On reclaiming the story of my womanhood
I think this story begins at a bar in Greenwich late last year, when New York was under a record freeze. I was meeting an old friendly African acquaintance I hadn’t seen in nearly a year. Some months before, he had messaged me on social media to say he might be in New York for Christmas and that we should meet if he came; to my surprise, in December, he contacted me again. He was visiting family in Long Island, the message declared, and suggested meeting up, ending with a grinning emoji. I knew, from old gossip with friends to whom he had sent flirtatious texts and DMs, that he seemed to enjoy casual hookups, but he had never shown any interest in me before, and I mused, on occasion, that my being trans had cloaked me with a kind of diaphanous sexual invisibility.
He had contacted just about every other woman in the circles of my old life before my move to Brooklyn— everyone but me, it seemed. I wasn’t particularly attracted to him, though I thought him sweet and funny, and because I was from the Commonwealth of Dominica, I always held a soft spot in my heart for other people from former British colonies in America who understood things Americans often did not — how we spelt words, having digestive biscuits at teatime, teatime in general, the colonial holdovers in many of our governments and institutions. I was disinterested and yet vaguely, stupidly desired his desire, as if that would validate something of my womanhood — no but yes, an in-between uncertainty, like the grey smoky nightmares of a slumbering volcano. Still, I wondered what it would be like if, absurdly, he asked to go back to my place. I was in a dating rut then, feeling lonely, vulnerable, and like I had little future with love due to who and what I was.
I hadn’t really thought we would have sex, but now that we were alone in the bar, he seemed to want it, seemed to exude a hunger that made me swallow more than usual. He had never been with a trans woman, but, he said, grinning in the chiaroscuro light like a hyena, that he wouldn’t mind trying something with me. He told lurid smiling tales about the pythonic dimensions supposedly concealed in his…