Empty Hearts On Fire

selected notes of an amateur bostonaut

See Also:

Rachel K. Zall, Viceroy Of Vice


October 24th, 2008

New Journal!


and you should read it

So I've picked a new name and I'm switching journals, which means this is the last post in this journal. This time, I decided to be less obscure and went with girlspacemonkey, partially because I feel like I'm continuously stepping into the unkown here, partially because I am stepping into the unknown -- a fair amount of information on the effects of transistion is just anecdotal -- and partially because I just like monkeys. Doesn't everyone?

So anyway... hopefully I'll see you on the other side and I won't lose too many of my favorite journalers this time (puffpastry! This means you!!)


[EDIT: Oh, also, there's a couple people I did not add to the friends list on the new journal because I haven't had any contact with them in a while -- if you are among these people, please feel free to add the new journal and I'll correct the error!]

On The Red Line


Originally uploaded by Rachel Kz

You should probably know that I'm switching journals again as soon as I've thought of a good user name. Usually I wait for a good plot point (like moving, or a new job) to switch, but this time I just feel like I've sort of outgrown this journal and I'm ready to move on.

I know, I know, attention span of a meth-addicted gerbil... at least I warned you this time!

October 21st, 2008

I Doubt -- Don't You?

(This was born of a discussion in the transgender community, but I'm making it a post here because I think it will go on long and I think my thoughts are wandering far enough that it may not be directly relevant to the fears or concerns of the OP)

I don't believe it when any trans person says they've never questioned that they were male/female.

I can certainly understand why so many people say it, because we live in a world where trans people's genders are either disallowed or tolerated only with clear evidence (usually something meaningless like passability or one's genital configuration). If the answer you're supposed to give is the opposite of the one you're giving, then admitting that there's ever been any doubt offers a clear opening to religious fundamentalists, radical feminists, anti-LGBT hate groups, hesitant friends, resistant parents, frightened lovers. Admitting any uncertainty can come off as an admission of guilt, because we are guilty until proven innocent, and in many people's eyes we will never, ever be proven innocent.

What's more, one never hears cissexual people -- whose genders have the clear-cut undeniability that most trans people long for -- admitting to having doubted their own genders. And I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of them haven't, but I also don't believe that it's because their genders are firm and real. Cissexual people never doubt their genders because cissexual people live in a world in which there is no room to doubt their genders.

See, there's this idea that seems prevalent that doubt arises from being wrong, when in fact, doubt is simply the natural effect of having multiple realistic options. Cissexual people never doubt because they are not offered multiple options -- a cissexual man who likes being a man will not only never be given reason to consider whether he might really be female, but is bombarded with cultural messages that tell him that doing so would be sick, silly, wrong. His lack of doubt isn't because he's definitely a man -- although he is -- it's because he is only presented with one option, and since it's a satisfying option, he'll never need to look further.

It's worth noting that most of the cissexual people I know who have expressed or implied any uncertainty about their genders have done so as a result of coming into the orbit of the transgender community (usually as a result of a partner or friend transitioning), because in the trans community, an endless banquet of options are on the table: in the best parts of our community, one is free to be male, female, both, neither or something else entirely.

But even before or without becoming involved with the trans community, multiple options are on the table for trans people -- and what is more, we live in a world where choosing the best one for you can subject you not just to scorn and derision, but a seemingly-insurmountable wall of very real difficulties and dangers. With even the tiniest bit of reflection, who could possibly look that in the eye and not wonder if maybe they'd be better off going the other way? Who could be told from every corner they're wrong and not wonder even once if it's true?

So, yes, I will confess: not only have I doubted in the past, I still doubt sometimes. I sit up at night sometimes and look at all the change in my life and I wonder, What if I've been wrong? What if this is a mistake and I should have stayed a furniture mover? I question myself all the time -- how I know I'm right is that the answers never change.



An excerpt of an Edison Biograph film from 1903 (silent, of course) shot from the front of a trolley headed to the Public Library in Copley Square here in Boston! How spiffy is that??

(yay for Universal Hub!)

October 20th, 2008

On Self-Respect


OK, a bit of trans introspection, with apologies to anyone hoping for something more entertaining:

I'm trying to psych myself into serious job hunting (rather than the hesitant, anxiety-ridden hunting I've done up until now). Now, this is no tiny feat -- even before I came out, it was a truism that a Rachel unemployed would remain unemployed until acted upon by an outside force. But I've solved many of the problems that have kept me out of work in the past: coming out itself magically cured my crippling depression, little salmon-colored pills take the edge off my anxiety, not looking for "manly" jobs that I'm know ahead of time I'm doomed to be rotten at helps too.

Which means that at this moment, the biggest barrier is my gender itself.

Now, maybe it's just that this is the part that I've been working on for the past year and a half, but it seems to me that the most difficult part of transition, more than getting loved ones to accept you, more than getting random strangers to accept you, more than passing or anything else is learning to accept yourself, learning to think of yourself as a man or woman with an unusual history rather than something "other." No medical treatment or surgery will be enough if you can't come to terms with yourself along the way. (And once you've had everything you could ever need or want, if you still can't find your own footing you'll have to start pushing other people with similar issues away, swearing, no, I'm not like those freaks, I'm normal like you! Honest!)

Having been fiscally denied everything I might have been able to prop up my confidence with (hormones, facial hair removal, surgery, even just occasional passing) I've had to learn this without a net, and I think that's been good for me -- the hard way is always how I learn best, and the issue is dramatically clarified by not having any excuse to look away. But it's been tough trying to so dramatically alter my context, to accept myself as a woman, a lesbian, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a female friend/poet/neighbor/whatever, and there's always a sense of inferiority that I can't quite shake. That sensation that my gender is, if not false like so many sources swear it is, at least inferior. As one of my favorite blogs pointed out the other day, people commonly say "women" to mean cisgender women, but who ever says it to mean trans women? There's always that sense of being fake, of playing out a ridiculous act, that I would not be able to completely shake even if the person serving my coffee didn't say "Have a nice day sir", even if my mother didn't still refer to me by my old name as though nothing had changed, even if my face was smooth, my voice was perfect and my genitals went in the other direction. The only way through is to learn to stand up all on my own, accept myself as a "real" woman even if the people around me don't like it, don't understand it, don't want to understand it.

And that's always the hard part, isn't it? It's daunting to stand against a whole planet that says you're wrong, that you're at best getting above your station and at worst lying outright.

And scarier still to face all that while asking for a job.

October 17th, 2008



Oh, now normally advertising does nothing but irritate me, but popup panty-butterflies? Well played, random underwear company, well played. I think I've opened to that ad about a hundred times and it just never gets any less nifty.

And on the subject of periodicals, K. does not appreciate my reading a magazine instead of paying attention to her, and is not afraid to be completely unsubtle about it if need be.

Cat 1, Magazine 0

October 16th, 2008

[Amanda is sitting in the library playing computer solitaire. She is naked and drinking from a large, mostly-empty glass of wine. On an air mattress next to her, Rachel is curled up on her side reading William Carlos Williams's Paterson. She is fully dressed and K. is walking in tiny circles on her hip, meowing demandingly.]

Rachel: [Reading aloud] "Love is no comforter, rather a nail in the skull."
Amanda: [clicks the mouse twice more obliviously before the quote sinks in and she turns suddenly] What? Wait, are you implying something about us? You cunt!
Rachel: [looking back to her book] See? Doctor Williams knows where it's at.
Amanda: Doctor Williams can kiss my big pale ass!
Rachel: That might be difficult -- he's been dead for 45 years, he probably doesn't have much left in the way of lips.
Amanda: Well he can damn well get out of his grave then! [pauses, turns back to her game for a moment before abruptly turning back again] No, seriously: if I have to drag myself out of bed every damn morning, he can drag his lazy butt out of the grave once to kiss my ass! [turns back to the computer again, glowering, mumbling under her breath:] ...frickin' poets...

This photo will haunt my nightmares forever...

October 14th, 2008

Pardon the silence lately -- Saturday we dashed up to Maine with the marvelous Mister muerl for a beautiful wedding where I got to see a whole gaggle of old friends I haven't seen in forever and hadn't really realized how much I missed until I saw them again. Now, Plan A had been to spend three or four days up in Portland so I could hit the Second Tuesday Slam at the North Star Cafe, but when a couch didn't become available and I ended up coming right home Satuday night, that seemed fine -- there was plenty happening down here that weekend (the second day of the Honk! Festival, kittyarrr's tea party...). Which, of course, is why my sinuses immediately filled up with gooey death. So instead of doing anything fun, I've spent the last several days marching around the apartment in my nightgown sniffling and whining and running into things 'cause cough medicine makes me a little loopy.

*Whine whine whine THUMP whine!*


For those of you who want pix of Adam and Nelle's wedding, I posted my best ones on Facebook (where they should, theoretically, be publicly accessible). For drstrangepork, if he still reads Livejournal, I post this link. For the rest of you, I post this one.

OK, I'm going to go drink tea and whine some more. Bye!


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