Tag Archive | gender

My Words Are Mine

There was another Super Ma’am freak-out this week, and this time from a black trans woman mocking a “no neck bitch” after she was called “sir” in a place of business. As many who follow me know, I spend a fair bit of my time attempting to refute the common anti-trans stereotypes that are so often thrown around, and it’s frustrating to see “my own people” willfully playing into those stereotypes instead of challenging them.

We do a great disservice to children by not teaching them the proper place of emotions, as they can be used for good or destruction. The power of raw emotion, and the critical importance of tempering them, is something that I discuss frequently, and will always discuss when the opportunity rises. An emotion can be either a fire that burns or a piece of steel to be forged. Isolating that emotion to a concrete building and letting it burn itself out is certainly a valid choice, but it isn’t my preferred one–instead, use the anvil of reason and the hammer of creativity to turn the lump of steel into a sword. Don’t let it be a fire that engulfs you; use it to create, like the song above, “Your Fall From Grace,” which I wrote while in the throes of anger–and it shows, being the most angry song I’ve ever composed. 

But more to the point, we need to discuss perceptions, word choice, and human interactions, because the “Learn your pronouns!” stuff has to stop. 

Anyone with even a passing interest in psychology or economics (the study of human action) will realize very quickly that words like “he” and “she” are selected by the user automatically, with little or no cognition put into them at the time of usage. From very, very early ages, we are taught when to use “he” and when to use “she,” just as we are taught when to say “please” and when to say “thank you.” No one has to put any thought into it to determine whether to say “please” or “thanks” when the occasion comes up; it happens automatically and without deliberate selection. When making a request, one says “please.” When receiving something, one says “thanks.” 

The power of the human brain is that it’s capable of shifting much of our interactions into auto-pilot like this. We don’t have to think about whether to say “hello” or “goodbye” when we run into someone, which frees our brain to think about other things (while it also controls our breathing, movement, heartbeat, and other necessary functions). Just ponder for a moment how exhausting it would actually be, when faced with any person, to have to dedicate any amount of thought to whether you’re supposed to say “hello” or “goodbye.” This is a useful feature, and one would hope that everyone would be aware of it, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Whether to say “sir” or “ma’am,” or to refer to someone as “he” or “she” is similarly automatic. When we ask someone to call us a different pronoun, we are asking them to dedicate part of their conscious thought to casual conversation–we are asking them to do work. We are asking them to throw a wrench into an automatic process in the course of a conversation and to instead deliberately ponder whether to say “hello” or “goodbye.” This is not an easy task, even for the most “woke” person out there, and we should never be upset when someone slips back into auto-pilot in conversation. Neither should we be upset when someone does it intentionally, of course–at least, we shouldn’t simply allow that emotion to burn uncontrolled in the forest of our life. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it many more times: I get called “sir” every single night at work, most commonly over the phone. Sometimes, though, people do it in person. As accepting as my co-workers are, and as visible as they are putting aforementioned deliberate effort into calling me “she,” the truth is that if I got bent out of shape and went on a wild, emotional tirade every time this happened, I wouldn’t still have a job. No one wants to work with someone so unpredictable, unhinged, and uncontrolled, nevermind that it would also mean that I regularly lashed out, chastised, and drove away paying customers. I work as a female and live as a female, and my coworkers are among the most accepting people I’ve ever met (realistically, probably more accepting than I am), but a lot of this acceptance is due to the fact that I’m not an insufferable cunt. 

That’s what this is really about, of course. While “he” and “she” are programmed into us at very early ages and are selected automatically and unconsciously, this doesn’t change the fact that the other person’s perceptions of me are what their brain uses to determine which to use. Rather than forcing that person to put in the work to consciously choose which pronoun to use, if am the one who wants to change their speech, then the onus falls onto me to alter their perception of me. If their brain determines I am more masculine than feminine, they will say “he.” If their brain determines that I am more feminine than masculine, then they will say “she.” Why does this need to be pointed out to any adult?

I am not entitled to make them think about me a certain way, or to make them use certain words when referring to me. This is true in general, but it must be recognized in particular with those people who intentionally use the non-preferred pronoun. 

An ordinary occurrence, to be honest. Also of note: there is no chance I’m going to be kicked from LRN.

But, as mentioned previously, why would I give “Pussy ass leftist” the power to make me upset? This would require that I care about his opinion, and I don’t have the energy to care about the opinions of random dipshits. Who does? There are a few people who could genuinely hurt me by intentionally misgendering me, and they’re the people least likely to do so. They may still slip occasionally, but if they can make the effort to call me “she,” then I think it’s only fair that I make the effort to adjust their perception of me, and to overlook any accidents. It’s generally called “being an adult.” 

I firmly believe that the greatest threat facing western society today is that we have stopped teaching people how to temper their emotions, or the value of doing so. What else can I think when congressional officials talk of being “morally right, but factually incorrect?” What else can I think when a person sees a photograph of coal miners, acknowledges they are coal miners, and then writes a lengthy article about how upset they are about the “blackface,” despite acknowledging that it isn’t blackface? What else can I think when, following the election of Donald Trump in 2016 on largely jingoist slogans and emotional appeals, there was an onslaught of people recording videos of themselves crying and flipping out, and sharing them for all the world to see? This is the Era of Unbridled Emotion, and that’s dangerous, because emotion has not ever been a valid pathway to truth. Feeling something is true won’t make it true. Emotion doesn’t keep the jet in the sky, or the automobile moving. 

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” they say, and we similarly see this playing out in New York following its Minimum Wage increase, with restaurant owners forced to raise prices, and customers shocked at how much more expensive it has become to eat out. The result was both predicted and expected: fewer people eat out, so some of the wait staff is fired. After all, the Minimum Wage is a direct price floor on the cost of labor, and price floors always create surpluses; a surplus of labor is called “unemployment.” When you raise that price floor, you simply get… more unemployment. This is basic economics, but many adults today simply don’t want to hear it, and instead truly believe that their feelings on the matter, that “everyone deserves a ‘living wage,'” will somehow make all this work out. 

I digress.

An emotion is nothing more than an internal reaction to external stimuli. It is our own proclivity and inclination that determines our reaction to the external stimuli, and even if we can’t actually change how we feel, we can and absolutely should limit the scope of those feelings in our behavior and beliefs. It isn’t easy, but I don’t know why anyone thinks that it should be. It’s supposed to be more difficult to resist animalistic impulses and overcome them. But it isn’t just for “the good of society” that we need to relearn this art; it’s far more important than that, because…

Controlling one’s animalistic tendencies is what it means to be human. 

 

Pulling a Kidney Stone From the Bowels of the Internet: Transgenderism & Transsexualism

Now given that this guy might as well have trollface.jpg as his profile pic, we don’t have to pay much attention to what he has to say. He’s just trolling–clearly–using loaded language on both sides of the issue to ignite flame wars on the update. Who cares. Reading through the comments, though, is an interesting experience. Not interesting enough for me to share the comments one by one–besides, there are at least seventy right now–but it did make it plainly obvious that the average person has no idea what we’re even talking about.

stupid-dickI’ll leave to your imagination the comments that this received.

First, there is a difference between transgenderism and transsexualism, and it’s actually more than splitting hairs. I once criticized someone for using the word “transsexual” and said they were likely out of touch with mainstream society, because it is no longer widely used. I was incorrect, and hadn’t given the matter sufficient thought. I was still correct about the person, because it’s not like he knew the difference, but I didn’t, either. “Transgender” seemed a more palatable version of the deprecated “transsexual.”

It gets murky, because there is a difference between gender and sex. After all, gender is a social construct; sex is not. This gets even more opaque because we tend to use words like “male” and “woman” in both contexts, often without even realizing it. For example, in a single paragraph, a person might say, “A man is someone with a penis [thereby referring to the sex of male], and someone with a beard who drinks beer and eats steaks that are almost raw. If your steak is cooked, you’re not a man.”

It should be readily obvious that we’re talking about two totally different things here. One is a sexual organ–a certifiable, verifiable fact that a person either has or does not have. The second part deals with social roles and stereotypes that are not universally applicable. Although it’s becoming increasingly politically incorrect to say, if you have a penis, then your sex is male. At least, that’s how it used to be–I would argue that’s no longer the case, seeing as I’m a non-op transsexual, but I also think that “having a penis” means that I can never refer to my sex as female.

See how complex it gets?

Gender is all about archetypes and stereotypes, conditioning, and societal expectations. “Girls play with Barbies, boys play with G.I. Joes” is a statement referring to gender. These are human social constructs without objective form–they are, to borrow from Shakespeare, our attempt to “give to airy nothingness / a local habitation and a name.” It is almost completely arbitrary that skirts are feminine and jeans are masculine, that women wear makeup but men do not. Of course, we can look through history and find socioeconomic reasons for why these things are adapted by or forced onto one gender or another, but that doesn’t really change anything. Why didn’t men decree that skirts were masculine and that jeans were feminine, that way they could see all those delicious butts in jeans throughout the eons?

Well, for one, denim wasn’t invented in the age we’re discussing.

“Because they didn’t,” is the answer to my question, though. Why didn’t men decide that it was their role to attract women, and thus that men needed to wear makeup and doll themselves up? Again, “Because they didn’t” is the answer.

Now, again, we can go back to the ancient stages of human history and reflect on the fact that men are innately stronger than women, and so men naturally fell into the hunter role better while women were better suited for the gatherer role, but we’ll still ultimately find that it was arbitrary and mostly about power. I’m not preparing to launch into a tirade about female oppression throughout history–it’s not relevant. That’s exactly my point: none of it is really relevant. How these things came about is meaningless today–they are because they are, and they aren’t because they aren’t.

The anthropic principle applied to gender, as it were.

What about bras, though? Surely, it’s not a societal construct that women wear bras while men don’t. Indeed, it’s not, because the sexual dimorphism of humans is most prominent in the breasts. This is a real, sexual difference between the two. We can talk about bra burning and stuff, but that’s not the point. Again, the point is that women have boobs, and men don’t, so if either sex was going to wear protective–or oppressive, for the virulent feminists out there–clothing over their boobs, it would obviously be the sex that has something there to protect.

We could easily ask why men wear jock straps and cups, but women don’t.

“Because having something in that region to protect is a characteristic of the sex,” we would answer, and we would be right to give that answer.

Now, what happens if someone’s sex does not match their gender?

A lot of people would call it a mental illness. This is, strictly speaking, referred to as gender dysphoria, and it’s presently considered a mental illness, though the reason for that is explicitly given that it’s the only way to ensure that Hormone Replacement Therapy and Sex Reassignment Surgery are covered by medical insurance plans. We can get into whether or not that’s beneficial or harmful. It’s also not relevant to our discussion. Gender dysphoria is simply what it’s called when a person’s sex doesn’t match their gender.

Since “gender” is a social construct in the first place, it’s impossible that it could genuinely be a mental illness.

It would be like saying that a white kid has a mental illness because he wears Fubu and listens to Kanye West. In this analogy, the kid’s skin color (an objective, verifiable reality) does not match his cultural identification (he has adopted black culture as his own). Is this a mental illness?

What a stupid question. It’s obviously not a mental illness.

But when we alter it slightly and we have a white boy who wants to wear dresses and play with Barbies, suddenly we do have people crying that it’s a mental illness.

This is what being “transgender” means. It means there is no change to the person’s sex, yet they adopt the other sex’s gender roles and stereotypes as their own. Yes, this involves acknowledging and even embracing gender stereotypes, one of the many examples of liberals’ hypocrisy. You literally cannot be transgender without being sexist. Saying–even if not directly–something like “I don’t want to play with G.I. Joe! I want to play with Barbies, because girls play with Barbies!” is quite obviously sexist.

Under most circumstances, the liberal would reply, “Girls don’t have to play with Barbies! That’s an outdated way of thinking, you chauvinistic pig!”

But if the person is transgender, they’re like, “Awe, and you should do whatever empowers you!”

Being transsexual entails being transgender, but “transsexual” means that there are changes to a person’s sex organs, and there are a few types of this. There is Pre-Op, Post-Op, and Non-Op, depending on whether the person is going to undergo surgery of their primary sex organs. The difference between a Pre-Op Transsexual and a Non-Op Transsexual, then, is one of intent: the pre-op intends to have a sex change operation–to have their penis replaced with a vagina, or their vagina replaced with a penis. A Post-Op is someone who has had this surgery, like Caitlyn Jenner. A Non-Op is someone who is fine with their primary sexual organ, but does make changes to their body that exclude surgery (excluding cosmetic surgery of the face or breasts).

Realistically, a non-op transsexual is a mix of the sexes.

I’ve been criticized and told that I shouldn’t call myself a shemale because it underscores the idea that we aren’t “real women.” I agree and disagree. I agree that, when we’re talking sex, yes–not having the primary sexual organ of a woman does, in fact, mean a person isn’t a “real woman,” at the very least sexually. I realize this offends people. I also don’t care. If you don’t have a vagina, then your attempts to sell yourself as sexually a woman are either disingenuous or delusional. Take your pick. But I don’t think it’s your prerogative to demand other people to acquiesce to your delusion.

Sex is a matter determined by the person’s sexual characteristics. My sex is shemale. I don’t care if that bothers you. It is shemale–you can use “non-op transsexual” if you want, but I prefer communication over political correctness, and “shemale” conveys more to the average person in a single word than this entire article will–and saying “I’m offended” isn’t going to change that. I’m not a pre-op or post-op. I have made the deliberate and conscious decision to keep my penis. It would be the height of absurdity to proclaim that my sex is female and to demand that other people grit their teeth and pretend like it is female. It’s not–it’s S.

For “Shemale.”

My gender is female. With the recent changes to my eyebrows and increasing changes to my face from the estrogen that I take (which is causing the bodily changes I addressed previously), I’m increasingly “passable.” While many people would also get upset that I’d dare use such a word to describe a transsexual rather than a Drag Queen or crossdresser, it simply is the case that I, as any transsexual person does, want to be able to simply exist as an ordinary woman. It’s not until we get into the bedroom with the door shut that my primary sex organ would matter, so no one ever needs to know that my gender–female–doesn’t quite match my sex–shemale. As I currently stand, it is obvious, primarily because of my eyebrows and cheeks.

While the liberal would argue, “No. There’s no such thing as ‘passable’ when it comes to transsexualism or transgenderism. You are female because you say you are female. So you are, by definition, passable, because you are female,” the reality is, of course, murkier.

We don’t live in La-La Fantasy Land.

The word “passable” refers to whether a random stranger will notice anything odd about my gender identification. I can insist to this stranger, “No, really, I’m a female” all day long, but it’s not going to stop me from getting this look:

skeptical“Passable” simply refers to whether or not I get that look.

Strictly speaking, no, “passable” doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’m not a drag queen or a crossdresser–I’m transsexual. So the liberal is, in a sense, correct–I’m passable by definition because I identify as a woman and thus am a woman. Strictly speaking, it is irrelevant whether I conform or break this stereotype or whether I have or lack that feature. I am because I am because I am.

Yet the liberal is still wrong to say it has nothing to do with me, because no transssexual person wants that look.

Caitlyn Jenner, for example, is one of the least passable transsexuals that I have ever seen. It’s seriously jarring to me, to see Caitlyn Jenner. I do feel bad for the girl–that enormously square jaw and countless amounts of money spent on cosmetic surgery. And I’ve spent very little money and yet am far more “passable” than she is. That makes me sad for her–it does.

But that doesn’t really change anything.

So, to summarize, sex has been, through most of human history, a binary matter, and because of that, gender became a binary matter. I would suggest that it’s probably true that gender remains a binary matter to this day, but sex is no longer a binary matter. After all, I would put “S” under my sex, but “F” under my gender. I do get that a lot of people think that I should put “F” under both, and I’ve had people chastise me, insult me, and block me for refusing to put Female as both my sex and my gender.

If you ask me, that is the mental disorder: refusing to accept that your sexual organs do determine your sex.

We can have disagreement about whether the sex of “Female” means “has boobs and vagina.” But we can also find plenty of examples that break that mold–breast cancer survivors, and some girls are just flat-chested. We can have a disagreement about whether the sex of “Male” means “has penis, no boobs.” And we could also find plenty of examples that break that mold–men who have had irate waves perform improvised surgery with butcher knives after finding them cheating, or men who have what we call “man-boobs.” There are exceptions to everything, and a rejection of black and white thinking is prevalent in my work.

So I’m not willing to say that it’s universally true that women have vaginas and boobs, and men have penises but no boobs. But I am going to say that if you’ve made the conscious decision to have a penis, then you’re expecting other people to bow to your delusion when you say that your sex is female. Maybe this means we need a new sex for people who willfully operate between the sexes by having a penis, curves, and boobs while identifying as the gender of female.

What do you know! We have one.

It’s “shemale.”

Stop being offended by it. It’s the next step of sexual identification.

A quick note: I would tentatively suggest–without having put a considerable amount of thought into it, hence why it’s tentative–that if you experience “gender dysphoria” while touching your primary sexual organ, then it is probably evidence that you are identifying as the wrong sex. People are often surprised to learn that my penis doesn’t bother me. This appears to come from a general confusion on the matter–I’m a lesbian. My penis is rather useful for that. If I experienced “gender dysphoria” by having my penis stimulated, then I’d have major problems. I’d also say that this is “sexual dysphoria” and not “gender dysphoria.”

But my sex is shemale. Shemales have penises. There is no discrepancy there, so there is no conflict that would cause dysphoria. Again, people would understand that more easily if they could get it through their thick skulls that there are some very goddamned good reasons that I identify my sex as Shemale rather than Female.

Not in My House!

Last night someone shared something with me on Facebook that sparked a lot of memories, a lot of recollections that I’ve kept locked away in that part of my mind to which I never wander. I would not call the memories repressed; I would, however, say that they were unconsciously avoided.

The first one that returned was one that I’ve actually thought about a lot through the past year: when I was 12 or so, my grandmother (snooping, as she does) found women’s clothing hidden between my mattresses. There were a few pairs of underwear I’d pilfered from my sister, a skirt I’d taken from my grandmother–it’s not like I had a way to get my own. This is one of the things that makes everything so bloody obvious in hindsight.

The fallout was enormous. My father took me out back with his belt, and, though he didn’t whip me, it was only because one of our neighbors happened to come outside. I’d forgotten that detail, but I never forgot the disgust, fear, and almost hatred in my father’s voice when he asked in exasperation, “Why are they there, son? Do you wear them?”

There was no window of opportunity to answer that question honestly, because I overheard my dad and grandmother’s conversation before he took me outside, and she wanted to send me to a home, saying that she was not going to have that in her house, and that she’d send me to a home for troubled youth. When you’re in danger of literally being kicked out of your home at twelve years old, honesty isn’t a luxury you’re afforded.

 

I’ve often fantasized what my life might be like if I’d answered honestly. I’d have been kicked out and/or sent to a home, but maybe some reasonable couple disgusted by such horrendous behavior would have taken me in and fostered, rather than stifled, my development. But it’s idle fantasy, because that wouldn’t be how it happened. I’d have been sent to what we colloquially called “The Village,” which was a sort of foster facility run by extremely religious people and funded by local churches. However bad my situation was at my grandmother’s, it would have been infinitely worse there, with no way to hide anything.

It did get better in high school, when I moved in with my father. I stole clothes from my cousin next door, because I had no other way to acquire them still, and there were also some left in the house that had belonged to my great grandmother. Despite all his flaws, my dad is an extremely loose parent, and he worked swing shift at the nearby Burger King. Another thing that I’d forgotten: the sole reason that I wanted to move in with my dad was to have that time to myself, to dress and be as I chose instead of how other people chose.

And I wasted no time. I recall clearly spending nearly every night dressing appropriately, talking on the phone with friends throughout, and finding great solace in video games, particularly those that let me play as a female. Like I said, in hindsight it’s all so obvious.

But in those days, it was largely a sexual thing for me. It had taken on a taboo nature of necessity, which pushed it closer to being about exploring the sexual taboo than addressing the larger issue. Plus, this was the late 90s and early 00s. There was no talk of transgenderism, at least none that would have reached a high school student in Mississippi. All I knew was that I liked cross dressing, which was a difficult thing to accept about myself when “That’s evil” came from every direction. Even then, I had already abandoned the dehumanization of organised religion, but indoctrination runs deep. Years later, in my early 20s, I had sex with a guy, and the overwhelming sense of shame and feeling that I’d sinned crippled me even then, and I had for a decade or so rejected the mantras of Christianity. But they indoctrinate children for a reason: because that’s how it sticks.

The first person I ever told was J., and she was just the right type of chick to handle it wonderfully; she thought it was the most awesome thing ever. Hell, she had me try on her prom dress before she did. So I did have that refuge. She gave me clothing and was tremendously helpful, but, as high school relationships do, it came crashing down and I handled it very badly. Very badly.

But it’s nearly impossible to hide things of this scope indefinitely. One day I accidentally greeted my cousin at the door while I was wearing jeans I’d taken from her. I don’t believe she ever said anything to anyone, but she did point to them and ask about it. I ran back inside and changed clothes, then denied that it had happened.

So much could have been different, and I’d just about give anything to have had different circumstances. And the doctors I’m dealing with don’t seem to grasp this. Yes, doc, I am in a hurry. No, doc, I’m not willing to wait two months for you and an endocrinologist to give me permission to move forward. I’ve lost 29 years that I’ll never get back. I’m not willing to lose another month. And since the hormones in question can be acquired legally in the US without a prescription, I don’t need a therapist’s blessing or an endocrinologist that I can’t afford anyway. I just need people to get the hell out of my way and let me be me.

Those who know me also know that I have nothing but vitriol for Caitlyn Jenner, but it’s not out of envy. It’s partially because of the supremely ignorant shit that she said a few weeks ago, and it’s partially because she still talks about playing roles when, for myself and the majority of transgender people, it’s about CEASING to play a role, not picking a different role to play.

It’s because Caitlyn Jenner will never understand what it’s like to deal with the struggles that the ordinary transgender person goes through, yet she has the audacity to speak out on behalf of transgender people. She will never spend long nights laying awake and trying to figure out how in the world she’s supposed to have a job while transitioning. She will never wonder how she’s going to pay for all this. She will never have family and friends reject her, call her evil, and cast her from their lives. She was praised for being brave enough to do this in full view of the media, but that isn’t the case at all. The media protected her from discrimination. No one could insult her openly, no family member could call her a wicked sinner, and no company could refuse service to her, because the firestorm of an unbridled media backlash would have decimated anyone who did. Let’s see her transition away from the spotlight, where she wouldn’t be able to run crying to the media when someone insulted her, where she would have to do what the rest of us do: just deal with it.

Caitlyn’s transition was a walk in the park, not the least of which was because she could just throw money at whatever problems rose. I don’t mean to minimize her internal conflict, because that’s something that every transgender person faces and can’t be solved with money, but the internal conflict was the only battle she had to fight once she made her decision. For the rest of us, the decision to proceed is simply the first of countless battles. For her, it was almost the only battle. I don’t begrudge her for that, but I do think it means she doesn’t have the right to speak about transgender issues.

As alluded to, the transition in Mississippi is inordinately difficult, and employment is going to become virtually impossible very soon. I am doing everything that I can to resolve that: I write for a website, I’m writing a new novel, I’m trying to find an agent for the novel I finished last year, and I’m now considering “camming.” I’m not that kind of girl, and I don’t think I actually have it in me, but I’m gonna have to pay for things somehow, and it’s just a matter of time before every client drops me. Any help you could provide, even if you’re just sharing the page, would be appreciated beyond my ability to express:

www.gofundme.com/ariatransition