Sunday, June 2, 2013

Straight Answers

I recently received an email from a fan, and thought I would share my answers.  The email has been slightly altered to maintain anonymity.

Hello Dori,

I came across your blog while google searching for information about straight guys dating transwomen. My GF, the love of my life, is a transsexual woman, who is still very much in the early phases of her transition, she hasn't taken any prescribed hormones (shes taking plant estrogen from GNC right now) and is just barely starting to wear her panties and sports bras out in public. I was hoping you could give me ANY advice as to what else I can do to support her other than just loving her and helping her along. She has been looking for advice on things like makeup, voice coaching and so on in preparation for her surgery, which we hope to have undertaken in a year or so. Any advice or information you could give would be fantastic, I want to do whatever I can to be there for her since I know what she is going through is hard.


[A Fan]

P.S. We live about 6 or so blocks away from hateful assholes at [Asshole] Church here in [Midwest City], another reason why she is so scared to go out in public as she is. Any advice you could also give in that realm would be equally helpful. Thank you so much!

Hi!  Sorry it's taken me a while to respond.  I've been working on some exciting new developments which I will hopefully be able to announce here very soon.  Just know that I'm busy working to bring even more Trans and Godless fun your way!

The first advice I always give to allies is to be a friend first.  That means being the same cool person that they became friends with in the first place.  If you used to play video games with her, keep playing video games.  When I first came out, a lot of friends weren't sure how to act around me when they should have just kept being who they were.  We're the ones transitioning, you don't have to bend over backwards to change.  Second, use her preferred name and pronouns as often as you can.  If she's still in the closet, you might have to use old names and pronouns from time to time, but whenever you are able make the effort.  It goes a long way.  Third, let her know that she's loved and supported and that you aren't interested in her because she's trans.  There's a lot of chasers out there, and as long as you two have had a serious conversation about what you are both okay with sexually, that should clear the air.

As for advice for her, I would start out by saying she needs to go through this the reputable way.  It will save a lot of headaches and money down the line.  That means finding a supportive therapist in her budget so that she can start down the road to real hormones.  Many of those plant substitutes don't really work, so the quicker she can start real HRT, the better.  DON'T use "street hormones", "online hormones" or go to "pumping parties" or any of that nonsense.  There are some serious and dangerous health concerns out there if you don't have medical assistance.  Take whatever dose your endocrinologist recommends.  More estrogen will not make them work faster.  If anything, taking too much estrogen will hurt your results.  

With therapy and hormones taken care of, she'll have time to figure out what makeup or clothes or whatever else works for her.  My advice would be for her to reach out to female friends who are understanding and patient.  When I came out, all my female friends threw me a "Transition Shower" where they brought me old clothes and whatnot in order to start out.  Then I went to a thrift shop and dropped some money for a cheap wardrobe and slowly added from there.  Perhaps her therapist can point her to a support group where she can meet other trans women further along their transition.  The only way to really figure out what style things work is through trial and error.

For voice therapy, I would steer her to YouTube videos before she pays for an expensive voice coach.  Once she feels like she's got a good handle on it, then maybe she could try a session or two if she feels she still needs it.  Keep in mind, everyone thinks their voice sounds weird when they hear it.  I've never received any comments about my voice, but still get weirded out whenever I hear myself.  It is what it is.  For surgery, I would point her to the fine ladies at TSRoadmap.  They've got a lot of information on surgeons from around the globe so she can compare and see what works best for her.

As for the crazy religious nuts, just remember that people like that hate everyone who isn't exactly like them. Haters are gonna hate, but you can't let them keep you down.  As long as she is not in physical danger, just help her to hold her head high and shrug them off.  Crazy people deserve to be ridiculed and made fun of for their hatred, so just try to have a sense of humor about it.

I hope this helps.  Best of luck to you and your girlfriend!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pray the Trans Away?

It's a sad fact that Christianity and other religions have a history of demonizing gay people.  Whether you are reading the original texts the religions are based on or witnessing the actions of the current religious zealots, it's pretty clear that religion tends to find homosexuality "icky".  I used to believe this was unique to the Abrahamic religions, but after studying the five major religions in college I've since learned that all of them, at least in their original iterations, see same-sex attraction as worthy of second-class citizenship with varying degrees of condemnation.

Of course, you can find queer-friendly religion out there.  Even the denomination I escaped from has since come out in support of gay and trans people.  It takes some apologetics and interpretations to get there, but as long as people are being supported then I'm happy.  Even I've been known to pull out my knowledge of the Bible to help a kid argue with their homophobic or transphobic parents.  Though I think Butters from South Park pretty much summed it up best:

I won't lie, Butters is my favorite character because he's pretty much me in elementary school.
All of that progress is great, but there are still "ex-gay ministries" out there.  And now it seems that there are "ex-trans ministries" as well, often combined with the ex-gay garbage.  This is because they conflate gender identity and sexuality.  The see being trans as just an extreme form of homosexuality.  Here's a quote from an "ex-trans" person, Sy Rogers, for an example:
There was a time when I would never have believed such fulfillment was possible for me. Only three years earlier, I was lost in pursuit of my identity, desperately seeking love and acceptance. I was transsexual – or at least that’s what my psychiatrist called it. Although physically a man, I felt “trapped” in the wrong body. I was obsessed with the desire to change my outward gender and conform my body to what I believed I really was – both mentally and emotionally. I convinced myself, and worked hard to convince others, that sex-change surgery was necessary for me if I was ever to lead a fulfilled life.
Unlike many transsexuals, however, I was also very homosexually active prior to my sex-change efforts. I began having homosexual encounters before I was ten years old. I was aware of an intense desire to be intimate with men, and I wanted men to desire me too.
 Sy Rogers is one of the more tame ones out there.  He doesn't outright condemn transgender people or SRS, but still believes it's something to be conquered to be a Christian.  Others out there are not as understanding or forgiving.

The funny thing is that an "ex-trans" minister is pretty difficult to find.  Then again, many "ex-gays" ultimately come out again, such as Michael Bussee, one of the founders of the infamous Exodus International:

There has been a lot of progress made against the "ex-gay" movement.  Therapists can no longer endorse "reparative therapy" and be accredited by the APA because homosexuality is no longer considered a mental disorder.  And now with the new DSM, the same goes for "Gender Identity Disorder".  So no these groups are forced to hide behind religion.  And that's fine.  Really.  I'm okay with that.  As long as the only people deluding themselves are adults.

The problem I have with all this "ex-gay/ex-trans" bullshit is when it is forced onto minors who have no legal power.  I feel just as disgusted with parents who attempt to shame their children with these programs as I do with parents who let their children die rather than seeking medical attention.  And both of these horrendous acts are excusable if the parents claim a religious motivation.  I think that's something that needs to be stopped.  Yes, we all have freedom of and from religion in this country, but when you use that freedom to hurt your child you forfeit your rights to have children.  End of story.

Because I'm the one who has to pick up their pieces and help with the damaged goods.  I'm the one who has to tell their children that they are human beings worthy of respect and love.  And I am willing to bend my personal beliefs (or rather my disbelief of gods) in order to soothe and help those children.  If a youth asks if I think god hates gays or trans people, I tell them "Absolutely not.  If there is a god, then that god made you perfect the way you are.  You have worth.  You make a difference in this world in ways you can't even comprehend.  You are a treasure."  I don't tell them that I personally don't believe in deities or the supernatural, or that the Bible could be read to condemn us.  I tell them what they need to hear.  Because that's what you do to help children grow.  Not damn them to hell unless they act the way you want them to.  That sort of behavior almost makes me wish there were such a place so that all the parents who do not offer their unconditional love could experience the pain their children feel.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What's So Bad About Sex?

I'm back!  Sorry it's been so long, but I've been dealing with exciting changes at my youth center as well as finishing up my finals.  It looks like I've got three As and Two Bs for the semester, and considering how terrible some of my classes were, I couldn't be happier!

So today, I was at a bit of a loss about my subject.  I thought I might write about how my body issues seem to have disappeared since I started running two months ago.  But I'm sure that's been done before and while there are some feminist implications there, it doesn't have much to do with being queer or atheist.

So I thought, "What about sex?"  It's always a good subject and I've been thinking about it lately.  But not in the "I'll be in my bunk" kind of way, but rather the "why do I feel guilty?" kind of way.  To back things up a little bit, I should remind you that my relationship is a "monogamish" one.  Meaning, we're completely committed to each other emotionally and romantically, but a little bit of sexiness outside the relationship is fine as long as we're both cool with it.  Until relatively recently, this was more of an intellectual idea than a practiced one.  But lately I've fooled around with a girlfriend of mine from time to time.  We both get a way to release our bisexuality, enjoy someone a different gender from our partners, and have a great time.  And both our partners are totally cool with it, maybe even turned on by it.  So everyone is happy, right?  

But it seemed like I would always feel guilty the next day.  I felt like I had cheated, even though this was allowed in our relationship and therefore not cheating.  And then, to top it all off, I'd have these weird suspicions that I wasn't bisexual at all, just a lesbian.  I'd worry that having fun with another girl would somehow send my totally awesome relationship with my future husband crashing down, leaving me alone and miserable.  And these thoughts would cycle through my head for a few days or more until I would calm myself down, only to then worry if I was just rationalizing my behavior.  Round and round I'd go, until I finally had something more important to worry about, like school.

This time, though, I did something different and talked about my concerns.  Novel concept, right?  I talked with my partner about my guilty feelings and he swiftly brought me back to reality.  And after that, I talked with my friend Caitlin about my fears of being an in-denial lesbian.  And she reminded me that, while I might be more attracted to women in general than men in general, lesbians usually don't have "exceptions" that they love to have sex with, stay with for three years, and plan on marrying.  So in the space of a day, all of my silly worries were fixed and I learned to breathe easy and appreciate what an awesome life I have.  

I began to wonder where these feelings came from in the first place.  My partner had never implied that he felt wounded or rejected by my girl-on-girl adventures, only disappointed that he couldn't watch.  And as much fun as I have with my girlfriend-with-benefits, I have absolutely no desire to pursue anything romantic with her.  She's a great friend and I like to hang out with her whether we're talking or fooling around, but that's as far as either of us want it to go and we're both really happy with our men.  So what was I worried about in the first place?  I think it might have something to do with our society, heavily influenced by religion, conflating sexuality with love and commitment.  Not only is it possible to have sex without loving someone, or love someone without desiring them sexually, but maybe separating sex and love can actually make a relationship stronger.

I remembered the most recent episode of Godless Bitches, when the ladies discussed how most people who claim "Marriage isn't all about sex" inevitably make their marriage all about sex.  By manipulating someone to marry you for sex, you are making the marriage all about sex.  Could it be that cohabitation, being sexually adventurous, and separating emotions and commitment from sex can actually make a relationship stronger?

The reason why my relationship works so well is how we communicate.  There is nothing we can't discuss, no taboo subjects, and no hasty, irrational proclamations.  We talk about "ground rules" for our relationship, what kind of future we hope and plan for, what turns us on and what doesn't, and even when we disagree we still respect each other.  We trust each other completely.  And while we had a ground rule of "other girls don't count", it wasn't until I went back to communicate and double-check that I could relax about it.  But in a rigidly monogamous relationship we would have repressed any sexual feelings to anyone except each other.  This would either cause someone to cheat or someone to build up resentment.  Either way, it probably wouldn't be communicated for fear of destroying the relationship and thus things would spiral out of control and crash.  

Years ago, whenever I heard someone say that humans didn't evolve to be monogamous, I thought they were just trying to excuse their promiscuity.  But now, I see that the choice doesn't have to be black and white.  It's totally possible, maybe even healthy, to find a happy medium.  To have a secure, loving, stable partner who supports you and understands you, and an occasional outlet for our primitive instinct to spread our genetic code elsewhere.  Is it really possible to have your cake and eat it too?  I hope so.

There's so much more to this subject, especially as it ties into religion and patriarchy, but I think this is a good place to stop for today.  What are your thoughts?  What works for your relationship?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sterile as a Surgeon

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and as someone who cannot have biological children of her own, I feel the need to offer my two cents about coping with infertility, both as an atheist and trans woman.

Beth Presswood shared a great article this week, The Art of Giving Advice to Your Infertile Friend - Don't!, the list included:

1.  Don't tell them what position worked for you.
2.  Don't tell them they can always adopt.
3.  Don't tell them that kids aren't all they're cracked up to be.
4.  Don't tell them to relax.
5.  Don't tell them not to worry.

I found the article helpful and amusing, but found it insufficient from my personal perspectives.  So I thought I would add to the list:

6.  Don't tell them to pray or that "God has a plan".
Not everyone believes in deities or supernatural forces.  Even if they do, this just implies the reason people are unable to have children is because of some character flaw rather than a medical condition preventing pregnancy.

7.  Don't tell them they're being selfish.
Yes, the world is overpopulated.  Yes, there are multiple options out there to becoming a parent.  Yes, not everyone has what it takes to be a parent.  But these are not helpful things to point out to a friend who is mourning their infertility.  They very well may come to accept their situation and find a way to work with it, but now is not the time to criticize them.

8.  Don't tell them "miracles" or "surprises" happen.
That might be true for some, but some of us are 100% incapable of reproducing.  I have no uterus or ovaries, and therefore will absolutely never birth a child.  And I'm not the only woman out there who knows that about her body.  So this phrase is completely unhelpful.

And a special one for trans people:
9.  Don't tell them they "chose" to be infertile.
You may see my "choice" to go on hormone therapy as the end of my fertility, but I don't see it that way.  The truth is I was unable to birth children of my own from the day I was born.  Yes, some trans people freeze their eggs or sperm before starting hormones, but I personally found the idea of "fathering" a child in the future to be dysphoric.  (Not making any judgments about girls that do, it's just my own issue.)  And the same holds true for same-sex couples.  Just because they can't have biological children from sex alone doesn't give you the right to call their difficulties a "choice".

I'll be completely honest, accepting the fact of my infertility has been a real struggle for me sometimes.  I still feel a twinge of jealousy and resentment whenever I see a pregnant woman.  It's subsided over the years, but I still think, "Does she even know how lucky she is?  Or does she just walk through life oblivious to her privilege?"

I feel the same way when cis women I know tell me I'm "so lucky" because I don't menstruate.  Most of the time I just let it slide off my back, but sometimes it makes me want to lash out.  First of all, I still have all the "symptoms" you do, minus the bleeding.  My hormones cycle, I get PMS occasionally, and have to deal with bloating, food cravings, and all the rest.  Secondly, can you remember when you were waiting for your first period to "welcome you into womanhood"?  Maybe you thought it was scary or exciting.  Maybe you worried about being the last one of your group of friends.  Well, imagine going through all those emotions and then having it never happen.  Sure, you get over it and move on with your life, but it still nags at the corner of your mind from time to time.  Every time a girl asks if I can lend her a tampon or talks about something I'm expected to relate to but can't, a tiny part of me dies.

It's just another case of the grass being greener on the other side.  In many ways, having absolutely no danger of unwanted pregnancy is a relief.  My partner and I don't have to worry about birth control and I'm extremely lucky to have met someone who already wanted to adopt before he met me.  And when I think logically about it, it's actually a good thing we can't have biological children.  There's mental illness and cancer in my family and plenty of health issues in his family.  And even though the hardcore feminist in me knows there's way more to being a woman than menstruation and pregnancy, there's still a teeny tiny part of me that has internalized the sexist belief that my lack of either makes me less of a woman.

Most of the time I try to have a sense of humor about my situation.  The title of this article, "Sterile as a Surgeon", is a phrase I use quite often to describe my reproductive abilities.  But it's not the only thing that defines me.  I don't like to brag, but I'm a pretty awesome lady in a lot of ways, and I strongly believe I will be a pretty awesome mother in the future to my adopted kids.  I'll have my own issues to deal with, just as a woman dealing with pregnancy will have her own issues to deal with, but we can still stick up for each other.  We can encourage each other.  We can talk about what makes a woman or what makes a mom and what does not.  Whenever I feel down about my sterility, I just remember that being infertile is only a state of being and it is no more or less valid than any other.  We're all human beings who deserve love and respect, the rest is just details to keep life interesting.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Straight Invasion

I'm not much for the club or bar scenes these days.  Truth be told, I never was.  Sure, I enjoy a drink as much as the next person, but I prefer to have parties at home with friends rather than dark rooms with strangers.  But sometimes I go out to clubs to hear a band I enjoy or to play "wingwoman" for a friend who wants to get laid.  Chris and I live in the "Gayborhood", affectionately called because we're a block away from a concentration of gay bars and other queer-owned businesses known as "The Strip".  Many of our neighbors are queer, the local businesses are queer friendly, and we live down the street from a queer church.  Whenever I go running around the neighborhood and see lesbian and gay couples openly showing affection, I feel at peace and happy.

Chix Rocks!
Naturally, we offer our home to any friends who want to go out drinking at the clubs and don't want to worry about sobering up or calling a cab to go home.  So I took my friend Caitlin out to the lesbian bar for her birthday to see Chix, a trans woman cover band (who rock!), and hopefully find her a nice girl to take home.  We grabbed dinner before we went to the club and watched the groups of people filter into the different clubs.  And consistently we noticed large groups of straight girls towing along one or two gay boys into the most popular gay club.  It got to the point where we played a game, "Gay or Straight," attempting to guess orientation.

Our observations were not unique.  Many friends have complained about this club being "invaded" by straight people.  First, it was straight women going with their gay friends, then going by themselves in large groups, followed by straight men who want to pick up straight women.  And it makes me really uncomfortable, and I'm not sure why or if I should even feel entitled to be uncomfortable.  So at the risk of saying something problematic or discriminatory, I want to discuss the issue here.

First, I feel conflicted because my straight sister goes to this club almost every Friday night, and I have no problem with it.  Maybe it's because she's so supportive of LGBT people, like me, and that she's has plenty of gay guy friends and doesn't objectify them or use them as a substitute for female friendships like a lot of straight girls do.  Maybe it's because she's actually an ally and not just "okay" with queer people.  I'm not sure, but that's the first source of my conflict.

Part of me wants to believe that the sudden influx of straight people into queer spaces means that straight people are so comfortable around queer people means we're finally reaching a place of acceptance and understanding that we've been fighting to achieve for decades.  Part of me wants to believe that, but there's a nagging part of me saying that might be true of some, like my sister, but it's definitely not the case for all.

Illustration: Hawk Krall
I think what best encompasses my discomfort at straight people in queer spaces can be summed up by the bachelorette parties that are always present at drag shows.  I think this is one of the most tasteless things you can do in a queer space.  Not only are you being drunk, loud and obnoxious.  Not only are you sexually harassing men who you know are not interested and women who you assume (wrongly) are interested.  Not only do you feel entitled to free drinks and other special treatment because your "big day" is around the corner.  But you're doing all this in front of people who are not legally able to marry.  Honey, you need to take your tacky ass out of this club and go somewhere else.  Your heterosexual privilege isn't just showing, it's flopping all over the place, and it isn't cute.  I know you came here because you don't want "guys hitting on you", but trust me, nobody wants to hit that mess.  I hope the MC on stage tears you a new asshole for being so thoughtless.

Okay, now that I've got that off my chest...

The problem I have is not with straight people who enjoy queer spaces.  Honestly, what's not to love?  The problem I have is with straight people who use queer spaces.  If you are a straight person at a gay bar or any other queer space, you are a guest.  And proper respect needs to be shown, lest you come across like an asshole. 

Straight girls, don't assume all the gay boys here want to dance with you or that all the girls here want to fuck you.  Don't freak out because there's "a boy" in the ladies room.  That person might be a drag queen, or a trans woman early in her transition, or a butch lesbian.  So what?  They just want to pee, check themselves in the mirror, and get back to dancing.  Don't cock-block your gay friends or twat-block your lesbian friends.  You might be here "just to dance", but they might be looking for something more.  Don't assume that your presence here is a blessing just because of who you sleep with.  This is not the time or place to find a new gay best friend.  You should have already walked in with one.

Straight boys, don't assume all the gay boys here want to fuck you or that any of the girls here are interested in you.  The girls are either actively attempting to avoid male sexual harassment, already spoken for, or don't like dudes.  You are going home by yourself tonight.  The girls here are not making out for your entertainment, so don't stare.  You don't have to cling to your girlfriend like a protective talisman to "show" that you're straight.  We already know you're straight, but some boys might hit on you just to fuck with you.  Deal with it.  Maybe now you'll understand why the straight girls are here to avoid being hit on.

This is a safe space, so check your judgment at the door.  You are not at a damn petting zoo and nobody is here for your personal amusement.  Don't point at, laugh at, stare at, or ridicule anyone here or we will turn on you so fast your head will spin.  Welcome to our home.  Don't be rude and we can all have a fabulous time together.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Letter to My Future Daughter

Dear Zoe,

It's been a few years since Dad and I went across the world to adopt you.  While we can't be 100% certain yet, chances are good that you will continue to identify as a girl and later as a woman as you grow older.  So, with that assumption being made, I'd like to talk to you about what it's like to be a woman in this world.

Your Dad and I have done everything we can to make sure that you have any and all options available to you, no matter what.  That's why we were just as happy to let you dress up as Captain Janeway for Halloween last year as we were to let you dress up as Princess Ariel the year before that, and a Stormtrooper the year before that.  That's why we bought you the new President Barbie doll for Christmas along with that cool microscope we used for your science fair experiment.  Our primary goal as parents is to make sure that you're safe, happy, loved, and have all opportunities available we can provide.  If somebody ever tells you that you can't do something because you're a girl, or any other reason, we will help you learn how to stand up for yourself and fight back.

The things you will experience as you grow older will be different from what I experienced as a girl.  And not just because I was born a little different from most girls, as we've already discussed.  They'll also be different from what your aunts and grandmas experienced as girls.  It was only a little over a century ago that women were allowed to vote!  It's only been a few decades since women were allowed to serve in the military, or go to college, or work full-time, or play sports.  A lot of women over the generations have had to fight for each one of those rights and more.  And every time women take a step forward, there are plenty of people who try to push us back.  There was a time when women were sold into marriage.  We couldn't marry who we wanted to, we couldn't own property, our husbands could beat us, we couldn't decide if and when we wanted to have children, we couldn't work and earn our own money.  And for whatever reason, some people want women to be treated that way again.  That's why it's important to always stand up for who you are and what you believe in.  Finally, there are a few lessons I want to pass along that I've had to learn the hard way.  It will always be my hope that you have an easier time learning to love yourself and that you pass these lessons on to whoever you love in the future.

How you look has no reflection on your worth as a person.  It doesn't matter if you're pretty or not, thin or fat, feminine or masculine, if you wear short skirts or baggy jeans, a human being always deserves respect, kindness, and dignity.  Every person has value, regardless of appearance.

Your body is your own.  No matter what kind of relationship you might have with someone, they have no right or ownership of your body.  That means only you can decide if you want to have sex, if you want to have children, if you want to wear makeup or dresses or skirts.  Anyone who tries to coerce you into making decisions does not respect you and does not deserve your love.

Never apologize for being smart.  Never pretend you don't know the answer or you don't have an opinion.  If somebody thinks you are stuck up because you speak your mind, it is only because they wish they were as intelligent and outspoken as you.  When in doubt, try to be like Hermione Granger.

There is absolutely nothing you "have to do" just because you're a girl.  This includes housework, child care, or even being nurturing or empathetic.  These are not things you should do because you're a girl.  This are things everyone should help out with, regardless of gender.

I'm going to share something with you that your Grandma Kowski taught me, "There are two kinds of people in this world.  People who masturbate and people who lie about masturbating."  There's nothing wrong with enjoying sex or masturbating.  They should be enjoyable.  Sex is a serious decision to make and I hope if and when you decide to have sex you and your partner use protection.  That being said, never be ashamed about your sexual choices.  Some people try to humiliate women for enjoying sex by using words like, "slut" or "whore" or "freak", but all of those people (and everyone else) exist because somebody had sex.

But most of all, never forget that you are worthy of love and Dad and I will never stop loving you.  You have the power to make this world better and I sincerely hope that you do.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Get Angry

The Thinking Atheist is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to.  And Greta Christina is one of the most awesome people alive.  So when I heard the most recent episode of The Thinking Atheist with her as a guest, I was thrilled.  Naturally, conversation turned to her book Why Are You Atheists So Angry? and she talked about how anger is not only a necessary part of any rights movement but also a necessary part of any person's life and that most people experience anger out of compassion.  The idea really struck a chord with me.  And it's true!  There have been times when I get so angry I want to spit, and it's usually because of somebody suffering needlessly.  I would never have thought to call it anger from compassion, but it sums up that strange mixed feeling of wanting to "comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable," to borrow a bumper sticker phrase.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

While They're Young: Part 2

In case you missed it, this series deals with indoctrination that begins before a child is even born.  In the case of Part 1, "gender reveal" baby showers and how they reinforce heteronormative gender norms.  But the name of this blog is Trans and Godless, and I simply cannot talk about indoctrination without touching on religion.  Specifically about shame.

Once my parents divorced and we lived with my dad, we went to my grandmother's Baptist church and later to the Church of Christ when he married my step-mom.  It was the Church of Christ that I threw myself into with all my heart.  For one, because it was the only social outlet in the small town of less than 10,000.  For another, it was an acceptable place to run away from home, which had a lot of drama due to 5 kids and a dad with schizophrenia living under one roof.  And finally, because I had a lot of internalized shame about my gender and sexuality.  It was a very by-the-Bible church, and while there were no overt homophobic sermons, there was general understanding that God wanted people to be a certain way.  And since even divorce and musical instruments were frowned upon, I hardly thought the church would be okay with me being a girl, let alone a bisexual and trans girl.  Marriage was a holy covenant between a man and a woman where the man had power over the woman, who was intended to serve her husband as punishment for the sins of Eve.  Everyone was a hopeless sinner and the only way to be redeemed and allowed into Heaven was by accepting Jesus and being baptised in the church.  We were instructed to evangelize to our friends and loved ones, lest they be lost to Hell forever.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

While They're Young: Part 1

I published this story on April 9th, 2013 as a stand alone story, but realized that when it comes to "getting them while they're young" I absolutely must talk about religious indoctrination and how that ties in with gender socialization.  So stick around, this is only the beginning.

The phenomenon of "gender reveal" baby showers is an irritating, heteronormative trend that just needs to stop.  Whenever I hear a new mom gushing over "finding out what color to paint the nursery," I just let it go.  Because that isn't the appropriate moment to fight abouts gender norms.  But will I rant about it here?  Oh you better believe it.
Blue bow ties for boy, pink pearls for girl.
For those of you who have no idea what the hell a "gender reveal" baby shower is (obviously you don't have a Pinterest account), I'll fill you in.  It functions like any other baby shower, except the party is themed around the guests attempting to guess the baby's gender.  The guests are given a pink or blue gender-specific party favor of some sort in order to show their team spirit.  Then at the end of the party, the couple reveals the baby's gender, also through the use of a pink or blue gender-specific prop.  I've included some examples throughout this article.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Invisible Again

I'm telling you, this Women's Studies class has the capacity to drive me insane sometimes.  We're doing interviews as part of our final project and I have decided to interview my fabulous Aunt Melanie, who is also trans and a good friend and mentor.  We were discussing our interviews and another girl is also interviewing a trans woman, though for very voyeuristic reasons.  This isn't a friend of her's, it's just some girl she found online who's willing to be interviewed.  I sat as she wondered out loud about this trans girl, as she marveled at how "you would never know" and puzzled about her sexuality.  It was so uncomfortable, so irritating that I came out right there, just so I could hopefully make it stop.  This is something I have never done at TWU because I just didn't want to act as an ambassador all the time, but I couldn't let the ignorance continue.

And yet, it did continued.  It was as if I had never even spoke.  Is she really trans if she hasn't had bottom surgery?  She had a girlfriend when she was 12 before she came out, so does that mean she's bi?  I think she's had a boob job, but I'm not sure.  Here I am, preparing to discuss issues about cissexual privilege, transgender oppression, and the ignorance of trans identities, and it is staring me right in the face.  This is the "enemy".  A well-meaning girl who has no idea just how hurtful her words are.  And the fact that I took a big risk in coming out and that was completely ignored is just bizarre.  It's as though she refused to see me as trans, like she just blocked those sentences of mine out of her memory so that she could hold on to her ignorance and marvel at this freak of nature from a distance.  I was looking her right in the face and it made no difference. 

I can handle haters and outright discrimination.  Those are straight-forward fights.  But dealing with the "I'm just trying to understand" people who mean well but refuse to think before they speak, refuse to empathize with trans people, refuse to think even for a minute what it must be like to walk in our shoes before they start gawking at us.  This is the problem behind movies like Transamerica, which only cis people seem to enjoy and get irritated when trans people point out the (many) flaws.  Ignorance is forgivable.  We're all ignorant of many things before we learn about them.  But this kind of willful ignorance, where someone refuses to even entertain the idea of being respectful, is the worst kind of oppression.  If someone shouts "tranny" at me, I can deal with it.  I just give them the finger, tell them to suck my dick, and move on with my day.  But when somebody is offended at you being offended, there's nowhere you can go with them.  But someone ignoring or pretending I'm not trans is just bizarre.  I feel like in something she did so casually, my identity was erased for half an hour.  I don't even know how to begin that fight.
Don't mind me.  I'll just sit here while you spout crap about my people.