I am working a summer fellowship 800 miles from home this summer. I moved almost 6 weeks ago to a small town where I knew no one. This town does not have a gay bar. Surprisingly, my trans community found me. Continue reading “I Have Siblings Everywhere”
My flag was purchased by Spouse more than 2 years ago, along with a rainbow flag and a nonbinary one. It’s a full size lightweight nylon trans pride flag, with 2 brass rivets. It’s starting to fade, but my affection for it only grows.
This flag has been my cape through Pride celebrations, the J20 protests and the Women’s March on Washington, plus about a dozen street protests in Chicago. It waved proudly on a pole when Spouse took it to a beautiful trans rights protest. It hung on the end of my bunk when I was a counselor for trans kids at summer camp last summer, and adorned my co-counselor for a camp event.
It’s been washed once. It needed to be, especially after that long weekend in DC last year. Gently washing it didn’t remove the original fold lines, they’re still there along with a thousand new wrinkles – kind of like me.
This flag currently hangs in the east facing window in my summer apartment. I am working 800 miles from home this summer, in a tiny town where I know nobody. When I got to my little apartment it was crystal clear where the flag would go – proudly covering the place where the sun will come up each day. After what I’ve gone through hanging a pride flag in the window is a joy. It’s barely visible from the street, but I don’t care. I know it’s there, and when I wake up in the morning my flag glows with sunshine.
This weekend I am going to Pride in New York City, and the weekend after that I will protest in Washington DC. My fading but proud flag will ride my shoulders again, through that and all summer. As it, and I, become increasingly worn we will keep flying with pride.
Spoilers for Star Trek:Discovery S1E14 (release date 02/04/2018). Content notice for trans antagonism.
One of the most common euphemisms used for surgical procedures related to gender transition is “sexual reassignment surgery” or “SRS.” It is probably the most commonly known phrase for these surgical procedures after the even more obnoxious “sex change surgery.” Although I don’t personally find SRS to be a particularly useful term (I prefer to call each medical and surgical procedure by its technical name), I recognize that it is a commonly known one and many people, including many trans people and medical professionals who work with us, use it.
During the most recent episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “The War Without, The War Within,” we learn more about what has happened to Ash Tyler, a Starfleet Lieutenant, and Voq, a Klingon loyal to the martyred T’Kuvma. It seems that Tyler’s appearance, memories, and personality have been surgically implanted upon Voq, in an apparently incredibly painful procedure.
I was incredibly proud to have been a speaker at the most recent Skepticon event. My talk is now up on video! The title is Maybe He’s Born With It, Maybe It’s Testosterone Cypionate. I hope you enjoy it!
Continue reading “My Skepticon 9 Talk”
Throwback Thursday posts are posts I have previously written on other sites. They are reposted here sometimes on Thursdays. This post was originally posted on Queereka on 10/13/2013. Usage note: “Trans*” was a common convention in 2013 but is generally no longer used. I no longer use it but have preserved it in reposts in which it originally occurred for transparency.
Lately there has been a huge increase in the number of media news stories about trans* youth, especially pre-pubescent kids. Mainstream media shows them, blogs cover them, and stories get passed around on social media. Many of these stories are uplifting tales of families that accept and nurture their non-gender-conforming children and go on at length about how they are managing their local school systems and other barriers to acceptance for these kids. The kids featured almost always seem to identify firmly on the other side of a gender binary from the sex they were assigned at birth.
While seeing examples of accepting families is reassuring and inspiring for many, I’m worried about this messaging. I don’t think it’s function is to increase acceptance of trans* people in society. In fact, I think it’s primarily designed and intended to enforce the gender binary and emphasize a very particular kind of story about who trans* people are.
Continue reading “TBT: Trans Kids and Media Messaging”
CN: Discussion of testosterone based hormone replacement therapy, injections
Medication adherence is a big issue for any medication that needs to be taken long term. The WHO estimates there are problems with medication adherence in 50% of patients with chronic diseases in developed nations. People in poverty are impacted disproportionately, and generally poor adherence can lead to poor outcomes for patients. Although being transgender is not a disease, medication adherence is often a struggle for transgender men taking testosterone for hormone replacement therapy. Exact statistics are hard to get on this specific situation, but the WHO data suggests the hypothesis that this is a common problem for hormone replacement therapy as well. Anecdotally, I know far more guys who have struggled with compliance than those who have not, after the first year or so on T.
Better medications won’t solve the cost and doctor access issues. For most people a new prescription is required every six months or a year. Most insurance still doesn’t pay for hormone replacement therapy, and many transgender people in the United States and some other countries don’t have medical insurance with good drug coverage anyway. Keeping a consistent medical care provider for long periods of time can be difficult (especially for a population with low employment stability), and having to convince new doctors to continue your old medications, especially doctors not already familiar with caring for trans patients, is often a hassle.
Continue reading “Yes Please! Longer Term Testosterone Options”
Recently someone on Fetlife in the Minnesota kink scene posted a proposed draft of advice for how newbies should attend a munch. In the kink world a munch is a casual public gathering of kinky people for conversation and socialization. It usually takes place in a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar. Generally they are open to anyone and are often the first thing new people do when entering the kinky scene because they are fairly non-threatening and have a very low bar of entry.
When discussing the most conservative level of expected attire the proposed advice was the following (emphasis mine):
“Conservative dress that won’t attract unwanted attention from the vanillas. This means no stereotypical fetish or dungeonesque clothing or handcuffs. Any visible collar should pass as jewelry. You can cover a collar with a scarf or perhaps a turtleneck. No Fetishwear. No latex clothing. Some leather clothing may be okay as long as you aren’t covered from head to toe. We don’t also want it to look like a biker convention. No corsets worn on the outside. No littles wear. No ageplay clothing. No visible diapers. No pony play costumes. No puppy play costumes. No furry costumes, etc. No t-shirts with offensive or suggestive slogans. No Ballet Boots. In the case of crossdressers, if you don’t pass, don’t crossdress. Don’t showup in a sequined dress looking like a flamboyant glammed up drag queen. In the case of genderfluid, genderqueer, and transgender people, do your best to pass. The point is for everyone to blend in as best they can. This is NOT the place for social protest.“
Throwback Thursday posts are posts I have previously written on other sites. They are reposted here sometimes on Thursdays. This post was originally posted on Queereka on 2/16/2015.
CN: Transition experiences, discussion of aggression and objectification.
On Cracked yesterday a trans man named Roman Jones wrote about 6 Awful Lessons I Learned Transitioning from Female to Male. Some of the stuff in there felt similar to my experiences, though it’s been awhile (9 years) since I had to bind and much of this stuff applies more to the transition process than the stage of life I’m at now. I found his commentary about medical care especially on point – problems with getting decent medical care has been an ongoing problem for me and many other trans people.
But then late in the article Jones says:
It’s not only physical, either — transgender people who have undergone hormone therapy are a goldmine of information about the differences between men and women because of the effect different hormones have on your mind. Describing his experience with testosterone on This American Life, one trans man flat-out says “I felt like a monster.” He completely stopped thinking about the random women he encountered as people, and a nice-looking one would turn his mind into a pornographic View-Master. That guy was on an irresponsibly high dose, but most trans men on testosterone agree that it increases libido and aggression, which can be a shocking revelation for someone who’s spent their life chasing the estrogen dragon.
Here’s the thing: Testosterone does not create sexism on it’s own. People learn these attitudes (aggression, objectification) from their culture. Just because trans guys are usually raised being perceived as girls doesn’t mean that we don’t live in a culture steeped in sexist attitudes and we internalize them as much as anyone else does. T makes us look more masculine and for many guys it makes us feel more masculine, but it doesn’t tell us what masculinity means. Our culture does.
Trans men often say that T made us more visually stimulated. This is certainly my experience – when I’m on T I am far more likely to look at porn, to be aroused by the sight of my partners, and to notice attractive people around me. But visual stimulation isn’t the same thing as objectification. Lots of people are visually stimulated, not all of us see the people who’s appearance arouse us as less than human. One can be both attracted to someone AND know that they are a person. People do it all the time.
Aggression is similar. Some trans guys experience increased aggression on T. Many don’t. Some of us start crying a lot more (I cry at movies. A lot. Especially Pixar ones.) and some of us have a mellowing of emotional volatility because we’re so much less stressed out with less dysphoria. Our responses are varied because our expectations are different and our ideas about what manhood is and who we are as men is so diverse. Guys who are already prone to aggression or who see aggressiveness as a manly trait and part of their masculinity will have problems with that. These problems are created by a culture that teaches us – all of us! – that violence and anger are male attributes, a natural result of testosterone.
The models of masculinity I saw growing up in my family were extremely gentle. My father is an incredibly gentle man. My best memories of him are of sitting on blankets on the floor with him and my siblings, playing and telling stories. He works incredibly hard for my family, is soft spoken and introverted, and deeply devoted to my mother. My strongest image of adult masculinity is that of a devoted father and husband. Unsurprisingly, aggression is not a problem I have had with T.
Testosterone doesn’t create monsters of trans men or anyone else. Patriarchal culture creates toxic images of what manhood is, and some guys (trans and cis) internalize these images. When we experience an increase in libido and visual stimulation due to suddenly having our hormones corrected it shows to us and the world who we really are and who we think men are. The toxic culture we live in can create aggressive and objectifying sexist pigs out of us if we let it.
Guys, don’t let it. You don’t have to be that guy.
Throwback Thursday posts are posts I have previously written on other sites. They are reposted here sometimes on Thursdays. This post was originally posted on my Fetlife account sometime in 2009. It written in response to a question someone asked about moments of fear of regret about the process of transition.
CN: Body dysphoria, medical transition.
I remember the day I realized the binding had permanently damaged my breasts. I knew I hated them, knew I wanted them removed… but I was terrified. It felt more like a commitment than any other move had felt – starting therapy, changing my ID, changing my name, coming out to my parents, etc. I looked down and realized I’d done something I could never change back, and I felt totally unprepared for it. I cried (which is rare for me) but I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone else, because I was afraid they would think it meant I shouldn’t be allowed to start on T or transition any further.
It took awhile for me to come to terms with that, and I had similar moments of panic later on (the day I realized I was getting back hair for example, or the first time I realized I was balding). But that was the most serious time of confusion for me.
I suppose I could have stopped transitioning then, and I could have gone back to my earlier life. But I didn’t. As terrifying as as that moment was, going back would have been worse. I’m incredibly glad I didn’t loose my nerve that day, or I would certainly not live the life I have now.
Throwback Thursday posts are posts I have previously written on other sites, such as Livejournal, Science Based Sex, Queereka, Skepchick, or Skeptability. They are reposted here sometimes on Thursdays. This post was originally posted on Queereka on December 14th, 2012.
For years after I began my gender transition I regularly had an experience that is nearly universal among trans* folks: Someone would use the wrong gender pronoun for me, or my old name. That was a bit uncomfortable, but not nearly as bad as what came next. If they knew me and realized their mistake it would be immediate – if they didn’t then either I or someone else would correct them, prompting the response:
“Oh no. I am SO SORRY. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I just did that. How could I do that? I’m so so so sorry…” etc.
That was the worst part. It would last seconds, but felt like hours. In the end, I was spending my time and energy comforting the other person, and often the original conversation was entirely derailed. Now we were focusing on my transition, and the conflicts or struggles my transition was causing those around me. Again.
It still happens to me in a slightly different context. Someone will use an incorrect pronoun for someone else in conversation with me, and again they are apologizing. Repeatedly. Exaggeratedly. Apologizing to me for a mistake they made regarding someone else’s gender, and worse – they are quite forthcoming with me about how HARD it is to get those things right, how much they STRUGGLE with it because, you know, they’ve known her all these years…
Just stop it. Please.
First of all, the longer you spend talking about, and apologizing for, the mistake the longer I and everyone around us is spending thinking and talking about someone else’s transition. Furthermore, telling me about how hard it is for you shows complete insensitivity. Changing your language is hard? Tough. Deal with it. Compared to what your transgender friend is dealing with in transition, it’s incredibly easy.
How to get it right if you make a mistake? Correct yourself. A FAST apology is perfectly appropriate, but get back to the subject at hand.
“I was out with Keith… I mean Alice! Sorry, my bad. So anyway, Alice and I were out at the movies…”