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Posts Tagged ‘being out’

Question MarkA reader writes: “I recently started college, and I quickly came to the realization that I am transgender. I have been transitioning every way but physically (mentally, socially, etc.), and the process has been enlightening for me. The problem has mainly been with my friends and classmates.

“All of my friends have been as supportive and understanding as they know how. Some friends that I have known for years simply accepted my trans identity as if I came out as gay, telling me they love me, but showing no signs of changing pronouns or their mental perception of my gender. And other friends struggled to remember pronouns and try to shift their thinking from the binary, but it left me feeling discouraged around them and strangers. Additionally, most of my classmates only have my voice and clothing to go on, which convinces them I am a lesbian.

“And I worry that girls who would like me as a guy don’t because they think I am a girl, and others won’t be able to forget that I’m not the girl they thought I was (which happened last semester). I feel as if I am constantly trying to convince people of my maleness. I can count on one hand the number of people I feel 100% comfortable that they view me as male no matter what.

“I have thought of ways to lightheartedly correct pronouns in a way that convinces people I am just a cis guy with a high voice and soft skin, but constantly being misgendered has crushed my outgoing spirit. I don’t want to be “out” in a way that everyone would know I am trans before knowing me, and I don’t want to discuss it with every person I meet. I identify proudly as trans, but I don’t want to be trans first, I want to be male.

“Some people accept the trans label and he/him pronouns, but I can tell they still relate to me as a lesbian. I don’t want my manhood reduced to others trying to remember the right pronouns or something open for discussion and questioning by those who don’t know me. How can I find my confidence and voice in a way that is empowering for me? What advice do you have for pre-/non-physically transitioning guys who want to be seen, and respected, as men?”

This is a tough problem that I think many, or most, trans people experience when/if they are changing name, pronouns, and gender presentation. Transition is an ongoing process, both for you and for those around you. I realize how annoying it is to hear someone tell you to be patient with others when you’re the one who is experiencing the pain of being misgendered, but that’s what I’m going to tell you – be patient.

I don’t know how long it has been since you came out to your friends, but since you say you recently started college and came to this realization, I’m going to assume that it might be a matter of only a few months, and maybe not even that. And honestly, a few months, while it seems like an eternity to you, is really a very short time for your friends to permanently alter their perception of you. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I have a question that has led me to understand why some trans* individuals choose to take their life, and I want to see what others say about it.

“I was very aware of my body for the 40 years I was alive before I transitioned because it, and the presentation of it, didn’t fit in with how I felt internally. Now I’m five years ‘post transition,’ have not had any surgeries but socially present as male, and I’m still painfully aware of my body. I’m exhausted. I’m in therapy. I know that top surgery might help, but have no way to afford surgery.

“Is anyone else tired of being trans and all that includes, such as always being aware of what I’m missing and what I have? Of being silent or choosing to teach people about trans issues? Of being neither fully male and certainly not female?

“When I say ‘fully’ male, I don’t necessarily mean that a penis makes a man. I mean that because I lived many years as female, I didn’t get those years to just be a boy and a man. I don’t want to forget those years – I couldn’t even if I wanted to, but I know that I missed a LOT.

“I’m not suicidal. I’m just tired. I’m tired of this awareness. Am I the only one? I doubt it.”

I don’t think you’re the only one, and hopefully we will hear from others who get tired of being trans for a variety of reasons. I get tired of it, too.

While I have never experienced the severe body dysphoria that sometimes accompanies being trans, I have still had to accept my body as a “transsexual body” (that’s what I call it), and although seeing it as a transsexual body has actually made it quite a bit easier for me throughout the years, there are definitely days that are worse than others.

But I think my own trans fatigue comes more from the following:

> Feeling pressured to answer questions that I don’t want to answer at the moment – not during presentations or teaching, but on the street, at social gatherings, and so on. I sometimes feel as if I’m being rude if I don’t answer, or that I will be mistaken for being rude. (more…)

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Question MarkBelow, we have two letters regarding allies (the second one is a stretch, but I figured it could loosely go with an “Ally” theme). And here they are:

A reader writes: “I am a cis teenager who tries her hardest to be a good ally. Recently, I was talking with someone I’d just met (‘Bob’) who attends my school. We walked past another student, who is trans (we’re in an intersectional feminist club together and he’s talked about it). Bob referred to the trans kid using female pronouns.

“I know that the trans kid only transitioned last year, and Bob had met him before his transition, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t know that the trans kid had transitioned. Instead of confronting Bob, I continued to talk about the trans kid using male pronouns. Bob got the memo and then used male pronouns.

“Was that the right thing to do? I wasn’t sure if I should have confronted him more directly (‘Actually that kid uses male pronouns’), but I didn’t want to out him, even though he’s out at school as far as I can tell. I also didn’t want to just let it slide and use the wrong pronouns. In case this situation comes up again, do you have any advice on the course of action that I should take?”

This is a tough one and an easy one. It’s a tough one because, as an ally who knows this person from a particular club only, you might not necessarily know if he is out everywhere. If you refer to him by male pronouns outside of the club, and he is not using male pronouns outside of the club, then you will out him. But if you refer to him by female pronouns just because someone else does, then you will disrespect his identity, whether he’s out or not, but particularly if he is out everywhere.

The easy part is that you can ask him. You’re in the club together, and even if you don’t know him well or have never talked to him directly, there’s nothing wrong with approaching him and saying, “Here’s the deal. What do you want me to do from now on?” (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “The child of a friend of ours is a 22-year-old trans girl who does not seem to fit the usual ‘trapped in the wrong body’ gender dysphoria profile. X suffered from extensive depression and anxiety through her teenage years, especially.

“In 2012, X came out as a trans girl, to the great surprise of the family and friends. She went to a psychiatrist and has been prescribed testosterone blockers and estrogen, which she has now been on for about 7 months. X has since become a very confident, outgoing and, we think, brave trans person. She loves being trans and I can easily see her becoming a powerful and even charismatic spokesperson for transgender people.

“Her mother, who is also a practicing psychologist and would accept X as trans if she thought that X was a girl trapped in a boy’s body since childhood, doesn’t accept the idea that X is genuine. Nor does X’s sister. X’s father split with X’s mum about four years ago but would not be hostile to X’s transition, either, but nobody can really believe it, as X was never a ‘girlie doll playing’ boy.

“X has also said she doesn’t want to have gender reassignment surgery, but she does want breasts. In fact, she has a pretty big thing about boobs generally, which I can’t help seeing as something of a male fantasy thing. She was also not gay, but as a trans girl says she is lesbian.

“I guess what I’d like your help on is whether you know of others like X with this particular profile? That is, where a genuinely trans person has no apparent history of gender dysphoria, but finds a positive solution as a trans individual?

“I’m concerned that she may well be expressing a type of mental illness that will eventually be damaging. The problem with this argument is her far brighter personal outcome. She may well be dead now from depression and anxiety about her identity in general but for the role and focus her new trans life has given her.”

It surprises me that her mother, a psychologist, is buying into the whole “woman trapped in a man’s body” scenario, which I believe was originally a media-created concept. There are definitely trans people who describe themselves in this way, but the majority do not, in my experience. I would say that this description is not typical, and that some people have used it as a description of themselves because they simply had no other language that made sense or that other people would understand.

So as far as your concern that she does not fit this “trapped” profile, I would say that most trans people don’t. You, her mother, and her other relatives should not worry about this or look to this as a reason why she might not be trans.

Here are some other myths that we can bust: (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “Seven years ago, at the age of 60, I transitioned from male to female. At the time of my transition I decided that I wanted to be very open and out about who I am and my history. I have zero interest in trying to be stealth.

“I still feel like this is the only way for me to truly live,  to be free of that old, dank closet. I also want to change the world’s view of people like me by just allowing them to get to know me as I am and perhaps thus change their views towards all trans* people.

“My issue is that I have recently become life partners with a man who I knew pre-transition and who supported me throughout. He is divorced with two sons in their early 20s. I have been asking him for months to tell his sons about my past. He has declined, saying, ‘You’re a woman now, you look and act like a woman, your history makes no difference.’ We finally consulted his ex and she was pretty adamant that we not tell them. I have met his ex. Her thoughts are similar to my partner’s. On the other hand, my children are adamant that his sons must be told.

“We just spent an amazing  week with his sons, without incident. In fact they seemed amazingly comfortable here with us. For myself I truly do not understand how virtually everyone in the world would not quickly understand on their own that I am trans.

“More importantly for me, this is a matter of being honest and open, not having to hide, pretend, or be oh, so very careful about what I/we say/share of my past. I am not at all ashamed of who I am or where I come from. If they should google my name, they will instantly discover that we have not been forthcoming.

“So my question for you and your readers is: Do my partner’s sons deserve to know my full truth or should we continue to keep it hidden as best we can? As things stand now, I feel that there is a very large gorilla lurking in the room.”

This is going to be tough, because the “to tell or not to tell” debate could end up breaking up your relationship. I personally think that the decision to be out or not is the trans person’s alone, and that no one else should be dictating that. (more…)

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Question MarkToday we have two letters that are only semi-related (I figured out a way to make them go together), and I would really like some reader input on the first one, so let’s get started:

A reader writes: “I am a 32-year-old trans woman. I’ve been living in San Francisco for almost a decade now. I was wondering if you know of any small towns, say under 7-8,000 people, that are trans friendly or at least very liberal/open-minded. I have tried looking online and have yet to come up with anything.”

I thought this was a good question to put out there to the readers, because every so often, I get a question about trans-friendly towns and where to live. I am really not aware of any very small trans-friendly towns, other than possibly Trinidad, Colorado (population 9,096), but now that Marci Bowers has moved her practice from there, I don’t know if it’s changed.

The good thing about any town in Colorado is that our state has public accommodations and employment non-discrimination laws that cover trans people. The bad thing is that, even with laws in place, you can’t guarantee that they’re followed.

But I know there are readers out there looking for trans-friendly locations, and not everyone is looking for a small town. So I’m hoping that I can throw this out there and get some good feedback on cities and towns of all sizes that are trans-friendly or good places for trans people to live.

Readers, what would you recommend with regard to trans-friendly small towns, medium-sized cities, and large cities, however you define that? It would be nice if we could get a little list going, with some towns and cities of various sizes. And although the reader was asking about locations in the United States, I get readers from all over the world, so I would be interested in hearing about trans-friendly towns and cities anywhere. (more…)

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SeanDorseyJumpingByLydiaDanillerSean Dorsey is an award-winning choreographer, dancer and writer. Recognized as the United States’ first out transgender modern dance choreographer, Dorsey has won audiences and accolades from San Francisco to New York with his powerful dance-theater. Dorsey is the founder and Artistic Director of Fresh Meat Productions, the first U.S. non-profit dedicated to the year-round creation, presentation, and touring of transgender arts.

Dorsey’s current show, The Secret History of Love, will be in San Francisco from March 28-31 as part of a 20-city national tour. Dorsey was able to talk to me via e-mail about the show, the LGBT history project upon which the show is based, and being out and trans in the dance world.

Matt Kailey: How did you get interested in dance and choreography?
Sean Dorsey: I have always loved dance and movement. I spent a lot of time twirling around my living room in my leotard, dancing to records as a kid. I didn’t grow up at the ballet barre, though – I came to dance “late,” and didn’t start my professional dance training until I was 25. When I did start, though, I hit the ground running!

MK: Did you become a professional dancer and choreographer prior to your transition? If so, how did your transition affect your career? If not, did you enter the profession as an out trans person?
SD: I started my dance training prior to my physical transition, but I was trans and queer identified. Changing rooms and gendered movement in dance were very challenging, painful. I would do everything I could to avoid using bathrooms or changing rooms, even once I started dancing professionally.

It was hard. I didn’t know a single trans dancer in the world, had never heard of a single one. I became very driven to create space in dance for transgender and queer people – both through my choreographic work, and by founding Fresh Meat Productions (the nation’s first nonprofit to create, present and tour year-round transgender arts programs, including our resident dance company Sean Dorsey Dance).

MK: Do you think that being an out trans person has hurt or helped your career overall and in what ways? How are you and your shows perceived/accepted by non-trans, mainstream audiences?
SD: There have been plenty of painful parts about coming into the dance world as a transgender person – but I feel very, very blessed to be transgender. It really is an enormous blessing to be a trans person. (more…)

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