Love That Does Not Accept Me

Things to *not* say to a newly out trans woman.

Alex and Ania Splain You a Thing

Let’s get one thing clear

When someone you know tells you something big, like say, “I’m trans,” these are some appropriate responses:

“Wow, congrats on figuring yourself out!”

“Should I start using new pronouns?”

“Wow, um, it’ll take me a bit to process this, but I’ll try.”

“Cool! I’ve never known a trans person before and I have loads of questions. Let me know if they’re getting too personal, okay? I know this is probably the single most intense conversation you’ve ever had. including that time you were threatened by a vagrant wielding a Bible and a pacemaker scar in the trash room of your building, so I don’t want to make this even scarier for you.”

“You know, I/someone I know is getting rid of some old clothes and cheap jewelry. I can let them know you’re interested and see if they’ll let you pick through them first.”

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Shethinkers 26 – Unpaid Labor

Shethinkers is sponsored by Audible.com, which has all the auidobooks you could possibly want.

Secret Word

SecretWordTroll of the Week

Kansas legislators pass “turn the gays away” bill

Boss of the Week

A Legal Gay Marriage in Texas?

Unpaid Labor

Housework  aka “Woman’s Work”

Devaluing “female labor”

Unpaid Internships

Prison Labor

Atheist Bible Study

Women’s Rights…or lack of them

Stupid Sexist Song

Beastie Boys – “Girls”

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Shethinkers 24 – Weird Weddings

Secret Word

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Troll of the Week

OK Republicans threaten to destroy marriage rather than let gays have it

Perspectives of Marriage

Historical Timeline

No Such Thing as “Traditional” Marriage

Short History of Christian Marriage

Criticism of Marriage

Intersectionality of Poverty and Marriage

Feminist Perspective of Marriage Debate

Financial Consequences/Benefits

Over 1100 Rights and Privileges from one ceremony

Boss of the Week

Nintendo CEO Cuts Salaries of employees…from himself and upper management

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Marriage Equality USA!

Evolution of Weddings

Silly Traditions, that usually have sexist origins of some kind

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Showing Marriage Equality Support at your Wedding

DIY Brides and Themed Weddings

Stupid Sexist Song

Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlisle

You’re Welcome Hollywood!

Dallas Buyer’s Club star, Ron Woodroof, was actually bisexual?

Dori’s and Dirty’s Weddings

Sci-fi and Steampunk for the win!

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Fat is Not a Four Letter Word

Fat1

In the spirit of Fat Amy, for this article you can call me “fat-ugly-heathen-cheating-on-her-fiancé-slutty-tranny” Dori.  Sure, you could be nice and call me “curvy atheist poly-ish trans woman” Dori, but there will always be haters out there and I prefer to take the sting out of their hateful words.  That’s why I jokingly refer to myself as a pissed-off tranny when I rant about trans rights.  It’s why I call myself a slut when talking about my sexual practices/partners.  And it’s why I’m calling myself fat right now.

I stumbled into “Fatshion” blogs last semester during my women’s studies class.  At first it was just outfits that showed up in my Pinterest. Then I started reading the blogs the pictures came from.  And then I decided I was tired of hating myself for the body I have and started accepting it.

The majority of my life, I was very happy.  But when my resiliency reached its limit I would look at myself in the mirror and hate what I saw.  I’d hate my stomach, the width of my breasts, my stumpy legs, my shoulders, my chin, my face.  I would wonder how many people thought I looked hideous but were too polite to say anything.  I would wonder how my boyfriend could possibly still enjoy looking at me naked and how much longer he would put up with me.  To his credit, whenever I would bring these things up he would always attempt to bring me back to reality.  But when you’re in that kind of spiral there’s not much anyone can say to stop it.  The best he could do was hold me until the storm passed.

I don’t want to give my whole sordid history of my body image issues.  Suffice it to say that it’s been a fucking roller coaster, dipping it’s way into eating disorders and unhealthy practices and peaking with the confidence I have today after embracing fat pride.  I will never be thin.  And that’s okay.  The least I’ve ever weighed as an adult was around 180 pounds and I was a size 14.  At my heaviest I was around 250 pounds and a size 22.  And through all of those years I was an activist who fought for my rights and others, an excellent student, a leader, a lover, a friend, a daughter, a sister.  Most importantly, I was a human being who offered kindness to just about anyone who asked, except myself.

But this year has been different.  It started with the fatshion blogs, which made me question the fashion and media industries narrow image of who women were.  I saw attractive women who were twice my size.  I saw brave women who were willing to pose nude, despite the rolls and stretch marks that I had internalized as being ugly on my own body.  I saw women who looked just like me.  And they were all beautiful in their own way.  A few months ago, when my doctor told me I was incredibly healthy for my age but he’d still like me to lose weight, I didn’t accept it blindly.  I asked him why, and ultimately, he agreed with me.  I fought against an institutionalized form of body shaming and I won.

After that, I started running and counting my calories.  But unlike the many times I had attempted to shame myself into losing weight, I did this for a challenge.  I focused on my progress.  I remembered how much fun I had when I played roller derby and I wanted to feel that sense of empowerment about my body again.  When I started I couldn’t run for much longer than 15 seconds without getting winded.  Now I can run 5k in 40 minutes.  I run in nothing but skin tight bottoms and a sports bra because, for those who don’t know, it’s fucking hot in Texas.  When I’ve got my music on and I feel the adrenaline rush through me, I don’t give a fuck what the world thinks of my body.  And while the changes to my body haven’t been drastic, I like what I see.  My stomach is smaller.  My boobs look even bigger by comparison.  My legs and ass are amazing (just ask my fiance and FWB).  I look good.  Maybe not the conventional concept of good, but fuck the conventional concept.  And most important of all, I’m confident.

Sweaty or femme, I feel good either way.

Sweaty or femme, I feel good either way.

Fat3My crowning moment was when I bought a bikini this summer.  I walked into Lane Bryant and told the clerk what I wanted.  ”Are you sure?” she asked.  ”Absolutely.” I said, “Let’s just find one in the right size.”  In the dressing room I started to feel nervous.  Sure, I thought I looked good but would I feel the same way out in public?  So I sent a picture to my FWB and other girlfriends and heard back nothing but compliments.  So I walked out of the dressing room, where the clerk asked again if I was sure about the bikini.  ”I’ll take it!” I told her.  The moment of truth came when I went camping.  The FWB and I finished setting up our tent and decided to go swimming while we waited for the boys.  And when I walked outside and felt the sun on my legs and stomach and back…it was a weirdly spiritual experience.

I will never go back to hating my body.  It has its imperfections and I’m sure there are plenty of strangers on the internet who will be more than happy to point them out.  But you know what?  I don’t give a fuck.  Yeah, I’m fat.  And this fat bitch has more love in her life than any troll could ever hope for.

 

P.S. Just to clarify, fat pride does not equal skinny hate.  The bottom line here is accepting your body for what it is and other people’s bodies for what they are.  I hate the phrase “real women have ______”.  Because regardless of what you fill-in-the-blank with, there will be a woman who doesn’t.  All women are “real women”.  The way to work through your body issues is not by putting down somebody else’s.

Fat4

Growing Up Queer in a Straight Market

Art by Paul Windle

Art by Paul Windle

It’s easy (and popular) to claim the media has no effect on who we are.  To claim we’re sophisticated enough to rise above influence and separate the truth from the hype.  But the truth is, whether we’re born trans or cis; gay, straight or bi; the world has a lot to say about gender and most of those messages either start with or are reflected by the media.

Don’t even get me started on “gender reveal” parties.

Don’t even get me started on “gender reveal” parties.

Before we’re even born, parents-to-be are asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?”  This seems like an innocent enough question, although the accurate answer would be, “Neither, it hasn’t told us yet.  But it’s physically male/female.”  But of course, that would not be a socially acceptable answer.  You must answer “boy” or “girl” or “we don’t know” and shut up about the difference between gender and sex.  Nurseries, toys, clothes and the babies themselves are already divided down the gender binary before they can even open their eyes properly.  And the media encourages this by dividing catalogs and nursery planning books along stereotypical gender lines.  The most popular “themes” on the Babies R Us website includes sports, racing, Winnie the Pooh, jungle and space for boys and pink, Disney, pink, princesses, and, what do you know, more pink for girls.  What a surprise!

Of course infants won’t be influenced by things they have no way of remembering later in life.  Case in point, I have no idea what my nursery looked like or if I even had one (being the first child to poor college students).  But what is important is the parents treating the child differently based on sex.  Studies have shown female babies are comforted more and are handled more gently and with a softer voice than with male babies.  While male babies are allowed to cry longer in order to “toughen them up”.  These differences are both accidental and actually encouraged by some parenting books that play on parents’ fears of raising a queer.  Perhaps this is the foundation for so many girls and later women being unable to make themselves heard or allow themselves to occupy space.  It could also be seen as the first instance of a boy being told to “suck it up and walk it off” and deny his emotions.

Azúcar, amigos!

Azúcar, amigos!

Let’s move on to childhood.  Kids can walk, talk and even think for themselves to some degree.  This is perhaps their most vulnerable time to internalize harmful messages and stereotypes.  Therefore, marketers target them with a vengeance in order to seal “cradle to grave” loyalty.  Until the age of about 8 or 9, children are unable to distinguish commercials from the actual program and marketers play on this shortcoming, having cartoon characters sell fast food, candy and toys to children who can’t tell they’re being emotionally manipulated.  Because television is such a popular babysitter, many parents are not there to help their child see marketing for what it is and to point out gender stereotypes.

Children also have a lot of uncertainty in their private lives.  For this reason, they can be seen clinging to gender stereotypes presented to them.  For their early school years, children are unsure why the gender binary exists, but fear crossing over to the other side.  This fear is reinforced and preyed upon by creating exaggeratedly gender-specific toys, advertising and programming.  At the same time children naturally divide themselves by gender during this “Cootie Phase”.  Marketers tell children they need to play with trucks if they’re a boy or dolls if they’re a girl.  The urge to strongly identify with their gender is played against them and they buy it hook, line and sinker.  Now they’ve been primed to respond to gender-specific marketing on through adulthood.  Cleaning and cooking commercials will feature women and car and beer commercials will feature men, even though men and women both use these products throughout their lives.  The transition is so subtle most don’t even realize it.  Now that I’ve pointed it out, try to find a gender-neutral advertisement next time you read a magazine or watch television.  It’s harder than you’d think.

Not as uncommon as you might think.

Not as uncommon as you might think.

So how do all these messages about gender affect queer children and later queer adults?  Whether you were confused about your gender or sexuality or both as a child, nearly every queer adult can remember feeling “different”.  That’s all most queer kids know at such an early stage.  They might not be able to articulate that they’re gay or trans, but they easily know they’re “different” from what they believe the rest of the world is like.  There is no advertisement or show that reflects their personal reality, so they internalize the message that they are “weird”, “different”, or a “freak”.  They play with the toys presented to them normally when adult eyes are watching, but as soon they’re alone Barbie becomes a lesbian.  Batman and Superman have a tea party and discuss their busy lives.  A stuffed toy becomes a baby doll.  But queer kids aren’t the only ones who “queer” their toys.  All three of the examples I just gave were shared with me by straight, cis friends.

If the idea that all boys play with trucks and all girls play with dolls is a lie, why does it keep being portrayed in the media?  Because everyone has insecurities about gender and sexuality.  And where there is insecurity there is a profit to be made.  From “cradle to grave”, women are shown images of young, skinny, white, straight, feminine and (usually) blond role models.  From the Disney princess to the supermodel in magazines, this same image over and over becomes seen as “normal” because it’s all that’s presented to us.  Despite the fact that this role model reflects a very small portion of the general population, if anyone, women are told we should all aspire to be her, which is an impossible goal, otherwise we’ll never get married.  This ensures we will buy into diets, makeup, beauty treatments, clothing and cosmetic surgery until we die.

GrowingQueer5From “cradle to grave”, men are shown images of tall, muscular, white, swarthy, heroic, masculine, misogynistic, violent, tough role models who don’t show their emotions.  From GI Joe to Rambo, men are sold a very narrow image of manhood that doesn’t include any real person.  (Except maybe Hemingway, but even he did “un-manly” things like write for a living.)  Men are told if they don’t fit this stereotype then they’ll never have sex and their lives will be meaningless.  This ensures they will buy into cars, cologne, alcohol, guns and sports paraphernalia until they die.

 

Boys do cry.  Girls are aggressive.  Everybody ages.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  We should embrace the truths of our world and base our reality on the people in our lives rather than the ones on the screen or page.  There’s no Photoshop in the real world and there’s much more variety than skinny, big-breasted women and tall, muscular men.  And when we interact with children we should encourage them to enjoy aspects of themselves that go against the norm.  Take your daughter to the science museum.  Teach your son how to cook.  The world will be a lot better for it.

I Can’t Believe We’re Still Fighting for this Shit

Yesterday a six-year-old girl won the right to pee in a girl’s bathroom.  ”WTF is this even news?” you might be asking.  Because apparently the fact that Coy Mathis is a trans girl changes things entirely.  The story was all over Facebook yesterday and the comments were filled with some indifference, some acceptance, and a lot of hatred.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

these children wouldn’t know what the hell any of this was if it were pushed and accepted in this perverted ass Amerikkkan society. you a boy and you like pink. you better go find something blue. Amerikkka is a pile of shit.

I have no idea why you insist on not only supporting but promoting sexual deviant behavior… surly your not angling to see a video of this! You sick sick puppy.

My 3 year old niece thought she was a kitten for about a year or so. Kids that young don’t know what gender is, let alone what gender they should be. No hate here, but my immediate impression is that the parents are either pushing this on the kid or indulging typical childish silliness in a way that can seriously damage him psychologically.

Who looks at this little girl and thinks, “Something sinister must be afoot”? Only assholes.

Who looks at this little girl and thinks, “Something sinister must be afoot”? Only assholes.

There is so much cissexual privilege here that I don’t know where to begin.  Why is it that every time a story about a trans kid comes out, it’s immediately followed by cries of denial.  As though this kid doesn’t have any means of expressing herself and is just being blindly tricked into being trans.  You don’t see insistence that other kids parents are just pushing a cissexual identity onto their kid (even though that’s exactly what these people are doing).  You don’t see claims that kids who identify as cis are sick in the head.  Nobody claims that cis identified kids are crazy, or duped, or delusional.  Why?  Because these people think cis is the default, natural god-given position rather than simply the most common.  Are you a man who’s happy with your penis? Congratulations!  This fucking conversation is not about you.  The fact that you believe your experience of gender is universal shows just how little you know about the world.

So easy a child can understand it.

So easy a child can understand it.

Gender identity cannot be changed or forced or twisted.  The fact that Coy identifies as a girl is static.  The fact that she wears dresses is a product of what our culture says people who identify as girls should wear.  They are not related.  And Coy dressing in a way that makes her comfortable has nothing to do with her sexuality.  Gender Identity is not Gender Expression is not Sexual Orientation.  These are not new concepts.  Whenever you see a masculine gay man or a feminine lesbian or a butch straight woman or a femme straight man, those are all examples of ways the three components of sexuality and gender do not “match”.  Nobody can force a child who identifies as a girl to identify as a boy.  But that’s exactly what these people want to do, simply because the parts between her legs at birth make them uncomfortable.  Coy’s parents are not scheduling her for SRS, they’re not putting her on hormones, they’re not doing anything permanent on the off chance that Coy might change her mind.  All she’s doing is presenting as a girl, using female pronouns, and doing all the same stuff that other girls her age do.  So just in case your dream comes true and Coy does identify as a boy later on, no harm has been done.  She’s got her whole damn life to figure that out, so why don’t you let her and her parents worry about what future steps they take?

For those who are concerned about what other kids will think, they probably won’t think much of anything unless you tell them to.  When I transitioned years ago I was working at a comic shop.  There were tons of kids I saw on a regular basis.  I became good friends with one couple and their kid in particular.  I watched their daughter grow from a baby to a kindergartner.  Hell, I even babysat her for them.  Do you want to know how she reacted to my transition?

Dori, why are you dressed like a girl?

Because I am one.

Oh.  Okay.  Can I play with these Legos?

It really is that simple.  Kids don’t give a shit about the ramifications of gender norms.  They don’t care about what you had between your legs when you were born.  They just want to play with Legos.

And speaking of discomfort, let’s go ahead and address the same stupid fear mongering I hear whenever we talk about trans people and bathrooms.

First, there’s the concern that trans women and girls, who are all imagined to be pre-op or non-op for some reason, will flash our genitals at cis women and girls.  But guess what?  Our reasons for using the bathroom are the same as cis women.  To relieve our bladders and bowels, to wash our hands, to check our hair and makeup in the mirror, to accompany friends, whatever.  We don’t go in there so we can show a part of our body that most are mortified about to strangers.  Sorry to burst your fantasy.

Now that’s a REAL bathroom predator!

Now that’s a REAL bathroom predator!

Second, there’s the concern that trans women will physically or sexually assault cis women.  Well, I have news for you.  Trans women don’t assault cis women in bathrooms, but there have been plenty ofcis people who’ve assaulted trans women.  Probably because of some sense of entitlement.  Hmm, what would that sort of mentality be called?  I feel like I already discussed it earlier.  It’s almost like a privileged majority are ganging up on an unrepresented minority.  Oh well, I’m sure I’ll think of the word for it later.  Did I mention that we have an entire day set aside to remember the hundreds of trans people killed by cis people?  And that we’re one of the biggest targets for hate crimes?  No?  I probably should have.

Third, there’s a myth that if trans people can pee in peace, it will somehow give predators an excuse to sneak into restrooms to assault without recourse.  Well, I don’t know if you realized this, but you can still press charges against someone for assault even if you give trans people basic human rights.  Because, you know, assault will still be illegal.  It seems kind of silly to restrict basic human rights for a whole group of people because you’re afraid of a hypothetical situation.  But what do I know?  I’m just an angry tranny.

And finally, you can’t force trans people to use gender-neutral bathrooms if they don’t want to.  Remember that whole separate-but-equal thing we struck down a long time ago?  Yeah, turns out that’s unconstitutional.  By all means, we should make gender-neutral bathrooms more common because a lot of people prefer gender-neutral bathrooms.  And not just trans people!  The “family” bathrooms in many malls and movie theaters are a lifesaver for parents who have kids of different genders.  Most of Europe has gender-neutral bathrooms and they don’t seem to be experiencing chaos about it.

Finally, I want to say something to the trans readers out there who may be concerned about all this.  Do not ask for permission to use a bathroom.  That’s weird.  Nobody else does it, so why should you?  Rights are not something you ask for, because that only gives someone an opportunity to say, “No.”  Rights are something you expect and, if necessary, take.  So don’t ask your boss or principal if you can use the appropriate bathroom.  Just do it.  I’ve been to the girls room with butch women, early transitioners, drag queens, whatever.  Confidence is key.  Just act like you belong there, because you do.