Tuesday, March 13, 2007

another call for submissions

Perhaps you're stealthily reading this blog, and might be interested in writing something for this? Saw it online, thought I'd pass it along.

***Call for Submissions- Post Transition Anthology***

Seeking essays from post-transition, binary-identified men with transsexual histories. “Post-transition,” for the purposes of this publication, refers only to social status, whether achieved with or without medical intervention, and regardless of the degree of intervention sought. This includes men who are consistently perceived as male, who live and work as men, and who identify or might be identified as “stealth;” essays from binary-identified but unable to transition men considered.

Essays should be about being a man post-transition; can be exclusively related to transsexual history, entirely about the experience of being a man, or anything in between. Topics might include but aren’t limited to: becoming a man; relationships/ family; fatherhood; disclosure; invisibility.

Many of us shed transsexualism as an identity or never adopted it at all. Because a component of the stealth experience is not being vocal about one’s history and experience, the voices of stealth men are rarely, if ever, heard. This collection intends to assemble essays about what it means to be a stealth transsexual man, but more than that to put together essays about what it means to be a man, from the unique perspective of folks who were identified female at birth and, in most cases, raised female.

Pseudonyms may be used for publication.

PUBLISHER: This will probably go first to a vanity press, and then be shopped to mainstream presses. If it’s not picked up, it will be published online.

DEADLINE: August 1, 2007

LENGTH: 1,000 - 3,000 words

FORMAT: Essays must be typed and double-spaced. Please include contact information; if I can’t get in touch with you, your essay will not be included.

SUBMITTING: Electronic submissions only, please. Send essay electronically as a Word file (with .doc extension) to posttransanthology@gmail.com. Include the word "anthology" in the subject line.

PAYMENT: For the time being, payment is likely limited to the warm feeling of accomplishment you’ll have. Subject to change pending publication details.

REPLY: Please allow until November 1 for a response.

Doctor! Mr. MD!

just kidding- this is a post I wrote back in middle of Feb, but never finished/posted. now I've got updates, so I guess I'll just tack those on at the end. it'll be like a time capsule with bonus timewarp to the present at the end!
My last shot, nearly a week ago, was in my right thigh again and this time...drumroll, please...there was no excruciating cramping! I can only assume that it was a matter of my quadricep getting used to the every-other-weekly ritual of suddenly trying to accomodate an injection of 1ml of thickly viscous fluid. There was still some lingering soreness, but nothing unusual, and nothing to make me flinch, limp, or wince, as with my three previous right leg shot experiences. This is very good news, because it bodes well for my future of self-injecting, an undertaking that I could begin in April once my 1 year T-versary rolls around. Plenty of folks self inject in the butt, but I think it'll be a little easier for me to do it in my leg, because I'll be able to sit down, and clearly see what I'm doing.

I hope that self-injecting won't be too difficult. I watch the nurse very closely when she injects me, and I've been trying to visualize holding the syringe myself, imagining what it will take to keep myself calm and matter of fact while I puncture my own skin. I'm pretty sure that it'll be a little tricky for the first time or two, and then get much easier. I actually recently started wearing contacts for the first time, and it's been a damn challenge getting those things in and out of my eyes. I'm just not used to touching my own eyeball, y'know? It's getting better, though, since I realized that it's entirely easier if I can calm down, stop flinching, and just...do it. Which I think will be applicable in this shot process. If I can bypass the part of my brain that's going "Putting a NEEDLE into your OWN LEG are you CRIZAZY?" and just try to be methodical about it, I think it'll be much easier.

I've been reading a bit about guys who give themselves subcuetaneous injections as opposed to intramuscular, which are supposedly quite a bit easier/less painful, but as per usual, there's not a lot of research or information about the effectiveness and safety of the method. Likewise for subcutaneous, long-lasting pellets that are implanted under the skin in order to slowly release a constant dose over three months. Sounds super convenient, but does it work? What are the drawbacks? Nobody knows...

Bit of the scary part about physically transitioning. Plenty of this is still fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants; there's not a lot of reliable, long term medical information out there. Much of the information that gets passed around the community is anecdotal, which is great, but not the same as documented medical fact.
And here we reach the end of my musings from the past. Now, though, I've got updates! My shot after that was in my left leg, which had never given me trouble before but all of a sudden was painful like the right leg used to be. Not sure what that was all about, but I guess it was just an unlucky poke.

I'm due for another shot tonight, and it's a semi-exciting one because I've gotten the go-ahead from the HOTT staff to start self-injecting, despite being a few weeks shy of my official one year mark on April 10th. so tonight's the first of the three step learning process. She's going to give me the blow by blow and explain everything carefully, so that I can come back next week and do it by myself, with some assistance, and then the week after that I have to do it all by myself under supervision to make sure I'm doing it right- my final exam, if you will.

So now's the point where I have to decide whether or not to switch to 100mg/week from the 200mg/2 week schedule that I'm currently on. I'd been wondering if I was having mood swings because of the T, but some of that has ironed itself out lately since I've been trying to be more self aware and patient with myself. I can still hope that it might help my acne to go to a more frequent dosing schedule. so I think I'm going to try it...if only because it'll also get me through my 3 training wheels session at C-L faster, if I'm coming back every week to do my 100mg shot.

I'm glad to be taking more agency in my injection schedule, though it means I'll have to keep track of my own syringes and bottles, etc. I hope I can clear a space somewhere in my room to keep everything together in a neat little spot. The bathroom might make more sense, but the bathroom at my house is such a constant disaster area that I think it'd be better not to keep 'em there. Maybe I can keep it on the shelf where I keep my high quality whiskey and spices. THe top-shelf trio: Bulleit Bourbon, Penzeys Double Strength Vanilla, Depo-Testosterone.
oh, also, speaking of 'medical fact' as I did at the end of my february thoughts....I'm still thinking about that phrase. I think I stopped there because I didn't know quite what to say next, because it's such a strange little phrase. Medical fact is such an authoritative kind of information, but like any other kind of power, medical authority oughtn't be absolute nor unexamined. I had to have doctors and surgeons and social workers and psychiatrists approve me over the past year or so in order to accomplish much of what I've done. Why did I need to submit myself for evaluation? Who are they and who am I that our opinions about my own life and body are given such different weight?

That's the crux of the issue, I think- where is this authority coming from, and what kind of knowledge is underpinning these medical facts?

I do think it's important to have infrastructure and support for physical/medical transition. I do trust doctors...that's why there is such a thing as medical school, right? So that folks can learn and practice and train and earn the authority that they need in order to effectively practice as doctors. I want to be able to trust that doctors know best in medical situations. So what part of transsexuality is medical, and how is it medically understood?

Perhaps the understanding of the medical components of being trans* needs to shift, such that outdated/limited thinking isn't the basis for this training and knowledge. If folks learn in medical school that being a real transsexual means decrying one's own anatomy since toddlerhood, well, then naturally that's going to be the model through which all of these other opinions interact.

I think I'm going to write my midterm paper on the authority that's vested in medical terminology, and how it interplays with the labels and identifying words that are claimed by the individuals who are delineated by those terms. How did "sex change" become "transition" and where does it need to go from here?

Maybe I'll dedicate it to the last gynecologist I went to, who told me as I was leaving "Good luck with your sex change!"

Monday, March 05, 2007

no news is good news

Ah, the continual frustration with transphobia cropping up all over the news. First there's the case of the city manager from Florida who's been fired because she came out as trans. As my friend Sharon McGowan at the ACLU once said (or something very similar), any time you're willing to employ someone as a man but not as a woman- someone with the exact same qualifications and performance- that's sex discrimination. A city official in this case said they don't think the "[she] has the integrity...to continue as the city manager."

What's YOUR definition of integrity, buster? Because to me, someone who's decided to be honest about their identity and life plans, while going about those plans in a thoughtful, responsible manner, smacks of nothing BUT integrity.

So that's our bads news, reported by a gay paper in a pretty respectful way. Now let's move on to our good news, reported by the New York post in a disrespectful, blatantly transphobic way. Jack over at AngryBrownButch has a good post and call to action on the issue (with a new follow up post from today), so go check that out for the whole scoop, but basically, the story is:

Our heroine, a young transwoman, is a ward of the state; thus it is the responsibility of New York City to provide medical care for her. They refuse to pay for her transition, she sues them. At long last, a sensible judge in Manhattan Family Court ruled in her favor, saying that the City is obligated to pay for her sexual reassignment surgery. Hooray! The New York Post, bastion of ignorance and sensationalism, runs a piece (I can't bring myself to call it an article) entitled "Free To Be He-She" that is so disrespectful I could spit. Booooo.

For Pete's sake, can you at least pretend to be a newspaper? The damned AP Stylebook has guidelines on the matter.

And while we're on the subject, once we've gotten past those little basics of, oh I don't know, not calling people by the wrong name or pronoun, maybe we can make a motion to strike the words "sex change operation" from the lexicon.

"Sex change" is problematic enough, but it works for some people, and it's descriptive, I suppose, so I'm not totally ready to get all up in arms about it. Yet.

But operation? It's a word that gets thrown around all the time regarding trans folks, and it drives me up a wall. Every time I hear it, or read it, I feel like this guy does when someone lets the tweezers touch the little metal edges of his body cavities, like a buzzer startling in its harshness has been sounded. It's too much to hope for, undoubtedly, but I do wish I never hear anyone ask me about my "operation" ever again. I mean, really. Does anyone use the word "operation" anymore except to pathologize trans folks?

If someone busts up their knee, do you ask them how their 'operation' went? Probably not, because it's an outdated term that evokes scary/sketchy lab coated mad scientist type medical prodedures. Using it to refer to trans folks and our transitions is just another way to dehumanize and sensationalize the process...not to mention group together under one vague, outdated term a whole array of options available to people who want to pursue medical transition. No transition looks exactly the same as anyone else's, and it's not some thoughtless presto-sex-chango endeavor. It's intensely personal, and private, and doesn't need to be discussed with such prurient terminology.

I am I, Sir Eli

At karaoke last week, I got a compliment from one of the other regulars, Orlando. He's there every week, usually in a tie or a nice sweater, with his carefully coiffed 3 day beard, and always singing "This Love" by Maroon 5 or "My Humps" with Miss Jackie or both. He's super friendly, and sweet, and I just like him to pieces. Thursday I guess he was a little drunker than usual, because he sang something different...Man of La Mancha, which I just loved. Usually I get a little impatient with the Broadway Boys who come into karaoke and try to show off their coulda-been-a-contender/headliner chops with Suddenly Seymour or what have you. But I happen to just love "Man of La Mancha"- it's such a roaring, uplifting song, and it was on this CD that I was briefly obsessed with late middle school- "My Favorite Broadway: the Leading Ladies." Anyway, awesome song, Orlando did quite a credible job with it, and when he got off the stage I high-fived him, which he graciously accepted, before leaning in to close (and somewhat beery) range.

"Eli! I really don't want to be offensive, but can I just tell you something?"

Oh, shit. I really hate it when people preface statements with some variation on "No offense, but..." because invariably they're going to immediately follow it with something extremely offensive. Everytime I hear such words, it makes me tighten my stomach like Houdini getting ready for a punch. Still, I like Orlando a lot, and he's never been anything but sweet, and I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, so I said "Of course! What's up?"

"You look so damn good these days! Seriously!"

I started laughing a little at this point, and he leaned in even closer to give me a hug, repeating "Seriously! I mean it! You're so cute! If I saw you in a bar somewhere, I would be all over you, I would rip you a new one!" He pulled back from our hug, and, misinterpreting the look on my face, backtracks a little "Or maybe you'd rip me one, eh? Eh??"

At that point, all I could do was laugh a little more and tell him to stop making me blush.

A sweet compliment from a sweet guy, and I can take it almost 100% unproblematically. The tiny bit of hesitation comes from the slight backhanded nature of the compliment, which Orlando could clearly feel, too, else he wouldn't have prefaced such a nice thing to say with a preemptive apology. Non-trans folks complimenting trans folks on how "good" we look often carries a flavor of patronizing approval that doesn't sit entirely well with me. It's kind of like saying "aww, good for you, you look just like a real boy now!" as opposed to, say, the 'fake' boy that I used to look like?

I don't need someone to tell me how "real" I look at any given day, or whether or not I'm measuring up to their standards of maleness, thank you very much.

But that's not what Orlando said. What he said was, basically, 'You look hot!' and I am more than happy to lap that up like a kitty with cream. Sure, he thinks I look hot now where he didn't, say, a year ago, because now I've got a flat chest and scruffy little sideburns and a voice that's more Johnny Lang than kd lang. (ha! I wish! in either case!) But I don't think that there's much value judgement implicit in his compliment. He wasn't telling me that he respects my masculinity now where he didn't before- in fact, he's always been respectful, and has never messed up my pronoun, unlike Miss Jackie, who after months of a clean record has she'd me twice in the past two weeks, though both times, thankfully, off the microphone. Orlando was telling me that now I look like the kind of boy he finds hot, and that is something I don't really begrudge him.

I know that not everyone who "likes boys" likes every kind of boy. Plenty of people only like hairy guys or twinky guys or guys with big butts or guys with flat chests. I don't think it's so unreasonable for someone to say that they find me hot now and they didn't when I looked like a dyke, and vice versa- I don't expect folks who were attracted to me when I was a dyke to want to be with me now that I'm a guy. If they do, hot damn, more power to them. And I think it's a bit close minded to say "OMG I could never hook up with a...." fill in the blank with some sort of categorical preference: man, woman, trans person, what have you. I think life's generally more fluid than that, and you're possibly going to miss out on some hot action if you don't let yourself try something that's outside the realm of your experience or expectations.

So I just gotta say, thanks, Orlando. I'm real glad that you told me that you think I'm a hot guy now, because guess what? I think I'm a hot guy now! and I like it when people agree with me.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

stubble + introspection

Thinking a lot lately, but not writing. I don't particularly want to cast the self-fulfilling prophecy that testosterone makes me less communicative, but it's certainly something that I've noticed and am wrestling with. Important for me to remember and acknowledge that hormones rae powerful agents, and that mind/body don't have as strong a disconnect as I'd like to think. Throwing out the first thing that comes to mind when I ask myself what kind of cognitive/emotional effects testosterone has had on me, I'd say that it's an intensifier and a wall. A lot of my feelings are more intense and immediate- they appear quicker, they are harder to ignore, they demand more of my attention. I notice it mostly with feelings like frustration and irritation- things I've always felt, of course, but which feel harder to control now. At the same time, though things feel sharper and harder to sweep under some inner rug, it also feels hard to bring things forward, like I just can't find the opportunity or the words. Which ties into my other jumble of thoughts, which is that I'm finding it difficult lately to articulate myself and to concentrate on specific tasks. My attention span isn't what I'd like it to be, nor is my ability to articulate myself.

I wonder if part of it is something I've heard other transguys talk about, a feeling that has come as they move through transition, of pulling in, feeling private, shutting down. I think I'm less interested in exposing and analyzing my every idea and impulse and inclination. For a long time, I was looking ahead and planning, and wondering how to bring about some enormous changes. Then I was real busy actually bringing about those changes. Now...stting with these changes. Wondering if there are more coming- I feel less in control than I have for a while. I guess there's only so much time I can spend at the helm of my own puberty.
In other news, I've been growing out my facial hair, just for the hell of it. Shaving just my neck for the past week has left me with, honestly, a jawful of more (and more even) stubble than I was expecting, but it still looks juvenile to me. I like the feel of it scruffy against my fingertips when I'm idle, and I like the multitude of colors I can pick out- I think it's going to be a complex reddish blondish brown when it finally comes in. Not sure how long I'm going to leave it, or if I'm just going to cut it down to some sideburns soon- it's clear that I've got the strongest growth there. Here's a gratuitous picture.

A couple of funny moments lately with folks who have no idea of my trans experience. Going to a campout and being assigned accidentally into the female bunkhouse with Rochelle, it was an easy, laughable joke. The organizers quickly transfered us to the co-ed bunkhouse, and for the rest of the weekeend it was "Hey Eli, how's life in the girl's bunkhouse? Ha ha!" Funny how easy it is to joke aout something that would've been uncomfortable and painful if it'd happened a few months ago, when people regularly mistook me for a girl and there was often an uncertainty and an unease about my ambguity. I don't want the answer to be "and now nobody suspects that I'm of trans experience, so I can kick back and rest easy" both because it's not necessarily easy and also because I wish I'd had more allies then and I want to be an ally now. But being an ally doesn't have to mean being uncomfortable all the time, and it's damned good not to feel like that anymore.