re: The Biology of Forms

September 16, 2009

The above linked article at Questioning Transphobia is a followup to one the author Queen Emily originally posted in July at Feministe. Feministe is a ciswoman-dominated space, and thus generated a rather different response than that at the trans-heavier QT.

From the followup article, on the complicated intersection of biology, identity, and documentation:

The other goes that it is medically necessary to have “accurate” records, on the grounds of me being really a man, “biologically” speaking. Now this is a rather common idea, but it is nevertheless based on a misunderstanding of trans physiology.

Now this is of course rather flawed. Bodies just don’t work that way. Hormone treatment as many of y’all know changes all kinds of things. So for one of my emergency situations, when I checked in as female, I was having these stroke things causing me to lose control over one side of my body. The cause? Complicated migraines, a disease overwhelmingly experienced by women and intimately related to estrogen levels. In other words, if I’d checked the “biologically accurate” male box, it would have misled the doctors much more than my checking female is imagined to.

On a personal note: I recently bought a plane ticket. I have not gotten around to legally changing my name yet (for which I have only myself to blame). So when I filled out my travel forms I declared not only my gender but my Title (Ms, Miss, Mr, Mrs, Dr, etc) — no title was not an option. So I lied, and claimed to be a Female, Ms. (name), because that’s what will allow me to travel without question — at least, if my presentation isn’t too confusing when I go to the airport. I’m actually thinking of wearing a girly shirt that day, because these days, when I’m not in Faerie mode I get read as male much more often than not. Which, biologically speaking, is not entirely inaccurate.

Just a thought.


Wish You Were Here…

September 11, 2009

Wish You Were HereStrangely enough, I didn’t even notice until a few hours ago that it was 9/11: the eighth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center and the thousands of lives lost there and in the other attacks in 2001. It’s one of those things that’s almost a cliche to even mention these days, because it feels like journalists and politicians and commentators never stopped talking about the “post-9/11 America” that we live in. Which phrase, incidentally, to me sounds about as meaningless as the “post-racial America” that Obama supposedly created, but that’s neither here nor there. But I can’t deny that I am to some degree a post-9/11 human being, for how powerfully the event shaped my own life. There are things about that day and those following it that I will always remember.

  • I remember I was 19 at the time, in college and living about 40 blocks north of the World Trade Center.
  • I remember the night before the attack, I was at St. Paul’s Chapel, literally in the shadow of the Towers, rehearsing for a liturgical dance thing I was intending to do with some dancer and musician friends. It was pouring rain that night, and once it calmed down a little I stood on the sidewalk and stared up at the Towers, watching their glass surface glimmer in the moonlight and the city lights.
  • I remember we never got around to doing our liturgical dance, because the next day and for the next several weeks, St. Paul’s would become a shelter and resting place for the rescue and construction workers digging through the ruins.
  • I remember I got the news while sitting in my European Thought And Culture class, hearing a lecture on the differences between the Enlightenment in England, France, and Germany. Yeah, I’ll probably remember that forever.
  • I remember thinking “Finally, something’s happening,” but not saying it to anyone, because that would be callous and nobody would get what I meant. I’m not even really sure what I meant, but I remember I really did mean it.
  • I remember the next Sunday I went to church, like I always did, but I left halfway through the service because everyone around me was comforting each other and wondering why the violence couldn’t stay in the Middle East where it belonged (okay, they weren’t actually saying that, but in my less generous moments I thought they were thinking it) and struggling with that omnipresent question “How could a loving God let this happen?” and I just wanted to punch them all in their stupid faces. (See above, re: ANGRY emo dancer college kid.) That was the last time I went to church voluntarily for about five years.
  • I remember the next week the Village Voice came out with the cover image above and the caption “Wish You Were Here”, and I kept that issue for at least six years until it was yellowing and falling apart and sometimes I wish I’d kept it longer.
  • I remember quietly making fun of my roommate when she started carrying around a backpack with emergency supplies everywhere she went.
  • I remember being pissed at W the first time he called the perpetrators of the attacks “evil” because I knew that was nothing but a technique to dehumanize the enemy as a prelude to warmongering. (Angry emo dancer radical liberal college kid.)
  • I remember candlelight vigils in Washington Square Park every night for weeks, grieving for the people who’d lost their lives and family members and friends, and talking with other New Yorkers who all agreed that the rest of the country might be angry and ready to go to war but we just wanted to come together and find peace.

To all those who were killed in the attacks of 9/11/01, those who lost a friend, who lost their livelihood or their sanity or their health, who had their rights and dignities squashed in the heightened security measures, and who still suffer from the intolerance and distrust that day fueled…

Wish you were here.



"I have a c*nt, so that makes me… a man"

August 11, 2009

Found this gem via bilerico. Funny, sarcastic responses to some of the questions trans persons get asked… a lot. ❤

I especially like Charles’ response to the first question,

“What if you were born into the right body?”

Um… I sort of like being trans. Uh… Do you mean into a body that might get me laid more? I kind of like my body. I don’t… I don’t think I understand this question.
What if you were born into the right body?

Sure, I experience body dysphoria at times. Sure, certain things about my life now would be easier if I’d been male-assigned at birth. And menstruation was pretty much the suck for most of my life and now that the magic of hormones has ended that I’m pretty much thrilled. But, two buts (heh, I said butts):

1. Easier is not the same as better
2. There are lessons I learned as a modern dancer about inhabiting exactly the body that I’m in as my instrument and using it and loving it. Body-positivity as a political and personal truth is really important to me; so if there are changes I want to make to my physical form, they are to move forward from this point, not to correct a mistake in the form God gave me. The complicated and unusual history that’s written on this body is a blessing — sometimes a difficult one, but never a curse.

Sometimes I find myself in the position of being the ‘good’ trans friend that you can talk to about stuff without setting off a landmine of rage. In large part this is a choice, a natural one that comes from my generally even-tempered approach to the world, from my tendency to detach and intellectualize problems and think about them calmly and rationally, and from my intense desire to understand the world from perspectives that are not my own. Sometimes I recognize that this can be problematic, and sometimes I have to remind myself that understanding other perspectives doesn’t have to undermine my own. I wish there were an easy way to communicate that the reverse is also true — that my perspective on gender does not have to invalidate that of my cis* friends who have trouble shifting my pronouns and/or don’t think they’ll ever be comfortable thinking of me as a he. As long as there is tolerance, and a recognition that if that barrier to accepting my male identity exists, it will be a barrier between us in certain situations. And as long as we all remember that I am more than my trans identity (and really, if we’re not the most intimate of friends, as long as you use my new name and the pronouns I ask you to use, I don’t really care if in your own head you think of me as a man or as a nontraditional woman — that’s a concession I wish I didn’t have to make, but it is a reality.)

Sometimes it’s really nice to see the kind of truthful sarcasm in the above video, though. So when I’m asked the standard questions, I’ll probably answer them kindly and truthfully, or tell the asker to please back off because my genitals are none of their business, but my inner monologue might be a little different. Especially if I’m tired and cranky.

In transition news, I’ve started to see a tiny bit of growth on my upper lip like a wisp of a hint of a mustache. o/ It’s possible I’m the only one who can see this.

It’s the little things that make me happy. 😀


FTM voice recordings

July 31, 2009

So a few weeks ago I started doing little voice recordings to chronicle the changes I’m going through. I have no idea if they’ll be of interest to anyone but me, but today I started uploading them to imeem anyway. My page is here:

gelasius on imeem

… and the first two recordings are uploaded here:

Gabriel Faith 071609

Gabriel Faith 072409

That’s all, folks. 🙂


Last night, on chat…

July 21, 2009

Gay friend: Can I ask you a really personal question?
Me: Of course.
GF: When you’re ready for the surgery, do you get to pick the size?
Me: *sporfle*
Me: That’s not what I was expecting.
GF: Because I want to help you shop.
Me: [gives Trans101 explanation of how there isn’t really a The Surgery for FTM and how it’s unlikely I’ll be doing anything of the sort anyway.]
GF: I’m just saying, I know dick.

Then we talked about packies and STPs for a while and he told me I’m hot as a guy and would totally give me head (might want to check with his husband on that one, *koff*)



that was a joke, ha ha, fat chance

July 14, 2009

One of those ‘well, duh’ facts about transitioning around people who knew me before: Make jokes.

It’s a truth well known that humor is good for defeating the elephant in the dining room. My friends are kind, generous people who don’t want to hurt or offend me, so for the most part they’re not going to make the first jokes while still concerned about slipping up on their pronouns. Since I’d MUCH rather my friends feel comfortable around me and sometimes call me ‘she’ than tiptoe around me and worry all the time and always always call me ‘he’, I’ve been working at demonstrating my willingness to be communicative. Examples:

S: Yeah, last year her boots… ‘his’ boots were different. SORRY.
me: No, ‘her’ is right. Last year it was ‘her’ boots.
S: *frustrated glare*
me: I’m just messing with you now.

(Okay, so that was a little mean. But S. said it was actually helpful in not worrying so much. So.)

[on a swivel stool that won’t stay put; usually it rotates to the left, but when I sat down it started rotating to the right]
me: See? I go both ways.
G: Yes. Yes you do. *snickers*


Chicago transgender groups in the news

July 14, 2009

Maybe it’s just my boundless optimism, but the title of this article makes me a little sad:

Transgender Chicagoans find refuge in their city

Refuge? Not community, or pride, or something else actively positive? “Refuge” sounds like an apology, like transpeople are on the very fringes of society and grateful simply to survive on the scraps tossed to us by the generous normals, or something. I know the intention of the article is in the right place, and it’s always good for our groups to get exposure, but somehow it just rubs me wrong. Like it’s just reinforcing the unhelpful idea that trans*people are all victims.


(unrelated) Note To Self: Flirting with heterosexual boys now makes them uncomfortable. Don’t overdo it.