Archive for ‘Gender’

23/06/2014

For me it was when I was 4…

…then again at 7, but first time first. We lived in a huge mobile home in a field owned by my grandparents in pretty much the most isolated part of mainland Ireland. It was…okay I guess. I don’t really remember much apart from the dogs. Everybody had a dog. My grandparents had a border collie named Candy, my grand-aunt a border collie named, I don’t remember that makes me sad, I loved that dog. Anyway I had a border collie mix named Charlie, who I found out this year was put down the day we left; he went mad when I went away, and after nearly killing my uncle as they drove home from the train station my uncle was forced to drown my lovely 2-year-old dog so he wouldn’t end up crashing the car. I get it, but I hate it. It says a lot that that dog is still my 2nd clearest memory of Mayo, and that I still miss him 30 years later.

I say second strongest memory because my strongest memory is the time I told my Mom that I was a girl. I can remember standing in the tiny kitchen with her, watching her make scones, and then blurting it out. I was 4, I was already trying to read, already had had so many nightmares that they’d stopped scaring me, and I already knew something had gone horribly wrong with me. My body felt like a loaner. It felt like a stop gap while my real body was being finished. It didn’t feel like it was mine. Oh and it was already becoming sick, I started to have the bowel problems that have plagued my entire life since in those 2 short years in Mayo. But, time to focus on what’s important here; the gender.

So I’d told my Mom I was a girl. You know who liked dogs, and calves, and guns, and building random things, and hid all the time (like a soldier) with my dog in the tall grass at the edges of the field, you know, a girl…with a penis. And her response was…

…nothing.

No response. None at all. Now the fact that my Mom has absolutely memory of this at all makes me think that she actually didn’t hear me. Mom is a very quiet woman, but she’s a noisy baker, so it’s likely that she didn’t. But tell that to a 4-year-old who’s just told her Mom that penis and boy-play-stuff aside, she’s a girl. Yeah it all got put in a small box, locked up tight, and fucked down the deepest darkest part of my psyche. And there it stayed ’til I was 7.

7 was a big year for me. I started Primary School, I had my First Communion…ugh, got my first watch, discovered Virginia Madsen, and got molested for the first time.

The last part would be the part that’s pertinent here. You see I hadn’t had any sexual awakening at that stage. None, at, all. I was a blank sexual state, on a blank gender slate, all balanced on an already geeky as hell slate. So it probably shouldn’t be surprising to me that having my sexual nature activated in just about the worst way possible, against my will, and far too early for me would have a secondary effect. Yup my boxed up gender hit a trampoline somewhere down that deep dark hole, and then it bounced back up into the light of day, walloping me in the teeth, and adding immeasurably to my misery.

I told my Mom again, and again she doesn’t remember this. I don’t remember her response, I don’t even remember if there was a response. But whatever happened when I told her it was almost 2 decades before I would tell her again, this time making sure it stuck. In the mean time I hid who I was. I hid what was being done to me all the time. Well really I hid everything that makes me me.

This is all by way of sharing my early experience of my own gender. Why?

Because the video below shows how to (mostly, and even where she got it wrong it’s totally understandable) get it right if your child ever comes to you with something similar. But how to get it right is summed up best in these words…

Pay attention to what they say, and don’t dismiss it. They know themselves in a way you never will.

http://vimeo.com/user27600859/howtobeagirl

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04/06/2013

“Wipe out Homophobia” but let’s make sure the transwomen keep quiet. (I hope I’m wrong about this.)

This weekend past something happened on Facebook which took me right back. Back almost ten years to a point in time when the LGB societies in Ireland were debating whether to include “T” in the acronym. That brought me right back to the good ole days when the LG part of the acronym seemed to take total joy in silencing the “B”s and the “T”s. It was a moment in my own life that showed me once more though this time in a very personal way, if I needed another example, that the “T” in LGBT is nothing more than a placeholder for an extremely convenient sacrificial lamb.

So Amanda, what happened?

Well on the morning of Friday the 31st, the self described education page Wipe out Homophobia (WOH) posted this link to an article about the Stonewall Riots. For those who don’t know, the Stonewall Riots were a pivotal moment in LGBT history, which marks in many ways the start of organised action for civil rights for LGBT people.

If you read the article in that link you’ll notice something is missing. Something rather glaring in fact if you happen to know anything about the riots. Why yes, there’s absolutely no mention of transgendered people. Funny considering that there most definitely was transpeople of varies types involved.

So being me I decided to comment this. Mine was the first comment. And my comment was the following.

“So transgendered people are written out of history again I see.”

I posted, and within a few minutes not only was my comment removed, but my account was blocked from making any further comments. So how do I perceive this act? Well as being censored of course.

The LG movement has a long history of throwing the Bs and the Ts under any political bus that happens along, though because it’s much easier to throw the Ts under a big political tyre we have tended to get it a bit more. We get written out of queer history all the time. We often have our rights, and our needs neglected, or misrepresented by the cis-gendered Ls and Gs for their own political gain pretty regularly, usually it seems to be explained away with a phrase like “A small sacrifice for a greater good.” As a matter of fact we as a group are misrepresented by Ls and Gs all the time, in every sort of situation, I can’t count how many times I’ve been described in some way as a fake person by one of my so called allies. How many times truly horrid comparisons have been made about me, my brothers, my sisters from within what is supposed to be our own loving community For an excellent example of this, well, remember I mentioned this at the start of this article?

“…when the LGB societies in Ireland were debating whether to include “T” in the acronym”

Back then I was a member of several Irish LGB forums. All of which I left after various people decided to compare transgendered people to pedophiles. And if that comparison sounds familiar well here’s the first page of a google search. It’s been almost ten years since that particular vitriol filled debate was heard in Ireland. But the pain caused by some of the comments, and arguments made during that debate is still with me, and I’m sure others, to this day.

The T of LGBT is sometimes heard to be called the “silent T.” And that is with good reason, seeing as our places in our own history keep being rewritten, by people who are not us. I won’t try to explain how, not when someone else has already done it infinitely better than I ever could. Please click this link to read how the story of Stonewall has been stolen from the trans-community by cis-centric members of the L and G communities. Censoring of transpeople is simply business as usual for the LG part of our little family.

Taking a deep cleansing breath, because this could devolve in to a full-blown rant very easily and I’d rather like to keep the high ground here, but I am very angry, rightly angry. Well anyway, I have this to say directly to the owner/s of the Facebook page “Wipe Out Homophobia“.

The history of my particular subset of humanity does not belong to you, or to any lesbian or gay person. Nor to any bi-person, politician, historian, or asshole with a red marker and a nasty attitude. In fact it doesn’t belong to me either. It is history, the past, an immutable fact. It has already happened. The truth of who was actually there can not be changed. But by trying to silence someone who draws attention to the way in which a key part of our communities history has been altered, rewritten, perverted,  you are simply doing to transpeople what the rest of the world has at one stage or another tried its damnedest to do to you.

Your page is listed as an “education website” on Facebook. But if you deny the truth of an event. If you deny a group of people access to the heroes of their part of their community in that event, then you sir/madam prove yourself as wrong, as misguided, as indefensible as any other history denier who walks this Earth.

Whether you like it or not transpeople were a part of Stonewall. They and the other queerfolk who couldn’t hide in plain sight, the queers, the nancy-boys, the butches, the trannies of all stripes are the ones who led that particular charge, because they had No. Other. Choice.

They were there then.

We ARE here now.

WE ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE. No matter how hard some of our communities members may try to drive us away, you probably know exactly who I’m talking about.

Denying our place in history won’t erase us.

Denying our existence won’t erase us.

Stealing our words, won’t silence us.

Nor will stealing our voices.

Trying to silence us when we call “bullshit” won’t silence me for one. It’ll just make me scream louder. And you better fucking believe I’m not alone.

WOH, I can now post on your page again, I unliked you and boom, look at that, I can comment. But I no longer care to do so. You tried to silence me when I called bullshit on a history denying article that YOU posted on your page. You supported history deniers, the rewriters of history when you did so. You stopped being educators, and became oppressors.

You erased my words, then stole my voice. Guess what? I have many voices, and congratulations, you just became one of the very people who vilify you, and as I avoid them, I now avoid you.

I hope I have taken what happened on Friday the wrong way. I hope you were having a pissy day and you regretted your action afterwards. I hope that you are not one who has taken the first step down in to a darker place. I have hope, but not a lot. In any event have a nice life.

Just one small thing more.

I’m not going anywhere.
I will not be rendered silent by anyone.
I will not have my heroes denied their places in history.
What they did matters.
They matter.
I will be heard, and I will be counted.
What I think and feel matters.
I matter!

(Why do I get the worrying feeling that Sputnik is about to land on me?)

Edited to add that I’ve just found out that a friend who made much the same comment, but even more politely has had his comment removed also. Well, so much for hope then.

13/01/2013

Julie Burchill and trans women.

I simply don’t have the words, or the heart to do the job properly for this particular fight. But luckily some pretty amazing other people have done a far better job than I could do.

Here at with Aoife at Consider the Tea Cosy

Julie Burchill and trans women..

And here on the Guardian website with Roz Caveney

Julie Burchill has ended up bullying the trans community..

25/10/2012

My Random Video Ruminations – Episode 1 – Transphobic attacks, and Mists of Pandaria Collectors Edition unboxed.

Today we have a double feature for my monthly video blog. In part One I’ll be speaking about a transphobic attack I was the victim of two weeks ago. As well as several which have happened to me in Dublin City over the past 10 months.

In Part Two I’ll be sharing my experience of unboxing my brand new copy of the latest expansion to the World of Warcraft, Mists of Pandaria.

Enjoy, and I’ll be back again on Saturday with your regular burst of randomness.

27/09/2012

My Random Video Ruminations – Month 1

As I said I a few weeks ago, when I returned to blogging from my holiday, I’ve decided to set up a video blog and a YouTube channel to host it. Well YouTube until I can get a decent independent site of my own running. Anyway here’s my first video, feel free to comment here, or on YouTube. Enjoy.

22/09/2012

Friendships, and Changing Gender.

Around eight years ago I realised that to be able to keep living with myself I had to stop lying. I had to be honest with myself admit that I’m a girl, and change gender. It was that or die by my own hand. I knew that with the absolute certainty of those who’ve already tried multiple times. Since around six years ago there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t been relieved that I made that decision. So that leaves a very obvious question to be answered.

What about those first two years?

Those first two years were the hardest part of transitioning. The time period where every single part of it was terrifying, or upsetting, or just a plain struggle. Those were the years before laser hair removal had really started to work out. The years before hormone treatments had performed their magic. The years where I had not yet developed a personal sense of style, or any significant make-up skills (Though I’m quite certain that there are probably those who would say I still haven’t.) with which to present myself to the world. Those were the years where my mother and I had a fraught relationship. But most of all they were the years when I lost most of the people I thought were my friends.

It felt like one day I was surrounded by people who cared about me, and the next…well there were a lot fewer. Of course that’s not actually wholly true. It took those two years, and a large chunk of the next couple too, for them all to drift away.

What I didn’t understand then, and what I’ve only started to understand recently is that they were never really my friends. And I don’t mean that the way you think. Sure some of them were just acquaintances who seemed like friends due to proximity based, pressure-cooker type relationships. But that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that they were never Amanda’s friends.

They’d spent, sometimes, anything up to five years getting to know the old, fake me. They were “his” friends, “his” confidants, “his” support network. They knew…let’s call him, in the manner of only the very “best” PSA’s, Jimmy, not this new strange person with too much facial hair, no breasts, weird dress sense, and a scrawny body, who was named Amanda. Some of them really tried. I have to give them their due. Some of them tried as hard as hell to stay in Amanda’s life. But of all the friends Jimmy had, only a handful would go on to become Amanda’s.

It’s hardly surprising, Amanda is definitely a lot different to Jimmy. For one thing, paradoxically she has bigger balls. Seriously, things that used to make Jimmy curl up and scream for mommy, just make Amanda bear her teeth, ready for a nice tasty bite of jugular.

Anyway, when I think about it now, with the passage of time reducing the pain to a distant memory, I’m grateful they didn’t stick around. You see transitioning was a crucible. It burnt away all the layers of fake which I’d built up over the years to hide away the real me. It forced me to become if not a grown-up then at the very least an adult. It made me take responsibility for my body, health, and life. But it also removed a great deal of the unnecessary from my life, not least of which were the friends who were just, okay.

I’ve learned that not everyone has friends who are amazing, wonderful, loving, supportive, and the types who’ll bury bodies with you (Good friends will only do the killing part, conveniently forgetting to help with the clean up afterward.). But now after transitioning, after losing so much of what I thought was mine, with everything, and everyone who was less than I deserved, I can finally say with certainty that I do.

 

 

 

08/09/2012

A few small suggestions on transitioning.

I recently made the internet acquaintance of a transgirl who is at the beginning of her transitioning from pretend boy to, I’m quite certain, a very beautiful young woman. During one of our chats on Yahoo Messenger (Yes, apparently some people do still use this. I was shocked, I hadn’t used it in about 4 years.) she asked me for any hints that I might have to help make her transition if not easier, than perhaps a slightly less painful. Well here is what I came up with. Please note that everything on this list is very much my own personal opinion, which is based on my experience of transitioning. Also these are listed in no particular order.

  • If you have dark hair start laser hair removal as soon as possible. Nothing else, pre-hormones, will have as quick, or profound an impact on your looks, or your sense of wellbeing. If you have hair which is too fair for it to be effectively Lasered you will have to go down the electrolysis route.
  • Speaking of laser and electrolysis, prices, and skill vary a great deal between places providing these treatments so it’s a very good idea to ask around (people you know, the interwebs, TENI) to find who people recommend, as well as getting a good idea of prices.
  • Make contact with whatever local/national organisation exists where you live. Here in Ireland it’s TENI, and they will have a lot of helpful people, advice, and above all many non-judgemental ears for you to bash with your worries. Trust me they’ll understand, the vast majority of them have been where you are, or have had to help a partner through it all.
  • Don’t go too nuts buying clothes to begin with, for two reasons. Firstly, odds are that you will really have very little idea of what looks good on you. Secondly, while you do need to buy some clothes, both every day and good wear, you are also going to need that money for hair removal, and depending on where you live, travel costs.
  • Don’t listen blindly (wow, that’s a bad way to put that!) to the old wives tales, and horror stories about transitioning which some older transpeople seem to love to peddle. Those stories are their experiences, often back in the 70’s 80’s or 90’s. It may well be as little as 10 years since they transitioned, but I know from my own experience that a huge amount has changed in that time.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about this. They are required by law to maintain the confidentiality of your situation. And while many may not understand some like my current GP are going to be not only willing, but driven to learn how to help you. Also if your doctor proves unable, or unwilling to help, ask a different doctor. There are after all LOTS of GP’s, one of them will be able to help you. Again this is an area where contact with a group like TENI will help, as they be very well positioned to advise you.
  • Your transition is YOUR transition. No-one elses. It is the act of you consciously becoming who you have always wanted to be. Sure, listen to suggestions/advice politely. But nothing what-so-ever requires you to use their advice. For example if I’d listened to one particular ex-friend I would never have transitioned, “You know you’ll never be a good-looking woman.” If I’d listened to some other people I would have been just another normally dressed, but miserable Irish woman, instead of the very happy well-dressed  gothgirl I am.

Yes this really is me. It kind of illustrates why I’m happy I didn’t listen to fashion advice from idiots. I love being a gothgirl!

I know I covered nothing to do with Gender Therapist, clinics, or hormones in this. I may come back and deal with them in the future. This was more in the lines of very basic simple advice that I wish someone had given me when I started out on this particular road. Anyway if you have any ideas that I missed, or want to discuss anything in this post please feel free to add a comment. And I will leave you all to your weekend with two links to why I think being transsexual is awesome.

It really is awesome…

No Really it is!

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