Thursday, January 17, 2019
Recently I received a comment from a dear reader that I think deserves to have it's own post.
Hello again. I hope my compliment didn't take away from the gravity of your post. The story you shared is an important one. As a mother and as a teacher, I want all of my children/students to feel safe at school. And you have set such an amazing example - I bet you have no idea how many kids you've touched just by being authentically you. On a personal level, I have not met any transgendered people. That I'm aware of. So I appreciate your blog as a way to learn and understand. I don't ever want to say something or do something that would hurt or belittle any person, therefore what I've learned from you is so valuable to me. Now I have a question that is not meant to offend or upset anyone, I'm genuinely asking because I don't know the answer. If it's the wrong question to ask, please let me know, as I have stated, I certainly don't intend to offend. My question: why do we say "transgender woman" or "transgender man". Why not drop the "transgender" bit? If you want to be a woman, but were born male, why not be a woman....and vice versa. I understand what transgender means, but once one has made the change, isn't that it?
First off, let me start by saying, do you know that you are awesome? Well, you are! Seriously. You are finding my blog to be educational? So cool. Cool for me, but really cool for you for being willing to be educated. I'm impressed. They do say that teachers are life long learners, don't they? Well, we say it around my parts. But the truth is that not everyone cares right? So, again, good for you for caring.
Next...... your compliment (if you didn't see it, check it out here) didn't take away anything from my post. I love reader comments and often view them as an add on to any post that anyone writes. They often add depth. Your initial comment was sweet and much appreciated. The post I wrote stands on it's own as an attempt to capture a bit of a touching moment. Really, there has only been 2 comments submitted by readers that I didn't like and chose not to publish. Of course, it was hate mail, and besides, she said I had bad legs. I mean really, bad legs? Have you seen my legs? I have glorious legs! So yeah, 10 years of blogging, lots of comments, and only 2 that bugged me!
Okay..... now onto the meat of your comment - why call oneself a transgender woman or man? Why not simply drop the transgender portion? Well, honestly, in real life, I do. I go to a local support group for transgender people, and when I say local, it is 1 hour away! Ha, yeah, real local right? Okay, whatevs, so we say our name, our pronouns, and how we identify as we introduce ourselves. I've taken to simply saying that I am female. Nobody else that is trans does that, just me. It also deserves to be said that in real life I never introduce myself as a transgender female. How often does one need to actually state their gender anyway? Ummm...... never!
What does my license say? How about my birth certificate? The SSA? Just about everything right now except for my passport and Ancestry.com!!!! They all say female. Not transgender female, just female. So yeah, I see where you are coming from, and many other people also agree with that and just go with the gender they identify with and drop the trans part. In fact, for many (dare I say most??) transgender people, all we want is to be totally, and only, perceived as the gender we identify with. It holds a special word in the trans community - stealth. That means nobody knows you were not born as the gender you are presenting as. Sadly being able to be stealth is often a matter of genetic luck, or lots of money, or an early transition. Actually, this is part of the concern for trans children. Most children are not given hormones early on. Through much struggle and often unfortunate begging, they can go on hormone blockers, and then eventually, years later, begin hormones. Those fortunate, but growing, few will generally never be detectable as being trans.
Alas, many trans people will never achieve this elusive state of being. For many of us, the resultant effects from our initial hormones are very hard to overcome. Some things are easy, some are not even possible. If you are male but born with a female body and you develop very wide hips, that is an item that you will never be rid of, the same goes for those who develop super wide shoulders on females born with a male body. Some people will not ever be rid of the public looking at them and seeing a transgender individual.
But that still doesn't really answer the question of why call oneself a transgender female/male now does it? It says how we may be viewed, but not how we choose to self describe. Yet, in a way, it does describe how some of us inevitably view ourselves - we will never be able to be what we truly wish we were. We will only ever be stuck somewhere in the middle of gender-no-man's-land! (Albeit non-binary and non-conforming people embrace that space.) While I can mostly come to grips with the fact that I am a woman, it is undeniable that I was born with a male body. Sucks for me! Hahahahaha, hur!
So.... maybe? Possibly? Maybe.
How about this thought - I should be proud that I am transgender! Hmm.... maybe? Well, I know for sure that I should not be ashamed of being transgender. Recently, I have been encouraged to get out there and start talking to people as a member of the transgender community. I have yet to make mention of it here on my blog, but I made an appointment for my first personal presentation at a college - UC Merced!! Woohoo!!!!! Anywho..... I will go speak as a transgender woman. Why that and not just a woman? Well because I want to be a proud member of the transgender community, and I want to help people to be better informed on what transgender peoples lives are like, that you know we are just regular people.
So..... hmmmm...... let's try and recap this succinctly. I never introduce myself as a transgender woman in real life, and if ever asked, I simply state that I am female. I use the word transgender to help people to better understand me. I think of myself as a transgender woman as I see a distinct difference between me and those who were born with a female brain and a female body. I will refer to myself on occasion as a transgender female to help educate the public on my transgender story.
Okay, hopefully that helped explain MY thoughts on the matter. I've heard similar from my therapist when I have asked her about this very thing, however, I have not personally asked any other transgender human why they do or don't use the label. I do know some who hate it and some who embrace it. Hmm.... humans, go figure!
In no way was I the least bit offended by your question, but I'm pretty hard to offend. The leg comment from the hate mail mentioned earlier was offensive, but really it is hard to offend me. Somehow I have survived 20+ years of middle school and you really can't do that if you're easily offended. I will mention that there is some debate about the proper use of the word transgender. Commonly it is accepted that transgender is an adjective. So according to my wife, the English teacher in the house, one cannot be "transgendered." You can't have "transgenders." Nor can one be "transgendering." Hahaha - I don't think I've ever actually seen that one.
Lastly, I want you to know that it really touches me that you read my blog and cared enough to take the time to write to me. Thank you. You really are cool.
You're cool too!!!!!
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Shoes - Unisa - Similar
Scarf - ?? - Similar
The most amazing thing happened on the day I chose to wear this. I'm pretty sure it was either last Monday or Tuesday. Probably Monday, my first day back after winter break at work. One of the administrators at my school has asked for all teachers to go over the district's sexual harassment policy with our students at least once per quarter. I've decided to also include a brief discussion on what it means to bully and harass people in general. This particular time I included a brief discussion of LGBTQ+ issues. Things like the high rate of suicide, that most people will not say anything due to deep seated fears, and how we probably have 1 to 2 students in our own class who identify that way and have yet to let anybody know even though they know.
It was a fairly usual speech for me. Nothing all that out of the ordinary. However this time I did have a few new students in my classes. A student that I have only had for a month or two waited around after class while everyone else left. She came up to me and said something along the lines of "Mrs. Denithorne, I just wanted to say thank you for having that talk with us today. Especially the part about the LGBT community. So thank you very much because now I feel a little safer at this school. Can I give you a hug?" To which I said yes while choking back the tears.
Oh my god! Really?? Some part of me thought that just by seeing me, students would get the message that they can be safe, but that is not really true now is it? It needs to be explicitly explained to them before they really understand the issue. For both sides. The kids who are being harassed don't think anyone will care. And often the kids harassing really do not understand what they are doing.
So, I thanked her for speaking to me, and wished her a good day. She smiled and went about her school day. I took several deep breaths, savored the moment, and went outside with a huge grin and tears in my eyes to welcome in my next class and repeat the whole speech.
Damn teaching middle schoolers can really blow your socks off sometimes.