Trans day of Visibility

Tomorrow, 31 March, is Trans Day of Visibility, which is the opposite of Bi Day of Visibility. On BDoV, lots of people with opposite sex partners say “I’m Bi, actually” (and some of their partners go, “What?”) On TDoV, a few trans people say, “I’m Trans!” And everyone says, “We know”. It’s also a double-dare to trans people who pass, who the gender psychiatrists would be hard-put to read as trans, to come out. That can be frightening. One trans woman I knew changed city and job, only keeping two friends who had known her as male.

Everyone who knows me knows I am trans. It could be the wig or the jawline, more likely it’s the voice. And that is mostly OK, most people who know me are OK.

Or the day is for trans people who tweet or blog about other things to come out. Then their followers will see, and perhaps feel more positively to trans people, and only the haters will unfollow.

It is a day to celebrate transition and the liberation that brings. The world seemed to change from monochrome to colour for me. Before, I hated my body. Now, I love my body. In the journey of transition, I got to know myself, and released the control which I needed to pretend to be male. I cannot imagine my life if I had not done it.

It is a day to celebrate being trans, and the gift that is to the wider community: a particular set of experiences leading to a different perspective. The difficulties of transition can produce a deep wisdom in people.

Possibly, it is a day for someone who has not yet started transition to begin to come out. You know you will have to do it. If you come out at work, in Europe and the US you are protected under discrimination legislation. Still be careful. That being said, I found most people accepting. If you come out to loving parents, siblings, partners or children, they may already know.

You can’t tell from what people have said how they will react. People who have said thoughtless, prejudiced things, if they like or love you, may accept you. People who say the right, non-discriminatory things may harbour secret prejudice. I lost a friend, when I transitioned, who was a cross-dresser.

Coming out is part of becoming yourself. Presenting your assigned gender, you are hiding. In fear, we hide ourselves and try to be what we think others expect. This is stunting and limiting. Coming out is scary, but necessary for self-respect. People need to be able to be ourselves with others. If we cannot, we are completely alone.

Stonewall has posters for schools showing trans people and their achievements.

Alec Salmond continues to build his disreputable Alba Party, with convicted perjurer Tommy Sheridan, antisemite Neale Hanvey, and two women who support the tiny but well funded hate group Four Women Scotland Limited. Why would they join Mr Sleepy Cuddles? It goes to show transphobe haters give up all feminist causes when they start campaigning against trans women. Alba stands for “All Ladies Be Aware”.

Butches

ImageAs the internet is insecure, you should write nothing on it you would not write on a postcard. So says a guide to net use written in the 90s, shared on a yahoo group this year. That was never my way.

I like the lesbian blog Nothing Nice, Nothing Sweet. Some of her pictures I find bizarre, but this entry I find a complete turn on. Since seeing it I have returned to one website source of her photos, and been overwhelmed, and wept with the shame of it more than once. There’s another truth of the internet, it assuages the most recondite tastes.

ImageThough not particularly unusual in my case. It is recognised in lesbian culture in the words “butch” and “femme”, and generally with heterosexual couples in the phrase “she wears the trousers in that relationship”. When I was seeing C we referred more than once to the relationship of George Sand and Frederic Chopin.

ImageIn the conservative circles I come from, it is not admired. It is a guilty secret spoken of in mocking whispers. I have imbibed that, and so it is only now, aged 46, that I say, this is who I am. This is what I desire. This I know.

I thought myself asexual for a time, and now believe I was in denial rather than asexual. My shame was so strong that I repressed my sexuality. I experience no sense of choice in the matter, if I could change it I would, and being unable to change it and only suffering pain in the attempt to deny it I now try admitting it, which can hardly be worse. If my sexuality is not innate it is created by unconscious forces on which my conscious resistance has had no effect. I find ridiculous the new age reincarnation theory that we, as angels, choose the life experiences we will learn from in this particular journey in a body, but it has the value that it helps one to accept what must be accepted.

A gay friend who died years ago told me that he had been both masculine and feminine in his semi-permanent relationships- I am not sure which words he used- and he found that moving from one role in one relationship to the Imageother in another, he felt changes in his personality, and in the location and effect of erogenous zones on his body. Anyone who has experienced that or knows how common it is please leave a comment. I do not think that is my inner self. My attempts at expressing conventional male heterosexuality might have worked better if it were.

I am 46, and making the kind of realisation that a lesbian brought up in a conservative Evangelical household in Texas might make in her early 20s. I don’t know what to do with it, apart from that resistance does no good. I come out to myself.

I have had two cuddles in the past month- cuddles rather than hugs, with friends- where I have just dissociated and stiffened. Just possibly, acceptance might make a cuddle a pleasant thing. You might just see a Truffaut gamine in that last picture, but I don’t.

Man

-Lady-Agnew-of-Lochnaw-1893.jpg

I am a man.

I imagine questions coming up. Am I going to revert to presenting male? No. Was I wrong to transition? Certainly not.

I am a “man” in that I have a Y chromosome, male skeletal structure, and I used to have male gonads, which I had removed. I am a “man” because I admit no connotations to that word which exclude me- “man” “should” behave or respond or be in a particular way. “Man” includes my ultragirly self. I am all man.

This might create a rapprochement with the radfems- radical feminism rejects moral or societal concepts of gender as restricting. Unfortunately it won’t- their insistence on women’s space excluding me is more from visceral, emotional disgust at my way of being. Which is, of course, a patriarchal response.

It does not prevent me from also being a “woman”. I am all inconsistencies, or to see it positively a wide range of possible responses which are right for the situation. So, I love the countryside and the city, the rolling arable of Northamptonshire and the hills and lochs of Argyll. I love the emotional relating in work, and I love the arcane puzzling out of statute and precedent. I am Scots and I am English, none of that half-and-half nonsense. I worked this out when thinking of transitioning.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Sandys%2C_Frederick_-_Morgan_le_Fay.JPGWhen I say “I am a man” I am rejecting all moral expectations of what a “man” is. A man “should” dress, respond, think or relate in a particular way? No. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, and I will not be judged on that. Of course, it is my own judgment that cripples or hurts me, so I reject that judgment. If my judgment from within is that I am acceptable as I am, then judgments from without will not hurt me. Also, I will be less likely to project Condemnation on another from communication which is intended as nothing of the kind.

I want to go beyond the gender binary, which is confirmed by the inadequate word “transition”- one transitions from one to the other, between the two- to gender fluidity. I want the right response, the Me response, in a situation without constraint from words concepts and judgments. I reject the word “transition” in favour of “Coming out”: I am still doing that, even to myself.

I will continue to use women’s changing rooms and loos. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 positively permits that, it was more or less tolerated before, and it is more comfortable.

I finally saw the distinction between intersex and DSD. Etymologically, intersex implies between the sexes, not one or the other. Disorder of Sexual Development implies there is a man or a woman with abnormal genitals. People with the same condition may define themselves as intersex or DSD, and I see no problem with someone calling himself “an intersex man”. It is the individual reality that matters, more than the words used to describe it. So I am not speaking for anyone but myself, and it has to be the person who chooses the words to describe herself.

Words of encouragement

I am grateful to Travis Berry for his idea of applying the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels to transsexual people, though I do not endorse his suggestion of which verse to apply. He quoted Matthew 23:27-28:

Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Um, no. I responded with John 3: 8 and Matthew 20:15:

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.

Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?

You can use the Bible to argue for wildly differing perspectives. But I started looking for words of Jesus to apply to queers in general. On coming out or transition, surely the best is Luke 15:32:

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

Living a lie is a slow death. Telling the truth is new life. Jesus releases us. “Don’t be afraid,” he says. Luke 9:25:

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

If someone quotes at you John 8:11, “Go and sin no more”, remind her that that is addressed to all of us, and not just those she finds sinful. It is worth having a look at the whole verse:

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus is not about condemning anyone but those who think their religion makes them good people, and outsiders bad people. It is to them, the Pharisees, that he says “Woe to you,” not to trans folk. Luke 4:18:

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

That is why it is Gospel, Evangelion, Good news. Release the oppressed. This is the year of the Lord’s favour. Do not oppress us with demands that we suppress ourselves.

Evangelicals remember that Jesus said (Luke 6:37) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” When they concern themselves with gay people, they judge. Other people’s sins are not their concern.

“I shall not be ashamed when I speak with my enemies in the gate”. Jesus’ words are on my side, to answer them.