Friday, May 24, 2019

Pink and blue

Hi,

It's the start of half term. The last small break before the great length that is the summer holidays. I think both Little Miss and Wee Man will be glad of the break. One is working through exams, the other has finished her SATs. Testing, testing, one two three. Around we go and testing, there's a word to conjure with.

Earlier this week I caught a video from a training event at work. The presenter - a trans person - was going through the terminology on their slide deck. We run through trans-woman, trans-man, and along the wordage. We get to the cloud of terms where I'd probably sit: gender variant, cross-dresser. I hear on the audio track "...these people aren't really trans." I hit the pause button and stop to consider things.

Funny, I have always taken the word transgender as an umbrella term. One of inclusivity and well, family. I may not be the same as full-time folk or those who 'underdress', but I think I can empathise. But the exclusion, that stuck in me and it's a splinter that's been difficult to dig out.

There's a phrase - or more accurately, a taunt - that echoes in my head some days: am I trans enough? I am, what, dressing up two nights a month give or take rare forays? I am not out at work and for the most part, the world - the real world - does not see me. Am I advancing our journey or am I riding the wave?

Perhaps - and to be my own friend as the coaching and mental health first aid training suggests - I'm doing all I can. I am balancing family and work and me. It's not always an easy act, but I get by. So, perhaps its when I feel the sting of less thoughtful words - and indeed from one of our own - that such things go deeper than they should.

It's not a behaviour we'd see at Chameleons: I'd like to think we're much more supportive. Maybe it's because we know each other and we're friends, not strangers. We understand there's a difference, but not one that makes us better (or worse), just individual.

So, no, I don't - and won't - subscribe to not being transgender. I am always me, regardless of how I look. Maybe physically male - and I always will be - but upstairs? Ah, not quite so binary. I do what I can to try and help people on similar journeys. I may not be out and loud, but when I am visible, I would like to think I'm the regular, quiet, steady every day trans presence.

-

On to happier news! :-) Last night's Chameleons was very active. We had a visit from the NHS who wanted to hear how they could make their services better for trans people. Usually, we set research folk up in the side room and others in the main hall. The main hall is generally busier and louder, and the side room gives quiet and space for discussions. Well, this time the main room emptied and the bar area was packed! I guess it goes to show you can't call these things right? :-)

I drifted by the room a few times, but I didn't go in. Partly to give members a chance to talk, and partly to hang back so anyone staying in the hall wasn't alone. Numbers did move around a little, but I was surprised to see how focused, polite, and interested everyone was. Good stuff and I hope we'll be seeing the team back again. I also bumped into an old friend - Laura - who is very much full time and it's great to see her doing well.

Oh, I also got some new shoes this week. Some wedges in the sale and they were so comfy! Don't get me wrong, I love a heel or cute flats, but in the summer, I think a different type of shoe is in order. So, pairing them up with a dressed borrowed from the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I felt a lot more me by the end of the night.... even if it was very late.

Still, I had Nicole to chat to as Val was helping out Andrea by giving her a lift back. Ah, communities eh? :-)

Take care,
Lynn

16 comments:

  1. If this was a company training packaging then this sends out all the wrong kind of signals for diversity and inclusiveness of the whole of the LGBTQ community, not just one part of it.
    It sounds more like a personal prejudice and I'm really surprised it got onto the audio track.

    I've definitely encountered that layering of different levels of being trans in the past where it was almost a parody of the two Ronnies sketch: "I am a full time transsexual. I look down on her because she is a transvestite.."
    Slot your own trans categories anywhere into this hierarchy and press Play. I hoped we'd got beyond that, but realistically I think it will always be there.

    The real question here though is 'trans enough for who?' Apart from you and Mrs J and perhaps close family and friends, who else matters?

    Love the dress, and the shoes.

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    1. It was more a recording of a seminar, so thankfully not part of the firm's main push. I'm involved with the latter via Chams. That's been much more inclusive, so maybe this is a one off. Or, I'm being overly forgiving. Hmm. How to feed back?

      Balls to hierarchy. That's nonsense in my view. We are all people. :-)

      Oh, and I've had that once and I'm afraid I gave that person The Look. It was so rude. Spitting contests eh? Psft :-P

      Thanks for the last line about the dress and Trans Enough. I think - and to reflect on my own writing - "you only go as far as you need to" plus "if you say you're trans, you are."

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  2. Hi Lynn,

    In my last (and very rare) post, I made this comment:

    "We've probably had at least 200 first timers since we started the lunches and I can't begin to tell you how many just don't know where they are in the "spectrum" when first coming out. Just like there are few differences between boys and girls, pre-puberty (other than the obvious), there are no differences between pre-puberty lifetime crossdressers and those who eventually transition. What I'm trying to say is that the stories are always the same...."I remember trying on my [mother's/sister's] clothes around age [5-10]". We've had 40-50 somethings say, when first joining us, they would never transition only to see them transition a few years later. Fetish transvestites aside, the line between crossdressers and those who eventually transition or feel they should transition is very fine."

    I have co-organized these DRAB lunch for many years now. It's a way for those who are just now finding themselves, or taking their first steps to find others like themselves, to meet with others in a relatively safe environment, remaining dressed in male clothing.

    The comment made in the training video is just wrong. I've met hundreds of folks who consider themselves transgender and they do, indeed, fall under the same umbrella. Just last night, I had coffee with a transwoman from work who recently had her GC surgery. It was our first chance to "compare notes" and those notes were no different than anyone else I associate with. She started around 5 years old. Me? Probably around 7 years old. I hold off transitioning. She didn't. I would take whatever steps are necessary to have that training video corrected.

    Calie xx

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    1. Thanks Calie. I'll try to work out how to feedback constructively and firmly. I know one of the people their pretty well and I think she'll listen.

      As to your experiences, I'm so with you on what you've shared. We all have to start somewhere. Give or take on the ages, it's a very similar story at Chams too. There are exceptions, but that's true of all communities I think.

      As to those of a more fetish view of things, people change. What felt like them then, may not be how they are now. I guess they may be part of the T spectrum too. It's not my bag, but I sunny judge because that seems we're back to the Trans Pecking Order.

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  3. I try to keep abreast of the debates in the trans community, and there is a BIG pushback against people trying to gate-keep. Many trans bloggers are retweeting inclusive messages - that you don't have to experience dysphoria to be trans, you don't have to plan to transition to be trans, and you definitely don't have to be binary-gendered to be trans. Last time we had one of these diversity briefings at work I pointed out the terminology and "facts" were about a year or two out of date.

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    1. I guess things keep moving on. I know I struggled with the whole 'bi gender' idea, but having looked back at it, I think it makes a lot of sense for people.

      I wonder if we're struggling with the language to express things as they are. Maybe with time we'll get to a point were certain terms are agreed - or even mostly agreed - without any scoffing or sneering. I can dream ;-)

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  4. ""if you say you're trans, you are."
    If you really believe that, and it is pretty obvious that you do, then you must realize that anyone can say they are "trans".

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    1. I'm going to choose to believe this statement is being made in good faith. Obviously anyone can say they're trans, in the same way anyone can say they're Left Wing, or a Christian. However someone deliberately making that statement falsely is a bit of a poopy-head. And anyone who is unsure is entitled to change their mind any time the label no longer feels right.

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    2. The line is, I think, something of a phrase within T circles. I don't want to say it's a cliche, as I think it would be doing the sentiment behind is a disservice.

      As Pandora said about being Left Wing or Christian, then while you can proclaim to have that identity, there is also a set of beliefs and behaviours that go along with that. If you are not exhibiting those, then can you be said to be authentic in your statement?

      My sister is a vicar and - to state the obvious :-) - her faith is a core part of her being. The label - if you will - is a shorthand for all the things that her career, beliefs, and behaviours that she carries around with her. Equally, a good friend is a musician and while he doesn't walk around with a guitar (or other instruments) in his hands, music is never far from his thoughts, be that rhythm or a melody.

      Equally, you could say you are trans and present as your birth gender with no thoughts on what it might be to be the opposite or in the middle. I think the next question around that is: "In what way?" Not from a place of judgement, but from one of curiosity.

      You don't have to have dysphoria - and I wouldn't wish that on anyone, much like any form of distress - and you may not be full time or working towards it. Those things don't make you trans: what makes you trans - at least in my head - is that knowing that you are not in line with your physical sex. That the gender - what goes on in your head - is not quite correct as you feel it.

      Yes, there are many ways to be a man or be a woman. To have the troubling certainty that you feel wrong in one, either, or neither camp: that's a key part of it.

      My trans nature doesn't switch off when I pack my fancier clothes away on a Thursday night. I'm who I am all of the time: I've learned how to hide myself and keep my guard up in order to pass as a bloke.

      So, yeah, you can say you are trans, but I think you need to feel it. You need also to Walk the Talk in terms of some time of gender variance. However you choose to express that variance: that's cool. In that regard, you can happily sit under the trans umbrella. We'll have no false hierarchy here. ;-)

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  5. Oh no, not the bloody trans label issue. It never goes away. Just be who you are and to hell with the label someone tries to stick on you. People who try to exclude certain persons from associating and being helped by our community really get my goat! Sue x

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    1. Yes, 'helped' ;-) Perhaps I would do well to ignore it.

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  6. "Equally, you could say you are trans and present as your birth gender with no thoughts on what it might be to be the opposite or in the middle. I think the next question around that is: "In what way?" Not from a place of judgement, but from one of curiosity."
    I am happy you have chosen to take my comment seriously and offer some thoughtful responses.
    I disagree with the idea of a hierarchy but think it is very important to understand and appreciate, if not celebrate, the differences that exist within the community.

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    1. You're welcome. :-) Thanks for your thoughtful comment. If I just posted "no, you're wrong", A. that would be rude, B. I doubt if I'd learn anything, and C. I think such an approach would mean both parties retreating further into their corner of ideology (so to speak).

      I'm with you on people being different and trying to understand what they might need. One of our group - a Scout Leader, I think - came out with the line: "Different, and not better or worse."

      We might not be the same and may well be on different journeys, but to folk looking in - organisations and individuals - I think there's a lot of common ground the Trans community share.

      Celebrating a person's success or begging happy for a section of our community sounds a positive thing. If a closeted person makes it out into public, or T activists instill change, that sounds a good thing, IMHO.

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    2. * being happy, not begging happy. Sheesh! ;-)

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  7. Chams sounds like TransKentucky. Anyone who is gender variant, or even questioning, is trans enough to be included in our meetings. We have new folks every month, and hearing them share their journeys is a privilege.

    Someone with that elitist perspective should never be doing diversity seminars. They should probably be in the audience listening to a speaker with an open mind.

    A really thoughtful piece, Lynn.

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    1. Thanks, Lesley Ann. Good to hear of another group just getting on with things and also being so accepting.

      While we all have our biases, I think parking those for the training might not be a bad thing.

      Thanks for your comments.

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