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Category Archives: Trans
Hey everybody. First off… yeah, I haven’t blogged properly in ages. Sorry about that. My usual Winter funk started early, triggered by western society’s increasing resemblance to pretty much every dystopian science fiction future in every dystopian science fiction movie ever. As a result, I have been just drifting around in some kind of semi-fugue state, fueled by very strong painkillers and an immersion in the ‘grim darkness’ of the Warhammer 40,000 universe because, fuck it, it’s a brighter future than ours looks right now.
This is of course all hyperbolic for comedic effect, but what I wouldn’t give for a few power armoured, 9-foot tall warrior monks wandering around, purging would-be dictators with guns as big as a car.
Now, this post is more of a ‘She’s Baaaaaack’ thing (although consistency remains to be seen), rather than a scathing, withering yet amusing analysis of anything in particular. In all honesty, who needs satire when global events efficiently take the piss out of themselves? MRAs, the Alt-Right, ‘Alternative Facts’, ‘Fake News’, Rapey reality TV stars being elected President of the US, Brexit (Or how do we enact this thing without dry-fucking ourselves in the arse), some twat called Milo speaking in support of Paedophilia (he’s fallen a long way since he was in ‘The Tweenies’) and the Political Left in the UK refusing to get behind an actual Left Wing leader. All the while, our government has been systematically shagging the disabled and selling off the silverware… business as usual then.
However, yesterday I saw (without actually intending to, may I hasten to add) a 42 year old Transwoman in Brazil, dragged screaming from her home, begging for her life before being beaten to death in an alleyway. I shan’t link to it, it isn’t hard to find. This is the fifth reported Trans Murder from Brazil alone this year.
Now it’s easy to say “Oh well, Brazil is a backwards, Third-World Country.” Well it isn’t. It adopted equal marriage before we did, and supports Trans people with its public healthcare system. Poverty, Prejudice and Police corruption are prevalent in a large amount of countries we see through our Western perspective as ‘Developed’. Indeed, most of South America is coming on by leaps and bounds in terms of equality and social enlightenment from where they were a few dark decades ago.
No, this isn’t about Brazil. It is about all of us. It’s about everyone just laughing at the bigotted whilst they terrorise, intimidate, harass, assault and abuse the people who aren’t them.
People sit and laugh at Trump, but hate crimes have massively increased in the US, whilst he has personally signed away the rights of millions of US citizens. “Oh it’ll be interesting to see what he does…” are words one only hears from a straight, white, cisgender man (of course, not ALL straight, white, cisgender men 😉 ).
The Brexit Vote… guess what? A significant rise in hate crimes in the UK. I don’t really care what side of the fence you are on there, but the result gave a massive boost of self-righteousness to those whose idea of a good time is punching queers or battering brown people. So yeah, I’m now more likely to be attacked in the street. GO TEAM!
This oppressive fog of negativity has left me in a situation where I have a hard time motivating myself to chew through the restraints every morning. It is hard to see the goodness in the world right now, even though it is right there in so many of you. One of the things about strong pain medication is that everything looks so bleak, and yet so distant that you feel powerless to change anything (except pants… always change your pants. I cannot stress the importance of this enough).
But hey, every now and then someone puts a motivational poster up on Facebook so that makes it all okay, doesn’t it?
Ah well, at least the sun is shining. The bells of St Stephens are tolling and the primary school down the road is full of children screaming like someone’s chasing them with a chainsaw. Best of all, that hooty bastard Tawny Owl appears to have fucked off for the spring again so he can go and lure some other miserable bitch to the Underworld. Oh, and people are actively punching Nazis now, which is apparently something nobody thought of in the 1930s.
I fancy some toast.
I think I’ll go make some toast.
Peace out, love ya lots, and don’t forget to punch a Nazi.
Make Me New
by Tamlyn Ailsa MacPherson
Take my deformity, throw down the clay.
Push me and pinch me, and mould me this way.
Take what was unsightly and cast away;
Turn white to black and night to day.
For I am the living, I am the dead.
I am the spider and the fly.
I am the block and, upon it, the head.
I am the killer and I die.
Cut me up, a traitor’s fate;
so the poison will drain from me.
Guide me here from traitor’s gate
and may your blade fall sharply.
Look upon me this last day,
then banish me from sight.
I am the dawn that finds its way
and chases clear the night.
I am sorrow, and yet joy;
I am pain and I am pleasure.
I am ornament, I am toy,
I am burden, I am treasure.
I am devout and I am heathen,
I will shout and you shall listen.
Potter, throw me upon your wheel
and pinch and push me ’til I’m real.
Cut and shape my fragile frame
then bake me strong with searing flame.
From the little slimy lump you threw,
you make me real;
You make me new.
First off, congratulations to Caitlyn on her Transition. The support she has been getting from around the world shows just how much the world has changed these past few years. She will have grown up in a time where LGBT people were imprisoned and subjected to electroshock treatment, where coming out as anything vaguely queer was the end of your career. When you are in a marginalised group, you are more aware than the average ‘normie’ of every piece of abuse, misinformation, scapegoating, violence or condemnation aimed at those like you. Why do the older generations still sit in the closets when the world is moving on?
Because they have seen, or even experienced first hand, the risks and abuses that being of this group or that group can bring, and quite frankly I’m pretty sure they don’t trust people not to carry on that way. I don’t blame them. I myself spent several years after my traumatic experiences at school, trying to will myself Cis. Ultimately though, it never works… even if it looks like it does, inside it eats at you.
What people need to realise with regards to Caitlyn Jenner though, is the absolutely atypical nature of her transition. For months, under heavy speculation about her identity, she maintained her old name, her old identity in public and then… BANG… big reveal on a TV interview, a month later she’s Caitlyn, she’s a photoshopped covergirl with the world applauding her bravery. Good on her for using her resources to her advantage.
For the rest of us… the non-reality TV stars, transition is a very different process. Jenner had the ideal situation… millions of dollars for surgeries and treatments to ensure that when she came out of the oven she looked yummy and ready to nom upon. The hermetically sealed lifestyle of a Hollywood celebrity allowed her to transition largely in private, with very little actual public interaction. It was like a chrysalis from which she could emerge fully formed and sculpted into womanhood. The moment she came out to the world, she already looked the part.
In contrast, the reality of transition for the vast majority is crueller. We don’t uusally have private fortunes to fall back upon should our family reject us, or private security to protect us should someone choose to hurt us. We can’t sneak around getting cosmetic surgery before coming out. Even if we could afford it, we are expected to go full-time in our gender role for a set period of time without even the aid of hormone treatment until psychiatrists are satisfied that we are serious enough to warrant it.
I spent the first year after going full time spending what little money I had on self medicating with inferior products, because I could not access a prescription. I, and every other transperson I know, was expected to live full time, physically on their own, whilst their bodies went further and further down the roads that biology had laid out. For Transwomen, this meant hairlines receding, beard growth getting thicker, voices deepening, all whilst trying to live and present as female in a harsh and unforgiving climate. So many of us uproot when our transitions are nearing completion just to get away from the places that watched us go through this walking, talking, often ridiculous metamorphosis. We walked the streets we walked before but that were now unsafe. We had to leave the house, interact with random people… throw ourselves upon the mercy of their tolerance and being utterly broken by their lack of it. We have been treated with suspicion, deliberately humiliated and then ignored when we complained about it. We all lose people, some of us lose everyone. We all suffer anxiety and depression, amplified by the fact that we looked like men in dresses or stereotypical butch lesbians. None of us make it through unscathed, and many of us don’t make it through alive.
Treatment is slow to come. Surgery is even slower. Even those of us who are fortunate enough to have it covered by a nationalised health service still only receive the absolute basics of surgical necessity. Any additional work to feminise a strong jaw or heavy brow, restore a hairline or resculpt the body have to be paid for privately. With the fact that Trans people, especially in transition, struggle to find employment, such processes can take several years to complete, through scrimping and saving.
For those in countries that do not cover gender reassignment, it is common for us to fund our transitions through sex work, often in dangerous environments such as Brazil where transsexual sex workers are murdered with alarming regularity.
Caitlyn’s anguish at her gender identity is certainly not in dispute, and the challenges she has faced are massive, but they are not representative of most Transgender people. I am concerned that people’s understanding of gender transition will be influenced by Caitlyn’s narrative, and that she may become the standard to which other Transpeople are held. For all the emotional turmoil and inner conflict over her life, once her decision to transition was made, the journey was straightforward and accessible to her. For the rest of us, the decision is the start of a years long Journey in full view of everyone without the partitions of camera lenses or security gates.
My hope is that Caitlyn uses her profile to champion the cause of better recognition of Trans people, and better coverage of the treatments that are ultimately life saving. The world has a high profile Transgender person in a position to do so much good and bring dignity and respect to us all, but also in a position to make us look bad and rob us of what credibility we have clawed our way to achieve. The dangers of Reality TV make me worry which way this will ultimately go, as Jenner is ultimately just the product. It is the studios that are putting her out there that control what the public see, and the public don’t always want inspiration, dignity and acceptance… scandal, conflict and destruction are proven to be bigger money spinners.
Make us proud Caitlyn. We all have a lot riding on you and your need to carry on being amazing.
Moving on from my previous article concerning the way society expects Transmen and Transwomen to adhere strongly to typical gender norms, I would also like to address elements of the Transgender community and the divisions between them that also seek to dictate someone’s qualification as ‘Trans’. Some attitudes amongst the community itself can be pretty toxic and only serve to undermine each other and our credibility to society at large.
With the recent coming-out of Caitlyn Jenner, suddenly the Internet is awash with people, both within and outside the Trans spectrum weighing in on this debate.
If you are Transgender, you have to have an opposite identity to your birth sex.
Nonesense! Trans is a spectrum. People who don’t fit into the ‘either/or’ norm still count as Trans and should be awarded the same courtesies and respect to their gender expression, whatever that may be. If your gender is more of a pendulum (A Gendulum perhaps?) you should not have your validity as part of the Trans community challenged.
If you don’t transition young, you are not really Trans.
Twaddle! Our society has been, and in many areas, still is hostile towards LGBT people. It is within my not-that-substantial lifetime that LGBT people, Paedophiles and Rapists were openly treated as pretty much the same thing. The done thing was to prove how ‘normal’ you were by doing ‘normal’ things such as getting married and having a family and a career… all things you could lose by coming out. There is a romantic notion that if you are truly Trans than nothing will stop you, but Trans parents are still parents, and any good parent puts the welfare of their children before their own. With recent liberalisation of society, it is now seen as less shameful and less damaging to children and other family, and so therefore many of the obstacles that stopped people transitioning younger in life are not so obstructive.
If you transition young, you are not really Trans.
Poppycock! Many people in the community write off the very young being able to transition, despite the fact that many people in the community insist they knew their Gender Identity at a very young age. It appears there must be a period of suffering before one can meet this group’s high standards.
If you didn’t know from the age of two, then you are not truly Trans.
Absurd! Some of us knew right from the get go, some of us were a little older. Some of us didn’t know until puberty started pulling our body away from our brains, and some don’t figure it out until even later. That is called human diversity.
If you are sexually active pre-op then you are not truly Trans.
This one is pretty insidious as it seems to be part of the actual psychiatric assessment of Trans people when considered for surgery. The idea that one is capable of sexual arousal, stimulation or even using their own genitals in the traditional way, yet having a different gender identity seems to be an unfathomable concept. It seems you are only allowed to hate your original genitals. Making do, but looking for an upgrade seemingly isn’t an option. Sex is a big part of forming romantic relationships, and some of us are happy to use what we have for our partners if it will satisfy them. Get over it.
If you are ‘Non-Op’, then you are not truly Trans.
You know what? Some people find living in their desired Gender role enough. Some find themselves satisfied with their bodies with only HRT or other cosmetic procedures and don’t feel the need for genital reconstruction. Be happy for them! If someone can reach a state of contentment within their bodies without the need for extensive, dangerous surgery, good on them.
Passing privilege doesn’t exist.
Oh it bloomin’ does! If you can walk down the street without anyone knowing you are Transgender, then you get a far easier time of it than if you were walking down the same street looking very obviously Transgender. You may experience sexism of course, but that’s another kettle of fishies. Abuse of Trans people is still an everyday occurrence for many. Physical assault is a very real and common threat, yet there are those who are fortunate enough not to experience these things because they present in their gender role very effectively. If you are Trans and don’t get abused or attacked for it, that is a privileged position. You do an injustice to those who suffer daily abuse to deny that difference.
If you are attracted only to people of the same gender identity as you, then you are not truly Trans.
There appears to be a small, yet vocal subset of the Trans community that is rather rife with internalised homophobia. Accusations of living as the opposite sex merely to fetishise them are bandied about and utterly harmful. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation are both quite complex, and ultimately unrelated. (We wouldn’t have Gay cis-people if they were, would we?).
Trying too hard means you are not truly Trans.
You get up early every day to do your make-up, hair, tweeze your eyebrows, shave your legs, paint your nails… You wear holdups, lacy underwear and impractical heels even to go to the shop. You’re obviously doing this to play dress-up. That’s not how REAL women act, where are your sweats and hoodie?
Not trying hard enough means you are not truly Trans.
Why are you in sweats and a hoodie? Flipflops without a pedicure? Have you even brushed you hair? Did you even shave your face today? Are you actually making an effort with your voice? God! You can’t be Trans, you’re not taking it seriously!
EDIT 11. (Can’t believe I missed this one) Having kids before you transition means you are not truly Trans.
Like seriously? Trans people aren’t supposed to want children? Are we seen as so selfish that the human desire to reproduce is supposed to be alien?
Seriously guys, gals, miscellaneous and variants thereof, this snobbery needs to end. Let’s not bicker amongst ourselves because we have our own narratives and ways of expression. Yes, there are those among us that make us look bad… they who sell their story to tabloids or ‘Take a Break’ who sensationalise transition so much that it makes us all look like proper nobs. There are those within the Trans community who side with the TERF arguments that Transgender people do not really count as what their Gender Identity decrees and so undermine our fight to be recognised as such. There are big issues that face us… we are under attack by religious fundamentalists, certain radical feminists, hyper-masculinity, a toxic media and flagging comedians who know turning us into one big joke will get a cheap laugh.
Let’s not get bogged down trying to set the narrowest parameters we can for our own identities. It is ultimately, and very quickly, self-defeating.