Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A New Hope

Kinda. Sorta.

I will note in passing that I realize I've neglected this space for far too long. Not to make excuses but having been unemployed for so long, I found it difficult to time-manage once I actually found a job and that fueled my already chronic tendency to procrastination. Combine that with several other writing activities going on, and my disappointment at the level of traffic here, and this has fallen by the wayside some.

However, I've resolved again to try to raise the visibility and effectiveness of this blog due to a recent motivating event. Which is the story I will tell, briefly, tonight.

Admittedly, nothing may come of this opportunity, but even if it does not, it has provided some motivation to me to step up my game and that by itself makes it a worthwhile experience. Before I get into this story though, let me take a moment to give you a little "behind the scenes" insight into my thinking on this and related subjects. Like all trans people, to one degree or another, I live out a small tension between the desire to "go stealth" and try as much as possible to blend into the population as "just another woman" and the contrary motivation to take a stand to try and educate the public to the nature of this condition and the issues we face, in hopes of perhaps increasing acceptance for people like me.

That's not to say that I'm under any illusion that most of the people who regularly interact with me don't know my unfortunate history. I would have loved to have gone to work at my current job and not had anyone outside the necessary members of management know about my "birth defect." The experience I most crave in life is to be regularly, 24/7, reacted to and interacted with EXACTLY as one would any woman born with a proper vagina. Not that I don't appreciate the great amount of kindness and respect I've been shown at work (and elsewhere), I DO! But there's still that lingering self-doubt in the back of my mind whether I'm really seen as "one of the girls." Particularly since I still find myself obeying the restriction on using the public restroom lest I make enemies (another day for ruminations on that subject).

Every night, though, it crosses my mind to wonder how people see me and that strikes me as an unnatural feeling which I would wish to not feel,all other things being equal. I dream about the day, which may never come, when there is no situation  I can't enter into in which anyone would even take seriously the idea that I'd ever lived as a male, let alone suspect it.

But all other things are not equal.

Laying aside the perhaps unrealistic nature of that dream (short of hitting the Powerball!) there's the reality that I can't forget: I got into this position (late-life complicated transition) for the specific reason that I was blindingly ignorant of the reality of my circumstance, and I lived in a world of ignorance about trans people which only worked to shame me into repression. If people like me, in this generation, remain silent, then how will things be better for those who follow in my footsteps? What psychological pain will some person unknown to me suffer because I did not speak up about what I know to be true? Is it so high a price for me to pay to at least spend some part of my remaining years trying to "change the world" just a little bit?  Ultimately, I find that no matter what I might covet for my own experience, I can't still my tongue.

Which leads to my recent experience.

It came to my attention that the state talk-radio network's morning show host was having a guest from Liberty Council. in the promotional letter for the day's programing said guest, speaking in opposition to ENDA, made an unfortunately rather snide anti-trans comment. so for some reason I decided to write an e-mail to the shows host, a good man from all I can tell but definitely a traditional conservative, and suggest that the guest had given the wrong impression and was doing a disservice not only to the people he insulted but to the conservative movement. I included a simple logical thesis that I often share in the hope that it will give anti-trans folks a pause to reflect on the correctness of their views. I assumed nothing more would come of it. Imagine my surprise, then, when the host wrote me back and ask me to consider appearing on his show to better inform the public.

I was blown away. it was in those moments when I reflected upon this unexpected (potential) opportunity that I realized I had more interest in speaking up, than in blending in. At least for now. perhaps some years and many thousands of dollars from now when there are fewer physical incongruities to give me away, I might feel I've paid my dues and i can slip into anonymity. Or maybe not. but for now, I find I enjoy the opportunity to challenge the traditions which lead to anti-trans attitudes in the culture.

Hopefully I get the chance to accept the man's invitation, but whether I do or not it has given me some insight into my priorities. A couple of days later while sharing my excitement with a friend of mine, it occurred to me (in reaction to something she said) that if I am indeed going to seize these opportunities, it makes sense to be able to direct inquiring minds to a source of further information...say, for instance, a blog? That means I have to be more responsible to keep this page active and engaging and a source of quality information so that I can refer people here for some reason beyond stroking my own ego.

I have some other things in mind that I want to do to try to open doors and hearts and minds, but for now, the foundation must be laid. I'll try to prioritize a bit better in the coming year.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Good Question

Despite my interest in keeping this on general topics rather than personal matters, I was asked a question on Facebook that was sincere and the answer has relevance beyond just me. what follows is a somewhat revised version of the answer I gave her. It does contain some info I've blogged about before, and it is rather lengthy - but I wanted a complete answer.  I offer it not so much autobiographically but to make a larger point about how we all get to this place. As I noted to her, my #1 obstacle is the lack of accurate information and understanding in the public at large. That's not to say that for all of us who transition late in life, the obstacle is religion (though it's by far the leading issue) but for virtually every one, the issue is lack of accurate information and living in a culture that clings fiercely to a lot of customs and traditions that don't really have a rational basis other than "we've always done it this way."
The question was, in short - "if you always knew you wanted to be a woman, why did you wait until after you were married and had a family instead of doing this when you were younger?"

A reasonable question, but one which reflects a truth all trans (and gay, for that matter) people have to face.

You have probably heard me say that I knew about this before my 8th birthday. I did not know what it was called, or that there was anyone else like me - I thought I was a complete freak for feeling that way. But I knew that I knew I should have been a girl. It would be a few more years before I knew it had a name and that there were others like me. But I grew up in Tippah County in the 60's and 70's. 

This thing was not normal, it was something perverts in California did, so everyone believed and every child learned from the culture around them. It was an "everybody knows" part of the culture (which was even more strickly Christian 35-40 years ago than it is now. When I found out you actually could change sex, I was of course very tempted by the idea but everything I had access to pounded the drum that it was perverted and sinful and an abomination. I had no real choice but to accept that what "everyone knows" must be true.

Once puberty set in and I because aware of sexual desire, I had to consider the potential that i was gay (which wouldn't have been any better but still)- but my sexual fantasies were never connected to a guy/guy situation, it was always with me as the girl. I was never gay.

Through high school and 5 years after, until 1986, I was deeply depressed and miserable and hated myself. I'd have probably killed myself if I hadn't been a coward about it. In the summer of '86 I went to a crusade where Freddie Gage preached that if you had a "besetting sin" that you couldn't overcome, that all you needed to do was sincerely repent and trust God to heal you from it and dedicate your life to his service.

WHAT? I could be NORMAL? You didn't have to tell me twice!!! I fully embraced that message and spent many years believing that "any day now" God was going to deliver me from my affliction. It would be almost 20 years - during which I went from faith, to hope, to desperate tears asking God what was taking so long - before I figured out I'd been lied to and what "everyone knows" ain't always true.

During that time I clung tenaciously to the teaching I'd been raised on, that being trans or gay was a choice that sinful people made and anyone could choose to turn from it if they were willing to repent. And I preached and taught that same message to others whenever I could (for which I now deeply repent and am ashamed).

There was only a bit over 2 years after that when I met the woman I would marry and about 3 and a half before we married - AT THAT TIME I was ABSOLUTELY convinced that my faith would be rewarded, my "repentance" would be heard and I'd be healed and she would never need to know about it. I hope you can appreciate how VERY reluctant I would be to tell ANYONE about my desires, which I'd been thoroughly trained to believe were "perverted" - certainly I would not do that if it was never going to be an issue anyway.  Over the years as I realized the healing was not coming but at the time we met and married and had kids, I absolutely believed it would never ever come to this. By the time the cracks in that confidence appeared, it was too late.

In other words, I acted in good faith based on what I knew at the time. I was a product of my raising and my "churching" just as almost everyone around here is. I had believed it when I was told it could be healed, not just because "everyone knew" it but also because I WANTED it to be true. 

If it were true than I would not have to be the freak, I would not have to be the one that everyone laughed at feared,or hated - I could be a normal guy just like every other guy. why would I ever want anything else? the reason it took me so long to wake up and realize I'd been told wrong is because if God did not hate this, if He did not want me to repent of it, if He was not going to heal it any more than he'd heal any other birth defect for no apparent reason - then I was going to have to go through (and put her through) exactly what is happening now. 

But by and by it became obvious. the tradition I had been taught didn't line up with the Bible. Closer study, without the lens of tradition, showed the Book said very little about people like me, and it said massive amounts of things which stood in opposition to the idea that god would judge me for something I was born with.  Science confirmed what my heart already knew from my own experience - that people are born this way and there is no way to stop being this way  Logic and sound reasoning confirmed that the argument against me was paper thin and the one which said I was not, after all, a pervert, was massive.

It took a long long time to resign myself to that reality. I didn't come to this place in my life because I wanted it, but because it's the last resort this side of death. Surely death isn't a preferable answer for anyone. Certainly she wouldn't be in less pain today if I'd made that choice. Can anyone imagine how it would have felt to have found me dead one day and never have know why I made that choice? worse, she would have surely assumed it was her fault.

But the bottom line is, and this is where my story has general application, if people had not believed a false tradition then, if they had not taught it to me and every other child around me from the time we could walk, if it had not been taught to my wife in her youth - then none of this would have happened this way. 

THIS - this pain and suffering and heartbreak and sense of betrayal - THIS is what you get when you follow man's rules instead of following your own heart in good conscience before God. Good Christian parents across this country have no idea how many times one of their kids is lost to alcohol or drugs, or an "accident on purpose" or running away or even outright suicide because that child was taught BY THEM and by their church and their pastor to hate themselves for feelings they cannot control and cannot stop. 

A child who kills himself, or gives his life to drugs or whatever, because they are trans, or gay, is not doing that because of what they are - but because of how the world REACTS to what they are. That's why I speak up, that's why I answer questions, that's why I won't "behave" when people give me their good advice about being sure to follow the rules. Because if someone does not speak up, then somewhere down the line, another innocent woman will be standing in my wife's shoes because no one ever told them the tradition was a lie.

And make no mistake, it is NOT "God's word" that's at issue here, I've yet to find a Christian opponent willing to even TRY to make the case (and no, quoting a verse out of Deuteronomy is not making a case) that it is. It's just human tradition. The last 2,000 years is a laundry list of rules that everyone thought, at the time, to be "God's will" and which turned out to be nothing but tradition - usually a stupid or at least useless one. I'll be damned if I bite my tongue and be silent while another generation of people are victimized by useless traditions. there are real human lives at stake.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Living in the real world

[Disclaimer: strong language and strident tone towards the end. If you object to that sort of thing, You've been warned]

I recently had a deep conversation about many things with a good friend and one of the things we talked about was something I just had to raise my voice about. I've heard of this happening to other friends many times before and it is something so hateful i just can't wrap my head around it. In fact, it happens sometimes with a person's own children!

What am I talking about? I'm talking about the black-hearted bigotry which leads a person to decide that children cannot be allowed to be exposed to a transsexual person. Even sometimes their OWN children!

Now, before any of you read these words and see yourself in them and think I must be calling you specifically out in person, let me provide a blunt disclaimer: this is a GENERAL post about an all too common situation. for ease of description I'll describe it in specific terms but the point is a broad one. IF the shoes fits you, then wear that bad boy.. But don't flatter yourself that I am taking my time to attack you personally.

With that out of the way, let me elaborate:

The theme basically goes like this. A transsexual person is in the process of a full-time transition and the "good" and "moral" people in her circle of friends, family, and acquaintances profess shock and horror at this turn of events. "Oh," they say, "I don't judge and people can live like they want to but..."

See, there's always a "but."

"...but I don't want them in the bathroom with me."  I've been on that subject enough, and probably will be again - but not tonight. tonight it's for this one:

"...but I don't want my kids around them!"

Oh really? Why not? There can only be a few possible reasons, let's review them and see where they take us, shall we?

Possible Reason #1: Trans people are sexual deviants and perverts and I fear for my child's safety.

Is this YOUR reason? Are their people out there who have known me for many years and now presume that I can't be trusted around their son  or niece or whatever because I'm trans? Why not come right out and say that then. Own it folks. Do you really plan to look me (or the person in your life who's like me) in the eye and say "I believe you are a threat to my child." In fact, in the vast majority of cases, this is NOT the reason for the segregation. Despite the all too common invocation of the word "pervert," most do not believe being trans makes it likely you would directly molest a child. So lets dig further.

Possible Reason #2: My child might decide what you are doing is okay and want to do it too!

Really? Are you really afraid the Trans is catching? How stupid can you be? Do you not realize that no trans person who ever lived WANTS to be trans? Who would choose this for themselves? It's not enough that it's massively difficult, expensive, and physically painful to transition, we run the risk of losing EVERY thing in our lives up to and including our own children when this happens - who would ever do this casually?

The reality you ignore because it doesn't fit your narrow-minded worldview is that one is born this way. If your kid announces to you he's trans (and hey, if you are hateful enough, maybe he won't! Amiright?!)  it will be because he was born trans, not because he was exposed to a trans in-law or uncle or neighbor or whatever. The child could be raised by a whole flock of trans people and if they were not born with it they will never be tempted to follow suit. Ask any man you know if it ever crossed his mind as a boy. Whether or not your precious darlings ever lay eyes on me or anyone like me, they will still be what they were born to be, either way. Now, okay, maybe if they see a happy and joyful person who's transitioned it will give them the courage to face their own condition, if in fact they are born trans too - but what's your preferred alternative, O Loving Parent? To have your child spend their life in depression and shame and misery, hiding their true selves from you lest you hate them for it? what is your priority?

That's a tablespoon of reality for you. As long as you model bigotry for them, you set up the potential for misery, depression, and even death if, in fact, the child IS trans (or gay for that matter). You have no concept how many young trans people lived with crushing depression, ran away from home, or even took their own lives, because they felt trapped between their condition and a parent they knew would disown them if they ever revealed it.  Is your bigotry so VERY important to you that you are willing to risk losing or even burying your child without ever even knowing why they did what they did to themselves? Sadly, I think folks like that are out there - "better my kid be dead than to be a freak." Pathetic, and even worse when it's done under the cover of "God said..."

I'm sure that reason does apply in many cases, but how about another?

Potential Reason #3: I want to punish the trans person by showing my disapproval for them through the kids.

Yes. I will use my kids, and/or yours, as pawns to punish you for making a decision of which I disapprove. This one is VERY popular from the disapproving spouse. I can tell you how many times my heart has been broken to learn one of my trans "sisters" is being cut off from her own kids by a scheming and bitter ex- (or soon to be ex-) wife who sees nothing at all wrong with poisoning their children against their other parent. It's sick, twisted, and evil. But I'm sure it's not confined to just alienated spouses. After all, you can love and care for children which are not your own. How it must hurt to have, say, a beloved nephew that you'd spent a lot of time with poisoned against you; how it must cut to have, say, kids that once played on a team you coached shun you in public because of their disapproving parents. It's one thing to be an adult rejected by other adults you thought loved you - that's a bitter enough pill to swallow. But it's much worse to have a child you loved, whom you know loved you, be turned against you by a spiteful adult.

Not because the child objects, but because some narrow-minded adult objects. Experience shows that kids don't naturally reject a trans adult or even peer on their own initiative. when they do, it's because adults are in an uproar about it. I know that parents use kids as weapons in all sorts of divorces, and I know that virtually everyone not IN that divorce can see how evil that is. So how come those same people do not see how evil it is when THEY use kids as pawns to punish other adults?

But here's the real reason - no matter which of those reasons might apply in tandem, THIS reason is almost always present, and is at the core of the problem:

"I'm too damned ignorant and lazy a parent to teach my kids how to live in the real world."

THAT's the bottom line, folks. Whether or not you'd want your kids to be gay, or approve of them; whether you would want them to be trans or approve of trans people - they WILL grow up to live in a world where such people exists and you CANNOT protect their tender minds from that knowledge. More and more they will be exposed to this reality before they even get out of middle school. And a GOOD parent teaches their kids how to deal with such people, even in disapproval, with compassion and grace.

BAD parents keep their mouth shut except to badmouth anyone who's different and let their kids default to joining the crowd of bullies. Not that this is surprising. I've witness, sadly, far too many times a bigoted racist young person who learned that from bigoted racist parents. It's certainly no shock to imagine that such parents sit around and badmouth "perverts" (in their opinion) in just as strong a term as they bad mouth "niggers" or "wetbacks"- and thereby unintentionally train their children to be like them.

Harsh, hateful, unloving judgmental assholes just like them.

Just the sort of people that the "different" kid lives their life in fear of, if indeed they can bring themselves to keep on living at all. The bitter irony is that a huge majority of those very hateful parents were, themselves, the object of ridicule for one thing or another as kids, and they learn nothing from that but to look harder to try to find the people they are "better than" so they can look down on them and not be on the bottom anymore.

They are also the same parents who are first in line to be at the schoolhouse door in a rage if THEIR child gets bullied. But still, if there's a trans person in their life, they will not let a day go by without ridiculing and demeaning that person from afar. When you say "I'm not going to take my kids around Uncle Joe because he thinks he's a woman" - WHAT do you think you are teaching them? Truth is, you are NOT teaching them. you are FAILING as a parent.

A good parent will talk to the kids and explain the situation. Even if you disapprove for, say, religious reasons, it's not that difficult to say "Uncle Joe has a mental illness and we wish he would be over it but in the mean time we are going to be kind and loving to him because that's what Christians do." You'd be wrong, of course, about the condition but you would STILL be teaching your kids the highest and best values of your faith instead of leading them by examples to be hateful bigots like you.

Another question crosses my mind - do you keep your kids away from divorced people? Oh, wait - YOU'RE divorced? Funny, there's a lot more in your Holy Book about divorce than about being trans! Do you keep them away from all drinkers? Do you keep them away from all liars and gossips? Do you keep them away from people you casually refer to blacks as "niggers" (oh wait, maybe THAT is you too!)?

If not, why not? Are you cool with some "sins" and not others? Or are you just too damned ignorant and lazy to actually be a PARENT to your child and TRAIN them in the way they should go? I think the answer is obvious. Ultimately it all boils down to a very few things. Either you are:

a. too damned stupid to realize that being trans is not catching and it doesn't make you a child-molester; or
b. too damned hateful to rise above using your kids as a weapon to punish a person you disapprove; or
c. too damned lazy to be a good parent and prepare your kids to live in a world where people like me exist.

Or some combination of the three. Do I sound confrontational and "in your face" on this subject? Good. Someone needs to. Whatever you may think of people like me, the fact remains that we are out here and we are not going away. they are going to see us in Walmart, the grocery store, McDonald's, Chucky Cheese, the park, the lake, maybe even in their own schoolroom. And they need to know how to process that. Even if you want them to disapprove like you do, hiding them from such people isn't going to TEACH them how to live in the real world.

And, as a parent, that's your JOB. Do it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

You Never Know

Let me tell yal a story of karma. Back in 2010 I was working for the Census as a crew leader. One of my ACL was an apparently smart, friendly, and skilled young lady who got that job partly on my recommendation (after a previous ACL left the job). I know for a fact, based on some things she said to me, that she did not clock me at all while we worked together. When, during my term, an in-law passed away, she told me to "tell your husband they were praying for him and his family." She was always friendly and warm towards me. Also, by the way, was newly married to a guy she seemed to think was the practically perfect man. I added her (and a few other co-workers) as Facebook a friend.

After the job was over, she discovered my rather unusual situation and, I can only assume in a very poor reaction to having been "fooled", went nuts on me telling me how no one would ever believe I was a female (despite the fact she herself did for over six months) and being very blunt in telling me what an extremely low down and pathetic person I was for basically criminally destroying my marriage. Then she deleted me, but she "friended" my spouse.

So - guess which of us, between me and her, is separated from their mate and on their way to divorce court right now?

I take no pleasure in anyone else's pain, I wish her only the best. I actually really liked her and enjoyed her company and was pretty hurt when she turned on me. Still I cannot help but observe that her practically perfect man is the one screwing her over right now, not the "freak" she saw fit to judge (and yes, she used that specific word).

The sad part is - no lessons will be learned.

There's a verse in the New Testament which says "let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall."

Wise words. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dear 15 year old me

I remember you.

I remember small-town Mississippi in the fall of 1978 and that feeling of being an alien among a race of beings who seemed to be nothing like you. I remember the almost ten years you've spent coming to understand how you were different from what everyone else seemed to be, and the relief at finding out you were not the only such alien in the world, and the frustration that came from knowing you dare not so much as speak of your feelings, let alone embrace them.

I remember the times, years before, when you learned how to define yourself by what you knew to be true, and not what the world and the mirror told you. I remember the horror when you watched nature endow you with the exact opposite of all the things you felt sure you were supposed to have. I remember the lectures about how boys didn't shave their legs, I remember the time you tried to run away and be Tammy and the terror that forced you to lie when the girl clothes in your suitcase were discovered. I remember the shame you've felt all those years because you have been taught that you are a shameful thing, and the fear that anyone would ever find out your secret.

I remember the nights you spend staring at the ceiling, imagining what your life would have been like had you not been cursed (so you think) with this body - would you have been short ,or tall? slender or chubby? outgoing or shy? Would you have had your first date yet? Would you have been a cheerleader or on the basketball team? Who would you have had a crush on? I remember how you long to have just one friend you trust enough to tell them who you really are.

And I remember things you have not yet lived.  I remember magical moments of friendship with other girls (all too infrequent) and I remember frustrating days of trying to be a "real man." I remember years of wondering what good there was in life even continuing and those times when it almost didn't.

Most of all, I remember the Lie. Maybe that word is too harsh - is an untruth spoken by one who sincerely believes it is true actually a lie? Perhaps not, but it feels like a lie. The lie that convinced me that the only moral choice for someone like me was to submit my life for the approval of others, to wear the mask which was demanded of me and hope that somehow enough good things would come along in life to compensate me for what I had sacrificed. All cloaked in the claim that God said so.

Tammy, don't believe the lie. Don't even entertain it. Think for yourself, learn for yourself, feel for yourself. Never submit yourself to the veto of rule-makers and self-appointed judges. You were born 30 years too soon. If only you had been able to learn in 1978 what a 15 year old in 2008 could learn. I cannot give you all the details of that knowledge now, but I can tell you this much: you were born the way you are, you are not a freak, or a pervert, and being a girl is not, for you, a sin or a sinful desire. I know that you have faith in God, and I will not speak to you of religion for that is not why I write - but I want you to know that there's a difference between faith in God and faith in all the stuff humans attribute to him. Be very sure you strive to discern one from the other. If He is who you believe him to be, He does not hate you, he has not cursed you, he loves you and wants you to be happy. He has not called you to a life of rules but a life of freedom. Do not forgo that blessing in order to please men..

The road ahead is difficult, and you have much to overcome. But that's okay. Life doesn't have to be easy, but it ought to be honest and free. If you are reading this, that is the one thing I would give to you across the intervening years - freedom. Freedom from fear, freedom from self-loathing, freedom from the soft bigotry of tradition. if your heart and soul are made free, there is nothing you can't do. How much better the world would be now, if you and your brothers and sisters had been made free then.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Not knowing, and not wanting to know

Okay, fine, I lied.

I said when I rebooted this blog that I would try to look outward and not use it as a vehicle to expand upon my personal experience for now, because whenever I write about my personal experience, I get in trouble. As it happens, it's pretty much impossible to stay out of trouble no matter what I do. So when there is occasion to, perhaps, seize a "teachable moment" by using my own experiences as a case in point, I might as well do so. Tonight is one of those nights. Perhaps tomorrow I'll simply cry about my own situation, or not, who knows?

I have tried, from the beginning of this journey, to take a philosophical point of view on those who "morally" disapproved of my transition. After all, I used to believe what they believe - I can relate to it. I think I have a solid grasp on where that sort of thinking comes from, consciously and subconsciously and because of that I make a direct effort to not see such people as enemies or "hateful" or "bigots" - I'm of the opinion one can ignorantly hold a bigoted view and not BE a bigot, depending on the attitude behind the view and the willingness to be open to new information.

I have chosen to approach the subject, particularly given the area in which I live, as an opportunity to "give back" by trying to help people of good will understand the subject better so that they might by more kind and compassionate to other trans people who come into their lives after me. That choice puts me somewhat more on the "front lines" of confronting and disputing ignorant and misinformed thinking, and obviously there is a delicate balance between that confrontational philosophy, and the tendency to dismiss  those who disagree as bigots. So I make every effort to try to plainly speak the facts that the hearer (reader) might be unaware of. On occasion, I've had people actually change their mind because I presented things in a light that they had previously not considered. Often I have run into a wall that I could not break through. That's simply the nature of the game.

I don't find that frustrating, really. If you expect to change every mind you are setting yourself up for disappointment. What I do find frustrating is stubborn irrationality. the sort of thing that is exemplified by clinging tenaciously to a belief that is not in any way intellectually defensible.

For instance, the argument that is common that people like me are "perverts." when one can demonstrate that one has known they were trans from early childhood, and that no molestation or any other traumatizing event has occurred, then that begs the question - WHAT exactly made a seven or eight year old child a "pervert"? Perversion, by definition (in this context) is a sexual term - have you ever met an eight year old pervert? Has anyone?

One of the classic examples is the whole ongoing bathroom debate. It's not difficult at all to find a minister convicted or accused of child molestation or child porn or similar perversion, yet no one ever assume ALL ministers are perverts (nor should they!!!). Yet it is essentially non-existent to find a trans person, or one pretending to be, misbehaving in a woman's restroom - yet far too many people take it as a given that it will be epidemic if you allow a trans woman the legal right to use the ladies room. How does that make any sense? I have had people, even loved ones, tell me to my face that they had better never catch me in the restroom with their daughter/niece/whatever  - do these people even realize they are in effect implying I am dangerous to children?

Based on what?

This is what I mean - it's not the disagreement that's frustrating, it's the maddening habit of so many to not THINK about what they believe. What good is it to believe anything if you have not reasoned it out and examined the facts logically, instead of just believing what you heard someone else say because it appeals to you emotionally?

So at the risk of repeating myself, here are the facts that merit consideration. I list them knowing full well that those in my life who need to see them most would never trouble themselves to read this post in the first place. But maybe someone somewhere will, Maybe some of you who have more rational acquaintances might be able to direct them to this information and some good might come of it. If nothing else, there are times when you simply have to speak your peace, even if no one is listening. What follows are five basic principles that anyone who has to deal with the reality of a transsexual person in their life needs to give serious consideration to. Are you intellectually honest enough to THINK about the things you say you believe? Are you confident enough in your beliefs to allow them to be challenged and see if they hold up? Or are so very afraid of changing your mind, of holding a minority point of view in the face of all the traditional thinkers around you, that you are willing to accept the possibility that you are wrong in order to conform?

First Principle, from which all the others flow: Being transsexual is a birth condition. It is not a  "perversion" or a "mental illness" or a "sickness" or a "hobby" or a "mid-life crisis" or any other pet theory you might have. There are (and this will not please some of my TG friends) in fact some transgender people who choose not to conform to gender norms for a variety of reasons not related to how they were born. It is not my purpose here to defend or attack those choices, to do so becomes too much of a distraction from the thesis at hand. Transsexual people, what the medical profession used to call "true transsexuals", are people who have  been the object of a malfunction in the womb which produced their state of affairs. None of us WANTS to be this way. all of us devote years, years, decades even, of full-force effort to NOT be this way. Those of us with faith spend more hours in prayer on this subject alone than most people spend praying about everything in their life - begging God to "fix" them.

The concept that any of us just wake up one day and choose to change gender is far more insane than anything a trans person has ever said. There's also the lie that some people tell (thankfully, no one has said this of me that knows my parents) that one's upbringing twisted them, that their parents somehow "forced" them to re-think their gender. if you are a man, ask yourself this: What can you conceive of that could possibly happen to you in your life that would make you want to be a female? Have you ever met a man who you think might easily be persuade to become a female? Heck, even gay guys jealously defend their maleness. It simply doesn't ever happen, when it's been tried, it's failed. Spectacularly. Yet some people believe a wildly ridiculous myth rather than face the possibility that they might have been wrong on the subject.

The entire mainstream medical, scientific, and psychological profession is in near-unanimous agreement on this point and those who are not are a tiny segment who let their religion dictate their science. A person who continues to maintain that being transsexual is a choice is akin to a person who continues to believe that epilepsy is caused by demon possession.

Second Principle: the condition only has one cure - transition. One cannot stop being transsexual, one can either transition and become (for all practical purposes) a "normal" woman, or one can repress and fight the condition and drive oneself into psychosis in the process.  It is all well and good for a person who has no common frame of reference or experience with the situation to say "well sure, you might be born with these feelings but you don't have to act on them" - technically that's true. but you are saying to that person "it is your place in life to be miserable and hate yourself so that other people do not have to be disturbed by your condition." It's not unlike saying to a person who's been disfigured in a fire "you should stay inside, or wear a mask, so that we do not have to be disturbed by your horrible ugly scars."
What right do you have to ask that? the list is long of the arbitrary standards society might cook up And have in various cultures around the world) which impose suffering upon others in order to comply with society's traditions. Do you, for instance, support the idea that a Saudi woman must remain veiled in public at all times in public, and walk five paces behind her husband, in order to comply with tradition? do you agree with the cultures who mutilate female genitals in order to comply with traditional thinking? Or is it only OUR traditions we have a right to impose, no matter how miserable it makes someone?
What if I said to you "sure, fella, you are attracted to women but I require of you that you never have a relationship with a female because your relationship disturbs me. I require that you go through life without a loving relationship so that I may be more comfortable"? Would you be inclined to comply? How is it that your comfort trumps mine? How is it that your tradition is more important than my mental health?

Third Principle: Say what you will about the Bible and homosexuality, I'll save that discussion for another day, the idea that the Bible forbids transsexuality is as thin as the idea that the Bible condemns owning a dog. If you cannot present to me a sound theological proof from the Bible that god forbids this, don't even THINK about invoking morals to me. Christian churches can't agree among themselves about the core doctrines of the faith (such as the nature of salvation) and for the most part the respectfully accept that other Christians believe differently. More to the point, many disagree about such surface behavior as the use of alcohol or the proper mode of dress. If you believe (in spite of the absence of Biblical proof) that my transition is sinful, you have just as much right to demand that I comply to your view as the Pentecostal preacher has a right to demand that your Baptist girlfriend (for instance) wear skirts instead of pants and take off her make-up...which is to say, NONE.

If, on the other hand, you wish to condemn me because my transition is putting massive strain on my marriage (and may lead to the end of it) then by all means, feel free to give me EXACTLY as much judgment as you give your divorced parents, friends, co-workers, etc. I do not for one second deny that it is tremendously painful for my family, but I will also insist that much of that pain comes directly from the lies society too often believes about transsexual people. I can't tell you the number of times I've been called "sick" and "pervert" in my own home, by someone who claims to love me more than anything - 99% of all the times I have been called such things can be attributed to that one person. Why? Because that is what our culture has taught her from her mother's knee to believe. And from that belief derives the vast majority her animosity towards me. If I became, say, a policeman, or a pastor, or a soldier, or a truck driver and that brought upon her a lifestyle that she could not deal with, she would not find it necessary to call me "pervert" in order to say that that was not the life she wanted.

It is perfectly legitimate to say "I did not sign on for this and I can't deal with it" - and it is quite something else to say "you are sick and perverted and it makes me sick to look at you." It is impossible to guess how her reaction might have been different if she did not think that being trans were a "perversion."

Fourth Principle: Being trans is NOT being "Super Gay" - one of the most frustrating things I've had to deal with over the last three years is the persistent idea that the only reason transsexuals transition is because they are gay and can't deal with same-sex intercourse so they have to "change teams" to make it okay. The easiest way to disprove this is to note that a very great many people transition and remain interested in the people they were always interested in (i.e. a male-to-female transsexual who remains interested in women, effectively becoming a lesbian) - for those people they are actually willingly becoming homosexual by their transition - not running from it. If I were to, as a woman, seek and prefer relationships with women (as a great many M2F transsexuals do) then I would be for all practical purposes a lesbian - how does that line up with the "supergay" theory?

I do not propose to discuss my sexual preferences or expectations in this space except to say this (as I have said before but it bears repeating): if I was granted a magic wish to be transformed into a fully functional natural born female in an instant, but the price I must pay for that wish was to never have any sexual contact with another human for the rest of my life, I would willingly and without reservation pay that price and consider it a bargain. If you are so shallow and unthinking that you HAVE to process my transition through the lens of who I (theoretically) want to sleep with, I can't stop you - but you ought to ask yourself why you are so fixated on who's having sex with who. Know this, though - whatever sort of relationship (if any, because I doubt seriously there will be one) you see me in down the road, if you think that relationship was the goal of my transition then you understand exactly nothing about being trans.

Fifth Principle: I, and people like me, are not a threat. Not in any way. We're not a threat in the bathroom or the locker room; we're not a threat in the classroom; we're not a threat in the store or on the street. Your kids will not suddenly decide maybe it's a good idea to switch genders because we exist. Your marriage will not suddenly fall apart, your business will not collapse, your church will not be closed down. We are, at most, 1/10 of 1% of the population. no matter how much acceptance we obtain, we will always be the "oddball" just simply be the numbers. Such a tiny minority CANNOT undermine civilization even if that were the agenda. If you think that your little boy will somehow become confused about HIS gender because I exist, you frankly don't think at all - you are just letting a visceral emotional bias color your opinion. I ask you again, if you are male, was there anything that might have happened to you at 7 or 8 or even 4 years old that would have made you think even for an hour "Hey, maybe I'M a girl too?" You and I both know that such an idea is ludicrous.

The only thing that the existence of trans people (and gay people for that matter) in your world should teach your kids is that the civilized thing to do is for people to respect each other's differences and not be hateful to those who are not like themselves. It astonishes me that so many Christians seem to believe that's a BAD thing.  Even if you do believe it's a sin, so what? How does that imply that it's right and proper for kids to be raised to dislike and abuse those who are trans (or gay)? I refer again to the Pentecostal dress code. If you raise your kids in that faith system and you send them to a school where their female teacher wears pants, are you in a panic that your daughter might become confused about whether or not she should stick to skirts? If so do you campaign to have that teacher fired for corrupting your child's faith? do you teach your child to look down on that teacher as a filthy sinner who needs to get right with God? Even in the unlikely event you answered "yes" to any of these, what does that say about your confidence in your beliefs and your parenting skills if the child's beliefs cannot withstand exposure to those who think differently?

If you are not Pentecostal, would you approve of these attitudes in your Holiness brethren? How would you feel if your Baptist or Methodist wife (or husband) were denied respect, or employment because someone believed their clothing was sinful? Do you not see where this leads? Yes, you have every right to call it sin (no matter how wrong you are) and you have every right to teach your kids it's sin (as harmful as that will be to them and those they encounter in life) but what you don't have a right to do is demand that others who do not share your theology nevertheless comply with it.  That is un-christian and un-american. It is your responsibility to pass on your worldview to your children and do so well enough that their faith can withstand encountering other people who do not share it. Do you tremble at the idea that your Protestant child might encounter a Catholic? that your Christian child might encounter a Jew? Why not? Those people do not share your faith or your manner of living and relating to God. Do you avoid a business that's owned by a Muslim or an atheist? Are you not afraid their existence will corrupt your child? What's the difference? In fact, there is NONE.

I hold a degree which allows me to be licensed to teach, one that I still owe thousands of dollars to the government for by the way. It's useless. Why? Because "good Christians" react in horror to the idea of a trans woman teaching their kids. Far be it that I might "normalize" transsexuality for them (or who knows, maybe I'm a child molesting pervert, eh?).  Here's the thing - if your own education of your kids on this subject is so weak and flawed that my existence might change their mind, then that failure is on YOU and your argument. Make your case and make it well and you won't have to worry about me, any more than you have to worry that the existence of a Jewish teacher will make them Jewish. Why are you worried? Because deep down you know you can't defend your position. or you haven't given serious thought to the subject at all. And because of your bigoted ideas, I and people like me have to live off welfare and charity rather than being the productive citizens we'd like to be, and those we try to support suffer for it too.

And what happens if I do "normalize it"? If your kid is not trans, NOTHING happens except that they are less likely to be abusive towards the next trans person they meet (or even towards me for that matter). That person might be your sibling, or theirs, or your best friend, or theirs - ask anyone who knows me if they would have ever believed this of me five years ago. Do not think for a minute that you don't know a trans person. if you know 500 people the odds are at least 50/50 that you do - even if they are hiding it from you. if your child IS trans, they are going to be trans no matter what I or you or anyone else tells them. The only choice they have is to repress it and be miserable, even suicidal, in order to save you the embarrassment of having a "freak" for a child, or they will transition and be happy, or they will kill themselves and leave you wondering why. Two out of three options, your kid is miserable so you don't have to grow up and accept that your world is not a Norman Rockwell painting. Is that the price you are willing to pay in order to be sure that transsexualism is not "normalized" for your child?

And speaking of faith - what do you think it will do to your child's faith if they do find that they are trans and their whole faith system, including their loved ones, their church and their pastor, tell them that they are an abomination before God? Can you even conceive of the number of young people raised in the church who drifted into spiritual darkness because they could not reconcile their identity with the religion they had been taught? Which had you rather have, a transsexual child who had a firm faith in Christ (in spite of their "sinful condition" as you would call it)? Or a child who could not accept the reality of a God who would judge them for something the were born with and desperately did NOT want? Is it worth it to you to forfeit their faith and their eternal destiny to make sure they behave in this life? More to the point, do you have so little faith in the Holy Spirit you claim to believe in that you cannot trust him to convict the child to change, if in fact HE thinks it's a sin? Do you trust him or don't you? Is God's arm short that he needs YOUR help? Or are you afraid that if you REALLY gave it to God, he might change YOUR heart instead of theirs?

Let's be blunt, if you think a transsexual person on the street, behind the cash register, or yes even in the classroom is somehow going to cause your child to question their faith n God, or go out and become trans themselves, then that says far more about you than it does me - it says you believe you have done a pathetic job of teaching your child what you believe, and have an exceedingly weak faith in God to honor and strengthen the things you have taught. OR it says that deep down you know what you taught them is bigoted baloney that God won't defend because he's not in it. Otherwise, you should have every confidence that the truth you believe will triumph over the error of people like me. Your fear reveals much.

(And oh by the way, if we get to slinging Scripture, I can show you about 20 times as much about how to love others, how to be a Christian in a non-christian world, how to refrain from judging another man's - God's - servant, and so forth, than you can show me about being "effeminate" so don't think I'm afraid to have that conversation)

And the bathrooms? Do I seriously need to cover this again. I've had blood kin tell me they would attack me for being in the bathroom with a female child, old friends tell me they would call the law on me if they found me in the ladies room. Suddenly, the person they respected for decades becomes a potential rapist and pedophile because they are trans? How does that work? Is it sexual attraction? Let's think that through. If, in fact, I am attracted to men as most suppose, then I am no more interested in the other women in the bathroom than is any woman born with a vagina. In fact, in that scenario you guys should be worried about me being in the men's room (or attack me for being there which would leave me no option at all in many places). If on the other hand I remain interested in females, then I am as much a threat to other women as the typical lesbian - how many women have been molested by lesbians in the bathroom?

The reality is that the LAST thing a trans woman wants is to draw any attention to themselves in there. We are more motivated than any other person on the planet to be above reproach in such settings lest we find ourselves assaulted or arrested. We're the safest possible companions for that reason alone. Furthermore, for a trans woman who's on a full course of HRT, she has neither the sexual drive, the penile function, or the upper body strength to be a threat if it crossed her mind. I won't even dignify the insulting and bigoted implication that we are a threat to children with an explanation.

The reality is that the whole concern proceeds from the myth that we think like guys. If we thought like guys we wouldn't be changing our bodies! Trans women think like women even before they transition. If you see anything masculine about them they are wearing that as a mask in order to hide their "freak" status. Most of the time, you see them as masculine based on what your eyes tell you, not on an objective analysis of their actual behavior. If people who knew me were to think objectively, they would recognize all the feminine qualities that were present in my behavior all along. Admittedly I'm argumentative, for instance, but I hope none of you are going to claim that there are no argumentative women of your acquaintance. On the other hand, I can direct you to people who have known me for 30 years who would describe my personality in terms stereotypically reserved for females. What you WON'T find is anyone who would describe my sexual behavior in any way typically male. this is generally true of all trans women (though there is always the rare exception to any principle).
And before you go with this whole "I'd have to answer uncomfortable questions when my child asked" well, guess what? That's your friggin job when you had kids. What's the real difference if your six year old daughter see me in the check-out line and asks the "hard"question or if she sees me in the bathroom, in terms of uncomfortable questions? None, she's going to ask either way. and if you are teaching her to fear me then you are doing it wrong, not me. If you consider me a threat to touch your child in the absence of ANY evidence about me or about trans women in general, then I consider you a contemptible bigot, no better than the white person who considers all black people criminals. Further, if you DO think that, then it's your responsibility to accompany your child into a restroom at all times, or find a one-seat restroom, so that she is never threatened by "disreputable" people.

Oh, but you say, "what if an actual pervert dresses up like a woman and goes in there to find a victim?"
1. He can do that now, law or no law. the definition of a criminal is that he BREAKS THE LAW.
2. So far, it basically never happens- the cases are so rare as to be statistically non-existent.
3. When they do, they are punished by the law just as the would be if the law protected my ability to be in there. Nothing would change.
4. The world is not a safe place. Women and children (and occasionally men) are assaulted in parks, in school, in their own homes, even in churches at statistically significant rates. Yet we do not have laws which restrict access to those places, and people do not call for them. By contrast, the incidence of assaults in public restrooms, locker rooms, etc are statistically insignificant, even in jurisdictions which have protected the rights of transpeople for years.
5. Such public "private spaces" are almost always awash in security measure. they are not places which are hospitable for guys who set out to commit a crime that they can more easily get away with committing elsewhere. the opportunity to catch a woman "with her pants down" is not remotely worth the cost of being caught on camera. It's much easier to commit the assault elsewhere and get her clothes off yourself.

In short, on this point and on all those which have gone before in this post, those who repeat this nonsense simply are not THINKING about what they say, they are simply repeating the knee-jerk bigotry that they have heard someone else say.

These are just the foundational principles for practical every day interactions with transsexual people. If you want to understand the science behind it, there are good sources (most notably Zoe Brain's blog) where you can learn more. If you want to get into the theology of the subject, there's good info out there on that subject too. But you don't really have to know the in-depth information in order to deal civilly and humanely with the trans person who crosses your path.* If you are going to discriminate against me or someone like me, then I invite you to first consider the points I have present and offer a convincing counter-argument. If you can't, then you have no rational basis for your bias.

You think about that.

*There are some principles of etiquette which the compassionate non-trans person ought to be aware of, just to be respectful, and some terms that it would be helpful to know (for the latter, see my previous post "Trans 101") but this post is already to long and I shall have to reserve THAT discussion for another day.