Trans on the Internet Part 2

This is Part 2 of an essay I was hoping would be published in an anthology.  That project fell through (total bummer), so I’m posting it here.
Here is Part 1:  Trans on the Internet Part 1
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Why did I not just “google” these terms?  Well, because in 2001, “google” was not a well-known verb.  OK, so why did I not just “Yahoo search” stuff at random or Ask Jeeves, the kindly butler?  I do not really know the answer to that, other than to say it’s not quite how I tend to process things.  I’ve never even googled my own name.  Rarely, if ever, have I searched for a former classmate on Facebook.  As opposed to casting a wide net and surfing the web, I prefer to find my own little ways to engage, and then exhaust those channels to no end.  So instead of finding out everything I could about the term “transmasculine,” for example, I stuck to one thing for a very long period of time:  obsessively looking at transition photos on LiveJournal’s community “FTMVanity” (without ever once posting my own picture.)  I branched out slightly, eventually, to also check out the photos at XXboyz (http://kaeltblock.fr/xxboys/portfolio/).  I was, unsuccessfully, looking for myself.  I finally got up the nerve to join “our_own_path” (another LiveJournal community, about non-binary transition / non-transition options), but, again, never once posted.  I preferred to use the Internet to stay within my comfort zone and engage that way.  Instant messaging people I already know well in real life, pouring my heart and soul into a private online journal (housed at Diaryland.com), downloading music through Napster, and… that’s about it.

I’ve checked in on things here and there, post-college.  But, for the most part, I dropped out.  Gender identity became too overwhelming to unravel, and I more-or-less gave up for a number of years.  Tried not to think about it.  Tried not to dwell on whether or not I should take testosterone, get top surgery, come out yet again, any of that.  I continued to use the internet for emailing, connecting with the local anarchist community, and promoting events I was involved in.  Maybe to do some online shopping once in a while.  Oh, and to download music.  I was alternately only kinda happy, and not happy at all.

I finally, fortunately, hit a breaking point and started sorting my way through.  I got back into therapy and decided on some steps that would help me become the person I see myself as.  I’m fully embracing my non-binary trans identity and finding ways to express that.  I’ve been on a low-dose of testosterone for over 2 years now.  I’m considering top surgery.  And a legal name change.  I find that I want to talk all about every aspect of this, and more, in depth, long-term.

A turning point for me was meeting Micah (http://neutrois.me) at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference in 2013.  I had been on testosterone for two months at that point, and I was soaking up everything he had to say, as the facilitator of a workshop called, “Non-Binary Transition: Exploring the Options.”  I went to speak to him briefly after his presentation; he handed me a “business card” for his blog.

A month later, I started my own blog.  I’ve had locked and “friends only” online journals before (on the aforementioned Diaryland and LiveJournal, as well as Blurty), but this feels very different.  I am engaging with people I have never met before.  I am being quite public about my life experiences, vulnerabilities, hopes, and desires.  I am reading masses of other blogs about gender identity, daily.  I feel very much a part of a community and an ongoing dialogue.  Recently, I wrote about how it feels to be given a diagnosis, and I also asked for recommendations for resources to give to my therapist.  I got a bunch of feedback – links to articles, recommendations for books, people making sure I’m aware of the WPATH-SOC.  One person even offered to forward me a copy of the letter they just wrote (on their therapist’s behalf) in order to move forward with top surgery as a transmasculine (but not FTM) person.  I took them up on it and felt this overwhelming rush of support and happiness at this free flow of information.

The following year, I went back to the Philly Trans-Health Conference, and this time, I was able to connect with a handful of people, people I’d met through online channels.  It would be essentially impossible for me to approach a stranger and connect.  With a lot of the groundwork already established, it was much easier to find the people I was looking for.  A couple of people even approached me; they knew of me through my blog.

I don’t think we tend to seek things out we cannot yet handle.  Throughout my gender identity explorations, I was pretty closed off because I just was not there yet.  I didn’t meet people online or seek out tips for binding or masculine hair styles.  I needed to be fairly isolated within myself and see where that led me.  I now feel like I want to share as much as possible, and connect with others going through things I might have gone through, or am currently going through.

We are not living in a queer/trans utopia, but through online channels, it is possible to create that illusion, even if just for brief moments of our day.  The Internet allows for these fringe groups to flourish, for people to find each other and change the world, one blog post, YouTube video, web comic, and/or tweet at a time.
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What are some ways in which you found out about trans-identities?

19 Comments on “Trans on the Internet Part 2”

  1. Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed both parts 🙂

    I’ve tried a few times to remember where exactly I first came across trans stuff. I can’t remember exactly but I know I ended up on Gaia Online, the anime-ish and very teenage focused message board, where I found a tiny little trans community. This was about 2002 I think, I hung out there a lot and it’s where I learned terms to actually apply to myself and how transition worked. It makes me laugh now because I remember most members of the group were teens but there were some people much older, and by much older I mean about 25! So it’s amusing to think I’m now older than those people I previously saw as being far older than me and so very different.

    The sad side of the story is I have no idea where any of those people are now. As I went into denial I became really anxious that someone might trace me back to that space, so I cut all ties. I basically just vanished. I hope they’re doing okay. I like to think they transitioned and are just living happy mundane lives now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. micah says:

    I love this second part (and not just because you mention me ;)).

    Blogging for us is paradoxical: we publicly expose our most vulnerable parts. Convincing myself that “it’s anonymous” gives me courage and comfort, but I know it’s a false security. On the other hand, without others’ blogs, I would’ve never found myself. Like you, I’ve slowly learned how to turn my introverted need to withdraw into interactions with others, easing from brief online exchanges to deep face-to-face conversations.

    There’s lots more to be said. You did a good job lighting my spark right now…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. arhizome says:

    You, janitorqueer, were one of the first people I found online in my gender journey and I immediately resonated with the way you described your experience (as well as the anarchic philosophy I felt I was reading between the lines). Funny enough, yesterday I was discussing with a friend, the role of blogging in my life. She asked about the kind of people I had connected with. The first thing out of my mouth was, well, there’s this blog called janitorqueer … Thanks again for your contribution to the micro-utopia!

    Like

  4. Kris says:

    And I came across you here on WordPress and you feel like a friend now – thanks for that and for this very interesting post!

    Like

  5. Jamie Ray says:

    I found out about trans the old fashioned way, via books and pride parades. The first book I read was Conundrum by Jan Morris, and then I read The Transsexual Phenomenon by Harry Benjamin, and Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg. I managed to convince myself that I was butch, and not a “true transsexual” and put a lid on everything for years. The first time I started to get the concept of non-binary was reading Joan Nestle’s (Clare Howell and RIki Wilchins) book GENDERqUEER – probably in 2002 or 2003. Took another ten years to sink in because I had a lot of inertia. I probably didn’t start doing internet searches on Trans until 2010, but here I am, better late than never.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I think I made the mistake of seeking out online community right away, which is dominated by the FtM cohort. A little isolation really helps sort out one’s individual experience from the crowd. But I’m a Google fiend so pretty much all my information came from the internet.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Tea With Ess says:

    One of the things that really sparked me was seeing Conchita Wurst on Eurovision Song Contest. Even though she’s a character, she’s a portrayal of non binary transition.
    There had been a few other trans persons on ESC, but I never related to them as I did with Conchita. As you said, you only take in what you are comfortable to deal with and for me Conchita came at the right time (and her songs are amazing, of cause…).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. rimonim says:

    The first time I ever heard of the possibility of trans men was in Being John Malkovich when I was about 10. I had this super intense sense that something important and somehow “adult” was going on but couldn’t put my finger on it. Not exactly an excellent educational film, haha.

    Like

    • janitorqueer says:

      Oh yeah, I forgot all about that element in Being John Malkovich. Can you remind me about how it was portrayed? John Malkovich ended up in the body of a woman?

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      • rimonim says:

        IIRC, the main character (puppeteer guy) shows the John Malkovich thing to his wife; she gets hooked on it (seeing through JM’s eyes while he showers, etc) and confesses, “I think I’m a transsexual.” Then she has sex with puppeteer guy’s love interest while in JM’s body; the conceive a child and end up together. Kind of a cool ending but they really don’t address the gender thing–it’s just kind of a scandalous subplot–she is living as a woman at the end of the film. Really conflating sexual orientation and gender there, ha.

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  9. I so appreciate everything you post here. It not only opens my eyes to experiences I’ll never have (being more or less comfortable with my gender) but really speaks to the experiences of marginalized communities as a whole. What you said about not seeking things out we can’t handle yet really resonated with me, because that’s how I approached asexuality. I learned about it in a college psychology class and thought “…hmm…. now that sounds…. kinda like me…” and did a little online research, but it took me years to become comfortable with the term. I’m only now becoming vocal in the online asexual community, and even then only in certain “locales”, mainly WordPress and Tumblr.

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  10. From my 15 year old transgender daughter who is transitioning into a boy. And her friends. I just stared reading “My Daughter He”. So although I’m not transitioning, I am because I am a part of my son’s journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Still working on the proper pronouns..as you can see! But HE is very patient!

    Like


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