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Posts Tagged ‘transphobia’

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 have a question about how to support my teen daughter. She is 19 and decided this past year that she identifies as genderqueer, which she describes as ‘being neither male nor female, but only herself as an individual.’

“Until she was 18, we saw no sign of this; for example, she used to wear very long hair and dresses at 17, but now is dressing and wearing her hair ‘butch,’ to use her words. She did not express discontent to us with her gender when growing up. She also identifies as bisexual, which we have been aware of and supportive of since she was in high school.

“She says that she has great discomfort with her biologically female body so has decided to go onto testosterone hormones in order to have a more gender ambiguous body, ie, to look and sound less female. She is not interested in transitioning to becoming male. However, she does want to drop her voice to sound like a man and hopes to change her facial structure.

“Her father and I support her feelings about her gender identity – at least we think we do – but we are very concerned that she is apparently being given medical permission to go onto male hormones so quickly. We would like for her to slow the process down and take more time to decide.

“One reason is that she is struggling with other mental health issues, such as depression and ADD, with which she was just diagnosed this past year and still has not yet found the right combination of therapy and medication to treat either one. We’d like to see those under control before she adds any hormones at all to the mix. She seems OK with this part of our objection and says she will give it two months.

“A second concern is that she seems to have identified so recently as genderqueer that we wonder whether she can really know whether this is a deep-seated identity issue that must play out with hormonal therapy for her to feel comfortable in her body, or if it is part of normal exploration of what gender means to her in a culture that has pretty rigid and narrow expectations of what it means to be female. She also has never dated or kissed anyone (either male or female) and seems to fear vulnerability of her body within the context of a romantic or sexual relationship, and we wonder if that is also relevant.

“When we expressed these latter concerns to her, she told us we were being ‘transphobic.’ We think there is a difference between being transphobic and telling your child that we think she needs more time to discern. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am a white, 21-year-old straight male and my girlfriend is a white, 20-year-old female, both of us from Glasgow. I regard myself as not being racist, homophobic, transphobic or in just about any other way discriminatory. I identify with the ideals of equality for all.

“My girlfriend is very much a feminist and, like myself, is also in support of essentially universal equality. But there came a topic recently which brought some conflict between us. My girlfriend spoke of a situation whereby at a club, there was what looked to be a man dressed as a woman; some of her friends who went to this club with her briefly discussed between themselves ‘what he was,’ i.e. what gender was this person born as.

“Immediately during our discussion she branded this as being potentially transphobic; I disagree with this. Now, I was not there at this club and as is only fair in my eyes, I gave the guys the benefit of the doubt; I argued that it’s perfectly plausible that they were doing so simply out of sheer curiosity, or to know what pronoun to use should they want to talk to the person. My girlfriend did not suggest that there was any malice at all in what they were saying to themselves.

“I suggested then that regardless of the context in which it was said, I didn’t feel the statement itself was directly transphobic, as it implied no hate or negative feelings, and I also said that I felt it important to defend their right to speak freely among each other about such things, as she went to the lengths to suggest that they shouldn’t be able to say such things.

“I would never accept this being within remote earshot of the person, or anyone else who could potentially take offence, but I thought it simply a stretch to label them as transphobic. Rude, yes; ignorant, yes; childish, yes; but transphobic? I saw this as a bit extreme. (more…)

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Question MarkI have a couple of unrelated letters, but they are short, so I thought I would put them together and create one post. Here they are:

A reader writes: “I am a transman who is doing some research on Transphobia within minority groups (LGB and Black communities). Unfortunately I am not having too much luck finding material due to the lack of studies, etc. Could you recommend any sources?”

I am not aware of any studies, although there are probably some out there. Readers might have some ideas or might have seen some. I would recommend contacting the following organizations for starters:

Trans People of Color Coalition

Transgender Law and Policy Institute

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

With regard to transphobia in black communities, there are some individuals who can probably give you great information, but remember that individuals are very busy and are often volunteering their time, so might not be able to respond. I would recommend:

Monica Roberts of TransGriot

Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler of blac (k) ademic

Kylar Broadus

Readers, do you know of any studies? What would you recommend?

A reader writes: “I recently came out on Facebook as a transman, and while I got a lot of support from friends, I also got 168 hateful, bigoted, and damning emails (mostly from people that I graduated from Bible college with).  One guy (a pastor of a church) even said “If you were my child and told me you were transgendered, I’d hope you would kill yourself.” (more…)

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WomenIt’s 2013 and we are still arguing over the right to eliminate.

Colorado has some of the best laws in the country around the protection of trans rights, and our public accommodations law covers transgender and transsexual people, but we are still doing battle over bathrooms. Most recently, a six-year-old girl has been the target of discrimination when, despite our laws of protection, her school is not allowing her to use the girls’ restroom.

And now the state of Arizona, which brought us the most discriminatory racial-profiling bill in recent history, is back at it with SB 1045, which originally mandated discrimination against trans people and would pretty much force everyone, trans or not, to haul their birth certificates around with them in order to use public facilities.

Rep. John Kavanagh, a sponsor of the bill in the state legislature, has now “softened” it to allow, but not force, businesses and organizations to discriminate. He claims he did this in the face of public outcry. (Did he think there wouldn’t be any? He doesn’t know our Arizona trans community very well.)

So just as Colorado proves that a public accommodations law is not going to stop discrimination against trans people, Arizona is letting us know that it really doesn’t care.

And in the trans community, we know that laws such as the one making its way through the Arizona state legislature will negatively impact trans women the most. We also know that these laws are almost always based on an underlying premise of sexual predation.

In the face of all this, I would like to reiterate some of the points I make in Five Points for Non-Trans People About Public Restroom Use and add some additional points here:

> I lived as a girl and a woman for forty-two years. In that time, I used public women’s restrooms tens of thousands of times – at school, at work, in restaurants, in bars, in the mall, at concerts, and at every other possible public venue. In all of those years, not once – not once! – did I see the genitalia of anyone else in any of those restrooms. Over a period of forty-two years, I had no idea who was in the bathroom with me or what the other bodies in there looked like – nor did I care. (And I didn’t show anyone mine, either.) (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I will be referring to my grandchild-by-choice mostly as male at this time, because he is currently presenting as a gay male.

“I am a cis female with many LGBT friends. He is younger than me by decades. I am almost 60. I began as his online mentor and English tutor. He lives in Bangladesh and I live in the United States.

“This is our fifth year of knowing each other. We are both poets, with a shared love of language. He is an atheist in a strongly fundamentalist Muslim society. I am a Buddhist by choice, living in a diverse, liberal community, in a college town. We chose to become family for each other.

“He lives in the birth relatives’ home in Bangladesh. He is out as a gay male to his parents and within his community. He is frequently taunted badly for being gay.

“My chosen grandchild has recently revealed to me that she feels like a woman at heart, although she only ever expects to present herself as male. So I am designing feminine jewelry for her, as I make jewelry. I do encourage her to express her feminine side to me. It is definitely not safe for my young one to express it where she lives. So back to male pronouns for now, although I feel conflicted about that.

“I personally know liberal Muslims in my own community. But he has only encountered fundamentalist Muslims who view him as wrong and try to force him to become straight. Some of them, including both his parents, have abused him, trying to make him straight. He has twice been forcibly locked up in a ward for months and required to undergo conversion therapy. Of course, it has not worked. The parents keep trying because ‘he’ is the firstborn in a male-dominated culture. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am a straight male and consider myself fairly liberal. One of my best friends is openly gay and I have never felt uncomfortable around him. Yet the thought of being around a transgender person is extremely uncomfortable to me and I don’t exactly know why.

“I can understand the scientific reasoning for having a different gender than one’s do-dads would imply, yet some part of me cringes whenever I hear the words “tr***y, transgendered or transsexual” or read anything about it. (Asterisks mine – MK)

“Does this make me a bad person? How can I consider myself a liberal person who respects and judges everyone based on their character if I am uncomfortable with the concept of having a different gender identity? Is there any way for me to come to grips with this and perhaps regain my own self-respect?

“I hope this question was not offensive in any way, and if it was, I apologize wholeheartedly.”

I was not offended by your question. Some people might be, but in my opinion, it takes guts to do some self-reflection, realize that you have an issue, and take steps to try to resolve it. For this same reason, I don’t think you’re a bad person.

I also don’t think that, currently, you can consider yourself a person who respects and judges everyone based on their character, but I think that you can consider yourself someone who is trying to get there.

I’m going to throw a couple of thoughts out that might or might not apply, and then I’m going to suggest some questions that you might ask yourself as you’re doing some looking inward. Here’s something to think about:

Western culture has established very specific and very strict parameters for being a “man” and being a “woman.” And as much privilege as straight men have in this culture, you are constantly walking an extremely narrow tightrope in order to stay within those parameters and maintain your acceptable standing as a straight man. (more…)

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