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DMV and All the Ways I’m in the Closet

I’ve received a lot of comments on my driver’s license pic. Not liking your DMV picture is pretty much par for the course, it’s just all the more awkward as a trans person. Maybe it’s to be conversational, I’m not sure, but if I need to show ID I usually hear about it. Here’re my greatest hits:

“Wow, things have changed, huh?”

“What happened to this guy?”

“I prefer your new look *smile*”

“*touches my chin* you look better like this!”

My standard response is to laugh. I’m not sure what to say. Yeah, things have changed, I didn’t much like that guy, and I too like my new look. Maybe I even look better. Honestly, I’d rather not hear about it at a wine store or bar. At least I’ve never been harassed about it.

—–

In the LGBT community we talk about being closeted or out, but one can be closeted to some degree about a number of things beyond orientation and gender.

Sophomore year of college I needed a storage space to house my stuff over summer. I pulled out the yellow pages (lol) and called every storage place in the county for the cheapest 5×5 for a three month lease. Most of the characters were pretty interesting. One place, by far, was the cheapest at the low low price of $25 per month. Sweet. So I mapquested that ish and realized… the county roads that to get me there weren’t all paved. I’ve heard in more rural areas of the country gravel and dirt roads are how counties roll. This was California, though. Wat.

I packed my first load into the back of my pearly white station wagon sex machine and drove out to no mans land. When I hit the dirt roads I hit rural poverty. Houses were small, yards were nonexistant, and shoeless children played in the dust. It felt like a pretty big transition, I was an outsider. Later the roads turned to asphalt again and I found my storage facility. The place was nicer than I expected it to be, but anything but safe and secure, as advertised. No gates, no lights, no old coon dog. They should’ve at least had the dog, c’mon, I passed like six of them on my dirt road adventure.

Inside I met Bill. He had a salt and pepper beard, trucker hat, and he and his buddies were playing poker and drinking High Life at noon. High life, indeed. He asked if I wanted to see the unit. Nah, I said, that’s alright. He agreed that once you’d seen one 5×5 you’d seen ’em all. I hadn’t seen one before, but I took his word for it. He asked if I had a lock. Woops. I offered to buy one and he tossed one to me “on the house.” Dale piped up, “Hey, why’int you give me a lock for free?” Bill retorted, “that’s because you’re a queer, Dale.” I remember that word for word, ’cause I’d never heard someone be called a queer before. Gay, yeah, but queer was new. Bill turned and gave me a sloppy grin. Yeah, fuck those queers, good on you, Bill. I figured it probably would be a good thing if he found out I, too, was one of those queers. He might want his lock back. I said bye to the guys and went to unload my stuff into its new, cozy home.

The few times I interacted with him in the future I made sure I wasn’t what Bill called fancy. I found out I had both fancy hair and handwriting. Who knew. I covered it all up, and even my inflection changed. I was playing a part, in the closet about being from the ghetto, a trans woman, and in college. I felt really bad about the whole thing, that I was disingenuous.

I’ve heard it’s okay to be in the closet only so much as to avoid violence. I stayed in the closet just to make things easier. I was a little worried about my safety, but even in situations since when I’ve not been worried, I’m still closeted about any number of things. It makes me feel fake. That’s probably because I am being fake, that’s the whole point.

Most people make it pretty apparent what they want. When I need to, I adopt that. Maybe I could argue that for most of my male-raised life I had to play a part, now it’s just second nature. Maybe any role I play as male is disingenuous to begin with. Maybe that makes it little worse to pretend to be a hick at a storage place or middle-class in college. I do know that I’m tired of playing, though.

—–

I set up my appointment for E3000 last week. I leave in a month. Denise is terribly nice. The only problem setting things up was working around their electrology and my school schedule. I had to leave class for a bit to take the call, finally. It felt pretty nice to see them drain money from my account for a deposit; never thought I’d like seeing money leave my hands. Hey, it’s worth it. Anything to make my photo ID look less like me, just to spite DMV, is a step in the right direction. Another psuedo-science theory for why trans people exist? We’re secretly out to confound both DMV and folks who check IDs. You knew it all along, didn’t you. Just don’t think you can foil our master scheme, Scooby Doo.

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Posted by on April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Beating a Dead Horse — Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival

A lot has been said about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. That’s MWMF for short. Not the best acronym in the world. In any event, as my one (1) reader on this blog is likely aware, it’s an annual festival and chance for women to move from a patriarchal society into all all-women inclusive, safe space. For the past five to ten years it’s garnered criticism for offering admission to trans men (who some view as woman) and excluding trans women (who some view as men). This underlines one of the last, remaining impasses in radical feminism.

Radical feminism departs from regular feminism because, in the words of Michelangelo (the turtle), it’s “totally radical, dude.” Like most things radical, I’m tempted to say this too goes too far, but I’m not the person to make that claim. I have science degrees, and my utter dearth of classes in any liberal arts discipline means in any argument I’m liable to be wrong. Further, feminism is a multifaceted thing, and the MWMF represents only a flavor of it. Regardless, I’m going to give my opinion, since this is a blog.

Cis privilege is an idea adopted by some to mirror other privilege constructs like white or male privilege. Similarly, it refers to a knapsack of goodies at one’s disposal, should they be a member of the privileged group. In this case, to quote Brad Pitt, “What’s in the box?!” Funny you should ask, Brad. Your gender expression isn’t judged to be indicative of the legitimacy of your identity, you can expect to not be turned away from medical services on the basis of your gender identity, and so on. There’s a good bit there. Some radfems assert this is all bologna (a fun word). Basically, whether or not they asked for it, trans women were treated for a good part of their lives as men. As such, they’ve benefitted from male privilege, whether they wanted it or not. In asserting a need for a safe, non-patriarchical space, some radfems argue that trans women share in having benefitted from male experiences and may even be products of the patriarchy itself. More radical transphobic rad fem views, if that clause makes sense, are provided in seminal texts like “The Transsexual Empire” by Janice Raymond. Here, we’re told that trans women are confused men who co-opt, sexualize, and demean women’s bodies. As such, the book has been characterized as either as accurate, a screed, or utterly transphobic.

This, to this day, underlines a pretty major division in radical feminism. To trans, or not to trans? Some buy into cis privilege, some don’t. Or, some buy into it yet find it irrelevant. So, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival lives on, and continues to disallow trans women entrance. In opposition, trans women and their allies have established Camp Trans. This similar venue offers a more inclusive, if smaller, safe space. Clashes between the two groups occurred, and subsequently post-op trans women were allowed to attend the MWMF. Undeterred, many in Camp Trans have continued their boycott.

That’s the current state of affairs. What do I think? After all, nothing I’m saying is anything a Google search couldn’t provide.

In my view, this is largely an ideological battle. It means little in practical terms, and I have a hard time with it for that reason. Maybe all people who lack an understanding of the full implications are liable to feel similarly, maybe that’s my shortcoming. Let’s get real; trans women entering into the event would be unlikely to disrupt the safe space. And, I really doubt many trans women honestly wanted to attend before admission was denied. So, all of about two trans women wanted to go, and neither would’ve infringed on the space. This is what we’ve been arguing about. In terms of reality, just let ’em in. In terms of ideology, I dunno that this conflict will even come to a close.

My two cents is that they should be able to allow or disallow whomever they want. They can create a safe space for womyn-born-womyn, or Harry Potter fans, or hip-hop fans. I’m glossing over some significance (e.g. implications of patriarchal oppression lacking in HP, privilege, etc.), but it remains their prerogative to include and exclude at their whim. Welcome to America, they don’t have to be ideologically right in order to do as they please. Their reason for exclusion can be as real or arbitrary as they choose. I do think they’re wrong, though.

Some women are tired of their gender being defined by men, and I’m tired of having my gender defined by a few rad fems. As an aside, here’s a clue; when you’re treating me with the same attitude as evangelical Christians, you’re doing it wrong. Lots of folks seem to have an opinion about the legitimacy of my identity, of issues close to the core of who I am at heart. Most of these people don’t know me.

White feminists made the mistake early in second wave feminism of dismissing the issues of women of color, and when they did take them seriously, they defined the problem and spoke for them. This is a different time, the context has changed, but some commonality exists. Another group of less privileged folks is still being ignored, or having their issues minimized and subsumed under a larger construct, or else we’re being defined and spoken for. It’s a bit much. And, if you’re gonna do that, at least get to know me. My Pokemon jokes aside, trans people aren’t all the same.

This and so much more that’s been repeated ad nauseum. I’ll stop here since I’m not saying anything new. The bottom line is that there’s an ideological battle about trans people that’s not been resolved in, really, a few decades. It’s pointless because (1) ideological battles rarely end (e.g. we still have folks arguing for intelligent design in the classroom, we probably always will), (2) if the policy is ever changed it’ll be because a plurality of folks have a change of heart — not because everyone at MWMF has suddenly become convinced (see (1)) — the most extreme views are often the most challenging to sway and a festival of some rad fems is an uphill battle, and (3) trans people are fundamentally not respected by some at MWMF who’d see a world where no trans people exist as a step in the right direction. Sweet. I’d rather crash a Westboro Baptist Church rally and ask for a picket sign. Maybe that’s the idea. Make the event so unsavory that there’s no desire for trans people to go, whatever their stance. As Charlie Sheen would say, “winning!” What an awesome idea.

Whether or not they’re right is irrelevant since they can exclude as they please. There are plenty of places I can’t go, or I don’t feel safe going, and frankly it doesn’t mean much to me in any practical sense. I don’t go camping at festivals, I go in National Parks. I do, wish, though, that we’d be allowed to define our issues and speak for ourselves. I feel comfortable asking for that much, too.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Day-to-Day Livin’

Today’s theme (the rest of it– more in the next post) is the personal and not terribly interesting. On that note, while you close this browser, my dear one (1) reader, I’ll dig into my day-to-day life.

A couple days ago I finished growing out my facial hair. I don’t think I had it that long in a long, long time. Kinda sucked, not gonna lie. The good news, if there’s good news, is I didn’t really have much to speak of. For some trans women, hair removal is the most expensive part of transition. That’s kind of amazing, really. Laser works –for permanent reduction– yet isn’t FDA approved for permanent removal. Like, you know, having the hair all gone. Not worrying like appearing as a bearded lady. Maybe that look works for some, but on day four here, it most definitely wasn’t working for me.

Electrolysis is pretty archaic; get repeatedly prodded and electrocuted over a series of 100 plus hours for 100 plus dollars an hour. You’d think by this point, since we’re still lacking flying cars, science would’ve at least solved some of these smaller problems. What gives, science? The positive note on all this is with little hair my electro probably won’t cost all that much. And, that’s good, ’cause I’m just rich enough to get electro. Is there some privilege there? Oh you betcha.

So, I emailed my pics to E3000 per their request. They didn’t get back to me today, so hopefully Monday. If not, I’ll call. I’m pesky like that. I figure I’m better off being pro-active since the booking process is notoriously difficult.

In other positive news no one cares about but me, I’m getting in better cardio shape. Last night was the first workout where I could sustain 163 avg. bpm for my 35 minute workout. It’s just awesome, I remember when I was having a hard time keeping up at 145 bpm. I’ll never be back into cross country shape, but it’s nice just to feel better and do something for my health. While I know I’m slim, I still won’t complain if I lose a few pounds. Moving on? Moving on.

Our finances look good. Recently –baller that I am– I managed to eliminate our credit card debt. With no auto debt, or any mortgage, the only debt we’re really saddled with is student loans. I probably don’t need to point this out, but in terms of net worth, we’re worth negative dollars. Tell me that isn’t depressing. Unfortunately, it’s pretty common at this age. Folks who’re lucky and get a mortgage by thirty can break into the black by 40, 45. Wow, something to really look forward to, right?

I’ll keep the complaining to a minimum, since like I said, our finances look frankly solid. We’ve also freed up our credit lines as an “in case s–t” fund. Yes, that’s the phrase our accounting prof used, too. Always important to have that one.

Last random topic? I’ve been working on my voice more, recently. It’s not exactly where I want it, but I’m not sure it ever will be. I hear it’s easier for those with musical experience, and I definitely have that; I played two instruments (well) and sang in choir. This was all early in high school, so maybe the problem is that’s all a-ways away. All I know is that I wish my voice was a bit better, and for the past week or so I’ve worked in to the point of getting sore. I don’t really want to push it, though, so I’ll have to wait and be patient. Neither I nor anyone else I know is really good at patience. Speaking of which, I should really get back into the habit of meditating, that did good things for me.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Parental Contributions and Class Privilege

There’s a blog (here) from a trans woman who went through UMich Law. It’s no longer updated, but still useful, particularly to me since hers is a path I plan on following. This post talks about student entitlement; to what degree are parents obligated to cover children’s college costs?

It’s one of those issues that works me up.

To be blunt, parents aren’t obligated to pay anything. Let’s keep it real, there’s no mandate in America that decrees all parents must cover children’s college costs. Then again, it’s not really that simple. Whether it’s realistic or not, financial aid documents like the FASFA and CSS Profile require parental information. And, a disturbing amount of it, at that. Don’t supply it? You’re ineligible for all aid, including non-private loans. In the truest sense, it’s not optional at all, not so long as the student lacks a trust fund. So, ya beg and plead and pray your parents fill out the forms. This means the FASFA at all schools, and the CSS Profile if you’re attending one of a growing number of schools (currently including all the Ivies and many other top schools). So, magic elves crunch the numbers, and the school provides a financial aid package to cover costs minus a contribution expected from the parents and student. Expected contribution is based on income and assets. So, to break it down, any college you attend expects parents to provide some compensation, and the more money they have, the more they’re expected to give. Can’t swing it? Enjoy your private loans, average APR in this economy? Still in excess of 10 points. Which is to say, enjoy your bankruptcy.

It’s outside the scope of this, but yeah, it’s important to go to college; the case could be made now that it’s essential to go to the highest rankest (read– most expensive) school you can, too. The job market is more competitive than over, so too should your credentials be. And, since there’s no weaseling out of the expected parental contribution (e.g. there’s no waiver for “parents refuse to pay”), the student is screwed if the parents are unwilling to fill out the forms or pay the expected contribution. We’re not talking about the kind of money that can be compensated for by working full time and talking out loans with egregious interest. Tuition and expenses at my alma matter exceed 50,000 dollars a year; it’s not even considered a particularly expensive school, either. The most a student with no experience is going to make, working full-time, is probably 20,000 dollars a year. Unfortunately, if your parents make enough money, 25,000+ thousand a year is the situation you’re settled with. Enjoy having six figures of double digit interest debt upon graduation. Hey, plenty of those loans don’t have a grace period for you to get a job, hope you get employed soon! Oh, and if you do file for bankruptcy? It’s practically impossible to erase that debt; you’re carrying it with you back out of bankruptcy. Your options if you can’t pay are (1) kill yourself, or even worse, (2) flee to a banana republic that doesn’t extradite, missing all your favorite American television shows. Noooo, my American Idol!

So, legally, parents aren’t required to pay anything with regard to college costs. Ethically, parents should pay the expected contribution. That’s why it’s expected. Want to pay more than that? Go ahead, cover school tuition and all assorted living expenses. I don’t see why that’s required, though. Students need to be willing to take out some loans, preferably public subsidized loans. For the record, I have about 15,000 dollars of that tasty, tasty debt. I’m lucky, oddly, that my parents didn’t have more money. And, yes, I worked through college; full-time for a year, part-time for the rest.

This burns me, personally, because my father has literally never paid a dime for my education. My mom covered his share, and provided the expected parental contribution for both parents. It’s honestly hard for me to accept her money, but once upon a time I covered some of her expenses. My other options? Yeah, none, really. How can I repay her? I dunno, but I wish I could in some way. Meanwhile, it leaves me embittered toward my father. C’mon, at least if you’re going to be an abusive a-hole, it’s expected that you “make up for it” paying for college. Geeze, those are the after school special rules, ya know.

The other side of this is obviously parents who’ve given way too much to their children. That’s pretty apparent at my alma matter. One of my friends was given a Bently for graduating. That’s an outlier, but it’s not uncommon to see luxury SUVs outnumbering hoopties in the parking lots. I’d be lying to say it doesn’t make me angry.

The truth here, as in most things, is somewhere in the middle. Or, if you want me to make it sound fancy, it’s Aristotle’s golden mean. Give some money to your kids, it’s the nice thing to do. Don’t give them so much they’re spoiled jerks. How wide is the middle-ground? Pretty damn wide. For all the kvetching, my mom navigated that well. Hopefully, if I’m a mom (as I hope to be, someday), I’ll do as well as she.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Handwriting and Indian Cartoonists

There are lots of gender markers people worry about, beyond the physical; how ya move, your voice, and handwriting. Those are the big three I hear about. It’s easier to talk about handwriting since it’s more static. Movement and voice are sort of IRL things.

Once upon a time there was a pseudoscience called graphology. People thought you could find out a lot about personality just by looking at a person’s pen strokes. This is often contrasted with forensic handwriting analysis, which looks at whether the author of two documents is one and the same. This, too, more recently been called into question. Feel free to read more about all of this (here). The long and the short is it’s hard to figure whether one person authored two documents, and telling anything about their personality is a glorified guess akin to Miss Cleo. Just ’cause they do it on CSI doesn’t mean it’s real, ya know. We do assess gender by handwriting, though, accurately or not. Tsroadmap (here) also has a good page on this, here. Frankly, it’s hard for me to say anything “new” that’s not been said before, so I’m going to stick to myself.

I don’t know how feminine my handwriting looks, just that by it, everyone who sees it assumes a woman wrote it. Good enough for me. I tend to write pretty fast, and pretty sloppy, so that it’s gendered female is probably a small miracle. Yes, neat handwriting is generally a gender marker, as much as that sucks. Gonna write something down now so I can upload a photo.

Okay. This was authored by my executive helper, Cody the shih tsu. Apparently he’s unafraid of plagerism charges.

So, anyway, my handwriting gets read female. Apparently my script also gets read as Indian woman. Not sure how that works out, I wasn’t aware Indians wrote… uh, in some particularly unique fashion. Anyway, close enough. The other comment I get, in guy mode at school, is if I draw cartoons. Yeah, stick figures, I draw those professionally. What I’m really saying is, people still look into your writing as if it’s indicative of something about you, whether or not it is. What, you wanna be thought of as an Indian woman with a fixation on Marvel comics? You’ve come to the right place. More seriously, handwriting to me means taking your time writing and writing plenty. As Gertrude Stein said, “To write is to write is to write…” and so on. I’m sure that’s good advice, even if I don’t follow it.

And, of course, all this is about moving from one rigid gender model to another. That has it’s own problems, no doubt. Feminists rightly point out that there’s a middle ground I’m not here acknowledging. And, ya know, that anti-essentialism bit where being a woman doesn’t mean having a woman’s handwriting. That’s true, too. So, all those disclaimers.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Only the Internet Can Tell You Your Real Gender

This is old news, but there’s a site online (found here) that uses word choice to predict author gender. How accurate is it? Who knows, I didn’t see a link for their stats. My first thought is, ohhhh, nifty! Then again, things like this make me really nervous since some trans people, in particular, are over-eager to feel their sense of gender confirmed. Oh, so-and-so test says I’m trans, it must be so! Or, so-and-so test says I write like a man, but I’m a trans woman! I’m aghast, all is lost, my identity is for naught…

Yeah, so let’s not look that far into stuff. So after all this, did I try it? Of course. Yeah, I know, I know…

I threw in my last five blog entries, giving me these results:

1: Female Score: 1463, Male Score: 942

2: Female Score: 739, Male Score: 586

3: Female Score: 857, Male Score: 571

4: Female Score: 890, Male Score: 888

5: Female Score: 1934, Male Score: 1188

So, the idea is that it assesses word choice (not sentence construction or anything fancy) and weights words men and women use more or less frequently in writing. It adds the words used preferentially by one gender or the other in their respective “male” and “female” columns, multiplies each word by how much a gender marker it is, multiplies by how often you use each word, and then adds it all up and pops out your gross numbers (whatcha see above) as “Female Score” and “Male Score.” It’s really a game of averages. The problem is that the deviation is probably massive from person to person. A blogger (here) elucidates better than I can the problems of taking cool findings to crappy conclusions. Deep thought– the variation between individual test takers likely swamps the variation between genders. Or, as my former stats prof loved to say about gender tests, the variation within groups is much greater than the variation between groups. Again, click that blog link up there, because while I can pretend to be a scientist, I’m not a statistician. Even that word gives me the creeps. Ah, the maths, it burns!

In this test I’m told The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female! Giving props where they’re due, it at least gives the same result to five samples (i.e. in this regard it’s consistent). There’s quite a bit of variation from post to post, though. On the fourth (a post that was more or less a list I wrote, which probably muddles things) the scores were –to use proper maths-speak– really close, dude. Or not statistically significant, whatever. So, added into the mix is variation of writing day by day and format by format. What a mess. And, I don’t mean to attack a strawman, here; it’s a cool site, and they’re not marketing it as anything definitive, just fun. I think that’s great.

My last word on all that is that the quiz supposes a binary –male or female– that’s a little silly. If you buy that gender lives on a continuum, I’d bet that so too does our writing.

I only mention this really as an example. Our community is littered with these kinds of tests. I think the motivation is two-fold. First, maybe we’re curious about who we are, or how we’re read (literally). Maybe folks are in the beginning of questioning whether or not they’re trans, or maybe they’re interested in seeing how well they blend via various criteria. Second, I think we’re looking for confirmation, the more assertive side of questioning. Like, a-ha! I’m a trans person, afterall. You can’t deny my test results, yo.

Probably the most famous gender test is this one, the COGIATI. Jennifer Reitz is a character, and on an unrelated note, hers was one of the first sites I saw online when I first Yahooed transsexuality in the 1990s. Yeah, that’s right kids, back in my day we didn’t Google something, we Yahooed it. Honestly, the site was something less than helpful for me, but hey, a lot of people like it. The disclaimer notes that the test isn’t meant to be taken as gospel, or in lieu of counseling or personal reflection. I like that.

The questions are largely stereotypes, which I’m not a big fan of, even if I fit most of them. Not everyone does. Last day of my “Feminism 101” class we were wrapping up with final thoughts and a girl piped in that all stereotypes have a bit of truth to them. It was worth hearing that just to listen to our prof’s response. Anyway, on to the test.

COGIATI classification FOUR, PROBABLE TRANSSEXUAL

Apparently, the classifications are (1) standard male, (2) feminine male, (3) androgyne, (4) probably transsexual, and (5) transsexual. The judges have ruled, though, and I’m a probable transsexual; for me, this too is consistent, since I scored the same when I took this at 14. Apparently being good at spacial orientation makes me less transgender, who knew. Yes, I’m harping again on those pesky stereotypes…

The test allows for some middle-ground, but certainly there’s more in gender expression than fitting within one of five categories. That’s one problem these tests face. What about the folks who identify as bi-gender? That identity is pretty different than, say, genderqueer. The test seems to indicate they’d all fall under classification three, though.

This (awesome) resource discusses more seriously the problems with the test.

So, if online tests don’t work, what does? Probably knowing that you’re trans is about that simple. If you think you are, you probably are. If you think you aren’t, you probably aren’t. It’s a real simple test. It also means that all the introspection –or whatever else, I guess– is more or less on your own shoulders. Probably as it should be. Transition is a pretty big deal, and following through requires a good degree of self-assurance. That’s hard to come by, but in the end, it’s what you need most. There’ll always be trans people who transitioned younger, or blend better, or have resources you don’t. It’s amazing how many are utterly miserable. Nothing is more important than being self-assured, being able to brush off the haters, and finding your own bit of happiness in life.

The problem with the “think you are, then you are” model is it makes cisgender people (really, the medical establishment) nervous. Most gender markers they can really get a feel for. Chromosomes, or things we can see face-to-face, like dicks, all serve to help parse the world into male and female. Usually the parsing is done by cisgender peeps. The “think you are” model is scarier since it’s the only one where the power is in the hands of the individual. Instead of being told what we are, it’s announcing ourselves. And, that sorta throws the whole power dynamic off.

So, I guess take the tests for fun, I know I do. Earlier today I was told my inner age is really 23, and I’m living until I’m 82. I’d just take gender tests about as seriously as those announcing your inner age or how long you’ll live.

I think the next post I’ll talk about why not to look too far into handwriting. It won’t suck as much as it sounds, and it’ll include a couple pictures.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Don’t Out Me, I Can’t Take More Rhyming Poetry

I was reading a post on Feministe about why it’s not cool to out a trans person. It can be found here.

She’s pretty much spot on. I think a lot of cis folks mean well, but whatever happens? I get to deal with it, not them. Maybe they want to demonstrate that they’re an ally and it’s no big deal to be trans, or maybe they think it’s relevant, or they share everything with so-and-so. All I can say, is if that doesn’t work out, I’m paying for it. A couple examples are in order.

When I came out to my mom she felt isolated since she was only talking with parents at PFLAG. What about her friends?

My mom is a community activist, even though she’d laugh at that term. She organizes, volunteers, and through her work in the health care industry knows literally thousands of people. And, she knows many of my friends’ and classmates’ parents from any of her above activities. This is bad for me, and it always has been. Even before we had cellphones, if I was with a friend, she could never not find me.

Of course I told my mom she could talk with her friends. I’m not a crappy daughter, right? So, she talked with a few of her friends and asked for their confidence, they in turn told their children, and I in turn found out about it. It made things awkward when people I wasn’t planning on coming out to anytime soon already knew. It also sucked since those same people later knew people I worked with. I got outed, finally. Did it all start from telling my mom? I dunno, I hope not, but who knows.

The second example is more poignant. My mom told her boyfriend, who I’ll name Wilberforce (an underutilized name), I was trans. Wilberforce was a character. I really, really wanted to like him. My father had been horrible to my mom, and I desperately wanted her to find a nice partner. Nice he was, just not much more. He was quite a few years younger, smoked an incredible amount of weed, and couldn’t hold down a job for more than a month or two at a time. Some of this was understandable; the guy was a USMC veteran and was suffering PTSD. Some of it wasn’t. He siphoned off money from my mom like it was cool to do, even during her medical recovery, which basically meant he was taking money I was giving her. Look, if I’m half your age and twice as responsible, you have work to do as a human being. I’m not even that responsible. Gosh.

The worst part was his poetry. He wrote well, actually, but it always rhymed. Always. I loved Cat in the Hat, but that was back when I also loved Lunchables. My Lunchables days are past, as is my affinity for the dulcet sounds of sublime rhymes like… sublime and rhyme. Damn it.

Because it was his nature, he approached me about being trans. It was awkward, to say the least. He was very kind, actually, but I just didn’t really want to hear it from a guy banging my mom while stealing from my paycheck. So, I was gracious, because I guess I’m non-confrontational. Afterward he wrote me a poem about my awesome transgender soul. I’d like to say it touched me. I’d like to say I was deeply moved. I’d also like to say, what the hell was he thinking? Alas, I wasn’t feeling it. A bit too weird, that was. Can’t lie, though, I’ve kept it. I think he’s since published it, though, so I won’t be posting it here. You’re not missing out, my one (1) reader, trust me. What did you think transgenderingeds rhymed with, anyway?

So, those are two reasons it’s unkind to out that one, random trans person you know. First, you might get them into trouble at work. Second, they might get awkward, rhyming poetry. Just do the right thing, and ask if you feel you need to share. Ultimately, my mom did the right thing, she asked, and I don’t regret saying yes to that. It just illustrates that things don’t always end up awesome.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized