Trans Kids

Trans Kids

[TW abuse, transphobia, misgendering, suicide]

We’ve all seen the furore over the BBC “documentary” about Trans Kids, right? I’m not linking to it here because attack pieces like that shouldn’t be encouraged.

There are plenty of pieces explaining why it was a disaster, and I suggest you read them (and avoid anything the Telegraph put out).

The two biggest problems that came out of this “documentary” are:

  1. Kenneth Zucker, their expert who was kicked out of his clinic for abusive practices, is a man who in the past has advocated gay reparative therapy, believed that kids couldn’t know their gender at such a young age, and part of his practice was repeatedly shaming the naked bodies of his young trans parents.
  2. Certain newspapers have jumped on the chance to spread the myth that trans kids are just autistic kids who are confused.

Sadly, as is the way in the world, Kenneth Zucker is not alone in his beliefs about best practice for young kids, but he is one of the better known thanks to having his clinic shut down – a fact a lot of the BBC promotional material for the “documentary” failed to mention, by the way -so why is he being paid to comment here? Why is someone who has been accused of abuse, who advocated for damaging “therapy” that has been proven to contribute to an increased rate of suicide amongst LGBT+ youth, being given airtime and treated as an authority?

Not that the BBC has been impartial or fair lately.

The most worrying part is this spreading of the myth that all trans kids are autistic. Yes, there is a higher prevalence of trans identities amongst autistic individuals, but not every autistic person is trans, and not every trans person is autistic. What this does is allow people to disregard their child’s identity whilst further bothering autistic people.

Which is disgusting.

The biggest kicker of this whole thing is that the information is out there, if the BBC really wanted to make an informed, impartial documentary about trans kids they had all the tools at their disposal. Naturally, the BBC paymasters (we all know who they are) are the sort of people who think trans people are less than human, and so we have this mess on tv.

Kids know who they are. Kids are a lot smarter than we believe them to be. Believe them when they tell you who they are.

 

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Transphobia from Your Family

Transphobia from Your Family

[TW transphobia, slurs, emotional abuse]

What a delightful note to start the new year on.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts on here about transphobia and how shit it can be to be trans, it should be fairly obvious that transphobia and abusive comments can come from any source at any time. There was one source I want to go deeper into though, as it is one that affects me on an almost daily basis, and it can be the hardest one to deal with.

What do you do when your family turn on you?

Gone are the days when everyone could move out of their parents house at 18 and not have to worry about getting a mortgage, a job they can afford rent on, and a peaceful life. The economy, coupled with Tory rule in Britain, means more and more of us are trapped at home as it becomes more and more expensive to leave.

When you have a parent or parents who are abusive, not always physically, more commonly emotionally, this can make home a very difficult place to be.

Very recent example: My da reads the Sun. I have been fighting with him for years about this, but he is so mired in his ignorance that he thinks I’m being contrary just to start a fight. In yesterday’s edition, there was an opinion piece about a story from the day before, that of a young trans man who had halted his transition in order to fall pregnant after a request to freeze his eggs had been denied.

It started off as one of my da’s usual rants: young people scrounging off benefits, why couldn’t they pay a private company to do it (spoilers, private companies are run by old white men like him, and will charge trans folks way more than their cis counterparts), why should it be up to the NHS to do it anyway?

This last is the point that caused the fight.

I asked him, in response to his question, why the NHS should have been expected to examine his knee, perform keyhole surgery and perhaps a replacement operation if he had needed it. He replied that his case was different, because he needed his knee to work, and “this girl” (good misgendering there) was choosing to be difficult, choosing to become male, and choosing to become a burden on the system.

I won’t go into the details of the argument, to be honest it’s still rather painful for me, but eventually I walked out on him, and haven’t been in the same room since.

And right now, I don’t intend to be again.

We can talk all we want about self care being important, and how you shouldn’t avoid a problem if you want to solve it, but the truth is, sometimes that’s the only thing you can do.

I have the “benefit” of years and hindsight to see now that my da is an emotionally abusive arsehole, not just to me, but particularly to my mum, so I can make a plan to be away from him, to live an almost separate life even if I do have to live under the same roof.

I’m 27 though, so it’s easier for me than someone who’s a teenager, particularly when we have a generation of parents who seem to think they own their child, and command respect just by being.

So yes, avoid the problem if you have to, use that as your self care. Call on your friends to help you be out of the house, or to be around when your abuser is, as these people rarely attack when they’re outnumbered. Go silent during meals, if you’re made to eat together like I am, think of anything else until you can get out of there.

Abuse is an awful thing, worse when it comes from your family. Particularly when everyone else will tell you about what a good person your abuser is. My mum used to tell me that my da was a good man because he didn’t beat her like her first husband did. I pointed out that she didn’t need anti-depressants until a few years after she was married to him.

Do what you need to do to be safe. You are valued, you are loved, you are beautiful. You have the right to exist without abuse, unfortunately it’s a fight to get there when you’re stuck with family.

Body Shaming as Transphobia

Body Shaming as Transphobia

[TW body shaming, fat shaming, transphobia, cissexism]

Oh my, this is another heavy one. I’m not sorry in the slightest.

This one has reared its ugly head again because Trump has been officially elected as President, and so I need to have it out with this topic.

We need to stop body shaming people.

That on its own should be enough, but as this is my trans blog, I’m going to talk about it through the lens of transphobia. Because yes, Trump may be a cis man, but there are things said about him that are used as violence against trans folx.

Remember those naked Trump statues that were going about? Everyone thought they were hilarious, how clever to strip a leader of all his pomp and circumstance and show the world who he really is.

Except that’s not what happened. They were used as an excuse to point and laugh at all the things “wrong” with Trump’s body, and to point out all the ways in which he wasn’t “man” enough.

“He has tiny hands, like a woman? Guess we won’t need to worry about him pushing those nuclear buttons then.”

“He has a micropenis? God, what does Melania see in him?”

This post from The Establishment and this post by Jim will explain a lot of what is wrong with the statues, and I highly recommend reading both of them.

This post is about it through a trans lens, so let’s unpick this.

Tiny hands being feminine? I’m a trans guy, and I have tiny hands. My friends like to gently tease me about it (as you will see at the beginning and end of that video. The middle is worth watching too), but other people? It’s used to tell me I’m not a man, to deny me my identity, and to generally be awful.

And that’s before we get to the micropenis thing. Because hands up anyone writing this blog who doesn’t have a penis at all, but is entirely a man? Yeah, that would be me.

This undermining of identity and refusal to accept me as I am because of stereotypes of masculinity is just vile. And I don’t even have it that bad, because I’m a white, middle class trans guy, and we really don’t get it bad.

Trans women get it bad. Trans women get murdered on a daily basis over this shit.

We enforce ridiculous beauty standards on cis women, and treat them like trash when they don’t conform. We then use these same beauty standards to justify violence against trans women.

How many times have we seen pieces in the gutter rags commenting on women’s cleavages, butts, cellulite, or their daring to go out without make up? Now think of that being applied to a trans woman. Trans women are told they can’t pass if they don’t have top surgery, if they’re not in top shape, if they don’t wear make-up 24/7. And it’s disgusting.

Passing, for those unfamiliar, is this.

So yeah, please just take a moment and think before you point and laugh at people. Because intentionally or not, without you knowing, you could be showing people around you that you believe trans people can’t really be their gender, and that can do a lot of harm to young and hidden trans folx.

Be decent to each other. It’s really very little to ask for.

Bathroom Politics

Bathroom Politics

[CW misgendering, menstruation, assault]

Whoa boy, this one comes from a place of fear.

We’ve all heard about the shitstorm McCrory kicked up in North Carolina with his HB2 trans bathroom bill, though thankfully he’s been voted out of office, so hopefully his successor will get rid of such disgusting legislation.

This is nothing new though; even more so than in some other aspects of life, bathrooms are somewhere trans people have never really been welcomed. Mostly because cis people have long been under the impression they know our gender better than we do.

Whilst here in Britain we don’t have laws as such against trans folx using the bathroom of their actual gender, there is still a lot of violence and angry people trying to change that. And for the sake of needing a slash, that’s ridiculous.

A point that a lot of people seem to forget: the bathrooms in most of our homes are gender neutral. So why do we have a problem with this?

Sadly, as always, it’s trans women who suffer most in these cases, as they are often touted as “pervert men spying on women in the bathroom”. Which is stupid, because I can attest that all the toilets in women’s bathrooms are single occupancy stalls, and anyone trying to see in them will be called out and challenged. So really, what difference does it make?

Then again, there are stories floating about of trans women being dragged out of bathrooms by security guards who are determined  they’re in the wrong bathroom, or worse, a trans performer being removed from a bathroom in a gay bar, a supposed safe space, because she made a cishet woman uncomfortable.

Though long experience has told us asking those in a place of privilege to respect us is like pissing in the wind.

This here is a very interesting article on gender neutral bathrooms, and makes the important point about while we fuss about the “right” people being in the “right” bathrooms, those who need to use accessible loos have been sharing unisex facilities for years.

There’s one other thing that is rarely talked about when it comes to the issue of gendered bathrooms, and it’s one that affects me personally, so I’m using my space to talk about it: what happens when trans folx who menstruate have their periods?

Because I can tell you from experience there are no sanitary bins in the “male” bathrooms.

There are ways around it, sure, but the fact that I even have to make these provisions is bonkers. Some bright spark at Always came up with the idea of creating packaging for sanitary products that can be resealed, so that, when combined with a nappy sack (or more often one of the dog poo bags I carry about, because I am a hound wrangler), it is possible for me to remove used sanitary products without it being too obvious.

The other option of course is I just use the women’s bathroom, as I will have access to sanitary bins there, but that leads to a whole bunch of dysphoria and discomfort that is the last thing I need when I have my period.

See why all this is a problem now?

Attitudes are very slowly changing; universities in particular are fairly quick on the uptake with these things, but there is still a hell of a lot of work to be done.

Going to the loo is something everyone does, why do we still insist on making it such a trial for some people?

Wearing Make-up as a Trans Dude

Wearing Make-up as a Trans Dude

There are several reasons I enjoy wearing make-up:

  • I love bright colours (I can make them out better), and this is an excuse to put more bright colours on.
  • I am in love with dark lip colours. I don’t know why, but I got a dark blue lip cream yesterday and it’s my favourite thing.
  • I can control how my face looks, which helps loads with dysphoria.
  • It’s really fun fucking with people’s ideas of gender.

The idea that make-up is gendered is a reasonably modern one: originally it was a sign of belonging to high society, as only rich people could afford the powders and lacquers, and “both” genders used it with abandon. More often than not it was used as a way to cover signs of illness, because this is the Georgian times we’re taking about, and medicine wasn’t up to snuff in those days. 

In more recent history, make-up only became popular again in the 1910s onwards, when the popularity of theatre and ballet saw women, though again only really the well-off, attempt to emulate those they had seen on stage. Even then, make-up was associated with “women of the night” and cabaret, so those who wore it were seen as “sinful”. 

The explosion of Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s ensured the continued growth in popularity, and suddenly make-up was available to everyone on the high street.

Fast forward to today, and nearly every department store or pharmacy has a make-up counter.

Even more controversially, some of these make-up companies are making products marketed at men.

There are several reasons the upset over this is silly:

  1. Masculinity is so fragile that men can’t use cosmetic products that don’t have “FOR MEN” plastered across the side.
  2. It’s at least a step towards breaking down the bullshit binary gender constructs, so should be celebrated.
  3. Make-up is for styling your face in a way that is pleasing to yourself and others with colour and line work. Nothing about this screams “FOR WOMEN ONLY”.

Which comes back to me wearing make-up as someone who identifies as a man. A gwnderqueer guy, but still. 

I wear make-up because I can make my eyes stand out, make my lips a colour I love, and I can feel comfortable being out in public. That’s really all there is to it.

So let’s stop gendering things that don’t need to be gendered, and let people celebrate themselves in whatever fashion they like. 

Acknowledgement 

Acknowledgement 

Slightly happier post today, because even I don’t believe the world is all doom and gloom, contrary to what my twitter feed might have you believe.

Being acknowledged as the correct gender feels fucking awesome. 

2 anecdotes from this morning that made me super happy.

First:

I had to get the 6:50am train for an appointment that never happened.

6:50AM.

I am never fit to be out in public so early, so I got my seat on the train, put my headphones in and dozed off.

I was woken up by a very angry old lady throwing my bag at me, and then throwing herself into the seat beside me. She say muttering to herself whilst trying to occupy both seats (I’m a big guy, it wasn’t happening), and when the conductor came past, she complained that my shoulders were too broad, and that I should move seats.

That part made me cross. The conductor’s reply made her my new hero:

“I’m sorry,  but the gentleman was on the train before you. There are plenty of empty seats in the next carriage, you can move there.”

I’ve never been called a gentleman before.

The little old lady then proceeded to be transphobic, so the conductor came back and told her she could leave the train if she continued to be abusive towards me.

I don’t know your name, wonderful conductor, but thank you. 

The second was the first time I’ve been comfortable being approached by a random man in public.

I went to a certain coffee shop for breakfast (I have a reusable cup, I feel awful getting disposable Ines), and so I had to give my name with my order. I then had the following conversation with the Random Business Dude behind me.

RBD: Sorry, did you say your name is Teddy?

Me: yes.

RBD: That’s unusual. Why that name?

Me: *annoyed* because the universe thinks I’m awesome.

RBD: *Pauses* I like you. *to the barista* the lad’s coffee’s on me. 

We then shared a table for ten minutes until I had to go to the appointment that never happened. It was a complete Random Act of Kindness, but it really made my day.

Also it turned out the RBD was also called Teddy, so now we’re BFFs.

It may seem silly to some people that I’m celebrating such tiny RAKs, but in a world that constantly denies your existence, a little happiness goes a long way. 

A Working Definition of Trans

A Working Definition of Trans

It occurred to me when I was looking over posts last night that I have never actually come up with a working definition of trans as it pertains tinny blog.

Maybe should fix that.

Let’s get a couple of dictionary definitions first.

From Dictionary.com: a prefix meaning “on the other side of,” referring to the misalignment of one’s gender identity with one’s biological sex assigned at birth.

From the Cambridge dictionary (ignore that they have equated gender to sex, I’ll unpick that in another post): used to describe someone who feels that they are not the same gender (= sex) as the physical body they was born with, or who does not fit easily into being either a male or a female:

a trans woman/man

a trans model

people who are trans

Most of the dictionary definitions are similar to these, when they aren’t outright insisting it should be transgender.

And this is where I run into problems.

Transgender, as the name implies, is someone who moves to the opposite gender to the one they were assigned at birth. It buys into that awful gender binary I’ve been yelling about for ever. In fact, in a post over on the other blog, I put transgender under the non-binary umbrella.

Probably should have explained why.

Transgender is a term often applied to people who are binary and non-binary trans by people who are not. It has become the umbrella term that trans should be, and so now I’m in a campaign to get them switched.

Trans feels like a more comfortable label to me, because it doesn’t come with the binary gender baggage that transgender does. Because there are a lot of people who identity as trans who are non-binary. 

In short, my working definition of trans is anyone who feels they do not belong to the gender binary, and is comfortable to label themselves as such.

Consent is important in this.

So yeah, when I yell about being trans, in my case it means I am someone who doesn’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, and doesn’t fit the gender binary either.

Other folx’ experiences will vary.