Monday, April 30, 2012

How Safe Will I Be if I Start Blossoming Into the Lovely Ladyboy That I Am?

Biyuti is a bakla Filipina living on stolen Algonquin land. He works to sustain and increase the biyuti of the world through decolonization and through her explorations of the intersections of race with queerness/gender. She also blogs at The Biyuti Collective and you can find her on Twitter: @JustBiyuti.   

I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about (my) gender recently. And, to be quite frank, it is exhausting. My heart is deeply weary from all the hours and energy I’ve been putting into decolonizing my mind and gender. The hours and hours of thinking and feeling being put into trying to articulate who and what I am outside of a white supremacist, colonialist construct of gender.

And I’m tired. Bone tired. My heart is heavy and my brain just wants to stop thinking about all of this. Because it doesn’t just stop at my being able to conceptualize and articulate what my gender is or means. There is all the other stuff...

Stuff like wondering how safe I’ll be if I start blossoming into the lovely ladyboy that I am. Safety is a big concern of mine because of the greater danger that PoC gender minorities face. The stats aren’t good. I need to eat. Have a place to live. You know. Survive. Live.

I took a few steps into the trans* community recently. Like, tiny baby steps. Engaged some people. And it was definitely enough for me to realize that the trans* community isn’t my community.

(Even as I make the mistake of thinking that the people I’ve interacted with are representative of the ‘community.’ But... sometimes decisions like this need to be made. And after my experiences with the queer community [i.e., the rampant racism, femme phobia, etc.], my self-esteem simply can’t take anymore erasure and invalidation.)

The cost for participating in the community are too high. The continual need to guard against racism. The stress of having to call people out. The desire to pull completely away because I simply don’t have the time, energy, nor will to call every instance of racism out. Not when my anxiety about confrontation means that every time I do, I will sleep poorly. I will be over-tired the next and unable to focus at work.

The sad thing is that the stress of going stealth (and the accompanying dysphoria) is actually *less* than the stress I experience participating in the community. It allows me to leave the house, to go to work, to provide those necessary things I need to live (food, shelter, clothing).

My main problem is that it all seems so *exhausting*. The idea of having to change my name, buy a whole new wardrobe (that I can’t afford), maybe talk to doctors, try to do something about my stubble, modify my voice, and on and on and on. Just more than I can bear right now.

(Of course, the thing is... is that I’m not even really in the closet or anything -- not that I accept the western dichotomy of being in/out of closets -- and here I find trying to articulate what I mean and where I’m at in my personal journey again fails me. Where are the roadmaps when you don’t fit the hegemonic narrative? Sigh.)

Nothing to do but keep on truckin’, I suppose.