22 February 2010

Feeling some lesbian power

In the trans community, I am notorious for my hardcore lesbianism, to a point where some people call me "lesbian first, trans only as an afterthought." And it's a reputation I sometimes play up; when "teabagging," originally referring to a form of hazing done with a man's scrotum, became the label for the anti-Obama "Tea Party" protests in 2009, I proposed a countermovement of "carpetmunching," and I've now evolved this into sadistic tongue-in-cheek threats of violence against male genitalia as well ("try teabagging me, I shall munch everything to destruction").

Even working on Sarah's story is no different. Originally, the story was about Kirsten, my non-trans alter ego; of course, the story would never work without Kirsten being a hardcore lesbian herself, and her lesbianism is one of the defining traits of her character. Sarah was to be a mere supporting character, but as she demanded to take center stage, she also demanded to be portrayed as a lesbian as well, rather than being boycrazy as I had initially intended her to be. I was finding that as much as I wanted to write about an attractive boycrazy transwoman, I simply couldn't do it, so I had to turn Sarah Sapphic. That also ensured that Kirsten would find some other purpose - as Sarah's eventual girlfriend and wife. Given Kirsten's hardcore lesbianism - and hatred of anything phallic, getting her to fall in love with Sarah, complete with her "big clit," would be a challenge - but it's not impossible, and I think I'm figuring this out just fine.

From the get-go, Sarah was supposed to be a flight attendant (stereotypical female glamour, but thankless work). Also from the get-go, Sarah was supposed to work for United Airlines - though initially I saw her as being laid off in 2004 during the airline's financial difficulties. But as I developed the story, there were far better reasons for Sarah to fly for United. One reason for the choice is because I am familiar with the airline myself; it's also the airline I am partial to for sentimental reasons. And one of those reasons happens to be late 1999, when I put in some serious mileage flying from San Francisco to Las Vegas, then to Amsterdam; while the Amsterdam trip was a nightmare (something I discussed in a post in early December 2009), the flights to/from there, with a Melissa Etheridge channel, were the saving grace. Though that channel was merely the product of the vendor providing the audio programming, as well as some lip service to United Airlines instituting employee benefits for unmarried partners of employees earlier that year, I still found it to be a pleasant surprise, when I needed it the most. So much so, that I always refer to United Airlines, even to this day, as "Dyke-Friendly United" - and putting my favorite redhead trans lesbian to work there takes an additional layer of meaning.

Before I resume my novel, I feel that I need to write another Sarah interview. The ones I tried to write, in December 2008 in Hong Kong and September 2009 in Los Angeles, both fizzled out; that means after November 2008 in Seoul, I have no new novel work, period. I want this new interview to finally be the point where I tell Sarah that I strongly associate her airline with lesbian power. That may be one revelation that she may really appreciate. Sure, when it comes to trans-friendliness, no airline tops American, but my emphasis of "dyke-friendly United" over trans-friendly American may just yet be another way for me to live up to my reputation of "lesbian first, trans as an afterthought."

And surely, the finished novel, as much as it tries to tell a trans story, may end up being more of a lesbian coming-of-age story with a trans twist. And that may as well be how I need to proceed.

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