Thursday, June 28, 2007

funny lookin'

It's a funny thing bout my gender dysphoria...I didn't realize the extent of it til it was gone, in some ways. What gets me thinking that tonight is the realization that I really like how I look now. I consider myself handsome, and attractive, and while I fret about my love handles like everyone else I know (about their own, presumably, not mine) I have a basic level of satisfaction in myself and my body that not only did I not have before transition, I didn't even realize I was missing.

I watched a movie about a farmer the other day, and there was a brief scene in which a farmer girl intern is harvesting tomatoes and talking about how tomatoes helped her realize that voluptuous things are beautiful and desirable, and her curvy body is gorgeous like a ripe tomato.

It was an 'awww' moment for me on several levels, starting with the basic tug (I still feel it, though it's getting fainter) of connection and empathy with a woman discussing her body and its travails. The next was a moment of connection, of insight of what it means to look down or into a mirror and smile....or not even have to look, to just have a moment to smile inward slightly, she as she hefts a reddened tomato, me as I run the back of my thumb along the coarse fuzz on my jaw.

I didn't know how unhappy I was with myself til I made something happen to become happier. it's a bit funny, that gradual realization of self that inspires realization of happiness.

Also, it gives me a bit of insight (though not any more sympathy, mind you- suck it up!) for the folks, and usually they are someone's folks, parents or whatnot, who can't wrap their minds around how important transition is for someone. "But you never seemed that unhappy/miserable!"

Seems like there's a whole iceberg under that tip of dissatisfaction that gets shown to the world. I didn't myself realize the extent of how weird things were as a girl til I stopped being one. No wonder other people, without the benefit of my feelings, didn't realize how wrong it was.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

more thoughts on Pride

and a few more pictures!

Pride was really a good time, discounting the hot/sweaty/waiting around two hours for us to have our turn to start marching parts. Once we got going, it was real nice to be a part of something so big, and filled with such positive energy. Everyone watching was smiling and cheering, and we spent lots of time waving to the crowd, and getting waves back.

I've mentioned before a feeling of growing apart from the Transmasculine community, like it's not something that I feel such a strong desire to be a part of, as most clearly evidenced by my tapering off and then disappearing attendance at the Group run by the Center. Marching in Pride, though, seems to clarify my feelings about being part of the community.

I want to be part of the community in the sense of sometimes attending big events, and feeling pride in my queer/trans identity, and helping to support folks by going to film festivals and suchlike, and participating in activism/outreach by being on panels or helping with mentoring programs, or what have you. I don't want to be a part of "the community" in the stock sense of the word that tends to homogenize more than anything else. I don't have the angst or the patience to be a part of a support group right now, in part because my transition is becoming a different aspect of my life now (a more personal one), and in part because I don't have the sensibilities to be part of a "bonding with my tranny brothers" mentality. A lot of my friends are trans, and a big part of my social world is the queer/trans scene in the City. But I really am resistant to the idea that I'm in an automatic brotherhood with all the other dudes with vaginas in this world because quite frankly, I can't stand a lot of them.

My friends are the people that I connect with and bond with, and lots of them are transdudes also because we connect on that point- but oh man, I'm tired of the notion (coming from inside the community and out) that transmasculine folks are all the same, and so are automatically buddies.

Anyway. I had a great time at Pride, marching with a lot of great people. It felt good to connect with all sorts of transmasculine folks on that level, of being part of the TMC Network, and marching in solidarity with each other. And part of what was so great about it was limiting the interaction to that particular venue.

Other thoughts...there was a fellow running around with a video camera interviewing folks, and he talked to some people in our group about what TMC Network is. Then he asked Kate about her shirt, and I asked him who he which point he assured me that he'd done all sorts of video interviews with all sorts of people, including "some lesbian women who say that transgenders make the perfect man! What do you have to say about that, considering that you don't, uh, don't necessarily look like you're one of the transgenders?"

I paraphrase, but it was something along those lines...well meaning, but definitely a bombshell that I didn't feel inclined to touch. I did what is generally known as "sticking to your talking points" and said something about how glad I was to be a part of the TMC Network, it's a great social and political organization, I was very glad to be visible and part of the parade."

He accepted that and wandered off to interview someone else, fortunately, since I didn't know quite what else to say. I wasn't going to get into my views on tranny-chasing (though I have had some interesting thoughts about that lately...fodder for another post, I suppose), and I didn't know quite how to react to his rather blunt assessment of my passing privilege.

I did of course feel a tiny swell of pride- he meant it as a compliment, of course, and I couldn't help but take it as one, even as I was aware of the lousy assumptions built into the foundation of that compliment. I know my flat chest/fuzzy face/5'8" stature lets me break ranks with a lot of other trans dudes and I'm grateful for it even as I'm frustrated by it, and anxious about being complicit with the binary gender system. Not sure how to convey those complex feelings in a Pride March soundbite, that's for certain.


Speaking of fuzzy face, I'm two weeks in to my beard growing experiment, and I realized that I don't have enough experience with beard growth to know whether mine looks sparse because I'm too young (facial hair wise) to get anything good, or because all beards look kinda sparse their first few weeks in existence. No one has told me I look stupid, though, and I trust my friends/family to be honest with me and let me know if I really need to bust out the razor. My plan is to grow it out til it comes time to head back to Portland to visit the extended family in two weeks, at which point I'll try to make as objective an assessment as possible to determine whether it'll impress my relatives or make them chuckle.

Monday, June 25, 2007

so proud

I marched with the Transmasculine Community Network in the New York City GLBT Pride Parade yesterday- super fun! A lot of us wore TMC Network t-shirts that read (albeit in miniscule print) "The T is not silent!" My excellent sister wore a hand lettered tank top that read "I *heart* my trans-man twin!"

That's me looking scruffy and Kate in all her sharpie ally glory...I thought about writing "I *heart* my non-trans twin!" on the back of my t-shirt, but I figured I wouldn't ever wear it again if I did that, and I could probably get some good gym usage out of it if I left it as it was.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dawning of a New Era

or in other words, have you ever wanted to know what I look like, as they say, IRL. Have you ever dared dream of the day you'd see me become a....what is it now....vlogger?

See what the digital age hath made possible.

First video, April 12, 2006. Second, June 19, 2007.

I know, right? I said it, too. "Whoa, turbo!"

warnings/apologies: vocals seem to be slightly out of sync in the first video, the volume is uneven between the two, the camerawork, such as it is, is shaky at best, and I've got a slight but definite lisp. forewarned is forearmed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

10 months, give or take a day

please to forgive vacant open-mouthed stare, unruly chest hair patches, glimpses of messy room, etc.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

chest status: alas! + cake

I realized the other day that one of the benefits I get through my work it the option to enroll in a pre-tax medical expenses flexible spending account. In other words, they take out money from my paycheck pre-taxes, and use it to reimburse me for medical expenses incurred over the course of that year. Up to $3,000 can be taken out per year. And I ask myself...why the HELL didn't I use that to help pay for my chest surgery? What with the tax-free status, it would've been like getting a free extra thousand bucks. What was I thinking?

Also, I could've used it this year to help pay for my glasses!

But you can only sign up for it once a year, and you can only use it to pay for things that took place during the same fiscal year. So alas, it's no good to me now.
I bought some cocoa butter lotion (with Vitamin E! it declares on the tube) to rub into my chest surgery scars, since I've just run out of the oil I'd been using. I think the oil did some good, and I think this cocoa butter stuff will be good,'s certainly a very effective moisturizer, and it makes me smell like cake batter, which is a definite bonus. It's pretty thick, so it requires some vigorous rubbing in to get it to soak in to my skin, and I think that itself is good for my chest, too...massage is definitely proven to help break down scars/prevent adhesions, and I suspect it'll help with nerve regrowth, too, to have that stimulation. Certainly, my chest tingles pleasantly for a few minutes when I've finished my vehement cocoa butter rubdown, morning and night.
Scars are looking good- still quite pink, but fading and flattening. It's pretty much only under my right armpit that it's still lumpy, and I can tell that it's going to keep getting better. My right nipple is not as nice as my left- the areola is more lopsided in shape, and has some persistent dry/flaky skin. But the left nipple itself has a little discolored bump (I suspect from where the Evil Milkmaid pinched me at that Halloween party last year), so I guess they both have their little quirks. Still not much sensation in them, but they definitely get hard and soft in response to temperature and sometimes in response to tactile stimulation. And sometimes for no discernible reason.

I'll post some pictures later tonight.

Friday, June 08, 2007

sci fi foolishness

So I'm going to see some some movies on Saturday with the Transmasculine Community Network (aka all my buddies). There are four films being shown (Gender Redesigner, Bro Crush, F Scott Fitzgerald Slept Here , and Kaden) and it's only 7 bucks for students (13 for everyone else, at the AMC Lowes on 34th Street at 8th Ave. Details, tickets, etc

I'm looking forward to going to the movies with friends, and supporting the community, especially since at least one of the movies was written or directed or acted in by various friends of mine. But I was also a little hesitant when I first saw the invite, because (as I mentioned last post, I think) I've been feeling myself pull back a bit from 'the transmasculine community' lately. I tried to pull the feeling apart a bit in therapy yesterday, and I got some ideas, but I still can't totally pin it down.

I think part is coming from a feeling of being tired of being Trans with a capital T. It was a hard year or two while I came out and got my bearings and got transition up and rolling, and it was draining, and I'm tired of it. Now that my transition is taking up less personal energy, I'm feeling the urge to let it totally die down, to just...ignore it for a while.

Then there comes this big wave of guilt, because I know that the fact that I can choose to ignore it is due almost entirely to my newfound passing privilege: the fact that I get read as male consistently, and (for the most part) have the luxury of checking out...something I couldn't do pre-transition, and many many other folks can't do.

Amy reminded me that there's an ebb and flow to everything, and that it's reasonable for me to be tired of spending a lot of energy on trans stuff, and that not going to one event (or even lots of events) isn't going to cause me to lose my place in the trans community.

And I think a larger part of it is a desire to shut the door on that chapter of my life for a little while...the early transition angst chapter. I unequivocally want to see the short films being shown, partly because they're the work of my friends, but partly because they seem to be something definitively different than the standard 'transition documentary' which is what the feature film is. I had a gut reaction flinch to the description of that film...I don't really want to see a documentary about one person coming out as trans and then beginning medical transition.

Why not? Maybe because I just finished living that story, and don't particularly want to relive it through someone else's lens just yet. Maybe because I'm grouchy and irritable these days, with less patience for things that make me uncomfortable...or movies that remind me of past and sort-of-still-present discomforts.


All that personal stuff aside, I'm also somewhat ambivalent about supporting this festival, due to some hullabaloo about a transphobic movie that was shown a few days ago. As my buddy Pete pointed out, there's some bullshit afoot . "NewFest, an LGB and supposedly T film festival, proceeded to show The Gendercator [link to Director's website] in New York this evening, despite outcry from trans activists and allies and the fact that it was pulled from NewFest in San Fransisco."

The director's note, from the website, reads:
Things are getting very strange for women these days. More and more often we see young heterosexual women carving their bodies into porno Barbie dolls and lesbian women altering themselves into transmen. Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves, instead of working to change the world. This is one story, showing one possible scary future. I am hopeful that this story will foster discussion about female body modification and medical ethics.

So basically, a parable about how we trans folks really ARE part of that evil transsexual empire that Janice Raymond got so worked up about in 1979. Great.

So yeah, plenty of more articulate and intelligent things have been written about this already (check out the Susan Stryker comments Pete links to), but I've got to throw a few more of my own cents into the mix.

This film is ridiculous for a variety of reasons, not least of which is once again, the notion that being trans = anti-feminist, patriarchal, repressively binary. Please. My transmasculinity is not impinging on your gender freedom. I'm not denying the patriarchy or colluding with it by living my life in a fully realized, satisfactory manner.

Also, as Pete says, this notion that butch lesbians are being pressured to transition is one that I've never encountered. I certainly have noticed (and remarked upon here in this blog) how there are master narratives within the transmasculine community as within any other, with various notions of the "best" ways to transition being privileged above others, and hierarchies built into the community. It's important to note, however, that a lot of that is anti-trans baggage coming from society at large, being perpetuated by people (trans and non-trans alike) who don't have the time (or perhaps, sometimes, the social agency/necessary privilege) to examine and deconstruct those notions.

This film is masquerading as 'a sci-fi satire' but (as best as I can say based on what I've read, having not actually seen it) seems to be mostly a tirade against transsexuality, coming from someone who is taking some basic misinformed assumptions and running away with them. The director writes that she wants to foster discussion, and I think that indeed it needs to be discussed, so that it can be picked apart and revealed for what it is.

So while I'm a huge free speech advocate, I don't believe that this film has a place at an avowedly LGBT positive film festival. (Though I can't say that I'm surprised that a transphobic film slipped through the cracks, since it seems the T is once again mostly an afterthought in this festival.) I think that it's not appropriate for films with anti-trans morals to be shown at a festival supposedly celebrating and bolstering (however belatedly) the trans community. The film's anti-trans rhetoric cuts more deeply when it's lent validity by appearing in a supposedly safe space, and I think that i is unacceptable for NewFest to have shown it anyway.

Monday, June 04, 2007


As you can no doubt see for yourselves, I've added a fancy new header with a picture of yours truly because I saw the words "Add a photo to your header!" on the blogger homepage. Now I can't decide if I like it or nay- it's rather large, since I'm not much for figuring out how to resize photos without mucking up the resolution, but that was such a lovely day last January, when it was 72 degrees out and all was right with the world, that I think I'm going to keep it up there.
Speaking of photos, I received my new digital camera in the mail today...expect photo and video posts to increase in frequency! Nothing like easy digital documentation to add a little spice to this little blog. I'm thinking of doing some kind of Pre-T vs. Now photo comparison post, since it's such a classic of transition journals everywhere, but I might be a little too cynical to embrace that particular trope.

Though I have been thinking lately about my cynicism (and occasional bitterness), particularly when it comes to my transness. I find myself of late being less interested in participating in some of the classic trans undertakings, like posting my own Testosterone Timeline, or going to see trans documentaries. Part of it is reactionary against some of the less appealing narratives of trans identity that are out there- I have no interest in being a trannyboi, or of helping to reinforce some sort of transman master narrative, in which I was a dyke, and then I decided I was a queer guy, and then I changed my name, and then I started T, and then I had chest surgery, and then I started flinching away from everything Trans* because my life is more than just the haphazard letter at the end of those happy homo acronyms, dammit.

Um, yeah. On the other hand, I think part of this is just a sort of weird reaction to gaining a lot of passing privilege in the past...oh, 6-9 months, and trying to figure out what (trans)manhood I really want to shape for myself. This is proving to be somewhat tricky, and while I've been thinking lately about maybe stopping therapy in July when my current therapist leaves, I'm thinking now that maybe I still have some things to talk about, after all. Might be useful to have a new therapist to go along with this new stage of transition- I think I'd call myself "mid-transition" right now, rather than early, and while it's a lot easier in a lot of ways, there are still some unexpected issues to untangle.

Though no more, I'd like to think, than a lot of other people have to deal with, in growing up and deciding how to live their lives. I say that as a reaction to something I've been hearing a lot lately, friends whose families are objecting strenuously to their transition plans, in part (I think, at least) because of some underlying sense of "Oh no, a life of difficulty and freakishness for my child! No way!"
Well, sure, being trans is hard sometimes, but denial and invalidation pretty much doesn't help.
So speaking of being trans, and NOT distancing myself from the trans community, I'm having dinner tonight with two trans folks who are also somehow affiliated with the University where I work- we're going to discuss ideas for building up some trans resources here, since there seem to be none. One thing we've thought of thus far is setting up some sort of mentoring program, where students could get in touch with another trans person at the University...though I wonder if there would be some sort of rules about which directions the mentoring could go in. Could students mentor staff? Would it be available to students only?

Also, what does 'mentoring' really mean? Hanging out? Being friends with? Pointing out resources in the city? Might not be a bad idea to have some sort of NYC specific resource guide put together, including information about the GLBT Center and their Gender Identity Project, at least, to be available whether or not a student wants to request a mentor.

We'll see what we can brainstorm tonight, I suppose!