07 April 2009

Three More Months; Strange Bedfellows

My surgery is three months--91 days--from today.

The funny thing is that today I had less of a sense than I had yesterday that some things in my life are coming to an end. Maybe it's because I talked to Professor George White about a joint project. He's teaching a class in the History of Hip Hop; my class is The Poetics and Rhetoric of Hip Hop. I'm starting to see how our collaboration can develop into something powerful. Now I wonder whether I'll be at the college to see the fruits of our labor.

I really like Professor White. Every time I've talked to him, he's been very welcoming and upbeat. And I find myself feeling the same way.

He insists that I call him George. Some habits are hard to break. He doesn't seem to mind.

Somehow it doesn't seem so ironic that we may have another collaborator who just happens to be the director of the Men's Center at the college. See what happens when you change genders?

I'm thinking now of a conversation I had with the prof who's a playwright. I mentioned that for as long as I can remember, I hated men--with a few exceptions. But about a year into my transition, I found that I was losing that hatred. "Well, of course!," he said. "Now that you don't have to be one, you can enjoy the company of some men."

He got that one right. Some students and the professor in the class I'm taking reacted with horror when I mentioned that there is a Men's Center at the college. I knew it would be useless to defend it to that audience: They still see men as "the oppressors" or "the rapists."

I did, too, for a long time. Now it makes sense: Nick, the man I created, was suppressing Justine, the woman I am. Now that I am (mostly) free of him, I am more open-minded and intellectually (as well as spiritually) available.

So now I'm going to collaborate with the "enemy": the director of the Men's Center. What sort of Vichy of gender identity will be forged from our mutual cooperation? And what happens to me if I'm its Petain?

See...It's having an effect on me already: I'm using metaphors from military history! Next thing you know, I'll be watching re-runs of Aces High with the guys. And they are going to see Waiting to Exhale with me. Uh-huh.

Now, of course, the collaoration will be over music and things related to it. But who knows where else that could lead? I don't think I have much to offer the young men who go to the center. I mean, what can they learn about being men--more specifically, black men--from a middle-aged white transgender woman?

Very often, I wonder what anybody could possibly learn from me about anything. I mean, really, I'm not that unusual, much less interesting. I've failed much more, and more often, than I have succeeded. And I'm not the sort of person most parents would want their kids to be when they grow up.

It seems that a person can be a former something-or-another--an accountant, let's say--and other people can learn how to be an accountant from him. But no-one is going to learn how to be a man from a former man (or, actually, a woman who lived as a man). And I haven't lived as a woman for long enough to show anybody how to do that.

Still, I enjoy the company of women and find that some want my company. Actually, more want me now than wanted me when I was living as Nick. And, oddly enough, I have an easier time relating to men--at least some men. It'll be interesting to see whether that, or my relationships to other women, will change three months from now.

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