Transgender Links

When I began to take my gender identity seriously I read pretty much everything I could find on the subject. Over time I began to collect a number of links that I felt were relevant to the subject. My goal was to be as objective as possible, that meant taking the good with the bad. I read everything from scientific papers, to news articles, to personal blogs. I forced myself to read things that I didn’t agree with or that I found to be outright offensive. I tried to collect everything that I felt was relevant to the subject, and I don’t necessarily like everything I’ve collected. Here is the current list, which I still add to periodically though I make no promises to update the list on my blog. Some of it is definite trigger warning. 

Transgender Links

These first few links I feel present a fairly solid case that gender identity and gender non conformity do in fact have a biological basis, and that affirmation really is the best practice.

Video of Stanford Professor detailing basic science of transgenderism

Article detailing physical differences in the brain

http://www.academia.edu/7346016/What_s_in_a_Gender_Studies_of_Brain_Structure_Find_Evidence_for_Neurological_Basis_of_Transgender_Identity

Article detailing neurological connectivity via MRI

http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/09/12/cercor.bhu194.full.pdf

Article on a study indicating children show consistent understanding of gender identity

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/transgender-kids-show-consistent-gender-identity-across-measures.html#.WIGt-MtHahA

Article detailing positive effects of gender affirmation

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160226081528.htm

Another article, separate study, detailing positive effects of gender affirmation

http://news.ubc.ca/2015/05/06/supportive-families-and-schools-critical-in-protecting-transgender-youth-health-ubc-study/

Article detailing failed attempts to deliberately assign a gender

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022236#t=articleDiscussion

Full List

Science Daily report article review synopsis

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150213112317.htm

Statistics on bathroom assaults

http://mic.com/articles/114066/statistics-show-exactly-how-many-times-trans-people-have-attacked-you-in-bathrooms

Blogger on biological basis for transgender

The biological basis for transgender – part one

Researches change sexual behavior of mice

http://www.psypost.org/2015/03/researchers-unravel-mechanism-that-plays-key-role-in-sexual-differentiation-of-brain-32986

Study on brain connectivity of transgenderism

http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/09/12/cercor.bhu194.full.pdf

Studies find neurological basis for transgenderism

http://www.academia.edu/7346016/What_s_in_a_Gender_Studies_of_Brain_Structure_Find_Evidence_for_Neurological_Basis_of_Transgender_Identity

Wikipedia

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexualism

Grey matter study

Imaging the transgendered brain

Another article on a study

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032-transsexual-differences-caught-on-brain-scan.html#.VTCK34ZOKrU

Youtube video the gender map

Study validating the concept of gender identity

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022236

Report on a study that proves a neurological basis for gender

http://www.meduniwien.ac.at/homepage/1/news-and-topstories/?tx_ttnews%5btt_news%5d=5379&cHash=37835742aa84acd6b6b2505337c854dd

Forcing Kids To Stick To Gender Roles Can Actually Be Harmful To Their Health | ThinkProgress

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/08/07/3468380/gender-roles-health-risks/

Clinging to a dangerous past: Dr Paul McHugh’s selective reading of transgender medical literature | The TransAdvocate

http://www.transadvocate.com/clinging-to-a-dangerous-past-dr-paul-mchughs-selective-reading-of-transgender-medical-literature_n_13842.htm

Further reading on the subject of de transition

http://www.advocate.com/transgender/2015/07/17/ex-trans-activists-exposed-big-name-behind-their-fight-against-gender-transit?page=0,0

Myths About Transition Regrets

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6160626

Crossfit’s “scientific” refusal to allow Chloie Jönnson to compete in women’s division not actually supported by science | The TransAdvocate

http://www.transadvocate.com/crossfits-scientific-refusal-to-allow-chloie-jonnson-to-compete-in-womens-division-not-actually-supported-by-science_n_13160.htm

Study that is able to test gender identity with 74% accuracy, old study, 2006, the 74% accuracy is misleading

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17282888

Counter point, a man who de-transitioned and says transgenderism is a delusion. He also suffered abuse as a child and was coerced into wearing girls clothes by his grandmother.

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/speaking-out-about-the-transgender-delusion1/

Study finds that strong support from family and friends greatly reduces risk of self harm and suicide in transgender youth

http://www.saravyc.ubc.ca

from article 

http://news.ubc.ca/2015/05/06/supportive-families-and-schools-critical-in-protecting-transgender-youth-health-ubc-study/

This more or less sums up my opinion on people who invoke the name of our lord in order to justify persecution

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-mott/religious-oppression-and-_b_7225218.html?utm_hp_ref=transgender

Article on a study about transgender kids and gender identity

http://www.mtv.com/news/2067232/transgender-kids/

APA.com 2009 study on the effectiveness of conversion attempts

http://www.apa.org/about/policy/sexual-orientation.aspx

An interesting HuffPost blog about the inherent misogyny of conversion therapies

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/strange-bedfellows-perpetuate-the-denial-of-proper-care-for-young-trans-girls_b_7463428.html?utm_hp_ref=transgender

An article exploring the genetics of gender diversity

http://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943

A trans guy’s perspective on male privilege 

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/05/male-privilege-trans-men/

Various studies on transition regret

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsm.12363/abstract

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsm.12155/abstract

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21937168

http://www.gires.org.uk/assets/Medpro-Assets/trans_mh_study.pdf

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/09/02/peds.2013-2958.abstract

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1024086814364

More random links

Networks of the brain reflect individual gender identity

http://www.meduniwien.ac.at/homepage/1/news-and-topstories/?

tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=5379&cHash=37835742aa84acd6b6b2505337c854d

White matter microstructure in female to male 

http://www.journalofpsychiatricresearch.com/article/S0022-3956%2810%2900158-5/abstract#sec2.1

Causes of gender dysphoria

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Causes.aspxhttp://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Causes.asp

http://mic.com/articles/109652/being-transgender-is-not-a-phase-science-just-proved-what-trans-kids-have-known-all-along

http://www.transadvocate.com/clinging-to-a-dangerous-past-dr-paul-mchughs-selective-reading-of-transgender-medical-literature_n_13842.htm#sthash.jbcuPNSt.dpu

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=transgender%20science

 

Article from Huffington Post linking a number of studies 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brynn-tannehill/how-much-evidence-does-it_b_4616722.html

Trans science project

http://transcience-project.org/brain_sex.html

Trans science project addressing a misrepresentation of their work

http://transcience-project.org/reason.com-statement.html

An article addressing allegations that trans people are attempting to silence critics

http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/06/23/unsayable-contrary-negative-stereotypes-trans-women-heard-far-often/

 

Article on government restroom policy

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/jul/08/critics-say-chattanoogas-proposed-nondiscrimi/313446/

Further evidence that chromosomes do not equal gender 

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/human-sex-chromosomes-are-sloppy-dna-swappers-180955946/?no-ist

Rethinking the Conservative Approach to Transgenderism

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/07/15377/

Transgender representation on television

http://www.buzzfeed.com/hillarys511/transgender-representations-on-tv-1s01p

Fact sheet on feminizing hormones

Feminising Hormone Information | The Gender Centre Inc.

http://www.gendercentre.org.au/resources/fact-sheets/feminising-hormone-information.htm

Resources for partners of trans people

http://www.crossdreamers.com/2015/08/resources-for-partners-of-transgender.html

Transitioning is effective in treating gender dysphoria

http://genderanalysis.net/2015/09/paul-mchugh-is-wrong-transitioning-is-effective-gender-analysis-10/

A theory on physiologically based gender identity

http://transcendmovement.com/gender-core-theory-why-am-i-transgender/

Personal account of a black trans woman abused by the system

View story at Medium.com

Examining the history of sexual identity theory

http://www.crossdreamers.com/2015/09/the-two-traditions-of-thinking-about.html

Interview with a trans pilot

http://www.runwaygirlnetwork.com/2015/09/11/trailblazing-trans-pilot-jessica-taylor-pushes-for-equality/

Counterpoints to anti trans rhetoric

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brynn-tannehill/fighting-back-against-ant_b_5633450.html

Study on pre-natal deprivation of hormones on ferrets 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3737708

Sex differences in the brain

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/44096/title/Sex-Differences-in-the-Brain/

2011 Swedish Study Explained

 http://www.transadvocate.com/fact-check-study-shows-transition-makes-trans-people-suicidal_n_15483.htm

Myths About Gender Affirmation Surgery

http://www.gendercentre.org.au/resources/polare-archive/archived-articles/myths-about-gender-affirmation-surgery.htm

A researcher who suggests chimerism could account for transgenderism and homosexuality

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/216874877_Dual-gender_macrochimeric_tissue_discordance_is_predicted_to_be_a_significant_cause_of_human_homosexuality_and_transgenderism

Study on neurological differences between male and female, no single trait is consistent among genders, strong indication that gender does indeed exist as a mosaic

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/11/24/1509654112

Same study, different article

http://www.crossdreamers.com/2015/12/new-brain-study-indicates-great-gender.html

This is an excerpt which I quite like:

Sex/gender differences in the brain are of high social interest because their presence is typically assumed to prove that humans belong to two distinct categories not only in terms of their genitalia, and thus justify differential treatment of males and females. Here we show that, although there are sex/gender differences in brain and behavior, humans and human brains are comprised of unique “mosaics” of features, some more common in females compared with males, some more common in males compared with females, and some common in both females and males. Our results demonstrate that regardless of the cause of observed sex/gender differences in brain and behavior (nature or nurture), human brains cannot be categorized into two distinct classes: male brain/female brain.

2008 Study showing a genetic link to transgenderism

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7689007.stm

Video on transsexualism in the brain

A history of the medical understanding of transgenderism

https://newrepublic.com/article/123544/what-we-knew-of-the-sexes

How to Love Being a Non-Passing Trans Woman in 9 Affirming Steps http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/01/how-love-being-non-passing/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SocialWarfare via @evrydayfeminism

Trans Science Project

http://transcience-project.org/index.html

Notes on Gender Role Transition – a report from 2001

http://www.avitale.com/developmentalreview.htm

15 studies that indicate a biological basis for gender identity 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brynn-tannehill/how-much-evidence-does-it_b_4616722.html

An article detailing the psychological and medical understanding of transgenderism over the years

http://transgenderuniverse.com/2015/12/09/the-origins-of-the-transgender-condition/

Media Matters reporting on the myth that trans inclusive washroom policies might be problematic

http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/06/03/17-school-districts-debunk-right-wing-lies-abou/203867

Amen

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/when-it-comes-to-transgender-rights-there-s-nothing-feminist-about-being-a-bigot-a6843811.html

Unrelated to trans issues per se but interesting none the less

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/the-explosive-science-of-genetics/article28462603/

Y chromosome apparently not necessary to create fertile male mice 

http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/30/10865518/mice-without-y-chromosomes-genes-reproduced-study

It’s funny, cis exclusionary pundits say gender isn’t a choice. Yet here we have a dysphoric exclusionary pundit saying otherwise.

http://help4families.com/am-i-cured-of-transsexuality

Hormones and brain development 

http://transgenderuniverse.com/2016/02/03/the-origins-of-transgender-hormones-and-gender-identity/

An article on shame. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-paul-phd/dealing-with-shame_b_994991.html

An article detailing why it’s difficult to nail down gender differences in the brain

https://newrepublic.com/article/130352/differences-men-womens-brains

An article on gender agnosticism. I like it 🙂

http://www.philpercs.com/2016/02/gender-agnosticism.html

Do’s and don’ts of coming out

https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-convince-my-parents-family-and-friends-to-accept-that-I-am-transgender

Deconstructing Autogynephilia

http://genderanalysis.net/2016/04/alice-dreger-autogynephilia-and-the-misrepresentation-of-trans-sexualities-book-review-galileos-middle-finger/

Study finds positive effects of transition care in teenagers

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/134/4/696

Bruce Springsteen defending Trans rights

http://www.shrinktank.com/bruce-springsteen-receives-backlash-hb2-supporters-shrinktank-responds-open-letter/

A thorough taking down of Kenneth Zucker

http://harlot.media/articles/2582/zuckers-therapy-mourned-almost-exclusively-by-cis-people

A number of links for various studies 

http://aebrain.blogspot.ca/p/transsexual-and-intersex-gender-identity.html

An article on the biological basis for gender identity 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-something-unique-about-the-transgender-brain/

Lies and misrepresentation of bathroom issues

http://www.snopes.com/transgender-filming-women-restroom/

http://www.snopes.com/nc-bathroom-bill-opposition-leader-a-sex-offender/

We just need to pee

http://www.advocate.com/transgender/2016/4/15/19-images-show-wejustneedtopee

4 Trans Affirmations

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/09/affirmations-trans-women/

An account of a de transition 

http://malaysiandigest.com/frontpage/29-4-tile/606221-ex-mak-nyah-shares-reason-behind-his-jihad-to-be-man-again.html

Why are Trans women concerned with appearance? Why go through surgery and do everything possible to fit within the feminine binary? This is why.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/transgender-woman-records-strangers-tirade-allegedly-attacking-york/story?id=38851842

This may be a repeat, but it’s another article saying how the gender binary is a social construct, whereas biology is in fact much more complicated

http://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943

Examples of transgenderism in nature

http://www.toptenz.net/10-transgendered-multi-gendered-animals.php?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=10_transgendered_and_multi_gendered_animals_toptenznet

An article that effectively covers the key points that establish a biological basis for gender identity

http://m.voanews.com/a/transformation-biology-transgender-biology-gender-identity/3339274.html

Transgender Kids Show Consistent Gender Identity Across Measures 

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/transgender-kids-show-consistent-gender-identity-across-measures.html

Transgender Children Supported in their Identities Show Positive Mental Health

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160226081528.htm

On Autogynephilia 

https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2016/07/13/on-autogynephilia/

on desistance, a detailed article that suggests about 2/3 of dysphoric and gender non conforming kids will grow up to identify as cis

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/07/whats-missing-from-the-conversation-about-transgender-kids.html

Counterpoint to the above

View story at Medium.com

Mother’s Day Piece

http://transgenderuniverse.com/2016/05/02/coming-out-to-mom-the-freckle-patch-story/

A thorough debunking of a recent trans-exclusionary article

https://thinkprogress.org/american-college-pediatricians-transgender-kids-falsehoods-384716df13c5#.v0w3dtfjw

The history of stigmatizing minorities through bathrooms

http://transadvocate.com/the-politics-of-transphobia_n_18825.htm

Injustice at Every Turn, a report on the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

http://www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf

Textbook Bigotry. I include this article because it is a surprisingly comprehensive breakdown of how bigotry presents itself. Rationalization, dismissal, accusations of over sensitivity and insinuated threats of violence.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-friday-edition-1.3786140/i-m-not-a-bigot-meet-the-u-of-t-prof-who-refuses-to-use-genderless-pronouns-1.3786144 

A follow up piece on the anti PC U of T professor 

http://torontoist.com/2016/12/are-jordan-petersons-claims-about-bill-c-16-correct/

Violence towards trans women is very real

https://lab.witness.org/projects/transgender-violence/executive-summary/

Detailing mental and medical health issues faced by the trans community

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-truth-about-exercise-addiction/201612/why-transgender-people-experience-more-mental-health

A Conservative Defense of Transgender Rights

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443153/transgender-bathrooms-conservative-defense-transgender-rights

It Gets Better

It Gets Better

When I first started to take my gender issues seriously I read literally everything I could find. For over a year I poured over every article and scrap of info that Google could present me with. I constantly refreshed Reddit and WordPress, desperate for more tidbits to help understand my own inner workings. 

As the reality of transition began to sink in writing became my outlet. I had a lot to say and it felt really good to get everything on paper. It didn’t matter who was reading it, though it’s always nice to be noticed. Reading my old entries reminds me I had felt pretty dark at times. 

In retrospect this was the feeling of stepping into blinding light after decades of shadow. Feelings of uncertainty, stigma and internalized transphobia won’t dissipate overnight. There were days where I did little more than lie on the couch staring at nothing. Each morning I looked in the mirror, wondering as always, what do other people see?

Then there were times when I looked at myself and was astounded by just how much I liked the person staring back. I’ve come to realize my transition has been life long. Furrowed brow and averted gaze have become warm smiles and earnest welcome. There was no single moment when things changed. It was just little by little, each and every day.

More and more I felt like going out and doing things. Books and video games, still nice, have begun to diminish in their appeal. I want to leave the house, talk to people, be a part of the world. I volunteer at church. I joined the choir. I found supportive environments and made friends. 

My emotions have settled from a wild rollercoaster into a gentle curve. With reduced anxiety I have less and less to write about. I recently bought a condo. I’ve been living here for just over two weeks. Good location, close to my church. Some of the best restaurants in the city are only a few blocks away. Work is going well, most people are super nice, though from time to time someone I knew before transitioning will misgender or dead name me. It sucks but I’m able to walk away from it.  

When I’m out and about there are still a few stares, but most people ignore me. I think by and large I am accepted as female. More importantly I accept myself as female. I’ve developed a better understanding of what that means. And with that understanding comes an awareness that it really doesn’t matter to anyone but me. 

Tragic narratives are far too common and every single one needs to be taken seriously. One thing I don’t read enough of are positive stories. The accounts of people whose lives didn’t turn to utter shit. More and more I’m seeing those stories, and I realize that, so far mine is one of them. The world is still a harsh place for gender non conformity, but things are improving. I guess what I’m saying is don’t give up the fight

The Fruit it Bears

The Fruit it Bears

“Be on your guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wild wolves. You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briars do not bear figs. A healthy tree bears good fruit, but a poor tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a poor tree cannot bear good fruit. And any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire. So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do. (Matthew 7:15-20 GNBDK)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/terror-shooting-at-gay-club_us_575d5938e4b0e39a28add1b4?icdjbjtgevmwjyvi

I am feeling incredibly worn out by all of the senseless bickering over what really is a simple issue. It is never ok to treat someone poorly. That preceding sentence, that one single line is what every debate over race, religion, nationality, gender, gender identity, orientation, wealth, ability, and any other status, ultimately boils down to. It is never ok to treat someone poorly. 

Sure there might be times when it’s necessary, times when it can’t be avoided. It should never be something that’s considered acceptable. There is no circumstance in which suffering should be seen as anything but failure. To those that would endorse and promote suffering, to those that would defend and dissemble, obfuscate and justify, please just open your eyes. 

Open your eyes and look at what you’re doing. Look at what you are actually accomplishing. See the world you are creating. Anytime someone looks upon someone else as being less deserving, of being less important, as a problem in need of fixing, as a person who should not – in whatever context – be allowed to simply be, everyone suffers. 

The world is never made better by violence. This has never once happened in all of human history. Sure one can point to instances of violence that ended other, much worse violence. But winning a war doesn’t happen until the violence stops, that’s kind of the defining factor.  

I’m really not looking forward to the fallout from this tragedy. Countless opinions and counterpoints. Every politician, news outlet and two bit pundit will no doubt attempt to spin the matter towards their own ideological leaning. Really the only thing anyone should take away from this is how very, very important it is to be good to one another. Even – and especially – the people we don’t like

She’s writing again

She’s writing again

Oh look, a grossly neglected blog. I keep meaning to update and then not actually doing so. The good news is this means I have a lot to write about. I have been meaning to do a 1 HRT year retrospective since well past the one one year mark. That was on March 4th. So a month late. Also I had been meaning to do a 2015 retrospective… So anyway :D…

As I write this I can’t help but think back on my early forays into the general public as myself. I remember the panic attack I had simply from walking the length of the mall and back. Every moment going out of my mind with worry. Now I find myself pretty relaxed while out and about, I won’t deny I enjoy a degree of passing privilege, it helps a lot. That said there was a point in my life where I seriously questioned if passing was even possible. I guess you don’t know until you try.

Oh yeah and in one of my earlier blogs I mentioned that I was not sure if I would ever be comfortable calling myself a woman. Yeah I’m a woman, even though I haven’t fully wrapped my head around the concept. Life is actually going pretty well for me. Lady came back into my life for a brief period at the end of last year, things went well until they didn’t, I was a jerk and will probably never hear from her again. This makes me incredibly sad but in the long run it’s probably for the best. 

I have been getting more involved with my church. I had been volunteering with things like coffee and greeting, and very recently I joined the choir. They let me sing alto 😀 😀 😀 I would rate my ability as serviceable. 

I’ve also started helping with an organization called Calgary Queer Church. The meet once a month and it has proven to be an absolute blessing. The guy who runs it is pretty incredible and I’m proud to be a small part of it. He asked me to do a quick 5 minute talk about what it means to be queer and Christian for the most recent service. Here is what I said,

What does it mean to be queer and Christian

The very first thing I learned as a Christian, one of the very first things I learned period, is that Jesus loves me. When I came out as trans in late 2014 I was incredibly fortunate because this was also one of the first things I learned about being queer. Unfortunately for a lot of us this simply isn’t the case. 

All too often I hear people speak the name of our lord in order to justify their own exclusionary attitudes. The truth is that exclusionary values are not Christian values. Jesus is for everyone. It can be a hard thing to understand. We want to do right by our faith and our community, but sooner or later we must realize that part of doing the right thing is being true to ourselves, even when we don’t fully understand.

When I was young kids at school often questioned my faith. They would ask how could I believe in something that can’t be proven. Or why would I believe in a benevolent God when the world is full of so many terrible things. They would try to tell me that science proves God doesn’t exist. Of course science proves no such thing. 

Now that I’ve transitioned I come across many of the same arguments. How can I believe I’m a woman when there’s absolutely no proof? Why would I want to transition when there are so many terrible things that go along with it? I’ve heard countless people say that when it comes to gender identity and sexual orientation human biology is very simple and straightforward. 

The truth is there’s nothing simple or straightforward about any of this. The world is a complicated place. Jesus teaches us not to expect easy answers, but rather to look and listen. Being queer means that we are forced to ask questions about ourselves, and to cope with self doubt in every part of our daily lives.

It can be scary at times. We all have things we care about, things we don’t want to lose. I was always worried about what others would think when they found out. Would people suddenly avoid me? Make fun of me? Would anyone try to hurt me? The truth is they have and will again. It’s part of life. 

Throughout the entirety of his ministry Jesus knew what his Father had planned for him. ‘Take this cup away’ he said. He could have run, he could have fought, he could have called a host of angels from the sky. He did none of those things, instead he chose to suffer and die for the sake of humanity. 

Me, I’m not nearly as brave as our beloved savior. I spent my life running away, fighting every instinct, and If I’d had a host of angels and my beck and call I guarantee I would have abused the privilege. I did however do everything I could think of to be the person everyone expected me to be.

I used to collect hockey cards. I didn’t know anything about hockey, didn’t know who any of these players were, and I’d never sat through more than five minutes of a game. But boys like hockey and darn it I was going to be a boy. So I traded hockey cards with my friends, while suppressing the intense jealousy I felt towards the girls over at the next table trading their Jem and the Holograms stickers. 

I rejected the things I wanted most, and embraced suffering for the sake of strength.  Like if I hated myself enough maybe I could eventually become normal.

The only thing I accomplished was to cut myself off from the rest of the world. I was so scared of loosing everything that I was unable to fully appreciate anything. It’s impossible to form deep, meaningful relationships without honesty and acceptance. Since reconciling my beliefs with my identity I have experienced a sense of wholeness, of connection that I never could have imagined. 

We find ourselves together. We all come from different places, we all look a bit different, we have different abilities and different needs. Maybe we’re afraid. What if we’re not good enough? What if they’re not good enough? The world is full of people who will gladly take without giving back. Jesus tells us to let them.

By understanding the grace of our lord and the generosity of his spirit, we realize we have a lot more to gain by being together than by being apart. By humbling ourselves and sacrificing for the sake of love we will find everything we need in one another. What does it mean to be queer and Christian? In a lot of ways I think they mean the same thing.

5 Things Everyone Should Understand Before Discussing Trans Issues

5 Things Everyone Should Understand Before Discussing Trans Issues

2015 was something of a banner year for conversations about trans folk and the many issues we face. It was my own year of coming out and while I am definitely something of a neophyte I have done my best to catch up. Some things come up time and again that do nothing to move the conversation forward, because they are based on some fundamental misunderstandings.

Take for example a certain feminist writer who suggested trans women aren’t women because we don’t act and sound like women. Setting aside the question of whether trans women are women, this statement makes two highly inaccurate assumptions, one that there is a correct way to be female, and two that trans women are incapable of meeting this standard. Both assumptions are provably false (and not things a sensible feminist should assume in any context) but it demonstrates a need to establish some basic facts that I think everyone should know before trying to engage in any discussion about gender non conformity.

5. Everyone is different.

The human machine is the most complicated thing in the known universe, there are over seven billion unique configurations of human and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s possible. Chromosomes are something people tend to focus on when it comes to trans folk, the reason being we have a test that can determine whether someone is likely to be male or female.

But chromosomes don’t actually make someone male or female, they make us both, they make us human. They carry a complete set of instructions which includes every possible male and female attribute. The test I spoke of focuses on a single distinction, one specific set of instructions that tells the gonads of a developing fetus to become testicles. From there the development of the human body involves countless variables. 

Every part of the human body can develop into a masculine or feminine state, growing towards one or the other, or somewhere in between, or both or neither or fluid or whatever else. The most important thing to understand is that we don’t actually understand all that much. We do know that no specific trait is exclusive or universal to either gender. Not every man has a penis, while some women have a Y chromosome, men can have breasts, women can have an adams apple and so on.   

Studies have shown that no one, no human being alive has completely male or female attributes, and that people who trend one way or the other are uncommon. Most people contain a fairly even mix of male and female qualities, especially when you look at the brain. It is impossible to categorize the whole world, all we can do is self identify. We need to stop looking at gender as a way of defining people, and instead as a means for people to define themselves. 

4. No one chooses their gender.

I shouldn’t have to point this one out as its something pretty much all parties agree on, but it comes up as a straw man far too often. No one chooses their gender identity, no one I’ve ever read about has claimed to. Transgenderism is not a fad, or a lifestyle, there’s no practical reason or tangible benefit for an otherwise cis (non trans) person to decide they want to become trans.

The truth is I never particularly wanted to be trans, and in fact still don’t. That’s not to say I want to be a man, though at one point I certainly did. I remember asking myself so what? So what if I’m really a woman, why can’t I just live as a man anyway. I’m attracted to women, and I’m going to have a lot more options if they see me as a man. Well I’ve since walked that road, and in addition to the immense stress caused by living against my identity, that’s a really awful thing to do to the people I care about most. 

Lady was the reason I came out, she had a right to know who she was falling in love with. My mother and father have a right to know who their child is. Trans folk all around the world have a right to know they are not alone. What I’m saying is the only choice I ever made regarding my identity was whether or not to tell people. Keeping it a secret didn’t change anything. I was never a man, despite looking and acting the part.

3. Privilege, marginalization and intersectionality. 

Many years ago I was taking classes at a place called Black Belt School of Karate, which was exactly what it sounds like. It was run by Grand Master Tate, I’ve had some pretty great martial arts instructors over the years and he was definitely my favorite. One day his brother was visiting from out of town, and I was waiting in the lobby for a ride. So I struck up a conversation, it was pleasant and light, typical small talk. As I was leaving he said he was surprised that I had talked with him, because he is black.

This was my first exposure to the concept of privilege and marginalization, though I didn’t know those terms at the time. Privilege refers to problems you don’t have to deal with, marginalization is when your problems are invisible to the bulk of society. Obviously people of color experience completely different problems than trans people. It’s just as important to appreciate that trans people of color experience both sets of problems, along with problems that are unique to being both, a concept referred to as intersectionality.

This is why it’s so very important to listen and ask questions before offering an opinion. There are a wide range of issues affecting trans people, and many of those problems are heavily influenced by other factors. You don’t understand these problems if you haven’t lived them.

2. Oppression is not freedom

The phrase ‘religious freedom’ is the most horrifyingly ironic statement I have come across in recent years. The word freedom in this context refers to a right to oppress, which is the opposite of freedom. History is filled with religious oppression, individuals invoking religion to justify their atrocities. Religion is meant to make the world better, make people better, to ease suffering rather than cause it. 

I consider myself to be a fairly religious person. I go to church every week and volunteer when I can. I sleep with a bible next to my bed and pray regularly. It absolutely breaks my heart when the values I grew up with are used to justify harm. Your rights apply to you, when you actively restrict the rights of others – rights that don’t affect you one way or another – you don’t get to call it freedom, it’s tyranny plain and simple. 

What about my right to the presumption of innocence? My right to move about in peace and goodwill, to love and be loved, accepted as part of a community and share whatever gifts I have to give? This is the whole point of religious freedom, I can have my beliefs, you can have yours, and we can still treat each other with respect and dignity. That’s freedom, the other thing is called bigotry, and trying to call it something else doesn’t change the fact that it’s terrible.

1. No one is asking for special treatment

Quite the opposite actually. When I go job hunting, I want to know I’m being judged on my ability to do the job, rather than what customers and coworkers might think of me. When I’m out shopping I want to focus on the things I’m interested in buying, rather than rude comments, rather than the fact I’ve had too much coffee and don’t know whether it’s safe to pee. I want to walk on public streets without fear of being attacked. I want to have a relationship with someone who isn’t afraid to introduce me to their family.

These are just a few examples, as I’ve mentioned above there are trans folk who have to deal with things I’ve never even thought of. Problems that are the direct result of being perceived as trans. Problems that wouldn’t exist without biased preconceptions. People ask ‘why should our daughters and granddaughters be traumatized by seeing a trans person in a female space?’ Why indeed, whatever the reason it has nothing to do with us. 

I’ve heard a few pundits say that trans people should not be allowed in the military because the military is not a social experiment. This is an ignorant thing to say, trans people are already serving and doing a fine job. Most of the people they serve with don’t realize they’re trans, and I see no good reason why it should matter.

As stated I never wanted to be trans, and a big part of that is because I knew it would change the way people see me. I just want to be treated like everybody else, and the conversations around transgenderism are so important because currently that’s simply not the case. 

The way trans people are treated is unacceptable. The way people of color are treated is unacceptable, so is the way women are treated, the way religious minorities are treated, the way disabled people are treated. Racism, sexism, ableism, zealotry, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia the list goes on. All of these are flavors of bigotry, excuses and justifications to mistreat and condescend, to deny reject and abuse. It’s all terrible, it’s all disgusting, and the only thing we want is for people to stop it. That’s the conversation we’re having, please join in 🙂

Heartache

Heartache

Ours is not a love story, it is a story about honesty, and the lack thereof. Honesty is a difficult thing. It is impossible to relay everything, and even with the best intentions some things are always held back. Lady doesn’t like it when I write about her, she says I lie. Of course I can only paint the picture as I see it. Ok that’s a lie, I paint the picture so that it looks good on the page. What more can I do?

I’ve been in a deep melancholy since Lady went away. Three times now she’s left my life for good. Three times my heart has been broken, and I told as much. Her response was that my heart wasn’t really broken the first time. I didn’t know what to say to that. 

I am quite skilled at hiding my feelings, both physical and emotional. Apparently I have trouble showing them, and I when I do perhaps I show too much. I can be unpleasant, callous and mean spirited. I know how to cause hurt, and when I feel hurt I’m able to assume a facade of perfect calm. Another lie, I’m not always able to stay calm.

Lady on the other hand wears her heart on her sleeve. It’s one of the things I love about her. It’s a big part of why our adventures always seem so grand. She absorbs every moment, her heart resonates with the beauty around her. Her heart also resonates when surrounded by pain and sadness. There are times I feel I’m an affliction, a shadow corrupting her gentle spirit. 

Maybe that’s why I let her go, why I wasn’t there to say goodbye. She called me the day she left. I had promised to drive her to the airport, but I wasn’t at home, I couldn’t bear to face her. “Where are you?” she asked. I can picture the tears on her face. In that moment I felt very cold, and it had nothing to do with the fact that it was below freezing where I was. 

As always she was very direct with her feelings, every word a barb in my chest. I had done this, everything was my fault, this much at least is no lie. When I invited Lady to come visit near the end of January I desperately hoped that we had moved past our issues. When she agreed to stay until the new year I was over the moon. But the old problems were still right there with us, I couldn’t make things better, I couldn’t be what she needed.

As she poured out her grief a distant part of me knew that if I flew to her as fast as the winds would carry me then maybe things could be different. If she’d asked me to I probably would have. Another lie. We were both too hurt by that point. She may have asked but I didn’t hear, I may have heard but I didn’t want to. I stood and listened, unmoving, unmoved. It was the end, just like before. 

It’s all about the lies we tell, to ourselves and to each other. Words can never move from one heart to another unmarred. The things I say are not what she hears, I listen but I do not understand. We love each other, but cannot seem to trust in that love. If she were to knock on my door right now I would embrace her and invite her in without hesitation, knowing yet again that it can only end in heartbreak. I’m just that kind of asshole. 

I came out of the closet one year ago today

I came out of the closet one year ago today

Hey look I’m still alive… I have a multitude of excuses for not writing, they’re all terrible. Let’s move on to what I’ve been up to shall we 😀

It was one year ago today that I told the woman I love who I really am. It’s been an interesting year. Lady, the woman I love, took it well at first. She was very supportive and taught me a great deal about the day to day of womanhood. Things eventually got kind of rocky, then very rocky. Then she left, moving far away back to her family. 

A few months later we started to rekindle things. She came to visit me, I went to visit her. In late November she needed to come to town and I convinced her to stay with me. Then I convinced her to come early, then to stay through the holidays. Things went well until they didn’t, the short version is I am a jerk and she left again. I had been looking forward to spending today with her… At least she was around long enough to go with me to my works christmas party, which was a lot of fun. Despite our troubles she really is my favorite person to share an adventure with.  

On to some good news my name change certificate came in the mail, I am officially June 😀 Now begins the process of getting the rest of my ID changed over. From what I’ve read this can be tedious. The certificate itself took longer than I was originally led to believe so I’m not holding my breath on the next steps. Still it feels good, it’s strange how one piece of paper can mean so much. 

On a social front I seem to be fully accepted as female in all corners. At work I’ve been allowed to introduce myself as June. They let me do this even before my certificate came in the mail. At first the policy was that I had to introduce myself based on the name in the system, which had to match my ID, for reasons that really do make sense given where I work. Then there was apparently some shuffling of our leadership and word came down that I could begin using my proper name.

And what a difference a name makes. When I first began my transition, talking to my boss about everything, I had said I didn’t mind using my given name for a while. That changed over the following months, and got to the point where I actively disliked having to say it. I was getting better at sounding feminine, and a lot of times when people didn’t hear my name they would gender me correctly, there were even a few times where they asked me to repeat my name and still gendered me correctly. There were of course times where I was gendered female until my name came up, then they would change. Now that I can introduce myself properly my stress levels have been much, much lower 🙂

I’m still waiting to see the psychologist, “the” psychologist, as in there’s only one in my city who can diagnose gender dysphoria apparently. When I started looking into all of this in mid to late February I was told the wait was 8-10 months. When I checked in October to see where I was at on the list I was told it would be… another 8-10 months. Good times. I do feel the process of self reflection is worthwhile. As much as some would like to dive head first into their transition and do everything right this very second… wait who am I kidding I’m totally one of those people… anyway I do think it has been helpful getting to know myself. 

I am a woman who really doesn’t want to be a trans woman. I would much prefer to be the kind of woman who simply is. A woman for whom there are no questions, or self doubt. No one with mean spirited signs telling me no boys allowed, oblivious or callous to the layers of hurt such statements evoke. I want to scream at them that I tried really hard to be a man. I got very good at it, but every day was a lie. Every word, every action, every picture… 

I see myself in old photos and it still feels like looking at a distant relative. Someone I know a great deal about but never met personally. Someone I don’t fully understand, whom I resent for reasons I can’t articulate. I get why some trans folk destroy all of their old pictures and ask people not to bring up reminders of the past. Personally I don’t want to erase the past, even if it hurts. The hurt is what makes me who I am. 

Wow that got depressing. Ok on to something happy… My church has been a (literal, as I see it) Godsend. Tonight I volunteered for one of the Christmas eve services, and there was a potluck for the volunteers beforehand. It was wonderful simply being accepted and appreciated. There are some really great people there. It’s one of the few places where my self awareness subsides and I can enjoy the moment without fear of being judged. Well ok there’s still some fear but much less than normal. 

Oh and shout out to my friend Matron, who despite the many complications in her life still has time to hang out with me. She and I are now doing a regular podcast with a friend of ours… Ok it’s actually our friends podcast and he lets us tag along. It’s called ‘Everything is the worst’ and its available on iTunes and on our friends website, scudsworth.com Yes I was instructed to share on social media. I feel no shame for this.