Marissa Explains it All #42 – My Love… The One I Married, Anyway

This is an essay that will be published in my fifth book, Passing Cars. But due to people wanting to know the story of how Aiden and I got together, on the five-year anniversary of the day we met, I thought I’d share it here as well. Enjoy!

 

I make no secret of the fact that my husband and I are both polyamorous. If you think that’s had some impact on our relationship or passion for each other though, you haven’t been around us at all. As I sit right next to him as I write this, on the day that five years ago, we happened upon meeting each other, it’s hard to believe we’ve come this far in a relatively short amount of time. I’ve written and been very vocal about our relationship, marriage, and how much he means to me, and while I told the story of our wedding itself in The PC Lie, the story of how we met is quite the event itself.

In October of 2012, my sister was getting married. Not my blood sister, but someone I’d called a sister for a good portion of my life. The joke was that we were separated at birth; something her birth mother would later claim she had no memory of, but we were as close as siblings would be, and her family treated me as such. Our group were among the only people traveling to North Carolina for her wedding, and since I wasn’t out yet, that wasn’t nearly as dangerous of an objective as it would be now.

Details about my date that evening aside, we were wandering back to our room to catch part of the Ohio State game when her grandmother pulled me aside. I suppose for clarity’s sake, I should specify that Becky was adopted, but her birth mother went on to have two more kids. Her birth grandmother was the one who recognized me from Facebook, where I’d often be the big sister to Becky and jokingly tell her husband why not to say certain things. In retrospect, there were a lot of behaviors in place that were very indicative of my true self, even if I didn’t connect the dots at the time.

Standing next to her grandmother was this cute, adorable person who I would later come to know as Aiden. It was only in passing, but we connected on Facebook under his deadname, and didn’t really say much until a year later. For my YouTube show at the time, we were filming a game of Cards Against Humanity and were looking to get several different personalities to join us for the event. Our conversation on Facebook began about our mutual love for the Nostalgia Critic, but ended up being an invite to come join us. My partner at the time, the same one who went to the wedding with me, fell asleep and left the game early, and the moment everyone remembers from that night was him picking a random winner over a set of two cards that I had strategically and logically placed for a perfect combination. Stupid pennywhistle solo…

We became closer over the ensuing few months, despite our seven-year age difference. That never came into play, except with his mother worrying about him being out with someone older at times. But we were both partnered at the time and laughed at the worrisome manner in which people treated our friendship. Well, I guess we weren’t really fooling anyone.

We both broke up with our respective partners in April of 2014. Mine involved being broken up with via email after a two-year relationship and a dishonest move from our house, and his involved… realizing I was available, I imagine. I only partially claim a joke in that regard. The first night that we ended up spending together involved Bailey’s and a lot of repressed feelings coming forth. We ended up sleeping until 4PM the next day, with both of us awkwardly trying to make sense of everything.

Being that I’d just had my heart broken (again, but that’s a story for another time), I wasn’t in any hurry to rush into things. He stuck with me regardless of my best attempt to pretend our feelings weren’t as strong and mutual as they were, but the more time we spent together, the more I fell in love with his heart. The age difference was never a factor. He was there for me regardless of my mood or what was going on, and the more he was, the more I wanted him there in the difficult moments.

That summer, before certain events transpired that delayed everything, he saw me as my true self for the first time. We had a weekly theme for our game nights at my place, and he’d picked a drag night. Subtle, I know. I saw this as the opportunity to officially come out to the entire group, and it’s quite obvious in the picture we got together that he was smitten.

I’d built up a protective layer of callous until that point, but I realized when I was out as Marissa, not only was I completely vulnerable, but I felt everything that much stronger; including how I felt about him. I felt alive, motivated, and like I wanted to kick the closet door down and be out as his girlfriend (we called it a lesbian thing at the time because he wasn’t out yet at that point.)

He came out to me about six months later, in the most off-handed and awkward manner possible. Again during a game of Cards Against Humanity, he mentioned to the people we were playing with that he was trans, and my surprise at the moment wasn’t that he was, but that was the way he chose to tell me. Despite not being attracted to men, it took me about a day to adjust my thinking in regard to him because I’d fallen in love with his heart first, and that didn’t change no matter what gender he was. If anything, we were more connected and open with each other this way than we ever had been. He started taking on some of the more “traditional” male roles, but our relationship as equals only changed in what we called each other and the petnames that resulted from that sweetness that gives others the diabeetus.

He also proposed via text message after a long night at a con, so it was only fitting that everything that transpired in our relationship was surprising and awkward. Especially since we both are anyway. I wrote about our wedding in The PC Lie, so I won’t cover that again, but if anything has strengthened as much as my resolve for justice and equality, it’s my love for him.

The pinnacle of this was at the 100th episode of Inciting Incident, which was held in the same place we got married about five weeks short of a year to the day that we got married. We’d gotten married under our dead names, because we weren’t out to some of our family yet, but most of the people there knew. Nonetheless, a wrong needed to be righted. After planning it with the theater rep, who was by no coincidence the same person who ministered our wedding, I had a shotgun wedding renewal in front of our closest friends and contemporaries, hitting everyone right in the feels in between Rissy being so nervous about the show that she drank while forgetting to eat. I think that was the most memorable part of the show for everyone.

The best part of the story is that I grew up calling Becky my sister, almost hyperbolically and the way that close friends feel like siblings in their relationships. However, once I married her younger brother, suffice it to say that she became my legal sister-in-law, so there’s a real sense of irony and foreshadowing retrospectively. Sometimes life has a way of working out in ways you’d never expect, despite the evidence and planted seeds being right in front of you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marissa Explains it All #39 – Managing the Fire

I’ve never been good at resting.

At one point last year, I was suffering from pneumonia, and I still had the urge and instinct to get stuff done. My husband practically sat on my chest and ordered me to lay back down. That’s what it took to get me off my feet and not trying to do eight things at a time.

Maybe it’s because I had it drilled into my had that working hard, through pain, exhaustion, and frustration was the only way to be accepted, successful, and strong. A lot of it was unintentional I’m sure, but I felt growing up that anytime I needed a break or a day off that I was chastised for daring to think such things were acceptable.

Therefore, I find myself in the difficult position of desperately needing a break from the world being on fire, but every time I think I’m ready to cut things off for a while, this overwhelming sense of guilt takes over; shaming me for daring to even think of disengaging when silence can be interpreted as consent or compliance.

Speaking out does not come without its consequences, and as much fun as it can be, and as great as the reciprocation can be, it doesn’t come without its toll. For instance, being on the trans rights activism front, it’s only natural that I know other trans rights activists, and a lot of their posts often include the original source of someone saying something horrible about us. Yes, it is often followed by a refutation, but taking in yet another person who doesn’t think we’re people or valid or in charge of our identity is taken in nonetheless, and it gets fucking exhausting to have to justify your humanity to yourself, even when being shown an example of someone else already doing that part. I internalize everything, and it’s impossible for me to see the horrible thing consequence-free.

Combine that on the personal front with being hurt badly in successive days by people in my own life for anything from being dehumanized to shamed for needing some space, and it feels like the world is closing in on me. Like it’s a new age version of Mean World Syndrome,where instead of the media convincing me that everyone is going to get murdered, the people out there who find that action against us justified get their signals boosted constantly; and it seems unavoidable.

I needed to get away from it; that, and putting myself out there to only be called a thing or deadnamed or misgendered constantly, it wears on my already tired and weakened battery. Yet, those who march against all marginalized groups and kill people with their cars to prove it don’t sleep, and silence from white people can be seen as complicity. That line becomes grey and hard to spot, and the right thing to do can be lost between trying to be there and visible and running on fumes, but feeling exhausted, defeated, ineffective, and in desperate need of recharge. I can only see how a majority of people think of me and my community so many times before I need to not see it for a while.

But again, that guilt runs deep. That sense of feeling like resting or needing a break is giving up; it keeps the candles burning late and the car running past the E. It’s an internal vicious circle of horrible, self-defeating inner Monologues.

In the midst of feeling myself hitting another low, I took another self-imposed social media ban, barely a week after spending the weekend in Seattle with my partner the same way. Taking it a step further though, I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone entirely, following in the footsteps of someone I dearly love, Eli Bosnick. Though not for the same reason, he’s someone else who puts himself out there boldly, and deals with the blowback as best he can. Yet, like the rest of us, remains human and can only deal with so much negativity and horrible hatred in human behavior.

Sometimes it’s just about learning that the fire doesn’t always need to be put out immediately, but left to be managed by allies who step up in your place. You know, like real allies who aren’t in it for the cookie.

Recording my own podcast tonight, I found myself breaking down at the end while discussing a somewhat traumatic recent event, and I had to ask my cohost if they could edit the show. I couldn’t even bring myself to deal with it on that level anymore. I needed escape from the world; into the arms of my husband, my partners, the innocent eyes of my kids who have no idea the kind of negativity from which I truly try to shield them… and yet, I can’t stop feeling like a failure for it. Nor can I stop feeling one when the next transphobic asshole thinks they’re being original with whatever apologetic they heard from someone else and thought it was brilliant.

I need to fight all I can, especially for those who aren’t in a position to do so, but I’m not in a good headspace at all. Things are getting to me, and even in writing this post with no intention of reading the comments, I’m stuck between keeping it to myself and fearing pointlessness. Or posting it and feeling pointlessness.

Maybe for a while, I need to let the other firefighters take a shift. I’ve been on the call for far too long. But if something is lost in the fire when I’m not there, I’ll never stop blaming myself.

So be it. I’m no good to anyone with a dead battery.

Marissa Explains It All #38 – Questioning

There was a bit of an altercation on a thread for one of my shows today, and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around everything as best I can. Unfortunately, I’m left with more questions than answers, so I suppose this post will have me explaining my questions rather than divulging my usual way. Forgive the endless series of wonders that I’ll go through here, but I’m trying to reach for something tangible in all this.

On one of my podcasts, we spoke to a trans person who talked about having to go “undercover” as their assigned gender at birth while teaching in Zambia so as not to be put in jail for 14 years. A bad joke and a reference later, and I named the show after it, replacing part of a line from Toto’s “Africa” with our show catch phrase because… silly song, sarcastic reference, nothing bad intended.

On the thread for it this morning, it was called out for being racist, and I wanted to ask why. I wanted to understand how it was doing so. I’ve tried to do nothing but ask questions since, but I come up with more questions than answers, as I stated in the beginning.

Just as it’s not a cis person’s place to tell me when something is transphobic, it’s not my place to tell a POC whether something is or is not racist, which is why I asked if anything I did disparaged anyone. I was then explained the history of colonization and imperialism, about which I’m not familiar but again it’s not my place to question, and then the guest was reprimanded for “changing the topic” to LGBT oppression… on an LGBT show whose thread was an interview with someone who had to pretend they were someone they weren’t in order to help build schools in Zambia without going to jail.

I don’t understand how a reference to an admittedly problematic song reinforces racism, but I changed the name of the show because I don’t feel like I should tell someone it isn’t. But within the thread, it was stated more than once that all white people are racist, as they benefit from the systematic oppression of POC; the second part of which is of course demonstrably true.

I tried replacing some of the words to see if I could find something tangible to grab on to. As an Autistic person, sometimes I need to do that in order to process it, but I’m finding myself more lost the more I think about it. If we start with the idea that an entire group of people is automatically racist, where do we go from that? If we’re all grouped in with those who actively oppress, how do we work to improve that situation? I know we don’t rely on “I’m not racist, I do this,” but I always want to improve, be more educated, and try to be better than I was yesterday, and I don’t see a way to do that here.

I try to ask so that I can listen, because I don’t feel qualified to speak on these issues. You can be privileged in one area and not another, and that gives you a unique perspective on knowing when to speak and when not to. Where I don’t have cis or male privilege, I do have white privilege, and that’s important to recognize. When I’m asked about the murder rate of trans POC, I don’t feel qualified to speak on that topic because I don’t feel my voice is the one that needs to be platformed on that specific issue. I try to find others who speak from experience or better knowledge than I do.

I know the answer is to sometimes not speak at all, and I get that. When it comes to race issues, I don’t know that experience. I can definitely speak on trans issues though, and that’s what our show is specifically about. If the title was racist or evoked negativity in that way, I felt obligated to change it, whether or not I understood it. Again, not my place to decide.

But what do I do from here? I don’t want to be racist. I try my best not to do or say problematic things or support people who do, but where do I go from there. If we’re all automatically the same as the active oppressors, I don’t know where to go from that point, and I feel the need to distinguish between “I’m not racist, but…” and “I don’t want to be racist,” meaning if I am, I want to work toward not being so. I definitely want to be corrected, I definitely want to be educated, I definitely want to learn, but what do I do if there’s nothing to be done, or nothing I can do to escape it?

These are questions I don’t feel qualified to answer, and I hope I’m not being problematic in doing so. On one hand, I feel like if I said that all cis people benefit from cis privilege and are therefore transphobes, that would be very problematic, and I wouldn’t say that beyond the intentionally-joking manner of “hecking the cis.” I also acknowledge that those are not the same situations, but I’m trying to grasp them somehow so I can understand, learn, acknowledge, and grow.

And even in writing this, I’ve further confused myself. I actively admit this is beyond my understanding, and if I get told to stay in my lane, then I should. But I don’t know what to do while I’m there either, and that’s where I find the most confusion of all.

Marissa Explains it All #37 – What to Expect When You’re Questioning

Being a visible and openly trans activist as I am, I get emails or messages a lot from people who might be starting to question their gender, or loved ones of the questioning. While I am certainly willing to take as much time as necessary to have those messages, Skype calls, etc., I feel like I should put out a list of some of the things I say in these conversations, especially because I know for everyone who reaches out, there are many more who are afraid to initiate the conversation, afraid that I won’t have time to listen, or any other reason. Therefore, I’m publishing this post for those who may not feel able to talk to me, publicly or privately, and may be in a position of having gender questions.

NOTE: These pieces of advice are based on my own experience, my experiences with other trans people, the numerous interviews conducted therein, and the books I’ve read of other trans people. This is by no means a tell-all, answer-all guide, and before you make any major decisions, you should talk to a trusted, LGBT-friendly doctor so that you’re well aware of the risks, side effects, and other baggage that may go with this decision. I’m not a professional (at that, anyway), and do not claim to be an expert. Only someone with a lot of experience.

1. No matter how open-minded or gender-blind you think you are, there are societal influences, toxic thoughts, and other pressures you need to sort out in your head.

Our willful participation in this culture is not as manageable as your Facebook feed; meaning, you can’t always filter out what you don’t like or want. Culture, on a basic level, is learned behavior, and we don’t always choose what we learn on a subconscious level. You may have harmful perceptions of gender, relations, and how one should or does act that may detract from your experience. When you’re first starting to question your gender, a lot of those things are going to come up, possibly as reasons why you shouldn’t transition:

-I don’t want to be called by male/female/neutral pronouns because no one will ever respect that anyway.

-I don’t want to admit to myself that I’m trans because I see how the community is treated in certain parts of society.

-I don’t think I could ever go through with surgeries or HRT.

-I feel like there may not be a point in coming out or transitioning.

All of these are valid, and yet they’re sometimes defense mechanisms we’ve created to talk ourselves out of taking that leap. Make no mistake about it; these questions are difficult, deeply embedded in your consciousness, and may bring about thoughts and memories you wish they didn’t. However, once you get past all the reasons you think it’ll never work; Once you can sort all those in another folder, that is when you can truly start asking yourself the most important questions.

-Why am I questioning my gender?

-What does gender mean to me?

-How do I really feel?

-Who do I really think I am?

-Does it truly matter what anyone else thinks of it?

Once you can get to those without talking yourself out of even thinking about it, then you can truly start to learn who you are.

2. Your answers may change.

Coming out/being trans isn’t always as easy as “I always knew.” As much as some stories would like to have you think that, exploring and discovering your gender identity is a deep, long, and difficult experience, and the answer may change. I for one talked myself out of coming out numerous times, got scared and went back into the closet, then talked myself out of HRT, then talked myself out of surgery, and the list goes on. If you don’t feel like you can or want to go on hormones, you don’t have to to be valid. If you don’t feel like you could ever go through with surgery, fine! You don’t have to go through any procedure to be valid in who you are. Don’t let the outside world move the goalposts on you, because they will every chance they get. Maybe you’ll start in non-binary identities and move through them to the other side. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll go with it for a while and then “de-transition.” Maybe a non-binary identity is where your heart truly lies. And maybe that answer will change over time too! It doesn’t matter. This is your journey, and nobody can take that away from you. Nobody has more of a right to your identity than you do, despite what the anti-trans commentators would have you believe.

3. Don’t let concerns over being able to “pass” talk you out of embracing your identity.

Remember what I said about moving the goalposts. Some people will tell you the only way you can be valid in your trans-identity is by “passing” according to cisgender standards. Those who can stealth or not be visibly trans, that’s what some would like us to believe is the only valid way. You don’t owe anyone in this society, including yourself, blending in by cis standards. Your journey isn’t about them or living up to how they feel you should be adequately trans. Despite what some insecure people may think, our lives are not devoted to blending in to trick people into accidentally being attracted to trans people.

4. Give yourself time, distance, and recovery.

Being online and trans sucks sometimes.

By that, I mean if you’re like me, not a day goes by where someone in your Facebook feed, or one of their friends, doesn’t have something shitty to say about trans people. Even the proudest among us, it gets to us after a while. Allow yourself time away. Allow yourself space to recover. Take time away from those toxic arguments. You’re not obligated to speak up if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to chime in on every douchebag who says an inappropriate thing. Trust me, that urge is there, and gets magnified if you get into activism. Be proud, be as loud as you feel safe being, but don’t feel like you have to rebut every terrible argument. None of us have the time for that. Right now, I’m on a self-imposed Facebook ban until I get back home from a weekend getaway. I imposed this ban on myself because getting into too many arguments and/or constantly trying to validate or justify my humanity and right to my identity finally caught up with me. And if you’ve listened to any of my shows, you know I yell a lot. Give yourself that time away; we all need time to recover, recharge, and distance ourselves from the toxic opinions of those who may never understand us.

5. You don’t owe cis people anything.

This is the main reason I’ve been on hiatus: Defending this ideal. Whether it’s people who think we owe them our trans status immediately, or those who feel entitled to answered questions at any time, no matter how invasive they are, you don’t owe anybody anything. Nobody is entitled to your time. Nobody is entitled to your body. Nobody has the right to demand something from you that you’re not ready to give them.

6. You’re not obligated to fit someone else’s standards of masculinity/femininity/etc.

When my husband got deeper into his transition, he started wearing makeup and short shorts again. At a point, he was afraid to, because he felt he had to live up to some standard of masculinity that he’d felt influenced by. Dispel yourself of that toxic bullshit as quickly as possible. You can be a trans woman and wear jeans and a t-shirt. You can be a trans man and wear makeup and like cute things. You can be non-binary and still associate with things you liked before you came out. Let yourself like things because you like them, not because you think you should.

7. You will hear every stupid argument, no matter how long you’re out and no matter how much you try to avoid them.

Here, I’ll knock a few out right now… Not disclosing trans status is dishonest. Trans is a fad. Trans was made up by Tumblr in 2009. There are only two genders. You can’t change gender. Chromosomes. DNA. Science. You’re still x no matter what. You’re a distraction. You’re sick. You need help. Trans is a mental illness. Trans people have magic, gender-bending mindpowers because they’re sorcerers whose mission in life is to spread the trans and play volleyball in the face of mocking god.

Okay, maybe that last one is true. The rest are absolute bullshit mostly perpetuated by people who aren’t trans, don’t know anyone who is trans, don’t know the first thing about being trans or HRT or anything else, or do have some of those things and still perpetuate harm to others. Fuck them.

I say this often: I’m openly trans because I want to be, not because I feel obligated to be so in order to make others more comfortable. I was transitioning five months before I came out publicly. It’s none of their business. This journey is about you. Figure out who you are, figure out what you want, and find your own identity. You don’t have to accept what others tell you that you are. You don’t have to accept the naysaying in the back of your mind that tells you you’ll never be valid/accepted/passing/trans-enough/etc. Make this journey because you want to. Make this discovery because you want to. Be who you are because you want to… Not because others feel entitled to that information or your answers to their questions.

I regret nothing about who I am. I only wish I’d had access to the information I did much earlier in life. I would’ve transitioned over a decade ago if I’d known that was an option. Be sure to talk to people you trust. Don’t risk your life, house, job, or safety over it if you can help it. Read or listen to things that other trans people have said. Those who put it out there, myself included, partially do so in order to try to help make it easier on trans people coming out after we do. Trans stories are as varied as trans people themselves, and I hope your story gives you the happy answers and experiences that my journey has for me. You deserve happiness, respect, and the freedom to be who you are, and don’t ever let anyone, including yourself, convince you otherwise.

And, of course, reach out if you feel like you need to. I’m on Facebook (except this weekend) at Marissa Alexa McCool, Twitter @RisMcCool, Instagram @littlegirlrissy, Snapchat @rissymonster, or you can email me at rismcwriting@gmail.com. I always try to answer as many and as quickly as possible, and there are plenty of other openly trans people who are willing to answer your questions when they can. Don’t be afraid to find out who you are because of what you’re worried may happen. Find out. It’s worth it. Even with all the pain, negative things, and societal attachments that come with being openly trans, I don’t regret a thing. I just need time to take care of myself sometimes.

Don’t we all?

 

Marissa Explains it All #31 – Screamed At For Existing

For those of you who don’t already know, I am pansexual and polyamorous. I have a husband and two girlfriends, and one of my girlfriends is trans like me. As I’d already been invited to Utah Pride by another podcast, and seeing as she’s from there, I invited her to come spend the time with me before we move in together with my family in St. Paul.

When you live in the East, you often hear combinations of cliches about flyover states, but Utah in particular is associated with the Mormons; people who have a reputation for being overly friendly, but also holding some incredibly bigoted and backward views. I’ve had to live-read the book with Molly Un-Mormon, I’ve read this shit!

But there’s always the promise that in a metropolitan city that hosts a huge Pride festival, it won’t be as bad as, say, having it in a rural area with a bad reputation. The cities are always safer for people like us, right?

The crassness, arrogance, ugliness, and deliberateness of the people in this area surprised me, and I’ve spent the last four years in Philadelphia, the city known to respond to its reputation for being assholes with “At least we’re not as bad as New York!” This was a different beast though.

We weren’t sure where the festival was being held, and we ended up taking an unintentional several mile hike around the city. As people who love each other tend to do when they’re doing something together, we held hands… something you can only find gross or inappropriate if you hold queer people to a different standard than you would anyone else. Apparently, this was the latter.

Slurs were shouted at us from car windows. People passing by made remarks. From all types, from all directions, we were shouted at endlessly for having the nerve to walk on a sidewalk while being trans. And of course we were holding hands, which is like third base in Mormon, so there was also that.

In Philly, someone might shout something at you, but it won’t be an epithet. They’ll tell you to go fuck yourself, but it’ll be for taking a parking space, not for existing. They’ll punch you in the face, but it’ll be for wearing a Cowboys jersey, not for being a minority. That’s the difference I’ve noticed in all my traveling: People are assholes everywhere, but it’s why they choose to be assholes that marks the difference for me.

Even when I was in Lexington, Kentucky, the South, people stared and made remarks under their breath. But to be this verbose and deliberate about it was something different for me, and I held up a little better than she did by returning it with my signature snark, but I can only hold up for so long. We’re human, after all.

It takes a lot of energy to wear armor. It takes the emotional battery to try to shield others from hatred, and no matter how strong you are, sometimes you have to put the shield on the charger and close your eyes and cry. After that, being called “sir” after four times of saying “I’m not a sir,” after being treated like shit in the Staples, and after some of the worst hotel service I’ve ever experienced, I felt drained, apathetic, and just needed to be held in my girlfriend’s arms. The world got too loud.

But as I calmed down, I had to reflect on some other things. Our time that we spent together here was magical, whether it was alone or with friends. Daily messages of admiration and appreciation for what it is that I do keep me going, and I’ll take one of those for every hundred bigots that call me a slur. The memory of those will remain long after the pain from being catcalled has faded.

To spend a night with friends who are genuinely curious about your story and share theirs with you… To learn from new friends, meet their families, and divulge experiences that we may have explained a thousand times, but ears and faces are willing to receive them, that was magical. And even though I had to leave the room several times because the noise got to be too much, the love and support from the friends far outweighs the multitudes of assholes.

Plus I got to meet Misty K. Snow, the first transperson to run for Senate. Or, as Felicia put it, “she wants to meet you.” I still haven’t reached that level of dissonance where I understand that, especially when it’s someone who has done far more in this world than I could ever hope to. I feel like a phony, a fraud, when I stand next to someone like that and people regard us in the same sentence. But they do. I don’t get it, but they do.

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Then, as I awoke this morning, I recalled the Wells Fargo teller who responded to me correcting her use of my name with a compliment. I remembered the affirmative messages that a dozen people sent this weekend. And I saw the look in my girlfriend’s eyes as she woke up next to me and we were still here, still strong, still together, and still ready to fight, even as much as it hurts. I wrote a poem about that moment that I’ll put at the bottom of the page. It was a transcendental moment, no pun intended, and even with all that’s happened, I’m truly grateful for this experience.

I may not have spent a second at Pride, but I still have reasons to celebrate. Sunday, I’ll have my first event as a featured speaker in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and I just got booked at another in Flint, Michigan. I repeat that I don’t know why people want to hear what I have to say, but the best I can do is try not to let them down, especially in these times.

I got a tattoo of the Against Me! lyric/motto/attitude: “True Trans Soul Rebel.” It means that even in the worst of times, when everyone wants us gone or dead, we defy them by continuing to live our lives outside of the closet. We will be loud, we will be defiant, we will express our love without apology, and we will continue to fight against this ugliness and bigotry so that others don’t have to. People like Misty, who ran as a transperson in freaking Utah, help me remember that. If we can take heat off those who are coming out now or in a few years, it’s all worth it.

And this has all been worth it.

I’ll leave you with the aforementioned poem I wrote this morning. Hope to see some of you in Allentown, Flint, and at my live show in July. Thank you.

SMALL MOMENTS BLUES
By Marissa Alexa McCool

The sun peers in from the bay window. The curtains gently unfold ever so slightly, allowing the light of a new day to envelop the darkness. Short breaths, signs of the unseen and subconscious haunting reality slowly dissipate among the new morning rising.

The stacks of books make way for trains of thought, chugging through the heavy slog of the weight of minor sorrows. To compare the slurs and hatred against the affirmations and encouragement, it brings us all to an examination of the balance.

The hatefulness pricks harder, but the love remains long after the sharp stings of ignorance penetrate our armor. Your hand, my hand, united and defiant against what we’re supposed to be, committing revolution by knowing what we’ll face from the public, and choosing to be visible anyway.

Not all life needs to be a fight, this is true. But in finding happiness in simplicity, peacefulness in serenity, we defy the wishes of those who would harm us by smiling to ourselves and each other.

You can call us dykes. You can call us trannies. You can call us queers. You can fight to eliminate us from public life. But every time that we smile at each other and kiss despite you, we’re winning the war.

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.