talkswithwind: Carol Danvers having a good hair moment (CarolGoodHair)
The suicide of Leelah Alcorn has reawoken discussion over the perils that transgender teens and early adults face. This sparked both the #LeelahAlcorn and the #RealLiveTransAdult hashtags on twitter. The former focused on tragedy, calls for support, and expressions of love. The latter talking about adults who are living or transitioning, doing well with it, and overall focusing on the positive.

I find my own trans-adult experience doesn't match either narrative very well. I wasn't a troubled teen; I didn't figure out my gender issues until really late, and it took years before I did anything about it. I'm not a successful trans-adult, in that I'm barely recognizable as trans and I most definitely have not faced down negative opinion to get where I am now. The 'transition' I'm doing is from unquestionably-binary to questionably-binary, which doesn't really have an established narrative to adopt or rebel against.

The reason it took me years before I did anything about my gender issues was in part due to the lack of pain I felt over the whole thing. I had some, yes, but it wasn't nearly intense enough to get into the clinical categories needed for medical intervention. I didn't even know if I wanted medical interventions. I was running up against the fact that medical transition would give me most of the body I wanted, not all of it, and was it really worth the trouble?

It was only after a lot of internal interrogation and extended exposure to the body-acceptance corner of feminism that I came to understand what body feature I wanted but couldn't get: bones. If a magic wand came into my hands but only had enough mojo for a part-way transmogrification, a female skeleton would be my first pick for changing. If I had the right bones, the rest would come a lot easier if I so chose. I came to my gender realization about five years too late for the medical interventions that would give me such a skeleton to work.

[Had I realized a lot earlier, I still wouldn't have gotten it. When I was 12, there was no protocol for hormone-therapy of pre-majority children with trans issues. I even had a pediatric endocrinologist. It just wasn't done that long ago. I do not expect my parents would have strenuously tried to buck expert medical advice to get it for me, nor do I expect the endocrinologist to risk his licensure by doing so. And I sure as hell wasn't conflicted enough to try and force both parties to see my way of thinking. Realizing it earlier would only have bought me a lot more pain]

The final thing to come across that gave me a name for my identity were stories of college kids going by the name of 'genderqueer' and 'non-binary'. These were kids who didn't always identify as transgender, had found something else, and didn't come with the narrative of pain that transitioning did. It was a narrative that matched mine, and there seemed to be a name for it forming. Awesome.

Not all trans narratives need suicide prevention hotlines.
Not all trans narratives need it gets better campaigns.

This is why I have trouble claiming a trans identity: I haven't paid my dues. I don't speak up unless the tone of the discussion is about lived experiences and doesn't have the subtext of 'triumph through adversity'. Some trans people have trouble including me in their space because of my non-binary nature, as their own internal experience is one of fighting to achieve a binary-like identity. There is an assumption that I'm going to line up into something recognizable binary after enough time, and will do so through medical interventions. A case of this happened this past weekend when I met some members of the trans support-group at my parent's church.

Don't hold me up as a paragon of success-while-trans, I got here by being recognizably my assigned-at-birth gender for most of my career.
Don't hold me up as a living example of surviving to adulthood in spite of constant messaging that I'm not worthy, I didn't get that.

So I remain in the panel audience and not on the panel.
talkswithwind: (cm-saywhat)
I've been reading some of it. Right now it's a lot of retweets, but the content is still quite striking.

I'm coming at it from a decidedly privileged point of view, as I've lived both sides of the gender coin and have benefited-from/been-subjected-to the assumptions and trials of both those sides. When it comes to women's lived experience I have a hard time speaking up because I haven't done it all my life. If I speak up am I denying the experience of someone more worthy? It's qualms like that which have kept me quiet about difficulties I've faced in adjusting to a different set of gendered assumptions.

Some of my problems absolutely stem from me only running into these things late in life and not from birth or sexual maturity. That's part of the trans experience after all, and some people are quite sensitive when I do talk about that kind of thing. I've never been sexually harassed that I can remember, which makes me a minority (or oblivious, which likely contributes).

But I have been perceived as female for long enough that I do share certain common experiences:
  • Street harassment.
    • Smile, baby.
    • Whistles.
    • When smiling: compliments on the smile.
  • Dealing with cold approaches. Also known as getting hit on.
  • Learning the hard way which groups of men are more threatening than others.
  • Getting side-eye at my prospective local comic store. The guy warmed up after he realized I actually was into this stuff. And is now gone.
  • Getting bright-eyed eagerness in the men talking to me once they realize I actually know this nerdy-linux-stuff thing.
And then there are the unshared experiences that are definitely inherited from being raised male:
  • The assumption that I can fuck anyone up who tries to fuck with me. Which means I'm not appropriately afraid to walk certain places alone.
  • Asking for things as the first step to getting what I want. Worked great so far, eventually I'll get labeled 'bitch' because of it.
  • The big fear for leaving a drink untended is germs from unauthorized sippers. At some point the GHB fear will penetrate.
There are more.

Reading this hashtag is a reminder of all the things I didn't get taught at my mother's knee and learned after the fact (if I even learned it at all).

Reading this hashtag is a reminder of what happens to anyone who is ever perceived as female.

talkswithwind: Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) getting her zappy-zappy on (CarolZap)
I've mentioned several times that I started questioning my gender identity in the wake of realizing I wasn't straight. There were a couple weeks of deep introspection after that realization, and it was during that introspection that I noticed something in my attractiveness reactions.

When having OMG-Hot reactions towards girls, there was a frisson of something at the end. My introspection revealed that the frisson was ennui over not being able to match that level of hotness.

Hm, interesting. Maybe... I'm not all male? Does my attraction to boys possibly stem from that female part of me? Must think on this.
22 years later, and I have the answers to that:


In which I go into some detail about gender identity, sexual desire, and other questionable topics )



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