Tag Archive | Tolerance

Authenticity and “Passing”

I originally wrote most of this as a comment to another blog I follow. But I realized it’s useful and wanted others to have the chance to consider this as well.

I really really dislike the term “passing” but I’m going to use it here because so many people in the community understand it. I prefer to think of it as just acceptance of who I am.

One of the things about “passing” seems to be a lack of effort. And I don’t mean that in the way some people might think. In fact, perhaps I mean it the opposite way.

When we’re unsure of ourselves, when we’re not authentically ourselves (which I agree is hard!), we start to “act”, and our role in society becomes performance art rather than just who we are.

But the funny thing is that people seem to be able to detect performance art versus authenticity. Maybe we try to hard. Maybe we make subtle mistakes or maybe we’re acting so hard that we don’t make mistakes. Maybe we “act” too hard and it sends signals to others.

I’m not really sure. But what I do know is that as I acquired personal inner peace, as I began to simply “be me” as opposed to someone society thought I should be, my issues with “passing” vanished.

Yeah, I admit I’ve had medical help along the way as an MtF trans woman but that help, while it definitely helped, wasn’t the final piece of the puzzle for me.

It was when I finally found a way to “be me” that I stopped acting. And almost as soon as I stopped acting, I stopped getting misgendered, etc. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. I know that hormones need time to work. I know that there are other aspects. But regardless of all those things, it does seem to me that “passing” includes being authentic, just “being you” rather than a construct.

NOTE: Part of finding that inner peace, for me at least, did come from surgery. Once I completed GCS, then I began to finally, for the first time in my life, begin to feel positive about my own body. So surgery played a role there too, but only a role.

A Response to the Lies of “A Sacred Androgen”

Recently, the Antioch Review has published an article full of hateful lies, stereotypes, and absolutely incorrect medical information about transgender people titled “The Sacred Androgen” (link marked as “nofollow” so as not to boost the page’s rank).

In response to this, Brynn Tannehill wrote a scathing condemnation of the article and The Antioch Review itself, titled “Antioch Demonstrates Why Mid-West Kills Queers from the Inside Out“.

And in addition to Brynn’s article, I sent the following email to Christina Check who is listed as the contact for The Antioch Review. I encourage all of you to do likewise. The more they hear from us, the more they may realize they have done something ugly and horribly wrong, and perhaps retract and apologize for that piece of garbage they published.

My letter to the editor lies below this line


 

Really?

If you had published such a pile of garbage laden pile of tripe about black people, your offices might have been buried under angry responses from across the nation already.

If you had published such a garbage laden pile of tripe about gays, you would have been dragged through the major press and rightfully pilloried publicly destroying your reputation.

Yet you think you can get away with it against transgender people?

Your author uses every bad stereotype, ignores all the current medical evidence including neurobiological evidence that has led the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Association of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all to conclude that:

1. Being transgender is not a mental illness (and it’s no longer listed as one in the DSM)
2. Being transgender is a neurobiological medical condition caused by in utero hormonal ratio variations during early pregnancy.

Your article goes on and paints trans women as sex obsessed fetishists which couldn’t be further from the truth and which theory has been totally destroyed. Bailey’s work on “autogynephelia” has been refuted because what he thought was solely trans obsession turns out to be common natal female behavior as well.

Your author asserts that transgender people are mentally ill while mental health professionals say that being transgender is not a mental illness. Your author then goes on to support reparative therapy which has been proven to increase suicidality, and never ever “cures” anything.

Your author cites the 41% suicide attempt rate as proof of mental illness and ignores that mental health professionals cite that as proof of the deep systemic hatred and oppression our culture has displayed towards transgender people. Mental health professionals say YOU need to change your attitudes towards trans people, and not that trans people need to change.

Your author launches into rape culture objectification of women and then tries to use that as a reason to see trans women with disgust.

Your author tries to assert that trans women are just gay men but ignores actual biological evidence that trans women are as different from gay men, in the brain, as they can possibly be.

The above microscope slides are just one of many studies demonstrating that trans women have brain structures very similar to cisgender women and nothing at all like gay men.
In short, your article, “The Sacred Androgen”, is hate speech targeted at a minority group that is being actively attacked and oppressed today in popular media and by right wing politicians and churches for being different. Yet the medical community, across the board, supports trans people and who they say they are. There are only a few old fossils, like Paul McHugh, Bailey, and others who get regularly trotted out by the right wing to support these hateful views.

With the publication of “The Sacred Androgen”, The Antioch Review demonstrates that it is not a rational nor respectful publication and that anything it publishes should be ignored, discarded, and that the Review itself should be driven into the ground as a purveyor of hate speech.

You should be ashamed of yourselves but bigots never are. Just like racists have been hiding in the closet for the last 40 years until Trump came along, bigots never give up their ugly ways and we now know that The Antioch Review is a publication of bigots and bigotry.

Cara Ramsey

Privilege Is Not Inherent

I recently saw an anti-transgender feminist rant that male-to-female transgender persons do not “lose” male privilege because it is inherent. Yet the feminist movement provides examples counter to this as does history itself. Let’s look at just a few.

In the 19th century, Irish began arriving in the United States. They were very strongly “othered” by the existing white establishment, who treated them badly (but not nearly as badly as people of color). Irish did not have “white privilege” simply by being white. In fact, white privilege was something that whites grant to each other, and if they do not grant it to someone else, it’s not there.

Another example is light skinned persons of color have frequently written about how they obtain and can exploit white privilege unless they reveal their racial heritage. And then it’s gone. They get othered from that moment forward by people who know.

A third example comes from the feminist community itself. Feminists have long argued about how strongly “butch” lesbians can and do gain male privilege in certain situations. They have also documented how that privilege vanishes when someone discovers they are dealing with a lesbian rather than another male. Again, privilege was not inherent. It was granted.

The reason I bring this up, and I refuse to link to the offending anti-transgender rant that spawned this blog post, is that the entire rant rested on the assumption that MtF transgender people “possess” male privilege and therefore every single conclusion in that rant is suspect. Logical conclusions that rest upon faulty assumptions are, themselves faulty. Therefore every conclusion in that rant is useless, suspect, and faulty.

Looking Back at 2015

The year 2015 will be a pretty important year for me in numerous respects. A lot happened and I learned a lot along the way. 2015 was the first year I lived as myself full time. My legal paperwork was done in September 2014 and I was full time thereafter, no looking back.

In January of 2015, I decided to make things happen and stop waiting for them to happen. I have one life to live and I decided I wasn’t sacrificing that life for my spouse’s retirement, especially since she no longer plans to be with me. So I cashed out one of my IRAs and put that money to work.

In February I scurried about getting paperwork submitted for my passport, which I paid extra for “express” handling and I got it just a few weeks later. My name, photo, and a nice big “F” in the gender box made me smile. March became a waiting game, basically waiting for April, and also further realigning myself at work as my colleagues continued to become accustomed to my new presentation.

I underwent FFS in April with Dr. Cardenas, in Guadalajara, Mexico, where I also met the amazing Anne Kelley. We shared a particularly powerful moment during both our recoveries that was bonding, and was a revelation. It was about Anne so if people want to know the details, they should ask her, but for me it was emotionally powerful to see someone coming to terms with themselves in such a beautiful and loving manner.

May was recovery. Let me tell you right now that FFS was far worse and harder in terms of recovery than my GCS, which came later in 2015. FFS was so worth it, but it was a bear in terms of recovery for the first few weeks. I’m happy with my appearance though and I’ve gotten compliments on it, and most importantly, it helped me to stop seeing “him” in the mirror anymore.

June was more waiting and continued recover. Friends and I began planning for Ren Fest in November. We always try to plan several months in advance to give people time to plan for a specific weekend. There were also details to complete, medical tests and exams before my GCS surgery, all of which had to be submitted to Dr. Chettawut’s staff in Bangkok before I even left.

July came and a good friend, Ashley Wilson headed to Thailand ahead of me by about two weeks. I did get to see her while I was there later, before she flew back to the US. And after seeing her, it was my turn. I awoke from GCS and really wasn’t in much pain at all, mainly just uncomfortable. They kept me pretty well controlled with pain meds and such. And my dear, dear friend, Julie Jeznach, had traveled to Thailand with me and was there to visit while I was in the hospital and to help me with my recovery for the three weeks afterwards. We had a lot of fun for the month we were there. I over stressed myself once, got scolded for it, then spent a day and a half recovering from it. Fortunately, no permanent damage. And I learned the tedium and the joys of dilating! And yet we saw things, ate fascinating food, met people, and Julie got to see the Tiger Temple!

In mid-August we flew back home. It seemed almost surreal, Julie and I going our separate ways. I also know that Thailand had been good for Julie too. Good food, regular exercise, walking (for us both as little as I could do) all contributed to Bangkok being a positive experience for us. But then it was over. I rested another week then returned to work while working from home. Working from home was a blessing. As circumstances turned out, and as the changes on our team at work developed, it would arise that I wouldn’t need to actually go back into the office until some time in January, 2016. The rest of 2015 was 100% from home, which gave me time to adapt to my dilation schedule, take breaks as needed, etc. Often my work day the rest of the year went past 6 pm, but that included time for breaks and medical necessities throughout the day as well.

September and October were much the same, except the reminder and the ongoing lesson that I don’t really have family anymore.  I know there are some who might disagree, but being ignored, having things said behind your back, pretending you don’t exist on important family days (birthdays and holiday), does not constitute “love” except in some sort of deranged “religious” mind. I won’t comment further about that except that their behavior reveals a lot more about them than it does about anything else.

Out of that comes a lesson, for me at least. We’re repeatedly told to remove toxic people from our lives. I subscribe to that idea, but implementing it in practice is complicated and is often a process, not a single decision. It’s a process because our hearts don’t always listen to what our heads tell us, and vice-versa. In this case, my head knows I don’t have family and I need to let go and treat them like I treated my father, someone to whom I was biologically related but who are anything except family, based on their behavior. But the heart takes time to let go, often not wanting to accept what the mind otherwise knows to be true.

The last few years have been that process for me and I think I hit rock bottom and was finally able to put this behind me in December of 2015. And no, there was no danger of self harm, just a great sadness and listlessness as my heart realized what my mind has been telling me for a number of years now – you have no blood family.

I also began an online dating experiment in autumn of 2015, and discovered that clearly stating that I am a post-op transgender woman, up front, is a sure way to not get responses from anyone except thoughtless men, who in turn blocked me when they did find out, or from identity thieves, whom I seem to be getting better at identifying, especially since some of them are so pathetic. Out of nearly 400 messages received thus far, only 4 read my profile and realized I was trans, and only 2 of those were really interested in some sort of friendship or relationship. Unfortunately, both of them were very far away and both they and I were looking for someone closer.

November was fun, with time at Ren Fest spent with my friend Elizabeth and myself both dressed up in garish costumes. But I think I want to modify mine more for next year. Maybe replace the heavy leather shoulder pauldrons with fur ones and a few other changes. There were also minor outings, manicure and pedicure, buying some new clothes, and otherwise enjoying myself.

November blended into December, and for the most part, I ignored the Christmas season. Dwelling on it too much was painful. And my mind and heart had to work that out in their own way, as I described earlier.

2015 ended and I was in a sense, relieved. It was over. Time marches on and 2016 is before us. I’m hoping to carve out time for at least one trip this year, perhaps back to Memphis. And maybe, if I can financially swing it, a trip elsewhere. We’ll see.

Choosing to be myself has had a cost, a saddening cost but one which I would still pay, because the alternative was no longer being able to live with myself. Despite rejection from those I’ve loved and to whom I’ve literally given my heart, my life, and even my finances for over thirty years, I still would make the same choice. My choice was to live and I am content with that choice, despite the costs.

Looking Forward To July

FFS is now behind me. I’ve left the tape behind, a few days early, but my nose feels great and reading other rhinoplasty recovery guidelines, a full month of taping was a bit on the overly cautious side anyway.

So now it’s preparing for July, for GCS and BA, and to try to enjoy Thailand a bit before and after the surgery, as conditions allow. I’m planning to buy 3-4 Kaftans, I think. Loose, flowing, easy to don and remove, these should make most days after surgery much more bearable. Bangkok’s weather sounds a lot like Houston’s – hot and humid. I’m hoping there’s plenty of shade outside because I’d like to sit outside the cottages and enjoy the fresh air.

I have another facial hair removal session for early July,  Thursday, July  2nd, since businesses are closed July 3rd to celebrate July 4th, which falls on Saturday this year. That’s a couple weeks before I fly so by the time I leave for Thailand, I’ll have some idea of how much facial hair is still left. I plan to make the next appointment for early to mid September, then another possibly for early November but we’ll see what the schedule allows.

I’m considering going home to visit my siblings this Christmas. I’ve not been there since we buried Mom, in 2012. A lot has changed since then, obviously, and I’ll have to ask if I’m wanted back there or not. I don’t expect any negativity, but we’ll see. I’ve been sadly surprised before. Plan for the worst, hope for the best, they say.

Trans people are becoming more and more visible each day in the US. And we’re winning more and more legislative battles, even while Republicans try to throw more and more legislative obstacles in our way. Yet now we have high tech companies backing us too, threatening and actually following through on those threats to take business elsewhere if Republican states openly enact bigoted laws. Indiana got a rude shock and is now spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars trying to repair their idiocy. Personally, I hope they continue to fail and people remember what Mike Pence and the Indiana GOP actually did until they are driven from office, and state wide LGBT protections are implemented there.

I know that Texas is sweating bullets too.  Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and several Texas businesses, Apple Computer in Austin, Dell Computer in Austin, and others are threatening to cancel Texas business expansions and even consider relocating should the Texas legislature enact anti-LGBT laws. Suddenly many anti-LGBT legislative proposals are getting tied up in committee. The GOP won’t openly oppose them, just quietly kill them, which will have to be enough for now. But make no mistake, Republicans will try this again and again and again unless we remove them from public office.

So the “transgender tipping point” from last year into this year seems real, and it’s a good thing too. More and more children are being diagnosed and helped at young ages. My therapist and I mused together that within a century there may not be any adult transitioners left. That getting the “wrong” socialization may stop happening, as children are diagnosed early, allowed to socially transition young, placed on hormone blockers, then allowed to complete transition medically at the age of 18. Those children will never suffer biological development that fails to match their inner selves. They’ll never have to unlearn one gender role and relearn a new one. In fact, they will nearly be as “stealth” as might be possible in a high tech society, with only trace information about their earliest years hinting they were ever anything other than the man or woman they show to the world. It gives me hope for trans kids tomorrow. Assuming the religious Christian Taliban doesn’t take over first, of course.

And finally, I need to find a real tablet, netbook, or notebook computer to take to Thailand. My phone was sort of trying to use for 10 days in Guadalajara. I’ll want a bit more convenience than that for a month in Thailand.

In a sense, I am now approaching the medical end of my transition. The facial hair may be done by year’s end or early next year. The other medical procedures will all be complete. The legal steps have been taken. I live and work day to day as myself finally, and I am happy doing it. I still think about losses I’ve experienced but those people made their own choices. All that I can do is go on living my life, and I plan to do just that – living finally, instead of merely existing.