So, if you’re aware of trans stuff you’ve probably seen this advert going around. Predictably, lots of trans people have cried “transphobia”. But is it really transphobic?
I’ll tell you what I saw, first of all. I saw an advert that had a transvestite or drag queen doing their makeup in front of a mirror, alongside a, presumebly, cis woman*. The drag queen and cis woman compete over looks, pouting, applying makeup, rearranging their tits, with the cis woman seemingly beaten every time. However, the cis woman pulls out her trump card – a carton of LibraX branded tampons. “Hey”, her smile says, “you may have better** makeup, a bigger pout and longer legs, but I can bleed out of my cunt”. The drag queen scowls, picks up her handbag and walks off in a huff.
So yeah, it’s horrible, vile, biological essentialism. It’s reducing women to their biology – a woman’s status in society is defined by her ability to reproduce. It’s patriarchy-enforcing, reminding us that women should apply minerals to their faces in order to be acceptable. And yes, implying that a real woman is defined by her ability to menstruate it automatically excludes trans women, as well as older and post-hysterectomy cis women which is horribly offenisve. But to call it transphobic? Yes, it’s offensive to trans women. But that’s because it’s offensive to all women.
If we cry transphobia every time a piece of media is sexist then we’re rapidly going to hit a Cry Wolf situation, and we are going to annoy our allies. And we’re going to need all the allies we can in the coming years.
* Hey, nothing says she was cis. She could be a trans woman trying to one-up a drag queen.
** far more glittery and tacky
When I first heard that Channel 4 were producing a new trans documentary, documenting the lives of seven trans people living together, I literally held my head in my hand and laughed. “How many cliches will we be able to get into one documentary” I wondered, before ranting for a while about it on Twitter.
So, I’ll be honest, when I sat down to watch My Transsexual Summer it wasn’t with the most optimistic of mindsets
My Transsexual Summer uses that cheap and cheerful way of producing a show: you stick a group of subjects together, give them a diary room, set some tasks and then film their actions over the next few days. (How anybody can cope with a camera in their face for this length of time is beyond me).
The first mindfuck is within the first minute of viewing: this is actually quite a happy show! Bouncy music and big grins greet the viewer instantly. Max is absolutely the right person to open the show with. Bright, happy and full of joy, he instantly dispels the cis notions of what a trans person is.
However, this optimistic beginning is immediately followed by shots of Drew, a trans woman, putting on makeup in a mirror. The notion of us deceitful trans people wearing a mask is further reinforced by a montage of fake eyelashes, fake boobs and fake dicks.
Alternating rapidly between setting out a new stage in trans documentaries and falling back onto tired old cliches is the hallmark of this show. What could have been utterly revolutionary, especially with the apparent involvement of Trans Media Watch, is instead left as a horribly hybrid of a documentary, simultaneously sympathetic and mocking of its subjects.
Take, for example, the honest discussions on the fear of being read that were later undermined by deliberately putting everyone in a situation where they would get read.
Or now about how the wonderfully insightful (if incredibly brief) discussion on how cis people focus on genital surgery is later fucked up by the utterly graphic depiction of Karen’s genital surgery. Why the hell did we need to see this? What actually purpose did it serve? (And “give her the vagina she’s always wanted” makes it sound like she got to choose one out of a catalogue)
The programme makers were either seeking to appease their sensational and sensitive sides simultaneously, or were simply ignorant of the subject they were working with.
For all the criticism above, it was wonderful to see a mix of guys and girls on the same show. Trans documentaries normally focus on women, and rarely cover guys. So to see a mix of both on the same show was a real step forward.
Non-binary roles were touched on for approximately a millisecond, with Donna mentioning that she saw herself as neither male nor female and Drew talking about not particularly wanting genital surgery. Less directly, it was fantastic to see Max as a camp femme guy, which is something sure to mess with cis notions of trans guys. More of this kind of talk would have been brilliant to see.
While it was good to see a transitioned guy who was non-masculine it would have been incredible to see a non-feminine woman. I don’t think there has a been a trans documentary yet that featured a butch trans woman. I’m not not holding my breath.
There were also some hints of wonderful queerness and non-mainstream lives lurking around the edges of the show. Max’s MEN badge, Fox’s XX MAN t-shirt, the attitude to tattoos and piercings. These were such ripe areas for exploring. I can only hope that future episodes touch more on these issues.
TRANNY. This word has really split the trans community following the broadcast of the show. The magic tranny seven totally embraced the word, holding it close and finding power from it. However, this has really pissed off a lot of people. I’m not going to go into this, as to be honest this word has never featured positively or negatively in my life, but if you want to find out more, just type in “#transsummer” and “tranny” into twitter search.
The narration of the show really jumped between transgender and transsexual, which was odd to hear. I think I would have been much happier just to hear “trans”.
Based on this one episode, the show is struggling to find its feat. It really doesn’t know whether speak for us, or to sensationalise us. So many positive steps and moments were outweighed by cliches and insensitivity.
But the one positive that shone out, and what really made this show watchable, was how important friendship and community is for trans people. I know it is easy to mock the trans community as being nothing more than a group of self-interested autistic individuals, but this show really demonstrated the friendship that is needed to get through some of these issues.
I’ll be watching further episodes with interest, to see where things go.
The participants of My Transsexual Summer are all on twitter:
You can watch the first episode of My Transsexual Summer at 4OD for a month after broadcast.
[I write from my point of view. I date women, I'm a trans woman, I transitioned years ago, I pass. Don't cry if I don't talk about your experiences.]
So you’ve scored that hot date with the woman that you’ve been drooling after for the last week. Or your friends set you up with someone that they swear you’ll be totally into.
And you know what? They’re as hot as you thought they’d be. You talk, you flirt, you seduce. You end up kissing, taking the taxi home and entering the bedroom. And *then* The Fear sets in.
The Fear, caused by you knowing that you’ve got an Imperfect Body. That you are not as Good as Them. The traitorous little voice that is constantly comparing your body to theirs, that whispers “they Know About You”. You pick up your clothes, you run out of the flat into the unforgiving night.
It’s all bollocks, objectively. You transitioned years ago and you made a damn good job of it. Nobody guesses your past, nobody comments on you in the street. But by fuck do your internal fears start confronting you in the bedroom.
It happens to the best of us.
Let’s get the trans politics out of the way first: should you just be upfront about your past before the date? It would certainly save a lot of hassle. If you tell them straight away and they react badly, at least you know that they’ve got issues of their own that would get in the way of anything between you two, right?
But why should you be telling someone about your past? It’s not their right to know. They’re attracted to you. This person, here and now. Why should you tell them about the broken leg from when you were 13? Or the money you stole when you were 22? Those facts don’t make any difference to this date and the sex you’re about to have. Why should your gender?
If you look, feel and smell cis, (young transitioners in the house shout “I got my shit together in time”) then you haven’t got a problem, to be honest. But if there’s the slightest chance that they’re going to read your history and that they might react badly to it, then you’re running a risk.
The panic defence
The panic defence isn’t a valid one, although it’s used often enough in courts of law, but it’s a startlingly real situation that can occur. A lover realises that you’re trans. They react so badly to this “deceit” that they take out their anger/shame/internalised-self-hatred on you, physically. This is commonly heard about with opposite sex cis male / trans female pairings, but it happens in same sex encounters as well.
It’s a real risk, one that could get you hurt, or even killed. We can oppose this all we want, we can shout and scream about it in protests and online, but in the real world, alone with a stranger, your life is not worth a political point.
But hey, you’ve got that male muscle to protect yourself with. Right? RIGHT? Like bollocks you have. If you transitioned before the onset of muscle mass, or magically lost that bulk somehow, then you’re fucked if you’re with a violent stronger partner.
So play it safe if you think there’s a risk, m’kay? Or work out. Working out is good.
Let’s be positive
Putting aside violence, there isn’t really any practical reason why you should be upfront with someone. Go have that fun, have that fuck, take it, give it, whip them, tease them, lie strapped to the bed moaning for more.
But if you think this might be more than a one night encounter then you’ve got some thinking to do. Because at some point your past will come out. It might be next week, it might be 40 years down the line, appearing just when you’re happily living in a lesbian commune, wearing cheesecloth. It will come out.
So you’ve got to be honest about it somewhere. Which is all very well saying that, but how the hell do you tell someone about what is a fundamental part of your life, but which, rightly, shouldn’t be relevant today?
This is where it gets tricky, as there is no one solution. Oh, I wish there was – it would make life so much easier for us all. But you’re going to have to play this one by ear.
Go back to what I said earlier – do you think that will they react badly? Well, if you think they will and you *still* want to pursue a relationship with a backwards bigoted fuckwit, then just be honest about it from the start. Hey, they might surprise you (well, they might). And if you tell them now, before you’ve got sweaty and naked, then at least they’re less likely to fall back onto physical violence in response to some kind of egotistical self-flagellation.
There’s still some dangers with that. Mainly, you’ve just given up a very private piece of information to a complete stranger. Now, this might not have repercussions for you depending on how out you already are. But if you’re hiding your trans status from society and fear it being used against you, you’ve just given a bigot a big fat blackmail/fuckupyourlife card. And the panic response is still possible. So again, play safe kids, y’hear?
So what about those nice people, the 90% of humanity who really don’t care? Well, you’ve got some breathing room. The biggest piece of advice would be to not make it into a big deal. People are so empathic, so reflective, that if you’re calm and chilled about it, then likely they will react in the same way.
Choosing that moment well, and telling them in a coherent rational way, is going to be determined by your personality, your wit and your charm. I can’t help you with that. If you find talking with people hard then you’re going to have to master the basics before your start telling people about major life events that may impact on current relationships.
Don’t say: “I’ve got a secret to tell you”. A secret? Your password is a secret. Your life isn’t.
Do say: “This isn’t a big deal, but…” Because it isn’t a big deal.
Don’t say: “I know you’ll probably hate me, but…” Just stop being so fucking preemptively passive-agressive.
Do say: “Oh, that happend to me when I was a boy…” Because slipping it in like that is the epitome of not-a-big-deal
Don’t say: “I used to be a man”. Because this isn’t a cheesy hollywood script
Do say: “Anyway, less about me, tell me about you…” Because this is a fucking date we’re on
So, that’s it. Hit submit, close WordPress and…
What’s that? Sorry? You don’t pass? You still have a cock and balls? Jesus fuck, you could have said at the start.
Okay, now you’re in a whole different ball game (ball game – hur hur). Because now you’re bringing your own special kind of smash to the gender binary and societally dictated body norms.
And to be honest, I’m not going to go into that here. It’s been over a decade since I’ve had to worry about that, and I was dating a bi guy for most of that time who really, really enjoyed his be-cocked redhead girlfriend. Somebody else can write that. Suffice to say, if you don’t tell them up front, pulling down your underwear is going to result in The Crying Game theme playing.
You did the trans crap years ago. You look like the average cis. (You don’t look like the average cis? You fuck gender up a bit? I applaud you).
Situation: You’ve got a hot cis girl that you’re interested in:
- Shag. Just do it, you know you want to. You’ll never see her again and you pass, so who the fuck cares?
Situation: You’ve got a hot cis girl that you want to go on long romantic walks with, get to know, raise chickens together:
- Fuck, then tell her. (slightly dangerous, some will say duplicitous)
- Tell her, then fuck. (Great)
- Tell her, end up sobbing at home with ice-cream. (Bad)
- Tell her then get the crap beaten out of you. (Very bad)
- Tell her. She tells you the same thing. You both look confused. You fuck. (Awesomely great)
All situations outside of the simplistic ones discussed above are outside the scope of this post. Use some fucking common sense. Do not say “but you told me to…”. Learn some practical self-defence.
Poly Styrene died today, which fucking sucks. She was a female pioneer in punk, inspiring the grrl music that I love today. Her death has pissed me off and I’ve been listening to Germ Free Adolescents all day as a result.
Yeah, I love grrls. I consider myself a grrl (let’s ignore male privledge and appropriation for now – I have enough fucking internal guilt trips about that, thankyouverymuch). I saw grrls all around me when I was coming out in the late 90s – grunge was still around, Tank Girl was at the cinema and I worshipped Gwen Steffani. Yeah, she’s pop, apolitical and a bit naff, looking back through time, but I fucking loved her then. No Doubt’s Just a Girl was MY song – it had energy and fuckyou and I don’t know why, but it *spoke* to me.
“Take this pink ribbon off my eyes” – No Doubt
I was a boy who wanted to be a girl. There were no role models around then. Every trans female I knew was all fucking pearls and twinsets, parodying femininty. There were a few other teenage trans females I knew on the internet, but they all seemed to aspire to a faux womanhood that I couldn’t care less for.
“I’m just a girl,
Guess I’m some kind of freak
‘Cause they all sit and stare
With their eyes” – No Doubt
But grrls. Oh fuck wow. That attitude, that “I’ll be who I want and fuck you for even questioning me” way of thinking? THAT appealed. THAT felt like who I was.
My first ever personal website was called Just a Grrl. Looking back I realise how rad this was, but back then I was just being me and I didn’t realise that it caused a stir amongst people.
I was all flower skirts and combat boots back then. I had bright red hair, too much eye make-up and ripped tights. Fuck, I had grrl power. I strutted my stuff around Liverpool with a menthol ciggie in one hand and a raised finger in the other. Screw you if you looked at me the wrong way.
“They call it climbing and I call it visibility,
They call it coolness and I call it visibility,
They call it way too rowdy I call it finally free.” – Le Tigre
Of course, a couple of years after I transitioned I betrayed all this, letting myself slide into a relationship where I stopped being me and became someone else, someone pathetic. But I’m over that, and I’m rediscovering the grrl spirit within.
Poly Styrene. I fucking love you. You gave birth to a scene, a music, an ATTITUDE that helped me so much. It made me realise that I can be who I want, no rules, no boundaries. I love you so hard for that. So. Fucking. Hard.
“Some people think little girls
should be seen and not heard,
but I think OH BONDAGE,
UP YOURS” - X-Ray Spex
And now you’re dead.
So I’ve had this post floating around for a while, but I’ve never gotten around to finishing it. Rather than have it rotting on my server I thought I’d publish it and come back to it later.
It’s rough, I haven’t finished my conclusions and I’m sure there are some bits that are contradictory. There is so much more that I want to write about on this but I just don’t have the time. Hopefully I’ll get back to it soon!
Butch girl = normal boy?
I’m sitting in my family living room, where we are all sat blankly watching the television, like a precognisant tribute to The Royle Family. This isn’t so unusual – it’s 1988, I’m 9 years old and I’m stuck in a dead-end Northern town – what else is there to do but gather around the glowing box? Besides, it’s after dark and there’s no way I’m being allowed outside after setting fire to the dining room. Again.
Onto our Rumblow’s rented TV set (insert 50p to get half an hour’s viewing!) comes this show favoured by my dad, but which I’d never really watched. Something about a man in a long scarf, with a hat? Or is it an umbrella with a question mark handle?
I sit playing with my lego, building spaceships that would take on the Evil Empire. As I play I become aware of the programme with the weird intro. There’s this girl on the screen who is acting just like how I like to act. She’s insolent, rude, wears Doc Martens and carries explosives. I stop playing with my lego. She acts like I act, but she’s a girl? I sit transfixed for the next forty minutes. The girl I’m describing is Dorothy Gale McShane. Better known as Ace, the companion of the Seventh Doctor.
Now, you’ve got to understand who I was back then to fully fell why my emphasising with this girl was so incredible. I was an introverted 10 year old boy who wanted to be a girl. I couldn’t figure out why I had the overwhelming urge to be a girl when I didn’t like any of the things that girls were supposed to like. I didn’t like dolls. I didn’t like pink. I enjoyed getting messy and running around in fields. I was a pyromaniac who set fire to things for the sheer joy of it and blew things up in isolated fields with snaffled gunpowder. So how the hell could I be a girl? Finding a woman on TV who I looked up to, who I wanted to be like, who was like me, was a rare thing.
Being a trans kid is tough to deal with when you’re in a pre-internet age and have no knowledge of why you are as you are. But it gets a whole lot more complicated when your gender expression matches the sex you’ve been assigned at birth. I pretty much ID as butch, even if I’ve hidden it for a long time. So a boy, who wants to be a butch girl? That’s a hard one to figure out.
Even as adults, those of us who are trans, MAAB (male assigned at birth) and who don’t identify with the femme corner of gender space have it tough. Because to most people, including a huge number of trans women, the process of coming out as trans is obviously one where you put on a dress, apply the lipstick and wear the heels.
You’ve seen it and you know what I mean. Every trans woman you’ve ever seen on TV is shown putting on make-up, while whimsical, fairy-like music plays in the background. It’s one of those things that has become a trope, necessary to establish to a cis world that the person being portrayed wants to become a woman. Because to the world at large a woman is defined as pretty/make-up/hetro.
So what’s a butch girl to do? If you’re living as a pre-teen boy, well, be confused as fuck.
Why so femme?
Most trans women end up portraying themselves as femme, even if they don’t necessarially ID that way. The reason for this lies with the patriarchal psychiatric system that oversees trans people. Y’see, we aren’t allowed to make body decisions for ourselves. Bodily autonomy, taken for granted in abortion, reproduction and body modification, is denied to us. Gender psychs (an overwhelmingly masculine profession) have to make sure that we’re “suitable” for treatment. How does a psych “tell” if a boy wants to be a girl? Why, by them dressing up in pink! By them playing with dolls! By them fluttering their eyelashes and being submissive.
This patriarchal bias means that gender norms are rigidly enforced. I submitted to it myself, turning up to psychiatrist offices wearing a dress, made up to the fucking nines. Because there’s this voice, whispering to you, created from the experiences of the thousands gone there before you: “what if he doesn’t think I’m pretty enough?”
Let me say this loudly, just so I’m sure you understand. I WAS WORRIED ABOUT HOW A CIS MAN, A MAN WITH POWER OVER ME AND MY BODY, WOULD JUDGE MY LOOKS AND MY “FEMININITY”.
This is, I’m sure you’ll agree, a fucked up situation. It is an *abusive* situation. It meant that I subsumed my natural self, who I am, to fit in with a pre-determined notion of what a woman is.
It’s one of the reasons, I suspect, that trans women are so reviled by the hardline feminists. Yes, we do reinforce gender stereotypes. Not because we want to, but because it’s a patriarchal institution making us act like simply so that we can attain basic medical provisions. It’s an abusive relationship that would not be tolerated in any other field. Being non-femme with a psych means missing out on treatment. That’s why, Julie Bindel and other second-wave radical feminists, trans women so often “look like characters from Grease“. Because they have no other fucking choice.
Of course, a large number of trans women succumb to the societal diction that certain traits belong to certain genders and equate woman with pink/pretty. Those people I’m disappointed by. Transitioning should open your eyes to the gender restrictions that exist in society. Not criticising you for being femme, but criticising you for not questioning the woman/femme combo meal that has been served up to you.
The aversion of trans women to the butch expression is not limited to psychiatric abuse. “Passing” plays its part as well.
Most trans women are not gifted with physical attributes that put a hypothetical naked body within female norms. Discounting genitals, hormones can only do so much to the typical male body. Unless you started them as a young teen, which is still utterly rare, you’re not likely to wind up with wide hips, a slight frame, or a hairless body. So the typical trans woman has to compensate. Hyper-femininity is used to counteract the physical characteristics that cannot be rid of by hormones, electrolysis or surgery.
Gender cues are complex, but what is for certain is that we judge gender almost instantly. In fact, I’d suggest that it’s the first thing that we assess about a person. Big, confident, short hair? Man. Slight, timid, long hair, adorned with colour? Woman. You do it. We all do it. We’ve been raised to do it by parents and society. It’s why our brains fuse slightly when we meet someone who doesn’t conform to the gender binary, or who throws up contradictory gender cues.
Because of the bodies congenital masculinity some of those cues have to be over-emphasised, to a degree that is sometimes verging on parody, simply in order to overcome the built-in “male” cues. That’s why the vast majority of trans women reside at the femme corner of gender space: it’s hard to be butch if you’re physically masculine – you’d get misgendered almost instantly. And misgendering, for a trans person, is a painful experience.
What does all this mean then? I’ve railed against the enforcement of gender, that we should be allowed bodily autonomy and taken a potshot at radfems. Do I have a point? If I was with you in person and had consumed some vodka I’d be gesticulating at you wildly and shouting something like “Just fuckin’ do it! Just be who you wanna be! Don’t give a shit! Don… *hic* …don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
Which I think sums up my position pretty well. I’m pretty sure gender is an irrelevance. I don’t think that conflicts with my being trans, as that’s to do with my body, my sex, bits that are relevant to me and to those I choose to share them with. “Gender” is the facepaint that we face the world with. Gender is societal. Gender is power.
Butch is the nearest word I can use to express how I present to the world, even if I don’t agree with the way gender works. We’re still mired in gendered language, after all.
The results are in! 25 people replied with their views on how TEXT TYPED IN CAPITALS SOUNDS LIKE TO THEIR SHELL-LIKES.
- 9 people thought it sounds like shouting
- 6 people thought it sounded excited and happy
- 8 people thought it could sound like either, depending on the context
- 2 people were just strange (you know who you are)
So, the conclusion is… OMG I DON’T GIVE A FUCK EITHER WAY AND WILL CARRY ON TYPING LIKE THIS HAHA
- @thirtysix Shouting obnoxiously, if a client does it in an email it’s like an agressive invasion of personal space in text form
- @Louise243 All in capitals I read as shouting and therefore rude breach of netiquette. Occasional word I read as emphasis or excitement.
- @R0sanneR shouting, don’t like it =(
- @scattermoon to me, it’s shouty. It actually sounds loud in my head, and can be intimidating. But it also depends on context.
- @nick4glengate Shouting, always.
- @catashton shouty and rude
- @themardyarse I read it as sarcastic shouting.
- @sga962 depends on context, but most of the time as shouting. if its on more than a couple of words its just painful to look at
- @alicephilippa not a younger person. But ALL CAPS IS SHOUTY.
- @samanthabail Do I count as young? If yes, then: EXCITED!!!
- @clairebeazley Excited, normally. I see it on lots of blogs where it’s kind of ironic and happy. See http://bit.ly/9OYzsw for example [haha Everyone Is Gay IS AWESOME!]
- @SwearySocialist EXCITED! WOOOOO!
- @hanmerry excited talking/emphasis but then I capslock a lot AND MAKE NO APOLOGIES FOR IT.
- @nixb I ALWAYS TYPE IN CAPS WHEN I’M EXCITED. IT PROVIDES EMPHASIS IN A ‘TALKING LOUDLY AS IF FOR THE HARD OF HEARING’ KIND OF WAY.
- @cnlester Not as standard procedure. But I tend to do it if something is AWESOME. But, shit – is 26 young? oh dear… [I'm counting that as excited]
It depends on the context
- @rachel8973 I just read it as any other text. It’s all about context, what’s being said and to whom it’s being said.
- @Zoeytrope It depends on the context. It can also mean EMPHASIS.
- @klonecaid as a hip n happening youngster it’s shouty or excited, dpending on context. whole short mean posts are generally shouty
- @murray_james (19) totally depends on context I AM EXCITED BY THIS DISCUSSION is clearly excited, ABLEISM PISSES ME OFF is clearly angry…
- @supernowoczesna Enthusiastic! Or shouting! Or my dad’s inexplicable texting quirks! As per “just to let you know MARIANNE is coming for Xmas”
- @foxsoup Depends on context. With exclamation marks, shouting. With winky face, sarcasm. With illiteracy, commenter on The Sun’s site.
- @nikkileah I say shouty.. But context as to whether that is a Good or Bad thing ™ [I'm taking this as contextual]
- @BigDaddyKeltik Well, I think it depends on the context, writing in it all the time sounds shouty, but clever use mid speech is excited
You didn’t take it seriously, did you? DID YOU?
[UPDATE: This post refers only to my own experiences. It is in no way meant to condemn those who live stealth lives. It is also a bit outdated, seeing as I've been coming out as trans in recent months]
So I’m stealth, yeah? Stealth, for those of you that don’t know, is the peculiar trans phenomenon of completely hiding your past from the world. You pretend that you have always been one particular gender, that you were born that way, that you have never been anything else. To be honest, I’ve never been very good at it.
Oh, that’s not to say that I’m NOT stealth. I don’t tell anyone about my past, and I don’t think anybody knows. If people do know then they have never said and the straight guys I’ve slept with have never gone “OMG, tranny!”. There are a couple of close cis friends that I’ve told but we don’t really speak about it. What is there to say to them?
But that doesn’t mean that, to me, stealth isn’t a phenomenon of deceit. I was never born female or went though the things a cis female went through. I don’t know how scary a first period was, or the panic of thinking I might be pregnant. I don’t know what it was like to be a girl growing up and watching boys with lustful eyes. I’ve never known fear of males. I really honestly don’t know anything about those things, except what I can glean from reading the experiences of others.
I was was never a girl. Let me repeat that: I was never a girl. So me ever talking about those things as if they happened to me is a blatant lie, a very dangerous lie, one that leads to a lot of hatred for us as trans people. I grew up as a boy. I had Lego and toy cars. I played in the mud and went hunting for tadpoles down the canal. I discovered what fun a penis is and what masturbation is like. I played with toy guns and was aggressive at times. We can argue about artificial gender divisions and nature vs nurture, but whatever your views, I was raised as a boy, with boy privilege and boy social rewards.
On the other hand, I was never a man either. I started HRT when I was 18 and transitioned at 19, as young as I could independently do it. There isn’t really a point in my life where I’ve lived as an adult male, as a man. I will happily accept that I was a boy, but a MAN? No way. I was never one of those.
So what do you do when talk turns to childhood issues? I can’t force myself to lie and say “When I was a girl” and carry on as if I have a cis background. On the other hand, it’s not normally easy to drop “When I was a boy” into a conversation, unless you wish to extend every conversation by 10 times to accommodate the “whut?” factor. So I normally avoid the issue or use gender neutral language. “When I was a kid”, “When I was growing up”, etc.
However, that only goes so far. Once you’re in with a group of women talk will, eventually, at some point, turn to very womany things.
Sex. Contraceptives. Periods. Pregnancy. Babies.
I’ve only got experience of the first one (and then only with analogous equipment). The rest? *whooosh over my head* I ain’t got a clue. And that’s really painful to admit, because it feels like it makes me less of a woman. I’ve missed out on a huge part of the experiences that make cis women the women they are. If you’re a cis female you may not think that periods are anything more than a nuisance, but if you’ve never had one you’re constantly wondering what it’s like.
(And don’t get me started on pregnancy. That is a REALLY FUCKING SORE POINT. I want to get pregnant. I can’t. A whole can of fucked-up is waiting to be opened right there, like the spaghetti hoops of doom).
You may wonder then how I cope with these conversations. You know, I don’t think I do. I tend to go quite quiet (which if you’ve ever met me, you’ll know is odd) and possibly blush a bit. It’s at those times that I feel such a fake.
So maybe I shouldn’t be hiding my past. Maybe I should be saying “When I was a boy” and commenting “Ooh, I don’t know what that feels like”.”Nah, I never had a period as I was a boy back then”,
It feels more honest that way. But I don’t think I’m brave enough yet.
Wow, found this post in my secret stealthy other site. I must have been really fucking down on that day. It’s just a babble of emotion.
It’s pretty negative, so don’t read it if you don’t want a downer. But I’m posting it here, to show that even hyper, positive, bouncy people like me have shit days. And just because you’re feeling like crap it doesn’t mean that a positive light isn’t at the end of the tunnel, with better days ahead.
[Originally posted on 29/11/2009 on xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
I hate the whole trans thing. Really fucking hate it. But I’m not allowed to hate it, as I’m one of the “lucky ones”, the ones who can pass for their desired gender. But passing isn’t everything. All it does is hide the looks and stares from physical view. They’re still there, in your head. Every laugh that you hear in the street is obviously aimed at you. Every innocent look at you is somebody reading your whole life. Every guy flirting with you is an alley-way beating waiting to happen.
I got diagnosed, treated and on hormones when I was 18 years old – that’s about as young as you can do it without the support of your parents – and believe me, I didn’t have the support of my parents.
I was utterly emotionless my entire life. It was certainly a reaction to being trans – the only way out of killing myself was to kill all emotion. Push the feelings down, push ALL feeling down. Take no chances. I did try to come out once to my family, when I was about 14/15. But that week I got put on school work experience. Because I was utterly apathetic about choosing a place (as with all other decisions in my life – decisions require confidence and emotion) I ended up getting dumped in the office of my sister’s husband. On my first day there I heard him and a bunch of other guys talking about a transsexual documentary that had been on the previous night (it was your typical 50 year old transitioner story). They laughed about it, they joked and they declared that if a shirtlifter like that were to ever work in the office they would make sure they didn’t come in the next day. Transsexuals were fucking freaks. They might RAPE YOUR ARSE. So I didn’t come out to my family after that.
When I read about Kate whatsherface today it really fucking annoyed me. She’s a late transitioner. she only did the trans thing at around 26. But guess what? She’d started a successful life as a man. She had a business, a wife, probably a fucking dog – all the trappings of the successful young 20-something male. So when she got the guts to admit she was trans she was in a position to actually do something about it. Four years, £50,000 later, facial feminising surgery, boob jobs, grs, electrolysis, she’s a good-looking 30 year old woman. All of it brought, none of it earned. I hate the late transitioners who toss aside their wives and families to fulfil their “feminine destiny”. Kate is worse – she tossed her family aside but had the money and youth to fucking do something about it. Jesus, I hate her. Oh, she might be lovely,, and I do admire her for being out when she doesn’t have to be, but I still loathe her with every cell of my being.
Me? I got the guts at 18. I went to see a psych, got on ‘mones and started everything. I was at university at the time, trying desperately to learn about a subject I had absolutely no interest in (geology/biology). Everyone could tell that I was utterly unconfident about myself and was lost. I made friends with all the alterna girls. I was their boy pet. When I came out, everyone said “oh, that explains it”. I tried to transition at uni – that failed miserably when people I went to school with found out and started harassing me. My studies disappeared. I started smoking and drinking. I was miserable and my GP put me on prozac.
And you know what? I was gorgeous. I was a size 10, 5’8″, redhead. And I was so locked up in my own head with fear and self-loathing that I didn’t have a clue how hot I was. I could pull a boy and fuck him senseless if I’d wanted to. But all I could see was the sad lad in the mirror. I had guys try to pick me up and I assumed that they were doing it for a laugh. I had people who would have supported me totally if I’d just trusted them.
I’m 30 years old now and starting to look like my oldest sister more and more every day. I don’t have a clue where it’s all gone. Oh, I pass. You wouldn’t think I was trans if you saw me on the street. But I hide myself. I’ve started to wear baggy jeans and hoodies. I don’t wear makeup. My hair is just grown out and tied up. I’m so fucking ashamed of myself. I used to be all about dressing well and looking good. What the fuck happened?
I got grs when I was 21 – still amazingly fucking young. and even more amazingly, on the NHS. But the real cost wasn’t worth paying.
I dropped out of university when I told my parents what I was (and I would have dropped out anyway – the boozing and class-skipping had assured me a fail that year). I’d been hiding it from my parents – boy clothes on visits home, no makeup, etc. They completely freaked. What did you expect from the emotionally-stunted Catholic family?
I fell in with an older tranny. Oh, you wouldn’t have guessed that she was from looking at her, but she was a tranny all right. Full of tranny hate, tranny venom and tranny self-loathing (sound familiar?). She transitioned back in the 60′s as a late teen. But her family scorned her and surgery was so crappy that she might as well have castrated herself with a kitchen knife and done the sutures with pipe-cleaners.
It was her who got me surgery on the NHS. She wrote to GPs, specialist, etc and made the case for the pretty girl who had a dong. “This can’t be allowed!” – “she needs a chance at a normal life”. Blatent attempt to make up for her own past. She wanted to help all the TS kids – she just wanted to “make a difference”.
I started hanging around other TS teens at that time. The internet was just becoming popular and so all the TS kids flocked together on email lsits, websites and forums. I was the queen bee of that crowd. We met up around the country and I was the one in charge. Queen of the untouchable caste.
The older tranny persuaded me to leave my family and move away. I could have fixed things with them if I’d had a level head present, but I decided to run away instead, on her advice. If I ever see her again I will kill her for that alone.
I lived alone in Liverpool for a year in something one step up from a squat. Oh, I was hot – the alterna-girl with the red hair and doc martins, smoking menthols on the doorstep of her flat. But again, I was so fucking introvereted and depressed that I couldn’t see it.
I just want to do all the things that I promised myself. I told myself that I’d have breast surgery before I was 25 – you won’t believe how real boobs are tied into your self image. (what am I talking about – it’s obvious how important they are – look at ll the reconstruction effort put into breast cancer survivors). I told myself that I’d get facial surgery – have a face like I’d always wanted. But all my money disappeard into a pit not of my making.
So here I am now, 30 years old, size 16, still self-loathing.