By Raine Mara Hopper
The past is a hazy and fractured place for me. Truly bitter-sweet. It's been over two years since I began the steps I chose as part of my transition to live in my true identity. Before those first moments of absolute clarity, when I muttered through tears to my therapist, "I think I'm transgender... or something," the world was a different place to me.
Before the moment I took control over my identity, I was only a ghost of myself, assuming the role I was given. I navigated the world under the guise of masculinity and in company of it. I chose good friends. I chose to deny hyper masculinity and bro culture. I made the best of the situation I was in, but to escape misogyny entirely was impossible. Sexism is institutional. And I am guilty of it.
How many times did I say awful things and later prayed those words wouldn't come back to haunt me? I couldn't count. The world saw me as a man, and in my denial I appeased them. I played the part, and it was so much easier than telling the truth. Sometimes playing that part led me to say and do things. I knew one day I would have to answer for my failures. So here I am, coming clean. For the times I slut-shamed my little sister, or the way I talked about other women to my guy friends. For any time I might've said a talented woman was good “for a girl.” The cognitive dissonance of saying these things and knowing how harmful they were to me was sickening. Yet, somehow this misogyny was expected of me in my "male" presentation. The toxic masculinity that poisons our society had poisoned my blood. In my circle of guy friends, even the "good" ones, or the boys who denounced sexism and regarded themselves allies - they were not immune. Nor was I.
Now here I stand, a woman reconciling her past and present self. And I am so sorry. To my sister, my mother, my friends, and myself: I failed us all. And to this day I live with a small cloud of shame, reflected in the micro-aggressions I witness every day. And if you, dear reader, find yourself in a similar place, having trouble making sense of who you were and who you are; the first thing to do is forgive yourself. We all fuck up. We are all human, and we can all do better. And let's be honest, if you've been dealt the plight of a trans person, nothing about your life has been too easy. Forgive yourself.
Feels good, right? OK, now do something about it. Educate yourself on how to combat sexism in everyday life. Learn about intersectional feminism. Call out your friends when they make a dumb, sexist remark, and let them know why it's not okay. For me, the most therapeutic method is writing songs. But do something.
I'm not an expert, or an authority on the subject. I've got so much to learn about empowering women and smashing the patriarchy. But what I am an expert on is being a total dummy, and making endless mistakes. Sometimes my failures can feel overwhelming. But we are not defective. And if I have managed to jumble my incoherent thoughts into words that might've connected with you on some level… if perhaps you're still reading and dare I say, feel inspired by what I've shared, then without a doubt you are capable of doing some serious damage to the patriarchy. And there is no reconciliation like revenge.
Raine Hopper performs guitar and vocals in the band MeanGirls of Austin, TX.
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