Tag Archive | Religion

Challenging Binaries: There’s More Variety Out There Than What The Traditional Belief System Offers

Often times people seek out a story that placates their version of "reason and evidence" that matches and defends the ideology they believe is theirs, but is really coming from a source of early childhood trauma or indoctrination.

Often times people seek out a story that placates their version of “reason and evidence” that matches and defends the ideology they believe is theirs, but is really coming from a source of early childhood trauma or indoctrination.

2006:

In 2006, I was still presenting as a man, and I was juggling 5 sexual partners.  I was Nick’s sidekick.  I idolized him because every girl he dated was model material, and he did it all without money or celebrity status, and all with just mediocre looks.  The Mother in the Sky blessed him with one gift: the ability to talk, and that’s all he needed.

You and I, or anyone else for that matter, would appear to have a handicap when placed next to him and forced to talk or tell a story.  The man, despite being a womanizing asshole, was a great schmoozer and talker.

Being a desperate “disciple” of his and utilizing many of his strategies got me merely a small percentage of the success he pulled in…which landed me at 5 women I was intimate with simultaneously.

I was concerned for my safety so I got tested for STDs often.  When I went to see Dr. Li, his nurse drew my blood and asked me to check all the STDs and symptoms on the clipboard so the lab would know which tests to run.

Needless to say I checked them all, including, of course, HIV.

I sat in the waiting room, shaking my leg with a cadence that matched the inner twitch caused by my anxiety.

Dr. Li came in and my rhythmic twitch came to a halt.

He looked at the clipboard , and after a few seconds, said something that shocked the shit out of me:

“Are you gay?  Do you have sex with men?”

I was caught off guard and totally spinning.  I knew where this was going, and I couldn’t believe he was so misinformed on a topic that he should have been an expert on, a topic that I was paying him for to understand thoroughly, more so than me.  I ended up incredibly frustrated and disappointed.

“What?  No, of course not,” I said with vehement denial and nervousness.

“You put a check mark next to ‘HIV.’  Unless you have sex with men, you don’t need HIV checked.”

I had an internal nuclear bomb go off when he said that.  The conglomerate cluster-fuck of emotions that were set off inside me, to this day, is still indescribable.

I wanted to scream.  I wanted to shake the shit out of him so he would talk some sense.

Had he no clue what he just said?  Had he no idea how ignorant and misinformed he was?  Had he no idea the risks he just put out there to me and possibly countless other patients that came before and would come after me?  If I hadn’t been informed about the real nature of how HIV and other STDs functioned, I could have seriously been put at ease when I was actually a candidate that could potentially be at risk.

I knew from 7th grade health class with Ms. Finn from my Dodson Junior High days that HIV was not an isolated virus attainable only through gay sex.  It was spread through blood and other means.  Anal sex, being more prone to stretching sensitive tissue, was merely more susceptible means for transmission but not the only means in which HIV spread.  Furthermore, last I checked, straight people and women had HIV and also had anal sex too.

Moreover, even though I did have sexual intimacy with men in my life, I had anal sex more frequently with my cisgender women partners than men.

Both his question of asking me what type of sex (straight vs gay) I had and his assertion that I didn’t need to test for HIV (under the assumption that I was straight) totally cast him in a new light for me.

I realized he was misinformed, and that his misinformed disposition could result in endangering a straight man (or woman) patient that was cheating on their partner and had HIV but went home with the erroneous assumption that they were STD free when they could possibly be infected due to Dr. Li’s association that HIV was a gay related virus, and hence misinforming his patient.

I yelled at him.

“Keep that box checked,” I said loudly, while pointing at the HIV box on the clipboard.

“But you don’t need it and each test costs extra in your co-payment.  You can save money by dropping the tests you don’t need,” he said.

“I’m not here to save money, I want a thorough test, and just because I’m not gay doesn’t mean I don’t need that test” I said in frustration.

He left it the way it was and instructed me to take the clipboard up to the front desk.

*****************************

2012:

I came out to Dr. Li as transgender in 2012, when I got sick and needed antibiotics.  Just so you know, he’s a good guy.  Despite his 2006 fuck-up, he does return calls, he will make exceptions to open the office on Saturdays, and he is professional with his demeanor and time spent with patients.

And despite his obvious Christian background (bibles in the waiting room and verses on the wall) and ignorance about HIV, he has been my doctor since I was a kid and he is good for regular checkups.

But his reaction in 2012 to my transition news told me just how uncomfortable he was with the GLBT topic.

He acknowledged my situation, but couldn’t look at me in the eyes as he quickly took my blood pressure and looked at my ears and eyes and throat.  He did see enough out of the corner of his eye to see that I truly was presenting as a woman, and he had no choice but to treat me as such because my legal documents, including insurance policy, all reflected that of a woman, and I was on hormones and my blood levels reflected estrogen levels that matched that of a cisgender woman.

I could tell he was uncomfortable because his very next question was: “So did you get the surgery yet?”

“Let’s just say I live fulltime as a woman and am on hormones.  Whether I had surgery or not isn’t important right now, and if it medically is at some later junction, I’ll inform you of my status then.”

He nodded.

I then tried to explain to him how I respected his work ethic, and how I wanted to stay with him as my primary care physician because he’s been caring for our family since I was a little kid, and how much I appreciated his professionalism throughout the years.

He moved right along and wanted to get things over with as he said “yeah yeah” real quick and went right back to business by pulling out the stethoscope and asking me to breathe deeply.

*************************

2013:

I went to see Dr. Li yesterday for a pre-surgery appointment.  He took my info and started filling out my chart.  He took my blood pressure, a blood sample, and checked my eyes and made me say “ahhhhh” with a tongue depressor that tasted like old cardboard lacquered in varnish.

“So have you had any prior surgeries in the last five years?” he asked me.

“Just my right knee in 2009, meniscus tear,” I said.

“How about for down there?” he said pointing to my genital area.

“Just my knee is all I will answer right now.  That’s all that is relevant for this discussion.” I said curtly.

He got flustered.  Clearly, he was uncomfortable whenever the topic of transgenderism was brought up, as he began clicking his pen, fidgeting with papers, and physically blushing.  I saw the whole thing, and it was a like an emotional litmus paper being lit up by a bright wave of chemicals.  It was hilarious.

Then he took out the light and checked my eyes, and made me say “ahhhh” again with the tongue depressor.

I laughed and he quickly looked down at the clipboard.

He literally performed what he had already done just a mere 30 seconds earlier.  He was flustered.  It was cute in a not so cute type of way.

It was a funny combination of anxiety, awkwardness, discomfort, forgetfulness and him being droll all in one.  He was an older man lost in his emotionally cloudy moment, not knowing where to place me in the gender binary, which was the only internal vocabulary he had to categorize me.  It was unsettling for him that I didn’t fit in somewhere.

People are typically flustered when put outside their comfort zone.  Questioning people’s preconceived notions makes them think outside the box, outside of their comfort zone.  That’s why activism eventually gets through to people, because once people step outside their comfort zone enough times, or better yet, have loved ones they really care for be the ones that trigger their discomfort, inevitable cognitive dissonance takes place and plants the seeds for opportunities for self reflection.

I’ve quickly learned that just being me, everyday, is a great way to do activism without even trying.  Just existing is activism for transgender people.

I could tell being outside of the gender binary, existing in a nonexistent, non-defined category to take hold of my gender placard, for Dr. Li, left a weird and unfamiliar taste in his mouth.

Well, at least we are even, and it was a fair trade.  That tongue depressor sure had some funky chemicals on there….I can still taste the wood…..blechh!!!

I’ve had men who left tastes in my mouth that lasted shorter…

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WTF?

I talked to an ex of mine recently, named Sarah.  She had always been annoying, and I wished now in retrospect I hadn’t picked up the phone.  wtf

But, regretfully, I did.  And it opened up an opportunity for all sorts of toxicity from her to enter my life.

She was genuinely interested in getting together to catch up.  She then asked me if I dress fulltime and I told her we had gone over this already, as she asked the same question 8 months ago.

She said if we were going to be out in public, she would be worried if I was going to be scared, etc.  She packaged it as if she was caring and empathetic, when really, she was the one worried about being seen with me in case I wasn’t passable, etc.

She confirmed my hunches after following up immediately with the question: “I only ask because I know society still frowns on this type of behavior, so it’s important I get a clear answer from you.”

She then said: “So do you go to your job interviews in a skirt/business suit made for women nowadays?  Or do you still hop back and forth between genders like you used to?”

I told her, “What else would I wear to an interview, given my legal documents and resume say I’m me, a female, with my name, etc?”  The answer seemed so obvious.  But not to her.

Then she finished with an insult to all transgender people: “But why would you risk your professional career by presenting as something society still finds immoral or wrong?  Is it even legal for you to show up like that at an office or business?”

As if I am dressing and presenting as myself to deceive people.  As if this whole thing were a joke.  As if I’m trying to get a response out of people by acting like a clown.

What the FUCK?  SERIOUSLY?

I had no response.  I was stunned.  IMMORAL?  WRONG?  ILLEGAL?

Wow…

She then immediately backpeddled when I was silent, subsequently pulling out all the excuses in her book, by saying she comes from a Catholic Filipino cultural upbringing and that being an open minded thinker is rare in her culture.

Whatever.

Rigid Memes to Justify a Personal Story: Our Inability to Acknowledge the Elephant in the Room

I had a friend I knew from junior high school, when we were both 12.  We did our homework together and were really close, and we were really heavily into video games.

Elephant in the Room

Elephant in the Room

By the time I finally transitioned in 2011, we had been friends for 20 years.

He didn’t take it well, but concealed it well at first.

But I caught on…

When I finally had to see him in person last year, when my computer crashed, he was very sneaky about what he said.

While we waited for my computer as we reinstalled Windows, we put in the old Street Fighter 2 cartridge on Super Nintendo, and played the game just like old times.

I picked the same character and fought the same way.  I was still the same person, after all, except I was presenting as myself, as a woman.

He muttered distinctly: “You’re still the same, nothing has changed.”

He said it in a way that affirmed for him that I was still the same, and that gender transition didn’t do anything for me.  To him, crossing and breaking the gender binary was too much to handle.

I had known Kevin for 20 years by last year, and I knew his political and personal views quite well.  I knew that being a very conservative person, it was hard for him to acknowledge that his best friend had done this, had changed her gender.

His ego would not let him let go of the image and categorization he had put me in, and so he seized the first opportunity he saw to confirm his erroneous suspicions, to uphold his old memes: that gender transition, in his mind, was something foolish that I did, and I wasn’t fooling anyone, and that most of all, I wasn’t fooling him.

He could see the emperor had clothes on…

Or so he thought.

So the question is, how do we go about informing people that gender isn’t a strict binary?  How do we go from convincing people we are who we are, rather than fooling them into thinking we are who we are?  Where’s the balance?

How do we convince people that who we really are isn’t about if we keep our old habits or not?  How do we affirm who we are in a world that doesn’t give us any leeway in finding our new identity?

How do we own our new truth and present it proudly, even if it associates us immediately with our past?

From Princess to Queen: No Sir, I’m Not Pregnant

I’ve been trying to choose differently lately, looking at the positive side of things, working hard to remind myself that I hold the power between stimulus and response, the power to see the silver lining in all situations where I am a participant.pregnant

So I’m currently in the process of finding a good hip surgeon to fix my cartilage so I can function somewhat normally again.  It’s been an ongoing injury that has taken a toll on my ability to live a somewhat active lifestyle, in addition to affecting my ability to wear those precious and sexy heels that I adore so much.  But on the other hand, where I’m at right now is a place where I have been forced to face my hip issue, and deal with it, and I think it will go well, and at least I have a chance to get back on my feet and be healthy, in less pain again.

Instead of going into old patterns of the whiny princess, I’m trying to own up to being the queen I know I can be: take responsibility for where I am and meet myself where I’m at in life right now.  Be empathetic and compassionate towards myself for the choices I’ve made in the past; you know, the choices where I overcompensated while living as a male through rough sports and abuse of my body, which is what got me here, to my current predicament today.  And trust me, despite being born and raised here in Los Angeles, the Chinese American upbringing didn’t help me, culturally speaking, in terms of being forgiving towards myself.  But I am trying.

I found myself in a good mood today despite seeing my orthopedic surgeon in Santa Monica.  I sat in the waiting room for over an hour, and finally got called inside to one of the rooms.  When the doctor finally came inside, we discussed the my biology, the geometry of my hip, and my options.  I was reassured with some of the things he said, and felt confident we can pull through this together successfully.

But the golden nugget of the day was still waiting for me, still waiting to happen.

The doctor requested X-rays and upon entering the examination room, the technician, Serge, asked me:

“Before you get on the table, I need to know: Are you pregnant?”

I chuckled, and said “No.”

I couldn’t help but giggle, as his question was so multi-layered, for obvious reasons as I do come from a background where I am a woman of transgender history.

He asked me a few other questions that were non-medical related, and I went back to the waiting room.

That made my day, and I have been giggly since this morning.

Even though my hip is hurting like hell, and I have imminent surgery lurking around the corner, at least I was asked if I was pregnant today…..maybe that’s what I will choose to focus on, I think that will be much more productive and healthy for me.

And it has been…..

……priceless ^_^

Usain Bolt on Hormones

When Jenna Talackova ran for the Miss Universe pageant, public outcry poured out due to Jenna being a MtF transsexual woman.

Usain Bolt winning the 100m by daylight at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Usain Bolt winning the 100m by daylight at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Many articles covering the news had comment sections available, and there were more than enough vicious, ignorant, and hate filled comments.

The standard ignorant comments were all there.  She’s not really a girl, she’s still a dude.  Just because she looks like a woman doesn’t mean she is one.  I can get plastic surgery to look like a dolphin but it doesn’t make me a dolphin.  Absolutely ridiculous comments.

But one in particular stood out.

“So does that mean if Mike Tyson or Usain Bolt got a sex change, that they could then win in their sport easily by beating up on women?  Can you imagine Usain Bolt running 100M in 9.59 against women?  That record would never be broken.”

I laughed at his comment.  Particularly since there were so many layers to his comment that clearly indicated he obviously did not understand what transgender people are about.

Transgender people do not transition to go undercover to rob banks, or to win at sports easier.  They do so because their core gender identity does not match what was assigned to them at birth.

Simply looking at a newborn and seeing a penis, and then proceeding to label the infant as a boy is the same as looking at an African American newborn and immediately saying he or she will play basketball for a living.  It sounds like a stretch to compare the two, but it’s truly an outdated notion to assume a newborn is going to be straight or the gender in which they were assigned.  Just as assuming a Chinese American newborn is automatically going to be a doctor or Nobel Prize physicist or an African American newborn is automatically going to be a professional athlete is equally ludicrous.

It is time we update ourselves to present day knowledge and hold off on labeling and confining our children, and letting their true natures and identities shine through.  Then, and only then, shall we encourage their innate selves and natural tendencies to blossom and strengthen.

I can assure you Mike Tyson and Usain Bolt do not want to transition their genders, and even if they were suppressing their gender identities and came out as transgender, I can assure you that they wouldn’t do so to “win in their sport.”  Mike Tyson putting on a dress and being allowed to box other women would truly be a scenario where a man is allowed to put on a dress to beat up on another woman.

There would be nothing genuinely feminine about Mike except his clothing.

When transgender people transition their gender, even if they aren’t “passable” by current societal standards, they are still women.  They may face struggles in regendering their behavior, mannerisms, and other expressions in their daily lives, but it doesn’t diminish or negate who they are inside and the gender in which they identify.

And even if Usain Bolt truly was a woman and identified as such, and finally chose to come out publicly and transition, Usain should be allowed to compete with other women if transition truly was something Usain wanted to do.

Why?  Because even though he would have tremendous height when lined up against all the other women (not to mention having a penis too), he would still be a woman in terms of identity.  And being physically different doesn’t preclude or eliminate his status from being female.  It would just mean he had natural advantages in the physical arena (height, muscle mass, etc) which isn’t something that is regulated in sports…because last I checked, they didn’t divide the NBA by height and make Steve Nash a center against shorter NBA players, and Shaquille O’Neal a point guard against all the other 7 footers.

The key here is not to look at people who were “gendered” by society as one way and then vehemently and rigidly stick to that gendering when regendering someone does and can happen all the time to transgender people.

But I highly doubt either Mike Tyson or Usain Bolt would want to do that anyway.

Finally, just to note what would happen if Usain Bolt or any other athlete did transition and start hormones: their muscle mass would decrease drastically.

And even though Usain Bolt might still run a fast time, I can assure you he wouldn’t be able to run a 9.58 if he were on hormones and legitimately identified as transgender.  He would let out his feminine self, the self he suppressed his whole life, and embrace who he was and the hormones would help him align with his true self.

And 9.58 would be a thing of the past.

Sadie, 11-Year-Old Transgender Girl, Writes Essay In Response To Obama’s Inauguration Speech

sadie_pic

Picture of Sadie

By now we all have (or should have) read about Sadie, the 11-year-old transgender girl who wrote an essay to President Barack Obama after his inaugural speech a few weeks ago.  She was happy to hear Obama mention gays, but felt transgender people were left out.  Her letter to the president can be seen at the end of this article, but I felt I had to address what happened here as a sign the times are changing.

These are the tidbits we try to remember and cherish, the memories that generate fuel for us to fight harder and reflect on our accomplishments each year as the push for equal rights and recognition moves a bit closer to reflecting the moral arc of the universe.

It is so encouraging to see transgender youth everywhere in the world coming out at an earlier age each year.  It seems the stories are piling up, and awareness is in the atmosphere.  Resources are being distributed and made available, and parents are less ashamed of finding out their child is transgender.

We still have a long way to go in terms of civil rights, but this article gives me hope.    ^_^

Here’s Sadie’s letter:

Sadie's Original Letter

Sadie’s Original Letter

The world would be a better place if everyone had the right to be themselves, including people who have a creative gender identity and expression. Transgender people are not allowed the freedom to do things everyone else does, like go to the doctor, go to school, get a job, and even make friends.

Transgender kids like me are not allowed to go to most schools because the teachers think we are different from everyone else. The schools get afraid of how they will talk with the other kids’ parents, and transgender kids are kept secret or told not to come there anymore. Kids are told not to be friends with transgender kids, which makes us very lonely and sad.

When they grow up, transgender adults have a hard time getting a job because the boss thinks the customers will be scared away. Doctors are afraid of treating transgender patients because they don’t know how to take care of them, and some doctors don’t really want to help them. Transgender patients like me travel to other states to see a good doctor.

It would be a better world if everyone knew that transgender people have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. We like to make friends and want to go to school. Transgender people want to get good jobs and go to doctors like they are exactly the same. It really isn’t that hard to like transgender people because we are like everyone else.