Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brothers for the Day

by M. Rich

"You are going to be alright," Hero* hesitated before completing his sentence, "little brother."

Hero mentioned to me a few weeks beforehand that I'm like his "little brother." He really means to tell me that my personality reminds him of his music producer who is a tall, lanky, distracted, goofy looking dude whom he endearingly refers to as his "little brother." But I learn quickly that, in his eyes, I am a "woman." I didn't really consider his refusal to comply to my request that he call me his little brother as serious rejection. Admittedly, I thought I was making a case for myself, self righteously claiming that I, of course, could be his brother. I mean, why not? I knew to him this was an outrageous, request. I ignored the initial hint of rejection and persisted, annoyingly, to get Hero to refer to me as "brother."

Initially my concern was less than that of social change, therefore the strength of my argument dwindled in a representation of gender that was more childish than inspiring, and certainly driven more by the attention I craved rather than the enlightenment I wished to bestow upon revealing my knowledge, a well versed collection of facts I've learned, entitled "my trans-education."

Unfortunately or not, I recognized that this battle was better lost and that my argument was really a waste of energy. Those of you who know me know, I don't have a pronoun preference, so it seems obvious that I really have no interest, nor desire, to learn that respect comes in the form of a title (for which I begged) which is gendered. My own reluctance to accept the differences I've grown into is something I struggle to overcome. It's taken nearly 23 years to understand the value of respecting oneself, and in saying this I'm learning that respect itself is irredeemable. Throughout my life, the differences that I no longer punish myself for signifies my resistance to adhere to false reasoning which we essentially make up in defense and out of fear. Too often do I see how we subject ourselves to fall victim to swearing by the lies we tell ourselves. We've created only distance from ourselves and the in- betweens of difference in the face of change.

Growing up, my self-perspective diminished in the face of my peers whose popularity or opinions won over my own. I am now willed to find my voice, a voice neither she nor he. I prefer that you consider me a brother than a sister, but know also this sense of self is not so much an escape from the former "girl" version of myself - rather it is a means of reclaiming the parts of myself of which I had no knowledge for. There was little language, lagging media, negative thought: I drove like such a girl. I was annoying, one of the girls. I now know trans has always been a part of me like girl has; as I now understand boy will be too.

Despite Hero's outward disapproval, and refusal to comply with my request - that he call me "brother," I forgave him and thought this inability to accept that I might actually identify as a "brother," to be ignorance, an ignorance I had a familiar sense of being wrapped around the skeleton of my childhood and eerily haunting the anatomy of a more matured body. My chosen gender identity stands outside any hetero-normative binary that I once desperately aimed to claim as part, in the part I fit where I was my own version of some kind of girl. So, from my formally hetero-normative viewpoint, I can understand why my complicated, genderless identity is somewhat incomprehensible to one of the most hetero-normative, straight-identified, bio-men, that I can't help but recognize as totally different than myself and most of the people with which I tend to surround myself. But with Hero, I've bickered over gender, the politics of the LGBsilentT and most importantly, remembered the importance of trust, because in time he's proved loyalties that are kept like a brother's. Whether in times of trouble, hassle, or hustle, his willingness to protect me, beyond the bounds of friendship but within his rights as a friend have been well worth maintaining. Even though I knew Hero upheld me to the standards that once agreed with me, in girlhood, altogether I knew he'd learn this was a fantastical version, derived from what science, education and formula remained true to his memory. I understood this really had nothing to do with me. I know no one knows, better than I do, what or who I am. Despite any physical, emotional and/or sociable constructs that were prescribed to my body at birth, assumed by my sex, confines me to this role of which I've somewhat relinquished, and extracted my present understanding in which I've learned to define what identity really is to me, and what in this is possible for one to own.

The role I am assumed to perform upholds a gendered system of which I resent. In voicing his frustration and in misunderstanding me completely, I heard my friend continually contradict himself and insult me. But I understand that his misdirected rage all too well and what causes me to continually to suffer the brunt of one's naïveté. Identity, like circumstance, is always shifting. And like boundaries, our understandings of one another is always just out of reach, just slipping from our grasp. And like motionless bodies, we can't help but move gently down stream before the power that experience evokes in us, inspires us, and eventually causes us to change, as people.

This one morning the prolonged arrival of my friend's words acceptance, brought in respect, an unexpected affirmation- a renewal of faith, an experience invaluable to any one circumstance, and valuable across identities. This reminds me of the truth that lingers on, the truth that is unwavering and loyal to us as individuals, and proves to me worth believing in - this is not the enemy I anticipated meeting, in fact, this is my friend. I believe suddenly that he is my brother, for today. I think it is this part of me that you can't name, nor take away; it's the untainted, the glimmer in my eye that sees each day like a new born, one of bewilderment and unlimited possibility. I know this much is worth something and worth reclaiming, again and again throughout the course of my life. Because with respects to myself, and to others I see in my faith, the fate of change.

*Hero is the name I have chosen to use to protect the identity of the person who inspired this blog post.

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