Surprise! The Seat Filler part 3 of 3; Final Thoughts and Reflections

After a week and a half of holding onto this final puzzle piece I am now emotionally ready to release the final surprise part three to The Seat Filler.

How long can you go 100mph before you get a ticket? I feel like we are traveling at such a monumental pace that we are bound to be pulled over or crash and burn. The reality is I’m playing with fire and I often do because I feel most at home doing so, the likelihood is we will crash and burn one day, BUT I will be one of those survival stories walking away with only a few scratches. I came to the conclusion that my heart will heal and new opportunities will arise and replace what is lost.

As much as I absolutely hate to admit it he is special to me and what makes it more difficult to own is that I question how special I am to him. Many times I feel like another number in line at a bakery and other times, from his own words he wants to take on the world together and “manage each others careers” and be “unicorns” I feel the pull of these two extremes like I’m nothing to him, all the way to a place I think is a lot for me to digest.

Katie Costello sings the lyrics “Nobody’s perfect.Thank you for reminding me again, my friend, When we would lay with my face in your neck I would confess there’s no place I’d rather be, And I can’t convince you to not make me cry” his imperfections allow me to hate him just enough to remind me of reality, that this is and will only be a period in our lives. The first time I heard this song three weeks ago I knew she captured perfectly the internal feelings I had about our friendship. And weirdly enough the other night we were laying on my living room floor lost in a daze and this song played from his phone. It was like a sign encouraging me to release this final piece, this final post, a conclusion of my feelings on “us.”

I remember the illusion he saw from the first time we’d spent time together alone. I was this leggy, glammed up, very obviously trans girl, who naturally attracted lots of attention and looks from the people around us. He knew very little about me and I knew very little about him. I seemed unbothered and nearly unaware of the attention I attracted, the same attention he couldn’t help but to notice and marvel at. I believe what was more intriguing to him was the lack of awareness I had to the whole situation simply because it was something that I’d grown accustom to. He tells me he still has a similar image of that girl, but now he realizes she’s a woman. He attracted to the confidence that I exude.

Recently he pointed out to me that he’d been pushing for my friendship for sometime and my reply to him was “Um no you have not,”. When he began to point out the ways and times in which he tried to reach out to in hopes of building a bridge I realized that I unknowingly put up road blocks. I was so used to protecting myself and maintaining this distance from people and especially black men, my mind has learned to function on auto pilot and it became a second nature. It forced me to think about how many other times I may have unknowingly pushed people away.

More than a year after the first time he and I spent time together I’ve grown from this girl into a woman. A woman he (says he) loves, the woman who has created The Cis Jungle in efforts to support her community and be a bit more transparent and unguarded. Now he sees through the initial illusion he had of me and this now known reality of me he finds even more appealing and alluring.

I am learning to let go and allow the the future to predict the future.

Survival 101- grief part 1

Alexander posted a comment in response to my last topic What Does it Mean to Fully Transition? And in this topic I will attempt to answer those questions in another two part response. Alexander said “I would love to know about that initial reaction of a trans individual when receiving the news that another sibling has fallen to murder or suicide. I want to know how does the trans community create space for the sorrow in how people are feeling and how do you take care of yourself in the face of all this adversity.” In part one I will discuss my perspective on how the trans community has been affected by the recent death that’s plagued us. And in part two I will discuss self care in the midst of adversity.

I have to admit I don’t necessarily have the most “normal” reaction after hearing about someone’s death. I generally try to ignore it and move on rather quickly, I’ve always been that way even as a child I refused to cry at funerals and refrain from getting too emotionally involved. I think it may simply be my personal way of coping with the situation, in a bizarre way I prepare for people to leave me sooner or later but that’s an entirely different topic about trust issues. Specifically as it relates to the trans community it’s a bit of an unreal feeling when you hear another trans person has lost their life to suicide or homicidal violence. I think every trans person momentarily puts themselves in place of that person. When your walking home from the bar down the street from your house and a car full of cis men cat call you and when they realize you’re trans they point a gun directly in your face (fortunately that hasn’t been my reality) or when life has become so overwhelming that you plan your suicide and you can see the end vividly. The fear and pain sits deeper than the loss of a community member, it hurts and scares you because you know it could be you. You know while these situations may not be the same you know that they are very parallel to your life. I asked a room of 4 trans people and 1 queer identified person if they have ever thought about suicide and all five people raised their hand. Why is this normal?

Unfortunately for a plethora of reasons the trans community doesn’t seem to have a unified space where we can exist as our authentic selves and share experiences and concerns with other people who understand us. The University of Cincinnati’s LGBTQ center is a great attempt at that but it’s often suppressed by a sense of bureaucracy and school politics beyond the control of anyone with a genuine interest in the trans community. It’s so difficult to sift through these feelings alone and isolated. Trying to navigate the world while simultaneously placing grief for the loss of a community member seems near impossible but somehow those of us who survivor manage to do so.

Check out part 2 on self care!

What Does it Mean to Fully Transition?

Yesterday I was graced with the opportunity to discuss The Cis Jungle on The Talk UC and in light of that I am going to switch gears a bit and change topics. Instead of talking about gender identity vs. sexual orientation I’ve been asked by Alexander the host of The Talk UC to explore what it means to fully transition. I think this is a perfect topic to follow up with from my previous posts The Body Image Issue parts 1 and 2. What does it mean to fully transition? What does a fully transitioned person look like?

You can find the answer lies in a sea of gray. For each trans person the end goal is different. It shouldn’t be assumed that all trans men prefer a masculine body or all trans women prefer a feminine body. Those who are intersex and non- binary are perfect examples of this, because they don’t fit into a gender binary system. how do you know what physical features they prefer? The simple answer is you don’t. For each individual that answer varies.

For those who choose to medically transition it takes time, money and resources which aren’t necessarily attainable for all people. For some physically transitioning is not at all a want or desire, simply identifying and living as the correct gender is enough for them. For a number of others hormone replacement therapy is one path and for an even smaller population
a number of surgeries including genital reassignment surgery is an option.

Transitioning for trans people is such a physical and visual change but because the changes are often so easily seen from the outside looking in there is so much mental and emotional growth that is missed in the process. We as trans people have explored and though about and questioned identity in many ways that our cis community has not. The gender binary system validates cis identities so why would they have the need to question or explore their identities. As I dig further into the idea of what it means to fully transition and the ideas of what I want and expect from my own body I began to realize that these views of who I am and what I want physically align with the binary ideas of what a woman is. But what is a woman really? What do all women have in common? The response to that is only one thing, they all self identify as women. Every single woman has a different body, varying shades of skin color, height and stature and dreams and aspirations.

Is it fair to say everyone transitions? Trans people are not the only ones who change. From the moment we enter this world we constantly mold and change ourselves to fit who we are or who society says we should be. The changes are sometimes small and subtle like ear piercings and shaving and dying your hair or larger things such as liposuction and nose jobs. We all transition every single person on this planet. I believe the true difference is the authenticity in which we transition. Are the changes you make to and in your life reflective of your authentic self and do they represent your own truth or are they reflective of who the world says you should be? I believe that’s a question anyone cis or trans needs to ask themselves, who is the authentic you and are you living your truth. Pondering this topic and searching my soul for the honest answer to what does it personally mean for me to fully transition I find myself questioning some of the things that I want and expect for my own body. Truthfully some parts of me want to conform to these societal expectations and societal definitions of womanhood. Other parts of me have always felt that there were things I wanted to change and alter about my body, even a decade ago when I thought I was a boy because the world told me I was and I identified as a young gay boy staying up past his bed time flipping through the pages of Vogue magazine and marking makeup looks and hair styles I wanted to try.Though even looking deeper into that I was influenced at a young age by the beauty and fashion industry. I always expected something very specific of my appearance and body. Those who know me know I strive for the best physical appearance. I loved fashion and I still do it has been my best friend. And I view myself as a glorified hanger, I work for fashion, I live for fashion. And in order to do my job well the way I view myself physically has to be absolute perfection I don’t necessarily have to be a size two or have lighter skin or have the perfect nose because that’s not what perfection is to me. It is difficult to define what perfection is to me but it lies somewhere between reality and the fantasy fashion creates. I want to live as me authentically and unapologetically. When the physical changes of my body and the true essence of my authentic self meet and collide I will have fully transitioned. I don’t know what that will look like or how that will feel but when I fully transition I will know, it will be intuitive.

It’s not that I want to be a woman, it’s that I just am, it’s who I have always been and will always be regardless of what my body does or doesn’t look like regardless of how many or how few body alterations I have. I am Christian Jackson a trans WOMAN of color.

Thanks Alex for the topic idea, you’ve challenged me to stop and reevaluate my ideas and thoughts on my own transition!

– Christian XOXO!

The body Image issue pt 1of 2

Everyday the human body is under attack, under scrutiny and under investigation. The media and the patriarchal hierarchy society that we are victims of train us to shame our own bodies. Fashion, the beauty industry, media portrayals of success, television and film and our government support and play on our insecurities and especially target women, the LGBTQ community and more specifically trans people feel the pressures of body image issue everyday. Throughout this writing I will explore a few different ways that we all as humans endure and suffer from body image issues and in part 2 of this topic I will explore how body image effects trans lives and explicitly how it effects me in my everyday life.

Khloe Kardashian and even Wendy Williams have both been targets of media scandals in the past where their womanhood and cis identities were attacked. I came across an article online and the heading read “Is Khloe Kardashian a man?”. The article went on to say “she’s really big and wears those 7 inch heels. That’s a sure sign of a tranny.” There are two major issues; the first problem is language. There seems to be no distinct understanding that there is a difference between “a man” and a “tranny” and the term “tranny” itself which is actually a trans person. Society tries to shame trans identities by using words like “tranny” or referring to trans women as men, reinforcing the notion that trans identities are not real. The second issue with the statement from the article is that it encourages the belief of being a woman of a certain height and deciding to wear tall heels or anything deemed “extra” your identity is then questionable and you are not cis enough so you must be trans. Wendy Williams has endured so much harassment about her cis status that she’s made a public statement to abc news saying she understands why her identity is being questioned. She shares that because she’s tall, has strong features and wears wigs she’s always endured verbal harassment. The constant harassment and policing of her identity pushed her to make a public announcement to confirm she is cis. Our society urges us to believe that strong features and height on a woman is not beautiful or unnatural therefore her womanhood needs to be questioned.

On Americas Next Top Model as well as Million Dollar Matchmaker there were two women called out and interrogated about the authenticity of their breasts. In a nation that demands perfection we purposely try to discredit those who alter their bodies in their own search of perfection. I’ve always truly loathed the question “Are your breasts real?”because the opposite of real is fake. Simply because someone decides to have breast augmentation doesn’t mean that their breasts are “fake” because they in fact do exist so they are real, augmented or not. What is the benefit of gaining that sort of personal information do? Their breasts are already different and it’s not likely that they will change them so why ask? How does how many or how few surgeries a person has had determine their womanhood manhood or non binary status? The only purpose behind these questions is to attempt to scrutinize a persons identity, and letting that person know that they are not perfect as their bodies are not their own and therefore up for public debate.

Breasts are not the only thing in question and deemed as ‘fake’ I have often had my hair questioned. I love a versatility of of hair styles and I have worn a countless number of weaves, a few wigs and my natural hair throughout my lifetime. People often assume that no matter what my hair looks like that I’m wearing a wig. I can recollect the very day several years ago when I went to a salon and received my first Brazilian blowout with my natural hair and later that day when I went to work my manger questioned if I was wearing a wig, it was neither a wig or weave it was all my hair. And more recently someone made a comment about me sleeping in my wig and after telling him my hair was not a wig it was a weave he grabbed a fist full of my hair on the scalp of my head head and pulled at it telling me he was “just checking”. Even someone I met for the the very first time said to me “I like your wig”. And when having causal conversation with someone I’d only met twice she spoke about wigs and referenced me pointing to my hair. Where do these assumptions come from? For the record I do want to state that I am not upset nor do I hold any type of animosity at all with any of them but it’s not appropriate to assume anything about another persons being because in this specific case they were all wrong, I was not wearing a wig. Because of what they said to me it began to cause me to question my own identity and way of being. Is there something about my natural hair or weaves that look “wig-ish” or was this simply something they assumed because I was trans and trans identities are often associated with the idea of a costume (a false identity) that included a wig. It’s important that we take responsibility for our use of language and how we inquire about another’s identity or being because we can cause insecurity where there was none.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Next Topic: The Body Image issue pt. 2 of 2