Tag Archives: trans

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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A new year, new profs

I’m lucky enough that I only have a couple professors this semester that don’t know I’m trans. In this case though, both professors are for Spanish classes, and in that language, more words than pronouns have gender. Adjectives do as well. On professor hasn’t replied yet, but the other one simply said:

Estimado señor Transiteration,
No hay problema!
Hasta martes,
-Profesor

This translates to “Dear Mr. Transiteration, No problem! Until Tuesday,”

I’m excited about that class (and the other Spanish one) because I think it’ll have pretty much all people that I don’t know. It’ll be a possible opportunity to go stealth, which I haven’t really done before. I guess it just depends on my voice. I’ve been working on it. I’m pretty sure my voice is pretty low for a biologically female voice, but pass-ability is iffy. I haven’t worked on it too much before though, so I’m hopeful a bit of effort will help.

Either way, people are gonna have to use the right pronouns/adjectives in those classes because otherwise it’s gonna be grammatically incorrect. Muahaha. I’ll let you know if the correctness actually happens.

Have you ever had to come out to professors? Have you ever been able to pass just based on working on your voice alone?

 

 

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THANK YOU to the strangers at the park

a group of you pretentious adolescents,
five or six, maybe seven.

As I circled the lake
the waves gently lapped
and you shallowly shouted:

“Is that a guy or a girl?”
“No, look, that running over there.
what is it?”
“I can’t tell!”
“I don’t know.” you said, “Ha, ha, ha!”

Haha.. ha.. ha.
I looked over and returned your stares,
my eyes outnumbered
as your laughs flew with the breeze
and landed in the air around my ears.

You paused, and I paused, stricken.
The perfect moment of suspended silence,
but you went on.

Though my stride remained steady,
anger pounded through my veins
and sadness prickled at my fingertips.

I looped around again, intently,
how best to spend my next two cents?
I kept those pennies for another day.

A lap longer, a mile more.
A second stripped off my next race.

and I have only you to thank.

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Trans issues in the workplace… (Update!)

Last week I wrote about a conversation I overheard at work about trans healthcare and medicare.

The next day, one of the two coworkers that was sitting at the desk with the woman that defended trans people asked me about the note I left.

“Hey missy, what was that note about?”

I ignored the missy. Really? One look at me pretty much yells not-a-missy. “Oh, yesterday?” Laughing nervously, “I guess I was too vague.”

“Yeah, I asked he if she knew what it meant, and she didn’t know.”

“Oh, I guess I’ll have to explain more.”

I built up the courage for the next day and a half to leave a another note with a better explanation. I didn’t have time on any of my breaks, but I still wanted to say something.

Believe it or not, this transguy actually talked to her instead!

As I was on my way out, I went by her desk and made some small talk and then got into it.

“Er- sorry that my note was so vague.”

By the look on her face, she knew it was what I came to talk about. The funny thing was, she didn’t ask what I meant. She said “what did you hear?”

“I heard-” I quickly lowered my voice, “- you and James talking about.. medicare.”

She definitely knew what I was talking about then. “Yeah. He’s… weird.”

Satisfied that she knew I was grateful, I dorkily replied “Yeah. But it’s all good,” and high-tailed it out of there. Based on her expression and how she talked, I think she knew what my note meant the whole time. I think she just said she didn’t know so didn’t have to explain to my other co-workers, protecting me from any awkward questions. I guess I’ll never really know, but it feels good on know of one sane person in my ultra-conservative workplace.

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Trans issues in the workplace..

..and by that, I mean trans issues discussed in the workplace.

Let me start from the beginning. I was minding my own business, cleaning shelves in the front of the store when I thought I heard the words “sex change operation.” Whaaat? I know I think about trans stuff a lot, but was I hearing things?

I popped my head up and looked around. Nobody was in my immediate vicinity. I went back to cleaning, only to hear something about transgender and medicare. I poked my head up again and noticed that a couple coworkers were talking about the fact that the ban on medicare covering trans healthcare was dropped.

I was floored. I didn’t think most people paid much attention to trans issues, but I guess they do when it involves their money. I sneaked around and pretended to be cleaning a shelf that was a bit closer.

One of the company’s drivers was trying to convince the secretary that the ban being lifted was ridiculous. She kept telling him that she knew someone who was trans and they were really uncomfortable in their body, and he kept making ignorant arguments. Now to be clear, I understand why people who don’t accept transpeople don’t want to pay portion of their medicare tax (even if it ends up being a veeery small fraction of money) – It’s a difficult debate that has even more implications than just the scope of medicare. My problem wasn’t so much his point of view as his ignorance and the rude things he said.

I was surprised that they were having such a loud conversation about that kind of thing, since in my city there’s a don’t-talk-about-it-stigma. After they were done talking and he left, I looked over. She looked back at me and I quickly went back to cleaning. Sometimes a look can share everything and nothing all at once.

I was surprisingly not bummed out or pissed off. I felt a mix of feelings, sure, but I didn’t feel wholly bad. I guess I was kind of shocked that someone stood up for transpeople, even when someone was being so direct.

When I was on my way out of work, I had a note ready that said “Thanks for standing your ground. It means more to me than you could ever know.” A vague note, but I hoped she’d know what I meant. My plan was to drop it on he desk as I left. However, when I was leaving, there were two other co-workers sitting at her desk too. My heart was pounding.

Be brave, Transiteration, be brave. I casually said bye to everyone and put it nearest to her in one motion. A couple steps later, she asked “what’s this?” I mumbled “nothing much” as I walked away.

I dunno if she’ll bring it up, but I’ll keep you updated!

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Airport escapade, part dos

Flying can be chaos, and being trans can make it just a bit more complicated.

I flew home for Thanksgiving, thank goodness. (Two days of driving within five is tiring.) I was on a late flight, and the hour and a half car ride to the airport turned out to be more like two and a half because the interstate was packed. By the time I got to the airport I was already jittery from cutting it close; I hastily said ‘goodbye’ to my parents and booked it inside.

I headed down the escalators and made a beeline for security, even though my bladder was threatening to burst. I’ve had a lot of practice holding my pee, and I didn’t want to chance missing my flight. I was in luck. Not only was I able to make my flight, it was delayed for an two hours instead of one. Security didn’t take too long. The line was long and lots of flights were delayed so the TSA peeps were trying to move everyone through there pretty quick.

I’ve flown enough in the past year that I’m pretty familiar with going through airport security as a transperson. At my usual airport they have the body scanners. I walked into it and held my arms up, like you’re supposed to. I wasn’t surprised when they stopped me. I think a binder sets off the detector pretty often. I stood where they told me to and a woman TSA agent (whom I had ironically briefly mistaken as male) was standing in facing me. She took one look at me and held her hands up, taking a step back, “I can’t give you a pat-down.”

I didn’t say anything. It’s better not to if I’m passing – it just makes everything go a lot quicker. A half-second later a male TSA agent stepped in front of me. He spoke as though he was talking to someone a few years younger than me, calmly but authoritatively. “Hold your arms out.”

I did so. He gave a quick pat down underneath my armpits. “You’re good to go.”

I took a breather and made a secondary beeline for the bathroom. I felt a wave of relief wash over me because there was a family bathroom. Hallelujah.

I made a third beeline for the food court and got a slice of pizza, a few meatballs and a pink lemonade. I awkwardly carried it all, including my suitcase and backpack to the terminal. I tried to sit down, but I had too many things in my hands to take my pack off. I set my lemonade on top of my suitcase.

Stupid. Dumb, dumb, dumb. It promptly fell on the ground and spilled e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. I got up and went to the nearest bathroom. Obviously I wasn’t going to go in the women’s – I honestly pass pretty well until I start talking. Even in high school when I was still wearing skinny jeans people would sometimes run out of the bathroom if I was in there. (Good times, good times.. not.)  I think airport bathrooms are the easiest to pass in. Everyone’s busy and hurrying, and no one knows or talks to each other. Anyway, I took the plunge and went in the men’s, trying my best not to garner too much attention by pulling a plethora of paper towels from the dispenser.

Those brown, thin paper towels. It took me no less than 5 trips, I kid you not. The whole time I was going back and forth this couple sitting where I was and watching my stuff kept encouraging me. After I finally finished sopping up my drink and my tears (just kidding. I’m not really that dramatic.. usually) one of the two guys had left and was getting back. He handed me a water bottle and said “I really hate when that happens.”

It made my day. Alone, at an airport, but someone I didn’t even know was there for me. I know I was out to them, since I had been talking a bit. I’d like to think that since we were all LGBT, they sort of had my back. But even if that had nothing to do with it, I know I met some really solid people that day.

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A request for help with PFLAG presentation ideas

PFLAG. Incessant blogging. I’m aware these topics don’t have much to do with each other, but neither alone would make a very interesting post, so I’m combining them into one long not very interesting post.

I’ve been blogging every day this year. Some nights it’s been after midnight, but since it’s before I go to sleep I still count it. Slacker, slacker, I know. For years, I’ve been wanting to have a journal or something, just to be able to remember stuff better. I think we can learn a lot from out younger selves. My problem is that I could never get any consistency. So this blog is an experiment. I’m seeing what a year of writing, something, anything, down everyday will do to my outlook on life and demeanor. Maybe by the end of the year I’ll have written so much that I’ll figure out something new about myself. Maybe I’ll meet someone that could do the same.

I suppose a profuse apology is in order. I’m sure all ya’ll don’t appreciate seeing random shit on your dash every day. But this blog is just as much for me. If anyone else can gain something from it, then it makes my efforts just a bit more worthwhile. I do plan to start organizing everything under headings though, and have tabs at the top. I guess I didn’t realize that sticking to the plan involves 365 posts by the end of the year, making it a bit hard to sort through.

In other news, the monthly PFLAG meeting was tonight. Our chapter is about a year old, so the base is still getting solidified. I’ve begun to realize that even when people are open and accepting, the majority of people don’t really have a clear understanding of trans-related issues. For many people I meet, I am the first transperson they’ve ever gotten to know. Today I offered to do a presentation on that sort of stuff, to help educate people. The next meeting is in a month, and if I don’t do it then, I’ll do it in two months. This means I have a decent amount of time to prepare a kick-ass presentation.

My plan so far is to:

  • include an overview of trans* identities, along with common terms/ideas (which ones would be most important?)
  • do a line chart for everyone to fill out showing the difference between gender identity, expression, orientation and sex assigned at birth
  • maybe start and end with poetry or short writings to give insight of what it’s like being trans
  • put in a “how not to talk to transpeople” (and better alternatives) section, making it kind of light-hearted and funny, but at the same time presenting valid points

Do you all have any ideas on what I could add to the presentation? I’d really like input, both from trans peeps and allies alike. What do you wish you knew, or were less ignorant of? What do you wish people knew so you don’t have to explain time and time again?

Cheers peeps, til tomorrow.

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