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Thursday, 22 November 2007

Transgender Day of Remembrance

This last Tuesday was Transgender Day of Remembrance. It's a day of mourning and protest in memory of folks killed for being transgender. Alas, trans folks are the most likely group to experience hate-based violence. The FBI reports, alas, that hate crimes were up last year, which implies that it was a bad year for trans folks as well.

Part of the reason that hate crimes are so high for trans people is because they are often a more vulnerable group. Queers in general experience economic discrimination. Trans folks get it much much worse. Imagine if you had to lie about your job history. It would be hard to get a good job. A disproportionate number of trans people end up in sex work. Many trans people end up homeless. (50% of MTF transsexuals lose their jobs when they transition.) An economically vulnerable class is also a physically vulnerable class.

What can I do about this?

Ok, so you don't go around beating anybody up. And you would call the cops or something if you saw it. Good for you. But you can do more.

Trans folks are vulnerable due to non-violent hostility in work environments and other types of discrimination. So don't discriminate against trans people! If somebody around you does, say something. Something like, "that's not funny." Or "I have trans friends and don't appreciate your saying that." Or "I think X prefers the opposite pronouns and therefore we should use them."

Obviously, you should treat trans people with respect. Outing folks is not cool. Making fun of somebody who had unknowing contact with a passing transperson is not cool. Jargon free: If your friend think a person is hot and then finds out the person is trans, don't make fun of your friend. It is possible to both be trans and hot and that is awesome. Or if your TSA/immigration coworker patted down somebody, don't make fun of them for that, and especially not where the somebody can hear. (Just sayin')

no, alas, I didn't go to the protest

There was one in SF, but I was occupied with related business. Namely, sitting in the waiting room of SF's gender clinic. The website said to show up at 2:00 for new patient intake. It did not mention that this particular intake is not in the building's main intake. I should have asked somebody if I was in the right place, but I was too busy feeling extremely daunted. So I waited for nearly 2 hours and then got to talk to a nurse, who asked me questions.

What is your earliest memory of having a gender?

Please leave your answer to that question in a comment before going on reading here. It's ok, I'll wait. hmmm hmm hmm hmmm hmmm

So I said something about having to wear a skirt to catholic school. That's not what she meant. She meant something more like, what's the earliest memory of you having a concept of the gender that you would come to embody in adulthood? Like, when did you first realize that you were (really, deeply, actually) a girl or boy and what was that experience?

Leave a new comment answering the second question. Take your time. I'll still be here.

Having been interviewed about such topics multiple times in the Netherlands, you'd think I'd have an answer for these things but I don't. Geez, I spend my time trying NOT to think about these sorts of questions. I just, I dunno, write music and stuff. Also, I have philosophical issues with the phrase "true self." And "in the wrong body." Like, this body got me all the damn way here, so it's not wrong. What, am I supposed to long for a brain transplant? I AM my body. Dualism is bullshit. I'm tall. I'm somewhat handsome. I can ride a unicycle. That's not a "wrong body." It's just a body that inexplicably refuses to grow a goatee.

And without dualism, you also lose the idea of "true self." My true self is sitting here on the sofa, typing. My true self drug it's ass down to san Francisco to wait for hours to answer gatekeeper questions. Ok, sure, there are parts of me that are absolutely non-negotiable. And there are parts that are becoming increasingly stubborn. And this inexplicable lack of goatee ability has some inhibiting impact on my ideal presentation. Part of my problem with the idea of "true self" is that I think it robs me of agency. I decided to drag my ass down to answer annoying questions. I can pick whether I want to do this, or go nuts, or do something else. I construct my own identity by mixing the negotiable with the not, having conversations with myself, others, the world around me. I am my own man. Mine. Created by me. And since I own me, and since me IS my body and since everything I do all the time is changing me, I should get to be in the drivers seat about what I want to do to me and how I want to change over time. Some stuff is going to happen no matter what I think about it (eventually, I will die. Alas). Some stuff, I can effect.

The whole gatekeeper thing annoys me. If I have to ask somebody permission before painting my bicycle, it's not really my bike. It's a bike that they control. So if I want to modify my body, and I have to get permission first, then it means that they are in control. My body doesn't belong to me, then, it belongs to a medical establishment. And as we're rejecting dualism here, that means ME. I belong to the medical establishment.

that's crap.

Rather than try to explain this worldview, I got quiet and defensive. I'm NOT in the wrong body! *sigh*

They didn't chuck me out on my ear, but instead made an appointment for me to see a social worker, a week from T-day. That person can refer me to a doc who can write prescriptions. This is the normal procedure. The nurse insisted that I see one particular social worker. It's funny that when I was in Holland, they wanted to send me off to transition and thought it was odd that I wanted to discuss it further first and here they seem to want me to discuss it further.

I really suck at lying. I probably suck at truth telling too. I would do terribly on a lie detector test, overthinking everything. This is why I got rejected from England. These concise, tell-em-that-they-want-to-hear answers are not easy for me. Still, I'm considering trying to lie anyway. Rawr! I'm very binary identified! I am incredibly manly! I have been convinced of my manliness from my earliest memory! I have no doubts or concerns whatsoever! My family is entirely supportive!

Jean says that is a whole lot of fabrication . . . enough to make a suit out of. (Only problem is that I'd still be naked afterwards.) I don't know. Maybe a social worker will tell me how to bring this up with my family. (Or maybe the fam reads my blog. Yikes. Meh.)

Speaking of my family . . .

My brother is planning on baking a pie for thanksgiving that my mother made. My mother died in 2002. But she was really in to preserving fruit. It broke my heart to throw away the outdated jars of applesauce that she had given me in 2001. she didn't just put things in jars, but also froze them. My mom was also the pie queen (more so than Lois). When apricots were in season, she sprung into action, making jam, preserves, canned half apricots, frozen apricots and pies. She made so many pies. But instead of baking them, she parked them in the freezer and baked them when needed. My mom left behind a freezer full of frozen pies. And her pies were really fantastic.

I don't know, but I'm guessing that her last pie probably dates from 2001. That's a six year old pie. Freezer burn + morbidity all in one package. I'm not sure my mother would want us to honor her memory by eating a six year old pie. I have trepidation regarding the experience, frankly. Aside from all the concerns associated with eating a pie that's old enough to be in the first grade, I feel that it's likely that a pall will be cast over the gathering. It will be a pie of mourning.

So at that very opportune moment, I can say, "So I have an appointment with a social worker a week from today . . ."

I'm sure the social worker wouldn't approve. Also, I wish I was making this whole thing up.

3 comments:

Timanna said...

early memories are hard for me. I remember wanting to be a "flowergirl" for a job as a kid. I meant a florist. But I don't know when that was. Also, I really enjoyed parasols.

Les said...

Well, not everybody who is trans is so from early childhood. It's also common for folks to start feeling trans-IDed in puberty or even adulthood.

Also, what kid wouldn't want to be around pretty stuff like flowers and parasols? They look nice. Little boys enjoy tea parties with stuffed animals and picking wildflowers, etc as much as little girls. (And little girls enjoy splashing in mud puddles and trying to catch frogs.) It's just older kids and adults who get all gender essentialist about it.

yesyouam said...

I remember being about 7 years old when I thought I came up with the idea of androgyny. I was freaked out by the fact that some day my smooth little chicken legs would be covered with fur and I wasn't into it. I tried to convince my little brothers that I wasn't of either sex and that you can choose what gender you want to become when you hit puberty. I knew this was BS, but I liked that idea. I felt a little cheated that I had to be one gender and not the other and thought that since I was pretty androgynous, being a little kid, that I should cherish that while I could. I made up a character in a game that we used to play that was androgynous and I think my brothers kind of though that was cheating.

Of note, I already had the concepts of hetero- homo- and bisexuality down prior to that, but the whole idea of gender identity, or lack thereof, came later.