Albus Dumbledore taught me that fear of the name increases the fear of the thing itself.
That being said…
TRANSSEXUAL TRANSSEXUAL TRANSSEXUAL TRANSSEXUAL TRANSSEXUAL
I am a transsexual. I am also genderfluid*. It keeps life interesting.
Transsexual is a helpful word to articulate that I have taken medical steps to transition from one place to another. I have been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder. I continue to use the word transsexual despite recent online kerfuffles about it because it accurately conveys to cisgender people what I have done with my body and what I continue to pursue.
To me, transsexual implies movement. Physical change. Transgender feels… too big. For me, it’s too much an umbrella. I need transsexual for it’s specificity. If I tell someone that I am transgender, they might ask, “Well what does that mean to you?” which is totally a fun question. If I say that I am transsexual, I will probably get rude questions about my genitals but at least we have a more solid jumping off point for me to investigate what the fuck this person knows about trans*-land.
Identity labels exist for the specificity of the nature of a person. (‘Cause being trans* is totally natural y’all. And it’s a choice. It’s also a religion, a lifestyle, and an inclusive fuckin’ party where the food is for vegans and omnivores.)
Basically, I am fed up with people asking me about my gender because I have gotten too many rude questions. I like the word transsexual. You may not. We have different opinions about identity politics. We can still respect one another and communicate with tender openness.
*Genderfluid is a nifty word to use to describe the dynamic nature of my gender. My gender is not static. My presentation shifts. My pronoun comfort shifts. Etc.
Adela Hernandez, 48, made history this month when she was elected to a municipal government in Cuba, making her the first transgender elected official in the country. She will be eligible to serve as a Parliamentary representative in 2013.
Hernandez, who served two years in prison for “dangerousness” in the 1980s after her family denounced her and turned her in to the authorities, said her election is a landmark moment emerging from the country’s dark history that includes decades of persecution of LGBT people.
“As time evolves, homophobic people — although they will always exist — are the minority,” Hernandez told the AP. Becoming a delegate, which is a position similar to that of a city councilor, “is a great triumph,” Hernandez said.
Such a huge accomplishment! Way to go!
i was in my ‘contemporary writing by women class’ and we were reading adrienne rich. that’s all fine and dandy and fun. but somehow i started thinking about trans history and how i can’t really track down my resilient-as-fuck transcestors.
i mean, i can sort of, because leslie feinberg wrote “transgender warriors”. my friend owns it and will lend it to me tomorrow. can i say that i’m really glad that this friend owns that book? i would be way furious and sad if i had to ask a cis friend for a book on my history. but it’s not like there is a fantastic abundance of books such as these.
there’s also “stone butch blues” and “the well of loneliness” (but that might not be about transness and could be about being a butch woman).
and i was like, gee, i am in a contemporary writing by women class and there are no trans lady writers?! what the fuck? so i am gonna talk to the prof when i calm down a bit. i tried to think of non-gender-theorist trans lady writers. the only book i could think of was julie ann peters who wrote the YA fiction “luna”, but i am not sure if this author is trans.
basically, all i am saying is that i am fucking sad and angry that trans people have been erased from history.
(granted, i am speaking from my limited knowledge of north american, british, and european history. maybe there is a treasure trove somewhere! i dunno! if you know of any, let me know!)
also, obviously to remedy these things, i am gonna grow up and be a bad ass transsexual writer who writes fiction about trans people, okay? okay.
(i write non-fiction about trans* people here.)
Two timesin the past week, I have been able to tell loved ones that
ASKING ABOUT A TRANS PERSON’S GENITALS IS RUDE, OKAY?
in a polite, firm manner. I proceeded to answer their question anyway because, as my loved ones, my answer did sorta kinda pertain to them—in that they will come and visit me while I recuperate.
But seriously, this urge to “educate the cis people” is ridiculous. It’s taken me almost two years to get to this point where I can say it’s rude to ask. Usually I either dance around the question or answer it in a matter-of-factual manner. I’m pleased to have gotten to the point where I can almost refuse to answer.
However, people shouldn’t be asking this question in the fucking first place.
What we truly know ourselves to be should be the only determinant of our gender in society. Set aside your doubts, start educating yourself and respect that we are who we say we are. By doing this you are saying: ‘I see you, I support you, I respect you.’ By not doing this, you let trans people know: ‘I don’t understand you and I’m not trying to. What you tell me about yourself is not important, all that’s important is how I think of you. I am not your ally. You are not safe with me.’ Being referred to or treated as the wrong gender feels painful and disrespectful to us.
It is hard and dangerous to change your name and pronoun. Know that it has taken a lot of courage for this person to let you know who they really are; they are sharing something very precious. It may seem hard or silly to you at first, but it can be a matter of life and death for us.
i feel this person
Some real talk about hrt in this video.
There’s always a lot of pressure from cis folks, and from other trans folks, to tell our stories in ways that garner legitimacy from cis culture. And that often means keeping our doubts, our pain, and our struggles around identity and transition tightly locked away. And I think the video clip they show is a really powerful example of what that pain can look like.
I know there are trans folks who would argue that we should keep the nuances of our experiences “under wraps” because to not do so will somehow “harm the reputation of our community” and “make people not take us seriously” and “make it impossible to get equal rights!” but honestly I call bullshit.
All that keeping ourselves “under wraps” does is isolate us further from each other, instill shame in ourselves, show a 2-dimensional and “universal” narrative to the world about our vastly varying experiences, and make “equality” (in the most neo-liberal sense) possible only for the most privileged (white, gender-normative*, class-privileged, straight, men, citizens, etc.) trans folks out there. And we all know that kind of “equality” doesn’t fucking trickle down.
And on a slightly different note, I just wanted to add a little something to the video.
At one point they say “If you’re unsure about taking testosterone, don’t take it.” In the first place I agree, and support the message. Trans folks should never feel pressure to change our bodies in order to demonstrate our genders or our “transness”. Nor should we be considered any less of our genders if we choose not to go through HRT, or we are unable to access HRT. And we should listen to our own feelings of unsureness. I think that’s really really fucking important.
And also, I think it’s important to open up space for people who feel unsure about hrt, and still move forward with it. Because that is also totally legitimate, whatever reasons might be driving you.
It’s totally legitimate to start HRT as a means of surviving in cis culture. Those pressures are real and you have every right to handle them however you see fit.
It’s totally legitimate to start HRT while feeling complicated or conflicted about it.
It’s totally legitimate to start and stop, or to only want certain changes.
It’s totally legitimate to regret starting HRT.
We’re people. We’re fucking complicated and we all have very different experiences and none of us are any less of our genders because of that. We are the experts of our own lives and we don’t need other folks telling us how to interact with our bodies or how to tell our stories.
*gender-normative as in masculine trans men and feminine trans women. better words?
I am not sure if I have run out of energy to care or my patience has grown, but I don’t care as much when people say things like,
"I’ll have an easier time calling you Oliver when you grow a beard."
"You have to get a penis before I see you as a man."
"I’ve seen you as [birth name] for twenty years, it will take me awhile."
It takes conscious effort. Yes, it’s frustrating, yes, maybe you hate it but you need to respect my identity or we’re not going to be friends.
It takes hard work for me to be able to dine with you and be misgendered all the time. It takes hard work for me to be able to be polite with you when you avoid using any name with me at all. You lose a lot of trust with me when you refer to me as a girl, then as a gender-neutral thing,and refuse to correct yourself.
I know that in order for you to get used to me, Oliver the man, I need to spend time with you. I don’t know how to teach you otherwise.
Sure is fucking frustrating though.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I really appreciate that you want to spend my birthday with me and appreciate the invitations to dine with you. However, as you know, my birth name and ______ pronouns causes me a lot of pain and anguish. I do not think I could or should tolerate those things on my birthday. I do not want to. Not even slip-ups, which would happen if I were at your place, Dad, around ______’s family. Especially in that case, I think I would have to do Trans 101 and explain myself a lot to her family which is something I do not want to do on my birthday.
It made me very unhappy last year to have people sing the happy birthday song to me and not use my chosen name. Birthdays are very gendered experiences and that also affected me negatively (i.e. ‘birthday girl’ ‘birthday boy’). I know that perhaps, you Dad and _______, might make the effort to use _______ gendered language but slip-ups do happen and it would really be hurtful for me to hear that on such a celebratory day.
I thought about bringing a friend for moral support to these dinners but realized that most of my friends would be too outraged on my behalf to enjoy the party. Nor do I think that it is very nice to feel like I need to bring moral support to a family dinner. Even if, Mom, it’s a small dinner like what you suggested.
So, while I recognize and appreciate that you’re thinking of me on my birthday, I shall have to decline your invitations. I just want to make clear that I am sending you this email because I love and care about you both and want you to know what my needs are, which as you are my parents, I know you would want to know.
I would appreciate it if you called me to wish me well. Dad, please tell _______ that I wish he/she/hir a happy birthday.
[insert your preferred name here]
Much love, luck, and success to you. My ask box is always open if you need or want support.
I have lost count of the amount of queer and trans* people who have told me that they want or have wanted to commit suicide.