7 recent LGBTQ+ films to check out

My spouse and I attended more films than ever before, at the annual LGBTQ+ film festival in our town, recently.  Most of these links are to trailers; a couple are to the film’s website directly.  I highly recommend the first 6, and then I don’t recommend the 7th at all.

Suicide Kale – This film was shot in 5 days, with no budget.  Even without stipulating that, it’s an intriguing and complex look into the dynamics between 2 lesbian couples at a lunch party, and what happens when one of them finds a suicide note tucked away somewhere.  Sounds like it’d be intense, but it’s actually fairly lighthearted and humorous.  Very well attended, mostly women in the audience.

Paris 05:59: Theo and Hugo – This film takes place in real time, as two men fall for each other in a love/lust at first sight type-of-way.  Things start out in a laid back, sexually explicit environment / vibe, but quickly become complicated as the two grapple with an emotional twist, and whether the connection is worth working through it.  Super well attended; roughly 98% men, 2% women.

closet-monsterCloset Monster – This might have been my favorite one this year.  It’s a coming-of-age story of an 18-year old boy coming to terms with his gay identity, complicated by flashbacks of a hate crime he witnessed as a young child.  There were body horror elements to the film, which I was really into.  Plus, Isabella Rossellini’s voice is featured as a talking pet hamster!  Well attended, very diverse audience, including young adults, which isn’t usually the case.

strike-a-poseStrike A Pose – This also was possibly my favorite one this year.  It’s a documentary about the 7 dancers who went on tour with Madonna in 1990, and where they’re at now.  Not all of them are gay!  Some of them had a lot of secrets at the time, and they are now much more open about things.  Way more emotional than I would have thought, going into the film.  Very well attended, diverse audience but definitely mostly men.

Girls Lost – A film from Finland.  Magical realism.  3 tight-knit female friends, about 14 years old, are frequently bullied at school but find solace in each other and a greenhouse they regularly retreat to.  Suddenly, a magical flower appears; they drink the nectar and turn into boys, for about 12 hours.  One of them realizes he is transgender, and he becomes addicted to the feelings the nectar brings.  At the same time, he is self-destructive, in an effort to understand himself.  Really well attended, diverse audience.

Real Boy – This is a documentary spanning over a few years, as a singer/songwriter FTM person starts his transition.  It focuses on the relationship between him and his mom, between him and a best friend who is also trans, and between him and another trans singer/songwriter who is a little older and acts as a mentor of sorts.  Issues that are discussed:  hormones, sobriety, top surgery, family dynamics.  Also really well attended, diverse audience including young adults, which is not generally the case.

Lovesong – This was a flop.  My spouse and I were attracted to it partly because it stars Jena Malone, and also it seemed like a complex story-line.  It was fairly complex, but they characters were not at all likeable.  Two female friends who go way back, dabble in acting on their attraction to each other, at various points spanning a few years.  Kinda boring.  Sparsely attended, mostly women.

My spouse and I diligently filled out audience participation ballots for each film, and a survey about the festival in general.  My most important feedback:  more films with trans characters please.  And also, please make it more affordable.


New App: LGBTQ+ health care info & reviews!

I recently connected with Nic and Cat, a duo based in Philadelphia, who have been working super hard for about a year, creating an app for anyone who is LGBTQ+ and is looking for a health care provider. It will be simple, straightforward, user-based, and reliable.  A beta version will be available soon, and Nic says, “the more the merrier, because once we’re beta testing we want to have as many reviews on there as possible–that’s what’s gonna make the app useful.”

qspaces-hard-at-work2 qspaces-hard-at-work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I already signed up.  You can too!  At:  https://qspacesapp.com/qreview/

I definitely will have a lot to add, from
The first primary care doctor who proscribed me T,
The terrible consultation I had for top surgery in my area,
and, yeah, there will be much more.  I have thoughts on my current doctor.  Thoughts about the surgeon who did do my top surgery.  Thoughts about my sometimes therapist and my psychiatrist (refreshingly, those two are all positive.)

I asked Nic a few questions to get a better sense of who they are and what their project is all about…

K:  I’m curious, do you and Cat have experience in web design?  Or, what are your backgrounds?

Nic:  I have some experience with coding, but not enough to be able to pull off an app like this. I’m currently a 2nd year in medical school with a background in crisis counseling, EMS, and performance. Cat is a jack-of-all-trades. In the past, she’s used design principles to build community dialogue around social issues and is currently working for Johnson & Johnson on their TAP program, and starting her first year at University of the Arts in the Design for Social Impact Master’s program. She always has a million little projects going on, from trying to create the perfect denim work jean for butches, tomboys, transmen, and anyone else who has trouble finding a durable, well-fitting work jean, to cataloguing every queer movie in existence, and more.  When she had the idea for the app and shared it with me, I was like, there has to be something like this already out there. We looked around and there were a few options, but nothing that gave tangible results. She started drawing up some sketches and we’ve been unstoppable ever since.
qspaces

K:  Was there a specific moment or incident where you said, “We need an app to fill in this void of information.”

Nic:  We had just moved to Philadelphia so I could go to medical school and we were both trying to establish care with a primary doctor. Cat had very recently had a terrible doctor experience and she didn’t want to go through that again. So she turned to an online forum, a queer philly group. The posts were all over the place, and it was just generally inefficient. I was also meeting with a group called the Gender Interest group at the time, which is an interprofessional group for folks in healthcare who are trying to push systematic change at their home institutions around attitudes + policies affecting gender diverse folks. I was pretty blown away by how professional, dedicated, and compassionate these healthcare providers were and I realized that patients could only find out who had adequate training in LGBTQ patient issues by word of mouth.  I mean, almost 10% of the population is lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and / or trans. Yet we give hours and hours of lectures on the most rare of congenital metabolic diseases. I think that’s a problem. 

So there wasn’t one exact moment. It was basically a culmination of all of our experiences up until that point. Cat + I realized that 1. we could do something about it and 2. that we were actually the perfect team for this project.

K:  What has been the most rewarding parts of the process of getting it off the ground so far?  What about the most frustrating?
Nic:  So many great experiences. My favorite parts have been where people approach us and say, yeah- but have you thought of this? I love working with people, and building off of ideas, so the amount of collaboration that this has led to has been truly incredible. We’re working with a web dev team called Webjunto in Philadelphia and they’re really awesome. A good part of the team is queer and they have a lot of great insights. Even the straight, cis people have some great insights. 😉

The most frustrating part, by far, has been trying to convince straight, cis folks that there is a need for this kind of app. You can quote statistics at them all day long (like over 56% of lgb folks have had discriminatory experiences at their healthcare provider’s office, and over 70% when looking at transgender and gender non-conforming people) but they’ll just reply, ‘Well, not at this institution’ (which I know for a fact to be untrue). The institutional support matters because we need funding, we need investors in order to set up a sustainable business model. The reason some of these other sites are stalling out is because they are non-profits that run on volunteer work. Cat + I would love to devote ourselves full time to this app, and it’s important that it stays totally free for the folks using it.

Besides, we have so many other ideas, including things like having a Clubhouse- a community space for lgbtq folks to chill + hang out that isn’t centered around alcohol. Maybe one day! 
_______________
I’ll share more info about this app as it becomes available.  This is SUPER important.  (I’ll also share updates about this magical Clubhouse as that materializes as well.  🙂 )

Dear Sugar Podcast: I’m a transgender man, seeking acceptance

So, I’ve been listening to this one podcast religiously since its beginning in December of 2014… it’s kind of a guilty pleasure; it’s a straight up advice column!  It’s called Dear Sugar; the “Sugars” are Cheryl Strayed, of Wild fame – the book, the movie (starring Reese Witherspoon), the attitude, and Steve Almond, who wrote Against Football, among many other books and essays.  They also always bring in an “expert,” or someone who can speak from personal experience about the person’s question.

dear-sugar

They have fielded numerous letters about relationships, family dynamics, friend betrayals, weddings, lies and secrets, infidelity, personality clashes, (surprisingly, nothing that I can remember about work drama or school issues…)  A couple of them have been about lesbian and gay -centric problems:  parents who are unsupportive, partners who are still in the closet, etc…

 

I have been waiting for something that relates to trans-people.  Finally, after a year and 9 months, they tackle it!

And… it’s totally underwhelming.

Have a listen, here:  I’m a Transgender Man, Seeking Acceptance  (For reference, it’s 39 minutes long.)

I mean, I think it’s great for the general population.  So, it’s a good start.  They read two different trans-men’s letters, and they seem to be at different points in their transitions, so that’s cool.

The first guy is in college, and he’s feeling great about his path and the people around him and everything – everything except for his parents, who just will not get on board.  This, I feel, is super common.

The second guy seems to be a little more established, in a career, and he’s navigating the world of dating.  He is concerned that since he is short (5’2″), does not have a lucrative career (social worker), and does not have a penis, he may be unlovable.  This, too, seems like a pretty common concern.

The “Sugars,” in general, use radical empathy as a basis for starting a dialogue.  And, in this case, since they don’t know how it feels to be transgender, they take the angle that,

“The best way to begin to understand an experience very different from your own is to listen to the stories of others. This week, we read the letters of two transgender men who are struggling to find love and acceptance.  The Sugars discuss with Cooper Lee Bombardier, a visual artist, writer and transgender man.”

According to his bio, Cooper “has been a construction worker, a cook, a carpenter, a union stagehand, a welder, a shop steward, a dishwasher, a truckdriver, a bouncer, and a housepainter, among other things, for a paycheck.”  He’s currently super successful with the writing and the art.  He sounds super cool!

Steve Almond starts off talking about the first time he met a trans-woman.  It was slightly cringe-inducing, but also definitely a worthwhile story.  Then they get into the letters, and introduce Cooper.  He, as a guest, is eloquent and upbeat, but he does keep it pretty basic, and seems somewhat detached from his own personal stories.  There is a really great moment though where Cooper says he’s been “transitioning” for about 15  years, and when the Sugars ask him how old he was when he started, he says, “in my early 30s.”  They sputter about how young he looks and how could this be?  And he replies, “I moisturize.”  And then later, “It’s the trans-fountain of youth, you know…” and there’s lots of laughing, and Cheryl says, “Sign me up!”

One thing that Cooper says really well in discussing the first letter is,

“We wrestle with these feelings for so long, that by the time we articulate it to somebody, it’s like a bottle bursting open.  …And we tell our parents and we expect them to get it, like, tomorrow.  Even though we’ve been struggling with it for years and years, right?  And so I think that… it’s really hard to be patient when we’ve waited so long to kind of actualize and realize that this is what’s going on for us.  But for those relationships that we do want to bring along with us, we do need to offer some patience, even though it’s hard.”

When discussing the second letter, they telescope it out, to bring it to the wider theme of anyone who feels like they are unloveable, and how to change that internal notion.  Cheryl says, “This is a universal conundrum.  …Am I too fat to be loved? No. Am I too poor to be loved? No. Am I too fill-in-the-blank to be loved? No.”  They touch on how his height and his career might factor into this, and no one makes one further mention about the fact that he does not have a penis.  Is it because they think it’s not important to talk about?  No, I kind of doubt it – I think they are finding it too awkward to address.  And/or, in being respectful, they feel that it’s not up to them to talk about a trans-person’s genitalia (or sex life, or surgeries, or…) which is definitely important that we’ve gotten that far, but in this case, it was right there, in the letter, and it just got straight up ignored.

I do really hope they expand the dialogue about what it feels like to be a transgender person.  I have been thinking of writing in, for a while now, and I only feel more motivated after listening to this.  I’m planning on it; I’ll let you know.


6 days post top surgery

Going into surgery, I was in pretty rough shape.  I felt sick (although I didn’t want to say so, specifically, to anyone other than my spouse… I kept saying “slight head cold”) and exhausted.  Luckily, my cold symptoms were not too worrisome, medically:  no fever, no chest congestion / trouble breathing.  Other than the cold, I felt mentally prepared.  In retrospect, I totally was. But, not so much prepared for the recovery process…

office / home / guest rooms mansion

office/home/guest rooms mansion

Surgery Day:  We arrived at 6:15am, surgery was from 7:30-9am, I was sleeping till about 10:30, and we were leaving by 11:30.  At which point, I felt a lot better than I had for days – it even felt like my cold magically disappeared.

Everything went smoothly, except for the fact that the surgeon was about to do the wrong procedure.  I was afraid this was the case because during the entire process including the consultation, the paperwork continually listed “double incision mastectomy with free nipple grafts.”  Even after I called a month ago to verify we were on the same page with the peri-areolar procedure and was assured that we were.  So when she came in and said, “Double incision.”  I said no, and luckily wasn’t phased by the mix up.   She said peri-areolar, I said yes, and she drew circles around my areolas.  I talked to her about nipple size, saying I wanted them small.  She said, “They’ll be smaller.  Your nipples will be nipple-sized.”  That was not very reassuring, but after she left, and before the anesthesiologist came back around, my spouse clarified that she had said, “your nipples will be nickle-sized.”  That sounded better.

If you want to read a more detailed account of what it’s like, here’s a good one someone wrote just a few days ago:  Surgery.  It was a lot like that. Back at the guest room, we texted with some people, a Philly friend came and visited for a while, we watched Seinfeld, and we went to sleep early.  I was up a lot that night, ravenously eating snacks and just not able to get comfortable.  I was sleeping sitting up, at the foot of the bed, a lot.

Day after surgery – The next day, we were driving home.  And I was in bed by 6pm.  My cold symptoms were back, and I was not feeling so good anymore.  I’ll bet that first day, I had a good mix of adrenaline and endorphins flowing, plus whatever they put in the IV.  And then I crash.

2 days after surgery – I sat outside for a while.  A friend came over, and we chatted for about 30 minutes before my spouse and they went thrift shopping.  We listened to some podcasts.  I read a book about subway art, written in 1984, a book I had found in the trash at school.  We watched 2 episodes of Mad Men.

drinking water

Drinking water.  Feeling pretty good.

drinking water. I did not plan on wearing this Hawaiian shirt. Turns out I don't have that many short sleeved button down shirts that will comfortably fit over the drains I have in!

Drinking water. (I did not plan on wearing this Hawaiian shirt. Turns out I don’t have that many short sleeved button down shirts that will comfortably fit over the drains!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 days – Podcasts, Mad Men.  I stopped taking the pain meds (Percocet) because they were causing OIC (opioid induced constipation).  The pain increased throughout the day, but it’s not like Percocet was all that effective anyway.  We went to my spouse’s parents’ house, which did not go so well (I could not bear being social, especially once a family friend came by – I just went and sat outside.)  We went to the grocery store on the way home – that was OK.

4 days – Glad to be off Percocet – realized that there are other pain meds (D’uh!) so I took an Alieve.  I feel like 95% of the pain now is due to this fucking surgical wrap I have to wear for 7 days.  I can only take shallow breaths; I can’t laugh or yawn or cough; it’s digging into my ribs and underarms; it’s way too tight; it just fucking sucks*.  There’s a reason I didn’t bind!  We went to the movies – nice to get out of the house.  Also, one of our cats got suddenly freaked out by my Frankenstein walk (even though I’ve been doing it for days), and she bolted off the table, knocking a bunch of my records onto the floor.  It was loud.  Also, I had a mini melt down about hating asking for things that are so basic, telling my spouse that I keep doing things because I would rather do them than ask – open and close doors, get ice trays out of the freezer, pour water from our britta, reach up high for a Q-tip, carry my laptop…  I gotta stop so I don’t mess up my healing process!  She was on it and strategized a bunch of new ways to make things easier!

5 days – My spouse went back to work.  Our refrigerator was making a loud noise this morning and stopped working.  That was stressful!  I called a repair person, then changed my mind because we should just buy a new one because this thing is super old.  My spouse’s mom came over to save our freezer items for us, store them at her house.  Then the fridge started working again, so it feels like less pressure – we’ll still get a new one, but it doesn’t have to be today.  A friend brought over lunch – I liked that!  My mom stopped by after work.  I felt anxious and lightheaded for a lot of the day.  I was feeling really confined/claustrophobic, as if this binding thing were made of plaster of paris, or steel.  I had a serious melt down (I got an all-too-real glimpse of what it could feel like, if I lost it right now – I felt in danger of becoming more and more triggered), and told my spouse we need more people around us, helping.  She called her parents to make that happen.  We talked and I felt a lot better.

6 days – That’s today!  I only managed to sleep 3 hrs.  I’ll be spending more time with people today.  I’m just going to try to relax.  I also gotta start preparing for going back down there tomorrow, to get this fucking binding off.  Oh, and the drains.  I’m going with my mom.

Overall, I’m in more pain than I thought.  And I’m way less out of it than I thought (like, I didn’t get to be in a fun pain-killer induced haze, haha).  And I don’t like TV that much and I’ve been up and about a lot.  I hate not doing things because it reminds me of being depressed.

*  Note:  this may be the only time I’ve used swear words on this blog (in reference to the surgical binding).  It’s that bad.  Also, though, I appreciate this thing because it reminds me of where the limits are and also it’s preventing me from coughing stitches open or anything like that.


Riot Acts: Flaunting Gender Deviance in Musical Performance

My spouse and I are coming off of a four-day weekend, and as part of that, we traveled and saw an awesome “rockumentary,” directed by Madsen Minax.  He was there in person, answering questions after the film.

Riot Acts: Flaunting Gender Deviance in Musical Performance was made between 2006 and 2009, in a really impressive way:  the director was in a band called Actor Slash Model, and as his band toured, they reached out to other bands with trans-members to play their shows with.  They’d play the show, crash for the night, and then wake up super early to interview that band and get other footage of them playing, and then move on to the next city/band.  Sounds exhausting!

They filmed in various formats – video, DV video, 16mm, and super 8 (plus including footage from the bands, which was probably in lots of different formats as well, which gave it a pretty rough, incongruous feel, but that’s an aesthetic choice that kind of worked for this film.  It felt pretty informal and dated, which the director seemed very much aware of – like it’s a snapshot of a time in trans-representation in music/media, and things have been changing a lot, even just in the last 5 years.  Almost everyone included, I had never heard of.  Here’s a list of those included:

Anderson Toone, currently from SF, has a long history in music, going back to forming a post-punk band in the early 80s called The Bloods, who opened for The Clash, Gang of Four, The Slits, The Go-Gos, Au Pairs, Adam Ant, The Lounge Lizards, Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders,The Fall, REM, DNA, Lydia Lunch, Bush Tetras, ESG, Allen Ginsberg, Nona Hendryx, The Treacherous Three.  First time I’ve heard of them – sounds like the kind of band I need to track down for my radio show!

Lipstick Conspiracy

Lipstick Conspiracy from SF – “Glitter, sneers, and ridiculously high heels are abundant, as are raging keyboard riffs and catchy lyrics.”  – San Francisco Weekly.  It was kind of hard to tell if they are currently active.

Katastrophe – a hip hop artist from SF.  He’s pretty famous, so maybe I don’t need to say a whole lot about him.  One great thing from the film – he got his start, before transition, doing slam poetry.  He went to the Michigan Womyn’s Festival with the Sister Spit Tour sometime in the late 90s / early 2000s.  He went to check out Camp Trans, and was blown away – from that moment, he started identifying as a transman and never looked back.  He also co-founded Original Plumbing in Oct. 2009.

Trannysaurus Sex, also from SF.  Could not find much on this band (the link is to a song from the film, on YouTube).  Definitely seems like they are not currently active.

Basic Fix from Portland, OR.  Couldn’t find much on this band either, but the lead singer/drag performer is still making music (electro/pop/R&B) under his name, Kelly Moe.  He starred in The Gossip’s music video “Listen Up” in 2006.

Ryder Richardson from Seattle – Not much on him either.  He currently has a personal Facebook profile as opposed to a musician/band page.  Looks like he is teaching carpentry to kids.  🙂  Any other info connecting him to music was through info about Riot Acts.

Tough Tough Skin from Minneapolis – Again, couldn’t find much current info about this punk/homocore band, but there are quite few videos from live shows on YouTube.  Here is one of them.

Venus DeMars also from Minneapolis.  Founded in 1994, Venus DeMars and All the Pretty Horses (glam rock band) is still going strong, having recently toured with Against Me!

Venus DeMars

Venus DeMars

Adhamh Roland is a singer/songwriter currently living in MA.  A lot has changed for him since the film, and he appears to be very much still active.  In the film, he was living in St. Louis and talking a lot about not wanting to medically transition because he was worried about what T would do to his singing voice.  (This was a HUGE topic in the film).  Looks like he decided to take the leap; seems to be working out for him.

Ryka Aoki De La Cruz is a LA based writer, performer, and professor (at Antioch and Santa Monica College).  She is super active in the trans-community.  Among a huge resume of accomplishments, she has been honored by the California State Senate for for her “extraordinary commitment to free speech and artistic expression, as well as the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.”

Jessica Xavier is from the Washington D.C. area and is an accomplished activist first and foremost.  She came out as trans in 1989, and fronted a band called Me Neither, wrote a song about Stonewall.  This link is a super dated website from 2004, but it’s got a lot of biographic information…

Ryka

Ryka Aoki De La Cruz

The Shondes were formed in 2006, right as this film was being made.  Since then, looks like their music has been blowing up – their website (link) is super active – full of photos, tour information, press, tweets, etc.  This is another band that recently toured with Against Me! (amongst a bunch of other well-known bands.  They’re from Brooklyn.

Novice Theory (Geo Wyeth), also from Brooklyn, is a multidisciplinary musician/performance artist.  Looks like you can hear his music / see his videos / see interviews on all kinds of sites (spotify, amazon, bandcamp, etc.) but in terms of image or professional website, all I could really find was his tumblr.  Still, check this guy out!  He is awesome!

Novice Theory

Novice Theory

The Degenerettes are a punk trio from Baltimore.  Looks like their website was last updated in 2011…  I saw them in my hometown, probably in 2008?  Super entertaining!  I have a friend who used to work with the lead singer at a video store in Baltimore!

Systyr Act are from Boston.  The link is to their facebook page – looks like it was last updated in 2013.  They’re a jokey/party type band, posing as nuns.

The Cliks are huge.  They’re from Toronto.  If you haven’t heard of them, check them out!

Coyote Grace is a roots/acoustic threesome from Sonoma County, CA.  They have a lot of output as a band, and as each member, individually as well.

Whew!  That was a lengthy rundown of some trans/gender variant people in music from the mid/late 2000s.  Some have disbanded, some have taken off.  Who is out there now?  Please comment with info about current bands!

 


Featured Voices: Trusting My Gut

Micah, of Neutrois Nonsense, started a new component to his blog this month. It’s called “Featured Voices,” and the month’s topic is top surgery. There have been 3 other posts before this one – go to his website and check it out! And stay tuned for future topics!

genderqueer.me

Continuing February’s theme of Featured Voices: Top Surgery I wanted to highlight someone in his mid-thirties who has learned to comfortably inhabit that genderqueer limbo, yet still makes time to self-reflect about body, gender, past, and future. 

After 12 years of thinking about it, Kameron scheduled top surgery. With express clarity, Kameron walks us through the years leading up to this decision. There wasn’t confusion, necessarily; it was rather a process of learning to listen to his gut “despite the fact that my gut speaks very quietly.” 


Trusting My Gut

I am getting top surgery on June 1st.

This may come as a surprise, since I have barely talked about or written about my feelings toward my chest.  That doesn’t mean the thought process wasn’t there though; it just means I wasn’t ready for it to be much more than something swirling in my head, around and around and around.  I’d mention it on occasion to my partner. …

View original post 834 more words


2.75 years on T (2 weeks off)

This 3 month period has been the most turbulent in terms of applying Androgel.  I had increased my dose over the summer from 1 to 2 pumps, and then in October I increased to 3 pumps.  From November 19 – Deceember 5, I was off T completely, something I had not done since I started.  And then starting December 5, I went back on at 4 pumps.

The reason for the increases is that I’m looking for some masculinizing changes to happen.  They haven’t yet, even though I have quadrupled my dose.  Maybe I just need to be more patient.  I got a blood test done yesterday and have a doctor’s appointment on Monday – I will be super curious to see what my testosterone levels are at.  I feel like I should be well within the male range.  If I continue to not see changes, I may have to decide to switch to injections, but I hope I don’t have to.  I’m not looking for a drastic change, and I’m surprised this dose, which I believe is within the standard range for someone transitioning, isn’t doing anything.  Maybe it’s just still too early.

The reason I stopped T for about 2 weeks was because I’m told that in order to get top surgery, the surgeon should be telling you to be off T before and also after, to help prevent blood clotting.  The surgeon I’m looking into requires being off T for a total of a month.  I’d never tried being off T before, and I wasn’t about to try it for a first time right as I’m gearing up for a major life event.  So I thought I’d do a practice run.  It didn’t go too well.  Maybe some of it was in my head, but I did not feel all that great.  (Although, I have to say I don’t feel great right now either; of course countless factors contribute to how you feel.)  I definitely felt like my body hurt more, I didn’t feel like eating as much (something I have trouble with anyway), and I felt colder, for sure.  My mood plummeted, but it was still within a range I could tolerate…  I might do another practice run at some point to feel more confident about it; I do not like the idea of being off T in order to have surgery, but I know it’s important.

Here are some past posts in this series.  In earlier posts, I talked a lot more about the effects of testosterone.  I guess it’s starting to get a bit redundant!

2.25 years
1.5 years
1 year
8 months
5 months

And, as always, some pictures of my face:

2.75 years

2.75 years (I need to cut my hair!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 years

2 years

1.75 years on testosterone

1.75 years

1 year

1 year

 

 

 

 

 


Local firehouse renovates bathrooms

While driving around the other week, my partner spotted this sign at the firehouse around the corner from us.  They were temporarily closed while they renovated the bathrooms!  I was floored by this – went back and took a photo of the sign.  Way to go, neighborhood firehouse!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


How It Is To Be Miss Tobi

I’ve been corresponding with Linda Coussement, a video artist from the Netherlands.  She reached out because she recently made an awesome short video (3 minutes) about a transgender artist in Berlin.  She thought people who read my blog would enjoy it.  So, here it is, along with further information about Linda and a short interview:

Miss Tobi is a 44 year old anarchist who makes amazing metal sculptures, plays in several performance art groups, and is also a part-time physical therapist.  Check out the video!

Linda:  “My background: Well, my name is Linda Coussement, I’m 36 years old and I’m from the Netherlands.  […] I’ve only recently decided to step out of the business world and follow my (he)art on this epic adventure. I used to work as a business coach but I now plan to make a living through these videos somehow. On the short term I will probably have to get by on donations and funds, on the medium to long term, I plan to have books, events and workshops to sell.

What’s perhaps also good to know is that I’m not just doing this for myself and my own personal growth as a human being. I ultimately wish to inspire as many people as possible. To show that we’re all human beings, no matter what we look like, where we’re from or what we do. We all love and fear. We all have hopes and dreams. And we all sometimes struggle with relationships, money, confidence and loneliness. Personally, I’ve learned that the moment you realise this is the moment you can empathise with another person and because of that build a meaningful relationship. And that’s what I would like to see more of in the world!”

JQ:  How did you get into this project?  What inspired you?

LC:  I’ve spent about 12 years in the business world (amongst other things as a business consultant and startup cofounder) but I’ve always had a keen interest in the more human side of life.  This expressed itself through teaching yoga, doing lots of personal development training courses and coaches and being overall very reflective of myself and life in general.  Though this question popped up in my head a few years ago, it was in May of this year that I realised that it was this human side that I wanted to explore more at this point in my life and I made a spontaneous decision to ask the question ‘how is it to be you?’ to all sorts of people around the world (hence renting out my house and traveling) and document it through blogs and video.

JQ:  Is this video part of a larger series, or does it stand on its own?

LC:  This video is the first of a much larger series. There will be supershort videos on Facebook (where I randomly ask people in the street this question), these 3 minute videos (the next one will be about a banker turned hand made paper maker in the Czech countryside) and ultimately a book, a long documentary and live events. Concerning the video of Miss Tobi, it’s very likely that I’ll also make an 8 minute version that will be sent into several festivals.

JQ:  How did you meet Miss Tobi?  What came first, meeting her, or the idea for the video?

LC:  I was in Berlin to do a 2 month documentary making course so the idea was there first. I met Miss Tobi through her long term boyfriend Michael first as I was looking for ‘typical’ Berlin anarchists and found him through browsing OKCupid of all places.

More information can be found here:  How It Is To Be Miss Tobi: I Don’t Feel Like a Woman, I Don’t Feel Like a Man, I Feel Transgender

Thanks Linda, for reaching out!

Outdated trans programs pt. 2

My partner and I uncovered a video I had gotten while in a support group about 10 years ago – a collection of trans-related TV programs from the late 90s / early 2000s.  We’ve been spacing it out, watching some of it each weekend.

The first weekend, we watched The Discovery Channel’s “Changing Sexes.”  It was appalling.

Last weekend, we watched an Oprah show from 2004 about transgender children.  Surprisingly, it was so well done that it felt relevant and spot on, for children today, more than 10 years later.  Oprah made some blunders in terminology and wording (“transgenders,”  “When you grow up, what?  You want to officially have an operation?”  “Children who suffer from gender confusion”), but other than that, the tone was surprisingly respectful.

The show focused on 3 families:

Kaden, an 11 year old FTM trans-person, and his mom.
Dylan, a 5 year old child who strongly feels he is a girl, and his parents.
Hal, a 9 year old FTM trans-person, and his parents.

Kaden’s story focused on how horrific it was to start puberty, his social transition, and how hard it’s been for his mom, although she is supportive.  His mom talked about him being able to take further steps, (hormones and surgery), when he’s 18.  I found this video and article on Huffington Post – a Where Are They Now from 2013, where Kaden is 20.  He ended up getting to start testosterone at age 14 and get top surgery at 16.  He seems happy.

Dylan’s story focused on the tension between the parents and between Dylan and his dad.  His mom is fine with his son’s preferences and who he might turn out to be.  She will buy him dolls and engage in discussions about how he feels he is a girl.  His dad does not approve, and there is already a big rift in his relationship with his son.  The parents fight about it.  The dad stated, “I discipline him.”  Things seemed skewed in a way in which the dad was demonized.  Dylan was not on the show, but he was shown backstage, happily coloring.

Next, a gender therapist talked about the best practices in how to handle a child going through this.  To just be there for the child and love them no matter what.  And it might be a phase; it might not – and that’s OK.  She claimed that about 1/3 of children grow out of it, 1/3 grow up to be gay, and 1/3 grow up to be trans.  I wonder if these statistics hold up?

Hal’s story focused on how open and accepting his parents were, after he verbalized suicidal ideation at 6 years old.  His parents claimed that Hal can make his own choices about his path, when he is ready.  They talked about difficult moments, and Hal was kind of put on the spot.  At 9 years old, I think he was too young to be on the show, talking about his story.  He was crying through it.  That was hard to watch.

Lastly, a MTF trans-adult came on the air to talk about her life path and how much easier it could have been if she had been able to transition at a younger age.  Instead, her doctors were suggesting a lobotomy, and her family was seriously considering it.  Luckily they didn’t go through with it, and she grew up as male, had a family (is now divorced but it seems amicable) and is living more authentically now.

This show touched ever so briefly on heavy issues, but shied away each time.  Hate crimes were brought up.  Homelessness.  Suicide rates.  Racism.  Class issues amongst the families could have been explored.  Oprah tends to focus on the positives, which is definitely doing a disservice.  But in terms of talking about what kids need, she directed the conversations in the right directions.

The show closed with Dylan’s dad proclaiming that he is now going to go buy his son some dolls when he leaves.  When Oprah asked why, he said, “Life is more important.”

Stay tuned for part 3: A&E The Transgender Revolution from 1998.