identity theft
thoughts on LGBt and a note to therapists

I’ve never liked the LGBt label. Usually it’s just a minor gripe, and I look at it as a necessary evil. Trans* people do not necessarily intersect with lesbians, gays or bisexuals in terms of the nature and ramifications of our “queerness”. If we do, it’s coincidental. Usually my gripe is a political one. The much larger LGB community has more of a political machine, more visibility, and numbers on their side, so trans* people have been adopted under that umbrella as a necessity. The political issue (as I see it) is that the LGB community - particularly groups like HRC have historically marginalized us when it’s convenient to do so. It also serves as yet another “othering” that we really don’t need more of. A plurality of trans* folk are “straight” with respect to their sexual orientation in terms of their identified gender (though maybe not the biologically assigned one). The first three letters have to do with sexual identitiy and orientation, while trans* has to do with gender identity. This just leads to more confusion.

I’ve run headfirst into a much bigger practical problem with the label recently. I’ve been searching for a psychiatrist closer to where I live since I have to travel almost 60 miles each way to get treatment. One of the things this involves is searching the Internet, and my insurance provider’s network for therapists. Therein lies the problem. The vast majority of therapists seem to believe that because they are “queer-friendly” they can just list trans* under the umbrella of those they serve. The problem with this of course is that there is very specific and necessary training for therapists who treat GID. It has a specific set of standards of care, that go along with the specific needs of people living with gender dysphoria. Being “queer-friendly” does not cut it. These therapists do not even seem to realize that the standards of care or training even exist, or that they are a necessary part of treating an individual who presents with GID. So if I search for therapist I get a laundry list of people who are wholly unqualified to treat me. That’s not only inconvenient, it’s insulting and limits my ability to find qualified professionals. The bottom line is that lumping us in with other people who are “queer” is again, a disservice. It’s just not okay, and any therapists who do this need to cut it out.

(Shorter: I haz an angry) * sigh *

hey christians!, violence is not the answer!

I don’t particularly enjoy politics, but I care about Mexico.

I just got into a rather heated exchange with a Catholic who apparently thinks that sending a bunch of armed troops down to mexico to wipe out cartels would somehow be a Good Thing(TM)

A few points:

1. Why would a Christian be so quick to advocate meeting violence with violence? There’s a book on the subject. It’s probably a good idea that a Jesus fan read it. Particularly the New Testament bits.

2. Has it worked? We’ve been doing it for 30 years. You can’t wipe them out, there are more members every day.

3. Cartels in Mexico are in essence, “terrorist organizations”. They are a product of a shaky and corrupt government, and a terrible economy where food insecurity is an everyday issue - a failed state teetering on disaster. They traffic in drugs because it’s easy. Even if one could eliminate the drugs, I guarantee that they’d find an alternative revenue source. Probably weapons. The focus should be on how to raise the standard of living in Mexico, and for Mexicans themselves to demand labor and tax reform so that the states can pay their bills.

4. Violence and war always disproportionately victimizes the marginalized people in a society. The last thing anyone who loves Jesus should be advocating for is wholesale slaughter of the poor and defenseless.

I have deep ties to our neighbor country. I own property there, and I have friends there, some of whom have experienced the cartel violence first hand. Many people believe that legalizing drugs would solve the problem, but I doubt many of those same people are prepared to weigh the social costs of legalizing something like Crystal Methamphetamine. History tells us that failed states breed violence. What we need is a focus on fairness in our policies toward Mexico. This involves a number of things, none of them are violent. I could go on forever, but I’ll stop here for now. I don’t want to turn this into a politics blog.

some thoughts on asexuality

I’ve been reading a Q&A site about asexuality (http://asexualadvice.tumblr.com) and while I like it, I have a small quibble with some of the answers provided. When someone asks a question along the lines of “I experience X and Y and Z, am I asexual?” the answer seems to be universally “it’s up to you to decide, only you know!”. I get that. I can understand where that kind of  answer is coming from, and yet I also feel that it does something of a disservice to some of these folks. I read these questions as an earnest attempt at engaging with someone who is asexual, in the hopes that they can figure out where they “fit”. Leaving them with an answer of “only you can decide” is, while technically accurate, and open-ended is also (to me) kind of a dismissal. I think the questioners are looking for something more.

I agree with people who are attempting to answer these questions by saying “only you can define yourself” insomuch as nobody really knows the answer. Maybe the questioners are really saying “tell me about your own experiences in this, and maybe I can find a bit of it in me”. The spirit of this post is an attempt to lay my own lived experience bare, in the hopes that some may see some of themselves in this, or understand and identify with it. I don’t claim authority, nor do I think that any two people are going to have the same hang ups or expressions around sex, even we may both identify as a asexual. This post is offered for what it’s worth.

I still don’t understand my asexuality completely. I used to identify as bisexual. In my earlier years, I engaged in quite a bit of sex, despite it making me at best kind of frustrated (or even bored), and at worst uncomfortable. A lot of that was me trying to find a way to fit into a romantic relationship with someone. I didn’t know that sex drive and sexual attraction were two different things. It was only later that I sort of came to that conclusion. Despite me engaging in a lot of sexual activity, I generally preferred open relationships so that I could outsource the sex. When that didn’t work (generally because the other person would eventually, and invariably seek greener pastures elsewhere) I was really at a loss as to how to continue. I want a romantic relationship, but I wasn’t interested in sex.

In my case, I’ve never had an erotic dream, I’ve never been interested in pornography, and never been excited about the prospect of sexual activity, and yet despite this, I do have a little bit of a “sex drive”. That nature of that sex drive changed depending on the hormones. I was always pretty deeply uncomfortable with the testosterone version of it, versus the estrogen version of it. For one thing, with testosterone, it was feverish, even if it didn’t crop up that often. It demanded relief, and if felt sort of like being covered with bugs or something. I’d relieve it in an attempt to free myself of it, but that was it. There wasn’t joy in it, only release. Estrogen on the other hand, imbibed me with something a little deeper, and that discomfort went away, although I still don’t particularly enjoy it.

I like certain aspects of sexuality. I like some of the “head games”, and power exchange dynamics of things like s/M. I can even entertain a fetish or two. For me, it’s a way to cope, and involve my partner, while keeping things at a level I can handle and still be entertaining, but I don’t seek intercourse. In fact, I avoid it. Looking back at my earlier years, I see that I always have avoided it, and tried to substitute other things. Also, most of the things above centered around denying me actual sex in one form or another (and maybe removing the guilt?, I don’t know for sure, parts of my head are closed to me).

In the end, I’ve chosen the label asexual, due to both being disinterested in sex, and sometimes having an actual aversion to sex. I’m not aromantic (although testosterone tended to make me behave aromantically as well). I don’t count my sex-drive as coming in to play, despite the fact that I have one. I look at it as a strictly biological thing, like peeing =) - and it tended to come in conflict my asexuality. Once I figured out the difference, things started to make a lot more sense.

Also, I reserve the right to say the words “sexy”, “pretty”, “hot”, etc. In my case they’re not an expression of a desire for sexual intercourse with someone, but an observation on a persons attractiveness, and sometimes even sexuality. That’s not the same thing as wanting to have sex. Non asexual people may ascribe that meaning to it - I don’t really know, but I certainly don’t.

I hope this helps somebody. As I mentioned, I find the whole mess to be confusing myself. We’re complex creatures, and labels almost never fit. Life is a journey where we simultaneously are exploring ourselves and defining ourselves. There are no easy answers.

it’s getting better

Way back in the last decade, when I first started on my journey - the idea of insurance covering anything having to do with GID was practically unheard of. I had to pay for everything out of pocket.

Not now. Admittedly, I have a top notch private insurance plan. Still, 10 years ago they would have told me to kindly go diddle myself. This time, they not only put me in touch with some really great reps who helped me navigate the mess, they went off network (outside my plan) to find me a therapist with GID training. Even better, it was surprisingly easy.

I don’t like to shill for any company, but in this case, they deserve my shout out. Group Health, you kick ass. Thank you.

transfemme style

I avoid this topic, but I shouldn’t, I guess. I don’t like brands. I don’t like marketing. I’ve tried to strip it from my life. I don’t watch TV, I don’t wear logos, etc. The problem with style blogging is that it forces one to enter that realm, I guess. The larger problem is it is steeped in cultural expectations and perceptions of beauty. There are stereotypes, tells, hurt, impossible expectations, etc.

That said, there are many transfemmes out there who’d like help, and I’d like to bring some of the skills I have to bear on that. I’ve always had an eye for it, or so I’m told. I’m good at makeup, and good at throwing together a look. This is geared for transgendered MTFs. We have some special considerations to take into account. This is also somewhat for cis-gendered women out there who (like my wife) have absolutely no idea how to approach style. My wife (bless her heart) tried to put on liquid eyeliner the other day. She got more in her eye than on her lid. What she did get on her lid was more vertical than horizontal. =)

The first rule, the cardinal rule, the IF YOU FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE, REMEMBER THIS rule is: Don’t overdo it. Understatement is better, particularly if you are interested in not getting read as a man.

The second rule: Don’t pick your colors. Let your colors pick you. If you have hazel eyes, brown hair, and pale skin (like I do) you don’t want to wear a bunch of red. Natural tones are a good thing(tm).

The third rule: Avoid stereotypes. They are tells. They also make you look like you don’t know what you are doing. That miniskirt and 5” heels may be something you’ve coveted, but if you can’t pull it off, you’ll look like you went shopping in the dark. When in doubt refer to rule one. Too flashy hurts.

This post is intentionally general. I’m not going to get too much into specifics here, because I think it’s best to start generally and work down from there. 

Buy the book “Making Faces”. It is absolutely the most wonderful book on makeup that has ever been invented, ever. Practice every day. Start with pencils, not liquids. At first, you’ll probably want to wash it off before you go out. Go ahead. It’s not a waste. It’s an exercise. Enlist the help of somebody that has been applying makeup for most of their lives. This is where a cis-gendered woman can be a really handy ally.

On makeup - pick a part of your face to go dramatic on. The other parts should be subtle. Don’t do dramatic eyes AND dramatic lipstick. Pick one. Otherwise, your face will look weird. This is a general rule, which you can safely break AFTER you’ve become practiced. Wearing makeup imposes extra maintenance. Use scrubs, blackhead removers, lotions and an astringent (like witch hazel) EVERY DAY. This will help even your skin tone, and provides a bulwark against acne. If your bathroom isn’t cluttered with product, you are doing it wrong. =). Initially, you’ll likely have to spend a small fortune on concealers and foundations before you find your color. Again, don’t pick the color you want - pick one that matches the color you have. Also, like eyeliner, use powders - not liquids, especially when you are new at this.

If your face is especially masculine, grow your hair out. I like my hair long because I have big beautiful curls, but I can sport shorter hair, I suppose. I like short hair because I find it sexier in general though. If in doubt, grow it out =). Use good shampoos, and switch brands every couple of bottles or so to help prevent excess build up.

Skinny people should not wear especially clunky jewelry. Big stones on rings = bad. Huge chunky necklaces and earrings are also bad if you are skinny. Again, a general rule.

If you are tall, don’t be extra-tall. While heels can hide the length of your feet, they also make you taller. For me, I like tall boots with buckles, which I prefer to wear with long skirts. If you are younger - or look younger, Demonia has a big selection of these, but unfortunately a lot of them are platform or with high heels. I try to avoid the extra height, where I can. I don’t do the goth thing, I’m likely to wear these with long patterned skirts w/ slits. I like some of these styles, because the buckles are an accessory in and of themselves, and peek out of the sides of my skirts, giving me little “wings” - also the bubbly toes tend to make one’s feet look smaller. Don’t copy me! I prefer you to find your own =) hehehe

Accessorize. Again, if you are younger, cheap jewelry is your friend. Quantity, not quality. =) Bracelets, necklaces, earrings, the more the merrier. Just don’t wear them all at once =). For bracelets, I make exceptions - I do tend to wear tons of bracelets at once, I’ll stack them about 4 inches up one of my arms sometimes. =) Your mileage may vary, it depends on your build.

Wraps and scarves are awesome - when I wear pants, I like a good wrap around my waist and hips, tied off on one side, dangly on the other. Punk is awesome. If bubblegum pink is a good color on you rock it with spikes =) - though I loathe the “trying too hard to be femme” stereotype of it, I accept it for what it is - it looks good on me, so fking with it for me is a good thing.

Anyway, I’ll post more here and there - this is where that “Ask me anything” button may come in handy, I can’t help you work out specifics without knowing something about you. One day, I’ll post pics of me - I need a good camera first though (my last one was stolen), and you’ll see for yourselves.

growing pains

I was adopted when I was two, almost three years old. My adoptive mother and father adopted me because they wanted a boy. Oops. Unfortunately, they told me so at every opportunity. I think the idea was supposed to be to affirm me. The trouble is, I didn’t need the affirmation. I never had any qualms about being adopted (at least when I was a child). What it did do was terrify me, as it linked my male body to acceptance.

They divorced about 2 years later, and I never had a real relationship with my adoptive father after that. I don’t miss it.

When I was little I had a kind of foreign voice that used to speak to me. It was very definitely external to me, smarter than me, and benevolent. I trusted it. It taught me how to read at 3 years old (and surprised the hell out of my mother in the process - my verbal skills weren’t so hot though). I guess I figured it was some sort of deity, although I don’t really know. It also told me that I could never tell my mother the things I knew about my gender, because she wouldn’t accept it. It stayed with me up through at least age 10. It wasn’t like “the committee” in my head - it was something else, of a different order.

Well, I did finally tell her when I was in my early twenties, and undergoing hormone replacement therapy at the time. I had a well paying job. I had breasts, a more feminine face, was living as a woman. I lived far enough away, in seattle, with my tranny-hawk partner (for as unhealthy as that was at least my girlfriend supported my transition, whereas my ex-boyfriend had tried, but couldn’t handle it). I didn’t need my mother anymore, and could avoid her if necessary, so I told her the truth, finally.

Her reaction had confirmed all of my fears. She said all kinds of things, some of them just plain wrong “But, you were such a boy” (really? lol), some of them creepy  ”But you’re so well endowed, it’s how I knew your father wasn’t" (WTF? yech), and etc. I think I’ve said enough to paint you a picture, and since you might be eating, I’ll stop there. =). Later on, I gave her a copy of Kate Bornstein’s "Gender Outlaw", which I’m sure she never even opened.

I’ll be clear, I do not think my mother is trans-phobic. For starters, she never took issue with any of my queerness. I’m not saying that’s indicative entirely of where she stands, but for example, I’d bring my boyfriends home for Christmas, and she didn’t bat an eye, and in fact she generally quite liked them. That’s not to say she’s an ally. She certainly is not.

Her problem with me - since the moment of my adoption, is that she had formed her own idea of who I was, and worked backward from there to try to understand me. That has never changed. She is enormously emotionally invested in the idea that she knows me, even though she never really put in the effort to do so. Not just with the GID, but in a myriad of ways, I’m simply not the person she thought I was - and never have been.

My mother is a kind woman, and I don’t doubt that she loves me. She provided a good home for me, and in many ways raised me well, so I feel guilty for complaining - but she has been a huge source of pain in my life. As tough as this is for me to say, I am angry with her. I want to scream, I want to cry, I want my childhood back.

The conflict with her over my GID didn’t end there, of course. Over the next 10 years, it continually reared it’s head. She’d introduce me to her friends using my imposed name, and male pronouns, even when I was clearly presenting - and even passing - as female. She’d take my partner aside and make rude comments about my dress - she had a particular problem with my socks, for some reason (really?, I don’t like my feet - cute socks help, get over it), among other things.

Last mother’s day, I finally had enough. The spectre of suicide had reared it’s head. I plotted, even. I’m too stubborn to die, though - so I didn’t follow through, naturally. I had cried for hours, and was already a mess, but crying helped a lot. I bought her a rose bush for her new place - she had moved recently, and loved roses, so I got her something that would last, and that she would enjoy. I went to her new home to deliver them, refused to go inside, and spoke with her on the porch. I didn’t give her a chance to talk, I said what I had needed to say, but it didn’t go like it had gone in my head. I ended up telling her in no uncertain terms that I did not want any contact with her - that maybe that would change later - but not now. Don’t call, don’t come over. Forget my phone number. Enjoy the roses. I wanted her to hurt. I went back to my car, and waited for my wife, who quite likes her, and probably wasn’t ready to end the relationship. My mother came out to the car in order to hug me. “Great, so again, even now this will be about her feelings” I thought. “Don’t touch me”, I said. That’s the last thing I said to her. I don’t know if this is the end of our relationship, but for the foreseeable future it is, and I’m fine with that. I feel mean. I feel like a jerk. But I also feel liberated. A huge source of pain is gone now, and I’m ready to move on. I’ve lived too much of my life on other people’s terms, so I guess I’m okay with making it about me now. 

I want to put this everywhere. It needs a billboard.

I want to put this everywhere. It needs a billboard.

identity theft

I’ve been meaning to write about the title of this little blog, and what it means to me.

GID is the ultimate act of identity theft by nature and society. It starts when we are born into our incorrect, biologically assigned sex. That itself, is an act of theft. We’ve had something vital and intrinsic stolen from us before we’re even able to realize it.

Through this act of theft by the cruel hand of nature, we are subject to subsequent thefts. Too often, we’ve had our childhood stolen from us as well. For many, this extends well into adult life. For some, we never take our identity back. Sometimes we forfeit our very lives to this.

It is a crime. A crime of nature. A series of further crimes by society. We are victimized over and over again. It is an immeasurably cruel and painful experience.

This is an inherently negative subject, and so I’ll be brief. I have no intent in wallowing in it, since that’s just an act of self-abuse.

I refuse to be a victim. My identity is MINE. My life is MINE. My body is MINE. I’ll take it back by any means necessary. I’ll use force. I’ll use love. I’ll use western medicine. In short, I’ll use every tool I can get my hands on. Warning: I bite. I kick. I scream. I scratch. I’ll cut a bitch =). I’m a survivor. I’ll run over anyone who dares get in my way. Because I deserve it.

Have a nice day =)

cultivating body positivity (reblog)

invisiblyqueer:

What’s one thing you love about your body and why? Reblog with your answer, and know that you are beautiful.

For me, i adore my tiny tits scooped onto my 6’1” frame because they render my body very visible as a trans* body. They both meet and challenge standards of beauty in various ways, causing me (and hopefully others) to reflect on what is beautiful and permissible.

I spent most of my life HATING my body, especially my face. My first puberty was terrible and traumatic for me, and I focused on all of the things I hated about my appearance.

I’ve shifted my focus. I still have body image issues, but I know I am beautiful. I focus on what I like. ellie’s post is important. Self-image is critical for trans people especially. For us, cultivating a positive body image is not just about self-esteem. It’s about survival and safety. Survival, because trans people as a group are extremely vulnerable in this way - we have a nasty habit of opening a vein over it. It’s also about safety, because the more we accept and love ourselves, the more others will accept and love us. 

Society has a nasty habit of beating us down, misrepresenting us, shaming us, and holding us up to impossible standards of physical beauty. It’s hard on cis-gendered people, too - but for trans people it can be quite literally, murder.

I can’t stress this enough - LOVING YOURSELF creates a bubble of safety. While it’s not impenetrable, it is powerful. Through my own lived experience, I’ve found that people are far less likely to see me as a vulnerable target if i do not see myself as one. People can read fear, and the worst people among us are drawn to target people that are afraid. Fake it until you make it, if necessary - and carry mace ;).

Getting around to the reblog, here we go:

For me, there are so many things I love about my body. I’m naturally androgynous, hormones or not. I have delicate hands, and long fingers. my nails are strong and fierce. I never had to worry about any baldness, an excess of body hair, or looking like my brother or father. I’m slightly under six feet, and skinny. I’m over 30, but you’d never guess by looking at me! I’m immeasurably blessed.

I never saw these things in myself until I looked for them. I saw all of the things i didn’t like. My nose, my brow-line, my too-tall frame, my too-wide feet, my long bones, and my scrawny stick figure physique - not to mention the unwelcome presence between my legs. I could write several pages about all the things i’ve hated about my body. A laundry list of self-loathing. I’ve been told “You’d make an ugly women” by at least one jerk - there’s multiple points of hurt in that statement, and I unpacked all of it - beating myself down with it.

Gender Identity Disorder is characterized by our identity not fitting our body - loathing our bodies is (almost?) always a part of that. For many of us, this tendency won’t just magically disappear, even with hormones and facial surgery, etc. As I said, Cis-gendered people experience it frequently as well, but again for trans people, i believe it is especially dangerous. You can’t fix this through medicine and surgery when the source is internal - and it nearly always begins there. As long as you feel this way about yourself, other people will pick up on it - the worst among us reinforce it. Learn to love yourself. Focus on the good things. Foster supportive friendships. Avoid the negative relationships wherever possible. Talk about it with people you trust.

Hi!

This is my initial post, and i decided i’ll make it about me, so that you know what you are getting in to. =) You may read this as a disclaimer, or as an introduction. I intend it to be both.

My name is danah, and i am a strange creature. Strange is a label i’ve worked quite hard for, sacrificed for, and bled for. it’s a label i feel i’ve earned, and i wear it proudly - not pejoratively. More on this later. For now, just consider it my MO. I thrive on non-conformity. i’ve embraced it happily.

Okay, so why am i strange?

I am very queer. Particularly, i am trans-feminine* and asexual. So that makes me strange, even for someone who is queer. =) a lot of this blog will be about that - and my experiences around that - particularly the trans part. also that’s why the blog is called “identity theft”. the name may become clear later as my story unfolds.

* I stole this label from ellie at (in)visible. I love it, and it suits me perfectly. She is amazing, so take some time to read her if you have not already. This blog would not even be here had i not found hers first.

I am also married to a straight cis-woman. She knew i was trans and otherwise queer long before we were married - We’ve been close friends for most of our lives, so she got into this knowing all - or at least most - of the details. That’s pretty strange, too - but it works for us.

I was adopted at a young age, but am much closer to my biological family than my adoptive one. I don’t know if that’s altogether strange, but maybe it is. =)

I am a recovering empiricist, a punk, a hacker, a Buddhist, and a Christian missionary. Yeah. for those of you that are put off by that last bit, let’s just say i’m a fan of Jesus - brown Jesus, social justice Jesus, the Jesus that loves all of us, and wants us to love each other. I’m not selling anything, I’ll leave that to the evangelists and the mormons. I was called to do advocacy and outreach for undocumented workers - among other subversive acts of friendship, i ”harbor”  undocumented workers who live in my home. Likely illegally (hence the anonymity) - because the law is racist and unjust, and more importantly, because Jesus says i should, and also because i happen to like them even though i can’t talk to them - they don’t speak Spanish or English, and i don’t speak Mixtec. My wife helps. I’ll be writing more about this later. they are a pretty big part of my life.

I’m a recovering computer nerd. Well, okay, i’ve not liked computers since i was much younger, but i’m told i’m good at it, and it so i did it for a living for a long time  - up until very recently in fact. If there’s anything i have learned from that (other than how to code properly) it’s that serenity is far more important than money.

My current plan for my little blog is to cover my experiences and reflections on my identity - with something of a focus on my gender identity. This will include my  experiences with it growing up, the pain, the joy, the self discovery, the entire glorious mess of it. I want to provide a safe place for others who are trying to find their way as well. It’s at times perilous and at times rewarding, but always interesting. More importantly, there’s not exactly a proper instruction manual, so we have to lean on each other, and grow together, or risk falling apart. I’ve provided an “ask me anything” feature on this blog. I can’t claim special authority, but i can try to help and it’s there if you need it. Also, while i’m open to nearly anything, i reserve the right to refuse to answer a question i feel is out-of-bounds. if you are not sure, it doesn’t hurt to ask. i won’t beat you up, i promise!

Wow, it’s late. =) I’ll try to think of something clever, entertaining, or even informative to post after i’ve had a chance to sleep. For now i think the above more than covers the basics of who i am and what i’m about.