[artist cred: Sophie Labelle who’s paid stuff can be found here: https://www.serioustransvibes.com/ . Sorry! I couldn’t find the actual source for this comic in her Tumblr archive and didn’t want to link back to one of those anti-trans meme sites!
description: a comic of a white cis man looking defensive sitting in bed with a white trans woman looking done with this. The caption for the comic says, “why didn’t you tell me you were trans before we slept together multiple times? I mean, don’t take it personally, but I’m not into trans women…” and “huh yes, you were very much into me, you’re just very transphobic.” and with a caption under the entire comic that says, “geez…”
I like to do text base role play. It’s one of my major coping mechanisms for life. I’ve been doing it since I was 14 and have likely written thousands of pages worth of stories and smut over the decade and a half since I began. I’ve spent now more than half of my life engaging in this medium.
I roleplay because I get to be people I’m not. I get to do things I can’t have. Namely, I get to pretend that I’m worthy of romance and sex. I can pretend that someone desires me enough to want to touch my body. To build a life with me. To do the things I so desperately dream of but can’t have.
A few hours ago, I asked one of my RP partners if I could play a trans woman with a vag like myself. His response to my vulnerable request to be me was to say that, “I’m not into trans”.
He’d figured out I was trans a few weeks ago and we talked about me being trans and what it meant. This is a huge act of trust. Outside of my bubble of queerness (where I haven’t had any sustained RP’s with in many, many years, and yes I’m staring and judging everyone silently), I don’t want to openly advertise being a trans woman. In part, I don’t want to have to deal with all the annoying questions. In part, I just want to be treated like normal and not deal with swaths of hate. It’s intoxicating. I just want nice things and a little bit of escape from the constant agony of existence. I want to be loved. I want to be cherished. I want mind-blowing orgasms. Even though I know when I don’t disclose that I’m trans, it’s a lie, but it’s part of my survival. Gwen Benaway said so heartfeltly,
“Of course, we lie. We lie so beautifully that our stories are almost as powerful and big as the lies they tell about us. Our lies keep us alive. Our lies build communities out of the nothingness of colonization and stretch across diaspora, genocide, and heartbreak. Our lies are prayers to each other. They become flesh, grow bodies, begin a second order of naming. We are the daughters of no one and everyone at once.”
Gwen’s words hit me really hard. So many of us have to lie in order to survive. Because this world is a world that wasn’t designed for us. We have to lie to our families and friends. We have to lie in order to be in some communities. We have to lie because colonization. We have to lie in order to maybe not get harassed by cops. We need to lie because if we’re truthful, we may not be given the time of day. We may be experience violence if we’re completely truthful. We may not get jobs. We may end up dead.
I don’t like lying. I’m not proud of lying. I’m an expert at telling half truths and avoiding questions. It’s how I managed to be involved with queer community as a teen with family I didn’t think were safe to come out to. I dress up more boyishly (drab) when I go and visit family because my grandparents definitely will never get it and it’s easier to wait for them to die and hope they understand in the afterlife. And I’ve been experimenting with pretending to be a cis girl in online Roleplay spaces and groups sometimes. Because I’ve had no luck in queer communities and cishet men are plentiful. I had a lot of experience separating the marginally interesting ones from the trash. I’m a woman (to them). Just not telling the full history of my body.
I can pass for cis pretty consistently now. It’s a privilege I’m glad to have for a lot of reasons. Even my voice sometimes passes for female. All I can hear when is speak is a boy’s voice, but apparently, it passes. It’s easy to pretend to be a cis woman with a bunch of people I’ll never meet. If I choose to show my face, some guy might call me a fat dumb bitch and he’ll get an insta ban/report, or they might find me pretty. Or not and still call me pretty anyways and ghost me.
Being in predominantly heterosexual RP community is like questionably ethical participant observation ethnographic research. I get to study the mating habits of the heterosexual. And the odd bisexual (most of whom don’t have queer politics unfortunately…)
So this brings me back to this current moment in my life. I’ve been RPing with this guy for a number of months. I RP with other folks, but he’s the most regular. We’ve had a number of ongoing interesting storylines and I can forget a bit about the embers licking at my gut that will someday burn up my soul because I’m not already enmeshed with another part of my soul. It’s nice. He writes decently, has some interesting ideas, has a number of compatible interests, and I genuinely like him as a person when we chat. He’s shared some pretty intimate things about his past and I’ve done a little back. I know he’s got queer friends and family, and identifies as bisexual (although not something he’s particularly interested on acting on). I’ve develped a fair amount of trust with him. Enough that I was willing to leave hints around him about being trans to also assess if he’s trans positive. And he finally figured it out.
He was never mean and was legitimately understanding. I let him in and gave him access to the real me. I can’t find the citation for this, but I was at a talk by Rinaldo Walcott and he talked about the concept of coming in. The act of letting someone see more of your authentic self. I let him see something of myself that I don’t let the rest of the group see of me.
This is why it hurts so much to hear that he’s “not into trans”. Even though this isn’t a romantic relationship, it’s still an important relationship. I let him in. I let him see parts of me that I don’t share outside of queer space. I let him know about why I love monsters so much. I let him know about my fears and the rejection I’ve experienced my whole life. I let him know some of my abuse and trauma. I let him know my real name and let him root through my public web presence including this blog. I let him in to see my authentic self. I very rarely let any males see my vulnerability. I don’t let them see my soft underbelly. I rarely find them worthy of seeing this part of me. When I do let them this close, it is a Very Big Deal.
To hear that he’s “not into trans” was like a slap in the face. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t know what to say. Except that it hurts. It hurts because it says that I’m the monster that I talk so much about and identify with. I’m the monster that deserves death and loneliness. I’m the monster that won’t have a happily ever after. I want to be the monster that is cherished. Is someone’s 宝贝, bao bei, precious. I want someone who is my 宝贝. I want to just feel okay.
It’s fine when I play characters who are nothing like me. I get to play something I’m not. But it often leaves me feeling a little empty. When I play a skinny white cis girl or boy, I know that it’s not me. These things like romance and sex and adventure? They were never meant for a monster like me. But let me live vicariously through them so I can delay getting my soul consumed by the need-flames damnit! But there’s something special when I can play more of myself. I can usually get away with playing a Chinese or mixed Chinese character. That’s not very controvercial unless I’m playing a Chinese guy. Then I’d need to check in if someone’s got some internalized racism to work through without asking them directly if they’re a racist. I can sometimes play fat characters. It comes up sometimes in conversations and then I’m free to play a fat character. But I’m shy to define someone as anything other than “curvy” because I don’t know how fat is too fat for someone. And sometimes I can throw in a disability that’s not too visible that’ll help develop the character.
But to play as a trans girl is such a rare occurance. When I do RP negotiations, I often pull out a bunch of my characters that I’ve developed over the years. I have a broad spectrum of characters with diverse genders and sexualities. And a number of whom where gender can change from scene to scene. I let my RP partners choose which characters they like and might fit in with one of their own. And guess what? It’s usually one of my trans boys when I’m with more queer folks including non-culturally queer bi/pansexuals. Or I have to make one of my girls cis instead of trans. It’s usually chasers who’re interested in playing with a trans girl character. And then I have that * lovely * battle of, “don’t touch my character’s genitals, don’t admire them, don’t interact with them” because my genital dysphoria was very real. And still sometimes comes to haunt me even though I’m post op.
Why can’t other people recognize that I’m pretty just as I am so I can have nice things?
How long will I be able to hold off the need-fire from consuming my soul? Will the day come when the monster in me is recognized and acknolwedged as something precious, a bao bei? I’m still tired. The world is so cold and the flame inside me that may one day consume me is all that’s keeping me warm at night.