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What it means

  • Posted on November 10, 2021 at 9:01 pm

This is what it means to be trans
to get up – in the morning, put your clothes on
and face the world.
This is what it means to be trans
to face the world – take the car to work
and drive.
This is what it means to be trans
to drive – and when asked for whatever reason
show your licence.
This is what it means to be trans
to show your licence, know it represents you
without questions.
This is what it means to be trans
to face questions – when being yourself always
means different.
This is what it means to be trans
to be different – yet confident, ready to explain
but avoiding.
This is what it means to be trans
to avoid – your history, leave yourself behind
sometimes to lie.
This is what it means to be trans
to lie – with someone you love, find comfort
and it doesn’t matter.
This is what it means to be trans
it doesn’t matter – when you’re trusted, only when
you aren’t.
This is what it means to be trans
you aren’t – safe online, in theory or ideology
because sex.
This is what it means to be trans
because sex – is a word and gender isn’t to some
you’re unreal.
This is what it means to be trans
when you un-reel, unwind, lose yourself, dare
simply to love.
This is what it means to be trans
to love – simply, uncomplicated without script
or licence.
This is what it means to be trans
to be licensed – to be driven and to face the world
with permissions.
This is what it means to be trans
to be permitted – to be conditional, debated, dressed
in everyone’s fears.
This is what it means to be trans
to face those fears – go home, take off your clothes
and address the night.

2021©Andie Davidson

Why it is never over

  • Posted on July 9, 2021 at 7:22 pm

Today is one of those days, the sort you are reminded of, which you would have been reminded of, but for which there is no need. It’s a mark on the calendar. On our calendar it is one of many births, marriages and deaths. This one is a birthday: my daughter is 30 today. I haven’t seen her for ten years now, so we have never known each other as adults. In those years many people have said ‘you never know, she might one day …’. But I don’t think so. Not now.

This isn’t public grieving, or looking for sympathy, just a note of what happens and how you keep finding that something is gone. I saw my marriage going down against all hope as I moved into transition. It wasn’t my decision and perhaps I was naïve to think that love could overcome becoming real. But this I didn’t see, and never had any meaningful conversation to engage with her over what was a deeper divorce. I am not alone, however many good stories I read of families that survive and thrive one member’s transition. I often wished that could have been mine.

So that was then and nothing has changed. But it also means I can’t talk to anyone about her, or ask after her and get any meaningful answers. I hope she is happy; I think she probably is. But hers is a life where I can never be supporting, listening, caring or doing and celebrating any of the things a normal parent does. I find it easier never to mention her because I have nothing to add, and people will always ask what happened, and if that means explaining about the problem of being trans, it adds more uncertainty about how much people know, understand, accept, or are kind.

It is never over.

I still think that her explanation about her father is either that he is dead or that he walked out. I guess I did, but that was because I could not hold myself together still loving someone after 30 years, who was daily moving away out of touch. And my daughter just made sure she was never there, not asking or finding out. You can’t persuade a trans person to ‘be both’, to be a little bit, even, of what they are not. We all needed to face it as it was and failed. And that is where the grief still lies, probably on all sides. And so I am either dead or a deserter, but anyway, happy birthday.

I find it very uncomfortable still, watching films and dramas in which the plot revolves around relationships breaking up in predictable ways, not out of badness, but out of the way the characters are framed. I see it coming and I am squirming: why did the writer make this happen? Why did they have to wreck lives, break families up, destroy loving well-meaning people who were doing their best?

One we have just been watching had a character trying to define love, so they would know when they found it. ‘You make me a better person’ was one way of knowing. So long as it doesn’t lead to dependence and conditionality. It is quite close to my skeptical definition ten years ago of ‘You make me the person I want to be.’ When that happens the other can’t grow, not even into what they could be, and you feel that the other is taking something away from you, if they do grow.

I have grown into more of what I should be, into more of what I am. I don’t know much about my family as was, but I would rather I could help them be better people than have to play dead. I am happy, absolutely and, I think, a better person who they will never know.

Families with trans members need support, and that was conspicuously missing for mine. I hope that one day my daughter will understand just enough to know it didn’t have to be like this.

Rolled up

  • Posted on February 9, 2020 at 5:39 pm

I come to you, not with baggage
but a rolled-up carpet, a rug
of dust, footprints and wear.
Sometimes it unrolls – something
pulls it back under my feet.
I hold its pattern, heavy, marked
by soles not just my own.
Textures and smells return years,
a memory becomes a feeling,
a footprint stands out, named.

You’re troubled by my silence,
unseeing where I stand
eyes dimmed, coursing, distant.
I’m still here, but so is everything,
not visiting but layered – sometimes
today is not opaque enough to see;
closure not what it seems.
You can seal a bag, but my rug,
my carpet, rolls on, past and present
curled close, over and over.

2019 © Andie Davidson

Orientation: Portrait

  • Posted on June 7, 2019 at 8:42 pm

I’m sitting in front of the big portrait mirror, watching the incremental improvement in my hair under the expert scissors of my lesbian hairdresser. I can talk comfortably about my partner – and hers – and indeed about being trans. I told her early on, half presuming it was already obvious from my thin hair on top, my characteristic hairline, and to signal that I was OK to be identified. I started coming here on recommendation of my partner, so ‘coming out’ as gay had already been done by proxy, though it was into my first cut that I realised…

Cereal Killer

  • Posted on June 2, 2019 at 7:38 pm

It came from the supermarket, like every other time. A box of cornflakes. It went into the cupboard to wait for the last packet to be finished. It was one hurried morning on the way to other things that it was opened, bowl and milk at the ready. The flap was opened, the inner pulled apart and wheesh! Into the bowl. My bowl. Breakfast.

Something was wrong and only I seemed to notice. Everyone too busy, but it was my bowl, my breakfast. The milk was already in, and I could hear it. Snap, crackle and pop is how it is usually described. And cornflakes don’t do that. I ate the cereal. I enjoyed it, even though this was not what we usually bought.

The next morning I asked for rice krispies.

No, you don’t like them, have your usual cornflakes. Here.

I took the box and was about to pour my new option into the bowl, when I almost said: these are rice krispies, aren’t they? But I didn’t. Everyone was as rushed as usual, nobody noticed. I enjoyed.

On Saturday I said nothing, and poured my cereal.

Why are you eating rice krispies? Where did you get those from?

Indignation! I explained that all week, I had been using the cornflakes packet and enjoying rice krispies. My mother grabbed the box off the table, scrutinised the outside, scrabbled into the inner, shook it and sniffed.

This is wrong! They’ve put the wrong thing in. It’s too late to take it back now. You should have said. Krispies are cheaper too, so I’ll have to complain next time we go shopping.

I like rice krispies … I began to explain, already halfway through the bowl, my mouth still crackling with a spoonful.

Don’t talk while you’re eating. It’s rude. And you like cornflakes; you always have.

I looked at the picture on the box, feeling chastened for bucking the trend, for departing from the norm.

Serving suggestion. I began to wonder which the variables were that made this a disclaimer from disappointment. Was it the milk? Or that you didn’t have to use a blue-striped bowl? Was the spoon optional so you could drink it up from the edge of the bowl? Or was it the cornflakes?

On Sunday I asked for rice krispies. The box was tabled assertively in front of me.

You can have cornflakes as usual, OK? These are cornflakes. And it you have to pretend, pretend, but you can see what’s on the box. Now eat your cornflakes.

I quietly enjoyed my corn krispies. That’s what I called them now, and everyone made a jolly joke of it. So I laughed with them. And the thing is, the same happened the next time we bought cornflakes. Only this time we had friends to stay for a few days, and of course we had breakfast together. There was a choice of cereal, but not rice krispies. They had to be called cornflakes (but not very good ones, so choose something different). It was too much to own that you had something mistaken. Too much that you might like something that is not what you wanted it to be.

I stuck to my imagined serving suggestion and covertly enjoyed this brief period of corn krispies. The joke lasted a childhood, but these day?

I buy rice krispies.

Being transgender isn’t a serving suggestion. It isn’t a choice or a mistake, and not a trend or a joke. It’s what is actually in the box that matters.