Tag Archives: science

A body behind Barrs

I think in terms of science. I think I even feel in terms of science. Usually I have trouble making connections to humans, but connecting to an idea, theory, thought causes me to stop thinking and start feeling. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced love in the romantic sense; this is the closest I know, so sharing this profound experience is like sharing a deep, hidden part of a relationship. I’m gonna talk science, and 99% of you all are probably going to click away, thinking

Last year I had a class called cell biology. Basically, we studied cells – the tiniest reproducing units of life. Thousands and thousands of proteins, lipids (fats), DNA/RNA, organelles float around each one. More than thousands. There has to be at least millions, maybe billions. I’m not really sure. But the point is there are an unreal number of things in each one, but only a few we can see with a light microscope. Maybe you did the ol’ swab your cheek and see the miracle that is life when you were in high school. For some reason I never had.

Anyway, I took a good hearty scrape of the inside of my mouth with a small wooden stick and slapped it on a microscope slide. I added some dye and waited for the magic to happen.

I looked at my worksheet.

Question 4: Pair with a partner of the opposite sex. What structure is visible in female students’ epithelial cells that is not visible in males’?

Cell Male Female

A Barr body is a darker dot on a mostly translucent field of view. It’s the duplicate X chromosome, condensed to a tiny dark dot and silenced because we only need one to carry out functions.

I stared down the microscope at my own cells, each with their own tiny dark blue dot.

You know, I never really listened to the trolls in the comment section of every trans-related article ever, insisting that chromosomes never change, once an XX, always an XX.

Somehow I had convinced myself that, yeah, maybe my body looks like a female, underneath all the patterned shirts and binders and sweatshirts and just loose enough pants and short hair, but I’m really truly a guy. My body might look female, but it doesn’t feel female. I’m really a guy. I’m sure if I just sequenced my genes everyone would see that I’m a guy. XY, all the way. If I just had the money to do a sequence I could collect the paperwork from the doctor’s office and wave it in everyone’s face. See?? I told you. I’m really a guy. No need to call me “she” anymore! It was all just a bit of misunderstanding on my birth certificate. Yeah, I know, crazy, right? How could they mess something so basic up. And I didn’t even notice it was wrong for so long. But I can get it fixed now, see?

Only I don’t need money to get my genes sequenced. With a toothpick, a piece of glass and a drop of water I can see those second Xs. And if I look long enough I think I can even see them waving, saying “we only made you feel like you had bars on your body so you could be like us, forever stuck to the side of a nucleus.”



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Apprehension (Eeeek!) Part II

This one’s going to be short – strict orders from my coach to get a good meal in the body and to sleep tonight. I had tilapia, green beans, sweet potatoes and ice cream for dinner, not for the sleep part!

In my last post I talked about how nervous I’ve been about various things. Here I’m going to explain what happened with those elements.

Quizzes: I had one today – got a 2/4. Eeeek. I could’ve performed better, but I’ll be more ready next time. He tested on material from class since the people were a little confused on what reading we had. So I studied ahead. Ah, well. Ye live and learn.

Running: Today my hip hurt. Pretty bad. I couldn’t even stand on it with out it hurting, so my friend on the team that does.. well I’m not sure exactly what she does, but it’s magic. She massages and does active muscle release. Which hurts. I literally cried a little. It feels sore now, but I think from the massage. I have a  double tomorrow morning, so I guess we’ll see then.

Public Speaking: Well, I gave my speech. And the world didn’t end. The person that gave the speech about me used all male pronouns.. didn’t even slip up once, which I really appreciated. I hope it wasn’t too hard on her to do that. 

Applications: BAM. Two done, for a total of three, just three to go. I think I have the process undercontrol, but I really nervous to see if I’ll get in a summer laboratory position.

On another note – it’s official. I’m meeting with Sally Kern. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why I would even go within a mile of her. Hearing her talk on Flashpoint hit a nerve. I know that nothing I say to her will make one iota of a difference. But I think it’s not for her benefit; it’s more mine. I need to know that I tried. So we’ll see how that goes, and see if I can pull together something to talk about. If you have any ideas, feel free to let me know in the comments section!

Cheers, guys, thanks for reading.

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Applying for Jobs as a Transperson

Applying for jobs for anyone is often a daunting venture. It’s stressful, period. Whether it’s worrying if you got your resume just right or if you even had enough legitimate stuff to fill up your resume in the first place, it’s nerve-wracking. Then you get that call from an unfamiliar number and your heart beats faster. Your face, even your ears turn red, and your hands get clammy and shaky at the same time. You start to answer the phone but it slides out of your hands, hitting the ground. By the time you answer it on the last ring, you sound flustered, not a kind of person someone can rely on to complete a job.

You’re ecstatic that you got an interview, but that means you have to worry even more. What should I wear? What questions are they going to ask me? What kind of interview will it be?

For a transperson there are all these worries and more. We worry if we can be out at work, and if in a customer service position how the customer will treat us. Will being out effect business at all, and if it does will I get laid off? We worry if our gender expression will prevent us getting hired in the first place. If we end up getting hired, will fellow employees respect pronouns?

When I went to the local Boys and Girls Club to fill out an application I had a choice: I could fill out the gender question with female as I had on every application in my life, or I could put down male. I took an even bigger chance and put transgender in parentheses. Honestly it didn’t matter- once I went in for an interview my voice would give me away, and I wasn’t trying to intentionally deceive anyone anyway.

I went back in to do an orientation/interview and understandably I was nervous. I didn’t know if the supervisor would address it, or even if she had seen it or not. I was in for a surprise. Not only did she address it in a polite and knowledgable way, she asked me what my preferred pronouns were and introduced me to everyone we came across as he, him, etc. Without stuttering, correcting or missing a beat or anything. I was floored. To this day she is the only person who has done that well with pronouns and I appreciate it more than she could ever know.

I’m grateful to have that good experience in getting a volunteer opportunity, but the employment arena is still complicated. As a science student, I am aggressively applying for summer undergraduate research programs in various parts of the country, some places more accepting than others. I struggle with the gender section, especially because females are entitled to affirmative action in the STEM fields. By putting it down, I feel like I am lying and in the process getting an advantage that cismales wouldn’t get. But I also can’t put down male because I’m not legally that. What then happens when I show up and I look like a dude? My voice gives me away, and everyone assumes I’m a rather butch lesbian (nothing against them, it’s just that I’m a guy). I get considered a woman and I end up in a vicious cycle of frustration and falseness. I can’t form meaningful relationships if I’m not being authentic!

I have hope that something someday will work out. Until then I can just work hard and do my best.

Have you been in a difficult work situation? How did you handle it?

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