Christmas family pictures – beards and dogs.

Two years ago my family agreed to support my transitioning by making it a tradition to take pictures of me and my brothers for Christmas, for future comparison. ❤

IMAG4231 As this Christmas was the last one before we can expect serious changes in my appearance due to me starting on hormone treatment, our genetic basis for beard-growth was much discussed.

IMAG4203My youngest little brother, who happened to be dressed as my look-a-like, he is blessed or cursed with not much facial hair. But my father and the other two have it the other way around, so it is not easy to know what I’m to expect.

It doesn’t really matter to me if I’ll have a beard or not, I’ll propably shave it all off anyway. When it comes to changes, I’m mostly looking forward to a bit more muscular features and a deeper voice. Increased hairyness all over is something I’ll just have to deal with, it comes in the package no matter what I think of it.

My dog made his first visit in my family home at Christmas eve and he was on his very best behavior. (He also got the most Christmas-gifts, lots of candy, so Santa must have known how nice ha has been all along!)

IMAG4165My sister and my three brothers, we grew up with two hunting dogs in the house. It sort of felt like things was back in order, now with my Basilard in the sofa, even if the dogs back then was to well raised to even be allowed in the living room. Everybody was glad to have him there, he made me really proud of him!

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All in all, both me and my new companion had a very good Christmas, and we hope you did to.

/ E.

The Gatekeeper

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This morning before my meeting, waiting nervously outside the hospital.

I was nervous about today’s meeting, but not in the way people seem to think. I’m not afraid to tell my story or to meet new people. I’m not worried about being denied the medical care I ask for. I’m not afraid to be questioned, I’m well prepared for that and just waiting for an opportunity, for someone to ask and listen. I wont be speechless, quite the opposite.

I’ve been more nervous about getting very conservative questions about my relationships and the gender of my friends and lovers. I dread to be asked to elaborate my own sexual identity or my presumably unhappy childhood. I’m afraid to be judged after the questioners maybe limited understanding of my answers. I don’t want to be misunderstood by the gatekeepers that I have to pass on my journey, but that is a very real risk.

I was disappointed today, at the meeting. I was at the right place in the right time, but when the person in front of me presented himself, I realised that he was not the one I’d expected. He was just another gatekeeper, one of at the least three I’ve met so far. He’s a psychiatrist but does NOT work together with the transgender team responsible for investigation and diagnosis, only in the same house and department so I see now why I was mistaken and got my hopes up.

The procedure is that you must see a psychiatrist before you meet the team and enter the system for real. So it is a step in the right direction, but I thought I’ve already met someone like him and were done with it. I must have mixed things up during the eons of time I’ve been waiting and the long row of people I’ve met in order to get my investigation process started. As things now were, I had to answer all the basic questions about my situation, health, family and such, like I’ve done before with other gatekeepers.

Why do you want to do this investigation? was the first tricky question. It is wide open and I could elaborate on that topic for hours. But for today I was prepared with a short answer, explaining that I feel like a guy and have changed my name and pronoun accordingly. My life would be easier if my registered gender could be changed to match and if I could receive the medical care an investigation such as this could unlock.

So, it is important for you to be addressed as a man? And your name is Emil now? He scribbled something on a piece of paper, thoroughly noting this fact. I was impressed by this, he really got the point without me pushing it down his throat (I’m always ready to do that). This early in our conversation, we had already achieved my set goals for the meeting, him understanding what name and pronoun to use and that I’ve already gone a far way transitioning before we met.

How long have you felt like this, felt like a guy rather than a girl? he asked. This is important since the diagnose criteria states that you have to have felt like this for “a substantial time”. I answered truthfully that I’d never identified myself as a woman, but only lately found out that there are words to describe this, others who feel the same and on top of that – something you can do about it.

He asked about my earlier marriage – Was I married to a man or a woman? Did that person ever question their gender identity? Did I myself, during the marriage? For how long were you married? Where do you live now? In a large apartment with your best friend. What gender does your friend have? Do you live together as friends or as a couple? 

I got a bit annoyed with this, his assuming that friends don’t have sex but couples do. If he thinks it of importance whom I sleep with or not, I’d prefer if he asked directly. As it now were, I pretended not to understand what he was after. Who I have sex with and what my preferences on gender are when it comes to attraction is really not important at this early stage, if ever.

If I have a partner or not (or more than one) is of huge importance tough, I’ll need a good network and solid support to go trough an investigation process as this. But he did not ask about that, so I said nothing. Later, when we talked about my family’s history when it comes to health an heredity, I explained that my friends, partners and family are 100% behind me on this and that I feel that I’ve gotten so much closer to them trough this process, coming out as the person I really am. My intentions where to give him the information he missed to ask me about and I hope he got it.

Then he asked if I was in a hurry with this investigation thing and how important it is to me? I told him that I expect the process to take somewhere between 2 – 4 years and that it means the world to me. He marvelled at this, obviously having no idea himself that it could take so long time. But he seemed to understand that this was important to me and that I had a good idea about the time-frame.

He was confused when I used expressions such as “transition” instead of his “gender swap” or “gender dysforia” to describe the particular sensation of gender related anxiety I sometimes feel. I sighed under the weight of this never ending educational task you seem to have as a transgender person, you have to enlighten and educate everyone you meet, even within the medical care system.

PicsArt_1399056408082[1]All in all, it was a good and efficient first meeting. Now, my plan is to repeatedly and regularly call the transgender team and politely tell them that I’ve seen the psychiatrist down the hall and that I’m ready and eager to meet them as well.

I think I can be rather persuasive.

 

Male privilege – how to be a male feminist

For Christmas we took some family pictures with me and my brothers posing together. I’m the oldest one, but yet the smallest. This is for future reference; we decided to do another photo-shoot next year and speculated on whether or not I’d be having a beard by then. Probably not. But I may have just started on testosterone and if I keep up my good work at the gym, other changes are to expect.

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I think I pass rather well on these pictures. Even if none of us are that much of a looker, we sure look very much alike! Many friends have mentioned since my last post that they don’t think of me as a girl or woman any more and have no trouble with my name or pronoun. So, only six months in to openly transitioning, I mostly pass as a guy.

Due to that, I’ve been reminded on how passing brings new responsibilities and interpretations of my actions. Brave friends point out to me what sometimes happens if I’m not careful with what I do or how I express myself. Remember you’ve got male privileges now, they say. Watch how you use them, they say. All of a sudden things got more complex.

As we live in a patriarchal society my obligations as a feminist (transgender-)man differ from those I’ve had earlier when I was perceived as a woman. My job is to figure out what to do and start doing it ASAP. There are lots of feminist blogs on how to be a better feminist man or what not to do.

That said, I feel that it is slightly different to have “changed sides” from being a disadvantaged female feminist to being a definitely more privileged (transgender) male feminist. So I tried to write a list of my own, over the things I’ve been reminded of and currently are working on.

How to be a good feminist (transgender) man:

  • Shut up and listen. Really, really listen. It is not possible to over-listen to someone. As a man you’ll have more time to talk and others will back you up more than you are used to. Remember to balance that privilege by practising actively and attentively  listening to others to equally empower them.
  • Some safe-spaces are not for you any more. Remember to respect that others have more need of them than you. You might even be making important safe havens unsafe without knowing or meaning it.
  • Watch how you gender others and how you reproduce norms around gender. The patriarchy and binary gender system sucks, but you are in on it to and you are responsible for how you deal with it.
  • When misogynist injustice strikes and you are watching it, remember that it is not your fight at a person level any more. As a man you are in the other end, now you have to work from there. On a structural level you are responsible, not the victim.
  • You are generally not entitled to express yourself as a representative of the female gender any more. It may seem unfair as you haven’t had all of your male privilege-packages delivered yet, but just suck it up and go and hate the binary gender system somewhere you can do it without making others suffer for it.
  • If you offer help for someone gendered female, due to the norm of heterosexuality and the influence of traditional gender roles it may seem like you are trying to be all heroic only to impress the ladies or make yourself look good. It is hard to be a gentleman without diminishing others. Sometimes it is best to wait and see if someone asks for your help.
  • Don’t stay silent when you see sexism in action. That includes rape jokes, slut-shaming, fat-shaming and skinny shaming. You are a feminist ally now. Be the guy who doesn’t let other guys talk shit about women behind their backs. Be the guy who never lets a “she was asking for it” stand.
  • Just because you “used to be a girl” you cannot possibly know what every girl or woman out there have experienced – don’t mansplain things, it is so diminishing.

I expect to learn more and to be able to expand my list later on, but this will have to do for today.