Friday, June 29, 2012

Recognizing Bigotry - Dating

I've seen this following phrase all too often: "Oh, I accept transsexual women, but I'd never date one! I'm just not attracted to them, that's all!!"

The problem with this statement is that it contradicts itself inherently. It's a bold claim to make, but I've had this discussion many times, and talked with many people, and after a few more questions, the result has always been the same. They try to dodge it by saying "What, can't I be attracted to what traits I like?!!?" avoiding the underlying problem with their assumption.  After a little digging, the result is always the same:

"Well, they were male. Once I know that, I'm not attracted. I'm just not into men"

The problem is the last statement. The statement "I'm just not into men" COMPLETELY invalidates any acceptance you've claimed. Whether or not you can put on a mask and tolerate them, whether or not you can humor their desired pronouns. That's not 'accepting them', that's humoring them. It's tolerating them.

Because it's not hard, really, to tolerate a trans person. An extra letter added or subtracted from a few pronouns, a few minor language changes.... and you're pretty well able to appear like you're a trans ally!

Except that you don't 'really' accept them. You harbor your own contradictory prejudices that, while you think you know 'the truth' of their gender, you'd rather play nice.

This is one of the purest forms of lack of acceptance in existence. Ask yourself, would you date a transsexual woman? (If lesbian/straight male)? Would you date a transsexual man? (if gay/straight female)?

Why wouldn't you, if you said no?

It's a question that's VERY telling of how much you really accept a trans person. The science still supports transsexualism, but if you cling to prejudices, even if you hide it well, you're not truly accepting of trans persons.


(P.S. Orangeban - I will get to your question - I was fired up over this one and had to write. fear not! Also, if you feel safe, drop an email in the comments section if you would like!)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pride Event - Cleveland, Ohio

Yesterday, I was at the Cleveland Pride event. The event was pretty awesome, there was a pride parade, people generally having a great time being themselves.

The event was wonderful, and I was happy to have the opportunity to be there and to share that time with my friends as well.

The main thing I wanted to bring up is that, well, trans visibility at this event was pretty low. They had thousands of people, and a ton of tents for various things set up, but out of all of it, I saw one booth for Trans - and that booth was for the local trans support group. Out of all the pride items on sale, I had to scour the whole grounds just to find one booth which had a few trans necklaces.

This is really kind of messed up. I'm not sure what the cause is here. Is it because a majority of us would rather just appear invisible, even at pride? Is it because we've just wrote off pride as an LG event, with BT tacked on? Or is it just that there's so few of us we can only manage to secure one tent?

I'm not sure what the reason is, but I'm going to look into what costs would be incurred in running a tent myself. I figure the problem of trans representation won't get better unless someone takes the initiative. Why not me?

I make no promises - it's a pipe dream at best right now, but one I hope to follow up on. If nothing comes of it, so be it (I don't even know if individuals CAN put up tents there. This may be impossible). But I'm hoping that it can be figured out and made real. I've already got someone who would run the tent with me, and ideas about what to include if this happens.


(Incidentally, the reason my blog hasn't updated recently is a lack of questions to answer. The blog thrives off of the questions of my readers, and when nobody asks anything, production slows. That said, anonymous posting is enabled, so if you have something you would like me to write about, submit it below!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Transgender Umbrella

Orangeban asked: "What do you think about relations between transgender people who experience a disconnect between their gender and sex, and those who do not but crossdress/are drag queens? Do you feel there are hostilities between these groups?"

This question hits kind of close to home for me, because of my own personal experience of coming to understand myself. Originally, my only conceptualization of someone transgender was, essentially, a drag queen. I did not understand that transition was a thing that people do for themselves until I was eighteen, and it causes me to harbor some unhappyness with the lack of trans portrayal in the media. All I knew of was drag queens. If I knew of transsexualism earlier in life, could I have been treated earlier? The question will haunt me forever.

I should also specify: Typically, when I refer in this blog to someone who is 'transgender', I usually mean 'transsexual'. The reason for this is twofold: One, we don't change our sex, we change our gender (making the term transSEXual misleading) and two, it's not about sex(the action) either; which, the term, transsexual tends to make less educated people uneasy and immediately make them think its a fetish. For the remainder of this article, I'm going to use the terms with their 'typical' meanings (to keep everything distinct).

I'm of a pretty firm stance regarding this idea. People who are transsexual are, for all intents and purposes, their target gender. Their brain is wired that way, and as the brain controls personality, who you are as a person, this makes sense as the part which we trust to determine who a person is.

Given the above, you can have a female woman (Cissexual woman) or a male woman (Transsexual woman). In both cases, you're dealing with an individual who is, at the core of their being, a woman.

A crossdresser/transvestite, however, is not. They are happy with their current gender (if they had gender dysphoria, they would be trans, right?) and as such, are cisgender. So therein lies the difference. A transwoman is a woman. A crossdresser is a cisgender man (or woman) dressing as a woman (or man).

In some ways, there's harm caused by us being lumped together under the same umbrella. I'm all for people's right to express themselves however they see fit (drag shows, crossdressing, etc if that's the case) but the problem comes when lawmakers try to put transgender laws on the books, particularly regarding public accommodations such as bathrooms, changing rooms, etc.. Because these groups are under the same umbrella term (when we're really worlds apart) it creates a problem where cisgender men are able to gain access to women's spaces, if this legislation were to pass. The vagueness of the umbrella term is serving to set back transsexual rights and accommodations; and for no real purpose. Transsexuals are NOT like transvestites or crossdressers. At the core of who we are as transsexual women, we are women, and thus deserve access to these spaces. Because we're being kicked off of public protection bills on a regular basis because the term is so broad, it causes some hostility, for sure.

Another common thing I've heard (and often felt myself) is that it creates confusion among uneducated people (which transsexuals are often tasked with correcting, which gets tiresome).

Crossdressers may dress as they like on the weekends, but come Monday its wig off, suit on, and back to work as Joe Shmoe. Drag queens may do performances Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Come Monday, it's dress shirt, tie, and back to the office. But that's not what being Transsexual is. Many uninformed people's first reaction is "UGH, WHY CAN'T YOU JUST KEEP IT TO YOURSELF ON THE WEEKENDS LIKE [so and so]?!" And they miss the point that comparing a TV/CD to a TS is comparing apples to car tires.

I think that's actually where the divide comes. Transsexuals are distinctly different from all others under the transgender umbrella. That's what creates friction. I, as a transsexual woman, do NOT want to be lumped into any category of cis men, no matter what their preferences for dress, sexuality, etc are. We have different issues, different needs, and yet because we're tied to a group of people, people mind you very different from ourselves, we're being denied access to public accommodations.


(Anonymous posting is enabled - if you have a question you would like me to answer, please leave it in the comments section below!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Trans Ally Appreciation

In my time I come across many concepts which make me think, and one in particular is relevant in this case. It tends to be that I get caught up in addressing the negative aspects of the arguments against transfolk, as do many of us. Understandably so, as people with small understanding and large mouths tend to populate the internet, and we're such a small category of people that most people lack the aforementioned understanding.

People tend to focus on the negative. If you're doing your job well, you usually get no praise, but if you make a mistake, you can bet you'll hear about it. People just assume that the good people will just continue right on being good with no reminders. But then how many people feel under appreciated because of the above?

The insulting bigots get enough focus as it is now. This article is aimed to remind us of the people in our lives who are allies. The people who make an effort to understand us, and people like us. The people who we've trusted with our deepest secrets about ourselves, and yet are willing to understand us, befriend us, accept us. The people who help us to discover ourselves, who are there for us during our awkward second puberty. The people who teach us those little things all the cisgender people learned at age twelve. To the people who stand up for us in the face of bigotry. To the people who defend our identity, not just when we're within earshot, but to anyone who would dare to challenge it in their presence.

I am fortunate, more so than most in my position, to have some of the most wonderful friends anyone could ever ask for. And I know that good friends are hard to come by; good allies are even harder. The stories like mine are few and far between compared to those of people abandoned. But I also know that many of you have at least one person who fits the above. And as hard as it is to deal with all the hate aimed at us, we have to remember to be thankful for those in our lives who have made the effort to understand us.

You don't have to make a big production over it. You don't even really need to remind them all the time. Just, once in a while, thanking them for being there for you and understanding is good. Take this as a reminder, when was the last time you thanked your ally friends for being there for you? Thank them, and be happy that they're there, because not everyone does.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Requirements for Transition

Orangeban asked: What do you think about having requirements for transition?

Well, this is kind of a hairy question that comes up often. Many people are in favor of purely personal choice, others believe in gatekeeping, others still believe in radical ideas such as sterilization. The purposes of these in some ways are good, and some are bad, but it totally depends upon what requirements there are, what the requirements prevent, and why they're there.

What I mean by this, is that the requirements for some procedures are justified. Namely, surgery. This may simply be my uninformed opinion (as I was never particularly dysphoric about my genitals) but surgery is a permanent thing. It makes sense that the person should be able to handle the repercussions of such a surgery, and this is why the real life test among others is usually required for it. 

Hormones should, In my opinion, work under the informed consent model. with slightly more restrictions for FtM (but not without reason). Once it can be established that you understand the effects of the hormones, and you're otherwise capable of making these decisions, you should be allowed to begin taking them. The reason for the slightly larger restriction for FtMs (which, I know, won't be a popular opinion to have) is that, for MtFs, hormones have a rather large period of time within which you can stop to no serious ill effect. These also suppress further effects of testosterone, which is a one way road, and needs stopped as soon as possible. Conversely, FtM's hormones induce a male puberty - this cannot be reversed, and has many effects which would, if the person was not trans, could be devastating. I'm not for gatekeeping, I'm just of the opinion that given the drastic nature of Testosterone, that the patient should be really sure that they want to take the plunge.

The main reason I'm against gatekeeping, is it can be used to arbitrarily bar people from treatment if they don't live up to their specific doctor's expectations of a transgender person. If you're a tomboyish transgirl (like moi) then a gatekeeper could decide you're not feminine enough, and therefore don't deserve hormones. The potential for abuse here is huge. And forcing a transgender person to live as their desired gender, with no hormones (which helps tremendously in passing, both facial shape and other characteristics) is cruel. It's like requiring a transgender person to walk in public with a sign that reads "I'm a tranny!" so they can be hazed for 3-6 months prior to getting hormones. It's CRUEL. And can serve as a way to simply discourage an already unhappy person by basically telling them "IT will always be like this, you'll never pass!" Which is untrue in many cases (hormones ARE magic, after all).

Legal issues regarding Identification tends to be less up for debate because of common ignorance of  cis people about trans people. People who know little of us fear that we're all sexual deviants, and therefore rapist perverts who want access to women's restrooms to peep. These concerns make it harder for people to get the gender marker change, because they want to in many places make ABSOLUTELY SURE that you can't rape anyone (hence the surgery requirement).

Of course, the laws regarding identification should have some criteria, if at the very least in compromise to the ignorant cisgender folk who don't understand, but the criteria could simply be undergoing transition. That's pretty much what it's like in Ohio, a licensed therapist who's treating you can sign the forms which allows you to officially change your gender marker on your drivers license.

My stance on requirements is pretty much based on how permanent the procedures are, and in all cases, I'm against arbitrary gatekeeping. Any requirements should be solid milestones at worst, suggestions at best. This is all assuming the person is otherwise mentally sound enough to make those sorts of decisions, which should take only a few therapist meetings to establish. (as far as I know)

"Nothing's plainer than the madness in the world today, I must conceal myself and steel myself and break away. I see condition in the matters that are black and white, so I'll construct this sound defense" Bad Religion, The Defense


(Anonymous posting is enabled! If you have a question you would like to see me answer, please leave it in the comments section below.)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

On Children and Transition Treatments

I see all to often people who are cisgender, who say such things as "children shouldn't be able to have sex changes! It's just wrong! Don't let them take pills or nothing! Wait till their old enough, then let them start whatever they want when they're old enough to understand!!!"

These types of posts are well-meaning in their intent, that is, to protect children, but the stance is incorrect. This is particular because it lacks an understanding of two key aspects: the medicine causes no long-term negative effects and is completely reversible, and the damage caused by forcing the wrong puberty on a transgender kid.

So lets go over these two points really fast. First and foremost, don't believe the news media who sensationalize it. "Kid Sex Change" makes for an attention grabbing headline which is way off base with what actually happens. No children are receiving surgeries! I repeat, no children are going under the knife. This mistake is part media being blatantly misleading to sensationalize it, part most people's lack of understanding of  how transition works.

What actually happens is they give these kids puberty blockers. These are harmless pills which do one thing: delay puberty. They don't prevent it forever; all one has to do to undergo a natural puberty is cease taking the puberty blockers. The purpose of this is to give the child time to mature. It allows the child to reach the age of 16-18, where they can then make the decision for themselves. If they decide they're not transgender, they can stop taking the blockers and undergo a natural - if a bit late - puberty. However, if they are, they need only to begin taking hormones for their identified gender, and they will undergo a puberty in line with their identified gender.

To reiterate: This is a risk-free endeavor. If your child decides that they're not trans, they can simply cease the blockers and undergo a normal puberty. If they're transgender, then you saved them untold stress, anxiety, depression, and made them considerably more likely to blend in as a typical cisgender person.

This is a huge deal. When people think of a transsexual person, the first thoughts that enter most people's minds are blatantly male, men-in-dresses, over-the-top makeup. This tends to be the immediate thing that I've seen come to people's minds. The reason for this is that those people were unable to receive hormonal treatment at an age where it would make the most difference. Most of the characteristics that people ascribe to transsexuals are caused by puberty and continued exposure to their birth hormones. By preventing them from going through the wrong puberty, they will likely never have to worry about 'passing' as their identified gender. To any onlookers, they will appear to be cisgender.

There's an added benefit: Puberty is awkward enough when you're going through the right puberty. When you're going through the wrong puberty, as a transgender person, it's considerably worse. It feels like your body is betraying you, developing in a way contrary to whats right for you. It's like you're a prisoner in your body as it warps and contorts into something foreign, something distinctly NOT you. This causes all sorts of additional psychological trauma, and leaves them with irreversible marks of puberty which will plague them for life.

So what it boils down to is this: You can allow your transgender child to take a puberty blocker, with no risks, no long-term negative side effects, to allow them to make the choice for themselves when they're old enough. Or, you could force them to undergo the wrong puberty, literally scar them for life (their bodies will never look perfectly cisgender) and cause them tons of undue mental stress, depression, anxiety, and so on.

So there you have it. A basic overview on children transition treatments as I understand them.

Quote of the Day: "Is it any wonder, people pass you by, your plea for understanding, is heard as desperate lies, so nobody listens" Bad Religion, Nobody Listens


(If you have a topic you'd like me to address, or a question you'd like me to answer, please leave it in the comments. I'm always in need of topics to write about! Anonymous posting is enabled, so you shouldn't even need an account to leave a question!)