Okay, so the conference I went to was overall a good experience. I managed to meet some cool people, prove that I could handle crowds for long periods without completely melting down/blanking out/cutting, out myself to a couple of people as a part of having really good positive conversations, and ask out someone I've been kinda crushy on for awhile. I wasn't planning on doing that last part when I did, but I dunno...I felt like I had the nerve to do it & I wasn't going to be able to work it up again for a long time.

Okay, the downside? I appear to have expended all my sanity points, so I've been a bit of a wreck for two days now and have barely slept at all. I feel exhausted, anti-social, but terribly lonely at the same time. It'd be a bit easier if K was in town but she's travelling & won't be back for a few more days.

Updates

Jun. 15th, 2011 11:47 am
So I'm back in grad school, for a couple of weeks now. It's been pretty great, actually. It feels like months ago, but it's only been two weeks. The harasser ain't talked to me at all, my advisor is supportive of my new topic, and I've been making connections with some cool people who are doing exactly what I want to do.

So, yeah, that's all pretty awesome.

Umm...so I've been thinking a lot about my own gender & identity lately. I need to write a separate post about that, but the basic blurb is that I'm coming to grips with id'ing more as genderqueer than "woman". I'm still clearly "female" in this sense that my body just works right with female hormones & my brain still expects to have a vulva rather than a penis but...yeah, I'll explain more later.
Random idea: if I ever make my own business cards, like some of my friends have, I'm going to put "Legatus of the Transsexual Empire" as my title.
As a Zen Buddhist and a feminist, I think Zen could have a lot to say on the ideas of privilege and social hierarchy; however, I've yet to see anyone write or speak about this topic. Indeed, it feels like privilege has been completely overlooked in Zen, despite how obvious the connections seem.

Essentially, my fundamental thesis is this: to deny privilege is to deny the dharma. It is to deny the existence of the chain of cause & effect, to deny the interleaving of all things, to deny the doctrine of no-self. To be blind to privilege is to center yourself in the universe and shout at the top of your lungs "I am me and I am special among all things in the Universe".

You cannot escape the role of privilege in your life if you are to acknowledge that form is emptiness, to acknowledge the role of the infinite wheel of cause and effect in our every triumph and failure. Our place in the kyriarchy is a part of the momentum we each have and it it affects every action we take. Clearly, you cannot hide from your own privilege by invoking the idea of no-self. Zen does not say "we are all identical". It says that all things have buddha-nature. We are not "all one", we are "not one, not two".

In my own Sangha, I feel that the teachers have erred too much on the side of treating everyone as "one" and have put the burden on students who don't have a high place in the hierarchy to rise above the ones that do in order to merely participate in the community. That's how power imbalances always play out when not explicitly addressed. The momentum of karma is towards continued bigotry and oppression and, like all karma, its dismantling should be a part of Zen practice.

Blergh...

May. 9th, 2011 01:49 pm
I can't wait this really black obvious hair falls out/can be shaved down so I can actually feel comfortable outside again.

Just another day or two though...
It is possible to rock out so hard you hurt your boobs.
Ugh - so I ended up having barely enough regrowth this cycle that I'm getting another lasering. I really dread it. Hopefully hopefully hopefully this will be the very last time.

Addendum: so I got it done, things went fine, I was gendered correctly and everything...thank fucking god...and the technician agreed that this may be the last time, but that in a few months I should think about if enough has grown back that I want to get another one to finish them off. I'm currently sitting in my first research group meeting in three months and patently ignoring [DOUCHEBAG]'s practice talk while waiting for [REDACTED] to give her practice thesis defense.
So my father sent me an email about the saddest thing he'd ever seen. It was an obit of a white straight cis dude who died in an accident. I've been debating on if I want to respond by linking to the trans day of remembrance list of dead.

Why? Because I'm an asshole.
Boob talk )

I don't know why I care so much about the growth of my boobs. I guess it's a combination of internalizing kyriarchal bullshit about a woman's value being in her body and the fact that I was jealous of other girls for most of my life. Do I actively think anyone's worth comes from their appearance? No, of course not, but I can't say with a straight face that I've expunged all the misogyny I absorbed in my life. I probably never will, honestly, since I don't think you can ever really get rid of internalized kyriarchy - you can reduce it, you can challenge it, you can accept that you're wrong when called on it, but it won't ever be gone.
For some reason I was reminded today of when I first came out in my department. I was told by one of the only other female grad students that she didn't want me to use the women's restroom. So I didn't. I didn't use the men's room either. I didn't use the bathroom at work. I'd try and hold it for 6+ hours straight - and then go about 4 blocks over to a building that had a single occupancy restroom and then use it. The pain was excruciating. I should also say that I drink coffee regularly to keep migraines away and that this was still going on even when I started hormones and I was taking spironolactone every day. For those in the audience unaware, it's primarily a diuretic. It just happens to work as a cheap and fairly effective androgen blocker for us trans women.

I remember one day when I had made the mistake of waiting too long to try and make it over to the other building. The pain had gotten bad enough that walking made me feel like I was going to vomit. Not knowing what the fuck to do, I ended up just curling in a ball on the couch in the commons area and sobbing. I think someone found me and tried to ask me what was going on, but it's kinda hazy. I do remember when the grad student who told me she didn't want me in the bathroom came by, and I don't remember what I said but I think I explained my dilemma. She told me that she didn't feel comfortable with me in there...but that given how much pain I was in it was the lesser of the two evils. So that's how I first used the women's restroom in my department.

Not exactly a story of triumph, is it? They treat me better now, but honestly I don't know if that's because they really accept me or because I look "female enough" at this point that they don't have to think of me as an icky tranny? I don't know. I don't even know if I want to be at a place where my peers have treated me like that. At the same time, I don't want to give up completely on my phd work.
is getting a cis person with a douchey trans-erasing theory of gender and presentation to let go of it for just five fuckin' minutes.
Going to cut again so that people who don't want to hear this don't have to see it.
embarrassed mumbling follows )
Finally, I'm still dealing with my own issues with my appearance. A lot of days, I still hate the way I look but I'm getting better at at least saying that "I feel like a look ugly" rather than "I am ugly". Heh...I can't even write a complement paid to me by someone recently. It just feels really wrong. Ah well, it'll just take time.
So I've been thinking a lot about sex lately - probably partly from the puberty and partly from the fact that I'm getting more comfortable with my body so sex is less scary.
cut for talk about sexy business )

Plans

Apr. 11th, 2011 01:11 pm
So I'm kinda undecided about if I really will be going back to grad school in June, like I've been planning. A friend has told me that I can probably get a job as a programmer here in town, which I could use to build back up savings and get further through this whole puberty thing before heading back to get that phd.

On the other hand, I've seen what happens when people "go on leave" from grad school and take jobs for anything longer than a term or two. They never end up coming back and I'm not arrogant enough to think I'm necessarily going to be able to pull it off.

So, yeah, I'm not really sure what to do yet. I have a couple of months to figure things out, and in the meantime I'm going to keep studying my research shit and also do some tiny example projects I could use as code samples for if I really do decide to apply for a job.

Also, I'm hoping to save up to get my orchi done sometime this year. I want to cut down on my anti-androgens, because they are heinous fucking chemicals. I also want to start eating avocados again, which is going to be hard until I don't have to be on enough spiro to geld a stallion. :-p
This is probably the most fundamental point I can give, the foundation of pretty much every other Trans 101 piece I'll ever write: trust us. That's it. Just trust us.

Trust us when we tell you who we are or how we know it.
Trust us when we say that we needed to transition and why we needed it.
Trust us when we say that our existence isn't the result of a society with flawed views on gender.
Trust us even when it goes against your feminist theory or psychiatric training, please trust that we know our own lives better than anything you were taught.
Trust us because, as little light so eloquently described, we are worthy of it.
Me, after talking about last night: "Well, it's okay - I mean, shit, I have like this magical ability to forgive pretty much anything."
Her: "I know, but I don't think that's a good thing."
Me: "[K] says that too..."
Her: "Good!"

Ouch

Apr. 2nd, 2011 08:19 am
[Darlin', you might not want to read this...]

So what was to be a pleasant night out with one of K's coworkers turned into a "justify your existence" inquisition based on second wave transmisogynist bullshit. It was nice to find out that my existence was somewhat inherently offensive, for having experienced male privilege at some point but "choosing" to be female*, and that I have value only because K likes me. See, I thought I had no fucking value, so it was good to know that the affection of a cis woman still gives me the right to live.

So, yeah, all I have to show for last night are a bunch of nightmares and some new gouges on my arms. But, hey, I suppose there is a silver lining here. I may have been crushing a bit on this coworker of hers - like I do with probably half the queer girls I meet because I'm fucking absurd - and was experiencing my usual crushy awkwardness, but that has been totally fixed now! Yay! Or something. Fuck. It was just a night full of ouch and fail.

*Didn't I just fucking write about that shit?
Got a response from the head abbot of the monastery. Surprisingly, she disagrees with her senior student in almost every way...but she seems to not realize that she disagrees with the priest who spoke to me. I wrote an e-mail attempting to explain this fact and I hope I can get her to guarantee that things will be done her way, not the way of this one transphobic priest.
Let's talk a little bit about the "trans women aren't women because they've had male privilege" bullshit. Consider two queer women, Anja and Surma (why characters from Gunnerkrigg? why not!!). Surma came out when she was 11, and has never had a relationship with a man. Anja had a number of relationships with men through her 20s and 30s, but eventually came out and is now exclusively dating women.

Now, would you consider that Anja is less legitimately queer than Surma because she came out later in life, thus experiencing straight privilege for years? Of course not! Surely they're subject to the same kind of discrimination now. In addition, the entire phenomenon of being in the closet is a function of the systemic bigotry not some scheme to benefit from it for as long as possible.

So clearly you wouldn't judge queer people by when they chose to come out, and yet that's exactly what (un)radfems do to trans women when they claim that we're not real women* because many of us were extended male privilege before we came out. Whether or not they consciously intend to, by demanding that some people have to earn their identity and respect, they are merely recreating kyriarchy in their own image.

*As a side note, one would expect these people to accept that trans men are not women because they currently experience male privilege; oddly, this is not the case and trans men are usually still considered members of Club Woman!
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