Anatomy and Gender Coded Appearances

26 03 2015

I was recently watching the video for “Animal Nitrate” by Suede, and I was struck by how beautiful I found Bret Anderson, their singer, to be. I actually thought, “If I looked like him, I might not have needed to transition.” But then, I was mystified by that thought. Looking beautiful would not have changed my gender identity.

So what was I really thinking? What was it about Anderson’s appearance that captivated me (aside from him simply being beautiful)? Well, he seems somewhat androgynous. It’s a look I really would’ve tried to pull off in my youth. This got me to thinking, “What if clothing wasn’t coded the way it is? What if it was acceptable in this society for men and persons designated male at birth (DMAB) to wear skirts, dresses, and makeup? I would’ve been all over that, there’s no doubt in my mind about it. But, simply being able to alter my appearance still wouldn’t have been enough. I still would’ve had to transition.

I tried cross-dressing for a time. And, that did indeed help for a while. It allowed me to occasionally look the way that truly pleased me. But gender is not in clothing, hair styles, or makeup. Those things can be used to express gender identity, and it could be argued that those things help perform gender. But the use of those only expresses gender. My gender identity is deeper than that. To be sure, expressing my gender through the use of coded appearance goes a long way to relieving my dysphoria. But it doesn’t stop there. My body is changing, albeit slowly, with hormone replacement therapy. And surgery of one type might be in my future.

So for the meantime, I use gender coded things such as clothing, makeup, and hair styling to be me. And being a somewhat genderqueer trans woman means that the androgynous look is very appealing.

Anyway, here’s Suede:

Reblogging: That’s why they’re called privates.

24 03 2015

“‘It’s remarkable how quickly common sense goes out the window when you mention the word ‘transgender.'” Truer words were never spoken.

Whose Voices May Share Stories?

13 03 2015

I received an email today from Our Family Coalition about participating in a panel for transgender parents at the Gender Spectrum family conference this July. This particular panel would be for transgender parents to take questions from parents of gender variant kids, and the theme of this year’s conference is “Sharing our Stories.”

The problem is, I know that there are those in the transgender communities who would prefer that I not add my voice and share my story. The reason is, essentially, because enough white trans persons have already shared their stories. There aren’t enough stories for trans kids of color to relate to. So, persons like myself should refrain from telling our tales, to an extant.

I can understand this logic. Role models are important, and I had precious few growing up. Of course, if I realized I was trans that would have helped somewhat, but it was also a very different time back then. Trans persons weren’t in the media then the way they are now. But how are they now?

While they are not always the butts of jokes, that does indeed still happen. But also, the usual narrative is that of the pre-op trans persons who is intent on having gender confirmation surgery (GCS) or those post-op persons who already have. There don’t appear to be any respectful stories of non-op persons such as myself. And, there are numerous reasons for persons to be non-op.

What is also odd is that many of the same persons who will say I should keep silent because of the plethora of stories of white trans persons are also many of the same persons who will say that all of Islam should not be held accountable for Al Qaida, Boko Haram, ISIL, and the like. Those various groups of Muslims do not speak for all Muslims, and this makes perfect sense. Why, then, should some white trans persons be expected to take responsibility for the words and actions of other white trans persons?

Trans women of color such as Laverne Cox and Janet Mock have both had the privilege of being able to undergo GCS. That is a privilege denied to many trans persons of various races. Money and healthcare are privileges unto themselves. Some folks have both, some have one or the other, some have neither. The narratives of Mock and Cox are not mine. First, they are both persons of color. Second, they’re both post-op and I’m non-op.

I have replied to the aforementioned email, saying that I am willing to share my story. Yes, I am aware that if accepted I will be another white trans woman telling her story. I feel that a large part of my call to ministry revolves around ministering to trans and queer persons.

I cannot keep silent and minister at the same time. Yet, I will endeavor to fulfill this ministry in the most respectful way I can, letting my voice be heard while not silencing the voices of others.

Reblogging: To Paneris on the fifth of the month

6 03 2015

I’m more familiar with the deities of the Tetrad (Panhyle, Panpsyche, Paneros, and Pancrates) than with those of the Tetrad++. Paneris is one of those of the “++” designation, and seems to be a deity I should learn about.

Can we really have it both ways?

4 03 2015

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past several years: how people could or should be educated regarding experiences they don’t understand.

My first personal experiences with started in the early 1990s when I found that monosexuals (hetero- and homosexual persons alike) had questions about bisexuality, often conflating it with polyamory. I’d actually been told on multiple occasions that it’s not possible to be bi (or pansexual, polysexual, omnisexual, etc) while in a committed monogamous relationship. Again, people were (and still are) stating that interaction dictates orientation, rather than the other way around. As I became involved with Paganism and Neopagaism in general as well as Wicca in particular, I found that once again I had to educate people about the details of these faiths. Then, as I began embracing the fact that I was transgender, the need to educate others arose again.

In all three of these examples, persons within the questioned communities have had various attitudes toward answering questions. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus, but a significant proportion says something along the lines of, “We do not exist to educate you. Educate yourselves.” This can be very problematic.

The information on the Internet about being transgender, as an example, is very different now than it was when I first began researching the topic in 2008. Fortunately, I found sites that had reliable information. Eventually I found forms of community within various segments of the trans communities. We could share information, and I could then take that information and share it accordingly, respecting privacy boundaries of course.

Recently, various articles regarding “teaching moments” came up in my Facebook news feed. One from Everyday Feminism upholds the idea that “[we are] not your teachable moment[s],” while another on Huffington Post said the opposite. Shortly before beginning this blog post, I saw an article about a Christian woman who decided to wear a hijab for Lent to experience what Muslim women experience. Many of the comments were along the lines of, “If she’d just listened to Muslim women, she wouldn’t have to appropriate our culture to do this.” Part of the frustration is that at the end of Lent, she can remove the hijab and end her experiment. For Muslim women, the Islamaphobia persists all year, year after year.

I’ve heard similar comments from trans persons, say when a cisgender man decides to wear a dress in public to see what we trans women face. Invariably, his actions are criticized because he didn’t listen to our stories.

Then we have to tell our stories.

Can we really have it both ways? Can we really complain about how no one takes us seriously even as we tell them we won’t educate them. They then try to educate themselves, including trying to walk in our shoes, and they still come under fire. This feels somewhat hypocritical to me.

That said, I understand that not all persons can do the educating. I choose to be an educator, speaking of my experiences as a a genderqueer trans woman, as well as being a monogamous panromantic pansexual and a Christian-Wiccan. But, I have the privilege of living in an area where it is less dangerous for my status as a trans person to be known. In other parts of the state or country, it could be a very different story. There’s also the fact that I am able to tell my story. Not all persons have the ability to do this. For me to say that all of us need to be educators would be, among other things, ableist.

My point is, when people try to educate themselves, let’s give them some credit. Then, rather than hold them in contempt for “not listening” to the stories that might not even be getting told, let’s refer them to stories that we know to be reliable.

Reblogging: The True Self Play Group

2 03 2015

Th blog post below by the Gender Mom helps illustrate why “qualifiers,” also known as “labels,” are so necessary. It’s not enough to talk of “gender.” It’s not enough to talk about gender, gender identity, gender expression, and the like. It’s not enough to talk about gender and transgender. It’s not even enough to talk of transgender, genderqueer, agender, gender creative, gender non-conforming, gender critical, or what-have-you. Support groups like this exist because when it comes to gender anyone who transcends the gender they were assigned at their birth is treated very differently than persons who gender to conform to their birth assignments: cisgender persons.

Privilege and oppression are real, and they are alive and well in our society. Cisgender persons don’t need to worry about which locales are going to require a birth certificate before they can eliminate bodily waste. Cisgender persons don’t have to worry about medical “professionals” refusing or stopping treatment once their “true” gender is identified. Yes, it has happened.

And, it’s possible engage in oppression even accidentally. One of the ways to prevent this is to be aware of one’s privilege and to use the vocabulary that describes it.

Stories Seldom Told: Friday, 6 March 2015

1 03 2015

If you’re going to be in the San Francisco Bay Area on Friday, 5 March 2015, please come to Berkeley and experience the untold stories of women from the Bible.


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