Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The panel was fine! Mostly just each of us talking briefly about our identities, etc, and then some questions at the end. I talked (though not as articulately as I might've hoped to) about the difficulties I had obtaining my name change, and why it was particularly illustrative of two common frustrations for trans people. First, by trying to require me to provide "medical documentation" of my "sex change," the judge was holding me to a higher level of scrutiny than non-trans people, and directing that scrutiny in particular at my body, in an invasive/inappropriate/uncomfortable way. And not only that, but he was basing that scrutiny on unfounded assumptions about what it means to be trans- he was structuring his request for 'proof' around his narrow ideas about what it means for someone to "get a sex change" and those notions are limiting and oppressive when applied to individuals who may or may not be pursuing medical transition as part of affirming their gender identity. And all this to impede my attempt to normalize myself by changing my identity documents to better reflect my male identity and presentation!


The other presenters were interesting and articulate, and the questions were perfectly fine, for the most part, although one person asked me "What was your name before, and why did you change it?"

I replied that this was a teachable moment, and a perfect example of what NOT to ask a trans person; that the reason I changed my name was because I wasn't comfortable with the one I had before, and I wanted to legally change my name so that it would be the one that I wanted everybody to call me, and so I didn't tell her what my name used to be.

This led to a rather productive little discussion about how respectful questions are always welcomed, but there's a fine line between education and curiosity, and that sometimes curiosity ought to be satisfied by reading a book or finding a resource rather than asking an invasive question of an individual. Or asking an individual in a safe space, such as this panel, so that they can do what I did- answer the relevant part of the question (I changed my name because I was more comfortable using a masculine name rather than the feminine, though very beautiful, name I'd been given as a baby) and explain why the other part of the question is inappropriate (I'm not comfortable revealing my former name to a stranger in a public forum in order to satisfy their curiosity).

Also, led to some talk about how questions are always better than assumptions, especially respectful questions. I've had some of the most troublesome interactions with people who assume that they're coming from a respectful place, and make assumptions about how I identify, and end up being the most offensive- like Miss Jackie, bless her heart, the karaoke hostess who never fails to mention lesbians whenever she talks to me. Or the social work student who invited me to her "weekly women's dance party down in the Village." I might have looked like a dyke once upon a time (and identified as a dyke even longer ago) but I'm not one now.
Speaking of questions and dialogue, I'm catching up on some backlogged comments in previous posts that I never responded to, so if I never replied to a comment you posted a while ago and you're burning to read my witty replies, check later today.

In other news, my sister took this really cute picture of my while she was here this past weekend. I think it shows off my sideburns nicely, as well as my overall happy state now, Spring 2007, just after my 2nd Maniversary.


Gave myself my first shot at home this morning, and it was easier and quicker than expected. Just laid out my supplies and sat down in front of the window where there was nice light, and called out a warning to Rochelle, who isn't the most fond of needles, that she might want to stay out of the bedroom for a minute or two while I did the actual jabbing. I noticed that a tiny bit of the T oil leaked out of the injection site while I was unwrapping my bandaid, but I think that's pretty normal. Just because I haven't noticed it before doesn't mean it hasn't happened, so no worries.
I'm about fifteen minutes away for heading upstairs to participate in a panel that's being put on by the GLBTQ Caucus at the Social Work School where I work. It's supposedly going to be GLBT 101 for the students, so that those who don't know much can get some perspective/education, and have an opportunity to ask questions. It's me, a faculty member, and three students, and I'm only a little nervous about it. We're supposed to each "tell a story" about our GLBTQ/whatever identity, and then there'll be a question and answer period. I'm not sure if this is going to be the most effective to fulfil the goals for this meeting (not that I'm totally clear what the goals are, beyond an undefined "education" of the "student community" about "populations they may be working with."

I'm not even sure which letter I'm supposed to represent, but since I can fairly claim pretty much all of them (or at least I have at one point in my life) I'm sure I won't come up short.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

when tough little boys grow up to be dads

I'm thinking about babies again. Maybe it's the springtime, and the quickening of everything's blood, or maybe it's the fact that I'm always thinking about babies. I watched a pretty good documentary called "Transparent" a month or so ago, and it didn't really touch on the issue of guys wanting to have children post-transition. And I was surprised by the lack of discussion around fertility issues at the Trans Health Conference a few weeks ago- for me, it's always been a central factor in my decision to transition. Last year in the spring, I was contemplating starting testosterone, and weighing my desire for masculine puberty with my desire to have a baby. It's clear which priority won out, and I'm delighted and thankful for the hormonal changes (Even the tumultuous ones) of the past year, but now that the dust has settled a bit, I'm revisiting this issue and thinking hard and not necessarily getting much further.

And basically, it boils down to the fact that I'm real sad that I'm not going to be able to bear children. There's a line in that transman health guide that's online (quite a good read, actually, available here) about how traditionally, transmen have been declared sterile, and have accepted that as the necessary price to pay for transition, but in reality, that line of thinking is limiting and outmoded. That really hit home for me, because that mentality of "you win some, you lose some" was a big part of how I eased my anxiety about the prospect of starting testosterone and thus extinguishing my personal reproductive capabilities.

I know that plenty of folks are infertile for plenty of reasons, and there is in fact no proof that I would've been able to bear children had I not started this hormone regimen of mine, beyond the fact that the women in my family are generally if anything extra fertile (hence the various pairs of fraternal twins). So it's not 100% definitive fact that I'm sterilizing myself with this transition of mine.

That doesn't mean I don't feel a lot of sadness about losing the opportunity to be a biological parent, and some guilt and worry about having made the decision that lost me that opportunity.

There's a post over on the ftm livejournal community about dealing with infertility, and a lot of what's being said, in the original post and the comments, resonates deeply with me- particularly the poster's line "often i feel a real ache when i think about not being able to continue the genetic line of my family."

I want to carry on my family line, and it makes me real sad to think that I'm probably not going to be able to in this fashion. My children will be part of my family, have my name, and I'll give them my stories and sensibilities and habits just as my family has given me theirs. I know that I'm going to have a family one way or another- adoption, miraculous scientific advancements, the generous assistance of my sister. I'm going to love my children, and I don't harbor any notions that they're going to be any less mine because they didn't spring from my loins. But it's going to be complicated, and I can't imagine that I'm not going to feel keep feeling these pangs about not being able to continue my family along this particular, traditional avenue.

I love seahorses- they're beautiful little creatures; I find 'em mesmerizing in their goofy ungainly figures, but I love them, too, because the boys carry the babies. It's what makes me think sometimes about being pregnant- it's odd to put myself and pregnancy in the same sentence together, because I'm a boy, and boys don't get pregnant, but darn it, what if I did? It sounds radical and weird and very appealing on some level- could I be a pregnant dad? Until I take a step back and think about what it'd mean to get to that point.

When I started T last year, I was certainly eager to be rid of the uncomfortable aspects of menstruation- some of which anyone who menstruates might easily identify with. There are plenty of unpleasant components all of which were exacerbated by the dysphoria I felt around dealing with it in the first place. I know plenty of women feel empowered by their menstruation, but I generally pretty much ignored mine as much as possible, except when its actual presence demanded attention, usually with painful cramps, inconvenient stains, and a distinct damper on my sex life.

I was getting plenty sick of smuggling tampons into men's rooms, which all feature a distinct dearth of stalls as well as a prominent absence of trash receptacles inside those few and far between stalls, making for a singularly and highly unnecessarily troublesome disposal process. Dealing with my period in the men's restroom had a distinct tinge of discomfort and humiliation, and I'm not at all sorry that I don't have to do it anymore. Likewise with the lack of cramps. Don't miss that semi-monthly debilitation at all!

Which is why it's so hard for me to get at the root of my sadness around my infertility. I didn't particularly appreciate menstruation (though I didn't utterly despise it, either) and I'm glad I don't do it anymore, and I think my feelings would be similar around being pregnant. I think it would be weird, and jarring, and dysphoric.I think it'd also be amazing and powerful, and I think about it. I think about whether I could stop T now and regain reproductive functionality and start buying tampons again and stop getting hairier and stop building muscle mass without trying. Could I do that, and for how long? I don't want to have kids next year.


It's helped me to talk to people who are adopted, and spend time conceptualizing ideas around family that aren't so strongly rooted in the "blood is thicker than water" mentality. And it's helped to remember, too, that I'm going to have a queer family no matter what. The logistics of having children is probably going to be among the first of many complexities, and I do myself a disservice to think "oh, if only I weren't so selfish and unwilling to give up my hairiness and testosterone, I could be popping out the babies with no problem!" Being pregnant is a pretty intense endeavor, and it would probably flip me out. I'd like to raise my children with a partner, and hir thoughts about having kids will need to factor in. And then there's the matter of being a trans person and a parent- Hey kids! Dad used to be a girl! (Sort of. By some folks' reckoning.) I have to think and hope that if I can handle raising them with any sort of grace or aplomb, they'll manage to handle having a trans dad with the same sensibilities.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Peter Puberty

Haven't posted in ages, but I'm going through a weird introspective time these days, so I guess that isn't too surprising. I'm hesitant to try to figure out why I'm feeling so inarticulate, because I very much don't want to lament that T is turning me into the strong silent type, and that I'll never again have my womanly emoting abilities back. Hogwash. I hope.
It's my 2nd Manniversary today (tomorrow?) and I'm not quite sure how I got here so fast. The past year has been an incredible one, naturally, and has involved quite a lot of time expansion and contraction. The months of last summer went by so s-l-o-w-l-y and then this winter and spring have been zipping right past. I'm settling into myself and it's going well, I think, if a little rocky. I've got plenty in my head to think about, and maybe if I get a free minute tomorrow at work I'll actually expound upon a few of them, including but not limited to: attending the Trans-Health Conference in Philly this past weekend, being asked to be on a "LGBT 101" panel at my work, watching documentaries about trans parenting and thinking a lot about babies, making friends with dudes.
Tomorrow I've got my self-injection exam at Callen Lorde where, if I successfully follow all the proper steps and give myself a shot in front of witnesses, I'll be given appropriate and necessary supplies and set loose. Feels like apron strings are about to be cut.
I went through a beard growing experiment for most of the month of march and, while it's clear I don't have it in me yet for the real deal, I must say I was pretty pleased with what three weeks worth of carefully not shaving achieved. It's very soothing to be able to run fingertips along scruff-roughened cheeks while I'm thinking or planning or puzzling. I've since shaved it off and now have some optimistic but slightly uneven (so hard to look at both sides of my face at the same time! especially with a razor in hand!) muttonchops. I've decided I'll wait til June to try growing it all out again, and invest in a beard trimmer next time to try and even up the edges. Summertime probably isn't the most felicitous season in which to have a fuzzy face, but I'm impatient, and it'll be worth it.
oh, and I finally put up another voice post.

Monday, April 02, 2007


I was invited to attend a Seder tonight in honor of Passover, and I went and had a very lovely time. The abbreviated Haggadah (the text which accompanies dinner) that we read made frequent reference to freedom and being conscious of justice. It said that we must all think of ourselves and how we have come out of Egypt, and I thought that yeah, that sounds about right for what I've been doing with myself the past 18 months or so. I've been coming out of Egypt.