Unsex Me Here

Dimitri Tavadze; Year: 1963; Shakespeare – Macbeth

“Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty.”

-Lady MacBeth, as written by my favorite bard.


Gender is fucking complicated. And this post is not meant to be instructional, but I’m happy to provide a small sliver of a guiding principal for those seeking it: the least we all can do is take folx at their word when they tell us their gender.

Now, I shall proceed with the rant that is bubbling up from my gut. I have run into a fetid river of hate-filled sludge around gender this very week — and so have you, in case you weren’t looking.

My friend, long-since transitioned, told me he went to a psychiatrist to ask about a family history of mental illness, and all the (old, white) man wanted to talk about were his “gender problems.” This is a person in a very real, very dangerous position with his health. He needed help right at that very moment, and even if he didn’t, fuck you in particular, man.

Make thick my blood.

It’s been a year and a fucking half since North Carolina, one of my former home states, passed their insidious HB2 drivel, and advocates are still fighting to let trans folx JUST LITERALLY USE THE FUCKING BATHROOM. Every time a news story tells me they’re making progress, I click with bated breath and read hungrily for the resolution that just won’t seem to come. Halfway down the page, we always arrive at a but-it-still-has-to-pass-the-House-of-Representatives situation.

Come, thick night, and pall these assholes in the dunnest smoke of hell.

Call me basic if you will, but the microaggression that actually got my blood boiling this morning was the wedding planning app I downloaded on my phone. Despite asking upfront if I was marrying a “bride” or a “groom,” (person was not an option), it auto-created a budget for me complete with gendered EVERYTHING. Groom’s suit, groomsmen, and nothing on there about the rehearsal dinner because I’m supposed to understand via the great mysteries of the oral tradition, inherited instinct, and Emily Post that the bride’s parents pay for the wedding and the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner. Well, butter my biscuits, y’all, I just cannot even with this shit. It doesn’t feel like any of this should still be a problem in 2017. All it takes is a bit of intention and a willingness to trust people who are not cishet white dudes.

Lady MacBeth’s unsex me speech is one of my favorites, because she (well, Shakespeare) believes that she has to unwoman herself in order to do dark deeds. In this passage, she asks for her blood to run thick and her menstrual cycle to stop, so that she *cannot* *access* *compassion* *through* *her* *vagina* folks. Also, please could some demons turn her milk into bitter acid? They’re just hanging around anyway.

Make thick my blood.
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief.

Is it my menstrual cycle that’s been preventing me from violently attacking my enemies for all of this time? What a delicate little surprise. We’ve all had to screw our courage to the sticking place at one time or another, but it takes really quite someone to beg for our gender to be ripped away by demons so that we won’t turn back.

Now that I’ve dropped briefly into my comfort zone by explaining Shakespeare passages, it’s important at this point to admit that I am also angry with myself. My person is ok with she/her or they/them pronouns. I switch back and forth. Sometimes, I switch because I know the person I’m speaking with won’t understand they/them. I often find that I revert to she/her in crowds. What kind of cowardly bullshit is that? I know that it’s a good and necessary part of the process to teach people, especially as an ally, yet I auto-conform to the perceived comfort of the masses. I’m one step away from acting like this dastardly wedding planning app, and I don’t even help you make your china registry, so.

I want to do better for my trans and nonbinary friends. I want to do better for me, because gender is a part of me, but it’s not all of me. When I chose not to have a child, for example, I thought of it as one of multiple paths before me. To many, I am missing out on the most important part of womanhood.

Take my milk for gall.

Well, I say that womanhood is what I make of it, and so is being a person. Maybe you could do better with me, too, dear reader. Maybe together, we can let go of some of the more toxic and less useful parts of gender conditioning and learn to see the people around us a complex, beautiful, and worthy of respect. I’d like that.

National Coming Out Day

For everyone who found it easy, for those who struggled, for those who did it in fits and starts, and for those who haven’t, happy  National Coming Out Day.

I’m so happy to live in a world where being queer is often a non-issue. But let’s not kid ourselves. It has been hard and for many it still is. Today matters. Visibility matters.

The Boot Is the Thing

I have in my possession the greatest pair of boots ever made. They’re 8-eyelet Dr. Martens and they are covered in a pastel pink rainbow of pure glitter. Here is a photo of the actual boots that I actually own.

You’re welcome for having seen them.

I saw them through the store window and I was immobilized with glee. As I walked in the store, I was telling my friends, “I’m an adult.” The salesperson who helped me said, “I heard you say you’re an adult, but a lot of people have these! They’re not just for kids.” I replied, “oh, you misunderstood. I meant that I’m an adult with an income and I can buy these boots if I want to.” I’ve never had less buyer’s remorse.

As I was trying them on, Love leaned over and whispered, “wedding boots?” I laughed at the time, but I swear I have been planning our entire wedding around an aesthetic that can support my wearing these boots. (boots → I should grow my hair longer → long puffy dress → maybe not a quiet Quaker wedding → consider an urban venue → brunch crawl → party feel → public vows → etc.)

These boots are my due north. They’re my little sparkly heart, heat-sealed and stitched onto an AirWair™ sole. I’ve written two posts today. The other is about the constant doubt that comes with being a non-traditional bride. This one’s about the upside.

How To Be Fat But Act Like a Regular Human: Wedding Edition

I think being engaged is basic-ing me up a bit.

I think it does this to most of us. I’ve dedicated a non-insignificant portion of my life to rallying against the supposition that I have to be married to be whole, good enough, normal. But as I begin planning our wedding, I have said the following things to my partner (and meant them):  ⇐ accidental punctuation frown that fits

  • We can get married in a church. Yes, I know we don’t want to. But we can. Maybe we should?
  • I want to grow out my hair.
  • I should quit my job in reproductive health. Yes, I know they’re wrong and I’m right, but wouldn’t it be easier?
  • Baby, we’ve discussed this. Wedding dress. Taco bar. Wedding Dress. Taco bar. [[shakes head]]
  • and not to my partner, but many times to myself: I should go on a diet.

Now, I can admit that this is all ridiculous. But as I told my person with tears in my eyes, it wasn’t easy for them coming out in a conservative family in the south, and now I want us to be unquestionably appropriate. I want them all to stop and think hey, they’re just like us, and what a happy perfect couple, maybe I’ve been an ass. These are people who are kind to me, so it’s not about evening my own score. I want vindication for the memory of the heartbroken seventeen-year-old version of my partner who lived through that.

All wrapped up in this, as in most everything about me, is my fat identity. If I’m thinner, won’t I love myself more? If I’m thinner, won’t I be more appropriate and less objectionable? Won’t I fit into small spaces and polite society? Won’t I make my partner proud? Won’t I be beautiful?

I’ve kept traditional body expectations at bay in part by keeping traditional roles at arm’s length. So here I am, face to face with one of the most conventional roles women can experience, and it scares the shit out of me. I don’t know how to begin to frame the word “bride” as a part of who I am, and when I think about how to align that with fatness, I get overwhelmed and stop trying.

I have this image in my mind of a slightly poofy white dress with pink accents, an updo with pink streaks, and my new pink glitter rainbow Doc Martens. Punk princess fat bride style with a huge grin. It’s a great fantasy, but I don’t know how I could possibly be strong enough to make it through an appointment at some [[shudder]] bridal store. I can’t conceive of coming out with my self-esteem in one piece after they put too-small dresses around my fat body, pillowing out where my small breasts are, held up with binder clips, and tied together in the back with elastic for the parts that won’t fit over my wide, round tummy. I’ll be in tatters.

The message will be clear: I am not normal. Fatness is not normal, and within fatness, my shape is not normal. I do not fit.

Where are the fat feminist discount bridal boutiques? Can you point toward the queer part of Pinterest? Who has written a guidebook for manners and behavior with the given understanding that gender is a social construct? How can I build a social event to celebrate in our communities, but also nurture the private and sacred nature of our love? And how will I ever, ever, ever go dress shopping?

Instead, I stay focused on the idea that I get to marry the greatest person I’ve ever known. They’re perfect. (Objectively true, and on the internet, so proven fact.) I’ve thrown myself into venue research. I’m making appointments, tracking prices and policies, building an aesthetic and a budget and a dream of something that we’ll call ours. But I can feel a panic on the edges of my body, pushing in past my soft edges. Being a bride is for the beautiful, it says, and fat women are not beautiful.

This, I know, is bullshit and yet I feel it in my bones. This is poison, yet I drop it in my morning coffee.

Excuse me, I have to go make some spreadsheets.