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.

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