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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Getting a Little Trans Sexual

Trans Sexuality“So… what is it you trans people do in bed anyway?” I’ll come clean. I’ve never been asked exactly that question before, or at least not with this level of directness. I can, however, tell many people are thinking it. And it’s not an easy question to answer because ‘trans’ can mean any number of loosely related things, and encompasses the same range of orientations as the cisgender population. This being said, the only correct response to such a question would be, “Your mom”.

In the past, I’ve eschewed talking about sex, partially because I’m celibate and partially because of the whole privacy thing. Well, I rethought all that now that I’m being featured on a fantastic website Informed About Sex, and the offshoot Facebook page Radical Women Talk About Sex that I have hereto added nothing in regards to new material. Remember the whole celibacy thing? Yeah… Anyway, now seems like a good jumping off point as the guilt of being a lurker on a page where I’m listed as an author is starting to zest my lemons.

Many of you are already aware that the T’s in LGBT are the only component focused on identity rather than orientation. The difference, so often expressed, is that orientation is who you want to go to bed with and gender identity is who you want to go to bed as. In spite of the ‘sex’ embedded in ‘transsexual’, it’s about anything but. It’s one of the reasons I’ve never liked the term, though have come to grudgingly accept it as to differentiate myself from the other flavors of trans. Trust me, there is nothing even a tiny bit sexy about gender transition.

I’ve come to notice that the subject of sex never comes up in any of the support meetings. Once in a blue moon someone will let slip what gender they are attracted to, and more often than not, this is met with a period of uncomfortable silence. I’ve been attempting to figure out why on the down low. When you have a group of people willing to openly share the details about large portions of their life they spent years being mortally embarrassed by, why would a little thing like sex be a conversation killer? On top of this, there is almost a weird unspoken vibe that if asked, the “correct” answer should be a continued attraction to women. I don’t know why being both trans and homosexual is the genteel answer any lady of breeding should give, but it’s just in the air.

A big part of the problem is that going through second puberty has a way of seriously fucking things up in all sorts of delicious little ways. Flooded with estrogen and testosterone blockers, both the mind and body change. One causes a glacial and unavoidable shift in thought processes, while the other really takes the bazinga out of the original equipment, not to mention further creates an utter lack of interest in using it anyway. Identifying as female in both body and mind really skews the way a person interacts with others in most contexts, the bedroom included. Well, or the back seat of a Chevy Nova if less on the vanilla side.

While not true of all, but definitely for some, the way we look at men and women during and after transition changes. Other women seem to lose that appeal of feminine mystique we always felt outside of. Men are no longer creatures we are inclined to compare ourselves to. Even those of us who had periods of awareness of our transgender identity, until we actually own it and begin transition, we are always attempting to integrate into our birth gender identity while feeling the pull of attraction to the other we truly identify with. This kind of muddies the waters a bit and brings up a few thoughts.

I can only speak for myself there, but sometimes I have to ask myself if my attraction to women was really based on sexual orientation or strong feelings of identification and lust born of denial? If you think that one is tricky, I often ask myself if my sexual orientation is “straight”, could this mean my attraction will always be to the perceived opposite gender, whatever that happens to be at the time? In other words, if I’m straight, was I attracted to women when attempting to be male, and attracted to men once I realize I’m a woman? Ironically, this seems to be the exact type of question mulled over by red eyed college students with red Solo cups of beer and a cashed out bong on hand.

At the moment, I can’t answer these questions for myself. The hormone therapy is still hard at work making changes, and I have an even bigger change coming up this fall. After the smoke clears and I settle into the hormone level and genital configuration of a middle age woman, the answer will hopefully present itself. Or not, and I remain comfortably asexual, which has advantages of being much less complicated and messy. Either way, I’m keeping an open mind about it all.

Since no one seems to want to broach this face to face, I’m hoping for some good comments about your own experiences and maybe we can get a good discussion going on the topic.

Is Trans Activism Even Useful?

transactiveYou know those crappy dreams where you are back in school? Being part of the transgender community often makes me feel exactly like that. It’s not really all that bad and way better than those dreams where you really have to pee and finally find a toilet only to wake up in a mad panic, sometimes in warm dampish pajamas. By the back in school analogy, I’m talking about college, but not where there is a big exam you didn’t know about because you blew off the last 4 classes to sleep in Lockwood library. I mean the near constant cajoling to get off your fat tuckus and get involved already.

Being part of an often misunderstood minority, there is an inevitable call to activism if you choose to become affiliated with any type of support or advocacy organization. Counter to my lifelong resistance to joining anything unless intending to destroy it from within, I found myself showing up to the local group, Spectrum, and raising my hand to volunteer a lot. This too was counter to my philosophy of personal responsibility by having other people who would probably do it better raise theirs first. It really worked out better for all of us that way. For some reason by changing or affirming or confirming my gender, I felt the need to make changes in this area as well. Out of nowhere I went decades without ever knowing who the state senator for my district was, and now I find myself arduously working to really make him hate me. Why? Why am I doing this?

From the very moment I stepped into a room where other trans people happened to be, there has been a nearly incessant call to arms. We must fight the good fight. We must force change. We must guarantee the rights and equality for ever single trans person, as well as a chicken in every pot and a sock in every shoe. I quickly agreed, castigating my old lazy ass apathetic self. The stories of grave injustice, persecution and downright craptacular treatment were too much. Batgirl wouldn’t stand by and put up with this shit, and neither would I. It wasn’t long before I realized that this was a little more than pestering curmudgeonly old Mike Ranzenhoffer with pissy emails and unrequited entreaties to call me back (you think he would pick up just once, but no). People were organizing things, making long smelly bus rides to Albany, forging deep collaborative ties with other support groups to achieve political might, and so on. People get overwhelmed when faced with something that looks more like a full time job, or even career.

It’s easy to see why the question of ‘why’ will pop up on an increasingly frequent basis. Really… why? Even if GENDA passes, it really won’t be much more difficult to fire me, decline to hire me, refuse to rent to me, or even provide inept medical care if they happen to hate the trans folk. They will just find different reasons that are legally sound and easy to back up. In fact, it seems likely that I will face more opposition on account of the perception that I’m receiving some form of special treatment through legal protection. You know how it is in this country. God forbid anyone has anything they don’t, even if they don’t need it or want it. It’s like an child stuffed to the gills getting the raw end of dividing an oddly numbered bag of M&Ms with another who is near starving. So why bother trying to tackle the impossible?

The why is actually very easy. Even if any type of legislative solution turns out to be a paper tiger at best, it is the fight for that tiger that generates awareness. It’s the action of trying that creates the real value in making change. Most people are and will remain blissfully unaware the law as it is, or what it will be, but they will hear of the efforts to make change. Resistance to our existence, aside from some notable exceptions, has far more to do with ignorance than understanding what we are and opposing us anyway. The legislation, when it passes, is unlikely to truly protect anyone. The knowledge and awareness, however, is what changes hearts and minds. This is what will put us on equal ground with everyone else. If I get a new job in the future, it won’t be because GENDA tells them they can’t immediately disqualify me, but because my being transgender will not be a factor in their hiring decision. All the legislation will do is benchmark where we stand with the population in general.

As for the overwhelming enormity of it all, after time I realized people, myself included, will do what they can. There will be super stars out there who make every event, organize rallies, and muster the troops to glorious battle. The rest of us will follow when we can, contribute when we can, make calls when we can, or even scribble our little blogs in hopes that some cisgender readers wander over and leave with an expanded perspective. I didn’t realize in college that ‘getting involved’ didn’t necessarily mean joining every club and leading a bloody coup against the student council or hiding at home doing nothing, so I hid. The trumpeters never said that just showing up, and not even every time, can also make a difference. It’s not go big or go home, but a simple entreaty not to hide there.

PS – you can also just click the link and give Ranzenhoffer a hard time for opposing GENDA. Love ya bunches if you do. 🙂

PPS – On an unrelated topic… I just drifted back to find that my last post was ‘Freshly Pressed’ by WordPress. As a result, lots and lots of people came by and the number of people who subscribe to my posts pretty much doubled. Holy shit. It’s like going on stage to allegedly present to just a few people and having the curtain lift to a massive auditorium. Seriously, holy shit. Not going to lie; got a little touch of the old performance anxiety, so here comes the part where I babble for a few about how I know today was not my best effort, but I promise to grease up my elbows and crank out some kind of masterwork after they finally coax me out from under the bed. Why didn’t I poach a more clever picture? Really, swear I’ve done better in the past, and if you check out my grand and nearly comprehensive list of topics (dammit, I knew I should have updated that thing more often, but still it’s most of them I think), you might find something worth reading. Stop panicking Michelle. Seriously, stop it. It’s just a blog. The bar is set really low. You can do this. Just breathe.

Love to all and thank you!!!!!

9 Unexpected Side Effects of Gender Transition

Hair in doorIt’s been an appropriately long time since I rolled out the last list and that one went over like a wet log rolled over an angry Rottweiler. After all of 4 people read it, I decided the jig was up for my droll little attempts to interject nearly nonsensical humor. Just yesterday it just occurred to me that I missed doing these because I enjoy writing them, so why on earth would I stop? It’s not like anyone is paying to me to do this. Although I delight in seeing my stats rise and when new readers subscribe, it doesn’t really buy me much.

So, no disrespect to you dear readers, especially those of you who read and lend insightful comments to my more serious fare, but sorry, today’s just not going to be your cup of tea here in Michelleliannaland. I guarantee that if such a land existed geographically, no one would spell or pronounce it correctly, so best it stays in my head. If you like to laugh, or better yet, like to laugh at me making a clumsy attempt to funny and coming off as an insufferable doof, then let’s get this pig a squealin’.

The following represents as many reasons I can think of in a short amount of time of things one might be expected to be surprised by when undergoing gender transition. I’m not admitting that any or all of these happened to me, but let’s be honest here. My ability to extrapolate to the theoretical is not exactly tip top.

1. Hair Trap: After years of keeping a high and tight haircut, or worse, enjoying a crushing descent into looking like Larry David, you probably want some hair that looks a little bit more feminine. Often times, this means length. For the blessed, this means years of letting it grow out and suffering through the awkward in between style where everyone is making you uncomfortable by constantly asking why you haven’t gotten a haircut. For the rest of us, it means buying a wig. After a lifetime of shorn follicles, getting used to longer hair can be an adjustment, specifically when it gets caught in stuff or worse. To date, I’ve now had my neck pulled after having it caught in car doors, my purse strap, the door to the house, and the dog. Worse, I had the ends and 4 inches up frizzled beyond repair after sticking my head in a way too hot oven. Every single time, I was surprised.

2. Breast Spillage: While still making appearances as a young gentleman, I was schooled that one wisely puts napkins in the lap when eating. A spillage of vanilla pudding on the crotch area is just something best avoided, regardless of the unlikelihood that I would ever order anything but chocolate. Now ensconced in female life, it seems apparent that placing a napkin on the lap does exactly jack shit towards preventing unsightly stains because it’s essentially the same as putting a drip pan underneath the oven instead of on the bottom rack. Not being always cognizant of this, the chance of walking around for the rest of the afternoon with a big glob of mayo in the old décolletage is a far better bet and much more noticeable.

3. Getting Hosed: Aside from dresses and skirts, the other article of clothing many of us associate strongly with femininity are pantyhose. The idea of walking around in them seems like it should have a very womanly appeal. Reality, however, has debunked this soundly. Other than trying to look a tad more formal and presentable at the office and events, or more likely to cover up ghost legs or the fact you haven’t shaved since Monday, they are something to be avoided. Rather than making one feel feminine, they instead convey the feeling of being a sausage. The waist band rolls down under your FUPA at the very start of long meetings, your feet won’t stop sweating, and getting a mid morning run will induce embarrassed anxiety until you waste your lunch hour running to the store.

4. Don’t Call Me Al: In spite of being on the “don’t fricking call me” list, I still get plenty of unsolicited calls due to the “charity” loophole. Apparently buying a new vacuum sight unseen from some doofus who can’t read a script over the phone is now a charity. They always ask for ‘Michael’ without fail. “Yes, I’m Michelle” This causes confusion especially since many of them are not legally allowed to solicit to anyone not on their golden list of names and a stalemate ensues. If I were smart, I would simply hang up the phone, but instead finding myself awkwardly explaining that “Michael” is no longer here, but Michelle is, without giving too much away. Out of frustration, I generally end up giving the whole story to this disinterested dingleberry I have no intention of giving money to.

5. That Time of the Month: If sources local to my vicinity are to be believed, I now go through stretches of a few days each month where I come across “a little bitchy”. Personally, I prefer the null hypothesis which posits that everyone around me during those periods has suddenly turned unaccountably stupid and annoying, including inanimate objects that pick just that time to rebel and refuse to heed my wishes. Lacking a uterus, ovaries, and menstrual cycle, I found the concept to be preposterous before starting this transition, but the results seem to be speaking for themselves. As my hormone doses are very steady state, I have to assume that the universe found one more way to give me the finger, hopefully right before giving it a rest for a while.

6. All Fired Up: Without question, ‘Chicago Fire’ is one of the best new shows to debut last fall and I immediately became an ardent follower. At some point over the winter, however, it occurred to me that I really shouldn’t be getting that excited because a show about firemen was on. I asked around at work to see who else watched it, and the answer always came back “no” or “yes because my wife does” from all men, and “yes” from a lot of women. Of the latter, a discussion of whether one liked Casey or Severide better was not uncommon. The fact that I was able to add to that discussion came to a surprise to me. This little change of mine is having more effects than I anticipate. And are you crazy? Severide! I mean look at him.

7. And In The News Today…: I really should have seen this coming, but ever since I came out, any time trans anything is mentioned in the news, multiple people send me links to the story, or in the case of more old fashioned people, cut the article out and mail it to me. “Did you see Dateline last night? One of your people was on there!” Don’t get me wrong, I think this is incredibly sweet and it touches me deeply that people think to do this. I just have to wonder if this happens to any other demographic. Did this happen to gays before they became part of the normal landscape? If I came down with Lupus, would I get a dozen emails telling me someone with Lupus was going to be on Letterman that night? Very thoughtful, but still a bit of a surprise.

8. Gender Amnesia: This is a little embarrassing, but sometimes when people refer to me in my presence as ‘she’ or even ‘Michelle’, I don’t understand they are talking about me right away. I put forth an enormous effort to transition, throw an internal hissy fit any time someone uses the wrong pronoun or name, and then come across as a huge ditz when people comply with ease. “Let’s go over this… you are going to set up the meeting and she’s going to present.” Wait…who is going to present? “You are the only woman here…” Right…right. I hope this will clear up in time, and before the general consensus drops my IQ by 30 points.

9. Waterworks: For 2 decades I operated under the assumption that my tear ducts had been uninstalled during the Regan administration. As it turns out; not so. While I’m not yet at the point where I can cry at paper towel commercials, I did burst into tears just this past weekend because my Kindle wouldn’t turn on. If I’m watching anything on TV where something bad happens to a child, forget about it. How was I so callous and jaded before to just sit stone faced when really sad things happened to imaginary people? I have no idea. I am, however, now terrified that my old belief that no one at work has the power to make me cry is simply untrue. I really need to see about working from home.

I’m certain there are at least another 9 surprises I’m either not thinking of, or are just waiting to bite me in the ass in the near future, but this this will do for now. Please feel free to share in the comments section that I have taken a sacred vow to catch up on very shortly.

Happy Maddy’s Day! or Trans Father’s Day

balloonTo all my trans brothers and sisters who are also parents, I’d like to wish you all a happy Maddy’s Day! Yes, I’m more than well aware that most people in this country tend to cling to the traditional ‘Father’s Day’ moniker, and we all just going to have to be OK with that for now. The likelihood of ever achieving a majority is looking pretty grim, which is probably for the best to be honest. I thought it would be a good time to talk about the whole ‘Maddy’ thing, because seriously, when would be better? Steak and Blowjob day? By the way, I just heard of this and apparently it’s a real thing. C’mon, say it with me…ugh.

“So, for any of you who have kids, what exactly do they call you anyway?” I brought it up at a Spectrum meeting a while back looking for some good ideas. I got a lot of blank stares, though one volunteered that her kids called her ‘dad’ in private and by her first name in public. My son had just turned 4 at the time, so that wasn’t going to work. ‘Mom’ was pretty much irrevocably attached solely to the woman who carried and breast fed him, as it should be. We tried ‘Poppy’ for a while, but it failed to stick. In the mean time, loud, head-turning calls of “Dad!” continued to plague me in crowded places.

The term ‘Maddy’ was coined by Jenny Boylan’s kids who cleverly put together ‘Mommy + Daddy = Maddy’. Apparently it was either that or ‘Dommy’ which really seems to send the wrong kind of message, especially when uttered by wee folk who are begging to watch fucking ‘Caillou’ for some insane reason. I was grateful to have something else to try and for whatever reason, Maddy stuck after a solid half year of constant encouragement. Well, sort of.

I’ve been talking a lot about this lately, so I’ll leave my recent stories where they are told best. I will add though that this year the ‘dad’ thing came back with a real resurgence. Where he felt comfortable making me things that said ‘Maddy’ in pre-school, in kindergarten there has been a back slide. It does make me smile though. He made me a booklet that is androgynous for the most part, though the pictures are female. It’s a little odd seeing a pre-printed handout titled “This is my dad” with a hand drawn picture of me with long hair and a skirt. In one of the fill in forms, under another pre-printed, “I like it when my dad wears his…”, he wrote in “dresses”. What makes me laugh is the notion that it was probably hanging on the classroom wall and eliciting more than one quizzical expression. It’s all good and I’m grateful for all of it, including the big ‘mug of beer’ shaped balloon with “Happy Father’s Day!” printed on it that Gramma helped him buy.

Speaking of which, my heart goes out today to so many trans folk out there who won’t be able to see their children today as a direct result of their honest gender identity. When I ramble on about the challenges my 5 year old brings, I try to always keep in mind that I would far rather have to navigate them than not. If you are in the latter situation, I’m so sorry and I pray that given time and a slowly building global understanding, the situation will vastly improve for you if it can. The price we pay for being ourselves varies from person to person, but there is no doubt that some pay much more dearly than others.

Happy Maddy’s day to all, whether you will celebrate today or are just hoping for a future improvement that allows celebration in the future. Either way, you brought new life into the world with hope and promise for the potential it might have. No matter what else, at least that will always be true.

Outsiders: When Trans Don’t Feel In There Like Swim Wear

DariaEver feel like a total outsider? No, no, I’m not talking about Pony Boy, Dallas, and a pre-Miyagi Daniel-san and their good time crew. I did grow up loving that movie, even though I better identified with Cherry. At least the Outsiders weren’t really so isolated that they couldn’t hold their own in a stormy night rumble or seduce the two Corey’s into a vampiric lifestyle. There is a chance I’m mixing up boy gang movies here, but they are all pretty much the same anyway, so no biggie.

I went to my son’s kindergarten performance in a sweltering auditorium, and after each of the 900 children read their line and a dozen songs were sung, they ended with a slide presentation. As an aside, I was happy to see that the school systems have continued the tradition of only hiring teachers who cannot successfully operate audio-visual equipment. In my day it was the old reel-to-reel, followed in later years by a chorus of students shouting, “You have to press TV/VCR!” at befuddled instructors. As I scanned the slides for my boy, I saw so many fresh young faces mugging for the camera, often with arms around each other, and so very comfortable. Remembering myself at that age, I was hoping to see my son doing the same.

It always seemed like everyone else was part of the gang, happy to be there, or fit in the right skin. The black and white yearbooks in middle and high school showed the same kinds of pictures I saw in the slides. In the few I was actually in, it was usually the back of my head, my shoe, or a distant profile that the camera picked up; confirmation that I was there, but not really there. I was well aware that I was an enrolled student and showed up most of the time, but in terms of student society, I always felt like an extra. Fortunately, as time went on I managed to attract other weirdoes and as a conglomerate, the feelings of isolation somewhat passed. Not that they really knew me, but still.

I think the trans existence is one of being on the outside, and often both before and after transition. Before we come to terms with our reality, many of us, no matter what efforts we muster, never really manage to feel like one of the gang. When you think about it, it’s hard not to feel this way. After all, when the boys are whistling at a girl going by and remarking about her generous assets, and you are wondering where she got those really cute shoes, it’s apparent there is some kind of disconnect. You even suspect that not a one of them is planning to burn the midnight oil to get that paper done while wearing a dress.

As we transition, a whole lot of us go into this with high hopes that we will blend into and be accepted by female society. The problem, as we come to find, is that even if all goes very well and we are in there like swim wear, it doesn’t quite erase the feeling of being different. Now, having only been full time for almost a year now, I’m still holding out hope that some of this feeling will wash away over time, especially if I succeed in my efforts to become more passable. In the mean time, feeling like one of the girls only comes as close as feeling like you are being tolerated as a latecomer to the club. Someone who got that ‘way too close to the event’ invitation and is filled with deep and warranted suspicion that they were on the B or C list and got tapped because so many others pulled a no show. “Well, we are pre-paid for so many and better I guess to have fucking Michelle come then let it go to waste.”

Before I break you all down into inconsolable transition despair, there is a light side to this. For starters, in our younger days, pretty much everyone feels this way, cis and trans alike. Well, except perhaps for the cheerleaders and football players, though to be honest, you would think they would be high on the list. Anyone who really liked high school and thinks of it as the best time of their life, were probably so reviled by the greater student body that even today candles are lit in gloomy Catholic churches with whispered prayers for their doom. The rest of us just dealt with varying degrees of healthy self hatred.

In truth, everyone starts on the outside, looking in through the windows of an imaginary house and dreaming of how nice it would be to be invited in. Growing up is much about learning to be comfortable in one’s own space. For the trans, this just takes longer, especially with the whole second puberty thrown in there to really muddy up the waters. Eventually, we are in where we need to be.

The Sureality of Being Trans. Really, For Real.

Really for RealIt may just be me, nutty old Michelle and her crazy ideas again, but being transgender seems to lend a certain plasticity to the whole notion of “reality”. I am actually kind of wondering if it really is just me, so please feel free to speak up on the subject, or alternatively, call the men in the white suits and big net to haul me away in a cartoon van. That’s OK by the way, so long as I get to run the asylum. My point, however, is that it occurs to me that a lack of clarity and strong sense of fluidity about something so basic as gender may make a person somewhat fluid about the nature of existence as well. Put your existential hats on girls and boys, time to take a ride.

I started thinking about this after someone at work campaigned, quite successfully, to be the go to person on an effort I was managing. I promised her that she would get right of first refusal on this, which wasn’t hard because in my experience someone begging for the opportunity to do work that others might find unreasonably difficult makes choosing them a no brainer. When I said yes, she asked, “Really for real?”. I must have given a look because she explained, “If you say really for real, I’ll know it’s true.” I complied without hesitation. It occurred to me after that simply by stating my intention, I codified a reality for her she could take to the bank where without there would have been a nagging sense of uncertainty. I liked that because it felt like I carved out a pocket of reality, gave it a rule unique to that environment only, and obeyed it as much as I do gravity. The whole thing was entirely a fabrication, made up, and even after I took shit for it later, refused to reconsider.

As a child all of reality seemed extremely malleable to me. Having moments of understanding that I was a girl will do this to a person, especially as the doom of puberty approaches. I devoured everything I could get on fantasy poking into the “real” world, attempted magic, levitation through yoga, and even to control the weather through extreme concentration on cloud banks. In spite of some minor successes easily attributable to random chance, I became reasonably certain I was barking up the wrong tree. It was fairly disheartening, even though I retained the ability to vector my mind off to an alternate reality at any given moment through complex dissociation. My dismay, coupled by the incontrovertible yet nonsensical understanding that I wasn’t the gender I was presenting, led me in another direction.

By midway through college I had abandoned religion all together, stopped reading comic books, and considered myself a burgeoning hardcore skeptic. If the world could be codified in hard, fast, and inflexible terms, “really for real”, there would be a sense or pattern I could always bank on. I could walk through the woods of the Pacific northwest with no fear of encountering bigfoot. I could swim the Loch Ness without a single concern about Nessie biting my feet off. God, fairies, ghosts, and devils were all figments of the imagination; the stuff of children and adults who insisted on living in Neverland. I could also not, in any logical sense, be a girl. I buried it all in the same landfill along with psychics, UFOs, and anything unexplained.

The real piss of this was that the whole girl thing kept digging its way out and started walking around, proud as punch, on the surface. Heavy machinery and miles thick capstones of lead and concrete worked for a bit, but only that. The other stuff stayed buried where it was, but I was forced to rethink reality once again, and concluded that there was a certain liquidity to my gender. I was clearly both at once, sometimes the pool tilting and the contents gathering to one end or another. I thought this made me more of a complete person and went with it for as long as I could. Of course this was doomed as well.

Flashing forward to nearly the present, as this story is waxing kind of long, I came to find that the pool really only had that one end, and a funhouse mirror that made things seem otherwise. Appearances aside, the male side was the fabrication all along, like a mall Easter Bunny on the job too long and forgetting that it was just a suit. Early on in the old ‘gender assessment’ process, I told Dr. M that the whole thing was really a pretty big mindfuck. He liked that enough to write it down, even though I didn’t think it was really all that clever. It came as no big surprise when one of the creators of “The Matrix” came out as transgender.

Going through transition, reality once again has taken on the elasticity and malleable qualities it had when I was a child. The existence of a higher power and afterlife are back to unknowns instead of a hard no. Maybe some people did have a tenuous mental connection to things unknown and not all were malicious hucksters attempting to bilk the credulous by providing false hope. Perhaps the qualitative evidence of transexualism is more than sufficient to declare it a firm part of objective reality while the quantitative evidence slowly trickled in.

Just as the actions I took after accepting “really for real” as a truism validated it, so do my actions and those of people like me validate the reality of transexualism. Declarations of falsehood on either count change nothing whatsoever. Honestly, it’s nice to have this back.

As a final note of clarity, so none of this is misconstrued, I am in no way making the case that being transgender is a contrived condition, or exists only in the subjective minds of certain people. The intent was to explore the effect that being transgender has on their perception of the world all together; if it sways anyone other than myself to or from a ‘2+2=4’ outlook to a more flexible “sometimes ‘Y’ is a vowel, sometimes not” one. Questioning your sense of what is remains highly recommended.

She Used To Be a Man You Know

ShiftIf you ever want to annoy a trans woman and watch her go all arson two on you, go ahead and refer to her past as, “when you were a man”. I can virtually guarantee that that if you do (and last sentence aside, I really don’t recommend it), you are going to walk away shaking your head and muttering, “Fuck… gotta remember never to do that again.” Yeah, trans people are a little sensitive on that whole “used to be” business. Let’s talk about that for a minute.

Before I launch in, all trans people are well aware of what gender we represented ourselves as prior to transition. We were treated as such, all our documentation corroborated this, and we generally made all the right moves to represent proudly until the whole house of cards came tumbling down. We hardly ever come across an old picture where we are standing proud in a military uniform, wearing a spiffy tux, or holding our infant child with the hospital lights gleaming off our bald pates, where we say, “Wait a minute…who the hell is that?” We continue to hold on to little pieces of our pasts, like our Boy Scout ‘Ethics’ merit badge we had to doctor all that paperwork and forge a few signatures to earn, or the garters we slipped off the leg of our prom date while green with envy.

It’s true; some of us tend to disavow these things, even with photographic evidence, even though they really for sure happened. Some mitigate the past by referring to their old name as a different person, and even going so far as to call their past identity a walking lie. I try not to do this because looking at say, 2001 me, I can feel me looking back from the past with an imploring, “I’m really trying here you know” look. That’s just not right. I might be a little embarrassed by past me in a beard and cascade of chest hair bursting through my shirt, but I did something about all that, so it’s cool. C-ya old me, and wouldn’t want to be ya. We’ll just hope ‘The Big Crunch’ doesn’t happen and I don’t have to live this in reverse because that would just be moldy bananas.

Since we are all on the same page that we used to live life in the other gender, you know, the whole reason for this transition business, why the hissy fit when someone brings it up? There are a few things going on here to be quite honest. On a very visceral level based on the thought process that morphed ‘sex change’ into ‘gender confirmation’, many trans have difficulty with the idea that even though they didn’t look right, and may not still for that matter, it doesn’t change that they have always felt they were their post transition gender, even if they managed to forget about it for years at a time. There is a world of difference between appearing male and actually being male; the former a role and the latter innate identity.

One of the foundations of this is the understanding that even coming to this realization, the overpowering necessity to do something about it, and an honest life led hereafter, we know that some mystical transubstantiation did not actually occur. Transition, at its very best, is hormonal, cosmetic, and behavioral in nature. It brings us into alignment, as close as possible anyway, with our inner gender identities, but it’s not the same as the Blue Fairy turning us from a wooden marionette to a living, breathing girl. The danger the “used to be” statements presents is that it’s far too easy to tack on “and still really are”. Trans people hate that.

Groups opposed to trans seem to enjoy making this case that essentially leaves transsexuals as some kind of super cross-dressers. Doing this implies license to treat us legally and socially as oddly behaving males. All the enormous efforts undertaken then to live as an authentic and honest life as possible and at every conceivable expense can then be framed as being ‘batshit crazy’, because seriously, why on earth would dudes want to do any of this? It’s a stance that reeks of genetic exclusivity, basely solely on a strand that in terms of gender, codes for genitalia differentiation and gamete formation. It’s hanging a hat on a very general genetic statement along the lines of, “individuals with these genes indicate a potential or predisposition for male identity”. I’m very sure that people with a genetic predisposition for, let’s say diabetes, would not care for social or legal ramifications tied to this, even if they exhibited several of the warning signs. Predisposed to male identity is not the same as having it.

Feeling forced into a choice of being categorized always and forever male or female, trans people are very clear, no matter what symptoms manifested in the past. Many or most of us have always felt this way anyway and simply covered up any outward sign of it, so it feels honest to say that I may have lived as a male in the past, but no longer do. What matters is now, and we ask not to have that confused by what was or what appeared to be.

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