If there is a binary, I fall between it. Racially, I am half-white, half-Chinese. Culturally, I never identified with either despite being raised by my Chinese grandparents- a certain political leader effectively silenced any desires for my family to delve into traditions and memories associated with the Cultural Revolution, and let’s just say that my white-half is more of a wandering capitalist breed than the firm Anglo-Saxon protestant breed they claim to be. In terms of my gender, I’m a boi who binds.
Explaining all of this to my steadfast American grandparents was a rare opportunity to endure a thorough aesthetic critique. My facial piercings became symbols of the antichrist; my Mohawk was pure savagery. We had a common country, a common language, and perhaps even a common childhood experience in suburban America. The thought of broaching the same subject with my Chinese grandparents, whose home lay in communist China, whose English comprehension is humorously questionable (I often check-mate my Grandpa in “cheese”), and whose unspoken traditions promoted the same binaries I fell between, was daunting. I avoided it.
Not seeing my Chinese grandparents for a while, I decided to send them a recent picture of myself through an email. The following is part of the email I received back from my Grandpa:
“The photos are so cute and we love them, the single one of you is very good and like a BOY! Grandma says that you run to fast to come to the world that miss the important signals for a male that must to have, it just a kidding!”
The misspelled words and wonderfully mis-executed idioms speak volumes. Clearly there is a common bond between us that goes beyond mere blood relations. Yes, I am a genderqueer trannyboy, but they are “trans” too… against all odds, they transcended language, culture, and history to transcend the gender binary with me.