Fun Fact: I’m Trans Too!

If you’ve ever had that moment where you went to a social event and it turns out you weren’t really welcome or invited there, then you know the kind of feeling I get whenever I head out to a transgender group and find only binary trans people who seem completely unaware of the rest of the trans community. How awkward. Half the time, people assume I’m a cis ally, which is a bit disconcerting, but other times, they simply assume I’m a really far along trans lady. Mostly comments like “Wow, I can’t even tell that you were born a man!!” that are pretty cringe inducing. Maybe it’s the eyeliner?

At some point, we go around the room introducing ourselves and our pronouns, and I generally find myself kind of pumping myself up for my turn. It takes a lot of guts to break the pattern of she/hers and he/hims in the circle, because it almost always means questions. Or worse, it means a look of “Ah, yes, that’s a trendy tumblr ‘trans’ person” which is pretty disheartening. Nothing quite like the feeling of being judged without a chance to explain yourself.

Most of the time, after I do explain myself and get to know people, my charisma pays off, and people accept me for what I am. I’m a bubbly extrovert, so I generally have that effect on people. However, it becomes pretty clear pretty fast that I’m an exception; when they discuss non-binary genders, most of the time it’s to talk about some strange new tumblr gender (like, apparently being a plantgender is a thing now? I don’t really follow that stuff on tumblr.) It’s more than a little uncomfortable to listen to someone mock a “strange” gender when you used to be considered one of those strange genders.

While finding a community is nice, I’m getting to the point that, if I find a trans group and there’s no other non-binary people in it, I’m peacing out. It’s clearly not a group meant for someone like me, whatever good it’s doing for other people. In the meantime, I think I’ve found a non-binary group; I’ll be updating to let y’all know how that goes!

What’s So Funny About Being Intersex?

“The Emperor has no balls,” reads the plaque at the foot of an artistic installation manufactured by the anarchist art collective INDECLINE. This is the same group that claimed to create the world’s biggest illegal graffiti and more recently a “Rape Trump” mural in response to his calling Mexicans rapists. This most recent piece features a lot more nudity, however, depicting Donald Trump naked, veiny, fat, and most notably, with a testicle-less micropenis. (If you reeaally wanna see it, here’s a link. Gross.)

Now, I dislike Donald Trump as much as the next guy. Maybe even more (I’m competitive like that.) However, when I saw this statue, I didn’t get the kind of schadenfreude that many others apparently experienced. This isn’t the first time Trump’s been depicted with a micropenis; in fact, back in the Spring, a painting surfaced with a similar physical representation, though the painter in question had a more body positive message to share. (Again, nudity, but if you want to see it, here’s an article with the artist that features the art in question.) Most of the time, when it comes to implying someone’s manhood is “lacking” people are slightly more subtle than this, but it begs the question: what’s going on with this repeating trend of depicting a rather disgusting man with this kind of body, and why do we find it so amusing?

When I look at this body, displayed as something to be consumed with derision, I can see the body of people I’ve loved and cared about. There are many, many intersex people in the United States (a little bit of info on that) and still many more people who are men and lack testicles. I can’t point and laugh at a man whom I find absolutely contemptible, purely because he is being depicted with genital “abnormalities” without also laughing at these other people. Considering how many other terrible things there are to mock about Trump, why must we be so obsessed with genitals?

The people who I have known who are intersex have had enough people obsessed with their genitals. From personal examples, like my best friend in college, whose partner started telling people she was dating a “hermaphrodite” as soon as he shared it with her (completely violating his privacy), to more broad examples, like the huge number of infants who still face “corrective” surgery, despite many patients going on to have sterility, loss of sensation, and a rejection of the sex assigned to them via surgery. It blows my mind that anyone could see the kind of suffering many intersex people have suffered on account of their genitalia, and still see portraying someone with an intersex condition as funny.

Trump is an awful human being; he is racist, sexist, vulgar, and especially contradictory. His huge ego is ridiculous in its own right. And really, in actuality, he’d likely be first in line to mock an actual intersex person. So why do we need to throw another group under the bus in order to mock him?

When Trans Acceptance Means Hiding the “Weird Ones.”

I saw this meme recently in a transgender group I’m a part of. Take a gander for yourself, and see if you can guess why this caught my attention:
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The person posting it, shockingly, was completely serious. They saw this meme and went “Huh. This is exactly how I feel about how society views us.” Which kind of blew my mind. As a Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) person, it was painfully obvious and kind of personal when I saw this. What’s so wrong with enjoying lipstick AND a beard? Why are all the people who are “actually” trans so binary looking? And “passing”?

I commented something kind of snide, probably along the lines of “Or we could just stop judging people for how they present…” and moved along. It wasn’t until after I came back from hiking that I saw how many people had responded to me. Explaining that this was directed at drag queens, or even better, “people who aren’t even trying” to pass. I checked the group’s description; yup, supposedly inclusive of GNC and NB people. Cue the longest internet debate I have ever had with other trans people, something I try not to do online.

The main problem with this meme, however, isn’t that it may be unclear on its position (that drag queens aren’t trans…which isn’t strictly true, as some drag queens and kings do identify as trans) but that it seems to encourage a very clean cut, clearly one gender type of presentation. Like, hey, this is what an acceptable trans person looks like. Not someone who cakes on make up, or mixes gendered features. As someone who’s been told that my own gender presentation and identity gives trans people a “bad name” I just wanna say…why are we so bent on pleasing people who already have a hard time accepting us? Why are we fighting to transition and be true to ourselves…only to conform that new self to something that isn’t really us in order to be accepted?

By hiding aspects of ourselves in order to appear acceptable, aren’t we just walking ourselves out of one closet and into a new one?

 

 

Three Things Everyone Asked Me When I Came Out as Asexual…And One Thing I Would Tell My Younger Self.

I didn’t know the term, but when I first heard about sex (a rather non-informative talk with my mother for which she unthinkingly packed a hot dog lunch) my impression was something like “Well. I’m not doing that.” This sentiment didn’t change even after I started puberty, held babies, met someone I really loved, AND developed a healthy libido. I’ve been open about it since before I was open about anything else about myself; I’m even old school and have an ace ring…through which I’ve found two other aces in six years, so that’s not too bad a rate.

Here’s a few of the most common things I’ve heard as an open asexual, and some of my criticisms of these…uh, criticisms.

“What if you want a family someday?”

Yeah, maybe I will. What’s that got to do with being asexual? First, this is the 21st century. There are ways to get pregnant without having sex, there are ways to have children without getting pregnant, and most importantly, family is what you make it. Maybe family for me is all the younger queer kids I’ve mentored (they call me “Dad.” Go figure.) Or maybe, family for me is going to be a partner who I can grow old with. I don’t know. All I know is, my path to a future family isn’t restricted to the getting pregnant route.

“What if you date/marry someone who wants sex?”

Well, first, I did. That ended pretty horribly. Weirdly enough, loving someone who was allosexual didn’t make me any less asexual. Guess it’s not contagious. I’ve been in relationships where we’ve found compromises that made both of us happy, and I’ve been in relationships that have ended in anger and tears on account of sex. A lot of it comes down to communication, the maturity of both parties involved (and younger me was an asshat, so…) and the disparity between sexual needs.

In addition, it always seemed weird to me that this question presumes I’m not going to find someone else like me. You know, an ace-on-ace relationship. Because I’ve found that too, and that was pretty swell. I feel like questions like that are almost isolating, because they presume that the asexual in question is the only one like that. I know I often felt like, answering those types of questions, that I was on my own, navigating an allosexual dating scene.

“Did trauma or a medical condition do this to you?”

No, but thanks for bringing that up!! Seriously, I love discussing possible traumatic episodes and private medical conditions with people. Many people mean well when they ask these kinds of questions; for instance, my mother wanted me to get my hormones checked, in case I was sick. Other people are just genuinely curious. They can’t wrap their heads around why someone might not feel the way they do, so they have to come up with some kind of rationale. It used to bother me a lot, but generally, if I tell people politely that my orientation isn’t a medical condition, they leave it be.

However, I’ve always wondered; what would it change if I had a medical condition or traumatic event that made me this way? I mean, I’m sure there might be a cure or a treatment, but what if I was perfectly content living this way? And more interestingly, would I be weirder or more acceptable if my lack of sexual interest was explained by a medical condition?

When I first started hearing these questions, I got super defensive. It’s hard to be patient and understanding when it’s your identity being discussed, and I don’t think it’s for everyone. But if I could go back in time, I’d tell younger me that everything is going to be alright. In ten years, I’m still gonna be ace, people are still going to ask weird questions, and I’m still going to sometimes be accused of lacking genitals and/or a heart, but I’m not going to be alone. It seems like every year, my circle of ace friends just expands. And that’s something that makes this experience not so lonely.

But also, if I was able to go back in time, I’d let my younger self know to stop eating gluten. Super allergic, as it turns out.