How to Be an All-Inclusive Gender Thread

At the local children's museum they have a room full of optical illusions that convince our eyes that gravity is about 45 degrees different than it really is. In that room, evolution fails us.

Our society sometimes incorporates rules that are bad and wrong and stupid by some higher measure. We are social creatures, and highly attuned to the forces of social cohesion, shame and disapproval among them. At those times, too, evolution fails us.

Those forces are powerful and even important, but they're mindless. They can lead you astray.

To feel comfortable in that room at the children's museum, you have to reject what you're seeing. Once you close your eyes, this fight you've been having with gravity ceases and walking becomes much easier. Not as easy as leaning on your instincts, to be sure. But in the end, it beats the alternative.

Shame (and disapproval) exist to keep you in line; they don't care why. You have analyzed the situation, and you know you shouldn't stay in line. The rest of us are just going to have to catch up.

Sworn Virgins of Albania, a photo project documenting a societal alternative gender with which I was unfamiliar.

"Sworn Virgin" is the term given to a biological female in the Balkans who is chosen, usually at an early age, to take on the social identity of a man for life. As a tradition dating back hundreds of years, this was necessary in societies that lived within tribal clans, followed the Kanun, an archaic code of law, and maintained an oppressive rule over the female gender.The Kanun states that women are considered to be the property of their husbands. The freedom to vote, drive, conduct business, earn money, drink, smoke, swear, own a gun or wear pants was traditionally the exclusive province of men. Young girls were commonly forced into arranged marriages, often with much older men in distant villages.

As an alternative, becoming a Sworn Virgin, or 'burnesha" elevated a woman to the status of a man and granted her all the rights and privileges of the male population. In order to manifest the transition such a woman cut her hair, donned male clothing and sometimes even changed her name. Male gestures and swaggers were practiced until they became second nature. Most importantly of all, she took a vow of celibacy to remain chaste for life. She became a "he".

I know it's not entirely on-topic, but figured folks might be interested (I know I was), and wasn't sure where else to put it.

So while we're OT for a moment, I've been sitting on this video for a day trying to figure out if it was appropriate to post here or not.

Found via HuffingtonPost (comments are...ugh...)

With Hyp's recent post about identity and shame, I've got to agree with Demyx. It's something that we all go through while trying to figure out who we are for ourselves.

That video's been going around quite a bit. It's one of those "wow, things can go pretty well, then?" sorts. (Although she did have FFS in there somewhere, things clearly went really well for her. Ahh, to be young again.)

There was some discussion when it started showing up on some news site blogs about the safety of doing "timeline" posts in semi-safe places around the web, since, well, they can then later show up in places you didn't intend. So there's a question of "are you really comfortable doing this?" On the other hand, of course: It's best to be aware that when you put something up for public display on youtube, it's public.

Regarding shame, etc. I think I'm sort of going through a phase similar to the one I went through with shopping for women's clothing and such. I've already been through a couple, I guess. There was the shopping for clothing and makeup and such. There was the going out dressed up to "safe" venues. There was a period of getting comfortable with wearing slightly more feminine clothing around work. And all of these things, really, are no big deals. People just don't notice.

So now I'm at a place where I'm sort of getting ahead of myself. I'm going to be at a place where people will probably start to notice things, and I'm thinking about how to handle that, and starting to get a handle on these feelings that make me freak out and be super nervous... only this time, it's well ahead of the point where I actually have to deal with that. So maybe by the time I get there, I'll already be in a good place. Just have to see.

hows everyone been

Death and destruction rained from the heavens. The dead raised themselves from the earth. Then my internet went out for two hours. Can you believe it, two hours. Almost killed myself.

Improving Conversations About Transgender Issues

This is a pretty good piece I just came across.

RyokoKleiger wrote:

hows everyone been

Still in a holding pattern for me, mostly. Still electrolysis, still therapy, still waiting to start on hormones. A little more than a month now until my doctor's appointment. Don't know how long it will be after that before I can start hormones. (This will be my first time meeting this doctor.)

Hope you're doing okay, too.

Im being forced to move again, im really getting sick and tired of my school. the faculty split in 2 theres housing and all of its f*cking goonies mixed with the people who admit and un admit students and theres the teachers and the teachers that are academic directors The academic directors have no pull on the freaks running the financial portion which brings me to my problem. Most of the teachers namley todd and Hogan are protecting me and trying to help me whilst the financial side is trying to make my life worse. Im currently having issues with my roommate that has turned into a very vial affair. HOusing is now telling me that I have to move. that its in my best interest.
They f*cked up and moved a male into a females room. Ie my 300 pound roomate thats almost 7 feet tall. who qoute on qoute says he wants to transition im f*cking sorry but ummm no I had to live with men until i looked female, till it was almost dangerous to be in the appartment
and they just put him in here like it aint no thing. and now im being moved...
I was here for 3 months before him i even was nice and said he could have the master bed room and hes currently stealing my internet after i told him to not touch it....

I'm going to put this here since I think it's relevant and it's maybe too obscure to have its own catch-all.

Mattie Brice made a video game, entitled Mainichi, informed by her own experience as a trans woman. It was mentioned briefly on Idle Thumbs recently. Although the internet doesn't seem to know much about it, Mattie did blog about the game on gamasutra dot com.

I haven't played the game yet, but I intend to.

gore:

Thanks for the link to Mainichi! I'll definitely have to check that out.

Ryoko:

That sounds like a pretty painful situation. Take some heart from the fact that I don't think I've ever heard of a campus housing bureaucracy that wasn't awful. I think primarily it comes down to the problem that there's just no solution to putting people together as roommates (or even floormates sometimes) that isn't going to cause serious problems. Add on top of that the fact that the biggest part of the job (putting together initial room assignments for the year) is a huge task that requires a lot of volunteer effort mostly, and it becomes a sort of organizational hot potato that nobody wants to actually take responsibility for. End result: carnage, especially for people with special constraints. At my university, they actively tried to get people out of the dorms as soon as possible, because there just wasn't enough space. And mostly, we were happy to go pretty quickly. Even after grouping up with friends after freshman year, things were complicated. (One of my roommates for my triple sophomore year was told to go home for a semester, so we got hooked up with a random freshman for a semester. I think he was more traumatized by the experience than we were. I don't think he hated us, but he certainly didn't have much in common with us.) I imagine moving off campus isn't really an option for you right now or you'd already have done it, though.

Trans issues are definitely a new thing for most universities on top of all of the badness that housing assignment encompasses in the first place. Sadly, I don't think I've yet seen any simple best-practice rules for how to handle things. Ghettoizing trans people together in rooms to themselves leads to the kind of situation you're in--and problems when the small number of people who are put together for their "special needs" don't actually get along. Rooming people by their personally perceived gender has other sorts of problems of feeling safe, which requires a lot more interaction with potential roommate candidates (and housing folks almost certainly don't want to have to actually talk to people). Rooming people without regard to sex or gender runs into the problem of parents, who are even more likely to wig out. ("Boys on the same *floor* as girls?!? It will be a den of sin!", much less the same room.) Rooming people with friends after the initial year or so without regard to gender or presentation is workable, but doesn't help people until later.

I suspect they'll get better at it, and universities will share what works and what doesn't work. But it will take time, and in the meantime students get to deal with the failures. Not fun.

I suspect that in your case, they resisted letting you move into a new room because they didn't want to have to deal with figuring out how to free up a room. Then when your roommate came along they caved more easily because they "had a free slot in what should be a double" or something. Which seems incredibly unfair, but that's how these bureaucracies work.

I hope you can work your way through the system and get into a housing situation that's easier to deal with. Good luck.

Today's random thing: Now that I've been noted by various women's shopping venues as a customer, I have to call out the ridiculous level of Valentine's Day advertising. Daaaaaang. I mean, it's not like I had never noticed the merchandising around February 14, but being actively targeted by email campaigns brings it to a new level.

Hypatian wrote:

Today's random thing: Now that I've been noted by various women's shopping venues as a customer, I have to call out the ridiculous level of Valentine's Day advertising. Daaaaaang. I mean, it's not like I had never noticed the merchandising around February 14, but being actively targeted by email campaigns brings it to a new level.

It IS completely ridiculous isn't it? I mean, the usual levels of advertising are obnoxious enough, but companies seem to really target women in regards to Valentine's Day. I'm surprised they aren't even more blatant about it; why not simply come right out and say, "Women love shiny things that cost a lot, and if you love the woman in your life and aren't a total cheapskate, you'll buy her one."?

That would be truth in advertising.

Then again, I spent last Valentine's Day eating take-away food and watching Hot Fuzz with Kepheus after exchanging rather horrifying cards (his to me had a picture of a semi-cartoonish rat that had been run over by a truck on it, mine to him was a stick person contemplating boiling up a cute bunny rabbit) - so maybe I am not the target audience for these ads and I should not be listened to.

Mimble wrote:

I'm surprised they aren't even more blatant about it; why not simply come right out and say, "Women love shiny things that cost a lot, and if you love the woman in your life and aren't a total cheapskate, you'll buy her one."?

If it's not that, it's "If he REALLY cared he'd buy you this expensive jewelry."

Bleh, most jewelry store chains give me the heebie jeebies just for that sort of gross advertising.

Demyx wrote:
Mimble wrote:

I'm surprised they aren't even more blatant about it; why not simply come right out and say, "Women love shiny things that cost a lot, and if you love the woman in your life and aren't a total cheapskate, you'll buy her one."?

If it's not that, it's "If he REALLY cared he'd buy you this expensive jewelry."

Bleh, most jewelry store chains give me the heebie jeebies just for that sort of gross advertising.

+1

The messaging to men is just as egregious, IMO. "Buying gifts for women is hard, because they are particular and hypercritical, and we know you're too lazy to think about what to give her, or really even care. Just buy her a rock, they eat that sh*t up."

Nice; women are shrews and men are lazy idiots. Thanks, jewelry industry!

Walken Dead wrote:
Demyx wrote:
Mimble wrote:

I'm surprised they aren't even more blatant about it; why not simply come right out and say, "Women love shiny things that cost a lot, and if you love the woman in your life and aren't a total cheapskate, you'll buy her one."?

If it's not that, it's "If he REALLY cared he'd buy you this expensive jewelry."

Bleh, most jewelry store chains give me the heebie jeebies just for that sort of gross advertising.

+1

The messaging to men is just as egregious, IMO. "Buying gifts for women is hard, because they are particular and hypercritical, and we know you're too lazy to think about what to give her, or really even care. Just buy her a rock, they eat that sh*t up."

Nice; women are shrews and men are lazy idiots. Thanks, jewelry industry!

I agree, the message to men is no better, and seems a bit unbalanced too. Men are supposed to buy women shiny, expensive, diamond encrusted fancy things, but I rarely see anything targeted toward buying similar things for men.

I guess I'm supposed to buy Kepheus a big drill or something? Or make him steak and feed him beer while fanning him with palm fronds - all this while dressed in something small and lacy, and saying outrageously flattering things about his prowess at XBox games?

I'm not sure I understand my role here.

If I had to guess, I'd guess that the same minds that bring us "women need shiny expensive diamonds to be happy" also assume that men are the breadwinners and women don't buy men expensive presents.

But then again, the way things like ginormous TVs and stereo systems are advertised by Best Buy are probably the gender equivalent.

Mimble wrote:

I agree, the message to men is no better, and seems a bit unbalanced too. Men are supposed to buy women shiny, expensive, diamond encrusted fancy things, but I rarely see anything targeted toward buying similar things for men.

I guess I'm supposed to buy Kepheus a big drill or something? Or make him steak and feed him beer while fanning him with palm fronds - all this while dressed in something small and lacy, and saying outrageously flattering things about his prowess at XBox games?

I'm not sure I understand my role here. ;-)

Feb 14th is the day he spends lots of money on you buying you shiny things you may or may not actually appreciate. March 14th is the self-descriptive Steak & a Blowjob day.

Ah, February 14, "A dozen roses, priced twice normal, today only!"

Mimble wrote:

I agree, the message to men is no better, and seems a bit unbalanced too. Men are supposed to buy women shiny, expensive, diamond encrusted fancy things, but I rarely see anything targeted toward buying similar things for men.

I'm pretty sure that for Valentine's Day, the diamond encrusted fancy thing women are expected to get for men is themselves. At least, a large portion of the volume of advertising for lingerie seems to suggest that.

Congratulations, you're now a target.

Hey, any of you watch the Jazz (little girl not the music genre) interview with Barbabra Walters? If you could take hormone treatments at 11 would you?

Mimble wrote:

Or make him steak and feed him beer while fanning him with palm fronds - all this while dressed in something small and lacy, and saying outrageously flattering things about his prowess at XBox games?

Maybe it's just me, but I think that would be awesome.

RoughneckGeek wrote:
Mimble wrote:

I agree, the message to men is no better, and seems a bit unbalanced too. Men are supposed to buy women shiny, expensive, diamond encrusted fancy things, but I rarely see anything targeted toward buying similar things for men.

I guess I'm supposed to buy Kepheus a big drill or something? Or make him steak and feed him beer while fanning him with palm fronds - all this while dressed in something small and lacy, and saying outrageously flattering things about his prowess at XBox games?

I'm not sure I understand my role here. ;-)

Feb 14th is the day he spends lots of money on you buying you shiny things you may or may not actually appreciate. March 14th is the self-descriptive Steak & a Blowjob day.

Ha ha! And now I know!

Hypatian wrote:
Mimble wrote:

I agree, the message to men is no better, and seems a bit unbalanced too. Men are supposed to buy women shiny, expensive, diamond encrusted fancy things, but I rarely see anything targeted toward buying similar things for men.

I'm pretty sure that for Valentine's Day, the diamond encrusted fancy thing women are expected to get for men is themselves. At least, a large portion of the volume of advertising for lingerie seems to suggest that.

Time to buy that fantasy bra from Victoria's Secret! (a little NSFW). It looks scratchy.

The most important gift is showing that you listen to the person you love, and understand them. Which is why I got Alexis a Bilbo Baggins Snuggie for Valentine's Day

RoughneckGeek wrote:
Mimble wrote:

I agree, the message to men is no better, and seems a bit unbalanced too. Men are supposed to buy women shiny, expensive, diamond encrusted fancy things, but I rarely see anything targeted toward buying similar things for men.

I guess I'm supposed to buy Kepheus a big drill or something? Or make him steak and feed him beer while fanning him with palm fronds - all this while dressed in something small and lacy, and saying outrageously flattering things about his prowess at XBox games?

I'm not sure I understand my role here. ;-)

Feb 14th is the day he spends lots of money on you buying you shiny things you may or may not actually appreciate. March 14th is the self-descriptive Steak & a Blowjob day.

Didn't ever think I'd be posting a Family Guy skit in this thread....

Baron Of Hell wrote:

Hey, any of you watch the Jazz (little girl not the music genre) interview with Barbabra Walters? If you could take hormone treatments at 11 would you?

I hadn't watched it until now, but I'd heard about it.

It's a very tricky question, to look back at from where I am now, anyway. There are a few different ways to approach it, from the practical to the science-fictional.

The first, most practical one is really easy: If I knew someone who was transgender and that age, I would absolutely 100% encourage them to live the life that feels right to them. Being able to [em]grow up[/em] and learn how to live in society in a natural way is something I would have loved to have the opportunity to do. Living with that conflict for years... there's no reason to do that. And that holds for whatever age they understand what they're feeling.

As for hormones, well—there's no reason not to do so, if you know, and many reasons to. If you can go through the puberty that matches your internal gender, you're going to be in a much better place as far as being in concord with your body as you grow older. In Jazz's case, it clearly makes sense: she's already been socially transitioned for years. For trans people who don't figure things out until a bit later and are less certain, there's absolutely no reason not to at least start on hormone blockers to prevent the puberty that you don't identify as. That gives some time to be certain of yourself before moving forward. (Often, this is the approach taken with people who come out in their teens.)

The second one is much harder: What if I could undo all of my life, back to the age of 15 or 16 (which is when I understood what I was)? And when I say undo, I mean "not have had any of the experiences from that point on". That would allow me to grow up from the point I describe above, living the way I want to. But... I don't think I could say yes to that. That person was a part of who I am today, but not the whole person. And even though things have not always been good, I would not want to trade my self away like that. All of my experiences are meaningful parts of me, and any such desertion of self would in fact be a form of suicide.

The third one is super easy: What if I could have the body I would have had if I had been born a girl, at my current age, and with all of my memories intact? Absolutely, 100% I would do this. Also if I could have the body I would have had if I'd started hormones at the age I knew, 100% would I do it. It wouldn't take away the bad experiences, but it also wouldn't take away the good ones. I'd still have my identity—but I wouldn't have the effects of years of testosterone to complicate my interactions with other people. On the flip side, for me, anyway, I think I'd be just as okay if I didn't expect other people to be put off by those things about me. Well, mostly. Getting my hair back... yeah, worth just about anything except my self.

And a fourth one, which is more interesting: The idea of rolling my body back to that age with all of my experiences intact feels like cheating. I'd be a teenager with an adult's life experiences to inform me. Not very fair. But getting a less unusual body but staying the same age is missing something really significant, too: the experience of growing up as a girl. What if I could roll back my age to 11 and transition, but like some sort of AD&D2 "dual classing", I would only have the memories of my life as a boy up to that point in time. That would allow me to grow into being my full self without losing my current identity and without missing out on life experiences (or having them diluted by a prior lifetime lived.) If we had magic nanotech, that's what I would want more than anything.

Anyway, that's my take on things. For someone who's in that position in today's atmosphere of increased (compared to when I was a teenager) acceptance, I see absolutely no reason not to go for it. But I couldn't use a magic lamp to wish I had done that, because then it wouldn't be me. But if it [em]could[/em] be me in some way, I would do it for an easier time fitting into the world and to avoid missing important "growing up" moments.

----

Another connected thing: People I've seen are pretty happy to see things like this piece about Jazz's life. It really helps get people to understand that trans people exist, and what it means to be trans. There's still a certain strain of worry, though, because it's just one kind of trans life experience. I didn't understand what I was until much later, and yet I am still trans. I didn't choose to transition until much much later, and yet I am still trans. I'm not super girly (consider Barbara Walter's "as soon as I saw her room, I knew" thing), and never have been, and yet I am still trans. Some people don't even identify on the binary (as strictly male or female), and yet they are still trans.

So we worry that people will take the wrong answers from things like this, too. My family has definitely hit me with the "but there are so many masculine things about you!" "you never gave us any reason to imagine that!" sorts of things. So, I hope we can get some more good stories out there about people with different life experiences. People who didn't "always know", who didn't realize until later, who hid their lives carefully and tried to fit in.

One of the hardest things for me about explaining to my family is that I feel I need to point at examples of other people to justify myself. Because if they are doubting what I am saying, how can any argument I make based on my own personal feelings change their point of view? I've already told them how I feel, so I end up trying to point at the experience of other people as a way to say "Look, other people experience this, too", in the hope that will make it harder to reject the idea that *I* feel that way. But then, well, I got hit with "why is it always this person says that, that person feels this, why is it always other people?" When I explained that if they weren't going to accept my word for what I'm feeling, then what else was I supposed to do, they got quiet for a bit, and I think they understood a bit more where I was coming from.

So anyway, having more stories means more examples of "this person is like me" to point at to make your own statements feel less unusual and easy to brush off. And there are a lot of stories. But when the only ones in the mass media that are seen by people who aren't already immersed in trans things are about a very narrow slice of trans experience, it's a bit troubling.

La la la. Just tightened the buttons on my coat, which were distressing me by getting closer and closer to falling off every day. I think I tightened them so much, but oh, well. I haven't done any sewing of even the most basic (buttons) sort in quite a long while, so I'm terribly out of practice.

Which, of course, reminded me of something. Back when I was in junior high, my school had policy. I forget the exact details. It was something like boys could take either home ec or shop but girls had to take home ec, or boys had to take shop and girls had to take home ec. In any case, my sister and I were both rather put off by this arbitrary gender-based rule (whatever form it took). I ended up taking home ec (I was not particularly interested in shop.) My sister ended up taking shop two years later. In retrospect, my happiness at this act of gender non-conformity takes on additional shades of meaning.

I also remembered back to one crafts project I remember really enjoying. In fifth grade, the teacher had all of his students make these wood and string-art sailing ships. A board with fabric on it as backing, with a wooden ship shape, tacks on the ship, nails on the board, and string wrapped around to make the sails. I remember being really excited about doing that project for a few years ahead of time--you see, our babysitter from across the street was a sixth grader and had made one, and I thought it was the most awesome thing ever. Again, in retrospect, I believe I saw her as a role model. I didn't just like her, I thought she was awesome and wanted to [em]be like her[/em].

And a third little anecdote: In high school, I went to precisely one pep rally. The whole school was supposed to attend these, of course, but many students just bugged out and left school early instead. Anyway, our football team was going to be facing their arch-rivals from across town that night. From a sociological and anthropological perspective, it was interesting to see. But there was one thing that left me utterly disgusted with the whole thing. You see, several members of our team dressed up as members of the other team, but in rather trashy drag, while the other team members heaped abuse on them. While I understood the ritual and symbolic nature of it, I couldn't help but see it as tremendously demeaning towards women. I was also, at that time, starting to actually understand that I was transgender, which made the entire message and presentation of the thing doubly upsetting. As a result, I felt outraged. I didn't feel like I could complain to anyone about it--but I never went to another pep rally again, even when I had nothing better to do. If I needed to stay on school grounds, I would just go to the computer lab or sit in the hall and read.

It's easy to see these things as significant at such a distance and with greater understanding of where I was (and am) headed, of course. But still, I think there [em]was[/em] something there, even if I wasn't aware of it at the time.

Hypatian wrote:

You see, several members of our team dressed up as members of the other team, but in rather trashy drag, while the other team members heaped abuse on them.

I started to say "This is minstrel show levels of messed up." OTOH, it probably wouldn't have surprised me if they had done that at one of our pep rallies.

OTOOH, pep rallies are very nearly the most fascist thing in American society, so saying "It fits right into a pep rally!" does nothing to invalidate the original statement.

Therefore: Like most things at pep rallies, this is minstrel show levels of messed up.

Yeah. I bet you could make a good paper out of it, though: "Ritual and Sympathetic Magic in Contemporary Western Culture".

In other news: My ears are now pierced! Wow.

Hypatian wrote:

In other news: My ears are now pierced! Ow. :)

FTFY. (And congrats!)