Archive for the queer Category

Why I am “Transgendered”

Posted in about me, political, queer on 12.23.09 by Maalik

Note: The views I express are mine alone and should be considered as a voice within the transgender community rather than the voice of the community itself. I can speak only of my own experiences. This is true for this entire blog, but I think it is especially important to note in this post.

The way I view myself as a trans person would usually characterize me as a “transexual”– I am a man and have been a man for as long as I’ve been alive; for me, my trans status is more akin to a medical condition than an identity. Despite this, I prefer to identify as “transgendered.” I’ve tried to figure out why I do not refer to myself as transexual. While I dislike the gender binary, I am perfectly content to live within the male box and  I don’t think of myself as particularly gender-transgressive.

What I’ve found is that, like many transgendered people, I see a flaw with the definition and usage of “sex.” I am male-bodied and will be whether or not I make any effort to “masculinize” my body. I wasn’t born in the wrong body; I was a boy born in a male body in a society where “male” was wrongly defined. For me, top surgery is like pectoral implants than heart surgery– my body does not necessarily need correction in its present form.

This isn’t to say that transitioning isn’t necessary. The disphoria I experience with my chest is very real and very serious. But it does mean that, were I able to live comfortably with my present body, there would be nothing to fix. For me, transitioning isn’t about altering my body to make it more male, it’s about altering my body to make it more comfortable.

Transgendered man, transsexual man, man with a trans history… honestly, the specific label I’m given within the trans community doesn’t really matter to me. But if I have to choose, I’ll go with “transgendered” because I’m as much about redefining gender roles for society as a whole as I am about adhering to them for myself.

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Trans Bodies

Posted in about me, queer, rants on 10.09.09 by Maalik

Potentially triggering.

The first person I came out to was a counselor at school. She forced it out of me, and then followed by asking if I “had male genitalia.” Being a distressed fifteen year old I answered her question, but looking back, the incident makes me feel sick.

A high school counselor asked a fifteen year old student what his genitalia looked like. In any other situation that would be inappropriate at best, but because of my trans status it didn’t even occur to her that there could be anything wrong with it. Disgusting.

Somehow the bodies of trans people have become public property. And even though it’s been extensively blogged about before, it’s different when it happens to you. I feel uncomfortable making comparisons to assault, I don’t know if I have the right, but I can’t help but feel like I was assaulted. I was fifteen, she was in a position of dominance, and I was made to feel uncomfortable because of her actions. I still feel guilty about not doing anything, not standing my ground. And I feel exposed because someone coerced information she had no right to.

I hate how one’s trans status negates any sense of human decency towards him– even kids. I can’t think of the abhorrent words of several KRXQ radio hosts. Or of people who are so enraged by our existence that they are driven to murder. When will others realize that before anything else, we are human beings?

On Covering

Posted in books, political, queer, reference on 08.13.09 by Maalik

“Everyone covers. To cover is to tone down a disfavored identity to fit into the
main stream. In our diverse society, all of us are outside the mainstream in
some way […] every reader of this book has covered, whether consciously or not,
and sometimes at significant personal cost.”

I recently finished Covering by Kenji Yoshino. The book describes how society pressures minority groups to assimilate into majority culture in three basic ways: conversion, passing, and covering. Writes Yoshino, “If conversion divides ex-gays from gays, and passing divides closeted gays from out gays, covering divides normal from queers.”

Conversion is to change one’s self. To become straight if you are gay. Passing concerns hiding those properties. You may be gay, but you must hide that part of you.
Covering deals more with behavior. You can be gay, you can even engage in gay activities, but you must do it in a way that is not “gay.” Calls for gays to stop “flaunting” their sexuality are demands for covering.

Yoshino writes that covering follows four axies. Appearence deals with how a person physically presents himself; African Americans, for instance, are often eshewed from wearing their hair in natural styles such as dreadlocks or braids. Affiliation deals with cultural identification; a gay man may refuse to discuss gay culture. Activism encompasses one’s political identity; a woman who refuses to identify as a feminist. Finally, association deals with the relationships one forms; a trans person who only has cis friends.

Conversion and passing are considered wrong because they are either impossible or impractical. But covering is seen as a legitimate request because it involves behavior, specifically the behavior of a minority group. Yoshino points out that courts generally side with calls for covering; women are asked to wear (or not wear) make-up because it is their behavior, and not their selves, which is being asked to change.

Yoshino also mentions that not every instance of non-traditional cultural behavior is covering. A gay man who likes sports may simply enjoy sports, such intersts are not inherently acts of covering.

In what ways have you found yourself covering? Both as a transgender person and as a person of your assigned sex (or in some other way). What “covering” behaviors are simply a result of your personality and interests? Did/do you ever wish to convert or feel the pressure to pass?

On "Female Socialization"

Posted in about me, femininity, life, political, queer on 08.13.09 by Maalik

Recently, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea that trans men were socialized as women. I’ve always identified as a transguy, the trans connected to guy, because my experience as a man is influenced by the years I lived as a girl. I know it’s different for everyone, but I’ve come to realize that I never had that experience. To say that I was socialized as a woman is inaccurate; because I’ve never really had that experience.

This comes up a lot when others consider trans men a “different kind” of man or assume that because of our female upbringing, we are less misogynistic than our cis counterparts. They wrongly presume that because we are female-bodied, we experience life like a “traditional” (heterosexual, cis, femme) female and that this experience translates into a more understanding position. For me, and for many of us, this simply isn’t true. I’ve had to fight against my own misogyny, caused both by the desire to be seen as “manly” and by scorn towards the gender that wrongly embraced me.

I don’t know what it’s like catcalled, because it’s never happened to me. I don’t know the fear of walking alone at night, because I’m usually the one who is feared. When I speak, others listen to and respect what I have to say– and I recognize that these are privileges that most females don’t have. For all intents and purposes, I was socialized as a man; I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.

I will admit that I am often mistaken for a butch lesbian, but even that doesn’t carry the same value as being perceived as a “traditional” woman. In my limited experience, butch lesbians are given much of the same respect that men recieve– they are seen as knowledgable about sports, vehicles, and traditionally masculine things while being sheilded from sexual advances. The descrepency comes in dealings with sexuality, where butch women become the gay minority. For me, even when I was perceived as a woman, I was treated like a man.

My sex does influence gender; as a female I have to navigate the medical community in much the same way that a woman does. But my sex does not inherently make me more knowledgable about a woman’s experience or more understanding to women’s issues. My sex influences my gender in much the way that my race or sexuality do; certainly, they play a role in my gender, but no more a role than anything else. I am not a blackman, but a black man. Not a queerman, but a queer man. And no longer a transman, but a trans man.

Website Update

Posted in life, queer, reference on 03.19.09 by Maalik

I promise I’ll write an opinion post (or two!) within the next week, but right now I have an update on the website I spoke about earlier. It’s here! I’ve finished the basic structure of the site and am now working on content.

Here’s where I need your help– a big portion of the website is dedicated for guides about everything from choosing a name to being a trans ally. I don’t have experience with all of these things and nor am I up for writing a ton of guides. I’m looking for people to submit guides related to trans issues. How you write and what you write about is completely up to you, so leave a comment if you’d like to contribute.

Also, part of the site is a multi-author blog and I’m looking for some contributors who can write once a week or so. I want transmasculine people of all identities, partners, friends, and families, so if you or anyone you know fits the bill and would like to blog let me know.

Expansion

Posted in queer, reference on 03.14.09 by Maalik

I’m looking into expanding this blog. Ideally, this would become a resource for younger transmasculine people with basic information for transitioning, presenting, etc. and also personal experience from other guys. Right now I’m only looking to move the page to its own url and to add a few more bloggers. In the future, though, I’d like to make the site more interactive and include guides that go beyond basic tips.

Leave a comment if you would be interested in contributing to this project as a blogger or in some other way. If you know of anyone who would be interested, send them my way as well. I’m looking for transmasculine people of all stages and identities as well as SOFFAs.

This is Awful

Posted in queer, rants on 03.11.09 by Maalik

I don’t know what sickens me more, the event or the comments. I don’t understand how someone can do something like this and think that it’s okay.