The subtlety of trans unacceptance

My Wife and I are in the process of becoming foster parents. This process hit a rather unfortunate roadblock the other day. My wife started her own business a month ago, it’s a busy time, she is working more then ever. She’s enjoying her work and its been a really positive experience.

The social worker doing our assessment tried to explain it wasn’t entirely because of my transition that she wasn’t ready to accept our application. She was great about it, I can tell she cares, and I’m curious how much of her misgivings are from her supervisor. I can not help but think that if my wife was my husband, they would forgive a busy father. That I am seen as too unstable because of my transition, I need the support of a ‘real’ mother for those kids.

I’m pretty devastated, my wife and I aren’t in a position to have kids of our own obviously, and we’re not sure about adoption yet, but fostering was a way for us to do some good, we have a huge empty house, we both have had rough childhoods and want to try and give some warmth and safety to a kid that really needs it. I know we’ll be good at it.

I’ve talked about how I don’t hate being trans, how its a defining part of me and has shaped me into the person I am. I wouldn’t change it if I could. I do so wish that it didn’t make my life so difficult. I find myself feeling tired, not physically tired, but emotionally. Having to justify transness, and explain it, and put it into a box it doesn’t fit in is exhausting.

I am a person, I am a human being, I am a woman who happens to be trans. I want nothing more then the dignity afforded others. I wish only to be treated like a person with a name that explains who I am, not who my parents thought I was before I was born. I wish that my sum total experiences were cherished and celebrated for what they are not as a contradiction of what is ‘normal’ (which just means straight and cisgender.) I long for a world in which transness is an experience that can be shared with others to enrich them, not to justify why others are ‘coerced’ into being uncomfortable.

Every culture is enriched by the variety of experiences and stories that are allowed to enliven it. Let us culturally accept that transness does not fit into any other context then itself and give it the room and space to breathe life into the lives of those who don’t experience it. Let trans people be people, let them give you strength as their experiences have given them, let their stories give your life greater meaning, let their struggles help you understand your own. We are not monsters, we are not to be feared, we are not looking to upset any natural order, we are but people whose place in history has long been blotted out, and whose stories have not been allowed to pass to others. That no more makes us new, or frightening then any other group who have existed outside of ‘proper society.’

Trans stories and lives matter, we have a role in society, we have a place in the hearts of those around us. We have a right to do good around us. Just let us.

On Slurs

I’ll put a little note in here that this is going to delve into some unpleasant terms for trans people and if you’re not comfortable with that please don’t continue reading.

I don’t often experience something that I wished hadn’t happened. I was outside with a group of people and one of them, somewhat out of nowhere asked one of the other guys “Is fucking a trap gay?”

The person asking was my brother.

I’m pretty tough skinned. I try not to let the little stuff bother me. That wasn’t little stuff. That’s a big one. That a word could throw me into an emotional fit is new. I didn’t used to feel enough to get upset. So when I started shaking and yelling and almost crying I was entirely unprepared. It felt like I’d been stabbed it cut so quickly into and hurt. physically hurt.

Everyone makes a mistake and says things to someone they shouldn’t but lobbing a slur can usually be avoided. You choose to use those words knowing how dangerous they are.

Those words have consequences. My relationship with my brother has been shaken entirely by a single sentence. I don’t want him around anymore. I worry where he learned that from. I now have to try and hold back and not extend that to the rest of my family. Because in my experience people don’t hate in a vacuum, but I can’t just assume it wasn’t him being an idiot.

I wish this journey was easier sometimes. I wish my brother hadn’t of said that. But mostly I wish that I didn’t always have to be the bigger person.

Words hurt kids, don’t think they don’t.

 

“Nobody Wants to be Trans”

Someone said this to me yesterday. I won’t name names, I’m a real lady like that. But it is something that I know I struggle with, and I think it’s a sentiment that is pretty common. Nobody wants to be trans. it comes from a simple enough place. Being trans can be tough, given the choice people would choose the easier path.

I wouldn’t be the same person I am now if I wasn’t trans. I can’t imagine a path my life could have taken if I wasn’t trans that would have been similar. Gender identity isn’t the core of your being, but it’s not many layers up. It subtly and un-subtly touches every part of your life. So to say that I would rather not be trans… well I can’t agree with that.

Even professionally I’m good at what I do. I don’t think I’d be nearly as good as I am if I weren’t trans. There’s a whole depth of character and experience that I can draw on to round out my practice.

I’ve noticed it most acutely when coming out to people that when thinking about trans people, non trans folk can’t seem to wrap their mind around. In my case they focus on how my wife feels or has dealt with ti, because they can imagine her perspective better then mine. It’s understandable, but I’m also not an alien. I’m not some non-human entity. I’ve just got a difference that sets me apart from a lot of other people.

Which is why I think people think being trans is bad, because it’s different, its separate. Often times its lonely, its uncomfortable. But for me at least it has harboured great virtues. I have incredible patience because I’ve had to. I have a desire for safety and security that has pushed me further then ambition ever could. I have great inner strength and harmony because I’ve had to deal with my demons.

Being trans has forced me to know myself. That is a gift, I live my life with peace, most of the time, because I have had to spend the time unpacking my baggage, understanding each element of it. Then put it back together to be a functioning human being.

So would I rather not be trans? No, would I rather being trans be easier? hell yes.

 

 

I Don’t Hate my Penis

I read an article this morning about a movie apparently making it’s rounds in the film festival circuit. I’m not usually one to pay much attention to them, but it seemed pertinent based on the title so I read the article. Now, I haven’t seen the movie, it sounds kind of gross I don’t know if I will. I wanted to talk about a particular obsession that people seem to have with genitalia.

Here’s the article for those interested, the movie is called Girl. You can find it yourself.

https://www.intomore.com/culture/netflixs-girl-is-another-example-of-trans-trauma-porn-and-should-be-avoided-at-all-costs

Now, I can by no means portray myself as the end all be all of what defines Transness. I can’t, and I don’t want to. I can talk about my experience. Which kind of boils down to this. I don’t hate my penis. I don’t really love it, it’s just kind of there. It doesn’t offend me, and we have a working relationship. Would I be happier with a vagina? Am I sad that I don’t have one? Not really. I have gotten to a point of acceptance with my genitals, but I didn’t start at hatred, or even really dislike.

So I find it interesting how much cis people are fascinated with genitals. You can look at the lengths parents go to differentiate the genders of their babies, a two month old does not have a developed gender identity parents, the bow in their hair is for you. If it makes you feel better that’s fine, but it doesn’t matter.

When dealing with older children on towards adults the preoccupation with the world being a place where everyone’s genitals are clearly and easily identified has always been strange to me. I only know this because as soon as someone knows your trans then it becomes a point of interest.

It shows in movies like this. As we start to see more “trans” stories for lack of a better word popping up in popular culture, and I’m specifically talking about those written by non-trans folks the preoccupation with genitalia is foundational.

Which brings me back to the title. I don’t hate my penis. I have a far worse opinion of my voice, or my facial hair then of my penis. Nobody sees my penis, it’s just there. I’m upset about not being able to be pregnant far more then having a penis bothers me. Because fundamentally genitals are parts of us that procreate children. I’m sad that I can’t carry a child, I’m not mad that I have a penis. Let me explain.

Being trans comes with complicated emotions, much like being cis, but I’m going to focus on the trans thing right now. I am remorseful that I didn’t get the chance to grow up the person I wanted to be. I grew up not in control of who I was, because I knew who I was on the inside differed too far from the norm to feel safe and accepted enough to be who I was.

So most of my milestones are warped by this, in the pictures of me growing up, I see a little boy growing into a young man. That makes me sad. That fills me with remorse, knowing that the life and person I wanted to be was not the life I lived.

In none of those pictures do I see someone with a penis, I just see me. subtly terrified and trying to survive. Just trying to make it through long enough to someday be myself.

I wore a suit at my wedding, my wife knew I was trans but it wasn’t broadly known, and I love my wife. I wanted to make that commitment to her. I wanted to be able to publicly declare my love for the woman of my dreams. I didn’t know what path my transition would take, It would be nearly a year later before I’d meet with an endocrinologist to start hormone therapy, which was in and of itself a surprise even as it happened.

I don’t look at my wedding pictures, I don’t have them in my office, I don’t have them in my house. It was an incredible day, and an incredible moment in my life. and I hate seeing pictures of it.

And my penis was no where to be seen.

Being trans is often about what you lose, because in so many unfortunate ways you lose yourself. When you talk about childhood development you talk about milestones, and everyone needs to reach these milestones before you can move on. So when you go through some of them wrong, you continue on, because you’re a functioning person. Yet there’s a haunting that echoes through your life. All of your memories, your relationships, your achievements before you transition are touched by the fact you weren’t authentically yourself.

These are what make me sad. These are the things that I’ve lost. As I live my life, and I’m still working towards a place of safety and comfort with who I am. I continue to progress and mark milestones. and I am saddened that I didn’t get to share who I was with everyone as I go.

Gender dysphoria is complicated, much like people are. Some days I’m fine and I live my life, and other times I feel the stubble on my face and I’m sickened by it. It’s a complex and difficult feeling to understand and deal with. Often times its quiet, and takes prompting to roar into life, though that might just be from the years of repression.

There are many things that make me trans, and there are many things that make me upset, but also give me great strength and wisdom. I have never hated my penis though, it’s part of me for better or worse. I might not like what it represents or what its meant to my life. but I’m a complicated person I don’t have a single focal point that defines my experience.

If you want to tell a story about a trans person, talk about the inner conflict, the mixed emotions, the fight to stay sane as the world forces you into a box you don’t fit into. The doubt and the fear. The life defining, and changing decisions. There are plenty of interesting perspectives to show and fascinating stories to be told about the experiences and lives of trans people. To focus on such a small facet, and frankly a not particularly interesting one is shallow and mundane and best, and harmful at worst.

To anyone who might read this and is in a creative position to tell stories. Don’t tell the story of a cis person trying to understand being trans. Show the awakening and joys and sorrows and the highs and lows of that journey. Your storytelling will be better and you’ll give voice to a human experience that is not commonly shared.

Living truth

I’ve talked before about how I’ve been reading old stoic philosophy. Most of it is Roman, and one of the things I find the most interesting is their fascination with truth.

We don’t talk about truth a lot anymore. We don’t strive towards truth, the closest we seem to get to is some degree of authenticity. Truth is a far higher standard. Being truthful to yourself is incredibly difficult. It means admitting everyone of your mistakes, while also not reveling in your victories. It means not just living a balanced life, but thinking in a balanced way. It means feeling in a balanced way. Truth is unyielding, so you must be always ready to accept it.

I’m going to share a rather long quote from Epictetus about the nature of mind and body. Please keep in mind that Roman’s had a very patriarchal view of the world, I’ve chosen not to change the text.

What then should a man have in readiness in such circumstances? What else than “What is mine, and what is not mine; and permitted to me, And what is not permitted to me.” I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment? “Tell me the secret which you possess.” I will not, for this is in my power. “But I will put you in chains.” Man, what are you talking about? Me in chains? You may fetter my leg, but my will not even Zeus himself can overpower. “I will throw you into prison.” My poor body, you mean. “I will cut your head off.” When, then, have I told you that my head alone cannot be cut off? These are the things which philosophers should meditate on, which they should write daily, in which they should exercise themselves.

You can kill me, hurt me, imprison me, cripple me, but you can never control my thoughts. Freedom of thought is always in your control, and always something worth using.

What then does that quote have to do with truth? Everything, living your life truthfully and honestly requires you to accept that the only integrity worth maintaining is your mind and will. As Epictetus states not even Zeus can overpower his will. The only thing you have is your thinking mind. Your body is largely irrelevant to the whims of the universe. You can’t control what others do to your body, only how you interpret it. If you strive for truth at all times there’s nothing but virtue that can flow from that perspective.

Now, what’s that got to do with me? I’m trans, always have been and always will be. The hunt for my own truth in my own mind has been exhaustive and exhausting. I find great comfort in knowing that knowing myself and living truthfully is virtuous. I am not held back by my physical body because it is not always in my control. Others can restrain me, or taunt me or exclude me. If I maintain truthful to myself then I am always acting in accordance with nature.

P.S. A lot of douchenozzles use stoicism to justify their shitty behavior. Being a stoic isn’t about only caring about yourself, and not feeling emotions. It’s about trying to be the best person you can be, and caring for others without caring for reciprocation. THere’s is an element of selfishness but the selfishness is to recognize that your best interests are served as part of a community.

Fly on the wall

I’ve always longed to be

a fly on the wall

To hear and see

but do nothing at all

 

I yearn for the truths

we don’t tell other people

like old timey sleuths

hiding in personal steeples

 

My own story is hard

not easy to share

each person does guard

the truths we can’t bare

 

I yearn for the freedom

to hear from some other

the tales that precede’em

my own, did not smother.