I’m A Trans Woman And I’m Not Interested In Being One of the “Good Ones”

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A month or two after I started living full time out as woman, one of my friends suggested I talk to an acquaintance of his, an older trans woman who had been out for years.

My friend thought his acquaintance might be able to give me some tips on surviving as a trans woman. I was thrilled. Here, I though, was someone who had the answers. Surely she would be able to point me in the right direction. We had arranged to meet in a coffee shop. In my excitement I arrived an hour early. It was going to be awesome.

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Copyright Ivy Daley

 

What actually happened was that she showed up and asked why I wasn’t dressed like a woman. I was wearing skinny jeans, a studded belt, and an ironic t-shirt. I liked how I looked. I looked, in my opinion, like a queer woman in her mid-twenties on her day off, which, shockingly, I was.

But no, I was informed, I wasn’t being a woman right.

She was neither the first nor the last person to inform me that I’m doing it wrong. There was I woman I met soon after moving back up to Boston in 2011. She had transitioned in her teens and most folks wouldn’t know she was trans unless she wanted to tell them. She had a real heart for women who were just starting transition, but she had expectations for those people. She couldn’t stand ‘bricks.’ She explained that bricks were women who looked “like a man in a dress.” A cinderblock was even worse. A trans guy who was too femme was feathery.

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I’ve been told that if I’d only start pitching my voice up, or stop wearing pants, or start wearing make up, I could totally pass, that no one would have to know the shameful secret that I’m a trans person.

There’s another side too. In college I asked the instructor of a Women’s Studies course I took if she could recommend any reading on trans issues. She suggested Sheila Jeffreys’ 2005 book ‘Beauty and Misogyny,’ which contains a delightful chapter in which Jeffreys uses pornography depicting young trans women of color to explain why there’s no such thing as trans and how trans women(no mention of trans men or non-binary folks for some reason) are actually evil, essentially pornographic simulacra reinforcing harmful gender tropes.

It’s a great double bind. If you present in a traditionally feminine way, you’re just being a misogynistic parody of a woman, and if you fail to present in a traditionally feminine way, well ha! There’s the proof that you’re not really a woman right there.

And even if you are “really a woman,” that might not be enough. At a Christmas party last December a Smith alumna defended Smith’s decision not to accept trans feminine students by explaining that even if trans women were women, they had still been socialized as boys and men, and that Smith, as a safe space for women and trans men, had a right to defend their students from such people, from the inexorcisable specter of their privilege.

I know women who identify as “heterosexual with a transgender history.” They’re trying so hard to get away.

But you know what’s worse than being somebody’s idea of a bad tranny? Being somebody’s idea of a good tranny, an acceptable tranny.

Last fall I was at an event in a room full of professional acquaintances. A musician who I’ve done some good work with came over to talk to me. This guy is a kind, thoughtful man who I trust. I’ve known him for about two years.

“Vivian,” he said, “it’s so nice to have you here. You always seem to happy and relaxed, and you’re always so open about being trans.”

At this point I’m smiling, enjoying a nice compliment. Then the horror began.

“All the other trans people I’ve known are always so stressed out and unhappy, and are just so difficult. You do an amazing job of making people comfortable.”

And by then I was ready to leap on him to get him to be quiet. The only other trans person he knew, as far as I was aware, was standing a few yards away. I don’t know if she heard that or not, but I really hope not.

That’s not a unique example. I’ve had a lesbian in her 60s tell me that I was the first trans woman who ever got along with, that I’m cool and queer instead of “uncomfortably trying too hard to be a straight woman.”

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Copyright Ivy Daley

Here’s the thing: People fucking despise trans women. Often the nicest thing they can thing of to say to trans woman is “gosh, you are so little like a trans woman!” Being trans is something to avoid, to exclude, to escape, at worst to nobly bare up under.

But I’m done with it. You can be trans or cis. You can be super femme, you can be ultra butch. You can be straight or queer. You can have people saying you’re a transcendent beauty who just stepped off a Renaissance canvas, you can have people saying you’re a stomach turning monster. You can be a light in the world who every person you meet loves and devotes themselves to, you can be an awkward storm cloud who drives everyone away.

I don’t care. Sun shines and rain falls on the just and unjust alike. I don’t want to know who the Real Good Ones and the Real Bad Ones are. We’re all people. We all deserve to be treated as valued members of humanity. That’s all.


Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.


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Vivian Taylor is a writer, activist, avid Sung Compline promoter, and proud (if occasionally troubled) North Carolinian currently living in Boston, MA. She served in the War in Iraq from 2009-2010 and is currently running several statewide LGBT Q rights campaigns in places like Ohio, Oregon, and others. She writes about her experiences in war, being a peacenik veteran and being a transgender Christian.

Vivian has written 3 articles for us.

316 Comments

  1. Thumb up 1

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    This is why, as a post-transition woman, I don’t engage with the trans community at all. Very few groups hate trans folk more than them.

    • Thumb up 24

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      Hollywood, the Catholic Church, the Republican Party, radscum, the “justice” system, Arizona, late-night talk show hosts….

      Yeah, I don’t think trans people are making it into the top 20.

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      I’m getting the feeling that the trans community I hang with, and the trans community you used to hang with, and radically different communities.

  2. Thumb up 16

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    ” People fucking despise trans women. Often the nicest thing they can thing of to say to trans woman is “gosh, you are so little like a trans woman!” ”

    ugh…gut punch…
    and so true.

  3. Thumb up 10

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    These Trans scribe series of articles are the best!

    I hate that attitude so much. I tend to get it in bits and pieces from my cis friends. I struggle to settle on a gender largely because while I feel very much one rather than the other, I’ll never pass so I tend to shy away from it, but thats my own problem. Hence no matter what I wear, I’m going to look very feminine because thats my frame. Then I have friends being like ugh you’re so great, you don’t even CARE about gender, you’re not trans, you just do whatever. And I can never tell what exactly they mean by that.

  4. Thumb up 6

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    You are my new shero!!! It just drives me crazy when I hear others tell trans women how they are supposed to be women when it comes to appearance. We as transwomen are women and can dress however the F we want to. How do you “pass” as a woman? BE YOURSELF! That’s how.

    Thank you for posting this!

    • Thumb up 2

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      Uh, who are you and what did you do with the Dana Taylor who regularly accused people of being fetishists who were at war with women?

        • Thumb up 3

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          Personal attacks can have real world consequences. I don’t know that I want to give you and the Bug the satisfaction of knowing what yours cost me, but some things aren’t made all better with “I’m sorry.”

          I’ll leave it at that, because I’m sure the original author doesn’t need the discussion derailed by this. But don’t expect everyone to just forget.

          • Thumb up 1

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            It has already been derailed. In the article I ask for people to feel free to comment on the article and you are more than welcome. You don’t have to forgive me and i don’t expect you to. But I realize what I did was horrible and wrong.

          • Thumb up 2

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            Sorry for being so short with my response. I really would like you to leave comments on the article because others need to see the real damage that can be caused by doing what I did. Please do comment.

  5. Thumb up 20

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    I want to add… Telling trans women they need to “pass” in appearance as a woman puts incredible stress and anxiety on women. Some of us have enough testosterone damage to our bodies that it is impossible. Some of us can’t change this. This can cause some women not to transition and take that road of suicide which is disgustingly common in our community. Perhaps these people who push “passing” are well intentioned but it can be dangerous.

      • Thumb up 3

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        Bald is sexier anyway! I’ve been going the safe route and identifying as a gender queer lesbian and only saying I’m transgender when frustrated I’m not being taken seriously. I’m still keeping a bit of hair on my chin so my stubble is less distinguished because I’m not getting hormone therapy. I like to shave my head and wear skinny jeans (with shaved legs underneath) and a few of my tops (over my hairless chest) are for women. I have long pointed fingernails and my mannerisms are femme but I look boyish. My heroes include Sinead O’Connor, so baldness or short hair isn’t an issue to me, be it how I look or who I’m into. I’m uncomfortable with the idea a man in a wig is more trans* than I am, when I couldn’t “pass” as a boy in childhood. They all called me a girl and that’s really what I was… I don’t understand why cis-women will act like trans* men are the real women. That seems masculinist to me. I’m a lifelong feminist and I hate getting told I’m mansplaining about my gender identity! Arg.

    • Thumb up 4

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      We need much more widely to discuss passing pressure with honesty and kindness…

      I’ll admit that being around really non-passing TG women makes me very uncomfortable. Fearful, even. I feel annoyed or embarrassed by some of their quirks like deep voices or balding… It’s a kind of gender contagion, an irrational sense that they might amplify the things I detest about my own body. None of this I’m proud of; I try hard to never let it burn other trans* folks I meet. But inside I do feel such (internalized transphobic) disgust and don’t quite know how to transcend it.

      Frankly, trans* women are ugly to me. I’m ugly to me…

      Sad.

      • Thumb up 0

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        Unfortunately I have internalized that same feeling. I don’t present as trans and probably never will because the idea of not passing – whether it’s me or someone else – makes me feel grossed out. I would never shame someone else for not passing because it’s my problem, not theirs, but I’m already approaching middle age and I think it might be easier to live life presenting as a man (at least IRL) than dealing with transition. I guess I’ll have to see, although if someone ever makes a gender swap pill I’m all over that!

      • Thumb up 3

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        Brighid, what a painful and beautiful comment. More than any other comment so far, this cuts to the heart of our situation; the terrible self-hatred. I go in and out with feeling that way about myself… but so do most of the birth-assigned females I know. Well, all of them. I feel that as long as I consider cis women to be the definition of female, and want to be “like that,” I’ll never let myself sink into the happiness that I feel is so very close. It’s the same, really, for any woman; if we let some other kind of woman be “more woman” than us – and we so easily do – we’ll never be able to love ourselves.

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        I know exactly what you mean Bridghid. I went to a trans conference and felt really vulnerable because although no-one looks at me twice in the wider world I was scared I’d be outed by association as I was mixing with transwomen who don’t have a female normative look.

        This has awful implications for me. I’ve just lost my closest friendship, a ciswoman I’d known for 30 years, when she outed me to a new friend after I’d specifically asked her not to. She was my last female friend, and now I have no-one. I try to make friends with transwomen my age, but they all seem to be late transitioners, non-normative in appearance and I’m ashamed to say I don’t take it any further as I’m lucky enough to move through the world as a woman, and I don’t want to lose that. My choice is to either have no trans friends, or to be publicly outed. I can’t make friends with ciswomen either for some reason. I think I must be defensively spiky and it puts them off. I’m so lonely.

        I hate being me sometimes.

        • Thumb up 0

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          Patience is a virtue. Be kind to those who despise you. Conversation builds bridges. Snapping at the “dominant culture” does nothing to further our cause.

          I used to be embarrassed to be around “non-passing” transgendered individuals. I just thanked God that I passed.

          Now that I am older . . . I know that we must come together as a group.

          Dana

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        I have a sort of weird combination of feelings. First, when I am with other trans women (regardless of whether they pass as cis better or worse than me), I worry a lot more about being read and dealing with shit from people and so don’t want to be there. I am very ashamed of this feeling because it is a real disservice to other trans women. Now, the next feelings I am not ashamed of at all. Second, I feel a comradery in facing the worlds dangers together and a also feel a certain safety in numbers.

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        Wow Brighid, your comment unfortunately rings very true to me. I go to an open trans meeting at my local LGBT center. I’m fairly young (31) and testosterone hasn’t ravaged my body all that much. I notice a few much older trans women there that will never pass and I do feel a bit uncomfortable around them. I couldn’t verbalize the feeling until I read your comment.

        We don’t share the ugly feeling however. I personally feel ugly/masculine sometimes, but I don’t feel ugly for being trans.

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      It’s taken me a while, but I don’t hang with the trans community any more than I have to these days, and I don’t worry about “passing” as anything but myself. I don’t really give a flying F*k what others think of my appearance or their reactions to the incongruities between my dress and my other attributes. I’m just who I am and I pass for me just fine, thanks.

  6. Thumb up 13

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    Loooooooooorrrrrrddd, this article. Thankfully, I now work at a very nice place where everyone’s *generally* not a dumb piece of shit all the time when it comes to trans* people. Back when I worked with my local PFLAG chapter, though, I should have just started a @shitpeopleatmylocalpflagchaptersays twitter account to highlight the constant bullshit, silencing, pettiness, and sexual harassment, mostly from “well intentioned” people.

    All of the older trans women (I’ve only met a couple trans girls my age online) I’ve met have been super sweet and I know their hearts are in the right place, but, they just don’t get me at all. They would try to be open minded, but just spend most of the conversation with their heads cocked to the side. And I totally get it – even though shit is hard now, it was harder when they were transitioning. Oppression builds up and gets internalized and ends up being projected. Not everyone had nice places like AS or other third-wave havens to come to for affirmation.

    I know trans* women who would get me are out there. I just don’t think they live where I live. I can’t wait to move somewhere with a bigger trans* presence. I’ve got a couple of genderqueer friends here that are amazing, but I want some awesome trans lady friends, too!

    • Thumb up 0

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      I am sorry that you had to go through that shit. Some people just don’t get it. (but please, easy on the “old”, I am 70 with passing privilege though I usually dress like my 20 – 30 yr old friends maybe just a little hippie but that is who I am. Just as woman is who I am. My young friends are trans women, trans men, gender fuckers butch and femme. Most of my friends my age are radfems who, like me have been on the front lines since the 70’s. I live in a small city where it is good to be trans and I love it.

  7. Thumb up 8

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    Yes. Just yes. I was told that I was too broad shouldered and too tall, that because I identify as a queer woman and I prefer jeans and a comfortable tee shirt that I wasn’t feminine enough – all kinds of BS – to ever pass. Screw ‘em. I happily transitioned anyway, and no one outside the trans community gives a damn about my height or how I dress. Thanks for sharing this, you have an excellent perspective.

    • Thumb up 1

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      The funny thing is you just described a runway model body, and lots of cis women would love to have that build. More proof that the beauty game is rigged, and you can never truly win.

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        The only time you can win that game is when you are happy in yourself and as yourself… whatever you are (and I HATE labels… life is a continuum, not a series of points on that line!).

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        That’s the truth – not the runway model body part, but I do what I can with what I’ve got and I’m happy with it :) – the beauty game is a trap that only destroys your self-esteem. No one, trans or cis, can live up to that ideal.

  8. Thumb up 23

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    “All the other trans people I’ve known are always so stressed out and unhappy, and are just so difficult. You do an amazing job of making people comfortable.”

    I feel like it would have saved us a lot of work if, someone, way back when our cultures were forming their core values/commandments and so forth, had just said “DO NOT F-ING MAKE CASUAL, GENERAL STATEMENTS ABOUT COMPLEX EXPERIENCES YOU DO NOT SHARE OR UNDERSTAND.”

    Maybe we could write it in the sky with some airplanes?

    #intersecionality

    • Thumb up 3

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      Exactly! I will never understand the absolute audacity it take to casually complain about an entire group to a member of that group and then tell that person how awesome it is that they are some lone exception. Just … no.
      Instead of actually listening and trying to empathize they are only concerned with how someone else’s life experience effects their privileged life. I think that’s why the kind of “compliments” the writer mentioned are always about how the person doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable or how well the person assimilates.

  9. Thumb up 6

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    I hate gender roles and I hate stereotypes. And I rather dislike people that try to push them onto people and tell them how they “should” or “should not” look, behave, feel, etc.

  10. Thumb up 15

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    This article was really awesome, I love the differing topics covered by trans*cribe, and this was one of the most interesting.
    The moment I began to want to be truly intersectional was listening to a trans woman talk about how in order for her to get hormones her doctor had told her she had to wear a skirt or a dress, no trousers. I sat there, a cis woman, who wore trousers all the time, in disbelief. I didn’t know about gatekeeping then, but thinking about it still makes me angry.

    • Thumb up 6

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      My first endocrinologist was that way. She also demanded I give up riding motorcycles.

      I had trans* women argue matters like that I simply needed to prioritize FFS ahead of SRS and BA by asserting that my jaw line had to out me to everyone who sees me. As for squatting that with my experiences of not having problems, I was told that was all that people are too polite…

      I spent years struggling to get through transition and found the trans* community often unhelpful as I was routinely blamed for ill treatment I received, including therapists delaying my surgery letters for months after having agreed to write them, effectively making the RLE requirement 15 months and for the letter.

      At least I now have better providers and yesterday I had GCS.

  11. Thumb up 1

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    Hey there, I think we’ve met in Boston. I really relate to this, and would love to talk about this.

  12. Thumb up 20

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    Yes, this has happened to me! I’ve been complimented on Doing GenderQueer Right™, not like that other genderqueer person who was at the very same event. If your way of lifting me up is to put someone else down, don’t. Just don’t.

  13. Thumb up 42

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    Ugh. And you know what, it’s not just that people hate trans women, its that people hate WOMEN, trans women being the most reviled of all unfortunately. CIS women get something similar, albeit to a much, much less degree. (I apologize in advance for comparing my cis-privileged experiences to those of a trans woman, but as a woman, I think the issue comes from the same place).

    For cis girls, dress in a non-gender-conforming way, and people tell you you “look like a man” or that “you’re ugly, or maybe you would be beautiful if you just put on some makeup and wore less masculine clothing”. If you’re a masculine woman, you’re a threat to a lot of cismen’s sense of identity.

    Dress femme, and nobody will take you seriously, because female signifiers like a dress signify weakness and inferiority, even if the woman donning such signifiers is not. Some women will tell you you’re supporting the patriarchy. You’ll become the object of the male gaze, whether you like dudes or not. Heaven forbid you’re a queer femme, because dudes and queer girls will mistake you for a straight girl. And even old fashioned folk who want “women to look like women” will probably find something wrong with you – you’re too fat, you’re too skinny, you’re too sexy and probably a bimbo, you’re too prudish and need to show a little skin, and on to infinity.

    If you’re a woman, cis or trans, the world will tell you your default mode is lack, and you will never be enough. Because the strongest chains, my sisters, are the ones we bind ourselves with.

    Anyway, femme it up, or don’t femme it up… you’re great just the way you are. for real . :)

  14. Thumb up 17

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    thank you. i love this. your words one hundred percent reflect how i feel about being queer and what it’s like when the community that’s supposed to have your back would rather check you into a box.

    black jeans, studded belts and stompy black boots all day. (and fresh kicks)

    also, if you’re cool with hugging, I would like to hug you.

  15. Thumb up 17

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    All of THIS.
    I am trans* female and at first I went the Coldwater Creek standard femme way, but it never felt right. It felt “safe” but not right in a nebulous way. So I started trying out different looks, like most adolescent females do, although I find the “second puberty” line to be a bit threadbare when it comes the re-discovery of your self, but its close enough.
    I see this as the difference between standing on a solid, if gender normative space, and being able to step off of it and never having had that security and wanting it EVEN if you know more than some that it is wrong and artificial. Being trans* for me meant that I was often guiltily jealous of the secure if binary expression of cis-female. I knew it wasn’t something to be help up but that doesn’t stop it from being wanted.
    I moved through that place, picking up stray bits and pieces of looks and feelings but luckily I simply couldn’t stay. My experience of trans* is one of constant evolution, not a set transition from point A to B. Now I am just scrolling through the alphabet, and loving the hell out of it.

  16. Thumb up 6

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    You’re absolutely right there’s no way for a trans woman to win with people’s expectations. And that’s precisely why passing and limiting who knows your trans status to a few people who are down is so important for so many trans women – it’s only way to get out of the game.

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      Hi Sixta, thank you so much for this comment. It’s taken me a long time to understand that, and at times I may have said things I now regret while struggling against it, but I know. I still want to be known as a trans woman because I don’t mind bearing some burden for now and that I hope that by working against the system maybe one day it won’t be like this.

      But seriously, thank you for the comment.

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      I’m quite out in many areas of my life because I do feel it helps advance trans rights and understanding. That said, some of my favorite hobbies (ie roller derby) are my favorite specifically because they are spaces where I can *forget* that I’m trans. If I didn’t have that I’d go nuts.

      I’ve been enjoying the AS trans series of articles – it’s awesome that this is such a supportive site – but at the same time this is an example of a place that I come for some distance from ‘trans issues 24/7′ and I’m missing just hearing about girls (trans OR cis) writing about what interests them. Maybe if we had more trans authors writing on topics that weren’t so specifically trans to balance it out, it’d feel less pidgeonholing. When there’s soooo many articles that are just ‘trans on trans’ it feels like we’re being separated from the girls.

      • Thumb up 16

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        i should probably let a senior editor field this reply since they are In Charge, but since everyone is running around like crazy preparing for camp i will just super quickly say that the trans*scribe series was meant to highlight trans* women writing about trans stuff, but we are super into having trans women as regular contributors who don’t always write about trans related things — a few of the awesome writers who have contributed to the trans*scribe series are going to be regular contributors from now on, and we’re always looking for new voices from different people so we can make and keep our staff diverse and inclusive.

      • Thumb up 11

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        and also we are all about constructive honest feedback, so i personally really appreciate you leaving this comment and encourage you to continue to let us know how you feel about everything on the site — i’m really glad to know you view AS as a supportive space because that is what we strive to be, and without our readers and our community we wouldn’t exist, so thank you for engaging and being here.

        • Thumb up 7

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          You folks behind the scenes are doing a spiffing job. Thank you for cultivating a space of community which is courageous enough not to leave some colours out of the crayon box!

        • Thumb up 5

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          Also, I just want to say that I’m a cis woman and I think this series is my #1 favourite thing Autostraddle has ever done. So I just wanted to add that in.

    • Thumb up 3

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      When trans women continue to bitch about the trans community and how crappy it is to be trans, how clueless so many trans women are (even if it’s just letting off steam) non-trans people tend to take that at face value, and believe them. It can even impact how cis allies talk to us, experience us, generalize about us and whether vulnerable people who are scared to transition feel safe to go ahead with it. There are ways to keep safe boundaries around our personal experiences, bodies, identities and expression without defensively perpetuating tropes like “old transitioners do this…,” “you’re not femme enough,” “it will be like this when you transition, blah, blah, blah.” Bitterness sometimes happens, and defensiveness is sometimes necessary but neither really lead to community or personal/political change.

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        It’s not “bitterness” to criticize legitimate problems in the community.
        It’s not “defensiveness” to set boundaries about being told what to do with your body.

        And “non-trans people tend to take that at face value” sounds an awful lot like you believe there shouldn’t be any dissent at all.

        Sorry, but that’s a hell of a silencing tactic. I hope not intentional, of course…but either way, that’s silencing.

        The community isn’t open to difference. Look at how our clothing choices, our gender presentations, etc etc are policed. Look at how things like body fat and disability are used to degender within the community.

        If you want to help “vulnerable people who are scared to transition”, it’s worth a lot more to dismantle the arbitrary divisions within the “trans community” that are used to shove some women out, declare some of us absolutely worthless, and yes, that some of us are disposable. At the same time, shit like “brick” is really unacceptable, a term I used to use freely when I hated myself, too. We have to change, and yes, that means criticism.

        You can use “bitterness” to dismiss criticism and dissent and play think of the cis people and what they want all you like, and that’s your right, but difference and diversity are necessary to a sustainable trans community.

        Or you can keep shutting people out and wondering why we’re sick of it. Your call.

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          Erica, there’s nothing wrong with communities self-critiquing themselves or focusing on the dynamics of that community. It’s really necessary. But taking pot shots at one another isn’t a critique. When people start to talk in tropes, truisms and sweeping generalizations “eg. so-and-so isn’t really trans, all people in this group do this, all people in this group think this or look this way” it’s just dead-ended negativity. Calling someone a “brick” is just wrong, disrespectful and shows more about the insecurity of the person using it. I would create instant boundaries to separate myself from that person. What I don’t think is fair is generalizing about entire groups of people based on that experience. Much of the just criticisms you’re mentioning (discrimination due to body type, disability, etc.) are not parameters unique to the trans community. And I could name others like racism, classicism, ageism, lookism… the list goes on. The trans community is part of a larger society and, sadly, imports its problems and assumptions from that larger society (and gets magnified because we’re inside the bubble of marginalization). We need to critique ourselves but we need to do it with thoughtfulness, being mindful of intersectionality and not making slashing attacks on one another (eg. “trans women are judgmental and messed up, no wonder I don’t want to be seen with them”). My point about cis people taking these discussions at face value is that they are taking their cues of understanding about the trans community from us. Even if we can’t love one another as trans women, at least we can respect what each of us has gone/is going through and our unique experiences.

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            I agree entirely, and with a little too much knowledge of the genesis of the word, that “brick” is awful and should never be used as a term of othering. It’s just not okay.

            “Much of the just criticisms you’re mentioning (discrimination due to body type, disability, etc.) are not parameters unique to the trans community. And I could name others like racism, classicism, ageism, lookism… the list goes on…”

            Ah, yes, but nobody who isn’t a trans woman has ever told me I’m too fat to be a woman. Seeing as that mainstream clothing manufacturers make clothes 4 dress sizes larger than what I wear, apparently even patriarchal society agrees with that. See also that while I’m by no means pretty, the only people who tell me I’m a bog-troll because of visible disability are other trans women. I get a lot of “what happened to your face?” but not “you’re so ugly there’s no hope for you.”

            I agree that “the community” imports its crap from the outside world. Trouble is, the outside world has multiple outlets. When someone says something ridiculously hateful about disabled people, I can mark this person off as an ass and move on. When it comes to the trans community, a very small number of people hold a lot of power and it’s hard to move around those people in power. I live in a city where the support group is highly powerful in the affairs of trans women…trans guys bogged off and made their own positive space, and I’d love to be a part of building something like that for trans women, but it’s impossible to do in a vacuum, and when the person in charge of the support group calls you “it”…well, you’re kinda screwed.

            We believe that cutting each other down will buy us some safety in a ciscentric world. I used to buy into this personally, and I hate myself for that I ever did. Trouble is, the paranoia that outsiders must be kept out, that we must hide the best we can (this is NOT about passing and I don’t have enough time to get into passing politics, I have a LOT to say there), that we must protect things like resources, safe medical access, etc. from unknowns…it builds a culture of dependency and paranoia. Unlike the outside world, where I can just walk away and go somewhere else, if the information for safe medical access is controlled, you can’t get it if you’re not good enough.

            It’s not like going to a coffee shop and some insecure jerk calling me the R word. It’s like going to a coffee shop, walking in and being screamed at from the get-go and then not being able to get coffee.

            The community as it is is actively harmful and it’s impossible to change from the outside, and add in that once people have a foot in the door and are accepted, they can’t speak up about the people outside anymore or they’ll get cast out. It’s like a dictatorship, but it sure as hell ain’t benevolent.

            (ps: whomever edited my comment to fix it, THANKS and also it leaves me with your icon and BEAKER IS AWESOME. I feel like greatness edited my comment.)

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        This is exactly why I disappeared from the trans community after two of my closest trans friends moved away 1 5 years ago. Way too much bickering about who is “valid” and who isn’t “valid” along with people constantly moaning how hard it is to be trans, it’s all just bullshit if you ask me.

        Be yourself, don’t let anybody else tell you how you be.

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    I tried to be a part of the trans community when I was being counseled early on and when I moved to a new city I thought it’d be a nice place to find new people. You have perfectly articulated what it feels like to not mesh well with that community. It still amazes me the kinds of “compliments” I get from people who know I’m trans. Also I usually pass well but I really look and act pretty much like a tomboy most of the time and I am not some little thin girl. The only times I get told I need to change my look or my size are at trans gatherings by other trans people. Thank you for writing this it is nice to know it isn’t only me who doesn’t fit in!

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    For the record, Vivian, “featherish” (not feathery) came out of my observation that trans men care much less about passing than trans women to the extent that there’s no trans man equivalent to “brick.” You know me well enough to know I don’t give a hot fuck if a trans men is butch or femme, passes or doesn’t pass, panhandles on the street or becomes the first man on Mars. What I do care about is them taking up outsized space in (queer) women’s community and pushing out trans women in the process, which I’m sure is a sentiment widely shared among queer trans women. Them caring less about passing is largely a function of male privilege any damn ways.

    Also, say what you want about my judgement but for street-ass trannies who aren’t white and weren’t raised middle class, the difference between passing and not is the difference between having having a job and apartment and staying at the shelter and picking cans out of the garbage for the deposits or tricking on the strip. I live every day knowing that were it not for my passing privilege (and brains) I’d be in the latter group.

    Passing is harm reduction. Conforming is harm reduction. It’s not perfect, but not all of us can become ministers in some progressive white-bread-ass church.

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      Harm reduction sums it up well.

      I’m one of those white-bread ridiculously privileged people, and I still feel that my safety depends on doing my makeup right in the morning. I was in one situation outside a bar (aggressive drunk guy wanting to fight a male friend with myself and my girlfriends making a protective wall between them) and the only reason I didn’t get my ass handed to me was that I passed in that particular moment.

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      When non-queer people write articles we don’t expect them to be all encompassing of non-queer culture. We recognize that that is ONE view of ONE person, or perhaps a small group of people, but not of all non-queer people.

      This is Vivian’s article about her experience. This is not meant to be a prescription for all of trans female culture.

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      Isn’t this more complex than “Not everyone is privileged enough to have the luxury of not passing”? Doesn’t economic inequality also prevent many poor transfeminine people from presenting as they would like to?

      Certainly, the experience of a white middle class transfeminine person who doesn’t “pass” is different from, for example, the experience of a poor transfeminine person of color who doesn’t “pass.”

      But I think supporting people who don’t “pass” can’t be neatly categorized as a strategy that only benefits white, economically privileged people.

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    I’m always drawn to the Trans*scribe articles because they’re consistently frank, honest, and uplifting. I’m in the middle of a History/Women’s Studies/Asian Studies degree, and a book I ran across really helped me start to understand many of the issues that trans* people and especially trans women are up against. The title is Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano. I highly recommend the read. It’s heavy on the technical jargon, but it ties so neatly into this topic and the idea that there is One Right Way to be anything, and how damned hard it is to walk that line.

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    People of all stripes and genders do seem to dump a lot of negative vibe onto trans women, sometimes purposely, sometimes inadvertently and other times projecting their own insecurities and even self-loathing onto them. I would just hope that’s something we, as trans women, can attempt to not emulate.

    Internalized hatred in the trans community is expressed from all corners of it. Yes, there are older transsexual women (who transitioned young) and got a lot of crap stuffed down their throats by the 1960s-80s gender clinics about “performing womanhood” and the shame of being trans. There are older trans women who came through the crossdressing experience and think wearing a coordinated outfit or how you fold your hands when you sit are keys to living as a woman. There is also a lot of bs from 1990s transgender activists who think that if you aren’t “out and proud” automatically means you’re ashamed of who you are and your trans experience. There are trans women who’ve been able to afford surgeries (through many differing paths) who are such proselytizers of that “faith” they offend everyone who doesn’t fit their transition mold. There are a lot of white trans women who are completely ignorant/disinterested about the lives of trans women who are of color other than sobbing over those women’s faces on the TDOR posters. And, yes, there are a lot of younger trans women who, I’m sad to see, will rip on older transitioners because they don’t know how to do “queer” properly, they think they’re pervs, look/sound embarrassing, haven’t read the rights books, pathetically wanted to be gender normative, resent that they were able to afford SRS (or that they even cared so much about getting it)… the list goes on and on and on. I’ve met great trans women (who were insecure) and I’ve met trans women who I considered toxic (and were also insecure). I include myself in all of the above.

    There’s really little reason that trans women have to be best buds with one another and than it is to expect Phyllis Schlafly and Angela Davis will feel solidarity because they’re both women. Okay, yes, maybe political necessity. But I just wish we would think twice before ripping on other members of the trans community because we think they’re slighting us, disrespecting our version of trans, or womanhood, or queerness, or expression. Yes, I’m frequently deluded into thinking everybody else sounds kind of clueless and I’m the expert of whatever the hell it is I’m doing. It comes from all corners and sadly, it all comes from the same place… feeling like broken toys and being told we’re “less than.” Anyway, excellent piece Vivian, it dredges up a lot of painful issues which need to be said.

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      That was a capital litany of the common judgments in trans* women’s space, Gina! It’s always confused me why we don’t turn that diversity of experience into an asset rather than using it to judge each other down. Really, we have no other choice but to do just that in a community so isolated and diverse which desperately needs a concerted political presence.

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        “why we don’t turn that diversity of experience into an asset”

        And the community of trans women has an incredible amount of assets and diversity which go undervalued, ignored and disregarded. We need to honor ourselves and what we have to offer rather than internalize negative messages from the larger society and turn around and blame ourselves in the process.

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      I think it’s more than feeling like broken toys. Many of us are actually damaged in some pretty horrific ways. Our community contains a lot of people with clinic depression, various anxiety disorders, PTSD, and histories of abuse, addition, self-harm, and suicide attempts.

      There are those who have disconnected from reality in self-defense. Those who are filled with rage and pain and will lash out at the slightest provocation. Those who are terrified and want to hold on to any kind of stable narrative to keep themselves together. And the list goes.

      The internalized hatred and the dysphoria chew away at our minds, and the result is that a lot of us ARE broken toys. And forming communities that offer any kind of reasonable degree of support in that context is extremely hard.

      I have my jagged edges. Say the wrong thing and I’ll feel like I HAVE to fight back to protect my own sanity, regardless of whether you intended any harm. Some things are just woven too deep into my wrecked self-esteem and my history of self-destructive behaviour. Yet as far as trans folk go, I’m definitely in the “most stable” category.

      We don’t like to talk about it because of our horrid history with psychs, but our collective mental health is not so healthy. And that results in the striations and battle lines and toxic environments that plague our community.

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        Agreed Sarah – the biggest danger to trans folks is themselves. When trying to do some research on cardiovascular risks of HRT the glaring statistic was that researchers were having trouble examining the cardio effects, as so many of the test participants suicided out. Quoted from a sampling of different studies (google these excerpts if your wish to read the original papers):

        “The number of deaths in male-to-female transsexuals was five times the number expected, due to increased numbers of suicide and death of unknown cause.”

        “During follow-up, 10 transsexual persons (9 M2F and 1 F2M) died. Causes of death were cardiovascular disease (n = 2), cancer (n = 2) and suicide (n = 6).”

        “Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.”

        “Sex-reassigned persons had a higher risk of inpatient care for a psychiatric disorder other than gender identity disorder than controls matched on birth year and birth sex (Table 2). This held after adjustment for prior psychiatric morbidity, and was true regardless of whether sex reassignment occurred before or after 1989.”

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          Steamcurl, I get your point about mental health issues in the trans community, but I don’t think it’s fair to say trans people are our own greatest danger. First, how many of those studies actually discussed the complexity of collecting objective results, who is studied and the methodology for data collection they used? In my experience looking at most of those studies, they assemble data from extremely small or not very thoughtful samples. That ridiculous cardiovascular study is a case in point… it’s absurdly small and makes absolutely zero distinction what hormones were used, who these trans people were, HRT amounts people used, were they prescribed or self-prescribed, much less what other health and life factors might have contributed to the outcomes. Did they ever stop to think trans women might possible be under more social stressors (like unemployment, loneliness or discrimination)?

          And sorry, but I don’t consider all people who feel the need to take their own lives the cause of their own deaths. In many cases they live in society dumping profound marginalization upon them, issues with prolonged unemployment, being HIV positive especially due to having to do sex work, divorce, being distanced from their own children… the list goes on. If we’re somehow blaming trans people for those, then that’s a very negative projection onto our community filtered through cis views of us. Moreover, I refuse to have studies done by cis researchers (especially those who might not really have that much experience with our community) pathologize us and ignore the intersectionality of those issues.

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    This is, I think, my favorite of the Trans* Scribe essays. And just one of my favorite essays on Autostraddle in general. I consistently feel like I’m “failing” at doing trans properly, for being too femme (liking cupcakes and frilly dresses) or not feminine enough (not shaving my legs/ armpits, yelling about feminism). Whatever. Thank you for writing this essay, and thank you Autostraddle for publishing it.

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        Alright, I did not say you were disgusting so someone needs to calm themselves. Obviously what I said was taken as “offensive,” but I have the right to state my opinion and find it hilarious that they person who monitors this website found it to be so outlandish. I also find it funny that people are all like “Hey, you’re an idiot. I’m glad that you’re unsophisticated, etc, etc, etc.” Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to come back at me with an informative comment to perhaps assist me with my ignorance and tell me about your transgender struggles?

        Everyone has struggles. I never said “Oh you’re a transgender, you’re garbage, you don’t get it.” What I find bothersome is that you guys hijack the gender without truly understanding what it is to be a woman–fundamentally. I don’t know. Maybe I haven’t had much experience with the transgender community, but as a woman I just feel kind of upset that you all are like “Hey, we identify with being a woman” but can one truly understand what it means to be a woman if you are not one?

        I feel like it’s trying to be all like “Oh, I know what crime and what criminals are like because I study it” but that’s not entirely the case. (Before you all go bananas, I’m NOT comparing you all to criminals it’s just the first example that I could think of.)

        Transgenders have different experiences than “real” women do so what makes them have the right to be like “Oh, I identify with being a woman,” but biologically you’re technically not and haven’t been a lady your whole life. I feel that there has to be a difference between experience when it comes to being transgender or just a regular guy or gal.

        I’m not trying to offend anyone and if I did I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand it. If you feel like you relate to being a woman, but you’re going to be all livin the lazy, uuber casual, life aren’t you technically just a dude who feels girly? Maybe you just don’t understand what it means to be feminine, but hey some girls don’t either, sometimes I don’t even. I never said I was perfect and trangenders are beneath me. All I’m trying to do is understand this whole shebang.

        That’s why I was all like if you’re going to be a woman, if you’re going to be successful in this rat race of a world, you have to look presentable. That’s just the way this messed up world works. I mean, unless you’re like a freaking prodigy then no one would question you because super alberta einstein brains > looks (Things I learned from being a Physics major). From day to day, I look like a bum, but when I’m out and about it’s just a girly thing to do–doll it up and dress it up, do my hair, rip all the hair out of my body, make up, the whole enchilada.

        Once again, I’m not saying that anyone is ugly. Women, men, whether they be gay/straight/bi/transgender, are allowed to do whatever they want, believe what we want, which is why I feel that I am entitled to state my opinion and you’re entitled to be like “Haha, you’re an idiot who knows nothing.” If you’re going to come back with that though, we’re obviously going to get nowhere in the whole answering my questions nonsense.

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          “but you’re going to be all livin the lazy, uuber casual, life aren’t you technically just a dude who feels girly? ”

          Lazy uber casual life? Are you F##king kidding me? You obvs have no idea how hard this is.

          “If you’re going to come back with that though, we’re obviously going to get nowhere in the whole answering my questions nonsense.” / “tell me about your transgender struggles? ”

          We are under no obligation to answer you questions, especially when you’ve done so little groundwork to educate yourself. Our struggles are not for your entertainment. Google some of the myriad sources of info on trans life or read through the rest of the trans-scribe articles here on AS.

          “I feel that I am entitled to state my opinion and you’re entitled to be like “Haha, you’re an idiot who knows nothing.” <- some creative use of selective editing makes this fit perfectly.

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            You guys are clearly a bit too sensitive it is no wonder you associate with being feminine.

            PS. THAT is an offensive statement.

            I am not trying to start a cyber war. I don’t understand why in the world you’re freaking out so much. Jesus. If this is how you approach “opposition” or an opinion that you don’t agree with rather than assisting in bringing in some of your personal experience, then no one is going to be like “oh poor you and your struggles.”

            Especially when all you can come up with is “You obvs have no idea how hard this is.”

            This is ridiculous. You need to read that lengthy ass post in a curious, neutral, non-offensive tone. I am not seeking ENTERTAINMENT it is for knowledge. I’m not sitting here going “Oh wow, WHO can I piss off today?” I have read things, but it’s still like “ehhh, I don’t know about that.”

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            Sorry Dana, I’m re-reading your comments and realizing you may have intended them at NotAGirlNotYetAWoman, my apologies if this is the case.

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            PS I don’t find you, or any of the transgender community, disgusting.

            SO STOP SAYING THAT, Jeez.

            If I did I wouldn’t even be on this website. I would also not be asking questions and trying to gain some insight. If I found you disgusting my whole post wouldn’t be full of questions it’d just be like “you all are garbage and need to die,” but I wouldn’t do that because I DON’T EVEN KNOW YOU, I don’t believe that, and that’s just mean as hell.

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          No, just, full-stop, no. You don’t have any claim on what the woman experience is, just as much as I don’t and I’m only cusgender. How I live as a woman and the experiences I have as a woman are different than my girlfriend, my cousins, my mom, the women at my church, my professors, my best friend, my worst enemy. All cisgender. All women who were told and raised to be women since birth. Our experiences are vastly different and ARE NO MORE VALID THAN ANY TRANS* WOMAN’S EXPERIENCE. Just because we are born with vaginas, were told we were girls, and assumed to like pink since birth does not make us any better or any more knowledgeable than women who were raised differently.

          Did you know that many trans* individuals begin identifying with their true gender as children? So a seven year old who was assigned Male but has lived the past three years as Female – her life is being raised as a girl. She will grow up as a girl and undergo all of the same problems a cis-girl does. Why is she invalidated?

          What about trans women who have known their whole lives but have lived under masks and facades to stay alive, to stay safe, to wait until they can be their true selves? They are not men any more than I am because the way I move through the world, think, react, feel, is not dependent on my vagina or my breasts or my XX genes but by my mind, my brain. That is something that could fit in any fleshy body and still process the same way.

          Women are more than just genitals and pink baby toys. Start recognizing and treating us all as such.

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          “What I find bothersome is that you guys hijack the gender without truly understanding what it is to be a woman–fundamentally.”

          Excuse you, but trans women are not hijacking the gender. Trans women ARE women. So yea, they truly understand what it is to be a woman. Because they ARE women.

          This is maybe the point you are not getting in your self-described ignorance. A trans woman IS a woman. Sit and think about that for a moment, please. Let it sink in.

          Then reconsider your comments. If you really do genuinely want to learn like you say you do, you’ll take a step back, think about it, read some shit trans women are saying here and other places around the net and in books and out loud in life. Just … while you are learning, maybe keep your mouth a little quieter and stop defending the things you’ve said that trans women are telling you are offensive. Thanks.

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      I can’t believe I just read that. Are seriously comparing having our periods to the things trans women struggle with? Seriously?
      I’m cis, so I can’t even begin to understand what it feels like to be a trans woman, having people telling you all the time you can’t really be what you truly are. I do know one thing though: they ARE women and they go through the same things we do (sexism, just to mention one), besides everything else. We try very hard to be a welcoming community to everyone. So, please stop being an asshole.

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        Sister that post is gone, but I did read it before.

        I kind of wish it wasn’t removed. A lot can be deduced about the individual posting that is valuable. None of it is to her advantage in any way.

        It was actually very kind to her, to have her exceptionally unfortunate, unsophisticated and pandering statements removed that could only reflect an unenviable and miserable existence regardless of gender.

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          I dunno…

          The pervasiveness of transphobic bigotry in much women’s community brings me to tears. We get to hear from the TERF brigade plenty in virtually every other Queer women’s community, often with little or no rebuke from others when they turn up the hate dial.

          Autostraddle is a breath of fresh air on so many levels. For me as a lesbian who also happens to be transsexual, reading the open hearted support here is like a revelation. I’d hate to see that culture spoilt by TERF trolls taking over here with their big giant pointless “debate” over our existence, as has happened on many other sites.

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            Especially since all these prejudices are interconnected! Transphobia, homophobia, misogyny… All related hatreds. How can transwomen understand what “real” women go through? Because they get the same sh!t cannon of misogyny aimed at them, that’s how! Jeez.

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    Great post – thanks for writing it. There are as many ways to be in one’s body as there are people in the world.

    I’m looking at this from another angle as a female to male trans person, but any way one transitions the pressure to perform a gender “correctly” is intense. After 11 years, I’ve stopped listening to how I’m supposed to be a “real” man and have settled into the confusing, queer, nerdy, hairy, bookish man who likes to sew, knit and build things with my power saw.

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      “…sew, knit and build things with my power saw.” You made me laugh, I love this combination! It could make for some seriously cool artwork!

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      YES! Thank you for this.
      The pressure on both ends of the trans spectrum is so intense and unnecessary.

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    I definitely have a lot of anxiety around being too femme. Am I just being myself or am I being a caricature. Is my tendency to dress more traditionally girly actually some sort of repressed misogyny on my part. Like I think that is how women are supposed to be.

    Thinking about all this and going around in circles makes my head hurt most days.

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      If it helps, I think this is something a lot of women struggle with, because ‘femininity’ is something that we are taught we can only gain through constant improvement. Every time you think you’re happy with yourself, another image is blasted at you of ‘ideal femininity’ that undermines something that you actually like about yourself.

      I’ve gone through periods where I dressed pointedly feminine (in truth, I dressed just like my Mum, urgh) because I was insecure about the natural masculine qualities I have. It possibly was some repressed, internalised misogyny, but I think I was just insecure and trying to figure out where I stood. These days, I actually like those qualities, and see them as adding to myself as a whole, human, slightly-masculine-of-centre woman. This site actually helped me with that, as well as getting learning more about gender and gender identity (and even coming to terms with my sexuality).

      Stay strong! I know its a total mindfuck, but definitely don’t feel guilty for trying to figure out how femininity works for you, it really does take time and trial and error for some people.

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    “At a Christmas party last December a Smith alumna defended Smith’s decision not to accept trans feminine students by explaining that even if trans women were women, they had still been socialized as boys and men, and that Smith, as a safe space for women and trans men, had a right to defend their students from such people, from the inexorcisable specter of their privilege.”

    Even though I’ve been following this debate closely, as a fellow Smith alumna, this makes me incredibly sad.

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    Oh gender expectations, thou art a heartless bitch… A lot of the points that were expressed to/by Vivian and people in comments as ways to properly perform one’s gender are things that I said “NO FUCKING WAY” to a long time ago. As a fat, neurodiverse, physically disabled trans* chick with a stutter, I knew from the word go that I would never fit peoples “perfect” box of womanhood. I can’t walk “right” or cross my legs because of my bad hip, I’ve never bothered with my voice because it’s always been gravely and filled with skips/pauses, and I almost exclusively wear converse/jeans/tank top because they’re practical and I’m a very low maintenance person due to my anxiety/OCD.

    But all of this never stopped me from feeling deep ashamed of not being able to conform. I’m 21 now, I started this journey around 13 and for the first 3 years most if not all of the information I was able to find online was VERY gender essentialist and told me that I needed to give up the things I loved doing (namely being a flaming nerd) in order to “properly be a woman.

    I’ve come a long way since those days, but it’s still a struggle at times. I swear like a sailor, speak my mind, kick ass in the kitchen, I’m covered in scars for so many different reasons, and I give zero fucks about other people’s opinions because I don’t consent to give them control of my life!

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      You sound like awesomesauce. I wish I had your determination!

      That’s pretty sad about the “women can’t be nerds” thing. My mother is a hacker of the old school and a serious tech geek professionally. But her handle online has always been some jazzy male sort of 31337 thing because little nerd boys can’t believe that a fifty-something housewife can cream them at coding and totally hack their Gibsons. :P Ai, talk about gender role pressure!

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        That makes me think of the XKCD comics where the best hacker is a Midwestern stay-at-home mum, amazing!

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      I read this article, and many others recently discussing these same issues. As a middle-aged transwoman, I decided that trying to fit someone else’s idea of what I should do, how I should dress, walk, talk or act, just does not fit into my life. I am a woman, have known I was actually female since I was around 3-4 years old, even though I did begin to transition until late in life. I dress how I feel comfortable, and what is practical at the time. It matters little to me now how others “think” I should behave, or dress just so they are comfortable with me being trans. The only persons whose opinion matters is mine, and I have learned to just not let the ignorance of others dictate how I live MY life.

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      Deep Feelings! Happy tears! All verklempt! :)

      Much more would sound patronizing (matronizing?), but all I can do is swear to you on my SSI, my bad feet, my Martian Anthropology, my allergies, my IBS, my baritone, my depression and anxiety, etc etc etc, that it’s not m/patronizing.

      Things come to mind like “old soul” … “separated at birth” (OK, 28 yrs apart, and not at all *identical* twins) … “a needed kick in the pants” (for me, not you!) … even “cute photo”!

      Thank you for joining this conversation.

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    Very well said Vivian.

    I transitioned at 39 and never had any expectation of passing or being non-harassed. That was ten years ago and I have no regrets. Where I found immediate acceptance was in the lesbian/artist/musician/hippie crowd. There were a lot of expressions of gender and presentations represented. I didn’t try for conventional/straight life. I was blessed / got lucky with some chromosomes and dna that I hated before but flowered at 40 with hormone therapy and internet access.

    Years in SF; fun stuff and crazy… In the trans crowd, a lot of old-fashioned femme notions; very, very “straight” chicks, some mean, most sweet in their own way. But I respect those women for what they taught me and for their years on some hard streets; I learned to be tougher than I ever thought I could be; how to not be fu&ked with; how to disappear; how to survive and look good doing it. I found myself going back to “my” crowd for solace and peace. Happily, all were easy to find in the city. I knew none of the sisters of Post St. would ever venture into a dyke bar in the mission.

    Years later, I find myself further blessed, as a suburban woman with a wonderful partner. I worked in a supermarket for three years without the subject of trans ever coming up yet hired in part for it. The young people I worked with were awesome; they are so over all this stuff! I did however experience, less pay than males I was more qualified than. The occasional slight, to me, not due to trans, but some guy thinking he should talk down to me cause I’m blonde, kinda stuff. They all got set straight. Three years; apart from my partner, the only transwoman around for miles. I did just fine.

    Now at another cross-roads. Find a new gig with some more creativity and not so straight for lack of a better word. I want to be with day-glo, gender fluid, happy, crazy people again; even if some exposure to folk music is required. Springtime now of my golden years; time for some creativity and compassion and less high-tempo retail.

    The cycle continues.

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      I am a cis-gendered lesbian (in late-summer of my golden years—love that!), so not sure why your post speaks so deeply to me, Jennifer. But it does. Thanks.

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    I love trans women, especially the queer ones. But then, I am a rather feathery (lol at this new word) trans guy. One thing is, the queers don’t exactly fit with the heteros or the gays (the normies). But that’s OK, we have each other. And rainbows and unicorns and shit. Anyway, thanks for saying all this stuff. People need to think (why is that so hard for most people?).

    Also, screw Smith. It’s OK to grow a beard and possibly a penis but you are a menace to society if you were born with a Y gene? Eff that. That is an insult to ALL trans* people since in reality they are not recognizing any of us as our proper gender. And it’s just extremely simplistic (read: dumb) to say that all people with (insert characteristic here) were socialized the same way, for crying out loud.

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    Maybe I am projecting a bit, but I feel this article really speaks to the internalized shame and transphobia that has, at least for me, been a part of my own experiences in our community. It has unfortunately caused large rifts between our community, between trans women and trans men, between those who can blend in and those who can’t. I see it on a regular basis, trans women afraid to congregate together because they are afraid they will get clocked, the fear that the ‘weak’ ones, the ones who don’t quite fit your stereotypical cis-gender presentations, will out you by just being in your presence. The internalized shame of being gender-variant has been drilled into us for decades prior to our transitions and then we bring that cancerous attitudes into our communities. It’s divisive, and only forces the some of us deeper into stealth and leaves behind those who don’t have that privilege. We, as a community, have so little to hold on to, its a shame that we have built so few bridges between ourselves in our community.

    Personally, facing that head on by joining a support group really helped me challenge my own notions of trans and gender identity. Keeping an open mind for the many permutations of genders has let me face my own preconceived notions and internalized transphobia.

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    Thank you dearly, from the bottom of my being, for this essay. After years of living post-transition stealth, I’ve lately been coming back to confront the pains in my heart from my own transsexuality.

    The physical frustrations are bad enough. But the oppressions trans* people endure from ALL SIDES are what really wear one down to the nub. We violate every pet theory with our very being. Groups from feminists to fundamentalists would rather we just not exist. EVERYONE hates us. Especially US hates us. Even for those of us who run away into stealthy lives, the knowledge of that, the secret pain of that, burns.

    I, too, am no longer interested in being a “nice girl” about this. Your comment on the “double bind” of being a transgender woman is one which I have plaintively moaned many times in almost the exact same phrasing. I wish I could scream it out in a way that they could hear.

    How I wish the cisgender world would listen. I hope they listen to you. I beg them to listen to you…

    Godspeed and prayers for your formation as a priest.

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    What that Smith Alumna said makes ZERO sense. I spent the near majority of my childhood passing as a boy and was “socialized” that way but there would be no problem with me applying to Smith as I have an F on my birth certificate. Absolutely ridiculous.

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    YES!
    Oh my god a thousand times yes!

    I know so many trans* individuals struggling with the fact that they have to choose between being an extreme of society’s gender expectations or being told they aren’t ‘genuine’! It’s horrible!

    The worst is when they have to dress more femme/masculine than they would usually when going to an appointment with a medical professional who they need to approve them for something or risk having their authenticity questioned!
    I mean hello? These psychs and some specific endocrinologists are meant to be educated about gender!?!?!? So where do they get off saying you’re not a ‘genuine’ girl/boy if you don’t dress how society wants you to? It boggles the mind!

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    Ugh, yes, sister, I feel you. I’m cis-gendered, but I am queer and have had my fair share of folks say totally gross and inappropriate things about that. People really need to run the “would I say this to a cis-gendered/straight person” filter before talking to queer folks! Like, holy shit THE THINGS PEOPLE THINK IS APPROPRIATE TO SAY ARE ABSOLUTELY MIND-BOGGLING and if people just, ya know, thought for five seconds, then they wouldn’t come off as such douches.

    Would you ask a cis-lady why she is daring to wear pants instead of a dress? Would you ask a naturally low-voiced female why she isn’t pitching her voice up to sound more feminine and delicate? Would you say to a cis-woman “gee you would look a lot better if you wore make-up to hide those masculine features of yours”? NO? NO YOU WOULDN’T? OH GEE WHAT A SURPRISE~

    The worst thing is this is just common courtesy — like you don’t go up to random people and say “gee have you ever thought of wearing makeup to cover those zits?” or “man you look pretty fat in that outfit!” or “have you thought about getting plastic surgery to fix that crooked-ass nose?”. SO WHY ARE YOU SAYING THESE THINGS TO QUEER PEOPLE?

    Basically this is why I only hang out with my girlfriend and like two other people, because most folks just make me mad.

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    Hi Vivian. By way of introduction, I’m a recovering ex-journalist who moved home to Connecticut last summer after eight years in Fresno, in the middle of one of the red-state areas of California. It was there, of all places, where I had my little gender epiphany five years ago.

    I never had people get all sorts of judgmental on me the way they have with you; in fact, my circle of friends on both sides of the country exploded (in the good sense) when I came out. And now it’s no big thing and no point of discussion anymore. I’m out, as you are, and live my life openly in the day-to-day world, and pass very well, and if people have any problems with me, fuck ‘em.

    And you did hit on a very good point. It’s something that alternately has disappointed and infuriated me from time to time: I’ve been treated much, much better by the everyday, nontrans world than by any LGB and especially T group. I found out early on — especially in, of all places, so-called “liberal” San Francisco — that many transpeople are cliquish and standoffish and don’t treat their fellow transpeople very well. (Not to mention very me-me-me rather than us-us-us, which is why we might never see federal protection for trans civil rights in my lifetime.) I did meet a couple of decent people out in California and have met a few since I came home, but this will always confound me. Not to mention piss me off.

    I enjoy my more femme self — making up for lost time after over four decades of suppressing it — but as far as labels go … well, I never did like the term “transgender,” as it sounds so clinical, but if that’s what it is, well, there you go, and I don’t shy from it. But on the whole, I think “Fran” is a much better label for me.

    You’d think the people who’ve gone through this would, logically, be the ones most supportive and understanding. The hypocrisy and judgmentalism make me sick. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this “good trans” crap and am glad you’ve confronted it. Be well …

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    I am not a trans woman, but this section really spoke to me.

    “Here’s the thing: People fucking despise trans women. Often the nicest thing they can thing of to say to trans woman is “gosh, you are so little like a trans woman!” Being trans is something to avoid, to exclude, to escape, at worst to nobly bare up under.”

    I’ve never had the words to explain how gross it feels when people “compliment” me by telling me how different I am from the “typical queer/black person/girl/ect.” That shit is NOT a compliment and I can’t help wondering what I did to make them think I would believe it was.

    Then no matter how you react it’s like you’re screwed either way. If you don’t say anything or don’t make a big deal out of it then the person goes on thinking what they are doing is acceptable and continues to “compliment” you. They even start “complimenting” others and responding to any critism by using you as an example of someone who “doesn’t mind” and “understands” what they mean. Sometimes I think this may be the reason that so many people who toss out casually homophobic/transphobic/racist/sexist/ect. statements all have a “friend” who is “fine” with it. Possibly these “friends” just don’t have the patience or desire to explain basic shit to someone who doesn’t actually want to hear it (God knows I don’t sometimes).
    The flip side of this is that if you do try to explain how problematic their statement was or, heaven forbid, dare to get angry then you are “living up” to whatever negative sterotype they just mentioned. I always wonder if the reason these people are constantly having negative experiences with members of a certain group is because of how casually offensive and eager to sterotype they are.
    So it’s a definitely a double bind and although I’ve been dealing with it my whole life as a black girl (I’m not completely out as queer to everyone in my life so while I’ve had some experience with the queer side of that it hasn’t been as much) I still don’t know exactly how to deal with those situations.

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    Oh, f#$@ them. The only real “rule” (guideline, really) of trans anything is this: do what you need to do to be at peace with yourself. The only living standard you need to adhere to is the same ethical & legal standard that anyone else does.

    Most of the rules that people provide to you in the form of advice (sometimes well-meaning, sometimes clueless) is really just suggestions on how to compensate for everyone else’s ignorance. And it’s up to you whether you want to go out of your way to accommodate that.

    If you challenge people, that does sometimes carry a risk, yes, and be aware of it. But people will also never change unless they’re challenged.

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    Love this article!

    the whole trans*scribe series is amazing. Thanks to all of you awesome writers, editors, staff & commenters

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    Back in the 1990s, I had been living full-time for a while. I had to change therapists at the time and my new “transgender expert” psychologist asked me when I was going to start dressing like a woman. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! He told me that my “real life test” wouldn’t begin until I started wearing skirts, pumps, etc. That was the last time I saw him.

    I kinda wonder if I went back to him (without telling him that I had surgery a decade ago), rolled up on my Harley – club colors and all – if he’d tell me that my real life test still hadn’t begun.

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    Bravo! It’s a sad reality that as a proud and open queer transgender woman I have totally avoided being part of any local transgender community. At one point I started to get annoyed that every person in my life who had to write upon a ‘person of interest’ asked me, as if having both a penis and breasts made me a suddenly fascinating human specimen, but then I realised that it’s an opportunity for me to talk about being trans, and what trans means in a broad sense: mind and body not meeting up. That’s it. You can either be trans or not, there’s no good or bad or right or wrong.

    This idea of not being good enough, of ‘failing’ to be a gender does nothing but harm the very people that need support.

    Wonderful article, thank you greatly for sharing.

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      Yes – that’s exactly what I try to say as a trans ally – butch or femme has nothing to do with it, it’s about making your exterior match your interior. If you want to be a woman who dresses like this cisgendered one, than you may well get told that you’re not real – but it’s not true!

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    This made me cry. I am really early on with everything and i completely have feels from this. I have the issue where people often just say “well im sure when you’re presenting its fine” I’ve always preffered andro fashion. But its all so black and white.

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    Thanks for this article. It’s something that’s been chapping my hide lately and it’s getting more prevalent in my own life as people around me become aware of trans* people and issues surrounding us. They’re in that weird awkward stage of trying to be nice and showing how accepting and progressive they are, but clumsily making people feel like shit in the process. Hey pal – it’s not about you. Your perspective is not needed for my own validation.

    By the way – I have a beautiful (in+out) cis female friend who has experienced some evils because she has broad shoulders and long fingers – no taking into account the fact that she’s tall – of course her skeleton is bigger. The policing of how “good” or “bad” a trans* person you are is based on two wide stripes of insidious bigotry – one, that we must believe in a binary gender system and two, that women are only valid if they’re sexually desirable to heterosexual men.

    On the flip side, I was once advised by a career advisor tasked with helping me get a job not to push my sunglasses on to the top of my head when entering a building because ‘only women do that’. Just one of a thousand such moments, of course.

    Love.

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      Thank you for this comment! Finally someone touched on the fact that while a lot of these issues you all face are pure transphobia, a lot of it is just old fashioned misogyny. Once you start to express yourself as a woman, you will be judged on your looks…you will probably get paid less than men doing the same job…you will start to notice people won’t take you as seriously as they do a man :( Even a lot of transphobia against transwomen stems from society’s hatred of women…cismen (and some ciswomen) will notice you transitioning from the privileged group (men) to the oppressed group (women) and think to themselves “hey this threatens my belief that men are superior to women! Unacceptable!” Honestly I don’t understand why transwomen and feminist fight so much :( Seems like we are all fighting the same enemy ultimately, which is patriarchy. Of course that’s not the extent of the problems you deal with in a transphobic and misogynistic world, I’m not trying to imply that. But I do think it’s one of the major issues

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    Vivian — thank you so much for this! Not long ago, I was talking to some friends in a trans* advocacy group that I am part of about a tumblr I had ran across dedicated to butch/stud/AG trans* women and was surprised by how many people (cis and trans*) had never even considered that there even were trans* women who self-IDed as butch/stud/AG.

    And thank you to Autostraddle for enthusiastically publishing the trans*scribe series and also for diligently monitoring the comments. As a cis woman, I know TERF comments don’t hurt me the same way as trans* women, but I also find them repulsive. They violate all of our collective space and principles of inclusivity.

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    SISTERHOOD! We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t with regard to parenting, appearance, sex, work. I am a cis woman, just graduated, and have been working all year on making peace with these impossible contradictions women are set up with. You are an example to me on learning not to care too much and finding the girls who don’t care either. My goal for this year is to not judge another woman for the choices she makes because I’m learning I will find myself between a rock and a hard place one day, too, and it doesn’t help to have people tearing you down.

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    When I first started to live full time a Lesbian friend told me that she did not care for the drag queens. She felt they mocked women. She then turned to me and gave me the best advice I ever got as a Trans. “Be yourself”. “Be yourself, dress the way you feel like dressing and wear the make-up you want” “If you ARE female you will come across that you are”. And she was right. Acting will come out as acting and phony. You can fool people for a while but sooner or later they will see you as you really are. Being yourself is much more natural and real.

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    I LOVE this article. I’m trying to figure out what my next steps are and articles like this are keeping my “passing panic” at bay. Thank You!

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    Thank you so much, this article has helped me put to rest a whole lot of worries about my current identity and presentation.

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    Pretty damn awesome article. Spot on about the balancing act too; I adore makeup, and I’ve gotten crap for that, but I also adore wearing studded bracelets , belts and skinny jeans,and taken crap for that, and especially for dressing “too young”.

    I’m the same age as a lot of the first generation who were the worst at the “your-doing-wrong” crap.

    Like you, I feel like stepping out of the circular firing squad

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    Yep. She pretty much nailed this one down. Too many times have I met other trans women tell me how I should dress, Am I Post-Op or Pre-Op, Are you on hormones, if so how long…ect. ect.

    It’s like filling out those Dr. Forms before you can see your Dr.

    Everyone just needs to live their lives and just be themselves. High School is over.

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    Great piece. I transitioned back in 1996, had surgery and all done. I love outdoor pursuits, I love the counryside, and I’m a social worker often going into homes that fall way below cleanliness for whatever person’s disadvantaged reasons. IO wear outdoor gear, jeans, karrimor walking shoes or anything sporty and outdoorsy. Albeit they are women’s styles, very fashionable. I’m being true to my womanhood, because I believe tights, stockings, high heels, fancy dresses are a man’s idea of how I dress, and put simply, are not appropriate to my lifestyle, my interests or how I relate in life… oh and yes…. I pass very well and don’t look anything like one of those trans sisters….. LOL… Be true to yourselfe and stop givign a damn what others think. That’s how you will attract true friends who love you for who you are. The rest can go take a running jump :-)

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    I loved reading this. I’m a transman who often gets told I don’t look good enough for others comfort zones. I’m so glad I got to read this and share it.

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    As a transwoman, almost 4 years into my transition, I moved to the USA, I am in Vermont. Here I came as who I was, me, a person with a very checkered past. I am a mix of many things. I have a gender conflict between the male birth body, and what I think I am in my messed up brain.

    The one thing I cannot do anymore is be fake, I did that s##t for 34 years, and it ended. I cannot help but be brutally in your face honest. I talk as much as I can about being a transwoman, of the journey.

    I might not pass, f!!! I failed to pass as my birth gender, what could be worse, pass as my true brain gender? Yes to a degree I enjoy bending brains, confusing people, playing with them. No harm, no foul…

    I don’t do the make up thing, I do not do the voice thing, I am just me, I use low dose hormone patches, try and watch my weight, not drink booze, sodas. I leave my hair fairly long.

    I might not be seen as female, hell bells, I have seen many ciswomen not be female…What is it to be female? How far is far enough?

    I suddenly remembered the best thing… You cannot fake confidence!! If you have internal peace in your decision, that this is the right thing for you, that confidence shows in how you carry yourself. I know coming out was the right thing, I am happy being me, a lesbian pre-op male to female. I am me, I defy many labels, any way..Why be normal…?

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    I have been “out” for about 18 months now. no hormones and with a deep voice that I doubt will ever change. I decided to come “out” because being “in” was killing me. these days the last thing on my mind is how others perceive me. I will always wear what ever I want. I don’t care if others tell me im pretty or not. I wake up in the morning and the only thing on my mind from then on is whatever I can do to make myself happy because at the end of the day those very people I used to try to impress or even mimic, are no where to be found and its just me and only me. I guess what im saying is pretty much just be yourself regardless of feedback rather its makeup and dresses or a Mohawk and camouflage. being genuine trumps everything

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      Voice transition is hard. I’m almost completely deaf in both ears since birth so I had to work twice as hard to even get that part sort of passable. I can relate lol.

      But no amount of hormones can really solve the voice thing ;; That’s just something that takes allot of time and practice.

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    What I see are two idioms and both are positive if you peel back the onion. The first is although society, well, certain aspects of society may not accept “us,”………….yet, at least they know we exist. We may not be understood but we are making a statement. Once we do go out among “the great unwashed” we become ambassadors for those who don’t! Some of us are “in your face” others are not and still others are still “in the closet” or under the bed! As more of us, read or not, appear in public it is only to our advantage.
    The second “problem” is terminology. That is a minor thing but it is still human nature to try and categorize people, places and things. I know it will take a while to be able to have society accept us and “they” do need terminology to feel like they have some understanding of our many and varied presentations. Yes, I know most of us don’t like labels but it just is so we have to deal with it!

    Virginia

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    This was beautiful.

    Think the only reason being trans is so brutal is because it’s not obvious the only thing we should strive to be is we. :)

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    Transgender Commentary

    I believe that trans women (myself included) are actually a third gender, like hermaphrodites. Except, instead of dual genitalia, we are born with a male body and a female brain. This makes us so unique and special. We are like the X-Men . . . mutant and proud! Yet, I wonder . . . when I watch the LGBTQ parade on television each year and see all of the “acting out” . . . I wonder . . . I never see heterosexual parades where people are taking their clothes off in public.

    If we are ever going to have the same civil rights as the rest of the world, then we need to be able to dialogue with the general public, so that they will stop and think before they vote on issues that keep LGBTQ individuals unemployed and in poverty. Soon, the DSM-V-TR will be coming out. This edition (an improvement on the DSM-IV-TR) has removed “Gender Dysphoria” as a diagnosis for transgender people. This will help to remove the negative stigma of mental illness that has been associated with transsexualism.

    I, for one, am tired of being turned down for every job that I apply for . . . or turned down for housing or not being allowed to participate in social functions just because we are different from the public at large. We need to establish relationships with the non-trans population. We need to show them that we put our skirts on one leg at a time . . . just like they do. The general public is not going to knock our doors down to get to know us. Hence, we must gently knock on their doors. We must initiate the dialogue. Otherwise, left to their own devices, people will continue to make false assumptions about us.
    Yet, at the same time we must remember that, “The time for justice is always right now!” (a great one liner from the movie “The Great Debaters”). No one is going to just give us our Civil Rights. So how do we obtain them today? We are such a tiny minority that there is no way we will obtain our Civil Rights without winning over the public at large. We must also be vigilant in writing Congress, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the President of the United States. We should also ask members of the general public to do the same on our behalf.

    Your thoughts?

    Dana

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      Actually, it’s ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ that’s being removed from the DSM-V, while ‘Gender Dysphoria’has been added. The distinction is pretty subtle in that the emphasis is the anguish felt by the person’s relationship to their body, rather than labeling their identity as ‘disordered’. But the practical application is pretty much identical: go to doc, get GD diagnosis (instead of GID), which grants acces to hormones, carry letters, surgery, etc.

      The other downside is that Transvestic fetishism with autogynephilia has been added – and the original research clearly separated those who preferred women as sexual partners into the autogynephilic camp (aka not ‘true’ transexuals). Which should horrify all the autostraddlers out there as it’s saying your worthy of treatment if you like men, but not if you like women. Gender Dysphoria might get supported by anti-discrimination law and insurance companies, but I can tell you right now that transvestic fetishism with autogynephillia ain’t ever gonna have meds/surgery be covered.

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        I want to add, that it is possible to get medically supervised access to at least hormones through the informed consent protocol. You have to be competent to make an informed decision and your body has to be able to handle the hormones, but that is about it. Fenway Health (Boston MA) and other clinics offer this.

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          Hormones can easily be ordered from Canada or Mexico. You can actually buy them on-line without a prescription.

          Can that be dangerous? Yes.

          I am becoming a therapist because there are so few therapists who are “Culturally Competent” with LGBTQ individuals.

          As a Male to Female Transsexual-Lesbian, I hope to help the LGBTQ community.

          What saddens me is that as a minority, we cannot even agree on what we are.

          Even when I address academic science . . . there is someone who says, “Yes but I feel . . . “.

          As a therapist, I am all about feelings. Yet, as a scientist, I must examine the empirical data.

          No matter what I feel . . . I cannot discount the science.

          When I took the “Gold Standard” MMPI, it showed that I definitely identify as a woman . . . and not as a man. That is empirical data too.

          I enjoyed the dialogue this article brought out.

          I enjoyed the difference of opinions.

          What I did not enjoy was all the nit-picking that has gone on. There was even one individual in particular whose behavior has been to verbally assault anyone who disagrees with her.

          How disheartening.

          Dana

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            The problem I have with MMPI is that it is based on data tainted with societal norms. If you comply with what society expects a women should be then you will score as a women. Lies, damned lies, and statistics. I will probably end up taking it at some point, we’ll see what happens.

            Have you seen that NIMH wants to scrap the DSM, google for NIMH and Transforming Diagnosis. I have high hopes that the data gathered from that may end some of these debates.

            The main problem in these discussion is that there is no agreed upon definition of what it means to be a “woman” or “man” and until you agree on that, people end up wasting time yelling at each other.

            I’ll be happy when I figure out who I am as an individual, though :)

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            Thank you for your response to my post. Can you tell me . . . What the hell is wrong with this Amber person?

            I wish they would ban her from this site . . . but then she would just return under another username to engage in inappropriate behavior.

            BTW, the MMPI-I is no longer used because many of the questions were written by “Dominant Culture” (White Males). Hence, in the 1970’s many African-American males were institutionalized because they did not understand questions that were written by upper middle income male whites. This resulted in false test results that categorized many of this minority as suffering from schizophrenia. Yet, in reality, they did not suffer from schizophrenia. This led to the development of the MMPI-II, which was less racially biased.

            Dana

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            Dana,

            Re: Other people

            “Don’t care what they may say we got that attitude. Don’t care what they may do we got that attitude. Hey we got that PMA. Hey we got the PMA. Hey we got the PMA.” – ‘Attitude’ by the Bad Brains

            Life is too short to worry about what negative people’s opinions are. But hypocrisy and psychological projection bug me.

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      Dana, my thoughts are that your thoughts are your thoughts and if you view yourself as third gender, then you should have every right to ID that way and have it respected. What I don’t appreciate is you saying “trans women are third gender” because that sounds an awful lot as if you’re speaking for me and I don’t recall appointing you my spokesperson. I would love to hear what you have to say speaking purely for yourself… I’m completely disinterested hearing you speak for me and declare that I’m a mutant and should be proud of that.

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        I have been following the thread, it seems that this is heading into a dark place, name calling, with at least 2 comments removed already.

        Some people view transgender/transsexual people as 3rd gender, others do not. We all have views and are allowed to express our views, as long as there is no name calling. We should embrace each other, I really do enjoy a healthy debate, where views are tested, I have over time had my views changed as a result of interactions.

        I used to believe in 3rd gender, now my view is that I am female with a birth defect, I will be female with a trans history. I cannot and will never deny my past, as we all have our own history growing up. We do not discuss being toddlers or kindergarten or being in grade 3.

        In fact when was the last time you openly thought about your life as a 12 year old person? These are phases we all live through, it is not important to use as we mature, we leave it where it belongs, in the mists of time. I can barely remember my childhood, and for very good reason, if I did, I would no doubt be insane.

        Transsexuality/transgender is it a phase or a destination? We have to define that for ourselves, and not a single person can do it for anyone else.

        The original post was someone’s comments on an experience she had, she is reporting what happened, she added her feelings on the subject, at first the debate was healthy, when comments crossed the boundary ending up being deleted, was too far.

        I respectfully ask we close this topic, it is getting out of hand. I respect every view, both good and bad. We just need to let it rest.

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          AS a Marriage and Family Therapy student I can tell you this . . . everything that happened in our childhoods has shaped who we are today. The most formative years for rapid brain growth and development are between the ages of birth to five years.

          This is the stuff of our adult character. Albeit, children who were abused can overcome the effects of the abuse as adults. However, the truth is we are our history. All the events of our childhood (good and bad) shaped who we became as adults.

          This is why Marriage and Family Therapists focus on the family. We focus on what happened to a client when they were children. We also focus on how functional or dysfunctional the family is or is not.

          I knew at the age of four that I identified with Darla on “The Little Rascals” as opposed to Spanky or Alfalfa.

          I am a woman but I am also Trans.

          Dana

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            Actually it was my fairly innocent comment that was deleted.

            Dand Lane Taylor – I am older than you so you cannot pull age privilege over me. I dont agree with any single thing you said, you assume a great deal, perhaps you should ask more questions.

            I have NO problem or concern with being around anyone whether they “pass” (which is a cross dresser term btw) or not. How silly. You felt that way because you are insecure about being female and were worried other people would “read” you. I have never felt like that. I could never avoid being read as female, which was awfully difficult in hihg school.

            I dont even know what over the top behaviour means. I behave as is appropriate given where I am and who I am with. Same goes for the clothes I wear. Pretty much like every other woman I guess.

            Krystal

            I have run my own business and had many employees. I am retired now and attached to my present partner a long time. I do enjoy being arm and eye candy for him, yes like most women that makes me feel good, but it is only a small part of me. I also raised a daughter. Many other things as well.

            I came here to make trouble as from time to time people like me get tired of men speaking for us. Thats all, the reactions were as predictable as the sunset.

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            I have followed a few of your posts. You come across in a very “cutting” fashion. It seems to me as though you came to this site looking for a fight.

            I find that disheartening.

            You seem bent on taking shots at people.

            Your comments to me were not appropriate.

            I have no problem with you disagreeing with me or anyone else on this site. However, please do not stoop to name calling and finger pointing. Attack the issues and not the individual.

            Why are you even posting at all on this site?

            Dana

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            Amber,

            If you are going to cause constructive trouble I would suggest you find a site that caters to both trans women and men. So that you can argue with self identified men who you think are women. Then you can take their ideas and concerns seriously and not dismiss them with a wave of your gender identification wand.

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        Hi,

        I have both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Nutrition and am about to complete my MS in Marriage and Family Therapy. I have also been published in medical journals for all of the research I completed in Obesity Research.

        As a researcher, I am trained to objectively look at empirical data. Empirical data cannot be disputed because the data speaks for itself as evidence.

        Fact: Male to Female Transsexuals are different from genetic women (we lack a uterus and ovaries).

        Fact: Male to Female Transsexuals have male DNA.

        We cannot dispute these facts.

        For years I told people, “I am a woman . . . period!

        Yet, the fact remains that I could never . . . and will never be able to become pregnant.

        So, I began to academically study the science behind transsexualism. Brain cadaver studies conducted in Denmark some years ago revealed that the brains of Male to Female Transsexuals are different. The scientists identified the part of the human brain that governs “gender identity”. This area of the brain was identical in genetic women and in Male to Female Transsexuals.

        Later studies using advanced imaging techniques proved this theory to be valid in living test subjects, as opposed to cadaver brains.

        Conclusion: We are different than genetic women.

        This difference most likely occurred due to some type of gene mutation.

        All I am doing is acknowledging the scientific facts.

        So, even though I used to say, “I am a woman . . . period!” I can no longer say that.

        I am different from a genetic woman. I will never have a period. I will never have a baby. I will never have a uterus or ovaries. I do not produce female hormones at the same rate/quantity of a genetic woman.

        Yet . . . I am still a woman!

        No matter how we feel as Male to Female Transsexuals, we must at least acknowledge the scientific facts.

        I think a great topic for this web site would be to examine prejudice within the LGBT community. I remember going to an LGBT potluck in my community, and a genetic female-lesbian approached me (after someone told her I was Trans) and said, “I would never date you because you are not a real woman!” I responded, “Not only am I a real woman, I’m a better woman than you!” The woman then asked, “How so?” I then said, “Because I can’t get pregnant and I never have to have a period! Top That!”

        Also, has anyone else noticed that the “T” is always at the end? If you talk to a gay man it is the “GLBT” community. If you talk to a lesbian it is the “LGBT” community. Yet, no matter who you talk to, the “T” is at the end.

        These are my thoughts.

        Dana

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          The medical reality is that there is no objective consistent category of “genetic women.” There is no genetic sequence which always results in a uterus and ovaries, or any other physical feature associated with the category. Anyone with a basic understanding of epigenetics knows that.

          The only thing that defines the letter you get on your birth certificate (and thus the role parents attempt to raise you in until you protest) is the size of your junk. Internal organs have no more to do with it than brain scans.

          Women come with myriad bodies, myriad genetic sequences, and myriad systems of neurological structure (neurological studies are about significantly overlapping averages). Regardless of these, all women are equally real women.

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        Lighten up and take a chill pill. Take the chip off of your shoulder so that you can hear both the context and content of what people are trying to say.

        You seem to miss the gist of the points made, and focus on pronouns that you do not like.

        Dana

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    It always bothers me, when people tell me I am not feminine enough… I had a couple boyfriends, and even my current roommate, who doesn’t like my style, or thinks that I should wear skirts or dresses more often. I have even been told by fellow girls at a transgender outreach center, that I need to work on my voice… The thing is, I am comfortable being me. I am not going to pretend to be someone that I am not, screw other people, and their opinions.

    On a side note, I think that the older audiences will think you should be wearing skirts/dresses in order to be feminine, as I think thats how they were raised. Times change, get with the present and stop living in the past…

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    Wow; lots of dialogue and too much to read right through. But I transitioned over a year ago (GRS within the year, progressing well after 9 months on hormones). As I was cleared by the gender clinic for surgical consultation, I was asked about my experience socially and in employment. For me, I have had no problems at all, anywhere – except once at the start when I wasn’t good at presentation. I’m not ultra-femme, I just look like and dress like the women around me (maybe a skirt more often, jeans rather less, but that’s where I’m comfortable). I don’t think about “passing”, I just act normally. But the reason I believe I’ve had an easy ride is not natural femininity, but complete comfort with myself. That confidence and happiness makes others around me comfortable and happy. I’m open for anyone who wants to talk about it (I blog openly), and I support trans people. But that’s all I have in common with them, so I don’t have a “community” or participate in a “scene”. I just do the ordinary life without thinking “what” I am.

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    I’m a retired professional and very mature transwoman out for several years. I love this article! Somewhere along the way I decided it’s more important to be oneself and authentic than working to please others. My goal is not to pass, but to be acceptable. To me it’s important to wear clothing and accessories suitable for my age, circumstances, and place. What is appropriate for a young woman like the author would probably make a post middle aged woman like me look very foolish as she would look foolish if she tried to model after me! In polite company both of us should be acceptable. Vivian you may be young, but your wisdom shows maturity!

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    It’s definitely a lose / lose situation. If people think you are trying too hard then you get comments on that, and if you are not trying hard enough you get comments on that as well.

    Personally I think you should just wear what you want and be who you are – I spent 35 years trying to be someone else and when I transitioned I was determined not to try and be who I thought people thought I should be. If you can follow that sentence :)

    I wear skirts, dresses, trousers depending on what I want to wear that day. I do wear make up as well. Not because I think I have to, but because I want to. It doesn’t mean I think others should wear it, just as much as it means I don’t expect to be vilified just because I do.

    Being a woman is not a stereotype, there is not one way to do it that fits all.

    There is only one way to do it for you though: be yourself – it’s the only way I can think of to have a shot of being happy…

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    For disclosure I am a female, I transitioned some time ago. I am very much what people would call a girly girl. I dress in ways that are pleasing to my eye, wear make up, adore well fitting fashionable clothes and have my hair and nails look perfect at all times. I do these things because they please me, because they look attractive and because my wonderful male partner likes me to be arm candy for him. I dont care what other trans people think about it, I dont care if some present as androgenous, I dont care what anyone thinks about how I like to look or act. When I transitioned I worked very very hard to look female and my version of feminine. It worked, I pass completely at all times and I am not out in any way.

    One thing to remember about the so called trans community is that it is populated with those who are in transition, often dont look terribly female or feminine and who are opinionated with strange people with even strange ideas about policing how people should look or act or dress.

    Personally I do not associate with trans people. I am simply a female now, for me that was the whole point of transition. I am not interested in being out and do not tell people my personal business. I could care less if I am perpetuatimg mysogeny, I never agreed to take on some trans activist role or to challenge gender sterotypes. Its my life and I could care less what others think about me.

    I would suggest to anyone considering a transition to think about this. If you can manage it, passing is freedom. It is privacy. It is worth striving for. I find it strange indeed that in recent years some have taken t criticising people like myself. To me it is pure jealousy. I dont look down on those who are not as attractive as myself and I dont feel bad that I look good.

    I do find it more than a little strange when someone identifies openly as a trans woman but makes no effort to look, act or even perform the most basic tasks that average every day women di. But heh, its their life. They never seem all that happy though.

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      Guess what? You are still trans. I “pass” too but I fight daily for the rights of those who do not “pass” well.

      I remember early and mid-transition . . . and those were not fond memories.

      Your story reminds of that old black and white movie where the light skinned African American woman “passes” as Caucasian. Her mother, an African American maid, is looked down on by her. At the end of the movie, the young woman is ashamed of herself for her behavior. I wish I could think of the name of that movie.

      Anyway, you are trans. How can you possibly not be involved in trying to help those who do not “pass” obtain their Civil Rights?

      Dana

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          Hi Amber,

          I used to be uncomfortable being around Trans women who did not pass. I suppose that is because I remember how uncomfortable I felt during early and mid-transition. For that reason, and I am not proud to say this . . . “I felt embarrassment and shame being around them.”

          In retrospect, part of the problem was what I considered to be, “Over the top behavior”. A therapist might view “over the top behavior” as “acting out” or at least “inappropriate behavior”.

          Freedom of expression is our right . . . but . . . if someone (trans or cis) behaves in public in such a fashion as to create a disturbance (e.g. public drunkenness) then that behavior will have negative consequences.

          This is why I “rock out” on the open highway . . . but . . . I turn the volume to my radio down when I pull up to a red light. Why? Because you might not appreciate my rock music blaring over the music you are listening to at that very same red light.

          I personally hate “over the top behavior” of other trans women. I hate the “acting out behavior” that should be handled in therapy.

          I used to believe the same as you . . . that I am a woman . . . period! Unfortunately, even after SRS and FFS, I still do not possess a uterus or ovaries. I was not born with a uterus or ovaries. I was born with a male body and a female brain. That is by definition inter-sexed. The truth is, we like hermaphrodites (who possess dual genitalia) are a dual sex . . . a third sex if you will.

          Yet, as much as I dislike “over the top behavior” . . . I still defend the rights of these trans women to be themselves.

          I am also 54 years old. I was a rebel in the 1970’s. At 54 years of age, I want to mend fences. I want to bring the trans community together with the “dominant culture” in the United States. I want real dialogue to replace the “behind your back” statements made by people who fear or do not understand us.

          We (trans women) are “real women”. Yet, we are more. We are a unique third sex. We should celebrate that! Hermaphrodites have already began to celebrate being a unique third gender. Whether we are very feminine trans women or dress more masculine as trans women . . . one thing we can all agree on is that we are TRANS! We are different!

          Dana

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            Dear Dana,

            1) The term Hermaphrodite is not commonly accepted in the Intersex community especially when used by persons who aren’t Intersex. Some Intersex persons consider themselves to be a unique sex but many others consider themselves to be men or women and really aren’t into having non-Intersex persons categorize them. Btw, the overwhelming majority of Intersex persons don’t have dual genitalia.

            2) People have lots of differences and lots of intersections. I don’t consider myself “more” than a cis woman, I’m just another variety of woman… there are many different varieties of women. You’re absolutely welcome to identify yourself as you wish, but please don’t identify or categorize other trans women because I really don’t appreciate being spoken for. And I think it’s kind of shameful you’re somehow equating how some trans women express themselves with public drunkenness.

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            “True hermaphroditism” is a clinical term. However, must concede that “inter-sexed” is more politically correct. Yet, science (in general) is not always politically correct. Why? Many scientific discoveries were made by “dominant culture” males of that era.

            There also exists varying degrees of “inter-sex”, such as: XXY chromosome and other types of inter-sex.

            Yet, science has proven that Male to Female Transsexuals brains are different than that of genetic males. In fact, the area of the brain that governs “gender identity” is identical in genetic women and Male to Female Transsexual women. These original brain studies were conducted on Male to Female Transsexual cadaver brains. Newer scientific studies that used enhanced imaging techniques have proven the very same thing on living test subjects.

            So, by definition, Male to Female Transsexuals are inter-sexed. We have the brain of one gender and the body of another gender.

            How we feel may be totally different. Yet, in this case we are talking about feelings which are neither right or wrong. It is just how we feel.

            yet, no matter how I feel . . . I cannot just disregard the science because of my personal feelings.

            Science is our friend not our enemy.

            Dana

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            BTW, I was using the example of “public drunkenness” to refer to anyone (Male or Female, LGBTQ, Straight). My example was not about transsexuals but rather inappropriate behavior in public in general by anyone.

            Furthermore, if you do a scientific literature search you will find that there is approximately 25% percent of the LGBTQ community who suffer from alcohol or drug abuse, compared to 10% for the general public. Clearly, the disparity in how LGBTQ people are treated by society is responsible for these shocking statistics. How do I know all of this? I am a researcher. I am currently writing a scientific paper on alcohol and drug abuse among the LGBTQ community.

            Alcohol and drug use is higher in the LGBTQ community because LGBTQ individuals are so marginalized by society that it hurts. Alcohol and drugs are a way to self medicate the pain of disparity.

            Dana

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            “True hermaphroditism” is a clinical term in the same way “aether” is a physics related one. Doesn’t mean it describes anything to do with reality.

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            Not you Dana, it was for Amber, who seems not to be LGBT and appears to be promoting that the pinnacle of womanhood is to be “Arm Candy”. I’ll start my comments with who it is intended for next time.

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            Krystal, my interpretation of why Amber is at AS is to supposedly demonstrate how she’s above all our (the less fortunate, less attractive, less “real” trans women) petty problems. Ironically, her words only solidify in my mind how self-loathing she is, which is a shame. I always think it bizarre how some “post-trans women” (they’re no longer trans because that’s not “real” enough for them) go out of their way to make such comments on trans blogs and forum threads. She doesn’t want to associate with trans people but makes a point of using her name on a trans-related thread so we’ll all know how she doesn’t want to be seen with us. It’s not enough for her to stay away from the trans community, she has to also take pot shots at it. And it’s all dripped in a nearly fetishistic coating of traditional 1950’s womanhood. Got that? … Speaking of not seeming happy??!!

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    I will start by disclosing that I am a strait woman and I don’t have an axe to grind but I do have questions.

    If you are male and want to be female, or feel that you are a female trapped in a male body, when you transition why should you not be burdoned by the same baggage that every woman is burdoned with? I know three or four transitioned women, and one in particular struggles with acceptance. a huge part of the acceptance that she struggles with is that although she wants to be accepted as a woman, she doesn’t do many of the things that women do. Where I see this most profoundly is in social settings where there is a gender split in tasks. Take a funeral as an example-the women are usually the ones who participate in serving food and clearing up after. Men usually do things like get chairs and tables out and put away at the end. This particular woman does neither she doesn’t want to participate in the men’s activities because she doesn’t view herself as a man, but she doesn’t want to participate in the women’s activities either, and she doesn’t understand the social expectations of being a woman and isn’t interested in learning about them. The result is that she firmly establishes herself as “other” and then moans about the lack of acceptance.

    I am a woman who has worked construction and farming. I have often stepped outside of the social norms for women, and I am not a girly woman-I dress as I please and support everyone’s right to do so. Never the less in a social setting if a new mum needs to do something and there are two people, me and a man, she is more likely to hand me her baby because that is how we are socialized. Right or wrong, it would be very unusual for a woman to refuse, and I notice that the tans woman I am talking about would refuse, which makes it more difficult to include her socially as a woman when she clearly doesn’t behave like one.

    My point is welcome to what it is like to be socialized as a girl. everyone has expectations that don’t necessarily fit your picture of who you might be, and there are social expectations of you if you want to live within a society as a woman. What you wear, how you speak and what you do as a woman have very specific parameters and what you talk about here doesn’t strike me as a trans issue so much as a being a woman in society issue. Being a woman is no more about having a vagina than being a man is about having a penis. The person commented about being trans being a third gender has an interesting point and if that is where people want to go then there will need to be a shift in expectations socially about what those of you who perceive themselves as this third gender do socially.

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      Sue, personally I think you’re generalizing an awful lot based on a couple of people you know and your interpretation of their lives. And believe me, trans people are acutely aware about gender socialization, we live with the sting of it nearly every day. Yes, there is overlap between the experiences of trans women and non-trans women, but trans people also deal with an entire group of issues on top of that.

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      Gendered social expectations are bunk. Anyone working in opposition to them is working on making the world a more inhabitable place.

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    I love this post. I have been out as genderqueer/trans going on a decade and have constantly battled the “trans enough” issue.

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    I stopped going out of my way to meet other trans women (or ask them for advice) a long time ago, for many of the reasons mentioned in the comments above, mostly because it was exhausting. It has always been my experience that if you ask a trans woman what time it is, she’ll tell you how to build a watch.

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      I liked your post!

      I am trying to do everything in my power to help improve care for transgender/transsexual individuals.

      Currently, I am completing my MS in Marriage and Family Therapy. Why? Because, the first time that I went to a therapist regarding my transsexualism, she walked out of the session. She left me sitting in her office (alone) for over 30 minutes. When she returned, she said, “I cannot be your therapist!” The real kicker was that I was told at a pre-screening by the hospital that a therapist was being matched to my specific needs.

      I also selected a female medical doctor for my complete physical. Upon learning that I was a Male-to-Female Transsexual, she refused to perform a vaginal or breast examination on me.

      I went to a plastic surgeon in California for follow-up care after I had my vaginoplasty in Thailand. He said, “O.K. honey, now let’s have a look at your Kooch!”

      When I called 911 because I was suicidal (because of how I have been treated since I came out as a MtF Transsexual) the police officer (after discovering that I was not a genetic woman) told me to take two steps back. He then said, “Get away from me! Don’t come near me!” Luckily, his partner had a brother who was going through the same thing as I was. If not for that, I shutter to think what may have happened to me.

      I have two Masters Degrees but have been unemployed for the last 48 months. I was evicted from my apartment, and am now living in a hotel room until I run out of money.

      Truly, we are the most marginalized of all minorities.

      I recently read an article titled, “Cultural Competency With LGBT Clients”. It was written by a licensed MFT who made a point opf saying that it is the duty of all therapists to be culturally competent in working with the LGBT community.

      Dana

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        I can’t wrap my head around such things. Other than my family, whose insensitivity I expected, I have never met with any of the bigotry you describe. Coming from small-town Pennsylvania to metro Phoenix, you might think that it would have been de rigueur for me, but no. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not easily read or what (but even when I do out myself, which is frequently, it’s usually met with mild curiosity and nothing more).

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      LOL!! Not only tell you how the watch is made, but where the parts came from, the history of watches, and a basic discussion of the Theory of Relativity.

      Then put your post on *ignore*

      :) D

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        Then they have the nerve to tell you which community to belong to, what to wear, what you can and can’t say, and if you don’t listen to them they’ll verbally gang rape you along with their Janice Raymond loving buddies at gender trender. Nothing like Radical Feminism meets it greatest supporter radical transgenderism.

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    Yes it was a good article! It stimulated some much needed dialogue. I wonder though . . . How will we ever be able to tell the world what we are, if we cannot even agree among ourselves as to what we are?

    Yet, at least dialogue has been initiated.

    Some of the members were cordial and polite, and debated in an honorable fashion. A few members took the low road and engaged in finger pointing and accusations. I suppose that in a free society, the negative remarks must be tolerated at the expense of freedom of speech.

    I hope that this forum will do an article on prejudice within the LGBTQ community. As a Male to female Transsexual, I have had some pretty negative experiences in dealing with the LGB of the LGBT community. I did not expect this at all. Some of the prejudice is covert and some of it is overt. I once had a lesbain woman appraoch me at an LGBT function (after someone told her I was an MtF Transsexual-Lesbian) and say, “I would never date you because you are not a real woman.” True story! I also remember how the LGBT group in my community had a fund raiser for a Gay man who was mugged. Yet, when I wrote the president of this LGBT community program about issues facing the “T” in the community . . . it fell on deaf ears. It seems that the “T” was invited to social functions of this group as a “token” gesture. It was like, “Yeah we have one transsexual in our group so we are a diverse LGBT group. Our LGBT group never discussed “T” issues at meetings. We never had fund raisers for “T” issues.

    I know this would be a “hot” topic. Hence, rules of debate should be determined prior to engaging in such a “hot button” issue.

    Dana

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    Great article, it gave me more of a perspective on the transwoman experience.

    Honestly it is more about how you present yourself as a person than what you wear. Confidence goes a long way towards being accepted as a certain gender.

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    An interesting article and perspective I’m just wondering whats so “Queer” about just being yourself? I never understood what changing your voice or putting on a skirt and pantyhose has to do with being born with cross sexed identity or coming to accept yourself let alone being a woman. I live openly outside the LGBT because its a lot nicer place to be. Very rarely have I had someone say anything mean to me unless they are part of the LGBT and usually its them that acts like a wimp about it. By that I mean they make a comment while running away its almost funny to watch if it weren’t so pathetic and the fact is while I am fully capable of defending myself I’m not going to go out of my way to hit anyone other than in self defense.
    Unlike some people I never had to change a counselor or have one tell me I needed to wear a skirt to be believed. I gained a lot from reading the comments and I found a lot of useful information!Thanks!

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    Having met a good handful of people who identify as transgender, I’m afraid some are very hard to get alone with. Rather than politely correcting me about their gender, I get a lecture in how I’m rude or intolerant. Thankfully, like with all people, this is only with some. Others I know are wonderful and open.

    That said, women dress and look all sorts of different ways! If you’re comfortable in skirts and makeup, great. Jeans and no makeup, just as great. The only person who should ever decide what you’re comfortable with is you. Everyone else’s opinions are just opinions, and if they don’t help nor make you feel like who you want to be, discard them; you aren’t “good,” “bad,” or “wrong,” you’re you!

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      Hi,

      Thank you for your post! :)

      I agree. I believe that members of the LGBTQ community (myself included) must first make certain that we are prepared to debate “hot topics” with dignity and respect. Albeit, any one of us (LGBTQ) can tell at least one story where we were slighted in the workplace or social setting or even in church. Many of us have experienced: heterosexism, prejudice, discrimination, harassment, unemployment (as a result of discrimination), and even hate crimes.

      Part of me would just love to “body slam” the haters (in my imagination but not in real life). Why? LGBTQ individuals have been marginalized by society for so long that they are traumatized. This trauma can manifest itself in negative beliefs/attitudes. Hence, some LGBTQ people may come across as a little bit “jaded” to the general public. This is especially true for transgendered individuals. Why? Early and mid-transiton can be brutal. Unlike LGB individuals, I did not really get to choose when I came out. My budding breasts, fuller hips, and other changes to my body from surgeries gives me away. One day . . . my body just gave me away. I had to come out. It was no longer a choice. Then, once I came out, I was sexually harassed, discriminated against, harassed, lost my employment, and had my life threatened (while minding my own business). I then started therapy, only to have to deal with a lack of “cultural competency” on the part of therapists who have not been trained in working with the LGBTQ community.

      When I came to this site to respond to the article (as well as other members of the LGBTQ community) I saw some really healthy responses . . . but I also observed some very negative remarks amongst several members of this web site.

      I thought to myself, why is there so much arguing and fighting amongst ourselves? I also found that the “cutting remarks” came from several transgendered women. It was as though a few members would just pick apart every noun/pronoun/adjective I would write . . . missing out on the gist or content of my posts.

      I also found that some members of this forum were open minded regarding the science behind transsexualism . . . and others were not.

      I felt that what started as a healthy dialogue/debate “went south” when a few members began making negative remarks to other members of this forum. I felt like I was back in high school!

      I know (as a Male to Female Transsexual) that if any minority has a right to be angry and upset with the world for the way it treats us . . . I also know that we not only lose the battle . . . we lose the war when we resort to name calling and finger pointing among ourselves! Aren’t we marginalized enough by society already? Having a “chip” on our shoulders does nothing to keep healthy dialogue going on between us and the public at large.

      I seldom ever go to Transgender web sites because (in my own personal observations) so many people are mean to each other. They put each other down . . . and they ostracize any other transgender individual who does not agree 100% with their opinions about what it means to be transgendered. If one discusses science with such narrow minded individuals (again not all transgendered people) they become extremely defensive and argumentative.

      So, where is a transgendered individual supposed to go to find a nurturing environment, and a place to discuss what is going on in our lives . . . without fear of being verbally assaulted by a transgender individual who is narcissistic and argumentative?

      Geez! What is wrong with the transgender community!? If we cannot even have one conversation amongst ourselves without it turning into a verbal fight . . . then how will we ever be able to present ourselves to the nation when we are demanding our God given Civil Rights?

      I think that what has made me less “jaded” is the fact that I have stayed in therapy for 15 years now. I work through all of my “justifiable anger” issues in therapy so that I will not be over sensitive to talking about the disparaging way that society treats us.

      I have been unemployed (not by choice) for the last 48 months. I was evicted from my apartment (not by choice). I just want the same Civil Rights as the rest of the world! I am disheartened to say that . . . that day will never come until we stop fighting amongst ourselves!

      Let’s remember that we should be the “Ambassadors of Good Will” in the fight to obtain our Civil Rights!

      Peace!

      Dana Michelle

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        You know Dana you mention heterosexism but what about the homosexism behind Transgender? We’re not all LGBT some of us really see ourselves as heterosexual. So in the context how is it that calling us Transgender and dragging us into the LGBT isn’t sex discrimination and invalidating the very “Gender Identities” the LGBT claims to support? For true dialogue to happen those who do not belong in the LGBT need to be recognized and the Transgender label needs to be lifted from. There are some so determined to queer us all that will not happen until someone forces that change. That someone is me and I am starting to bring sex discrimination lawsuits against Universities in my State over their adoption and use of the word Transgender based on the opinions of queer activist and feminist happy to exploit all of us to prop up their obviously incorrect gender as purely a social construct theory.

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          Hi,

          Hmmm . . . I was born male . . .but always identified as female (even at the age of four).

          As a man, I was attracted to women. As a woman, I am attracted to other women. This changes for some of us when we take estrogen, and they may become attracted to men after hormone replacement therapy. Then there are males who transition to female but were attracted to men when they lived as men. Some of them will stay attracted to men when they transition, and some will become attracted to women.

          The best label I can give myself is “Male to Female Transsexual-Lesbian”.

          I am curious, what do you think someone such as myself should be called?

          Respectfully,

          Dana

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            I don’t relate with that whole I was born a male line of thinking. I get that I was listed male at birth and why I just don’t agree with it. Also how is referring someone to a sex they no longer legally are for the purpose of forcing them into the gay political movement even legal. As for the answer to your question why do you need any of those labels? Your a woman who is attracted to other women who happened to be born with a cross sexed identity (Brain Sex Differention) and that also happens to choose to align herself with a political subgroup (LGBT) of the larger same sex attracted and sex and gender diverse population.

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            Don’t get too hung up in labels. They’re helpful in self-discovery and in communicating who we are. But if we try to obsessively define everything, we eventually strangle ourselves — and each other — with them.

            Is a man who is attracted to trans women, for example, straight? Gay? Bisexual? Sooner or later, if we try to make ourselves prisoners to our own constructions, it all breaks down.

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            Mercedes its to easy to say don’t get hung up on labels when its labels that oppress us. Also take transgender as an example. One type of person might think its the greatest label in the world and be head over heels in love with the gay community. But for another person it can become just another obstacle and a source of added stygma in the path for them to accept themselves for who they are, and to be accepted for who they are by others.
            I am fighting the fight to remove that obstacle and I think its rather pathetic that those who claim to support “all gender identies” are the least likely to support me in that fight and most likely to bully me over it even though if they’d only think it benefits them also.
            That is unless they have a radical queer agenda of wanting to be third sexed or a reason to try and justify feminist gender theory and are only exploiting people like myself to continue its teaching. Its becoming glaringly obvious to me that Transgender is really about queering us all on one hand for the purpose of socially constructing a third sex to the mutual benefit of feminist gender theory here in the United States. It has caused a lot of harm to some people and it needs to stop.

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          But I thought the T in the LGBT was irrespective of sexual orientation, as opposed to the L, the G, and the B. Historical circumstances have brought us as T’s together with the LBGs. I’m uncomfortable (to say the least) with the short shrift we as Ts get from the LGB establishment, but any warrior needs allies, which requires compromise. Like the Native American activist who said, “We’ll call ourselves American Indians until we’re free, and then we’ll call ourselves whatever the F we want.” A zero-compromise, all-or-nothing approach is more like the “politics” of those who make themselves our enemies and oppressors, than of our friends.

          History’s also full of groups saddled with undesired nicknames, that later, for convenience or even to take over the nickname’s meaning, they proudly reclaimed. What’s most important in this struggle is our lives, health, welfare, and freedom, not ideological or academic purism. If those who make trouble for us no longer have a name to call us by, do you think that will make them stop giving us trouble, when they’ve been doing so as long as humankind has existed, eons before the coining of neologisms like “homosexual,” “heterosexual,” “intersex,” “trans”-anything, etc etc etc??? Of course not. We might “disappear” in some senses — most likely unhelpful — but bullies always find their targets.

          Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences.

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            There is a difference between true allies and a group using one portion and viewpoint of an entirely diverse and different population to justify dragging all of them into their politics and social theories so they can exploit them. I personally feel calling me transgender is sexually exploiting me and sexually discriminating against me and intend to make it stop. The LGBT has made it entirely clear to me through its actions it is not an allie and all that I am to them is tool to be sexually exploited and thrown away.

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            At one point in time during my transition, I used the analogy of a birth defect (yet that would mean that God made a mistake). So many people said to me, “How could you mutilate your body that way!?” To this I would reply, “If you had a child who was born with a cleft lip, would you pray that a skilled qualified plastic surgeon could restore your child’s face to ‘normal’ . . . or . . . would you do nothing and say ‘This is the way that God made our child, and we are not going to insult God by changing what He/She created?” The reply is always the same, “I would thank God that a gifted plastic surgeon could give my child the smile that nature stole from him/her!” This analogy at least gets people thinking in a different way about a topic that they were probably rigid about before.

            Is that analogy right?

            Well . . . according to the “Testosterone Bath Theory” this birth defect occurs when the male fetus does not receive a “testosterone bath” from the mother’s uterus during the first trimester of pregnancy. This “testosterone bath” hard wires the part of the brain that governs “gender identity” to behave male. When the male fetus does not receive the “testosterone bath” then the brain remains the default gender . . . which is female. Hence, the fetus develops with a female brain and a male body. Less is known about the science of Female to Male Transgenderism.

            There is a surgeon who wrote a book called, “Why Do Men Have Nipples?” The answer . . . because the female gender is the default gender up until the testosterone bath occurs for male fetuses at 12 weeks gestation. In fact, male and female fetuses are identical up until this point of gestation.

            So . . . is being a Male to Female Transsexual just a mistake of nature?

            Still other studies have shown differences in gene markers of Male to Female Transsexuals. These gene markers are identical in genetic women and in Male to Female Transsexuals . . . but look different in genetic males. This would mean that a gene mutation was responsible for transgenderism.

            If that is true . . . then are Male to Female Transgendered individuals Mutants? I for one think that being a mutant is pretty cool! Go Professor Xavier!

            Then again, in spite of all of this scientific evidence . . . some transgendered people feel that they do not have a “birth defect” . . . and they also do not believe that we are some time of gene mutation.

            I have even considered a third possibility . . . that transgendered individuals are a third sex (similar to “intersexed” individuals but instead of having physical attributes of both male and female genders, transgendered individuals have the brain of one gender and the body of another gender). This would mean that transgendered individuals are also “intersexed”.

            Some people believe that transgendered individuals are a third gender (possessing attributes of both male and female).

            Still others do not believe any of these theories. That would be fine if we could just dismiss all of the scientific evidence that support those theories.

            Then there are the transgender individuals who believe that they are just women . . . period. Unfortunately, again the scientific data does not support this opinion.

            Hmmm . . . At this point . . . the one thing I can say for certain is that we are different, and I celebrate that every day . . . no matter what we decide to call ourselves.

            Dana

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            I strongly subscribe to the birth defect, my penis is a vagina in denial, it is in the wrong place, cause I was born with a penis, some doc thought, penis-male, vagina-female. No fault really, how is the doc to know my brain gender is XX and my body gender is XY.

            What I am now understanding is the role of the 2nd X or the Y in the equation XX or XY.. What role does the 2nd X play in females and the Y in males, I have been trying to understand the role of dominant and submissive chromosomes, for example, I am thinking that for male to female trans, the X is dominant and the y is submissive, the equation would read Xy, for cisgendered males the equation would read xY.

            The same would be true for female to male, for trans FTM it would be xX, for cisgendered it would be Xx.

            I cannot state sources right now, for me this would make sense in the testosterone bath, if in the case of male to female trans, the 1st X is dominant, it would prevent the Y from being activated, thus the gender would be female in the brain, but the body is male, as it has a penis.

            It is not fact, and I am sure this theory has more holes than a tea strainer, I am only expressing what I have learned over the years, and this debate is now getting to almost 100 posts long…

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            Have you heard about XXY syndrome. This is where one having this syndrome is male because they have an X and they also have a Y. Yet, the extra X chromosome somehow desensitizes male development. At puberty, these individuals put out testosterone . . . just like other males. The difference . . . the body does not react to the testosterone. Hence, these individuals develop female (the default gender). I believe the other name for this condition is Kleinfeld Syndrome (but do not quote me on that one).

            Then there is the XYY syndrome. In this condition, the extra Y chromosome causes males to develop as “Ultra” males. In general, they are more aggressive than the average male. There is also a correlation between having this syndrome and violent crimes (rape, murder, etc.).

            Dana

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            Hi Dana,

            Yes, I qualified what I wrote by saying it has more holes than a tea strainer, it is a theory, it has faults. Does it push the debate as to what is transsexuality forward?

            There is no one theory, no fixed ideology as to what is transsexuality? As there is no 1 fixed idea as to how it presents…. Your life history is very different to mine, why are 3 siblings not trans, I in the middle am? Why am I totally asexual? Is my chromosomes normal?

            Why do I have severe mental health problems? Aspergers or ASD, or Bipolar type 2? Is my depression chronic or manic, is this related to the trans? What is causing me to be suicidal all the time??? Is there a defect in the structure of the brain in my skull??

            All I know is that I am neither male or female, I am something, I can progress further if I have surgery, yet my Mental Health prevents this, a kind of loop here, I am not well as I hate my penis, this does not look good to the gatekeepers, ie headshrinkers at Charing Cross… I cannot get the surgery, It is a mess…

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            It sounds as though you are not happy with the care you are receiving. When it comes to therapy . . . never be embarrassed to ask for a different therapist.

            I have had to do that myself.

            I went to Bangkok, Thailand for all of my surgeries. The prices of different surgeries average 75 to 80% less expensive than here in the USA . . . and they do great work as well!

            As a web site to visit go to http://www.bangkokplasticsurgery.com. My surgeon’s name is Dr. Pichet.

            Dana

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            Actually, the L is the worst of the three LGB. As a transgender woman, I know that we have it the worst. In the town I live in, we had to combine the LGB and T because of our smaller population.

            The gay men were awesome! They were polite, cordial, and relaxed. In contrast, the first Lesbian I met at an LGBT Function walked up to me and said, “I would never date you because you are not a real woman!” How prejudiced is that?

            When I was evicted from my apartment (due to long standing unemployment because no one was willing to hire a transsexual) I wrote the president of my community LGBT group for help. She did nothing to help me. She said, “Dana, you can place a post on our web site and we’ll see if anyone responds. Not one LGB person responed to my plea for help. Ironically, two weeks later, a gay business man had been mugged, and my LGB
            . . . T group put together a fund raiser for him. They raised a lot of money for a man who owned a business, had health care insurance, had money in the bank. Yet, they turned their back on the only “T” in their group
            . . . me.

            When I attempted to talk to other Lesbian women at one of their Potluck Luncheons . . . none of the other women would even allow me to participate in the conversation.

            It is no joke that many Lesbian women despise transgender women. Even those of us who are lesbians
            . . . just like them.

            Then again, when I lived as a heterosexual male, I found it difficult to even be around lesbian women, due to their loathing of men in general.

            Yet, I found gay men to be more accepting of heterosexual men. It was a “live and let live” attitude they had that I admired so much.

            I understand the concept of “internalized oppression”. Yet, so many Lesbian women have such a huge chip on their shoulder . . . and often it feels like they just want someone to knock it off.

            If anyone has a right to be upset with heterosexism, it would be gay men and male to female transsexuals. These are the two minorities who must fear heterosexim the most because we are more likely to be harmed or killed by the rigid beliefs of this subset of the heterosexual community.

            Quite frankly, I am afraid to even try and speak to another Cis-Lesbian at this point.

            Even in this forum, I have been ganged up on and attacked by women I would have called my sister. Unfortunately, Transgender Lesbian Women are the “red-haired step child of the LGBT community.

            Food for thought.

            Dana

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        I identify as a lesbian, and so far I have been fortunate not to be harassed all too much, although I certainly see many disparaging remarks online, but somehow I always try to see what someone else would, try to understand them and feel empathy. Many do not.

        As you say, it is sad that there is some “proper” way to be a transgender. I recall that, as a little girl growing up in the eighties, I was odd compared to the other girls. It wasn’t even due to my sexuality, which I did not fugue out until I was an adult, but dealt with what a girl was expected to act like. A girl who read comics, who played video games, who liked the old west, just was not natural. And for a time I wondered if perhaps I should have been a boy.

        Finally, I realized what was wrong wasn’t with me. It was with this expectation. I wasn’t the stereotype, but I didn’t have to be. It was easier once I accepted myself, then accepted that it’s our differences that make human beings such an interesting being. Which is probably why I can’t understand the entire “you must be this way to be-” logic for anything.

        In the case of the transgender community, and from what little I know from friends and reading, the body doesn’t fit the gender the person is. That has to be hard enough without being told exactly how you’re supposed to act to be “in.” Girls come in all shapes and sizes, as do men, so I see no reason to deny this fact because of a bias, or whatever causes it.

        I should note, I have a friend, MtF, who tends to wear pants and blouses of varying kinds. She’s just as much a woman as I am, or any other woman I know, and what she chooses to wear is what she chooses to wear. The person is all that counts.

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    I’d also like to point out another difference between me and you. While you state when I was man I was attracted to women I think differently then that.I may have socially presented as a man but I never identified as or with being a man. As for my sexual attraction I like men but I’ll concede sometimes I really wonder why.

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      I normally tell people, “When I lived as a man” as opposed to “When I was a man”. I was never male. I was born with a female brain and a male body. I behaved and identified as female as early as the age of four. Geez though! I get torn apart because of tiny pronouns that nit-picked apart. It is exhausting. It’s like no one on this site asks for clarification about anything. Rather, I see a lot of disagreeing and finger pointing. This is not how conversations work in real time, and it is not how conversations should take place on this web site. Asking questions (especially for the sake of clarity of meaning) is a much kinder way to further a conversation. Negative statements just make people defensive or shut down completely.

      One thing I can say for certain . . . no matter how we feel
      . . . we cannot deny the scientific evidence that we are different from genetic women . . . and we are different than genetic males.

      We are different.

      This has nothing at all to do with how we feel. Heck, some days I feel like a Rock Star (but I cannot sing, read music, or play an instrument of any kind).

      Dana

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    Hi Dana.

    For various complex legal reasons, I am shuttling between 3 countries, work is nigh impossible at the moment… Getting funding for SRS, and having to be in a country long enough, it is a mess..

    I would love to settle down, been through hell the last few years.. Tired of shuttling…

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      Dr. Pichet is wonderful! He had a limo driver pick me up at the airport. He drove me to a four star hotel that cost me about $35.00 US Dollars per night. I had a living room, a dining room, a King size bed, and room service.

      Dr. Pichet has his own mini-hospital. I walked across the hall from my room and had my SRS.

      Two Registered Nurses waited hand and foot on me until I was well enough to go back to my hotel room. A limo driver picked me up every other day for follow-up clinic appointments. While in the hospital, runners would go out and purchase whatever I wanted: McDonald’s, Thai Food, Sushi, . . .you name it
      . . .they got it.

      My vagina only cost me between $5,000.00 to $7,000.00.

      I cashed in my retirement and had all of my surgeries at one time.

      Dana

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    Vivian you seem to represent a young generation who identify with the gender queer. The trans community seems to be so divided within itself as to how we identify ourself that I really feel the cis-population throws its arms into the air in exasperation because they hear so many definitions.

    Part of the problem has been the whole quandary of binary verses multi-gender identities. I identify as a woman and of course that means different things to different people concerning gender expression. I felt that I needed to make the changes which made me feel more female and feminine. So I confess that I try to blend into the general population so that I am recognized as a woman, which of course is useless at work where I transitioned. But I know of a few younger people at my church who dress androgynous, but slightly fem and do not care what pronoun is attached to them, thus I I see generation arriving which may not be as binary in gender identity as the baby boomers, like myself.

    The difficulty in trying to live in a gender queer existence is trying to secure employment and therein is the rub: how does one live in a binary world when they are gender queer? I know you really did not state you are gender queer, but your description of yourself would lend one to see no difference. I have no delusions, however. I am a transwoman, a woman who did not have the benefits of an endocrine system which allowed my body to develop in harmony with my inner gender. Well, that is the explanation of my inner woman, but I can also sympathize with those who have various gender expressions whether they are cis or trans.

    But I do agree with Lix that the trans community does not really matter to most people, that is until the cisgender must work with us. My co-workers have shown various degrees of acceptance but the general consensus from, even my best friend at work is, “you are lucky you have a job, because at another company…”

    So yes, you may live as you want, but not everyone has to accept us as we want.

    Justine, I am very happy to see you are still alive, hun. I know you have been through a lot.

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    Lessons in how to be a good transperson

    No.1 Get out of bed in the morning, or don’t.

    No.2 Have some breakfast, you’re probably hungry.

    No.3 Get dressed for work / college / lounging in front of the tv watching bad daytime tv.

    No.4 It’s about dinner, have something to eat

    No.5 Do I really have to go on with this list?

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    I have lived in many different communities from the Black Hills of Dakota mining towns to the the Dakota prairie small towns to the Reservations of the Dakotas and Arizona/New Mexico to the metropolitan northeastern Florida finding that there is a multitude of different personalities and styles of women who struggled to be themselves and fit into their communities.

    Men struggle with toughness while women struggle with the ideal female presentation within each community. Women also struggle with the good girl/bad girl conflict. Fertility is also a conflict for women in a way it is not for men.

    All women struggle with there self presentation and the degree to which they rebel against it.

    Thus it is senseless to be critical of the author’s presentation of her femininity. There are goth girls, biker girls, farm girls, forest service girls, hippy girls, construction women, and on and on.

    Transgender women have to carve out their own contributions to what it means to present as women.

    But us women have to remember that however we present ourselves, somebody out there will criticize us because that is a part of what it means to be a women.

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    I have no delusions about ever being able to “pass”. I gave in to fear and hid from everyone, except myself for far too many years to be able to go “full stealth”. I don’t care. I have come to the point in my life when I have to be ME. If other people don’t approve, well, too bad. I came out with no intention of ever going back.

    I do have a desire to see how far I can get in my transition. Though, I am prepared to look like a man in a dress and make up if that’s the best I can get. Strangely, I seem to be getting a lot of support.

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      Hi,

      I just read your post. I “pass” and I did not start transition until the age of 46. I am a Male to Female Transsexual. I am also part Cherokee. Hence, male body hair was never a problem for me.

      My surgeon is Dr. Pichet. He is a skilled artist as a plastic surgeon. His practice is in Bangkok, Thailand. The surgeries were 80% less expensive than in the USA . . . and the results are astounding. Go to http://www.bangkokplasticsurgery.com to view a price list for various procedures.

      Dr. Pichet had a limo driver pick me up at the airport and he took me straight to my 4 star hotel suite.

      The driver picked me up the next morning and drove me to Dr. Pichet’s clinic. He has his own: operating room, recovery room, and patient rooms all in the same building (which he owns). All I had to do was walk across a hallway and into the operating room. During recovery, two registered nurses waited hand and foot on me. They slept on cots at night . . . just outside of my hospital room.

      When I was well enough to travel, the limo driver took me to “Nitipon” for laser hair removal. Again, 80% less expensive than in the USA.

      On another day, the limo driver took me to a dentist to get my teeth whitened. Again, 80% less expensive than in the USA.

      The limo driver would even run out to restaurants and deliver me the best food . . . Thai, Japanese, Chinese, McDonald’s, etc.

      The round trip air fare cost about $1,000.00. The hotel suite (complete with living room and dining room, flat screen television, etc. was about $35.00 to $40.00 USA Dollars per night.

      I hope that this information is of use to you.

      Sincerely,

      Dana

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    For me, gender is a nothing issue. I am genetically male. I am very happy wearing skirts and blouses. I would love to have a woman’s body. I’d rather be accepted in a skirt or blouse or even in jeans and heels as a woman.

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    Given the things I have heard about happening and the things I have seen, this was a much needed article.

    I am definitely not one of the good ones, at least not at the present time (not likely to change in the future, but who knows). Too tomboyish. Hell, just had to deal with my sibling telling me they could not believe I am a woman at all due to my masculinity (basically saying I did not live up to their idea of womanhood). More than a few of my men’s clothes are in my female wardrobe too (to be fair, most would think they are women’s clothes unless one looked very carefully). So, yeah, I’m supposedly on the “not trying hard enough and therefore must really be a man” end of the double bind, which is actually kind of funny given how much work I have had to put in to get where I am right now and put in every day I present as female. Its a lot of work.

    Those terms “brick” and “cinderblock” are pretty awful in that usage. I feel like the only usage for “brick” should be someone who is so tough that getting into a fight with them is like trying to punch a brick wall – not a good idea. I wouldn’t mind being this kind of “brick”. Maybe I should start lifting weights. Yeah, definitely not one of the good ones.

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    I love this article! The writer nailed it on the head when she wrote: “Here’s the thing: People fucking despise trans women.” And bigots like to tell themselves some stupid story to justify it like the idiotic “You had male privilege.”

    So how can we know trans misogyny exists? As with all sociological questions the answer lies in the aggregate. A 1999 study in San Francisco found the unemployment rate among trans women to be 75%. The rate for attempted suicide nationally for trans women and men is 50% while less than 1% for cis gendered people. However, most bigots are careful not to cloud belief with pesky facts and data.

    Subjectively I can report that being a lesbian and trans is especially frustrating as I am required to dress fem in order to not be insulted every day by everyone I meet, while at the same time I neither have the liking for nor the eye for dressing feminine. Let me stress that this discrimination is quantitatively different from what cis lesbians experience as this sort of insult comes from the queer community as well if I fail to dress fem enough. What happens for me is that now I have to dress like a five year old girl in order to avoid an unending barrage of insults.

    I do think the solution lies in first acknowledging that trans misogyny exists and is a serious problem. Another step is for us members of the queer community to acknowledge and work to overcome our own internalized transphobia. It is not a ‘lifestyle choice,’ I am not just an effeminate gay man, rather it is a congenital error that my genitalia failed to match my brain’s gender. As with any congenital problem, the sooner treatment can be given, the better the outcome.

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      I too am a Male to Female Transsexual-Lesbian.

      I “pass” and am grateful for that.

      I do not know whether or not it would be more proper to say “trans-phobia” as opposed to “trans-misogyny”. Misogyny refers to a hatred and not fear. Yet, fear is the precursor to hatred.

      Dana

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          Personally, I am pissed off at the entire LGBT community. I am especially pissed off with transgended individuals, even though I am one.

          One cannot have a conversation with most trans people because of the huge they all have on their shoulders.

          They wear the chip on their shoulder in a bright neon color that says, “Go ahead! Piss me off . . .I dare you!

          They even do it t5o each other. Not once do I ever read from trans identified people, “Oh, I did not completely understand what you meant . . . could you please clarify.”

          Instead, all I see is, “You are a bigot . . . a pig . . . a misogynistic ________ . . . etc.”

          I am trans and I find it impossible to even have a friendly conversation with another trans because they criticize every noun, pronoun, and verb spoken by another party.

          Every sentence out of their mouths is a potential fight! I hate it!

          Why do I even bother to try to identify with other trans people.

          Oh yes, they will even shoot you down with, “I don’t consider myself to be trans . . . ” Well guess what? You are trans. I am trans. Can we not all just agree on that one word? No! I do not know after reading some of these posts if I will ever participate in another trans forum!

          Hey, maybe people hate us cause we always have our panties in a bunch!

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            I agree, there is a lot of internalized oppression. The more oppressed a demographic, the more one gets the very things you refer to. It is most difficult to extend kindness and understanding if one receives little of it herself. Granted, we are in a tough situation but by you and I and the other people in this forum making an effort, this is the way we can heal our community.

            It is a tough question only because there are no easy answers. A first step is compassion for ourselves, acceptance of ourselves.

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      The problem with our society is that for many people women are still considered property of the male by many in our society, both men and women, and still second class citizens. A transgender female has less social status than a cis woman. Cis women can have masculine characteristics but transgender women has to follow the stereo typical Hollywood version of what it means to be female.

      As a transgender woman I reject this. My physical appearance as a woman can vary as much as cis women’s appearances do. Not all women want to be pretty pixies and neither do all transgender women.

      Besides there is no committee on high that exists that determines what a woman’s appearance has to be. Many of us are just ordinary every day women and do not even try to keep up the commercial image of what a woman has to look like.

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          Yeah, well, this is Mary’s Myth alright. Just goes against the long-considered judgment of modern medicine and historic cultures. The last phrase sounds just like the regular “I will not understand; I *will* not!” of religious bigotry without humanity. Shame. It’s a good blog, and by the diverse discussion, well worth while.

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          What “century” did you crawl out of? So, you seem quite agitated with transgender people. Hmmm . . .so . . . is it O.K. for inter-sexed people to have reconstructive surgery. This would include: true hermaphroditism; XXY or Klinefelter Syndrome; XXYY syndrome (similar to Klinefelter’s Syndrome); and a myriad of other gender related syndromes.

          Please educate yourself before making harsh statements about good people. Transgender individuals are born with the brain of one gender and the body of another gender. Hence, this makes transgendered people inter-sexed. Numerous research studies have proven this to be a fact. The original studies were completed on transgender brain cadavers. The area of the brain that control;s gender identity is identical in Male to Female Transsexuals and genetic women. Yet, this area of the brain looks totally different in the male brain. More current research (on living test subjects) has proven the very same thing with enhanced imaging. There is even a gene that all transgendered people possess that is different from that of genetic males and females.

          Your ignorance is . . . a shame. Your bigotry is . . . sad.

          How many peer reviewed scientific studies have you read that would make you an expert on transgenderism?

          Yet, according to you, gender variant people do not even deserve to correct the cruel joke that nature played on them?

          Hmmm . . . God made many babies with cleft lips. Is it a sin for a plastic surgeon to correct this genetic abnormality?

          Do “inter-sexed” people have a right to have their genitalia more closely match that of the gender they identify with?

          In the future, please educate yourself on this issue before rendering such a biased and prejudiced response.

          Dana

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            How do you know for sure that there is no brain gender? Have you actually met any trans people in person. You can spout contradictory nonsense all you want. It doesn’t change the fact that those trans people that transition are generally happier than living as the gender they were assigned at birth. Delusional would be trying to live a miserable life as the wrong gender. Would it hurt to remove your blinders and try to expand your perspective?

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    I am an alien, and I must say you humans stress out over the strangest things. Just live your lives the way you want, and stop worrying so much about everyone else.

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    Thank you so much for writing this. It’s so true. Also, I recently had a friend praise me for being so open about being trans, and they said it in a way that just made me feel like I’m never passing. It was a pretty painful moment.

    It makes me sad that it’s so hard for trans women to build community. I really wish I had more of a trans woman community. Why do I have so many trans male friends and so few trans woman friends?

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      My felt experience just does not align with yours on this subject. To the contrary, I have retained all of my relationships prior to transitioning; some are in fact deeper and more substantial since I came out. My career has improved by leaps and bounds. Life feels worth living and every day is a joy. I have no secrets to hide any more. No. Indeed, you are not describing my life. I hope that you, too, can be honest about who you are and not be faced with hostility and rejection by anyone around you. That’s one of the basic things that we all, as human beings, with limited lifespans and limited understanding, can hope to find.

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            I understand you’re angry and I can see why but you NEVER have ANY right to say that to ANYONE with a vagina. Ever. I shouldn’t have to explain why. Also, by responding in that horrible horrible way, your comments lose validity and you become no better than her. Your comment is a violation of the comment policy if I ever saw one.

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            You know, I have made some poignant remarks in this forum. Yet, for all of my well thought out . . . scientific based answers . . . all I see is people attacking each other.

            I have seen very little civility on this forum. Yet, I continued to look for an actual . . . open ended forum . . . not a forum of snide remarks.

            BTW, I do have a vagina.

            Who are you to criticize me?

            I earned my vagina with every biased and prejudiced remark made about me for being a Male to Female Transsexual. I have had my life threatened (while just minding my own business) on numerous occasions. I have three Master’s Degrees (GPA 4.0) yet I have been unemployed for 48 months. I was evicted from my apartment on February 28th, 2013 because I had run out of my life savings and retirement, due to unemployment. And do not blame the economy. I get the job interviews . . . I just never get the job. I pass but I cannot escape my work history as “David”. I have been asked to leave several “Christian” churches because (in the preacher’s own words)”My congregation cannot focus on worship because of your presence (this was in early transition). Yet, just recently a church I was attending found a statement on the internet where someone had mentioned that I was a transsexual. Shortly thereafter, I was told that I was no longer welcome to worship at that church anymore.

            I could go on and on. Yet, where were you when some of the people who responded to this post were bashing transgendered people?

            I did not see any of your comments there?

            In the future, walking a mile in my moccasins before you criticize me!

            Really!!!!

            Dana

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            No, you do not get to use your life circumstances as an excuse for saying what you said, because it’s unjustifiable. Also, your life circumstances have nothing to do with your comment.
            I stayed out of the conversation previously because 1) I’m not trans, and 2) that person is a troll. What YOU said affected ME. Just the fact that those two words, “penis envy,” crossed your mind is a HUGE problem that has been used against women for thousands of years. It’s patriarchal, it’s misogynistic, it’s demeaning, it’s disgusting, it’s dismissive, it is not okay at all ever, and ESPECIALLY not okay on a site like Autostraddle. It’s used against lesbians and trans men quite often. The fact that you cannot grasp why it was not at all okay to say what you said, the fact that you further defended it, is gross.
            Also, it’s funny you bring up the snide remarks and the lack of civility and the attacking, because that is exactly what you just did.

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            Lighten up. Really.

            Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

            I am a woman . . . always have been . . . always will be. Yet, I was born with a penis. I know what it is like to live as a man and a woman. Can you say the same thing. BTW, when I “lived as a man” I was appauled at the sexist way cis women traet men . . .what the expect from men . . . all the double standards. Keep in mind, I always had a female brain! As a man, I was forced to pay for every date, just because I had a penis. Talk about sexist. Wait . . . cis women never believe that they could be just as sexist as men? When I was a male body builder,women would say the most sexist things to me. At work, women would pinch my ass, slap my ass, and make inappropriate sexual comments to me. When I tried to sue . . . no attorney was willing to take my case.

            Oh . . . let’s see . . . have you looked at the percentage of women who murder and are on death row, compared to the percentage of male murderers on death row?

            Even in 2013, in corporate America . . . a male could still (potentially) not be hired if he wears his hair long.

            I bet you never considered that cis women can be just as sexist as Chauvinistic men?

            I cannot tell you how often a woman turned me down for a date (when I was living as a man) because “He doesn’t make enough money!” Really? Bet that never happened to you?

            On the other hand, I can tell you how it feels like to be a woman in a man’s world.

            Dana

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            Regarding “Just the fact that those two words, “penis envy,” crossed your mind is a HUGE problem that has been used against women for thousands of years.”

            Freud did not coin the phrase until the turn of the 20th century. Hence, the phrase “thousands of years” is a bit of an exaggeration . . . don’t you think?

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            @Sela I understand where Dana is coming from. I’m thinking of all of the things cis people have perpetrated against my fellow transfolk. It’s people with views like Mary’s why we have the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

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            @Sela, thank you for speaking up and being resolute with your call-out. There are no justifications for character attacks in this forum. One can ask for empathy, and even then it may not be granted (you have to live with that), but it can’t be demanded through verbal abuse and pity.

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            “Penis envy”… “lighten up.” Dana, you seriously need to count to 100 before you post this kind of ugliness. You might be a woman but you’re not acting like a grown up. :(

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            Everyone has a breaking point. I reached mine. I won’t apologize for it.

            I have made numerous posts (all mature responses) . . . some personal . . . some scientific.

            I have zero tolerance for ultra-conservatives who come to this site for one purpose only . . . to harass gender variant people in their own sanctuary.

            Again, I received very few kind words (or conversation) back from members when I spoke as a mature/loving person. Yet, you are going to point a finger at me now?

            I also wish that when we speak amongst ourselves . . . that everyone remember that (even though we are not speaking in real time) we are having a conversation.

            I made numerous posts (some based on solid science and some from my heart). Yet, I do not remember you taking the time to thank me for those posts?? or . . . just to say a kind word to me.

            We build community by having conversations. Even if you disagree with me about a point on any topics I discussed . . . Could you not at least say, “Hi Dana, thanks for your post. Could you tell me more about why you feel ________.” as opposed to, “Dana, you are wrong” or “I do not agree with the research.”

            Geez! I have worked in research for 27 years now. When I present research that is peer reviewed, and considered statistically significant at the 0.05 probability level, I expect a more intelligent reply than, “I don’t agree with the research.”

            That closes down dialogue. Dialogue is what is so desperately needed in this forum, not criticism of every noun/pronoun/verb that one uses.

            Perhaps, this cite could benefit from a screening tool? Why would anyone want haters coming here to deliberately stir up trouble then leave.

            I still say too . . . in order for all gender variant people to get along (something I have not seen here because everyone seems bent on proving his or her point) . . . we need real dialogue not snide remarks.

            If I finally lost my temper a little bit . . . well so what? I think that I am long over due for that.

            Remember, “Take the splinter from your own eye, so that you can see clearly to remove the log from my eye.”

            Dana

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            You are wrong.

            Two words describes why I had had enough . . . “internalized oppression”.

            When I transitioned, I was working in an all female career as a Registered Dietitian.

            The EEO officer came out to my department to “in-service” staff about my “coming out”. The men at work got it right. Unfortunately, the women I worked with ignored the instructions from the EEO officer. They chose (in a most covert fashion) to make my life a living hell. They were relentless. Day after day . . . week after week . . . month after month . . . year after year. I finally attempted suicide which landed me in the emergency room. In the emergency room staff kept calling me a “5150” (a code for mentally ill). They laid me on a gurney in the hallway of the emergency room. They left me there for hours. All night long, I could hear “Check out the he/she 5150.” or “Hey we got another ‘tranny’ in”. When I could no longer take it, I jumped off of the gurney and began screaming, “I am a woman, do you hear me! I am not a man!” With that, eight EMT’s jumped on me and beat the hell out of me. They put me face down on a gurney in five point restraints! Two of these young men were sitting on my back. I passed out from their combined weight on my body.

            Later, I reported the incident to the head of the psychiatry department and she said, “Dana, I want to apologize to you. Our emergency room staff are not prepared to handle psychiatric emergencies.” I replied, “Then why do they call it an emergency room?” I then said, “I have worked in mental health for years. I have never seen such inappropriate behavior from doctors, nurses, and EMT’s.” I went on to say, “It is obvious that your emergency room staff is ill equipped or untrained in working with psychiatric emergencies.” She replied, “We are working on that.” I then said, “And are you working on the prejudice and biases of hospital staff who are ‘culturally incompetent’ in working with gender variant people?”

            As a cis woman, you get a tiny . . . tiny . . . tiny . . . fraction of bias compared to what transgender women go through every day.

            We do not have the luxury of hiding what we are or in being able to be discreet about who we share our gender variance with because when hormone therapy kicks in . . . our bodies out us. Hence, “coming out” is not a choice for us, it is an inevitability.

            I was shocked to find that the very women I aspired to be like (cis women) would be my worst enemy! Every day they would go to management to complain about me. When my father was dying, I would call him from my work cubicle on occasion (during my lunch break). I had to use a male range when I spoke to him because he did not know about “Dana”. The women I worked with complained to management that “We heard a man’s voice coming from Dana’s cubicle and it scared us!” Yet, they had all worked with “David” and knew his voice. My department head decided that I would not be allowed to call my father again from my cubicle (even though it was on my lunch break). There was a three hour time difference between where my father lived and where I lived. Hence, he was already in bed each night by the time that I got home from work. My punishment from my department head? I had just started wearing skirts/dresses and did not yet “pass”. She assigned me to a forensic unit (all male . . . mentally ill . . . murderers/rapists. My life was threatened the very first day on this unit
            . . . yet my cis department head forced me to continue working on this uni. This was against hospital policy. I ended up being hospitalized for PTSD and Anxiety Disorder.

            Just in April of 2013, I called the police because a man threatened to kill me. The police came out . . . did not take me serious . . . laughed at me . . . and then left the property. I wrote a three page formal complaint against the biased police officers . . . yet the police chief never even e-mailed me back about my complaint.

            I doubt that you have ever experienced this kind of prejudice and bias as a cis woman?

            Anyway, I will not apologize. Have you ever heard of the term “justifiable anger”? Even Jesus lost His temper in the temple when He saw that vendors were selling their wares there on the Sabbath.

            Walk just one mile in my moccasins . . . and then
            . . . and only then will you have earned the right to criticize me.

            Dana

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            I agree Dana, there is nothing like the level of violence; psychological, physical, economic and social, that cis gendered people face compared to what us trans women face. In the face of this, I DO believe we have to embrace science. Ignorant embracing of “I have my opinion and I’m sticking to it” will keep us oppressed. Yes, someone who reads this may now feel angry but be aware of where the anger really comes from. It comes from the unrelenting violence that even we ourselves seem hesitant to stop.

            Dana, I do study history and science. I enjoy and appreciate your considered and insightful opinions. Please know that there are those of us who refuse to go under despite the daily blows. RESIST! STUDY! We as trans women must throw off the internalized stereotype that we are crazy, uneducated and grateful to receive any crumbs thrown our way. No, I am none of these.

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            Thank you for your most kind words.

            I am very passionate about bridging the gap between the general public and gender variant people.

            I just completed a research paper on Alcohl and Substance Abuse in the LGBT community.

            My e-mail address is: [email protected].

            E-mail me there and I will send you a few of my writings.

            Love,

            Dana

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            Why the phrase/idea “penis envy” is bad.

            Misogyny: It implies that a woman is worth less than a man. That somehow part of the identity of being a woman, is trying to be a man, because men are “better”. It’s wrong.

            Misogyny is at the core of trans misogyny especially against trans women, or people who are not of the “male” gender. People think that only idiots, the mentally ill, or those with ulterior motives would “give up” the life of a man to live any other life.

            So the continuation / promotion of that phrase is a detriment to everyone here. It’s why it got such a strong rebuke.

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            Dana,

            THIS IS A PUBLIC FORUM (Everything you post is visible, just want to be clear)

            “I believe that we (transgendered people) are our “Higher Power’s” greatest creation!”

            This is not a competition to beat everyone else! It is about getting justice for everyone! You can’t get your freedom/equality/respect by climbing on the bodies of others.

            Ugh

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            I will say this again: your life circumstances have nothing to do with your comment, they are not at all a justification in any way whatsoever, and at this point I care very little and am not going to extend to you my sympathy or pity.
            Your comment was vile, and even thinking that it was okay to post that means you need to do some serious internal reflection. You never, ever have the right to say that. Ever.
            Your defensiveness makes it even worse.
            For the record, the idea of penis envy was not invented by Freud, who was a misogynistic pig. The term, in regards to psychoanalysis, was popularized by him, sure, but the idea has indeed been used against women for a very, very long time, unfortunately.
            Also, sexism against men isn’t a thing. I think you need to take a women and gender studies class. Your ignorance is harmful.
            And SarahLJP, no. Just, no.
            Honestly, I’m incredibly disappointed in this conversation and that Autostraddle hasn’t taken it down. It’s just so very anti-woman, and while speaking about this conversation to a friend of mine who is a trans guy, even he was offended by it and spoke to its use against trans men. So across the board, it’s just a horrible thing to say and then defend.

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            Regarding your remark: “Also, sexism against men isn’t a thing. I think you need to take a women and gender studies class. Your ignorance is harmful.”

            Sexism against men is real. Did you know that just as many men are victims of domestic violence by women?

            Past research in this area was skewed because men fail to report the violence.

            I was a male in a female predominated field for 30 years. The women harassed me about my body on a daily basis. When I confronted them about it, they replied, “We can get away with it because we are women.

            How many female rapists even go to jail? How many female pedophiles go to jail? I know one case where the judge ruled the rape of a 13 year old boy by his female teacher as, “This was an educational experience for this young lad.” Or Mary Kay Laterno. remember her? Then there was the case of the female school teacher whose attorney said, “She is too pretty to put in prison.

            Yet, you cannot even acknowledge that men can be victims of domestic violence? or prejudice? or cultural biases?

            How come society does not call female rapists “perverts”?

            Instead, women want to know “Why did she do this? She must be mentally ill. Let’s get her some help.

            The same scenario with a male . . .”Lock that pervert up and throw away the key!”

            Any group new to power will abuse that power before they learn how to use it . . . this includes women.

            Being the only male in an all female field has cost me plenty!

            Not to mention, when I came out at work as a Male to Female Transsexual . . . not one man bothered me
            . . . only the cis women harassed me in the work place.

            Yet, you can not even acknowledge that men can also be victims of sexist behavior?

            in your own words, “Really?”

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            @Sela, again, thank you for calling out abuse and ugly words and not backing down. I want the discussion around Vivian’s article to be constructive and not devolve into dirty personal attacks. Trolling must be pointed out so that it can be addressed and the trollers ultimately ignored. Otherwise they will sour the entire conversation.

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            What conversation?

            All I see is a bunch of people shooting each other down here.

            And if you have something to say to me . . . say it.

            Please do not speak through a third party.

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            I feel like at this point it’s time to move on past any personal attacks or bickering. Let’s just look at these point of views, learn from them (hopefully), and think about them hard and then critique the idea, not the person. I don’t think this can go anywhere productive from here, so maybe let’s take this conversation elsewhere, or just let it be. Thanks to everyone for voicing your opinions! I wish I could’ve gotten here before this point.

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            All I said was I understand where Dana is coming from. I’m not condoning what she said. It was a nasty comment. I do think it is counter productive. I realize I shouldn’t let Mary’s comments get to me. She is a troll and was trying to make us angry. She succeeded.

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    vivian thanks so much for the article. i loved it and the posts. i’m just out a few months. i’m 68. i’m 6 feet tall and broad shoulders. i’m out to my communist-occupy radical friends, my AA friends, my yoga teacher, and often i find that i introduce myself to complete strangers as trans. i dress andro and love it. well-meaning people say i should learn to do makeup, get my ears pierced, have my eyebrows waxed, hang out with femme cross-dressers to get the “feel” of dressing femme. but i’m not. give me a t-shirt, jeans, and black things — including boots — and i’m ready. lucky me i’m getting laid-off from my job and can transition freely 24/7… like this place muchly… will join and come back often

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    Thanks for censoring me. It just reinforces the validity of my position; if it weren’t true, you wouldn’t have to (attempt to) silence me.

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      I believe that no one can censor ignorance . . . you have proven that. What would Jesus do? Hmmm . . . I think that Jesus would be happy to have dinner with me.

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      I wonder why do you hate trans women? What have we done to you? Cis people, on the other hand, have done a lot to my fellow transfolk. In terms of discrimination and violence (including murdering us). We have more of a right to feel hatred towards cis people than you for us. I choose to take the high road. I don’t hate you. I just wish you would take the time to think about why you feel the way you do about us and ask yourself if it’s worth the vitriol.

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      Mary,

      Have you read the Autostraddle comment policy? Autostraddle will not … “Allow a comment to remain on our site if it’s deliberately abusive or hateful. We welcome debate and discussion, and we are interested in hearing your opinion. But we do not allow hate speech or slurs of any kind (ethnic, gendered, based on sexual orientation, trans* status, etc.), ad hominem attacks aimed at our writers or readers or any type of body-shaming or body-snarking or negative assessments of a woman’s physical appearance (this means ALL women). We want Autostraddle to be a safe, fun place for readers to interact. So be respectful in your reactions both to our pieces and to other readers’ opinions. We really do not want to delete comments, so please don’t be mean!”

      The key word is HATEFUL

      You could have come in here stating your position in a less vitriolic way, but you didn’t. I would guess a lot of people think that you are trolling for a reaction you can use against people. (Male violence socialization etc. )

      We understand your argument, “trans women are not women”. I would guess that this argument is so common that it has been internalized by most trans women here. The same argument has been used against all sort of people to justify all sort of horrible actions, it’s not a good starting point.

      Same Shit Different Day, whatever.

      I would actually like to have a discussion about what it means to be woman vs. a cis woman vs. a trans women, and all of the intersections. But I have yet to find a forum where it does not turn into a CF or scholarly snoozefest.

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        Again, since when is disagreement equate to hate? You can claim I hate you. You can claim that the moon is made out of a nice cheddar. Claiming it simply does not make it true.

        I have not been censored for posting “hate”. I have been censored for disagreeing with the current (fad, cult) take on “trans” thoughts/feelings — something that cannot be tolerated, apparently.

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          Do you seriously not remember what you wrote? You used the actual word hate. You weren’t even subtle about it.

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          You said “People hate being around “trans women” … ”

          derailingfordummies : derail-using-distraction: “I’m Just Saying What Other People Believe. I Never Said I Agree”

          Plus erasure

          You have to bring new material or it get’s boring…

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        No. Not cool. (on top of the fact that there are lots of Mary Smith’s in Seattle). You people are making me feel sympathetic for Mary.

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          I agree with Krystal. I don’t like any of the things Mary has said, but sinking to her level (or lower) won’t get us anywhere.

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            You know . . . at least I finally got someone’s attention. Ironic, I write meaningful statements . . . and no one responds.

            I make one “tongue-in-cheek” statement . . . and I get both barrels.

            If this cite wants intelligent dialogue . . . then . . . when sometime takes the time to write meaningful statements . . . and . . . instead of an intelligent conversation taking place like, “Oh could you please elaborate on _______.” Instead, most statements are picked apart.

            And, I am not referring to my remark to “Mary”.

            Yet, the only response I get (for all of my numerous posts on this subject) is when I made a freadian joke? Really?

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          What threat? Are you threatening someone?

          Hate speech is not protected speech. Don’t post something you wouldn’t say in person. I think Freak did us all a favor by outing the bigot from behind the wall of anonymity. No one was threatened, no one urged anyone to hurt anyone. In fact, I urge everyone to not hurt anyone. No, what happened here is the bigot was outed and then went away. Bigots are cowards. So it is in this case.

          Someone should thank Freak.

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            To make the bigot own up to what they said. Like I said, bigots are cowards. It made her stop, didn’t it? Bingo, problem solved. No one threatened, no one hurt, no laws broken. Someone has to stand up to this psychological violence. It sure as hell isn’t going to be a cis gendered person.

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            You are implying that cowards have something to lose by having their identity reviled, otherwise they would not be scared. So revealing their identities does hurt them, it may not be a physical attack, but it is an attack.

            She never owned up to anything, she could claim it was another Mary Smith, or someone using her identity. It puts more people at risk, not less.

            Relieving identities and claiming innocence is what fucked up anti-abortionist do to doctors. Because in their minds the needs of the many (unborn children) out-way the that of the few (doctors). And it’s bullshit.

            (And if you want to get technical it is against Autostraddle rules)

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            You always must have the last word, right? Even when your arguments are refuted, you come up with new ones so you never can be wrong. Are you familiar with the term ‘codependent?’ If you are one, just my mentioning the term should so enrage you, you will be compelled to make a personal attack immediately. You will not be able to stop yourself as it will feel like a matter of life or death.

            It’s one way to tell.

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            Lynier,

            You didn’t actually respond to any of my points. (I am egotistically assuming you are replying to my message, since the thread went wonky after they removed the personal information).

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            Geez! Now you have a problem with my saying, “I believe that transgendered people are our ‘Highest Power’s” greatest gift.”

            You never even asked what I meant by that.

            BTW, why do you not tell whoever that girl is to leave me alone!?

            No one here has conversations. It is always about contradicting each other and setting up dyads and triads.

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            Krystal you just made my point for me. You are compelled to respond to every single comment. I rest my case your honor.

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    I’m done with the pointless bickering. I don’t want to get attacked by Sela again for trying to voice my perspective. I thought was being relatively civil.

    Back to the actually topic of the post. I can’t really relate to what Vivian is talking about. I just started transitioning recently so I haven’t dealt with the trans community all that much. I did hear one comment from someone at a trans group I go to. She said that not enough of us wear skirts or dresses. Most of the younger trans women that go to the group usually wear pants, myself included. I have nothing against wearing skirts or dresses. I don’t, however, feel obligated to wear them. I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m not being womanly enough. I know I’ll always be a woman regardless of what I wear. One dress I do hope to wear someday is a wedding dress.

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