Raine Grayson

Raine (he/him/his)  is Queeries Blog founder and 27 year-old playwright, director, and WGSS/Theatrical scholar whose work focuses on theatre as a form of social activism. He continues to use his “out and proud” attitude to educate people on LGBTIA+ rights and visibility.

Trans Empathy – Or, You misgendered me & I thanked you.

Today, my boss apologizes for misgendering me and I thank her.

I work in a very grey office out of a very grey cubicle in a big grey building where a little grey headset streams to me a constant flood of angry patrons who every day find a new way to assume my womanhood based on my voice. My boss, who is by all accounts a very nice woman, is usually very good about my pronouns. I know that every time she talks to or about me I would be able to breathe for a moment – something I do very rarely on the job.

For some reason, however, she misgendered me last week.

I felt as though my one tie to reality in a place where I constantly feel unreal had betrayed me. Office atmospheres are deceiving – they turn everything into the mundane.  It is easy to seem like you are not crushed because everybody behind a computer screen and a cubicle is always some level of crushed. Pain simply fades into the white noise of the place.

I knew this and I couldn’t stand it. I had to make sure she knew this mattered to me. I needed to know I could look hold onto this tiny anchor of sanity to which my boss was the tether.

I sent an email. This was a big deal for me. The last time I tried to assert my pronouns in a work setting, I was assaulted and then fired.

The Mobius Strip Of Trans Elders – We’ve Always Got Someone To Learn From

To be trans is to constantly be learning from those around you. I want to talk about how we all become each other’s “elders” in the trans community.

The view from my hometown (Kingston, NY) LGBT center. Photo by Todd Martin.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cyclical nature of transgender community support.

When I came out, I didn’t know a lot of trans folks. I knew plenty of gay folk of all varieties. We played a lot with gender presentation, whether it was for drag shows, theatre, cosplay, or simply having fun with bowties and make-up on a Wednesday night. I felt very at home in my understanding of queerness in relation to my sexuality and to the commonly understood (read: stereotypical) relationships between sexuality and gender presentation…but my knowledge of actual trans people were limited to a rousing one.

Until I started going to my local support group.

I attended a very small group hosted, as they always are, by my local LGBTQ center. Most days there were only a handful of people in attendance. The small community made there felt like a local hand-me-down – a traveling gift between the trans folk in the area. As we quietly found each other we started to come out to one another and, in turn, were subsequently bequeathed the date and times the group met. …

Gender Fiction – How RPG, Fanfiction, and Other Play Paved My Way To Coming Out

By looking at the concept of “fiction gender” and how it’s enacted, its clear that sometimes – in order to understand yourself in a real way – you have to dig yourself a little deeper into the world of fiction!

I’ve always been a nerd.

Whether I was holed up behind my computer screen, running around with a foam sword and a tunic in a field, or rolling dice in someone’s basement, as a child I happily found happiness through fantasy worlds. When I was young I always saw it as a form of escapism from my formidably rocky childhood. As an adult, I’ve been returning to these games I’ve used to play again. I find they are still a wonderful form of escapism from the horrors of our world today – but I also appreciate it as a time for me to stretch my creative muscles and practice my crafts while having some good ol’ sober fun.

It’s become clearer and clearer as I grow older and continue to re-engage with my nerdy roots that the fantasy worlds I evoked were also a play place and learning ground for my gender expression. I am not the only person who did this and grew up to recognize it. I’m not even the only person to write on this topic. Might I suggest another article on this by my dear friend M, who talks about “Roleplaying From The Closet” in their much more comprehensive take on gender in roleplaying games, “Gender At The Gaming Table”? I’d still like to offer up my experiences to the conversation, however. This is because I want to drive home the fact that playing with one’s gender expression in fictional settings is a perfect example of how complicated and winding a road it can be to understand one’s own gender identity.

Young, very closeted me – fully engrossed in character creation

The Filling And Breaking Of My Heart At The 2019 Queer Liberation March

I joined in at the Queer Liberation March this year, attending the protest instead of NYC WorldPride. My heart, at the same time, was filled to the brim and…as I walked home, broken once again.

My friend, my fiancé, and myself at the Queer Liberation March. Photo by Aidan Doyle, taken from a thoughtful and amazing article in them: “Queer Liberation March 2019” – which you can visit to read and view Doyle’s other brilliant photos of the March.

Pride month has long left us. Happily richer, the corporations have since painted over the rainbows they were sporting, leaving the queer community with the same guarded white walls we’re used to having thrown up in our face.

However, the love, power, passion, and anger of the LGBTQIA+ community lives on.

This year, my fiancé and I attended the Queer Liberation march. We both have a bit of a sordid history with Pride parades, but knew we wanted to be in New York City in commemoration of the 50thanniversary of the Stonewall Riots.  We weren’t sure how we were going to show up to honor our community’s history in a way that felt right.

…Then the Queer Liberation March popped up. Meant to be a people’s march to reclaim Pride, it was a counter-march to the Parade that sported no corporate floats or police presence.  What other way is there to honor Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major, Stormé DeLarverie, Larry Kramer, the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis, Frank Kameny, the Gay Liberation Front, Et All? What other way is there to commemorate an anti-police riot that lasted days after our rights had been violated so deeply and so unwaveringly?

There isn’t.

You march.

We met up with a friend in Bryant Park to join the March at its mid-way point. The energy just in the park itself was electric. Throngs of people dressed in both black, pink, and gold (the colors of the march) as well as bright, fantastic outfits. It felt like every single person in the park had a purpose – and in a lot of ways, perhaps that is true. Each and every person who showed up to the Queer Liberation March made a purposeful decision to attend the March instead of the Parade. Therefore, each person’s body became a powerful statement against the corporatization and pink-washing of Pride. Each person purposefully became a part of a new wave of the continued street presence of Queer protest and riots. By making the choice to be here, just a few blocks away from there, they became a part of a grand testament to the strength and resilience of queer activism. No one was there because it was “fun”. No one was there because it was something to do. No one was there because they were being paid to be there. Everybody was there because they knew they needed to be.

Rethinking the “Straight” Sex I Used to Have – Understanding Your Body’s History After Coming Out as Trans

Coming out as trans makes looking back on your own memories a little bit complicated…but it’s sometimes good to take time recontextualize even the most intimate moments of your past so you can have the same autonomy over your history as you do your present and your future.

A page from a zine I created entitled “My Trans Masculinity”

As someone who has been out as trans for many years now, I feel like I’ve got the hang of my identity as much as a person can. I’ve grown to understand and articulate what being male and being trans both mean to me. I’ve navigated the process of coming out and have gone through my “second puberty” with HRT. I connect with the person I see in the mirror when I look into it every morning.

It took a lot of relearning and reprogramming, but I eventually found myself. I think it’s important to also note that while I had to learn how to interact and love my own body, I also had to learn how this body interacts with the bodies of others. There was a lot of navigating in relearning how this body felt comfortable receiving and giving pleasure. It took me a long time to understand the types of intimacy this body was capable of. I for many years had swings of being physically incapable of sharing intimacies such as sex with another person because I didn’t associate with my body – and if I didn’t associate with my body how could I then allow it to feel physical closeness, passion, or pleasure? It’s hard to enjoy sex when you’re in months-long dissociative episodes and trying to deny any part of your physicality.

I don’t necessarily want to share the road I took to relearn the pleasures of sex, though. Even for an over-sharing author like myself, there are some explorations that are meant to only be experienced by partners or diaries.

What I want to talk about today is recontextualizing my own sexual history in a way that makes sense to my trans body now.

Now Introducing…QUEERIES ZINE

 

We are so excited to announce that starting this June, Queeries will be producing a seasonal zine that will be sold to support LGBTQIA+ organizations!

Each zine will feature a new work by each of our residential writers and will be hand-bound and sold in both physical and digital copies. Our first zine’s theme will be “PRIDE” in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with all proceeds benefiting the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP).

Copies will be available for purchase on June 16th and anybody signed up on our mailing list before we launch will receive a free copy!

For more details visit: https://queeriesblog.com/zine/

A Love Letter To My HRT

It’s been six months since the last time I had access to my hormone replacement therapy. Though I was already prescribed and had been on testosterone since 2016, when I moved to a new state no doctor would continue my prescription. Until now…

To my HRT,

Hi.

It’s been awhile.

I’m sorry we haven’t seen each other since October of 2018.  I know you’ve been waiting for me and I didn’t mean to keep you in suspense for so long.

I feel like I owe you an explanation.

Long story short – I moved. Long story long – I moved to a place where the reception was really bad. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to see you – it’s just that any channel I tried to reach you through was static. I don’t know what you did to piss off a whole bunch of old red state doctors, therapists, nurse practitioners, and endocrinologists, but they really, reallydon’t know what to do when I bring up your name. Every day they cut another line and the frequency got a little fuzzier between you and I until finally there was just silence.

A Hometown Never Stops Being Home: Growing Up Trans In A Rural Area

I thought my hometown would have my back when I came out as trans…but when you offer up your own truth, you are often met with the harsh truths of the world around you.

Trigger warning: brief mentions of sexual assault, anti-trans violence, LGBTQ hate speech

I grew up in a myriad of little towns scattered across the Hudson Valley. I was 40 minutes from the infamous Woodstock, about two hours from New York City, and surrounded by the exact type of people you’d suspect would exist between those two extremes. It was a liberal area, even if it felt like I was constantly boxed in by the Catskills that raised high above me always, on all sides. Every town I moved to – and I moved a lot – had a different flavor of rebellion and grunge.  In upstate New York, I grew up thinking I could be anybody. 

I knew the Hudson Valley like the back of my hand. I knew what towns I could leave my car doors unlocked in. I knew where all the swimming holes were. I knew what Kingston, my hometown, looked like before gentrification started to plant its roots in the historic streets, sprouting new bars and antique shops and putting up fences so the weeds of the displaced, impoverished many wouldn’t taint the fertile soil. I knew the safest streets to walk on at two AM. My hometown was full of friends and enemies and my past and future and I could read it like you could read the oldest, most worn book on your shelf. 

I felt safe. 

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See you all April 1st!

We’re Coming Back…On April 1st!

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We can’t wait to see you again!