I think there’s something very positive about being trans.
April 1, 2018 11:15 AM   Subscribe

a lot of great advice..

maybe not #10 so much, it's transphobic. if a trans person has to be 'bolshy' it's probably because they've been experiencing a lot of invalidation in their lives. don't assume anyone's pronouns, ever, use non-gendered language if you don't know and inquire at the next opportunity. make it a habit in all introductions to include pronouns -- all of 'em. leave space in conversations so that you're not assuming anyone's identity and allow them to assert as much or as little as they wish.

better advice than "shut up vocal trans ppl, everyone else reinforce an environment of persistent microaggressions"

forgive me i'll finish the rest of the article after i destress for a minute
posted by polyhedron at 12:13 PM on April 1, 2018 [13 favorites]

I've gone back to my usual invisible state but yesterday was interesting since one of my tweets went sorta viral due to @meakoopa.

Bravo to loquacious for posting a trans-related FPP. I hope cis folks can read and digest and listen before composing their comments.

I skipped to #10 because polyhedron mentioned it. I can sort of understand where she's coming from, but I think that in order to be less "bolshy" out of the gate you have to get to a certain point in your transition where being transgender isn't the foremost aspect of your identity. There is an immediate shock at the loss of privilege when people transition and I think lots of the confrontational attitude is a result of that. You also need a certain amount of mental health and emotional reserves. Some days I can be patient with cis screwups and ignorant questions. Some days I don't have the spoons so I avoid cis people that day.
posted by AFABulous at 12:28 PM on April 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

sidenote: when you scroll down, the next article is about trans man Jaimie Wilson, who is super nice and humble and a good musician. I met him last year at Milwaukee's PrideFest.
posted by AFABulous at 12:32 PM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't personally think 10 is that transphobic, but the bolshy side comment is kind of shitty, yes.

Remember that these are individual perspectives - like yours.

My interpretation of #10 barring any other clues or information presentation is a good place to start with pronouns out of respect for presentation, and if in doubt, ask.

Also, for trans people to be patient with the people in your life about pronouns or changes. Even people that are trans themselves or people that are fully supportive trans allies can struggle with pronouns and names because it's so deeply ingrained into our language and communications.

I trip up hard on neutral pronouns all the time, and for whatever reason I find binary pronouns easier. This is weird and frustrating to me because I'm pretty good at using the more clinical or third person non-specific pronouns in writing and language.

I know things are frustrating - often much more frustrating than I've dealt with in my personal life, so far - but personally I don't think it helps anyone if someone misgenders me I lash out about it - especially if they're an ally, or worse, someone who is actually a friend in my life.

Personally I don't (can't) feel the same way you do about a strict, bright line in the sand, because it seems inflexible to me. I mean, this assumes a lot of things like the person is visibly trans or variant or whatever, and I don't think that maps to people who are deep stealth and passing or whatever who would likely be distressed by being identified as trans or gender variant at all.

And not in a self-transphobic way, but that their identity is that concrete and immutable. Their ID isn't trangender at all. Transgender was the medical condition they treated to affirm their gender identity.

What matters to me is intent and the meaning of the words behind it. I don't really what anyone calls me as long as it's friendly.

Granted, my friends and care team have been very good at checking in and asking me what I would prefer, and the answer still is "I don't know, and because it's easy, the current ones are fine. I'll let you know when I figure it out."

And I will acknowledge I have privileges I'm still mapping out and trying to be more aware of.
posted by loquacious at 12:45 PM on April 1, 2018 [14 favorites]

I read #10 as being blind to one's own privilege and saying "We'd be treated better if we stopped antagonizing cis people" which, well, is something I'm sure many of us have experienced from other trans people.
posted by hoyland at 12:50 PM on April 1, 2018 [11 favorites]

Also, I'd love for this to be a discussion thread and airing of voices and perspectives like this.

I've been doing a lot more thinking about trans and gender identity issues and politics. A whole lot more than I thought I would be doing on philosophical and metaphysical levels. (Not woo metaphysics.)

I've had lazy plans for turning my camera at myself to document everything I could with the idea of an art show or book, but it's also been profoundly uncomfortable because I really hate being in front of the camera. It's also very technically difficult to pull off higher level portrait/studio photography on my budget even if I wasn't so uncomfortable in front of the camera, but it's proven essentially impossible to take photos of myself that have a really doofy expression as I'm nerding out on the tech side of things.

But as usual apparently I have a lot more words than anything else.

/me backs gently away from threadsitting to go for a bike ride or poke in the garden for a while
posted by loquacious at 12:54 PM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, for trans people to be patient with the people in your life about pronouns or changes. Even people that are trans themselves or people that are fully supportive trans allies can struggle with pronouns and names because it's so deeply ingrained into our language and communications.

Using incorrect pronouns or names is a microaggression no matter the intent. Regardless of the intent, it feels like a needle poke to me. I'm fine if the person catches themselves and apologizes, but many times they don't even after I've corrected them. That's just rude. If you step on someone's toe, you apologize whether you meant to do it or not.

Three years post-transition, my parents are at about 90% on pronouns and 100% on name, but wow it was a slog and there were times I got really angry and stopped speaking to them. It's disrespectful, flat out. I changed my last name when I got married and they never screwed that up once, so "forgetting" is bullshit.

I'm glad other people can be more patient. It's definitely a YMMV thing. But I am not going to spend much time convincing others to respect me as a person. They have to come to that conclusion on their own.
posted by AFABulous at 1:11 PM on April 1, 2018 [30 favorites]

Yeah, I also often wonder about the limits of patience. I've been out to my coworkers the entire (3+ years) time I've been at my job, and most of them are still messing up my pronouns and cheerfully saying, "I just don't know when I'll get it right, hope you'll be patient with me!", and at some point it really stops being OK, but I'm not sure where that point should fall.
posted by ITheCosmos at 1:17 PM on April 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

I think it's important for cis people to understand that being an ally isn't about getting names or pronouns right or following some set of rules. More than anything, it's about knowing when to speak up and when to keep your mouth shut and being gracious when you fuck it up.

But if you do want a new rule to follow, please don't assume that trans people want to transition, move on with their lives and never speak of it again. Some people want that, and that's their prerogative. But when cis people assume that's what trans people want, you're telling us that being trans is shameful, something to be moved past.
posted by hoyland at 1:31 PM on April 1, 2018 [29 favorites]

My big goal for ally-ship this year is to get the all single-user bathroom at my institution explicitly made gender-neutral, but it’s a slog, partly due to state regulations about bathroom parity for gender and disability (which is important, but they seem to think that gender-neutral bathrooms sort of... disappear?) but more so because the Administration doesn’t see it as much of an issue. Anyway, I’ve made it my business to rattle doors and bug people. We’ll see what happens.

By the way, this isn’t me being great or anything; it’s being human and trying to fix a human problem. But it’s a useful thing for cis people to find an issue (by talking and listening to trans people, of course) and make it your crusade instead of just sort of “backing up” trans people when you notice there is a problem (which usually means there are more and worse problems that you’re oblivious to). I have a fair amount of privilege and prestige st my institution; I should put that to work without always waiting to be asked.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:19 PM on April 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

When I was in grad school the university had agreed in principle to the re-signing of single user, accessible bathrooms.* But you had to find the bathrooms yourself. There was no accurate accounting of bathrooms in university buildings. There was a sympathetic person in Facilities who had furnished a spreadsheet of all bathrooms, but there was no real information on size, accessibility or current signage. People would occasionally get together and do a survey, but mostly people would just stumble across random bathrooms.

A promise had also be extracted that all new or re-done university buildings would have a gender neutral bathroom, which they seemed to stick to, though finding it took some work. There was a new building where there was an icon for a gender neutral restroom on the legend of the map of the building, but it appeared nowhere on the map. Eventually, I realised that there was unmarked space on the third floor and went to look. Lo and behold, the gender neutral bathroom, accessible only by walking 90% of the way into the women's bathroom. (Imagine one of those bathrooms in an airport where you walk around a wall to get in (that's not quite the set up, but close enough). You know how sometimes there's a storage closet sort of in the entryway? Yeah, that was the gender neutral bathroom.)

*The key words being "in principle". Actually getting one changed was a protracted battle.
posted by hoyland at 5:46 PM on April 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

In my case, the building I spend most of my time in (roughly 250,000 ft2 across 4 floors, making it one of the largest on campus) has (off the top of my head) 18 Public bathrooms, 10 of which are multi-user. The remaining 8 are single occupancy, and the two most prominent have become gender-neutral (after some pushing). If we get the tensing 6 reassigned, that means 3 of the 4 floors will have gender-neutral bathrooms. In contrast, the main admin building has 8 single-user bathrooms, none of which currently are gender-neutral. My suspicion is that the majority of the restrooms on campus are multi-user, but we should be able to fix the easy stuff. My understanding is that it’s been trapped in committee for a while, and misinformation is rife. It’s going to be a slog, but it can be done. The trick will be to generate the will.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:01 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Single occupancy bathrooms are always filthy. I blame the kids.
posted by ikea_femme at 6:07 PM on April 1, 2018

I quite like Shon Faye's comment here:

Another thing is to just challenge transphobia wherever you see it. If you’re a gay man, try and challenge it in the queer community. If you’re a feminist, it’s about seeing where there is transphobia in feminist spaces. It’s about not letting the burden fall to trans people to always make the complaint because we often get the harshest backlash for challenging those things.

There's an element of asking everyone to consider their own social circles rather than looking outside. As a trans femme, nothing makes me feel more uncomfortable than cisgender men trying to call out transphobia in feminism. It's not that I don't appreciate the kindness, but it feels like this is something that cis women need to work out themselves. If they want feminist spaces to be inclusive, then it's kind of on them to do that work. That doesn't just mean calling out obvious TERFs, I think it has to extend to understanding how broad transmisogyny is and how it affects any assigned-male person displaying femininity. No more mocking feminine cis men. No more dude in a dress jokes. No more turning a blind eye to the fact that there is a lot of transmisogyny running through feminist thinking. No more using the "No True Feminist" argument as a way of evading responsibility. I can't see how any group other than cis women can address transmisogyny from cis women.
posted by saltbush and olive at 6:32 PM on April 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

How To Be A Good Ally:

* if some fucker misgenders a trans person, give them shit for it
* punch Nazis
* campaign for state health care because hormones ain’t cheap, let alone Assorted Surgeries, and a lot of trans people are broke as fuck
* if you see a trans friend for the first time in a while, compliment them on their awesome facial hair or boobies, as appropriate to their target gender
* if you have a trans friend who is aiming at your gender and you hear them muttering about the joys of trying to buy clothes and work out a style, take them to the thrift/vintage shop (especially if they are just beginning and are super scared about being caught shopping in The Wrong Part Of The Store), pass on anything you have that doesn’t work on you anymore but might fit them, help give them that accelerated course in How To Dress Like A Dude/Lady that they probably need

-signed, a trans lady
posted by egypturnash at 6:50 PM on April 1, 2018 [10 favorites]

Oh shit was today?
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:07 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dang it was yesterday?
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:08 PM on April 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

* campaign for state health care because hormones ain’t cheap, let alone Assorted Surgeries, and a lot of trans people are broke as fuck

This so much. At the very least we need non-discrimination laws, so insurance can't just deny trans coverage because they feel like it. In 37 states they can just say "yep, we'll cover Viagra but not your lifesaving hormone treatment because yuck trans people." In 23 states you either cannot change your birth certificate, or they require "sex reassignment surgery" first, which is inaccessible to most trans people (see previous sentence).

Bathroom access is important, but it bothers me that almost the entire public conversation has been about those and the military ban. People need to think about the whole scope of what we face and decide what we need to focus on first.

Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being Transgender in America
Pervasive discrimination and a lack of legal protections mean that transgender people struggle to find work and safe housing, face challenges updating critical identity documents, make less on the job, and have higher medical costs than their non-transgender peers.
I can only think of one local trans person I know who isn't living paycheck to paycheck, and that's because his father left him an inheritance. I had to make a choice between "don't use the men's room & keep your job, or fight the policy and get laid off." I've been out of work for a year. (It wasn't explicitly worded that way, of course, but that is what happened.) I don't regret standing up for myself, but my credit score sure does.

Anyway. Here is some homework for cis allies. When you go back to work tomorrow, look at your employee non-discrimination policy. Does it include the words "gender identity"? If not, find out why not. Talk to HR, I won't apply to a company that leaves out those words. For extra credit, suggest a diversity training specifically for trans people (NOT LGB, IT'S NOT THE SAME ISSUES). I know people who know people and I could probably help you find someone if you're in a major US city.
posted by AFABulous at 7:36 PM on April 1, 2018 [15 favorites]

* if you see a trans friend for the first time in a while, compliment them on their awesome facial hair or boobies, as appropriate to their target gender

but for the love of god, don't say anything like "if I didn't know you, I would never guess you were trans!"
posted by AFABulous at 7:38 PM on April 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I still find that validating. Should I not?
posted by ikea_femme at 8:50 PM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well, your feelings are valid, and you can tell your friends that makes you feel good. To me, it implies that my goal should be to look cis, because cis is better than trans, and if I look trans, I have failed in some way. I am still a man whether I'm short or tall, able to grow a beard or not, have breasts or not, have long "feminine" hair or not.

I am not interested in cis approval or validation along the cis vs. trans axis. I do like compliments that have nothing specific to do with being trans although they can be gendered. Perhaps my beard is nicely trimmed, or the new men's shoes I bought suit me well, my tie complements my shirt, etc. Those are compliments suitable for any man.

Trans friends are different. I'm happy to pull up my shirt and say LOOK AT MY BELLY HAIR to my close friends. They will comment on my surgery scars, or give me suggestions on a better haircut. I'm open to that (if we know each other IRL).

Like I said, you do whatever makes you feel good, I am not criticizing you in any way. I think we (trans people) should probably be cautious about telling cis people how they should act towards their trans friends, beyond basic respect. Obviously, we're not a monolithic group and need to be treated like individuals.
posted by AFABulous at 9:04 PM on April 1, 2018 [10 favorites]

An anecdote. For this year's international women's day, my organisation wanted to have a "Women in STEM" website profiling various achievements of women working for us. There were some issues with resourcing (outside anyone's control) and we were left stranded with no way to get any of it up. I'd been somewhat involved in this effort, but due to the rather delicate politics associated with trans feminine people, I'd been trying to stay in the background. However, we were about to end up in this situation where there would be nothing online, or if there were it would be something really poor that would only feed people's stereotypes about women in technical fields. This became an issue the night before IWD. I really didn't want to see this go badly. I bit the bullet, set all my own work aside, quickly taught myself bootstrap, purchased the domain and put together something reasonably decent that very closely mirrored the style being used in other organisational units. It worked okay, and from what I've heard it was appreciated by the higher ups. That felt really nice - I was able to contribute something and it was great to make use of the skill set that I do have to make a small difference. It didn't bother me that I was invisible for this event. I was pretty invisible - my name was omitted from the committee that did the work, I wasn't profiled anywhere, and credit for the job mostly went to the 2-3 cis women who were the public face of it - but that was mostly my choice. Had I wanted to be more visible, I don't think anyone would have stopped me, but neither would anyone have done anything to prevent other women harassing me for daring to claim to be a woman.

What started to feel frustrating after the fact was wondering when - if ever - there would be any kind of institutional level event that would recognise people like me. There are a number of high profile transphobic feminists who hold onto senior positions within my sector, so it's not like I can realistically expect to be a part of any women's events without getting backlash from women. There are some really nice LGBT events, and they're sort of inclusive (much more so than the women's events, anyway), but even so they're really focused on things like same-sex marriage, and transgender issues get pushed to one side. My institution did send around an email about transgender day of remembrance last year, but I don't think it got circulated outside of the LGBT mailing list.

Maybe most telling in all this - the person I've taken to grumbling with the most about this pattern of activity is an older second-wave lesbian radfem in my unit. Unlike most people she actually talks to me about gender and we spend a fair amount of time talking about the shared frustration of being sidelined by most mainstream feminist groups because we're inconvenient.

I guess what I'm saying is that - in connection with TDOV - it's not that I want to be visible, per se. It's just that it would be nice to feel like my voice matters, or that people actually want me to make a contribution on these topics? I honestly don't get that feel off of most feminist organisations.
posted by saltbush and olive at 9:50 PM on April 1, 2018 [13 favorites]

* if you see a trans friend for the first time in a while, compliment them on their awesome facial hair or boobies, as appropriate to their target gender

Be aware that you're likely to come across exactly as creepy and inappropriate to a lot of people if you're a cis guy commenting on a woman's boobs as you would of it were a cis woman.

Seriously, there are about three people I'm close enough with that comments about my boobs wouldn't be automatically unwelcome, and I doubt if any of them are in doubt about how to handle trans people.
posted by Dysk at 11:40 PM on April 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

* if you see a trans friend for the first time in a while, compliment them on their awesome facial hair or boobies, as appropriate to their target gender

You have got to be kidding. Or else this is only meant to apply to "allies" who are close personal friends ?

I'm neither trans nor female, but making comments about any woman's breasts (except possibly the reciprocal object of my affections) is not something I would ever consider. My personal circle includes a couple of trans women & I really don't think walking into a pubmeet they were at and opening up with "nice tits!" would go down very well with any of them either.
posted by pharm at 2:40 AM on April 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

@saltbush and olive: I experience very much the same.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:41 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

heh i want visibility like mlk wanted to be on tv
posted by heterosoy at 6:20 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can't not be visible myself, even if I were to try. Must be nice for those who can choose to announce their visibility on a day like TDoV. For the rest of us, that's every single day.
posted by Dysk at 6:25 AM on April 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think TDOV is meant to be a complement to TDOR, sort of like the difference beyween Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. And all four of them sneak up on me every year and I miss arranging anything for them.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:35 AM on April 2, 2018

I'm at about 27-29 years since transitioning. I've glanced thought the article but will need a little time to read carefully and think it through.

I can say that I'm envious of the medical options available today, but I'm also more fearful of the public politicalisation of trans folks as I've ever been. I'm scared to have to battle for basic human rights when I have so few physical, health and emotional resources in hand.

Maybe a more thoughtful comment tomorrow.
posted by michswiss at 6:37 AM on April 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

As someone who was taught that the epitomy of politeness was to use the honorifics of sir, miss, or ma'am, I have realized how presumptive and possibly rude that might be. So I'm going to make an effort to stop using gendered honorifics on individuals who have not told me their preferred pronouns.

It's small and it will be surprisingly hard to stop myself from saying "Thank you, sir" to the male shaped individual that gives me coffee, or "Miss, you dropped your glove" to the female presenting individual on the train, but it's better than accidentally mis-gendering a person for the sake of my own comfort.
posted by teleri025 at 6:53 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

the male shaped individual

If you're accepting that you can't tell their gender from their shape, then you're effectively accepting that the shape in question isn't male. Like, can we not do the body essentialism in this thread, of all places?
posted by Dysk at 7:04 AM on April 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

I can't not be visible myself, even if I were to try. Must be nice for those who can choose to announce their visibility on a day like TDoV. For the rest of us, that's every single day.

I hope this doesn't sound self-aggrandizing or patronizing, but you are the ones I fight for. I could fade into the background as just another middle aged white guy but I'd be leaving behind a lot of people who can't or don't want to "fit in" to the cis narrative. My liberation means nothing without yours. This is why I hate the bathroom campaigns that show a big hairy trans guy with a tagline like "is THIS who you want using the bathroom next to your daughter?"

The focus on passing is used to set up a narrative that trans people are people and surprise! they're just like us! Big Gay Inc. did this with marriage and the "love is love" campaign. No, not all queers are or want to be in relationships that mirror the hetero default, and that's okay. And trans people contain multitudes; some want to be cisnormative (or just are, without trying) and some do not, and all should be respected liberated regardless of whether we're Alok Vaid Menon or Laith Ashley or Tyler Ford or Janet Mock*.

*I didn't intend to pick four people of color, but the fact that they're the ones who jumped to my mind indicates that they're the ones at the leading edge of this movement. They're the ones putting themselves on the line, as it always has been.
posted by AFABulous at 7:06 AM on April 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

"Miss, you dropped your glove"

"You in the red dress, is this your glove?" (Regardless of honorifics, this is more practical than having every woman turn around to see if you're addressing them.)

"Thank you sir"

"Thanks! Have a great day!"
posted by AFABulous at 7:09 AM on April 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

instead of “female presenting trans person” it’s fewer syllables to just say “that person being harassed” 😂
posted by heterosoy at 7:12 AM on April 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

(I just think when people presume the gender of strangers they must be thinking something like this.)
posted by heterosoy at 7:14 AM on April 2, 2018

This is a good essay.
WE ARE REVOLTING: my first Trans Pride

There are a couple of looks I am very familiar with as a trans person.

One is primarily a look of confusion. It is the kind of look you might expect to receive if you were wearing a boot on your head. You have disrupted the everyday order of things, and people don’t know how to respond.

One is primarily a look of disapproval, communicating a barely-contained sense of disgust or revulsion. It is the kind of look you might expect to receive if you have smeared shit all over your face and are walking down the street as if nothing is wrong. You have disrupted the everyday order of things, and people are very unimpressed, but perhaps aren’t quite yet ready to shout or spit at you. But you imagine that they would quite like to.
posted by AFABulous at 12:34 PM on April 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

If you're accepting that you can't tell their gender from their shape, then you're effectively accepting that the shape in question isn't male. Like, can we not do the body essentialism in this thread, of all places?

Damn. I am deeply sorry. This goes to show I've got a lot of work to do to be better.
posted by teleri025 at 12:37 PM on April 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

teleri025: "This goes to show I've got a lot of work to do to be better."

I think we all do, to be honest! It's hard work suppressing the automatic tendency to gender the people around us, or adjust the scripts we use when interacting with others.

It reminds me a little of a very minor situation that occurred to me in a customer service situation early in social transition - I was going to buy a toy for my kids from a very "old-timey themed" souvenir shop. The staff had obviously been instructed in the exaggerated manners they were expected to use in the interactions with customers. Kind of tacky, but that was obviously what they were going for. So everyone else got the "Good day sir", "Good afternoon ma'am" script. When I got to the counter - presenting quite feminine, obviously assigned-male, also obviously not a joke - this poor guy obviously had no idea what he was supposed to do. To be honest, I think he did admirably well. He didn't use either of the two gendered scripts, and reverted to a very polite gender neutral version "Hello, how can I help you today!" that he was so obviously putting together on the fly. It was all a bit awkward, since it was pretty apparent that nothing in his training had really prepared him for this situation, and I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to do either. But we smiled at each other, completed the transaction and the sky didn't fall down!

I feel like what I'm hoping to see happen over time is that a wider range of these cultural scripts become available and feel natural, and - though I personally love it when I get the "ma'am" script - to have the gender neutral ones turn into the defaults rather than the exceptions. I'm sort of optimistic that this is happening, but it's slow, and I think it takes a lot of conscious effort to get there.
posted by saltbush and olive at 2:12 PM on April 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

This is a good essay.

I'll never get used to seeing my friends' writing getting linked on metafilter. It also sounds to me like Trans Pride Leeds would be a lot more my cup of tea than Trans Pride Brighton, with its pointless infighting, politicking, and general party-over-protest approach.
posted by Dysk at 11:57 PM on April 2, 2018

I think we all do, to be honest! It's hard work suppressing the automatic tendency to gender the people around us, or adjust the scripts we use when interacting with others.

Right, and I've been thinking about this a lot. This is why I really can't get on board with or agree with concepts like every single misgendering being either an aggression or microaggression. (Discounting non-accidental, obvious aggressions.)

For one - cis people misgender other cis people all the time and it's not a big deal - it's a mistake. In cis space people just laugh about it and move on. (Assuming there's no toxic hypermasculinity reactions involved or whatever.)

For two I've already spent my whole life essentially being misgendered as male. And I've also been "misgendered" as female without even trying.

For three - Oh my God I don't even care what people call me. What I care about is that my dysphoria is going away and I'm no longer spending almost every waking second hating my stupid physical meatsack that I inhabit, or wasting over half of my life coping and hiding.

Granted, I may have a few different privileges here. Flexibility, a fairly thick hide and other personal qualities are probably making this personally easier for me. I also have only barely begun to physically change or socially transition, so my personal feelings about this may change.

But for whatever it's worth I'm still having a hard time finding or feeling the sort of anger that I find coming from a lot of other trans people about the topic of accidental/lazy misgendering in particular.

Gender pronouns and the language around them is stupid hard. I have nothing but respect, compassion and understanding for cis allies trying to help respect and treat trans folks simply as fellow human beings.
posted by loquacious at 9:03 AM on April 3, 2018

In cis space people just laugh about it and move on

Maybe I'm projecting my own horrible social anxieties onto the public at large, but when I hear people laugh about it, they actually seem fairly uncomfortable? It certainly doesn't seem to be a mistake people enjoy; it throws them into a moment of uncertainty, and they laugh (or get hostile or whatever) to reestablish their equilibrium.

That laughter--the fact that any emotion attaches--is the signal that cis people already have a built-in awareness that getting gender wrong has an impact, which helps categorize misgendering as a a microaggression...that is, the moral of the story should have been, be more careful with how you view and refer to people, because you already know what it feels like when it happens.
posted by mittens at 9:37 AM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Granted, I may have a few different privileges here.

are you white?* it's far easier to go along with "treat trans folks simply as fellow human beings" type shit when you're white. typically, that sort of politics excludes poc, who are viewed as disrespectful, uncompassionate, or lacking in understanding

* rhetorical question
posted by heterosoy at 9:52 AM on April 3, 2018

that is, the moral of the story should have been, be more careful with how you view and refer to people, because you already know what it feels like when it happens.

I'm not arguing against that, nor am I at all trying to police what people want for themselves for pronouns, nor what they define as an aggression.

To be clear I'm talking about my own personal experiences, stance and responses here and where I want to be in response to this kind of misunderstanding or even direct aggression from other people.

I'm not asking anyone to feel the same way I do. Besides being white - which, yeah, that's one privilege I was acknowledging - another privilege I'm trying to learn how to use and be careful with is possibly excess bravery or having run out of fucks to give about these things that are bullshit.

Please understand I'm striving to approach, explore and find my own trans identity with some gentleness, grace, compassion and even humor - especially for my friends, allies and all the supportive people out there I haven't met yet.

I want to be in this emotional place and space because it's a good place for any human to be. I also want to be in this space because to me it seems like a good way to be a good to be not only my own best ally but an ally for others - I guess to try to do my part to help normalize the trans experience and existence and show that it's actually pretty boring and shouldn't be unusual or scary or weird at all.

I am a Humanist first, and that's just not going to change. I'm just trying to hug everyone, ok?

I might be able to relate my perspective better through a short anecdotal story. I've told this one here before, and it's one of my personal life favorite moments.

When I moved to Seattle, I took Amtrak. Because a family member bought the ticket for me, likely with some discount card - my seat was in the quiet and assisted mobility car at the very back, where everyone was basically twice my middle age, or close to it.

I'm presenting pretty obviously male - I guess, for factors of me - but I have my hair down for various points in the trip.

It was a long trip, and I made a lot of friends by being happily willing to run errands to the cafe car for people, because the service from the staff was honestly pretty slow and limited, and the hell I'm going to sit around thirsty grandparents politely asking the poor overworked stewards for a cup of ice water -- and I like trains specifically because I can get up and go for a walk and stretch m legs, so it's all a win win to me.

At some in the multi-day journey another couple boarded shortly after dark and joined the car, and I continued being helpful and friendly.

Dawn eventually came and the couple that had boarded the evening before was leaving. I was helping the older gentleman and he looked pretty confused for a moment and then spoke up, and pretty much the whole car pauses for this, maybe 10-12 people on our level.

"Wait, what happened to that really helpful young woman that was sitting in your seat!?" he said.

"That was me, yes"

"But... I called you "miss" and "young lady" all night, why didn't you correct me?"

"Because it doesn't really matter, does it? And because I don't think it's an insult to be a woman?"

"Oh. I guess you're right, and I never thought about it like that before." And, well, most of the women on the car responding with variations of "Hell yes!" and "That's right!"

So I guess I'm trying to move towards more post gender and more diversity and spectrum and less gender essentialism. For everyone who wants it.

There's a reason why my pull quote from the FPP is "I think there's something very positive about being trans", because it's resonating strongly with me.
posted by loquacious at 10:46 AM on April 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

(Just for a counterpoint, and because it's the kind of thing I never saw when I was pre- or early in transition myself and probably really could have done with seeing, I started transitioning like seven years ago now, and there is nothing in that twitter thread I relate to at all. I still look broadly the same as I did (minus the beard) and very much feel I am still the same person. You are no less trans or valid for not feeling like the people in that thread. Your transness is no less real. (And vice versa of course) You do not need to pass or undergo a physical transformation of the scale or kind that the thread OP is kind of humblebragging about to be valid in your chosen gender.)
posted by Dysk at 1:38 AM on April 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

I started transitioning like seven years ago now, and there is nothing in that twitter thread I relate to at all.

Me neither. I'm not the same person as I was before I figured out I was trans or before I came out or transitioned*, but find me someone who's the same person at 30 as they were at 20. But there's not an "old me" or a "dead name" or anything else. This is actually quite high on my list of "things I want cis people to understand".

*Neither coming out nor "transitioning" are things I can assign dates to, by the way. I can narrow "figuring out I was trans" down to about six months.
posted by hoyland at 4:10 AM on April 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

That said, I did have a "switch-flipping" moment, but not something I want to talk about in a Metafilter comment. But I should acknowledge experiencing something sort of similar.
posted by hoyland at 4:20 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

See, I very much am the same person. I've changed a lot in myriad ways, sure, but I absolutely am the same person (one of the reasons it was important to me to retain my existing mefi account complete with the history of me being a deeply problematic and offensive idiot). But then everyone changes over that sort of time frame.

I can actually pinpoint the exact moment I came out - I was drunk and half-asleep next to my boyfriend when I said "I want to be a woman" out loud, realised what I'd just said which quickly woke me up, THEN realised that yeah, I'd actually had that thought, at which point I started crying. The next few weeks/months I spent locked in my room, uncovering repressed memories, questioning everything I thought I knew about myself, and slowly coming to terms with things. Then I came out to housemates and a few close friends, asked for them to use female pronouns, and a few weeks after that shaved my beard off. Took over a year before I found a name that felt "right" enough to replace my old, very clearly male gendered name, which I had stuck with until that point. What exact date it was, I can't actually remember. I don't know if or when I would have come out - to myself, I mean - had I not been kind of sleep talking in that weird semi-wakeful drunken state.

Transition though, was a process, not a point.

posted by Dysk at 4:39 AM on April 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think we're probably talking about fairly similar feelings/conceptions of experience and using "same person" a bit differently.
posted by hoyland at 5:04 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, but how we conceptualise the experiences is important too, not just what we experience.

Woo! for the detailed discussion in this thread by the way
posted by Dysk at 5:13 AM on April 4, 2018

I came out in stages to people between April and August 2015 (friends, close family, extended family). I started HRT that December and changed my name almost immediately. So to others it happened very suddenly and cleanly, but they didn't see the months and years of struggle before that. It took awhile to answer to my new name and to internalize it as me. Nearly 3 years later, I am totally divorced from my former identity (save for the errant piece of junk mail, and a store rewards card they won't change).

I definitely carry over habits and neuroses, but my past isn't what it was because I see it through a different lens now. I see all the gendered clues that were invisible before, all the way back to preschool.

A good friend says he "used to be a girl" but I don't use that language. I used to be a pretender, and I was pretending so hard I didn't even know I was doing it.
posted by AFABulous at 9:15 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

You do not need to pass or undergo a physical transformation of the scale or kind that the thread OP is kind of humblebragging about to be valid in your chosen gender.

Woooah, for a solid minute I thought this was directed at me and I was really, really confused with a bizarre mix of surprising hurt and vanity - because that's definitely a privilege I don't have, and that was a wild rollercoaster of emotions, wee.

No, no, I'm fine and great. I'm just sharing because it was unusual how much I reacted to that internally.

And I was more worried I was humblebragging, which I'm not. I am trying to share energy and enthusiasm, though. Lord knows I've got problems to face.

I also totally agree with what you're saying.

On the coming out or "switch flipping" side of things, like a lot of people I've known since I was a kid. I grew up in a Mormon family, so you can imagine how well that went and how much repression I dealt with (deal with) for years.

I started trying to come out to friends and parents as an adult as early as about 2002 or 2003, maybe. I got a LOT of pushback and basically filled in all of my "trans bingo" squares in that period, including responses like "You'll make a really ugly woman" from my sexist/objectifying dad who doesn't understand women at all - and demonstrated where he places his value - to "Who brainwashed you!" and other crap.

I also got a lot of weird and unexpected pushback from various friends and people I thought were allies. I've had a lot of "That's not for you" and the like from really unexpected sources, and it was dismaying.

So... I let myself get pushed back for years. And like a lot of trans folks I've dealt with an enormous amount of poverty and homelessness, and it would have been a lot more of that without the help of a lot of friends.

So I've done a lot of running both from real circumstance and myself and my own problems.

The "switch flipping" was less of a switch and more of a wall, and I hit it just over a year ago. I'd just had a really, really intense all consuming and almost entirely non-physical fling with someone where we had such an intense connection and energy that it nearly burnt both of us to ashes.

It... taught me things, like to value myself a lot more. In ways no other relationship or encounter in my life ever did before.

Another part of my current recipe is that this is pretty much the first time in my life where I've felt relatively safely housed and stable in a very low stress situation. I am very, very thankful for the cruddy little basement I've been able to live in for free for the past two years, which has afforded me the incredible luxury of a lot of time unplugged from the rat race to think things over and figure some important things out.

And so with this... open book and canvas waiting for me I realized I had a choice to continue to sit here and be utterly miserable and not live much of a life at all, or I could try to live a more authentic life.

Another trigger was that during this fling I managed to badly injure my eye my trying to push my glasses up my nose while also walking down a narrow, cluttered and unfamiliar hallway where I banged my elbow on a pile of boxes and jammed my finger through the loose lens of my glasses, driving the edge of the plastic lens into my cornea and scratching it horribly.

An important side note, here, is that this happened while I'm helping a friend clear out her recently deceased mom's hoarder house full of art and clothes. I was also friends with this person, and had come out to her. We had had standing plans for me to visit her place and for me to look at and even pick out some things from her huge collection of clothes.

I didn't see that house or those clothes until after she passed away. I now own a bunch of those clothes. Part of the equation, here, is that I know she'd want me to wear them outside some day. That she was rooting for me.

So, the next day I was in the ER with my scratched eyeball and in a ridiculous amount of pain, and I discovered that my state insurance was still good, and that it'd been good the entire time. So I went about figuring how to get a doctor, and started investigating therapists and thinking about taking care of myself a lot better.

And then for whatever reason I realized that my state insurance actively covered most trans health issues, and that I'd been sitting around telling myself "No! It's too hard! You can't have nice things! Everyone will disown you!" for five years, at least, when all I had to do was... do it and take the steps. It was right there all along.

And in hindsight, I could have done this at any point that I had a job or even a shred of a career and as far as the side effects were concerned, it would have been not just easily managed, but a proper kick in the ass and highly motivating and freeing.

And so I started making appointments. I made the motions to find a gender therapist to jump through that hoop, but they don't really exist where I live. So I pushed for informed consent and made the case that I knew what I was doing, and it worked.

My two month HRT anniversary is this weekend. Yesterday I sowed and seeded a small container garden, my first solo attempt ever. I've been biking my butt off - literally, and am on track to lose about 10-15 pounds a month until I get to my target weight. I'm already feeling the positive results intensely with more energy, and less mass to haul around.

I'm obviously so happy and beaming that it's infectious to the people in my life. Where passerby used to look at my face and uncomfortably glance away - probably because I looked stressed and unhappy - I'm catching strangers looking at me and just breaking out into a wide smile or grin.

And oh my God, I love it. I've kind of intentionally been going on bike rides just to smile at people until they smile back.
posted by loquacious at 10:05 AM on April 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Part of the equation, here, is that I know she'd want me to wear them outside some day. That she was rooting for me.

Additional happy note: This has already happened. I went out to dinner with a friend and an art show in Seattle on Capitol Hill, and it was glorious. I didn't even bother trying to fully pass or do makeup, I just went as me. The cardigan and pendants I wore that not were from her collection.
posted by loquacious at 10:10 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's one of those things that I'm finding fascinating w/r/t others' experiences--as for myself, I feel like I'm hurtling towards a singularity. I just got my first prescription, for instance, and while I don't see a clean break from what I was before until now, it definitely does feel like it's far more distant, especially as things are suddenly starting to become visible on the other side

This is why my relationship status reads "engaged to the process", though at the beginning I felt the "hurtling towards singularity" thing strongly. Which seems to be passing.

This was one of my huge fears, too, that I would be suddenly too different and that this is DEFINITELY an example of internalized and socialized misogyny and transphobia.

So, this is really hard and shitty to admit, but I was secretly worried that HRT was going to take away some of my intelligence - specifically spacial thinking and mental imaging. And the first few weeks of HRT are definitely... foggy, and weird, and disorienting, and it doesn't do anything to dissuade me from that fear. There's also puberty-like physical awkwardness as mass and center of gravity and even musculature and tendons change. I move differently already.

But my fears were - of course - fucking dumb bullshit and unfounded. Oh my God. I can think so much more clearly now, and I can multitask and emote and... if what I'm experiencing is indicative of what it's like to be able to think like a woman - it feels like there is just this much more expansive and wide-ranging thought-space that's much different than the monofocus or acuteness of masculine thought-space, and it's a thought-space where emotions work and play much better with reasoning and logic, as well as impulse control.

I mean, sure, I still talk too much and am frequently wrong - but I can feel my communication and empathy skills improving.

Anyway - yes, it's more of a journey and a spectrum. It's like music and colors and textures. It's not like a hard, bright line.

I'm still myself, but being more and more authentic and doing more and more of the things I want to do. Like starting a garden, and exercising more - and talking a lot openly about the experience and the process.
posted by loquacious at 10:27 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Woooah, for a solid minute I thought this was directed at me and I was really, really confused with a bizarre mix of surprising hurt and vanity - because that's definitely a privilege I don't have, and that was a wild rollercoaster of emotions, wee.

Oh god, sorry! I meant the twitter thread OP, from the link immediately preceding. I should have made that clearer, my mistake.
posted by Dysk at 10:58 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, huh. People seem to have understood "switch-flipping" not how I meant (which is fine!). I was referring to feeling like a specific aspect of my past experience was retconned, and that happening suddenly and unexpectedly, but not as a descriptor for my whole experience, which seems to be what people on Twitter we're describing.
posted by hoyland at 3:07 PM on April 4, 2018

if what I'm experiencing is indicative of what it's like to be able to think like a woman - it feels like there is just this much more expansive and wide-ranging thought-space that's much different than the monofocus or acuteness of masculine thought-space, and it's a thought-space where emotions work and play much better with reasoning and logic, as well as impulse control.

As an FYI, this is one of those things that often makes transmasculine people go "ouch" because things like "testosterone will give you roid rage", "testosterone will destroy your empathy" and "testosterone will destroy your creativity" and so on are things we hear and this sort of sentiment (totally unintentionally) interacts badly with that experience. I absolutely don't mean that you should feel bad for having this experience or for expressing it, but please remember it's on the fringes of something that gets touchy in all-gender trans spaces.
posted by hoyland at 5:44 PM on April 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm late coming back here. I managed to make my way through the article. Sadly, not much resonated strongly for me. There were some remembered truths and again sadly, some of the fears I experienced way back when have been reignited in the current climate.

As many of you have shared your transition experiences, I'll share some of mine. The good news is that all my immediate family accepted my decision fairly quickly, there were the constant mis-gendering errors that at time would really anger me, especially the first Christmas. My younger brother was particularly upset that I'd told his wife first. He and I have always been close. They live with me now.

Coming to terms, coming out and taking action were distinct. I was not particularly effeminate, but I was strongly dysphoric from a very early age.

A close friend, a woman I worked with and had a crush on me was the one to help me come to terms. She came across as very caustic and my family have a dislike of her to this day. But she cared and was the first to say my needs were worthwhile and my own. She was something of a Fag Hag in the day and connected me with a couple of communities and individuals that while differently motivated weren't dismissive and sometimes helpful. This was Boston in the '80's.

Coming out meant family, housemates and workplace. I don't remember whether housemates or family came first. I know that work was last. My parents live in the East Texas countryside at the time. I'd lived in Dallas for a while, but was on a visit from Boston. My Mom was the first person I told. There was a large paddock with an unsealed road behind their house. About a mile loop. I told her I had something important I wanted to talk about and could we go for a walk. The first loop was in silence, somewhere on the second loop I think she intimated it would be ok if I was gay. I finally began talking on the third loop.

As to the actioning bit, I've had really good housemates. I began hormones in the late '80's. I was living in Marblehead MA in a rental with two women, one a flight attendant, the other a station manager for an airline. Before you think it, they both eventually married pilots. They were both wonderful and helpful. The pilot partners were also cool. After they all coupled up, I moved to Cambridge and a new flatmate, Bill. I told him straight away and he was also awesome. He was completing his PhD at MIT and I offered an odd aspect of technical support and an unlikely audience to his application of Hidden Markov Models to phoneme recognition. I'm thanked specifically in his dissertation, mainly for my poor poker skills (side note, card counters, movie, an earlier crew).

I also attended a group that met in Harvard Square on Wednesdays at a pizza joint. I've commented about them before, I met some now well known activists.

In any case, early hormones and spironolactone were relatively easy to get to. I didn't have insurance or a regular PCP so it cost a lot. I researched the other needs, firstly electrolysis and downstream SRS as it was known then.

Then shit happened.

I was laid off. I was insecure as fuck, no real savings. Still had a flatmate that helped as much as he could. I'd built some relationships at the place I was having electrolysis. The owner was a fiercely independent woman and she was also an ally. She bartered my tech skills for her services. That became my way of survival for about a year, extending to many small shops in Back Bay Boston. I was so, damn, lucky, to come into contact with these folks for those years. These weren't LGBTI folks, but they were othered ethnic communities and they totally took me in.

But I still needed cash for Neenah. I did what I needed to do, I also job searched, eventually landing a job.

I saved and saved and made the booking. It was a good couple of weeks. It didn't change who I was, who I am. But it made being myself a whole lot easier.
posted by michswiss at 7:36 AM on April 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

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