To T or not to T?

So, I’ve been debating whether or not to get on testosterone.

It’s a really tough decision for me.

I know that for some dudes the decision is easy. They have intense dysphoria and just KNOW they need T.

But not me.

I don’t always have dysphoria. I have a complicated relationship with my body (don’t we all) and although there are many days where I think “ugh, I just want to look like a cis dude already”, there are other days when I’m thankful that I was born into a pretty androgynous body and can often pass without having had any medical intervention at all.

That said, I’ve debating the T question a lot more lately. I’ve sat down several times to make “pro” and “con” lists, and the pros have started to outweigh the cons.

Major factors in me wanting to get on T include:

  • Never menstruating again. I HATE bleeding. Not only is it disgusting, but it forces me to deal with my most dysphoric body part, and more and more I get really really anxious when I have to insert a tampon (jsut writing that made me cringe). I also get migraines, major cramps, elevated pain levels, fatigue, and acne. Whenever I’m bleeding I think, “Yup, testosterone is definitely something I want. NOW.”
  • Facial hair. I would love to be able to grow a bit of a beard. While I’m lucky in that I can fake it with a few drag king tips (and I’m good enough that it passes for real most of the time), this process is time consuming, and can flake off after a few hours.
  • Muscle tone. I’ve lost a lot of muscle tone since my back injury, and the thought of being able to pump iron and get a lot of that back is massively appealing.
  • Lower voice. Again, I’m blessed with a fairly androgynous voice, and can drop it as needed. But to be less self-conscious about sounding like a girl would be great.
  • Being read as male in public. This is another big one. I used to get a kick out of people being unsure which box I fit in, but more and more this stresses me out. Some days I have a lot of anxiety about it. I’m sick and tired of getting weird looks all the time, of the “Sir… I mean ma’am..?” or people referring to me and my GF as “ladies”. I just want people to be able to see me, the real me I feel I am inside. Yes, it sucks that I’m the one that has to make the change rather than society, since society is the one with the gender problem, not me, but the sad fact is that society isn’t going to change any time soon, and I’m rapidly running out of patience with the constant misgendering.
  • Increased sex drive. I’m not a very sexual person most of the time, and I know it can be frustrating for my GF. She would LOVE for me to have more sexual urges, and I admit it might be nice to be able to get my motor running more quickly than happens now.
  • Being able to get a job and use the preferred name and pronouns. This is another big one as I’m currently job hunting and feel very self-conscious of the fact that my current gender markers clash with my name/pronouns, and pretty much outs me as trans right away.

These are the good things. But there’s also a lot of things I’m worried about if I start taking testosterone.  While some of them aren’t anything that would keep me from doing what I have to do to be comfortable in my body, others are pretty serious.

  • Health concerns. I’ve read a few studies that suggest trans-men on testosterone are at an elevated risk for heart disease. I’ve also read it can be hard on the liver. This is something I take very seriously. It’s a big deal.
  • I don’t want to go bald!!! My dad is pretty bald. I like having a full head of hair. It would be really weird for me to lose my hair…
  • Acne. Like, bad acne. On your back. On the ass. On the face. Big nasty painful pimples. Ew.
  • Losing my singing voice. This would make me sad. 😦
  • Weirdness with my landlord and my motorcycle mechanic. Would I get evicted? Would they fuck with my bike? Probably not, but the thought still occurs to me sometimes.
  • Family weirdness. This, strangely, isn’t much of a concern for me anymore. My family has been pretty accepting of the trans thing since I came out, and I’m much more confident in their support than I was a year ago.
  • Needles. Having to inject myself for the rest of my life? I’m sure I could get used to it, but it would be hard at first. And I know there’s newer delivery methods (patch, gel, etc), but I understand they’re more expensive and less effective.

There’s more stuff on both lists, but these are the main ones. Like I said before, at this point there’s more positives than negatives, and many of the negatives are things that might not actually happen. I won’t know until I do it. The biggest fear for me is long-term health effects. There just aren’t many studies out there, and as someone who already deals with chronic pain, I really don’t want to add another chronic illness to my roster. I know how life changes when you have to factor health into everything you do, and it SUCKS.

So yeah, the debate is ongoing. But I have an appointment to see a doctor in July, so I can ask questions and see what the deal is. I’m excited and kinda scared all at the same time. I’m sure this is normal, but it doesn’t make the decision any easier…

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He’s back!!

HELLLOOOO!!!!

Wow, it’s been awhile, eh?

I’m sorry to have been away so long. I was crazy busy this year and had some hard personal stuff to get through, so I took a break from blogging.

But whatever. I’m back!

So, big things have happened in the meantime.

1) I came out to my parents. It went surprisingly well. Will probably give you more deets in a future post.

2) I finally made the decision to get on hormones. I only made this decision like two weeks ago, so I havn’t actually started or anything, but… yeah. HUGE. Again, more deets forthcoming.

3) I have been in a steady relationship for almost a year. It’s our 1 years anniversary this weekend. WOOT! Would blog about it but she’s made it clear she’s uncomfortable about me talking about her on the blog, so, no deets. Sorry folks.

4) A friend of mine had a psychotic break and things got VERY INTENSE for while. Might blog about that, not sure yet.

5) The drag king thing is blowing up, we had a huge show last month and are prepping for some pretty high profile gigs this summer. I’m stoked. Will probably blog that stuff too, altho, yeah, no specifics since I value my anonymity here.

That’s it! Good to be back.

 

Transphobic Cis-Gender Gay Dudes

Ok so today’s post is a bit of a rant.

I had a friend over for dinner tonight, I’ve known him a very long time. My friend is a (straight-acting) gay cis-gender male. He knows I’m queer and butch but not that I’m trans.

At one point I was telling him about being a drag king, and he got this weird expression on his face. That’s when I realized that he was too polite to say what he was really thinking.

What he was really thinking was: “Wow, you’re really WEIRD.”

And not weird in a good way. Weird in that shameful “what the fuck is wrong with you?” way.

Now maybe I’m naive for thinking that a gay man might have some kind of empathy for my process as genderqueer and transmasculine, but in my experience I have found that a LOT of cis gay dudes are pretty transphobic.

Like the time I was applying for a job at a restaurant in the gay village, and the resto manager, after reading my CV (which had my MALE name written clearly across the top), said “Would you work as a bus-girl?” And I said, “I think you mean busBOY.” And he repeated, looking right at me, “No, bus GIRL.”

Like seriously WHAT.THE.FUCK.

Ok so clearly I’m still angry about what went down tonight, but it’s got me thinking.

Why are gay cis dudes so transphobic?

And it doesn’t apply only to trans people. Cis gay men also have a long and dirty history of hating on butches and dykes.

What I came up with while pondering this situation was this: many cis-gender gay men dislike butches, dykes, drag kings, and FTMs because they think they have a monopoly on queer masculinity. But the fact is THEY DON’T. And when they’re confronted with someone who has appropriated their masculine privilege, they get uncomfortable. They try to undermine the other masculinity because they don’t want to give up their privilege.

Are ‘alternative’ expressions of queer masculinity really that threatening?

HELL YES. The mere existence of butches, dykes, drag kings and transguys can seriously undermine cis-dudes sense of ownership over male privilege. It also demonstrates how masculinity (or any gender performance for that matter) can be easily constructed, de-constructed, or appropriated.

In short, people like me are living proof that masculinity isn’t an un-assailable bastion, that masculinity isn’t a priceless commodity that only the privileged are born with. People like me are living proof that yes, even the “weaker” sex can be potent masculine rivals. The mere existence of people like me shake the very foundations of cis-gender masculinity.

But guess what, guys? YOU DON’T HAVE A MONOPOLY ON MASCULINITY. Masculinity is up for grabs. Masculinity is being redefined all the time.

If you don’t like what I’m doing with your precious masculinity, tough.

Man up, grow a pair, and stop being so selfish about your gender.

End rant.

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Working Man

So, my new job has been going fairly well.

Just a few little speed bumps.

I guess word didn’t around to everyone that I use male pronouns, because I had to correct at least one office-mate. At least she apologized and promised it wouldn’t happen again, and then told me about her roommate who is dating a genderqueer person. So that was probably as little awkwardness as possible.

Since 99% of my job is answering phone calls, I get “ma’am”ed a lot. While the subject of my voice does give me anxiety sometimes — I feel I’m read as male until I start talking, then people suddenly realize that my parts are “female” — to be honest in this scenario it doesn’t really bother me too much. Probably because it’s just over the phone, not in person. I don’t correct people, since whatever, it’s just a phone call.

That said, one client became confused when, after calling me “ma’am” a lot during a complaint call, he asked for my name for a followup. I told him and he repeated it several times, until it sunk in that he’d been talking with a dude the whole time. A dude who didn’t feel the need to correct him from “ma’am” to “sir”. I would have loved to have seen the expression on his face as he processed that one…

That said, if I’m on a call that doesn’t require too much of my brain power, I do often make an effort to lower my voice and eliminate some of the more tell-tale female characteristics. For instance, I’ve noticed the cis-dudes in the office tend to talk in a more monotone voice, while the ONE cis-gender woman gets kind of sing-song-y. So I try to sound more like the dudes: lower voice, don’t get excited or sing-song-y.

At one point these efforts totally worked! A few days ago a guy actually referred to me repeatedly as “sir”. I got SO EXCITED that I actually forgot what we were talking about. Derp.

So yeah. Them’s my exciting adventures in being trans* at work. 🙂

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New Job

Tomorrow morning is my first day at a new job.

It will be the first time that I’ll be working in a place that is cool with my identity as a transguy.

I lucked out in finding the job, I got it through a fellow transman. While I had to give my legal name to the bosses for taxes and HR stuff, they aren’t around the office much so my friend told me that he will introduce me to the rest of the team with my preferred name and pronouns.

I’m super happy that I can work without having to go back in the closet.

But I’m also a little nervous. I’m still only read as male about 50% of the time, and I wonder if anyone at my new job will have a hard time seeing me as male.

New situations where I out myself to strangers are always anxiety-ridden, and while I know this is an entirely normal reaction, it’s still stressful.

At least I know there will be an ally in the office. That helps.

So yeah, fingers crossed for a smooth first day. 🙂

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Taking Down the Gender Police

Copyright Tatsuya Ishida. http://www.sinfest.net/

Hey there cats, kittens, & transmasculine studmuffins.

Today I’d like to talk to y’all about something all of us gender-benders are doomed to experience, sooner or later: a confrontation with the kind of person I like to call the Gender Police.

You know who I mean. Gender Police are the people who ask you if you’re “in the right place” or stare you down in the washroom or changeroom. They are the people who ask you “are you a boy or a girl?”, as if you need to be one or the other (you don’t). They are the folk who seem to think that you’re obviously confused for shopping in the “wrong” section. Gender Policers are also the people who intentionally “ma’am” or “sir” you when it’s obvious you don’t want to be called these things.

Gender Police do these things because they believe it is their duty to reinforce the boundaries of the gender binary. They are visibly uncomfortable around anyone who challenges their simplistic notions of man/woman. Usually Gender Policers have very little understanding of the complexities of gender, hence their ability to be complete assholes about anyone who strays beyond the “legal” limits of human expression.

Now, I’m usually the kind of person who avoids confrontation at all costs. But lately I’ve started to work on being more confident and assertive, standing up for myself when I’m faced with situations where people challenge me on grounds of my gender identity.

Part of this process has been to compile a list of snappy come backs to throw in the face of anyone who decides to gender police me. And since I KNOW I’m not the only one who faces this kind of crap, I figured I’d share some of my subversive tactics with my genderqueer/trans* buds out there in the internets. AND, if you happen to have any witty retorts that have served you well, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a comment and I’ll add them to the list. I’m hoping this post may eventually become a kind of resource for gender-nonconformists who are looking for some solid ammunition for taking down the Gender Police.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was inspired to do this post after reading a great piece from Butch Please, called “Butch in the Bathroom.” Some of the comebacks I’ve assembled here were borrowed from that post and/or from the comments posted below the article. (You should read this article by the way. It’s really good and provides some nice strategies for dealing with the anxiety that can be produced the bathroom /changeroom situation.)

One last thing: PLEASE ONLY USE THESE STRATEGIES IF YOU FEEL IT WILL BE SAFE TO DO SO. Bathrooms can be dangerous places for genderqueers. If you feel physically threatened in any way, the best strategy is probably to just mutter a quick apology and make a beeline for the nearest exit. YOUR SAFETY IS IMPORTANT TO ME!!

Ok. That said, sometimes jerks really just do need to be taken down a peg or two. So here we go.

Gender Policer: “Are you in the right place?”
You: “Yes. Are you in the right decade?”

Gender Policer: “Oh, I thought this was the lady’s…”
You: “Then maybe you should act like a lady.”

Gender Policer: “Are you a girl?” or “Are you a boy?”
You, looking down at your crotch: “Last time I checked…”

Gender Policer: “Are you a girl?” or “Are you a boy?”
You: “Would you like to inspect my genitals?”
Gender Policer: “Excuse me?”
You: “Oh, I thought from your question that you were the gender inspector. My mistake.”

Gender Policer: “Are you a boy or a girl?”
You: “No.”

Gender Policer: “Are you a boy or a girl?”
You: “Do I have to choose just one?”

Gender Policer: “Are you a boy or a girl?”
You: “Both and neither. Also none of your damn business.”

Gender Policer: “You don’t look like a girl…” / “You don’t look like a boy…”
You: “Well, you don’t look like an asshole, but I guess looks can be deceiving.”

Gender Policer: “Are you in the right place?”
You: “Where I choose to do my business is none of your business.”

Gender Policer calls you “ma’am” or “miss” or “lady”, inflecting it with sarcasm so that you know they have a problem with your gender presentation (I find this kind of gendering usually happens in restaurants or at cash registers.)
You: throw it back in their face by intentionally misgendering THEM.

Gender Policer looks you up and down, is visibly uncomfortable.
You: “Am I making you uncomfortable? Because the feeling is quite mutual…”

Gender Policer looks you up and down, is visibly uncomfortable:
You: “It’s not polite to stare.”

And a personal favorite, good for any number of Gender Policing situations:

You: “Can I see your badge please?”
Them: “My badge?”
You: “Oh, so you’re not a member of the gender police? I’ll just be on my way then.”

🙂

Stay sassy, stay safe.

 

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Clothes make the man

I went shopping this week, a little “retail therapy”.

I bought some nice dress shoes, dress pants, suspenders, boxer briefs and a couple pairs of shorts.

Its amazing how much more confident I am in the men’s section now. Only a few months ago I always felt a little weird, like people were staring at me, or wondering why I was looking at dudely clothes.

But now I just make a confident bee-line for the guys clothes, and I know I belong in that section. I mean, come on. The women’s section always made me feel profoundly anxious.  Ever since I was a teenager I had so much stress about shopping for lady clothes. But now that I wear exclusively men’s duds, I actually quite enjoy shopping.

Same goes for using the men’s changerooms. I’ve posted here before about how awkward and anxious I used to feel about having to choose one gendered changeroom or the other. But now I just walk confidently into the men’s, no big deal. And no one has ever challenged me.

I feel good about my purchases, and more important, they help me look sharp and dapper, which increases my confidence.

This is important to me right now: I have a huge family event coming up towards the end of the month and I’m fairly stressed about it because it will be the first time in many many years that much of my extended family will see me. And it will be obvious, from how I am dressed, that I’m queer. (I’m not out to them as trans*, but I’m ok telling people I’m genderqueer).

I want to look as handsome and dapper as I possibly can for the event. I will be wearing my new shoes, new dress pants, suspenders, tie, tie-pin, and a nice dress shirt. I hope to be the most handsomest dude in the joint.

Knowing I look good, knowing I’m a handsome transmasculine studmuffin, helps me so much. For me it’s proof that I was always meant to be this way. I look damn good as a boy. I always looked awkward and weird as a girl.

And if anyone has a problem with the way I will be dressed, if anyone makes unwanted or unkind comments, I’m prepared to call them out on their homophobia. I mean, Christ, it’s 2013. That shit just doesn’t fly any more. Get with the program. Be on the right side of history.

And I’ll tell them, “You’re just jealous, because I look better in a suit and tie than you ever will.”

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Pain

The other day I threw my back out. AGAIN.

How did I do it?

Well, simple. I sneezed.

Yup. Threw my back out by sneezing. WTF.

I thought I had it pretty well under control, but this morning I woke up early in crippling pain, and could barely even roll over to get out of bed.

I spent the first few hours of the day shuffling gingerly around with the help of my cane, but god it hurt so bad to bend or turn or even lean over a little bit.

I tried to call my doctor to see if he could phone in a scrip for muscle relaxants, but apparently his weekend starts on Friday. Must be nice to be a doctor, huh?

I took a hot bath, and called a friend. She came in and kept me company, and did a few chores I couldn’t handle (like bending over to pull the laundry from the dryer) while I waited for some over-the-counter muscle relaxants to kick in.

I feel the need to mention here again that I take pain medication on a daily basis, because I have a chronic back injury that has left me suffering from pain, every day, for the last five years. Usually it’s pretty much under control, but today has been pretty awful.

After my friend left I took some more relaxants and painkillers, zonked out with my back and side wrapped in a heating pad. That seems to have done the trick, I could feel the muscle twitching and tingling as it finally let up the spasm. Now thankfully the pain is back within tolerable ranges and I’m moving much better.

This latest setback has left me frustrated, however. I had plans for a motorcycle road trip tomorrow, which are now scrapped. I had plans to get a solid amount of work done today, also scrapped. And to top it all off, I had really been looking forward to starting on my weight training again, but that’s out of the question right now too.

Ugh. Chronic pain sucks the big one.

For now, I guess, I’ll just have to keep rocking the cane, like a BOSS.

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Therapy (Take 2)

I had my first session today, with my former therapist. (For future reference, I’m going to refer to him here as “N”).

I’m pleased to report that it went very well.

N reassured me that even though he knew me previously as a female, that switching to male pronouns wasn’t a problem for him. I was also quite glad to hear that he has had previous clients who identified as trans*, as well as having worked with trans* people in the wider queer community. So that’s awesome.

I was also very impressed at how much detail he remembered about me. When I made a joke about him having done his homework, he replied that he never takes notes, he just remembers everything. Having him remember stuff about me and my life made me feel good – actually, made me feel the opposite of how I’d felt talking to the previous therapist, who was all “oh, i forgot we had a session today” and “oh yeah I havn’t followed up on that information i promised you”. She had made me feel really unimportant. But N made me feel like I matter. I felt good too after he told me that he was very busy and fully booked, but that he was going to make sure we figured out a schedule that worked. He also was very kind about the pay situation, offering to see me for less than half of what he charges regular clients.

So yeah. While it felt a bit weird to be back in that same room, sitting across from him, I’m feeling positive about it. 🙂

Most of all, I’m happy to be finally taking real steps to address the anxiety and depression I’ve been feeling lately, and happy to have found someone who can help guide me through the tricky transgender minefield.

Hang on to your hats, folks, at the very least, it’s going to be an interesting ride.

 

 

 

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Bros

Thank God for my bros.

My buddies from the drag king troupe totally have my back, and I love them for it.

I met up with most of the gang after work today. I actually put on sideburns and a soul-patch to go meet them, even though fake facial hair is something I don’t usually do during full daylight hours, especially if I’m traveling alone on public transit. But somehow I was feeling empowered and confident that something as subtle as regular sideburns and a small soul-patch wouldn’t be scrutinized too closely. I’m not sure where my confidence came from today. Maybe from knowing I was about to put my foot down re: a shitty therapist? Maybe from knowing I look fucking hot when I’m in drag? Hm.

The other kings and I had a meeting to discuss some upcoming gigs, and we also wanted to shop for costumes for a new number. While we were out and about, we got recognized by a fan, which was amazing. It made my day.

But more important, when I told my boiz about the issues I’ve been having finding a therapist, they totally had my back. Boosted by the confidence I gain from being around them, I called the therapist and told her I wasn’t coming back. It felt good.

So now I’m therapist-less again, but I do now have my old therapist’s contact info (which I had lost when I smashed my phone) so I will give him a call. Hopefully he’ll be less shitty about the trans* stuff, even tho he knew me when I was still using my birthname and female pronouns. Still, I’m trying to stay hopeful.

Anyways, after my meeting I walked around a bit with one of my fellow kings, just smoking and talking shit. I feel so lucky to have all these beautiful genderfuckers in my life. Last summer, when I had a break down at the Dyke March, it was because I was so desperate to find ‘my people’. Now I’ve found them, and they’re amazing, and I don’t know how I ever got along without them.

Fuckyeahdragkings.

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