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Category Archives: Expose

I Guess It’s Like Doomsday or Something Again


Well, today is allegedly the end of the world or something. I know, can you believe I’m jumping on that bandwagon? Just to be clear, I’m not inclined to believe in the significance of a really old stone indicative of anything more than someone had a clever idea on how to organize time periods. Of course the whole thing got me thinking about this whole end of the world business.

An awfully big number of people believe the world is likely to end in their lifetime, such the belief in one’s own importance. Personally, I hope not because I have a hard time conjuring up a scenario that isn’t the world’s biggest pain in the ass. Ice or fire; a vengeful Jesus or equally vengeful Shiva; hostile aliens or well meaning but disastrously incompetent aliens; asteroid or super duper volcano; or of course just us being the usual gang of idiots we tend to be. None of it sounds like anything I really need to bear witness to, and I will be really annoyed if any of it involves my corpse becoming reanimated for some reason, unless I’m decidedly not in there, in which case, have at it. I’m more than happy to contribute to a zombie apocalypse as long as no one is expecting me to do anything.

Those who are betting the farm that the end is nigh, and probably soon, tend to strongly act as if. They get rid of their possessions, try and let everyone else know about it, and sometimes even commit suicide. I never really got the last one. If they think they are going to kick it anyway, why not wait a bit and get to see something really cool? It really would be the chance of a lifetime and now they’ll have to hang out for eternity with everyone around them going on and on about how awesome it was. Trust me, everyone who leaves the game early to beat the crowd always regrets it when the big play comes right as they are gleefully dusting off their car in the parking lot. Let’s be honest though, the end is nigh crowd is a definite minority. A fun one to be sure, but they tend not to socialize with the likes of me and you.

In the middle of all this are the half-assed end of the world crowd. They don’t really believe in the whole imminent doom thing, but instead like to point out the rapid decline of civilization. They firmly believe that this is your fault. Yes, you. Any difference between the way things are now, and how they were in their idyllic youth is a clear sign of decay and corruption. “Gays couldn’t get married in my day. America is in the toilet!” Of course we all know that gay marriage signifies nothing more than the inevitable invention of gay divorce, child support, and having to figure out how to do their taxes. Fortunately, the belief that change is evil doesn’t counter the certainly that change is as inevitable as the waiter leaving the check on your table and immediately going on a 3 hour break when you have tickets to Lewis Black. Well, they like to worry and grouch, and if it makes them happy, so be it. If they could maybe just stand over there while the inevitable goes by, that would be just super.

My personal stance is that I have no idea if the world is going to end, and if so, when. Yes, I realize in 5 billion years the sun will likely expand and engulf the earth, but I’m not really planning on being around for that. I recognize that even at this moment, some monumental event is itching to break loose and wipe us all out, but I could not be less concerned. We have to act as if we are here for the long haul. We can’t shuffle problems down the road thinking no one is going to have to worry about it anyway. We can’t delay moving forward with the important things in our life because “you never know” thinking. Acting as if gives us the freedom to empower ourselves with the notion that what we do matters to us, and those who come after. It’s really the only way to live.

Just in case the wheels really do come off the who shebang right as you finish reading this, please take a moment to savor the irony of having spent your last few moments gobbling up my crackpot ramblings.

Radfem and the Anti-Transgender Agenda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reparative Therapy…. Seriously…

California Gov Jerry Brown just signed a bill banning the heinous practice of reparative therapy for children. In case you are scratching your head as to why I care, reparative therapy (also known as conversion therapy) is psychological treatment developed under the notion that gay people are psychologically fixable by engaging them in an intensive process of convincing them they are not in fact, gay. In layman’s terms, brainwashing. For those of us in the transgender set, it is pretty concerning that such a therapy exists to begin with, especially since those who subscribe to such a fallacy are highly likely to throw us into that grand pile of humans allegedly in need of repair.

Yeah, I’m going to skip the social science history lesson here since Wikipedia covered it pretty well. Before I do my usual jag left into topics with not much more than a whimsical relationship to this, I will say a few things simply because I like to rant. I simply can’t believe such a “therapeutic technique” managed to persist! None of the science supports it, great harm can and has come of it, and again, the methodology is nothing more than attempted brainwashing. As per my usual schtick, I hold the faith based only crowd responsible for this, as the only plausible explanation for this still existing is that if you believe the bible trumps scientific observation, and the bible says homosexuality is not part of the natural order of things, it must therefore be either a choice or psychological defect. I still fail to grasp the notion of a deity directly inspiring or personally writing a holy text, then filling all of creation with profoundly inherent contradictions just to fuck with us a little bit.

This did raise a personal question. Actually I’ve been asked it before, but never talked about it here. If a therapy or cure were developed to make us not transgendered, would we do it? This is a tough one, right? I’m not saying if it could have prevented it in the first place – I think that most of us will agree would have been nice. If I was simply born female, I may have put my energy into doing something productive instead of utilizing an increasing logrhythmic proportion of my potential to attempt not being trans, then burning up the rest in dealing with transition when that didn’t work. Or I might have ended up raped and left for dead somewhere, but we’ll never really know either way unless I decide to jump from a bridge and get a glimpse of alternate reality from some buttinsky angel.

What about right now though? What if I could bring back ‘Michael’ as the real deal and not a shell of responses and habits aimed at perpetuating and passing the identity? Sure I’ve made some changes that can’t really be undone, but I was never that keen to grow a beard anyway. My marriage would be saved, my son would have a daddy instead of a maddy, I wouldn’t worry so much about losing my job, I could go into dark and scary places without worrying about jack shit, no more wardrobe worries, no more hormonal cycles, no more taking 2 hours to get ready in the morning, no more weird looks (well, I got those anyway, but for different reasons), and so on. I could be just a normal married, middle age dad clawing his way up the corporate ladder. But I also wouldn’t be me.

I have no idea how much my trans-ness really makes up the sum of my being. I’m plenty of things that have nothing to do with my gender identity. Everyone can make a big old list of personal attributes, good and bad, that make up what they consider to be themselves. On paper they seem separate and distinct; building blocks that when put together somehow resemble a person. Reality is nothing like that of course. We are a lot more like cake. OK, a really complicated cake with so many hundreds of ingredients that Julia Child herself would start flinging F-bombs and shooting her signature Colt 45 in the air if she had to make, but still. Take any one thing out and it’s going to fuck up the rest of it because everything is so hopelessly intertwined as to be inextricable. Even if so, it would end up being a soufflé or beef bourgeon without just that one little pinch of zazz.

Without my trans, I’m not really me. Plus, we have no idea what it’s really keeping in check as well. Without that core portion of my identity, I might be a real asshole. Sure, ‘Michael’ wasn’t, but ‘Michael’ was just a drab looking me going through the motions of being male. Turned into a real boy, ‘Michael’ just might be a real piece of work. The kind of guy who speeds through puddles to splash the poor schnooks at the bus stop, or asks you to come help him move his really heavy stuff and then feigns a back problem. Yeah, I don’t know that, but I really can’t be super sure either. I do know myself now after 40 years of not, so the idea of jumping over to something new sounds like more of a gamble than I really like to take.

The true frightening idea about this is that you can’t really change something so inherently intrinsic to a person.  My brain is female, and for so long was locked down, shackled in the basement of my subconscious. Staved, beaten down, and existence denied. When you are your own jailer, you know just the right torture to inflict to break your own will. I’m free though now, and no longer capable of being complicit in my own imprisonment. Maybe reparative therapy could chain me back, kicking and screaming, and sink me back in the deep end, but not for long. I learned too much the first time. I’m sure it’s no different for anyone else, and why I applaud Mr. Brown.

Behind the Lines Expose Pt 1 – Ball Busting

This is the first part of an ongoing series detailing my observations from behind the lines of male culture. In spite of my tenure “in the culture” but not “of the culture”, these observations are intended to reflect no bias whatsoever in regards to favor for or prejudice against this phallocentric demographic. Far be it from me to step on the wee feelings of, or incur the wrath of these fine representative gentlemen, filthy animals that they are.

Some things just cause the senses to prick up when a condition in the environment just gives a vibe of being not quite right. Toddlers dressed like Seventh Avenue hookers. The calculator at the dollar store with two eights on the keypad. A mouse happily swimming across the top of the lobby tank at Red Lobster. Just tiny fingers raised at the universe that make you say, “Yeah. That shouldn’t be.” I got that same feeling at a meeting filled exclusively with individuals who purported to be women. It was a trans female gathering awash with support and gentle humor, and then a round a genuine ball busting broke out and I was instantly reminded of that brave little rodent, clinging to life, destined to become the surprise filling in my expensive crustacean dinner. Just not right.

One of the problems that faces a trans individual is that we are placed very early on in socialization groups as determined by our genitalia and not our personalities. That in itself is just going to be the way of it until science advances so far as to be able to tell from birth. “Congratulations Mrs Delveccio, it’s a healthy baby girl! She does, however, have quite the little penis on her. Relax. We can fix that. We have the technology.” It’s a beautiful dream for sure, but maybe in a few generations. In the mean time we have some societal mores to overcome.

Something I noticed when stuck in boy culture is that males engage in constant tests of masculinity. The  most common test is known as ‘ball busting’ and it serves a purpose for both the buster and the busted, who will repeatedly exchange places in lieu of a reach around. The man playing the buster role will make his best attempt to find the most crude, insulting, demoralizing, and downright nasty thing to say for the sole purpose of trying to make the other guy cry. The busted is expected to absorb without so much as a change of expression anything and everything hurled his way while everyone laughs. Expressing even the tiniest crack of caring is bad and an invitation to pile on.

The best topics for ball busting should be aimed at the other mans’ sense of his own masculinity. A good way to get at that is to find a clever spin to indicate that he is homosexual, or worse yet, female. These can be based on behavior – real or imagined -, apparel, or a self deprecating story he shared when drunk he now deeply regrets telling you. It might surprise you to find out that the man’s actual penis will never be called out in this ritual. Men as a rule do not share details about their genitalia with other men unless it is some clearly understood exaggeration of size. Sharing makes them intensely uncomfortable, so they just don’t do it.

Secondary topics for ball busting include former sexual partners the man has already denounced, his mom, his car, his job, or visible bodily attributes like hairline or Dumbo ears. Bad topics include intelligence, social consciousness, and soft skills. These are not things a man links to his masculinity, so the chances of making him care are far diminished. Surprisingly, there are forbidden topics such as his current squeeze and his children. If the man being busted is supposed to respond to the insult with overprotective violence, it is just going to be a bad time for everyone.

Ball busting in and of itself is not a bad thing in the appropriate setting; it is just something men do to feel comfortable with each other. Variations do occur based on age, class and other demographics. Form and content might be a little different between say a group of construction workers and bank executives on the golf course, but the intention is the same – try to make someone feel really bad and approve when he doesn’t.

This behavior does occur in mixed gender environments as well, though it is usually toned down considerably. The buster doesn’t want to seem too mean in front of women, and everyone wants to save the busted the shame of having a woman jump in to his defense. That is emasculating for all. Consider the display to be akin to when people try their best to disable the padded suit guy at a rape prevention class. It’s fun and funny to watch because you know he’s not really being injured. Men have about the same level of sensation regarding their feelings and makes this OK, or even fun.

Being raised in a ball busting culture, trans women can easily get into trouble. It is a wonderful thing to be invited to a female only gathering and being accepted as a woman. At the same time it can be nerve wracking as well. Think of eating in an army mess hall for many years and suddenly being invited to dine with the Rockefellers. You have no idea what to wear or what the 19 different eating utensils are for. Often times when people get anxious they revert to paradigms they are familiar with, even if it’s “not really them”. This can come out in the form of cracking wise at any or all of the ladies present. This is not good. The women present will assume they have a real jerk in their presence, or worse, a man, and want to exclude. If eating with the Rockefellers, it is much better to ask what you eat with  the dental tool looking thing or not using it all rather eating with fingers like a baboon. Same goes here. If unsure how to act, a person should find  a way to ask someone quietly what is appropriate, or at the very least just shut the fuck up. Never, ever rag on Donnas’ ridiculous shoes at least until she goes to the ladies room.

The take away from this is that ball busting is something men do and we don’t. It is socially acceptable amongst their own kind for some reason, they seem to like it, and that makes it ok. If having testicles is something antithetical to your self-conception, you should not be doing this, and especially to others who are also highly unlikely to hang big rubber scrotal sacs from the back of their truck. It’s bad enough when men cross the line and pull this shit on us, so have the decency to wait until she’s out of ear shot to be a royal bitch.

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