The Advance Guard Has Arrived

16 06 2010

I found a chin hair. It is long enough that I am unable to comprehend how I missed noticing it until now. Quarter-inch-long hairs take a few days to grow, or they did the last time I sprouted any new hairs. This means I washed my face and brushed my teeth and tousled my hair in the mirror on multiple mornings in a row without once taking a good look at my chin.

As a result of its surprise entrance, this hair has reigned in my thoughts all afternoon. As soon as I decide to pluck it out (because a single lonely hair looks utterly accidental, like the cat rubbed up on my face during shedding season), I decide that I have to show it to someone first. As soon as I decide to show my boss (because, as the director of an LGBT center, he would probably understand why it’s a big deal), I decide that the ability to grow very sparse and mostly unnoticeable body hair is probably not among the skills they hired me for.

It is perhaps true that of all the things I could be doing to help our community out, sitting in the center toying with my lone chin hair ranks among the least productive. Still, it is also true that I got hired to help make this center even better for every queer, whether questioning or ally, genderfucking or pansexual, trans admirer or straight-presenting, on campus. And how can you possibly do that job without sharing in the enthusiasm, the orgy of selfhood that necessitates a center like this? How could I sit on this veritable throne of new books for the library, reading pages of each one before I tape a call number to its spine, and not excitedly toy with this chin hair every few minutes?

newly trans gay tie-wearing me

It is with exhilaration that I take full responsibility for this chin hair. I feel as though I personally crafted this chin hair, and that the process has taken me years. I was crafting this hair as the bemused, straight version of me learned by trial and error to put the eyeliner on first and that my forehead is lovely but just too large to permit haircuts without bangs. Tentatively lesbian me was crafting this hair as I discovered how soft and warm sex can be when you’re sleeping with someone who pays attention to your body. Newly trans gay tie-wearing me was crafting this hair, even as needlephobia defeated T.

This one follicle comes from the part of me that keeps searching, every time some identity, word, or sexual act doesn’t feel quite right. This is the part of me that has always believed that I can find a way to be happy, whether I’m wearing clothes or not, inebriated or not, at school or in Boise, working hard or playing rough. It’s the part of me that crows lovingly about this job. I am unable to face this center, our shared and staggering multiplicity, without feeling my dear, queer little heart bounce proudly.


An Account of These Seriously Ripped Pecs

4 06 2010

My blog needs a subtitle. My blog-writing has been seriously hindered by that lack. A title, no problem. Titles can be anything from “Transgender Rights” to “Intersections” to “Corn Muffins and That Damned Stapler”, depending on whether you want to be political, vague, or cute. Your title doesn’t matter; it’s the witty clarification that follows after the colon or semi-colon that constitutes the real work. The subtitle is where you unveil your intentions. The subtitle is where you show how clever, punny, and relevant you are. The subtitle structures the whole blog to come—it’s that reference point toward which all the ensuing sentences direct their deferential gaze. The subtitle is where you kick it home.

Perhaps avoiding sports metaphors will be my first step. Is there even a sport in which you “kick” something into a location called “home”?

This week, I’ve been sitting at work in the university LGBT resource center, compiling a list of books to recommend we purchase for the library. As a person who spends almost all of his time immersed in works of the 16th century, it was downright novel (see that’s a pun there) to browse titles published after 2000. And enthusiasm, for me, strikes with verve and, really, no sense of direction. Thus, through some untraceable series of metonymic (possibly also Freudian) leaps, I found myself newly enchanted by my chest.

Allow me to explain.

My chest is a flattish expanse. My areolas are a little more taut and protuberant than a lot of guys’, a result of fresh scar tissue binding them to the rest of me. My nipples are flat and shy against my tough pink areolas. Beneath all this, across my ribs, two long purple lines, like parentheses demarcating the afterthought that constitutes my chest.

What keeps amazing me, though, is how big this chest is. It stretches the whole way from my neck to my belly. It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be. Which is to say, it takes up a lot more of my body than I thought it would. When I had breasts, I tended not to think of them as my chest. My body had no chest. It was a pillow more than it was a body part. I liked when people rested on it, seemed to get comfort or pleasure from it.

The truth is, I’ve always been a chest-grabber when I’m excited. This habit originates in an Idaho public high school where I figure out that drawing attention to the jiggliness of my boobs is both highly comedic and also gets me dates. The chest-grabbing has evolved now to a firm though somewhat flailing palm-to-sternum thunk whenever I’m experiencing a high level of enthusiasm for the task at hand.

So you can imagine that I’ve encountered my chest a lot in the past week, as I research for our center’s library and find again and again that we queers have written about ourselves. We’ve made narratives and photographs, we’ve faced ourselves in shop windows and the lenses of mirrored sunglasses and we’ve made sense of our reflections. We’ve theorized, we’ve researched, we’ve soliloquized. This is exciting stuff, my friends. We’re writing to each other, making our own words and wrapping them in print and shipping them off to reach each other. So I grab my chest.

And then I find myself surprised. This is my chest, here beneath my hand. This is mine. I am in this skin; my body is tending it even now, making sure it gets blood and sweat and oxygen. My chest is young, queer, and strong, and so are the new-bound books I’m getting for this center, and so are the students who are going to read those books. That’s huge. That’s even bigger than this chest.