One of the Guys

I hated being a guy but sometimes I miss being one of the guys.

I was talking to a friend who is also transitioning and the discussion moved towards how our relationships with others have changed. It mostly was about our male friends. Our experiences are quite similar. We are relating better with women than men. Men are becoming harder and harder to figure out in spite of all our experience in men’s shoes.

My relationships with most men have changed vastly. Only a very few have remained much as they were before.

One close friend told me a few weeks ago that I had changed. I am like a different person now.

The discussion that followed really shook me to the core.

He was speaking honestly and from the heart. He was not being mean. All the same, it seemed like a mark of the end of our relationship. I hope it isn’t.

But shit, I have been in transition for over a year and a half now. All the while, I have been the star of my own movie. I guess I had moved past worrying about the impact my transition has on people who are close to me. This reminded me that it is a bit of an adjustment for everyone.

To me, I feel like I have changed very little. That may come as a surprise. But, I started transition with the same consciousness I have today. Whatever it is that makes me a unique and living human was never rebooted with a brand new operating system. My brain is still my brain. I started transition as me. I remain me.

Transition is SLOW. I always say it can be like watching paint dry. Perhaps my personality has changed far more than I had thought.

I think there is more to it though. Other people’s perception also plays a HUGE role. To some people, TOLERANT people, simply viewing me as a woman or a trans woman completely changes how they feel they should relate to me.

Obviously, men tend to treat women differently than they treat other men. Men, usually heterosexual, commonly avoid friendships with women. The friend zone is a bad thing according to most men. Femininity holds far less value In male circles, and women are easily ignored or talked over. The whole dynamic is different.

Then, there are the guys who have become flirtatious. What a bizarre, confusing form of flattery to someone like me who is not used to it. Many men though, only know how to communicate to women through flirtation. It rarely means anything besides the person likes me and is trying to express it.

There is just a general distancing that has evolved over time. I am far from the only trans woman who has experienced this.

The longer men have to wrap their head around my transition, the less they see me as one of the guys. They forget what it was like to hang out with me. They replace these memories with new thoughts of me being a trans female.

My relations with women have evolved too. These differences were far quicker for me to notice.

Many trans women talk about how women start behaving differently around them shortly after starting hormone replacement therapy. It just becomes easier to talk with women within a few weeks, even for those trans women who have not come out.

Obviously, part of that is the hormones. Hormones are like drugs. Men and women are all stoned out of their gourds, they are just high on different substances. Thinking whilst high on estrogen has to effect how a person interprets other people on estrogen.

The next thing is pretty cool. I think it is partly pheromonal. One of the first things to change on hormones is how you smell. That musky to foul male scent I could not always shake was replaced with something far more mild and female. I do not smell male anymore and I suspect that really changed how women act around me. Why do I think this is the case? Because before I came out but shortly after starting hormones, female strangers, female cashiers… etc. started talking to me. Just small talk. It started happening far more frequently than it did before

Finally, my sex drive plummeted in those first weeks on hormones, so I was more likely to communicate with women without that awkwardness of wanting to check out her tits while knowing I shouldn’t.

By the time I came out, I was already relating differently to females and they were relating differently to me. This has only become deeper since then, to the point where I now think I understand the women I talk to better than the men.

The main thing I think coming out did, was it showed women how I too embraced my feminine side. I did not think less of women, like many men seem to. We were on the same team.

So, back to my friend who thinks I have changed, and I am almost a different person. I guess I have changed. I guess I am like a different person. I guess he is right. I don’t know if things will or ever can return to how they used to be. I don’t know if I want them to.

All I know is, I still do occasionally miss being one of the guys… but I love transition.

Aloha,
Tori

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Bathrooms: Number Two

Sorry about my last post. Well, not too sorry. It is fun to joke about things once in a while. Sometimes a situation is so ridiculous, you have to look at it from a crazy perspective just to shine a light on it. Bathrooms are silly and bathroom politics are too.

I have talked quite a bit about bathrooms in past posts but I have never really talked about them exclusively. Well, today is our lucky day.

As the famous lead singer of R.E.M., Michael Stipe once sang:

Everybody poops
Sometimes

Transition is a trip. People who are not trans are lucky in some ways and they are missing out in others. Sure, I have my bad days but I also have gloriously good days, which were rare pre-transition. You really get a fascinating look into human behavior from the male, female and in between perspectives. The in between part is where I feel I reside right now. I knew going in that there would likely be an awkward phase where I was neither seen as particularly male or female. Life on either side of that binary is far more simple than in between, but it is also less enlightening. When you live between genders you really learn how much of a joke gender really is.

Bathrooms really drive this point home. What bathroom do I use? Well, I use the one that best corresponds with how I am presenting at the time.

Cisgender people often get confused by the fact that I may present as male on one day then female on another. I tend to socialize as a woman, but I do much of my shopping and other errands as a guy. Why can’t I pick just one? If I want to transition to female, why am I not just being a female full time?

I have several reasons/excuses. I do not have an extensive wardrobe. Just when I was getting there, I moved to Montana from Hawaii and all my clothes changed from just clothing to Summer clothing. They don’t work in Winter. My current wardrobe is lacking but improving. What else? Well, being female is a LOT of work. I am far from a prissy type of trans woman but I still have to focus on things most women take for granted like walking or gestures. I surprised many by coming out. People tended to see me as male and I fit the part. I still do. I fit it better than I fit the female role. It is easier to be male for me, at least right now. I don’t like this fact but it is what it is. Another reason? I have convinced myself that I am doing the public a small service by being gender fluid. It makes people think.

The main reason though? Bathrooms. They now really cause me a great deal of stress and anxiety. To top it off, one of my medications, Spironolactone, causes water to pass through me faster than I can drink it. This means, I have to make frequent potty stops. It used to be that I would use a bathroom in a supermarket like once or twice a year at most. Now it is almost once or twice a week. I have to sit on an aisle at theaters in case I need to get up and go. This is particularly embarrassing at plays, where the performances are live.

People see me get up and head for the restroom. I feel them watching me wondering which room I will enter. I know it weirds them out. It weirds me out too.

On days where I will be out for a good while, running errands and whatnot, I almost always go as a male or I present androgynously. I know it confuses people. This allows me to use the men’s room if I have to go. Honestly, few things can ruin my day like someone making a rude comment about me, while I am in a stall in the women’s room. Nobody ever has. Still, I fear it SO much.

In Hawaii, bathroom laws were VERY liberal. I could pick a room based upon my mood. In Montana, it can depend on which town I am in. There are also a lot more guns, and a culture of WHITE. I have lived most of my life as a white male, and yet, I get nervous around cultures dominated by my kind. The diversity of Hawaii or New York is much more comforting to me. Montana has a very Libertarian attitude towards most things, “Don’t fuck with my shit and I won’t fuck with yours.” which is not bad for a trans person, but the utter lack of diversity makes it feel impossible for me to blend in. That is an exhausting way to live.

When I present as female here, I always have one eye behind my back. I know many women reading this are thinking, “Well, duh! All women feel that way.” and I understand. Women have to deal with unwanted advances and the threat of sexual assault. I sometimes fear for my life in public places. This is new to me. Not only are trans people more likely than almost anyone to attempt or commit suicide, they are also incredibly likely to be physically assaulted, sexually assaulted and/or murdered. Especially trans women. Most of all, trans women who are minorities. Well, I am white, so there is that, but when I live in a state where white is the primary color, being trans makes me stand out. This place gives me the heebie jeebies sometimes. Where I currently live, homosexuals tend to stay underground. If gays and lesbians are underground here, I feel they may have a good reason to do so. I can only stay underground if I present as a male. I do not aspire to doing this my whole life, but in this environment… eeeeep! I hope we move somewhere else soon.

Shame is universal. There is a LOT of shame that simply comes with being trans. I waited 37 years to transition because of shame. I do not present as female full time because of shame. I fear bathrooms because of shame.

The shame of being trans is a huge burden at times. It has lessened greatly with hormones but it is still present and I worry. I worry about my safety, yes, but I also worry about others around me. I can easily feel like dead weight, an embarrassment. Why would anyone want to hang out in public with an eyesore like me?

Damn bathrooms! I use the women’s room when I am presenting female and you know what? It is remarkably similar to the men’s room. What’s most surreal, is using the women’s room at a place where I used to go as a guy. The layout is almost always mirrored and sometimes the paint is different, like pink stalls instead of blue, which I imagine most readers already knew. Neither room is glamorous. People do much the same types of things. Women get a bit more privacy at the expense of having fewer toilets. I sometimes have to wait with the rest of the women in lines, although I hate lines for different reasons than most women. The longer I am in line, the more chances people have to object to my being there, which is just awful. I feel the worst when I am in line with children and their parents. I can’t help but imagine what they are thinking, so I end up thinking those things for them.

I have many friends who have been sexually abused, most of them female.

I guess what I am saying here is: I understand why lawmakers in conservative states are trying to pass laws to keep trans people out of restrooms. The fear they feel about someone like me using a female restroom is irrational and there are very, very, very few cases of people impersonating women to get in a restroom to assault a woman but it is still a fear, much like the fear I feel by being myself in Montana. We already have laws against assault, we already have laws against lewd behavior, we already have laws against rape. A law, preventing me from using a female restroom would be redundant for all the reasons one might reasonably think it could be useful.

The unreasonable reason such a law would be passed is people don’t understand enough about why anyone would transition. Many think it is a kink or perversion. They want me out of the women’s room and back in the men’s room. I already live with enough shame. More than enough. Such laws would only reinforce my shame.

People really think weird things about trans folk. They often think we are sexually deranged. In reality, my naughtiest thoughts are so mundane, people would fall asleep to them. It doesn’t help that hormone therapy has almost killed my sex drive. I get the warm tingles from acts of romance and love. What does not turn me on is hearing the woman in the stall next to me taking a turd.

I feel like I stand out like a sore thumb. Most early transitioners feel this way, so while I understand why someone may wish to keep me out of the women’s room, I feel much safer there, especially in establishments where alcohol is being served. If I really wanted to assault women, I could think of far better places than the bathroom, and I could think of far less conspicuous presentations than as an obvious and awkward trans female.

Cisgender readers, ask yourself, “Have you ever been in a public place and seen a trans person? Did you feel uncomfortable?”

Be honest.

I am trans and I can answer yes to both of those questions. There was a trans woman who used to eat lunch at a cafe by the University of Hawaii where I would hang out if I needed to kill time and her presence made me very uncomfortable. She was SO obvious. Tall, extremely masculine face, WAY too much makeup, terrible posture, and she dressed like someone thirty years younger than she was. I was extremely uncomfortable whenever she was there. I also felt terribly hypocritical for thinking those thoughts. Once, I noticed her get up and head towards the restrooms and I watched her walk the whole way just to see which one she used.

I never thought to say anything to her. I spent a lot of time just gawking critically and feeling uncomfortable in her presence.

This woman was brave enough to transition well before I did. She never came there with friends, and her fashion sense, now that I think about it probably reflected the lack of support and advice she was getting from others. It reflected her shame.

I worked at a Waikiki swimming pool and I remember the terrible comments my co-workers would make any time someone looked even remotely trans.

Unless I learn to blend in, and that is NOT easy, I will make people uncomfortable by my very presence and that does not mean those people are just simple minded bigots. That is the hard, honest truth. My presence can make people think, and some of those thoughts may disturb them. Sometimes I embrace this new fact of my life and sometimes I get tired just thinking about it. It is kinda’ cool, having the power to make people question gender with my very presence. Not quite a superpower, but still…

That trans woman I used to see at the cafe? She brought out the transphobia in me. She also taught me by her very presence. I learned a bit about how to dress appropriately, to be understated with makeup, and to keep my friends close so I could lean on them for advice and protection. She taught me not to transition into HER. She opened my eyes to what my life would likely become if I was not careful… and perhaps, even if I was. She taught me humbling lessons but she did not stop me from transitioning.

It is just… I hate to say it… I understand the bathroom thing. It should be simpler than it is. Not knowing what the bathrooms will be like frequently keeps me from going out as a female. In spite of getting a slight thrill from freaking out the squares, I don’t want them to worry about their restrooms because of me. Restrooms should be taken for granted and I often enough put my transition on hold just so others can continue to have that luxury.

I do not need a, “Papers please” bathroom law. Trans people in general don’t. A certain percentage of cisgender people need such laws, or think they do, so they won’t have to worry about thinking certain dark and nasty thoughts when I walk into a room with them. I understand. My superpower can cause people to think things they would rather never think. They would rather live in a simpler world. A world of just men and women. Nothing in between. They would rather brush folks like me under the rug. It is not their intent to shame me. They just want to avoid having their own shameful thoughts.

I kind of envy folks like that. It seems so simple. They want laws in place to reduce the number of times they think things that make them feel ashamed. Really though, if lawmakers spent more time feeling ashamed of themselves, and asking themselves why they feel that way, they would do a much better job.

Aloha,
Tori

No Man’s Land

I recently moved back to the mainland with my wife. I for the most part think location makes little difference on one’s state of mind. It is possible to be miserable in Hawaii and it is possible to be blissful in North Korea.

And yet, this has been a tough move. I have been uprooted. My wife knows people here, she grew up here, I am new. I feel like a burden.

Usually when I post, I like to focus on the positive and interesting aspects of transition but I am not feeling it today.

Today, I feel like a freak, living life between what everybody else seems to fall into. Transition often leaves me wondering, “What the fuck am I?”

In spite of my dysphoria, life as a man was pretty damn simple. I knew where I fit in. I didn’t like it particularly but I knew my lot in life.

Now, as a person in transition, I have given up the comfort of being male. It isn’t like I can just slide into being female, no matter how much I wish I could. It is a literal no man’s land.

Transition is such a mental thing. People focus on the physical far too much. Let’s face it, almost everybody is fascinated and repulsed by the surgery.

People do not usually ask me if I plan on having the surgery. It is far more common that I am asked things like, “Do you want to chop your dick off?”

Think about that for a moment. What kind of loaded question is that?

People focus on the physical.

“Why would you transition to become a middle aged lady?”

“You won’t be pretty.”

Gaaaaa!!!

It is people’s comments, not my looks that can keep me up at night.

“I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. Whatever floats your boat.”

Thanks for the backhanded support… comments like this are frequent. Roughly translated it means, “I think it is weird what you are doing and I am judging you for doing it but I won’t get in your way. Don’t look to me for help either.” Thanks.

Some days I just don’t want the hassle. I want to blend in. Some days, I like being different and standing out, which is a good thing because that is my current lot in life. It can be SO taxing though.

My God! Any cisgender people reading this blog, try this for me. Tell everyone you meet that you are the opposite gender that people see you as. Do it for one day. Be diligent. Insist people call you by the correct pronouns.

I know none of you will do this. It is too much of a hassle. It is an inconvenience to all the people around you. It would make you feel weird.

Welcome to my life. I am in a bizarre situation where I just have to let it slide if someone calls me Tommy or he. It would be rude of me to correct them every time. It would make those people uncomfortable and defensive. It would make them feel like I do every single day.

Living in a new place, trying to make a new life, really drives the point home. I am an imposition.

Obviously, I am not supposed to give a fuck. Just live life. The less I care the less others care but that shit takes practice. It is mentally taxing until I get the hang of it.

Some days I just don’t want do deal with it.

There is so much bullshit involved in being female. Imagine getting your crash course in being female at 40. Imagine being a woman with an asterisk.

There is a long way for me to go. It isn’t always rainbows and sprinkles.

Thanks for reading, I feel a bit better now.

Aloha,
Tori

When Did I Know I Was Trans*?

At five years old

I was putting my baby sister’s

diapers on.

I saw her vagina.

I wanted one.

I wanted one.

– Eve Ensler

The Vagina Monologues

 

I’ve quoted this portion of Eve Ensler’s play because it really sums up the realization I had at a very young age, although I had no sister. I was an only child. Many details surrounding my realization are hazy as they tend to be with early memories, because so many of the details surrounding the event were incomprehensible at that age and therefore, not stored away like other more mature memories.

Also, worth noting, I was a very sick child. I probably would not be alive today if it were not for modern medicine, but I also would likely have clearer memories from my early years had I not been on some pretty hard drugs for quite some time.

In ancient times, the combination of my early illness which I overcame, combined with my non-binary gender, would have made me a great candidate for a shamanistic position within the tribe. Instead, I became an actor. But hey, a storyteller and a shaman were not that different in ancient times. Both were unique and valued positions within a community and they stood outside the typical hunters and gatherers. I am hard wired differently than most people, and it is frequently misunderstood in these modern times.

As I transition, my ability to see things from multiple viewpoints has increased exponentially. Male and female, liberal and conservative, religious and secular, all these things and why they lead to silly conflict that could easily be avoided are becoming as easy for me to read as a Dick and Jane story.

If only my own inner conflicts were as easy to decipher.

The human mind does not grasp the concept of gender until 3-5 years old. Most trans people realize they are different during this window of time, although a fair percentage learn later, around puberty, and a few learn even later still. The vast majority make the discovery before the age of eighteen. The amazing thing is in spite of this realization most remain closeted. It is as if, as soon as they know they are different, they also realize that their difference will not easily be accepted by the society around them. Typically, a society that has already told them time and again that they are a boy or a girl and nothing in between. Even 3-5 year olds come to this rather complex conclusion.

Perhaps society has become so large, global even, that the collective hive is more important than the individual who is unique. Perhaps that is a good thing in many cases. We can’t have people who disagree with the meaning of traffic lights and one way streets on our roads without increasing the mortality rate of others.

I have a deep respect for religion. It serves a purpose. I am also one who tends to look at things from a secular perspective, especially when it comes to concepts like society and gender, things most people silently agree upon even though they often enough do not realize these very things are completely conceptual. The only reason society is real is because most people agree to live within it. Same goes for gender.

I know some of you are already in disagreement, and that is one of the fun things about having a blog. You can disagree with me all you want, but the post remains. I will appreciate any comments after this post and will respond if further clarification is needed. So much time is spent on the Internet trying to prove yourself right at the expense of others. It can be a delightful waste of time.

Why is gender conceptual? Well, those of you who read this blog regularly already might have a hunch where I am going with this. Gender lives between the ears. I am the gender I think I am, and I am also the gender others think I am. That means I can simultaneously be both male and female within the concept of gender. Physical sex works differently and legal sex works differently too, although legal sex, like gender, is conceptual. Physical sex is based in gonads and chromosomes. Legal sex is based in a societally agreed upon piece of paper. Gender is invisible. One could argue it does not really exist at all, outside the mind. It is both a complex concept, and yet one most of society agreed upon at a very young age without even realizing it. If you see a woman, you gender them female. If you were to learn that they have or had a penis, that they are chromosomally male, it might change your opinion about their gender or it might not. Because gender is a concept, it works on a spectrum even though most people see it in black and white or ones and zeros, which is known as the gender binary. Gender fluidity is a thing, because people can present as they will, or even change their own opinions from day to day or moment to moment about who or what they, or someone else happens to be.

As for religion, I find it to be one of the most useful constructs within society and also one of the most harmful. People like to be right. Religion is yet another place where people can convince themselves of how right and righteous they are. The most adamant are frequently the most polarizing and incorrect in the eyes of others.

And yet, humans have a huge capacity for spirituality. Spirituality as a concept is as important as society or gender, it is one of those things we agree upon often without knowing it. What is spirituality? It is belief in spirits. What are spirits? They are things that exist, but not in a tangible form. Concepts like society and gender are by their very nature, spiritual. They only exist in the mind or the collective knowledge we share. We live in a world based on, from the cornerstone to the roof, intangible spirits that we agree upon in order to construct a society.

Homer Simpson is a spirit, he is intangible and exists only because people agree, therefore reifying him in the process. One could argue the same about God.

Humans have a huge capacity for the spiritual. Any human with an imagination spends part of their time amongst the intangible world of spirits. It both exists and does not exist simultaneously. Memories too, are spiritual in nature.

And that brings this meandering post back to my point. My memories of discovering I am trans are quite vague and hard to put into words.

The moment I remember most, perhaps it was at a babysitter or a family gathering, was innocently catching a glimpse of a baby girl’s diaper being changed and in that moment having my entire understanding of what was real, who I really was, flipped on its head. It was not sexual at all, as that concept came much later for me. It was just the realization that girls were physically different than boys. It wasn’t just a thing people decided to call us, girls were different physically. Not only that, but my brain matched the female physicality rather than the one I had been born with. It was not a decision, it was a realization, an awakening, an awareness that I spent decades learning to cope with and hide before realizing the futility of that endeavor.

At a very young age, I grasped the concept of gender, like humans do but, my realization at the time caused me to feel mentally incongruous with my physicality. The very discovery children tend to have around that age thrust me into realizing how conceptual and spiritual “Reality” really is. At the same time as my peers were realizing their assigned roles, I was awakening to the fact that I was assigned incorrectly and I feared society had little room for people like me, who didn’t fit their suggested mold. I found a respite inside the theatrical community, where the world of spirits could be made real, if only for a finite period of time before returning to their spiritual form once again.

To me, the imaginary is as real as anything else, because society itself is based upon a collective imagination. You may disagree with my gender. That is fine. We are both right. No need to prove yourself right at my expense.

Aloha,

Tori

To Be, Or Not To Be

The holidays were full this year. My wife and I have been moving back to the mainland, and spending time with family which, considering the current temperature outside, means this blog may eventually need a new title. We ain’t in paradise no more.

But that story is for another day’s blog post. Today, I wish to talk about the news of Leelah Alcorn, a young trans* teenager who took her life and left a suicide note online blaming her family’s lack of support for her decision.

The trans* community is up in arms right now, in part, because some of Leelah’s last words implored that we make sure her life and death had meaning. The note she wrote hit close to home for many transitioners including myself, as we know what it is like to feel suicidal. People always say suicide is a selfish act. I used to agree. Now, I understand it is often an act of hopelessness and even selflessness. When you feel your existence is the root of everybody else’s problems, suicide can seem like a helpful, valid, and even gracious option. Remove your own life, you remove everyone’s troubles. That is how it can feel when you are in the middle of a suicidal bout.

Then, Leelah’s grieving mother made a Facebook post announcing the death of her child and all Hell broke loose. The mother called Leelah by her male name and used male pronouns through the announcement, and the trans* community went apeshit. Some of the reasoning for getting upset was sound. Leelah’s parents did send their child to conversion therapy so she could learn how to, “Pray the trans away”. They took her phone, her social life, and cloistered her like Rapunzel, for her own good. These actions her parents took were probably based in a Fundamental Christian hope that they could save their child’s chances at eternal life, but Leelah’s suicide note makes it sound like those actions ultimately motivated her to step in front of that eighteen-wheeler.

But, Leelah was not out as trans* to very many people. Some of her friends knew. She told her parents once. Most of the people in her life had no clue so, why would even the most supportive mother out her child on a Facebook death notice? Leelah was not out, she never got there. I think the outrage against the mother for using male terms is a bit out of place. It is a sad situation. I know, if my mom had outed me without my approval, I would have been upset. I also know transition would have been made much more difficult without her approval.

Then, there is the blame game. Many trans* advocates are blaming Leelah’s death on her parents. Many anti-trans folk are blaming her death on the progressive LGBT agenda brainwashing her into thinking she was a female. As I see it, Leelah killed herself. That may sound cold but nobody pushed her in front of the semi. The driver didn’t kill her. She killed herself. She wanted to at that moment. She acted on her desire. It resulted in her martyrdom in the eyes of some and her damnation in the eyes of others. It is amazing how many people claim to know what a person’s death really means. Humans really like to think outside the box, even when it comes to things like the afterlife, of which they truly have no clue. Bible thumpers, frequently seem to forget how vague The Bible really is about what will and will not allow someone into Heaven. Ultimately, it is up to God, according to that book, and the decision will be made after one’s mortal life has ended. Anyone who says otherwise, under the veil of Christianity, is probably selling snake oil even if they do not realize it.

Trans* advocates are not much better. First, any advocate tends to be full of utopian ideals be they LGBT, Christian, political or whatever, and well… Utopia is not a real place, it is just something people can strive for but they will never get there. It is the proverbial carrot and we can choose to chase it if we so desire but we will never catch it and eat it.

Trans* advocates can be as judgmental and hate filled as those they blame for Leelah’s death. It is a shame, because every time you blame someone else for a person’s suicide, you are squandering a teachable moment.

Really. Tell an anti-trans, Fundamental Christian that you hope they die and burn in Hell for causing Leelah’s suicide, and see if they go, “You know, you’re right. I am so sorry.” Or, if they go, “Your sinful hate confirms my negative suspicions about perverts like you.”

Some people are set in their ways, but most opinions can be swayed with patience, intelligence and compassion… even if they sway just a few degrees and not a full one hundred and eighty. It is a slow road, and any progress made can be lost the moment someone starts blaming them for the suicide of a child, or telling them their faith is wrong (a losing battle, as how would a non-believer know any better than they do?).

So, Leelah is dead now. Her parents are being made into villains for trying to protect her eternal salvation, because they didn’t know better and didn’t learn enough about their child, a trans* person’s plight to take her dysphoria as seriously as Leelah herself did. People on all sides are blaming various parts of society for her, “Murder”. It really is a sad clusterfuck.

She was seventeen. In less than a year, she would have been able to transition without her parents approval. I wish I could have met her. Calmed her. Advised her to be patient. Transition is a long road for anyone. A year can feel eternal when you are suicidally depressed. It is a drop in the bucket though, in the grand scheme of things. It is a shame that her suicide is what ultimately made that year into an eternity for her.

Aloha,
Tori

Brave

I am getting the hang of this transition thing. It should come as no surprise that there was a lot of anxiety leading up to the decision to transition. What if it ruined my life? What if nobody accepted me? What if? What IF?? WHAT IF???

It is hard to view things in terms of right and wrong. I do not definitively know if transition was the right thing to do and I never will. It sure seems better than the alternative seemed at the time.

I wish transition was more socially acceptable. It is frightening being me at times. That is an unfortunate consequence. The positives do outweigh the negatives, believe it or not.

People frequently tell me how brave I am. It is an unusual compliment considering my bravest act happens to be growing boobs. I am hardly alone in the brave and risky world of boob horticulture. People all over the world grow them. People seem to like boobs. Of all the sexual primary and secondary characteristics male or female, I would venture to guess boobs are the most popular. We are all born attracted to boobs. And yet, I am brave for growing them.

I have learned to take the compliment. People tell me I am brave for many reasons. Some just do not know how else to show their support. Some really think I transition for the thrill of it. Some recognize the risk involved in the real world for a woman like me. I do not feel particularly brave. I know people who surf the North Shore in Winter. THEY are brave! And yet, I do not know one of them who would dare do what I am doing. It does not mean they aren’t brave. It means they aren’t trans.

Gender dysphoria is so depressing, I do not know many trans folk who went, “You know, I am brave enough to do this crazy thing.” rather, they tend to come to the realization, “I can’t NOT transition.” The decision to transition is more often than not, a cathartic, “Fuck it!”

Even then, there are obstacles. In so many ways, I realize how easy I have had it. I frequently wish I had started this process sooner but, when I chat with people who transitioned 15-20 years ago, when I last considered starting, I realize how hard they had it back then, and I find myself thinking, “You are so brave!”

Being trans is still easily misunderstood, but compared to the turn of the millennium, laws and understanding have come a long way. Also, I am older and my peers are older. I have to imagine that in this day and age, with social media and, the maturity that comes with nearing forty, things are much easier for folks like me than they were not too long ago.

Even now, depending on where a person lives, they may not have options that make transition an easy option. Gatekeepers (psychologists that withhold allowing their patients to transition so they can make more money by continued treatments) can now be bypassed by going to a doctor who practices informed consent. The thing is, there are not always doctors nearby who are willing to treat trans patients without a psychological diagnosis. That blows my mind. How does a psychologist determine if I am trans enough to transition? How do I know I am trans? How do you know you aren’t? I just know it with every fibre of my boobs… er… being. Every fiber of my being.

There is no bravery in being born trans. Just the condition of being wired differently than the average person.

I do not talk about this much in this blog, but I practice gender fluidity. I am frequently in, “Guy mode”. I do this for many reasons but one of them is I really am not that brave. When I am alone, I find it safer to go out as a man. A man with long hair, long nails and waxed eyebrows, boobs… but still, a man. Also, I have a ton of male clothing and most of it fits me better than my female clothing. I get self conscious easily, so lounging around in shorts and a t shirt is frequently more relaxing.

Now, I do not socialize in, “Guy mode”. I am out to all my friends and the vast majority of them remained. It is less frightening being myself when surrounded by people I know than when I am alone in the wilderness of the public eye.

Aloha,
Tori

The TERF War

It was a good day.

Yesterday, Facebook took down the anti-trans hate group, Gender Identity Watch’s page, and although it was immediately replaced with Gender Identity Watch Reloaded, the 9,000+ members of the old community have dwindled to about 250 by last count. This is great. Not only did Facebook swat a bug, they finally did something about an anti-trans group, treating it like a homophobic or racist group. This has not always been the case. The times, they are a changin’.

Back when I joined Facebook with a female account, I joined a couple of trans-advocacy groups. This allowed Facebook’s algorithms to start suggesting other groups I might like to join. Gender Identity Watch was one of the first suggested, and I joined.

I wrote about my experience interacting with the folks at Gender Identity Watch in a post on Facebook a few months ago. I will let the old post speak for itself:

“Well that was interesting. I was following a Facebook group called Gender Identity Watch, their logo, “The Radical Notion That Women Are People”. Seemed cool.

They started posting some stuff that got my trans alarms ringing. One post included a picture of a pregnant woman and it had the caption, “A woman’s biology is not transphobic.” I agree. I do not know how biology can be transphobic. Male or female. People, certain people, are transphobic, but leave biology out of this.

So, I started asking questions. Oops! My bad. I was informed by the members of the community that the picture is a joke, you see, trans people are not women because they can’t reproduce. Unlike all those post menopausal women and pre-pubescent girls, I guess. Unlike those who are born without reproductive systems, those born XXY or who have a hysterectomy. I asked about those trans people who are born with a female reproductive system. No answer.

I was having a great time asking questions and sometimes getting them answered, until I asked this: “Don’t you think it is bullying and a bit ironic, for a group that wants to spread the radical notion that women are people, to pick on a teeny tiny minority group that is weak and vulnerable?”

The group administrator’s reply was classic. “Men are not weak and vulnerable.”

Another person compared trans folk to performers who wear black face. I replied, explaining how it is impossible to converse with a straw man.

Then all my posts were deleted and my account was blocked.

Gender Identity Watch folks! And to think I am transitioning to become a woman! I guess some radical feminists are just too radical for this feminist!

It is good to know there are such nice and helpful people in the world as the folks in charge of the Facebook Gender Identity Watch Group, which is run by a person who hates men so much she doesn’t seem to realize many transgendered people start as female and move towards male.

Well, my Dad always tells me not to get in a pissing contest with a skunk.

Fact is, I do not really care in the grand scheme of things if I really count as a woman or a man or a third gender. I know I could get my ID legally changed to say female, as early as Monday and if someone needed to follow me into a bathroom to make sure my identification was correct, I could have them arrested for more than just a petty misdemeanor.

Without a major breakthrough in science I will never have two X chromosomes. I just thought a group called Gender Identity Watch would know the difference between gender and sex.”

 

And that was that… for then. The thing is, I don’t exactly know how to let things go. So, even though this group had silenced me, I continued to observe their posts. I was still allowed to like the group, just not participate within it.

In hindsight, that was a fine thing. It was around that time I noticed one of those trans-advocacy groups (TransAdvocate) on Facebook was posting about Gender Identity Watch being a hate group. That its founder, Cathy Brennan (she is on Facebook too) was considered by the trans community to be a T.E.R.F.

Now, a TERF is in many ways a mythological, usually female beast with many heads. A beast that strikes fear into the trans community. Rumors about the mysterious and elusive TERF and its magical powers have been spread hither and thither through the ages.

http://www.transadvocate.com/terf-what-it-means-and-where-it-came-from_n_13066.htm

So what is a TERF, really? TERF stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, and it seems, if you follow the unscientific link above, to have been coined within feminism, either by the TERFs themselves, or by other feminists who wanted nothing to do with them. Hey, not all feminists are bad. Some of my best friends are feminist. Just sayin’.

I suppose now is as good a time as any for my disclaimer. I am going to look at this issue, like I do when I tackle trans politics, from all sides. That means I intend to say some things that will not shine the trans community as a whole in a good light, and some things that may humanize those dastardly TERFs. People do not see themselves as part of a hate group, more often than not, even when society tells them they are. TERFs are no exception. They are people. Often damaged people. End disclaimer.

TERFs often identify as a group of radical feminists, radfems, dykes or militant lesbians. Maryland attourney, Cathy Brennan’s group, Gender Identity Watch, takes a vocal position fighting a sometimes good fight. They look to end male violence and abuse against women. At least on paper they do. But if you could see their old Facebook page which was taken down, or their new one, if it still remains, you will see that the vast majority of their posts have to do with trans people. They sometimes spice things up with articles about male on female violence. GIW also, likes to editorialize when they post links to things, making their anti-trans position clear. These editorials are often temporary, as GIW takes them down frequently, I suspect, in order to avoid being caught by the Facebook police.

Now, to be fair, violence against women happens far more frequently than society ever seems to admit. Men are typically the aggressors. Having lived most of my life on testosterone, I can say it is some powerful juice. It makes a person want to fight, have sex, and sometimes both. There is a reason beyond the large litters, as to why we often neuter our pets. That said, not all men are bad. Hey, some of my best friends are male. Just sayin’.

It sure seems like many of the fundamentalist members of GIW want NOTHING to do with men, or masculinity, and between their two major battles, trans exclusion and putting violent men in their place, I can begin to see a pattern. TERFs disown everything male, even trans women, because men have deeply harmed each and every one of them. Often enough, I suspect this harm has been violent and sexual. Sometimes for years on end, I imagine. I can’t entirely hate a group that seems to me to be rooted in so much pain. Irreparable pain.

Trans folk often enough have similar experiences, I am sad to say. I have already seen enough to know it is a whole new world I am living in. I am lucky compared to many.

So, back to TERF mythology. It is often said amongst trans communities that TERFs took trans health care rights away. This is a partial truth.

http://theterfs.com/terfs-trans-healthcare/

An anti-trans radical feminist named Janice Raymond was part of a group appointed by the Carter Administration to review and revise national health insurance guidelines and she was asked to write and deliver the ruling herself. The group decided trans medical treatments from hormones to surgery were experimental, and not worthy of coverage. Until this month, that has been the national guideline preventing the vast majority of trans people from getting treatment covered by their insurance. That does not mean Janice Raymond herself was responsible for all of this, but she was asked to deliver the message which implies she was at the very least, a vocal supporter of the change.

Only recently has the American government started to look into, and revise these policies, starting with Medicare. This is the start of bringing insurance coverage up to speed with the popular opinions of doctors. Treatment is the only known cure for gender dysphoria. It has a remarkable success rate. It works for me. Being trans has become a medical issue in my life.

So TERFs have been around for a while although the term has only recently become widely used in trans circles. Unlike, “Tranny”, it is a specific term describing exactly the type of radical feminists who are anti-trans, although when the whole, “Tranny” debate happened, TERFs attempted to say the term, “TERF” is a slur. It certainly can be used as a slur but it is not a widely used term, and it is most frequently used to differentiate TERFs from other feminists. For example, I consider myself a feminist but I am not a TERF.

Brennan over at GIW and the new page now, GIW Reloaded, likes to post inflammatory things, and often editorialize, in the attempt to get someone to respond in anger. When they do, she takes a screen cap of the comment and then deletes it along with her editorial. Later, she posts the picture of the comment with the name removed and uses it as evidence that all trans folk are crazy, and/or like to make threats. I mean, this stuff is classic Internet trolling. Trolling 101.

She also runs a blog, which I will not list here, where she posts pictures of men who commit violent crimes against women. AND she posts before and after pictures, along with the old names, of trans folk who have argued against her, all mixed right in with the violent criminals. She has threatened to out a friend of mine to his job (he is already out).

In fact, this is one of the reasons why it is good for me to be out. I got out ahead of the story, so it does not have power over me. I am trans and proud to be trans. If someone tells my job, friends or family I am trans, it will be old news. I mean, TERFs could do something really mean like calling me, “Tommy” or, “Male”. I shudder at the thought.

Now, the folks over at GIW argue in some circular logic. If a man disagrees with them, they are mansplaining to women as if women have no right to form their own opinions… or the man is considered a MRA (male rights activist) to also diminish the argument from a man, since arguing for male rights is kind of like arguing for white supremacy. Trans women are men in their eyes. Trans men are just misguided women.

Any post that is not in line with their philosophy is removed from the page and the poster is no longer allowed to post. Take a look at Gender Identity Watch Reloaded’s page and click on a discussion. Before you do, note how many comments it says the discussion contains. Now click and count how many actually remain. Note the remaining comments are all, for the most part, in agreement with each other as if nobody ever has anything else to add. If there is a comment against the GIW position, it is one of the most recent comments and it simply has not yet been deleted.

Many TERFs are self identified dykes (dyke, not lesbian… I too identify this way sometimes, but they don’t count people like me over at GIW, so I will never be a real lesbian, and unlike Pinnochio, I will always be a real boy), and they don’t fully embrace femininity. So why would a woman transition to male? They could just be dykes like the TERFs. In fact, that is what they still are in TERF eyes. Dykes.

Transition is a way to compensate for homosexuality, you see. I am transitioning, TERFs tell me, because I am secretly gay. In reality I am bi and proud, but depending on the day, I tend to like women more.

Any man who is not in lock step with TERF philosophy, is a violent and abusive being. This includes trans women because, hey… penis. They have/had a penis. Hence violent abuser. And yet, some of my best friends have penises. Just sayin’.

If someone comes out as trans in a discussion at GIW, Brennan and her fans will immediately start calling them by their former gender and when possible, former name. This is not considered by them to be rude, only the angry replies from the people they misgender are considered inappropriate.

In recent years, Brennan has outed at least two trans students to their high schools. That chaps my craw.

So, TERFs are feared by much of the trans community. GIW spends its time fighting against trans rights, as they claim to be there to prevent violence against women. Trans folk risk being outed by Brennan and her group for speaking up.

Why do TERFs rally so hard against trans issues? Because, unlike men, who make up half the population, trans folk are small in numbers. TERFs have a better chance at winning their anti-trans battle.

This too, is why trans folk rally against TERFs. They are a small group and therefore, trans activists feel they have a fighting chance.

Both groups are picking the small battle rather than the big one.

Since TERFs overlap into the lesbian community, much like many gays overlap into the drag community, it can cause infighting within the LGBT acronym. I can’t remember how many times this month, I have seen people say the T should be dropped and it should just be LGB.

The crux of the TERF argument is men have XY chromosomes and women XX. That may never change. Not that it matters, as I have never needed my chromosomes tested.

It is just a sad state of affairs. Once again, the bullied needs to be a bully to someone else. Someone they deem weaker than THEY are.

This is just an overview of the situation as I see it. I could go on much longer, but I somehow doubt this interests my readers as much as it interests me.

I promise my next post will be light, funny and linear. My high school reunion is coming up. I met some of my best friends in high school. Just sayin’, and boy, do I have a surprise for them!

Aloha,
Tori

Update: Five hours after posting this blog, Gender Identity Watch Reloaded was also, taken down.