I am so thankful my recovery has been non-eventful. The worst part has been putting up with the compression vest and drains. The vest is very tight (hence the word compression) and I feel like I haven’t taken a full breath since I woke up in recovery (they put it on while you’re still out – now I know why). Then there’s a layer of padded bandages wrapped around me that itch like hell. And to top it all off, I empty the drains twice a day – not a big deal but not pleasant.
I’ll head up to Cleveland on the 27th to get the vest, bandages, and drains removed. My uncle is driving and we’ll probably spend the night there and drive back to Charleston the next day. It’ll be a bit like old times – we spent plenty of time together on road trips through Ohio in the 60’s and 70’s but this time we’ll be heading up route 77 instead of route 23.
In the meantime, I’ll distract myself with holiday festivities and reading. I just finished “Transgender History” by Susan Stryker and learned quite a bit. I discovered that some of my favorite writers (Dworkin and Daly, for example) sowed the seeds of transphobia in feminist and lesbian circles in the 70’s and 80’s. For a time, their theories heavily influenced what I thought about gender and power and politics. I didn’t connect the dots to the logical outcome of their ideas, however, until I saw it in action at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. When a trans woman tried to attend in 1991, the festival made it an official policy that only “womyn-born womyn” could attend. Over time, grass-roots efforts by the trans community for inclusion have led positive change but the healing will take time.
As I reflect on my history, finding a community where I felt I belonged has been a bumpy ride. As a young lesbian, I was definitely not “femme” at a time when the lipstick lesbian was coming into vogue. I remember personal ads saying things like “butches need not apply” and thinking that included anyone (like me) who dared to be a bit androgynous. I internalized the message that I was something not generally desired (or at least worthy of a “need not apply” notation). That is a real kick in the head, to know you are a member of an oppressed minority and, even within that minority, you are devalued.
Any time I tried to play the game and be more “femme” it just didn’t feel right. If I tried to wear make up or even wear a frilly shirt I felt like I was in a drag costume. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see a way out – I’d have to choose between breathing and thinking versus fitting in.
On the 27th, I’ll once more choose breathing and thinking. Only this time, I will never need to put that vest on again!