Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Trans Butch Blues: Notes from a New Lesbian Underground

By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit

Exile in Happy Valley

Boys are loud and rambunctious. Girls are quiet, meek and well behaved. Boys get dirty, climb trees and scrape their knees. Girls stay neat and clean. Boys are husky growing lads. Girls are thin, dainty creatures who must be careful to watch their weight. Boys fight back with swinging fists. Girls sit back and take the abuse. This is but a Whitman’s Sampler of the kind of binary bullshit that our chauvinistic society has used for ages to demolish the self-esteem of an entire gender.

You hear it every fucking day, even in our self-congratulating woke society. They all point at the busted glass ceiling and wait for applause but the only women with anything even resembling power in this country are the ones who murder like men with the poise and dignity of Mary Crocker in a Chanel pant suit. Boys still wear blue, and girls are still defined by their approval regardless of what they wear. The result isn’t just less pay and less agency, it’s a sickeningly disproportionate rate of self-abuse, depression, eating disorders and suicide. The patriarchy still kills little girls who don’t perform on key, and I should know. I may have been raised male but that didn’t stop the unwritten laws of the patriarchy from stealing my childhood and teaching me how to destroy myself.

You hear the same Hallmark transgender story from the mainstream zeitgeist over and over again. You can practically recite the lyrics like a song. “She knew she was really a girl in a boy’s body from day one. She dreamed of wearing pink dresses and playing with dolls and dating boys and she breathed fairy dust and she quietly farted sparkles and rainbows and blah blah blah…” If I have to listen to that Oprah-approved trans-female narrative one more time, I swear to Kali that I’m going to jam my head in the nearest Easybake Oven. This may be some trans girl’s story but it sure as shit wasn’t mine. I didn’t grow up in some convoluted Lisa Frank fairytale. I was a weird little kid who dressed in black and grew up obsessed with pro-wrestling, heavy metal music and horror movies. There was nothing pink and frilly telling me that I was a girl, so I just assumed I was boy, but it never felt right.

I had plenty of male friends early on, but I never felt like one of them and when I was surrounded by them at Cub Scout meetings and sleepovers, I never felt more alien. As I got older those gross feelings of otherness became increasingly hard for me or anyone else to ignore. There was always something wrong with the Reid boy. Something not quite right. The adults seemed to pick up on it first. Every few years my conservative Catholic school would hold a secret convention among the concerned teachers and parents to discuss what should be done with me and my bewilderingly ‘other’ ways. They never came up with a proper plot, but they made their disdain painfully well-known through snickers and stares and it wasn’t long before their children followed suit and all those male friends became taunting hecklers one by one, repeating what they had overheard at the dinner table.

I heard the word faggot a lot growing up, but I never quite fit the bill. Truth be told, I have been attracted to girls for as long as I can remember. In fact, I found them to be downright fascinating. I didn’t dare to even speak to one until after I had already been thoroughly ostracized by every boy I knew. Even being seen playing with a girl was social suicide on the parking lot that Saint John’s called a playground. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that their secret world contained some kind of answer to the painful loneliness that plagued me even in a crowd of boys.

I still remember the first time that I learned that lesbianism was a thing. An alarm went off in my tiny head screaming “That’s it!” The idea of two girls together was the first time that love made any sense to me. Even knowing nothing about gender identity, I just knew in my soul that that was who I really was but knowing nothing about gender identity and way too goddamn much about sin and Catholic guilt, this revelation terrified me. The only conclusion that I could come to was that I was some kind of twisted fucking pervert and that I was going straight to hell to burn in a lake of fire for all eternity.


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