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Found 22 results

  1. To preface: This is my blog, I have posted about politics and philosophy on it before, and I will continue to do so. I welcome discussion in the comments, but I ask that you keep it civil. Misogyny and transphobia will be reported, even if it means that this blog post is taken down. If you put words in my mouth, you will be summarily ignored. This is a personal and important subject to me. Please respect that. Today is International Women's Day. I've always considered myself a feminist. I firmly believe that the same societal structures that are to blame for misogyny are also to blame for homophobia, transphobia, and the oppression of many other marginalised groups. You can call it the patriarchy if you like, but that word tends to rub some people the wrong way. You could also call it toxic masculinity, but that one just pisses people off. So I'm not going to call it either of those things. I am simply going to call it culture. We exist within a culture, a social framework, that teaches us certain established truths. I'll preface my argument by pointing out that individuals are not to blame for this. It's not the fault of straight, white men. It's not the fault of Donald Trump or Harvey Weinstein or Brett Kavanaugh. It is an insidious culture that has grown as the result of centuries of social norms. While the actions of individuals and groups continue to perpetuate it, these people are not to blame for the culture (though they should still be held responsible for their own actions, as should anyone). Religion holds a great deal of responsibility for spreading this culture, Abrahamic religions in particular. Many older religions and cultures from around the world have no problem with homosexuality, operate with multiple genders, and have large degrees of gender equality. But even today, people use religion as an excuse for bigotry. It has been, and continues to be, a very effective form of social control. And countries where these bigotry based religions have grown strong roots, have spread the culture further via colonialism. India had no sodomy laws before the British arrived. Most African countries had no sodomy laws before the British arrived. Yet today, homophobia runs rampant in many of these countries. A lot of homophobia is based on the premise that gay men are effeminate and therefore lesser. Some gay men internalise this and feel that if they were to bottom they would lose some of their masculinity. The submissive role is the 'female' role. Conversely, gay women and other women in same-sex relationships are often asked which one of them is the 'man' in the relationship. For some lesbians this is also internalised; many butch lesbians think less of lipstick lesbians, that is to say gay women who dress and act in a more traditionally feminine way. How anyone can deny that these aspects of homophobia were born from sexism and misogyny is beyond me. Sexism and homophobia are steady bedfellows. They perpetuate one another in the culture. I said I wasn't going to call it toxic masculinity, but toxic masculinity is a symptom of the culture. And again, it has nothing to do with individuals. Nor is it saying that masculinity in and of itself is toxic. It isn't. But there are certain conventions within the culture that are harmful to men and women alike, and toxic masculinity is one of them. Toxic masculinity is when people laugh at men who are sexually assaulted by women. Toxic masculinity is when a man feels ashamed because he cries. Toxic masculinity is when we say 'boys will be boys' when a child hurts another or when young men sexually harass. Toxic masculinity is when a man reacts to strong emotions with aggression instead of facing them head on. It's when a man takes up so much space that it infringes on the space of other people. Many women also perpetuate these ideas, by demanding that men be strong, and by teaching their sons different values than they teach their daughters. And all that is also a symptom of culture. Another symptom is cis-sexism. This comes in many forms, and often from within the LGBTQ and women's movements. Many gay and straight people are downright rude, sometimes even violent, if they find out that a person has other genitalia than they expected. When I began my journey in earnest, one of my friends who's a lesbian said to me, 'I accept that this is who you are, but I don't get how wearing men's clothes makes you not a woman. I wear them all the time because they're comfortable and I like them.' Certain women's rights activists will use a similar argument. They'll say that girls think they're boys because they prefer dressing like them. Why do our daughters think they want to be men? And, conversely, they say of trans women that they're perpetuating stereotypes by conforming to traditional beauty standards and femininity. The truth is, in order to pass as the gender we are, we have to. I like pretty dresses and heels and make-up, but I don't feel comfortable wearing them right now because I would be immediately read as female. A friend of mine who's non-binary trans and on hormone replacement therapy, didn't dare cut their hair until they had facial feminisation surgery. Because they felt like they would have looked too masculine. Gender expression is a way to make our outward appearance match what's inside us. These are all symptoms of culture. Of homophobia, sexism, and cis-sexism. And they go hand in hand. Because we are taught from birth what we are supposed to be like, based on our genitalia. Girls are meant to like pink and play with dolls and like princesses and frilly dresses. Boys are meant to wear blue and play with soldiers and play war and like action movies. We are taught this to the point where it becomes hard-wired. We're not necessarily taught this by individuals, but by the culture that we live in. Many women experience internalised misogyny, where traditionally 'girly' things are shunned. How often don't we hear, 'Oh, I was always a tomboy, I preferred hanging out with boys, girls are just so much drama.' And there is value placed on that, on being less feminine, because being feminine is being lesser. Culture teaches us so, even if we don't realise it. Even if we don't believe it. Nobody lives in a vacuum. It's easy to think, oh no, I'm too smart to be affected by advertisement or TV or books or the news. You're not. You are affected, whether you're aware of it or not. The dominant culture in which you live will always affect your morals, your thought patterns, your feelings. The way we're raised affects us, and we're not solely raised by our parents. We are raised by culture. We can break free of that. We can learn to tell ourselves, this thing that I'm feeling or thinking right now, it's not true. But teaching yourself not to feel it at all is extremely difficult. I know I've never been able to, as aware as I am of why I feel that way. Anyone who's ever suffered from depression, for instance, can tell you how hard it is to unlearn internalised basic truths that we've learned about ourselves based on our experiences, truths that aren't true, but that's a topic for another day. One of the ways of making yourself aware and ridding yourself those thoughts and feelings is to deconstruct. To ask why. 'It's just the way things are' is not an answer. Things that are 'just the way things are' are born out of centuries of building a social framework. They are agreed upon truths that we simply accept. Deconstruct them. Pull them apart and look at the individual parts of these structures. Try to understand them, and you'll find that they don't make much sense. As a person who straddles the gender divide, I probably feel these things more strongly than most. I'm in a unique position to notice. I didn't make a choice not to conform; I innately don't. It's the same for other members of the LGBTQ community of course, but for trans people it's something we're reminded of daily, and something we are forced to be acutely aware of if we want to live as anything like who and what we are. And we need every tool in the toolbox to do so. I was going to march today, but I have a very persistent cold and don't feel well enough for that, sadly. I usually march every year, with the sex workers and the trans lobby; the feminists the traditional women's movement don't want, because we break with their established truths; that being a woman is a fact of gender assigned at birth, and that anyone who sells services of a sexual nature is a victim (also a debate for another day, and one I don't want in my comments today, please). It's an odd contradiction, to first deconstruct the idea that women are inherently unable to do the things that men do—that they are innately nurturing and are supposed to give birth to and raise children, that they can't do what they want with their own bodies, and so on—only to turn around and perpetuate the idea that chromosomes is what makes a woman and to dictate what others do with their bodies. It also utterly erases the existence of intersex people. In spite of this, I continue to consider myself a feminist, just as much as I consider myself an LGBTQ activist. I don't have to be a Woman™ in order to do that, and even though I'm not, I'm still a person with a vagina and many things that the women's movement stands for are important to me. My feminism is about deconstructing a culture that hurts women, men, intersex people, non-binary trans people, binary trans people, gay and bisexual people; in short, everyone. It's nobody's fault, but it is everyone's responsibility, so that we can all be free. I kind of went off on a tangent I hadn't planned for this, and went way more philosophical than I had planned. Like I said, I welcome discussion if anyone has anything to say, but keep it civil, consider arguments put forth before you react, and don't put words in people's mouths. In short, don't be a dick. The more likely scenario is that no one will comment at all. Happy International Women's Day. PS: I wrote this little batch of poems a while back, and it seems apt to share it with you today. You can also read it here. #NotAllMen 1. misandrist you said i hated men and i said that would be weird since i’m transmasculine you said there was nothing masculine about me that if i wanted to be a man i should act like one and i said if being a man means being a dick, then i know few men you said fuck this and went home 2. incel she said no so he took a gun and shot three people for the crime of being women who wouldn’t have sex with him 3. feminists on the eighth of march you said when is men’s day? and the feminists said it’s on the nineteenth of november on the nineteenth of november you said fuck this and went home 4. traps are trans women traps? are traps gay? is it wrong to be gay? is it, though? 5. masculinity as the women aired their grievances you said what about the men? and the women said fine let’s talk about the men let’s talk about men’s rights paternity leave male birth control domestic abuse against men men who are sexually assaulted, by other men and by women let’s talk about why men can’t wear dresses about homophobia about aggression and anger let’s talk about why men get depressed why men kill themselves why men don’t report rape why little boys don’t cry let’s talk about why men are afraid to be vulnerable let’s talk about masculinity and which parts of it are toxic and you said fuck this and went home 6. man what makes a man a man? why am i not a man? or am I? it doesn’t matter but it does and sometimes i wonder do i want to be? when i know that most men will not accept me as one of their own not as long as i look like this 7. activism you said do something help us fix our problems and lists were made ideas shared we said here, these are things you can do to fix your problems and make your lives better here are your tools organise protest march fight like we have done but you said fuck this and went home
  2. I got a bit of a memory jog when people started talking about The O.C. the other day, because of the show's 10th anniversary. When that show came out, I was already a little done with the high school drama genre, and was moving on to anime, sci-fi, fantasy and horror themed tv-series. I used to watch Popular pretty regularly, and I even had time to, for a season or so, really like Dawson's Creek, though I was young at the time. But there was one high school drama type of series that stood out, and that was the Dawson's Creek spin-off Young Americans. Let me preface by saying that this is not an especially good show. It wasn't really surprising that the thing got cancelled after only 8 episodes. Most of the plot was passé and melodramatic, the writing was mediocre, as was most of the acting. With one major exception. The Jake and Hamilton story-line. I must have been about 12 when that show came out. I may have been as old as 13 when I started watching it, cause I don't know when it made it across the pond, but I wasn't old. The Jake and Hamilton arc was revolutionary for me. It was new and exciting and different, and it broke down everything that I thought I knew about gender and sexuality at the tender age of 12 or 13. One part of it was the fact that Jake had everyone fooled. Jake was really Jacqueline, played by the amazing and talented Katherine Moennig (who later went on to star in The L-Word). Jacqueline was a rich young girl with a mother who didn't pay attention to her. Her mum was an actress, and hardly ever home, and Jacqueline tried to do ever more extreme things to get her mother to notice her, to little avail. Finally, Jacqueline hacked into her mother's e-mail account, signed up for Rawley Academy for boys for summer school and became Jake, just to see if her mother would notice. She didn't. No one at Rawley believed for a second that Jake was anything other than a boy, including Hamilton. And here comes the best part, because even though he fully believed Jake to be a boy, Hamilton still fell in love with him. It was the first suggestion I had ever seen in popular culture of the idea that people fall in love with people, and that gender can be secondary or irrelevant, and it changed my entire perspective. It doesn't matter that Jake turned out to be a girl. For the first three episodes or so, Hamilton believed that he had turned gay. Even after Jake told him the truth, they still seemed most comfortable with each other when Jake was, well, Jake rather than Jacqueline. After a while, everyone started to think that Hamilton and Jake were gay, and what was so wonderful about that was how cool they all seemed with it. That was a world I wanted to live in. Jake was never trans. Jake was very comfortable about really being Jacqueline and did not mind being girly. I think, however, that if this show had been made today, the gender issue would have been a much bigger part of the story, and Jake's character would have been much more gender-fluid than it ultimately was. As it is, however, Young Americans helped break down the idea of the gender binary in my mind, it introduced the concept of 'alternate' sexualities to me, and made me feel so much less alone in a heteronormative television world.
  3. Thorn Wilde

    Erasure

    This came from an article about the 2005 book Born Gay, and was shared in a thread in the Tech and Science Geeks club a few days ago. In attempting to prove that being gay is genetic, the authors found it necessary to suggest that bisexuality does not exist. I can understand that. If people are genetically either gay or straight, phenomenons like bisexuality become hard to explain. Easier to just pretend they don’t exist and omit them from the equation so you can more easily prove what you’re trying to prove. Of course, that’s pretty shitty science. As for these ‘physiological studies’, they were clearly not performed on me or anyone I know, and the idea that bisexuals are just sluts with super high libidos who will fuck everything is not only utter bullshit, but deeply harmful in perpetuating stereotypes that we in the bisexual community have been trying really, really hard to get rid of. (Not that there’s anything at all wrong with being a slut who will fuck everything; you do you.) Is my attraction to men and women exactly equal? No, not all the time, and I’m attracted to different things in different genders as well. Women are in general more aestetically pleasing than men, in my opinion. But then I do also really like dick. (Yes, can I have a non-op mtf enby with a side of sexual dominance, please? Thanks!) None of this takes away from the fact that I am in fact attracted to both men and women, and to people who are both or neither. If you were to measure my arousal levels while watching gay, straight, lesbian, and transgender porn, assuming it’s good porn you’d get a pretty strong physiological response from all of it. Anyway, this isn’t really the point of this blogpost. I wrote a post five years ago on biphobia, monosexism, and pansexuality. The point is erasure. The point is that there are people, probably even people on this site, who don’t believe that I exist. I mean, that I, Thorn Wilde, writer and wacky weirdo, exist is indesputable (or is it? Maybe I’m a robot from the future). But my identity, the person I claim to be, is not real, according to some. I guess I’m either lying or crazy. I carry two labels that experience a great degree of erasure. I’m bisexual (or pansexual, in my case these are one and the same), and I’m gender non-binary or genderqueer, which falls under the T in LGBT. I currently consider myself to be trans masculine. I wrote about this not too long ago, too. The more I try to embrace these parts of myself, the more I feel like people try to erase me. I wish I could say that it was all straight people, but as evidenced by the beginning of this post, this is not the case. Both gay and straight people often do not want to acknowledge the existence of bisexuality. We’re just undecided and haven’t picked a team yet, or we are, as previously mentioned, sluts who fuck indiscriminately. Not saying some of us aren’t, just saying #NotAllBisexuals. As for being non-binary, it gets even more complicated. You’ve got your angry TERF lesbians saying that being butch or dressing like a man doesn’t make you not a woman (which is perfectly true, but they’ve missed the point), you’ve got the general population largely ignoring actual scientific proof by saying, ‘Only two genders!’, which is demonstrably false, and you’ve even got some trans people who feel that the rejection of gender as binary erases their gender identities (which it doesn’t; saying that gender isn’t binary isn’t the same as saying that the categories man and woman don’t exist). The more visible I become, the harder it gets. A few days ago I had some asshat on facebook tell me that nothing about me was masculine and that if I wanted to be a man I should act like a man. (I told him that if acting like a man meant being a reactionary fuckwad, I didn’t know a lot of men.) And even though I don’t require other people’s validation of my gender, it still hurts. Just like it hurt when people I thought were my friends said I only said I was genderqueer because I wanted attention. I wish I could say this shit is just annoying and doesn’t get to me, that I could just shake it off and move on, but the reality is that it’s painful. And it makes you question everything. Am I really non-binary? Is it really a thing? Am I actually trans? I don’t want to transition medically. Does that mean I’m just pretending? Am I allowed to think of myself as trans even though I’m genderfluid? Am I really bi? I’ve only ever had one girlfriend and I’ve only had sex with, like, two or three girls depending on your definition of sex, vs. four long term boyfriends and a handful of fuck-buddies and one-night-stands. Am I making this up? Am I a fraud? An impostor? And I can’t even tell my emotional brain and my rational brain apart here, because all this is new territory. There are a couple of things I do know: I know that I loved my ex-girlfriend and I’ve loved all my boyfriends, and I totally dug having sex with all of them. And I know that wearing my binder and men’s clothes and going out feeling like there are people who won’t look at me and immediately think ‘girl!’ feels amazing. And I know that being called ‘he’ makes me happy and makes me feel good about myself. These are my truths, and they’ll remain true no matter how much the world tries to erase me. Edited to add: There’s one more thing I feel like I ought to say as well. I wrote this post using my own lived experiences, but this isn’t really about me. It’s easy to say fuck those guys and they don’t matter; they don’t, not to my life. But there’s a bigger, wider problem here. A bigger picture. These attitudes are a problem. I’m thirty, and this shit upsets me like this. Imagine how it affects someone younger and more vulnerable, someone in their teens struggling to understand their own identity. Imagine how much it hurts to essentially be told that what they feel isn’t real. It eats away at the insecurities that are already there. I probably seem like I’m whining by harping on about this stuff, but as much as I feel these things myself, it’s not about me. I think these are conversations we need to be having, especially when it comes to bisexual and trans erasure within our own community, because that’s where it’s at its most destructive. We need to be aware and pay attention and comment when we see it rather than just letting it pass because we think, who cares what those assholes say? That’s why I keep writing about this. Not for sympathy or support (though I appreciate all of you deeply for giving me that as well), but because it’s a real problem, and it’s harmful
  4. No. You're right. It doesn't. I'm not trans masculine because I wear men's clothes. I wear men's clothes because I'm trans masculine. It's not because they're more comfortable (though they are), it's not because I don't like women's clothes (I do), it's because if people are going to recognise me as not a girl, I need to have a masculine gender expression, which starts with clothes. I wear men's clothes for the same reason most cis guys do. Whenever they talk about kids who are trans, this thing comes up. 'Yes, she always preferred wearing pink and sparkly clothes, even when she was a boy.' And then someone will go, 'Well, he's not a girl just because he wears pink!' First of all, she wasn't a boy. She was a girl. Secondly, most little kids prefer pink and sparkly things before they become socialised away from it (I've worked in daycare looking after one and two-year-olds; there were nine boys and one girl in the group, and the boys literally fought over who got to wear the princess dress). And thirdly, once she grew older, she wanted to wear what other girls were wearing, hence the pink. I don't get why this is so hard to understand. Gender and gender expression is not the same thing, but gender expression feels like it validates your gender. You can't tell someone's gender by the toys they play with or the clothes they wear, but they will often choose to play with the toys and wear the clothes that correspond with the gender expression of their gender. Trans women are criticised by some feminists for wearing super girly clothes and lots of make-up and taking on traditional feminine gender roles. There's a reason they do that, because if they don't they won't pass, and if they don't pass people won't recognise them as women. One of my friends who's transitioned had facial feminisation surgery, to make their face more feminine. Finally, they had the courage to cut their hair short and wear jeans and loose t-shirts and beanies and flannel shirts, and just in general dress like a 90s lesbian, because they would no longer be misgendered if they did. No need to constantly wear the girliest clothes imaginable in order to pass as not a man. I feel validated when I wear men's clothes. I feel comfortable. I feel like maybe one day I could pass, even if I have the girliest fucking face on the planet (and God, I hate that). One day, I want people to see me and think I'm male when I feel male. And if that's gonna happen, I can't wear girly clothes. I have to exhibit a masculine gender expression, because I am trans masculine.
  5. Thorn Wilde

    Conversation With My Mother

    'I don't understand why you want to hide your curves like that,' she said, while I adjusted my binder. 'You look wonderful just as you are.' And I thought, That's kind of hilarious, really, because you're always bugging me about losing weight. I told her, 'It's not about how I look. It's about how I feel.' 'No, I know. I understand.' No you don't. 'But wouldn't it be better if people were just happy with the bodies they have?' I sighed. 'Would be nice, yeah. But we don't live in that world. I'm not about to medically transition anyway.' 'No, I know that. I was pretty sure of that. But you always liked wearing pretty dresses and things.' 'Yeah. And I can still wear them, I'm sure I will again. Just not right now. Right now this feels better. Besides, getting dressed up like that and wearing lots of make-up, it's kind of like a costume. Like I'm performing. I'm not performing.' Is the measure of womanhood wearing pretty dresses? Can't boys wear dresses if they want? Aren't you a feminist? 'Well, whatever you do, you're my baby and I'll always love you. But I have to be allowed to state my opinion.' 'Sure, but my body and my gender are not up for debate.' 'I know. I'm not debating.' 'Sure feels like it.' I tied my boots. We left it at that. Wish I could have expressed it better, what I'm feeling right now. I talked to a trans guy over on another site. I told him how I don't really experience gender dysphoria. He said he didn't either, but he did have gender euphoria when he was in the right gender expression, and more and more as he transitioned. That's what this feeling is, I guess, when I put on the binder and go out in public and just feel good about it all. Gender euphoria. When it feels right.
  6. Thorn Wilde

    Identity Crisis?

    I'm sat here shivering. It's cold out, but I feel like it's not just that. I just feel really anxious. I went to my mum's today, to celebrate Finland's Independence Day. We had food and champagne and watched the broadcast from the gala at the presidential palace in Helsinki. It was nice. I had planned to talk to her about my gender. About the non-binary thing. About trans-masculinity. About how I feel about myself and my body and my brain right now. And I couldn't. It just didn't ... work, somehow. I want her to see me, but I don't know how to make that happen. When I've tried to raise the subject in the past, she's just kind of ignored it. Now it's much more serious than it has been before, and I can't handle that kind of reaction again. And I just got off the phone with my boyfriend. He's great. I love him a lot. He's moving here, to Norway, from England, to be with me. In like a month. 15th of January he'll be here. He'll look for a job, get a worker's permit, we'll live together ... It'll be wonderful. But he's straight. He sees me as a girl, I'm his girlfriend, and he doesn't really know how to see me any differently. We've talked a bit about it all. Months ago I asked him if he would still love me if I were a guy. If he would still want me if I had a different body. If, if, if ... And there's no real answer to those questions because you can't know until it happens. We talked about it just now, and he said he'll love me and support me no matter what, and that it's great that I want to live out my masculine side a little bit more. But I could tell from the way he was talking that he doesn't get it. He's currently, as I write this, selling all his things. All of them. He's giving up his flat. He's gonna stay with a friend for the last month he's there. It's scary as shit for him, and for me. But it just got scarier for me, because I don't fucking know what I am or what's going on with me or where I'm going with this. I don't know anything. I don't know how I'm gonna be able to stay in school. I don't know how I'm gonna be able to graduate. I don't know what my fucking gender is. I don't know. And I'm terrified that if I keep going in this direction, if I am a boy, fully and truly and actually 100% a boy, he won't want to be with me anymore. And he will have uprooted his life, moved here for me, and it'll end in tears. Everything feels like a potential mistake, because I'm not sure about anything. And it scares the fuck out of me. Wish someone could just hold me right now.
  7. Thorn Wilde

    Comings out

    Yesterday I was in the studio at school to record a jazz trio. Piano, drums and accordion, it was pretty weird and wonderful (I still have one of those songs stuck in my head...). I am the only one in my class who's not a cis man. Probably the only one who's queer. So hanging out with and working with these guys can feel kind of lonely, I guess. But after recording, my studio partner and I were packing down the equipment. Third guy had a concert he was mixing, so it was just the two of us, and via Christmas songs ('don we now our gay apparel'*) we got onto the subject of LGBTQ. I was wearing my binder yesterday and feeling pretty good about myself, and decided, fuck it. And I told him I was gender non-binary, and what that meant, and started talking about being trans masculine and social transition vs. medical transition and why I probably won't do the latter. And he listened, and asked questions, and was curious about how transitioning ftm was different from transitioning mtf, and we had a really nice conversation about it. Later I texted him and apologised for my complete lack of filter and just blurting out all this really personal stuff. He just said, 'Hey, don't worry about it. It was fun talking about something interesting and meaningful rather than just complaining about how other people coil cables.' I guess I wasn't really expecting any of these cis-het dudes I go to school with to get it, or be interested, or, you know, to not freak out at the whole idea. He surprised me, and honestly, I surprised myself by even talking about it to a person that I honestly don't even know that well. Later on I went to have dinner at a friend's house, cause my best friend and former flatmate is home from Dubai for a long weekend. I was still wearing my binder, and I felt like a boy, and I told my friends that I felt like a boy. Their acceptance wasn't a surprise; I was sitting around a table with a lesbian, an asexual, a bi dude who once wondered if maybe he was a woman, and a very friendly and accepting straight couple. But what did kind of surprise me was how validated I felt, especially when they asked me which pronoun they should use. I said I wasn't sure, and they said, 'Well, let us know and we'll adjust accordingly.' Aside from one half of the straight couple, these are people I've known since high school. The aforementioned bi dude and I talked a bit more at length while the rest of the party talked about other things. I told him about GA, and coming out to you all and how good that made me feel, especially with all the support I got. And then we all played Nintendo Switch, and that was that. No big drama. I've been trying to figure out how to talk to my mum about all this. She knows I'm non-binary, but she's never addressed it. She's very LGBTQ friendly, has lots of queer friends, talks at length about how hard it was for her gay best friend in the 70s, how sad it is that her American friend's transgender son can't get his legal gender changed, about name changes and how important it is to respect that, and has identified as bisexual for basically her entire life. (I came out to her as bi when I was fifteen or sixteen and she was like, 'So? I'm bi, too. I think almost everyone is.') But she scoffs at identity politics (which is basically just the notion that people should have the right to define themselves without experiencing prejudice), cause she finds it too individualistic and she's a marxist in everything but name. I've tried at length to explain to her how it's not about individualism, but actually about community and finding somewhere to fit in. I think if I were a straight up, gender dysphoric, want to definitely medically transition trans man, it would probably be easier for her. That's a box she can tick. But trying to make her accept me as primarily trans-masculine gender fluid is probably gonna be a little more difficult, and I don't even know where to begin. Given how she's never addressed the enby thing, and when I've tried to sort of bring it up she's seemed kind of dismissive, this is a conversation that we need to have. Just not sure how, or when. I'm gonna stop writing now, cause I'm basically rambling. TL;DR: conversations I had about my gender identity yesterday made me feel very happy and validated, but I don't know how to talk to my mum about it. * Interestingly, originally this part of Deck the Hall was 'fill the mead cup, drain the barrel'. It was changed during one temperance movement or another. The carroll itself is originally Welsh.
  8. Thorn Wilde

    My Gender Identity

    Over the years I've been here, I've gotten the odd PM asking me whether I'm actually male or female. I have answered these questions truthfully. When I returned after my hiatus, I was really happy to find that there's now a non-binary option under gender, as there wasn't one before. I identify as genderqueer, gender fluid, or non-binary. When I first got here, I didn't. Or, that is, I lacked the language to. I was assigned female at birth, and I always thought I was comfortable that way. But now, I don't. At some point in late 2012 or early 2013, I chose a gender neutral pen name, as I started to write again. I was posting to Archive of Our Own then, and I wanted for my gender not to matter. I didn't know why that was so important to me at the time, though I do now. In April 2013, I discovered GA through a reader on AO3, and I came here. I never disclosed my gender, but people assumed. People assumed that I was a guy, and I loved it. I felt very comfortable, and free. Kind of like this was what I was supposed to be, most of the time. I say most of the time, because sometimes I'm perfectly happy being a girl. I put on a dress, I wear make-up and heels, and I'm cool with being called she. I'm fine with being called she most of the time, for the moment. In real life, pronouns aren't the most important thing to me, especially since I, well, shift. Most people IRL read me as female, so I'm not gonna force that conversation. But when I'm in here, I love being he, and I wish people would read me as he more often out there as well. For the longest time, I thought my feelings weren't legitimate, because I didn't suffer from body dysphoria. But a lot of my trans friends don't, either. At some point, trans people became 'we' and not 'they', to me. I recently switched meds, and the hormonal balance in my body's a little bit out of whack right now. When I discovered that I was growing actual facial hair, I felt overjoyed. The things that cis women pluck off the moment they see them, I looked at and felt like, finally! I have an honest to god moustache now, though it's super light so you can barely see it. I can feel it, though. There's a lot of it. A couple of weeks ago, I got a binder. Today, I wore it, put on a shirt I like, and I went out into the world and felt awesome. I felt like this is me. For the past few weeks, I've seriously been considering medically transitioning. The one thing holding me back is my singing voice. I'm a musician. I'm a singer. If I transition, my voice will change. It's a big risk. I mean, it's not like I could do it right now, anyway. It would probably take years before I could even start treatment. I dunno, I haven't really voiced these thoughts properly before, they're a bit of a mess at the moment. I don't want to click publish on this. I feel like if I do, you'll all treat me differently. Like I won't get to be me anymore. I kind of feel like an impostor, no matter which way I go. When I wear dresses and make-up, I often feel like I'm in drag. When I come here, and I'm me, Thorn Wilde, I feel like if people knew they'd stop seeing me as who I am. A couple of years ago, I found out that some people I thought were my friends had been talking behind my back, saying that I called myself genderqueer cause I just wanted attention. And constantly there's this fucked up voice in my head telling me that they're right, and I'm just pretending. I'm not. I know I'm not. I know that when I'm here, I'm Thorn Wilde and I belong. I don't want that feeling to go away. But today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. In the past year, 369 trans people have been murdered. Those are the reported ones, the ones where the victims weren't misgendered. My family is dying. The least I can do is be open about who I am. This is me, in my binder and my favourite shirt, being me today. Pronouns: He/him.
  9. Today a dude in my group presented a painting with a bunch of hearts, meant to represent how sharing in art therapy group had helped him and put him in touch with his emotions and stuff, which, good for him. He prefaces this by saying, 'So, a bunch of hearts... Boys don't really draw hearts, I guess that's a little feminine...' This is the guy who's previously complained about his boss being a woman, said he doesn't think a female therapist can understand a male patient, and made a whole bunch of sexist and heterosexist generalisations during group. I wanted to ask him why he thinks hearts are feminine. I wanted to ask him why it matters if they are, and why that means boys 'don't' draw them. I didn't. My painting this week related to the absurdity of the gender binary and my struggles with understanding why being born with one set of genitalia and not the other should somehow say anything about who I am as a person. Why all these binaries? Boy - girl, masculine - feminine, skirt - trousers. Why can't we be/have both? And why should we be squeezed into these absurd and restrictive gender roles based on which sex we're assigned at birth? Another dude in group commented with his experiences working with trans and genderqueer people in LLH, a Norwegian LGBTQ organisation, how some people feel like they're born in the wrong body, how some feel like they don't belong to either gender, etc., and how that's okay. I like him, he's nice. But 'boys don't draw hearts'-guy was like, 'But you don't struggle with gender roles, do you?' I wanted to laugh in his face, but that might have been frowned upon. When we open the floor for questions and comments about our art, all questions are permitted. So I told him that of course I do. I don't understand why I should be restricted by some social construct. I don't understand why something as arbitrary as society's expectations should dictate what interests I should have, what colours I should like, how I should dress, what kind of jobs I'm better suited to. A genetic accident determines what kind of junk we're born with. Why should that matter any more than what colour eyes we have or whether our toes are hairy? Gender roles and expectations restrict us as individuals, and they restrict society as a whole.
  10. LillyLee

    Gender Map

    Found this online, it's a map of cultures that recognize non-binary genders. Gender Map
  11. LillyLee

    Disphoria

    uggggg..... Going to the in-laws this weekend. I'm not out to them or that side of the family. Don't plan on it either (at least not in the foreseeable future). I have been wearing a binder just about everyday for almost a month now, all men's clothes (and accessories and deodorant ect), even at work. Even just packing from me "girls" side of my dresser is making me feel uncomfortable. Trying to find the balance between 'comfortable and ME' and 'feminine enough to avoid any awkward questions' is stressful. I mean I've known them for over 7 years and I've always dressed 'tomboy' so it's not like they will expect me to show up in a skirt but with my hair being so much shorter and styled in a very masculine cut I feel pressured to dress extra feminine to counter act it. I'm feeling slightly disphoric just picking clothes out of my dresser knowing I'm going to be wearing them. Trying them on to see if they even fit (comfortably enough to wear) feels shitty. Also they have a pool, and there is a big BBQ tomorrow so we spend all day outside by the pool. OMG BATHING SUITES SUCK. I feel anxious and stressed (and I'm sitting here in a pair of boxer briefs and a muscle shirt) just thinking abut it. This weekend is going to suck. I'm also a little nervous about the hubby's reaction. He has been so amazing and supportive about this whole thing. It wasn't much of a change because I usually dressed masculine at home anyways. But it's been a while since hes seen me 'girl' I'm worried he's going to realize how much he refers it and misses it. I'm worried he won't be so cool once we come home and I go back to being ME. Chest binder and mens clothes. Ugg I have to wear a real bra! I've been wearing sports bras when ever i wasn't binding since May this is going to be so weird. just... fml.... okay, rant over.
  12. LillyLee

    Lables are exhausting

    I like labels... self imposed labels of course. It's human nature to want to put things in little boxes, even things that don't fit. Organizing them by similar characteristics so we can better understand and define them. I like this. But I believe people can only be labeled by themselves in most cases (if you have red hair your a red head deal with it or dye it lol) so I label myself and express these labels loud. So no one can do it for me and get it wrong! I have always known who I was, my personality has been the one thing I was always sure of (even my flaws). I am intelligent I am emotionally strong I am open-minded I am confident in my abilities I can be a bitch I can be judgmental (though I usually keep it to myself, and I'm working on this one) I am wise beyond my years I am independent I am an introvert I am a book-worm These are my self-imposed labels... but some of them are a little murky these days... I am a ....girl? NO ...boy?both?neither? umm.... ask me later. I am straight... umm except when I'm a boy then I guess I'm gay? so Can I be sometimes gay? ... Umm... I like cock. Am I still MOTHER even if I'm boy? Can I be confident and insecure at the same time? Ugg... I'm too old to deal with this shit! (Jokes!)
  13. LillyLee

    Non-Binary?

    Up until now I have been using the identifier 'non-binary' , mostly because I have no idea what my gender is, how I want to express it and so on. Also, it just fits. Over the last few months I have been paying around with my gender expression; clothing, hair style, accessories, binder. I also started using men's body wash and deodorant. I definitely feel best when I'm as 'man' as I can be. The idea of top surgery in theory is nice, and I would love to take T to give my body more masculine features, again in theory. But I'm not yet sure if t's what I really want, to be just 'man' always and forever. I don't know if it's my identity that's stopping me from next steps or fear. I have been so lucky with my husband; he has been super amazing and supportive and just.... I have to admit I was amazed. We have had some really great talks and he has just been so positive. But the other night we discussed potential trouble areas I may face if/when I decide to come out 100%. It made me really nervous and kind of shut down. Maybe I'll feel like I'm in a place to deal with it one day, but I'm not right now. My mom wouldn't understand at all, she would be nice but treat it the same way as she treated my pagan religion "yes, okay your 'pagan', sure." Thinly veiled skepticism. She wouldn't be hostile, but she doesn't understand the concept that gender is different than sex (she still is weird about Caitlyn Jenner). It's not as bad as it could be, but it a struggle I don't know I'm ready for. My mother in-law would be the type to just flat out ignore it; she has made some comments about what she calls "this gender movement thing" and "kids these days just need to make all these things up" . Sure I could sit them down and show them the science stuff behind it and explain it and talk about how it FEELS, but again, even he idea is exhausting and I don't know enough or how to explain to even try. I work in retail so dealing with being misgendered at work with customers is another thing that feels like it would be exhausting. It's hard enough every time I have to correct someone when they assume I'm a child (I usually get 16-19 vs my 27), I couldn't imagine having to do the "actually sir/madam, I'm not a female child, I'm a adult male" . Sigh, I need a nap just thinking about it. In the end it will probably feel worth it, but I'm not there yet. Also, what if I go through it all and then have a 'girl day' ? Like 'oh shit, I know I told you all I'm trans but hey... hahaha I'm not.' I mean... yes I know I can feel like a boy and dress like a girl Gender can be fluid My gender is defined by ME and ME alone I get to decide what kind of 'man' I am, maybe I'm a man who wants to wear dresses sometimes (i know I'll be a man that paints his nails). Fuck the haters But knowing it and feeling it are two different things. Arrrgg... this became lots of word vomit hahaha. It's a bumpy ride, huh?
  14. LillyLee

    Shopping and Bathrooms

    I always hated shopping. I would see cute clothes, but not cute FOR ME. Nothing ever felt like it fit right, even when it fit the way it was 'supposed to'. I found myself constantly passing by masculine looking clothes even though they felt more ME. I never understood the 'in fashions' or shared my friends idea on perfect outfits. I felt awkward in the women's section, like I was an invader that didn't belong. I always felt like people were looking at me thinking ' you shouldn't be here!' especially in the change rooms. Just the idea of having to go out shopping for new clothes was exhausting and just felt so 'wrong'. The last 2 months or so I have started shopping in the men's/boy's section. I have been choosing clothes that FELT right and fit COMFORTABLY. Men's jeans and t-shirts, long board and cargo shorts, muscle tanks and men's accessories. Shopping doesn't feel wrong any more. Getting dressed doesn't feel like a lie. I don't feel quite so out of place (maybe only a little because I don't pass very well, but it's ignorable because I FEEL like I belong, fuck what others think) . I invested in a really nice and comfortable binder tank and I LOVE it. I feel more comfortable and confident while wearing it. I feel like I look more RIGHT, more like ME. I even wore it to work for the first tie today. At first I was super nervous and shaky, because I'm not exactly out to everyone there and I didn't want any awkward questions. I don't know why I thought someone would say "hey, here did your boobs go?" but it seemed like a legitimate fear on the way in. Of course no one said anything, and there was no weird looks. I felt so much better! I even told my one work friends who I am out to I was wearing it and how excited I was and she was cool about it and asked how it worked and commented on how well it worked. It was really nice. I'm going to request a new uniform shirt, men style because the women's in tapered and extenuates my hips awkwardly, and I think that will help even more! I just need well fit men's dress pants and my work uniform will be ballin' ! It's still super awkward to go to bathrooms and change rooms though. Since I'm not 100% out (and even if I was I don't pass very well I've been told), I still use the women's, but it feels wrong and like with shopping I feel like I'm in the wrong place and I'm invading. I just try to time it to make sure I'm not in there alone and it's the only time reminding myself 'the rest of the world thinks I'm a women' is a good thing. But that will come eventually.
  15. LillyLee

    Inner Confliction

    I recently started, slowly, 'coming out' as gender fluid. Some of my close friends and husband, some random people at work and acquaintances i felt would be accepting/ understanding.\ Started updating my wardrobe and finding ways to battle the dysphoria when I'm in a situation I'm unable/uncomfortable presenting honestly on "boy days" (such as at work or situations where I have to be "kiddo's Mom". Today was a "boy day". Hubby, kiddo and I went shopping. I had on a great neutral outfit and was feeling awesome. And handsome Got some great neutral and "boy day" clothes. Had dinner and scowled when the waitress very obviously put the candies down in front of me and the bill in front of him . And chuckled when the hubby passed it right over (because I always pay) . Then, walking home a pick-up truck full of teenage boys drove by and yelled out the window at us. I'm not 100% sure what they yelled, they were driving pretty fast. But I'm pretty sure it was something along the lines of "F*ck*ng Fairies" or "F*ck*ng F*gg*ts" . And the inner conflict began..... Part of my was all "who gives a sh*t what they think! F*ck 'em" Part of me was all "what kind of low lives think it's okay to yell things like that out the window at people? For christ sake give it up!" Part of me wished I had moved quick enough to flash my (usually very obvious) t*ts their way to teach them about judging someone based on appearance. But another part of me was just a little excited that walking down the street with my hubby and son a group of strangers was so convinced I was a guy they felt confident to assume we were a homosexual couple. Those guys are till ass holes though.
  16. LillyLee

    Non-Binary

    From the time I was old enough to choose my own clothes I preferred my brothers. Baggy pants and t-shirts, long shorts, hoodies. My interests and hobbies were those that would be considered masculine; sports, action figures, super heroes, camping, hiking. I have a very distinct memory of playing Barbies and putting them in the jeep and pushing it down the stairs. My mother definitely thought it was odd. My preferred friends we're boys and my favorite cousins were boys. I was a tom boy and that was okay. When my friends and I played pretend I was always the boyfriend, bad guy or brother. When I was 11 I cut all my hair off, because honestly it was just a hassle. When I hit puberty, a little earlier then mos girls in my class, I began wearing baggy zip up sweaters to hid my boobs. I didn't understand the other girls fascination with clothes and I had no interest in dresses or trying my moms make up. I was rougher and tougher and more independent then most of my friends/ girls I knew. I hid my body and hated wearing bathing suites. I was from the big city and this was a small town. I had a single mother. I had an older brother who was a bit of a bully. I was from a low income family. There were a million reasons I came up with for why I was so different. And a million reasons why I didn't give a fuck about the bullying. And oh boy, was I bullied. For all those things and more. But I never let them know it bothered me. Then I discovered boys. And that boys liked GIRLS. I let my hair grow long. I learned to use basic make up and let my girl friends dress me up. I shook my butt and tuck out my boobs. Oh, don't get me wrong, I was still a tom boy. I still preferred sports and my closest friends we're still boys. I only dressed up on 'special occasions'. I was my male friend's 'little brother' (true nick-name). There was actually one time when me and one of my guy friends and his gf went on a long bus ride and she got bored and did my make-up. Afterwards she asks him what he thinks and he goes "sometimes i forget you're a girl". True story. When my friends complained about boys I usually understood where the guys were coming from and often thought the girls were being overly critical or holding unreal expectations (they can't read your mind!). I hated talking about my feelings and I found myself seeing thing in a totally different was then my female friends. I was still rougher and tougher and more independent. A little bit more reckless. I slept around (when I was single) and didn't give a crap about being a lady. In fact I was mostly proud that I could be 'one of the guys' and often described as 'not like most girls' . I still got bullied for being that way. My Mom and my Grandmother and the women in my family told me I would be so much prettier/ popular/ successful if I just 'put on a little bit of makeup', if I just wore more feminine clothes. All the adults in my life warned me 'boys might not like my tattoos' . And even though I was in great shape (from being so active), with a 'nice rack' and a tight butt. Even though I had beautiful hair and a sweet smile and wide color-changing eyes. Even though boys and girls alike told me I was pretty/ attractive. Even though I never hurt for dates. I still had body image issues. I still preferred to cover up and I still felt something was 'wrong' with my body. I still looked in the mirror and hated what I saw. Even though I fit into society's outline of how a young girl should look to be considered pretty, I was not happy or confident. I never understood why. I was lucky my insecurities about my body were off set by my pride in my brain and my emotional strength. Things could have gotten real bad otherwise. I never felt the need to starve or harm myself. I was able to accept that even though I didn't like myself physically I liked who I was on the inside. I was lucky I believed that was more important. I am 27. I am a wife and a mother of a 5 year old boy (who is more feminine then I am). I still hate my body and get along better with men. I understand how my husband thinks (most of the time, hes a little immature). My hair is super short, I prefer baggy shirts and jeans, sports bras and long shorts. I read stories/books about gay men because I relate to them more then ones about women. Sometimes I have fun doing myself up all pretty like, hair and make-up and tight jeans. I have a slight obsession with boots and shoes. I enjoy painting my nails and everything purple. I enjoy rom-coms when the mood hits me. Alecia Moore (Pink) is one of my idols, I enjoy bubble gum pop, boy bands and yes, even Taylor swift and Alanis Moresette (okay maybe Selena Gomez has a couple really catchy songs too). And I have learned I am not alone. I am not abstract. I am not strange or weird or off. There are others like me. And now I understand WHY. There has begun a huge movement regarding gender identity and gender expression. I have learned so much about this 'thing' that I never before knew existed, a way of being I always thought was me being weird. I learned that your sex is your genitals and your gender is how you feel. I learned that sometimes your sex and your gender don't line up. I learned that there are SCIENTIFIC FACTS that support this. I identify as non-binary. Some days I'm a girl but most days I'm a boy. I AM A UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE, just like everyone else. Expressing MY OWN IDENTITY is not a call for attention (the purple/blue/red/pink depending on the day hair maybe is though). Being thankful THERE IS A NAME FOR IT and that I'M NOT ALONE is not making things up. Asking you to respect WHO I AM is not attacking you, your family, your religion, your morals or your way of life. Wanting to tell other people and share what I have learned so NO ONE ELSE EVER FEELS WRONG AGAIN is not rubbing your face in it. Finally being able to not only ADMIT MY BODY IS WRONG but also UNDERSTAND WHY, is not jumping on the band-wagon or participating in a fad (I have always felt this way!) AND I AM NOT HURTING ANYONE
  17. glitteryantlers

    funny not funny

    From the album: pics

    I was easily fooled :-(
  18. Welcome! This is the discussion thread for The Art Of Being Gay. This story is based on two character sketches I wrote due to prompts. I'm doing something new to me. I've always developed a plot line and ending for my stories. This one is completely open and without an outline of any kind. I'm walking the tightrope without a net. I have ideas, images, and icons that have helped shape our identity. But I'm not sure where they will take Roy and Chad. Anyway, if you have suggestions or critiques, please share. I'm quite open to any help navigating and surveying these characters' pathway. Thanks for joining me on a journey into the unknown. The first two chapters have setup the scenario. And away we go! Cole
  19. Zombie

    Ex Machina

    this British movie, released tomorrow in the UK, deals with A.I. and the Turing Test. Here's the IMDB synopsis Caleb, a 24 year old coder at the world's largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world's first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl. So, what exactly makes a computer / A.I. female? Or male? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0470752/
  20. This is a very interesting blog on the culture of homosexuality within Native American tribes and their concept of gender variance - specifically, the idea of "two-spirit people". Sadly this widespread cultural acceptance and positive view of gender difference amongst native peoples has been affected by the malign effects of Christian influence but, encouragingly, there are signs that Native American tribes are returning to their traditional views on sexuality: As Joe Medicine Crow, a Crow traditionalist, told Walter Williams, “We don’t waste people the way white society does. Every person has their gift: http://www.gay-art-history.org/gay-history/gay-customs/native-american-homosexuality/two-spirit-native-american-gay.html
  21. I used to think being gay made life complicated, but after listening last week to the BBC R4 Analysis programme "Who Decides If I'm A Woman?" I've realised I don't know the half of it ... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Broadcast Date:18.03.13 Presenter: J Fidgen Taking part in order of appearance: Ruth Pearce: Postgraduate Researcher in Sociology, University of Warwick Stephen Whittle OBE: Professor of Equalities Law, Manchester Metropolitan University Richard O’Brien: Writer of Rocky Horror Show Lord Alex Carlile QC: Liberal Democrat Member of House of Lords Julie Bindel: Feminist and Journalist Melissa Hines: Professor of Psychology, Cambridge University James Barrett: Consultant Psychiatrist and Lead Clinician, Charing Cross National Gender Identity Clinic --------------------------------------------------------- FIDGEN: It’s a pretty safe bet that you’re a man or a woman. Isn’t it? PEARCE: Gender queer, gender fluid, androgynous, bi-gender … (fades) WHITTLE: Who decides whether we are men or women? Is it the midwife who you know has a quick glance? I’ve seen four children be born. I know how quick that glance is. “Oh you’ve got a girl.” Well how do you know we’ve got a girl? You’ve not done anything but a quick glance. O’BRIEN: I believe myself probably to be about 70% male, 30% female. FIDGEN: 70% male, 30% female…? That’s Richard O’Brien, by the way, the writer of the Rocky Horror Show. His 1973 hit musical threw all the conservative ideas of sexual propriety of the time into the air, and celebrated everything queer. But back then, unlike his creation, Frankenfurter, Richard was afraid to reveal he himself wasn’t all man. No one knows how many people share this conviction that their gender identity doesn’t match their body, how many people are transgendered - but the numbers seeking treatment are on the rise and policy makers and social commentators are on the case. A vicious spat flared earlier this year when the columnist, Julie Burchill, dismissed male-to-female transsexuals as ‘a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs’, and voiced a view held by some feminists that they could never be considered women. The article caused so much outrage it was pulled from the Observer website. Some of what Julie Burchill wrote was undoubtedly pure provocation, but it tapped into a deeper debate. As we’ll discover in this Analysis, scientists and policy makers have been redefining - in quite dramatic terms - what it is to be a woman or a man. Before, I would have told you quite confidently that I was a woman. Now I’m not so sure. Our story begins 25 years or so ago, when a bearded man walked into the office of then Liberal MP, now Lord, Alex Carlile. CARLILE: When I met him, I realised that I would have had absolutely no idea that he’d ever been anything other than a male! He is male, looks male, sounds male, behaves male. FIDGEN: In fact, he’d been born female, but was living as a man and had come to see the MP because he was having difficulties. CARLILE: It seemed to me that he had been greatly disadvantaged in the workplace and so on, and that he was a bit of un-person in many ways. FIDGEN: In what sense? CARLILE: Well for all official reasons, he was regarded as female. You know if he went into a gentlemen’s lavatory, he might have been accused of doing something wrong. The first issue I took up for this gentlemen was whether we could have his birth certificate changed, and it proved that for statutory reasons, old Acts of Parliament, there was absolutely nothing you could do. FIDGEN: In 1996, Alex Carlile tabled a gender identity bill. It didn’t get anywhere with the Conservative government of the day, but it did pique Labour’s interest, and in 2004, the Gender Recognition Act was passed. Professor of Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University, Stephen Whittle: WHITTLE: The Gender Recognition Act still is the state of the art act in relation to this anywhere in the world. It allows people after two years of living permanently in their preferred gender role to ask for that preferred gender role to be recognised in law, so their gender (and therefore their sex in terms of law) is changed from that point forward, and for all legal purposes they’re recognised in the new gender/sex. FIDGEN: Professor Whittle has a vested interest in this - he’s a trans man – in other words, he was brought up as a girl but now lives as a man. WHITTLE: I first started feeling I don’t want to grow up to be a girl probably about three or four, five, when my younger brothers were born and I saw some of the clothes, for example, that were bought for them. You know why wasn’t I going to be one of them? I was ten when it was school races day and there were girls races and boys races. And I remember that so clearly. It was my light on the road to Damascus - this sudden realisation that I was always going to be in the wrong race. FIDGEN: When he was 17, he sought medical help. WHITTLE: I transitioned in 1975 when getting treatment was extremely hard. In 1979 I had my chest reconstructed and I had a full hysterectomy at that point. Unfortunately there wasn’t really any surgeons in this country creating penises, but we got one later and in 2000 I had my penis constructed. But it didn’t mean I had to get rid of everything else at the same time. That other part of the genital surgery is actually very difficult. So I live with a sort of mixed body. FIDGEN: Stephen met his partner, Sarah, soon after transitioning, and they have four children by donor insemination. The Gender Recognition Act allowed him to adopt those children. It also established a process by which anyone over 18 can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate, which allows you to change your sex on your birth certificate. And get this - if I wanted to reclassify myself as a man, there would be no obligation on me to change my body in any way - through hormones or surgery. All I would have to do is have a psychiatrist confirm that I had been living fulltime as a man for at least two years. Can that be right? As far as the state’s concerned, I can officially be a man, yet have the body of a woman? WHITTLE: Absolutely. It’s perfectly possible for you to get a Gender Recognition Certificate, to get a new birth certificate in your preferred gender, but still basically to have the body of somebody of the opposite sex and yet to be able to, for example, get married as if you were the new person. In fact for the last seven years, we’ve seen all sorts of pairings of genitals getting married, and when people are shouting about same sex marriage, I really want to just say calm down, it’s been going on for a long time now. FIDGEN: The state appears to have divorced body and mind, sex and gender. This is radical stuff. Or is it? Radical feminists like Julie Bindel think it’s an ultra-conservative move. BINDEL: The Gender Recognition Act is further entrenching the notion of gender. It’s saying that there is such a thing as a female brain, that there is such a thing as a real man and a real woman, and this is precisely what feminism is tasked with challenging. WHITTLE: There is an argument that the Gender Recognition Act has effectively entrenched gender stereotypes. It’s done something very different from that because actually what you now have is people who are legally women going round with penises and even getting married as women with penises. I can’t see anything that more challenges the stereotypes than that. FIDGEN: Hasn’t Stephen Whittle got a point? This looks like an unrivalled opportunity to disrupt gender stereotypes. Well, that’s not the way Julie Bindel sees it. She thinks transgenderism is damaging feminism. BINDEL: What ultimately feminists want to do is to eradicate the straitjacket of gender. What transgender people want to do is defend gender and keep a very strong hold on it as integral to their identity. They rely on gender to showcase femininity and masculinity. So for a person who feels that they’re transgender, to go to a psychiatrist to convince them you have to play on every single harmful stereotype available. PEARCE: I’m often scruffy, I wear jeans, I wear t-shirts, I wear baggy hoodies. FIDGEN: Ruth Pearce was born a boy. As a teenager, she realised she wanted to be a girl. She says Julie Bindel’s criticism that psychiatrists insist on trans women having big hair and high heels is out of date. PEARCE: Certainly once I got to the gender clinic, I wasn’t encouraged to dress or act in a stereotypically feminine way, and that’s something that’s changed over the last two decades or so. As a feminist, I believe that a trans perspective and a feminist perspective aren’t necessarily at odds. FIDGEN: Ruth Pearce’s experience has informed her work as a sociologist. She studies transgender issues at the University of Warwick. PEARCE: We move through a world in which feminine and masculine are things that exist. What we can do is seek a world in which this doesn’t matter anymore, but in the short-term I think it is important to acknowledge that there are differences in ways that people interact. When I was effectively living as a teenage boy, a lot of my ways of expressing myself were seen as weird or strange. I was asked if I was gay by people. The behaviours I happen to have, the interests I happen to have fitted more easily into the somewhat artificial category of girl than they did into the somewhat artificial category of boy. I think transgenderism as we understand it now would not exist in a world free of binary gender. Transgenderism is a reaction to the world as it is now. FIDGEN: So there’s trans woman Ruth Pearce agreeing with the radical feminists, that one explanation for people wanting to change sex is social pressure to conform to gender stereotypes, to fit into a gender binary - with man on the one side, woman on the other. But the desire is often accompanied by a visceral dislike of the sexual characteristics of one’s body - an experience known as gender dysphoria. Scientists are trying to understand what exactly is going on - though without much success. HINES: We are frankly mystified by what might be the cause of an individual wanting to live as a person of the other sex. FIDGEN: I went to meet Melissa Hines, a gender expert and Professor of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, in the hope that she could at least nail down some basics for me. (To Hines) Can you start by giving us a definition of what sex and gender are in your view? HINES: People have separated sex and gender and suggested that sex is biological and gender is culturally determined. I find sometimes it’s hard to make this distinction. FIDGEN: Can you tell me then, in pretty basic terms, how you would go about determining what sex somebody is? HINES: I would ask them. FIDGEN: It’s up to them? HINES: I think it should be up to them. FIDGEN: You can choose whether you’re male or female? I need to find some solid ground here. What can we be sure of? Well, we do know that while we’re in the womb, sex hormones determine whether we develop male or female genitalia - and experiments on animals suggest they may also have an impact on the way the brain develops, and on behaviour. HINES: This is a fire-truck and this has a ladder, and boys typically play with this toy more than girls do. We also have a fantastic tea-set. FIDGEN: How children play with toys is of particular interest to Melissa Hines. Her focus is on children born with ambiguous genitalia and how their gender identity develops. HINES: The available research suggests that genetic information and hormonal levels before birth contribute to gender related behaviours and that the individual comes to society already predisposed in certain directions. FIDGEN: Wait a minute. This is threatening the very foundations on which modern feminism is built. Many feminists want to believe girls aren’t born liking dolls and preferring pink - they are taught to behave that way. For them sex is a biological reality, a question of chromosomes - but gender is made-up, a social construct, a set of rules to keep men and especially women in their place. And yet, here’s a scientist saying we come to the world already gendered in some ways. HINES: I think the idea that all of gender is a social construction is a political point of view. From a scientific point of view, although socialisation is important, there also are some inborn factors that contribute to gender development. So, for instance, girls who are exposed to very high levels of testosterone prenatally show more male typical behaviour after birth. So, they’re more likely to like toys like cars and trucks and weapons that boys usually gravitate towards and they’re less interested in toys like dolls and tea-sets that girls might usually like. FIDGEN: So will those girls grow up wanting to be boys? HINES: The girls who are exposed to high levels of testosterone are more likely than women in general to want to live as men in adulthood despite having been raised as girls, so that suggests some possible contribution of testosterone prenatally to gender dysphoria. On the other hand, the vast majority of women with this disorder don’t want to change to live as men, so it’s not as simple as hormone exposure leading to this outcome. FIDGEN: Researchers are exploring other avenues too – a mooted link to childhood abuse is one. Another that has caused a lot of excitement was a comparison of the brains of transgender and non-transgender people. It discovered that a part of the brain that is central to sexual behaviour is typically smaller in females - and in the brains of male-to-female transsexuals. HINES: But this sex difference appears to develop after puberty. And so that makes it a bit confusing because most people who want to live as a person of the gender other than their physical appearance have wanted to do so from before puberty, so it’s not clear what the causal relationship is between this brain region and gender dysphoria. It might be that the experience of gender dysphoria causes the change in the brain. FIDGEN: While the evidence of a biological cause for transgenderism is far from conclusive, there is enough for international disease classification bodies to question whether it is time to stop labelling it as a mental illness - as they did with homosexuality in 1973. As it stands, anyone in the UK who wishes to take hormones or have sex reassignment surgery – available on the NHS - has to be seen by a psychiatrist. Most - 1400 last year - are referred to the Charing Cross National Gender Identity Clinic in London, where James Barrett is lead clinician. BARRETT: It doesn’t really matter what I think a boy is or a girl is or a man is or a woman is. It’s not for me to judge that. FIDGEN: For Dr Barrett, your gender identity is how you feel about yourself - plus how everybody else feels about you. BARRETT: It would be fairly disastrous if I thought this person, oh he’s very much like a woman - they certainly look that way, they certainly talk that way and relate to me that way. That’s not really important, they’re not going to spend the rest of their life talking to me. They’re going to spend the rest of their life buying cheese in Tesco and getting on with their job, so what matters is how well it works there. FIDGEN: If I came to see you and said to you, “I’ve been born into a female body but I’m a man,” what would you ask me, what would you want to know? BARRETT: I’d want to know something about your sense of yourself and how you behaved when you were smaller: what kind of clothing choices you were making, what kind of playing with toys choices you were making; but often just spontaneous utterances like “When will I grow a penis?” said at the age of four to your mother is suggestive that perhaps at that age there was already something up. FIDGEN: The earlier you change sex, the more convincing the outcome. Just under two years ago, approval was given in the UK to hormone blockers so that gender dysphoric 12 year olds can stop their bodies developing. At the age of 16, they can choose to start taking cross-sex hormones, and at 18, can have surgery. Last year, just over 200 children were referred for medical help. 19 are on hormone blockers. Julie Bindel - a lesbian and a feminist - is worried about where this might lead us. BINDEL: Many children who present as transgender end up identifying as either lesbian or gay in later life and no longer identify as transgender. Definitely had I been taken to a psychiatrist when I was you know in my early teens and was being bullied because of living outside of gender rules, I may well have been given a diagnosis of being transgender and I could be sitting here talking to you as a male. So I think hormone blockers for children are a dreadful idea. FIDGEN: She’s also concerned about the practical consequences of men becoming women. BINDEL: I was volunteering at a service near a street prostitution area where the women had an appalling history of child sexual abuse and who were being abused on the streets. And a male to female transgender person, pre-op, came in - beard, stubble, very short skirt, sat with her legs very widely splayed and obviously had male genitals and proceeded to behave aggressively to the other women. And there was nothing that the manager of the service could do to tell her to leave because she legally has the right to be in that space as a woman. There are also examples of trans women who are in women’s prisons, and often these trans women are in there for inflicting violence upon women; that their rights are viewed as more important than the women in those prisons. FIDGEN: Is this the unintended consequence of a legal reform to give equal rights to a disadvantaged group? I raised the issue with Lord Carlile, who first brought transgenderism to the attention of law makers. CARLILE: You know if somebody goes into a court and is accused and their original name was ‘John Smith’ and they choose to call themselves ‘Jane Smith’, they will be tried as ‘Jane Smith’, and I don’t see why what a court recognises should not also be recognised by the prison service. FIDGEN: Taking an extreme example … CARLILE: Yeah. FIDGEN: … a male to female transsexual who has not gone through surgery, speaking bluntly still has a penis, rapes somebody, is sentenced but is officially recognised as a woman. Which prison does she go too? CARLILE: Well in my view, arrangements should be made for that person to go to a female prison. I think that the arrangements that can be made in prison are very varied. The person concerned may spend a great deal more time on their own, but I think that their right to be a male or a female is a very strong right and that should be respected when someone is sent to prison. FIDGEN: So far, so problematic. But what about people who say they’re neither male nor female, or perhaps they’re both. If Rocky Horror Show writer Richard O’Brien committed a crime, where would he be imprisoned? O’BRIEN: It’s my belief that the human being is on a continuum. There are people who are hardwired male and there are people who are hardwired female, but most of us are on that continuum and I believe myself probably to be about 70% male, 30% female. I was six and a half when I said to my big brother that I wanted to be the fairy princess when I grew up. And the look of disdain, it made me pull down the shutters. I knew that I should never ever say that out loud again. FIDGEN: Richard kept the secret for half a century, but now the shutters have been well and truly flung up! O’BRIEN: I have been on oestrogen for about ten years. For the first time in my life, I’ve started to put on a little bit of weight, which I like, and I’m getting little tits and things like that. It takes the edge off the masculine side of me, the testosterone driven side of me. I think I’ve become a nicer person in some ways, slightly softer. Anton Rogers, the actor, he described me as “the third … the middle sex,” he said. “You’re the third sex.” And I thought that’s quite nice. I quite like that position really. I don’t know, I just feel … (sighs) I don’t have to be a man anymore. Do you know what I mean? I feel I don’t have to pretend anymore. Being a man is very tiring. All the pretence. You’ve got to talk about cars and you’ve got to do this and do that. It’s just … It’s so boring. It is terribly boring being a man. FIDGEN: Richard O’Brien doesn’t want to have surgery, but to find a happy medium between maleness and femaleness. And he has scientific backing for his belief that we are on a gender spectrum. Cambridge psychology professor, Melissa Hines, believes he’s right - there aren’t just two distinct sexes. HINES: I think that the research in this field suggests just the opposite - that there is not a gender binary; that there’s a range of gender, and there are many dimensions of gender and an individual person can be in a different position in terms of how masculine or feminine they are on each of these dimensions. I think the source of people’s inability to really incorporate this idea into their thinking has to do with the human minds wanting things to be simple. They want things to be yes/no, male/female, black/white, and that’s not the nature of the world. FIDGEN: But this poses problems for psychiatrists at the sharp end. James Barrett of the UK’s main gender identity clinic. BARRETT: People who live in a rather ambiguous gender role, those patients are thought about really carefully. The concern is that one doesn’t want to do anything that’s drastic and irreversible and then have them in a position where they’re not happy and can’t get out of the situation that they’re in. Most of the people who I end up dealing with in clinical practice do not see themselves as on any kind of a spectrum. They see themselves as unremarkably male or unremarkably female. Now it may well be on biological findings that in fact everybody’s on a spectrum, it’s just that the way society works most people don’t think of themselves as on any kind of a spectrum at all. The same is probably true of sexual orientation. Most people don’t describe their own sexual orientation as being on a spectrum, although actually, practically speaking, it very much is. FIDGEN: Maybe we’ll all soon be defining our gender identity in percentage terms just like Richard O’Brien. If you think this is fanciful and that it’s hard enough to get your head around the new territory policymakers have led us onto, then brace yourself - this may be where we’re heading next. Trans campaigner Ruth Pearce: PEARCE: I think a massive battle still needs to be fought legally and that’s for trans people who don’t identify as female or as male - trans people who might describe themselves for instance as gender queer, as androgyne, as bi-gender or as gender fluid, to use just some terms that people use to describe themselves. And I think the big legal battle at the moment is moving beyond binary gender to a place where people can move through the world legally without having to say that they’re female or male. FIDGEN: Change is coming. Law professor Stephen Whittle: WHITTLE: What’s been happening to the law over the last twenty years is that we have been de-gendering the law. So take, for example, the Sexual Offences Act. Rape is rape whether it’s done by a man or a woman. Similarly, the Road Traffic Act used to require you to declare whether you were a man or a woman. Well you don’t have to declare that any longer. In Australia you’re no longer required to have M or F on your passport. You can choose to have an X. FIDGEN: What difference would it really make if the state stopped taking an interest in our sex or gender identity? Women and men before long will be collecting their pensions at the same time; same sex marriage is likely to get the nod. Penning a law won’t change society overnight - but cultural attitudes do tend to catch up. WHITTLE: I remember when we had twin babies. Sarah was feeding one and I had the other with a bottle. And our two other children, Gabriel and Eleanor, were sat at the dinner table with us. And Gabriel, who was about three and a half, turned to us and said, “How do you know that they’re girls?” And I looked at Sarah, my wife, who went, “Well Gabriel, we don’t know whether they’re girls. We know that most people born with vaginas will grow up to be girls and we know that most people born with penises will grow up to be boys. Sometimes that’s wrong. So if we’ve got it wrong with the twins … We’ve made a guess, but if we’ve got it wrong, when they’re big enough and old enough, they’ll tell us and then we can sort it out then.” That was a perfectly good answer for them both. FIDGEN: Who, then, decides if I’m a woman? I do. Scientists and policy makers agree on that. This quiet revolution has taken place without many of us noticing - maybe because we thought it concerned only a small minority of the population - but it affects all of us and the way we organise society. If we can accept that sex and gender are a personal choice - with a whole range of possibilities between the extremes of male and female, man and woman - the battle of the sexes as we know it will be over. What comes next? Perhaps, a new model of society where we negotiate relationships with each other and the state on our own, individual, terms.
  22. Hello Everyone! I Love this site and the community that you have formed! I'm the editor of a gender queer E'zine, and have spoken with Myr, and the others that run this site for you. They have agreed to allow me to post this call for submissions here as an opportunity for those of you that write non-fiction. Our E'zine is part of a larger community site who's mission is to provide world-class education, and a place of safety for ALL those who do not fit into gender stereotypes. We are doing this as a service to our community. We too believe in developing and promoting gay writers. All authors who's writing is chosen for publication on our site will be encouraged to include active links to their work here. Submission details are below. Spectrum is a magazine dedicated to providing a place for gender queer individuals to speak out about information and issues that affect us all. The gender queer spectrum includes those who identify as Trans, Bi-gendered, Femme, Butch, boi, Androgynous, Agendered, and many other gender terms that are not well known yet. This is a place dedicated to honoring the full expression of gender that humanity is capable of. As a publication of ideas and perspectives, we offer a forum through which gender queer writers, scholars, and readers can use the internet to deeply explore themes of interest to our rich blend of identities. We trace our roots to our gender queer pioneers at places like Stonewall that existed all over the world. We welcome and encourage today's emerging queers as they discover their own gender identity and expression. Spectrum looks to spark discussion that is informed, and current while providing a much needed link to the history of the gender queer movement. Submissions We accept submissions of news, reviews, opinion, commentary, and nonfiction that has a gender queer subject/slant/impact and pertains to the following categories; ** News & Politics, Love & Sex, Media & Arts, Hero's & History, Gender Theory, Non-Traditional Families, Global Events. **Feel free to contact us before writing to gauge the usefulness of your story idea, but note that any and all manuscripts are submitted on speculation. We print the best and most appropriate material to meet the needs and expectations of our readers at the time. Your submission may not be accepted if we may have similar stories already, a backlog of features, or have already covered the topic in a recent issue. Don't be discouraged; your piece might be perfect for a future issue. We will keep it in our archives for just such a purpose. We are happy to work with new writers who are queer or have insights of interest to our readers. All individuals who's work is accepted will have a unique author profile which will include a bio and publication history. Word Count Due to the wide ranging subject matter we do not have a maximum word count. We are looking for concise event and review material as well as feature length articles. Minimum word count for reviews is 450. How To Submit Send submissions to Tribequeer@gmail.com: – Attach the story in RTF or DOC formats. – In the subject line put the SUBMISSION (in all caps), your name and word count. – In then body of the email, put your name, pen-name (if any), contact information, a short bio, two to three lines, as well as any credits or relevant websites you wish to plug. – The story should be double-spaced, in a readable font, and as you originally formatted it; paragraphs indented, italicized words in italics, etc. It is helpful to our editors if you follow standard manuscript guidelines (Though no story will be rejected for failure to follow them to the letter). Response Time Spectrum will respond to your submission as soon as possible; our policy is to have a response to all submissions within 1 month. Editorial Caveat Stories should be thoroughly proofread before submission. We do understand that minor mistakes will slip by and we will correct them before publication on the website. Minor grammatical changes may be made to the story; however, we will seek the author’s permission before publication. Publishing Rights We do not ask for first North American publishing rights to your work; whatever you send us can be submitted again to another publication. If you do send us a piece that has already been published or exhibited elsewhere, please include the name of the venue and the date of your publication/exhibit so that we can post the appropriate credits. However, we do ask that you not send us any simultaneous submissions.
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