Going to try to clean this blog up a bit – update it some…if anyone sees this, has me linked in their sidebar but I don’t have you linked, let me know, and I would be happy to fix that.
Ain’t been writing so much publicly lately about being trans and how I understand it and how my understanding of it has been shifting, because, to be honest, I feel a lot more exposed talking about it than I used to. Especially when it’s changing, and I don’t have a good idea yet what I’m talking about or dealing with. You just work through some more of it, little at a time, and you’re always amazed by how complicated it is. Once in awhile, you even think you’ve got it whupped and you know what’s up, but then, you really don’t. But I have, though, been talking about it in private, with someone. Also, been talking about gardening, and consequently, thinking about transition and the body as a metaphorical garden. Which, isn’t new for me; it’s occurred to me before. I’m a gardener, and this metaphor was actually one of the first things that occurred to me when I started admitting to myself that I wanted to transition. I don’t know that I’ve talked about it out loud before, though.
Rather than repost them here I’ll just post the linkies.
Trigger warning for – transphobia, gory talk about surgery/bodies, ableism, etc.
(Don’t mind just the title and get the wrong idea, now, though. It’s kind of like that Bruce Springsteen song, “Born in the USA.” You can’t just take the title at face value. You have to pay attention the lyrics.)
I used to watch those plastic surgery shows on the Discovery Channel when I was a teenager, you know, and there’d be women on there getting breast implants. And a common refrain was, “I just want clothes to fit me right. I just want to be able to fill out my clothes.”
And having the limited understanding that I had at the time, I assumed that the only thing that could be afflicting these poor women was that they had bought into the Patriarchy. It wasn’t that the clothes didn’t fit them, it was that they didn’t fit the clothes, and this was not the way it should be. If the clothes didn’t fit, then it was the clothes that had the problem, and not their bodies.
(I want to disclaim this by saying that I am not going to say that Patriarchy has zero influence always forever in every case of a woman getting breast implants. In fact, I won’t even make that claim for any kind of chest surgery, however tempting it may be. (Read these preceding two sentences very carefully a few times to try to get what I’m saying before debating it with me, and then if you still feel you must, then I will be happy to do that.) What I will say is, I don’t know what influence it has, if any – it’s not my business why people make this decision any more than it’s their business why I make my decisions*, and I’ll also say there has to be more to it in the vast majority of the cases than Patriarchy alone.)
(It’s worth noting that I didn’t have quite the same aversion to the episodes of those shows where women got breast reductions. They didn’t bother me. I could understand someone wanting them to be smaller. But why on Earth would anyone want them to be bigger? So, even back then, there was something aside from Feminism alone informing my disgust for breast augmentation surgeries.)
Anyway, I was in the store the other day, and I found these beautiful v-neck t-shirts. I loved them. I put a couple of them on my arm and took them into the fitting room.
And as soon as put these beautiful v-neck t-shirts on, they turned ugly.
They turned into women’s shirts, I don’t care what department they came from.
I hated the sight of them.
I put them back, even though I wanted them. Even though I loved them, I couldn’t wear them. I thought back on those women on those tv shows, who wanted larger breasts so they could fill out their clothes, so that clothes would fit them right.
It was about the clothes, but it wasn’t. At least not entirely. It was about the body. It was about how the clothes hang on the body, but more than that. I could’ve bought those shirts. I could’ve worn them. But I couldn’t wear them. I could physically put them on, and they fit me, but I couldn’t wear them. I wanted them, but I couldn’t have them. I could’ve had them, but I didn’t want them.
And this something that I can never fully explain to someone who hasn’t spun in this circle.
If those clothes don’t work, then just choose clothes that do work on your body. Yes, I know. And, that’s what I did. I got two button-down shirts instead. They look nice. They are very much my style.
But I wanted those t-shirts, dammit.
I don’t want to get top surgery.
Really, I don’t. I don’t want to be $10,000 or more poorer than I would’ve been otherwise. I don’t want to have to convince (cis) people that I’m “trans enough” and “sane enough” to have top surgery. I don’t want to worry about how I will travel or who will travel with me, or how much I will put them out caring for me. I don’t want to turn my body over to medical people and be put to sleep. I don’t want to wake up with those horrid drains. I don’t want to wretch and puke with those drains in, (but I know what pain pills and general anesthesia do to me, and I must be the only one, either that or polite boys (and variously-gendered people) just don’t talk about wretching and puking with their drains in, and what that’s like.) I don’t want the pain. I don’t want the scars and new contours of my body to get used to. I don’t want skin that can’t feel, or that feels like it’s in the wrong place.**
I want my nipples with their little points of sensation, but I don’t want them on the tops of these domes. You know what I mean? I want my nipples, but I want them to be the right size, and I want them to be in the right place – on my chest. I want to touch them and have them feel right.
I can’t have what I want.
I can have top surgery, or I can deal with what I’ve got.
I don’t want to get top surgery, but I will, (if I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity.) I will feel regret – not because it will have been the wrong decision, but I’ll regret that it was the decision I had to make.
I had this weird, disturbing dream this morning, (and people that have been reading awhile know that I share weird dreams on here sometimes). I dreamed that I got out of bed and was looking in the bathroom mirror. (In the universe of the dream, mirrors did not show a reflection like in real life; my reflection’s body parts corresponded with mine; my right side was my reflection’s right side. One of those cues that it’s Not Real Life, but I didn’t pick up on it till I’d woken up.) I noticed that one of my nipples was missing. I hadn’t had top surgery (yet, which isn’t the case with all my dreams.) But I was aware of being a trans man; I usually always am, and have been since I came out to myself. I didn’t feel so much alarm at my nipple missing; it was a more subdued negative feeling. After examining myself for a few seconds, I found the missing nipple; it was on my belly. It was in the wrong place, but it was perfect, though. It was smaller, like a “man’s” nipple. It looked like the kind of nipple I want to have. I manipulated my skin somehow and worked with it until I got my nipple back its regular place, on top of that dome. Once it was back in place, it went back to its usual size – like a “woman’s” nipple, so it matched my other one. It was so disappointing to watch my perfect nipple turn back into that…other kind of nipple. Aside from that, I could tell that without some kind of support to hold it in place, (like a bra,) my nipple was going to slip back down into the wrong place. It just felt like I was going to be disjunctive, no matter what I did. Things were not going to be right, no matter what I did. I felt so helpless, you know? At least, I thought, once I have The Operation, I won’t have to deal with this. They can get rid of these domes, and put my nipples back in the (approximate) right place, and they’ll be static. It’ll be fixed (both meanings) forever. It won’t be perfect, but at least everything will be grounded and will have a place.
That dream is a real good metaphor for how I feel about being trans in general.
I don’t want to get top surgery, but sometimes people have to do things that they don’t really want to do.
There’s this post on Matt Kailey’s blog where a trans man writes in to ask for advice about a potential relationship with a cis man who has made it perfectly clear that he views the trans man as a woman.
Matt suggests the letter-writer ask himself a series of questions, among them, “Do I like this guy more than I hate being seen as female?”
This question follows the template of many questions that trans people have to ask ourselves.
“Do I like (or want, or need,) X more than I hate (don’t want) Y?”
(Depending on the situation, our progress in our transitions sometimes depends on our hatred for Y outweighing or love for X – like in the case of Matt’s letter-writer. Sometimes, like in my case, with top surgery, progress depends on our love, want, or need for X outweighing our hatred of Y. In all cases, the weight in the correct side of the scales has to be greater for things to happen. Little by little, the scales start tipping. That’s the torque that starts the wheels rolling – when the answer to, “Do I like X more than I hate Y?” is right.)
*(My attitude on transition being a choice or decision: It’s like this: Not all decisions are the same kind of decision as, “Do I want chocolate ice cream or vanilla ice cream? (Or strawberry? Or butter pecan?)” Some decisions are more along the lines of, “Do I stand here and let this steamroller run me over, or do I jump out of the way?” I feel that identifying jump out of the way as a decision maintains the jumper’s agency, even though anyone in a similar situation would do the same thing.)
**(Check out this post on American Trans Man by a trans man who very concisely puts it, “It frightens me to think of having to get cut up to be a man.”)
My Site Stats indicates that I get a good deal of visitors asking what you should call someone who is ftm.
To begin with, don’t call them “ftm.” Call them trans men (with the space.) Same thing with women, don’t call them “mtf.” Call them trans women (with the space.) And as Cedar says in the post about putting the space in, unless trans status is relevant, just use the unmodified nouns man and woman. If a person is nonbinary, call them the nouns and pronouns that they ask for.
These acronyms literally stand for female-to-male and male-to-female. For a growing number of trans people, this isn’t accurate. Most trans people understand that they always were male, female, or some other gender, and even if we didn’t “always know,” it’s because we were alienated from that knowledge, not because we were regular cis women who woke up one day and decided to be men, or regular cis men who woke up one day and decided to be women.
Another thing wrong with these terms is they imply that physical transition, (which is not even the entirety of transition,) is the crucial turning point for “becoming a man,” or “becoming a woman.” But by the time a person goes to the doctors, they are already a man or a woman, (or whatever nonbinary gender). Even among people who do feel they experienced a genuine shift or change in their gender, rather than just an uncovering of what was already there, it’s not anything they had medically done to their bodies that caused this change: it was their own internal feelings. Regardless of a person’s individual narrative, internal feelings must come before physical transition – because without that motivation, no one is going to try to access physical transition.
Another nasty implication accompanies this one: that until a trans person receives enough to medical treatment to satisfy whatever arbitrary criteria, they “still are” a man or woman. (I haven’t finished the book, and it’s doubtful I will, but Aaron Devor, in FTM, uses female pronouns for the research subjects that aren’t on testosterone yet – this is wrong.) Regardless of hormone levels, surgical status, legal sex, legal name, anything – a trans person is what they say they are. There is no good excuse for misgendering a trans person.
(The only possible exception is if you are referring to them around people they are not out to yet and they specifically ask you to use their old name and pronouns to help them stay closeted, because the time is not right to come out. That’s it. That’s the only time it’s ever right.)
Another thing I want to address: I’ve gotten several searches for, “What do you call an ftm who isn’t physically transitioning?” All my assholish sarcasm aside, you call him the same thing you call one who is physically transitioning – a (trans) man. Same thing with women and nonbinary people – people are what they are. There is no distinction between “pre” and “post” trans people. These changes in body/brain chemistry and body shape are just that – changes in body/brain chemistry and body shape. They are not changes in sex or gender, (and that’s what’s wrong with the older, (but still widely-used among people who don’t know better), terminology, “sex change.”) A trans person’s medical body modification does not lend them more credence, or put them in another category from people who haven’t gotten to that stage yet, or never will, (for whatever reason.)
It’s also important to add – if you yourself are not trans, (or, even if you are, but especially if you’re not,) and you come upon trans people who are using any of this language: ftm/mtf, becoming a wo/man, sex change – do not correct them; a person’s own language for describing their experience overrides these general rules. If a trans person instructs you to call them ftm/mtf, or grants you permission to, then those rules apply for that one person, but not the lot of us.
I can’t think of anything else right now, but I’ll add more if I think of any.
Nor will I support her in any of her endeavors, political or otherwise.
(I apologize to all my subscribers and regular readers who aren’t looking for this kind of content.)
I’ve been having some trouble lately with my computer getting infected with viruses; it’s been to the shop twice, because hell if I can make heads or tails of the messageboard answers when people post with my same problem, and those guys know what they’re doing more than I do. I noticed, though, when I got the computer back from the shop yesterday, because they had to take a bunch of Trojans off of it, I was still having some suspicious behavior that I had been noticing for a couple of weeks or so.
Every time I would do a Google search, I would click on a result, and rather than taking me to that page, I got redirected to some other page with ads for whatever I was looking at. Like, when iTunes wouldn’t recognize my iPod, (which I’ll also write about at some point,) and I was Googling things trying to find out how to fix it, it would give me ads for iPods. When I searched for straps for my banjo, it would invite me to buy banjos. When I looked for Malwarebytes yesterday to see if I could download it and if it would find the Google hijack virus, Google hijack virus redirected me to some site that said, “Lots of people have problems with Malwarebytes. Download this program and see if it will fix your Malwarebytes.” (And the scary thing is, I almost ran that program before I realized it wasn’t Malwarebytes.) None of these sites that the virus redirects you to look particularly well-designed, but if you’re not paying attention, and don’t notice that the address in the url is not the one you were trying to visit, they can get you. I am assuming that is how I started downloading viruses; I probably clicked something on these fake pages.
At some point, I decided that the reason that the tech people hadn’t found this virus was that it was in the browser itself, not in my system files, or whatever, and I hadn’t mentioned this problem specifically when I went to them, so they didn’t know to look for it. (Firefox, for me, and judging by what other people have said on the Internet, Firefox is the main browser that has this problem.)
Anyway, if you have this virus, it’s easy to get rid of. Just uninstall Firefox. It’ll ask you if you want to keep your personal data for future re-installations of Firefox, but I didn’t, just in case that had something to do with it. (People in this thread say it’s not necessary to delete your settings, though.) Once Firefox is finished uninstalling, restart the computer, then reinstall it.
(I did save my bookmarks before I cleared my personal data during the uninstall. Click Bookmarks in the menu bar, then click “Show all Bookmarks,” then from the Library window that comes up, click “Import and Backup,” then click Backup, and chose the place to save your file. Once you reinstall Firefox, go again to Bookmarks > Show all Bookmarks > Import and Backup, and this time, mouse over “Restore,” click “Choose file,” and then choose your backed up bookmarks from wherever you saved them.) (More details and screenshots on Mozilla’s website.)
Once Firefox is reinstalled with all previous data deleted, these symptoms of hijacked searches should go away.
In my experience, being trans has way more to do with the conflict between my gender and other people, rather than my gender and my body. It has been, and probably always will be, one of the main points that I ever articulate about being trans: a person has the right to alter their body, regardless of how they feel about their body, in order to circumvent what the rest of people do; the way people use our bodies to force us into the wrong social boxes.
I say that and yet, I still know that if we lived in Gender Utopia, where people didn’t automatically infer others’ genders by looking at them; where a person of any physical appearance stated that they were any gender, and have people believe them, take their word, and use the right pronouns, I would be one of the ones that still wanted the T. And even if I could walk around shirtless in informal settings without being arrested, or other people thinking anything of it, I might even still want the top surgery, too.
Today, I decided I should use the bag of small apples in the kitchen that were fast becoming too mellow to eat.
So, I made an apple pie.
While I pretty much just read some recipes to get a general idea, credit where credit is due, y’all. I read this recipe from Martha Stewart to get the ingredients for the crust, this recipe from allrecipes.com to get ideas for the filling, and this other recipe from allrecipes.com to get more ideas for the filling, also the bit of info that if one isn’t going to bother with making a lattice top like in that first recipe, they need to cut slits in the top for steam.
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 t sugar
1 t salt
2 sticks of butter, cold
5 T water
3 T all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 t vanilla extract
10 small apples
So, I gathered all the ingredients for my crust. I put salt, sugar, and flour in the bowl and mixed them. I then cut the butter into slice-chunks and worked it into the flour mixture with my hands until it was crumbly. I added the water and stirred with a fork until the texture looked roughly consistent. Then I scooped out about half and put in the bottom of a 10-inch glass pie plate. I pressed it from the center out until it covered the sides.
I left the other half in the mixing bowl, covered both the pie plate and the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and then peeled and cut my apples. Mine were golden delicious. I put the three tablespoons of flour, sugar, brown sugar, spices, and butter in a bowl and mixed them, then put them in a larger bowl with the apples and stirred everything until the apples were coated. I then poured the mixture into the bottom crust.
At this point, it was time to make the top crust – the most treacherous and uncertain part. I started by putting a square of wax paper on the counter and spraying it liberally with non-stick spray oil.
(I decided to add a tiny bit more water to the remaining half of the crust dough before I attempted to do this, thinking that the water would make it more pliable, but it also made it more sticky, so I’m not sure I would do it that way if I had it to do over.)
I packed the top crust dough into a rough sphere, then put it in the middle of the wax paper. I started pressing it out with my fingers, then followed by rolling it out with a well-greased drinking glass, careful not to lift the glass until it was at the edge each time.
At this point, I was hoping for the best, hoping that it was large enough to actually cover the crust of my pie, hoping that it would not break as I carefully lifted it up and inverted it over the pie plate. (It didn’t.)
Still not out of the clear, I hoped that the crust wouldn’t break while I lifted the wax paper off of it; hoped that the wax paper would readily turn loose.
(Nothing bad happened.)
I pressed the edge of the top crust against the edge of the bottom crust, attempting to make a seam. I used some hangover to repair a few sparse places. I then used a fork to reinforce the seam, and also give it a bit of visual texture.
When that was done, it was time to cut places in the top for the steam to escape. I figured since I had made it this far, I might as well get a little adventurous and carve a little apple in the top.
I baked it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, reduced the heat to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, let it cook for 30 minutes, took it out, spooned some butter over the top, returned it to the oven and let it remain for a little under thirty more minutes.
As you can see, my seam did not hold up all the way around; some filling spilled down the sides, but overall, I think it turned out all right.
I even managed to make two neat slices before completely crumbling one and having to scoop it out with a spoon. (I gave my parents the two good slices and ate the messed up one myself.)
And that is the story of me making an apple pie.
(Bonus picture: baby apple trees)
Friday night I went to this vigil for LGBT+ victims of violence, in honor of Pride month and the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. Incidentally, it was the first Gay Pride/Gay Rights thing I’ve ever gone to.
While we were lighting our candles and getting started, a group of anti-gay boys came by and started asking what we were doing. When we told them, and offered them candles, they declined to join us, because, “It’s an abomination,” and said they were all for “beat-up gay people,” just not for gay people, generally. One of them kept trying to interject and drown out Daisy while she was speaking. If I’m not mistaken, they wandered off for a bit, but ultimately returned to place some literature about “God’s Salvation” on the table near us. These people would be laughable if they weren’t so potentially dangerous. We were there to protest people like that killing gays, after all.
But anyway, I didn’t go to Greenville for the vigil exactly. I thought I did before I left home, but I actually went so that Daisy could read my Tarot cards. Read the rest of this entry »