Sunday, 30 October 2011

Divers*itty

Diversity, by sound and definition suggests accepting and respecting an individuals’ difference and acknowledgement that they hold a valid place in society. Or so we are led to believe.

I have noticed in politically correct documentation or even in debates and the workplace that word ‘diversity’ pops up whenever some guilt deriving from privilege of some description appears to be riding high.  OK maybe I am generalising slightly, or perhaps a lot, but my point is that word is being bandied about more and more.

My issue with it is that for the most part I feel it is a lie.

Not everyone is as open minded, welcoming or even accepting as they want to be or just are. As people we do have preferences and our own ideas as to what is right and wrong and what is normal.

These differences have always been in place. Society and people’s attitudes work in funny ways.

There will always be prejudiced people within society and our confines. This is something I am discovering the more I transition. For example there are some lesbians that only want to be friends with lesbians or mix within spaces that are clearly defined as women only. I respect this.  But now I have accepted and learned that this now means that this world I am no longer a part of. Even though I was one and part of me feels some connection there still.

Yes I chose to transition but I have done so to be honest with myself. Being called a ‘woman’ just never quite worked for me. In the same way as being called ‘straight’ wouldn’t feel natural to someone else.

But what I don’t appreciate is a feeling that because I am male that it is assumed that I will have the worst attributes of male behaviour. I was a feminist before I transitioned and I feel I am a feminist now.

Only, according to some groups and people it is assumed that I have opted to “embrace a life of privilege” by choosing to transition. This I have a problem with – the assumption and projection of someone else’s hang-ups.

I know in my heart and head why I chose to transition and it wasn’t so I could shower myself in any additional privilege.

Lately I feel I have hit my limit of being treated like I am in some ways an enemy or a freak just because I live a life that is a bit different to others. I refuse to be disrespected or to be a target based on someone else’s issues or lack of understanding and awareness.

I don’t condemn people who live a life that doesn’t match with my set of values. I try and accept differences that people have to mine and I try to be respectful to other people. It’s a shame that a similar sense of courtesy doesn’t always cut both ways. In that instance I would consider myself slightly na├»ve.

I’m not expecting people to be extra nice towards me just because I am transitioning. But what I don’t appreciate is having to put up with other people’s shit based on how someone transitioning makes them feel. Or their own comfort levels at a disregard and disrespect to who I am.

As I think I have touched on before, my transition isn’t about anyone else. For me, it’s about living a life that is honest and true to myself.

In my other life I was miserable and felt that there was something missing. It was deeply empowering and liberating to discover that I could finally be happy and be the person I felt I have always been.  Only biology and the law were the things working against that. Now I have male hormones in my body, my periods appeared to have stopped and legally I am male according to my passport and official documents. So there isn’t much about me nowadays that isn’t ‘real’ if I am to be implied as being a fraud.

I hate lying.  It’s something that I never like to intentionally do.  I also didn’t transition because it’s trendy or because I had an issue with being a butch woman.
Cheap insults such as “You’ll never be a real man” or “it’s not normal” seem to be based around other people’s hang-ups.

That I can handle more easily than assumption that I will be a badly behaved man.

I find that massively insulting.  Especially when I have seen really misogynistic behaviour displayed by all genders.

I am not disputing that there aren’t misogynistic men out there because there are.  Women have been oppressed by men for centuries and I am not saying that is right at all because it isn’t.  But at the same time there are men out there that aren’t like that and do respect women.

It is unfair to assume that ALL men will behave like that or think it’s ok to behave in that way. But at the same time it is unrealistic to expect that someone of male gender should in effect spend their entire life apologising for being the gender that they are. Because of the actions of certain men that have behaved in a particular way
.
I was under the impression that overall we are all individuals and therefore it is a choice as to how we choose to behave?

People have to take responsibility for their own actions and hiding behind a group or an entity is weak in my opinion. We all have a choice as to how we behave and conduct ourselves.

If I’m offensive towards someone it would be because I am being rude not because of my gender or sexuality.

Especially as I see that this is how we should respond given the society we now live in.  We should know what is right and what is wrong in certain situations.

Most people know that it is wrong to be racist, sexist, homophobic or ignorant to people of other religions.  The same should apply to anything, which signifies a difference to one another.

I wish more people would take responsibility for their behaviour and own their own shit outright.

But then not everyone wants this, and this is what can be a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Half-Time

I have 5 weeks to go until I have my next shot.  I don’t feel that I ‘need’ another shot right away but I do feel like something is missing.  Right now my hormone levels feel somewhat confused anyway.  I should have come on my period by now, but I haven’t.   Instead I feel very pre-menstrual and tired.

The feeling of female hormones trying to do their job is a bit confusing. I alternate between feeling the new feelings in my system to what were my old emotional patterns making a cameo appearance.

There are also other changes taking place.  Parts of me are getting broader and more solid. I have paranoia that I am getting fat.  I feel that I don’t know my body anymore and fortunately people tell me I look good, which is affirming that this is a good change.  I know that I am still getting used to it.

I used to be big (as in overweight) and in getting used to having a new body from that, having a body change again that changes the shape is a bit confusing for my brain to handle.

I still see the heavier version of me looking back in the mirror. I don’t see my new shape so well, nor can I relate to how this new body works.

Having had negative self-image issues for a while now I can’t stand where some of my feelings are veering towards.

It’s not all bleak but I know I need to keep working hard to stay trim and to work to keep a body shape that I am comfortable with. I definitely intend to keep my physical exercise levels high, not just for health benefits but also one side effect of not smoking every day and the T is that I am a lot hungrier than I used to be. 

As a point of common sense it is worth my while to exercise more. That way I know I have done something rather than nothing to try and keep the body shape that I want. With time I know that I can keep to working on my goals.

I also have a lot of thoughts in a working capacity on my mind right now. There are things I am actualising there too.

But right now I don’t know if it’s the change of season kicking in or other recent events (that I am leaving out of this blog) but I feel exhausted. I have fantasies of eating a massive bowl of soup and then falling asleep in a cave and not emerging until March.

In reality that won’t happen, but time is flying by and my feet don’t appear to be touching the ground any longer. I feel that I have wings strapped to my back but I don’t know where to go next, so currently I am hovering and waiting. Whilst wanting something but I don’t know what.

During this wait for what feels like an epiphany I can feel something dying inside of me right now.

In some ways I think I am a little bit sad at the moment, only I don’t cry, nor really want to and I feel now that it is harder to express myself in the ways that I used to.

Perhaps it is down to hormones, but at the same time I don’t want to put everything down to that, as that would be too easy. Some of this is definitely me changing too. As is my desire for quiet and near silence.

Only if a sound is meant to be loud or from a baby then I seem to have compassion or tolerance for it. Otherwise my mind switches to wanting whatever it is to shut the f*ck up.

I’m still feeling pretty much with everything right now that I am on my way to a party rather than being there. This involves my work too.

It’s all about preparation for this, that or the other.

Future thoughts, thinking about tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year.  It’s great in theory.  It offers some security. My only gripe is that I don’t feel that I am living for now.

Everything I do is almost like completing a To-Do list. It’s about slots and then time running out. The time left to enjoy that moment seems to evaporate rapidly.

I say this as I don’t feel much like I am ‘me’ right now but someone who is acting as a spectator of other people’s lives. The sad thing is my internal silence is making me feel more and more at a distance from people.

Particularly as I don’t feel I can articulate so much what I do want or what I would like to do. My thoughts have become set into what is happening next. I know it’s just a phase I am going through but I want to stop floating.

I also want to feel that I can speak and express myself without feeling some sort of blockage. It’s a strange tension that has started to emerge, especially when for the most part I am surrounded by people in which I can talk freely with and they listen without judgement.

But it must be said I do like seeing my counsellor too. I feel I have a channel that is completely safe and won’t leave me feeling that I have to take other people’s feelings into account or worry that I might sound like I am moaning too much or might say something that will offend.

Especially as my sense of tact right now I feel isn’t as good as it usually is. Yet sometimes it is an awkward position to wanting to express what it is I feel yet not run the risk of offending someone.

Yet I have become tired of feeling that the first compromises in many situations have to come from me. Compromise is an important part of life and is a key step in creating sustainable harmony. But sometimes I feel that I over-compromise. If such a thing exists, especially when it seems that everyone around me gets their needs met or gets what they want out of life, but I have to do a lot of things to fit in with what everyone else wants or needs.

Still these are some of my feelings, I am hoping to make sense soon. Failing that there’s always Christmas or some other anti-climax to pin these hopes upon.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Armistice

Over the last few days I have had many things on my mind, and even from my last blog post and some of the comments that I read on my facebook page has given me a few things to think about.

Firstly, I will try not to write a blog entry when really pissed off. As certain points might not be articulated in quite the way I intended them to. Also one or two things said in heat of the moment might in fact inflame a situation further.

I consider myself a peaceful person, so within that I don’t actually go out of  my way to upset of offend people.  I also remember that everyone can interpret things differently and not all the time will people have understanding.  Especially when certain things will never be a reality for an individual.

But I am sure people may have experienced similar situations, or not as the case may be. This is the way life goes. Interpretation is always going to be subject to some form of debate as people react to things differently and understanding can vary based on what someone’s experience of something is.

Since starting my transition everything has become a learning curve and I have found ways of doing it that works well for me. But within that context what has worked for me, might not be what someone else who was transitioning would want.

The fact is everyone (in transition) will interpret their transition in a different way to one another because in essence it is an individual and rather solitary process. For that reason I think this is part of the reason why people’s needs can vary as well as there being a situation which means that what works for one person won’t work for all.

Without this sounding dramatic or woe is me (as this really isn’t the case) people that are transgender are in a minority so therefore there will be situations that aren’t so clear cut in terms of spaces being available to them as well as the question of is it appropriate for them to be there?

When there is a grey area then it’s not so clear cut is it?

Since being in transition this is something I have been discovering more and more. I have started learning how to socialise differently as in many ways I am not a lesbian anymore. Due to the fact I identify as male and legally I am male now. Although I am still female bodied, as I haven’t had any surgery yet.

If anything I identify as queer, as that I think fits best as to who I am if I was forced to label myself.

I’m never going to be a straight man. Nor would I ever want to be that. If anything I love it when I’m out and people think I am a gay man. But I can see why people wouldn’t get this if I am holding my girlfriend’s hand or if she is kissing me!

Still, no matter how odd that might sound to the outside world, it works for us which I think is the most important part.
It isn’t a deliberate act, but I never did quite master how to fit solidly into one side or the other. But to be fair sometimes life doesn’t work like that.

The fact is I am getting what I want out of life for the most part.  I pass more and more, my voice is deepening and I am definitely getting closer to feeling that I am the person I have always been inside, but the difference is that physically I am starting to look like that person and will be taking more steps towards that.

If I feel that a situation isn’t right for me or makes me unhappy then I look into solutions. So that I don’t end up feeling trapped or miserable. I can’t stand whinging about situations (or listening to other people whinging about situations) where nothing has been done to try and remedy it. 

Still, these have been some of the things I have been learning. It has been great having a varied network of friends too, as this has enabled me to get many different perspectives in what feels like self-imposed chaos.

Changes are happening all the time right now and now the hormones are in full sing I sometimes feel a bit lost.  Although I am enjoying the changes taking place I am still adjusting to feeling that I am a guest where my body is concerned.

For the past 26 years I have been used to it working in a particular way. Now its all changing with the hormones, but at the same time it is fascinating too. I feel like a guest in my own body some of the time.

In a similar way, whenever I see the Boychild, he seems to be a bit different or has changed in some way. But each change is amazing to behold as it happens so quickly.

I remember when he was a little bundle and now he can stand, hold things and almost walk and talk and he is only 7 months! 

In a strange juxtaposition, I will be intrigued to see what has changed in myself when I would have been on hormones for 7 months. It isn’t so long to go and already I am starting to feel that there is a new raft of things waiting to happen with time.

My next injection isn’t until nearly the end of November so that does give me around six weeks…so now I am experiencing what it’s like to be halfway through one of my dosages.

To begin with, Nebido shots happen with a first shot, then six weeks later there is another shot and then after that the next ones happen every 12 weeks.

I don’t feel that I am missing anything, but I do find it interesting that on some days I feel that there is something releasing in me and other days I feel there isn’t much happening. It is swings and roundabouts where that is concerned.

But something I am starting to get used to as my body recognises some of what is going on.

I am looking forward to my periods stopping as I find them confusing if anything.  Especially because of the resulting PMT I sometimes get, as I don’t recognise it as that anymore.

Now I know when I am due on and its because I usually see an old lady on her own in a supermarket and for some reason it makes me want to cry. Yesterday I saw a woman who had no legs in a wheelchair and I felt really emotional about it.

Before I would have had watery eyes, but this time I didn’t. The T is definitely helping me to cry less, but it also makes me struggle to sometimes feel that I can talk about things easily.

I feel myself starting to get quieter.  In social situations I don’t always have the desire to speak any more. Even in my house that I live in, I don’t want to talk to many people a lot of the time.

But then some of that also boils down to the fact that sometimes people are loud, if they happen to have just been shouting or being really loud then I won’t be in a hurry to speak to them and sometimes I like to be in near silence.

I’m also feeling it when out as well.

But then there are people I am very familiar with I love talking to.  Perhaps some of this is about comfort.

Given that I used to live alone and now I am in a houseshare that is fairly large, I think some of my levels of comfort have changed. I did choose this but it is something I am still adjusting to.

Like anything that is a change, it will take some getting used to.

Followed by that other thing my life seems to revolve around…patience!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

We Are Family?

I think there is a bit of an illusion when people think of the LGBT community.  I think the word ‘community’ is a bit overly positive. The fact is just because the people in that spectrum don’t always have conventional relationships or fit into a heteronormative construct then there sometimes is an assumption that all misfits will be the best of buddies.

Nice dream.

The truth is all of the groups don’t live in a united harmony or have a solidarity with one another that might be assumed by those on the periphery.

From going out the other night, it became apparent to even me that some women don’t like men. Or those who are male.

I say this because I was at a night that is marketed at gay women. Given that I used to be a gay woman, I date a lesbian, used to be a photographer for a lesbian magazine and was known around the scene for being a lesbian photographer and since my transition have wanted to retain some links to the women’s community I thought it’s nice to go to slightly more lesbiany events once in a while.

I say once in a while as I don’t go clubbing very often. Given I spent so much time in my early twenties in night clubs I am not feeling that I am missing much.  Also it must be added that clubs aren’t what they used to be. 

A friend and I often reminisce about our early twenties clubbing escapades, but particularly the choice and variety that was in place.  I remember when Ghetto was open 7 days a week and that you could meet a different crowd of people every night.  New nights were constantly popping up and I felt there really used to be more of a feeling of something for everyone.

Then Simon Hobart died, the recession hit in and now there is very little out there happening that is new. Certain echelons of each community feeling that they have limited spaces available to them.

The scene really isn’t as it was but at the same time we change too.  Most people I know are having babies, thinking about babies or trying to have babies.  Some might be moving onto other options such as adoption. 

I have decided to sit in the middle and be a part-time Manny.  It means it saves the stress of being a parent 24/7 but offers a glimpse into a something that might be a reality for me some day otherwise I just like caring for a baby but then going home at the end of the night. We’ll see on that front.

The thing that is on my mind is how I feel when I do go out.

I went somewhere over the weekend which I will not fault the organisers about as their night is a very good night.  They also are positive about people like me being there.  But I felt some of the clientele wasn’t, and this has left me with a few things to think about as well.

I had people making comments to me such as “I thought this was a women’s only night” and “this is a night for lesbians and this is our bar” when challenging someone trying to push in front of me.

I also got fed up of being given attitude just for the fact I was male identified. I understand why some people may have felt upset by my presence but at the same time I have as much right to stand at a bar and not be given attitude when I haven’t done a single thing to anyone in there. 

There was also someone giving me dirty looks because it was apparent she had her eye on E but on noticing she was with me she kept up her dirty looks campaign with an air of almost self-imposed virtue. (Perhaps a good thing to note is that her pulling technique might work a little better if she didn’t stare so desperately at people in the first place.)

This is something where I can see a reason why she would feel annoyed but at the same time behaving like that is a bit ridiculous, and rather childish.

As for the rudeness of the women at the bar that was completely uncalled for. On a busy night there will be a wait until you can be served.  But making comments at me because of who I am or who they perceive me to be is wrong. Also trying to justify pushing in front because the case that they identify as a lesbian and they see me as a man is also utterly pathetic.

Do you want to know the twisted irony in all of this?  The people giving me the most attitude were wearing masculine clothing and had very short hair. Just as on a few other occasions the people to give me a hard time for being male have presented themselves in a  masculine way. Some that even like wearing fake facial hair and I would say definitely play with their gender representation a little.

Only the difference between myself and them is the fact that I live the life in a male role 24/7 and choose not to just have a glittery beard on at the weekends or wear a suit and act like a cock for a night because its some form of ‘performance’.

I’m tired of attitudes like that as well as people assuming the right to single someone out and act as part of a pack of ugly animals.

It took me back to being in a playground. 

Following what happened I didn’t want to stay any longer. My pride did feel a bit knocked and also I wasn’t prepared to make myself be a target for anyone’s bullshit nor was I going to put myself in that position.

I also did respect why some people are a bit threatened by a trans person in their space but I was there with my partner. So it wasn’t like I was there hitting on people or causing a nuisance of myself.

Discrimination and unfair situations bother me on a massive scale.

I know that some would say women like to feel safe or that women’s spaces are sacred etc.  Nor do I automatically assume everyone to know I am trans.

I was told I should take it as a compliment that I was passing so well.

Maybe I should? But I don’t.

On a human level being an arsehole towards me because of my gender isn’t fair and if I had tried to argue back more then it was a case of a few people against me and I don’t like to be in positions like that.

I go out for pleasure and not for war.

If I see someone is a minority somewhere I don’t do all that I can to make them feel uncomfortable either, especially if they aren’t harming anyone.

If there only crime is to not be the right gender for someone to ogle and happen to have a very attractive girlfriend and she’s not available then why does there have to be all of this behaviour popping out?

Especially when some of the people there were a lot older than me and therefore should know better!

So, all of this illusion that we are one big happy family the LGBT community…dream on.

There shouldn’t be animosity but there is.  Just as lesbians get threatened by people like me, I can’t stand their attitudes.  Especially when they present themselves in a masculine way and have a pop at someone for doing the same thing but on a much deeper level.  Also with being trans it has to be added that it wasn’t a choice to be born in the wrong body in the first place.

I also feel slightly that my hands are tied in situations where people are being really rude, as I don’t want to be in a position whereby I am potentially playing into the hands of anyone. Particularly if they have a negative opinion of me from the outset and therefore a feeling sets in that they want me to trip up in some way so that their rudeness or hostility can be vindicated in some way.

Only I don’t play that game.

So if people want me to start acting in an aggressive way or negative stereotyped man way then think again.

I was born female and have a female past so sadly am aware of these tricks in place. All in all things like this are a waste of time and energy.

I’m not an enemy, I’m not trying to invade someone’s space nor am I trying to make people feel uncomfortable.
Just as the masculine presented people seeking to have a pop at me at any given moment well to me one thing is clear.

If it’s down to the fact that you never had the guts to explore your gender further or you are happy to be ‘Dave’ at the weekends then so be it.  That is your thing.

But don’t take what you don’t have the confidence to be out on people like me. As it’s boring and I have no time for this shit.

Nor will I ever apologise for being the person I am and I’m afraid the problem is with those people if my presence stirs up insecurities within them.

I’m not here to say sorry or make people feel better for what they don’t want to face with themselves.

We only get one life and I would rather spend it enjoying what it has to offer rather than musing over what if or being held back by fear. That isn’t me.

On a positive note if I attend the night again I think I have finally found a practical use for those ‘Nobody Knows I Am A Lesbian’ T-Shirts! Alternatively I should drop by pants if it’s all about what is between our legs.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Mr Monty

I've been enjoying the heatwave we have been experiencing. This is a sign that climate change isn't just a new buzzword it is real.  Yet with many things, why is that something so wrong can feel nice? Still there will be snow and rain soon enough so I think the purchase of a lightbox shall be needed asap.

A good friend of mine got married last Saturday and I gave her away.  I felt really happy to be able to do so.  Also with it being a church wedding there was a bit more protocol than what a registry office would have asked for. It was an interesting experience and was really nice to have been able to walk with my friend down the aisle.

She has been a very good friend of mine for the last 7 years. I don't have many friendships where I consider someone to be a constant.  We also don't have a heavy sentimentality with one another but there is a nice base of care that we have always had with each other.  Even if we have been spiky and sarcastic with one another, we've also been there for one another.

She has really been there for me on many occasions.  When I have had break ups and been crying or got to some odd hour of the day and felt shitty or felt that no one has cared she has been one of the first people on the phone or she has come over and we would drink vodka sometimes or just tea musing about life and she would listen to me moaning about life.

She has also been good at listening but encouraging me to look at a situation from another perspective too.

Those traits in a friend are hard to find and I never forget things like that.

She has also never gone on about the fact that she has been there for me or anything like that.  I do admire modesty in a person quite highly.

I also really like the person she has married. He is very sweet and caring but also a very strong character. I do see a good match where they are both concerned.

I did a speech during the reception too which apart from me having a bit of a shaky hand (it is a pain in the arse having a slight nerve dis-balance on occasions like this)I felt I did well.  I had a lot of people telling me that they liked my speech and I wasn't too cruel to the bride or groom as I didn't want to give a speech whereby they felt attacked or humiliated.

Also I was taking into account that the bride didn't have any family over but through the use of Skype they were able to be present. I thought this was a sweet touch.

I also signed their Wedding Certificate too and this was one of the first things I have signed officially as mr Montgomery, so in a slightly childish way I felt like a grown up.  I passed well in front of the priest too so that was a relief all 'round.

Since taking the Testosterone I seem to be passing better than I did before.  Perhaps it is slightly psychological but I think I seem to have a much easier time of feeling and being the man I am rather than feeling that I am having to overcompensate or have to 'perform'.

I do feel that having less feminine hormones really helps as well.  Especially when I am close to having a period.  I get less cases of being mistaken for female than before, and this does add to my confidence.

There are still other areas confidence wise that I want to improve upon, but at the same time there are also a few obstacles in place there too which I am trying to overcome. But then this is a reality for anyone in transition.

I have been reflecting on this quite a bit lately.  I have been in and out of depression over a number of things.  I have dealt with and overcome quite a few things in my life. Some stuff hasn't been easy and there are some things that I am still working on.

I believe in managing bad shit as best you can otherwise you will be held prisoner by negativity or by certain repetitive patterns continuing. I also try and be as good a person that I know I can be.

I might be a lot of things but I try my best to be kind, caring and considerate wherever possible.  I hate letting people down or upsetting them.  If I hurt someone I feel terrible afterwards.

Yet I have to remind myself not to over-punish myself too as a fact is that if someone upsets me I know they won't think about it as much as I would do if the situation was reversed.

I do wish I had a better grasp of not giving a shit sometimes, but I do.  With that in mind I have to work to a framework that allows me to remain level, balanced and fair.

Although it must be added that sometimes life isn't fair.  But what helps is to sometimes look for a middle solution that means a person doesn't end up feeling aggrieved or agitated because life is kicking them in the face and not for the first time.

I have a few issues at the moment that I am trying to manage as best I can.  Unfortunately all of it involves some element of compromise and patience which isn't really that fair in the grand scheme of things but at the same time I have to grit my teeth and get on with it.

I always find a workable solution for most things so there will be a way to work around one or two things but some of my happiness feels slightly that it will be going on hold. Like a lot of stuff in life, what is right doesn't always leave a smile on everyone's face.  But doing what is right is paramount to me and not to just act in my own interests.

Especially when being human means that biologically we are already a very selfish species.

Still the intention to try not to be selfish and to try and be considerate where possible I think is a good start.