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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Question MarkA reader writes: “I’ve always considered myself to be very well educated on the different letters in our acronym. However, all it took was one date with a trans woman to realize that I am not.

“I am an FAAB genderqueer individual, so, of course I know all about the gender issues with public accommodations, being misgendered, etc. However, as we talked politics, and, specifically, LGBT politics, I realized that there is a whole world out there that I know nothing about.

“She told me about the HBS (Harry Benjamin Society) contingent of the transsexual movement that wants everyone to live stealth. She told me about the pain of being excluded from the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and events like it, and of her fear of going to the women’s group at the LGBTQ center for fear of not being accepted. She also told me about how lesbians might treat me if I ever got serious about her, because many lesbians have serious issues with trans women.

“I’ve encountered discrimination within our own community with regard to trans people and bisexual people. It often feels like we are LG vs. BT instead of LGBT. In fact, I have come across many lesbians and gay men who think we should have stayed ‘gay and lesbian.’

“I just don’t quite know how to handle all of these issues all the time, though. Something tells me that dating this woman who I like so much is going to come with a whole new set of challenges. So far, it seems she is more than worth it, though! Any resources, opinions, and education you can give would be greatly appreciated!”

I’m glad that you feel that the joy of being with your new partner outweighs all of the challenges involved, because I think it does. And if the politics become too much for either of you, I suggest that you seek out new communities that accept both of you and your relationship. They are out there. You just have to find them.

Let’s look at the concerns that you have expressed, one at a time:

1. There are women who call themselves HBSers or maybe who others refer to as HBSers, and sometimes the politics can get a little heated. My understanding of the main issue (and I could be wrong – I hope readers will correct me) is that some women who were born transsexual – who had a medical condition at birth that caused them to be misidentified as male, and that they have corrected through hormones and surgery – feel that they have been damaged by the “transgender movement.” (more…)

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Question MarkI have several Ask Matt short questions, from voter laws to pronouns to sex drive, that have relatively short answers, so I am putting them together in an Ask Matt Potpourri, and am hoping that readers can help out as well. So here we go:

A reader writes: “I am coming out late in my life. I am 65. I am on phytoestrogens. I am an avid shopper for feminine clothes and such. I am totally happy, but money is a big issue. Any suggestions you could give me would be a big help.”

I turn to my trans women readers for some shopping suggestions, but I always recommend thrift stores, such as Goodwill or ARC, for clothing needs, particularly in the early stages of transition. Money is often tight for trans people, and many of these second-hand stores have fantastic clothes as bargain prices. They also have sale days or senior discount days, where prices are reduced even more.

And even if money was no object, I would still recommend thrift stores for both men and women just beginning transition. Hormones change the shape of the body, redistributing fat and increasing or decreasing muscle mass, so it’s almost counterproductive to spend a lot of money on a new wardrobe when you don’t know what your body will look like in a year or two. That great dress, shirt, or pair of jeans that fits now might not in a few months. Your tastes might also change as you move through your transition. So don’t make a major investment up front, and go where the bargains are.

A reader writes: “I’m a teen FTM and I’ve recently switched to male pronouns (my friends and family on board, of course). Although whenever someone is talking about me with ‘he’ and such, I often forget that they’re talking about me at all! I’m so used to ‘she’ that I haven’t really connected with ‘he’ yet, even though I want to. Is that a normal feeling for a new trans person? If so, how do I get used to my new pronouns?”

I think this is very normal, because “she” is all you’ve ever known. When I started transition, I sometimes even referred to myself as “she,” and I often turned my head when people said “Jennifer,” even though they were talking about someone else. I also turned around when people said “Ma’am,” even though I knew they weren’t talking to me. That one actually took a couple of years to go away entirely.

As a teenager, your brain is still developing, which is actually a positive thing for you, because it might make it easier to form those associations with regard to your new pronouns. But it’s still going to take time. The more you hear them, the more familiar they will become, and the more they will seem like you. You will “grow into” them.

Be patient. The brain is extremely adaptable, but it also needs time to adjust. Give yourself at least a few months, and soon you won’t even acknowledge female pronouns, because they won’t seem like “you” anymore. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am a 26-year-old transman, and I’ve been on T for 18 months now. For several years I’ve lived without health insurance, because it simply wasn’t affordable, and I chose not to apply for Medicaid out of a concern that it would impact the cost of my hormones. (Currently I get my testosterone through a community clinic in New York City, where I get a huge discount because I am uninsured and live well below the poverty line.)

“Could you please explain how the Affordable Care Act relates to transgender health costs? I don’t see myself living above the poverty line any time soon. Do you know how the new legislation might impact me as a low-income trans man?”

I am not clear on the extent that the Affordable Care Act will benefit trans people. The benefit that I have seen seems to be that health-care providers cannot discriminate on the basis of transgender/transsexual status – you can’t be turned away because you are trans, and you can’t be refused health-care services that might be necessary because of your body configuration, but that are not typically provided to people of your gender.

The Transgender Law Center says, “The law (ACA) for the first time prohibits gender-based discrimination by most health care providers – a ban that extends to discrimination based on gender identity and gender stereotypes, and thus provides critical protection for LGBT people. The law will also prohibit insurers from denying or canceling insurance because a person is transgender or has HIV or another medical condition.”

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) released a “Know Your Rights” health care guide that says, in part, “The ACA creates new rights and protections for appealing coverage denials by your plan for any reason. In addition, it may be unlawful for a plan to deny coverage for services that are included in your plan solely because you are transgender or because of the gender under which you are enrolled in the plan. For example, it may be unlawful for a plan that receives federal financial assistance to deny coverage for a prostate screening for a trans woman or a pelvic exam for a trans man if these services are otherwise covered.” (italics mine)

The Center for American Progress says that the ACA’s impact law’s impact “will be especially profound for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,” and lists the top ten benefits of the law for LGBT people, including data collection with regard to health disparities and the needs of underserved populations. (more…)

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My boyfriend in college had a very long face. He wasn’t sad – his face was just really long. This longness was made even lengthier by the fact that he was short in stature, so his face ended up taking up a good deal of his entire physical self. To mitigate this, he wore a mustache.

This was the ’70s, and thick, full mustaches were all the rage anyway. His mustache looked good, and it succeeded in cutting his face in half, aesthetically speaking, thereby minimizing this feature that he wasn’t fond of.

It was all well and good until my long-faced lover decided to unload on me about my use (or overuse) of makeup. For some reason known only to him, he chose to unleash his lipstick laments when we were both visiting my parents for the weekend.

At first I ignored his complaints, but that irritated him and made things worse. Then I defended myself, which just served to escalate the matter. His criticism rose to a fever pitch that finally had me in tears – until my mother stepped in. She knew plenty about makeup, but she also knew plenty about putting people in their place and making them think about what they were saying.

As I sobbed on the sidelines, she turned to him and said, “Why do you wear a mustache?”

He looked at her with slight surprise. “I don’t know,” he said.

“Do you wear it because you think it makes you look better? Do you wear it because you feel better about yourself when you have it? Why don’t you shave it off? Do you like yourself better when you have it? Are you more comfortable with it? Do you think it’s flattering?”

Oh, she was relentless, but her point was well made. Facial hair on a man can, and often does, serve as an appearance aid similar to makeup. It can also have religious and cultural significance, and can even act as a barrier against the cold – but for many men, the presence (or absence) of facial hair is strictly cosmetic. (more…)

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Rep Chris LeeI have written before about the use of the terms transgender and transsexual in headlines. In many instances (far too many), the press goes after these words as if they were gold – and in a way, they are, if you want to sensationalize your news and get as much traffic as possible to your site.

We live in an era in which news sources of all kinds are competing for views. And we also live in an era in which the general public, for some reason, is obsessed with trans people.

They can’t get enough of us – on reality shows, talk shows, and in sensationalized news headlines. (Too bad the same isn’t true for dates. I’m still waiting for the general public – at least the smokin’ hot members of it – to give me a call.)

But because the culture seems so completely enamored of us, at least news-wise, we (and particularly trans women) tend to show up in headlines when being trans has absolutely nothing to do with the story – “Transsexual woman among survivors of plane crash” or “Transgender woman robbed outside of bank.”

We also tend to show up when it isn’t even a story at all – “Transsexual woman runs red light” or “Transgender woman shops at mall.” And those are the good ones – when they actually get the gender right.

It usually doesn’t matter. The trans part is just there to get readers, viewers, or clicks. But sometimes it does matter, and in my opinion, it matters with the story of Rep. Chris Lee. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I have been transitioning to male for three months now, and I wonder who I will find in this world as a partner. What are you looking for in a partner? What characteristics, ethics, and morals are you looking for in someone you would choose to partner with?”

As you notice, we are having an Ask Matt Thursday today (although it doesn’t sound as snappy) because Ask Matt questions are suddenly backing up again. And this one is a little challenging for me, because I haven’t been looking for a partner lately. I haven’t made a list, although I actually don’t think it’s a bad idea to do so.

It’s easy for trans people to start feeling undesirable – because we are so maligned and because many of us end up with a “non-standard” body (or what I call a transsexual body) that we think will be unattractive to others. Because of this, we can get into situations where our only criteria for a partner is that he or she “accepts” us or wants to be with us. The problem with this is that it can lead to a dysfunctional or destructive relationship. (more…)

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PhoneWhen I get really stressed or upset, my skin breaks out. But my recent irritations have been small and haven’t resulted in a full-blown eruption – more like a minor rash.

Some of the more trivial annoyances in the last couple of weeks have been:

1. I called the utility company and was ma’amed through the whole conversation. Then I called the phone company and was sirred through the whole conversation. Same me, same voice, all within the same 15 minutes, proving that gender is in the eye of the beholder and that the telephone is an instrument from hell.

2. A major marketing company surveyed the “LGBT” community on their spending habits, then released survey results for gay men and lesbians only. They at least explained that they separated out the results, which is more than a lot of places do. But I’m well aware of why they took trans results out – we bring down the income averages and the purchasing averages and reduce the “spending power” figures.

You know how you could bring that up without excluding trans people? Fight your checkbook off for an inclusive ENDA and other non-discrimination policies. I don’t know why they left the bisexual results out. Bisexuality is so misunderstood, maybe they thought that bisexual people were spending half their money on men and the other half on women. (more…)

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