Tag Archives: transwoman

It’s About Not Being Bullied


I’ve been looking over my recent blog posts and art, and noticing a pattern. Whether it’s “Why Justine Is So Scared” (my web-comic) or my rants in my blog… it’s about not being bullied.

When I was a kid I was bullied a lot. It was dreadful. Not merely bullied, but sexually assaulted. OK, now none of this is intended to induce sympathy, what it is intended to do is set the stage.

As an adult, one of the my biggest regrets is that I didn’t stand up for myself. Now… I stand up for myself. Whether it’s a guy groping me in a bar or a restaurant kicking me out, I won’t simply cower, I will stand up for myself whenever possible. It’s about stopping the cycle of feeling helpless. See what I meant about this not being a plea for sympathy… it’s an expression of personal growth and power.

Naturally, I’m quite loose and happy, but when I’m being bullied, I tighten up and become angry.

Look over my work, there is more than one page in “Why Justine Is So Scared” that shows me fighting back, whether it was the assistant manager at Wendy’s treating me in a degrading way because I’m trans (I called management and complained to his managers and the general manager… he will not be trying to degrade me again), or the Top trying to force me to change my behavior and force me to wear shoes… I won’t be bullied.

Ultimately this is where this comes from. I refuse to be that helpless child again. I can write in my blog, I can draw images to tell my story, I can call and file complaints, or I can fight back when I’m being molested by some jackass in a music club… or whatever it takes to say “NO” to being bullied.

It’s not a pleasure to fight back, but it’s much less of a pleasure to take it. Now, if only someone had told me that when I was a little girl.



They Can’t Have Me
(by Barefoot Justine)


No, you will never be an artist,
No, you must stop daydream doodling,
No, you do not have “it,”
No, you must study algebra,
No, you can’t have me.


Choose between the Beatles and Christ,
In church they made it clear,
I left them to their holy guilt,
Followed joy and walked away,
The church could not have me.

Endless waves of bullies came and come,
Molesting, degrading, hating,
From Beatings to bullshit,
From chuckled threats to scars,
They could not and can not have me.


“Duran Duran, Judas Priest, and Loverboy,
Are better than the Beatles,” or so they said,
Knowing better, I shook my head and waited,
“We’ll talk in 20 years, we’ll talk in 20 years…”
Teenybop eighties pop quarrels could not have my Beatles.

“Crucify yourself to a VW Beetle in the name of art,
Now that is genius,” in college they cried,
And shoved me through the Postmodern prison,
Where foolishness and spite masquerade as Art with a capital A,
I laughed, they could not brainwash me.

Even my body so ill-fitted and wrong,
Deep inside a seed waited to become,
Beauty, joy, and freedom,
Suffocating in a river of Black Velvet,
So nearly did it have me.

In place of the budding seed cancer grew,
Diagnosis, dread, surgery and radiation
A tumor of whiskey river despair,
Epiphany encased in disease,
Even cancer could not have me.

Crystal coral waves pulled me under,
Deep in the waters of Thailand,
I surfaced, no boat, no air,
Leaking, keeping afloat and fighting,
Even the waters of Thailand could not have me.

Whiskey tears and distraction,
Shove-it-down, forever hiding,
Scapegoat divorce and bankrupt heartaches,
Thrice I crossed the bridge where Andy jumped,
Not even Andy’s bridge could have me.

Enough! Emerge, blossom, become,
He died so that I might live,
From ashes I rose like a Phoenix,
I thrived and survived,
This body could not deny me.

One came to molest me… again,
To grope and degrade me publicly,
My hands, his skull, cinder block wall,
Violent and strong, I delighted,
He could not have me.

Come at me if you wish,
Come at me with grins and ignorance,
Come at me with threats and ugliness bilious,
Come, and I will show your skull to the wall,
Not a man among them can have me.


Judge and jury, monoliths of misconceptions,
To me they come with misguided certainty,
To kick me out, convinced to perfection,
Armed with paranoia and phantom laws,
Which cannot hold me.

Gainesville’s CFOP, the Top, and Chopstix Cafe,
Kick me out and have your way right or wrong,
Tell me I need shoes… I do not, and I do not need you,
Kick me out, I am barefoot STILL,
Have your way, but you can’t have me.

You who deny me are groundless rules and ignorance,
Lies, bullies and bullshit,
You have the world to believe you…
But I am a force of nature and bearer of release,
And you can NOT have me.

Alternative bands and fashion,
Subculture kids conformed through fear to pragmatism,
Tight in little boxes made by other men,
They can have their boxes, bands and clothing,
But they could never hold me.

I am barefoot, I am Justine,
I am free to know who I am,
I will not live in any boxes,
I will not become as them,
No hardcore or Hippie box can keep me.

They can kick me out, but cannot have me,
They can deny my gender, but cannot have me,
They can invent what rules they choose,
Abuse and bully,
But they can’t have me.

Do I scare you, my friend?
Make you weary and uncomfortable,
Am I too intense and my heart too open?
So you do not want me… so it is,
Fine, but you can’t have me.

Why Barefoot Justine Is So Scared (crop)

Why Barefoot Justine Is So Scared (crop)

Call me “sir,” call me “he” and “they,”
Deny me the simple dignity others know,
Deny that I am a woman,
Deny me my humanity,
But none among you can have me.

Deny me care, deny me cash,
Deny me work, deny me marriage,
Deny my gender, deny me barefoot freedom,
Deny all truth for profit,
You cannot deny me.

I am a force of nature,
I am freedom and a dream come true,
I am barefoot,
I am a woman,
Never once did they have me.

On my mirror are these simple words,
On my door as I pass,
A reminder that,
To thine own self be true,
“They can’t have me!”

(I like poems that rhyme and have meter, this is not a poem, this is a declaration of renunciation.)

I, Panther Woman


PDVD_013“I wonder how much of Lota’s animal origin is still alive… how nearly a perfect woman she is.” Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau from The Island of Lost Souls

I realized this morning that I was both Lota the Panther Woman and Dr. Moreau. I see metaphors in all the classics, observe the potency of the werewolf (in the original Universal film) as a metaphor for the beast in all of us, the beast that threatens to harm the ones we love, whether it be emotional or physical hurt, we always hurt the ones we love. And of course we all know the very direct and intentional metaphor of Gojira, the monster is not merely a symbol of the atom bomb, but the film itself stands as a metaphor for how the Japanese saw the event. We code our experiences through stories, we find comfort in stories, and they shape our lives. The oft dismissed horror and fantasy films were always far more real to me than artsier or more “respected” films about the human condition… these fairy tale and horror films ARE not only very definitely about real life, as far as I’m concerned they make far more profound statements about real life through the use of metaphor. Metaphor can be more flexible, less restrictive, and ultimately far more powerful; inarguably far more creative, most definitely more imaginative, frankly far more subtle, and they ring far more true, so far as I’m concerned.

As I have spent the last couple years (plus) struggling through the rigors of HRT, suffering the side effects, disappointments and traumas of getting my hormonal balance set right I have felt terribly alone. Recently I have been battling tough decisions and walking the razor’s edge between my life and health on one side and the woman I want, and was meant to be, on the other. I have experienced some genuine terror, some setbacks, and have had to rethink and retune things many times recently in my efforts to control my hormonal balance. My struggles to get the physical and emotional progress I need have placed me in conflict with a very real need to stop risking my life in the process.

Thanks to my recent battles with my hormonal levels I have seen my old self, the creature that slithers around inside of me, come back by degrees, and as I have abandoned common sense and gone back to dangerous levels of hormones I have in kind seen aspects of my physicality return to a more pleasing state. And this morning as I was getting ready to go out and taking microscopic stock of my progress, I began to realize that I was both the innocent Lota the Panther Woman and the mad and controlling Dr. Moreau. For those of you who have iether never seen nor ever read (and I have seen and read both), Island Of Lost Souls the film and “The Island Of Dr. Moreau” the book, the metaphor may be difficult to comprehend.

In the film (and book) Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau struggles to turn beasts into humans, and in particular he struggles most madly (and perhaps most valiantly) to turn a panther into a woman… who in the end, most unfortunately, becomes merely a “Panther Woman.” Of course Moreau is not pleased with this, and we sense that Lota (the Panther Woman) is far too overwhelmed to entirely understand what is happening to her, and is ashamed of her more beastly aspects. In my life, unfortunately, I am both Lota and Moreau. The battle both characters are fighting are alive in me, in conflict in me, and at times tear me apart.

At one point in the film Moreau realizes that the beastly aspects of Lota keep coming back, keep rising to the surface. He inspects her, enraged, obsessed, “Day after day it creeps back… creeps back,” he says, but he sees that she is close, so close, and shouts that this time he’ll burn out all the animal in her! Frustrated, saddened, angry, he takes her to the “House Of Pain” to have the beast in her burned out… and this directly mirrors the recent battles I have been fighting as the beast, the creature, works from within to tip the scales and rise to the surface, and like both Lota and Moreau I am saddened, overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, and determinedly (if not valiantly) struggling to burn the beast out… in my case with hormones and hormone blockers. Add to this my own trips to “The House Of Pain” to have laser hair removal, and the metaphor becomes all the more bizarrely appropriate. Like Moreau I am determined and fighting to maintain the illusion that I am in control, like Lota I am caught not merely between Moreau and my own physicality, but I am overwhelmed… and merely want to be complete.

Being a Panther Woman is no easy way to go. The Panther Woman is neither this nor that, she is a twilight creature, a creature in turmoil, a misfit. Unfortunately it doesn’t end there, like Lota, I also have wild frizzy hair, but I don’t think that metaphor could be taken all that seriously even through a highly personal translation… it’s still a bummer of a parallel. No one in the story wants Lota to be a twilight creature, it is merely her fate, one that cannot be accepted by anyone!

As of this morning, I have found a new symbol, a new character to relate to, Lota the Panther Woman (as well as Moreau); as through my perspective this story has become a highly personal metaphor. I am watching the movie again as I write this, and liking it even more than the last time I saw it, and I think today I am going to go out and buy the book, read it again, only this time with far more insight and sorrow, and perhaps with far more empathy for dear Lota… and yes, even Moreau, for I am both.

Well… back to “The House Of Pain,” I have a beast to burn out of me.

“Lota is my most nearly perfect creation… I wanted to prove how completely she was a woman.” Moreau from Island Of Lost Souls