Take it away, Sister Golden Bear!
Today is the annual Trans Day of Visibility, and for trans folks (and our non-binary/gender non-conforming siblings) it’s both the best of times and the worst of times.
I mostly post about the latter because the effort to eradicate — and I don’t use that word lightly — trans people from public life is hateful, alarming and requiring direct action to combat. The on-going hate-crimes murders of trans people, usually almost all trans women, usually almost all women of color, usually the vast majority Black trans women. The demonization of trans (girl) athletes — because it’s almost always trans women/girls who are targeted — by an unholy alliance between social conservatives and purported “feminists,” who are really Feminist-Approriately Reactionary Transphobes. (Because if you’re “feminism” aligned you with the Immoral Minority, then you’re doing feminism wrong.) State legislatures proposing — and passing — laws to criminalize providing trans-related healthcare to trans kids, to allow doctors to deny healthcare in general to trans patients.
Like the attack on voting rights, even when they fail these efforts are meant to intimidate us. They force us and our allies to expend time on effort that could go to more worthy purposes — such as reducing the shockingly high rates of suicide among trans teens. In a 2018 study, 85% of trans teens reported “seriously considering suicide,” while over half of them attempted suicide. Because life is that fucking tough for them. In another study, 78% of respondents reported being harassed, 35% attacked and 12% sexually assaulted. Trans adults have suicide rate comparable only to combat vets suffering PTSD, because yes, life is that fucking hard for too many of us as well. I only post about a fraction of this stuff, not only for my own sanity, but to prevent myself from becoming Janie One Note. Trust me, there’s a lot of other things that I’d rather be posting about. So if you know a trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming person, today is a really good day to show them some love, because although there’s now a lot of good things happening, there’s still all too much threatening and scary stuff going down.
It’s also the best of times. Like for many other minorities, the existential terror of The Former Guy’s administration is now gone. The current administration has our backs, and they’re walking the walk. They’re rolling back the hateful policies of the prior administration. The Biden administration became to the first to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility, while also today the Pentagon reversed the military’s trans ban. That’s a big Joe Biden Deal. (Even if presidential executive orders mean my rights are at the whim of who’s in power.) The love shown to Elliot Page shown when he came out. The increasing visibility of, and support for, trans men, who’ve traditionally flown under the radar (for better or worse).
Dr. Rachel Levine getting confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Secretary of Health — the first trans person to do so. Dr. Levine’s accomplishment is a double victory, because like a lot of later-in-life transitioners, including myself, she’s “visibly trans” due to the unwanted changes testosterone wreaked on her body. Previously the high-profile trans woman activists, like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock were less threatening: they fit the cisgender heterosexual norms of beauty, they’re attracted to men. Which is not to knock their activism, far from it. But life is different when you look like, well Laverne Cox. I still regularly get “sirred” by store cashiers and others. I’ve resigned myself to always being “sirred” on the phone. I’ve learned to let roll off my back since it’s often not worth correcting them, but for part of me it’s still always another slice in the death of a thousand cuts. (If you don’t think pronouns are important, try misgendering a cisgender person’s pet.) I don’t know Dr. Levine’s sexual orientation, but since she was married to a woman (the married didn’t survive transition), I suspect that like many later-in-life transitioners, including myself, she’s attracted to women. (Sexuality attraction being independent from gender identity.)
Dr. Levine doesn’t really have a choice whether she’s visibly trans. Myself, I blend in more often than I’d hoped for, and for the most part I’m treated as the woman I am. But I still choose to be visible for those who can’t be. (Yes, I’m one of the examples that yes, it does get better, and I have enough privileges to be visible.) But I’m hoping that being trans ends up being the third or fourth most-interesting thing about me. That said, not everyone can be, or wants to be visible. (If you don’t think you know any trans people, trust me you do.) There are many reasons. Some don’t feel safe doing so, some are trying to keep jobs or preserve marriages, some feel it’s nobody else’s damn business. But regardless of the reason, it’s totally cool, and they’re just as trans (or non-binary or gender non-conforming), just as valid, as those who are out.
But in the spirit of visibility, I’d encourage you to check out FORGE’s series of short videos where trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming folx share their experiences and feelings about being seen. In particular my friends Helen Boyd and Rachel Crowl. (Helen is an incisive thinker about gender, amazing writer, and fierce advocate — buy her books!, and check out her Trans 101 talk. Rachel is a bad-ass actor, musician and photographer who got stellar reviews for co-starring in an award-winning indie film, and at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — cast her!)
To my trans sisters and non-binary, and gender non-conforming sisters, brothers and siblings, to their partners (who are too often unsung heroes), to their families. I’d like to give a shout out to all those on the trans spectrum who don’t socially transition and therefore never go public for various reasons (most don’t feel the need to transition and are happy being “just a crossdresser” etc.), and often are deeply, deeply closeted—there’s probably 10 of them for every public transitioner, making them the vast dark matter of the trans universe. Unfortunately many of them are looked down upon not only by society at large, but also too often by other trans people. Yes, I see you, and yes, you’re “real enough” too. To quote Helen, you’re amazing and you’re awesome. Love to you all. Don’t let the bastards get you down.
Many thanks for writing this up, SGB.
Sister Golden Bear
Thanks for letting me post about it.
And thanks to all who showed support in an earlier thread today.
@Sister Golden Bear: In spite of a few new names who will clearly be on the wrong side of history, I thought that was a great conversation today.
Mike in NC
Had we not kicked the Orange Clown to the curb, he was toying with the idea of declaring his birthday a new national holiday.
I’m not well versed all the ins and outs of the issues facing the trans community. But you seem like a nice person, and you have the enemies decent people should have. Thanks for posting.
I have been making an idiot of myself a lot this year because I have been feeling my way through this without much actual information, until lately.
I have a trans niece I love a love, and her transition wasn’t a surprise to me, but I don’t know much about her actual process, emotional or medical.
I have learned a lot this year. I hope this Republican attack gets more people to be more informed. Trans defenders are out there, getting air time, and very informed and artiulate
ETA SGB: Thanks for your post. I have been wanting to hear from you for a while, especially every time I have posted an idiot comment on BJ
It was eye-opening to see the statistics on trans suicides and attempts, despite the best efforts of our teen daughter, a fierce ally of LGBT persons, to keep us aware of things like this. I hope it does get better for everyone because that’s the future I want to believe in and work for.
Jacqueline Squid Onassis
@Sister Golden Bear:
Thank you for writing this.
@Mike in NC: Dare we tell him that, technically, it already is? Nothing wrong with making Flag Day a federal holiday…
Thank you for the post Sister Golden Bear. I have followed your transition for years and you are an inspiration. Thank you for inviting us all into your life.
Thank you for continuing to share your journey Sister Golden Bear. Your previous posts helped me immensely on my job as a Union Representative. I didnt lack the empathy and I didnt use my life as the measuring stick, but I lacked the words to create a safe space for Members and one in particular (and thinking of her all day today), to enforce their Rights on the job. You gave me what I needed to be of service. It’s a battle every day, and it’s hard enough to stand up to a boss, but when you cant rely on solidarity with your coworkers, there remains work to be done. Everyone deserves the right to earn a living and do meaningful work and they have a right to a workplace free from discrimination. Its more likely in a Unionized workplace, but that workplace is made up of people we all know and too many of them have a long way to go on the road to acceptance.
@Sister Golden Bear: Thank you for sharing this with us, and for giving us the blessing of your presence here. I see you and honor your truth, and hope that the arc continues to bend toward justice for all trans and NB folks.
Thank you for your post, Sister Golden Bear.
I have a friend who I initially met as an awkward, unhappy woman. He is now a happy, popular man and it’s been wonderful to see the transformation.
Everyone deserves to be their true self.
Great post. Thank you.
Sister Golden Bear
@Baud: So I’m somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more? //
@BretH: As Helen mentions in her Trans 101 talk, for years she had “41” written on her mirror as a motivator, because 41% of adult trans people had attempted suicide at the time of the study (from a number of years ago). And then, as you may have seen downstairs, that gets turned against us as “proof” that we’re mentally unstable.
Kudos to your daughter! I can’t find the study off-hand but when trans teens do get support for family and/or friends (something even as simple as calling them by their chosen name) it dramatically reduces their risk of self-harm.
@sab: No worries, growth isn’t always easy. But I thank you for doing so.
@laura: Thanks for fighting the good fight. Both for union members in general, and trans union members in particular.
All this talk of a trans day of visibility prompted me to start a discussion with an old friend I’ve had a pretty fraught relationship with lately, not least because of his zeal for gender conformity. Literally nothing gets him riled up more than the idea of recognition and acceptance of trans people.
Little to show for it, of course, other than a recommendation to watch Jordan Peterson and recriminations for not suing a former employer that suggested I was not manly enough to do my job.
@Sister Golden Bear: Thanks for sharing, and for being here.
Sister Golden Bear
@Kropacetic: Allyship often means fighting fights that you know are long-shots, and I thank you for doing so. Water flowing on a stone eventually wears down the stone, and may your efforts eventually wear down your friend’s stone heart.
Thanks for writing this, Sister Golden Bear, and thank you for your active presence on Balloon Juice. In the spirit of visibility, I’m a 62 yo trans man, transitioning in my late 30s/early 40s. My husband stuck with me and we will have been married 34 years this June. We have two daughters, who are just fine, thank you. I would chime in more on threads dealing with trans issues, but usually they are 100+ comments long before I get there, and anything I would have said has already been said. :D
Sister, I am always grateful for your patient, informative comments.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@Mike in NC: That cannot be true. I refuse to believe it
Agreed. Not wholly accurate.
Thank you! Sincerely. I’ve said it before, but as a person who is lucky enough to get to work with some really amazing young trans people this matters. It absolutely 110% matters. That they can see people in our communities who are out and openly trans and living their best life can make all the difference for them.
@Sister Golden Bear: Thank you for the video recommendations too. Stories are knowledge and knowledge is power.
ETA: I’d like to speak to you, if possible, but wanted to ask before soliciting a blogkeep for your contact info.
Well, I guess this is my opportunity to come out as non-binary (or something – I’m not a fan of pigeonholes). I am AMAB (assigned male at birth), but growing up I knew I wasn’t like the other boys. At the same time, I had no need to be a girl either. At first I identified as a gay male, but later I was comfortable telling myself that I’m somewhere in between on the continuum of male to female – not entirely male, but not entirely female either. I knew early on I disliked my testicles, and at age 48 finally had them removed, much to my relief. I’m okay retaining my penis, I just had to get rid of the source of the vast majority of testosterone. I’ve had some modest breast growth, and I’m okay with that too.
I still pass easily as male (typical overweight older guy). I have a bushy beard mostly because I hate shaving, not because I want to show how butch I am. I would be happy with the pronoun “it”, rather than “he” or “she”, and I’m content living life somewhere in the middle.
A couple of notes: First, I missed the earlier discussion, but god there were a couple of intentional morons there. Second, thanks for posting this and, on this day, let me say “I see you.” Third, Rachel is a friend of the blog and occasionally posts here. I talked her into posting a link to a GoFundMe that she was doing and, as usual, the blog was very responsive.
Soooo nice to have your post. It brought memories back that more than 50 years ago I joined (was joined?) Gay Liberation. The demonization of gay men was almost as severe then as demonization of trans people is today, maybe worse, how do you compare? There were many gender non-conforming people who were sidelined because “they” were perceived as a liability, much as lesbians were viewed by the Women’s Movement. Oh the ways we fail as allies. Sigh.
Keep telling your story. It is a privilege. My trans and NB friends don’t share their stories with us since we’re just friends. Who wants to talk about societal problems with friends, unless there’s an urgent need. Friends have fun! Your comments (and post) here are a treasure.
BTW it was entertaining, and a bit disturbing, to joust with the Trans skeptics earlier. Empathy and logic were both in shirt supply with them.
Sister Golden Bear
@LesGS: 34 years, that’s full of awesome. I’m always hearten to hear of relationships that survive transition. And mad respect for transition 20 years ago. I’m not sure I would’ve had the courage to do myself.
@Kropacetic: Sure, feel free to ask for my contact info.
@Don K: Pleased to meet your whole self. There a lot of people for whom gender is more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, genderey-wimderey… stuff.
@Omnes Omnibus: I missed that post/comment, but once again I deeply appreciate the how my fellow BJers are so supportive of those in need. Jackals, you’ll be happy to know that Rachel’s fundraiser raised $4,000 for legal name changes (several times what it was aiming for).
@Sister Golden Bear:
Thank you for being here.
@Sister Golden Bear:
Good stuff. Thanks for the post and the links.
@Sister Golden Bear: That GFM was two or three years ago. I think it was about the time she went out to LA. IIRC you might have been a little busy yourself around that time.
Sister Golden Bear
I was just a pre-schooler 50 years ago, so I can’t really compare based on personal experience. But I’d say it’s probably a mixed bag compared. Worse in some ways, better in others. At least we’re less prone to fighting among ourselves.
Also, I greatly appreciate my LGBTQ elders whose fights paved the ways for today’s rights and social acceptance.
This is awesome, Sister Golden Bear. Thank you for writing and posting.
I FaceTimed with Spawn the Elder today. He was all excited to tell me that it is the Transgender Day of Visibility, and I told him that not only did I already know, I even sent him a funny/sweet meme about it this morning before he woke up. The Gen Z communicate via meme, so this is much of how we have stayed in frequent contact while he hasn’t been able to fly out due to ***gestures vaguely***. Anyway, he is coming out next week, and I have his first shot lined up. WOOHOO!
I have been very concerned about him because he is on T, and it is an immune system “weakener” (for lack of a better term) according to his doctor.
Thank you Sister Golden Bear and all the allies who showed up in the previous thread.
30 years ago, working in tech, a senior (age) member of our Company went through the transition. HR provided inclusive and supportive guidelines to all the employee’s to assist us in welcoming her, ( her post transition preferred gender term) back.
99% of my coworkers at the time were supportive and the 1% knew enough to keep their mouths shut.
And here we are, 30 years later.
Sister Golden Bear
@Omnes Omnibus: Gotcha. I confused it with a fundraiser that she’s involved in that just wrapped up today.
@Dan B: I used to participate in a blog that had a lot of discussion about gender identity and lgbtq specifically. There were things I disagreed with and even things that I found to be off-putting. But I decided that the most useful thing I could do was listen to people talk about themselves and their issues because it’s really beyond the routine experience for most of us. It was called Alas a Blog and I credit it with expanding my horizons on Trans issues.
I went back and found that it’s still somewhat active. Here is an example of their post on the issue of puberty blockers. https://amptoons.com/blog/?p=25933#comments
Wow, sounds like I missed an ugly thread earlier. Ughhhhh.
James E Powell
@Sister Golden Bear:
Thank you for this. And thank you for all that you have written about here. You’re helping the rest of us.
Thank you, SGB. I feel fortunate to have had trans friends and acquaintances longer than most people, through being active in science fiction fandom where, at its best, all kinds of people feel more free to be themselves. But there’s always more to learn, and more to do.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us, SGB! May we all be better friends and allies.
Danica Roem is a delegate in the Virginia house in a district near me, so in honor of today, I’m donating to her re-election campaign. Viability and representation matters.
I just finished reading an article about Renée Richards on the Tennis.com website and astoundingly, she transitioned in 1977! I can’t imagine how much courage it must have taken in those days to be an out trans person.
While I remember her from those days primarily as Martina’s coach, I had forgotten about her playing days and the fact that she reached a WTA ranking of 20. Strangely, I don’t remember people freaking out so badly (as they are these days) about trans women playing competitive women’s sports.
Anyways, it’s an interesting article that recounts the story of an early trans pioneer:
The Thin Black Duke
This is important. Thank you.
As a gay man I figured I understood it all. I think people here know I’ve been deeply involved in HIV politics. And maybe 15 years ago I met my dear friend a trans man who helped me understand the LGBT alliance in ways I never understood before. (It turns out I wasn’t that good of a T ally til a couple of difficult conversations with him) Transgender people are at high risk of HIV and I wasn’t as attentive to that as I should have been. Now I know better and I also know to step back and let the voices of transgender people ring out (let’s just say I personally needed to stop policing transgender and people of color voices). Today I realize that I better understand transgender people’s gains cannot be subtracted from the gains of gay (white) men and lesbians and are a part of the quilt we are making together. Gay men have not always been good about this. I’m grateful to learn more. I’m grateful for people who are transgender, questioning, and I get that we must all stand together! Thank you SGB for your shining bright light especially in this balloon juice community. I so appreciate you all. FYI I’m not as involved as I used to be. Now focused on criminal justice issues. And I carry what I have learned into that arena.
Sister Golden Bear
@Barbara: Small world. A good friend who trans used to post about trans issues at Alas a Blog. Don’t remember which nym she used there.
@caphilldcne: Thank you for taking the time and effort to learn. That’s not always true with other gay (white) men. Growth can be uncomfortable.
@db11: If you can find it, watch the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Renee Richards. I found it to be revelatory, but especially the story of heartache and anger that resulted for Richards’ family when she transitioned. The thing is, Richards was set to undergo reassignment surgery before she even met her wife but changed her mind at the last minute.
Thank you, SGB for sharing your perspective in your post above and in your everyday comments. I feel honored that you’ve let us in on so many personal details from your story over the past couple of years (or has it been more than that?). It’s great to see you on the front page. And congrats on the new gig!
@Sister Golden Bear: It became dormant and I wasn’t really interested in cartoons, so I moved on but it was a regular stop for me for a long time.
I suppose my attitude on trans people was set earlier in life because my exposure was in my late 20s. I wish I could remember her name, but way back in 1997 I met a MTF transgender person*. We had met and talked briefly one day then I always greeted her whenever I saw her. I had no idea if she was on hormones or thinking about surgery or anything like that. My brain just clicked that this was different from the drag shows I would go to. This was her life and I respected it. Every other trans person I have ever known it’s been the same way. Sometimes the paradigm wants to shift without a clutch in my brain but it’ll get there eventually. I see you SGB. And you’re wonderful.
* There was no way I could think of to word that so I went unfortunately impersonal. Some help with my language here is greatly appreciated!
Sister Golden Bear
@Barbara: Thanks for the link.
Denying access to puberty blockers to teen trans has been one of the right’s main obsessions of late, and this is one of the better rebuttals I’ve seen.
More worthy reading at the link.
@Barbara: Thanks for that reference — I’ll check it out.
With you in solidarity. And love.
@Don K: Dysphoria stinks, huh? I felt such relief after my mastectomy and chest reconstruction. Like, giddy relief.
@Sister Golden Bear: Trans people were less visible and grouped in with transvestites who were subject to weird clothing laws. Since these two were deemed to be less powerful and less numerous they got harassment but not the virulent demonization of gay men.
Now trans is the new gay. Us gay guys could be again soon enough.
I rarely feel like an elder of the LGBTQ rights movement, except when people get the stories wrong. Then I realize my ‘grumpy’ has deep roots. My regular gripes are about how important it was to be loveable human beings. Strident speeches and loud demonstrations are just the end result of people liking themselves and the human bonds they inspire and grow. The other is the stories about heroes, and some she-roes, as the reason for victories. And finally, the way Chicago’s stories have been sidelined. A few historians have proclaimed that Chicago was the place that made Gay Liberation a force for change. I’m interested in including some of the key stories like the APA Convention and battling the Mafia. They were vital to the national movement.
@Sister Golden Bear:
I guess I’d say for me gender is an indeterminate thing. You don’t have to be either all boy or all girl. I like to think I’ve brought my husband along on trans issues by my embrace of being gender-indeterminate. Well, that and our former haircutter who is a trans man and came out to Wade at one point a few years back. That helped Wade accept that one can have the body of one gender and the spirit of the other (or in my case the spirit of neither).
Formerly disgruntled in Oregon
Thank you Sister GB for this post, and for helping bring visibility to trans women by sharing your life and experiences with us over the years. Much love to you ❤️
Sister Golden Bear
That was my impression from the histories and oral histories I’ve read. The Compton’s Cafeteria riot in SF (which preceded Stonewall) in part stemmed from the police harassment over clothing laws. Not sure if it was around the same time, but the legendary activist and drag queen José Sarria used to hand out small buttons reading “I’m a boy” to the drag queens as a way of getting around the law (since IIRC it was illegal to “deceive” the public by dressing in ways “contrary” to the gender assigned at birth.
I know there are people out there gathering oral histories from that era. Have you considered speaking to any of them? My professor friend Helen specializes in gender issues, but she might be able to connect you with the right folks.
Thank you, SGB! I see you and will fight for you and my cousin-in-law, and my former student, and all those I don’t know are trans because it’s none of my business!
Recall that the retained masculinity in Dr Richards’ physique was not enough to make her a world champion. It goes to show that trans women are not guaranteed dominance in cis women’s sports. The freaking out we see today is performative and politically motivated.
Thank you for all the stories.
They remind me that I am still a work in progress when it comes to these and other issues.
Thanks for all you do SGB. Thanks for everyone for contributing their stories. A high-school friend’s youngest
sonchild began transitioning a few years ago. I’m glad she feels safe enough to do so.
One of the giants of the early days of “VLSI” – very large-scale silicon integrated circuits – was Lynn Conway. She got DARPA to fund the VLSI Project and wrote one of the textbooks (with Carver Mead) that basically revolutionized teaching in the field.
She tried to begin transitioning in 1957-1958. Wikipedia has much more. She was a giant in the field, and yet was unable to come out as a trans woman until 1999.
Things are still too difficult for people who are in some ways different. Thanks for what you’re doing to make things better trans people and for all people of good will.
I don’t know if it ever could be that… my thoughts would be something like “someone could find out, and there’d be no question about whether they’d feel angry or betrayed. It’d be like finding someone is in Mensa, for example. I doubt many (if any) would say “how dare you come into my home, play with my children, interact with my spouse, WITHOUT TELLING ME YOU WERE IN MENSA?”
And I guess I’m being weird here – that’s not uncommon… oh, you guessed that? But I think it’s likely it will always be interesting for a person who can say “I was born with a vulva/penis, but I always knew I was a boy/girl” if only because of its rarity, Some day, it might be gentle, and free of bigotry, but it will still be like “I performed X_Surprising_Feat”.
And I’m sure there are always going to be a few contrarians who have learned they can’t say “don’t transition” but who will wring their hands and suggest that maybe you’d be happier living in your socially-designated gender role because of genitalia. And some of them won’t be bigoted – some will simply be unable to wrap their head around a concept that doesn’t even exist in their brain.
“I could *never* transition! It’s a horrifying thought to me!” is the sticking point; and it takes some time and perspective to realize that means “So it’s wrong for me… wait, maybe that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for someone who’s very different from me. Maybe my strong emotional response just proves my gender identity is extremely important to me and – oh, wow, some people might even feel as strongly about *having* to transition as I have about not doing it.”
(Um. I’m using “transition” as a generic “live in a different, or indeterminate, or, whatever, role or sets of roles that matter to you.” I’m aware that it’s often used for specific “I don’t care what you see on my body, I’m a man/woman, and I’ve started to live as that role” so it might be too narrow. But I’m darned if I can think of a better way to express a general idea of changing behavior and role to match one’s own self.)
@Amir Khalid: Absolutely.
My bits lined up with what my brain was expecting to find. That alignment also matched what society expected in terms of general interests and behaviors. And I am a white dude. All of that means that whatever struggles I have had, I have not really ever had to go against society to be myself. I can’t really fathom having to do that. But what I can do is try help keep obstacles out of the way of people who do need to do that. And maybe if we all do that we can make it so that SGB is merely notable for something like her poor taste in music or her lack of fear of clowns.*
*Randomly chosen examples and not necessarily factual representations of why SGB is weird.
Thank you for this post. Much appreciated and best wishes to you on your continued journey.
@BretH: @Sister Golden Bear: As always, your generosity and courage in sharing your story teaches us all SGB. And Brett, another organization working to prevent suicides of LGTBI youth is Transgender Education for Small Town and Rural America
It’s a small group, working in the deep red states of Indiana and Kentucky. I like that they’re going up against Pence and McConnell in their own states.
Jacqueline Squid Onassis
Hi Barbara! You may remember me from before my transition when I posted as “Jake Squid”. Barry has always been good on civil rights no matter which minority we’re talking about and he comes with the bonus of being an exceptional researcher.
Many thanks to SGB for her excellent guest post, to so many fellow jackals for their thoughtful and informative comments.
Sister Golden Bear
@Another Scott: Lynn Conway was indeed a giant in the field of tech and her story was unfortunately typical of the times. Back in the bad old days, medical professionals expected you to do the equivalent of entering witness protection. You were expected to quit your job (and your field), get divorced, cut all ties to friends and family because no one must know.
@Omnes Omnibus: Actually, some of my best friends are klowns.*
*They’re non-professional clowns and apparently spelling it with a “k “is a nod of deference towards professional circus clowns who’ve attended clown schools.
@satby: That group sounds awesome. Rural areas can be really hard on trans kids.
Sister Golden Bear
@Barbara: I remember now, my friend posted as Grace Annan at Alas a Blog. She’s bad ass and wicked smart.
I am so appreciative of your post.
Disgusted by all these bills around the country. They always find someone to demonize and hate??
Sister Golden Bear
@LongHairedWeirdo: Disclosure in romantic relationship is a whole topic in itself. Suffice to say, I disclose to someone at an appropriate time. And yes, I’m being strategically vague about when that time is.
I didn’t mean to imply the transitioning is uninteresting — as you said it’s something that relatively few people do, like becoming an Eagle Scout or earning a Gold Award. Rather, that there’s are other things that also interesting about me and more central to my identity, especially as the years post-transition increase.
Sister Golden Bear
@rikyrah: They do indeed. And it’s definitely not just trans people. Or why they’re going all out on
voterBlack suppression efforts.
I”ll echo all the appreciative responses above, Sister Golden Bear, and add my thanks.
I appreciate the insight from many non-gender-conforming people who are living as themselves. Confronting societal pressures to live as yourself requires a type of introspection & courage not common in the majority of Americans.
I’ll echo my thanks here as well. I’m a cis, het white woman, so while I’ve had some sexism and misogyny in my time, I’m still learning about transgender and gender dysphoria and how to best be an ally. Trying to do more listening than talking. Thanks to all of you who are sharing yourselves and your stories. I see you and respect you for who you are.
I knew a business consultant, very prominent in his area of expertise. No one had any idea that a struggle was going on with his (at the time) gender identity. He dropped out of the business world for about 18 months and came back as a woman. During the transition, J retained some clients, and they were fine with it. About 2 years after J’s transition, she was slated at a conference on a high-profile panel. Of course, everyone was buzzing about what the new J would look like. The old J was a pasty-skinned, chubby guy with stringy hair. The panel opened and in J’s chair was a slim, glamorous middle-aged woman. The assembled crowd was stunned. There were audible gasps. A couple of minutes went by, then a stringy-haired, pasty, chubby middle-aged woman strolled out took the glamorous substitute by the hand, kissed her cheek, and thanked her. The audience roared. J sat down and took her place on the panel. J’s coming out went well. The J substitute was the wife of one of his clients who helped J through her transition. A good ending.
@Don K: My wife and I were chatting today about how happy we are that kids today have the language for so many things we felt at that age, but couldn’t describe. If I had known that being non-binary was a concept, my life might have been very different. Now, I identify as a cis woman because I feel like I’ve grown into that identity, but if I’d had other options as a female-bodied teenager who sometimes leaned masculine but didn’t see myself as a boy…it makes me happy that there are more options, and furious at people who want to crush that idea because it makes them scared.
the pollyanna from hell
My trans-daughter is the most popular member of my extended family, despite being an anarchist. Someday the bias against anarchism will give way to a more gentle tolerance. [do i have to mark irony like we do sarcasm?]
A short DW video story about the German military’s first transgender commander:
German Bundeswehr’s first transgender commander
@Sister Golden Bear: On the cut all ties issue, I resisted coming out to my husband for over a year, because I was terrified that he would divorce me and that, because I was clearly crazy, he would get custody of the kids, and I might never see them again. During this time – though this did not happen to me – folks who had children that wanted to transition were told they would not receive medical help unless they moved to a different place and their children told they had died.
(I did get told by the endocrinologist that prescribed me my hormones, that the T would “straighten me right out.” Yeah, no. :D )
Wonderful post SGB.
Thanks to you, SGB, and all the others for sharing your stories.
Madame and I have no children, but a beloved friend (I was the labor coach for their birth, and have been deeply involved with their life since then) came out to us as non-binary last year. We helped them with logistics after their two surgeries, and other things. Fortunately, medical expenses was not one of the problems – their employee health insurance covered everything.
When we had some extended time together (a day spent baking, which we have been doing since they were at teenager), I asked them what was the process by which they made this decision at the age of 34. Their answer was greatly illuminating , which was that the discomfort and disorientation of the beginning of puberty had never stopped for them in the intervening 20 years. Now, it was over, and they were at peace.
They / them still trip us up though, but they are quite forgiving since it is clear that we are trying.
@Sister Golden Bear: Well, and you know, rethinking it, there are really very few feats that are so intrinsically interesting that they are in the top 3-4. “I walked on the moon” would certainly be that, but lots of people transition.
I reckon I was in a cynical mood, and didn’t really ponder how much the bigotry makes it more… well, interesting, than it would be if it was something rare, but most people know someone like that, no big deal.
the pollyanna from hell
I like ‘yo’ better than ‘they/them’. In this respect I sound like a broken record. When G was my son, before she was my daughter, yo taught me that life cannot be tied up in symbols, or restricted into mere bodies.
@Sister Golden Bear: Thank you for being here, for being you, and for sharing your journey. Keep shining your light; you are a beautiful soul.
Been offline most of the day and late to the thread, but wanted to chime in and thank you again for giving me a window into your world. I loved this thread by a parent of a trans child:
May all relatives become this accepting of everyone, everywhere.
Thanks for sharing
So wonderfully written. Thank you.
@Mary G: thanks fire sharing that thread, which includes a kid appropriate book. I’m trying to add multi cultural, multi racial, and other different kinds of books to our home library for my 19mo old. On my list for my next order from the local independent book store!
@LesGS: That’s interesting that your marriage survived transition. What is the secret to making that happen? I feel like an advice book needs to exist if it does not exist already.
@Another Scott: Lynn Conway keeps a website where she discusses technical things as well as transition-related things. For example, I read her discussion of facial feminization surgery before I even knew that was a thing.
Late as usual, but hope you see this. Thanks for your informative posts. I always learn something so helpful. Also, hugs!
Yes indeed, it’s good to have options. I wish I had the option to go on puberty blockers as a boy and avoid the whole male puberty thing, then have the snip done in due course. As I said, I knew as a boy I wanted my testicles gone, only with me the feeling never subsided, but grew stronger as I got older, until at 48 I finally said, “Fuck it, I gotta do it now.”
Sister Golden Bear
@Starfish: My facial feminization surgery results weren’t as dramatic as Lynn Conway, but they definitely helped me feel more at home in my body.
For me at least, it was the highest priority of the surgeries I’ve done, because my face is what the general public sees, and it helped not being misgendered.