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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Understanding The Temptation of Bringing a Guy Along to the Mechanic

mechanic-01My identity as a female recently got another shot of validation. Not exactly the good kind either to be perfectly honest. At the end of last year I had my car inspected and found out the cost to bring it up to code was a little over 3 times what the car was worth. Well, after 11 years and not one single breakdown, the shoe was going to drop eventually. Having heard enough horror stories about trips to the mechanic from other women, I decided to try to cut them out of the picture as much as possible, so I went looking for a good lease. New car every 3 years sounded pretty nice to me.

The car leasing experience was fantastic. I was treated like a real person by the salesman and even managed to negotiate without once being talked down to or bullshit, and I was happy with the deal I walked out with. The thing with a lease is that you really have to keep up on the oil changes and not just wait for the angry red light on the dash to come on, so I scheduled an appointment at the 3 month mark. To celebrate the deal, my salesman gave me a coupon for the first oil change on the house, which I’m pretty sure he probably gives to everyone and hands them out to dismayed children on Halloween. My experience with the oil change… not so fantastic.

Going for an oil change in dude mode is not even an experience that registers as a thing. Sure, you get a half hearted song and dance that you really should consider changing the coolant or something else pricey, but you look him in the eye and say, “Just the oil, Mr. Lube, if that is even your real name; just the oil. And fill up the goddamn washer fluid this time!” I didn’t realize this could be any different until my mother-in-law complained how she hates going for an oil change because it costs her over $500 every time. I thought she must have diamond pin in the shape of a sucker pinned to her blouse every time she walked in there. No, they simply gave her the old song and dance, and when she hesitated even for a second, the balls to the wall pitch was rolled out and she found herself writing a hefty check for muffler fluid replacement.

I thought about this as I rolled in there and resolved to be the kind of chick who knew for sure that mufflers didn’t have fluid, if my car even had one anyway. I wasn’t really sure, and not about to get under there and check. Walking up the counter, I waited through the inevitable awkward stare and let them know everything wrong with my brand new precious. “Um, the oil needs changing, the trunk button won’t open the trunk, the remote starter starts the car, but won’t turn on the heat making it pretty useless, and every time I turn off the car, my iPod shuffle goes back to the beginning of the playlist and doesn’t shuffle or anything.” He smirked at me and said don’t worry, I could sit pretty in the waiting room while they did manly things. He didn’t say that last part, but oh, it was implied.

After a while, I was called back to the much dirtier part of the operation. Coming through, one of the mechanics held the door and gave me a, “There you go, little lady.” Nice. He was all of maybe 2 years older than me, but I let it go. They took the usual tack of making you feel stupid first in the run down. “Well miss, the trunk works just fine, you just gotta hold down the button for a full 2 seconds.” It worked like a charm, because I felt really fricking stupid. Next they sold me a cable that would fix my iPod problem that cost $60, nearly $20 more than I bought the iPod itself for. Next they told me the oil change went well, with no complications, brining my hopes back up. “About that remote start…”

I stood there surrounded by 3 mechanics and the manager, including the asshole who called me ‘little lady’, as they explained that the remote start feature wasn’t supposed to turn on the heat at all. “Well, I read the manual and it said that if I left the heat and defrost on when I turned off the car, the remote start would turn them on. The whole reason I got it was so that I wouldn’t have to brush off the car anymore, which I hate.” Living in Buffalo and doing this 274 times a year got kind of old. They chuckled at my bosomy foolishness. Oh, no, no, no! The remote start was only so that when I did get in the car and turned on the heat, it would be warm right away! I seemed a marginal benefit at best, but outsized, outnumbered, and apparently outwitted, I capitulated and even thanked them.

After stalking back to my car in humiliation, I found that the ‘special’ cable they sold me wasn’t even for an iPod, as they left it on the seat and didn’t bother hooking it up for me. I had to slink back to counter and received a refund, though it seemed implied that the mix up was based solely on the fact that I failed to properly communicate the problem to them. To make matters even worse, I had to go back a second time because I didn’t know if the garage door was going to open for me automatically, or if I kept going I was going to hit it with the car.

When I got home I jumped on line and found out that the remote starter was supposed to turn on the damn heat and that it was occasionally wired wrong when installed which causes my problem. Fixing it is time consuming and expensive for the dealer. Fuck. It looks like I need to work up the nerve and go back there. An no, no I’m not going to bring a guy along with me.

Michelle Begs to Differ: Trans Female Competative Advantage

DisagreeWhile most of the commentary has been very agreeable so far, we do have one amongst us who tends to take the dissenting opinion. This is good because fairly few discussions really need to any new thought when everyone just sits around agreeing with each other all day. I mean what fun is that? Based on the content provided by this person, who remains nameless and allegedly no one I know, my guess is that they fall in line with the RadFem philosophy. As this person, to date, is the only one of that bent who has chosen to comment and presumably read my posts, I thought it would be fair to address a few of their recent points found here. By the way, my guess is that this person is female, but without knowing for sure, I’m keeping it gender neutral.

In my post about Fallon Fox, they made a statement about transgender being a “self-diagnosed disorder” that I thought would be a good place to start. The tone suggested that this is synonymous with “contrived bullshit”. First, this is not exactly true. Transsexuals (I’m leaving cross-dressers out of this for the moment) generally experience a variety of symptoms leading them to seek professional care usually in the psychiatric, psychological, or medical arenas, if not all three. Under the World Professional Standards of Transgender Health (WPATH), the symptoms are evaluated, alternative causes are explored, systematically ruled out if appropriate, and a diagnosis or professional opinion is given. Treatment is recommended, including pharmacological care (hormones), and most patients respond positively.

For the sake of comparison, there are many conditions for which fluid or culture testing, various scans, genetic tests, or exploratory surgery cannot detect and rely on diagnosis by a professional asking the right questions. An excellent example is fibromyalgia. The point is that lack of a current litmus test in no way renders a condition non-existent. Sufficient evidence exists that the WPATH treatment of transsexuals is so successful in alleviating the negative symptoms that many insurance companies are starting to cover this. For-profit entities are hardly known for funneling any money away from shareholder returns without a solid basis of evidence.

Furthermore, I would add that the treatment is sufficiently difficult, if not heinous at times, and hard to obtain that the willingness of individuals to undergo the full regimen must still be less than the debilitating nature of the symptoms. Even the most motivated psychotic or fetishist (both alternative conditions that must be ruled out to proceed) would be hard pressed to complete all stages. All in all, the statement of ‘self-diagnosed’ as ‘bullshit’ simply doesn’t fly in this case.

I also found the statement “trying to beat the hell out of someone who was born female” to be over reactionary. I don’t really understand the motivation of fighting professionals, but it is very clear that anyone who gets in one of these rings does so with an expectation of either beating someone or being beaten. I understood the statement as a condemnation of men employing physical violence against women. The natural reaction, when framing it this way, is “how horribly wrong!”. I think we all agree that violence against women is a real and persistent problem worldwide. This, however, isn’t it. This is not a domestic or other criminally violent situation, but a contest between two athletes, so the only question is whether one has an unfair competitive advantage over the other.

Speaking of which, the statement “Fox has an advantage over most women who were born female” doesn’t have much basis to back it up. Her height (5’6”) and weight (135) are well within the female norm. Her skeletal form contains no inherent advantage and is subject to the same bone density issues experienced by other women her age. The issue of unfair competitive advantage has been thoroughly studied by the medical community and the vast majority of evidence is indicative of there not being one.

Reading through the details, my overall impression is that this person philosophically disagrees with the concept of a non-segregable gender binary. One should be once and forever categorized as only male or only female at birth and that transitional forms of either are fabrications. Here is the thing though; this model, perpetuated in so many societies to essentially make things simple and easy from a religious or bureaucratic point of view, has consistently failed to establish conformity. The model is flawed, and no matter what reasoning, logical or emotional that is used to shore it up, a portion of the population does not reflect the gender marker on their original birth certificate. We exist. We understand many organizations and individuals disagree that this ought to be, but it changes nothing.  We will not cease to be, go away, change our minds, or ever stop in our relentless pursuit of equality.

Why the ‘Year Long Test’ to Get “The Surgery” is Kind of BS

testI’m now 9 months into what my gender specialist calls my ‘Year Long Test’, or what I simply call the rest of my life. For those who may be unfamiliar, The Test is the period of time a trans person must live as the gender of their identity in order to qualify for GRS, or as 99% of the population knows it, The Surgery. Ugh, nothing like a slew of capital ‘The’s’ to seriously aggrandize everything. Anyway, I got thinking about this and have a few bits to share.

My first thought on hearing about this requirement was, “How ridiculous. If I know, I know.” My specialist begged to differ and painted it as a huge event upon which the rest of my life would be based, if I even ever got to that point. I humored him to some degree, but took exception to every instance he brought it up. “When you start your Real Life Test…” Hmm? Oh, yeah, you mean when I’ve finally managed to come out to everyone and start living the rest of my existence correctly? I didn’t say I wasn’t a difficult patient, and I suspected he had a well justified voodoo doll of me locked in his desk drawer that he used to make sure I could not find my car upon leaving. I don’t blame him; I’m just saying.

My point of view was very simplistic as I’ve said. The hard part was the long and painstaking effort of telling everyone, but once they knew, I felt weird and uncomfortable around them presenting myself as male as it didn’t exactly jibe with what I revealed. I hated that and knew in my heart of hearts that the real effect was adding to the habit they had of calling me “Mike” and referring to to me as “him”. Once I went full time, it would be pure bliss and I could not imagine ever wanting to go back for even a second.

Well, we live and learn now, don’t we? I will say that I have never considered for a moment going back, but I do see why temptation might present itself. All the big firsts were no-sleepers leading up, like the first day of work, first presenting myself to my family, my child, and old friends. Less stressful, but still on the mind were the first time to the grocery store, taking my son to a birthday party, and my favorite hardware store. Quick note on the last one. The boys at Hector’s never blinked when I came in looking for something and were as friendly and helpful as always in finding the exact right thing to repair a steel cable the dog managed to chew through. Compared to the alternative, however, no contest.

From a different point of view, things might have been different. If I didn’t have the ability to tune out the rest of the world and walk around in a state of blissful dissociation, there is the possibility that the stares would get to me. I don’t actually notice them myself, but my spouse does. If I lost my job and went on 42 interviews where I could tell I was dead in the water just walking through the door, an element of despair may have crept in. If I had no patience for the hour it took to make it out the door after discovering I only had 1 egg left when I needed 2, I may have had second thoughts.

Although I think it may be the exception rather than the rule, I can see where a yearlong test might be useful in seeing if you are ready to live and work as the gender opposite that on your original birth certificate. I consider myself lucky for having the personality I do, not to mention the elements of sheer luck that fell in my favor. Life can grind someone down, even if pursuing something so important and integral to their identity. Now for the big question.

Many aspects of the medical intervention aspect of transition are purely for the comfort of having one’s physical attributes match gender identity. If life becomes so heinous that social transition to the gender of best fit is in no way sustainable, does this change the desire to have one’s body match what is in their head? GRS is not really going to change any aspect of my non-romantic social life. No one is going to be able to see the change and the only marginal benefit is being able to wear slightly tighter pants, which let’s be honest, I probably shouldn’t do anyway. So why the assumption that failing the social Real Life Test means a person is going to be any more comfortable with what lies below the belt?

I believe the assumption is that for those of us who feel so strongly that GRS is an absolute necessity, we will do whatever it takes to grin and bear it through that year. Failure to do so must be indicative that the person is not really transsexual, or at least not sufficiently so to also have a deep personal need to make physical changes. This looks like a big whooping case of flawed logic to me. If the WPATH goal is the alleviation of suffering and the possibility of a fulfilled happy life, taking a rigid stand on this might be hugely counterproductive in certain cases.  Life circumstances can rarely be boiled down to a cold Boolean logic scenario where if A, then B; if not A, then not B, where A is the Real Life Test and B is GRS. In the words of Dennis Miller, “That is my opinion; I could be wrong.” I don’t think so though.

Does Gender Transition Devalue The Concept of Womanhood?

gender-equalityGay marriage devalues heterosexual marriage and transgender women devalue the womanhood of cisgender women. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever started a post on such an inflammatory note! OK, before you get the pitchforks and torches out, I have not gone over to the dark side and still firmly planted on this side of the rainbow. The Oz side, not the dreary black and white Kansas one. We have all heard those types of statement before though, haven’t we? Let’s talk about that for a minute.

The reason I’m writing this is that I just read a CNN article (apparently I spend way too much time there) where someone wrote an opinion piece about the shift of focus on gay marriage opposition. Back in the Victorianesque 1990’s when DOMA and DADT were being championed (oh Bill, how we loved you, but you miserably failed us), the big argument from the right was that homosexuality was a morally and sexually perverse swatch of evil cut from the seat of the devils own britches. It was assumed that the rampant promiscuity and public fornication endemic to the lifestyle chosen by homosexuals would be tarnation and ruination and therefore legal defense was needed for the angelically innocent straights to continue dutifully, but not enjoyably, keeping up the population base.

Cut to now when gay couples simply want to raise two parent families and ensure their spouses have legal right to the Vitamix they bought together, and the story changes. While the notion that homosexuals run around attempting to deviously recruit once stalwart husbands and seduce pubescent boys tends to linger, the right still needs to promote the notion that US law should mirror biblical law, line for line. The new strategy is to claim that gay marriage somehow devalues straight marriage. Seriously. We in the trans community are a little familiar with this. While the vast majority tend to be trans inclusive, or at worst, trans neutral, there remain pockets who feel strongly that the existence of trans women intrinsically devalues the womanhood that is rightfully theirs and theirs alone by birthright. It took me a while to really understand what they were even trying to say because the notion seems so, well, petty.

From strictly my point of view, it seems I have to put several magnitudes greater an effort into achieving even an approximation of what most women have through a good fortune of birth. The idea though that my painful corrective actions in any way diminishes what is really an unquantifiable value for someone else is ludicrous. I think the root of this kind of thinking is pure and simple exclusivity and the level of personal standing people feel they have by attaining this. If Carol has Vitamix and now Nancy down the street also went and got herself a Vitamix, I guess Carol no longer feels like such hot shit because she is the only one who can liquefy an eggplant in 14 seconds. She can still do this, and actually has the professional model which Nancy couldn’t afford, but still, she’d have felt a lot better if there was some kind of law that kept Carol in her place. Yes, by the way, I did actually just buy a Vitamix and excited about it. I assure you though, if every one of you goes and buys a better one tomorrow, I’ll be happy for you and not one bit less satisfied with mine.

That is the real conundrum of this for me. On the marriage side of things, one would think that heterosexual couples would be pretty gratified by the gay push for rights. “Yay! We were doing the most desirable thing all along! How totally validating!” I would think the same of anti-trans RadFems. “Yay! Less men, more super zealous feminists!” They just can’t though, and this goes down in my book of weird counterproductive shit people insist on doing, like hiking 30 feet from the unmarked border of Iran or mixing cement in their beautiful new red Vitamix. Really, go get one; I’d love to share the joy with you.

The Fallon Fox Fallacy

MMA: Strikeforce-Tate vs KedzieI know this constitutes serious self abuse already (not the Biblical kind where some bearded old patriarch wacked off into a fire), but I just had to scroll down to the comments section when I saw another CNN article about Fallon Fox. In case you aren’t aware, Ms Fox is a highly trained female fighter in the MMA who recently came out as a post-operative MTF transsexual. The legally mandated amount of hoopla around this revelation was achieved in typical media soap-opera fashion.
To ensure the story didn’t peter out with people saying, “Well, looks like another one of them managed to make good.”, someone decided to webcast a particularly cantankerous  UFC fighter, Matt Mitrione, giving the usual misinformed bigoted diatribe. Good catch, I did make it sound like this was all orchestrated. You can’t tell me this loudmouth boob was quiet as a church mouse on the subject before he found himself in front of a camera and exploded out of nowhere. In any case, it was a good opportunity for the UFC management to make it clear they are not copacetic with this kind of personal attack and suspended him. So, cool points to the UFC, which is not something I thought I would ever find myself saying.

Let’s get to the reactionary comments, shall we? In general, lots of misinformation, ranting, and declaring of Mitrione a true American hero of free speech right up there with old Tom Payne. I was actually gratified to see that for the most part, members of the trans community declined to get down in the mud and wrestle with the pigs on this. People who are taking the time to let their opinion be known on an online forum, yet cannot take the 3 minutes to do a quick search and see if their little factoids have any merit whatsoever are generally not worth listening to. On top of that, many of them made sure to highlight their pedigree by craftily inserting single words in all caps. “You are so stooped its because MR Fox is a MALE MAN!!!” Well, everyone knows that seeing a word in all caps will assuredly sway people on the fence into their camp, and better yet, draw some of the opposition who are tired of well reasoned, lower case arguments.

The primary point of view, and one also held by Mr Mitrione, is that trans women have a significant male advantage when it comes to physical competition. I so wish that anyone who made such an argument had the opportunity spend 6 months going through hormone replacement therapy. Every bit of natural male strength and endurance enjoyed previously, without even having to do anything, just evaporates like a little wisp of smoke. Speaking subjectively, I’d also add that it can be considered a significant disadvantage to experience a big drop in base level ability rather than start there from the beginning.

All medical studies on fully transitioned trans women indicate a comparative level of strength and endurance with a female of the same age and fitness demographic. A lack of androgen levels the playing field quite well. As a runner, I experienced this first hand. In 2010 and 2011 I ramped up from 2 mile season initial runs to 5 miles within 4 weeks, and ended the season doing 8 and 9 mile runs. In 2012 and this year, whole different story. Last year I ran more miles than any other year, yet at the end I only managed one 5.5 mile run without stopping. Big, big difference.

A few of the more persistent commenters took it a step further and attempted to argue that her original male skeletal frame was still intact. This is true; it is. When looking at strict averages, male skeletal frames are taller, broader shouldered and contain longer reaches than female skeletal frames. While the averages are distinctly different, the degree of overlap between the two groups is not. The vast majority of the population, male and female, falls well into the overlap portion. It’s very difficult not to. While Ms Fox has a frame larger than that of an average woman, it remains within that of the total female population, as do many of the other female MMA or UFC fighters (honestly, I’m not clear on what the difference is), some of whom may have larger frames than Fallon.

I think it’s fairly clear that if Fallon’s base strength and endurance are comparable to that of demographically similar females, and her ability to train, ramp up and increase her abilities falls along the same curve as well, she is quite fairly categorized correctly. In regards to frame size, she is well within the expected variance to the mean in the female population. Even so, it doesn’t appear that the MMA or UFC categorizes and segregates players based on this. Nor most sports, or we would expect to have football and basketball leagues split up into interplaying divisions based on height and bulk.

Sufficed to say, I’m calling bullshit on this line of reasoning. It’s a trumped up and unsound method to justify trans discrimination where there is no credible reason for there being any. While I’ve never exactly been a fighting fan, I’ll be rooting for Fallon all the way.

Home Stretch: My Consult With the Fabulous Dr. McGinn

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of finally meeting in person the fabulous Dr Christine McGinn. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it appears as though I’m going to make one of my New Year’s resolutions after all! I can’t remember what the rest were, and clearly too lazy to scroll down the page, even though I took the trouble to link to the post here. That’s OK though, because out of all of them, this was the biggie and the rest will come in time.

Late in the winter, I finally got off my ever widening ass and did the research on who I felt comfortable doing the honors of reconstructing the burrito I certainly didn’t order into a much more aesthetically pleasing taco. After tens of minutes of internet research and some enlightening discussions with friends who have already been down this route, I had it narrowed down to 2 players for different reasons. First off, I really had a strong preference for staying in the northeast for logistical reasons. There were many close contenders and decided on either Dr Brassard in Montreal or Dr McGinn in New Hope, PA. Dr Brassard made it easy by not returning my calls and ignoring my patient intake form, while Dr McGinn’s assistant got in touch with me instantly and booked the consultation. It’s kind of who I was hoping for anyway, so that worked.

Here is the thing with me. Although Dr McGinn is not the oldest and most experienced person out there who specializes in vaginoplasty, she has had one. From a strictly medical knowledge standpoint, this means bupkis, but from a me being comfortable point of view, it’s fairly priceless. A number of previous medical experiences in the past have made me, well, just a tiny bit mistrustful of the practice in general at times. To have found someone who I feel some commonality with and within driving distance made it a no brainer to put her on top of the list and go see what she was about. Besides, if worse came to worse, I could always look elsewhere.

I brought my spouse along and we stayed at her mom’s in NJ, which is about an hour away from New Hope. Well, less with no traffic, but failing to meet a threshold of at least half the Jersey population on the road at the same time is against state law and strictly penalized. Her office was just a little bit hard to find, nestled in a large conclave of walkway connected suites similar to what I believe the Pueblo cliff dwellers were aiming for. We figured it out once I was able to decipher the Byzantine naming and numbering conventions that has to really piss off new mail carriers. It was a medical office, so I’m pleased to say they met expectations in keeping me waiting for a bit beyond the scheduled start of the appointment.

We met with her PA Heather at first and she was absolutely lovely. She had a great sense of humor and professionalism and made me feel completely at ease. Better yet, she was able to answer my questions so well, I hardly had any for Dr McGinn when she joined us. My big question, by the way, was about getting electrolysis, ahem, down there. I was aware of this, but also aware that Dr McGinn utilized the electro-cauterization technique to kill the hair follicles before stuffing those bits of skin up inside me. Ever the optimist, I was kind of hoping she would say, “No, no. You don’t have to worry about that nasty business at all. We take care of you!” She instead very honestly informed they that they tried their best to take of it, but it’s way lower risk to have some work done ahead of time. “After all, you don’t want the inside to act like an old carpet trapping in moisture, dead cells an whatnot.” Heather made a pretty good point, dammit, and I certainly didn’t want to spend the next 40 years being known as Miss Stankencooch. You can look for a future recounting of my shitty experience having that done. Does the pain and humiliation ever end?

Dr McGinn joined us and I liked her immediately, even though she had been on TV. She was very frank, honest, and also had a good sense of humor. At this stage of the game, I’m not super excited to disrobe any part of myself in front of anyone for any reason, but I specifically didn’t mind in this case because I had the knowledge that she had been there and could sympathize. I was also impressed by her bedside manner, which is also something important to me. I’ve been present enough in enough cases where someone was in howling level 10 pain and the attending physician was a total dick about it. With her I feel very much at ease that this is not something I have to worry about.

By the end of the appointment, I went ahead and booked a date. Yeah, I probably could have gotten other consults, but was pretty comfortable that no one was going to blow her out of the water in terms of competence of demeanor. The logistics of getting to her location and such were also a big plus for me. I’m not going to share the date here, because unlike most Facebook junkies, I’m not a believer in telegraphing my movements about the country. Suffice it to say though, I will not have another birthday improperly configured and really can’t think of a better present to myself.

If anyone is thinking of going to Dr McGinn and has any questions, feel free to shoot me a message using the address under the ‘Contact Michelle’ tab and I’ll be happy to get back to you as soon as I can.

Badly Reasoned: Why The CO Transgirl Should Not Be Segregated


Yes, I’m still on the damn bathroom issue. Apparently, I just need to get it out of my system before I get back to my usual level of humor, that pun excluded of course. Go ahead, groan, now let’s move on people. In my last post I referred to the trans girl, Coy, in Colorado who had been using the girl’s room, but then banned and asked to use separate but unequal facilities in a compassionate attempt to make her feel like a mutant freak. Apparently 6 is the right age to really drill home how much she should be crying bitter tears for the affront of being born different. Now, I actually heard a great deal of what sounded like well considered rational by the opposition. Let’s take a moment to dissect that, shall we?

The most prevalent point of contention is that no one wants their daughters exposed to the sight of a male penis in the bathroom. I’ll be honest; this gave me pause as well for a moment before I could gather my thoughts. My first thought was that unless she took to peeing in the sink for some reason, are exposed genitals really a common site in any bathroom? Having grown up in bathrooms that contain urinals, I have to say that this was not a common thing at all. In fact, even looking could earn the naturally curious quite a beating. Boy culture is vehemently opposed to this. I’m not sure if this really carried over to the locker room because I generally changed huddled in a corner and got out, but still. Does the same apply to girl culture?

The answer I got was not so much. Girl culture, which I was unfortunately not raised in, is less prudish about bodies and the implications of letting other girls see them in female segregated spaces. So there is a chance that girls in the same bathroom as Coy may at some point see what she has down there. I can feel the indignant outrage from here. Let’s think about that for just a second though.

Generally speaking, people who have a difference they may have some feelings of shame around generally don’t go flaunting it. I think many or most children by school age already have an understanding that boys and girls are different down there and that Coy and other trans children know they don’t have the typical parts. Even without parental guidance and instruction not to do this, the general childhood impetus to not advertise what is going to mark them as different and possibly made fun of is most likely going to stop her from doing so.

Let’s go back for a moment to the general knowledge that boys and girls of school age understand there is a difference between boys and girls. Through childhood curiosity, siblings, cousins, friends, and daycare, most opposite gender children have seen each other without pants on at some time or another. We don’t like this thought because the idea borders on the uncomfortably sexual, although at this age, it certainly is not. The point being, chances are that if one or more of the girls managed to spy a trans girl’s penis, it likely would not be a first time thing for them.

Now I’ll vector off to the left and point out that approximately 1% of the population is born with an intersex condition. This may or may not include genitalia that are not markedly male or female. Sometimes this is corrected at birth and sometimes not. The point is that there is no debate concerning intersex condition children using the restroom of the gender they have been assigned, even if their genitalia can’t immediately back that up. The reason this is never mentioned is because both now and in the past, the prevailing notion has always been that whatever someone has in their pants is their business alone. That being the case, the only reason I feel there is outrage over Coy and other trans children is that trans is a big news item right now.

This is by no means the first time in history that trans children and even children who were not trans were raised in a gender other than that they were assigned at birth. The difference is that now the general public has some idea of what transgender is, or the very least has an uninformed opinion about it. Twenty years ago, assuming Coy’s parents were as progressive as they are now, she could have been raised female and no one but her doctor would have really known the difference publically.

The final issue I’ll address is the one forward thinking people like to bring up. So what happens when Coy hits puberty? Well, there are several things that can happen. There is always the chance that Coy ends up feeling more comfortable as a boy, because this does occasionally happen with children initially identified as trans. If that happens, problem solved but for her socialization into male culture, which I imagine will be very hard. If she maintains her gender is female, the common practice has been to begin hormone blocking treatments which would prevent her from experiencing male puberty. Between both this and the socialization in girl culture, it is extremely unlikely that she will suddenly become a manifest threat to the other girls. Even if she is gay, it is highly doubtful that she would act any different than any other young lesbian, a demographic not known for committing assaults in the girls room.

The overall problem I see here is that the Victorian remnants of prudishness have managed to persist in a manner that allows us to project our notions of sexuality on to children who simply don’t have this yet. I agree, however, that female segregated spaces are important and should be kept as safe as possible. Little Coy is not the risk. She’s just a girl born in a way she clearly doesn’t care for, who wants to feel as normal and as accepted by her peers as possible. Her being welcome in the bathroom should be based on the same standards as any child; good behavior is the expectation. Disallowing her with the understanding that she meets that criteria is simply wrong.

Again With The Trans Bathroom Issue


It’s as much about what you see as where I can pee. Well, and a lot more, but one thing at a time. I know we have talked about “The Bathroom Issue” before, but it’s high time we revisit this fun little topic once again. Very recently we had the trans girl in Colorado who was granted separate but unequal accommodations after being kicked out of the girls room. Apparently it’s never too early to make someone feel like shit about how they were born. In case you can’t tell, I’m kind of in a mood. Even more recently it’s the always compassionate lawmakers in Arizona who mistakenly think our reality can be easily legislated out of existence just like that.

What continuously annoys me about this is the prevalent notion that where we are going to go to the bathroom is predicated on what the local statute happens to be. This is simply not the case. If we identify as women, we are going to use the ladies room if appropriately presenting as such, and same goes for the trans men in using the men’s room. This is regardless of whatever the law of the land happens to be. While I would greatly prefer not to be harassed because I just had to order the venti frappachino, I would even greatly more prefer not to be physically assaulted. That being the case, let’s just drop the notion that this is about where we are allowed to go.

The issue really comes down to how much of an effort and how many tax dollars does the local community want to sink into giving us a hard time over this. In Arizona it’s apparently quite a bit, but I’m sure by now they have achieved a downright utopian society complete with cowed citizens nervously carrying around long form birth certificates and looking over their shoulders for jolly old Sheriff Joe and his pink undie squad.  Look, out of 50 states, one was bound to long for a quasi-fascist system dedicated to preventing those pesky brown people and “weird” folks from getting out of line and doing things they vaguely disapprove of that have little to no effect on their existence. After all, conservative philosophy is all about personal freedom, right?

Even with harsh laws in place to prohibit the dangerous trans folk from quietly entering a lockable stall to do their business, people are still going to go where they feel safest. Personally, I’d rather take that chance than enter any restroom that features urinals. Unless they start installing armed guards at every door, I still think my chances of peeing and getting the fuck out unscathed are way, way better in the ladies room. I think we should take a moment to look at why people feel the need to sink valuable tax dollars into a cause that may on its best day achieve a level of efficiency comparable to the war on drugs. To keep it real, I’ll even skip over Mr Krackpot Kavanagh’s pithy little “because he thinks [trans] are weird” reasoning.

I have attempted and failed to locate a scientifically conducted national poll that gauges the feeling of cisgender women regarding sharing the bathroom with transgender women. Nor have I found one regarding their feeling about the fact that at some point in their life, they probably have whether they knew it or not. Now my personal experience, which I cannot extrapolate to a national level, is that the vast majority simply don’t care so long as proper bathroom etiquette is followed. The number of reported breaches of etiquette is so tiny as to not only be statistically insignificant, but would be thrown out as extreme outliers in any scientifically conducted studies. Getting to the point, the argument that there will be a sudden influx of peeping, spied penises, or outright assault is baseless. Remember, we are already in there with you, so the best a harsh law could do is keep a statistical zero incidence rate right there at nothing.

On the far pole from conservatives who worry of impropriety, we have the RadFems who do exactly the same, worry of impropriety, but for much more esoteric reasons for the most part. Aside from arguments eerily reminiscent of those of who oppose gay marriage (acknowledging trans womanhood somehow diminishes or takes away from their womanhood), we get a lot of fox in the henhouse paranoia. To look at this fairly, no one in the ladies room is real thrilled with the idea of someone who identifies as male coming in, especially if he’s doing so with bad intentions in mind. This does actually happen, though rarely. In any case, it is farfetched to believe that cross-dressing rapists or peeping toms are making their decisions to take this approach based on transgender access. If they are already mentally committed to perpetrating one of the most heinous crimes known to humankind, it seems very unlikely that they are being held at bay only by local statute enforcement of trans bathroom prohibitions. If the threat of 20 years in prison for committing a crime while wearing a costume that renders them highly identifiable immediately after, the threat of a municipal citation is hardly going to give them pause for thought.

Finally we come to the really sticky issue that has us all perplexed. While it’s been well established that transsexual women, with very, very few exceptions, behave no differently (or better, because we don’t need the attention) in female segregated spaces, the question inevitably comes up, what about the cross-dressers? And by cross-dresser I mean a person who identifies as male, but wears, at least on occasion, female attire. This is thorny because cis and trans women aren’t that terribly comfortable having a self identified man in the bathroom with us, even if they are behaving well. The pointy end is that there is no easy way to tell the difference. In fact, I’ve noticed that many CDs look much better than I do on a day to day difference because they tend to put a lot more time into their look, and if matched up in a ‘which is which’ guessing game, I’m not so certain I’d be picked as the woman on looks alone.

Unfortunately, there is no pleasing answer to this. We could request that the world governing body of cross-dressers signs a pledge to steer clear of the ladies room when in public, but there isn’t one; just a lot of individuals running around and a bunch of local clubs and support groups. We could go the Arizona route and hire an army of German accented potty police who say, “Ve need to see your papers!” in an adorable fashion. Dare I say panty checks anyone? Or we can take the reasonable course of action as good citizens and report bad behavior as we witness it.

The bathroom issue really isn’t so much an issue as a societal decision to either acknowledge our existence and where we already taking care of a private natural function, or if political action and tax dollars should be spent to ineffectually dissuade trans people from peeing where they are going to anyway. What really remains to be seen is if the recent changing tides in LGB civil rights are being extended in the T direction yet or not. Either way, we aren’t going anywhere.

And yes, I hardly touched on little Coy Mathis, the bathroom banned trans girl from Colorado, but she deserves her own post, so look for that in 3 days time.

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