I Don’t Do Trans 101.


I’m not gonna talk about surgery, so stop asking. It’s the first question everyone asks, and I mean everyone. Family, friends, cashiers, people sitting next to me on the bus; everyone. I mean, there’s a lot of fascinating stuff going on with my body right now: did you know that in a few years even the shape of the corneas of my eyes will change? But no, that one thing is all people seem interested in. Somehow no-one seems to catch on how fundamentally creepy that is. So let’s just say I installed a bear trap or one of those xenomorph things where there’s a mouth with an even tinier mouth down there and lets call it a day about that. Thank you.


I’m also not gonna talk about what it “feels like to be a girl” or being “trapped in a man’s body” or whatever. The only thing I feel trapped by is the socially reinforced expectations and assumptions regarding people like me, not to mention the sometimes overwhelming stigma against the path I’m taking. I’ve also never really liked framing my experience in those terms because not only is it clumsy, it lends this undeserved air of tragedy to what is happening. There’s nothing tragic about it at all, it just is what it is. I’m getting better and more whole as a person, and you can either be happy for me or go fuck yourself.

The current reality of the situation is that I’m a thirty…something year old trans woman that’s been on HRT since mid-2012. What this means is that twice a day for the past few years I take a dime-sized white pill that tastes like minty fart poison death. This pill makes me less angry, makes me pee a lot, thins out my body hair, decreases my muscle mass and bone density, and totally nuked my acne. It’s also making my junk shrivel up and die. Whatever. Then I stick a little blue pill (also minty) under my tongue. This pill makes my skin softer, fills out my hips and face, and is the reason I’m currently sporting a pair of B cup breasts. No you can’t touch them, so stop asking. Seriously, this is the second most common question I get asked. People are tacky. In any case, I will be performing a variation of this routine for the rest of my life, regardless of whatever else happens.


I understand that this treatment is still considered controversial, but at this point it’s controversial like vaccines are controversial. The medical ramifications of this treatment have been documented since at least the 1930s-early 1940s. The loudest critical arguments against it are dominated by equal parts anti-scientific puritanism and tin-foil hat conspiracy theory. It’s all “gay agenda” this and “transsexual empire” that and it all reads like the AM radio ramblings that everyone’s sad drunk granddad listens to wondering what went wrong during the 1960s.


In person, the resistance I get strongly resembles the resistance I got when I first publicly acknowledged that I have a serious alcohol problem. People thinking of it as a problem that doesn’t exist, trying to prove that I don’t “really” have the problem because seeking treatment is something only desperate people do or whatever, or trying to make excuses or accommodations. I think the seeming finality of it scares people. Have I tried just being gay? Sure, doing gay stuff is awesome, but it doesn’t address my problem. Isn’t gender-bending while performing as a singer or going to goth or drag bars enough? No, not really. And if I wind up in a job where I have to dress in male business casual and use my old name (a girl’s gotta eat) that doesn’t make me any less trans than falling off the wagon makes me less of an alcoholic. You should feel equally silly for suggesting that.

When I say I have a problem, what I am talking about is gender dysphoria. People who have no idea what they are talking about mistake it for body dysmorphic disorder, because all it takes is two letters to confuse them. Anyway, it’s a thing. I don’t get boners from wearing panties or whatever (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I don’t really have any fetishes at all, come to think of it, which kinda seems more embarrassing to admit than having one. Am I boring?

Most of my life story fits the typical trans narrative pretty close, part of it doesn’t, because that’s how life works. Noticed a disturbance in the force at age 5 or so, shy withdrawn kid that avoided other boys and boy activities, sneaking off when my parents were asleep to play with makeup when I was 10, yadda yadda yadda. When I went off to college at 17, one of the first things I bought when I felt my time and money was my own was a dress. It was hideous. I looked ridiculous. I still remember it fondly. I wrote a zine about coming to terms with my social, political, and gender identity all through the late 1990s, because that’s what queer people did before the internet.


I first attempted transition back then as well. I still have my copy of “Melanie Speaks” and “Creating A Feminine Carriage” to show for it. A lot of awkward times in transsexual support groups where there’d be a circle of older trans women sitting bolt upright with their purses in their lap and I’d be there, slouching in my leather jacket and grocery store lipstick with the other ladies thinking “what the fuck is that thing?”. I vividly remember calling one of them a “fascist” when she was talking about her work perfecting radio triangulation for the purpose of locating pirate radio signals. There’s a surprising amount of us in the tech industry. I wonder why nobody does research on that, this disproportionately high interest in computer and electronic tech among trans women.

Anyway, time went on and I found myself abandoning transition because of expense and social pressure. This is not to say I “got over it” or whatever. It means I abandoned a medical procedure that was working because of finances and people trying to talk me out of it. It’s no coincidence that attempting to “live like a guy” or whatever and becoming a barely functioning alcoholic happened nearly simultaneously.


People talk about the “inauthenticity” of trans presentation, but for real me trying to act and live “like a man” was the fakest shit ever. All pomp and bombast and over-compensation. I used to take on this sort of “growl” with my voice to downplay how high-pitched it is; a leftover coping mechanism from puberty. People rightfully made fun of me for it; it sounded awful and fake. Living like this created a rift between me and people that cared about me; realizing that I had to fake it for them and not even sure if they wanted me to fake it for them. Being constantly suspicious that people preferred this act to who I was, meanwhile people saw right through the act despite myself. I wasn’t fooling anyone. Coming out after starting HRT, so many people sent me emails essentially saying “thank god I don’t have to keep pretending you’re a guy anymore” it reassured me that I was once again back on the right path.


This is a lot simpler than people make it out to be.
I’m not “becoming” anyone other than the person I’ve always been.
I’m not creating artifice, I’m abandoning it.

This is what I need to become more complete and whole as a person.


One Response to “I Don’t Do Trans 101.”

  1. burnseleanor21 July 16, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    So well said, and you look absolutely astounding in that velvet dress which I now wish I owned, BTW.

    I tried being a gender-fluid goth myself. It didn’t work too well, though it did bring way more stick in my direction than I have ever had for being trans (from real-life people, that is, as opposed to online screeds). Based on that experience, it seemed pretty logical to just ride with the feeling of who or what I had wanted to be all along…

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