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Monthly Archives: February 2013

A Bout of Baron Von Funkhausen

Moody

I’ve come to notice that one of the fun little effects of hormone treatment is something I like to call Baron von Funkhausen syndrome. Yes, it’s a whimsical little way to dress up what amounts to a sense of profound dreariness and depression that seems to pop up out of nowhere, last for a few days, and then quickly evaporate. No, no, you can’t say, “I think that’s only you Michelle”. I’ve talked to enough other people who have the same thing from time to time. Yeah, I’m still not quite used to that.

I’ve noticed it almost always begins upon waking up. I mean sure, nobody likes to roll out of bed at 5 in the morning, especially in the winter, and more so when one sleeps with the heat turned way down low and the ceiling fan on high. Like my mom I’ve become an ice box sleeper, but that moment between throwing the covers off and grabbing my robe before I turn blue is not the most pleasant part of my day. Most days this is fine. I either go down and exercise, or drink tea as I bang out my constant stream of drivel feeling just positively chipper. On these day though, ugh. I end up hitting the snooze 8 times, each time necessitating the rush from my bed to the other side of the room, which leaves me 50 shades of grumpus by the time 6:00 rolls around and it’s time to wake up the boy. It only gets worse from there.

I’ve tried to figure out what exactly bring this sort of thing on. Tiff with my ex the night before? A particularly shitty day of work? The precursor stage of a dilly of a cold? The fact that it has been exactly 25 days since the last time this ferkakta thing happened? That last one seems little bit more on the money. The problem is that during these few days I generally feel like a cats ass in a full tub and really don’t feel like writing anything down. When it finally lifts, I’m so happy to be rid of it, I like to pretend it never happened so I don’t have to think about it. I really should start to though so I can plan ahead and stock up on Swiss Cake Rolls and Cool Ranch Doritos. I know, I’m trying to get off the Big Mama train again, but a few days a month can be planned in.

I have to be honest, it kind of baffles me why this happens. Yes, we are operating on a different set of primary hormones now, so of course we expect changes. The hormonal fluctuations, however, should be static if the intake is a steady line. A monthly type cycle simply doesn’t make sense without the organs present that drive extra production at different times. It might just be the appearance of a cycle that is in fact driven by external sources, which is really why I need to start tracking this. It occurred to that it might be the presence of my ex going though her cycles and pairing to her emotional state at the time. This makes sense because my mood has always taken on the color of my surroundings. It may also be that my brain has always been primed to be more affected by estrogen in different cycles all along, and now I’ve simply got the right juice flowing through it. This is all pure conjecture of course, excepting for the fact that this keeps happening and never did before.

Although now I know enough to just wait it out and it will pass, some things do help. Getting out of the house is always a good start because it’s hard to be Miss Mopey on a beautiful sunshine day. Not always so easy though to get the energy, and winter in Buffalo makes it all the more likely that brushing off the car on a 10 degree day in a snow shower will simply blow it all up into a full depression. The one sure fire thing, temporarily anyway, is to listen to ‘Call Me Maybe’ in my car and sing along like ditzy doofus on my way to work. Like a charm every time. If you see me rolling into the parking lot belting out Carley Rae Jepson, rest assured it’s probably a bad day to be asking me about the cover sheets on my TPS reports.

Thanks For the Provocation, But I’m Good

Transphobia

There is nothing so sweet as having your own words used as ‘evidence’ to support a half-baked claim that attempts to invalidate your existence. Nice, right? The other morning I received email notification that one of the newer RadFem blogs took some of my wording, as well as those of Becky and another blogger, to construct yet another tired and fallacy ridden argument against us. You have to love that sort of thing. Yes, I was a little irritated. I mean I wrote this as a result, right?

I’m not going to spend much time on her post as it’s simply not worth it. I’ll get to why in a moment. She appears of the opinion that by taking a miniscule sampling of blogger opinions and highlighting the disparity in explaining a very complex and somewhat subjectively understood condition, she can invalidate the premise that transition is necessary. Um, yeah… I don’t know what the worst flaw in this even is to be honest. A ridiculous statistically insignificant sample size? Presenting as evidence words from blogs taken out of context? I mean seriously, bloggers as hard scientific evidence? Finally, the strange presumption that there is some world governing body of official trans opinion that dictates the expression of our personal experiences. Yes, she engages in the typical misgendering, which is really nothing more than childish name calling. You are probably wondering if I zinged her with a witty set of rejoinders rife with pith and vinegar. Nah.

Simply put, I don’t have anything to gain by making an effort to even acknowledge the opinion. It simply doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Whether I engage these anti-trans folks or not is inconsequential. I attempted once to start a polite discussion and quickly understood this group is not interested in any form of mutual understanding, much less work toward a common good that would actually benefit and empower women. When someone is determined to be all pissed off and contentious, there is simply no reasoning with them. On those grounds enough it’s wise to disengage and ignore.

The good news is that we can afford to do this. The current trend shows that the RadFems don’t have anything nearly resembling a majority opinion on trans issues, much less appreciable political clout to ram their ideology through anyway. Our main obstacle remains religious conservatives and the opposition we face from them. This is weakening as we continue to make strides in educating the population at large. Religious conservatives are also highly unlikely to spend much time listening to any group that brands itself as “radical”, so the notion of an alliance there is almost comical, even though both are driven by dogma and ideology over plainclothes reality. Ignore them and eventually they will fade to background static until inevitable generational changes relegates them to historical curiosities.

Instead of focusing our energies on unreasonable people determined to hate us, we are much better served promoting our general personhood. We do this every day by simply living our lives, interacting with co-workers, fellow students, and our communities at large. Some of us feel the need to do more and word at advocacy, outreach, and education. I am never surprised by the fact that by being open and honest about my condition, I find that individual perceptions of trans people in general improves. Imagine, just being a person having greater impact than standing on a soapbox denouncing others on trumped up flim-flam! Well, it takes some longer than others to realize that being big nasty pants to a minority slice of the population is now out of vogue.

To sum it all up, I wish them well in their fervent and hate fueled mission to ultimately discredit themselves entirely. You won’t hear another peep out of me on the matter. I would like to invite my sister and brother bloggers and activists to do the same. Don’t bother answering them, ignore them all together at public events (just like you do the crazy Pride Protestors with the shitty painted signs), and push forward as respectable members of the community. In doing so we invalidate all sophomoric claims that we don’t exist by simply living our lives.

We will win our equality in the end simply because we are more motivated. We live this every single day. It’s not a thing or a shtick, but a condition that affects every single moment of our lives. It’s not our words or arguments that validate us, but our actions and passion with which we live, work, play, and love. The energy we put into the world to not only simply be, but gain equality and live normal and productive lives from the time we come out to ourselves and society simply cannot be equaled by those who, for whatever reason, insist on standing in our way. They will tire and have other things to occupy their attention where we never will, because this is core to our fundamental selves. Don’t fret over the opposition; we got this.

Spousal Abuse? When We Aren’t The Only One’s Who Have To Come Out

coming-out

One of the great overlooked problems about transition involves coming out. Yes, yes, we have talked about coming out already many times, but I’m talking specifically about our spouses for those of us who were married when the truth came to light. I was talking to my sister Dianne recently specifically about this, as she was helping me come up with something to call my kinda-sorta-really-but-not-really-spouse that was a lot shorter than that string of babble I just coughed up at you. I had been using ‘ex’, but it’s not accurate and comes across quite dreary.

A side note on that little endeavor. Just as I went through a hell of a time figuring out what to have my son call me (Maddy, thanks to Jenny Boylan), I’ve been having trouble with this one. We have acknowledged the marriage is over in the traditional sense, but we remain legally married, cohabitate, and are raising our son together and plan to do so for the foreseeable future. The love is still there, it’s just that things are different. I know it’s my own hang up, but calling her ‘wife’ makes me feel too mannish, even though I know lesbian couples do this. I certainly don’t want to be called husband. Dianne suggested ‘paraspouse’, so I might try that on for size until she reads this and vetoes.

Back to spousal coming out. Where there is ample material to help LGBTQ personnel come out to friends, family, co-workers, and the shitload of friends on Facebook you have but don’t even know, there is hardly anything for spouses. This is a real gap because their lives are every bit as affected by this change as our own. True, in many cases the spouse makes like a shepherd and gets the flock out of there and move down to Florida with the kids and reverts back to her maiden name, just as many stick around, at least for a while. Either way, it’s rare that they can get away with not telling anyone anything about it, unless the marriage was such a deep secret that everyone would be flabbergasted to find out that it existed to begin with.

Where we have the terror and excitement of sharing with people that we have truly discovered ourselves, they have to figure out how to communicate this unwelcome news without feeling like a ridiculously obtuse moron for getting into the situation to begin with. In the telling, no matter how well they spin it or chose just the exact right wording, nearly everyone is going to hit them with the old, “Surely you must have seen some signs of this? No? Really? I mean really?” Suddenly they are on the defensive for something terrible that happened to them simply because everyone at heart believes they have Sherlock Holmes detection ability and there was no way the same thing could happen to them.

In truth no one is really that good. My own paraspouse is a certified master of detection and although she flat out asked me on several occasions in the course of discussion about other issues, I was able to allay her anxiety simply because I believed 100% what I was telling her was true. It just isn’t where people’s minds go, because chances are, they never even met someone like us and have a seriously skewed perception about it all. There is also the very powerful reality that when people are heavily invested in something like a marriage, no one really wants to believe such an out of left field deal breaker is lurking in the near vicinity. As I’ve often said, if I couldn’t know, neither could you; such is our fantastic chameleon ability to hide in plain sight, even from ourselves.

As much as it really, really sucks and isn’t even right, they have to do it and suffer the inquisition. Aside from that, it’s also incredibly juicy gossip and bound to travel far faster then they or we can get ahead of. It’s rare, scandalous, and fascinating, so conversations and speculations will happen, and probably for a long time. Because of this, they now have to also contend with a period of time where their primary identity, no matter how successful and well respected, is supplanted with ‘being the spouse of a trans person’. Not exactly what anyone aspires to in life, and probably doesn’t feel much better than being the unsuspecting spouse of a serial killer or superhero. You think Lois Lane is real anxious to have Clark go public?

The moral of this story is to keep in mind that coming out is by no means a one woman show. The same thing goes for close family as well. I’m dead certain that every parent of a trans person is asked a thousand times over, “Weren’t there any signs when they were growing up?” Nope, because we go through insane lengths to keep it that way. Our loved ones need just as much support and compassion as we do in this process, if not more, especially in the beginning. While it may be too late in my case, I’m wondering if arming our loved ones with letters that absolve them of all culpability would be a good idea; that there was no way at all they could have known and there is no reason whatsoever than any of this should reflect on them.

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