On Loneliness

Loneliness is a common theme that runs through this blog. It’s common, because it’s common in my life. I very often feel alone.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my name change. I don’t celebrate my birthday, so some people in my life had asked if I would be open to celebrating a nameday. My wife and I had already talked about the idea, because she had hoped to have a day to celebrate me, since I guess she likes me at least a little bit.

Needless to say, all of the people that asked about it, those that I work with, friends of mine, even my own parents. Said absolutely nothing yesterday. After pushing me to get excited about it, and open myself up. To make myself vulnerable, so that I could be surprised and delighted about actually having something meaningful and good happen, that was exclusively about me. They couldn’t be bothered to recognize the day with even a simple message.

Having a day to feel special is not something that’s ever really happened for me. So I’m not going to lie, I was kind of excited, I thought hey, it’s a little different, but it gets me closer to feeling a little normal. Everyone gets a day that’s about them, that’s the whole point of birthdays, so it’s a second chance at a slice of regular, plain, normality.

So when no one even notices, an anniversary of something as spectacularly meaningful. I still remember the smile, the tears, the elation I felt when I held that stupid piece of paper in my hand. For something so small it meant so absolutely much. Even among all of the difficult and terrible things that had begun to unfold, and the year of pain and hardship that sits between yesterday and the same day last year. It’s still a testament to a lifetime of struggle to achieve something. To the labour of becoming oneself, and the effort of self actualization.

So to celebrate something so monumental seemed worthwhile to me. It was an important accomplishment. It was a defining moment in my life, and one I will treasure forever.

I just won’t celebrate it, because I now know, unequivocally, I am not worth celebrating. I’m not worth knowing, and I am especially not worth anyone’s time.

There’s a comfort in knowing where you stand. I know who cares about me, and even if the list only has one name on it, I at least had the foresight to marry her.

I Still Don’t Hate my Penis

One of the most looked at posts I’ve ever made is I Don’t Hate my Penis I don’t really know why. Maybe hating your penis is something that resonates with folks, or the fact that I don’t hate mine is controversial.

But I wanted to have a bit of a penis appreciation post right here. If you’re not comfortable with that, then please stop reading, I don’t want to trigger anyone’s dysphoria here. Or make anyone more uncomfortable then they currently are. If you’re along for the ride though, it’s going to get personal up in here.

Often transness is reduced to very medical terms, it’s often a discussion of surgeries, of characteristics. Which is totally okay, but sometimes it would be nice to be positive about one’s body. It’s mostly bad, but it’s not all bad, I know positivity coming from me, very off brand.

I like my lady dick, which for all intensive purposes is just a regular dick, maybe a little smaller then usual, definitely smaller then it was pre-hormones, but a dick nonetheless.

And that’s A-okay.

Maybe it’s a result of my trans experiences, maybe it’s just a flaw in my worldview but I’ve never made the connection that genitals = gender. Maybe it was a product of my time, it’s not like anyone was talking about this stuff almost thirty years ago, so I got to grow up thinking whatever I wanted about it. Sex and gender have always been fairly separate in my own head. Which has come in handy. It’s got me in the situation I am now.

The scarier thing, and I know it’s scary because I’ve scared people by sharing this fact. Is not only do I not hate my penis, I even like using it. I was at a conference recently with obviously still gendered gender neutral bathrooms, which is a story for another day. The point I’m going to make is I pissed at a urinal for the first time in a long time, and I’m not going to lie, I kind of liked it. There’s something powerful about peeing while standing in five inch heels. Not an every day necessity, but on occasion, hell yeah.

Another point in the penis-euphoria section… It still works, and I use it.Here’s some fast answers to some of the questions I get.

  • Does it work the same?
    • No
  • Does it feel good?
    • Yes, but in different ways. For example it’s not a prostate heavy orgasm, as there’s very little ejaculate.
    • I also ‘arrive’ more then once now.
  • Can you have sex?
    • Yes, you don’t need a penis to have sex.
      • Also yes, I can still have penis-vagina sex, don’t have the staying power I used to and sometimes there’s some discomfort afterwards, but I am able to ‘get it up’ and use it.

I’m sure there’s more but those are the big ones, yes my endocrinologist was amazed when we talked about this, so this is not a particularly well understood thing. The only thing I can think of is that since I don’t really have any genital dysphoria that there isn’t really a block on having an erections. Erections are part mental and part hormonal, so there’s not the hormonal support, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

So there you go one trans woman’s opinions on her penis. Solicited or not it’s here, and if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.

 

Remembering Without Wallowing Pt. 2

This isn’t a post that I thought would get a follow-up, but it’s interesting how our perspectives change. As I come up to the first year since coming out completely and socially transitioning and all of those big milestones There’s a few things I find interesting, and some new challenges to deal with.

If you’d like to read the first part it’s here: Remembering Without Wallowing

One of the most interesting parts of this is the fact that I now have a life lived, as a woman. Which needless to say is a very interesting experience.

Before transitioning all of my memories had one thing in common, they were coming from a male presentation, a life that didn’t feel like it belonged to me, but ultimately that maleness always changed the tone of something negative.

I remember going out to buy clothes before my first day of school in Junior High. My parents must have had some extra money, because it was the first time my mother had ever shown any excitement toward me spending money, and she wanted me to ‘find my style.’

It was really a free range offer to express myself. The problem? Expressing myself as a man isn’t something that really works well for me. So an experience that should have been foundational and important, and really could have been a good memory was ruined by the maleness attached to it.

As a tangent, I bought clothes that looked incredibly similar to what most of my friends wore and was made fun of for it for years. I didn’t emulate, I copied, and it showed. I learned to be slightly unique after that, still male, but a unique one, it wasn’t really my own expression or related to anything I felt. I just needed to be different, to be overly male, to fall into easy stereotypes. The best way to hide is to be so obvious no one notices you don’t belong. Yeah, I wore dress shoes in high school, and button up shirts.

Anyways, getting back to my point. I have the interesting challenge now of addressing my life and my memories, of a life that does feel real. Of decisions I’ve made and am not only accountable for, but really don’t have an excuse.

Memories are a weird thing. They don’t always mean the same thing to you twice. I had no intention when I started writing this to tell the story that I did, but it fit where my head space was. Really, it’s a good story, at the time it was terrifying to me, expressing myself was dangerous. If only my mother had of known that pain and difficulty it caused me, but I know to her it’s probably a good memory. It was one of the first times I’d really had the chance to be more mature, and make my own choices. It was likely an important milestone for her as a parent, and could have been a good one for me.

If I can describe my experience as a trans woman growing up, it’s that dichotomy. My transness took away even the good memories because I wasn’t in the moment and I wasn’t experiencing what I was supposed to be. Those foundational elements of your life are always wrong, they don’t quite fit who you are. That’s the hardest thing about remembering the past is the parts that are good, but weren’t good for you.

That’s a good memory, and I need to learn to appreciate the goodness in it. Even if it doesn’t feel good immediately, I need to learn to focus on the good.

 

 

 

Feeling Tired

I had a conversation the other day that has really stuck with me. I’ve not been subtle in my desire to connect with other queer professionals in my industry. I had a chance to sit down with one last week.

To say that the conversation was helpful would be a profound understatement. Unfortunately, I’ve been somewhat downtrodden to learn that the frustrations and negative feelings I’ve been having lately are shared.

Some people say misery loves company, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I certainly wasn’t happy to hear I had company.

One of the things that really has affected me, is that I don’t often feel respected or heard. In a lot of what I do, professionally and personally. I have tried to put myself out there by volunteering and I often find myself even in queer spaces relegated to the corner whenever my opinion differs from anyone else’s.

I’m not a real enough woman to be heard as one, I ‘gave up’ being a man so I’m not worth respecting like one.

I’m lately feeling so very lonely and voiceless. It’s incredibly frustrating. I find my gender identity and ‘differences’ are used as an example as to why I’m not worth listening to, or aren’t part of some team, or aren’t worth listening to long enough to make a point.

I find myself often spoken over and ignored.

The part of my conversation last week that bothered me the most? Thirty years into her career and she’s still struggling with the same thing. With better poise and grace no doubt, but still struggling to be heard and listened to at times.

I’m already so tired, I don’t know if I have that much fight left in me.

 

 

Dealing with the Consequences of Transition

Transitioning is a very consuming thing. You need only read through this blog for the last year and watch as hope turns to despair, despair turns to anguish, and then just sadness.

The hard part is waiting for things to get better. From experience, I understand that when things are tough, they don’t usually stay tough forever, you adapt you grow you learn, Either way, you find ways to deal with your situation.

So I’m in an odd place now. The last year has created a lot of damage in my life. My head spins trying to think of everything that’s changed in the last year. My relationship with my wife has change, in many ways for the better. It took a lot of effort to hold it together while I figured out who I was. My relationship with family has in a lot of ways deteriorated. my career, as has been noted, is basically a flaming shambles, which is fine. Something I hadn’t expected was the role that chosen family would take. Finding a community for the first time was amazing.

As things begin to calm down, and I feel like I have some stability in my own head. I’ve got to deal with the aftermath of the destructive spell. The calm after the storm. Survey the wreckage and discover the new wonders.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that this is all so tough. and even as it gets easier day to day. There’s still the consequences of your previous actions, and meltdowns, and breakdowns and fights and arguments.

But that all just means that I’m living. Only now I have the benefit of being the woman I knew I was while doing it.

Discrimination: Could You be so Kind as to Sanitize your Identity for Me?

I’m a little disappointed that this is a post I even have to write.

Being gay is not a choice. Being trans is not a choice.

Yet, I have had to endure multiple conversations, one of which I discussed here: Discrimination: Why Do You Need To Be Different?  that centres around a central theme. That my identity is something to be sanitized (the word that was used, and in all honesty pretty fascist sounding) in a professional setting similarly to ones politics or religion.

Whether or not one can remove themselves professionally from politics requires answering the question of what defines what is political, Which frankly, reality is political, so I don’t hold a lot of stock in that idea. Sanitizing ones political identity would require having no opinion whatsoever on the very nature of society and how to exist within it. Which would render ones ability to give advice non-existant.

That’s not the point I wanted to make however.

I recently started reading Transgender History by Susan Stryker. I’ve been enjoying it thus far, learning a lot for sure. There’s a quote I read that I think sums up my point “All too often, there is a tendency to be concerned with the rights of homosexuals as long as they somehow appear to be heterosexual, whatever that is.” This quote itself taken from Marc Stein’s City of Sisterly and Brotherly loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia 1945-1972. 

If one substitutes transgender people and cisgender people into that quote I still believe it works. Basically, so long as one doesn’t disturb the norm, one may be rewarded with conditional acceptance, assuming one accepts the conditions, continues to uphold them, and praises the situation regardless of how good or bad it may be.

So let’s get into the story itself.

I had a conversation with one of the partners at my firm yesterday about business development. In which I made the point that I’d like to be more welcoming and open to the LGBTQ+ community. This was among other very valid points. If you’re new around here, you may be surprised that my desire to work with and help a community that has been historically disenfranchised from the modern financial system, and as such are systematically disadvantaged was not met with enthusiasm.

So I wasn’t surprised, but even more unfortunately, but perhaps illuminatingly, was how the conversation progressed. The partner I was speaking with made his case that as a professional we should refrain from causes so as not to alienate anyone. That attempting to appeal to a specific group is exclusionary to other groups. That appealing to someone, and to make a comparison he used politics or religions, based on their beliefs limits who you can work with and ultimately your overall ability to work with all people.

The problem in that statement is that comparison of my gender identity and sexuality to what are inherently beliefs. Though I’m aware choosing ones politics or religion are often complicated by culture, geography, familial ties and many other factors. They do represent a choice. One may be born into a family in which it is likely they will be Christian, they are however free to choose their religion.

I did not choose my identity, I can not sanitize it like I can my religious beliefs when I come to work. My political beliefs don’t often make it into a conversation with a client, however it’s much more difficult to avoid mentioning my family, whom my wife makes up a major part.

This type of thinking reduces those who fall outside of a social norm. I’ve read articles discussing a similar concept racially as well. The effects of ‘professionalism’ and it’s norming standards on people of colour. An example is that natural hair is considered unprofessional and a sign of deviance. Which it is not.

The irony is that this partner also recognized that he himself fits the stereotype of what clients consider a professional. He is an obviously white male person, with a white beard to express age. He is quick to out himself as straight by mentioning his wife. He is clear in his presentation as male. He has not sanitized himself of his own identity. Why would he? His identity is an acceptable one, it fits within his concept of professional. While openly acknowledging that his own stereotypical example of an advisor fits a ciscentric,  heteronormative, white world. He can’t make the mental leap that what makes him a stereotype is exactly the type of privilege he needs to acknowledge in order to accept me.

I don’t represent a stereotype of what people consider a financial advisor. I am obviously trans, I am openly gay, I am very obviously young, and I am a woman. None of these are opinions. How I present myself is as a woman, my age, is in a general sense visible, and as I have to explain to most of my clients, the man on the phone was me. So I can’t really sanitize those facts out of the equation.

So disappointingly I now have the unfortunate task ahead of me of explaining to someone who should know better. That my identity is not a choice, and that he needs to stop considering it one.

 

The Overt Quality of Trans Nonacceptance

I’ve tried really hard to give my bosses the benefit of the doubt. It’s been difficult, I had a thought the other day about it. They have made my transition possible, but they have made it difficult.

Well that all changed yesterday.

After months of subtle coldness, and constant disrespect. They decided to go full on overt discrimination. We regularly hold client events, as an office we all go out, meet with our clients, we give a presentation. Not usually a big source of muss or fuss.

One of the partners comes to me yesterday as we start getting close to getting ready to leave. He asks me if I could stay back and keep the office open. He doesn’t want me to be a distraction. Also asks would be a strong word. I don’t feel I had a choice in the matter. I told him he could ask whatever he wanted but that he was being a little mean. That I could do as he asked, but that he was being mean, that it was a mean thing to do.

His response, I don’t want you to think of it that way.

Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put together that excluding me from something everyone else in the office was going to, an event I regularly attended in the past, is discrimination. All because  my gender identity and expression differ from what they consider appropriate for their clients.

I knew the road would be rocky, but to be honest in this day and age I didn’t think I’d have to face overt, in your face exclusion based on who I was. The subtle stuff, 100%. The only consolation is I now know there’s transphobia in their hearts whether its hate, or fear or ignorance festering in their heart I don’t know. I have seen the darkness in their hearts, and I’m afraid of what’s next.