It’s not often I accept guest posts. My inbox is overrun with requests from people who think I have interest in publishing shitty articles about how to keep your iPhone safe in a thunderstorm or why your cat is your best prep tool for your next job interview. Fucking kill me now. Every now and then, however, I read a pitch from a real human being who sends me a story about this messy, messy life we all live. Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Griffin Birdsong. Her story might have a note or two that rings true for you.
Over the past few years, I’ve slowly discovered that I have a growing trans* audience. Maybe it’s because I talk a fair bunch about finding your voice. Whatever it is, I’m grateful. Some, I’m proud to have earned the right to call friends. And for the rest of you, I look forward to getting to know you so we can share that life achievement as well. I think the world would be a better place if we stopped worrying about which bathroom people use and spent that time making an effort to understand how every life needs some figuring out along the way. Mine included.
Let me just preface this article by saying that, in my perfect world, being the millennial reincarnation of Virginia Woolf would be my ideal career.
I woke up this morning not feeling particularly grateful for my job. Feeling grateful for your job is something I had assumed was for people without a definitive understanding of punk rock. Maybe this is why unemployment felt so natural for me.
It really was an easy transition, all things considered, when I quit my job as a caregiver. For five years I had been a personal aide to upwards of a hundred people and it provided me with a certain self-efficacy that made me feel almost as if I was destined to take care of the elderly and mentally ill. I was good at it, in my mind this was the single most important prerequisite to one’s destined profession.
This is the story of how I learned that destiny plays favorites.
If you’re a trans woman working as a caregiver in Boise Idaho then your destiny looks like this:
She’s a portly middle aged woman with blonde hair, a bump-it and a fresh pair of Sketcher’s Shape-Ups. She has an ironically deep voice and genuinely would just like to know if you really think that wearing a bra is respectful to the residents of your wing in the dementia ward. More specifically she would genuinely just like to know this as loudly as is humanly possible and in front of absolutely everyone in the main dining room of a upper-scale retirement community.
Quitting was the easiest thing I had ever done in spite of the fact that my job was my main source of self-esteem and my only source of income. It seemed to happen on autopilot. One minute all I can think about is “Holy fuck, how am I going to get three grumpy, demented old men to take a shower before dinner?” and the next thing I knew I was just trying not to get teardrops all over my letter of resignation.
This may have been somewhat necessary in the grand scheme of things. I had been ruminating lately on the potentially exotic and lucrative life of a webcam model. I was at the point in my transition that my trans-ness just wasn’t so easy to hide anymore. More to the point, I didn’t want to hide my trans-ness anymore. I felt at a loss when I realized that I may actually be more accepted and validated masturbating for a living than I would be taking care of people.
And surely enough…
Being a webcam model was actually a wonderful experience. For the first time in my life I was free to wear my hair how I wanted, paint my nails and wear lingerie around the house for no goddamn reason at all. I finally owned my gender and even more than this I finally owned my sexuality. Every tip I earned felt like a tiny act of rebellion. Best of all I could do it from home, far away from anyone who might want to publicly humiliate me.
I gave away all my remaining boy clothes and started to act like a hardass bitch any time someone got my pronouns wrong. In a very roundabout way I had become the woman that I wanted to be in a matter of weeks. I was somewhat amazed, also, to learn that this woman had a cock all along.
Funny thing about doing what you love though, it can become somewhat lackluster when you do it for a living. Turns out I can only feel empowered in my sexuality for about a month before the chaffing gets to be too much. Another career change felt imminent, but I was going to get fucked sideways up a wall before I gave up working from my bedroom.
I reviewed my skill set. Ruling out all my medical experience, the next logical course of action was clear.
It turns out that it doesn’t take long to accrue clientele when you’re working as a dominatrix, even if you do work from your bedroom. I had always been a part of the fetish community. My first foray into exploring my gender was framed in kink, actually. I knew how to speak the language of BDSM and I already knew a handful of horny gentlemen on the internet to help me get started as well. Like I said; it was the next logical course of action.
It was at this point that I became shithouzed drunk on empowerment. It starts with letting some guy in Georgia be your slave for $35 a week. Next thing you know you’re allowing your slave the “privilege” of spoiling you with gifts from your Amazon wishlist. Before you know it, it ends with you giving your slave the login to your fetlife account so that he can do your job for you while you watch HBO, send the occasional nude on snapchat and get bored collecting all the money.
However, I was soon bored again. The straps on my garter belt felt more like an annoying obstacle than a small victory. I had been a victim of the patriarchy and I answered the bullshit by wrestling it into literal submission. In the process, however, I had become useless. I thought about all the other trans ladies who were suffering the same indignities that I did and realized I was only helping myself. This just wasn’t rebellion anymore. It didn’t mean anything to anyone except for me.
I had come to learn that I could get bored of being a sex goddess, but I knew I would never get bored of rebellion. I decided eventually that I wanted to fight trans-misogyny rather than simply exploit it. I like to think a lot of horny men cried themselves to sleep that night.
What ensued was a lengthy job search due to my bitter refusal to ever hide my trans-ness again. I eventually found one, five months after leaving the dementia ward, at an SEO company based out of Boise. So far there haven’t been any problems and I do not expect any. I’ll give credit where it’s due, they’ve truly been great to the point where I forget I live in Idaho sometimes.
There aren’t any other trans women here, but maybe one day there will be and maybe it’ll help that I’m doing what I can to pave the way. In interim, I guess I’m just another reformed punk working a day job in an office. This is probably why, in spite of everything, I won’t feel grateful for my job most mornings. But the good news is that my make-up looks great today and that feels like rebellion to me.
Griffin Birdsong is a trans-feminist poet, writer and web-marketing specialist. She is a co-founder of Idaho’s Death Rattle Writer’s Festival, will be representing Boise on Idaho’s national slam poetry team in Oakland, CA this summer and has vague aspirations of becoming a pokemon master. Check out her poetry tumblr here: You Probably Haven’t Heard of Me. From the page:
“This blog is strictly OC. I am a very serious artist-person and my name is Griffin Rae and this is my shit. Here you will find the whole boat-load of sensitive bullshit and a penchant for transcendental fuckery.”
That’s my kind of gal.