Break It Down, Butch.

February 14, 2011

[57] Valentine’s Day, 2011.

Happy Valentine’s day, guys!

I celebrated mine getting my American passport renewed. Dual nationality for the win. 😀

There was a very cool moment at the embassy, actually. I was the first guy in line, thanks to getting there bugfuck early, and the lady behind the bullet-proof glass was eat-your-heart-out gorgeous. A proper double-take beauty. Dark hair, dark eyes, killer smile, coffee-caramel skin, and I don’t mean to get all objectifying here, but I would have happily created a small diplomatic incident if she’d let me take her out of lunch.

But that’s not the cool part. The cool part was after she’d called me ‘sir’, like pretty much everyone else ever these past few months (that’s a post for another day), and then got a look at my old American passport. The one that has the photo of skinny little seven-year-old me in a dress.

I was expecting the double-take, and the embarrassment, and the flustered apology. What I wasn’t expecting was the carefully worded inquiry about whether I was changing my legal gender.

“Nope,” I said, with a wry kind of grin. “Still legally female, if you want to be technical.”

And this is the cool bit: she gave me a thoughtful once-over, embarrassment falling away, and then smiled beautifully. One of those light-up-the-room smiles. Then she called me ‘sir’ for the rest of the exchange, perfectly naturally, like it was just the thing to do. Like she’d seen a little piece of me, and understood it, and was happy to share it.

That made my whole day, pretty much.


December 18, 2010

[47] Make-up: It’s not just for girls.

Bit of hilarity I forgot to mention:

In pursuit of looking kinda-female-ish for my interview, I got my eyebrows waxed and eyelashes tinted. (I know.) It was this sort of three-for-one deal, where they offered to tint your eyebrows at the same time, too. But my eyebrows are already plenty tinted, so I took a friend along and she got her eyebrows waxed instead.

I’ve never had my eyelashes tinted before, so I had no idea what to expect. But it turns out it’s pretty easy. They just stick some moist, protective cotton (cotton-ish thing? I have no idea) under your eyes, make you close your eyes, then paint dye all over your lashes and throw another protective cottony-whatever over the top of that. And then you sit for fifteen minutes, trying not to blink.

If you have a nice make up artist, she’ll take this opportunity to talk to you.

First thing my make-up artist said: “Y’know, not many guys have this done. But I think it’s awesome. I used to do my boyfriend’s eyelashes all the time.”

“I fancied a change?” I said vaguely, flat on my back and determined not to fluster the woman dyeing my eyes.

“Great!” she enthused. “I think this’ll really make your eyes pop.”

Well, wahey.

Then she left me alone and went to talk to my friend. Apparently, the conversation went something like this:

Make-up lady: “So, have you known him long?”

Friend: (without missing a beat) “Oh sure, he’s been my best mate since college.”

Make-up lady: “Awww!”

I’m just guessing, but I’ll bet she thought I was fabulously gay. Which is half-accurate. And she was right — dyed eyelashes really do make my eyes pop.

Edited for picture evidence:


Here is regular me, with eyebrows intact and hair short.


And new me, looking creepy-weird and slightly fluffy. I shall be getting the hair fixed soon. (The make-up lady did think I was a guy, so she didn’t take my eyebrows too thin, fortunately. They’re just a bit… neater.)

October 26, 2010

[44] Your dad’s just human, too, kiddo.

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 23:30
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My brother and his girlfriend just co-called me at ten minutes to midnight to inform me that, while house-sitting for my father, they’d discovered his gentleman’s reading material under the bed.

Seeing as I thought they were calling to tell me one of them had accidentally stabbed the other one in the brain, or something, what with it being midnight, I’m somewhat relieved.

And amused.

Really, really amused.

For a bit of context, my father is a stand-up guy: military-tough, strong, dependable, sweet as all get-out when the mood strikes him–

And, as it turns out, apparently kind of vanilla.

I know it’s something of a theme for butches to aquire the basics of Manly Life Lessons from their dads (it’s up to the butch whether they’re mirroring, or not repeating that shit), but in this case I think I’m just going to laugh and laugh and laugh…

September 23, 2010

[41] Quickie birthday recap.

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 22:04
Tags: , , ,

Today was my brother’s girlfriend’s 23rd birthday. She’s also one of my best friends, so we all had to celebrate. The three of us went to Alton Towers, which is one of Britain’s big theme parks.

Some of the best quotes of the day:

[On the drive down] “Ooh, look, a crevasse. One of nature’s vaginas.”

“You are a moral cul-de-sac.”

[Four seconds later] “Your face is a moral cul-de-sac.”

[Midway through a rollercoaster ride, in the pitch-black inside section] “ARGH. IT’S ALL MOIST.”

“I wish I could be a lamp-post.”

[One of the ride attendants] “A wasp just stung me! In the head!”

“If you could be any cut of meat, what would you be?”

“Y’know, the only part of that ride that got me wet was when the water jet ricocheted off your face.”

“Quick, everybody look dead!”

“She’s got her panther-face on again.”

“My hoodie is a vision of day-glo neon. It’s also blue.”

“You know, guys, this was an awesome day.” [Reflective pause. Then the brother:] “Your face was an awesome day.”

We had fun. 😀

August 19, 2010

[35] Two by two, pick your crew.

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 19:14
Tags: , ,

She has a direct stare. Rough voice. Rough all over, really, like a sandstone block with porcupine spikes. She regards me while we work, but I don’t pay much attention. Too busy with my hands. We chat.

Then she interrupts. “I need to ask you a question.”


“Are you male or female?”

I blink, blind-sided. It’s a kid’s question, something I haven’t heard since the playground. Adults aren’t that blunt; everything is “Can I help you, sir?” or “What would you like to drink, ma’am?” or a sidelong look and no pronoun guess at all. They never just ask.

Besides, our work rotas have our partner-for-the-day’s names printed with the gender-assignment right next to them. Everyone is ‘miss’ or ‘mr’, right there in black and white. In a weird way, it saves a lot of hassle.

Not today.

“Female,” I say at length.

Instant ache, right under the ribcage. Should have said ‘neither’, or ‘both’, or ‘what does it matter?’, but the little F is still on my driver’s licence, there are still curves beneath my binder and air between my legs, and I’m on the job. Female is the nearest thing to truth, except in every single way, but it’s good enough for the woman I have to see for twenty minutes more and maybe never again.

Except for how it’s not.

“Oh,” she says, all relief. She’s got an answer. Things make sense now. “Sorry, I just had to know.”

“No worries,” I say, dragging up a smile by the edges. “If I really cared about it, I’d grow my hair out.”

August 11, 2010

[34] A little thought.

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 21:38
Tags: , , , ,

Sense-memory is a funny thing. I was just making a bowl of Mexican rice for myself; I leaned over, got a faceful of spicy steam and, wham, all I could think of was JB. And, bizarrely, my brother.

That’s not quite as almost-Freudian as it sounds.

JB was the one that introduced me to Mexican food, back when I visited her for the first time in the States. We don’t really get Mexican take-away in Britain, so it was a whole new thing for me. And god almighty, it was good. I’d eat it all day, if I could.

The brother’s the same. He’s gotten into Mexican in a big way in the last few years, and he made it for me recently. (See? Not Freudian at all!)

I’ve never really run into relationship insecurity before — I figure if someone’s picked me, they’ve picked me for a reason, and I try not to doubt that — but I remember having a hell of a moment the first time I introduced the brother to JB. They’re both really similar — lean, attractive, entertaining flashy personalities, great senses of humour, etc. I’m more laid back, body conscious, ironic… And, I’ll admit, when they hit it off so brilliantly, I had a brief moment of irrational fear that they made a much better couple than JB and me. They just clicked.

That lasted about six hours, right up until JB dropped her head on my shoulder and said she was looking forward to my brother going home, because he was exhausting.

I was so relieved, I cracked up. And then explained, because JB was giving me that head-tilted ‘Why are you being insane?’ look. Then she cracked up.

I suppose there’s a moral in there somewhere — trust your loved one; don’t get daft over your siblings; opposites really do attract — but mostly I just enjoy smiling about it now, even though JB and I are no longer dating.

July 29, 2010

[33] Dream in Glitter.

S: I just had a dream about the neighbourhood women getting together to stop the spread of sissy-boy porn.

DK: [blink]

S: Because it was threatening our neighbourhood.

DK: I’d love to see that in print. “Nancy Boys: Fight the Epidemic!”

S: [cackles]

(I should probably point out that I have a great affection for all self-identified nancy-boys, girlie-boys, sissy-boys, and femme-boys — Viva la revolution!)

June 13, 2010

[27] Bite-sized religion.

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 14:00
Tags: ,

“Hello! We’ve brought you a message from the bible.”

“Oh. Uh, lovely.”

“Are you familiar with the bible?”

“Mostly as a concept. Which religion?”

“Jehovah’s Witnesses. Would it be alright if we came inside for a quick chat?”

“I’m pretty sure you don’t want to chat to me, mate.”

“Why’s that?”

“Well, I’m gay and transgender. Organized religion generally doesn’t like me.”

“… oh.”

I’ve never seen two grown men wilt so fast. Credit to them, they did hang about and give me a five-minute monologue on how God is very accepting and it’s totally okay to have free will, but there was a definite sense of fleeing-in-slow-motion as they edged backwards down the garden path.

June 7, 2010

[26] Flattery.

Y’know what’s weird? Being flattered by a compliment you don’t particularly want.

There’s a story behind this (there always is), but this one’s short and sweet. I was at work on Friday, doing a round with new clients, and getting ‘sirred’* left and right, which is always a little awkward on the job. I love the gender-assignment, but I’m less happy with accidentally frightening old ladies in their own homes, which happens a lot. Elderly, vulnerable woman tend not to be delighted with apparent young men falling through their doors, no matter how blue-eyed and smiley that apparent young man may be.

And you try explaining “Yes, I am a technically ovaries-based creature, but I’m actually experimenting with male pronouns and transgender identities right now, Mabel, but don’t be alarmed, I promise I’m not about to do anything illegal. Or immoral. Or look at you in a funny way. Though I should probably mention I’m gay, too, but you’re still safe to take your knickers off” to someone who’s eighty-nine and profoundly deaf and may or may not be armed with a ballistic walking stick.

Yeeeeah. What usually falls out of my mouth is some variant of “Ah, yes. Actually I’m a woman”, said awkwardly and bracketed by an internal wince.

So, cutting back to short-and-sweet, I had this same back and forth with a lady on Friday. (“Gosh, a man!” “Well, actually…”) But instead of the usual flustered embarrassment, this particular lady just tipped her head to one side and gave me a slow, thoughtful look.

“Yes,” she said finally, “I can see you’re pretty.”

Deer-in-headlights is not my best impression, but I pulled off a cracker this time.

“Uh,” I said. “Um — right. Thank you.”

But then, weirdly, I started to get that ridiculous, belly-warm glow of Someone Thinks I Look Nice. You know the one: it makes you smile at random moments all day, tickled and pleased, and you have to write it up online four days later because People Must Know.

It’s just — it’s a funny thing, this attractiveness business. Especially when you’re butch. Other people have said it before, have said it better, but Western social standards are not exactly forgiving of masculine women. (Or masculine transthings, depending on how you feel.) And once you hit that masculinity skid of short hair and guy’s clothes and cocky swagger, assuming that’s what you’ve embraced, then ‘pretty’ is definitely not going to be a future compliment.

Except when it is.

It’s jarring, I guess. Especially if you’re anything like me and you’ve folded up the battered remains of your femininity somewhere for some young glittery-boy to find and cherish, only to have a feminine-associated compliment smack you in the newfound masculinity like an eighteen-wheeler. Except it’s a nice eighteen-wheeler, possibly the one you always wanted for Christmas back when you were a kidlet, and the driver is grinning at you.

It’s a strange feeling. Back when JB and I were first dating, on the very first day, I think, we were sprawled out in bed together, most of our clothes still on, and doing the new-couple thing. Talking quietly, laughing, getting to know each other close up — that warm little moment when your fingers always end up laced. I pushed myself up on one elbow, looking down at her, and she smiled at me, all thoughtful.

“I just noticed,” she said, “you have this really delicate jawline.” She traced two fingers down either side of my jaw, ending at my chin. “And a great smile.”

I laughed, because no one had ever complimented my smile before, and thanked her and complimented her back, but that stuck with me. Delicate jawline. I’m 5’10, broad-shouldered, heavy-boned, strong. I haven’t been called delicate since I was a reedy kid, and even then I was a tomboy. And I certainly didn’t feel delicate, not compared to JB’s slender wrists and slimline throat; she was all softened angles and gracefulness. I was an ox.

And this was back in the pre-butch-identified days, so I didn’t even know I wanted to be handsome. I just knew I wasn’t beautiful.

But still, delicate. It was weird. Not exactly what I’d wanted, definitely not what I’d expected, but flattering. Sweet. Genuine. I think about it now and it makes me grin to myself, still pleased. Except now the compliment’s queered itself around in my head. I don’t think feminine anymore. I think dandy. Faggot. And that ‘pretty’ compliment at work, that becomes the same thing. I feel stylish instead, blue-eyed and hot. Not lady-like, not beautiful. Handsome in a more vulnerable way — young, open, easily injured. A good-looking lad.

I couldn’t have done that a year ago.

* Okay, I work in Yorkshire, so I get “‘ey-up, lad” and “Cheers, mate” and “Hiya, young fella!” much more than I get “Sir”, but same difference.

May 10, 2010

[22] Playing catch-up.

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 22:50
Tags: , , , ,

*whistles softly*

Man, have I been out of the loop. It’s been almost a month since my last post, and, after reading around, it looks like half the internet blew up and put itself back together. Particularly the gender-blogging side of things — I’m seeing good news and bad news and tough conversations and awesome make-overs and happy anniversaries and one-step-forward-two-steps-back changes, and the ever-present, always appreciated, brilliantly written navel-gazing. Oh, yes.

Kind of makes me want to go around with party balloons and hugs and maybe a straight jacket or two. (Or three. Why does gender-blogging always bring out the extra crazy?)

So. After a couple minutes of thought and a scrapped picture or two, it turns out there’s no way to transition smoothly from ‘THE INTERNET IS BUSY AND ALSO CRAZY’ to ‘HERE’S WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING’.

Actually, that worked pretty well.

First off, I GOT MY DISSERTATION FINISHED. My dissertation written about butch gender, in fact (though, if I’m totally honest, it was a literature review and mostly I was reviewing butch authors, but that still counts). I wrote it in about a week, lost two nights of sleep, and wrote the word “gender” so much it might literally be seared onto the backs of my retinas. BUT DESPITE THAT, I got to rhapsodize at length about the validity of butch blogs (or hell, any kind of gender blog) being included as an academic source. Because seriously, if the criteria are only “must be written by an expert”, “must be published”, and “must be peer-reviewed”, THEN ALLOW ME TO REDEFINE YOUR TERMS.

(Also, note to self: writing all in caps is extremely entertaining. Must remember to inflect it on people do it more often.)

I also had a good friend, Ki, come stay with me for two weeks, which involved a lot of touristing, a lot of travelling, and much general walking-up-and-down-the-country-and-taking-lots-of-photos. I’m footsore, noticeably reduced around the waistline, slightly sunburned, and very de-stressed. It was brilliant. Also, she made me curry.

Funny thing, actually: seeing as Ki is cissexual, straight, and Mormon, conventional odds would tilt our spending much time together in the same room towards the side of catastrophe. Epic catastrophe, even. And I wish that was just bigoted, narrow-minded thinking on my part, because I know religion and Teh Gay are not mutually exclusive (just ask Nezu, who attends an awesome gay church down in San Francisco, or JB, who attends another gay-friendly house of religiosity in the same region), but man, as peaceful coexistence goes, Mormon and queer are not what you’d traditionally think of as on speaking terms. Just look at all that Mormon funding for Prop 8.

And Ki is really Mormon. (And also possibly not speaking to me, after this introduction. *laughs* I’ll have to post up an anecdote about myself falling down a flight of stairs, or something, to make up for it. Or send her a fruit basket.)

But, but, but — here is where it’s awesome. Because not only is Ki really Mormon, she’s also really cool, and amazingly unfussed about either Teh Gay or Teh Butch. Two key examples: she invited me to Sunday church with her and didn’t bat an eye when I threw on a suit and tie, instead she got all aw-shucks-pleased when I pointed out that my tie matched her very pretty new dress, and then complimented my new dress shoes. (Also, Mormon church is bizarrely enjoyable. There’s a very warm-and-friendly atmosphere, much like a village bakesale and gossip, rather than the high grandeur and severe sense of You Are Doing It Wrong that the Catholic church nails you with.) Second example: I’ve spent the last few weeks using gender-neutral disabled bathrooms instead of doing the awkward knees-clenched dance between male/female, and lemme tell you, disabled bathrooms rock; there’s space to stretch your legs, set your rucksack down, adjust your binder if necessary, and do your business in absolute peace, all without the tension of worrying about what’s waiting on the other side of the stall door*. Totally flaw-proof system, right up until you hit a place without an easily accessible disabled bathroom, such as the Imperial War Museum in London (y’know, hypothetically), and really have to pee. Particularly if the Museum is about two hours away from your safe and gender-free hotel room, and you can’t think of any other more appealing bathrooms in-between, what with it being London and you suddenly being a severe coward.

Seriously, it’s amazing how out of practice you can get with gendered public bathrooms in a few weeks. It’s like all that armour just melts back into your skin, and you are soft and quivery and easily-stabbed all over again.

So, there’s me, hovering awkwardly by the door to the ladies (which is about a mile away from the mens’ room, and two floors below the disabled) and trying to decide whether I really need to piss that badly, or if I can just hold it — and there goes Ki, striding past without a word, to check out the whole bathroom and then flash me a grin and an “All clear!” with a reassuring thumbs up, like someone gave her a manual entitled How To Make Your Gender-Bizarre Friends Go Wobbly At The Knees With Gratitude.

I can’t actually remember if I told her thank you at the time; I was too busy sprinting for the stall. But oh, I meant to, possibly in poetry.

It’s a funny thing, really, I’ve known Ki for… jeez, two years online? More than that? We’re writing partners and moderaters on a community over on Insanejournal (great site, awful base coding), and spend waaaaay too much time meddling about in the lives and loves of fictional gay ninja (seriously, and it is awesome. Also, have I mentioned that I’m a ginormous geek?), but I still expected her to be a little dicey with everything when she came over. Not much, but just a little, in a background, slightly-awkward sort of way. Because there’s a difference in knowing someone is weird/different/liberal/gender-bizarre/insert-adjective-here abstractly, and knowing it because you’ve just met them face to face and now you have to spend two weeks sharing a room together, eep.

Of course, seeing as half our family and friends expected one of us to seduce the other, I reckon we managed to hit the middle ground pretty well.

Man, this is a rambly post. So, yeah, internet asplody, dissertation finished, Mormon friend awesome, what else?

– I have amazing Wolverine hair today. It’s kind of accidentally awesome, all slicked down on the sides and whoosh on top, like my hair gel has a world-saving agenda and just neglected to tell me.

– I’ve rediscovered my love for boxers recently, specifically the really cheap kind you can buy at the supermarket. Y’know, the £3 for a set of three kind, which sit comfortably on your hips and loosely everywhere else, and go great with a plain t-shirt if you just need to laze around the house for a day.

– Bear S. Bergman has a livejournal blog, and it is just as fantabulous as you’d expect. (Also, Bear and his husband had a son recently, and there is just not enough aww in the world, folks. In the world.)

There’s a whole lot more to write about (when is there not?) but this post is becoming ridiculous-sized, so I’ll call it quits for tonight. Or, y’know, the next thirty seconds. But hey, baby Bearlets is a pretty excellent place to finish, don’t you reckon?

*Though occasionally you do catch a funny look from people trying to parse out how, exactly, you’re disabled. I’m often tempted to walk out and collapse dramatically on my face, just so they can have an ‘… ah’ moment.

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