Marissa Explains it All – #30 – Reflections on Family and Memorial Day

I have trouble with Memorial Day.

Truthfully, I have trouble with all holidays, but this one has an extra few levels of confusion. I’ve never been able to process feeling a certain way just because society or tradition says I’m supposed to. I don’t have that association with tradition; I feel how I feel because that’s how I feel, not because it’s a day and that’s when I’m supposed to feel that way.

Every year, Memorial Day trots out what I like to call the “guilt-trip meme.” It will show soldiers saluting a coffin with a flag draped over it, or a small child being handed a flag, and the caption will say some variation of “just in case you thought it was National BBQ Day.”

That seems rather insulting to our intelligence, especially in a country that puts the military on an untouchable pedestal and no matter how much of the budget is put in defense, one side of the aisle will constantly say that they’re underfunded and underappreciated. Nevermind that they turn around and slash the VA, slash benefits for citizens that include veterans, do nothing to help the homeless and only reference homeless veterans when trying to force a case of moral superiority about taking in refugees… The military itself seems to be regarded as a single entity, through which no member can be criticized, and doing so is somehow the equivalent of treason or supporting the enemy. I was a teenager when the Iraq War started; I remember the rhetoric that surrounded it. Never mind things like “Facts”, if you didn’t have a yellow ribbon on your car, that meant that you supported 9/11 and were un-American.

I’ve always seen things like yellow ribbons as purely symbolic. They have their purpose and I don’t mind that, but when their purpose is “look how much better of a person I am than you,” it loses that original intent, doesn’t it? Saying “support the troops” and carrying that yellow ribbon doesn’t mean a thing if that’s the extent to which you supposedly support the troops. And it’s so often used as a blanket phrase that those who participate in it are dehumanized the basis of arguments of morality and self-righteousness.

You can’t exist in America for five minutes without knowing that Memorial Day is about the military. Nobody in the world thinks that it’s National BBQ Day. We know that we’re supposed to remember the fallen veterans on this day, but some of the freedoms for which they fought, that we’re supposed to remember them for, include having BBQs on an off-work day. Are we instead to stay somber the entire time? Then people will say “no, don’t be sad, celebrate the freedoms that those who fell protected for you.” Then we begin the whole vicious circle again. Can I have a BBQ but only if I’m sad? How long do I have to be sad? Is it just a BBQ that is disrespectful to what the day means, or do pig roasts get included too? I’m just trying to understand this as someone who wants to show the proper appreciation that, as I said in the beginning, I will never understand how to portray just because I’m supposed to.

I respect anyone who could give up years of their life in service to their country, and sacrifice their youth, family, and private lives in order to represent their country, believing in honor, service, respect, and dedication. I get that. I nearly enlisted myself, and I didn’t stop until just before the swearing-in ceremony, mostly because I was told to lie and I couldn’t live with that, and because it also hit me at that moment that: holy shit, this is the kind of social grouping that will destroy me inside. I don’t respond well to being yelled at, I’m not able to do things just because someone asked/demanded me to. It’s not for me, and by that I mean no disrespect to anyone for whom it works. That’s just not the way my brain processes things.

There’s a long line of military history in my family. My mother’s side is descended directly from the Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry of the Flagship Niagara, for whom there is a Perry named in every generation, my son included. My grandfather and his brother both served, and I learned a lot about the service, history of that era, and nuclear science because of him. I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to see some of the things I did, but I was ten and who I was I going to tell? His brother served in early Vietnam. We were told never to ask about it.

I have a fan who served on the USS Paul Hamilton and wrote me letters about my column keeping him connected to home while he was away at sea. I’ve received letters from military wives who thank me for distracting them from that empty spot in the bed, some of which will never be filled again. I see the WWE, who back up what they say, and go there and perform for the troops in person, bringing a little bit of home to them as they’re separated by worlds, cultures, and duty. I’ve been sent tokens and items from those in the military who felt that what I wrote somehow mattered to them in that time, and I have no idea how some bullshit I put on the internet can do that, but it means the world all the same. I’m not speaking on these issues as someone completely disconnected from this reality.

One of my best friends is a veteran who is bisexual, and often has to deal with people from veteran groups sexually harassing her or denying her right to be recognized for who she is. I know several trans people online who struggle every day with their right to exist, despite having served their country, which is supposed to be something that the people criticizing them see as the ultimate good deed. Out of the other side of the same mouths, they still hear the same shitty arguments that are used against transpeople everywhere in order to remind them of their place in society.

My grandfather is the one who told me more about his experience than anyone else. And even still, he managed to remain distant and vague about certain things, which were his rights to do so. I’m owed no one’s experience or stories, but I’m grateful when I do. We lost him in 2015, and I gave the eulogy at his military service funeral where he was interred. The majesty, specificity, and ceremony were something I’ve never experienced anywhere else, and to see my grandfather honored in such a way is still awe-inspiring. I have his military picture and dog tags placed appropriately in a mini-shrine in my collection of special moments and autographs, complete with the obituary and a picture of us from the 1995 World Series. I loved my grandfather, and I remember him every day, not just today because that’s when I’m supposed to. I understand that holidays hold that significance of reminders and duty, but it doesn’t process for me. I hold it against no one for observing in that way, it’s just not for me.

“Support the troops” though, something always bothered me about that. Much in the same way that “thoughts and prayers” are a vague platitude that sometimes represent a substitute for any actual effort, supporting them in the ways they’re used in guilt-trip and moral superiority arguments is really just that: “I’m a better person than you because I do this more selflessly or actively think well of X conflict and you don’t.”

I want to support the troops by making sure they have access to the medical care they deserve, and that is not exclusive from the rights of anyone else to have healthcare. We’ve somehow gotten to a point in this country where healthcare is seen as a privilege, and if we are going to thump our chests about how much we love the military, can we at least also make an effort not to forget about them the second they get home? Can we do more than say “thank you for your service” and actually show gratitude? How about we not get into more stupid conflicts where they get killed? False pretenses, assets, whatever other bullshit reason politicians decide to use the military rather than do anything themselves, can we do all we can to not have to put them in that danger? I often think those in the 40’s get the title “greatest generation” because they answered the call and were conscripted during a time of international war, and it’s amazing how much gets left out of that story so that we can feel proud about how awesome we are. The shirt I’ve seen that shows an American flag with the title : Back-to-Back World War Champions just reeks of a willful, ethnocentric misunderstanding of a global conflict, where the Russians were the ones who got to Berlin, we only got involved when it was us attacked, before which we were chummy with Hitler and turned away Jewish refugees, and World War I barely involved us at all, but we get to take carte blanche credit and brag about our country’s untouchable superiority? And anyone who doesn’t say that is somehow taking the side of the enemy?

Much the same way as gender, sexuality, identity, neurodivergence, politics, and many other aspects of life are not as binaried as the “leave it be” status quo would like it, it is not traitorous to acknowledge that we aren’t the only people in the world. It’s not traitorous or disrespectful to the military to not want to see them go into yet another war where they have to die when they shouldn’t have to.

On the back of some Jeeps, I often see an American flag on the spare tire with the caption: There’s only one. Only one what? Flag? America? Country? Jeep with that cover? Just because it has an American flag doesn’t automatically make it universally understood. And a lot of the same people who regard that flag is the ultimate untouchable symbol that’s been desecrated by queer interlopers and liberals, they also fly the Confederate flag as a symbol of “American heritage,” “state’s rights,” or whatever other bullshit reason they choose to fly a flag that represents white supremacy, the continuation and spread of slavery, and literally committing treason against America. Yet that’s the most patriotic place in the country, and flying a flag that was about separating from it is American heritage? Yeah, okay, and the swastika was just the representation of the German commitment to fair labor practices. For anyone, especially in the North, who flies that flag, especially when it’s ABOVE the American flag, yet lectures me about how much the flag is awesome and should mean X, Y, and Z to me, I will never be able to comprehend the mind pretzel into which you must twist yourself to believe that revisionist, Lost-Cause influenced bullshit. But the Confederates were traitors and fighting for their states’ rights to keep owning slaves, even spreading it into South and Central America. They wanted a white supremacy empire founded completely on the notion of white superiority and slavery as a national institution. To say it had nothing to do with slavery is ignorant, incorrect, and just another bullshit apologetic you’ve used as to not be an asshole.

I know that Memorial Day is about the military. Same for Veteran’s Day. Add in the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Flag Day, Armed Services Day, Opening Day, and many others that are militarized, one would have to be willfully ignorant to think otherwise. I just want to know what the appropriate way to regard it is so that I don’t have to read those memes anymore, because I don’t think having a BBQ on Memorial Day is the same thing as “thinking that’s what it’s about entirely.” We know better than that, or at least we should.

I miss you, Grandpa Jack. I miss everything you taught me about the military and history, and there is a part of my life I’ll never get back because you told stories in a way that seeing them in a book just can’t match. I haven’t seen you since I unexpectedly walked into a room where you had just passed, and every single day, I regret not traveling more to see you, or calling you to hear more stories, or appreciating the time I had with you more than I did. You probably wouldn’t understand me right now, and we’d have crossed that bridge when we came to it, but there’s nothing in my life that will ever replace the spot you had in it. I’m lucky to have had so many years of my life without losing a grandparent, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Thank you to anyone who made that choice to serve, regardless of the circumstances, and I hope none of you feel disrespected by any of these sentiments. If I have, please tell me how I can correct my behavior, as long as it’s not the exact empty platitudes and symbols I’ve already explained. Thank you.

Marissa Explains It All – Blog #29 – The Representative Letter

Name change. This name has been requested for a podcast, but given how many of those I already have, I thought I’d use this one instead. So, here we go…

Let’s see if I can answer some genuine concern as to why LGBTQ people have such a problem with Allies insisting on being included, represented, etc.

Imagine if every time someone spoke about black rights, a bunch of white people stood up and said “hey, this is about us too, right?”

Imagine if every time charities were trying to help the impoverished, some rich people came along and said, “hey, don’t forget about us. We struggle too!”

Imagine if every time immigrants tried to assert their own rights in the midst of deportation, born-citizens interrupted them to say, “but what about we feel about our jobs and such?”

It’s not a matter of us not loving, appreciating, wanting, or acknowledging you. It’s the fact that almost every time a queer person tries to tell their story, assert their identity, or explain their experience, someone comes along to remind us “not all…” or “what do you mean by…” or even worse, explain what our experience/identity/sexuality really is, how they see it…

It’s the fact that some people who have been so long considered the societal default cannot accept that something isn’t about them, and they do all they can to change that. And if you’re only an ally or a friend to us because you want to be given a special ally cookie or told how awesome you are for being a decent fucking person, you’re not really an ally and you’re focusing on the wrong issue.

Your gender isn’t being questioned. You aren’t being told your labels are made up. You aren’t being told you can’t use the bathroom. You aren’t being told how you love is an abomination. Be an ally to us by stepping up and beside us, not in front of us to make sure that we don’t forget about you too.
We love you, but it isn’t about you, and that’s okay. Okay?

NOTE: Ehhh, not after that last line… I already know what you’re going to say. Just save it and pretend we agreed to disagree on how I’m a loser who needs to get a life despite the fact that I just graduated with three degrees with honors from an Ivy League school and am somehow also lazy and not contributing anything to society and whatever other bullshit insult you’re going to come up with to explain why you like my wrestling blogs but not this one. At this point, just stick to the wrestling one and ignore it if you hate it so much and leave me the hell alone. Kay? Kay.

Inciting Incident Blog #28 – Reflections on Pulse

It’s been almost a year since 49 members of our community were needlessly and heartlessly murdered. That event was the impetus of my transition. I read a letter that I’d written “anonymously” on the Inciting Incident episode where we talked about it, and it was only a month later that I secretly went on hormones.
That event made me want to be loud. That event made me want to yell. That event made me want to be visible. No matter what kind of danger it puts me in, because this kinda shit needs to stop, and the douchebros and ignoramuses are not helping.

I know you think it’s totes hilarious to make the “only two genders” joke, like we’ve heard it for the first time, but you’re the ones who get offended when someone other than you exists, or walks down the street holding hands with another transwoman.

I know you think we made all this up and that makes us crazy, but I think that makes you an ableist bigot with an awful lot of lonely nights spent trolling a noncis space on Facebook because you literally have nothing else to do.
I’m tired of having to fight for our humanity. I’m tired of having to fight to be acknowledged as people. I’m tired of having courts decide that crimes against us aren’t hate crimes because Jesus said we shouldn’t be that way or something. Can’t we charge them with hate crimes by making being ourselves even more dangerous than it already is?

I’m tired of having to ask someone to go to the bathroom with me. I’m tired of wondering if the next person to give me the stink eye has a gun. I’m tired of wondering if someone who sees my husband and I together is going to say something in front of my kids. I’m tired of worrying about every single queer and visible friend I have and their safety, because supposed followers of the God who said “love everyone” and those who clamor for the sanctity of life and all lives mattering also love to tell us that that loving God took 49 members of our community away in senseless violence because love, or because we’re all perverts, or because we are the army of darkness, or because purple makes them get flashbacks over titty twisters… Whatever it is, I don’t fucking care, and I’m sick of having to justify our community’s humanity daily to the crowd that is so willing to openly disregard experts in order to continue being an ignorant asshole.
I’ve been attacked recently by both strangers and people I considered friends. I’ve been attacked because I have the nerve to stand up for myself when someone shouts a shitty opinion at me. I’ve been attacked for thinking I know myself better than some stranger who is sure that he knows what gender really is. I’ve been attacked for having a visible show that isn’t about what’s going on in their lives, but instead focuses on our own community cause, you know, we’ve taken over everything and that’s all it is anymore. Look at all our fucking representation, guys. We really should get the cis straight white guys a chance once in a while, right?

Today, I sat and stared at messages. Countless messages, handwritten, on posters, on sidewalks, on rocks… I saw 49 names inscribed, including my own last name as second on the list. I imagined the sounds of that night; the visions, the terror, the fear… And I thought about every single person I heard mocking that event, or using it to promote hatred, or to make a shitty joke because special snowflakes can’t take their sense of humor because we don’t find jokes about the murder of our already-vulnerable community to be fucking funny!
I speak out for them, not the ones who can’t handle everything not being about them. I speak out for the chosen queer family I have, and the ones I don’t know, who have to live day to day, wondering if they’re going to be safe or if their dad is going to acknowledge their existence or if they’re going to have a place to live because of who they are. I became an activist because I am sick and fucking tired of all lives mattering until they found out they might be queer. I’m sick and fucking tired of life being sacred unless Jesus cries when queers kiss. I’m sick and fucking tired of knowledge being power, unless it affirms what we already know about our sexuality and gender, and then some fucking idiot named Todd knows better cause he got a C in eighth grade biology, and that’s pretty much the same thing.

Most of all, we’re sick of having to stop and explain to people outside the community and its allies as to why we can’t just stop and let things be, or wait until it blows over, or wait until times change and we’re accepted. None of us are promised that, and if anyone can’t understand that, it’s hard to move someone so privileged that the status quo doesn’t affect them either way in the first place.

Today I sat by a place where 49 members of our community died, and I became more determined than ever to fight against anyone who would see us harmed or worse. Fuck you for doing that, fuck you to anyone who supports it, fuck you to anyone who tries to justify it, fuck you to anyone who makes jokes about it…
And fuck you to anyone who insists on neutrality whenever it’s convenient for them, but come out with their hands open when it’s safe for their token ally cookie. Our lives are at stake every single day, especially with this fucking xenophobe leading the country, and we don’t have time to stop and consider how you might feel about having your shitty word choice corrected, okay Brenda?
Stand with us. Listen to the stories of those you’ve never been able to understand. Help us prevent something like this ever happening again instead of taking it for granted that it won’t. We don’t have that luxury.

Inciting Incident Blog #26 – From Given Up On To Giving It Up

I’ve told various parts of this story for years, and today is the day that I finally get to conclude this journey. Today is officially my last day as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, and it took me almost 32 years to get here, and I don’t think anyone ever thought I would. Let me explain…
In elementary school, I was bored. First grade saw me reading books while class was going on because I was tired of whatever the teacher was helping the other kids with. Eventually they put me on independent study, because I was reading at a way higher level than the grade would allow, and this continued all the way through fifth grade. It is my belief, in retrospect, that because of this, they weren’t looking for anything that would’ve retrospectively confirmed things like ADHD and gender identity. That, and I was in a snobby, elitist school district that at that time wouldn’t have fathomed something like that. Boy how things have changed!

The problem was, by putting me off in a corner and letting me do whatever I wanted for five years, they taught me that I didn’t have to pay attention in class, participate, learn how to work in a group, study, take notes, or anything like that. Imagine how that came crashing down once I hit junior high!

Getting into junior high was getting thrown to the wolves, and I never truly recovered. Even in sixth grade, my English teacher put me on the computer separately to write a book to send to President Clinton. Why wouldn’t I have assumed this was the way it was always going to be? It was how I was treated. That’s why I didn’t take to heart any of the warnings from my parents or teachers that I was not living up to my potential. I can’t deny my own responsibility in never trying to do so either, but once again, I’d already learned that I could get by and do whatever I wanted because I was really smart. It screwed me over in the long run.

I was also perceived to be a feminine boy, and that got me daily hazing from a variety of bullies. Then I’d go home, and I felt like an outcast from my own family, for reasons I won’t get into here. The worst incident was getting beaten with a baseball bat in my own driveway by two boys who called themselves “friends” because I was feminine. Or assumed to be gay.

In high school, the shit hit the fan. I was hospitalized three different times as a result of my ongoing self-crisis, running away from home when things got too much, and my general apathy toward school work. The teachers never forwarded any of the work I missed, so I failed ninth grade. I was emotionally distraught, desperately seeking love and attention, and that I believe covered up any of the aforementioned issues. That, and they’d given up on me. It only took them until tenth grade to do that.

They gave me a choice: reform school, or going to Florida to live with my grandmother so I could take the GED. I was an emotionally charged kid, but I wasn’t a criminal. I never got in any real trouble. The only time I was ever in the back of a police car was when they found me after I’d run away. I didn’t drink or do drugs, I was just desperate for love. And misdiagnosed with BPD.

In Florida, you can get your GED at age 16, as opposed to Pennsylvania, where your class has to graduate first. I aced the first test, so they didn’t think I needed the classes. But then they said I needed a second test, and I aced that too. Then, that’s where my grandmother says I really messed up, because at the actual GED test, I got one question wrong. Ruined everything! I got a real high school diploma instead of a GED because of that, so technically I graduated high school with a 4.0, despite passing exactly zero years.

It was around that time that I was in a small play at Little Theater. I was talking about my plans to get an early start at HACC and get ahead of the game, and there was this guy. Let’s call him Will C. He said, and I quote: “Yeah, you go ahead and go to HACC. Then one day you’ll be working for me.” I don’t know why that of all things stuck in my craw to this day, but it did. I hated him so much for it, because he’d always been cruel to me, snide, making remarks, and generally being a dick in my direction. I never forgot it.

I tried that whole HACC thing, but all of those problems were still problems. That, and being 17 years old, pretending to be male, and suddenly surrounded by gorgeous college women, I was going insane. I bombed out, and did pretty much the same thing at age 20 when I tried again.

I spent years working in retail, until I landed a pretty good gig working at Nordstrom at Mall of America. The average take-home was more than I’d ever seen in my life. One problem: they never bothered to tell me that it was seasonal. I moved halfway across the country for a seasonal job, and I was stuck yet again.

I moved home in August, and that weekend, the girlfriend who’d stuck with me the whole time cheated on me. So I was jobless, single, and seemingly without any path whatsoever. I went to my mother, who works at HACC, and said: “get me back into school, I don’t care what it takes. I’m never going to let this happen to me again.”

I got back into HACC. They let me only take two classes, and one of them was English Composition. I remember after the second class, the professor pulled me aside afterward and said, “what are you doing here?” It was my Billy Joel “Piano Man” moment. Despite the issues focusing, sitting still, and trying to cope with what I’d eventually understand to be my gender identity, I was destroying it.

I spent two years at HACC, and only got one B. The rest were A’s. This got me into Phi Theta Kappa, the honor’s society for community colleges. I was writing for the school paper, being published, and getting offers from all over the country. But once again, I had a girl in my life, and wanting to stay with her, I was looking for an option that would allow me to stay with her and pursue higher academia. That’s when Penn (not Penn State) had a session at HACC. I thought to myself, “wow, I could take the Amtrak everyday and come home to her! This will be great!”

Penn was the only place I applied. Penn was the only place I was accepted. Fall 2013, I started at Penn. They gave me the impression that it would take two years to graduate, but then they only took six of my classes as transfers, and only one was used as anything but a free elective. I essentially went to college for two years to get into college.

The first two years, I commuted via Amtrak, and it averaged being late or canceled about half the time. Plus, there were two trains leaving back to Harrisburg: 8:15 and 11pm. Having to take night classes (damn LPS), most of the classes ended at 8 or 8:30. So I could either leave class early, which they didn’t care for, or find three hours to kill, usually at a bar, get home around 1am, and do the whole thing over. Halfway through, I started driving instead, and that unleashed a whole new set of problems: I-76, the Sure-Kill. It doesn’t matter what time of day you hit that road, you will inevitably be in stopped traffic.

The girlfriend I had broke up with me at the end of the first semester. I still continued this commute, because I was determined to see it through. That, and I met my would-be husband soon after. I was dealing with all these feelings that were finally bubbling to the surface as well. Was I a girl? Had I been a girl this whole time? What was this going to mean? Would anyone ever accept me? Could I be safe in this world?

Then I won the 2015 Hershey Student Film Festival with a film I wrote about suicide, something near and dear to me, and a huge problem at Penn. That was the last film I’d ever write though, because as I learned, I have a degree in cinema to learn that I don’t really like cinema all that much. But I still dealt with the internal struggle of gender identity, which was delayed for almost two years by people who didn’t bother to learn about consent.

You all know the Pastor Carl story. That was how I kicked down the closet door and became who I truly am. Within months, I was out to the school and the world, had my name legally changed, affirmed my identity, been on HRT, and published two books during that time. The podcast grew into a huge success, I met so many new friends, guested on dozens more podcasts, and saw bookings for speeches, lectures, and appearances start to roll in. School became secondary, and after four years of a 100-mile daily each way commute four times a week, I was not only out of gas, but different opportunities and activities were taking my attention. I was no longer the 27-year-old pretend male with hopes and aspirations of a 4.0. I was a married 31-year-old transwoman finding success on her own and running her own business. As I used the metaphor many times, I had to take a knee and run out the clock, because I had no more energy to give to Penn academics. I needed to get through the last semester passing, and that’s all I cared.

Finally, my issues with language were taken care of after a year-plus of trying. I accepted neurodivergence, was exempted from having to learn a foreign language, and that saved my college career. It’s literally that I cannot do it, I can’t process it, and without that exemption, I was never going to graduate. It took getting a second evaluation and pressing hard to do so, but it finally happened. That, and CAPS doctors helped me get the medical assistance I needed with ADHD, anxiety, and the one that truly surprised me, PTSD. That explained my night terror attacks, my over-sensitivity to bright lights, loud sounds, and being startled. Dealing with all of this, the gender transition, the commute, not to mention an Ivy League education despite never having passed a year of high school and having to work through it, definitely took its toll on everything. I’m amazed I can still wake up in the morning.

But this morning I did. I finally reached it. The last day of undergrad. Six years of college, plus years of being confused, tortured, bullied, misunderstood, and doubted have finally culminated in this. So, I can only say one thing on this momentous day of finally completing a journey…

Fuck you, Will C.

And thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Inciting Incident Blog #25 – 2014

TW: Dysphoria, sexual assault
If you know anything about me, you know why the year of 2014 is significant.

That was the year I first started to come out.

That was the first time in my life I felt the sense of overwhelming joy that I’m now awash in.

That was the first time that my naive nature got me in trouble.

That was the first time I truly understood what is the queer reality.

Or, as some people might say it, shit we made up for attention.

Let me explain…

In 2014, I was introduced to terms that more accurately described what I was. For so long, I was in the assumption that I was a drag queen and nothing more, because I didn’t know there was an option beyond that. Once I started learning, the floodgates of so many years of hiding opened up.

The problem is, I wasn’t socialized as a woman. I wasn’t taught things that women have to watch out for. I didn’t know things like “be careful in a dark alley” or “don’t accept a drink unseen” or “be careful who you’re drunk around.” These thoughts never would’ve occurred to me, and there’s something seriously fucked up about that. Both that they happened, and that they had to.

I’m sick of people marginalizing the experience of trauma victims, and I’m sick of people always having to play the Devil’s Advocate when someone explains their experience, their trauma, or their identity. They’re always looking for the benefit of the doubt so that they don’t have to take any action on their part whatsoever. That would require changing thinking and we can’t have that.

There’s the terrible myth that anyone AMAB can’t be raped, whether it’s because of physical reaction or because they always want it. There’s the myth that we’re somehow asking for it, or that we deserve it for being freaks. There’s people who think it didn’t happen, or think we’re exaggerating, or who are always looking to find a reason why they either can one-up or disregard what you’re saying.

When I was roofied, another transwoman told me that I probably just couldn’t handle my liquor, because “it seems strange that someone would use roofies on you and not bother to go ahead and rape you.”

Of all people, shouldn’t we who’ve been through that experience know better? Can’t we be better than that without victim-blaming and marginalizing someone who has been through trauma?

I came out again in 2016, but that was after almost two years of complete misery. Hiding, denial, numbness, blaming myself, and everything in between: what would my family think, would I lose my kids, would I lose my job, would I ever be okay?

Then I was. Sort of.

Everyone who has only known me for the last few months, they see the ridiculous schedule and output I have, but they don’t always know what came before it. The disasters I suffered and the numbness, tears, self-doubt, self-hating, and the denial destroyed me inside before I finally started to accept who I was, and it clicked all at once in the face of a hate pastor.

But that took two years. Two years of denying I was Marissa. Two years of pretending to be male. Two years of pretending to be straight. Two years of my life lost because someone thought my consent was theirs for the taking. Twice.

Then some people are quick to jump on the “faking it” claim. Once again, because that’s easier than actually doing something about it.

Inciting Incident Blog #23 – You Are Missing the Point

Recently, Ari Stillman and I started a satirical podcast. It’s called “The Cis Are Getting Out of Hand.” It’s blatantly satirical; we would never actually tell a cis person to go sit in the quiet corner and apologize for their gender. That’s the point; the cis people who play along are in on the joke.
The truth behind it is, it’s a podcast made by non-cis people for non-cis people. It’s for us to be able to vent without having to explain our pronouns, without having to define cis for someone… again. Without having to justify our humanity or defend a bathroom argument or put ourselves on the line.

Allies may not realize this when they ask a question or hear us say something about cis people, and they may be hurt by it. I know they have just in the span of the few days since we started that community. The people I love, of course I love them. Of course I don’t hate cis people. But it’s not about you right now, and that’s the point.

Look at how other people react when queer people have their own space where we can say these things without cis people constantly reminding us “not all…” or without straight people needing to be praised for putting themselves on the line and fighting for our rights. Let me be clear: You should not need praise and rewards for being an ally, you should do it because it’s the right fucking thing to do.

I was recently gaslit in a conversation talking about this very thing. I needed to calm down, and how I needed to chill. He was going to make his own group of allies for LGBT people and didn’t see why that was condescending and insulting. Because god forbid the straight cis white guys are left out of anything. I was accused of “decluding” people who are on our side, and I don’t think that’s a word. Then concludes by saying things like “I’m still gonna fight for you despite you being unnecessarily rude tonight. You’re awfully grumpy.”

If you consider yourself an ally and don’t realize how shitty, manipulative, and condescending that is, get this straight: You are NOT a fucking ally!

This whole thing started because a friend of mine was standing up against a guy who insisted the LGBTQIA replace the A with Ally. Once again, god forbid we have a space of our own without including you. Then, when called on that, after having to have cis defined to him without the aid of the Google machine, says he’ll make his own group: ALGBTQIA: “I’ll have my group, you’ll have yours.”

Once again, you’re making a derivative about our thing by making it about you… again. You talk about us not including you… Well you’re not included in this! You’re an ally: great! You should be! But not because you expect a reward for it. Not because you expect us to suddenly consider your experience the same as ours!

It costs you nothing to be an ally, but you want to get yourself queer points. As if being an ally equates our experiences. As if you have any idea what it’s like to be us. Like you sit there and go “yeah, I’m an ally. I know what you go through, getting ‘faggot’ yelled at you, getting intimidated out of using the bathroom for being trans… We’re one in the same. We’re all in this together.”

NO! We’re not all in this together. You being a visible ally does nothing except say that you’re not an asshole! Our choice to be visible is one that risks harassment, assault, or worse. Can’t you see that? Can’t you see the difference between standing up for a cause and actually living as someone who is a target? But no, it hurts your cishet feelings if we leave you out of a thing in our own space, and that’s totally equatable with oppression. We’re the bad ones if you think about it. If only you too had your own space where you could talk with other straight cis people at leisure without worry or necessarily having them around…

We don’t. We have very few spaces where we can do that without someone asking questions and reminding us what a good ally they are. Expecting reward for their charity of doting us with their “support.” And then having the attitude of “well gee, if this is how you’re going to treat us, then I shouldn’t be on your side at all.” if you’re only on our side because you think we should be nice to you, you’re not an ally. Charity for reward is not charity, and you are no ally of mine. I will say this every single day until I no longer have to say this anymore.

One more time, for those in the back…

It’s…

Not…

About…

YOU!

P.S. Small update on this. He was apparently “trolling” me, not hard by his standards, but wants me to unblock him to apologize. All he did, after all, was say he wanted a letter. Right. Take a look at the screenshots. All he did was innocently ask me for a letter then “troll” me with his shitty, condescending, gaslighting, “pat me on the head and give me an Ally cookie” behavior. Nope, sorry. Bye Felicia.