How To Be a Girl, episodes I through VI

I wanna recommend a podcast!  It’s called How To Be A Girl.  A while back ago, I had been following a blog, gendermom, on wordpress.  It’s written by Marlo Mack (pseudonym), about life with her (now) 8 year-old transgender daughter, M.  I really love reading/hearing from the perspective of parents, especially parents of young trans-kids.  And this one in particular has a lot of input from the daughter.  They are in it together.

In the summer of 2014, she branched out and also started producing a podcast.  At first I was reluctant to check it out.  I guess because although I was listening to some podcasts at that time, I preferred reading and connecting through blogs.  But then one of the episodes was featured on a podcast I was already a big fan of, Here Be Monsters, and I made a mental note to go check out the rest of the episodes.  It’s taken a while, but here I am to say it’s great, haha.  I listened through episodes 1-6 twice now…

The first three establish some backstory and facts (I’m not going to give too much away!).  At this point, M is 6, and she has the support of her mom and dad (who are divorced) and other family members and friends.  Hardly anyone knows that she is trans (better to be more cautious at first and see how things might play out).  She had been saying she is a girl, basically as early as she could talk, and although it took a long time to convince her parents, they are fully on board now.  She likes the color pink, my little ponies, stuff like that…

Episode 4 is called Tom Boy Trans Girl, and it’s about, how girly do you have to be to be considered a girl?  There are plenty of tomboys out there…  M gradually shifts to liking blue over pink and getting into Pokemon and ninjas.  Marlo Mack is afraid the being-a-girl thing was just a phase.  M sums everything up super succinctly.

Episode 5 is about finding love.  Marlo Mack has to navigate through transphobia from potential dating partners, and she talks about how she handles it.  M also tells a love story.

Episode 6  is super cute.  It is a straight-up interview, Marlo Mack asking M a bunch of questions.  The perspective of this 6-year-old is really amazing and surprising.  Well, she’s been through a lot, so I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising!

Some talk about the other episodes, coming soon!

My spouse and I have been talking about the idea of working on a podcast together.  We have a local community of radio people we can plug into / in with, and I already do a weekly music show.  This would be totally different though, and would involve a steep learning curve.  We got some books out of the library (always a good place to start!), and I’ve been trying to pull apart, think about the elements that go into the podcasts I do listen to:  the way the sound editing overlaps, the hooks to keep you listening, stuff like that.  We’ll see.  I think it would be a lot of work, but could be really rewarding.


200th post / I came out at work, cont’d

Last month, I wrote about coming out at work, and I left a few loose ends that I want to circle back to.

Real quick first though, I wanna acknowledge this blogging milestone!  It’s been 3 years and 6 months now.  Which is 42 months, meaning I’ve averaged close to 5 posts per month.  And that’s been fairly consistent:  I haven’t had times of being prolific followed by times of not writing anything and back-and-forth.  Same with word-count – posts have been no more than 1,000 words, no less than 600 words.

Although it’s been moderate and steady, the way I feel about the writing and the blog changes fairly drastically and frequently.  Sometimes I feel like I’m an objective observer, recording down what has transpired.  Other times, I have put so much of myself into what I write, that the process, and the feedback I get has helped boost me up through some really difficult times.  So, thank you, for all that feedback!  Sometimes I’ve felt like there isn’t much point to continuing; I have nothing to say.  Other times, I feel super good about this ongoing personal account of experiences that are valuable for others, and myself, to look into / look back on.

I’d say, currently, it’s mostly the first thing:  I’m an objective observer, writing down what is happening and feeling kind of distanced from it.  And that’s OK – it’s not going to always feel this way, I have learned.

So, in that vein, here’s that account I said I would write, of my first month being out, at work: A quick recap – I had talked to my supervisor, co-workers, 4 teachers, the principal, and the assistant principal.  I had also gotten things moving in the HR department, and we were just going into Xmas recess.  During that week when kids and teachers were out, I though it’d be a great time for my co-workers to start, while it was just us.  I wrote, ” I have a feeling my co-worker / ally will step up and lead it, followed by me correcting everyone every single time.”  The first day, my supervisor called me through the walkie talkie, “[old name], can you get a 20″ red pad?”  Me, “It’s going to be Kameron now.”   Long pause.  Her, “Kameron, can you get the 20″ red pad?”  Then when she saw me, she said, “You’re going to make me practice now?”  “Yeah!”  And we were off!  With, as I hoped, my co-worker leading.  But the thing was, I didn’t actually have to correct anyone.

When break was over and everyone was back, I told 8 more people in person, and also had a 2nd, much more productive, conversation with the principal.  More details are in the post, How I became “Mixter”.  We talked about how to come out and the timeline, how my name would appear on my name plate on the custodial office door, and bathrooms.  She told me I could think about these things and get back to her tomorrow.  That all sounded fine, but as I went about my cleaning routine that night, I thought about how tough it is to just catch her, and what if it’s a while before I am able to get back to her.  Plus the monthly faculty meeting was the following morning!!!  (And even though I don’t attend these, that’s a great place for school announcements.)

So, I left a note on her table that night, so that action could start rolling ASAP.  The note read:

1/3/16
Hey [Principal],

Here’s what I”m thinking:
Fac Meeting – a heads up about a forthcoming email
Email – That I’m changing my name and that I’m now using male pronouns (he/him/his)
Sign on Custodial Door – Mx. [last name] (pronounced Mixter).  I’m comfortable answering any questions about this.

also a recommendation if you one day have a transgender student:
A podcast called “How to be a Girl,” told from the point-of-view of a parent – with lots of input from her 8-year-old daughter (male to female).  They talk about school, friends, privacy, etc.  The parent is a great advocate.

Thank you!
-Kameron

There was some slight confusion in which the principal included all this information in the school-wide email, where, for example, I had only intended the podcast recommendation to be for her.  But, I realized, the fact everyone received all of the above was actually way better!  It gave people more context, which, I really really really think helped the information lodge into their brains better.  Like, I have not had to correct anyone, once!  Which is just completely blowing my mind.  People seem more into addressing me by my name than before.  Some people have decided to call me “Kam,” instead, of their own volition, which I’m OK with – it’s just plain fascinating.  (My one co-worker / ally has been calling me, “Killa Kam” for a while now.  Haha.)

A barrier between me and other people has definitely started to lift, just within this past month.  I have had more conversations with more people about a wider variety of things than ever before.  This is what being a person within a work environment is mostly about.  The connections are what make it something more than just a random assortment of people that you (seemingly) have nothing in common with.

I wanna just keep running with this!

PS:  This post has 882 words.  Haha.
PPS:  Posts coming soon about this amazing podcast, “How to be a Girl.”


Branching out

 

I started writing occasionally for a website called Transgender Universe.  Here’s the first article that I’ve posted!  It’s about pride flags being burned in my neighborhood, following the election, and then an impromptu rally, as a response to this hate crime.

(This first appeared on Transgender Universe, here:  From Burning Pride Flags to a Neighborhood Rally)

lgbt-rally

The morning after the election, I woke up to a text from a friend who said, “Hi! We’d like to get a rainbow flag to hang at the house in solidarity after what happened yesterday. Do you know where we could purchase one?” When he had said, “what happened yesterday,” I figured he meant Trump, but once I got on facebook, I saw that two pride flags had been burned in my neighborhood the evening before. Talk about getting hit close to home! It is being investigated as both arson and a hate crime, but so far there are no suspects.

So I looked up information for the gay pride store that had been a mainstay in our city, first opening in 1989 as a leather and fetish supplier, and later changing ownership a couple of times and morphing into a place that had something for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. I was shocked and saddened to learn that it had closed in August with the death of the current owner. So instead I recommended a couple of novelty stores to my friend, hoping he’d be able to track one down.

“AS THE EVENTS UNFOLDED, IT BECAME APPARENT THAT THERE WAS NOWHERE, LOCALLY, TO GET A PRIDE FLAG BECAUSE EVERY PLACE HAD SOLD OUT!”

As the events had unfolded, it became apparent that there was nowhere, locally, to get a pride flag because every place had sold out! A fellow neighbor had ordered 120 more flags, and she was formulating a plan to get these out to people and acquire more, flooding the area with rainbows.

On Friday evening, another friend in the neighborhood had texted me to see whether my spouse and I were going to the rally in the morning (I feel fortunate that I have so many friends who are in the loop, because there are times when I am totally living under a rock!). I said, “Yes,” as if I knew all about it (ha ha), and we made a plan to go together.

And so, my spouse and friends (a queer couple with a 10 year-old son) and I walked over to a nearby park Saturday morning, carrying signs and wearing fun outfits. As we approached, I felt a wave of emotion, moved by the size of the gathering, the amount of rainbows flying in the air, and the openness of everyone there.

A community comes together and holds an impromptu rally after two LGBTQ+ flags were burned in their neighborhood in an apparent hate crime.

Mary Moore, the organizer and the neighbor that ordered the flags, stood up on a table to announce the intentions of this rally: to hand out more flags for community members to show solidarity, and to show LGBTQ+ members in this neighborhood how much support is out there. Mission accomplished, by leaps and bounds! There were so many allies and families, along with people who identify as LGBTQ+. I walked around the outskirts of the crowd, taking photos and scoping out all that was happening. There was a station for people to make rainbows out of ribbons, as well as a spot to make construction-paper rainbows. Someone was doing face painting, and there was also a place to sign up to order a flag, because the 120 that Mary had ordered for the rally had sold out in 9 minutes!

The director of the local gay alliance also stopped by, got up on the table, and delivered a similar message of hope and love. I started to feel more comfortable, and moving into the crowd and approaching people with signs, asking whether I could take their photograph. I saw a couple of acquaintances, and where I would normally be too shy to strike up a conversation, in this environment, I went right up to them to say hey and chat for a while. My spouse and friends also connected with neighbors we know, as well as meeting a few new people.

I posted a photo album of the event on Facebook and watched my social network do its work, spider-webbing outwards from friends I had tagged, to friends of friends and beyond. I also messaged Mary, the organizer, to thank her and to ask her a couple of questions.

“…I LEARNED THAT SHE HAS BEEN AN ALLY AND SUPPORTER OF LGBTQ+ RIGHTS FOR A LONG TIME.”

We talked on the phone for a bit this morning, and I learned that she has been an ally and supporter of LGBTQ+ rights for a long time, even doing advocacy work in Washington DC. She said that for the past 8 years though, she could ease up because there was someone in the White House who was pushing for the same things; she could focus on her career, working as a lawyer in private practice, and on her family.

She first heard about the 2 flag burning incidents from a friend, while picking her kids up from daycare. Her husband had heard about it through the website, nextdoor.com, which acts as a community bulletin board and a way to connect with others nearby. I just joined, myself, to see what it’s all about (and to try not living under a rock quite so much). Sure enough, 5 days ago, there was a post from one of the victims of the hate crime, stating, “I hang a rainbow flag on my front porch and someone burned it down. Thankfully my house didn’t catch fire. The [police are] currently investigating; please keep an eye out for suspicious behavior in the area.”

And then, as a response, Mary Moore created the event, “Let’s Gather to Support Our Community.” She wrote:

In response to the burning of two rainbow flags in [our] area, let’s stand together and show that our community is tolerant and welcoming, regardless of who you love, where you worship, where you were born, your political affiliation, the color of your skin, or how much money you have. Many people in [our] neighborhood have been buying rainbow flags to put out in solidarity and to give to friends. … Would people be interested in organizing a central meeting place this weekend or next to give out flags and just to stand with our community in solidarity? … Please comment below if you would be interested in a gathering like this, if you have or can buy flags to distribute, and/or if you can assist with finding a location for this gathering. If there is interest, then we can set up a formal event on here.

I know that this is just one of many issues and injustices within our communities and that we are all so very busy, but we have to start somewhere and do what we can with what we’ve got every day. Let’s not be bullied or let our neighbors be bullied.

A community comes together and holds an impromptu rally after two LGBTQ+ flags were burned in their neighborhood in an apparent hate crime.

It all came together from there. I want to personally thank Mary Moore for showing my friends, my spouse, me, and everyone else who could be there for how much we are supported by our neighbors!

Regarding our rainbow flag status: We don’t have one, but when we moved into our house ten years ago, we dubbed it the “Rainbow Ranch” (it’s really a Colonial), and I spray painted a rainbow on our garage door. I sure as hell hope that never gets burned down – we just put a new roof on it a couple years ago!


Three years worth of writing

Three years ago today, I made my first post on this blog.  It was this:
low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life.

At that point, I was feeling very unsure of myself.  It was more like, “low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life???”  Being able to do that was of utmost importance; it was something I was strongly identifying with.  But, if too many physical changes were happening and I didn’t like it, I felt like that meant I failed.  I hadn’t heard of anyone else trying to maintain an inbetween-ness through hormones before.  The only resource online I could find at the time was this series, through the Original Plumbing blog:
I Was a Teenage Unicorn

I had also met Micah at the Philly Trans-Health Conference.  His blog was a goldmine of information.

I decided to start my own blog, to add to the conversation.  And I really could not have fathomed how much it would help me connect with others and gain confidence in my choices.  Thanks for connecting with me, everyone!!!  There’s really nothing like it, at least for me, as someone who expresses myself easiest through writing and likes to read what is going on in other people’s heads.

Three years later, I already haven’t been on low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life, but that’s no big deal in the larger picture, I can now see.  I had been off of it for about 6 months.  Actually, as of 5 days ago, I am back on it, on a day-by-day basis, just because I feel like it.

So, to celebrate 3 years, I thought I’d pick out a few posts, and then also talk about some future writing goals.

According to my stats, my top 5 most visited posts are these:
28 risks of chest binding – I wrote this recently.  And then I posted links to it on a couple of facebook groups (first time I’ve really done that), and it kinda took off.  This is probably the closest I’ve gotten to “going viral,”  haha.  It has 3 times as many views as my next popular post, which is:
Can hormones change my sexual orientation? – I wrote this early on, and I’m glad it continues to get a lot of traffic on a steady basis.  A lot of people are curious about if and how hormones could maybe shift sexual orientation.
Bathroom anxieties:  a genderqueer janitor’s perspective – I also wrote this early on, and I think that if I were to write it over again, there would be lots of edits.  But I’m leaving it as is, for now.  It’s a document of a time, I guess.
One year on testosterone without physical changes – This got a lot of traffic because it got a boost from Micah.  I asked him if he’d share it on his social media outlets.  Thanks, Micah!
A story about what it feels like to be bigender – I’m also really glad this gets a lot of traffic because I worked pretty hard on it, and I think it’s really illuminating and informative.  I don’t identify as bigender, but a lot of people are curious about what it means to be bigender.

Two posts that I’m considering deleting, because they pop up in people’s searches too much and are probably off-topic:
Ruling with elf wisdom – People want to know what it means to “rule with elf wisdom,” and this post isn’t going to tell them anything about that.  It’s actually about a name I was considering going by, which means “ruling with elf wisdom.”  But then I nixed that name.  So it’s not even relevant any longer…
Office work and trans-YA fiction – People search for “office work” pretty frequently, but I’m not sure why!  And this is barely about that – it’s about how I volunteered in the office at my local gay alliance for a while, but it’s more about some YA books I was reading while sitting there, bored, in the office.

Other than that, most of my search results have seemed relevant, which is good!  A lot of questions about taking testosterone while on other psychotropic drugs, about being trans and using the bathroom, about different terms under the “genderqueer” umbrella…  It seems that just as many searches are about janitors as they are about being trans.  I guess I feel kind of weird about that because even though being a janitor is a big part of my identity and a  semi-big part of this blog, I don’t feel like I’m representational of janitors in general, for when people are searching for info about janitors…  Oh well.

Here are some of the more bizarre search terms that have led people to my blog:
“commercial work schedule disorder” – I once wrote about shift-work disorder, so that’s probably where they landed.
“literotica drag king” – I like that word!  I’m going to start using it!
“MTF tree house transgender” – Once my spouse and I stayed in a tree house while on vacation.  And I mentioned that.  Haha.
“images of scrap books to be made for bf” –  Not sure.  I’ve never mentioned a scrap book or a boyfriend.
“are janitors off on snow days at school” –  YES THEY ARE!  PAID DAY OFF!
“why would another male janitor pee all over your bathroom” – Damn, I do not know dude.
“queer mullet” – I am queer and I do have a mullet.  More information about this can be found here:  Queer/Trans- visiblity:  (flannel + mullet).

For the future, I would like to continue to take academic papers and studies, and distill them into something that is relate-able.  That’s probably my favorite thing to work on.  If anyone knows of any, let me know!  I’ll continue to document my life too, of course.

Stay tuned…


Getting to know each other #5

Thank you to Austin (T Minus Zero) for choosing me for the chain style Liebster Award.  The way it works is, if you’re chosen, you then choose a bunch of other blogs you like, and it branches out from there.  I imagine the pattern of these awards swirling, dead-ending, and splintering/multiplying, over time, forever and ever.  It’s a great opportunity to find out about other blogs and connect with one another.

I have a tendency to not follow the rules completely, but if I choose your blog and you would like to follow rules, here they are:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.

3. Nominate bloggers who you think are deserving of the award but also help promote newer bloggers with less followers.

4. Tell the bloggers you nominated them, in a comment on their blog.

5. Give them 11 questions of your own.

I’m going to do a conglomeration of questions that were posed, on a couple of blogs.  If I choose your blog, you can answer these same questions, and/or come up with your own:

  1. What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?  “I’m going to sleep longer.”  Then, woke up again, and again, “I’m going to sleep longer.”  Over and over again.  I slept 11 hours.  Like usual.
  2. Why did you start this blog?  To connect with other people, to have a record of a time in my life.
  3. Boxers or briefs?  Boxer-briefs.
  4. What’s your favorite Prince song?  Uptown.  I usually don’t think too much about lyrics, but I love these:
    Baby didn’t say too much
    She said, “Are you gay?”
    Kinda took me by surprise, I didn’t know what to do
    I just looked her in her eyes and I said, “no, are you?”
    Said to myself, said
    “She’s just a crazy, crazy, crazy little mixed up dame
    She’s just a victim of society and all its games”
    Now where I come from
    We don’t let society tell us how it’s supposed to be
    Our clothes, our hair, we don’t care
    It’s all about being there
    FYI:  Stevie Wonder’s favorite Prince song?  – Darling Nikki
  5. What makes you smile?
    Finding something that I really like for a really good deal, and then buying lots of it, so I have some in reserves.
  6. What important values do you live by?
    Everything in moderation, avoid debt, help others when you have energy and it feels good (otherwise don’t worry about it), try to leave a record of things that are important, connecting with people is one of the most worthwhile things to put energy into (even if it’s often hard), just do your thing.
  7. Who do you credit with instilling those values?
    My spouse, my mom, my buddy, my therapist, Hugh Cornwell.
  8. What goals do you have for the rest of 2016?
    Get through top surgery, get some much needed electrical work done on our house, take a couple of summer trips, go camping in the fall, start using intro and outro music on my radio show.Now check out these awesome blogs!Dear Cis People

    Gender:  Awesome

    Letters for Les

    Life Writ Large

    AFRIcTRANs

    Single White She Male

    transnewlife

    Becoming Vincent

    Josephine the Singer

    Let’s keep this snowballing!


I was on a panel

I’m much more of a writer than a conversationalist – and definitely not a public speaker.  Tons of people have a fear of public speaking.  I don’t mind being in front of audiences, so at least I have that first hurdle out of the way.  I just have a fear that I won’t be able to talk naturally and coherently.  Despite this, I’ve had aspirations for a long time to verbally share my experiences, be on panels, join the speakers’ bureau, etc.  I’ve talked a few times in front of audiences, mostly as part of drag performances.  I’ve gotten around the talking thing by preparing statements ahead of time, reading out loud what I’ve written.

I’ve never seen someone on a panel read before, but I figured, I could do it!  Why not?  I had seen a message posted to a facebook group, from an acquaintance who works for Planned Parenthood.  She was organizing a half-day of training about trans-healthcare for the PP health center staff:  clinicians, nurses, health center managers and front desk staff.  It was going to include a 45 minute panel, and she was looking for trans-people to talk about their experiences with health services – both positive and negative.

I thought my recent consultations with surgeons for top surgery would illustrate a stark contrast, so I emailed her about it and included links to these two posts:

Top surgery consultation #1

Top surgery consultation #2

She wrote back saying it’d be great to have me, and I could certainly read out loud.  Over the weekend, I edited these so they’d work better spoken out loud, and I tried to cut them down shorter.  Because, dang, they seemed short when I wrote them, but it takes more time than you’d think to read things out loud!

I arrived at the venue Monday morning, and I wasn’t even that nervous!  I recognized one of the other people on the panel, which was cool.  The third person came in shortly after, and we introduced ourselves – her name is Leah.

I went first to get it out of the way; I introduced myself and then just launched into it.  I think, in retrospect, that I was talking too loudly (definitely not quite my natural speaking voice) but, that’s OK – better too loud than too quiet I guess.  The other two people went, and they both did an awesome job speaking off the cuff.  We answered a bunch of questions, and I was grateful that the person on the other side of me naturally answered first, giving me time to formulate something to say.  It all went really well – people had great questions!  (As an interesting aside, there were about 75 people in the audience, and it appeared to be made up of 1 man / 74 women.)

The organizer then presented us with gift bags and gift cards, which was awesome!  I feel like the norm is that panel participants are just volunteering, so that was awesome that we were compensated.  We lingered while the group wrapped up their training, ate some bagels and had some coffee, and then stuck around in case anyone had any further questions.  No one did, but we got lots of compliments and thanks, as people were leaving.

This was totally worthwhile and something I’d like to do more of.  I’m not sure how I will transition from reading things into actually becoming a speaker, but, well, it’s something to work on.

The next day, one of the bloggers that I’ve been following for a while, The Overflowing Closet, wrote this post (as part of the 30 day trans-challenge she’s doing:  Day 8 – “How do you deal with being misgendered in the beginning of transitioning by people?”  She started by saying, “Yesterday I gave a talk in front of 75 medical staff and personnel about my experiences being transgender and seeking medical help.  The crowd was filled with people who wanted to provide better services for trans people, and one of their biggest concerns was misgendering people.”

I suddenly realized that the Leah I had met the day before is the same Leah whose blog I’ve been reading!  Has this ever happened to you?  Where you’re reading a blog and then you meet someone and then you connect the dots in between?  Such a cool experience!  I contacted her to see if I could share this, and she said of course.

So hey, here’s to making something out of all this writing and online connecting with people!


Getting to know each other #4

Thank you to ftmfml and Topher Bigelow (Musings of a Life in Transience) for choosing me for the chain-style Very Inspiring Blog Award!  These community-driven awards are a great opportunity to find out about new blogs and connect with one another.  I’m going to spread the inspiration along by choosing some blogs I’ve been enjoying lately.

If I chose your blog and you want to participate, here are the “rules”

– Thank the blog writer(s) who nominated you
– List the rules
– Nominate other amazing blogs and leave a comment to them to let them know you nominated them.
– Share some fun facts about yourself

Here are some blogs – make sure to check them out!

Goodbye, Kansas
Gemini, Trans
Translucidity
drugssexpolitics
sexdrugsmh
Only Fragments
Valprehension
Demisexual and Proud
Becoming Me
Gender Drift

Hmm, some fun facts…
– Last week was my 2 year anniversary of writing this blog; that seems like a pretty big deal.
– I like all foods except for raw onions.  Even though I liked meat, I’ve been a vegetarian for over 10 years.
– Right now I’m reading a book called Struck by Genius.  It’s a memoir about a guy who was attacked and suffered a traumatic brain injury, and the ways in which he changed immediately afterward, both positive and negative.  He was suddenly able to understand mathematical concepts and theories; his vision changed in a way where he saw lines and geometric patterns emanating from everything.  He started to draw what he was seeing as a way to explain the math he was coming up with.  On the other hand, he developed pretty severe OCD and PTSD and, for years, he was agoraphobic.  OK, I guess I’m writing fun facts about him instead of about myself, but that’s alright!  I wonder if he has a blog…


What to ask, and what NOT to ask, a trans-person

A reader asked,

What are the do’s and don’t’s when asking a trans*person about their experience?
What are 2-3 questions (or as many as you like) that one should NOT be asking a transgender person?
What are 2-3 questions (or as many as you like) that one SHOULD be asking a transgender person?

This reader happens to be the marketing coordinator of Simmons College, the third US women’s college to accept students who identify as transgender.  She was wondering if I’d like to add to the conversation in the form of a blog post.  Sure!  So, officially:

I am participating in Trans*forming the Dialogue, Simmons College’s online MSW program‘s campaign to promote an educational conversation about the transgender community.  By participating in this campaign, I will be offering my perspective on what TO ask and what to NOT ask trans*people.

Transforming the Dialogue Logo

The first thing to think about:  it totally depends on how well you know the person!  So, let’s break it down:

If this is someone who is a stranger, and they just introduced themselves to you, saying their name back to them is a great way to start out affirming who they are.  Also asking, “What are your preferred pronouns,” is important so that you can address them to other people in the way they want/need.  This is a little tricky because we’re specifically talking about visibly trans-people here.  You could be meeting many trans-people throughout your life and not even know it!

Then, personally, I would steer the conversation away from trans-related topics, unless they bring it up.  Oftentimes, trans-people don’t want to talk about more personal aspects upon meeting someone new.  So any other great questions fall into the general getting-to-know-you category.  “What brings you here?”  Or, “How do you know so-and-so?”  Or, “How’s your day been so far?”

If you are talking to an acquaintance and want to get to know them better, instead of asking direct questions about their experience, you could share some of your own – what was your childhood like, what was puberty like?  Chances are your new acquaintance has a lot to say about growing up and will feel more comfortable sharing if you share first.  Do NOT ask, “do you feel like you are trapped in the wrong body?”  This is a trope perpetuated by the media that not all trans-people relate to.  It’s kind of a sensationalized way of putting it.  It is a sound bite.  Asking about their experience is a great way to get a better understanding about how broad and different “trans-narratives” really are.

If you are a friend / ally of a trans-person, there is a lot you can do and ask!  You can specifically ask, “What can I do to support you?”  It might mean correcting pronouns in the moment in social situations for your trans-friend.  (I know I have a hard time with this, and if someone does it for me, it feels affirming.)  It might mean exploring gender expressions together – maybe going out and trying on different clothes or trying out makeup together.  If you are a trusted friend, more personal questions to help you understand would probably be appropriate.  “What does gender dysphoria feel like?”  “How would you define your gender?”  “Where are you in your coming-out process?”  These questions can spark great conversations that let your trans-friend know you are engaged and interested and want to help if possible.

If you are in an intimate relationship with a trans-person, asking a lot of questions is essential!  Transition related decisions will affect both of you, emotionally, financially, and energy-wise.  It’s important not to press for a timeline or throw in your two cents about what your partner should be doing.  You will need to adjust to the natural pace (it is a long process) and understand that there is going to be a lot of uncertainty.  “What can I do to support you?” works well, but your partner might not really know in the moment.  There will probably be times when gender dysphoria and frustrations are acute – during those times, just being physically present and not asking any questions might be best.  In the bedroom, asking what is OK is a must.  The way trans-people feel about their bodies and about sex can be wildly in flux and change from day to day.  Asking, “Is this OK?” or “what if I did this?” or “What feels good right now?” is going to be better than phrasing things in the negative, such as, “What is off limits right now?” or “Where can I touch you?”  These kinds of questions might lead to shut-down mode.

Questions that are never appropriate are, “Have you had any surgeries yet?”  “What are you going to do about your beard?”  “Do you think you will be able to pass?”  Or anything else related to their bodies and their appearance.  This is personal and could be triggering.  Not all trans-people have the same goals or timeline.  Also, some people are non-binary, and their transition goals might look very different.

If you don’t know the trans-person very well yet, and you are not sure what is OK and what is not OK to ask, just use this rule of thumb:  Is this something you would ask a cisgender person?  Other than the preferred pronouns question (important question you might not ask a cisgender person) this will get you far in a social situation.


Getting to know each other #3 / Year end

Thank you PlainT (Queering the Nerd) for choosing me for the chain-style Very Inspiring Blog Award!

I’m going to move it along by selecting a bunch of blogs I’ve been enjoying lately.  If I chose your blog, and you’d like to make a post following all the rules of the award, they can be found in PlainT’s post, here:
The rules of this award are…

Then I’m going to write a few facts about myself, sort of in the vein of a year end summary.  I made a similar post last year; it is here:
This year felt different… in a good way

These community-driven awards are super important because it’s a chance for blog writers to connect with different blogs they might not know about yet.  I enjoy seeking out new blogs regularly, and I find myself feeling invested in the lives of other blog writers.  Sometimes I get bummed when a blog starts off really strong and then disappears!  Here’s to the coming year, and strengthening this online community through mutual support and inspired blog writing!

A few blogs to check out (some are mainstays, some are more sporadically written than others, some are brand new)!

John’s Thoughts
Changing Faces
Tea With Ess
Gender Drift
Casbalog
Queer Asterisk
Tangled Web
ftmfml
Dawn to Don
Musical Transparent
A Yellow Crayon
2 Women to 2 Men

Next up, here are some things about me / some things I did and felt this year:

– Overall, it was a pretty rough year for me.  I continued to settle into a new and improved place with hormone therapy and talk therapy, but I’m finding I still have a LONG way to go until I really am where I see myself.  I want to be out as non-binary in all areas of my life.  I want to go by a different name.  I want all the people who know me to use male pronouns in reference to me, not just most of the people…  I might want top surgery…

– I felt a growing closeness with my partner, newer levels of comfort and ease, which is great.  At the same time, she kinda had to put up with a lot from me.  Lots of bouts of crying.  Lots of insecurity-fueled jags.  I had a rough summer.  And fall.  And just in general, lately…

– We celebrated our having-gotten-married (this occurred in November 2013) over the summer with friends and family!

– We went on some fun trips.  To Massachusetts and Maine, to Toronto, To Philadelphia for the Philly Trans-Health Conference.

– We attended a foraging workshop with some friends, which was totally fun!  We learned about edible plants you can find in our region, and how to prepare them into meal-like food items, over an open fire in the middle of the woods.  We did that – everyone helped cook this food we’d found, and then we all ate it!

– Outdoors times were probably some of my favorite times this year.  Just going for a hike or going to a lake.  My partner and I got snowshoes recently, so we can keep getting out there, even throughout the winter.

– My pet rabbit passed away, and my co-worker retired.  These have both felt like HUGE losses.  Work has been tough and more drama-ful than need be, lately.

– I worked on 3 submissions for anthologies this year!  One is already published, and two have been accepted and are in the works, the editing stages…  This feels AWESOME!

– I got involved in a local group that is putting a new radio station out into the airwaves.  Currently I’m helping out a lot with their facebook page, and within the coming year, I will be a weekly radio DJ!

That was, more or less, what 2014 looked like for me.


Getting to know each other #2

A couple of chain-style blogging awards are currently circulating, and I’m gonna go ahead and take part!  Thank you to Something Queer To Read, Tangled Web, and Because I’m Fabulous for including me!  These community driven awards are super important because they help us connect to more blogs we might not yet know about, and they allow blog writers to step outside of their usual modes and share a little bit more about themselves.

So, adapted “rules” for the Lovely / Very Inspiring Blog award:

– Link to and thank the blog writer(s) who included you.

– Write a few facts about yourself.  Maybe 4, maybe 7, maybe 10…

– Move things forward by including a few blog writers you really enjoy.  Anywhere from 5 to 15.

– Make sure you let these blog writers know!

This time around, I’m going to point to (in no real order):
A Feminist Challenging Transphobia
butchcountry67
The Brighter Side of the Moon
Valprehension
Today I Am A Man
Captain Glitter Toes
Create Parity
Genderweird
Transcending Chaya

And finally, a couple of things you might not have known about me:

– I live 5 miles away from my parents.  I live 5,000 miles away from my brother.

– I love beverages of all different kinds:  especially coffee, tea, beer, fancy sodas, kombucha.  I like trying new types!  (I really should remember to drink more water.)

– When I was 17, I spent 3 weeks in a psychiatric hospital.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, and although I don’t highlight it often in my writing, this episode greatly shaped where I’m coming from and how I write about my experiences.

– I’ve been a vegetarian for about 12 years.  There was a brief foray into eating fish somewhere at the midway point.  That didn’t last long.  It felt weird.  From time to time, I think about re-introducing fish into my diet, but I just can’t seem to do it.

Until next time (Getting to know each other #3)…