Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Ask A Transgender

Humans fear the unknown. The best cure for prejudice is familiarity.

This fact has helped many groups (e.g., African-Americans, gays, Muslims) gain social acceptance. Increased visibility (for example, on television) causes mainstream folk to relax about the "other"-ness of foreign groups. Those who are transgender, like myself, are at the very beginning of the process of acceptance.

Most people have never met anyone transgender and have nobody in their lives to ask obvious questions. I thought it might help to give you that opportunity. If you have any questions about transgenderism or me, fire away. If you prefer privacy, e-mail me (fhu@pipeline.com).

I'll answer every inquiry. For instance:

- Do you guys all know each other?
Yes. We have weekly meetings.

- Are you all alike?
No. Caitlyn Jenner is a conservative Republican. Try as I might, I can't wrap my head around that.

- Are you happy?
Most of us are not. Being obstructed from having an authentic life causes many to become depressed and even suicidal. Gender is fundamental to our psyche and being mis-seen on this is crushing. Of course, one can find ways to deal with it (as I have) but that depends on the individual. Among other transgenders I know, about 80% are deeply sad.

- Do you all have the same sexual orientation?
No, and this is the most common misperception. Transgenders are both straight and gay, in roughly the same percentage as cisgender people. ("Cisgender" means you feel right about the gender assigned to you at birth.)

- Do you have a sense of humor?
Some do, some don't. I find it the only way to get through life.

31 comments:

  1. Kudos and very well stated indeed!!

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  2. Good post. No, not asking a question. I've always thought you're just people, not that different from anybody else. I've met quite a few transgenger students in my classroom, and their gender identity was never a factor in their relationships to other students or in how I treated them. They might come to me and say that they're transgender and listed under a female/male name in the student list, in case I was wondering why I couldn't find their registration info. And I usually just ask what they want to be called, and list that as their name. being transgender, at least in this context, has been just as normal as being short or tall. The young students are very matter-of-fact about gender identity or sexual orientation: it doesn't define a person at all, it's just one aspect, and a very minor one in their eyes. And I agree: gender, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation, is usually the least interesting thing about people, anyway. But maybe I think like this because gender identity has never played much of a role in my own life... I want to see people as humans, and respect the way they want to be defined. But when gender/race/sexual orientation etc is used as an excuse to justify discrimination, then I get mad...

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    1. You have the best attitude possible, Tiina, and are more knowledgeable than most. This may explain how we became such easy friends.

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    2. I couldn't put it in words better than Tiina has done. My thoughts exactly. There is a lot about transgender on TV in The Netherlands, companies (like mine) sign agreements/vows to treat everybody equally. We have transgender at work, so no big questions. I have one, but I will email it to you.
      Greetje

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  3. Interesting, I would have never thought that there would be a weekly meeting but it does make sense, as much support is needed. Are the attendants to the meeting mostly dressed in their assigned gender or their real gender ?

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    1. Real gender. It's our secret place where we can be our true selves.

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  4. I'm learning from my transgender coworker, just listening and encouraging and being a sounding board. It is interesting...and also heartbreaking.

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    1. That's because you have a heart, Sheila. Which is why we all love you.

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  5. I'd be interested to know the ratio of those living in the open and those still in hiding.

    I'd also like to know if the ones that live openly are happier.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Open/hiding: 5% vs. 95%
      Living openly: 100% are happier

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    2. My Hope is that one day that percentile is reversed or eradicated completely to 100% able to live Openly and without stigma, bias and judgment so that 100% are Happier! Hugs... Dawn... The Bohemian

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  6. What a great (and brave) idea! Mind if I share this on Facebook? I try to advocate for transgender acceptance as much as possible, and I'm often asked questions that I simply can't answer.

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  7. This was a good post to learn from. I do have some transgender friends that are quite open about their experiences...but everyone is going through something different, and I do appreciate you sharing your experiences with us. I also really appreciate your sense of humor. :)

    And your outfit is so darling - I just bought a similar skirt and you've given me some great inspiration for how to style it.

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    1. I think I've seen that skirt on you. We have good taste!

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  8. Good post Ally.

    As a transgender person myself, I often want to tell people I work with so they can ask questions about what being transgender is like, however there is still a lot of stigma attached to transgender people and we are looked upon as being perverse or freaks.

    Maybe they'd understand my constant mood swings and why I feel down at times, they'd understand the mental issues some of us suffer as a result too.

    My Dad thinks being transgendered is like being an alcoholic and that it is an addiction that can be broken with enough effort! What does he know!!

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    1. Good to hear from you, pal. Yes, there is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding. I agree that if people knew our lives better they'd learn why we experience emotional and mental difficulties. And, with respect, being transgender is not what your dad says.

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  9. One of my favourite outfits on you. So cute!
    Hmmm maybe I should do this for genderqueer...or a term I liked recently...gendervague.
    We are just sooo gendered in our society and most have no notion.
    If we can just reduce the need to keep people in their gendered box then swapping boxes would be a synch.
    I'd love to sit down and chat over coffee about this. I'm sure it would be a great conversation!
    I hope you can help some people with this post. xo Jazzy Jack

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    1. Everyone could benefit from learning more about the range of gender identities, including the ones you mention. Most people are shocked to learn about anything beyond the binary. I agree that a conversation with you would be fascinating!

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    2. Oh I agree Jazzy Jack, my Grandson has told me he is Gender Fluid and I asked him to explain that orientation. It made perfect sense when he told me that if and when he falls deeply in Love he Cares not about the Gender of that person and they would be the Life Partner he would want to spend the rest of his Life with, whether Male or Female and regardless of their particular Gender Identity. In some Cultures, such as my Dad's Native American Ancestry, it was common to have more than two Gender Identities and each individual had a place in the Tribe and was accepted as they were Oriented. I personally think that is a Beautiful thing, that uncomplicated Acceptance within a Society. And yes, I think a Conversation with either or both of you would be absolutely fascinating my Friends! Dawn... The Bohemian

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    3. Aah, yes! The "Two Spirit" (or previously "berdache"). Thanks for contributing, Dawn.

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  10. I a so glad you wrote this and will be curious to read the responses, I do not have any transgender friends, other than you, and hope you consider us friends, as I do. But IRL life no. I do have one friend who may be but she has not volunteered the information and I will not ask. She is defensive, as a person, but a good friend.
    I love your CJ remark vis -a vis the political orientation/

    Actually i think for the first time in history, political orientation is the thing that is most divisive and issue, rather than sexual orientation, but perhaps that is my own version of truth.

    I am sad to read those stats of transgender people. I fervently hope that that changes for the better and quickly too. I think Media has helped there.

    Love your outfit, you look happy and I will take emotional support from that.( and hope it bounces back from me to you!)
    Strange times, fabulous outfit!
    You are brave and beautiful. Keep at it, you all be as chipper as a Fox bot before you know it. ( ironic intention)
    xx, Elle
    http://www.theellediaries.com/blog/

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    1. Hi Elle. Yes, of course we are friends. And you not knowing any transgender people in person is very common. Thank you for your kind words and support. Big hug!

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  11. Great Post done with Humor mixed with Candor. I agree that the Trans Community hasn't yet reached an acceptance level as most other groups and thus there are likely many Transgender people who remain so very privately. I have a young Loved One that is struggling with that, tho' confident about being publicly Gay, there is more privacy in the desire to explore the Feminine side, so it was hidden until I said it didn't need to be. That said, I still worried very much if publicly there would be safety concerns above and beyond Gay Hate Crimes. So I think Family Members that are unconditionally accepting still worry about Social bias and obvious dangers that being different can present. Thank You for giving me more insight my Friend, it has helped me to discuss this more openly with my Loved One. Hugs... and a very Merry Christmas... Dawn... The Bohemian

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    1. Best of luck to your grandson. And kudos to you for being supportive.

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  12. From what I have read, that vast majority of MTF tg's are heterosexual: ie, they are still sexually attracted to woman. If this is the case, (ignoring that annoyingly distracting hierarchy), how are TG's different from what used to be known as transvestites,(TV's), or the more PC term, cross dressers?

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    1. Great question. The language used has evolved and it's helpful to know the meaning of words to see things clearly.

      There used to be two main terms meaning different things: transvestite and transsexual. The former referred to people who get sexual pleasure from dressing up in the clothing of the opposite sex (but didn't necessary want to be them); it is a sexual kink. The latter refers to people who disagree with their assigned sex and want to change it. The term transvestite was later considered perjorative and replaced by "cross-dresser." The new word "transgender" was created about a decade or so ago as an umbrella term for all forms of gender variance. Thus, TG includes both cross-dressers (formerly known as transvestites) and transsexuals.

      The heart of the difference between these groups is the distinction between people who get a sexual thrill from cross-dressing and people whose gender identity doesn't match what they were assigned. A cross-dresser, for instance, may put on stockings during sex but doesn't want to be seen as female in public. A transsexual believes there's something fundamentally wrong with how he/she is viewed at all times. Medicine currently labels the latter group as having "Gender Identity Dysphoria" but I don't like that term; it sounds like a mental illness and we already have enough social stigma.

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  13. I love being part of your circle of friends as you constantly 'educate' us on all kinds of things including gender identity issues in such an open and honest way.

    All I really want is there to be peace and acceptance in this world ... who is anyone to judge anyone else - unless we are perfect then we cannot stand in judgement of anyone else.

    If we just accepted each other for the awesome human beings we are then this world would be such an awesome place to live in.

    I am honoured to be part of your journey darling Ally!!!!

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  14. I love this. Mainly because, while I think I'm very open-minded, we never really know EVERYTHING about another person's life/struggles/thoughts/feelings until they let us inside. And this feels like we're sitting down over a cup of coffee and catching up on life :) Also I can't even begin to fathom the feelings of sadness that so many in the transgender community face... though it breaks my heart that anyone would feel so "lost" (not sure if that's the right word, but I hope you understand what I'm trying to say).

    I like what Lynn says (she's a wise friend!) about accepting each other as awesome human beings. That's always the best (and only) place to start.

    PS: the bit about Caitlyn Jenner being a conservative Republican is very difficult for me to comprehend, too.

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  15. Beautiful post dear!! I appreciate your candor and humor. Wishing you all the best in the coming New Year!!

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