About Integrity – Om Integritet

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This picture is two months old and due to the hormones I don’t even look like this any more. But I thought it proper with a friendly face to this important and slightly stern text.

Jag hoppas att alla som följt min resa kan ta sig ett par minuter att läsa följande korta inlägg, en uppdatering av mina förväntningar på dig som vän och allierad. (In English below)

Den goda nyheten är att jag har börjat passera som kille!

“Passera” är ett ord som ofta används för att beskriva att en person av andra uppfattas så som hen känner sig. Att passera är inte något alla transpersoner strävar efter men för mig har det varit en otrolig lättnad att komma till den punkt där jag kan få vara något annat än transkillen som ni känner.

Det är inte längre lika uppenbart att jag har en ovanlig historia att berätta vilket betyder att jag kan få fokusera på annat. Jag kan välja när jag vill vara transaktivist. Jag kan välja om jag vill berätta privata saker om min könsidentitet, min transprocess, min kropp. Det betyder att jag får energi över till annat och gör att jag mår mycket bättre.

För att jag ska ha den här valmöjligheten behöver vi prata om integritet, du och jag. Jag är fortfarande “öppen” som transperson men det är upp till mig att prata eller berätta om det. Jag blir ledsen på riktigt om du “outar” mig som trans och du har ingen aning om vilka konsekvenser det kan få.

Många av er kommer att tycka att det som följer är självklart. I så fall får ni ta tillfället i akt och klappa er själva på axeln, det är ni värda. Men om något du läser idag är nytt för dig så är det inte konstigt det heller. När du läst färdigt vet du och behöver inte oroa dig för att göra fel. Det är för din skull som jag kommer att ge tre exempel på saker som hänt nyligen och som jag vill att du framöver är extra noga med att undvika, av respekt för min integritet. Kanske kan du med ledning de här tre punkterna komma på fler och om något är oklart får du gärna fråga mig privat.

1. Nämn inte mitt gamla namn. Referera inte till det så att någon hör eller ser.

Jag skulle gärna slippa konfronteras med den delen av mitt förflutna om det inte är väldigt viktigt, slippa förklara om jag inte väljer det själv. Om du vill prata gamla minnen, använd det namn du känner mig vid nu. Om du till känner till att det har funnits en blogg med mitt gamla namn i adressen, då vill jag att du säger “din/Emils gamla blogg”. Mitt namnbyte i sig är från och med nu ett olämpligt samtalsämne i de flesta grupper. Om det är något som gör att du verkligen behöver nämna mitt gamla namn, var diskret eller ta det privat.

2. Jag är ingens dotter, syster, exfru, gudmor eller före-detta flickvän. Jag är mina föräldrars son, mina syskons bror, mina partners pojkvän, min hunds husse och min exmans ex. Det är så jag vill bli omtalad.

Det här kan vara svårt, jag vet. Det kan kännas som historieförfalskning eller som att jag förnekar en del att mitt eller vårt förflutna. Det kan kännas orättvist att jag nu säger till hur du ska tänka om mig om du minns mig som någons syster eller den kaxigaste tjejen på lajvet där vi träffades. Men alla förändras vi över tid, min förändring är bara mer ovanlig. Om du talar om mig som att jag inte alltid varit den jag kille uppfattas som idag finns det situationer då det inte bara kränker min integritet utan också äventyrar min säkerhet. Transfobi är på riktigt. Hatbrott och diskriminering händer i verkligheten, tro mig. Jag vill ha rätten till min egen historia, jag vill kunna välja tillfället då vi pratar om den.

3. Om du inte redan gör det, ansträng dig för att tänka på mig som kille. De flesta andra gör det och det blir lite skillnad.

När jag uppfattas som kille utesluts jag ur vissa sammanhang och får tillträde till andra. Vissa saker funkar helt enkelt inte längre. Jag kan inte göra damernas omklädningsrum  otryggt genom att dyka upp där med min håriga rumpa, fjuniga kinder och målbrottsröst. Föreslå inte att jag ska hänga med till platser dit jag inte har tillträde. Jag är inte “en av tjejerna” och ditt förslag är ett sätt att “outa” mig som transperson. (Och åt andra hållet, det finns manligt kodade saker och platser jag inte är bekväm med heller, vi får försöka vara lite lyhörda mot varandra.)

Å andra sidan gynnas jag av patriarkala strukturer och andra snubbar håller mig om ryggen. Det betyder att jag måste tänka på vilken sorts kille jag vill vara och försöka leva upp till det. Jag behöver uppmärksamma mina nya privilegier, tänka på att lämna plats, hålla tyst och lyssna lite bättre.

Jag blev uppfostrad till en högljudd tjej med vassa armbågar. Jag har haft väldigt kort tid på mig att försöka bli en ödmjuk och lyssnande person som lämnar plats och talutrymme till andra. Det är tur att jag har resten av livet på mig att träna på det. Jag hoppas att du vågar påminna eller hjälpa mig om jag gör snedsteg så att jag förhoppningsvis kan reparera skadan eller göra bättre nästa gång.

Sammanfattningsvis: Jag lägger nu ett nytt och tydligare ansvar på dig som är min vän och allierad. Från och med nu ber jag om att få slippa konfronteras med mitt gamla namn, mitt vid födseln tilldelade kön och den kvinnliga könsroll jag offrat så väldigt mycket för att lämna bakom mig. Vissa samtalsämnen är inte längre lämpliga om jag inte lyfter dem själv, på samma sätt som det är olämpligt att direkt fråga någon annan om jobbiga saker de försöker lägga bakom sig eller sorger de måste leva med. Om det känns svårt att leva upp till det här så har du min fulla förståelse men jag ber dig att försökKortedalaåsena.

Tack för att du förstår och för att du läste ända hit!

In English:


About Integrity

I hope that everyone who has been following my journey can take a few minutes to read the following update of my expectations on you as friends and allys.

The great news is: I now pass as a guy!

“To pass” or “passing as male/female” describes that a person is genderd correctly or perceived by others as they identify themselves. Passing is not something all trans people strive to do, but for me it has been an incredible relief to get to the point when I finally do. It is no longer obvious that I have an unusual story to tell, which means that I can focus on other things. I can choose when I want to be a trans activist. I can choose if I want to talk about private things regarding my gender, my body and the process I’ve been trough. The freedom to have this choice makes me feel so much better.

For me to be able to enjoy this new freedom, you and I have to talk about integrity. I’m still “open” as transgender but please remember that it’s up to me to decide when to talk about it. You have no right to “out” me and no idea about what consequences it will have for me if you do.

From now on I want you to be extra careful out of respect for my privacy. In this post I’m going to give you three examples of things that I’ve struggled with recently, things that I’d like you to think of. On the basis of them, maybe you can think of others? If anything seems unclear, feel free to ask me in private. Also, many of you will feel that what follows in this post is old news to you. Great! You’ve done well! But if you learn something new today, don’t be ashamed. This is not stuff everybody knows but I believe you can make good use of your new skills once you’ve read this post.

 

1. Do not mention my old name and do not refer to it in public without caution

I want to be able to choose the time and place for any explanations out of the ordinary. I would therefore like you to avoid confronting me with my past, unless it is very, very important. If you want to talk old memories, use the name you know me by now. My change of name in itself is from now on an inappropriate topic for conversation. If you really have to mention or refer to my old name, be as discreet as you possibly can.

2. I’m nobody’s daughter, sister, ex-wife, godmother or ex-girlfriend so never refer to me as such. I am the son of my parents, my siblings brother, my partners boyfriend and my dog’s daddy. Use the right words, even in past tense.

This can be difficult, I know. It may feel like I deny a part of my own or our common past. But I want to have the right to my own story, I want to be able to choose the moment when we’re talking about it. It may seem unfair given that you maybe still think of me as someone’s daughter or the most badass girl on the LARP where we met. But we all change over time, my change is just a bit more unusual than most. If you reveal that I have not always been seen as the guy I am today, you might not only violate my privacy but also jeopardize my safety. I mean it. Transphobia is for real. Hate crime and discrimination happen in real life, believe me.

3. Do your best to think of me as a guy, if you not already are.

When I’m perceived as a guy I get excluded from certain spaces, lose some privileges and gain access to others. Some things just doesn’t work any more. I can’t have access to the women’s locker room if I look male. I have no right to ruin others safe spaces, even if I happen to lack my own. Don’t suggest that I come with you to separatistic spaces meant for women, it is not including but a way of “outing” me as transgender.

On the other hand, passing as male I’ll benefit from patriarchal power structures. That makes life so much esier but I also have to think about what kind of guy I want to be and then try to live up to that. I must pay attention to my new privileges and denounce those I can spare, constantly remind myself to keep quiet and listen a little better. But I was raised as a competative and outspoken girl with sharp elbows. I have had a very short time to become the humble and listening person I’d like to be. Fortunatly I’ll have the rest of my life to practice these skills, so wish me luck. And I hope you dare to give me a friendly reminder if need be, so that I can hopefully repair the damage or do better next time.

In summary: I want to clarify what I expect of you as my friend and ally. From now on, I ask you to avoid outing me as transgender. Don’t confront me with my old name. Don’t mention the fact that I was assigned female at birth, it’s nobody’s business to tell but mine. Some topics are no longer appropriate, just as it is inappropriate to directly ask others about the difficult things they are trying to put behind them or sorrows we all have to live with. There are off course times when we need to talk about these things with people we trust, but until such a time we must carry the confidence of our friends with utmost care.
If it feels hard to live up to this, you have my full understanding, but I ask you kindly to try.

Thank you for reading this far!

Skogspromenad i Göteborg

Depression.

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Stockholm pride last summer.

I used to take pride in how well I was doing as a transgender guy. I came out almost seamless. Once I had changed my name and got my investigation started, things was going exceptionally smooth. I felt better, had more fun and a brighter view on the future. I used to think that it was partly because transitioning is the right thing for me to do, but also because I was downright good at it. It is a bit of a blow to discover that I’m not doing so well any more.

Clinical depression is incredibly common among transgender people. Depression can be seen as one effect of experiencing gender dysphoria – or rather of living in a cis-normative society. I knew this and I saw friends suffer through it. But I felt strong and thought that I was different, that my supportive network could protect me from harm. I felt thankful and was right to do so, but none the less I was mistaken.

IMAG4356

January 2015. It is a cold new year.

It has been growing on me the last few weeks that I feel like shit a bit to often. Initially I blamed it on Christmas or the frustrating work with my thesis and thought it only reasonable. But then I lost what remained of my concentration along with my appetite and got trouble sleeping. I’ve felt isolated, tired and sad, yet restless. Dysphoria has got to me again. I’ve avoided meeting people or engage in things I used to enjoy, in order to not drain myself on energy.

I really should have seen this one coming. I’ve been here before and I know what I have to do. I’ve arranged with doctors appointments, put my theses aside and decided to take a break from doing hard stuff like studying until I feel better. Just thought that I should let you know.

If you want to help, I appreciate your company rather than your expressed sympathy, a warm meal rather than hugs. But anything heartfelt definitely goes.

 

/ E.

 

 

“Whats wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with you? What’s your disease?” he asked me frankly, with a complementary gesture towards his face and then nodding towards me. I had just introduced myself and been offered a cup of tea. It was our first meeting. I noticed in the corner of my eye how the boys parents both quietly flushed with embarrassment. Most grown ups tend to go to any lengths pretending that there is nothing unusual about me, my voice or how I look.

As I’ve written about earlier, I work a few hours a week after school as companion for a young man with severe autism. He’s happy with the arrangement and I find it very rewarding so I’ve asked my boss for more work of this sort.

That is why I today was introduced to this other boy. He’s been seriously ill since birth and because of that, he is very lonely. I was informed that he has gone trough major surgery many times already. The problems with his health has restricted his possibility to be physically active, to go to school and make friends with kids of his own age.

Now when we’d met, he wondered about me, what was different about me. Because something clearly was unusual about my voice and general appearance. I look masculine but sound feminine and even regardless of that, I’m not like most people. Unlike his parents and my boss, I did not find the question rude, rather relevant and refreshingly honest. I even hoped we could find a way to bound over my answer.

So I pointed to the scars on my upper lip and told him that I, just like him, was born with a few constructional errors. You can still see that my upper lip is very thin and that is because a part of the muscle tissue inside of the of the lip is missing – it never developed properly. I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, showing on the outside as two deep slits in my upper lip. (Maybe you’ve heard of Operation Smile? They provide surgeries to repair cleft lip and palate for children born in development countries.)

It happens sometimes that the body’s natural structures don’t fuse together as they are meant to before birth. The skin and bone had not grown together in the “seams” that naturally exists during a short time of the foetus development for allowing the facial features to grow. This means that I had an opening, or two, where there isn’t supposed to be one. The cleft in my lip was stitched up when I was only a few months old and the palate has been surgically closed. I’ve had plenty of re-constructive surgery, dental care, bone- and titanium implants to patch things up. Today, I don’t have much trouble with my congenital defect, I’ve learned how to compensate for it. But the scars and the unusual asymmetry of my facial features are still there and especially apparent when I smile. Well aware of that, I smiled when I told the boy about what was wrong with me, as a means of raising my personal pride flag. And then, in a light tone of voice I added:

“Oh, and also, when I was born, they thought that I was a girl. Everyone thought that for a long time. But I’m not. I feel like a guy, so now when I’m grown up I’ve changed my name and pronoun accordingly. Not a big deal really, but it is he and him now, and I’m a guy. If you were wondering about my voice, I mean.”

The boy was clearly surprised by this last piece of information about me, but I think it seemed to make sense to him and we laughed together at it. His parents and my boss, in the corner of my eye, looked enormously relived and also laughed. After this undramatic outing of me as transgender, we could bound over our experiences of serious surgery, being hospitalised as a kid and being different from others.

But we did not linger on the subject for long. Partly because I wanted to focus on him and what’s normal and healthy in him. And partly because he was so happy to have me there. Almost before the tea was finished, he pulled me away from the table and the others, eager to show me his room, his things and his X-box. Our formal first meeting, planned to be a just short interview, turned in to a 4 hour long play-date for the two of us and we clicked so well.

Again, I got the job where the parents had asked especially for a male, even thou I was not born a man. I’m really proud to be considered especially qualified because of how I’m different and because of how I make it work. And this lionhearted boy, brave enough to ask the questions that no one ever dares to ask me, I think we will have a lot of fun together in the future.