Saturday, March 20, 2010

Social Constructs Aren’t Just “In Your Head.”

A friend of mine recently said to me that he would support me in expressing myself in any way except changing my physical body (hormones, surgery, etc.) “Gender is a social construct,” he said, “but the body isn’t.” On the spot I didn’t really have an argument against that statement.

Having had some time to think about it, I realize that it isn’t that simple. For example, when I was born, I was circumcised. I grew up being fed food with massive amounts of preservatives, which have definitely impacted the way my body formed. There are also the social pressures that led my parents to marry and have kids, without which this physical body would not even be here.

There’s also the study of epigenetics to consider. See & Apparently, environmental factors can be inherited. Not only our bodies, but the bodies of our descendants can be affected by social choices (i.e. the environment you are raised in is the result of social choices.)

Just saying.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I finally got the courage to join the local gender society and went to the business meeting this month. There were many fears about whether or not I’d be accepted. Honestly, one of my biggest worries was that I'd be the only one there with 5 o'clock shadow, thinking everyone else would either done laser or wear cover up... but I wasn't :D

I went there all on my own and shy and sat down at a table where there was only one person and she said, "I'm not much of a conversationalist" and I said, that's ok, I’m nervous and won’t say much. But during the night three gals came over to speak with the new girl (me) and all were very nice. OH and one of the gals that came over and talked to me was one where I thought, "Oh she's really cute, I'd love to talk to her."

I also found out about another group, which does activism. I intend to join them too. And I found out the local LGBT Center has three or four monthly trans things going on. In one of the conversations I had that night I spoke about how I had an online community and friends up north who have taken me to gender groups there, but I really wanted a local community. Many people at the table nodded their heads. After all, that was what this society is all about. I’m so glad I went.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I had SUCH a great Halloween.

I went as Supergirl. This echos back to the comic book character I created in High School that was me if I had been born in female form. She often wore a Superman T-shirt. When I first tried on the costume, I thought I looked great in it. In fact I think I even looked kinda sexy *blush* Here is a link to a picture, if you’d like to see for yourself:

My SL friends Sen and Pink are just fun to be with anyway, but I flew out to MA to be with them this Halloween. Friday we were in Boston and visited three colonial graveyards and a street that was mentioned in a HP Lovecraft story. Then we went to a Staged radio program all locally Boston-referenced which broke in half way through to the Boston version of War of the Worlds. Really fun. The Halloween itself we went up to Salem which had downtown all blocked off to Traffic and was a HUGE Halloween party. We went to the Witch Museum which hadn't changed much since I was a kid and I LOVED that... dioramas that lit up one at a time with a creepy voice over. We went to a wax museum and a haunted house and a creepy stage production.... there was a live band that did scary Journey covers - well, just Journey covers, but Journey is scary in its way. I got a HELL of a lot of attention, mostly positive though some negative. More attention than I thought I'd get. But seriously, it was evident I was transgressing from the high level of attention.

Of the negative response, mostly I got disapproving looks. One un-costumed guy tried to get into my face saying, “Why? Tell my WHY?” A little girl said to her father, “he’s weird.” Her father responded, “Yes he is.” The whole what are we teaching our children thing came up for me around that.

I received many positive responses. A number of people took my picture; many wanted to be in the picture with me. And I was happy to get my pic taken :D Many people shouted, “Supergirl,” “Superwoman,” “Nice legs” or “I love your costume.” A handful of people said I had the best costume they’d seen. One person said, “I bet all the guys are hitting on you.” I think some were. I even heard “Is that a man or a woman?” a few times and was very pleased about that. I assumed people were going to all “read” me as a man in drag; it was nice that some people at least had to ask.

Over dinner (Thai) we talked about the Middle Ages feast day tradition of turning the status quo on its head, and how doing that with gender is still relevant today. Sen spoke of how people who responded negatively were probably unconscious of the power dynamics at play. I said even the positive responses were mainly people who were picking up on the fact that something was being subverted and they liked that even if they weren’t conscious of it. Of course, I’m not trying to be subversive; I’m subversive by just being me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sacred Self-Love

I was on a retreat recently and someone said, “Fear is a lack of self love.” No blanket statement can really hold well under scrutiny, but it gave me food for thought. I wasn’t able to love myself as a man, because I’m not one. In Second Life, I’m able to love myself as a woman because I can fully express as one. Can I love myself as a trans-woman though?

Many spiritual people will tell you that liminal* moments are sacred moments. One of the reasons we have ritual (weddings, funerals, graduations) is to mark these moments as sacred. Well ~ we (Trans folk) are liminal PEOPLE. We are SACRED beings (I mean everyone’s sacred – but I’m making a point here.) “All is impermanence”, the Buddha said, which is another way of saying everything is fluid – even gender.

The sacred is often not comforting. Serenity does not mean feeling better. Giving birth is a bloody and painful thing. Yet I am convinced that in the Holy is love. Can I love my holiness knowing how much it challenges, outrages, and terrifies others? It seems to be the next challenge on my spiritual journey…

*liminal: of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two Weeks Ago, I Wore Boobs.

I just wanted to post a celebration of wearing hand-me-down breast forms when I went out dancing a couple weeks ago. Trinity gave them to me since she has grown her own breasts by now. I have not, in dressing to my gender orientation, made any efforts to “pass.” I have not, for example, worn any foundation or shaved anything except my face. I have not gone out with any padding anywhere. I pretty much look like a man in a dress, though that’s not how I identify. So the idea of wearing breast forms seemed odd in this context.

But that’s not how it felt. I felt remarkably natural wearing them. Some subliminal voice was saying, “of course I should have breasts.” It was interesting to be carrying the extra weight around (and gave me new sympathy for the well endowed). The only point at which the "connection" I was feeling with them was broken was when my chest sweated heavily and the sweat was trapped between. Dancing, though, was great! I have to learn how to shimmy now *giggle*

It seems a simple thing to be all excited about but *shrugs*

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pride and My People.

SO, Lumi and Beta came south to be prideful at Pride Fest in my neighborhood. I was in my favorite little oh so cute black and white striped dress with a darling black collar and bow, with matching striped knee socks. Beta was in pig-tails and “visual kei” knee-less pants. Lumi was in one of hes father’s shirts, with holes in the button-down pockets for a pen and epaulets. We were walking around taking it in. Suddenly, someone asked us if we wanted to be on a video that would be sent to president Obama, and our local representatives. Would we be willing to say a few words about equal marriage and the non-discrimination employment act? We did, happily. We mentioned that I would be officiating at the wedding of my intersex friends.

While being videotaped, I was pretty nervous. I gave the organization a donation and signed a petition for equal marriage. Afterwards, I felt lightness and a sense of power that I haven’t felt in weeks if not months. I was reminded that when I was recently doing the Ignatian “Spiritual Exercises,” any passage I meditated on where God referred to “my people,” I found myself imagining the LGBTIQ community. When discussing this with Beta and Lumi over sushi, Lumi said, that’s your Israel. Indeed it is.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Coming Out Story

With the exception of my wife, I’ve only come out to people I’ve met since I moved to Chicago. When I talk to my older friends, I haven’t found much to say when they ask, “what’s going on?” Because until recently I haven’t had the willingness to come out to them, and coming to terms with being trans is so much of what’s going on for me.

Changing that began during my recent beach vacation. One of my dearest friends, L____, vacations with us every year in May. I’ve actually known L____ longer than I’ve known my wife. I didn’t have the courage until the second to last day of our trip to tell her. Finally I realized that it would be disrespectful to my love for her if I continued to keep silent.

It went well I think. Her immediate response was, “I’m surprised, but not any more surprised than when you became Catholic.” She said she knew I was never comfortable with being male in any of the traditional ways of being male. She always thought that I was comfortable with being a male in untraditional ways, though.

I have cis woman friends who look to me as the man who gives them hope for the sex. I prove that not all men are like (fill in the blank). Honestly, I worry (in my co-dependant way) that coming out as trans is going to re-enforce male stereotypes for some of these people.

L____ is the only person in my life that’s ever described me as masculine. She brought that up in fact. She said she never meant that I was macho. She explained what she did mean, but what she said eludes me. L____ wondered how many men are not comfortable with being traditionally masculine. She imagines a lot are.

I went on to explain that I’m not an essentialist and questions of masculine or feminine is not what I'm talking about when I say I’m a trans woman. I’m describing a gender orientation. People whose gender orientation matches their assigned gender don’t ever question their gender orientation. They may question their gender expression which is different.

In other words, I imagine many males question their masculinity. However I think not many males think about having a sex change operation or constantly imagine what it would be like to have been born with a female formed body. She agreed to that.

I concluded by saying that I was telling her this because I loved her. At that point I touched her leg (she was sitting next to me). She took my hand. In my insecurity I was afraid she was taking my hand off her leg because she didn’t want me to touch her now. But and squeezed my hand and said, “I love you too.”