I've decided that I absolutely adore it when people quote me, or refer to my writing.

"And I could just respond by pointing to the excellent essay by Amy Fox in Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme  but I’d rather go on engaging myself here. (If there is any hope for us all, it lies with butches like Amy Fox.)"

http://truequeerlove.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/nothing-can-be-said-of-being-butch.html

 


Before all this, imagine me in a coffee shop. The morning light streaming in. I overhear a realtor talking to a colleague about her 'other' maternal grandma, the one she didn't know about; the one who died in the 1960s.

I am off to work. Research.


Waking factors in the following dream:
- Introducing someone to If These Walls Could Talk 2
- Dropping by my old (pre-transitional) landlady to find out she'd recently moved.
- See prior entries regarding extents of control



 In Southern Europe, in a medical camp, among the nurses.

It's not clear what we're doing here but maybe the politicians are getting ready for a war. How do they know?

In retrospect, this may not be history as you know it. World War 2 hasn't broken out yet. It's safer to insert cross-temporal operatives now. Mymission is to gather data and not interfere. To watch, not act. It's making me twitchy.
Read more... )

Oh look


Are those other butches I see?


Good.
 

I'm not just weird.

 

Or I am weird, but at least I'm in good company.

It's called "A ceasar with a #2 fade on the side and a #4 in the back."

This is often not the haircut I intend to get. But, after realizing that I really do want it short again, it's more or less the haircut I wind up getting.



Usually I book an appointment days in advance and going through the dance of

"Do you have pictures of short cuts on women?"
"Thank you, but these pictures are 'short' as in 'above the shoulders.'"
"I mean 'short' .... as in 'it sticks up on its own.' As in 'too short for my date to grab.'"
"Hmm. Well, I guess we'll walk through it."
"That looks good, but shorter."
"Yes, I understand it will be very short then. Please go ahead."
"Shorter still."
"Shorter please."
"Yes I'm sure."
"Keep cutting."
"Stubble."
"When it's stubble on the sides,  it's good."
"Yes I'm sure."
"This is what always happens. Stubble. Please."
"You don't have a trimmer guide that short?"

And then I feel awkward about taking an hour and a half of the hairdresser's time.


But now I can drop in on a butch-friendly barber, say "A ceasar with a #2 fade on the side and a #4 in the back" and walk out again fifteen-to-twenty-five minutes later with a haircut and enough extra money for a couple meals out.


It does, however, make me look like a teenage boi - the kind who is obviously not wearing a bra.
I find that I can't open a map on a streetcorner without someone stopping to give me directions. I credit thi this to Boston's friendly attitude.

But [livejournal.com profile] vuge  tells me that I need to get a bra.

Background:

I've been tweaking my estradiol and progesterone levels for a few months now. Normally, you take a given dose of E and P and test your blood for their levels. But instead, the doctor I'm seeing recommends adjusting them until your pituitary emits levels of follicular stimulating hormone and lutenizing hormone in line with cissexed women. The idea is that your pituitary is lying back in a warm endocrinal bath and sighing ahhh... just right. Now let's ovulate.

There's no ovulation, but there is better mood and sleep. The clinic I was going to in Vancouver modeled their trans care after their previous specality: harm reduction for injection drug-users. While tehy're nice folks all-around, they prescribed as little as possible (post-op 50ug patch or 2mg pill of E; no P).

I think I'm sleeping better on the new dose. But my body seems to be completing the puberty that it stalled out on. So I go to goodwill to donate the pants that are too small on my hips and bum, and I buy new ones that fit.


And a bra may be in order. At least if I'm going to go running (ouch!) or to a job interview.

Behind me, vuge says, "no, you should wear a bra all the time."

I'm not sure about this.

"You see those striations on your shirt? That washboard effect running from nipple to nipple?" Vuge asks. "I last saw that in anime."

I don't know how I feel about this. I don't like the idea that I have to cover myself with an extra layer of fabric. An extra layer to wash by hand. An extra layer to shop and spend for, difficult normally, but even moreso due to my insistance on ethical sourcing.

I could cut down my dosage and see if they shrink back, but I'm not sure that's best for my body, my mood.

I like the fact that my body is finishing puberty; that it hasn't stalled out halfway; that it's doing what it should. I'm alarmed and annoyed at how my prior doctor thought this was the end of the line; that no more was to occur; that I should slow down and stop. And since I have trouble remembering that I've changed sex, accidentally knocking one breast with my upper arm now and then serves as a good reminder.

I don't particularly like the extra attention from men. Or rather, I don't like that this sexual expectation, or that it's contingent on the shape of my chest.

I wore a button down shirt to visit vuge in the hospital. When I left, she overheard the nurses respectfully discussing whether I was a boy or a girl. Given this, given how people associate "btuch " with "dyke," the men who cross the street to give me directions that I don't need, then strike up a conversation that ends with "I wish we could spend more time together." would figure I'm gay.

"Yeah." says vuge. "But they're probably thinking, hitting on her is probably not going to work. But if it did? .... Yeah. It's worth a shot."

I'm thinking: sports bra.
The last episode of The Colbert Report focused on LGBT issues, and referred to Stonewall Riots - one of the few American Cable TV shows that mentioned the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

What's odd is that after getting an army haircut (which barbers refer to as a "butch"), in his suit, there's an eerie resemblance between TV satrist Stephen Colbert


(if you can't see the video, copy and paste the link. It may not work outside of Canada)



and transgender activist and authour, Leslie Feinburg.



Do you think it's deliberate?


(This would make a fun meme, methinks)

"I heard that bit of a rasp in your voice, and thought I bet he's either shot T a few times or is thinking of it, and is now sweaty-handed, wringing over whether to take it all the way. That's why I asked you what name you preferred."

- My professor, referring to September 2007.


I'm glad that the "transsexuals exist" meme has gotten around to the point where even random staff at stores, restaurants, raidio stations, medical (walk-in or surgical) clinics, and university classrooms try to support your gender identity.  I can almost hear the wheels spinning in their heads:

Oh, I bet that person is one of those people who change their sex. I'd bet they'd like it if I could confirm it in some way.

And so they suddenly soften, decrease the distance between us, smile genuinely, and call me "sir." Or tell me where the men's washroom is, even though I hadn't asked. They do not do this for the "other men" present.

I know they mean it out of respect, and so it warms me.

Today, the tie I bought from the charity shop (right before the above reaction), I picked out because I figured I could paint a fuschia "" sign on it. Not exactly subtle, but mabye I can point to it or something.



It still seems strange that I've transitioned to a woman who is comfortable getting regularly mistaken for an early female-to-male transsexual. Stranger is that with all the feedback that comes in that says "You're FtM" and much less that says "you're a masculine woman," at least not directly, sometimes I even forget which way I'm going.



I know that some masculine women are infuriated by this, and some even see it as a transsexual invasion of their space. I find being overlooked frustrating at times, but I know that cissexed-passing privelege makes it dead fucking easy to change someone's mind about your gender, as long as you're going towards the conventional biological model; that all I have to do is introduce myself, or say "Uh... thanks. But where's the women's?" mention my gender, and they'll probably be not only okay with it, but embarassed that they'd call you trans (based on the assumption that "trans" is a rude thing to assume about someone, but not a terrible thing to be. Much like "Gay.").

More importantly, being smiled at and warmly called "sir" is better than the more traditional reaction against masculine women - You're a freak. Get away from me.




I see a place for a gender hanky code. Some way for people to telegraph their identity.
Washroom follies )

"I'm a girl." I say. I say it awkwardly - the way you'd say "Uh... I've worked here for five years" to someone who warned you, "customers aren't allowed in this part of the store."

"You're... a girl?" A cocked eyebrow and a face that broadcasts uncomfortable incredulity giving way to plain homophobia. Like she doesn't want to think about it.

Read more... )
Dear Bear,

I picked up a copy of Butch is a Noun and really enjoyed it. I saw your website and I think it's nifty that you have a contact button for "responses, disagreement, further thoughts, personal questions or any other communication."

I like how you added the chapter "Faggot Butch" partially in response to another's objections. So I'm writing you to suggest another amendment in future writing you do.

When you use "XY" or "male-assigned" I gathered that you are doing so to distinguish cissexed males from transsexed males: usually part of stating that many FtM males can be butch and so can the occasional, exemplary non-FtM man - maybe. I gather than you mean that there is something about being an XY or male-assigned man that interferes with being a butch.

The problem I have is that the terms "XY" and "male assigned" also include male-to-female-and-or-anything-else transgendered people who are definitely not men. I feel  that this choice of words either invisibilives anyone in this field who might have been labelled "man" in the past but who now identifies as a butch, or that we cannot exist.

This bothers me: I like the "soft butch" space so much that I changed my sex to get here, and I am not alone in this. And I do not think that for those of us who started out male-assigned and changed gender, that being XY makes any of us less of a butch.

We MtF butches are hard to spot. Very hard. It turns out that presenting as butch is one of the best ways to not be read as a male-to-female(-ish) transsexual. We are assumed to not exist, and so we are never read as we are. This can be nice when we are read as (assumed-to-be-female-assigned) butches. At other times, we are read as FtM men, cissexed men, somewhere on the (tacitly assumed to be female-assigned) genderqueer spectrum, or more than one of the above.

This is so effective that even when I try to succinctly out myself to people who don't know me from before, I am often unsuccessful. When I say "I am changing my sex," even to a table full of transgendered people, they assume that I am going towards being a man. Actually I don't need to say anything - a lot of people see me and think "FtM." Nope! Not a guy! Been there. Done that. Much happier here.

In other words, we walk among you, undetected - despite our efforts. And in part because we know that there are many butch-inclusive spaces are found within dyke spaces, and we know that many dyke spaces are not welcoming to MtFs.

People who do know me from before will often say "my you're looking good." I think it's because I look happier. When I tell them, "I'm changing my sex," the lights go on, but even then many assume that I am just either just starting, or that I am taking a day off. They never notice my breasts. Sometimes, after hearing my voice, they'll ask me if I have a cold. Other people just assume that I'm my own sister - perhaps this also explains why "my brother" was always reading up on gender issues .

I think these are common experiences. I say "I think" because it is very hard to find a good sample of MtF butches with whom to swap notes. This is in part because we are hard to spot, and in part because it seems that we are few. The ones that I have found, I have directed here <http://community.livejournal.com/boy2boitrans/>. If this interests you, you are welcome to come by to read, and ask any questions you like.

One common experience seems to be this. When we were trying to identify as male, most of us were more quiet, unexpressive and shut-in than we are now. When we decided to transition, we assumed that we'd be "a bit of a tomboy - maybe a little dykey." A few months into coming out and-or transition, this was revised to "a tomboy" and/or "pretty dykey," then "androgynous?" Eventually many of us realized that, once safely out of the realm of male,  we presented more butchy than when we were trying to identify as male. Now, butch behaviour confirms who we are, rather than serving as proof of male-ness. For example, this is the first time in my life that I've felt comfortable wearing a tie. Others have developed an interest in being handy. And so on.

I figured you might be interested in part because you seem responsive to your audience, but also because other XX-people who inhabit this rough gendery space seem to find that there's something confirming about people transitioning to here, rather than just transitioning out of here.

I know that I would be thrilled if any future editions of Butch is a Noun could have a sentence or two that reflects this. Or if you could just use a little more caution around terms like "XY" or "male-assigned,"  that would be lovely.

Otherwise it's a fine book, and I very much enjoyed it.


    Sincerely,


Scary either way: Surgery and hormones don't mix.

Androgen-blockers lower your blood pressure. Estradiol can cause blood clots. Since I need to be off them for two weeks before surgery, I start cutting down today.

There's this spectrum that runs between genders.

Where spectra fail:


sometimes the only way to say the right thing is to use the wrong words.


The deeper problem. The deeper solution.

Another good approach, at least for us overly responsible and self-admonishing types, is to invert the golden rule and do unto ourselves as we would do unto others.


An even better piece of advice, that could have avoided all this if I can just learn to stick to it is:

No one has to justify themselves.

So stop worring about what what you think other people think you should do.

Just do what you want.

Be who you want.
I paraphrase their last poster:
'a party for women (gay/straight/trans); genderqueers and FtMs with ties to women's kink are welcome'
I put up the posters around mainstreet and SFU. I was unable to attend. I still have their tape gun.

They're putting on another event. I wanted to ask some questions before I volunteered again. The volunteer coordinator obliged and asked if I wanted any specific "deets" (short for details I assume, not misspelled "beets"). I sent them this:
1. "Joking" is the point where the difficult fact becomes integrated.

I'm getting back to posting more gender-related stuff here. I think that it helps me, and I know that other enjoy it.

A lot of this is naval-gazing, but, to me, it's important naval-gazing that, for me is better left said - especially better left said for anyone else who in a similar situation. Otherwise, society will erase you.

I have the worry that "I'm talking about trans stuff too much." It's possible to develop an unhealthy obsession with transition, but I don't think that the rate at which I would like to bring up my observations on, or experiences, with gender is excessive or repetitive. I also want to get to the point where I can joke about it, and maybe other people can too.



2. Something solid (or soft) to hang your coat on.
While coming out, I said that I felt to be on the feminine side of androgyny, but past experiences have shown that the further I go into transition, and the more female my body feels, and the more easily I can pass as female, the more and more I feel comfortable presenting on the masculine side, and the less I feel comfortable presenting as feminine.

Read more... )

3. Rare, that
I had a long conversation with my prof yesterday - who is starting to become "my supervisor" in all respects but the official. After going over academic plans, we touched on the subject of this entry. Her experiences were in step with mine: while it's not difficult to find female-assigned people who identify as trans in ways that don't mean "I'm a masculine man who either has or wants all the bits now," finding anything vaguely resembling the equivalent for male-assigned people is a slow, frustrating, and isolating exercise. Read more... )


4. Comfortably Trans?
The split between the body and the social also explains my mixed relationship with the category "trans." I'm quite happy to be gender-variant, and I wouldn't have it any other way (unless the "other way" is living in a society where it was accepted as healthy and common - someone get me a  dream augmentor!). The transsexual part? I've come to the conclusion that I fucking hate this shit.Read more... )
I need to do two things when I'm writing a self-examining post.

1. Try to infer what external causes have prompted me to write this (AKA take at least a minute to calm the fuck down and think)

2. Don't pull my punches.

Overlooking both. Bad habits. Showing improvement though.

Anyhow, what I forgot in the last post was:

1. Context

I'm growing out my facial hair as a step to going to the L.A.S.E.R. hair removal clinic. This is the last time I have to do LASER hair removal on my face. After this, a matter of electrolysis.

When I do this, I tend to dress in a much more masculine fashion, because while I don't like being a "boy in a dress," I like being a "bearded boy in a dress" even less. The gender of my presentation gets on my mind, as one might well imagine. Each time I grow out my beard like this, I know that the next time, it will be even sparser. This reminds me that I am making, and have already made irreversable changes to my body. It's good, but it drives home that I have committed myself to this.

Also, due to the changes in my face and build, each time I grow out my beard and toss on some baggy shirts, I look increasingly FtM, which amuses me to no end.


2. Pulling punches

The dilemma can better be summarized as:

What's the point of trying to look feminine when the more I try, the more it highlights all the parst of me that don't look like a girl, so I  present like a crossdresser? Am I dressing like a boi out of fear of having "tranny" stamped on my forehead? Or do I actually just not want to look feminine? Is this discomfort and the dire towards the masculine more due to the fact that I just don't feel right in a feminine presentation?

[this was where this post was supposed to end, but following my own advice has led me to really sort things out]

And is the problem with intelligibility more to do with my worries about seeing my family?

When I told my Mum about how her "advice on femininity was welcome, but I'm not a gender normative female," she said that she didn't consider herself "to be a gender-normative female." I had to drive how that when I said "not gender normative" I didn't mean "I'm comfortable being single, kayaking and carrying boxes up stairs" but rather "the kind of woman that, a while back, my Mum would describe with the hushed phrase, 'I think she has some gender issues.'" So I said, when I say non-normative, I mean kinda butch.

"Kinda butch" was not the best term, but I used it because I thought that my Mum might get it. Our former neighbour was/is dealing with his daughter's coming out and suddenly "looking like a butch lesbian." Those were his words - I would say that she looks and acts like a Greenpeace volunteer whose sexuality is her own business, but if that's my mom's baseline of "butch" then that would make me Leslie fucking Feinburg.

A lot of my conversations about my changing my sex (my sex needs changing, my gender is fine) include similar problems. The issue in my head is that most of my family hasn't seen me since December, when the biggest change in my appearance was that I was wearing better fitting clothes than normal. Thanksgiving is coming up and I just want to go to Kelowna and eat some salad and drink punch and talk with my loved one - i.e. I want to forget about all this trans shit

This is likely because I've spent the last week introducing myself to other SFU students as female and having no bloody idea how I'm coming across

But come Thanksgiving, I know that I have the choice of presenting either in an intelligibly feminine fashion, or as the giant (possibly somewhat butch, possibly not) dyke that I am. The former is not something that I want to do - or am going to do, so I guess that dilemma is solved. But the latter may lead to more well-meant expressions of concern over "whether I've really thought this through."

Gah! Of course I've thought this about this
.

Oops.
I mean, of course I've thought this through... I think.

Oops again.
I mean: I... guess this is the right thing to do, but if you have a better idea I'd like to hear it.

All of these relate to looooong concerned/worried/loving/irritating conversations that I don't want to have - in part because I want to come out to someone and get slapped on the back and offered a celebratory beer (Anne Travers is, so far, the only person to take this tack) - but largely because I've already had the "Have you actually thought about what the fuck you're doing?" talk about six times with others, and about four hundred times with myself. Maybe I should just write my best guess as to my gender identity down and what the hell I'm doing with/to my body, career and personal safety on a business card, hand it out and say "it's all there, now let's forget about it, eat and talk about the last season of CBC radio, Dynamic Optics, social history and all that other wonderful stuff." And maybe we can actually forget about it instead of using it to cover up the giant ball of mutual concern that is the product of me changing my sex.

Okay, maybe I don't actually want to forget about all this trans shit, but rather be able to have meaningful personal conversations with people that don't rely on me going over the basics to the point where I'm wondering why it's Helen Leung and not me who's teaching "Introduction to Gender Studies."
Let's take a break from writing about White supremacists and the sociobiology of sex to write about gender. Yeah!

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