Transgender Warning: Transgender stuff to follow!

Transgender Warning: Transgender stuff to follow!
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Monday, July 23, 2007

vice versa by Julia Serano

i almost forgot about her
buried alive in the back of my mind
at the time
i was a twenty-six year old closet case
self-described occasional crossdresser
and she was just like me
only vice versa

i met her in kansas city
at my first transgender support group meeting
the chairs were set up in a circle
and most of the seats were filled
with transvestites in their 40s and 50s
painstakingly dressed
wearing sunday's best
floral prints
and muted pinks
with just a hint of five o'clock shadow
looking strangely sweet
almost equal parts aunt and uncle
and she seemed so out of place there
the only one in t-shirt and jeans
and genetically speaking
she was the only girl in the room
and chronologically
we were the only two in our twenties

after the meetings minutes
and a guest speaker from mary kaye
offering make-up tips
she introduced herself to me
she told me her name was joan
i told her mine was tom
and after a bit of random chit chat
she asked if i wanted to hang out some time
and i said sure
and a week later we did

i drove to topeka where she lived
and i remember
the two of us sitting on her bed
listening to tom lehrer
on her portable cassette player
when i asked her what her deal was
she said she wasn’t sure what to call herself exactly
she was attracted to men
but when she masturbated
she imagined herself with a penis topping them
and i could tell she was embarrassed
until i told her
that i knew exactly what she meant
because i was just like her
only lesbian

so i told her
the first time i told anyone
about when i was in the seventh grade
and had the biggest crush on kathy patterson
and every pre-teen fantasy i had about her
began with me being turned into a girl somehow
and only afterwards
would we run away together

then joan told me
about her high school boyfriend
who told her he was gay
and she replied
that she wasn't surprised
and that she liked him that way

and we told our gender histories
like we were swapping war stories
experiences we couldn't share
with our families or friends
because they were never there
and they would never understand
but that night
sitting on joan's bed
for the first time in my life
i didn't feel
quite so much like an alien

and the last time i saw her
was a saturday evening we spent
watching a star trek next generation re-run
the episode where beverly crusher
falls in love with a trill
and we both sat still on her couch
next to one another
and when our bodies touched
we knew that it was the first human contact
that either of us had in a while
and at one point
i put my arm around her
and she leaned into me
and it felt like we were pretending
that i was the he
and she was the she

and for a moment
i thought one thing might lead to another
maybe we'd make out on her sofa
and wake up naked next to one another
and somehow it almost made sense
like we were each other's long lost complement
the way two odd numbers add up
to make an even
but the problem was
we weren't really a perfect match
we were more like exact replicas
the same only vice versa
and while there was definitely some mutual attraction
nothing ever happened
because after all
i wasn't a gay man
and she wasn't a lesbian

now it's eight years later
and i'm not in kansas anymore
i'm a woman living in oakland
and that bedroom in topeka
literally feels like a lifetime ago
and every now and again
when i find myself feeling alone
i think about joan
and i wonder how he's doing

Sorry Julia, I just had to borrow this to share. When I hit the end of this poem I cried like a baby.

I purchased your book last Thursday at Nashville's Outload Books & Gifts after I protested the presidents visit here, but I have not ready it yet, but I can hardly wait.
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