Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Getting somewhere

Well, I am making some progress on this confusing path through transition.

I don't want to say that "no matter what, I'm going to go through this." I want to be cautious. I may come to think that transitioning is not for me. There is no point going through hell if I don't want to arrive at the destination.

Still, that's not how I feel. I don't feel like a guy; I like it when someone refers to me as something else. Today, a girl at school said something to someone else along the lines of "all the guys do ...." . But she specified, "except for you of course ____."

Monday was a horrible, horrible day. It was the worst day I've had since that phone call from the doctor's office which outed me. The specifics don't really matter, it's more about how these events made me feel. Point form:

1. I dented my car(not majorly) in a single car accident involving entering a parking lot.
2. I ran over a squirrel 45 minutes later. (I obviously didn't get the combination of swerving and slowing down right)
3. I lacerated my leg an hour after that. That required stitches. I was doing something without the proper protection; I knew better.

What didn't help was that I had to be somewhere that evening and overnight. I would have preferred to sulk and be alone. But our entire class was having a bonding "retreat", so I couldn't leave after my leg accident. Any one of those things alone wouldn't have bothered me a huge amount, but it was just an entire mess that got me down.

The leg cuts were indeed fairly deep. I was basically forced to go to the hospital. I kept telling everybody that it was fine, but one woman insisted on giving me first aid, saying that she liked me and she didn't want anything bad happening to me. But she was panicking, worrying that she didn't know what she was doing. So she asked around if anyone knew first aid. This other girl (that I have a crush on, incidentally) had a certificate because she works with kids, so she said she would help me. She was really calm and professional. Then I was forced off to the hospital. But I wasn't allowed to drive myself; two people took me. Basically, this was all humiliating, getting all the attention. People were bringing me water and dessert.

So during the car ride there, I was crying half the way. Luckily I was in the back, so my colleagues didn't see me. Then at the hospital emergency room, I was allowed inside the ER to wait for a room to be available, so I was alone. I cried some more. Then when we got back, everybody made a big fuss. I did enjoy the two hugs I got, (one from the first aid girl I have a crush one) since it's been a long time since I've gotten a hug from somebody that I wasn't related to. But I'd come back to a dance party; the campfire had been canceled due to rain. Now, I don't dance. I don't mind "learning" a dance. Once, at a friend's wedding, we were taught certain square dances. That was really fun. But I just can't do "creative" things. I suppose that that could be explained as "learned helplessness" meaning that I've decided that I can't be creative so I won't try. I got C's and C-'s in middle school art class. So basically I refuse to dance, since it isn't something that I can be taught. I wish that could change. Perhaps one day.

Anyways, yesterday I saw my GP. He'd gotten the letter from my psychologist. He gave me a prescription for a "mild" anti-depressant and a low dose of spironolactone. He is also referring me to a nearby endocrinologist who has trans-experience; I think he wanted the endo to deal with the hormone stuff. I was once again impressed that he treated me just like another patient with a more mundane problem.

So yay, I'm getting drugs. I will get a stronger dose of spiro, see how that makes me feel, then consider estrogen.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yet another misc. post


At lunch time yesterday, some of us students were discussing what is acceptable for a teacher to discuss with a student. An example given was a teenage girl asking advice from her teacher on how to seek an abortion. The conversation evolved into a discussion of the girls in the group remembering how they had the "period" talk in elementary school. I remember that day, in grade 6. All of the boys in the class were kicked out during class time and made to wait outside of the school. We were curious, but I supposed it wasn't deemed acceptable for mixed-groups to learn about the menstration cycle. One girl mentioned that her class got that talk as a mixed group.

Another girl mentioned that as teachers, we might "have transgender, gay, and lesbian, and what's the proper term for hermaphrodite." I blurted out that it was "intersex", and she went on to explain that some of those kids might not like to be singled out into one gender group. I was tempted to say "you should try being an adult like that" but I didn't. I was impressed that somebody could be so thoughtful. Perhaps I'm more used to the religious, close-minded kinds of people.

Speaking of religious people, I was over at my parents' place last night for supper. I mentioned that I had finished The Life of Pi. (my mom had lent it to me) I said that it was clearly a metaphor for something, but I wasn't quite sure what it was. My dad said that it was a metaphor for the "interchangeability of religions." I was astonished to hear him say that, especially since he didn't say it disapprovingly. Now, over ten years ago in high school I had occasionally stated that C.S. Lewis suggested in The Last Battle that it didn't matter what religion you followed. But he didn't necessarily react to that back then.

I have an appointment with my GP on Tuesday. He should have the letter sent from my therapist by then. I am hoping that he is willing to help me. If not, there is an endocrinologist one town over that deals with trans patients. I am eager to find out how the anti-depressant and spiro will affect me.

Nobody in my class has mentioned my smooth, moisturized legs. I wasn't worried about people asking, but I was just curious. I do wear shorts most of the time. I wish I had ones that were less baggy. But I think I missed the shorts season.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fortnightly update try #2

Sorry about that last night. I had a bit too much too drink. I was at the "comfortably numb" phase but I didn't slow down enough.

Last week was my first week of school. It was generally a pretty good experience. I'm very pleased to be back in school, working toward my career. Universities in Canada have a probably 55-60% female population. My French classes have generally been at least 75% female. I don't know the percentage of school teachers that are female, but I'm trying to get at the point that my program is about 85% female. I like that. I'm hoping to be an honorary girl. One day, waiting around a table waiting for class to resume after a break, I was offered the use of orange hand moisturizer, an opportunity which I grasped.

On Wednesday, I was on the bus heading downtown for a therapy appointment. There were a couple girls on the bus from my class, so I sat next to them. They were going shopping for clothes. I was hoping to get invited, but no such luck. One asked me why I was going downtown, since it's in the opposite direction from where I live. I said I had therapy. She asked why. I said that I didn't want to say, but that I was seeing a psychologist.

I do look forward to therapy sessions. It's always interesting to see what gets discussed. This last time, there was little talk about gender identity; it was more about depression. My therapist is going to recommend to my GP that I go on a mild antidepressant, in addition to spironolactone. What I'm wondering is how will I be able to tell which of those drugs is affecting me? I am curious to see how I'll be affected nonetheless. It'd be nice to be happier. And I would be happy to lose my sex drive. I just thought of this the other day: when I'm admiring a girl's body, what part of that is jealousy, and what part is plain sexual attraction? It's probably both, but at what percentage. That's another reason I want to get rid of this testosterone stuff.

I need to book a laser appointment. I'm assuming I go somewhere for a free consult, then book a time slot.

There are enough bloggers that cover any trans-related news item, so I'm not really interested in doing that. But I may as well have a paragraph on Castor Semenya.

Unfortunately, there is no good solution to the problem of intersexed people in sports. None. All the suggestions I've seen or thought of have flaws. Make the intersexed gendered-females compete in men's sports? They won't have a competitive chance. Make intersexed people compete in their own category? Not going to happen; sport organizations aren't going to create a third gender category. Also, how will intersexed people be discovered? Are governments going to start carefully examining babies at birth? Another suggestion is instead of having two gender categories, create categories that an athlete goes into depending on their testosterone level. That is not fair. Let's say a gendered-male athlete gets an orchiectomy. His testosterone level would be fairly low. But he would still have the benefit of more bone mass, bigger muscles, etc. What about creating sports that are based less on strength and endurance, and more on skill? Googling showed me that men and women compete together in the Olympics in sailing and show jumping. But nearly all individual sports are gender-bifurcated. I don't see how that is going to change.

Best attempt at a solution is more discretion. This poor girl has made international news for something which is intensely private. How did this get released? National and international sporting organizations need clear policies. With this Castor Semenya thing, I have heard that her gender had been questioned in the past. Did her national athletics association ignore these allegations? Honestly, there is no easy solution. You could say it isn't fair for her to compete with women. I could point out that it wouldn't be fair for me to have to compete in a marathon with Kenyans. (The difference is that sports are not separated ethnicity , but by gender.)

Confusing stuff.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fortnightly update

You know, when I make a post here, that's the result of an urge to post. Most often I feel like it, but I'm away from my computer, or I feel lazy, or whatever. I'm not claiming that I have these awesome great posts that I think about for days before writing. But this is just what I'm like in general. I often write angry letters to companies, blog posts, diary entries in my head, (occasionally even suicide notes - not recently, however) but little of that actually makes to to the written-down stage. I know I don't make coherent posts on one theme, but I'm writing. It's as much for me as for anyone else.

I just finished watching Marley & Me. I cried a lot, well for me. Normally when I cry during a movie (or T.V. - last time being the wedding episode "You are Cordially Invited" of Deep Space 9) it's just a "tearing up" type thing. This movie made me get to the "sniffly, runny nose" stage. I am definitely more emotional than I used to be. (I mean over the last ten years or so) Yet I'm still pretty cold-hearted. That does bother me somewhat. I think I used to suppress my emotions for whatever reason. I remember explaining to one of the staff at Bible school (about seven years ago) that I "didn't believe in feeling emotions." That seems silly no matter how you look at it, but that was how I felt. I was also jealous of Tuvok, because he was able to suppress his emotions. I have no idea why I felt like that. I'm speculating, but perhaps I thought it was expected as part of the "male role". Confusing.

I don't miss living with our dog (a yellow lab, just like in the movie) I didn't like that he was "always there" that we'd always need to take care of him daily. We couldn't go out overnight without organising somebody to look after him. (well at least letting him out and feeding him!) I hated that all my clothes were covered in hair. I should note at this point that I never wanted a dog. My ex (goddamn I hate to write that) wanted one and would have gotten him against my wishes. But at the same time I miss having somebody greet me at the door. Or somebody to cuddle with. It was in fact fun to spoon with our dog, or go on a BIKE RIDE OMG!

Since my last post, I have remembered something trans related from my childhood! I've had this blog since the end of 2007. Not sure why I'd remember something now. Anyway, I specifically remember wanting to "be a girl" to see what it was like. I can pinpoint this memory to roughly Grade 4 or 5, and that I specifically felt that I only wanted it to be for a day. (again "just to see what it was like")

I am drunk so anything else from this post might not make sense

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gender theory

I'm not well read on this topic, but I have a tiny bit to say anyways. I'll start to rectify this lack of knowledge, because now that I'll be back in school, I'll be able to get books via inter-library loan. And I won't need to hide books in my car and read them on my break at work any more.

Dyssonance had a long post on "Dogma, Women, and Gender theory."

Here's an extract:

If sex and gender are the same thing, then how you are born is, basically, how you are. Transsexual women are not women all their lives, nor are they women after surgery; they are just men who had surgery under this basis.

In general communication of people outside the realm of transsexuals and their related associatives, this particular understanding is what is still held, because for centuries it was taught to them that way. The concept of gender as separate from sex is relatively new – dating back only about 70 years or so.

And it wasn’t until the very late 1990’s and early 2000’s that the basis for them being separate was proven.

So, to a very real extent, it’s only been about 8 years that the entirety of our understanding of gender has changed.

And Véronique just pointed out that:

The word gender was originally a grammatical term. Words had gender: masculine, feminine, and in some languages neuter. Later, it took on two new meanings: a kind of euphemistic synonym for sex...

In my first post here, I mentioned a class that I took in Fall 2007. The teacher was likely gay, but he didn't state that. Discussing the term "gender", he pointed out that the term only newly exists in French. If you type in "Gender" into Wikipedia, you'll be taken to this page.

The first line of that page is "Gender is a term that refers to the set of characteristics that humans perceive as distinguishing between men and women, extending from one's biological sex to one's social role or gender identity. " Note you have to click the disambiguation page to visit the grammatical gender page.

However, if you type in "Genre" in the French language wikipedia, you come automatically to the disambiguation page. The first listing on that page is for grammatical gender, the second one takes you to the Genus page, and finally the third listing is for Gender(Social sciences).

The first little bit:
Le genre est un concept récent en sciences sociales et en médecine dont on peut simplement appréhender le sens au travers des deux citations suivantes :

* « Le sexe, c'est ce que l'on voit, le genre, c'est ce que l'on ressent » Dr Harry Benjamin[réf. souhaitée]
* « Le genre, c'est ce que l'on pourrait appeler le "sexe social" » Christine Delphy[réf. souhaitée]

Le concept de genre (gender) a été créé dans la langue anglaise car le mot sex y possède un champ sémantique beaucoup plus réduit que le mot « sexe » en français — rendant difficile la présentation de la place des hommes et des femmes dans la société — et sous l'influence des féministes, qui différencièrent le sexe anatomique du genre afin de remettre en cause les contraintes imposées par ce dernier.
Translation: (mine)
Gender is a recent concept in social science and in medicine via these two quotes:

"Sex is what you see, gender is what you feel," Dr. Harry Benjamin
"Gender is what you could call the social sex," Christine Delphy

The concept of gender was created in the English language because the English word sex has a much more reduced semantic field compared to the word "sexe" in French, which makes the presentation on the part of men and women in society difficult, and under feminist influence, who distinguish anatomical sex from gender in order to question the constraints of the latter.
Sorry about the comma splicing in the last paragraph, the original wasn't too clear.

What I'm trying to get at is that the term "gender" in English is a creation to explain a concept. This is actually a strength of the English language, the fact the new words are created to explain something new, or that words are borrowed from other languages to fill a gap in English. I'm not saying that new words are less worthy; I'm saying that they are extremely useful.

Gender is an essential word for the T* community. Without it, it would be more difficult to discuss gender identity. Since "genre" is less accepted in French than "gender" is in English, people must use less precise words to talk about it.

Unfortunately, in English at least, the terms "sex" and "gender" are sometimes used interchangeably. Forms that you have to fill out for whatever reason always used to have a box labelled "Sex". Now, some of them say "Gender". This makes it difficult for we gender variant types. Should we interpret the "Sex" box as meaning "legal sex" and a "Gender" box as meaning "social sex"? I'm not sure.

Another example is when I came out to my parents. My father cautioned me to not tell me too many people since "society doesn't understand sexual variation." I agreed, but clarified that it was "gender" that we were discussing. While he did use the wrong term, I was impressed that he showed at least some understanding. I wonder how he (and my mom) will react as I begin the difficult transition process. I'm not sure what to share with them and when. Do I slip it into a conversation that "oh, btw, I've been chemically castrated."?