Sunday, 6 April 2014

Quick notes on non-cis life

Owning up to your past is almost impossible. Whatever you say will very likely be twisted into something unrecognizable that'll fit into cissexist conception of what you are.

Relating to cis people is highly complicated, as most cis people build their lives as mostly coherent, decades-long wholes; you've had two lives, one in closet, one in the open, and it's pretty hard to bring stuff from one to the other. Well, unless you're ok with being a freak and having yourself identified as one forever.

You don't really learn how to relate to the cis: in the beginning you have to lie both to other people and to yourself as convincingly as possible, in order to survive. How does one learn to relate to other people while doing that? One doesn't. You can stop the lie, but the years are permanently, forever gone. You don't get your childhood back. You don't get many of your formative years back - you just have to make do with what the lies and deceit gave you.

Yet stopping the lie is one of the most important things you can do.

Hanging out with the other, similarly marginalized people won't help much. Sure, they understand a lot, but what you've got in common with them is the trauma, the bile, the hate, the hurt. Who wants to center her life around that? Not me.

You might end up alone. It's still better than lying and deceit, and it's also better than wallowing in your trauma.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Yael Bartana's upcoming movie, True Finn

I won't be writing about this at length, as I don't have the time, but a single quote should suffice.

A Finnish-Québécois man states, in an interview (in Finnish, sorry): "Finland is prejudiced. I stumble constantly into expectations of what I should look like and how I should behave. I get to hear often that I can't be a Finn because I don't look like one. Then they try to find a suitable box to fit me into. A box that can be called anything but Finn.

Search-and-replace "Finnish" with woman, and "Québécois" with "trans".

The movie screens in Bio Rex, in Helsinki, on 31st of March. It sounds like it'll be brilliant.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

I'd like to leave this trans crap well alone, but it won't leave me

Here's what, you Good People:

  • I'm not your, or anyone else's, badge of tolerance
  • neither I'm a collectible item to add to your collection of "different" friends that you can then parade in front of people you want to impress with your, I dunno, breadth of humans you know. Should you do this to me, let me assure you you're no friend. Friends don't objectify their friends.
  • I'm not different, unique, or anything else special. I'm a normal human being who's had incredibly strange things happen to her.
  • Aaaand finally bugger all this trans shit. Shove it where the sun doesn't shine and leave it there.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Carto's guide to doctors treating trans women

It can be summed up in two words: be careful, and please try to warn before you ask about really intimate stuff. Genitalia and trans, for example, being "really intimate stuff".

There's a background to this, obviously; I got a nice, yummy cystitis the other day (die e. coli, die) and had to see a doctor. My usual GP wasn't around (bless him, he needs his vacations, too), and so I took the first doctor I could get. Now, as I'm sure y'all know, cystitis means an infection is having a party in your urethra, you need to pee like mad and it stings and it's all very nasty, really. You need to see a doctor. DIY-ing is not an option, even though cranberry juice can help. You don't want any nasties in your urethra, and you definitely don't want them in your kidneys. And also, you having a trans background, it might be it's got something to do with surgeries - not very likely if it's been years and years, but it might; and the doctor sure as hell won't know, unless you 'fess up.

Trouble is, I hate explaining my background to people. It's a vile affair, and there's no way to make it comfortable to me. So. When the doctor asks me (he's very polite and affable and all) if I'm on any meds, I tell him I'm on HRT. I take a calculated emotional risk. He proceeds to ask the specific meds (I start getting uneasy at this point because I can tell where this is headed, right there, right then) - I tell, and start cursing silently to myself for telling. He then proceeds to ask me if this is because of trans. Which feels just about horrible, and I feel like I've been stripped naked against my will. I fumble on about it, get the prescription for an antibiotic (well duh, an UTI is an UTI, and my symptoms fit the description to a T).

Afterwards, I feel violated. Yes, I know, I'm sensitive, but blow me, I am. And I don't feel that's really to be faulted; I've had to explain this trans stuff against my will to a number of doctors in order to get the treatment I needed. It's one pact with the devil - yeah, you get the treatment you desperately need, but the price is that you need to play by their rules, and the rules for women brand you as trans: slightly off-the-rocker, pathetic/deceiving (take your pick, girl!) mental case. This seems to be considered as a permanent feature, even when you've gotten all the treatment you wanted and no longer fit the diagnostic criteria.

I took up this experience (it wasn't an experience from hell, but it was nasty - I'm not used to being identified as trans without my prior consent; the last time it's happened must've been, I dunno, like a decade ago. Yes, I'm one lucky, and healthy, bitch.) with him later that day, and sent him an e-mail describing my experience of the visit. He called back, explained stuff and, well, he's ok in my books now.

In retrospect, what I think he could've done differently is at least give me a warning he's going to ask me an extremely personal question. That might've given me some time and mental space to prepare myself. My rationale for this is that there's really no universal solution to asking about genital configuration; while I'm able to produce more-or-less precise information on mine, I'm pretty sure most people aren't. A question about genital configuration would simply be unintelligible to them, and asking, point blank, if you've got a penis, a vulva or something else is potentially just as invasive (or maybe even more) than asking someone about trans. I would prefer such questions, but I'm pretty sure many more people couldn't take it. And there's no way for the doctor to tell as far as I understand it.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Bibliography

Books I've read during my life as trans that have actually helped:

Practice

Kate Bornstein: Gender Outlaw. Yes. Aunty Kate. I didn't quite agree with her back then, and I certainly don't agree with her now, but yes, it did help. It made me see that I could shake off the coercively assigned sex/gender, that it was a possibility.

Riki Wilchins: Read My Lips. The same could be said of Riki that can be said of Kate; see above. This book was, and is, much more of the blood-and-guts -variety than Gender Outlaw; it's also better. Through it, I found out my pain wasn't unique, that I shared a lot of it with other trans women.

Riki Wilchins and Joan Nestle: Genderqueer. See above.

Julia Serano: Whipping Girl. It's no longer cutting edge, and there's plenty to criticise, but boy did it cut edge back when it was published.

Glenn Schiraldi: PTSD Workbook. Especially chapter on managing anger, plus several others.

Theory

Susan Stryker: My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage.

Donna Haraway: Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century. (Oh yeah, I'm a bit of a commie, me)

Monique Wittig. One sentence: "Lesbians are not women." It's hard to overestimate the importance of this; it opened my mind to understand that when you drop the sex/gender binary, sexes and genders and sexualities mix in new and unexpected ways. This sentence made me view sexualities through the lens of sex/gender, and sexualities do make a lot more sense to me that way.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Carto's Seal of Approval

This is not a bad article on issues trans. It is from a cis perspective, by a (presumably cis) journalist Jesse Green, and it's not perfect, but hey, you've got to start somewhere, and you could do a lot worse than this. Ignore the cringeworthy heading.

http://nymag.com/news/features/transgender-children-2012-6/

(The comment thread is full of fail, as per usual. Avoid.)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Closet

(This is not a guide for the cis. For that, please use Google, DuckDuckGo or whichever tickles your fancy)

"Closet" actually works, but it doesn't work the way gay people tend to think it does. I was closeted when I pretended to be a guy. I'm out now - no longer pretending to be something I'm not.

There's something else, too. I've actively dismantled the closet as much as I've been able to. I'd burn it down to complete oblivion if I could, but as it is, other people won't let me. They refuse to completely destroy the documentation identifying me as a male, or to completely rewrite it, for example (data integrity, identifying, blah-de-blah). Every time someone wants to interrogate me about my past (it doesn't happen very often, thankfully), that someone basically wants to re-erect a closet for me and, if not push me back there entirely, still remind me about the closet other people forced me to. The one I've done my damnedest to demolish.

What I think this all boils down to is that the majority doesn't want to admit to its mistake in sexing/gendering babies. The fact is, such errors happen, and there's plenty of us living proofs. The majority just needs to get over it, and start correcting its errors. Sans hand-wringing, please.