love doesn’t cure all

brown grrrl here again.

i was about to write in my private, paper journal… but then just found myself opening this up.  i want to get trans boy to write in here more often.  i sense that some coercion is in order.

before trans boy, i hadn’t been in a serious relationship for quite some time.  like, four years.  the relationship i was in was barely even a relationship.  i mean, it was in that i loved him and i think he loved me and we slept together and had dates and were a part of one another’s lives… but it wasn’t in that he wouldn’t attach that label to me.  label or not though, what we had fits what i call a relationship, so a relationship i’ll call it.

anyway.  that thing.  that was the first relationship i had had and it wasn’t exactly healthy.  it involved lying, cheating, emotional manipulation, emotional stonewalling, tears, breakdowns, fits of rage, arbitrary distancing and so much more.  looking back, i can say that we both used abusive behaviours toward one another.

once that relationship ended, i thought the next relationship i’d be in, if i’d ever be in one again, would be one that’s beautiful and loving and caring.  and, for some reason, i thought that kind of relationship would end everything wrong in my life.

love doesn’t quite work that way, does it?  i’m in love with a beautiful person, but it hasn’t cured feelings of social alienation, especially since, in many ways, i think the way this wedding is being executed is alienating me from the people i care about.

what happens to friendships with activists when your wedding involves a ridiculous scale of consumption?

i understand the judgement i’m getting – i really do.  what i don’t understand is how i can reconcile my feelings about capitalism with my desires for the wedding.  i think i’ve written this before, but initially, we wanted a small, backyard wedding.  no fancy, $2000 lehenga.  no wedding designer.  no trip to india to go shopping.  hand-made wedding cards.  decorations we’d make and put up ourselves.  perhaps a potluck.  low-stress, low-money, high-us… but also low-pleasing-my-mom.  and when you’re indian, pleasing your mom is pretty much everything.

so what’s more important to me?  resisting capitalism, or giving my mom what, in her culture, is evidence that she’s done her job?  given that my whole motivation for resistance is the love i have for the people around me and wanting what’s best for everyone instead of what’s best for sraight, cisgender white dudes, it’s not surprising that my mom’s needs surpass many others.

and given that i’m the kind of person who wants something unique out of my wedding, backyard or not, it’s not surprising that if it has to be big, it has to be BIG.

but i know this is having an impact on my life.  it’s impacting my friendships.  it’s impacting how i feel about myself.

and i don’t know what to do about any of that.

i’m not sitting around here feeling emo – but i am sitting around here contemplating and wondering and hoping to draw some kind of conclusion on what to do or what to think.

i guess, within capitalism and patriarchy, there’s no way to live life in a manner that’s comfortable for everyone.  i guess that’s what oppression does: divide us.

been awhile

brown grrrl here.

it’s been a long time since either of us posted.  part of this is because we are both people who start projects that we never finish; another part is that, for me anyway, this wedding is bringing up a lot of mixed feelings.

i’m so happy to be committing to trans boy and to celebrate our love with our closest friends and family.  what i’m not so happy about is how many aspects of this wedding clash with my political beliefs.  first of all, it’s going to be huge – 350+ people – which isn’t terrible in and of itself, but more people equals more money and i thought i was the type of person who didn’t want to spend thousands and thousands on one day.  still, i’ve insisted on a wedding designer and beautiful aesthetics – i guess the conditioning i had as a young girl is stronger than my belief in (and actions toward) social justice. to say i’m uncomfortable with that would be an understatement, but perhaps i have to sit with this discomfort.

unrelated to the wedding (sort of), i’ve been thinking about past relationships.  my best friend is going through something terrible, which has gotten me thinking about my last serious relationship.  totalled relationships often total devasted hearts.  ex-lovers are more than just exes – they’re ex-lives and in essence, an ex-you.  people in our lives change us.

how has trans boy changed me?  i feel like i have a constant support  and a constant challenge.   i’m encouraged to be the best me that i can be – the best me that i’m capable of.  at the same time, i know that  to him, i’m already the best me.  namely, i know that losing 50 lbs won’t make him love me any more.  this is the first time i’ve felt that my issues with my body have nothing to do with another person because i know that this person’s love for me – desire for me – won’t change with my body.

the security, comfort and love that i have in my life have taken care of a primary need for affection and belonging and connectedness to another human.  in turn, my mind’s automatically going to other places: my social life, my political (in)action.

it’s hard to be politically involved when you feel so alienated from the majority of the people who take political action in your community.  action is built on solidarity, on communities – what happens when you don’t belong to one?  how can you help, how can you be involved?  how do you work toward dismantling oppression when spending time with the very people who are working towards that feels, well, oppressive?  it’s not that i think people here are bad people – quite the opposite, really – i just know that i don’t fit and often leave social situations feeling more alienated than i did before i went.

and here i come to yet another paradox: through his inclusion and love and ultimate respect for all parts of me, trans boy has had the effect of making me realize how alienated i am.

preferential options

in response to something brown grrrl commented on in previous post.  i wouldn’t say that her mom’s beautiful response to bg’s disclosure of  my history was enough.  if i am talking enough, enough would be where everyone was safe to to disclose how they identified, how they felt and what they thought, without fear of negative repercussions…that ideally would be enough in the whole grand scheme of things.   it was  far more than enough as far as what i could expect from her mom, but it isn’t  enough in terms of ideal wedding celebration.  the questions remains,  what is do-able, what is the least oppressive disclosure in this case?

the issue that arose for me last week, was somewhat sparked by a comment my brother made after i asked him to m.c.  he made some joke about my transness in reference to the wedding.  i said well most people won’t know i’m trans.  he was silent and then said, well i don’t know if that is so safe for you.  it watered a little seed of doubt and perhaps this seed is one that i carry around unknowing to every situation.  it is the ongoing scenario when i pretend that i am not trans.  i do it every day, every second that i am outside the confines of my intimates.

and so the assumption that i would not be telling the other wedding guests, or it wouldn’t be relayed to them in some way prior to the wedding went easily un-checked-it usually does in all my social/stranger interactions.

we had a discussion about this after i was off the phone with my older brother.  it didn’t last long, cause it didn’t take long to come to the conclusion that we had no easy answers; but we both seemed okay in the tension and the threads of complication left dangling. (i think)

then i had a discussion with a friend who said, what are you going to do, tell every single guest before the wedding?  mostly, I worry about brown grrrls’s mom.  what are the personal repercussions for her?  is it easier for me to remain closeted on my wedding day, than it is on her for me to be out?  yes-ultimately i think it is.  now, if there is disclosure fall-out post wedding, i hope that it is something that causes as little hardship and maybe even opportunities for trans-formative connections.

i still think it is a radical wedding even if 300 out of the 360 people don’t know i’m trans.  it  communicates a love which is worth celebrating and living despite the risk and maybe even the compromise.  hopefully,  some there  will witness to this love and this complication created in a world not yet equal.  maybe the not naming  will cause people to reflect on how to compassionately bridge these inequities in their own lives  as advocates and as agents of change.

Coming Out – when oppressions collide?

brown grrrl here.

trans boy and i recently discussed whether or not he wants to come out to my whole family.  he’s come out to my mom (and got a surprisingly beautiful reaction) and had initially thought that was enough.  i’ll let him go into details of what’s informing his rethinking his past decision and just say that he is, in fact, rethinking it.  of course, i’ll support whatever decision he wants to make.  what i find difficult is giving him input when he asks for it.  i really don’t know.

my family is indian.  to my mother, me getting married isn’t just a cause for celebration – it’s proof that she did her job as a mother, which is the most important job she’s ever had.  to her, it’s validation from her family that her daughter is a worthy, good person.  what would mean to her if trans boy was out to my whole family?  what would the reprecussions be?  some family members wouldn’t come to the wedding.  she may be ostracized by others.  when hers is an identity and culture that’s so marginalized in canada, it’s not as easy as saying, “fuck that!”  if i was white, i wouldn’t care about any of that… but like a previous post discussed, this marriage is bringing up a lot of internalized racism that i thought i had already dealt with.  how do i address that while simultaneously holding my partner’s identity in the way it deserves to be held?

does honouring my mother clash with honouring trans man?

fuck.

first post – trans boy

It’s Sunday morning, brown grllll and I just finished up some pancakes (gluten free) and now she lay beside me wrapped in red silk blanket, resting her eyes, as she says.  The last two months have been a whirlwind of excitement, words of gratitude for the love we have found, proclamations, planning and meeting each others peeps.  Repeatedly,  we look at each other and wonder in amazement at all that has changed for us in these short seven weeks.

At dinner with my brother, his wife and almost two year old, we were discussing how many people were going to be at the wedding (something like 300 plus) my sister in law looked at me with a glimmer and laughed, saying something along the lines of , “well who knew you would have such a big wedding”.  Anyone who knows me would testify that I’m not one to seek the attention of more than one or two people at a time.  Then she said, “well you never know who you are going to meet.”

I have to admit sometimes this all seems so surreal, but so good and so right.  I love brown grllll so deeply and we we fit in every way.   I have never felt more comfortable or more nurtured or felt so much room for my continued growth.   I never thought I would get married and I certainly NEVER thought it would be a three day affair with over 300 guests!

brown grlll has told me from the beginning how she realized how important a wedding was for her mom,  and it’s not like I feel she went and found me and planned to marry me to make her mom happy.  I knew from the beginning that I wanted to share my life with this amazing person and by all accounts she felt the same way.  Life seems to have a flow these days, and there’s nothing I can do, or would want to do to change it.   I LOVE to see how excited she is getting about the preparations and the day!  It feels rich, it feels like abundance and although she said she doesn’t think it is radical – I do!   I love the connections her and her mom have over the preparations!  I love how warm and welcoming her mom has been towards me.

I’m recalling a few days ago, when brown grlll was talking with her mom and they were getting a bit heated in a playful sort of way about the wedding details.  Suddenly I could tell by the one end of the conversation that bg’s mom wanted to talk to me.  I broke into a slight sweat heart rate accelerating and nodded my head with the universal indicator.  I’m not here.   Brown grlll said, “oh mom, he is almost asleep you can’t talk to him.”  Her mom replied, ” no he isn’t.”  I had no choice, and answered the phone.   There was a brief conversation about reminding brown grllll about the budget and that it was only a one day event.  I said I would knowing full well this was all way out of my hands!   The funniest part is that from what I understand culturally, me living with brown grlll isn’t exactly kosher Indian etiquette, but her mom assumed I was there at 9:30 pm and didn’t bat an eye that I might have been sleeping there.

Well there it is…I’ve broken the proverbial blog ice.  Now it’s time for some cuddles.

(ooh- I forgot to mention that when I told my bro and family about the date for the wedding, they informed me with some laughter, that this was my nieces birthday.  brown grlll seemed somewhat  mortified and offered to throw in a birthday cake.  Well – I can’t be expected to keep track of every detail..)

(queer) marriage & feminism

brown grrrl here.

i have ideological struggles with marriage.  it’s a patriarchal institution that now fuels capitalist enterprise.  ours isn’t going to be any different – it’s going to have at least 300 people, it’ll be at a fancyish place, i want a wedding planner and i’m particular about how all of it is going to look.

despite being a radical feminist, i’ve pretty much always wanted to get married.  sometimes, the agents of socialization are just stronger than the agents of justice.  i’d love to not want this, but there’s this nagging thought in the back of my head that i’m supposed to marry to be happy.  i did start transforming this kind of thinking a couple of years ago, but that was before i met trans boy.  i fell in love and i wanted to celebrate that love in the way i’ve been taught that love is meant to be celebrated.

yet, more than simple socialization and dreaming of my wedding since i was a child, i want to please my mother.  i didn’t fully realize how important my wedding is to my mother until i was in india this past winter for my cousin’s.  i could see the longing in her eyes when my cousin’s mother was adorned with jewellery and clothes and showered with love and blessings from her family.  i know she was thinking, “when’s it going to be my turn?”

how can i be an activist who cares about family and community while simultaneously ignoring the needs of the person who matters most to me – my mother?  and yet, how can be a feminist while supporting the marriage industrial complex?

i don’t believe that you can modify oppressive institutions to make them more just, particularly when the very basis of those institutions is oppression.  i’m not kidding myself here: i don’t think the fact that trans boy is trans makes this a radical wedding.

at the same time, i don’t think refusing marriage would make a radical statement, either.  i’ve always wanted to scream at white liberal feminists who have criticized my desire for marriage: don’t they get that it’s not just about a wedding?  this is about family.  me not getting married not only reflects on who i am, but in my culture, reflects on who my mother is.  if i simply shacked up with my partner, my mother would be devastated.  people in our community would look upon her as a failure.  her role as a woman, as she sees it, would be incomplete.  how can i be a radical feminist who believes in collectivism if i ignore the needs of the person who made me who i am?  i can’t.  i just can’t do that to her.

so where does this leave us?  where does this leave marriage within the context of a feminist wanting to maintain her indian identity?

i don’t know.  i don’t even know how trans man’s identity plays into this, especially since most of my family won’t know that he’s trans.  and i can’t help but feel just a little dirty over how fucking excited i am to marry him.

Meet the Parents

so, last night, (super evil-fighting) trans man met brown grrrl’s dad.  over dinner.  at a restaurant.

now, many of you reading this don’t know my dad.  let’s just put it this way: he’s fucking weird.  he buys $300 fire-proof pants, even though his daily life involves 0 flames.  i went my whole life thinking my dad didn’t wear skin-care products with alcohol in them because he was allergic.  turns out he has no alcohol allergy.  nope, he just won’t wear anything with alcohol in it because he thinks it makes him more flammable.  he wears fishing vests to weddings, even though i’ve never known him to go fishing.  he spends hundreds (perhaps thousands) of dollars on wilderness medical society conferences, even though he never even goes camping.  he subscribes to anti-terrorist magazines and supports israel.

in short, he’s fucking weird.

when asking trans man how it went, he says, “uhhhm…”

yeah.

my mom was also there, which you’d think would make it slightly better, except she kept talking about wedding details.  indian wedding details.  such as, “oh!  i’d like to have your WHOLE FAMILY at my house, trans-guy-who-barely-sees-his-family-once-a-week!”

i felt my stomach churn in embarrassment.  it was elementary school all over again.  i had invited a white friend into my home.  what was i thinking?  it smelled bad, my mom’s weird, my dad’s a freak, and people are going to find out that I’M NOT WHITE!

and then i took a look at myself and realized that what i was feeling wasn’t just embarrassment.  it was racism.

luckily, i have a partner who’s fantastic enough to recognize that.  we talked about it as we were talking home after dinner.  i told him about being embarrassed over who i was, about my culture, about my identity… and he told me he’s experiencing some culture shock, but that it’s nothing he’s upset over.  it’s just a different culture than his and his culture is different from mine and he doesn’t know what it’s like to be made to feel embarrassed over his skin (etc.) and he made me realize that being with a white man, trans or not, i need to look at where this shame over who i am comes from.  because it shouldn’t be there.  at all.

you know what else is great?  that i’m marrying him for a reason: he’s fucking awesome!

for example!  we were talking about the hindu ceremony when i said some changes have to be made.  i am not, for example, being “given away” to anyone as if i’m property to be passed over from one family to another.  my dad asked me why.  i explained that it’s sexist and bullshit (perhaps not in so many words, but still.)  my dad snickered, looked over at trans guy, shook his head and motioned as if, “look at those crazy women!  what can you do!”  i got all fired up and reminded my dad, “what are you looking at him for!?  he’s not going to agree with you.  i married him for a reason.”  to which my dad responded, “calm down!”  CALM DOWN!  look at me, this HYSTERICAL WOMAN, daring to point out his rampant sexism.  alejhtpq29upquhh!!!  i especially love how he tried to form this macho bond with this man who he thinks is cisgender but is fucking trans!!!  i can’t imagine that was very great for trans guy.

but i guess this is what the whole experience is about for us: we’ve both inhabited such different worlds, yet both have been relegated to the margins.  we both experience different privileges and different oppressions.  and we both love each other and we’re both in this healthy relationship that’s caught in the intersection of love and marginalization.

and that’s why we’re writing.