What to make of recent statistics that indicate many more assigned female at birth individuals than male are seeking the services of gender clinics? Is there a reason for worry? the mainstream media thinks so.
Trans Day of Visibility March 31st
Trans folks have a lot of days in the calendar that are meaningful to us, but this one will probably serve us best in the long term. There’s a paradox to this day that I like: we’re being visible to be invisible.
The other day I went to see a space for rent that I hoped might house the Ottawa Trans Library. I like to look professional when I show up to do business and was wearing a skirt and stockings. I admit also, however, that I deliberately and gently like to provoke people. I can’t help myself. It’s a reaction to the many years I operated in the shadows, when I was visible to some people and felt I had to be invisible to others. When I meet new people now, I like to let them know exactly who I am.
The fellow I met didn’t bat an eyelid. He showed me the space like he’d dealt with a thousand trans people before. We got along fine. On the way home, I smiled thinking about the whole encounter. Although I was being mildly provocative, he didn’t take my bait, and I was glad he didn’t. My transness was invisible to him. I was just another person with whom to do business.
That’s all we want, isn’t it? For our transness to be invisible and only our humanity recognized. When seeing a trans person will induce nothing more than a “So what?” The only way we’re going to get there is for more of us to be visible.
Let’s all be safe this March 31st, but if we can, let’s be visible too. Being yourself is the ripple effect to changing the world.
An addendum to my piece about trans women elders which gives corroborating evidence that it is the day-to-day minor harassments that make trans life so exhausting.
Answering the question of why there are so few elder trans women advocating for the community.
July 2021 – Gender Mosaic served the trans people of Ottawa for over 30 years, a remarkably long time for any trans institution. All good things come to an end.
May 2021 – A detour into my past provides a partial explanation for why I’m delighted Stats Canada counted trans people in the May 2021 census.
A paper in the journal Bioethics presents a case that research trials should consider including transgender women as possible candidates for uterus transplants.
I’m not sure whether cis folks can understand how empowering it is to finally have a name you can relate to, and how disturbing it is to have your previous one disinterred. I didn’t hate my previous name when I was living with it. It was a fine name, and my reality at the time, but the speed with which I dissociated myself from it astonished even me.
From Dedicated Follower of Fashion to Lola to Out of the Wardrobe, the English band the Kinks were well ahead of the rest of the world when it came to trans folks, and their understanding of alienation had something to say to us too.
Perhaps the true measure of how well trans people are accepted in society is, paradoxically, how readily we are accepted in our intimate relationships.
Trans women’s lives, like those of cisgender women, are still regulated. I was reminded of this while reading Vivek Shraya’s I’m Afraid of Men. At one point she writes, “In the morning, as I get ready for work, I avoid choosing clothes or accessories that will highlight my femininity and draw unwanted attention.” Ah, women’s eternal dilemma. But was this me too? Was this why I had returned the hat back to its shelf?
This past year I have spent a surprising amount of time conversing with my 22 year old self.
I was 22 in 1977. It was a bad time to be trans and a bad time to be me. I was out of university and I knew what was supposed to happen next: a career and a wife. But that idyll seemed very unlikely for me. I was a closeted 6’3″ trans woman who saw no future for herself. In between bouts of excessive drinking, I thought my best chance at life was self employment. Perhaps there I might carve out an independent space so I could breathe a little. It wasn’t a bad idea, but my hopelessness stifled my motivation and I could never turn it into a credible plan. What I did instead was barely survive on a succession of suffocating government jobs.
I’m probably not the best person to be hosting a trans web site. I’m one of those people who from time to time gets sick of being trans. I don’t mean sick of being myself. I mean tired of having my life consumed by this issue that has dogged me despite my best efforts to have it go away. More