Every Building on 100 West Hastings by Stan Douglas
Winner of the 2009 Downtown Eastside Writers' Jamboree Writing Contest.
1 Forge forward in the face of anxiety, that unwelcome friend, who slides up silently. It pays me a visit way too often, as I prepare myself, with a wave of the makeup wand, to venture out Out into public places, especially during the day. Feeling timid, vulnerable and exposed, strolling through crowded shopping malls searching for shoes and clothes, busy public washrooms, fitting rooms, food courts, cafés, “Suburbia,” I’m striving to find myself again, and become comfortable with who I am. I’ve lost that protective crust, created with drugs, “come-fuck-me” outfits and attitudes, with painted faces of money-making whore lust, A cocky character I was, with a go-anywhere confident walk. Strut down the seediest and scariest back alleys at 4 a.m. in miniskirts, garters and platform heels, My purse filled with condoms and lube. My cash stuffed down my bra and hidden by my boobs. The tattooed tranny, known to many young male “hustlers” simply and affectionately as “Auntie.” Some street people will watch my back, while others hope for me to drop my guard, to give them a shot at my hard night’s cash. And I’m always on the look for the out-of-town assault. Those tranny gay-bashing bastards occupy a permanent spot in the back of my thoughts. I feel more vulnerable walking about in the burbs than anywhere in the Downtown Eastside. Whatever became of that “fuck what anybody thinks” attitude that was necessary to free Antonette in the first place? I guess I felt safer behind the drugs and the tranny whore stereotype. De-sensitized to the constant abuse, De-sensitized to the constant callous unfeeling sex, Apathetically numb, A hollow existence, It’s hard to draw much satisfaction from being a great fuck, or from giving awesome head, blessed with a big mouth and deep throat. Out of touch ageless, Day after day timeless, Year after year with little hope, trapped in a “going nowhere,” “never changing,” filthy, depressing life. Dying slowly, like a flower being strangled by the weeds in some forgotten garden. Shattered and unattainable dreams, Can’t remember when I stopped dreaming, It took a couple of months without drugs before I started dreaming again. Years of drug and alcohol abuse, “Life’s a party, then you die” attitude. Trying to escape the trauma and pain, Dreaming again indicates a healing brain, convulsions of tears and invisible spears, pierce the centre of my being and awaken fears. The more often I venture out The more comfortable I will be with myself, In time, relieving me from this anxiety. 2 I’m a mature tranny, who is gaining confidence with being me, and who needs not to worry so much about passing, or being humiliated and mocked, or subjected to snickering pointed fingers, and insults, or people getting up and moving when I sit down, like on the bus. In the past, I had to make sure someone else was standing with me at the bus stop, so the bus would stop and not just drive by, especially if it was the last bus. Once upon a time, when the last bus didn’t stop, This princess was so exhausted she fell asleep right there on the sidewalk and awoke minus her money and next to the pea. I was homeless at the time and had been awake, working without a break, for five days and nights, from one date to the next. I would keep working, when I had nowhere to live strolling in heels and barely clothed, from high track at night, to low track during the day through evening, then back again, until the drugs couldn’t keep me awake any longer. Eventually, I would hit the wall and pass out wherever. At times it got to be quite comical. I would fall asleep while giving head. I damn near bit the dude’s dick off a couple of times. I suddenly came to and yeeow, Thank gawd they were big fellas and buried balls deep. It was sooo embarrassing. I suppose with me, it was like putting a soother in a baby’s mouth. I finally found a rundown room to live in, because I was a prostitute and management’s greed, for their illegal 20-dollar “guest fee.” I wouldn’t bother trying to flag a cab during daylight. A late-morning date was absolutely stunned. He insisted on grabbing a cab back to my place. The cabbies would take one look at me, then keep right on going. My date even went and got a cab on his own, then came back to pick me up, only to have the cab quickly pull away when I attempted to get in or refuse to move until I got out. Finally, the fifth cab we tried let me get in. It seemed a bit easier during the evening, as they wouldn’t realize I was a tranny until we were already moving. Although I can remember being dumped by a date, way out at 49th and Main (after the buses had retired), then having to walk down Main Street dressed in nothing but my little bolero jacket, white lace see-through miniskirt, G-string, garters and 6-inch heels. No cab would pick me up until I was almost at Broadway. I even tried to bribe, when passing by, any one of three or four cabbies parked at a corner, without success, as they just laughed at me and my late-night predicament. I try to reassure myself that much of the attention, hollers and hoots was because I was, with my outfits and tattoos, a recognizable and known prostitute, and not so much for the reason of being a visible male-to- female transsexual. I have a better understanding and appreciation as to what it must be like for a woman to venture out alone at night, in what for many is still very much a man’s world, especially if she’d ever been sexually assaulted, robbed, beaten or all of the above. Experiences I’ve endured time and again, as a “working girl” on the streets and alleyways of Vancouver. Dressing more like a lady my age will help to downplay the attention and notoriety, which should help to relieve my anxiety. I’ve backed off somewhat from the idea of going for SRS (sexual re-assignment surgery), I’m becoming more and more comfortable with being seen as a bit of both, after all, I came with testicles and an ovary, small breasts with perky nipples, and hip joints that move as a woman’s, for childbearing purposes (although I’m now past the safe age for having a baby). The more comfortable I become with the new me, the less I should feel any anxiety. I wonder what new adventures lie ahead, as I discover, explore and free, the new me, drug free?