Ask a Trans* Person.

In the year and almost six months since coming out, I’ve been asked a lot of questions.  Some of them were rude, some of them were not.  A lot of people asked them with very good intentions, and some said things like, I’m not sure if I should ask this, but…  And then there have been several guys who came out and asked me questions about it because there’s not a lot of guide books for us.  This is normal. I asked a lot of trans* guys about transitioning before I came out.  So I thought I would put some of the many questions I’ve been asked since I came out here, and that way, if you’ve had a question, but were afraid to ask, or whatever, you can probably learn the answer.  Or just ask me. I  can tell when people are genuinely wanting to be educated or just being assholes.  Don’t be the latter one, and I’ll answer it, without a snappy comeback.

“I am out to my friends and my girlfriend only. They are all very supportive of me and my decision to live my life as a male and to be happy. However I have not come out to my family. They are of the Christian faith and DO NOT support anything in the GLBT community. I’m terrified to come out to them in fear of being tossed out of the house. I’m 22 years old, but I currently live with my parents and my sister. How/when should I break the news to them?”

In some ways I have experience with this.  A lot of my friends from the Christian faith stopped being my friends when I came out.  It sucked at the time, but now I’m kind of okay with it.  I mean, it sucks when you are rejected, but the people who aren’t able to accept you are people you really don’t want in your life.  It’s different for family though.  In this case, it’s difficult, because you want to be who you are, and not live a double life.  But you don’t want to be tossed out either.  I didn’t come out to my family until I was living at college.  Then when I did move home, they already had time to deal with it.  But it’s still hard because my Dad isn’t even religious and yet he has a problem with it.

I think if you can, wait until you are in a situation where you have a backup plan in case they decide to kick you out, or that you decide that it is way too much to handle living with them.  Because it’s going to be very awkward at first.  And probably for a long time.  I’ve been out for nearly a year and a half and it’s still super awkward, even with my Mom on board.

The unique thing I’ve found about the trans* community is that when our friends or family reject us, we always find people that love us unconditionally.  In some ways, we have our own family.  At first my parents were absolutely pissed off, and I had a set of parents in the community that knew and treated me like I was their son.   I also have found trans* brothers and sisters and we’re a family.

“Do you have to go through gender therapy before being able to start T?”

I do not have to because I get mine from Planned Parenthood.  I couldn’t find doctors that would prescribe me T, so I drive 3 hours to Planned Parenthood every 3 months for my prescription.  I just go to gender therapy because it helps me.  But technically, I could stop. 

“Is it going to be weird for me and my girlfriend to have sex because I’m not on t, so it’d be like having sex with a girl cause I can’t do anything else.”

 I think if you make it weird, it’s going to be weird.  Don’t focus on the fact that your body isn’t the body you want.  Just know that you might feel dysphoric.  Hopefully you have an amazing girlfriend and she supports you.  But yeah, if you focus on, wow my body isn’t the body I feel I’m supposed to have, oh this is weird, it’s going to be weird and you are going to feel very uncomfortable.

“If I have a girlfriend and I’m trans, is she still straight? She says she only likes guys and would only date guys?”

I would say she is straight.  You’re a guy, right?

“If you’re still queer, why are you transitioning?”

First off, there is nothing wrong with being queer.  Second off, the two are completely un-related.  Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same thing.  Just as I can’t control the fact that I’m trans*, I can’t control who I am attracted to.  Me moving forward in my transition was not something I did so I could be straight.  I couldn’t be straight even if I tried.  I started transitioning because I felt like I had to be honest with who I am.  Just like many people feel when they come out for being queer.  But sex and gender are not the same, and sexual orientation (who you are attracted to) is not the same as your gender identity (what you feel like you are as a person.  Boy, girl, both, neither, a mix, none, just to name a few).  Just like there are many sexual orientations, there are many gender identities.

This is just part one.  I’ll add in more as time goes on.

Bisexuality and Pansexuality.

Because I suck at titles, I’m just going to go with that one.

I came out as bi at 14 in the middle of a family dinner.  I shouldn’t have come out that way, but I did.  We were eating dinner, and I was a freshman in high school, and I just had this secret I had been living with.  I wore the pride rainbow wristband I got at Twin Cities Pride that summer.  My gay uncle took me.  He asked me if I was an ally.  I said, everyone should be an ally.  But I hadn’t been able to say that I liked girls, and I liked boys.  This was before I knew anything about the trans* community.  This was September of 2005, and we didn’t really talk about queer issues in my house.  I didn’t see Boys Don’t Cry, my first glimpse of the transgender life, or know that it applied to me, that I was trans*, until a year later.  And when I did know, I was terrified.  But I think I’ve covered that enough, and today I don’t really want to talk about it.

Anyway, I didn’t know that there were more than two genders.  I didn’t know things like being FAAB (female assigned at birth) or that you could really be a man.  Or not.  Or both.  Or whatever your gender is.  I just knew I was a boy but I thought I was the only person like that on the planet.  Which, we know, I’m not.

But at 14 years old, I knew that bisexual meant that you were attracted to both genders, and I knew that was me.  I had started going to the support group in high school for queers.  They only had that support group my first year of high school.  But I went, and some of my friends went.   I had a crush on a girl.  She had been my really good friend for years.  She was also straight.  I was living as a female.  But anyway, I got to the point where I just felt like, I go to this support group.  I wear a pride bracelet.  So at dinner I just said, I like boys, but I like girls.

There, we’re done.  I’m out.

Not quite.

Then I got older, and I learned more about the transgender community, and pansexuality, and how bisexuality only covered the two traditional genders.  And I thought, no, I don’t care if someone is trans* or whatever, I like people and I don’t really care about their gender.  But as I came out, I realised that wasn’t right, either.  Also, the bisexuality community, I feel, has done a lot to erase that old definition.  We don’t want to be transphobic.  So now the bisexual community is being thrown under the bus.  Which we know, is pretty common.

A while back I wrote an essay on transphobia.  I could have also wrote one about the phobia I experience being attracted to more than one gender.  I hinted at it, but I could have done more.

I’ve been told things like, pick a gender. Be gay.  Or be straight. Don’t be both.

I can’t.  Just like I can’t live my life as a woman.

Believe me, things would be easier if I could.  But I’m not known for taking the easy road, and believe me, I tried being straight.  I can’t.  I also tried for twenty one years to be a woman, and we all know how well that worked out.

I think that the “fight” or argument, is probably a better term for this, between the identified bisexuals and the identified pansexuals is a fight that doesn’t really need to be happening?  I mean, all of us are attracted to more than one gender, and I think instead of fighting over a label, we should be working together. I think that being pan is under the bisexual umbrella, just like being a trans* guy is under the trans* umbrella.

As for the I don’t care about gender argument, which I am guilty of, before I was educated on myself, and on gender, and believe me, I still have a lot of education to go through, because people always evolve, I think it is flawed.

Hear me out.

I need people to care about my gender.  I need people to say Blake is a man.  For people to say that they don’t care about my gender hurts me.  Especially because I am in the early stages of my transition. I’ve only been on T for 4 months, and I have a long way to go. I have to still change my name and my gender and my birth certificate and a lot of things.  So for a potential partner to say that they don’t care, that hurts me.  And I don’t think people who say I don’t care about their gender are meaning to hurt people when they say that. I’ve said it.  I wasn’t meaning to harm anyone by saying that, but I think it did. Or it could have.

I tend to stay away from dating, but I could have really hurt someone by saying things that I’ve said.

I think my main point is, we need to stop throwing people under the bus.  Some bisexuals, I’m not going to speak for the entire community, that’s not appropriate, but some feel that the “standard” bisexual identity is transphobic, and they don’t want it to be.  They just want it to say that they are attracted to people, regardless of their gender identity.

And I don’t want to speak for pansexuals, either.  But some feel that the bisexual identity doesn’t fit them, and they like being pan.  And that is one hundred percent okay.  Because no one should tell you what you identify as, or don’t.  I’m just saying that I think the two communities should unite and be under the same umbrella so we can combat all the people that throw us under the bus.

If we could stop focusing on the “argument” between the two communities, I think we could fight it better.  Because both communities are definitely left out of the LG and sometimes T community.  And both of us, I feel, have been told, hey, pick one.  Pick a sexuality.  But we have.  We just happened to pick one you don’t think exists, or shouldn’t exist.

I’m sorry, I’ve drank a lot of coffee, and I seem to be rambling.

How about we stop throwing members of the LGBT*QIA community under the bus?  How about we stop throwing people under the bus?

Top Surgery.

Monday I drove 3 hours to the same city I get my hormone prescription.  If I stay in North Carolina, I really need to just move to Greensboro or Raleigh.  Like, really.  I have to go back there in 3 weeks or so for my first set of labs since I started shots.  But anyway, Monday I drove there to meet with the top surgeon.  She was awesome.  I didn’t even have to explain my pronouns.

I had to fill out the forms or whatever, and there wasn’t an option on there for preferred names because it’s just a plastic surgery office, but I wrote Blake in parenthesis after my legal name, which is being changed in October.  And right away, she called me Blake and then said stuff like, oh please get him these forms, to the nurses.

So she took me back into her office, and said okay so tell me about yourself.  And she made me feel really comfortable.  Doctors make me nervous because many doctors have made me feel like an experiment, or haven’t taken me seriously.  But right away she made  me feel comfortable. 

I knew that she was going to have to look at my chest, and touch me. I tried not to be uncomfortable.  She was amazing about it.  She talked to me the entire time about the books I was reading and the kind of writing I do.  Which has been a common theme in my life.  When I had my breast reduction, they talked to me about books, too.  This was almost three months ago.

Last night my Mom got home from a business trip, so she took me and my Dad out to dinner, because my Dad has been working insanely long hours.  And we’re eating dinner, and I’m not bound, because my chest has been irritated, and I bruised a rib a while ago so now it needs time to heal.  Anyway, the waitress called me sir, and I’m feeling pretty awesome, because I wasn’t even bound.  And my Dad frowns.  And my Mom gets a smile on her face.  So after dinner, she takes me outside because for once it wasn’t 90 degrees outside.  We were sitting on the back porch, and she asked me about how the appointment went, so I filled her in.

And I said I know I can’t have it for a while.  I know I have to pay for the copay, that’s the rules, but we’re trying to see what insurance will cover, so we’re submitting it to insurance, and then I’ll probably have to pay 2000$.  But she’s paying for my name change, and I said, sometimes I want to tell my Dad that I’m changing my name, because I want him to have time to adjust or whatever.  But then, my Dad has told me that he doesn’t want to be involved and knows I’m doing things, but doesn’t want to know.

Like, this week, he told me that he thought I sounded sick.  I’m not.  My voice is just dropping.

So then I said, about my name change.  I’m putting Patrick in my middle name.  So it’s going to be Blake Ryan Patrick.  Because my parents did name me.  Because I was named after my grandmothers.  And one of my grandmothers is gone now, but she was one of my best friends.  So, I wonder what our relationship would be like if she hadn’t passed away before I came out.  Then my Mom asked me if she could call me Pat and I said that’s what you call Grandma!  And she said, I also call my cousin Patrick Pat, and he’s a boy.  And I said, I’d rather you call me Blake, but you can call me Pat.

Still don’t know what I’m doing about school this coming year.  I’m probably staying where I’m at.

17 weeks and top surgery.

Tomorrow I leave for Raleigh.  Tomorrow is 17 weeks on T.  I’m meeting with the top surgeon for the first time to see how much surgery will cost, and I’m excited.  I’m excited, even though I probably can’t move forward for a while.  I have to do my shot tonight since I will be gone all day tomorrow.  But I’m excited for doing my shot.  I have to finish all my homework by midnight, and I have 4 assignments left, but that’s what I’m going to be working on.

So, we’ll see what happens.  But I was thinking today about hatred.  I also have a tumblr, and last November, someone was sending me a bunch of anonymous hate for being trans* and being too obsessed with Harry Potter, and the like.  Anyway, at the time I was obviously upset about it.  But I had friends stand up for me, and I just put on my sassy pants and dealt with it.  But the thing is, now, I’m pretty far removed from it. I’m used to getting rude things being told to me.  But the thing is, I’ve been learning not to care what anyone thinks. If I like the person I am, that’s good enough.  If my friends think the world of me, then what some stupid grey-faced sunflower says to me doesn’t bother me.

But you hang out with people and you find people that treat you like the human being that you are, and you start to feel pretty awesome.  Also, latest video is up.  There’s a link to it, and the tumblr for FTMs I run, on the main page of my blog.  So check it out.  Stay safe.  And I’ll update again after my appointment.

4 months.

Monday was 4 months on T for me.  It’s been exciting.  I had to refill my last vile of T before I go make the 3 hour drive to Raleigh to get my labs checked again, and then hopefully, my dosage upped.  I’m on the lowest level right now.  I get 25ml of T injected weekly.  A biological male makes 80.  If my labs are good and I’m not moving to London (still don’t know about this one, results are posted tomorrow) then my therapist will up my dosage.  I also should hear back from UNCG shortly.  If I get into both universities, I’m not sure what I will be doing.  I will probably go to UNCG because it is close to home and I won’t mess up my transition.  But I also want to go to London so badly.  So we’ll see what happens.  I know I’ve gone back and forth on it for months, and that reason has been my health, and I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case I don’t get in.  As for health, we’ve figured out if I follow my diet, I’m fine.  If I eat mostly vegan and gluten free, I’m fine.  If I eat dairy, I get sick.  If I eat chicken or beef, I get really sick for the day.  So, if I follow my diet, I’m fine.

Anyway, I’ve made some changes in the 4 months on T.  These are the highlights.

  • For the first time in my life, I actually have a sex drive.  I don’t do anything about it.  Sex makes me very uncomfortable, with myself, or otherwise.  My body just freaks me out and I don’t want to be touched.  But they were not even joking when they said that testosterone gives you a libido.
  • I feel my cycle now.  I do shots on Mondays.  Saturday and Sundays I feel kind of lethargic and tired.  I also feel more anxious.  I just want it to be Monday.  You can feel the hormones go in and you can feel it kick in.  After shots, I’m filled with energy and I just want to work out.  My anxiety is lower after a shot, too.
  • I use way more deodorant than I’ve ever had to.  You just smell more.  Plus, I can’t describe it properly, but your smell changes.
  • I had to start using acne cream.
  • My voice is significantly lower.  For evidence of this, check out my videos.  There’s a link on my main page.
  • I started shaving my face.  That is the only part of my body I am comfortable shaving.
  • I’ve gotten even more hairy.  My face, my legs, my arms, my stomach, my chest.
  • Running/working out has gotten easier.  I’m sure I’ve gotten stronger.
  • I’m hungry all the time.
  • I’ve actually lost weight though.

Last night my Mom and I were talking about London because results are posted at midnight in London, meaning tonight at 7pm, I should get them. And she asked me if I would stay on T over there or what I would do, and I said I’ll have a 3 month prescription in August. I’d move on 24 September, so I’d have until November to find a doctor.  I pay 7$ a month for my hormones.  I also said that the university has a clinic and they offer transgender services, so that’s an option.  But then she said, you know your passport doesn’t match a female identity and I said yeah, I’m aware that I’m not read as feminine a majority of the time.  There have been two times that I’ve flown since I came out a year and a half ago, and both times I had to explain myself.  I said that the university is aware of my trans* status, and said to have a doctor write a letter explaining it. I also have to have letters for my medication anyway.  I have to go through customs so if I have needles and testosterone, I have to have my prescription and all of that with me.  This is one of the reasons I might just go to UNCG if I get in because then I just drive 45 minutes to get hormones and 3 hours for therapy, and 2 hours to go home.

Plus, a lot of UNCG English majors go to England for grad school, and study abroad.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  But we’ll figure it out.  I have a lot of things to consider.  My Mom has also looked into updating my passport picture because it doesn’t match.  I got my passport at sixteen, and I’m almost twenty-three.  So clearly a lot has changed since then.

Being An Activist Is Not A Pass At Disney Land: Why being an LGBTQ Activist Does Not Give You Access To Trans Spaces

Even Aud

I’ve noticed a very upsetting trend recently. The idea that if you are an  cis LGB activist or cis het LGBT ally you are through your work then rewarded with access to trans* only spaces and discussions, and that trans people telling you that you are not welcome is an offense.
This is the height of cis privilege. Cis people are conditioned in our society to believe they are the ” normal” and “right” way to be. Everything in discourse, from music to bathrooms and jobs is built to celebrate and accommodate cis people.
We trans people go through a lot. We often need space to feel safe, a place where even for five minutes being trans is the dominant way of being.

Being an activist is a wonderful thing. But only the oppressed get to declare who is an ally and what ally behavior looks like to them as…

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Why You Shouldn’t Use The Word Tranny (part 2).

Sometimes I’m not the most eloquent person in the world.  And given that that guy responded several more times, and called me things like a harpie and said I thought I was the Queen of Sheba, let’s try this again.

I don’t think that this guy will get it.  But if there is someone out there who stops by and listens to what I have to say, if this blog helps just one person, if this makes the world a little bit brighter, I will definitely keep writing. I  refuse to be silenced.

Dear people of the world, please do not use the word tranny.  Me asking you to stop using a hate word should just be enough.  Me asking you to be respectful of who I am should be enough.  Sadly, it isn’t.  And this is another reason I feel I identify so much with feminists.  Yes, I was born a girl, and I think that fits in, but mostly, I feel that a lot of our struggles are the same.  You see, long before trans* people were fighting for our rights to be seen as human, many people thought that women were less than human, also.

Women weren’t even given the right to vote until 1920 in America.  Land of the free, are we really? They were told to shut up.  Jokes like get back to the kitchen and make me a sandwich are STILL being told all of the time.  They were told that their opinions and voices didn’t mater, that they weren’t educated enough, or smart enough, or important enough.

They were told they are less than human.

Which is exactly what you do when you call someone a tranny, or any other hate word.  You are telling me that I am less than human, less than worthy of my right to be the person I am.  You are telling me that I don’t matter.  Me asking you to stop saying those things is not me being rude.  It is saying stop telling me I’m not human.

When I was in high school, I tried to kill myself.  This was several years before I came out. There was one morning in particular. I was getting ready for school.  I was in the shower, and I just laid down and let the water wash over me. I thought about every bad word people had said to me.  I had been called a dyke, and a freak, and a year before a kid actually hit me because he thought I was a lesbian.  Every word that someone had said to me that could be used to destroy someone echoed.  That’s enough to make anyone drown, or want to drown themselves in the shower, at fifteen years old.

Thankfully, I didn’t.  But it started years before I was fourteen when that kid hit me and my Dad had to be called into the school.  I was so embarassed because I knew I was different, and I felt like, if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have had kids hit me.  But it didn’t start with the kid hitting me.  In first grade, I dressed masculine.  I always have unless I was forced not to, or trying to live a lie.  People didn’t want to be my friend.  People called me Patricia the Boy.  I wasn’t upset that people were calling me a boy. I felt like a boy.  I was upset that people treated my like crap.  People used words to make me feel less than human.

And it continued for a good seven years before someone hit me.  And even then, it continued. In ninth grade, I was kicked out of my gym class for being a homo. I was out as bi to a few friends.  I also had severe gender dysphoria going on and couldn’t really word that.  So I changed in the bathroom.  Instead of dealing with the girls in my class who had a problem with me, the solution was for me to move gym classes.  Again, that sent the message that I was the one with the problem.

Because this says it more eloquently than I could, and if this is what you are going to take away from today, let it be this:   “Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step for justifying violence against that person.”- Jean Kilbourne.

That is what words like tranny do.  They turn me into a thing.  First you are calling me a boy, or a dyke, then you are hitting me.  If people hadn’t stepped in, I wonder if the kid would have hit me more than once.  So, please, stop turning me into a thing.  Stop tolerating hate because it often does lead to violence, and that can make anyone drown.