draft: my tranny answers 99

1) Do you know you are really male?

I am very familiar with my reproductive biology, so yes. On the other hand, since I was a very young child, I have responded to life in a way that it is considered more usual for females to respond.

Does that mean that on the spectrum of life I'm not totally male? I would guess that because I have felt called to make the choices of a woman, I have never been all man, no matter how much of a show I put on.

2) Do you know some people think you are a man because you were born male?

I don't define myself by my reproductive biology. If they want to think of themselves as a walking penis or a walking vagina, then that's their choice. I prefer to think of myself and others as spirit living a human life, not as just ambulatory reproductive organs.

Think about it -- if I tell you someone has a penis, what else can you tell me about them? Can you tell me their age, their history, their choices, their desires, their preferences, their abilities, their joys, their fears, their personality? All you can tell me is that they may be able to impregnate females -- you can't even tell me if they have any desire to do that.

3) What pronoun do I use?

To show basic respect for me, honor my choices. I make the choices of a woman, so it's respectful to refer to me as a woman.

I am, though, a woman born male, a woman of transgender experience. I know that some people won't be able to see past the bit of flesh that was between my legs at birth, and they may want to refer to that part of who I am.

What you think about me is up to you, but how you refer to me comes under the heading of social grace and respect for basic dignity.

4) Do you get upset when people ask questions?

I get upset when people can't see beyond my history, looking only at the surface. Nobody wants to feel like they are in a freak show all the time, but everyone will talk about themselves in relationship.

I know you are curious, and that's OK, but if your curiosity turns me into an oddity to be stared at and exhibited, rather than a human with a story (and feelings), I won't respond well. On the other hand, if you are willing to take a moment and see things through my eyes, rather than trying to just fit me in a box, it's good to talk.

5) Do you get upset when people are upset with your choices?

To get this far you have to make peace with who you are. I tried every other option I could think of, or that they can suggest. I have made peace with my God and my morality, though some would say that I offend their sensibilities and should be ordered to hide my nature or have it fixed though their messiah.

I know that people who get real upset with someone who crossed gender lines are usually people who have felt oppressed and challenged by those gender pressures, feel hurt by the sacrifices they made to be a good man or a good woman. They feel like they cut off part of themselves to fit, and my refusal to do that trivializes the price they paid.

In other words, I become a target for their own fears and issues, a symbolic object rather than a human. It's their issue.

I listen to people's concerns, but sometimes I just have to say "Thank you for sharing, but the approach you suggest doesn't sound right to me."

6) What happens when people are taken aback by you?

I have found that 10 minutes of conversation with most people leaves them seeing me not as an oddity, but as a human. If they just get a glance, they might make assumptions which are wrong and uncomfortable, but when they sit with me and work together, I turn out to be human.

I don't think it's fair that I almost always have to bridge their fears about people who are different -- I took enough heat for my difference as a kid -- but I have learned how to be social, gracious and reach out to people who may be a little suspicious.

7) What about all the other trannys who. . .

I can't speak for anyone but myself. Being trans is a hard road: facing the stigma that tries to pound down the nail that sticks up, trying to learn a new gender role after adolescence, facing the challenge of stigma and fear everyday. Every transperson has to make their own choices, like every Italian, or every Black or every Gay person does. We don't have a solid front, we aren't all the same -- in fact, we are very, very different.

I might be able to tell some stories that give you insight about why some trannys make the choices they do, but I can't defend or condemn any individual for their choices, even if they are choices I would never make myself. I don't have responsibility for their choices, and holding every member of a population responsible for the acts of an individual or two is not honest. Do you take responsibility for the actions of every man or every woman?'

8) You are so glib. Why do you think you have all the answers?

Because I had to take a figurative doctoral degree in trans to get where I am. I listened and tried and worked to find what works for me, and in that process I thought through as many possibilities I could find.

There are lots of things I know nothing about, and on those topics I stay silent. But my choices, my challenges? Those I have done the work on.

This can be hard for people who need time to think through their own feelings, time to digest and understand. That's OK, but I can't slow down to help everyone who has challenges take their own time to work though them -- I have to live my life.

9) Why should we trust you? I mean, you did the unthinkable, out of social control, so why couldn't you do something else odd?

All I did was follow my heart about my own expression of my self, of my spirit. I never hurt anyone else, never did anything but challenge their assumptions and their comfort in a belief that only penises and vaginas matter in knowing who someone is.

10) But I don't approve of your choices!

Do you need to approve of people's choices to treat them with courtesy, civility & respect?

I bet every person you deal with has made some choice you wouldn't have made, or wouldn't approve of at some time or other -- you just aren't faced with the evidence of those choices. Isn't it hypocritical to actively work against people just because you are aware of their choices, and not be against evry person who has made choices you might consider "immoral?"

11) Isn't this sexual behavior that should be hidden from kids?

I don't show my genitals or have sexual relations in front of children. While gender is connected to sexuality, everyone expresses gender in some way, which means they express some aspect of their sexuality.

For many people, the issue is simple: They want to think if kids never see the possibility of transgender, the idea will never occur to them. I know that I had the idea years before I knew the possibilities, from a late night radio show in 1968, I had the ideas. Kids can be kept in the dark, but eventually the light will come -- it's a big world.

People don't want children to be exposed to the possibility that you can express transgender 3without being shamed and humilated into hiding it again. They want us to swallow our nature, to kill it off, so that they can feel unchallenged, so that they can feel their children are kept innocent. They want us to pay the cost of being different, of being a way some humans have been thoughout recorded history.

Would it be nice if some people weren't trans, didn't have this nature? Maybe, but they always have been some transpeople in every culture. There is no "cure" for trans, any more than there is a cure for being blue-eyed.

Does demanding the hiding of the transgendered nature, not expressing it, mean it isn't there, in those who have to swallow it? Is that a healthy way to build an open and honest world where kids can feel loved just the way they are?


12) Is your being a tranny a big deal?

It has been at certain points in my life yes, when I had to hide it, or when I had to explore it.

Today, though, being a tranny isn't such a big deal to me. I'm a human with lots more to me than my reproductive biology.

Is my being a tranny a big deal to you? I don't think it should be, unless you are planning to have sexual relations with me, in which case we can talk about it. Other than that, it's my character and sprit that counts -- how I act towards others.

If my being a tranny is a big deal to you, then maybe you need to look at how you feel about growing up in a system of gender that laid lots of expectations on you, take a look at your issues around holding a firm line between the penised and the unpenised.

But if you want to honor sprit and the power of individual humans to transcend their history and biology to become more integrated with who they know themselves to be, then no, my transgender isn't a big deal. It's just how I got to be another human standing beside you with a smile.