I give thanks for you. For the gifts you bring into the world. For the happiness, courage, and faith you inspire within others. For the love you so selflessly share, and the wisdom you carry and offer without judgement. I give thanks for your parents, who knowingly or not raised you to be this perfect version of yourself. I give thanks for your children, who will make the world a better place because they learned from you that life is only meaningful when lived generously. I give thanks for your friends, the ones I know and don't know, who have been there for you when you needed them, to cry with and laugh with and grow with. I give thanks to life, who has somehow seen fit to bring us together, and I give thanks to death, who teaches us the true value of the time we share.
A note of clarification: For the record (and for the moment) I just wanna say that I don't really identify as a "trans woman." I'm absolutely transsexual, that's awesome, and after my surgeries I guess I'll have the appearance of being biologically female, but here's the thing about being a woman, which I am not and don't ever (at this moment) expect to be: The term "Woman" implies a very specific assemblage of social and cultural expectations, pressures, and experiences that I will never fully understand or undergo completely. As a feminist I honor the sacred and politicized positions that Women occupy throughout the world. My position, whatever it ends up being, will always be that of a person who grew up in a male body with the privileges and pressures that experience affords. Even if my renunciation of that body (and those privileges) marginalizes me as "other," that other is not, in my opinion, "Woman." Having a vagina will not make me a woman any more than having a penis has made me a man. It will, however, make me something altogether different, which I find exciting and truthful.
As celebrated writer and landmark feminist Audrey Lorde has stated, "poetry is not a luxury." The expression of one's interior self is a political act of agency and visibility, especially when one occupies a marginalized position. To anyone trying to make it in the entertainment industry, you know that our lives consist of endless self-promotion until the point at which others believe our work/voice/opinion/point of view has value. To anyone trying to change genders, you know that our lives are a constant negotiation of risks, trials, emotional fortitude and (hopefully) personal victory and transformation. To those unfamiliar with either territory, welcome. Here are some other fine ways to make sense of it all…
I'm gonna be real for a second. I made a decision, a big one, one that took a long time to make. A decision staved off by many years of depression and avoidance and self-abuse and fear. And during that dark, confusing, frustrating time, I still managed to get a lot of shit done, and still managed to be a pretty good person to my friends, my family, and my community. Even if I wasn't the best person to myself.
Now, this decision I made was probably the first fully self-loving act I have ever undertaken. And I know I'm not the only person who struggles with showing themselves kindness. It's not easy. Especially when the kindness I show myself, the charity of being authentic, sets me up for a lot of cruelty and scrutiny from others, and demands a great deal of pain and financial investment on my own account.
In many ways my gender transition has become an all consuming thing. In many ways I'm happier than I've ever been, and in many ways I'm just as terrified as I was before I took action. But life still goes on. It's not like the word stops and says, "ok, you can go deal with your big life change and we'll pick you up back here when you're done." No, we still have to find work, pay bills, do laundry...
And so what does it really mean, to me at least, to be doing ONE WOMAN SHOW now? Tomorrow night. At 54 Below. Really.
I am saying to all the people who call me brave, "here's everything I've been running from." I am saying to my industry, my beloved creative community, "here is everything I'm capable of sharing." And I'm saying to anyone who's ever pushed me down and shamed me, "here's my transexual cock, suck it."
And what's more, I'm doing it all at Broadway's Supper Club in the basement of the old Studio 54, where the walls drip of a decadent legacy and the palpable history is only sweetened by the great divas and rising stars who've graced New York's newest stage!
It feels like a righteous act, to claim space, to claim visibility, to proclaim acceptance, perhaps my own first and foremost, but also that of my friends, colleagues, contemporaries, mentors, and hell, the establishment even. But as much as I'm emboldened by the task, I'm equally scared of the outcome. That's just life, I guess. The risk we take to venture into the unknown.
The show will be great, I'm sure. And tomorrow night I'll close it out with a new song written by my dear friend, Joe. He's given me the gift of singing my own words, in his:
"But what if this transition is the thing by which I am defined? What happens to the human the transition will just leave behind? What happens to me when I'm She?"
I guess we'll find out soon enough.