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Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Colleen Francis Affair

A little bit ago I took a shot at the Radfem enthusiasts in the form of an opinion piece and then wandered over to Bugs’ blog to poke around and see what might rise out of the silt. Pure nastiness at the bottom, but nothing to be concerned about, plus I got a few nice tidbits saved for a later date by carefully choosing my words. The one surprise they hit me with was the Colleen Francis affair. Unlike other subjects I played dumb on, this one was news to me. It came up again my very own comments section by a Radfem who spoke well and raised some very salient points. It was a very refreshing turn to be quite honest.

It took a while to cull through all the online outrage and calls to war over this, but I think I finally drilled down to the facts. It wasn’t easy as the current trend in everything is go from zero to outrage in a nanosecond. I found the police report as well as news coverage. Long story short, a transgender woman in Olympia, WA was using the locker room and sauna at her school, which is fully allowable under the state civil rights protections regarding gender. The problem was that Ms Francis wasn’t terribly shy about her current male genitalia being seen, and that the facilities were also used by a girls swim team with members as young as six. Yeah, I think you can see why this became a big deal.

Many will argue that as a transgender woman, she had every right to use the facilities appropriate to her gender. I think most of the readership here would agree on that. She clearly felt that being female, yet stuck with male genitalia, she had every right to use the facility in the manner consistent with other females, including nude use of the sauna. I gave this a lot of thought, and simply can’t draw that conclusion. In fact, I have a whole list of issues with it that made me significantly annoyed with Ms Francis as I’m not super thrilled to have to speak out against one of my own. Here is my list of reasons why I think this was a terrible lapse of judgment on her part.

1. Nobody Wants To See That: Aside from perhaps an unflushed toilet after Mexican Night at the pub, a penis is the least preferable thing that one wishes to encounter with their eyes in a female space. Not only is it a huge trigger for CSA and sex crime survivors (special thanks to Sworddancewarrior for engaging in a calm, informative discussion on the matter), but it is a threatening presence in general for all women in a place of vulnerability. It’s simply not the same thing is a gross deformed leg or third nipple or something. This is the exact reason cis and trans women are bitterly resistant to using a men’s room – no one feels safe peeing or changing there. An accidental flash when changing under a towel would be a little regrettable. Sitting with open legs in a sauna is simply way wrong.

2. Really? With Kids There?: Call me an old fashioned prude, but I just don’t see any need for children of any gender to be exposed to naked adult genitalia, especially that of the opposite sex. Colleen’s identity as a woman does not change the fact that she had male genitalia on display. Yes, yes, the human body is natural and all that, but the presence of an exposed penis is edging dangerously close to the line where sex abuse begins. There is no good reason why early exposure should be argued in the looming shadow of unspeakable harm.

3. We Are Just Not There Yet: There may come a day when society at large understands the transgender condition and that many self identified women will continue to have male genitalia for a short duration, up to a lifetime if the means and physical requirements for GRS are not met. It will also be understood that even so, we pose no threat whatsoever as on hormones, the damn things blessedly don’t work anyway. Yeah, we not even close to that yet. A staggering amount of work still needs to be done before the public at large understands our circumstances. Even after they do, it’s going to require even more work to translate intellectual understanding to compassion. In the mean time, to a significant portion of the population we remain deranged, sexual fetishists, or con artists. Situations like this really don’t help.

4. Totally Screwing the Rest of Us: Yes, it’s wonderful that the state of Washington recognizes and protects transgender rights. If the enjoyment of these rights gives enough cause to question the wisdom of these provisions, generates outraged calls for repeal, and provides a good example of why other states should avoid fiascos like this, it’s just not very good for the rest of us. “So what Michelle, are you saying we should just be good little girls and mind our P’s and Q’s like second class citizens?” Yes, this is exactly what I’m saying. We all know that if a cisgender woman acts like a shithead, she’s an exception, but if a trans woman does the same thing, it’s suddenly indicative of typical trans behavior. It sucks, it’s not right, but it’s the reality of the situation. One incident is enough to give Radfem and religious extremists a pretty potent weapon aimed in our direction. We are a very minor minority and most people simply do not have dozens of first hand positive trans inclusive female space experiences to compare this against. Because of this, every incident is a really big deal.

The moral of the story here is simple. If you are trans and utilizing female segregated space, every precaution should be taken to ensure that all females present continue to feel safe and comfortable. An exposed penis is guaranteed to change that. We can debate this all day, but this simple fact remains at the end. The vast majority of us generally have no problem using female only facilities without incident and generally go unnoticed. Many of us would also rather die than have someone see our genitalia, so there is that as well. I feel very strongly that someday this will no longer be a thing, but today it is, and we need to do everything possible to bring that someday closer to the present.

“So, What Are You Supposed To Be, Anyway?”

If you want to irritate a trans person and don’t want to put a whole lot of time or effort into it, simply ask them what they are supposed to be anyway. We hate this because generally speaking, aside from some of the more slovenly amongst us and goths, we go out of our way to make it perfectly clear what we are supposed to be. Isn’t it just a pickle of a thing though we turn around and do the exact same thing?

I was watching ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ and one scene showed Hedwig on an open air stage with one fan watching with admiration. I immediately began wondering if it was supposed to be a man or woman due to the androgynous haircut and face, not to mention wearing what might have either been a long black skirt or those supersize Hot Topic goth pants. I thought they were cute and concluded their gender really didn’t matter to me. It did get me thinking a bit though.

I think we all do this, try to determine what someone is supposed to be, because it is innate. As a trans person though, it is particularly embarrassing when I get annoyed because I can’t figure it out. More than once at Spectrum meetings I’ve squinted at new faces in attempt to determine if they were trans or not, if so, what direction they were going in, or allies. The thing is, I’ve been wrong more than once, so I don’t have a lot of confidence in my own transdar. All the while I’m doing this, I feel like a tremendous boob for even thinking about it. I mean seriously, aren’t we all there specifically because this kind of thinking persists? I can’t even ask anyone if they do the same thing for fear of painting myself as someone who cares. I secretly like to think everyone does it; something that is probably going to invite a Texas toast load of “well I never!” type indignant comments.

Unfairly, I fantasize about people asking me this exact question. “So twinkle-toes, what the hell are you supposed to be, anyway?” They would correctly add the comma pause because only someone grammatically correct would even consider asking this question. My pat answer of course is, “your mom”. It’s much more polite than getting all pissy pants over it, and who doesn’t love a good ‘your mom’ come back? It’s just classic.

As humans go, this is simply built into the model. Upon encountering someone new, we immediately classify them by features of identity – gender, race, body type, attractiveness, and familiarity – all within a few seconds. Trans people happen to trigger the old “more information needed” directive right off the bat and tend to get a lot of stares unless they are really passable. I used to take this as a hint of transphobia until I read up on the whole recognition thing and understood better. This of course excludes those who continue to stare for tens of minutes with a scowl, sneer, or super seldom ‘come hither’. I don’t think I’ve gotten any of the last one, but familiar with the first two.

My whole point here is that we can’t take it too personally when people do this. Yes, it’s super rude of them to ever ask because with the exception of children, it’s a question that is really meant to convey, “I can see right through your little costume there, chief.” A lingering look, however, is just an old-timey software routine that hasn’t yet been deleted from the now well obsolete Homo Sapien Sapien 1.0 model. Someone really ought to update those things sometime.

Thanksgiving, Michellelianna Style

I can really kick myself for starting this whole holiday themed post schtick I now feel unreasonably obligated to see out. I know, Thanksgiving should be an easy one with obvious smarmy little witticisms like ‘happy trans-giving everyone!’. Ugh, I want to smack myself for even considering it! Come on Michelle,  you can do better than that.

For most people, Thanksgiving is a time to go nutso on all the deliciousness piled on the table, eating until the point of intense discomfort kicks in and we seek to distract ourselves in any way possible. It might be listening with rapt focus to Uncle Harry’s recounting of his bout of Dutch Elm disease, or taking the traditional route of getting good and liquored up. From there it’s on to the feats of strength. Sorry, different holiday all together. And no, I will not be doing a Festivus post… yeah, don’t hold me to that. One of the grand traditions that I think is applicable here is the going around the table so that each person has the opportunity to give thanks; a masochistic practice simply unendurable as very large families have to wade through everyone as we all salivate over the cooling food. It’s also a bad time for anyone who had a real shit year and now has to come up with some contrived malarkey to avoid looking like a bad sport.

This year I’m lucky in that I had a pretty good year, well compared to last year anyway; that one was the epitome of shit years and I feel lucky  to have survived it. The first thing I’m thankful for then is that it’s no longer 2011. No beloved family members died, no marriages ended, no one went into the ICU, and no one kicked it all off with the last tattered illusion of male identity ripped away. Yeah, yeah, I came to terms with myself and all that, but the seismic impact of that little revelation sent the queen of all tsunamis through my entire personal world. So thank you universe, for keeping time moving in a neat forward only direction, devoid of any random repeats or rewinds. If the universe collapses many billions of years from now, and for some reason time rewinds, the me at that time is going to be so pissed.

Now it’s time to tell everyone how they disappointed me this year… dammit, Festivus again. Sorry, everyone I’m thankful for. Yes, it’s time to get gushy, and yes, it’s a long list.

My son, who will always be the light of my life and my overwhelming inspiration to go forth and succeed.

My ex, who has worked with me through this tremendously difficult process and in spite of the seemingly unending pain it has caused her. She’s the best person I know.

My mom, who accepted my change without a blink in what was the most difficult year of her life, and has since given me unwavering love and support.

My dad, so sorely missed this year, who showed me everyday what a true man should be. While it didn’t take, it is with his example of honesty, decency, and compassion that I raise my son.

My sisters, all three, who also welcomed me as their sister and deluged me with love and understanding. My one older sister, Annie, has shown not just love and support, but a comforting amount of protectiveness as well.

My entire extended family, all of whom without exception have also been supportive and loving through this transition.

My in-laws, people who had absolutely no discernible reason to continuing liking me, yet displayed tremendous grace and warmth in the wake of the pain caused to their daughter.

My friends of old, who knew me for so long as simply ‘Mike’ and accepted my startling revelation with no more drama than as if I was adopting a cat.

My friends of new, who accept me at face value, validate my existence,  and show me love and inclusion.

My company, who with every reason and legal right to divest themselves of a potential problem, instead chose unparalleled compassion and understanding. Especially my boss and HR.

My group, who found me out before I could tell them and stood by me in solidarity. I could not be more proud to work with them, and each one of them is what every man should aspire to be.

My co-workers, who embraced my identity and made it possible for me to stay there so comfortably.

My twin sister from another mister, Becky, who always says it better than I ever could and has been there every time I’m at my wits end with sage advice and kind wisdom. Seriously, thank you sis.

My trans groups, Spectrum and the Buffalo Belles, who were there to help, guide, and advise from the beginning and were instrumental in my transition. Special thanks to Patti, Ari, and Tina who stayed long after they needed us, because we needed them.

My correspondents, all of you and too many to name. Every message in my in-box has been a ray of light.

My Facebook friends, many of whom I haven’t seen in decades, but accepted my change and followed me over from my old account.

My readers, who validate my experience just by showing up, and of course special thanks to my commenters.

My country, for whom I served and proved I did the right thing this past November by showing the true character of this nation.

Finally, and yes I know this is weird, me. Specifically the me that used to be known as Michael. Thanks for finally opening the box and letting me live.

Yes, there are probably plenty more I should thank, like President Obama and VP Biden and such, but for some reason I don’t think either one of them read this blog. Then again, I can see Biden Googling himself often and scrolling the full 18 million hits. If so, thanks so much for the trans civil rights comment! You rock, and never lose that big shit eatin’ grin.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Tomorrow is the Transgender Day of Awareness, and since I’m going to be traveling, I’m afraid I may miss it. I hope not because airlines are never running behind, right? Just in case, I’m posting what I had planned to say at the event. It’s not a super memorable speech or anything, but it’s from the heart and in the spirit of remembering our poor fallen sisters and taking strength in our identities. Not my usual verbose self this morning, but waking up at 3:45 after tossing and turning all night (I get nervous before flying) it’s the best I can muster.

Tonight we are here to remember those who are not.

On this date last year, every one of these names we are reading aloud had living vibrant individuals attached.

Many may have been at remembrance ceremonies much like this one, surrounded by friends, family and allies.

It’s easy to remember them like that.

Warm faces flush with the strength of fellowship and beaming of the hope engendered by the belief that things are changing.

In a room like this, they felt like we do now; supported and safe.

They too had family and friends, loved ones and allies.

They were daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, lovers and best friends, moms and dads.

Instead of joining us here tonight, they perished.

Instead of being warmly embraced, their final moments were fear and pain, crying for help at the feet of those who declared them abominations.

Many remain unidentified because they had no one willing to lay claim to association or blood.

It’s hard when we think that can be any of us.

Tonight we remember them because they died for no better reason than being alive and who they were.

We are all here tonight to remember because we chose to live, just as they did.

We are here in spite of the abhorrent fates suffered by our own, even knowing it might be our names read next year.

We are here because we will no longer hide in our homes or within ourselves, but live and breathe in the freedom that comes with being true to ourselves.

We know that there is no life worth living but our own, no matter what the risk, no matter what the cost, no matter what the outcome.

To those dear souls who paid too highly, we remember you, we honor you, and in your names we will work tirelessly toward a day of no more vigils, no more candles, and the freedom to walk the earth in full honesty to ourselves and others without fear.

Radfem and the Anti-Transgender Agenda

I recently became aware of the RadFem group and their outspoken leader Cathy Brennan, who writes a blog over on Tumblr called Bugbrennan. If you have any idea what I’m talking about already, you know this isn’t going to be a “let’s buy these guys some milk and cookies” kind of post. At the same time, as tempted as I am to go all hissy fit on them, I’m going to try to look at this in a calm rational manner, with maybe just a tiny bit of humor thrown in. It’s all about getting a dialog started here people, and yes, I hope they find this and engage. Don’t worry, I’ll beat a path to my door.

I have not had time to read the entire RadFem site, but one of the predominant themes is a palpable anti-transgender agenda. They appear to be working this pretty hard; a tireless dedication to blocking or reversing any gains in rights that we make. I found this pretty surprising to be honest. I mean, there really aren’t that many of us out there, and to have an organization dedicated in part to working against us seems fairly ridiculous. When there is so much work left to be done to advance the equality of women all over the world, spending this much time and energy to give a micro-population a really shitty time of it seems either mean in spirit, or there is something else going on entirely. I can’t quite pin down whether it’s a Westboro Baptist Church kind of thing, or a Larry Craig/ Mark Foley denial and lash out, but either way, it’s not making a lot of sense.

I’m also not clear on the name choice. The ‘rad’ is for ‘radical’, as you may have well guessed. Generally speaking the population at large, especially those empowered to make any sort of policy decisions, typically eschew groups who actively promote that they are in fact radical. It has flair and is appropriately militant sounding, but downright horrible in the pursuit of any type of credibility whatsoever. It is comforting to know their stated goals are almost instantly thwarted by the name alone.

If I understand correctly, the end game for RadFem is to achieve unquestionable female equality in all areas, as well as promote the guarantee of female safety in society under all circumstances. I’m pretty sure that is something most women can get behind, including the trans population. For some reason, there seems to be a widespread belief among them that denying the existence of the trans population is a sure fire way to promote this. Yeah, I said the same thing. It’s sort of like being sent to prison and picking the weakest most pathetic inmate to beat up to establish dominance. I understand where they want to go, but they seem to be taking a very unnecessarily contentious way of getting there. There are a lot of sub themes to choose from, but I’m going to pick the two most prevalent to address.

Ms Bug et al take the line of David Hume style extreme rationalism. Born with penis = male, no exceptions. Binary logic is wonderful for running machines, but rarely applicable to the human experience. Exceptions are plentiful such as the intersex and other variations. I have not found evidence that there is clear consensus as to whether post operative transsexuals are still considered male by all or not. Either way, this simplistic world view either reflects the lack of ability to process complexity, or a convenient black and white rational to attack individuals who don’t fit a highly improbable binary model.

I’ve also heard the argument from this camp that there is no medical evidence indicative of transsexuals having a brain structure more resembling that of the identified gender. This is very easy to look up by going here (you have to click the link). If you spend some time here, you will see many articles both for and against this hypothesis. The Wikipedia entry is also fairly accurate, though not comprehensive. It may well be that RadFem is taking the line that a lack of a clear ‘smoking gun’ proven causal link is firm evidence to the contrary, thus ignoring the basic principle of scientific investigation that requires a significant amount of data to achieve conclusive results. Not that many studies have been done to date in comparison to much better understood conditions. I would also like a clear, validated and independently replicable test that yielded yes/ no answers, but currently the study of transexualism is about where that of homosexuals was 50 years ago. The RadFem position is comparable to that of creationists who point to as yet undiscovered data points in the fossil record to argue evolution as an unlikely theory in simplistic protection of a highly biased world view.

While the nitty-gritty of neural mapping remains fuzzy at present, there is conclusive evidence that a population exists wherein members recognize a core gender identity opposite to that their birth genitalia and hormonal function. Much like a Mac OS loaded on a PC, function will degrade rapidly (I know, I know, it’s an imperfect analogy). Hardware modification to resemble the hardware configuration of a Mac, however, will improve function dramatically. The transsexual population is in the same predicament. Unlike brain mapping studies that are still in infancy, there is a mountain of causal evidence that physical and social transition to a person’s core gender identity significantly improves overall functionality in spite of the enormous social, emotional, physical, and financial costs involved. To date it remains the only successful form of treatment. My point is that whatever the true root cause is, transsexuals are recognized as existing by every credible medical and scientific organization that possess the expertise to render a meaningful opinion. The end result of transition is a person who has a physical appearance that matches their gender identity. Philosophical disbelief in our verified existence does not provide a moral, legal, or social platform to ethically argue against equal rights.

I think this brings us right to the bathroom issue. Yes, I’ve talked about this before, hence the handy link. I understand the RadFem position to be that the societal protection of women requires the establishment and enforcement of segregated space that is designated female only. Concerning this statement, in and of itself, we are in agreement. Regardless of individual RadFem member positions on “is it really a he or she?”, they take the further position that allowing access to female facilities invites male sex offenders to adopt a disguise and commit rapes in the ladies room, primarily because this has happened, though very sporadically and never by a trans person. Let’s talk about that for a second.

The discussion brings forth an image of several shady characters huddled around an old radio in an abandoned warehouse down by the docks, eagerly listening to see when GENDA finally passes. “All right boys, they passed it! Let’s strap on some heels and go hit the crappers!” The unlikely part of this scenario is the notion that scheming rapists are currently stymied only by the finer points of an equality law only applicable to a tiny segment of the population. If a rapist is inclined to do this, he is going to anyway regardless of what the law says. Furthermore, it can be argued that given rape is brutal hate crime to establish dominance in the form of forced sex, and that the vast majority of men find adopting female garb humiliating and emasculating, it is further unlikely that the incidence rate of this heinous sort of thing is going to increase. From that it comes down to the fact that some females are uncomfortable sharing facilities with transgender women either due to fear based on misunderstanding or inherent prejudice.

Here are the facts of the matter succinctly. Cisgender women are not at risk from transgender women. There has not been a single recorded instance of a transgender woman acting inappropriately in a female only facility. Like everyone else, we just want to pee, check our make up, and leave without hassle. Transgender women, however, are at significant risk of physical and sexual abuse in a male only facility. Barring transgender women from female only facilities is directly comparable to barring African-American women on the basis of fear based on prejudice and misunderstanding. Forcing trans women into a situation of real documented risk in order to cater to prejudicial fears based on a lack of understanding is unconscionable. Furthermore, due to the risks involved to our well being, trans women have and will continue to use female only facilities. We are humans with physical needs, identify entirely with the gender the segregated facility is for, and must look after our personal safety. Attempting to block passage of equality laws is not going to change this.

I do understand this is a difficult issue overall. I do acknowledge that risk of abuse exists and I am personally concerned about it myself, as are we all. I also understand that there is no clear means of telling the difference between a post-op transsexual, pre-op transsexual, cross-dresser, or drag queen without utilizing personally invasive means. I would, however, vastly prefer to work together to discover and implement mutually acceptable solutions designed to safeguard the well being of all women. This makes much more sense to me than expending considerable time and energy fighting a battle that ultimately benefits none, and puts some at risk.

You all may notice that in spite of getting a little contentious at times and drawing from unsavory or exaggerated examples and comparisons to drive the point home, I kept this much less provocative then I was originally inclined. I would like to urge my trans friends and trans allies to resist escalating the battle. I would like to see if a dialog can be established and foster communication to see if common ground or a common cause can be  found.

‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’… Weird Title, Right?

In my most recent day long appointment to have my jaw blown up to comedic gorilla size (sans hair), James offered a new selection of movies I feel obligated to talk about. I would like to mention though that we ended the day with ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’ since I hadn’t seen it in 30 years. Maybe it was the pain, but this time the Bunyip and the Aborigines didn’t scare me as much as they did when I was ten. As usual, I’m off track already since we are really here today to talk about ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’.

I know that the theater production of this was recently in Buffalo, and as usual, I didn’t make time to go. To be perfectly honest, I was turned off by the name. Rather than do a few moments of research and find out what the story was about or why everyone was making such a big freaking deal about it, I decided by the name alone that this is something I would probably hate. I mean seriously, “Hedwig”? It sounded like the name of the shitty band they got to open for Falco on a booze cruise gig.

Well, it turns out it was actually the name of a band, so I was right about that, but not much else. Just so you know, I’m probably going to spoil this for you as I usually do, so buyer beware and all. I absolutely loved it! True, the live performance probably would have been much better, but the movie was good enough for multiple viewings (James, In case you are reading this, I don’t do multiple viewing – not getting any younger here).

The movie opened with what appeared to be a drag show. Hedwig was in full regalia screeching out the exact sort of music I generally hate. Aside from the incessant ‘zap, zap, zap, pluck, pluck, pluck’ it was going to be a long couple hours. I’m not a super big drag fan; not so much that I’m opposed to drag performers, but because I’m constantly worried people are going to mistake me for them, even though I dress all frumpy and shit most of the time. After the opening performance we start diving into the complexity of the characters. Hedwig walks in on Yitzhak, her lover/assistant/ band mate or whatever fondling and trying on one of her hundreds of wigs. Yitzhak has a Hebraic Brett Michael’s thing going on, except with mountains of scruffy beardage. The point of this remains unclear until the end, which at best, is as clear as a day old bowl of Count Chockula and milk left on the counter.

About half the movie is Hedwig’s back story, which if fairly fascinating, but for a few items that annoyed me. Let’s talk about those things because who really likes to hear me gush praise? The oldest scene opens with Hedwig’s mom walking in shortly after she was molested by her American serviceman dad. As you know, I take a bit of exception to the whole notion that we are byproducts of CSA. The counter to this, I suppose, is that just as many trans people are CSA victims, so having this as part of the story doesn’t necessarily feed the myth. Of course I doubt anyone of that mindset has this movie on their Netflix queue anyway.

I also didn’t like that Hedwig’s husband, yet another American serviceman (Luther) who seduces her with candy, leaves her on their first anniversary for a young man. I’m probably over sensitive, but I viewed this as an implication that Luther is gay and therefore saw Hedwig as male. The other unpalatable implication was that Hedwig was used as a gateway gender for Luther to come out to himself. Then again, it did add to the richness of the story.

I had a weird premonition that ‘The Angry Inch’ part of the title somehow was a genitalia reference. At first I thought I was wrong, since it was the name of the band. Mid-movie, however, it was explained in a song that faded into a flashback. Seems I was right about this all along. In order to leave East Germany, she had to marry Luther, and doing that required a medical exam. To get around this, Hedwig’s cupcake of a mom hires a hack surgeon to give her a quickie kitchen table top sex change. The operation is botched, leaving Hedwig with an inch long mound of flesh between her legs. I’m not sure how the medical examiner was fooled into mistaking a stumpy little penis for a vagina, unless her underpants stayed on. In that case she should have just used a tight gaff, but whatever, it worked and advanced the plot.

As I mentioned, the ending was kind of weird. Like ‘Rocky Horror’ weird. Honestly, I’m not sure what I was looking at. After some kind of bizarre mental reconciliation with her love/ hate ex, a popular rocker who stole credit for her songs, she rips off her wig and clothes and adopts a male appearance. At the same time, Yitzhak suddenly transforms from Scruffy McGee to a stunning Miriam Shor as if the female identity can just be traded to a good pal. I’m not totally clear if Hedwig (originally Hansel) was really trans, or just adopted the trans identity as a circumstantial thing. Of course if Hedwig is really going to go forward as Hansel, having an inch long dick is going to really blow as size seems important to men.

All in all though, excellent watch and makes me wonder what else I’ve been missing out on because I’m judging by the name or title? Only one way to find out. Off to the diner for a nice plate of rocky mountain oysters.

Transgender Veterans? Well, Since You Asked…

As some of you may have noticed, I have to go and put my little trans spin on every single holiday that comes up, or at least those I remember to do. This is going to be more challenging next year unless I manage to find yet another spin on some of these because my logic in many of the cases was pretty darn fuzzy at best. I might just stick to the holidays I missed the first time around, like Arbor Day, for which I’m really going to have to pull something out of my ass. In case you haven’t yet checked your calendar yet, today is Veteran’s Day. Well, or one of the days after if you don’t subscribe or religiously check this site on a daily basis.

This might shock the bejeezus out of some of you, but quite a few trans people did a stint in the armed forces. I know this conjures images of rugged troops in combat fatigues (they were called BDUs in my day, but I think it’s changed) clomping around the barracks in patent spike heels with hoochie red lipstick messily schmeared over their mouths. I assure you, it was not like that most of the time. There are enough of us though that I’ve heard running jokes about how it must be something they put in the food, much like the old salt peter rumor to eliminate unfortunately timed erections in the showers.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I did 4 years in the Air Force. My conscious reason for joining at the late age of 25, and after college graduation, was to vector over into a technology based field and secure better civilian job opportunities when I got out. It actually worked very well and I was able to hold on to that notion for a good long time. In reality, right before I sought enlistment, I was having a dilly of a time holding on to my male identity and unable to deal. I remember feeling great relief and satisfaction signing the papers and disposing of my wardrobe. Well, most of it. I took a few treasured items and sealed them in a box, within a sealed box, within a sealed box and signed all the tape with marker before giving it to a close friend for storage.

In case you haven’t guessed by now, the move failed to drive the girl out of me. All it really did was make my life super stressful because I was constantly living in fear of being found out. I came very close once. It was a rainy morning and I was returning back to the dorms after a long mid-shift (the 11 PM to 7 AM dealie) and went bounding up the slippery stairs. Right at the top my boot slid out from under me, I grabbed the rail, and my shoulder popped right out. This was the third time now by the way. It happened twice in tech school and probably should have been taken care of before this point. The problem then was that I was engaged in illicit activities at the time (drunken carousing on the San Antonio Riverwalk and attending a verboten hotel party, respectively) and wasn’t super excited about turning myself in. The previous two iterations I managed to get the thing back in on my own. This time it just wasn’t happening.

The pissed off dorm manager (this happened on Base Safety Day) called the ambulance and in the mean time my supervisor, who lived off base, happened by for reasons I’m still not clear on, and came along to the hospital. This is where I started to panic a bit. It was cold in the shop I worked in, so I took to wearing tights under my uniform and justifiably worried that this might somehow be revealed. The doctor of course wanted my shirts off immediately to look. Ugh. I tried to argue that I could undress in the bathroom, where I would have the chance to at least make sure the waistband wasn’t showing, but he wasn’t having any of that and directed the orderlies to hold me down and cut my shirt off. At that point the pain meds kicked in and I let them carry me off to the land of complete dissociation.

I don’t know if anyone actually saw anything or not. When I came to, my arm was restored to the proper configuration and there was a blanket over me. My supervisor was sitting next to the gurney grinning at me. For the sake of my peace of mind, I decided to assume no one had seen anything and let it go. After that though I decided to just be cold.

So, that’s my semi-charming little story that loosely ties in with Veteran’s day. I have many more Air Force stories, but very few of them involve anything remotely trans related. To all of you, trans or other, who served in the military, I want to say thank you for your service. If anyone is currently in the military and reads my blog because you are freaking that you figured yourself out and in one of the very worst places to deal with it, hang in there. Feel free to write me direct using the ‘Contact Michelle’ feature up at the top. Never worry, I’d sooner use a urinal again than out you, and it’s the least I can do for those who serve in a much more challenging time than my own.

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