Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Transconnection

A week or two ago, I rode my bike past a neighbor's house and saw a friend of mine, who happens to be a trans man. We got to talking, one thing led to another, and the next thing I know I'm shooting off an email to several other trans people friends of mine, saying we all ought to gather for a social event. NOT a support group. I'm talking fun, food, etc. A flurry of emails later, and fourteen or fifteen of us gather at the Q Center for pot luck.

(Here, I can't resist a dig at the DSM-IV: By their criteria, there should be 2.5 trans men in my area; in fact, at least eight of them were present today, and I know of several others; there should be 8.5 trans women in this area, and nearly all of them were present – despite the fact that I can think of at least seven who weren't there. Not only that, but the description the DSM has of us is almost unrecognizable in any meaningful way by anyone present, and it's downright rude and disrespectful the way they use the wrong pronouns throughout.)

To get an idea of the people gathered, one is a polyamorous sex worker (who has been nominated for best feminist porn film). Another is an ordained, celibate Buddhist monk. At least two live in two worlds, gendered female in one and male in the other, switching pronouns depending on company and situation. Several of us are parents. One is the son of a preacher. No one wore a skirt. And the food was pretty damn good.

For over four hours, the conversation never lagged. We caught up with old friends, made new ones, commiserated on the pains and foibles of transition, celebrated honesty and friendship, bashed hypocrites, and laughed – and laughed – and laughed. Genders mixed in a delightful medley as we all allowed our expression free rein.

There is something both validating and empowering in sharing with people who understand your issues, and something wonderfully refreshing in talking with people who (almost) always get your pronouns right. It is a comradeship, a shared experience, a common understanding. In our society, being where you can completely let down your guard, and be yourself in a crowd, for a while makes the world just right. I relaxed. I let myself be, without fear. And it was fun.

Thank you, all my trans friends. Thank you for gathering. And thank you for being you. You are real, and deeply valued.

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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's.
~Hafiz