"I am in the place where I should be.
I am breathing water.
I am breathing water.
you know a body's got to breathe."-R.E.M.
Ever get the feeling like you've discovered something new and exciting about yourself, but there's absolutely squat you can do about it where you are? I keep getting that feeling, stuck in my hometown for the summer. It frustrates me to no end, constantly being referred to in the feminine by friends and family alike. I feel like it's impossible to explore my masculinity, my boyishness, when I'm in a town where everybody knows who I am, who my family is, who my friends are, when I graduated high school, where I'm going to college, and all the embarrassing things I did in school. At UMass I could easily be lost among the 23,000 other students, and reinvent myself every day if I wanted to. And, my college friends accept that people change, grow, evolve. They realize that our age is all about finding out who we are, and don't mind if they have to switch pronouns or change names when talking about someone.
I feel like I'm breathing water, slowly drowning by being forced to take up the mantle of who I was in high school. It's hard. I live in white middle class rural small-town America, and my friends here, wonderful as they are, as much as I love and respect them, weren't taught to deal with people changing gender. I don't want to be an asshole and stop responding when people call me "Beth" since that's how they know and look at me here, but some days, it's all I can do to stop myself from yelling at them for it.
I miss being able to hang out with my friends at the Dining Commons for hours talking about Star Trek, or practically living in the Pride Alliance office, or wandering down the hall to chat with people. I miss being lost in the crowd, and finding myself in the process. I miss the ability I had to just camp out on a lawn and people-watch, studying how people expressed themselves just by walking from class to class. I miss arguing over who gets to hold the door open for the others. I miss tickling a friend of mine who shall remain nameless until he yells at me because he has to pee. I miss random hugs, and talking about comic books or cartoons. I miss fashion shows after shopping sprees, and hair dyeing at midnight. I miss talking in the middle of class because we're bored with short stories. I miss debating the difference between "pansexual" and "pansensual" and what gender connotations each has. I'm homesick, but to everyone on this planet, I'm technically home.
I want to express my trannyboy self and just stop responding to my girl name. I want to indulge my inner flamer and let escape the mannerisms of a gentlemanly fag while I still have the fashion (lack of) sense of a butch dyke. I just want to be at home, while I'm home. It's a strange land I inhabit, between genders, creating my own. It's home to me. I'm your average queer guy.
As far as the label game, I keep leaning (this month at least) farther and farther towards trannyboy. Transman sounds way too serious and grown-up for me. I'm still a big kid in a lot of ways, and to go through a second childhood, a boyhood, is something that's very appealing to me. When I was a kid, my grandpa would make me toy swords out of yardsticks, and toy bows out of sticks and string. I need to rediscover the part of myself that can create a whole world in one afternoon of play, with only a yardstick and my imagination for props. I need to be a boy before I can be a guy. If that means getting grass stains on my jeans and tearing holes in the knees like I used to, so be it. Patched jeans may be very 80s, but I never said I had any fashion sense in the first place.
Alex Kimball is a student at UMass-Amherst, a genderqueer trannyboy, and easily reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wanna talk, comment, or insult him.
Special Note: To My Favorite Libra: "You've never looked into my eyes but don't you want to know what the dark and the wild and the different know?" (M.E.)