Today I shall correct a long-standing injustice that has disserviced the blogosphere for many a winter: I'm speaking, of course, of the lack of op/ed articles comparing mental illness and trans identity to pokemon.

With the exception of correcting someone's language, I don't like to talk about my trans status in the tofuspace. It's more of a matter of preserving the reputation of the trans community than one of personal relationship. Whenever people ask me questions like but not necessarily “Do you feel like this is the 'real' you?”my first reaction is to ball up my fists and scream “I CAST MAGIC MISSILE!” over and over until they explode or I get light-headed and need a soda. After years of pyschic training most mystic (see also: therapy) I have learned to play this scenario out in my head in the supermicrosecond it takes for me to shrug my shoulders and mutter an awkward “yeah, I guess”.

I feel dishonest suggesting that present me is somehow more “real” than me circa pre-transition. I don't know if I've ever felt “real”. All my life I've struggled with the pervading sensations of emptiness, impermanence. This is not to suggest I am free from the “taxation without representation” of emotions. I still feel. I love my partner and hate exposed stuffing on couch cushions or when you pull a corner of your sheets off and there's the bare mattress. I have favorite TV shows and can taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke. I am in every way as human as you, yet when I set eyes on loved ones I cannot help but curdle with envy at their wholeness, their solidity in their identities. I don't have a “style”, I have a series “personality changes”. I've gone through three or four first names and twice as many middle names. Two months ago I wanted to be the front woman for an art punk band. As of last week I want to do nerdcore-influenced hip hop and occasionally dabble in house music. I got a couple compliments on an LJ post about how I look good in a bandanna and I've never left the house without one since.

What I've described are classic symptoms of borderline personality disorder. Shifty identity, feelings of emptiness. There are other, scarier symptoms, but the less time those can be found in the same room as my queer identity the better. Reconciling my temporal identity with being trans provides me all the self-reflection and personal turmoil that I could never need. I'll pass out pamphlets and hold workshops and fight the patriarchy in the streets, just don't ask me what it means to be a woman. Because I don't know. I don't know what makes me a woman. I just know it's what I am. How do I know that it's not just a single flavor in my jelly belly jar of personality? I don't. Every shot day, as I hug the pillow and brace myself for the incoming needle, I ask myself about 35 times if this is what I really want for myself.

I never say it, but whenever someone tells me I kiss/talk/make love “like a girl”, I feel this overwhelming sense of relief, like “yay, a winner is me, I got the answer right”. There was a time when I dreamed of the day I could wear dresses and paint my toes and listen to Sarah McLachlan without being labeled a “pussy”. Now it's too much effort to shave my legs, I've instituted a “no change of polish until one nail goes completely bare” rule, and I found that Tegan and Sara are actually way better. I've begun to label myself “chaotic femme”-identified, which is great because it suggests that even I don't know what that means. I'm pretty sure that's not how you're supposed to do it. Isn't “know thyself” the most important tenant of human philosophy? Or was it “be kind, rewind”?

I integrate a lot of the media I consume into my everyday language and behavior. I think it is marginally more authentic to be a “mash up” instead of having nothing “original” to say. Though I haven't played any of the games in almost 10 years and watched maybe 10 episodes of the original television show, I use a lot of pokemon lingo, or poke-slang as I will call it, once, before your death glare convinces me never to say it again. It's nostalgic, cartoonish appeal aside, you have to admit that marketing live animal capture and dogfighting to kids is sickly hilarious.

I've always had a soft spot for Ditto, the little blobby pokemon that can mimic other pokemon. It totes has nothing to do with why Kirby is my favorite character in the Smash Brothers series. At all. I tried to build a team around Ditto to beat the Elite Four and win the little duel league my friends and I had set up for school recess. I switched to Magic Cards within three weeks. I was encouraged to try with real, more serious pokemon, but I found no gratification in that. Why confine yourself to just six pokemon when you could have like, all of them, at once? What if you got bored with the same attacks, same strategy? Why try to explain my female identity and what being a woman means to me if I'm going to change my mind on the details two weeks later? Isn't it enough that despite my fleeting sense of self I still remain convinced of my gender, and could not be convinced to de-transition for all the energon in Cybertron? Why must I always be moonwalking on eggshells, afraid that betraying this facade of “I know who I am and always have” will somehow hurt my credibility as a trans person and have my name put in the “not really trans/not serious about it” hat?

The activist and wallflower in me are arguing in the kitchen in my head. Again. This always happens at breakfast. The activisit says that I have a duty, as a queer, as a trans woman, to spread awareness and visibility and speak truth even if it is contradicting and inconvenient, while the wallflower says it's not my job to be a spokesperson for the community and it's better if others who are more secure in their identities do the talking. I wish they'd kiss and make up already. I've been waiting to try out these morningstar sausage patties forever.

Is it okay not to know? Is it better to embrace your shapeshifting abilities or find a form you like and stick to it? Can you be proud and unsure of your identity at the same time? Does it hurt the movement if I don't know who I am? Is it even worth it to collect all 151 (original) pokemon if everyone ends up using the same four or five in every duel?

You'd think being as active as I am in community-centric blogging would give me the answers to these questions. But really, it just gives me permission to be honest about my ignorance. I could write you a song about the three waves of feminism and make up drinking games based around finding the blatantly homoerotic subtext in old movies. That's what brought me here. But I don't know what any of this means to me, personally, and wonder if perhaps by observing what it means to others and giving people a space to express it, I could learn how to know. And that's what will keep me here, I guess.

TheyCallMeVroom uses “awkward heartfelt closing thought”!

It's super effective!

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