I am horrified. Sorta rageful. Cringing fitfully. But I get it. I understand why Curve Magazine had to refer to me as a “woman,” at least once. The use of “girl” seems excessive and sloppy. (Is it a “woman’s journey” or a “girl’s bike trip”? Consistency copyeditors.) However, there is one phrase, the title of my article as listed in the table of contents, that makes my gender identity flare his nostrils in anger:
I always swore that I would never be one of those trans people to nitpick about pronouns, make a stink about bathrooms, be militant, bother every friend and lover with constant talk of my body “dysphoria,” or use “dysphoria” or “gender identity” without laughing. But that’s before I actually accepted that I am a trans person, an invisible guy, one who at least is still laughing at the title of his blog post.
Curve is a lesbian magazine. It says the word three times on the cover, including, “Best-Selling Lesbian Magazine.” The audience is Women and Womyn. In flyover states. If I had a quarter for every time a writing teacher told me you don’t have to be the audience of a magazine to write for the magazine; just know your audience…
Five months ago, during my unemployed stint, Curve posted a Craigslist ad seeking freelance writers. Since it’s hard to pitch travel magazines unsolicited, I pitched two travel stories to Curve, one about a permaculture farm in
But… Is there something about being a woman, or a girl, or a sista that is intrinsic to my story? NO! Is it necessary that a woman reading the story assumes that the first-person guide is a woman in order to identify with her? Yes and no. The exact same story (minus the 50 words with the two “dyke” mentions) could’ve been in a men’s magazine, but perhaps it would’ve been less inspiring to the readers of Curve. We seek connections with others like ourselves.
Which is why, even though I don’t think there is an appropriate angle for me to write a letter to Curve expressing my frustration, I am frustrated. I do not feel connected to women. At all. I might as well come out with it: I am NOT a woman.
My boy name is “Nick.” I don’t use it very often, and for now, at least, I don’t mind having two names. If you are one of my friends pulling for “Nino,” I suggest you start calling me that ASAP, because although I like how close it is to my name, it could take a while to get used to. So, I wonder, if I had submitted my article with the name “Nick” or “Nino,” would the editor have asked if I was a woman, would she have just as easily called me out as a woman in the table of contents and title, would she have assumed that in pitching Curve, I was one of the many dykes with a masculine name? Would it have been inappropriate for a man to write the article, a transman? What about a genderqueer boi?
When I walk down the streets, I access my superhuman power to jump into bodies of the dudes. I see myself in time-lapse metamorphosis, my breasts vanishing into pecks, my dick pressing out of my pelvic area. Then, I look in the mirror and see the flatness of my chest, feel the binder ripping into my armpits. I run my hands across my checks, soft as a pre-pubescent boy.
The word “woman” is nails on a chalkboard, a rude interruption of my reality. I am done with my silence, done passing. But even as I write this, I pass. “How’s it going, sister?” asks the plant guy in my office. I have known him for almost ten years. I see him only once a year, usually a run-in at one of my various office jobs. He is twenty feet away watering; I am at my cube; I want to shout, “Hey! Don’t call me sister.” I stay quiet.
If I end up transitioning, or partially transitioning, or changing my name, and someone asks me how I could be so sure, I will say that Curve Magazine helped. That I saw the words “woman” and “girl” and “sista” in print, applied to me, and that I simultaneously wanted to cry, die, disappear and breath fire.
I like my reality better than your reality. And I will chose mine over yours. But fuck you for making me choose.