What does it mean to arrive at the point of one’s departure? Like setting off into the sunset of oneself. Like finally getting it. As though your entire body is on the tip of your tongue and finally, finally you have the words to describe/translate it.
This can be the power of words pressed like a trace on a page. This can be coming into contact with a Human that is carving out the languages so deeply rooted that soil and blood drip from the ends.
This must be shared:
by C Vallario
Puberty was like “walking around in a suit you couldn’t take off,” says Skyler, a FTM transgender teen who Margaret Talbot writes about in this month’s New Yorker article, “About A Boy.”
Within the first page the author name-drops a celebrity couple whose son has recently transitioned. No, it is not Cher, and if you Google this article, just to find out, you are very well part of the celebrity absorbed population. Today, more adolescents are coming out as trans because of literature like “Parrotfish” and largely because of the Internet.When I was growing up in the early 90s, we didn’t have these resources. My mom nicknamed me Tina. Society named me tomboy while my basketball coach called me Chris. After a game, my mom politely scolded him, “No one calls her that.” Talbot’s article uses Skyler to show that some teenagers are transitioning earlier with the support of their parents. Skylar was reading the Epic of Gilgamesh for a class, and one day he told his mother, “This is so interesting to think about—my teacher had to sit us down and say, ‘Yes, Gilgamesh and Enkidu are lovers. No, they’re not necessarily gay. They just didn’t have a concept for that.’ “Another time, he declared, “There aren’t two major categories of gender—every person has their own gender and will deal with it the way they deal with it.” He wasn’t just engaging in intellectual play, however; he was putting theory into practice.
While I was writing an autoethnographic thesis, gender-identity became a thread throughout my work, and my advisor who is an openly gay woman suggested that I call this thread “sexual orientation” rather than “gender identity.” Because she is in her 50s and comes from the era that outing oneself was difficult enough, she does not fully grasp it and/or chooses not to. However, “Sexual orientation and gender identity are separate matters. It can be hard for some of us to imagine a sexuality that is not inextricably linked to our gender.” When one’s brain does not link up with one’s body, he or she goes through life without balance. A balance beam is one’s path, and when one deters from the beam, which is quite often, it becomes excruciatingly painful. Because there are others who have transitioned and have documented their lives and struggles largely on the internet, generations today are able to refrain from suffrage.
Skyler co-taught a workshop on breast binding at the True Colors Conference and a hundred people attended. At his transgroup, the group leader describes the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation by using a model called “[t]he Genderbread Person [which is] shaped like a gingerbread man, has a cartoon heart denoting “sexual orientation”; a cartoon brain, for “gender identity”; a crotch area that represents “biological sex”; and a dotted line, surrounding the figure, that signifies “gender expression”—how you present yourself to the world, in behavior and dress.” This diagram can be applied to anyone; for instance, a person who identifies as straight can see that these characteristics may or may not link up entirely.
There were other parents who Talbot interviewed, and the most problematic statement for me was said by Danielle, a mom from the Bay area. She declares, “There are tides of history that was in, and when they wash out they leave some people stranded. The drug culture of the sixties was like that and the sexual culture of the eighties, with AIDS. I think this could be the next wave like that, and I don’t want my daughter to be a casualty.” This article progressed into a highly dangerous one when this woman compared the AIDS epidemic to TRANS people. It sickens me to think that this woman actually believes that the widespread of AIDS was a trend. Talk about “The Gentrification of the Mind” (Schulman); this woman grew up in SF and has no respect or commonality to the numbers of bloodshed. Instead, Danielle turns TRANS into another hate crime. First of all, children, teens and adults who know that they are biologically in the wrong body are not choosing to feel this way; this is as much a part of their makeup as someone born with a sexuality that is inextricably linked to their gender. At the same time, one must go through an extensive process in order to transition, which includes therapy and medical care.
Even though it is more acceptable to be a “tomboy” than a “fairy,” MTFs are much more likely to get the full surgery whereas 95% of FTMs do not get bottom surgery. This is because it is much easier to cut and build than to make more of something. Biologically born males are still able to get what they ultimately want. Yet, a featured story about a man transitioning into a women would not be published in the New Yorker. There are even gender hierarchies happening within the transgender and transsexual communities. However, “the availability of intervention and outspokenness of the transgender community are causing a lot more people to see themselves as transgender, and at younger ages.”