Transgender Truth

Trans folk may not be what, or who, you think they are.

If you have a trans friend, I commend you. If you have a trans family member, I commiserate with you. If you, yourself, are trans, I support you.

However, many people may never have met anyone who is transgendered. There are so many misconceptions out there, so much fear, and so many lies.

For instance, so many many people I know think being transgendered is a lifestyle choice or something you do on a whim.

Did you know it’s actually a medical condition?  Researchers are beginning to see evidence that it is indeed possible to have a brain with the structure of one sex, in the body with the structure of the other sex. Because of biology and hormone balance, it is more common for male babies to be born with a female brain than vice versa. The cause seems to be hormone fluctuations that can sometimes happen during pregnancy.

The result then, is someone who feels, deep inside themselves, that they are one gender – because their brain is built that way – while their body is shaped another way. Some people who are transgendered are also intersex, where their body has both male and female sexual characteristics, but their inner sense of themselves differs from the arbitrary decision their doctor or their parents made at birth.

Bottom line: in many cases, a transgendered person has a valid and measurable medical reason behind their decision to take on a role as the opposite sex. It is a decision that only comes after much soul searching, it is not a whim or a snap decision, it is not a fetish, and it is not a lifestyle choice.

 

Transsexuals versus crossdressers

A crossdresser is someone who dresses as the opposite sex, for enjoyment or for many other reasons, but who still identifies as their birth sex. A transsexual is someone who was born as one sex but is changing to another. They may or may not have had surgery.

 

Sex versus Gender

Sex is what your body is shaped like. Gender is how you feel inside.

 

Problems with restroom access

Something that most people don’t know is that people who are going through gender transition are often required to be on hormones and live exclusively as their desired gender for at least a year before getting surgery.

If we think about this, it’s easy to see that forcing someone to use the bathroom of their birth sex could be quite problematic. This would require someone who is dressed as a woman, is passing quite well, and is doing everything like a woman, to use the men’s room anyway. This is a recipe for beatings and even murders. Meanwhile, if she had quietly used the women’s room, sat in the stall as she always did, By the way, she might have been doing that for months or years – without causing alarm or trouble. She doesn’t want trouble, she just wants to use the bathroom, like any woman.

Surgery is difficult, painful and expensive. Hormones are expensive and can be dangerous if mishandled. Doctors sometimes refuse to treat trans patients. So for those who say “why don’t they just get it over with and finish the process?” please consider that the person in question may want, very badly, to finish – but be unable to. It’s harder to get a job when you are trans, after all, and there are a lot of social roadblocks. Jokes about trans folk are common, there are few legal protections, and people die every day for being trans.

Because of the way she’s routinely treated, I know a trans woman who often says “we are the last niggers in America.”

 

Are transgendered people dangerous?

No. Nothing about having gender dysphoria makes you any more unstable than any other person. Statistically speaking, heterosexual-identified males are the most likely to predators, whether of children or otherwise. People who are trans may actually have more compassion than others because they are so frequently mistreated.

 

Can gender dysphoria be cured another way, such as through prayer?

No. It can’t. Gender dysphoria can be suppressed for a period of time as a person denies it and tries to meet societal expectations of who they should be. Many people try to be ultra masculine or ultra feminine in an effort to “be who they should be” before realizing that they truly are the other gender inside, and it’s not just a phase. Methods of treatment that don’t involve a transition usually result in depression at the best, suicide at the worst.
What trans people want

It’s a large subject and impossible to speak for everyone, but in general, trans folk just want the same rights everyone else has. They don’t want special rights, they just want to live normal lives. The goal of most trans women, for example, is to simply be a woman – not to be specially privileged, but deserving of the same respect everyone else gets.

 

What trans people are not

Trans people are NOT interested in “converting” your kids, and being trans is not contagious. They aren’t dangerous or unstable and many have incredible amounts of self knowledge. In general, they are not perverts. They are also not necessarily gay. They usually aren’t “confused” either.

 

How to refer to transgendered people

Individual tastes differ. You can say “a transgendered person” or “transgendered,” but never “a transgender.” Similarly, “a transie” can sometimes be an affectionate descriptor, but never “a tranny.” A tranny is a part off a car, not a person, and it’s usually very offensive. “Transsexual” is also usually appropriate.

 

Ways to support a trans person

First, treat them as the gender they present as. If you are confused about pronouns, just ask. Avoid asking a bunch of intrusive questions unless they have showed they are comfortable about it. Other than that, just talk – enjoy their company, treat them as a person. Most trans folk don’t want to center their life around their transition, they have other interests, skills, loves, dreams. Above all, just treat a trans person like… a person.

 

How you can help

I know this post has been long, and the people who need to read it probably won’t. Even if you never donate to a trans friendly charity or help a trans person directly, though, you can be educated about the subject and gently correct wrong assumptions and incorrect facts along the way. Also, parents, please teach your children that staring and making inappropriate comments is not polite and can hurt people.

I would truly appreciate it if anyone chooses to share or forward this blog entry, it may be copied and duplicated in excerpt or in part by anyone as long as the original intent of support is maintained. Thank you for caring enough to read this!

Poem: Monsoon

A brilliant branch
cracks down,
plasma booming.
It roars, reaches,
and crashes again.

Pregnant clouds play catch
with balls of rolling thunder.
Rooster tails of water spray.
and water fills the air
till it can hold no more.

The blood-warm mist
and steam wraps my skin.
I drink the wine
of the new mown lawn,
taste the rich
mesquite-green wind.

 

 

 

Invictus: teaching myself to be strong

 

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.                                                        -William Ernest Henley

 

This poem is truly inspiring to me. Though it seems a bit trite because it’s been quoted so often, it shows me a better, stronger, more enduring path to walk in life. At times I think “am I lying to myself? My head has been bowed by circumstance plenty of times, I have been an incredible coward.”

However, reading this poem and learning it is not about honesty – it’s about replacing old thoughts with new. It’s about convincing myself that the old way of doing things is wrong, that there’s a better way. It acknowledges that life is tough but I can make it. It gives me good, strong, positive thoughts to fasten on, so that when a weak, cowardly thought comes up, there’s something to stand up against it. In effect, it’s “perseverance practice.”

The only things I have done in my life that were worthwhile, happened because I didn’t give up. Invictus is a poem about not giving up. I wish I had learned this poem as a kid. I wonder if I would have been stronger?

Is there a poem or quote that you use to become a better person?

Thumbnail Appeal

 

For art to impress, it’s helpful if it readily catches the viewer’s eye.

If you have your work scanned in on the computer, looking at the file thumbnails is an excellent way of quickly seeing what an art viewer sees as they pass by.

A similar effect can be had by putting the painting or drawing across the room from you and glancing at it quickly.   This is how you can truly tell if your work has good contrast and interesting composition.

What pops out at you?  What is the first thing that you see?  Is that the main focal point of your work, or can you think of ways to make the art more impactful?

 

 

Discovery

 

 

How customer service taught me to “be a lady.”

When I was little, sometimes I’d hear “that’s not ladylike,” or “be a lady.” I usually got a negative impression of that. I didn’t watch TV as a child, so I thought all “ladies” were like the women at church – rather timid, rather limited, and rarely doing anything interesting. I surely didn’t want to be that! It wasn’t till later that I discovered women really could do interesting things, as I learned about Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride and Joan of Arc, and eagerly read stories about Athena and Artemis. Still, these women weren’t portrayed as “ladylike” and so I still thought being a lady was for the birds.

In a way, I still do – but I’m changing.

Enter the wonderful world of customer service. I went from a completely clueless tech support rep who could barely clear cache and cookies and was awash in a sea of things I couldn’t control, to a competent CSR, and eventually a knowledge expert who was training other people. During that time I learned a lot about being a lady.

I learned that it was just as okay to let the door be held for me as it was to hold the door for others. I learned to accept help with nearly as much grace as I gave it. This kind of work drilled me to always, always, always say please and thank you. I learned how to be calm and polite, even friendly, no matter how loudly the other was yelling, and how much power that gave me. A true lady’s grace under pressure lets her overcome as many challenges as a true gentleman’s strength.

A wiser, older coworker of mine once said, “a lady can do absolutely anything she wants to. But that doesn’t mean she has to.”

Once rather uncomfortable with the courtesy that is traditionally given women, I learned that it was important to accept that courtesy – how else can we give men practice at being gentlemen? Being a lady doesn’t mean you are not allowed to do certain things, but it is a role that ultimately makes the world a gentler place to live in. I could get out of my airplane (I did eventually learn to fly) and walk to a door, smile nicely at the man who held it and thank him, then confidently go in to the hangar and ask the mechanics for a quart of oil and a red rag. There’s nothing unladylike about that!

I realized recently that my main problem with “being a lady” was connotations related to the word itself. Ladyship could be a position of grace and strength, much like being a gentlemen. Whether you are a lady or gentleman, it means you are strong, mentally and hopefully physically, can stay cool under pressure, are resourceful, keep yourself neat and clean, and know how to talk to people graciously. It means you have respect for other people and yourself. It has no bearing on what you do for a living. Being a gentleman or a lady is a state of mind.

We live in an amazing time. Women and men have more freedom than ever. At the same time, we can pass along old fashioned customs of politeness, not because they are a duty, but because they are a joy.

Amelia: not just another Airhead!

It’s become fashionable in some circles to remember Amelia Earhart as a somewhat flaky, irresponsible aviatrix who is mostly famous because she got lost. She is often portrayed in movies and books as somewhat irresponsible, even a dilettante.

This is far from the truth. Amelia Earhart was a tireless champion of women’s rights. She wasn’t just about flying, either. She constantly tried to help young women enter fields of math, science, engineering, and other traditionally male dominated roles. She studied hard in school, tried to learn as much science as she could, and even picked a high school based on the science programs available there. She earned most of the money for her flying career and took many jobs, sometimes two or three at a time, to pay for it.

She worked as a nurse’s aide during the aftermath of world war I, she worked for the phone company at one point, she drove a gravel truck, she was an author, she worked as a social worker in a settlement house as well as many other jobs. At one point she drove across the country in a two seat sports car at a time before the interstate system was even in place. She learned to fly multiengine aircraft, set numerous records, and flew a type of aircraft called an autogyro across the country as well.

Once, she was in position to win an air race but another pilot had cracked up their airplane. Instead of continuing on to win, she saved the other pilot’s live and then got back in the air to win second place. She was more interested in doing the right thing than winning the prize money.

She got together with Charles Lindbergh, and started America’s first airline, TAT. It went through many evolutions and name changes and eventually became Delta Airlines.

Yes, Amelia took advantage of publicity. She used it as a tool to try to advance the cause of women. She did some stunt flying for fun, and some to prove that women could. She supported other female pilots and helped create an organization for them, called the 99s. She encouraged people to follow their dreams and not be limited by their sex or social position.

She wasn’t the best pilot, nor did she claim to be. She loved what she did and she wanted other people to love what they did, too. The more I have learned about her, the more inspired I have become. She didn’t hold herself above people or claim to be the greatest, instead she tried to inspire people so that they could join her in the sky.

 

The Bravest Kitten

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One night, my partner and I were sitting around home, minding our own business, when we heard a kitten crying.

Cat lovers that we are, we immediately went to investigate.  Out there in the dark was a tiny kitten, yowling pitifully, calling to us for help but obstinately not letting us near. We tried for quite some time to capture her. All we could see was a little ball of fluff.  Loud fluff.  The yowling continued, and she mewed all night under my partner’s window.

In the morning I went out and found the ball of fluff under our overgrown jungle of tea roses. I got the loppers and worked my way in, eventually freeing the kitten. She was starved, she’d been bitten, she was long haired, and she was calico. Big greenish yellow eyes looked into mine. She was even having trouble walking. There was only one thing to be done…. I liberated the box the TV had come in, put bedding and a water dish in the bottom, and waited for the partner to get home so I could go get kitten chow.

 

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We figured out that this flea infested little waif had apparently left her mother and litter-mates, crossed two yards with mean dogs in them and had come specifically to us. As if she knew we would be the ones to harbor her. She was right… we held her and carried her practically around the clock until she could maintain her own body temperature, rid her of the fleas, fed her well, cared for her leg till it healed, and defended her when our senior cat hissed until he finally accepted her as an adopted daughter. He helped raise her to a fine figure of a feline.

 

Mouse Dec 14 small

Cassiopeia Dawn, nicknamed Mouse, is now a rather rotund, sassy queen cat. Now that her adoptive “father” is gone she is boss cat of the house. She throws stuffed mice, wraps her curly tail around your wrist in response to pettings, and pats your knee when you haven’t paid her enough attention. She’s come so far from that starving kitten she was, eight years ago. She’s returned our love many times over. We wouldn’t trade her for anything.

It’s really true… one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

 

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