Monday, November 29, 2010

Something I Cannot Give

Not at all. We’re simply asking that you stop forcing an “identity” onto other people’s body parts, and that you stop “identifying” as the body parts of another person.

You say this: “Transsexuals who elect to get the operation, do so because they hate the male genitalia for causing society to force them to act like men.”

What we are suggesting is that you go against patriarchal society and act any way you want without attributing particular characteristics, feelings, thoughts and attributes to one’s body. And certainly not to the bodies of other people against their wishes. Body parts are simply body parts. Please help us to spread self-love and acceptance for our bodies just as they are without imposing surgical amputations on them or insisting that certain behaviors or characteristics are caused by our body parts. You are male because you have male reproductive organs. If you want to be a feminine man, or wear pretty dresses, or anything else non-steriotypical- please do! Enjoy! Be our ally!
-- FAB4Life, “Transwomen” Are Merely Castrated Men"
  I really need to stop responding to this hate, but when someone attacks your identity as FAB4Life did above, although with disguised good graces, I can't hold back. My last series of replies were:

You are asking something of me that I cannot give.
I wish I could. What you are suggesting is to deny my identity, my emotions, my state of consciousness. I would never ask the same of you.

I live comfortably now 24/7. I first repressed these emotions because I first didn’t know I could transition. What little male I was able to resurrect from myself had no ability to grow spiritually. My innermost body ached with the knowledge that my genitals were wrong, and I suppressed those feelings as long as I could because people would think I was crazy. Soon gone was my hope of self-transitioning hippy-style through college, when I suddenly found myself in the military reserve just to pay my bills. The first thing I missed was my long hair being shorn off.

I went active because my job sucked. When I got out of the military at 25, I fell in love with an Asian woman, and we had a child on the way before I had a chance to tell her I envied her, like I envied the breasts of my school mates when I was 10, knowing I would never have them and be forced apart from my true friends forever. After 10 years of marriage, the need to be female had gotten so strong that I started seeing a counselor.

I tried going to meetings wearing a pretty dress and being a feminine man to save my marriage, but believe me, the others were men to me, playing Tea Party. It was fun for a time, but I needed to express myself as myself in reality.

At a Unitarian church, I was able to finally emerge, like a butterfly from a cocoon. Meanwhile, I had started taking hormones because I found out that a testosterone-inhibiting drug I was taking for blood pressure was relieving my anxiety. The effect of the estrogen hitting my brain was like a starved child receiving the sweetest candy in the world.

As my identity also emerged, I found a new level of spirituality in myself, saw my functionality increasing and was better able to interact with people. So much so that I soon found myself the greeting coordinator of a church in Louisville, Kentucky.

I began hearing that my femininity was strong enough to be cut like a knife. My sister eagerly embrace her new big sister. And I could feel when people thought of me as female, creating in me a reverberation to match, unlike the constant anxiety I feel when people uphold male expectations of me.

This sense of identity was so strong that, after I spent 3 days being emotionally and physically abused by two men a month after I went full time, I was more determined than ever to not repress my feelings again. My sense of running away from who I was in times passed shattered.

I took a chance with my career and transitioned on the job shortly after. My productivity increased as I was no longer living two lives, and being the person I was meant to be.

My confidence with myself led me into relationships with men and women, but I could not emotionally consummate the relationship because what was between my legs was not what was supposed to be there in my mind to love them with. To consummate anything sexually all my life, I have had to let myself experience the contradictory sense of the genitalia my mind insisted was there, instead of what I could see with my eyes.

I have known since I was little I was not a boy, yet I felt blank because I couldn’t acknowledge what I felt. This May, I am getting surgery. I don’t like living in between.

I live life pretty much like any other woman at my job. I typically wear what’s next in my closet, whether it’s a skirt or slacks, (although I have more skirts), I force my razor to last a week, even though it’s already dull, I update the polish on my nails every three weeks, and my toenails are a couple of weeks past due, I get horrible cramps about every 4 to 6 weeks and the morning sickness that lasts for almost 24 hours that goes with it.

Yet, this is my identity. I am not a man, nor am I a crossdresser, I am who I am, I live in the feminine zone, even though it requires more work and more harassment, because I am more comfortable there and I can now get along with the boys. I better, since I am a programmer.
My goals are for the acceptance of everyone the way they are, for people to be treated with the inherent worth and dignity they deserve, and to break the heteronormative agenda.

Is that truly different from yours?

You want an Ally as do I, but in order to have an ally you must trust them and understand that their point of view is just as valid as yours. I accept that I am biologically male. Can you accept and respect that I am psychologically and emotionally a woman?

If not, then I fear I cannot trust you as an ally for the higher cause of oppression against all people who are either born as women or identify as women and I wish you luck.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Makes a Woman

@ Sophia, preach it to the choir. Let the man know the truth about your operation, talking about you gay and proud, be proud enough and tell a man who you lying to. Why wont you tell, because you know he would not want you if he did know the real truth. all that start out female crap is bull. Waht you ended up with? huh? stuff you had to alter and remove, let the man know!
--CaramelChocolate, "Dude Looks Like a Lady"

HipHopWired published a piece on the top 10 celebrities who were discovered to be in relationships with trans women. The response was varied, and one individual, CaramelChocolate, took on a line of reasoning that was full of false assumptions and in her way of thinking, she insisted that trans women are not women and should be proud that they are gay men.

I am amazed at how much urban myth there is out there, and how so many people still buy into it.

A transsexual woman goes through a lot to make life worth living. Society has taught them to just be men, and deal with it, and as hard as they try, they ultimately fail at being men.

It takes many years of self-repression, followed by many counseling sessions to come to appreciate who they are, and accept that they can live a meaningful, fulfilling life.

It takes a lot of time to transition from male to female--from 3 years and up--and the costs are hard to absorb by individuals who are now denied jobs because of their transition and the cost is nothing to sneeze at, because insurance doesn't pay.

Thank God, most transsexual women aren't limited to lives of prostitution. Many who are, however, are brutally murdered or abused under the assumption that they're only good for sex.

Most transsexual women can be found as doctors, engineers, lawyers and many other professions.

Gay men are not attracted to transsexual women, as I can tell you from my own experience. Normal, heterosexual men, and lesbians can be. Also, the majority of TS women are lesbian.

These people who have the courage to finally just be themselves are brutally murdered, assaulted, denied life-saving medical treatment, and denied life-sustaining shelter. Even at the age of 17 months a young child was strangled to death for appearing to effeminate.

This is by no means an easy life, and it is actually an act of human decency to recognize trans people for who they are.

Some people might think that trans women would never be attracted to trans men, because they are gay men after heterosexual men. That's a fallacy. It's quite often that the woman sees the man and is comfortable with them. I know trans men that are better men than many cisgendered men.

I also know of transwomen that are naturally lubricating, and uteruses have been found while operating on male genitalia. It is a form of intersex called male pseudohermaphroditism. To all outward appearances, the body is male, although just barely, and just barely fertile.

In addition, everyone starts out female in the womb. A male brain develops at a critical period when the gonads drop. If too much estrogen makes it across the placenta or there is a deficiency in anti-mullerian hormone generation, the brain does not lay out the normal male pathways, and still has a map that insists it is female.

But this gets even more complex, because the variance in hormone levels causes a spectrum of gender identities.

Fairly uniformly across cultures, there is strong evidence that 1 in 200 people experience gender incongruity. This has been happening for 1000's of years at minimum, and gender identity has been proven to be wholly separate from sexual orientation.

Men do not become women to have sex with men. The cost alone is prohibitive, and most men shiver at the concept of having their genitalia removed.

What makes you a woman? Your desire to be a woman, and your knowledge of what your body should be like, what your brain tells you is supposed to be there.

The true sin is denying yourself, because you can't love others as yourself, when you can't accept your own innate sense of self.

There is no devil inside you, whispering for you to break divine commands. There is instead the evil outside trying to convince you that you can't trust yourself.

I never lie to any person about what I have had if the situation warrants it, like intimate relations or just being a roommate with someone.

The fact is, unless the transsexual woman (and yes she is a woman, emotions and all) is raped or taken advantage of, they are up front in intimate encounters.

I spend most of my time alone, never trolling in bars. I've never slept with someone else in a committed relationship. I have been forced into sexual encounters against my will with men three times, every one of them fully aware of my sexuality.

And I am not gay, unless you count a preference for women. My mind has always told me I have a vagina
The neo-vagina is constructed using the original genital material--just reshaping it in a way that is bio-identical to if it had been formed that way.

The hormone production of natal women eventually stops. It's called menopause. Many girls have problems producing hormones to start with, requiring supplemental hormones.

Female genitalia does not make a woman, nor does male genitalia make a man. Neither do hormones or chromosomes.

Heterosexual men have been abusing, raping and murdering all kinds of women, including transgender women, in order to teach them their place in the pecking order. And they do so, fully knowing the genitalia.

Let me put it another way. A gay man or heterosexual man loves or identifies themselves with what is between their legs. They enjoy the sense of power it gives them in relationships and the bigger it is, the more manly they believe they are.

Gay men love men, love things that look, move and smell like men. This is oversimplified, because they don't love just any man like you wouldn't love just any man or woman.

Transsexuals who elect to get the operation, do so because they hate the male genitalia for causing society to force them to act like men. I hate mine, because in intimate relations, I feel that I am blocked by expressing my love with what should be there. I have been through three counselors who all agreed that I am a woman trapped in a man's universe. I have spoken with multiple doctors who also agree. I have two letters of referral from degreed individuals recommending my surgery this May.

I was married for 13 years to a woman and have two daughters through the same woman. Yet, the male parts were practically invisible to my mind and I felt separated because of them, because they were wrong.

I know this is a mental issue, but reparative therapy does not work, because the mental pathways are female, as science has proven. My father tried to toughen me up, but nothing he did ever worked, just sending me into tears of frustration and anger. There is no pill that will change what for 1 in 200 people is a sense of not belonging to one gender and not being admitted to the other.

I am praying, as well I should since I missed church to tell CaramelChocolate all this, that she comes to understand that the deceit is in not being honest with your emotions when you simply tell people what you've been trained to tell them. The deceit is in not sharing who you are on an intimate level. The courage comes in being honest about what you are feeling, because in the end, that is all we truly know, in the face of abuse and hatred.

Trust me. I have no desire to knowingly sleep with any celebrity. The number of unresolved emotional issues they carry to the table, the infidelity that is rampant among them, as well as the depression and stress that they live through is enough to keep me away.

Hugs and God Bless,
Sophie Jean

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ranging My Life

And it was the old lady, Mrs. Goodman, who first made of me a confidant. Looking back, I see now that her eccentricity was really only a powerful refusal to have truck with the superficial, her incantatory way of talking only that ancestral harking back of the elders, which we reject to our loss. She was one of those interior monologuists who are driven by a lifelong need to see the formal design of their own lives, to fix its rubric firmly among the chapters of the world, and she ruminated best in the presence of a listener manque--a servant, a stranger, or a child. Since she was also one of those blessed of the earth whose own family is the hub of their sky, it was of the Goodmans that, incessantly, I learned. She ranged her life, theirs, with the passion of a critic, and like the best of these, with a wildness of phrase and a soundness of judgment that gave me something of the method, too.
-- Hortense Calisher, False Entry

Tonight, after midnight, I am going to finalize the booking of my flight to Thailand when the withdrawal check from my retirement moves from a pending deposit to funds available; then I am going to transfer the remainder of my surgery balance to a Bangkok bank, and move on to focusing on my passport. I now have less than 6 months to go before I have my genitals surgically corrected to remove a chronic annoyance.

I saw a hematologist/oncologist on Friday. An expert in her field, she doubts that I have hemochromatosis, so she ordered me to get genetic marker testing done for C282Y and H63D , two genes that are known to be the source of hereditary hemochromatosis (HH). She deduced from my hematocrit levels and my medications that I was transsexual. Her child is going to school with two "sex-changers," as she called it, and she was very accepting of me. I finally had an upper physical check done, while wearing a robe to cover my breasts, because she likes to do a physical on all new patients. She suspects that my iron may be elevated because of some metabolic stress; she mentioned the phrase "liver biopsy," which makes me incredibly uncomfortable.

After the two vials of blood were drawn from me, I headed back home, finding myself incredibly drowsy. After a short nap, I opted to draw a bath and do my estrogen injection in the evening, because I didn't want the PMS wave to make me so ill I couldn't attend the Gender Conference on Saturday.

The conference was great! I met and did performance poetry under the tutelage of Elisha Lim, took part in a focus group on the barriers to transgender health care, and enjoyed a closed interactive session on Transgender Romance. I met so many of my emerging friends, and felt an incredible synergy as we all came together.

Afterwards, we danced at an after-conference party at the Sugar Place and listened to music and prose from Elisha Lim. He sat for a moment to read off my cell-phone what I am planning to present tomorrow at Sugar House Coffee. He is a very buoyant, positive-energy individual and I feel fortunate to have met him.

Hugs and God Bless,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Little Sprout

What is there to show for all the effort and energy expended at home?
-- Linda Weltner, No Place Like Home

Like the pea green nose cone of a trident missile, the first of my tulips has sprouted in my window box in my kitchen--almost right in the very center of the box.

Just last week, the weather was incredibly icy, forcing me to bring the plants inside. I had heard that it's important to let tulips and lillies get the first frost so the seedling can break through the bulb. And sure enough, at least one did.

The same thing occurred to me in my transition. It seems that when I had planted the seeds of growth in myself and first immersed myself in the new environment, that the harsh conditions I immediately encountered actually weakened my shell until I saw it clearly for what it was, its purpose outlived. If it had not been for the tender care of a counselor, friends and supportive church environment, I may not have survived in my weakened state, at least emotionally.

In order to grow and not suffocate, the shell did have to be compromised, but the love expressed afterwards to the now vulnerable me enabled me to survive and thrive and become the woman I am today.

I am going to tend that little seedling and watch for more of it's siblings to emerge. When the winter is over and Spring has sprung, when I return them to the outdoors, I hope to see the most beautiful blooms.

Hugs and God Bless,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Bikini Wax Cell

"You are Brazilian. What kind of cell would you be part of? A bikini wax cell?"
-- Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs

When the direction finder on my phone said I had arrived at my location, I felt sure I must have put in the wrong address. I was obviously in a a residential district and there was no sign of the Sacred Light of Christ Church anywhere.

As I parked my car and looked at the map application, I noticed the address had appended Metropolitan Community Church to the name of the church, which meant that the address was a match on Google.

As I got out of my car, I asked a young man who had just parked in front of me, "Is there an MCC church around here somewhere?"

"It's that red brick building over there" he said pointing two houses behind me on the side on which I parked.

"Are you looking for the Chili Cookoff?" he asked me when I finished relaying my fears of being in the wrong place, walking around to my passenger door to take out the crock pot filled with Bean and Corn chili I had brought with me. I had spent two hours yesterday morning chopping the ingredients, frying the onions and filling the crock pot to let it simmer during the work day.

That afternoon after work, my neighbor Barb had walked with me to my apartment after I checked my mail, and we chatted while I washed dishes and changed into a nice green dress. After debating on several shoes, we decided on the patent leather high heels I bought in San Francisco three years ago--the same heels that were sinking into the soggy grass covered ground trying to remove the chili from the passenger side of my car.

Barb and I had talked about how I felt male when I was angry or frustrated. She blew me away when she said it was perfectly normal--that she, too, felt male under those circumstances. Today, when I was filling out the forms to transfer medical records from all my doctors, the receptionist also confirmed that those feelings are quite natural for women, and she is so incredibly feminine!

At the cook-off, I met Brandy, a transgender woman who is the church secretary, and many other, mostly young, mostly female-to-male, transgender people with whom I played Yahtzee, before we had a secret ballot on which of the four chilis we thought tasted the best. Mine tied for second, which actually means I didn't come in last. It was a tough vote, because all of the entries were delicious.

Before the night was over, Brandy invited me to attend service at her church, I was invited to a private wine-and-cheese this coming Tuesday and, immediately after being told I was cute, I was encouraged to come to all the TransAction meetings, which occur every Tuesday at 7 PM.

I'm looking forward to them.

Hugs and God Bless,

Monday, November 1, 2010

Good at Everything

And that's the point. Not even a Herald can be good at everything.
-- Mercedes Lackey, "A Herald's Journey"

I so want to be involved. There are so many organizations showing their colors here for Transgender Awareness Month in Utah. I know I can't be good at everything, but I do want to find what it is I can do to help people be more accepting and accepted of one another.

In less than two months, I have met and befriended the Interweave organizer for the local Unitarian church, the founder of Engendered Species, the leadership of TEA of Utah (the Transgender Education Advocacy), the facilitator for the Adult Transgender Group and an activist for TransAction. I guess you can say my fingers are now in the pie. The question still remains where will I ultimately find a fit.

Almost all of the organizations are providing education services for Transgender Awareness Month. Tomorrow, one of them (I believe TransAction) is hosting a Transgender Tuesday: Chili Cookoff tomorrow. I heard there were only two other people providing, so I dug into my crockpot cookbook and the first Chili recipe I came across is for Beans and Corn Chili, perfect for someone like myself who has to watch their red meat consumption. I'll be starting it first thing in the morning.

It will be another week and a half before I am able to have my iron levels forcibly reduced to normal levels again. I finally have an appointment with a hematologist. It took this long for the referral to go through; but it's Friday, November 12 just after lunch, so I'll have to beg off early from work.

While picking up my ingredients for the Chili, my last acrylic nail was killing me. It had been hanging in there for over two months and was tearing into the quick. As I stood there in line staring at the nail salon, I strongly debated giving up on growing my own nails back out and having acrylics put back on. After checking out, I walked up to the price board and couldn't make up my mind. A young lady sitting just outside on the bench asked me what was going on, took me inside the salon, and as a freebie, removed the painful acrylic nail and applied tip glue to stop the bleeding. She told me not to worry about the nails. I have to be honest: They look horrible. I can't keep a clean cut tip without it shredding right now. Almost every nail has jagged edges past where the nail trimmers can reach.

I also had to take advantage of a bra sale while at Walmart. The B-cup bra I was wearing was already causing pain from the constriction. I tried on a pair of 38-C soft bras and 38-B push-up bras and found the 38-C more comfortable. It was a good thing, too, because they're cheaper at 2 for 16 dollars. It's still hard for me to contemplate needing something that size. Kind of scary, really.

I was pleased to find one of my retirement rollover checks in my mailbox. It's little over half of what I'm going to need for my surgery and plane ticket; but it will be enough to go ahead and order my plane ticket to Thailand probably by the end of next week.

Hugs and God Bless,