Photographic Memories

Reading Kill Shakespeare and letting my mind wander where it may. I find myself compelled to write about what I want that has no recourse for any but I.
I have a decent score of camera equipment. It’s one of passions, and I take it pretty seriously. I’ve been starting to feel that itch to forth and photograph the world. Happens every summer. I have this unconscious tendency to cycle through my cameras. A lot of the time they either have partly spent rolls of film in them, or the digital one is charged. Anyhow, I’ll just grab one and take off to photograph whatever I find. As I said my mind was wandering. I started thinking about my gear, sitting in bags in my closet, and started to think, do I have a favourite? I know a lot of people who can tell you their favourite things, in order, and tell you why. I’m not one of those people. I do, however, have a few things I could be persuaded to say were my favourites. My motorcycle jacket, my combat boots, my typewriter, and my Asahi Pentax SP1000.
A couple nights ago I was just chillin’ out after work when I decided I wanted to take a peck through a couple of my camera bags. The first one I opened I found my Pentax sitting nicely on top. I bet you I haven’t used it since last year. It happens. So I pulled it out. Still two thirds of a roll in it. The next day, in the light, I decided to play around. I had forgotten how sharp the 55mm lens was. How good the compact, full metal body felt in my hands. I couldn’t believe the sideways luck I had in finding it all those years ago.
About three years ago a friend and I ventured out to the antique market in St Jacobs. Not an uncommon practice. Looking through the stalls, at the records, books with strange titles, and general brick-a-brack, I came across a horde of cameras and flashes on a bottom shelf. Myself being the lens geek I am I had to dig. The first camera I pulled out was the Asahi Pentax SP1000. That first look through the lens almost made my brain pop. Alas, it was sixty dollars. A price slightly too steep at the time, even though it did come with two lenses and a flash. I then figured, to see the others, why not pull out the cardboard pop flat holding the lot. I did. I set it on what I thought was a secure table in front of me. There were three cameras plus a couple accessories in the box including the Pentax. In my haste to satisfy curiosity I quickly pulled a black camera body from the box, duly sending the box, off balance, crashing to the floor. My heart leapt into my throat. What had I done? I righted the box, and sadly found that the flash, which had been installed in the hot shoe of the Pentax, was hanging by wires. Scared, I put everything back in the box, back on the bottom shelf and walked away. We looked through the remainder of the store. Myself half-heartedly. I thought about the broken flash, hanging from it’s post. I thought of scenarios where people would try to get a discount for the damage. All in all, I felt bad for just leaving it. I turned to my friend and sighed. He knew it was the right thing to do. I knew it was the right thing to do as I slunk slowly toward the checkout, my new camera gear in hand. Oh, the flash is broken, the woman at the counter commented. I know, I dropped it.
Snapped a quick picture of my dad sitting in his chair. He laughed. He, along with a few others find my photography antics fairly amusing. I’m never usually without some sort of picture taking device. Ansel Addams said “the most important component of the camera are the twelve inches behind it.” To me that says it doesn’t matter what you are shooting with because the biggest key is you. Some of the stuff I do to get the shot I want can seem sometimes strange or comical. My friends laugh because “there goes Robyn taking pictures again.” To me, the camera doesn’t matter. I’m as happy setting up sunsets with a three dollar disposable camera as I am taking glamour shots with my 18 megapixle Canon 7D. It all serves the same purpose. To capture a moment. To tell a story. What matters is what comes out on paper. That’s why I always say I’m hard pressed to pick a favourite, but sometimes a little nostalgia, and a good story can help define a winner. I love my little 50 year old, no batteries required Asahi Pentax SP1000. It just feels right.
Side note: if you made all the way through this, and you were brought here by the Trans* tag, I put that in there so you might chance a read. I know. I’m a bitch.

Misogyny in the Key of F

One thing I’ve been hearing all my life is: if you think that the problem is the whole world, then it’s probably actually with you. I guess that would mean that all the problems I’ve been having are actually my own fault.
I guess this sort of makes sense. I mean, I didn’t live in a household where being gay was looked down on. Although, if my brothers had lived there it might’ve been a different story. We weren’t religious, so there was no fire and brimstone, screaming from the heavens, preacher ranting on about the evils of homosexuality. I didn’t have any friends, so there was no influence from other people’s parents. By the time I did have friends most of them were queer in one sense or the other anyway.
I guess all that reading I did, and still continue to do, probably didn’t help either. Expanding the mind to a greater world than the half-life, non-urban, not quite rural area we inhabit. Unheard of.
I guess I was also a fairly gullible child. I actually believed what I heard when people said that it is ok to be yourself. Instead of reading the fine print that said that this wasn’t actually true, and could be held up only as long as “yourself” is congruent with the incumbent society’s standards, mores, and practices. That it isn’t actually what’s on the inside that counts.
I guess if I had gotten the proper guidance I could’ve grown up to be an A+ soldier in the moral army. Despising not only the people that are different from that hard and fast code of ethics set in stone, nobody knows when, but I could also hate myself for all the feelings bottled up inside. That is how it works, right? It is better to belong than to follow your own heart? That you can be whatever you want, as long as you don’t rock the boat? I might not have had the standard male, homophobic, anti-lgbt indoctrination. I’m thankful, but now I’m being schooled by those who did on how I’m supposed to be ashamed of “what” I am. Because god knows that who I am doesn’t count for shit. That I am actually supposed to be suppressing all the things I don’t, you know, for the comfort of others and their ideals.
I guess, if I was so inclined I could do all these things. If I was in the mind to be a proper imperial trooper. Instead, I guess I’ll just keep taking what’s dished out, and try to remind myself that it could be worse. I could be one of them.

Guess Where That Rainbow’s Coming From?

I’ve been sick. On top of my mounting stomach problems last week I spent two days in the hospital with what they think was a viral infection. Needless to say, I haven’t felt much like writing.
I was going through my facebook feed today and a girl I talk to from the states posted an article about a Canadian psychiatrist who went on record to denounce the legitimacy of being transgender. It’s honestly not a big deal. The article was outdated by six months, and for all the griping of the REAL women coalition, the bill passed. With conservative support none the less. It’s doesn’t matter. It read the article from top to bottom and the jist of his stance is: no uterus, no woman. His point was rooted in the theory that humans are only on the planet to reproduce, and if you can reproduce as the gender you claim to be then you’re not it. Kind of a weak argument in my opinion. What about people who are born with genetic conditions leaving them unable to reproduce? Does that mean that they have no gender? This is where the second part of his argument would come into play: x’s and y’s do not lie. He says that the x and y chromosomes make you who you are. Again what about all those other fun combinations of x’s and y’s that are not the standard xx or xy?
There seems to be this need for all life to be spread out in black and white. Everything is as simple as….. but it’s not. He claimed there was no scientific basis, that it’s all a trick of the mind. The doctors and psychiatric staff that I’ve been talking to over the past couple years would seem to disagree with that. There seems to be more belief in biological causes than ever. The first one I was told about was hormone flooding in utero. The theory is that since the hormones for brain development and secondary sexual characteristics flood as separate times it is conceivable that you could have oestrogen for one and testosterone for the other. The other theory I read recently was the elongation of certain telomeres causing a feminization of the male brain. I’m sorry it’s not hard and fast, but we’re talking about the human organism, which last time I checked was still being studied because it’s just so darn complex.
Throughout the article he says numerous times that being transgender has to do with being unhappy, which I would actually agree with. He also says that it is a mental illness, I’ve heard it likened to schizophrenia more than once, which I do not agree with(but that is a slippery slope when considering coverage). The last tie-in to this is that surgery is not the answer to mental illness. I kind of agree with him on that, sort of. I’m personally still on the fence about taking that step. Looking through my own experience, the best I have felt was coming out. I lived full time as a woman for eight months before I started hormone replacement therapy. Just being able to express myself in a way that felt natural started easing the negative feelings I had harboured for a very long time. Starting on hormone replacement therapy, my libido changed, which I wasn’t going to complain about, and my body began to alter. I honestly haven’t paid a whole lot of attention. There is more to me than just my outside. Sometimes I feel like that is rare these days. We live in a society that has been bread to believe that the outside is what counts. With entire industries built on the principle that happiness is just pennies away. You have cis-gendered people fixing eyes, noses, butts, cheeks, lips, stomachs, underarms, all in a bid to look and feel better. So why is it perfectly fine for a cis-gendered person to hit up the local maxillo-facial surgeon for a little buff and plump, but it’s sick and wrong for a transperson? The goal is the same: positive self-image. That new nose seems to make Mary pretty happy, but if someone like me goes in for nip/tuck suddenly we’re trying to be something we can never be. Anyone else see that elephant? I think his name is something like Double Standard.
Surgery, in my eyes, serves a secondary function of social congruence. Certain surgeries can facilitate easier manoeuvring through unfriendly waters. Personally I won’t go swimming or even think about joining a gym. I won’t put myself in a position where I would have to use a communal changing facility. It could relieve a lot of tension for the person in question as well as the poor fragile cis-folk who seem to have an issue with the thought of different people from themselves.
Like I said at the beginning of this section, I sort of agree with his statement that surgery cannot fix mental illness. While there are lots of people out there who will gladly go under the knife to feel better about themselves, I think it’s more just trying to bury what’s going on inside. I’ve known since the beginning of my transition that I had a lot of emotional work ahead of me. I know that you can change the outside as much as you want, but that will never fix whatever internal problems you have. I was reading a thread on facebook the other day about post-op depression. A lot of the posters sentiments mirrored my own feelings on the matter. People build up reassignment into what they feel is going to be this huge exclamation in there lives, and when they come out the other side, and life hasn’t really changed it’s almost like an anti-climax. The same problems are still there, the only real difference is a small part of your body. I believe that surgery goes a long way to help physical and social congruence, but fixing down there won’t fix what’s between your ears. I feel that before surgery is considered that there should be a good deal of personal work. It should he for your own sake, not because you have to, but I feel that everyone should take some time to work through themselves. I’m doing it right now. It isn’t easy, which would probably turn a lot of the post mtv generation off, but I feel the merits outweigh the cost.
Pertaining to the article that spawned this, they granted human rights protections to trans-folk under the charter, so I guess this psychiatrist and his REAL womens coalition didn’t make a strong enough case for the segregation of a growing population. I think I’ve said about all I want to at this point. Remember that this is my opinion on how I see myself within my condition. I know there are tons of people who would disagree with me for various reasons, and that’s ok. I’m not looking to change the world, just to not let my feelings bottle up. Take care all.

Longing

All decked out in her summer dress
Sunday best
She lays alone in the scorching heat
Picks her guitar
The stars look as lonely as she feels
Her boy is gone
A month more she’ll be waiting
With thoughts of sex and other things
Her mind is saturated

Uneasiness in One Part

Imagine you are at work. Imagine, while alone, you get a drunken booty call from one of your customers you only kind of know. You politely reject this slurred offer for a clandestine meeting under the dim bulbs of a seedy downtown hotel room. Now imagine it’s six months later. Life is quiet. You look up to see your stewed suitor entering with his new girlfriend. Looking at each other, you know his secret, he knows too. His girlfriend is super nice. She doesn’t know. He tries to makeup for past transgressions with overt displays of what he believes is machismo. It is really just him acting like an asshole. Imagine that this, what was hopefully a one time inconvenience, became a weekly, almost daily event. Try and imagine another six months of this. Try and have sympathy. He’s just a child.

The Mouse Queen

I feel like a mouse in my hole. The workmen busily stream around me. I sit quietly out of the way, unnoticed. Every once I awhile I will peek from my whole to get a sense of the madness that is taking place. The chaos of the larger world. I watch them, look right at them. They don’t see me. To them I am small and insignificant. I do not contribute to their goal and am, therefore, invisible. An hour and a half. Just on more hour and a half and my larger mouse kingdom shall once again be presided over by this mouse queen hiding in her mouse queen hole.

Robynbot Threw a Spring…

I’m sorry I have small tits and tattoos. Is it my fault you seem to believe that all women are these tiny, delicate flowers? I can’t change my body, it’s what I’ve got to work with and I’m so fucking tired of people trying to make me feel like shit because I don’t fit the predetermined standard of femininity. Oh boo, I can’t pass a calf through my hips, there are a lot of women who can’t. Any time I stand beside I genetic female and we’re near a mirror, you know what I see? A scaled up version of a smaller prototype. I’m sorry I’m was born big. Maybe I cam figure out how to go back in time to tell my parents that past and future generations would prefer them not to mate due to continuity restrictions. I’m a year into transition and someone just asked me if I was “going through a change.” Hmmm, I walk, talk, and sound like a girl, what was your first hint? I’m getting so fucking tired of it. I’m tired of feeling stuck in a hopeless situation. At the mercy of people who I was smarter than when I was ten. If it was everywhere I would be more understanding. It would feel like something I could work on. It’s not everywhere. It’s at my job. That is the only place I get any sort of gender static. If I’m am a girl everywhere else I travel in the god forsaken misogynistic cis-gnedered world, then why is my work an exception? Is this just a case of penis swinging male domination? We all know they are eunuchs anyway. The bigger that mouth, the smaller the dick. What about the women? Could they actually be jealous? Do they think I’m prettier then they are? Or is it because I’m free? Because I didn’t ruin my life by have kids way too early with I guy I don’t even like? Could it be the heavy catholic population? It’s funny how much hate and anger comes out of teachings purported to harbour feelings of peace, love, and acceptance.
I think it all comes down to one thing. I’m a special case. I always have been. The exception to every rule, and I’ve never had to try. My whole life I’ve been “but not you.” It gets so tiresome talking friendly with people only to discover you are still an exception to some deeply held belief. If your beliefs having you being a shitty human being, why have them?
I’m tired of being congratulated for “what I’m doing.” What the hell do they think I’m doing? I’m doing the same thing as everyone else, I’m trying to live my damned life. Of course the exception there is I’m a target. It’s ok to marginalize and degrade me because I’m” pretending to be something I’m not,” and I should “just get over it and be a man.” I’m sorry I don’t wear my brain chemistry on the outside, but my brains beat your penis envy every day of the week.
This is the kind of stuff that has always bothered me. It’s not new, and it hasn’t really changed much in 28 years. I have a problem with this “you have to accept that you are different and therefore fair game” attitude I’ve been hearing all my life. Why should anyone have to go through life “understanding” that they are second class citizen?
I’m sick. I was diagnosed with gerd a couple months ago, and now my doctor thinks I might have an ulcer as well as anaemia. My stomach hurts all the time and I barely have the energy to get out of bed, and yet I’m out here taking abuse everyday. How much am I supposed to take and still keep smiling like nothing is wrong? Opposed to breeding and popular belief, I am not a robot. My whole life I’ve been told not to show my feelings, not to cry, and I didn’t for a long time. I’m pretty sure that has really fucked me up. I know it’s part of the reason for my stomach problems. My doctor said I need to lessen my stress level. This is how it’s going to get done. I’m working really hard on letting go of a lot of stuff, some of it will probably find it’s way here. I’ll be 28 on Friday. I figured I’d be dead by 22. I was almost dead at 26. I can’t follow societal preference anymore. It will end up killing me. This is it for now, my stomach really hurts. At least I’m a bit calmer now, but I’m still on edge. Things in this world really need to change. I hope maybe I can help that along, even just a little bit.