Archive | September 2013

Why Now?

I was reading Kira’s latest post, Revision, and it got me to thinking. I was going to respond to her but this began to grow into something long enough deserving of its own spot on my blog.

I am often asked why did it take this long for me to face my gender dysphoria? And truth to tell, it was largely three things. First, when I was younger, I didn’t even have the words to adequately express how I felt. I was fascinated with “sex change” stories when I was young but I was given so much baloney, and believed it, that I could never see myself doing that. I obsessed over girl things but I was male and, much to my dismay, I had those male dangly bits to constantly remind me that I was physically male. It didn’t matter that I thought of myself as female inside. It didn’t matter that I’d adopted a female name for myself when younger. There was this huge psychological disconnect. Maybe I thought I’d “outgrow” whatever this was. Maybe I was afraid to face what it meant. I don’t know. I just know that at that time, I lacked the words to adequately convey how I felt about myself.

Second, because of my socialization, I had this burning desire to “become the man” I was expected to be. That same desire made enlisting in the army trivially easy as a decision. By that point, I had a wife, a baby on the way, and needed steady work, which in that part of the country in that decade was very hard to find. So there I was being offered a job that carried the “mystique” of being able to “cure” me of my strange longings.

And the third part was me overcoming that aspect of my socialization against queer people to accept and be comfortable with GLBT persons generally, which then allowed me to face myself honestly. Part of that socialization, in the coal mine and steel mill country of the 1960s and 1970s, also horridly mocked people who were “queer” (homosexual). I didn’t see myself as queer but the hints around the edges of society suggested that what I felt was even worse than being “queer”. I was terrified of being found out, mocked, isolated, physically assaulted, and all the rest that came with that.

It was when I was planning suicide and I stopped myself, realizing that I do not want to do this but I can’t live like this anymore that I finally realized that I needed help, more help than this proud and arrogant person would have admitted to needing ever before in my life.

I go back now and look at things and it’s not just me interpreting my past. It’s my therapist hearing these things and helping me see what was different about my past. Yes, I am interpreting that past through hindsight but I have tools and memes and vocabulary now to better express what I felt then, and still do today.

My greatest regret remains not putting these pieces together earlier in my life, that I might have spared certain persons their own self-induced anguish at the horror of being related to a trans woman. If I had known then what I know now, there would have been no striving to be “a man”, no baby, no wedding, no such obligations and all those who today are horrified at the mere thought that they might be related to a transwoman would be spared that self-induced fear and loathing.

However, facing this earlier would also remove so many wonderful and precious people from my life. Julie, Elizabeth, Fran and Kate, my daughter, and so many others as well. And so my regrets are not large. They are not consuming regrets. They are tiny ones in the overall scheme of things, an overall scheme with which I become happier with each passing day and more confident of myself.

Some small progress in Texas

Yesterday, Nikki Araguz had her appeal heard by a 3 judge panel in the 13th District Court of Appeals in Texas. Now you have to remember that the person who started all this legalistic crap was Thomas Araguz’s former wife. You need to remember that the lawyer she hired was so slimy that he’s been barred from further law practice in Texas. You have to remember that Judge Randy Clapp accepted a bad photocopy of Nikki’s voided California birth certificate from said lawyer, which the state of California has publicly stated is not valid and then used that as his basis for declaring that Nikki is not female. You have to remember that when presented with further evidence he denied a rehearing saying any evidence wasn’t going to change his bigoted mind. And then you have to remember that is how he made his ruling.

The hearing yesterday is very likely to rule in Nikki’s favor as is the full appeals court when the ex-wife appeals the panel’s decision. You also have to remember that the Texas Supreme Court is packed with anti-gay activist judges who are likely to rule against Nikki on completely unconstitutional, religious, and spurious grounds.

At that point, all this will end up headed for the Supreme Court and I can’t see the Supreme Court not taking this because we have two states disagreeing about identifying documentation which Texas is required, under the 14th amendment, to accept. No, the 14th amendment doesn’t say that explicitly but case law has established that fact. And I cannot see Texas winning this purely on those grounds alone. Texas will be forced to accept that birth certificate, and having done so, will be forced to recognize Nikki (and every other transgender person in Texas) as legally of the gender which they claim. So why all this hoopla? It’s standard for radical right wing extremists and will then further give Greg Abbott more ammunition to talk about Texas seceding from the US because the rest of the country is beginning to recognize the basic civil rights of transgender persons. This is all political theater and also because evil men like Greg Abbott appear to actually enjoy hurting other human beings in order to shove their religious beliefs down your throat.

Here’s a good summary of the current situation from Cristan Williams who has been writing about this case for a few years now.

Radical Right Wing Crazies

Texas attorney general Greg Abbott (who is now running for governor since Rick Perry announced he will not seek another term) is planning to sue the entire state of Texas to impose his religious views on everyone.

Now note that this line of argument was already tried in the 1950s and 1960s as the basis for continuing to discriminate against blacks and to ban interracial marriage and we know how that turned out in the end. But here in Texas he might win, which will mean Texas will have to be spanked, publicly yet again, by the federal court system for violating basic civil rights. (Texas has this ugly history in that regard, unfortunately.)

What really gets Abbott’s cockles all bunched up in a frenzy is that every major city in Texas, from Dallas to Austin to Houston and most recently San Antonio have all approved GLBT protection laws within the city limits. Further, the vast majority of major corporations operating in Texas have strong pro-GLBT rights corporate policies.

So what is driving this? Abbott’s classic appeal, using the standard GOP “Southern Strategy“, to try to reach bigoted white voters. It’s that simple.

Now Abbott just had his head handed to him by the federal court system in a lawsuit initiated by Wendy Davis, the progressive woman who famously filibustered that heinous anti-abortion travesty for nearly 12 hours. As retribution, the GOP controlled state senate tried to draw her district out of existence. And they lost, not just for her district but the entire redrawn state map was tossed out as blatantly biased.

So that’s the framework under which Abbott is proceeding. And before you think this might not touch you as a trans person, Abbott is of the opinion that gender can never be changed, meaning he is seeking to legally de-transition every single transitioned transsexual in the state of Texas.

This is what transphobia looks like, people. It wears a business suit and claims to be “mainstream Republican”. If you are trans and you vote Republican, you are supporting John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney and that entire crew who have openly declared war on you and your right to live.

What boggles my mind is that there are trans people who actually think that this is acceptable. I can tell you that if the radical right wing extremists win and you lose all your rights as a trans person, I won’t be shedding any tears for you if you helped make it happen.

Into the Literal “No Man’s Land”

As my transition proceeds, my body continues to slowly, slowly adapt to HRT and the presence of estrogen instead of testosterone. I’m definitely much happier and calmer but the physical effects are slowly coming to light as well.

Case in point – I went to Dairy Queen with my spouse. We did this on a spur of the moment so I exited the house in very typical androgynous mode, with two exceptions – no compression shirt under my t-shirt and I didn’t tie my hair back into a pony tail. So my budding breasts would be visible at certain angles depending how the t-shirt fell against my chest and my hair from the rear had a definite feminine take on it. As usual I wore a cap because the hair loss on top annoys me to no end when out in public.

We arrived at Dairy Queen and there was a family of four inside. The two kids, both teens, didn’t bat an eye at me but the mother looked at me sort of oddly once that I noticed. Then I caught the father glancing at me repeatedly as if trying to figure out exactly what he was looking at.

Then another man and his son entered. Again the teen boy glanced at me and didn’t appear to take further notice but the man stood there repeatedly looking at me and not just at my face. When I noticed this, I turned and smiled nicely at him and he looked away. I then wandered over to the frozen treats display and looked into the glass to see him watching me yet again. I turned then, looked at my spouse, accepted my treat from the guy behind the counter as he finished making it, and then smiled at the guy one more time. He scowled at me, apparently unsure and threatened by my clearly ambiguous sexuality.

At that point my spouse and I both laughed and proceeded to leave. She had seen what had happened and was halfway amused.

Note to those wondering – yes we are still going to divorce. We remain friends. She’s just a heterosexual woman and doesn’t want to be married to another woman. That’s her choice, after all and I respect that. But we still do things together while she’s going back to school to refresh her skills before re-entering the workplace.