Trans Man in a Van
I am a fifty-three-year-old, white, married, educated and happy Trans man living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Last year I bought this sweet 1988 Chevy G20 conversion van. I named her Cookie Monster because of her royal blue velour upholstery and wall-to-wall shag carpet. My wife and I took her on a month-long road trip to California and back.
Even though we drove through Iowa, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona, I was never harassed for my gender identity or sexual orientation. We generally pass as a heteronormative couple even though I’m shorter than she is. It’s astounding what people don’t notice when they’re not accustomed to diversity. My gender journey has led me to a life of relative liberty and stability, almost entirely free from the mundane and relentless discomfort I often experienced as a Butch Dyke for most of my life.
I have the privilege of passing. This is not the experience for a great number of my Trans siblings. I often miss being visibly, identifiably Queer. I liked being a Butch. But, I don’t miss my depression. I don’t miss how exhausting and occasionally dangerous the world’s gaze can be. If America could have treated a Butch the way they treat a mediocre, middle-aged white guy, I might have been boring and content much sooner.
I intended to change the world when I was younger. Many of us do. The last time I tried to change the world was in the mid-aughts when I opened a queer bar in Minneapolis to combat the mainstream LGBT movement’s obsession with same-sex marriage and assimilation. I didn’t want to be like everybody else. I wanted us all to stay Queer.
I lost that fight. And after only two years, during the Great Recession, I lost the bar, too. It was the best, hardest thing I’ve ever done. I still haven’t finished processing my grief. Its demise left me broken. I lost my faith in my own Queer resistance. I gave up on changing the world. A few years later, I changed myself.
I don’t regret my choices, but I do miss that inner craving for Queer insurrection. It’s the only beauty I ever worshipped, the only spirituality I ever needed. It’s difficult for anyone to maintain zeal as we age. It has become almost impossible to reconnect to that baby Dyke being…