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Rites of Passage

I recently took issue with a blog post by a cis woman who was actively defending the exclusion of trans women retaining their original issue genitalia from a sky-clad ritual. I got a little hissy, but managed to keep it out of my reply. “Educate first Michelle, then throw the fit.” It’s a hot button topic for me. We ended up getting into a very productive back and forth, during which she gave me some things to think about, as well as a few good ideas. I wanted to share the best one first.  I have, by the way, come to admire her, and her blog is over at May We Dance Upon Their Graves – trigger alert, it’s for adult survivors of CSA.

It occurs to me that I might not be blazing a new trail here, but if so, I’ve not been made aware. As we transition, we do some pretty significant things along the way. Things that are really a big deal to us, fill us with overwhelming joy and a sense of accomplishment, and lead women like me to blog about them. Think about your first facial hair removal, the very first HRT treatment, the first person you came out to. Afterwards, filled with heady glee, you probably went home, looked in the mirror, shouted “yay me!”, then had some wine or well aged leftovers and went to bed. Yeah, that’s pretty much what I did. You know what though, that really, really sucks!

After I went on about trans women being excluded from acceptance in the greater world of womanhood, and she gave me some points I’ll get to addressing in another post, she suggested it might be a good idea to have menarche-type rituals to welcome us into womanhood at various significant milestones. I didn’t know what a “menarche” was, so I looked it up. The menarche has to do with a woman’s first menstrual cycle and using it as a cause to celebrate, unlike the olden days when she’d be stuck in a windowless hut decorated with skulls on the outskirts of the village. People like to whine about modern times, but seriously, I wouldn’t want to go back. True, no matter how we feel on the matter, none of us will ever menstruate, sad to say. It doesn’t mean that we still can’t find cause to celebrate out own trans unique passage and significant events.

While it is gratifying in its own way to have my face blasted with lasers or have my nipples suddenly feel like I’m wearing a sandpaper bra, it would be yet even better to celebrate these occasions with a small group of both trans and cis women who are willing to support and thus honor the event. I know many are isolated and the idea of a party at Red Lobster is nice but just won’t happen. At the very least we can probably arrange web based events, maybe once a month or once a quarter, in honor of those who can’t get together physically. I think this bears more discussion. Usually I consider commentary a “nice to have”, but here I’d really like to hear some thoughts.

Something I’ve noticed about the humans is that we sure seem to love our rituals. A girls Bat mitzvah, a boys first communion, a young Satanists first sacrificial cat, or an indigenous South American lad sticking his hand into a glove full of excruciating bullet ants; we do extraordinary things to mark the passage of time and periods of major growth. Our loved ones and communities celebrate with us. Laughing, cheering, showering us with gifts, and getting stupendously drunk. At least that is how we like it to be. Jokes aside, it’s important to the human spirit to have important passages memorialized and elevated above the wearisome hum drum of everyday life.

If we can have a party or even solemn ritual to mark the long awaited growth of breasts, or mastectomy for my brothers going in the other direction, we should do so. Hallmark is not going to invent these holidays, so they must come from we in the trans community. It doesn’t have to be every little thing, just a few things many or most of us experiences that bring joy to our hearts because something long awaited has happened.

I’m going to suggest a few ideas and again, feedback would be wonderful. This can only work if a lot of us think it’s a good idea and work hard to make them things instead of idle wishes.

Women:

  1. HRT letter
  2. Official coming out to everyone
  3. Initiation into womanhood
  4. A year lived full time as the right gender
  5. SRS

Men:

  1. HRT letter
  2. Official coming out to everyone
  3. The conference of male status
  4. A year lived full time as the right gender
  5. Top surgery

I’m sure there are other and better ideas of course. The male and female transitions take somewhat different routes, but if we make our milestones similar, the greeting card industry may be more likely to crank out a few offerings for the occasion. In my mind, the initiation into the right gender is a deep and meaningful ritual wherein we are welcomed by our cisgender counterparts. This will take some time to get off the ground, but well worth pursuing, especially with the help of the greater LGBT community. What we are doing is so very hard, with so much loss and sadness along the way. I think we could stand a little celebration of us here and there.

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About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

4 responses »

  1. What an amazingly creative idea. My daughters were starting a novelty greeting card business that would be perfect for this. They aren’t speaking to me right now, so I don’t know if they are still doing it, but it’s a possibility.

    Reply
    • Thanks Becky! Of course this post is proving to be my least popular in months, but if it’s a good idea, others will find it. This would actually be perfect for your daughters business! Really, if they get it off the ground I bet they could at least get them into Spencer Gifts if not Hallmark. I’d certainly be interested in helping out!

      Reply
  2. Yes yes yes yes yes yes and yes. Brilliant Idea.
    Cis women have their periods every month, I got to the pharmacy every month.
    Comparable milestones, but I bet mine makes me happier than what they have.
    Btw it’s always a pleasure to read you.

    -Emi

    Reply

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