I frequently see on many LGBTQ or Trans friendly sites, “Questions not to ask someone who is Trans”. I read over them and sometimes I am scratching my head wondering why. I know that for some people the questions are very personal, very private, and often can be something they are not comfortable being asked or answering – especially publically. I respect those people and their feelings on the matter.
I intend to do just the opposite. I believe if I can answer people’s questions I can end a little ignorance in the world and hopefully make it an easier place for someone like me. someone who doesn’t have the awesome coworkers, employer, and friends that support them. I can maybe make it easier for people to understand why some laws can hurt and some places are dangerous for us. I was asked plenty of questions. Really good ones and I am going to do my best to answer them, but first a disclaimer:
I am not speaking for anyone but me. I am not the voice of the Trans community, I am but a voice in it.
How did you know you were born the wrong gender? When did you know? What were the early signs?
I really didn’t have an epiphany one day and go “Oh shit, I should have had a vagina!”. When I was 8 or 9 I was channel surfing one night and came across a movie where a character was turned from a male to a female through some sort of spell. Something in my brain clicked at that and went “wouldn’t it be nice to be female instead?” It stuck with me. I have always had trouble sleeping at night, I am definitely nocturnal, so as a kid I would write my own dreams in my head until I fell asleep. In most of these dreams I kept taking myself into scenarios where I was either born female or was changed to female. Those scenarios felt more comfortable than the ones where I was what I thought was me.
But I was raised in a rural, small arse town in Maryland. I used to tell people drive north til you see cows and cornfields then turn left. We didn’t have the internet. I was sheltered to a point. I don’t even think I knew what Gay was until my mid to late teens. The mere concept of being able to become female was relegated to fantasy because I never even realized it could be a thing. So I was a boy/male 99% of the time, and only got to explore being a girl in my dreams and imagination. I never talked about it to anyone because it wasn’t a thing that was possible. So why bother? In 10th grade, we learned about viruses in biology class and how they change genes. I spent hours upon hours in the library and at home reading my books on trying to figure out if it was possible to create a virus that would change my gender. In classic Jess fashion I over thought it and realized I’d have trouble beating the white blood cells and how to properly introduce another virus that would stop the modifications of the first one. ….I also was trying to figure out how to add Cat DNA to it. I wanted balance, night vision, and claws. sue me.
When I left Maryland and everything there behind, for better and worse, I was on my own. I still never really thought of it. I had grown up sheltered enough in the right ways that the concepts never occurred to me as possibilities. Then I found online. I found roleplaying. More and more my characters were female. My persona became female online. I talked to people and it became fantasy play. I had friends who helped me learn the right words to use if I was going to be a girl – because I was still an idiot and didn’t quite get it. I had friends who in RL would visit and take me shopping for clothes. I started wearing them under my clothes at work and just enjoyed the sensation and how comfortable they felt.
Eventually my full-time online persona became female. Some people would suspect and try to trap me into revealing I was male. My voice doesn’t modulate well and without a lot of concentration there is no way it passes.
So it was a slow progress from dreams, to roleplay, to fantasies, to the realization it COULD be real. It felt right. It felt to me that this is who I was meant to be. Who I was supposed to be. After some urging from some coworkers to stop half assing it and make a stand for myself. I did.
Ultimately, I think I knew when I was a kid. I just was too dumb, too ignorant, and too isolated to realize it.
If it weren’t for me being as far from my family and the culture as humanly possible and roleplaying games happening at the right time in my life, I may have remained as ignorant. They opened my mind to new possibilities and removed blinders I was raised with. That is not a condemnation on how I was raised. It simply is how I was raised.
What should I, as a parent, look for in my child if they feel they may be transgender but can’t put those feelings into words?
Let me start with: I don’t feel I am remotely qualified to answer this. I can never have children. Ever. (unless I adopt, but it’s not the same as giving birth to me)
That out of the way. Children will surprise you. The world is a much smaller and aware place than it was when I was a child in the 80s. A coworker I respect greatly was talking about how their child was talking about “who we would go to war with next”. When I was that childs age I was thinking of how to stay standing while surfing the middle aisle on my school bus, trying to avoid bullies, playing my Nintendo, and reading but not really grasping Stephen King. The children of today have a better voice than we did. The biggest thing you can do as a parent is listen when they use it. Don’t discount the little things. Let them be who they want to be.
If your child wants Transformers shoes instead of Barbie? Let em.
They want to play with toys that are generally considered masculine rather than feminine? Let em.
If your boy wants to wear a pink tutu or a pretty dress for school picture day because it will make them happy. Take them shopping and get them the dress that makes their eyes light up and hug you so hard it hurts and say “I Love you Mommy” when you do it. If your girl wants to play football or baseball or wear her hair “like the other boys” let them. Fight the system if you have to, but let them. Listen to THEIR pronouns. If you look at the last thing I wrote there “like the other boys”. That means they might be self identifying with boys rather than girls. Vice versa is true. If you’ve got a boy who shows interest in getting a mani pedi? Sweet. They are awesome. I love going to the salon and being pampered.
Just don’t discourage them. Don’t tell them “don’t get too full of yourself” as I was told once when I mentioned to my family “I was told I had a sexy voice”. Don’t buy into societal stereotypes of Pink is for girls. Blue is for boys. Lego’s are for boys, but the Lego’s specially for girls are for girls only. I Could do an entire rant on that alone.
Do not let what society currently says is masculine/feminine define how you raise your child or limit your child. Watch what THEY Show interest in and embrace it with them. That’s the best thing you can do. Your child will tell you what they think they are, just listen/watch them.
You can even ask them if you want. As a parent you have a great opportunity to end the stupidity that is sexism/racism/ism-ism by simply asking them what they think and letting them know they can be whatever they want to be. They have the freedom we may not have had.
Does that help?
PS. I won’t get into anything beyond binary gender here. There’s an entire new realm of gender expression being discussed now that I am not knowledgeable enough to speak on.
What can I, as a friend, do to help make your transition easier?
Watch the pronouns. Those probably hurt me more than anything else. I was at Starr Pass the other night and a waiter kept calling me sir, even after correcting him. One of my coworkers noticed and asked if it really bothered me and really it does. It deflates me. It shuts me down.
It’s widely known I have a self image issue. I am very self deprecating about my looks at work in one of our chat rooms. I have to work very hard to pass as a female, well not as hard now thanks to the surgery, but still very hard. I even got called Sir tonight by the bartender at the movie theatre. He did self correct, but I caught it and it still stung. When I get called: “He”, “Sir”, “Jason”, “Him” it hurts every time and makes me doubt. Doubt all I’ve done so far and still have to do. Makes me doubt if I can really do this, if I can really be me. I eventually muscle through it, but for a bit my ego, which already looks like its gone a few dozen rounds with Tyson AND a stampede of water buffalo, is broken.
The other thing is to help spread the message of understanding. The campaign “It Gets Better” is so true. It does get better once you are in a wider world. So much like I said above in the question about parenting, don’t make it wrong to be a girl if you have a boy. Don’t make it wrong to be a boy if you have a girl. Let me get more into that with the perspective question below. That one is such a loaded question its not even funny.
Also, since I was never raised as a girl. I still make a lot of boy mistakes and don’t have a lot of practice with make up, fashion, even walking right (though I think I am pretty good there now). If you see me do something blatantly boyish…let me know?
I am sure there is more and when I do the video later this week I might include that…or add more in the comments below as I think about it.
I think what I’m most curious about is perspective… How did your perspective change as you went through your process? Good and bad.
Ok. Wow, you could not have asked a more loaded question if you tried. If you follow me on FB at all you’ll see me sharing or liking quite a few things about gender equality and sexism. For the better part of 35 years or so I was for all intents and purposes born, raised, and living like a male. I am white. This means I had white male privilege. Which for those not really familiar with the topic gave me the societal power of ignorance and blessing. I didn’t see sexism for what it was in many respects. I wasn’t affected by it. I wasn’t affected by hate crimes. I wasn’t affected by so many things, which left me ignorant to them. Ignorance of this variety is damaging. By giving up the “maleness” I am giving up some of that privilege.
In fact, not only am I giving it up. I am subjecting myself willingly to open hate and ridicule. Not just from men, but there are feminist groups out there who will never consider me a woman. There are people, closed-minded as they may be, that see me not as a person, but as a deviant. So there are some significant changes in perspective. I have to worry about walking alone at night in some places, in ways that I didn’t before. I have a statistically higher probability of being a victim of rape, hate crimes, or assault now. This transition has made me more aware of many problems in society that I could ignore because I wasn’t affected. It’s made me realize how I have been and some really dumb things I’ve done that have furthered or at least by omission of action allowed for continued bad behavior.
The short answer is the good and the bad are the same. I am now affected, so I am no longer ignorant.
I am aware now of some really odd double standards in society, things I hadn’t thought of and when I write them out you will probably realize are stupid:
I legally had my name and gender changed at the end of July. My drivers licence went from M to F. At this point I was subject to all laws as they pertain to women. I had my breast augmentation surgery last week. Now..here’s the stupidity:
From August on, I legally could not have swam at the public pool in my HOA in just my swim trunks. Sure I could have passed for male and I doubt anyone would have noticed, but had someone said something and I was forced to show my ID…I could have been charged with public indecency. Even though I was still relatively flat chested and at the maximum just had enough growth from my hormones that I looked overweight. Consider that…
Now…what if I hadn’t changed my gender with the government and still had this surgery. I’d have some lovely breasts and – to my knowledge – would have no law stopping me from walking around topless.
Additionally from a personal perspective on the concept of perspective. I have to put more work in than say some women do. I have to go out of my way to be just a bit more feminine, to say the right things, look the right way, I have to put additional effort to pass as female – all to be accepted as such in public. Some of my girlfriends can throw on a shirt, shorts, forget brushing their hair and no one will question them. If I don’t work harder to pass, then there are questions and unlike this forum, some of them can get uncomfortable. Some of them can be fearful.
Prior to the name change: Bathrooms terrified me in a public places. after the name change…I know they cannot do anything legally about it. But there’s still risk
Pools however, the ocean? I can’t enjoy due to the hair loss I was suffering before I started the hormone therapy. Yes, I can do stuff about the hair, but that’s more money and things that aren’t covered.
My perspective is continually evolving these days where before I had the luxury of it being stagnant. Ignorance of so much of the world was a part of my life before and now while I may be ignorant of some things, I am not nearly so on so many other topics and this is a very very good thing. It lets me do things like this and try to help other people understand.
I can see now how bad society has gotten. I can see now how good it is getting in many respects. It’s a long road ahead and I am happy to be able to help steer from time to time.
Along those same lines, what has been the most helpful from friends and others for you as you’ve gone through this?
I want to call people out by initials here, I won’t use full names, but I want them to know I am specifically talking about them. I suppose someone could look at my friends list and figure it out and if these individuals want me to omit their initials I will.
SU: Providing me clothes when I first started being Jess at work. Money is daunting and so much of what I am going through isn’t covered by insurance. Aside from the physical, she’s been supportive and someone who while we may not have been friends when I first started this we certainly are now. SU is important to me and her support was one of the first and has always been there.
SH: Being inquisitive and prodding me when all I was doing was being Jason in women’s clothes. You asked. You pushed. You pushed me out of my comfort zone. Between you and SU I don’t think I’d be where I am today if it weren’t for you both specifically.
CJ,E, A: Being some of the oldest, and lets face it only, non work friends in my local life. No judging. Enduring shopping trips. Enduring my freaking out over the fact I cannot find shoes (13EE/13W – we don’t get pretty shoes) or clothes or anything that I am comfortable in. Being there when I have had some truly deep and dark days where I thought being Tucson would be like coming back to a prison and a life I hated. Still not a fan of Tucson, but my life is better for them in it.
All of the people at work, managers, coffee addicts, barista, teammates, former team mates and so many others I really cannot name them all. There’ve been some pronoun and name slips even recently, but people try. People care. Walking in the first day as Jess with an “its a girl balloon” on my desk. Walking back in after the surgery to find an Elsa/Anna Tiara. All the people asking how I am doing. All the people who go “we’re all girls here” when I am standing with them. A certain person (typhoid) ready to beat someone’s ass down at PV when he thought he saw a sideline look and a comment. All of the incredible support and love I feel. The old clothes donations to me, the fact that I am a thought at all.
Being invited to girls night. Hell being invited out at all. All of these things have been helpful.
The way so many people online and in real life just go with it. It isn’t a thing to you , it just is.
I know so many of you call me Brave. I don’t feel it really, but I do feel safe around you and that has a value you can’t touch.
Seems to me the general consensus is “You can ask me anything you want. Just please do it with the same courtesy you’d like in kind with respect to privacy and dignity. I feel I made the right decision for me, but don’t think for one instant that it was an easy one. Be cool, not cruel.” Sound about right?
Pretty much. I have been open to questions since day 1 of the transition when I walked into a training class of returning members of my team. So few were asked and I’ve been surprised. I don’t think its bad, but surprised. It’s why I did something like this. Of course, if someone were cruel to me – my words can eviscerate just as easily.
What can your friends do to continue to support you?
Continue to make me feel safe. Continue to treat me as one of the girls. Continue to have conversations with me as if I was born genetically / physically female. Continue to be awesome.
Share posts like this and others I do. Share the experience and knowledge when you hear someone make a comment you think if I was in earshot of would hurt me. Do not be silent. Do not be passive. There’s a reason people post about being a LGTBQ Ally. No matter what happens legally or socially – our numbers will always be a minority. Stand up and be counted as a friend and ally when you hear something. Stop the ignorance of others. Just because I didn’t hear it myself doesn’t mean it was right to let it slide.
If you are afraid to do so, I get it I really do get it. But ask yourself why you’d be afraid. Then think of all I, and others like me, go through. It’s probably something like that. Sorry to turn this around on folks, but I don’t know another way to try to help folks understand.
Ultimately as a friend, continue to be one. This journey isn’t over. I am alone in many respects in my life with not much chance of that ever-changing. I do need the friends. I do need the support.
…and let me tell you it is appreciated.
You have made it so far in your journey and I know how brave you have been to get this far. Do you have any fears about continuing? What do you do to combat those fears?
I still don’t consider myself brave. I don’t consider myself strong. I just survive. I endure. I suppose with so many saying I am I might be. I just need to say I don’t see it.
I have fears every day. I wake up afraid of what happens if my wig falls off at work. I wake up and am afraid of what might happen if I take a walk at night as the hormones I am on are quite literally making me physically weaker. I am worried about this new surgery and if something goes wrong having to go through it again to fix it. I am worried when its all said and done it won’t look natural. I am worried that I won’t be able to afford the Genital surgery (when I am ready for it). I am worried of what happens if it goes wrong. I am worried about being a trans woman trying to get a date and being single the rest of my years. I am worried about the polarization of politics and that some numb nuts will pass a law that makes my life even harder.
When I was in Maryland a few months back, my friend told me her church was passing a petition around to stop a law from passing. This law would provide gender equality to Trans individuals and allow us to use the rest room we identify as. She was uncomfortable with it, but had concerns. We had a very long conversation on the topic too. Things are changing for the positive for people like me, but it doesn’t take too much for them to swing the other way if ignorance is allowed to have too much of a voice and people who don’t know better listen. Fear mongering in the media terrifies me because of what it could mean.
what do I do to combat it? Write posts like this. Talk to people. Be open and try to be informative. Otherwise though? The fear is always there. I just have the pleasant blessing of a job that keeps me so busy I don’t have time to worry. So I guess I distract myself from it, but its there. I try to not let it control me. I hold my head high and try to shrug things off when I do hear them. I don’t always succeed as I mentioned before but I will survive.
I endure. I move on to the next day and the one after. I don’t always believe it will get better for me, but I also refuse to be beaten.
….and yes, I listen to Let It Go on repeat on the particularly bad days.
What is the best experience you have had throughout your transition? Wil you share you worst experience?
The first day of work as Jess was one of the best. Seeing the excitement in some peoples eyes when I told them things I was doing as part of it. The smile on my best friends face when I tell her about things I will write in this vein. Waking up with boobs last Wednesday. …ok waking up is a strong word for what I did. The day I went to court and got my gender changed from M to F though? Probably the best. I cried in joy leaving the Social Security administration building.
Worst? Losing a relationship of 15 years. Hands down. No contest. Most painful experience of my life transition or no.
How should I reference pre-transition Jessica? Pronouns, names, etc.
If you’ve known me since I left Maryland? Jess/Jessica/Jessie/Queen Elsa/Vampire Princess/She/Her…etc
Thats been my persona for the better part from 97 on when online. I try to refer to myself the same, “When I was a little girl”..etc.
Do you think it’s been easier to be yourself online?
Yes. Yes. Yes. I was laughing the other day as I realized one of my oldest AIM names could be used at work now since it legally IS my name. There’s no more hiding. I am female. I am Jessica.
Have you been concerned about “coming out” (for want of a better phrase) to those you’ve only known online?
Honestly ? No. Nearly everyone I knew in City of Heroes or before that knew me as Jess or Plas. I was treated as female by so many there is not much of a change. I suppose the biggest concern is surprising people that didn’t know I wasn’t a genetic or cis-gender female. Online communities tend to be more accepting based on how you were than who you are in life…with only a few exceptions. Another concern is people who may not realize that the person they knew as Jason is now Jessica. I ran into that with a few folks I reached out to from Maryland. Since everything online for me has been Jess for years, it was weird and uncomfortable to try to let them know who I was.
Some I tried to reconnect with and no reply. I like to think its because they didn’t know who I was rather than they knew who I was and ignored me anyway.
Has it been more or less difficult with your online friends as opposed to your “real life” friends and family?
As I said before, online is so much easier. RL friends, have all been relatively easy. I’ve had to block a few on Facebook when I see them supporting some of the hate mongering ignorance I’ve talked about. Some say one thing, but believe another. I try to talk to them, but…its difficult. It’s confusing to hear “I accept you and don’t have a problem with you” then see the same person supporting groups and people that would see me in a padded room, jail cell, or otherwise outlawed in some way shape or form. This goes back to what I said earlier about not being silent and standing up.
So many of you do accept me and practice what you preach and that means a lot. I’ve said it few times already, but I want it to be clear the support is appreciated and taken to my black frozen little heart.
With family? It’s not really that hard. I have never been close to my family. Most of them when I was growing up would only talk to me when they were drunk. Yes I am airing dirty laundry, but I want this to be 100% open and honest. The ones I was worried about telling are having trouble still. They go through the usual stuff “what did we do wrong?” “was it something we did raising you?” “was it your parents divorce?”. The answer here is No. There is nothing my family did raising me that made me THIS way. There’s plenty of other issues from that raising, but those have nothing to do with being trans. I was afraid of their reaction when I told them. I was afraid they wouldn’t talk to me anymore, the ones I talked to anyway. The reality is though, it wouldn’t have changed my life much. Most of them were content to ignore me when I was there, now that I am 2000 miles away I am even more out of mind.
The exceptions, those I care about, it was nice to see they cared. It meant more than I might have lead on when I visited. Plus I got to find out an estranged cousin is totally awesome, not a surprise considering my aunt though.
Is there anything you feel you’re “giving up” and will miss as you complete your transition?
Aside from a penis and the ability to walk around topless in my house comfortably? I still don’t have a good answer here. I want to get back to this. I will let you know when I edit it.
What is the most exciting thing you feel you’ll gain from it?
I’ve been so long-winded with other answers, so let me try to be short with this one.
Sense of Self. Completeness. Being who I am supposed to be inside and out. They say bring your whole self to work. I am almost there. I am almost the me in my head, my heart, and soul. Yes, the body is just a shell, but its a shell I put value on.
…and in a semi humorous vein – looking fine in a bikini or tank top.
I know you from way back in the day, and many of our exploits come up in conversation with mutual friends from that era. When referring to things that occurred pre transition is it appropriate to refer to you in the masculine sense, as you were in the occasion being discussed, or the feminine sense, add you are now and prefer?
this one is weird. I said for people who know me after Maryland it’s always Jess. For you though, and those from that time in my life when recounting our various and sundry exploits. I think… it’s ok and natural to start with the former name and pronouns. I would ask, and I hope it is not unreasonable to do so, that as conversations happen the name and pronouns transition as much as I have from past to current state. If I am talking to you, or the few others (ok one other right now) that I talk to from then, I will talk about myself in the feminine and would ask that you respond in kind when we talk. I hope that is reasonable?
Every group has a segment that embarrasses them. For whites, its Honey Boo Boo; for blacks its anytime Bill Cosby opens his mouth nowadays. Is there any behavior that makes transgenders shake their heads and say, “ugh, you are embarrassing us”?
RuPaul. RuPaul is not a transgender or transsexual. He uses us as a punchline. We are a joke. When I see “trannys” used as jokes in movies, comedy, or TV its upsetting. It is upsetting when I see people laughing and sharing it. Some do it infrequently (even Colbert does it) and it’s not good. But RuPaul is hands down the worst and most problematic.
I also want to bring up Laverne Cox. Not as an embarrassment, but setting false expectations in the physical department. SHE IS INCREDIBLE. She is a powerful voice and spokesperson for trans-rights and I am glad we have her. I also see a cover of TIME magazine and she is just much photoshopped to modern beauty aesthetics there it makes it more mentally difficult for people like me who don’t pass as well. This is an internal thing vs. external, but I have had this feeling for a while. Again I am glad the trans community has her, maybe I just wish she was more like me?
Do you have to be bi or gay to be a transgender?
No! Being Trans in my sense is about physical expression matching mental/spiritual/emotional. Sexual attraction is an entirely different matter.
Also, much like I talked about with binary genders, there’s an entire spectrum of sexuality that I am ill-equipped to discuss tonight.
What is someone considered(gay, straight, bi) if they decide to change their gender and now they are the same-sex they are attracted to?
I suppose by the strictest definition, they would be considered homosexual. This one, like I said, is weird as there’s a spectrum we could talk about. Gender expression and sexuality are different animals and can bake the brain without careful explanation.
Is there anything about the process you are scared of? (I am not sure how far you are in your process)
I think I covered this above, but I am also scared of the fact I am pretty much on hormones the rest of my life. Self injecting sucks. I’ve been on HRT for over a year now. I am scared that even after the breasts, the vaginoplasty, and even what hair replacement I get, I still won’t pass as female.
What has been the hardest decision you have had to make?
- Deciding to continue on this path even though it cost me the fiancée of 15 years.
- Deciding to actually take the first step and become Jessica at work.
- Making the decision to never turn back no matter how hard it got or is going to get.
- Writing posts like this knowing that I am asking it to be shared and how cruel the internet can be to women (not my friends. I mean the trolls that live in the comments of Youtube…they are scary)
If people were to ask me if you are trans, what would be the best way for me to answer them? (Other then nonya)
“Yep, she’s a transwoman. If you want to know more about it, please ask her. She’s very open to questions as long as they come from a place of wanting to learn more.”
….and yes I just wrote that as I do suggested verbiage for work.
What resources are available for people who may want to learn more about the medical aspects of changing their gender?
Let me get back to you on that. I have done so little research it’s not funny. I’ve been flying blind on a rocket cycle with the occasional google search. For the longest time I wasn’t getting results because I searched Transsexual rather than Transgender (or vice versa..). I used a few links from the Southern Arizona LGBTQ community site: Wingspan.org
I Will let you know when I edit this post.
How does a person go about starting the process?
- I started small. Clothing changes, make up, earrings, nails, hair.
- Then after some talks with coworkers, I talked to my boss. We talked to HR together.
- Then I told the others I work with, which surprised the frak out of HR. They weren’t used to someone being so forward about it I guess?
- I knew from some reading that a Psychologist has to say you are sound of mind, so I Saw one for a single visit and he said “Yep the patient is cognizant and aware and has gender dysphoria…they can start treatment if they want”
- Saw my primary care physician. ..ok I found a PCP, then saw them. Said this is what I want to do. I need an endocrinologist (I didn’t do research there, I know hormones = endocrine system.)
- She recommended one, they had a six month waiting list.
- I called around and found one that saw me in a month.
- Started HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) then.
- During 1 year check up, I asked the Dr. if it would be ok to get the Breast Augmentation. Dr said yeah I don’t see any issue.
- Called a few Plastic SUrgeons, when I found out insurance doesn’t cover this – WHICH SUCKS – found one on a recommendation from some folks
- Met him
- One month later I woke up with boobs.
- Where I am year from now…no clue…I will look into that bridge when I am ready for it.
Do you have any words of wisdom for others doing the same
I am no Yoda. I don’t do platitudes, but:
- You cannot do this alone. Find people who will support you and embrace them. Trust them. Let them know what that trust means.
- You WILL be afraid, but don’t let your fear stop you.
- You will be asked questions, you have no obligation to answer any of them.
- You will be judged by society. If you like the judgement FANTASTIC. If you don’t – it WILL get to you, but muscle through it.
- Transition is a dream…one that can be a reality. Don’t turn your back on your dreams if you want them.
It does get better.
So this post ended up a lot longer than I thought it was going to. If you read to the end – thank you!. If you have additional questions. ask them in the comments, facebook me, or shoot me an email to AmusedintheDarke@gmail.com.
What a perfectly lovely blog!!
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I’m still reading. I’ll probably read this many times over. As I read I find more and more that I’m troubled and confused. This will not come as a surprise, but I’ve never owned it the way I am now. I am a feminist. I’ve been questioning things such as white male privilege and “acting like a lady” my entire life. I’m also just starting to understand what being an LGBTQI ally means and how to be more proactive there. As a feminist, I’ve found that people expect certain things of women. Dress, bearing, the things we carry with us, etc. But there’s no test for me to pass as a woman. It’s accepted. Even now with my short hair, it’s accepted. Hell I’ve got exs, the ones who would have begged me not to cut, telling me it’s “sexy as hell”.
You and others in the community talk about passing. I see that people get confused and use the wrong pronouns. These are people you know and strangers too. I can’t quite figure out how I can look as masculine as I want and no one questions me. I suppose it’s the breasts? But even if I bound them I imagine no one would question. Women aren’t their breasts (large, medium, small, or none). Women aren’t their voices, complexion, or their body hair. They aren’t their way or walking or the things they buy. It seems to me you have this pressure to pass. Do you feel this dichotomy? This pressure to pass while wanting to fight and say that women aren’t our bodies? Do you ever wonder what could be if feminism didn’t have to be a movement, but was a truth? Does your daily fight to pass take part in a larger conversation for you?
I’m in no way trying to subsume your conversation with a feminist one. Actually I want you here. You’re us. You’re one of the many of us I want to hear from, I want to speak with, and who I want to be heard. I feel your voice should be heard as a member of the LGBTQI community and as a woman on feminism. I’m rambling. You’ve made me passionate. So Jess, (is that version of your name a bit masculine? Does it bother you?) Do you feel like your experience gives you a certain perspective on feminism? Would you consider sharing it sometime if it does?
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This is beautiful Jess! I know you keep saying you don’t feel brave, and I guess it’s up to us, your friends, to keep reminding you that you are. But it’s so much more than that. Doing this blog is so helpful. I can’t tell you how much I worried about how my reaction to you without your wig the day before surgery might have offended you. I was so surprised when I saw you and felt I could have reacted differently, but in the end it was kind of a sideways compliment to how fully you are accepted as a woman now. I am proud to share this blog in the hopes that it will help somebody with a closed mind come closer to understanding and might open that mind just a crack. You amaze me!
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This is an amazing story. I laughed and I cried.. I am so amazed by you Jessica. You are very brave and I love that you are telling your story so that other can learn and better understand.. Big Hugs .. YOU go GIRL !!!!!!
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I’m glad you wrote this…it’s very much like the work I do when I guest lecture about disability (including discussions about passing, medical stuff, reactions from people) and is why I started my blog about being a part time wheelchair user. Bodies are persnickety things that are sometimes malleable and sometimes not.
Oh, and in regards to the sexual orientation thing? I hope we can eventually move towards words that describe what we’re actually attracted to, not just words that place our bodies in comparisons with others!
Lastly….as a feminist with a women’s and gender studies degree, I really hope this “transwomen aren’t women” bullshit goes away and quickly It’s infuriating and just reinforces these crappy dysfunctional binaries based on biology that is way more complex than our two gender system of looking at things can handle.
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You said people using the wrong pronouns is especially painful. If I am not sure, would you prefer I ask directly which you prefer? Or rather pick one and switch as you correct me?
I’d usually avoid using any gender-ascribing words at all, but sometimes it’s just not possible.
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She. Her. I am a girl. 🙂 Thank you for asking.
But as a general rule, I think it is appropriate to ask someone which pronoun they would prefer. It’s also worth mentioning several languages around the world do have a gender neutral pronoun. English is not one of them.
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I met Jason first.
A very likeable, intelligent, funny person; and someone who certainly traveled the same dark alleys as I.
As you know, my very best friend went through the transition and is currently living life in her preferred gender. She has confided in me regarding every aspect of her transition. All the good and all the bad. She was also the topic of a documentary in L.A. which helped shed some light on the process and how it affected Gabi in her career.
But she did come to one revelation about her process: The more positively she thought about HERSELF; not in relation to everyone or anyone, just being positive about herself and not giving one airborne feces about what anyone might be thinking and not giving in to the paranoia of words and innuendos. Yes, words are hurtful…if you let them be.
Gabi has learned to ‘educate the ignorant’ when confronted by a erroneous pronoun or less than gentle comment. You are who you are. Everyone who knows and loves you will support you 100%. Your job is to just be you. We love you Jess. 🙂
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