The dentist recently asked after taking my Xray why my left front tooth is capped. I shrugged and told her straight away I was physically assaulted and she wisely let it go. This incident took place in 1992 in SF at Fell and Divisadero, near Haight Ashbury. I can point out to you the scar on my lower lip where the dude punched my tooth right clean through it, breaking it in half. Technically this was a road rage incident, but the assault happened so quickly (it was during morning rush hour, no less) how do you react when you’re 21 and bleary-eyed from lack of sleep? I was just trying to move my car into a metered space. I never got his plate number—I was trying to run and hide because I was afraid a bullet was going to come next. This could have happened to me in any city, but forgive me if I still cannot regard San Francisco as some queer-friendly Valhalla, that’s total bullshit to me for some strange reason.
It would be five years before I even started transitioning, so I don’t believe I was targeted for looking queer or nonbinary. I didn’t pause to ask why. But that could have been part of it, because even when I was as young as twelve and trying to fit in, I never camouflaged well enough to avoid the bullying. Big deal, whatever, this is a well-heeled path for many and my story is not unique. But a lot of shit’s coming back to the surface today and I’d be stupid not to document what I’m experiencing this morning.
Maybe a year or two after my assault I was back home in Boston, taking the subway back to my parents house where I was staying as I looked for post-grad work. I was doing my best to fit in, to be invisible. It wasn’t working out so well.
There was a Red Sox game letting out and you know how these crowds can be sometimes. The subway car was crowded so OF COURSE they weren’t going to physically assault me on the grand scale of the lovely SF incident, but I’d never endured so much verbal transphobic bile within a concentrated, 20-minute timeframe. So much of it is just not worth repeating, although I remember a lot of it. I’d get little repeats of it over the next twenty years. Made it though to…this HISTORIC day LOL.
All I could really do there on the train was pretend to continue reading. These people knew what they were fucking doing, trying to intimidate me out of existence. It’s not just death they want—it’s erasure from the planet, with no traces left behind to remind anyone that we were ever even here to begin with.
FUCK THAT NOISE, SKIPPY.
Flash forward I just survived motherfucking invasive brain surgery and I’m not going to wilt just because we’ve just victimized ourselves once more within an entirely flaccid patriarchal/hyper-materialist society. I’d thought that we could start to heal and repair these last eight years. That’s what the hope was for. But that dream, vivid and oxygenated as it was, is obviously over—what we have here now is 100% repudiation, BACKLASH from the rotten heart of bigoted mummies and their milk-white progeny. I grew up with them, so they’re pretty easy to spot.
I’m not sure what’s next except that it may be a good time to learn to keep my head down **just enough** to at least **look** like I’m just pretending to continue reading, just sittin’ here on the train, doop-dee-doo.
Oh so yeah the post-gamers with the colorful assessments they’d shared with me: I remember this one dude’s parting shot so well, because I think it could become reality soon: one of them turned to me on his way out of the sliding doors and said to me: “We will see **you** later.”
My heart was in my throat even after I finally made it to my car in the parking garage. I was convinced I was going to get it from the same crowd of bro-dudes but I was alone. My escape was narrow but perhaps only deferred by twenty years. And now this shit.
This is part of what it is to be trans, or just plain **other**, in America today, hangover Wednesday, and it is not unique. The anxiety is shared across any non-cis-het-white communities now, context may vary but the bleached heart of bigotry is pretty much the same. And our immaculate system has effectively enthroned it.
I study fallen empires prodigiously because along with being a student and librarian I also (try to) write dark fantasy and horror fiction, some of these are great sources of inspiration (the grinding, slow-burn downfall of the Byzantine Empire is darkAF). But you know what really sucks? Our nation is still very VERY young by comparison with some of the really fun ones like Rome, and we may have centuries more of this to endure.
And just to be clear, I did vote yesterday.
Many voted, it seems.
I’ve encountered them before, actually, and they’ll “see **me** later.”