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Posts Tagged ‘being trans’

Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m a 16-year-old trans guy, and I came out to my mom two months ago, and my dad one month ago. They haven’t rejected me (I knew they wouldn’t), but they’re not on board with thinking of me as their son, and probably won’t be in the near future. My mom e-mailed a gender therapist recently, so I’m looking forward to my parents getting a ‘professional opinion,’ and so I can finally talk to someone who speaks my language.

“Some problems are: I don’t know how (or when) to come out to my siblings. My brother is 13, and looks up to my 18-year-old sister. My sister has treated me like less than a human being for my entire life, probably from deep jealousy that started when I was born, and I’m finally letting go of the belief that if I tried hard enough, she would show any emotion resembling love toward me. She’s leaving in the spring, and if I came out to her before that, she would probably out me to our school, and subsequently our town.

“My town has a population of 400, with less than thirty people in my high school and with two other students in my grade. I’ve lived here my whole life, and have despised it for just as long. I need to transition as soon as possible, and the only way I can think of to do that is to move to a big city, and since I’m a minor, I can’t just go and get an apartment and a job in Portland and start testosterone on my own.

“I feel guilty about wanting to ask my family if we can move, since I only have a year and a half of high school left. I also don’t want to put them through a lot of stress if I ended up coming out in this town, which is what I would need to do if I had to spend my senior year here.

“So, do you have any advice for getting my brother on my side, without him getting thrown into the middle of differing opinions within my family?

“How can I convince my parents that living this female lie is so debilitating that I can’t keep it up for even another year, and if I had to stay in this town, I would probably sink into a very deep, deep depression?

“And this isn’t as important, but I’ll ask it anyway: do you think me acting masculine on some days and effeminate on others would confuse them, or that they would have a harder time believing I’m male?”

First I would like to say that I have never known a family that picked up and moved because their teenage child asked them to. Maybe it’s my generation, but my parents would not have even paid attention to such a request. Your parents are probably settled, with jobs, a house, and a life where they are, so I can’t imagine them moving because you ask them to. Again, times might be different now or your family might be different. But I wouldn’t count on them moving. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I turned 33 and for all my life, I’ve always tended to dress and act in a manly way. I don’t like the traces of femininity on my body but I learned to live with it. The last nine years I identified as a lesbian and was quite content, although I always felt something isn’t right.

“Half a year ago I realized that there is something as ‘transgender’ and it felt like the solution to my discomfort. I went to therapists and got my paper to start testosterone. I told few friends. First they were like, ‘No problem, that’s cool,’ but now when it turns serious, they tell me that they don’t see me as a man and that I’m doing a big mistake, I would mutilate a perfect body now and still not be a real man.

“I had myself a breakdown thinking about a new male name – everything felt ‘ridiculous.’ I know I have to know what is right for me, but some of the points my friend told me are torturing me. I am biologically a woman now. I am perhaps the outsider in look and behavior, but completely accepted among my female friends. In fact, I have only female close friends.

“I feel at ease around men, but they look at me as a woman and so I still don’t belong to them, which discomforts me again. I was socialized for 33 years as a woman and was always trying to fit in as best – I can’t cut out this part and I don’t want to lose my female friends.

“How was this transition for you? As I understand you had the bigger change from ‘girly girl’ to man. Did you never doubt you were on the right track? Did you lose your friends? How did you cope emotionally?”

While I think there are many people who have no doubts whatsoever about transition, having doubts is not uncommon. It can be a very scary thing. Many of the changes that come with testosterone are permanent, and changing a body that might not fit you, but that you have lived with for a long time, is a big deal.

But I honestly think that the body can be the least complicated issue for many people (and correcting a body that is absolutely not right is not mutilation, by the way). The social aspects of any transition can sometimes the most difficult. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m a transgender female and I have recently started dating again. I haven’t dated anybody since I started my transition. Now I’m almost completely done with the physical part of transition.

“I have met some guys that have been very curious about my situation. It’s not like they are chasers – I know how to weed them out. It’s more about decent guys that are interested but have not being exposed to trans people and not understanding the correct way to talk about my transition.

“I have read your Ten Things Not to Say to a Trans Person, but I’m interested in how I should educate a new lover about the boundaries of my body.”

This is a tough one, but honestly, both trans and non-trans people have to educate their new lovers about their bodies. When people go into a sexual relationship, they have no idea what their partner likes and doesn’t like, and that partner has no idea about what they like and don’t like. So they have to communicate.

It sounds as if you are very open about being trans, and it sounds as if the guys you are meeting are not afraid to ask questions. This is all good. This works in your favor and makes it easier to talk about your body, including what you like, don’t like, and what is completely off limits.

Because you will be talking about your wants and needs with them, that will open it up for them to talk about their own wants and needs. And I would say that this is how you approach it – “Let’s talk about what we like and don’t like, what we want and don’t want, and what works for us and what doesn’t.” (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m currently in school to become a massage therapist. All of my classmates and instructors are aware I am FTM (kind of necessary as we get naked on a table every week) and are fully supportive and respectful.

“My instructors continue to mention how much they appreciate how open I am with them, so much so that one of them has taken my suggestion to a class discussion regarding potential transgender clients and asked me to give a small presentation in a week or two.

“I have found my goal of this to be providing a sort of ‘Trans 101,’ if you will, including terminology, questions to include on intake forms and questions to avoid in general, possible conflicts of touch, and finishing with potential benefits (i.e. lower back work on transmen to relieve tension from chest binding, postsurgical work to help reduce scarring, etc.).

“My question for you is have you ever had a massage and if so what, if anything, do you wish they had done differently?”

I have never had a massage, so I can’t answer this from experience. I think that if I were to have one, I would want the massage therapist to be aware of the type of scarring that some trans men have as a result of chest surgery, so the person would not be surprised by what my chest looked like and would only ask about the scars if he or she really needed to know for the purposes of the massage (I don’t know if that would be a pertinent question or not).

In other words, I would prefer that a massage therapist, or anyone else, only ask questions about my body that he or she really needs to know the answers to specifically to carry out his or her job, and not just out of curiosity.

With that, I open this up to my readers to see what types of experiences they have had, both negative and positive, and why those experiences were bad or good. Readers, what can you tell us? And what would you want massage therapists to know about trans people in general or you specifically?

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am currently a student at University of Illinois Springfield, and I am taking a policy class. We have to write a policy and the policy that I have chosen is the Transgender Civil Rights Act for Illinois.

“With the passing of the Equal Marriage Opportunity Act it seems like the next logical step. What my question is, and I am asking because I am having a hard time finding information, is what is the main reason transgender people get arrested? I have heard that it was for using the bathroom that did not coincide with their sex.”

I don’t know the answer, but that seems like a real possibility.

There are other factors that might come into play, however. I think that, because of prejudice by law enforcement, trans people are probably arrested with more frequency that non-trans people for similar crimes, so that has to be taken into consideration.

In addition, because trans people probably commit the same amount (percentage-wise) and the same types of crimes as non-trans people, we might have to look at the main reason that trans people get arrested that has to do with being trans versus the main reason trans people get arrested overall. These might be two different reasons. I’m just not sure.

Are there legal experts out there who can shed some light on this? Thanks in advance!

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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 MarkA reader writes: “As a transgender man who transitioned about five years ago, I have been hearing the conversation about the word ‘transgendered’ (with the ‘ed’ on the end), and would like to know:

1. Why the ‘ed’ on the end?

2. Why do people take issue?”

Don’t even get me started. Oops – too late.

I have had an issue with this for many years, and I have written about it before, but that was a while ago, so I will reiterate for those who are not aware of my feelings about this.

When I started transition (in 1997), “transgendered” was the appropriate term. You will see it throughout my book Just Add Hormones: An Insider’s Guide to the Transsexual Experience. It is grammatically correct, it sounds right, and it makes the most sense as an adjective, which is what it is.

While not all adjectives take an “ed,” “gender” does. I am a gendered person. If I am a gendered person, then it would follow that I would be a transgendered person (although I don’t identify in this way – I identify as a transsexual person).

I am left-handed, not left-hand. I am brown-eyed, not brown-eye. I was married, not marry, and now I am divorced, not divorce. Sometimes I get tired (not tire) of the whole argument, and I have gotten to the point where I am determined (not determine) to leave it alone – except when it comes up, as it has here.

Somewhere between 1997 and today, “transgendered” became a negative term. It wasn’t just that people began to prefer the term “transgender” because the tongue didn’t have to do as much work. It became offensive. Some of the reasons that were given to me for this offense were that the “ed” signified that being transgender:

> was something that the person had done and was finished (not finish) with.

> was something that had happened (not happen) to the person, rather than something ongoing that the person is.

> was something negative, like being divorced (which is not necessarily negative, depending on the situation). (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am a 39-year-old gay male. Ever since high school, I have geared being more like a female. It was tough when I came out as being gay. I got teased and made fun of in school. My mother accepted me being gay.

“I have tried to be a full-time male, but just was not happy with it. I drank a lot as well. A year ago I decided to start the process of transitioning. I have already decided that I am not going to have the surgery to be a full female. In other words, I’m going to leave the below parts alone, although I want to grow breasts and desire to take some hormones to obtain more fem features.

“My problem is my mother. She accepts me being gay. Today we went shopping and some people referred to me as a female, which did not bother me at all. In the car while she was driving me home, she stated I make an ugly girl. I understand that given she is my birth mother this is hard for her. She knows I want to be more like a girl but does not realize what I am doing. I am totally happy with who I am and who I will become. Just not so sure of my mother?”

One thing that can be difficult for some trans people is having to come out twice – first as a gay man or lesbian, and later as transgender. The way some people see it is similar to the boy who cried, “Wolf!” – so you said you were gay, now you say you’re trans. What are you going to say next week?

What those people don’t realize is that it is not uncommon for trans people to come out as gay or lesbian before coming out as trans. Here are some reasons that could happen:

1. In some cases, trans people don’t have the information they need to determine what it is that they are feeling. The closest thing they can come up with is that maybe they are gay or lesbian. So they come out as gay or lesbian, thinking, “This must be how all gay men and lesbians feel. What else could it be?”

When they realize that this is not how gay men and lesbians feel, and that there is a word for what they are feeling and whole communities of people with similar experiences, things finally start to make sense, and they come out as trans. Once they have a name for what they are feeling, things come together relatively rapidly, and they are finally able to understand who they are. This might be the most common scenario for trans people who have come out of gay or lesbian communities. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I just read this extremely sad news about a transman in Belgium who chose to end his life (legally) after a series of unsatisfactory gender-confirming operations

“I wondered what your take on this news is, more from the perspective of the issues FTM people face than from the question of whether euthanasia should be legal (which is the primary focus of the HuffPost article). Though of course the question of whether euthanasia should have been authorized for this man’s situation is very relevant as well.”

I was also very sad when I first heard about this situation. And even though you said that you weren’t asking about my perspective on euthanasia in general, I’m going to put it out there anyway.

I am a supporter of euthanasia, assisted suicide, or similar arrangements. I believe that people should have as much control over their own lives as is possible, and that includes having control over their own death.

I think if someone is of sound mind, has been made aware of all the other options available, and has determined that death is the best option – not just for the moment, but over the very long haul of eternity – then that person should have the right to pursue the best option.

So based on that, I support what this man, Nathan Verhelst, did. According to everything I’ve read, he was living with unbearable psychological pain. He had to apply for the procedure, go through a waiting period, go through counseling, and so on, before he could die. He made the decision and stuck with it through months of waiting, so I feel as though this was a part of his life that he had the right to control. (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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