Last year I dressed up as a woman for the first time ever in public. It was at the office Halloween costume party. I won first place. Oh, I know my co-workers gave it to me for coming out but I still had a blast.
The costume I wore was The Retro Witch, a character I portrayed in my YouTube videos. It’s funny how it already feels like a lifetime ago despite being less than 12 months past.
Since then I have made major strides. Not only have I begun presenting public as I work towards transitioning, but I am also on hrt and experimenting with finding my look and style.
When I was a teenager I wanted nothing more than to look and dress like Marilyn Manson. They were by far one of my favorite bands. Not so much musically mind you mostly for their style.
Call it what you want but my parents were fairly conservative so cross-dressing remained an activity I explored in secret. The chances of me dressing like a ghoulish punk rocker was pretty slim. Except it wasn’t that far-fetched.
I have an old photograph of one of my earliest Halloweens and truth be told I was dressed as exactly that, a punk rocker. Now this was the 80’s and it was absolutely acceptable for male rock singers to have flamboyant costumes, long hair and wear face paint.
I never really considered myself to be punk, or goth for that matter. I dated a Goth girl who was my soulmate. She didn’t stay goth for long before devolving into punk then settling into stay-at-home mom. She lived her life, her way and I always admired that about her.
It is true I have always been drawn not only to horror movies but Gothic imagery. Now music, again, I primarily like dance music and fun pop songs so not exactly punk rock.
Despite this uncertainty over am I goth, punk, “gangsta” or whatever, I always knew deep down one thing was certain, I was not whatever society said I was supposed to be.
I never considered myself a rebel. At least not in the traditional sense. Now I quite often took immediate offense to any sort of gender stereotype that cut me off from interests that were appealing to me. I gravitated towards things often considered girly by society and dismissed criticism I might be gay or whatever derogatory term lobbed my way at that time.
The actual reality is I always knew I could not live my life conforming to, well frankly anyone’s rules but my own. I am 38 years old and I recently counted all the jobs I have had over the years. One of the reasons I have a hard time staying put, sticking with something is I don’t put up with bullshit. I 100 percent live my life the way I choose. I follow the law. I protest the laws I disagree with in my own 1st amendment way. But beyond that I pretty much operate on a live and let live attitude, the ironic thing is I learned this from reading the Bible.
You see a Catholic Priest recently asked me how I identify. He wasn’t referring just to my gender identity or sexual orientation, neither of which I had a firm grasp on at that time, but he meant who do I see myself as. After I answered “I don’t Know” he swiftly pointed out if Christian is not among the words I choose to describe my identity then there is a problem. But I’ve always been a Christian. Not as in born into it, I am Catholic now but was raised, well mostly you would say Evangelical.
No that wasn’t it. I lived by the Bible. I struggled with being told I was a boy I had to like sports, or I wasn’t allowed to like Barbie dolls. Beyond that I stayed well within the confines of what I perceived to be a Godly lifestyle as taught by Jesus and his followers written in the book we hold in high regard.
It’s funny because Jesus taught equally law and order and resisting oppression. Not in the exact way some would probably point out but still he very much lived outside of the confines of society yet firmly within the letter of the law. He found a balance of protest and law abiding citizen, or you know peaceful protest and not passing judgement on others.
Okay so then how does that fit into my search for an identity?
I can tell you if you label me based on my interests and outward appearance I am a gamer, Christian, trans-woman who also has a strong aversion to being told what to do. Does any of that make me inherently punk?
This came up recently a few years ago when N.W.A was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. The case was made they represented the spirit of rock n roll by being a music group hell bent on fighting the establishment. This being the very core of what makes punk so powerful.
There is of course, the Hollywood trope of what punk rockers are supposed to be. If you watched any films in the 80s you probably saw this. A very notable example even a main stream American would recognize is Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. There is a scene where Mr. Spock encounters a punk rocker on the bus. It’s a notable scene in the film so check it out if you haven’t already. It easily depicts a punker as a person with no regard for others around them. This is not entirely true. Resistance to oppression, fighting the power as the mantra goes, does not mean disorderly conduct.
I am not going to get into political ideologies here. Rather hone in on what I perceive to the word punk to mean to determine if it does in fact represent myself.
By all accounts I am someone who dresses in a way inconsistent with social norms. I break many of the established protocols and make my own rules. I am for sure someone who lives a fairly lonely life as I do end up pushing people away. Again that’s not entirely relevant to my quest to find myself but it is part of my life.
I never thought of myself as a rebel. I always said I believed in the rule of law. But, I also always found myself pushing back against any type of societal rule imposed on me. Every single time someone would tell me to do something a certain way and their reason for why was because, I would in no uncertain terms tell them to fuck of or give me a better reason. Yeah, this left me facing unemployment in the workforce or landing me in the principal’s office when I was in school.
I ended up spending a lot of time in detention to the point where I would even walk out freely during class flip the teacher a bird and proceed to do my own thing. I never felt like I had a problem with authority per se. If there was a rule in place that made sense or was codified in either law or school rules for example I followed it, for the most part. It was when other kids, other people my age, would tell me to be like them for no other reason than to fit in. I never gave a shit about fitting in. I never have a shit about being liked. I just basically wanted to tell people to let me be me.
Although it took 37 years before I could articulate my desire to live publicly as a woman as a part of my identity, I never questioned it in my own mind. It took that long for the dam to break. For me to get to the point where I just don’t give a fuck anymore and decided I am going to be the real me. Black hair. Lipstick. Fingernail polish. Woman’s clothing and yes I am going to continue blasting my angry gangsta rap music in my speakers while also throwing in some Madonna, Britney Spears or even some good old fashioned punk rock for good measure.
It was a scene in Lethal Weapon 2 where Martin Riggs tells his boss he just don’t give a fuck when I realized that is how I want to live my life.