By Benny Rodriguez
This year has been one hell of a ride. With so many ups and downs, I had to take a bit of a hiatus from writing. Although, there were some people, mainly my friends Tiffany and Lee, who felt like six months was too long.
Tiffany tried to convince me that my narrative was important, but I didn’t believe her. I just couldn’t believe that. And it wasn’t because I thought she was lying, but rather, because I couldn’t accept her support. My heart was too heavy at the time to believe that anyone had my back.
Now as most of you can probably gather, I am openly trans. I had taken on the role of educator early in my transition because I felt that many people did not know how to ask the right questions. Many of the questions I’ve encountered have been addressed in my articles, “What’s in a Name” and “What’s in a Name Part II,” and as tedious and threatening as these questions seemed, it was nothing compared to the frustration I felt when I couldn’t answer questions satisfactory to myself.
I became discouraged after my article didn’t get a lot of comments. I convinced myself that the readers just did not care enough about trans issues, let alone my issues, so I put the pen down, stopped advocating, and decided to focus on my transition which was turning out to be more complicated than I anticipated.
All of a sudden, I found myself constantly angry and lonely, but I didn’t understand why. I was in a house full of people. I was going to parties. I was performing at Phase 1 with the DC Kings and the DC Gurlies. I was writing. I was meeting queer radicals who shared the same beliefs as me. There was no feasible reason for me to feel so jaded…except that I was a poor, trans man who had just moved to the city, trying to make it in with people who have been living in Washington, D.C. for years.
I began thinking about things I never thought about before; like my age, my education, my class status, and my gender identity. It was really overwhelming.
Now, granted, working at Phase 1 of Dupont definitely helped me establish connections within the lesbian community, but everyone who knew me, knew me as Brittani the lesbian. I feel like people were fond of Brittani. I feel they were able to connect with her. But I didn’t move to D.C. as Brittani the lesbian.
I convinced myself that she had died. I felt like I had to in order to “be trans”, which in turn caused a bit of emotional trauma when I realized that I never stopped being Brittani. I still had to reinvent and reintroduce myself because I felt like I had to convince people that I was trans because they didn’t actually believe me. I couldn’t keep my story straight enough for those who knew me prior to my transition. I hadn’t started experiencing visible changes within the first few months of my transition, which certainly caused my dysphoria to skyrocket. I didn’t feel trans enough. I was still menstruating, my voice had not dropped, and I still felt a strong connection to my feminine self. I felt endlessly frustrated because I was running out of reasons to want to medically transition.
Based off of that and the reactions I seemed to be getting, there was no possible way to convince anyone—myself included—that I was trans. On top of that, I sustained a pretty nasty injury. I just became depressed and unfortunately the mood for my summer was set.
Even though I’ve been living independently for the last five years, I realized that it was the first time being completely on my own, which is why I guess my emphasis on meeting new people and keeping my relations intact were so important to me…but only with certain people.
Throughout my stay in D.C., I’ve experienced excitement, heartbreak, new friends, causes that I believe in, the erasure of my voice, and the reestablishment of it.
Recently, my transitioned has stabilized, and I feel a lot better about it now, but I still have a ways to go before I can fix the rest. Writing will just be one of the enablers.