I Must Be Doing Something Right

I am in my Woman Rivetingwork truck, at the bank, holding a check which bears a feminine name (my spouse’s) and an androgynous name (mine). Well, not my work truck, but my boss’s truck, and it is even way worse than my truck, except that some of the equipment in it works better, sometimes. Diesel and chemicals leak out through the holes through which I can see the macadam below. Soot blankets the inside of the cab, because the chimney in the back of the truck is clogged. Yes, there is a chimney in the back of my truck. I mean my boss’s truck.

I couldn’t be any less of a girl as I insert the payment stub and check into the pneumatic canister. My hair is cropped short. I smell like the diesel, bleach, and sulfuric acid which saturate my worn out Dickies work clothes and wet boots. Probably I have grease smudges on my face from crawling around inside the diesel engine in the back of my truck making repairs, before giving up and calling for a new truck. The “girls” are tucked safely into a tight sports bra. I have no feminine accoutrements to rely on.

As the can whizzes through the tube, I think, that is all right. I learned from my mother (I know that I was hard on her last week) that the measure of a woman is not in whether she has a “woman’s” job, follows orders from a man, has on heels or jewelry, wears make-up or feminine clothing, or goes to the hair dresser (my mother has always gone to the barber). These lessons have stuck with me. I am no less woman because I don’t submit to most of the “rules” of what women are supposed to be. As a transgender female, that makes it even tougher on me. Fortunately, I also inherited stubbornness from my mother.

But still, I am pleasantly surprised when the cashier looks at the names on the check, and calls me by the feminine name (my spouses). Some chatter ensues. She calls me “Ms. D.” She makes an attempt at selling me a new checking account. She calls me by my spouse’s name again, and I drive off with a big smile on my face.

Chalk up a big point for the cashier, and for the bank. And knock off one big chunk of insecurity that I sometimes feel about how people see me.

(the image is Rosie the Riveter, library of congress, 1943, significantly altered by me)

Every Time I Come Out, It Comes Out Different

So, my regular post is still coming on Friday.  This one is just for fun.

A year or so after I started on hormones, I started a transition note-book, and kept a list where I would write down the ways in which I would come out to people.  The list spans lots of years, and are not in any particular order.  I think that I will soon turn these into a song.

  • I haven’t been male for a long time.
  • I have been on estrogen for a couple of years.
  • I’m not male any more.
  • I never identified as male.
  • I never expected that I would become male as I grew up.
  • I always believed that I would grow up to be a girl.
  • I am female now.
  • I am having surgery soon.
  • I had surgery last year.
  • I have been on estrogen for many years.
  • I am transsexual.
  • I am transgender.
  • Mom, I’m not male.
  • By the time that I met H., I knew this was first date stuff.
  • When I started to get muscles, I became extremely distressed.  That is when I knew it was time to find a doctor.
  • Dogs think that I am a girl.
  • My body chemistry is a females.
  • I had the last of my male parts removed last week.
  • H. as always accepted me as a girl from the time that we met, 22 years ago.
  • I am a woman now.
  • Not Mr.,  Ms.
  • That’s ma’am.
  • I will be starting my next job as female.
  • Dr. K. saw about 25 other patients who are trans.
  • I had surgery years ago, the year we moved into this house.
  • I stopped seeing the CIA spying outside my window, after I started on estrogen.  (this is true … estrogen had a very positive mental effect on me)

You might notice that I like to be obliquely blunt.  Of course, my actual gender identity is way more complicated than these one-liners indicate.  I am confidently yet not stereotypically female.  I am trans.  Depending on many factors, people usually peg me as either butchy woman or gay guy.  I am not Mr., Sir, he, or him.  More about all of that in later posts.

The Purpose of this Blog.

Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out.

Each time that I engage in conversations with others on the trans* spectrum, I think: I have something to say on this topic. I should be blogging about this. Blogging about what it is to live in the world as transgender, as neither male nor female, as both male and female, as non-binary. Writing about medical transition, hormones and doctors. Scribbling about threats of aggression and violence in public, the experience of having ones gender correctly or incorrectly read, acceptance from others, complications of relationships, gender stereotypes, and of the power of clothing. Talking of being a survivor of sexual violence. Speaking of feminism. Writing of the commonalities and non-commonalities of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender experiences. Complaining about public restrooms. Writing about existing as visibly “other”.

I will not be afraid to ask big questions like: how does the experience of being transgender speak to the universal experience of all humans, and of all sentient beings? What parts of the human experience are amplified by being transgender? What does it mean to be other, to be othered, to be in between?

I will be neither moping and griping, nor bragging and whooping about my experiences. I will try to illustrate myself at my weakest, and at my most vulnerable. I will attempt to be honest, and to not be a poser.

Obstacles to Legal Transition

The thirty odd years of my adult life have mostly been financially comfortable: when I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have much to lose. As time has gone on, there is more to lose: a dream house restored by our own hands, remarkable furniture scrounged from junk shops for the last twenty years, pets, good credit, a financially secure future. The last year of my life brought threats to all of this. My spouse of twenty-two years has been sick and out of work for a year. The dog just dislocated his hip. We have many thousands of dollars of medical, dental, and veterinary bills.

This change in position in life has made me re-consider the way that I have viewed the obstacles to medical, social, and legal transition which have been put in place by governmental agencies. I mean requisites such as counseling requirements for hormone therapy, therapy requirements for surgery, surgery requirements for legal changes.

My former point of view was that there is nothing wrong with these requirements. It takes effort to overcome the roadblocks. That effort prevents those who are not truly committed from just doing this on a whim. For me, having jumped through all the hoops validates my identity. Look, I really am who I am, because I have done all of these difficult things to prove it.

Now my view has changed. When I began my medical transition, the money I spent on counseling was dear to our budget, yet it did not put us in any actual financial risk. Later, it was the same for electrolysis, and for surgery. As it is, I have been lax for the last few years. I have the paperwork for changing my name, and my birth certificate marker, but haven’t gotten around to doing it. It would be highly irresponsible of me to spend even a few hundred dollars on this right now. If I were to be beginning transition now, all of those things would be out of reach. More to the point, with requirements for legal changes in place, it would be absolutely impossible for me to get official identification which reflects my gender identity.

So, what major goal do these requirements achieve? They keep poor people from acquiring the paperwork that they need so that they don’t get harassed or denied when they interact with government officials, seek governmental aid, apply for school, apply for jobs, visit the hospital, get pulled over in a roadblock, or a million other transactions.

For myself, push come to shove, I can fix my paperwork when I need to. I know how to stand up for myself. My spouse stands up for me too. I know my rights, and I have access to people who will help me. But lots of other people don’t have those luxuries. So long as such steep obstacles to legal transition remain in place, those people are easy targets for being victimized because of their gender identity.

Hospital Passes a Surprise Exam!

My local hospital just passed a secret surprise exam. “Secret” because they did not know they were being tested. “Surprise” because you never know when you or a family member will be in the hospital. You see, I have had bad experiences with this hospital in the past. My body mocked by technicians performing a diagnostic test. My person denied treatment by more than one physician. But still, whenever I have a new interaction with this institution, I say, I will give them another chance to show that their staff has learned to act professionally and humanely towards gender variant persons.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when my spouse was admitted to the emergency room. She ended up being admitted for a week. The staff had many opportunities to fail. Would I be hassled by security at the emergency department metal detector because they are not able to identify my gender? Would staff members revert to calling me her husband? Would I be denied admission because I am her wife? Would they, in short, make this about me when she is the one lying there ill?

I visited my spouse morning and night. The biggest challenge was early in the morning, when I stopped at the hospital before work each day. Only one door to the hospital is open at that hour. An older gentlemen is the security guard. I said, I am here to see my spouse in room such and such. He looked me up and down a second, then rang up the floor and said, there is a spouse for room such and such. Then I was in. No hassle. No papers. Each day was the same, with several different guards. Some days, I was the wife for room such and such. Still no hassle from the guard.

Two things are going on here. One is progress on the part of the hospital and its staff. I should not be so surprised, as many parts of our culture have progressed. But I am surprised, first because of my poor experiences with this institution in the past, and second because of the dread of having to deal with this stuff when my partner is sick. We have been together 22 years. She is sick, and I am worried.

The second thing going on here is progress on my own part. I am many years onto medical and social transition. I am not male in any sense. I identify as female. But, my stubbornness about gender norms has always held me back. I am a feminist first. I am no less female because I don’t submit to all of societies gender rules about being female. The progress, for me personally, is that I can confidently exist in the world as female without trying at all, and without bending to the rules that are to me, tiresome.

My spouse is mostly better now.

Into the Nitty Gritty of a Male of Transgender Experience

 “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”

Gender Diversity at WSU Vancouver

Promoting awareness of gender diversity at WSU Vancouver

The Painted Pear

email: rebeccacaryanderson@gmail.com

non-binary bound

a journey of top surgery for a non-binary body

The Recompiler

a magazine about building better technology, together

recess | city

move toward what moves you.

the ghosts journey

A transparent look in to the (no longer) closeted life of a transgender woman

emilygritz

singing the zyx's until it is natural and accidentally eating the stickers on apples.

letters for les

A genderqueer scamp's letters to the transgender warrior

moon child.

creative blog / fiction and journalism / sophie mcnaughton.