We need to fight back against the violence of privilege within our community that allows trans men to speak for trans women, abuse without accountability and inform cis people that words like “tranny” are acceptable to use if you’re talking with, you know, the cool kinds of trans people who are with it.
We must resist the violence within ourselves, the loathing that leads us to judge one another, to establish a hierarchy based upon passing and heteronormativite behavior, to stay silent and complicit in the face of injustice because deep down in the Place Without A Name we feel we (and others) deserve it.
There are other forms of violence, surely, that I can’t even fathom, due to my privilege, perceive or speak of, but they exist and must also be resisted.
Dear Black Dahlia Parton,
I’ve got a problem, my problem is that I’m not getting the sex I want with my husband. The issue is that apparently he has low T and even when we had him on shots his ED didn’t really get any better. As a pre-op trans* woman the only penetrative sex we can have is anal and he doesn’t get hard enough for that and oral isn’t enough for me. I’ve not had any luck getting him to try any of the other medications out there yet and the aids we can get at adult stores aren’t enough to fix it. What can I do?
Help me Black Dahlia Parton, you’re my only hope.
Horny Down South
Firstly, it is not the place of you or I to compel your husband to try “any of the other medications out there”. If he doesn’t want to try them, he doesn’t have to, and any attempt to compel him otherwise is coercion. He has agency over his body, just as you do yours. If you’ve explained to him, in no uncertain terms, that you are not getting the sex you want with him, and he, knowing this, does not want to try any ED medications, then that’s that. End of line.
As far as a workaround, I recommend having him put his hand (or fingers, if that’s what you’re more comfortable with) up your ass. As a pre-op transwoman, I have found that two (gloved and lube) fingers up my ass very “filling”.
I don’t mean to break anyone’s hearts, but I am not “well endowed”. I have a small penis. Maybe 2 inches flaccid.
SPOILER ALERT: I’M TALKING ABOUT MY PEEPEE.
So like I said, maybe 2 inches flaccid, maybe, MAYBE 5 at the very peak of arousal (which I don’t like to reach often because getting too hard hurts). This was so even before I began taking estrogen. Though I’m unlikely to be sought out for trans woman porn (though I’d be interested in knocking that off my bucket list while I’m currently unattached and despised by my previous partners, so hit me up!), I feel no shame or angst about it. I wouldn’t want to fuck people who are only in it for my cock anyway.
Oh yeah! You should try having your husband fucking you with one hand and holding a vibrator, like, perhaps a Hitachi Magic Wand, right above your [whatever word you use to refer that part of your body], angled right at the base of it. This stimulates your p-spot from multiple directions and , if you are like me, will make you buck like a bronco, curl up your toes and fill you with a craving for curry. But your mileage may vary. Some prefer Trader Joe’s seaweed snacks.
Anyway. ABOUT ME.
Having a small dick encouraged me to develop an interest and knack for giving oral and using my hands. Even if I was hung like a bear, even if I was still living as a man, I would probably prefer fingering a woman to climax to putting my stick shift in her. There’s something very…emotionally gratifying to having my hand inside of someone, influencing their every quiver and quake with my fingers. Like a painting or warm piano. Some nights, it’s all I need. I just want to finger you, sip my post-sex gin and tonic and curl up with my blanket of smug and confidence. I’m not the best looking girl, or the most interesting. But I can make you sing.
What I’m trying to say is that one’s sexual performance and confidence need not be tied to their factory-issued genitalia. It does not speak ill of your gender or your sexual prowess to have genitalia that is not optimal for penetrative sex. You didn’t mention that your husband was necessarily struggling with those issues, but you and your husband aren’t the only people reading this,and I just wanted everyone to know that there’s no wrong to fuck another person. PROVIDED THAT IT’S CONSENSUAL AND PROPER SAFER SEX PRACTICES ARE FOLLOWED.
Also, this sets me up as somewhat of an “experienced source” for this next part, where I give you tips on fucking and being fucked in the ass with a hand.
There is no such thing as too much lube. It doesn’t exist. You’ll find the loch ness monster and compassionate conservative before you find a situation where you’ve used too much lube. Changing the sheets is chump change when compared to anal tearing.
If you’re just starting (or want to be more intimate) I would recommend the fuckee laying on their back, with the fuckee laying atop or beside them with lots of eye contact. Sometimes, you feel the urge to wince and clench before you can vocalize that you’re having a bad time, so I like to watch out for that. Plus this position gives you the ability to smooch while fucking.
I am a big fan of smooching. Making out is, to me, of higher priority than sex, though that may be because I have known to come from making out alone. I also wrote a treatise on using your mouth as a primary sex organ.
Oh oh oh, AND if you lay flat, or on all fours, the fucker can position their hand so that they can thrust with their hips while fucking you, which can be a + if you’re into the hip thrusting part of fucking.
I, as a fuckee, don’t like laying on my stomach, because whenever I lay face down it feels like my partner takes 10x longer to put on their glove and lube, and by the time they finally get around to fucking me, I’m all clenched up. And then they have to soothe me down until I relax a little. In my experience, people who purposely take forever to put on a glove and lube are the same people who ask you if want them to count before they put the needle in and then just do it without counting anyway. They are not to be trusted : /
The fucker should always trim their nails before putting a finger in someone’s butt. Even with a glove, long nails fucking hurt. If long nails are like, your style of whatever, slip cotton balls into the fingers of the glove before putting it on and make sure the cotton gets under your nail. I’m a bit of a princess with my skin and will also rub a little lotion in my hands because wearing gloves always makes me a little dry and I hate that.
Warm the lube by rubbing it between your hands or squishing it between your fingers before inserting into an anal cavity. Cold lube makes muscles constrict and leads to a bad time. Warm lube = a warm ass, and a warm ass is a happy ass.
IF YOU’RE FUCKING SOMEONE’S ASS AND THEY ASK YOU TO PULL OUT AND JERK THEM OFF, DO NOT USE THE SAME GLOVE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Always start small to begin with. Even if you have lots of practice with dildos and fists. Start with one finger and work your way up.
I assumed, from the wording of your question, that by “aids you can get at the adult stores” you also meant strap-ons. If not, I would recommend that, too. These days there are many a model that have the hollowed out phallus so you can just place it over your penis. As a penis-equipped person, I don’t always strap, but when I do, I prefer a harness with a solid cock.
The first time I strapped and fucked another woman, like the day I bought my first vibrator, was one of those strange moments where I found my gender and sexual identity validated by a material object, and led me to question the universal definition of womanhood.
I would also suggest buying asking him to fuck you with a vibrator and playing with leaving the vibrator in while he does other stuff to you. That’s, like, a major + of vibrators for me. If it’s the right length and I’m sitting/laying in the right position, I can leave it in there while my partner hits me or goes to work on my stick shift, which aren’t mutually exclusive.
I LIKE WEIRD SEX OKAY THANK YOU.
Oh man, if you guys are up for it, have him finger your ass while going down on you:
This is why I love fingering so much: it allows you to do so much at once.
I, I can’t. I don’t have anything else. That Billy Mays picture is just too much.
I’m sorry if I spent too much of my answer talking about my sexual preferences, but I am more of a field researcher than armchair sexologist.
For what it’s worth, I’m really really really really happy to hear that you’re looking for ways to work around the obstacles preventing you from having a “normal sex life”. It saddens the slut in me to see so many people writing themselves and each others as lemons because this or that isn’t the way that porn and the cis heternormative genital information center would lead us to believe is “correct” or “normal”.
Regardlessess if my advice was helpful or not, I think you’re on the way towards resolving the issue you’re having, simply because you have the right attitude about it.
I am a woman with a small penis and I’m fucking foxy. Is what I’m trying to say.
Send your questions to email@example.com. Or don’t. It’s a free country. For now.
For all ya’ll who do not have a Facebook, and thus can’t access the event, arrive at Dolores Park and look for all the people wearing purple armbands, bandanas, and making signs that say “Free CeCe” on them. If you send me an email with your number, I will call you on Trans March and tell you where to meet us.
A little fun fact about WordPress, for those who do not have one: the Dashbord feature of WP tells you what search engine terms people have used to stumble across your blog posts. My post about boycotting the Pride parade apparently comes up whenever you google Sarah Silverman and Pride in the same search. I also get a lot of hits from people looking for Dan Savage and the porno flick “Piledriving Miss Daisy”.
Look at my life. Look at my choices.
But never mind that shit.
Dear Ms Parton,I have a concern that could use semi-professional advice. I hate nearly all trans men. I am a trans man–well, you could call me that.This past year it was revealed that a local Women’s Health Clinic started doing masculinizing hormone therapy provisions (under informed consent protocols) and nonjudgmental gynecological and other health care for trans men and trans male people. They as of today do not provide similar care to trans women and trans female people. They provide counseling services to all women, and all trans people. I had an issue last year where I thought I was going to lose my hormone access so I asked a friend and local trans masc activist of some import about this women’s health clinic because I knew he started going there. I stupidly assumed quite incorrectly if they were going to be cool with the trans bros, surely they couldn’t be being dicks to trans women? In the end even before knowing of their ridiculously stupid and offensive trans lady care lacuna, I was 99% sure I would rather go off hormones than go to a women’s health clinic. More recently a few local trans women have organized together and brought to light that this queer supported and often highly touted clinic doesn’t do feminizing hormones and physicals and blood work for people incorrectly assumed male at birth. Part of what potentiated their response is the person I mentioned earlier was promoting (along with a few other people) a few fundraisery bar events to benefit the clinic. When trans woman A brought her concerns to light, I’m sure you can imagine the mansplaining, cissplaining, condescending, covering up, etc that went on to obfuscate the fact that it’s REALLY REALLY fucked up for a women’s health clinic which touts itself on its website as having a “trans greater access program” and serving “trans people”, apparently did not see the need to provide services to roughly half of who “TRANS PEOPLE” covers. The website now says they expect to start a pilot program for feminizing hormone care in September.But what I can’t get over and am still reeling from is how the testosterbro in question refused to see how his event and the promotion of it as “for the trans community” was just the usual douchbaggery trans women and trans female people (and in some lizard hind brain of myself) have come to eye-rollingly expect from trans men.Now, granted, I have had a great patient and hand holdy education from many trans women I’ve known over the years going all the way back to a certain “sex positive trans friendly girl-centered” punk rock message board I used to hang out on. I realize that a lot of recent bros haven’t had this and if they never get their heads out of their asses never will.I like trans organizing. I like working with a broad spectrum of trans people to shall we say, topple the kyriarchy. I feel a special kinship with lesbian trans women, who I have started at least 7 unfinished craigslist misc romance posts asking if they would be BFF collectively with me.Even more recently it’s come to light that other nationally prominent trans bros are tracks covering craven abusers and rapists.AT TIMES I CONSIDER DETRANSITIONING THIS IS SO UPSETTING.I can’t imagine myself going off the grid and being an all-but cis man. That would fit with part of my internal identity but not with my social justice-y side. But why are there so many awful trans men? How can I convince them not to be? How do I make friends with local trans women without seeming creepy?PLEASE SEND HALP.
Last week, I received an email from FemmeCon, informing me that my workshop, Mommy Will Take Care Of It: Channeling a Dominant Femme Identity Into Organizing, had been accepted for the 2012 conference. I’d been called up to the majors!
At last! My genius recognized! Presence acknowledged! Why, after this, I could retire from activism! Move to Santa Cruz. Start a Pinterest. Set my email account to auto-reply to everything with “Ah yes, those were the days, weren’t they?”
Alas. Indefinite tours of duty lie ahead. After careful consideration of the logistics (i.e. writing Cost of traveling to Baltimore for weekend > Bank account on a sheet of notebook paper and staring at it intently until my staff meeting was over), I had to decline the invitation, as I lacked the resources to make the trip, and being steadily employed, I did not feel comfortable beseeching the community for assistance.
This may have been for the best. Right as I was writing my email to FemmeCon declining their invitation, I received an email from them, asking me if I would address the de facto assumption of “Mommy identity” in femmes and how some are not comfortable with that label put upon them.
This is a fair request. Perhaps the fairest of them all.
I still couldn’t do it, though.
I mean, I could start my workshop by saying “hey, you know, the mommy identity is something that is thrust upon a lot of women and femmes, and I just want to acknowledge there is some tension and discomfort there for some”–
But the moment anyone asks me to elaborate on the discomfort or how do I reconcile that with being a radical queer and a feminist and did I transition just so I could assume traditionally patriarchal roles of womanhood OHMYGODIWASNTPREPAREDFORTHIS!
Maybe it’s best if we just hash this out over the course of the next few months, in a series of controlled environments (see also: blog posts where I am the sole contributor of content), and once I’ve processed my excitement and angst around my identity, tart it up, make a zine out of it and let people digest my ideas in a a proof-read flavor.
I can’t separate my Mommy identity from my trans, woman, or queer activist identities. They are not different facets of the same jewel, but, essentially, different names for the same thing.
I had “crossdressed” for much of my adolescent and adult life, and though I had always known I would, one day, need to break down the closet door or return to Narnia, the urgency with which my female identity needed to be validated was not apparent to me until my then-bottom began referring to me as “Miss” and “Madame” within a scene. I discovered and explored my womanhood in a dominant context, and for me, they are forever linked.
This is not to suggest I am not also submissive. The shit I want done to me gets me kicked out of IRC chatrooms. I do not, personally, subscribe to total power exchange or consensual non consent, which you can read more about in my acclaimed novel I ACKNOWLEDGE THESE THINGS EXIST AND WORK FOR OTHER PEOPLE BUT IT IS SIMPLY NOT FOR ME THANK YOU OKAY. I am very specific about I want. I want you to do this. And this. And that. And I want you to say this, in this tone, and if I react this way, please do this. Cis straight doms have a term for it, not a real a submissive, which translates, roughly, to “IN MY PENIS WE TRUST”. To me, having such specific terms for the scene is a display of dominance, because it asserts that not only do I know and deserve what I want, but that I can handle it BECAUSE I’M A BIG GIRL AND CAN MAKE MY OWN FUCKING DECISIONS THANK YOU OKAY.
I’ll pause this record and play another one, as I don’t want to get too involved in my sex practices because that is not what I want to see reblogged on tumblr.
The moral of the story: I’M A WOMAN AND MY SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS I GET WHAT I WANT.
Mommy is intertwined with my womanhood.
Because for the longest time, I did not know why I was a woman.
I just knew that I was one.
I mean, I wear dresses, paint my face and go by she/her. But I know masculine-identified people who do that too.
I know why I’m a Mommy.
I’m a Mommy because I like to read aloud to lovers before they are tucked into bed. I make their favorite comfort food when they’ve had a hard day. I bestow gifts of coloring books on holidays. I swell with pride on the anniversary of the day they’ve stopped self-harming, and will continue to do so after we’ve broken up and stopped speaking to each other.
(Just so you know it’s not all about the sex.)
I spend about 90 to 95 percent of my daily life feeling invisible, in some way or another. On the bus, in the office, at a party, nobody sees me the way I see me. Some of that is not being read as queer/trans, some of that is being systemically ignored/silenced as a woman, and some is just the widening of the gap between ourselves and everyone around us that comes with growing older/experience/aliens.
But when I am called Mommy by someone I, despite my aspirations of ice queendom, am compelled to love–
I am seen. In my entirety. I am suddenly visible. I am whole and tangible.
It’s math. I do these things. Mommies do these same things. Ergo, I am a Mommy.
It was through the arithmetic of my Mommy-ness that I was able to find a list of objectives that allowed me to understand why I’m a woman.
A woman feels like a woman (whatever that means to her) when she does what she does, wears what she wears, fucks who she fucks.
I feel like a woman when I wear a dress, write poetry, receive an injection of estrogen, climax. Ergo, I am a woman.
Without realizing why I’m a Mommy, I would not have realized why I was a woman. That food is touching and can never un-touch.
Not to suggest that they neccesitate each other.
I know men who identify as Mommies.
I also know men who want me to be their Mommy.
I know a lot of people.
Is what I’m saying.
My Mommy identity is intertwined with my activist identity.
I reject this notion that it is up to the individual and the individual alone to provide their own “care” while engaging oppression. That shit comprises the essential privileged indifference that patriarchy and oppression needs to start its day.
If you sincerely believe that it’s a failing on my part if I am unable to provide adequate self-care while organizing queer spaces/events, and think it unreasonable or wrong to reach out to others to ensure my needs are met, then tear down your Pride-approved vendor booth, drop out of your support group, and take down your Facebook event for your top surgery fundraiser.
We’re either in this together or we aren’t.
A better, more articulated argument on that can be read here.
My weapons of choice in the seemingly endless PvP game against the patriarchy are foot rubs, scrambled eggs, and owning a bed that is large enough for another person to sleep in it with me without us having to touch, if they need a place to stay for the night/week and do not wish to be cuddled to unconsciousness.
When you are in my neck of the woods, I will give you a place to crash and make sure you’ve eaten. I do this not only because we are friends, but to enforce solidarity, trust, and love within our community.
It’s good for business.
This morning, at 8:30am, my friend LB came over to my house for breakfast. I made them eggs, toast, and fruit. My friend LB has a car. We know many queers who do not own a car. They ask LB to take them places. My friend does it because they care. They want to help out. Give what they can, though they are rarely, if ever, fed or given money in return for their help. It is very taxing. By making sure they’ve eaten breakfast every day, thus allowing them to do what they do for the community, I’m doing my part in helping the community help itself.
And yes, LB does drive me to work in the mornings. And we are best friends, so there is definitely something more to this relationship than communal supply-and-demand. But if you came to my house in the morning, I would feed you too.
Because I can. Because it gives me joy.
You think that’s not caring for the community? You think that’s not radical enough? That it’s too domestic?
Go run and tell that shit to someone who hasn’t had a home-cooked meal in a week. Ask the anti-transphobia blogger with the paypal donation button or the event organizer running their operation on their lunch break because they don’t have a computer at home what they think about a hot meal or a ride to the grocery store as community support. See if they’ll sign your petition.
I feel so strongly about this I have considered quitting my day job to host DIY skillshares and make zines on low-budget vegetarian cooking until I run out of money, get a job to pay the bills, rinse and repeat forever.
It does not demean my womanhood or my feminist rhetoric to put on an apron and make sack lunches for people attending a queer event–WHICH I HAVE DONE–but rather speaks to your internalized shame and phobia surrounding your gender politics.
You may think you’re being helpful or socially conscious when you “warn” queer and trans women how their being too femme, too butch, too stereotypically girly or too non-normative is feeding the propaganda machine and impeding our efforts to be taken seriously.
You’re wrong, in the same ways that believing that trans men belong in women’s spaces and trans women do not is wrong. The same way making excuses for trans men accused of rape is wrong. The same way believing Kirk was a better captain than Picard is wrong.
Implying that to wear an apron and answer to Mommy/Mama, something that makes me feel empowered and secure in my identity, is in some way playing to the patriarchy, is in fact a powerful means of enforcing patriarchy.
Sometimes an apron is just an apron.
Scrambling an egg, fashioning a care package, rubbing a back–that is my activism.(As is performance art, organizing safe spaces for trans people and hosting workshops. Just making sure nobody thinks I’m retiring from those other things.)
Those are also things that Mommies do.
Vis-a-vis, I am not an activist who likes to play Mommy.
I am a Mommy activist.
(Though sometimes I’m unsure about the term “activist” because I feel that simply leaving your house and being visible in the world is activism, and I’m unsure of how me doing what I do makes me so special I deserve the title and others don’t.)
And reckon. We are everywhere.
Having craft nights. Exchanging recipes. Picnicking on the beach.
Leading safer sex workshops. Advocating gender neutral bathrooms. Dancing.
If the American Family Association believes in a loving God, it should pray it never meets One Million Mommies. Don’t think we won’t come up there and put ya’ll in time out.
I lack a womb and yet am every bit the mother you say I can never be. I don’t need your permission.
I am creating something from nothing. Growing a new family tree in place of the many that bigotry, hate, and patriarchy (another example of different words for the same thing) had chopped down.
Creating something new, something stronger, to replace what is broken. Which is just another way to say “revolution”.
Revolution is the family business. I am a revolutionary.
And business is picking up.
I’m not going to find a better way to end this piece, will I? I should just end on that, yeah?
Need something capitalism-free to do over Pride Weekend?
Why not join us over at the Free CeCe Contingent at Trans March? We’ll be making signs, chanting (maybe), and I’ll be writing on myself in purple body paint since I look terrible in purple fabric.
It is important that we, at all times, maintain the signal strength of this cataclysmic social injustice. If we are silent for even a moment, the system will tape our mouths shut and sweep it all under the rug.
We must be as the iPod on loop.
Until she is free. Until all are free.
This episode of Parton Me was put on hold so I could get drunk in Oakland and make it rain at Musee Mechanique.
In the hopes of preventing future “oh god so many heavy questions, I don’t want to tackle them all at once” moments, and to give me more room to blog about other stuff as the mood hits me, I’ve decided to make future advice columns single question and posted at my whim.
Black Dahlia Parton,
Do you have any advice for transitioning? How old were you when you transitioned, and how long ago was it?
I transitioned at 22 (I’m 26 now). I couldn’t tell you when “I came out” because I was vocal about my gender dysphoria the whole of my adolescent and adult life. In college I experimented with having a male persona and a female persona, but I found myself carrying little parts of the femme persona with me at all times, like a walking “My Other Car Is A…” bumper sticker. By my senior year I doubled down.
It took some adjusting. The stress caused me to take an incomplete in a couple classes, tacking on another semester to my graduation (though nobody noticed because it was art school). I forfeited friendships, family relationships, and the respect of my peers. I also fell in love with having my picture taken and increased my masturbation output threefold. If my LiveJournal is to be believed.
But enough about me!
Transition at your own pace, nobody else’s. Someone who tells you “they’re not ready to see you dressed like that yet” may never be “ready” if they feel they can stall your transition with that tired excuse. Haters gonna hate. Don’t let the fashion police in your life dictate when and where you express yourself.
You are not expected to know all the answers right away. Do not feel rushed to pick a new name, or see a doctor about hormones. Taking your time and going at a pace you are comfortable with is proof “you are serious about this”.
No what I’m about to say is contextual because I know you IRL, and know you’re transitioning to the trans feminine side of the spectrum, but I think what I’m about to tell you can be translated to any identity:
Let no one, NO ONE, not even me, a respected figure of the community, lord over your womanhood.
I don’t care if you:
decide to keep your birth name
grow a sweet fucking beard
never put a single drop of makeup on your skin
decide against changing your gender marker
never even look into seeing a doctor or therapist
None of that will, in any way, make you less the woman you know yourself to be.
Transition does not have to be an obstacle course. It can, for you, be more like deciding which bowl of porridge is right for you.
Alert the media. Black Dahlia Parton is advocating the displacement of bears!
And look: I can pop off that good shit about not needing to pass because I have passing privilege. If passing is important to you, than go with it. If you’re concerned about safety, do what you feel you have to feel safe, whatever that means. I, with my advice cred and all my community cred, have no right to intervene in your relationship with passing.
All I’m saying, and will continue to say until someone more educated takes my place, is that you and you alone are the ultimate expert on your own gender. Any conference workshop, celebrity memoir or transition journal that aims to educate you on the proper way to transition or express your gender inadvertently aids the patriarchy at best and is predatory cult of personality at worst.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of transition.
You are and never will be alone. We’re in this together, no matter the differences in our experience and expression.
And I don’t care if I never see your face, or hear your voice.
You are and will always be beautiful.
Write me at BlackDahliaParton@gmail.com.