There isn’t one second of the day that I’m not grateful for what has happened in my life, the last few months especially. I’m now legally myself, and I have the correct gender marker on my driver’s license. The projects I’ve pursued have gained me the pleasure of knowing many new people, and I am not for one second ignorant of that.
However, I can’t say it’s been a path of no resistance.
When you write a book that starts by saying “fuck you,” it’s going to have some backlash. It comes with the territory, and I’m not denying that. But sometimes when you get misinterpreted, it gets frustrating. When you get corrected by someone, it depends on the correction, and the person giving it. But when things are assumed about you, you’re told you’re downright wrong, or you’re instructed on how to do your own job, that’s when I start getting annoyed.
There are those who tell me that I don’t understand the mind or mentality of certain people, and they’re absolutely right. For instance, the biggest reason I’ve loathed country music all my life is that the people who listened to that music when I was growing up beat the shit out of me pretty regularly. I’d hear these songs about beer, girls in blue jeans, pickup trucks, and campfires, and I’d associate them with pain, isolation, and anguish. Then I was expected to embrace that very subculture, even want to be a part of it, but it could never happen. Not with my experience, regardless of my identity.
Notice that I didn’t say I didn’t like country music fans there. That’s personal. I don’t care for a certain subculture. That’s not the same thing as disrespecting the people within it.
The same goes for Donald Trump voters.
Now, let me be clear: the ones driving the anti-trans bus, the ones trying to push us back in the closet, the ones trying to force their religion on everyone else, and the ones trying to legislate discrimination as long as it’s their beliefs oppressing everyone else’s can all go fuck themselves. That’s not what I’m talking about. Let’s just say that I’ve had to converse with some Trump supporters who want to tell me that they’re not all like that, and they’re right. I never said they were, nor do I think anyone who votes a certain way is a bad person, necessarily.
But understand that I don’t have the luxury of that levity. Our community does not have that luxury. And there’s nothing more insulting than someone from without; for instance, a straight cis white man; telling me that my perspective of the world is wrong.
The same way that I don’t understand the perspective of a Donald Trump voter or a country music fan, I also don’t technically know the perspective of a straight cis white man. I passed as one for a long time, but it was all a mask; a mask that I threw off once I couldn’t take it anymore.
But that doesn’t mean I have to respect your opinion either.
I do not know what it’s like to be you. I cannot possibly fathom how you can look at this bumbling, arrogant, thin-skinned, disrespectful person and think: “yeah, that’s how a person should act, let alone the leader of the free world.” Most of the time when that discussion is had, deferments are made instead of actual arguments: but her emails, but Obama, but Pennywise… Changing the subject is not an argument. Irrelevant comparison is not an argument.
And neither is telling a queer person what the world is actually like.
Once again, I point out the fact that I don’t understand the perspective of a Trump voter. I can have that dissonance. But how in the everloving holy fuck is a straight cis person going to explain the queer experience to me? They’ve tried, to the point of telling me that I’m wrong, dumb, incorrect, warped, stupid, crazy, ignorant, and beyond. Or worse, I’m told that no one actually has a problem with queer people and that I’m bitching and whining about nothing.
I acknowledge that I’m a privileged queer person. I have an audience, a platform, and a university and family that supports and acknowledges my identity. But to say that my perspective of what it’s like in the world being visibly queer is wrong, especially coming from someone who could not be less that? No. Sorry.
There is a political party in this country that has done all they can to fuck with us. It won them a goddamn election in 2004, because gay people getting the right to marry would do something to the social fabric or whatever. Two years ago, an argument over who can use the fucking bathroom put us on a hypervigilant that has not subsided since. I’ve had to ask people to walk to the bathroom with me. I’ve had to ask people to walk me to my car. I’ve been sexually assaulted. I’ve been threatened. I’ve been misgendered. I’ve been disrespected. And to suggest that none of these things are issues is to deny that I understand my own experience of the world.
No more that I can tell a straight cis person what it’s like to be who they are, nobody who has not lived with that experience can tell me that I’m wrong about it. Sure, queer acceptance is at an all-time high. However, there’s now a bus traveling the country openly dehumanizing us. Milo Fuckface targets people and says they’re mentally ill, and the only time people develop a problem with him is when he makes favorable remarks about a child molester. Politicians treat us like an inhuman sexual predator drone, which inevitably has people patrolling the bathrooms looking to fuck with some transpeople, and makes us super self conscious and paranoid.
Why, you might ask? Because you never know who you’re going to walk by when you’re openly queer. You never know who is going to rage that you’re holding hands with someone of the same gender. You never know who is going to decide to murder you for being trans, and though I cannot speak personally to this part of the experience, especially if you’re a person of color. Eight this year have been murdered already for having the nerve to exist.
We do not make the choice to be who we are. Our choices lie in how open we choose to be about it. We are often reduced to “what goes on in the bedroom” or “the privacy of your own home” but that is bullshit. No straight or cis person is told that they can only be who they are in private, and nobody ever should. That’s fucking bullshit for anyone to say to anyone. We are not a sum of our parts, and we are not only queer for what we do in the bedroom. That reduces us to sexual acts, which is what our detractors think of us as anyway, and the whole vicious circle begins again. But some people want to tell me these things don’t exist?
You don’t know the half of it. Even if every single person you knew didn’t mind queer people and never committed a single hateful act toward one, it’s still anecdotal. Unless you’re following me around, cataloguing every interaction I have, and documenting the non-verbal ones, there’s no way you could possibly know my experience, and I wouldn’t expect you to. But to dismiss all of what I say based on not agreeing with it is to accuse me of false representation of myself, of making things up, of creating a situation to supposedly whine about when there are real life and death issues facing our community every day. But it makes you uncomfortable when I talk about that, and that means I’m supposed to talk about something else? Not gonna happen.
You still elected a person who has advocated for doing so. Even if that’s not the reason you voted for him, you voted for him despite it, and your choice put all of us in danger. But I’m supposed to give everyone a pass because… You don’t like it, I guess? Nope, sorry.
That’s why I speak up. That is why I’m open about my experiences. Because so many queer and transpeople either cannot, will not, or aren’t in a position where they can. I know I’m lucky for what I have, but don’t for a second think that means I’m free of danger. I risk violence and worse simply by existing, but being loud and critical while being queer is doubling down on that. It’s a situation you cannot possibly empathize with, and not being able to doesn’t make you a bad person. Your shitty opinion that you think you know who I am better than I do, though? Yeah, I’m going to call that out.
Most of the time, I think these comments have good intentions. I don’t think most people set out to be shitty to another person. But perhaps when a minority speaks up, you might want to listen to what they have to say before you dismiss it or defend yourself. The fact that you’re even talking to us probably means that we’re not talking about you anyway. Good intentions don’t mean that the results aren’t shitty though. While someone may be trying to get me to see a different perspective, assuming or correcting my perspective and experience only comes across as condescending and disrespectful. It’d be like me trying to tell a trans person of color what their experience is. Sure, I have certain similarities, but I’ve never lived that existence, and it would be foolish of me to think I know better than they do. That is the only reason I don’t speak up about that more than I do; I cannot speak to that experience, except to say that the targeting of transpeople of color is sickening, and something needs to be done about it.
One last thing… There’s a particular comment recently that had something that stuck in my craw beyond what I’ve discussed here, as these are generalized criticisms I’ve received since coming out, not referencing any in particular. The funny thing is, this one had nothing to do with my experience, but simply a complete lack of regard for who I am. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already pissed at me, but allow me to say the following first, and yes, this applies to everyone:
1. Don’t EVER tell me what to write, especially on my blog. I decide what I write about.
2. Don’t EVER talk about my genitals. Especially bringing them up in a post that didn’t even mention them. Unless you’re my husband or girlfriend, it’s none of your fucking business.
3. You can call me many things… Some true, some less so… But to say that I have no tangible skills and a lazy work ethic? That goes beyond being wrong… It’s downright offensive. I can’t tell you how many people have seen that comment and laughed their asses off, because it takes knowing very little of who I am to say something so profoundly incorrect.
First, I’ve been in the work force for 17 years. I have management experience, have a list pages long of professional references, and worked through college as well. It’s easy to assume that all I do is write and podcast, but that is to be ignorant of anything beyond my creative projects, as if I sit and write about wrestling or social justice all day, and then do absolutely nothing else.
Second, a lazy work ethic may be the dumbest thing anyone has ever said about me, ever. It doesn’t take knowing much about me to know that the amount of time and care I put into my projects alone speaks to the notion otherwise. I created, host, edit, publish, and promote my own podcast, and I co-host on two others. I just started my eighth book, and third since November. I write two columns a week, maintain a blog, release one podcast a week consistently and on time, appear regularly as a guest on other podcasts, have a photography business, travel to work with other people, and all of this is under the umbrella of my own business which I started with the help of a Harvard lawyer who is also my business manager and laughed harder than anyone at the notion that I might be lazy.
Beyond creative projects, I’ve been commuting 100 miles each way four days a week to an Ivy League school, and that was after two years of community college, so essentially I’ve been a full-time college student for six years. It’s only been this long because almost nothing transferred, so I had to do it over again. So I did all those aforementioned creative projects WHILE maintaining my education at an elite level under those circumstances with that daily commute while working the entire time, being a wife, being a girlfriend, being a parent, being a friend, and traveling all over the country on top of it. I’ve worked in over five states THIS FUCKING MONTH! I’m writing this from goddamned Vermont! In five weeks I will graduate one of the top ten universities in this country under these circumstances after not having passed a year of high school when I was younger, and then working for a decade to get enough stability to manage something like this.
I have worked my ass off for more than half my life, most of it with no cushion or safety net, and I’ll be damned if someone who doesn’t even know me calls me lazy. I’m more than happy to discuss the other things, and my issues with those opinions are made quite clear in this piece, but don’t EVER fucking call me lazy again. I’ve had people ask me to write books on both my work ethic and my time management. Again, I don’t think you’re a bad person, but I am going to disrespect the fuck out of that opinion, because it’s a shitty fucking opinion and deserves to be pointed out as such.
I’ve strived for kindness in any critical response I’ve gotten, and I will continue to do my best until I am disrespected. But don’t ever presume to tell me my experience is wrong, especially when you couldn’t ever possibly begin to empathize with it, and know who the fuck you’re talking about when you use words to describe a person in a critical manner. My work ethic was lazy as far as you could tell? Well, you weren’t looking very hard then, and I’d suggest reaching out to the person before posting such things in public where they’re not likely to be met with the most positive of responses. I am more than willing to engage anyone in conversation about differing opinions, but challenging my work ethic isn’t an opinion. It’s ignorance, and I’d appreciate it if you and anyone else who criticizes me would recognize that from now on.
And if you like my writing about wrestling but not what I say about other issues, I’d suggest sticking with the wrestling writing, where the most controversial thing I say is that Randy Orton segments of television make me yearn for something more exciting, like Roman Reigns reciting the unabridged dictionary after taking downers.
I am Marissa Alexa McCool. I fought like hell for that name, and I’ve been through hell to get it. I do the best I can to accommodate all perspectives, opinions, and insights, but I will not tolerate someone telling me that my own story is wrong. Not a chance in hell.