Sometimes I’m a Bit Slow

I was Googling my blog name when I came across this:

http://twitoaster.com/country-us/katebornstein/sorry-correct-link-to-last-tweet-is-an-article-on-genderqueer-as-philosophy-vs-identity/

It seems that Kate Bornstein tweeted a link to my blog page about being genderqueer… And I find it two years later.

Like I said, I’m a bit slow at times.  But still…

How absolutely f’ing cool is that! 😀

Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson?

That is the sound of – inevitability…

For some thirty-five years I have lived conscious of the fact that I am not that which I have been told I am. With the never-ending ‘noise in my head’, I have lived in opposition to what I can only describe as an ‘instinctual knowledge’ of what I should be – of what I am.

To have to fight the instincts — that is the definition of decadence: as long as life is ascending, happiness equals instinct.

A while back, I was out with two girlfriends from work for drinks. We chatted about this and that when the topic of conversation turned to me (yes, they know ‘my story’.) One of them asked me if I was happy. I paused and thought for a few seconds before telling her that I was in a better place than I had been in the past – but happy?

Can one be happy fighting who they are everyday? Read More »

Chitchat

Leaving work the other evening, I ran into a woman with whom I ride the train in the mornings. We have chatted casually a few times – not so much to really be ‘friends’ per se – but enough to be friendly. She was waiting for the E train when I saw her and I stopped and said hello. We started chatting a bit and so began the journey home.

I’m not an especially outgoing individual – quite the opposite really – but once I get past the initial awkwardness of meeting someone I’m usually fine. We chatted the whole subway trip to Penn Station and once there, parted for a few minutes to get supplies for the trip home. We met up again, and boarded the train for home. As I said, I’m kinda shy and I always find it a bit surprising when people want to just talk with me – perhaps I shouldn’t, but it’s just how I feel.

We continued our smalltalk about the train and the people we see there and stuff like that. She tells be she loved getting to know about people and I smile a bit because, well, I’m not really the ‘average’ person on the street, but it’s fine – she’s done nothing to offend me so I continue our conversation. She proceeds to tell me her life more or less (which to be honest has been a hell of a lot more exciting than my own) and I think to myself that this is not the first time for this. I tend to get people telling me stuff and wonder what it is about me that makes them that comfortable with sharing. Don’t get me wrong, I like listening and sometimes offering whatever insights I might have – I just wonder how it happens sometimes.

And so the train ride goes. It was fun seeing as I usually sit alone and noodle around on my Mac. We get about five minutes from our stop when she sits back and says, “So, now I have a question for you…” I smile, knowing what’s coming – I have been waiting for it for an hour or so. A method to the madness so to speak, she jokes afterwards a kind of “I’ll show you mine now you show me yours.” I give her the super condensed story of me and a bit of background as to be identifying as genderqueer. It’s nothing ‘complete’ but I did want to share as well and told her we can discuss more next time we have the chance. We exchange our farewells for the evening and head off to our cars and home.

I don’t mind that people are curious and I have never been shy about discussing being trans. My one rule is that people treat me with respect – which she did. And her willingness to share with me put us on a bit of an equal footing which was nice. I have had many chats wherein it seemed to be all about me. It was nice to not be the sole topic of conversation.

So… Not an especially deep post, but I went home that night smiling a bit – and I thought I’d share. 🙂

Kisses!!

This really resonates for me – summing up so much of how I have felt for so long.

The Heartland Road

The cliffs march on and on, like a wall above me. I start to wonder what’s up there, above the bright rim of the sky. Perhaps it’s just the lure of the unknown – the wall is stout and tall and unbroken, except for the waterfalls, which thunder through gorges like chimneys, narrow and dark and slick with spray.

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Noise

I have tinnitus.  You know, that ‘ringing’ sound some people have in their ears.  I have had it as long as I can remember, although I am sure that there was some time in my life where I didn’t.  For the most part, it’s not a problem as the normal ambient sounds of every day life tend to mask it to where I don’t even notice it.  I go about my day to day activities without even thinking about it.  As ‘conditions’ go, it’s seems to be quite manageable. Read More »

The Truth of the Matter

A member of an online forum I frequent made the following observation…

It isn’t so much a question of essential natures being rigidly dichotomous (they aren’t), as of there being a convenient typology we want to use, and perhaps most of us need.

…part of a larger discussion that prompted my following reply. Read More »

Objects in the Rear View Mirror…

“Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer then they are.” A great Jim Steinman / Meatloaf song full of over-the-top angst wherein the singer reflects on moments of his younger days. We all have memories we tuck away and all but forget about – but now and then something stirs them and it can feel like only yesterday when they bubble up to the surface of our consciousness. Read More »

The Genderbread Person

I saw this on Facebook and it was too good not to share.

(click on the pic to see full size)

Undoing Gender Stereotyping

Please click and read : One teachers approach to preventing gender bullying in a classroom

This is such a great article.  Please reblog! 🙂

Shows how gender stereotyping effects everyone and how easily it can be overcome when someone cares.  I only wish more teachers took initiative like this.

Girl Talk Redux

I’m standing on the subway platform, waiting for the E train – my iPod blasting Pendulum – when I notice a woman talking to me. I turn to her and pull one of the earphones out. Still unable to hear, I remove the other and put my iPod in my bag.

“Your eyebrows look great” she says.

“Thanks!”, I reply and make what I am sure is an awkward smile. Read More »

Girl Talk

For several months now, I have been going every few weeks to get a Shellac manicure at a salon by my home. It’s a pretty typical place doing hair, waxing, nails, etc. and I have become a regular customer there which is a nice feeling.

I sit down and Dana (the nail tech) commences to ply her craft on my digits. We chat about the kind of stuff you chat about when getting your nails done: our kids (she has a teenage daughter), weekend plans, and – well – girl stuff. I see she has a tube of MAC DazzleGlass lip-gloss sitting out and I comment it’s a pretty color. She proceeds to tell me the story behind it (she does makeup and such for fashion shows and was given it as a gift) and how she’s not sure she’s loving it. I tell her I have the same type in a different shade and she asks me to put it on so she can see how it looks. I feel myself blush a bit but oblige her and brush on a coat.

“Oooo – I like that!” is her reaction.  🙂

And so for the rest of the time, we chat about make-up. She compliments my eyeshadow and I tell her it’s a loose power type. She confesses she has no idea how to use it and always makes a mess, so I explain the technique I use – a bit of information she is happy to learn.  And so on and so on for the next twenty minutes or so.

I’m sure there are people who will dismiss this as wholly vapid exchange, but is it any more so than say a discussion about golf, or a reality TV show? I don’t think so. People have all sorts of ‘meaningless’ conversations all the time. What made this interesting (to me at least) was the fact that I was having it.

There was an ease to the conversation: nothing forced or uncomfortable about it. There was nothing about being ‘trans’ or any kind of ‘why’ to the conversation.  In a word, it was all quite natural and it felt nice – and, dare I say, fun.  🙂

I love moments when all the nonsense fades into the background and I get to just be me.

What would you like to be today?

It’s December first and that means a new monthly train ticket and a new opportunity for the conductor to play “Guess my gender” wherein they decide whether to punch my ticket as either male or female. I have discussed this here in the past – how I have been read as a man or (more often) a woman, but today was a first for me.

I hand the conductor my ticket today and he asks me “How would you like me to punch this? I’m not trying to be rude or disrespectful, I just don’t want to offend you.” It takes me a moment to reply: “Female is fine, thanks.” He punches my ticket and hands it back to me. “Just trying to be respectful. Have a good one.” – and he moves on the the next seat.

All totaled it was about twenty seconds of interaction – but it was an important twenty seconds to me. One of only a handful of times anyone has ever asked – as opposed to assuming – how I want to be gendered.

A rather nice start to the day.

Remembrance of Things Past

Friday morning, second week of January 2010 : I’m in the cafeteria when I see her. She is in her early twenties, jaw-length bob, perfect makeup, wearing a bright blue cowl neck sweater, leather skirt coming down just above her knee, a wide black belt, dark tights and classy heals. I can hear her as she chats with her friends – a sweet girl as far as I can tell. As I look at her, a flood of feelings washes over me – feelings I have managed to (largely) avoid for the past year. As I walk past, I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in the glass of a display case. I am filled with a feeling of self loathing as I study the image of the ersatz woman it reflects. I know that no amount of wishing or hoping or appeals to greater powers will ever give me what she has. As I look at my own reflection, I begin to consider the entire exercise to be an effort in futility… Read More »

I’ve done what???

“So you transitioned on the job?”  That was the question I was asked by one of the transgender panelists after the meeting the other night.

I wrote about this about three years ago.  I have a rather narrow definition of transition as it applies to transgender people.  It is a definition, really, of transsexual transition – one with surgery and legal name changes and the like.  It implies things about me – about my identity and my intentions – that I don’t know are correct.  And because of this, it do my best to avoid using the term in reference to myself. Read More »

Perhaps the needle has moved a bit

So I went to panel discussion I mentioned in my last post.  It went pretty much as I expected: two transition stories and a discussion of the hosting firm’s policies.  There was talk of ‘transition teams’ and the all important ‘bathroom concerns’.  (Yes, using a bathroom is important – but I have never seen the reason for everyone to get so concerned.  We all do the same things in there – and usually in a stall.  Why this is such a traumatic thing still eludes me – but it is and it needs to be addressed, so there you are.) Read More »

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
There is a panel discussion coming up on gender identity and expression in the workplace.  It is being hosted by a large investment bank and should be interesting.  I was asked if I had any suggestions for the panel and offered to tell my tale it they thought there was some value in it.  I like to think that what I did and where I did it is something a bit unique, and as another investment bank was hosting, it seemed like a good fit.
The event has been planned and the speakers chosen – suffice to say I am not among them. I’ll be honest, I never had any expectation of being on any ‘panel’ – I made the offer knowing it wouldn’t be taken – I made the offer knowing exactly what they wanted.
The ‘trans’ representative will be a transsexual who has already transitioned. The reason given for her being chosen: the people planning the event “didn’t know if the more hands-off (on the company’s end) non-transition transition experience would be too advanced for the audience of HR people.”
Too advanced???
My former employer was as high profile as any investment bank and they managed to see the value in allowing me a bit of latitude.  It took them all of a week – which I’m sure amounted to about an hour’s discussion – to decide in my favor.  Their ‘advanced approach’ required them to make no real policy changes.  I wasn’t looking for anything that would cost them anything – I think that would be the case more often than not.  What it amounted to was that I was a valued employee there.
What I would like to know is why is it almost always transsexuals who are put up as the spokespeople of the trans-community? Not all transpeople are transsexual – in fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that most are [B]not[/B] transsexual.  We all do not transition – or at least transition in the same way.  And yet, time and time again, they are offered as the quintessence of transness.
I know why she was chosen: she’s safe. She fits the media-ready narrative of “I always knew I was a girl from early on…” through transition and up to “…and now I am a woman and happy.” It the side of trans that people have learned to at worst tolerate and at best respect.  It is the cleaned up and ‘sanitized for the public’ side of trans – presented in an easy to digest format.  I am sure she will look good and be thoughtful and articulate. The HR types will look at her and agree “this isn’t so bad – we can do this.”  It is the side of trans that is by and large neat and tidy: she’s female and a woman – just as it should be.  It’s not a bad side of trans, it just does little to challenge people’s perceptions and educate them as to the diversity in our community.
I see myself as the scary side of trans – the side no one wants to see. It’s people like me who ‘ruin things’ for everyone  at least that is what I have been told in the past.  I am the ‘less-authentic’ side – the ‘not really serious’ side – the guy who ‘just wants to dress up at work’ side – the ‘confused’ and ‘in denial’ side – the ‘freak’ and ‘weirdo’ side.  I amount to gender trash: something to be pushed aside and stepped over.  I have been made to feel at times that my version of trans has little intrinsic value.
Discussions around trans-people and the workplace seem to come down to debates over bathrooms, medical coverage and transition strategies – important issues (for transsexuals especially) but not the only issues for transpeople.  Speaking for myself: my health insurance is just fine, I am able to relieve myself as necessary without incident, and there was no need for a planning session when I did what I did.  Discussions around things like flexible dress codes, employee education and a top-down driven commitment to diversity and inclusion (for example), in addition to the other ‘issues’, would serve a far wider audience in my opinion.  Of course to do this, you need you have people who can speak to these other concerns actually speak to them – people with other experiences as transpeople.
A false tautology has been created: transsexual <==> transgender.  The average person who has heard of either doesn’t know there is any difference.  When I approached my old firm’s LGBT group, the chairperson at the time – an SVP in HR and a lesbian – asked me how far into the ‘process’ (i.e. transition) I was.  I derailed her train of thought when I told her I wasn’t transsexual or transitioning, and then proceeded to educate her a bit regarding the the diversity that is trans.  Talk shows, documentaries, dramas – the ‘trans’ people in these are almost always transsexuals.  It’s not so much ‘wrong’ as it is inaccurate – holding up only one example from any group of people ultimately does a disservice to that group.  It serves to silence the other voices in that group.
When will be the ‘right time’ for the rest of us?  Is is *after* a stereotype has been indelibly burnt into people’s minds?  After policy is in place that excludes us?  Is there a reason not to speak of us as a whole as opposed to just the top layer of the de facto hierarchy?  In my simplistic view of things, what is so advanced about the idea that we are all people going to work, supporting our families, paying our taxes, and making money for our employers – and as such, we are entitled to the same consideration?
I’ll attend the event and listen to the discussion. Twelve years ago, when I ‘joined’ the trans community, there never would have been any such discussion – so I want to hear what the HR types have to say: what their plans are for supporting ‘gender identity and expression’ in the workplace.  I’m curious to see how ‘I’ will be represented, as it is the same representation that was there twelve years ago.
Perhaps I’ll be surprised…
Perhaps I’ll be surprised… Or not.

There is a panel discussion coming up on gender identity and expression in the workplace.  It is being hosted by a large investment bank and should be interesting.  I was asked if I had any suggestions for the panel and I offered to ‘tell my tale’ if they thought there was some value in it.  I like to think that what I did and where I did it is something a bit unique, and as another investment bank was hosting, it seemed like a good fit. Read More »

The Cost of Doing Business

n.b.: I first wrote this in October of 2008 and it’s been kicking around my drive since then. Six months later, things are only marginally different. The anxiety I felt then is still there – I am simply learning to live with it.

It was never my plan – this thing I do at work: it just sort of happened. One day, about eight years ago, I just started dressing ‘differently’ at work. It was small things: pants, a shirt, my shoes – nothing dramatic: one thing here and there. But as time went on, I pushed things more and more – and my appearance became more androgynous. I waited for someone to comment, but they never did. And while I never openly discussed what I was doing, I knew it hadn’t gone unnoticed. Somehow, I managed to ‘express my gender’ in a way that made me feel good – and I did it in one of the more conservative of corporate environments: at a Wall Street investment bank. Read More »

Just Another Day

Here it comes, another lonely day, playing the game. I’ll sail away on a voyage of no return to see if eternal life is meant to be and if I find the key to the eternal dream…

I could find hundreds of lyrics and quotes to express my feelings and still it would only scratch the surface. I feel at times to be buried so deeply that there no surface through which to break – Or, it is there, but covered with a thick layer of ice – allowing glimpses of a sanctuary, all the while keeping it well out of my grasp.

Read More »

Wanting what I have

My wife and I don’t talk. Not that we’re silent around one another, but we don’t talk about important things – things which when left unsaid only serve to widen the gap between us. We don’t talk about sex – who’s satisfied, who’s not. We don’t talk about my transness – at least not seriously. I consciously withold on this for fear of upsetting her – for fear of losing her. Every day, in the back of my mind, is the thought that today might be the day when she tells me she’s had enough of this and that it’s over. Read More »

No beach to walk on

There are many things about which I do not allow myself the luxury of contemplation. I keep these things tucked away in the back of my thoughts, covered with whatever I can find in the hopes that they will remain forever hidden from me. I do this because to consider these things – to bring them into the forefront of my thoughts – is simply too painful. They become too much of a distraction – to the point where they will occupy the majority of my thoughts. They become an almost deafening noise in my head – and once released, they are difficult to re-capture and once again tuck away. And so I bury them – as deeply as possible – in the hopes that they never again see the light of day. Read More »

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