We ain't from around here.
That's the impression we get whenever we find an outfit or combo that feels good and looks about how we want to look. Either we don't pass in this higher-scrutiny environment and can expext routine harassment for it, or we look underdressed and slacker-ish wherever we go (not something we mind always, but occasionally frustrating for the way our clothing gets us read by others), or it's fitting and looks good but it's just too ostentatious for local mores. I'm wearing my sarong and poncho over shorts and a tank top, and the only people in my neighborhood who ever seem to dress in bright colors and garments with this kind of cut and fall are Somali and Indian women. I don't mind that part, but it does mean a LOT of staring and social confusion once I leave the apartment, which feeds back to the heightened scrutiny around gender.
The perils of a hippie fashion sense, I suppose. Much of my ideal response is to shrug it off, and after the trip back home that's become easier. But one thing I've noticed out here lately, now that I'm no longer simply hiding behind presumed-androgyny and slacker lack-of-particular-aesthetics is that there's an undercurrent of hostility in the way some people look at me.
Is it just my imagination? I never thought of Minneapolis as innately more hostile than other places to people like me; sure, there've been a couple high-profile murders of trans women in town since I moved here, but somehow it didn't register as unusual (and isn't *that* a fucked-up state of affairs, that such a thing seems like the background of life). There are quite a number of us here in a fairly large and active community; if anything I thought the Twin Cities' trans people were rather more cohesive and generally possessing of communitas than the ones in Puget Sound (don't get me started). It's hard to tell how much of this is just a roll on the "Day in the life of a trans person" table, and how much reflects a growing...well, tension in the assorted cis people around me.
I don't know. Maybe I just never really noticed because of how shy I am -- I'm good at projecting confidence as a means of fending off negative attention (and it has served me well over the years), but I use a lot of strategies and behavior patterns to avoid eye contact or much direct interaction with the people I pass. The visit home changed that quite a bit; maybe it's just a reflection of my own awareness increasing.
I don't know. But it's got me uneasy. And with the uptick in gun crimes in my neighborhood (it's getting depressingly routine to hear shots late at night, and just recently we had someone discharge a Colt 45 in the street as a threat to the people in the house across from us), I'm starting to feel distinctly uncomfortable in my own dwelling. I don't want my increased self-confidence and willingness to dress how I like put me at greater risk of being a statistic. And it may not be avoidable.
Been a bit worried about Kimiko lately. She lost a lot of weight during my trip, and has generally stayed small and whisper-thin since. She hasn't eaten very much lately -- probably due to the heat (or its alternative, the noise of the AC, neither of which are very comfortable for her). It's hard to tell if she's sick or it's just a reaction to the season; her behavior is uncomfortably close to that of a cat I had years ago, who started losing weight and eating less but only really got our attention once he was unable to keep food down and visibly jaundiced.
Kimi is neither jaundiced, nor having more than the usual feline rate of digestive tract rebellion. So she's not clearly and obviously sick in any way -- she just doesn't seem to be taking in much, and it's driving her weight down drastically. There wasn't much we could do for Silver when he contracted the kidney virus that caused his symptoms, and there's not much we can do for Kimiko if she's got the same thing. So it's probably just down to waiting and making sure her condition doesn't deteriorate.
She's real lethargic, but otherwise seems fine -- she's affectionate, and a bit clingy. She doesn't seem to have much interest in playing, which is unusual for her, but probably understandable if the seasons are making her uncomfy. We'll just have to keep an eye on her and see how it goes.
We ain't from around here.