Gay Marriage: Let’s Get This Over With

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I have always had pretty strong feels about the gay marriage issue, ever since I was in high school and they have changed pretty drastically over the years. Back in the days of my high school GSA, it seemed incredibly simple – totally black and white. I thought “of course gay marriage should be legal! That would end homophobia and gay and lesbian folks would be totally equal.” I was so passionate about the issue and I used to get angry at my passively homophobic dad for not understanding why it mattered so much to me. Fast forward to a couple of years later, before I came out as Queer, when I first heard the argument against gay marriage from a radical lesbian’s point of view. She argued against marriage in general as a patriarchal institution and against gay marriage as an assimilationist tactic that would do nothing more than work homosexuality into the status quo. This drove me to do some more research and get to know the issue from a perspective I hadn’t really considered before – the radical Queer perspective. Once I finally did come out, I had a more thorough understanding of the issue and a hundred reasons why it was not okay. As a genderqueer person, I felt (and still feel) that gay marriage is exclusionary – it is specifically for and about cis gay and lesbian folks and completely ignores the fact that the fight for gay marriage effects the trans* community. The gay marriage movement also fails to address any of the more vital issues within the Queer community, including but not limited to Queer teen homelessness, sexual assault, suicide and murder, employment and housing discrimination, AIDS, lack of access to proper medical care (especially for trans* folks), and much, much more. Compared to all of these issues, gay marriage is not at all worth fighting for. I mean, how do Queer folks have the time or energy to even think about such an unimportant thing in the face of all this? The answer? Privilege.

 

Gay marriage is about meeting the wants and needs of cis white gay men and cis white lesbians of the middle class who may not have had to deal with most of those greater problems, perhaps because they have the class privilege or the white privilege or the cis privilege which keeps them safe. After all, if you are Queer, it is safer to also be white and middle class. All of the issues listed above certainly effect white folks, but the suffering of Queer People of Color is hugely disproportionate, especially in the case of trans* folks and this is another thing that the gay marriage movement is happy to ignore. Gay marriage is just not even important; it is literally the very least that can be done and it can really only appease some of the Queer community while ignoring the rest. But all the same, it is getting done.

 

The other day, I was talking to my dad about a documentary I recently watched called Celluloid Closet. I brought it up to him because it talked about the coded gay characters in a bunch of his favorite movies and I wanted to know if he had ever caught that. Our conversation turned into a discussion of the changes in the general attitude toward homosexuality and my dad said something that made me think – when he was growing up, the general belief was that if you were gay, something was wrong with you because being gay was just simply not normal. He grew up with the idea that homosexuality was not just wrong or abnormal, but totally uncommon. Nowadays, he said, it seems clear that being gay is at least just as common as being straight. Being Queer is not so abnormal after all, and it is therefore ridiculous to consider it a problem. Of course, I know the trouble with this idea – it’s only okay if it’s “normal” kind of bullshit, but it was actually quite a leap for my dad to make. The point is, his attitude toward homosexuality changed drastically from when he was growing up just based on the fact that he was more aware of it being a thing. Not a “normal” thing, just a thing that is common, that people do as part of their identities and their lives and who they are. All this brought about because there is more representation of gay folks in the media and more push for gay marriage. I’m not saying he isn’t still homophobic and he certainly doesn’t know how to process gender identity, but his new awareness of gay identities has helped him accept Lucky’s and my respective Queer identities despite not really understanding much about that. I guess my point is that while the gay marriage fight leaves us behind, the fact is, at this point, it is inevitable and, despite the fact that it does very little (if anything) to change the existing conditions of folks who suffer every day from patriarchal oppression, it has at least had the effect of bringing awareness to the issues where there previously was none.

 

Don’t take this as me condoning gay marriage. If anything, I just want this stupid ass movement over with. It really is the very least that can be done and, quite honestly, it is one of the few things that can be achieved by going through the legal system (of course, I’ve never been one to care much for the legal system). The gay marriage fight is all but over now and I say let’s just please get it the fuck over with already so we can focus on bigger, better things, like getting ENDA through the House, creating shelters and protection for our homeless youth, spreading awareness about the disproportionate suffering of our QPOC brothers, sisters and others. Let’s lose this distraction and get to the real issues at hand.

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Shit you shouldn’t say when I tell you I’m trans*

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So, by now, we all know that I am Queer and, by now, so do all of my close friends and family.  I only recently came out and since I’ve come out, I have been as open as I can be to basically anybody who will listen.  This is because my identity is important to me and awareness of Queer issues and the general existence and welfare of trans* people is important to me.  This is also because I have known of too many people who have identified as Queer in some form or another who have felt isolated, frightened and confused and who have not had access to the same kinds of resources and information I have or who didn’t know anybody who could help to point them in the right direction.  When I came out first to my family and close friends as genderqueer, I got a lot of responses that, quite frankly, upset me in no particular order.

  • “Why would you go on male hormones, you’re so pretty” – This is not comforting or supportive.  I’m glad you think I’m pretty and thanks but no thanks.  That is not the response I needed or asked for.  Don’t tell me what you think is acceptable to do based upon your standards of beauty as if your opinion would somehow differ if I were not considered attractive.
  • “Do you want a beard and body hair?” – I’ve been asked this a number of times and I still don’t have an answer.  I already have body hair; it comes from not shaving.  But seriously, I don’t know if I want facial hair because, frankly, I don’t know how I would look with it (I’m blonde and I think blonde facial hair usually looks a little funky).  Anyway, my hair is so fine and light-colored, I don’t know if I could really achieve an effective beard if I did want one.  But as it is, this question only serves to put me on the spot and I really can’t formulate a solid answer to it.
  • “You’re not getting surgery, are you?” – Fuck off, it’s none of your business.  This is private information and it requires a lot of thinking-through.  Beyond that, SRS is wicked expensive and requires a whole shitload of hoop-jumping; it is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” and, once again, it’s nobody’s business.
  • *upon being told that I’m taking testosterone* “…you’re beautiful” – …thanks?  This is just something I don’t know how to respond to, just like the first comment.  It’s like a poorly concealed attempt to say “oh, don’t do that, you’ll ruin your pretty little face.”  And, for that, you can fuck off.
  • “You seem pretty feminine to me”/”You’re not really that masculine” – What does that have to do with it?  You don’t have to be masculine to be a man, nor do you have to be feminine to be a woman and since I don’t identify as either, why should I have to be more like one than the other in order to express my identity?
  • “So, you want to be a man?” – No, goddammit.  No, I don’t want to be a man.  I just also don’t want to be a woman.  Gender is a spectrum, not a binary.
  • “Why can’t you just pick between man and woman?”/”why do you have to make it so complicated?” – Again, fuck off.  I’m not making it complicated, it just already is and it wouldn’t be if there weren’t patriarchal gender roles dictating a strict binary that many people, myself included, can’t navigate.

In short, when a trans* person comes out to you, don’t barrage them with stupid questions or ignorant assumptions.  If you don’t know much about it, there are more respectful ways to ask about what you want to know, or better yet, go on the internet and look it up!  There is so much information on Queer identities of all kinds and a huge online community dedicated to raising awareness on all fronts.  Not to say that I won’t answer any respectful questions, but, quite honestly, educating people about Queer issues is not my responsibility as a Queer person – I am not here to speak for the entire community and, beyond that, I don’t like wasting time trying to explain my identity to people whose interest is probably fleeting at best.  Anybody who is genuinely interested in learning about Queer issues should prove their interest by doing their own research and learning what is and is not appropriate to say/do/ask around Queer friends and family.

There are a bunch of other responses I’ve heard, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head so I’ll probably being going back to edit this post and add more.  Feel free to contribute your own inappropriate responses.

So, it’s been a little while

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I’ve not been posting for a good while partly because I haven’t known quite what to write about and partly because I’ve been busy as hell.  Lucky and I have moved out of our apartment and in with a few friends.  Before we could move, we had to tile our new bedroom and all sorts of other stuff to prepare so that’s my whole excuse.

In the midst of all this, we have also been putting some of our transition research into practice and have been experimenting with dietary changes.  Lucky has been taking herbal supplements for a couple of months now, but is planning on no longer taking them at all and instead replacing them with herbal teas (in particular, teas specifically designed for “women” such as “Female Toner” and “Moon Cycle,” two of many phytoestrogen tea blends meant for menstrual regulation).  They have also discovered that spearmint is an incredibly strong natural anti-androgen so they have also taken to mixing that into their tea blends.  The biggest concern for Lucky is that many of these menstrual regulation teas include a fair amount of licorice root which can be dangerous if one is not careful – Licorice is one of the strongest phytoestrogens we have been able to find and it’s also an anti-androgen, but if overused, side-effects include major water retention and a failure to absorb Vitamin C.  Basically, you could ingest nothing but licorice root and live up to six days without water before you die from scurvy (among other things).  They’re also unsure of cramp bark, which is a big ingredient in the teas, but I don’t know if that’s such a big thing to worry about.  In terms of diet, Lucky found that eggs and milk have a shit-ton of progesterone in them (kind of a “duh” moment, but of course neither of us thought about it before).  So as a part of their daily transition diet, eggs for breakfast with lots of cheese mixed in (neither of us drinks dairy milk), have proven an effective way to obtain progesterone for breast growth among other things.

I’ve found it a bit more difficult to find phytotestosterone teas, but I’ve accepted that I’ll just have to figure out those blends myself.  Overall, my focus has been more dietary than herbal – I have been dosing myself with pine nuts on a daily basis, which is awesome but pine nuts are goddamn expensive (around here, at least – they can only be found in tiny little packages for like $7 a pop, a quarter of which equals a dose for me.  Fortunately, I haven’t had to pay for them yet – they seem to just keep falling right into my pockets while I’m shopping).  Pine nuts, combined with lots of estrogen-flushing veggies such as kale, brussels sprouts and other cruciferous goodies have been super effective.  There’s really only one thing that I have trouble with – mother fucking mushrooms.  I’m supposed to add white cap mushrooms into at least one of my meals each day – these help me retain testosterone by preventing it from converting into estrogen.  The problem with this is…I fucking hate mushrooms.  I hate them a lot.  Lucky had been cutting them up for me really really small so that I wouldn’t really notice them in my food, but the smell of mushrooms cooking is enough to make me ill and eventually I had to stop doing that.  I need to find another testosterone retainer to take the place of icky nasty white caps, but I’m not sure where to start on that.  I have also been drinking Hawthorn tea for another estrogen flusher, but realistically, the pine nuts are the most important part of my regimen.

In terms of noticeable changes, I have no news on my side as yet except for perhaps an increase in sex drive and irritability (the latter, I’ll need to keep in check with damiana).  I would like to get my hands on some tribulus to add to my regimen, but I’ve only just started and I’m too realistic to expect things to happen right away.  Lucky, on the other hand, has been at this way longer than I have.  They have gone from medical, to herbal to diy hormones and so far, this newest transition seems to be working best.  The herbal supplements they were taking seemed to be lacking in anti-androgens, making the estrogen and progesterone way less effective, but now that they have added their own touch to their regimen, shit seems to be happening.  They’re getting more breast growth again (that has been halted since switching to herbal supplements, and their facial hair had started thickening again), and there has been a very noticeable difference in emotional reactions to things as well as sex drive.  One reason that Lucky switched from medical to herbal was because the Spironolactone that they were taking for an anti-androgen was in many ways too effective – in that, it made them feel like something incredibly unhealthy was happening to their body.  It all but killed their sex drive and definitely reduced sexy feels in the genital area which was pretty sad.

This is due to the medical hormones being so absolute – they don’t work with the body’s natural rhythms, nor do they acknowledge that we need all of our hormones, one cannot just completely 86 one to replace with another, but rather, all that is needed is the reduction of one to make room for the dominance (for lack of a better word) of the other.  What medical hormones do is prepare the body for a full hormonal and physical overhaul as preparation for a binary surgery.  Since full SRS is not the goal at the moment for either of us, the medical route is not only unnecessary, but also far less than ideal.  Our current experimentation with herbal teas and dietary changes seems to be most effective for both of us.

Way to Think Outside, but Right Up Against the Box

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I motherfucking hate social movements.  I hate labels, I hate arbitrary rules, and I hate binaries.  Realistically, I can’t bitch about everything to which this title applies in one post, but I can sure as hell try.

Initially, I intended just to talk about feminism, but then I started thinking about binary trans people (not all, I’ve met some great folks, but so many have fallen in The Trap – we’ll get to that), and so much other shit.  I can hardly keep track of how many things I feel this way about, but we’ll just keep it down to these two.

First off, feminism.  Fuck feminism, really.  Now, I’m not saying “I hate women” or anything else, but the label and the people who use the label are so limited.  Of course, many awesome Queer folks have stepped up and begun working to claim their place in the feminist movement with the trans feminist, intersectional feminist and Queer feminist labels (among a few others, I’m sure), but really, I think the word Queer should assume feminist sentiments (since, like it or not rad fems, it was your movement that brought us out and made us loud).

To really explicate on the limits of feminism, we’ll have to go back to the Second Wave since that mentality is still entirely too huge.  It was here that feminism was forcibly opened up to Queer identity (specifically lesbian identity), but it was also here that feminists closed themselves off to ALL of Queer identity.  From the homophobic first wave came a transphobic second wave.  Funny thing about that, second wave feminism is where the whole concept of gender questioning on a socio-political scale got started – feminists were publishing book after book about what “woman” really means and how that meaning can be changed, how one can become “not a woman” and so on and so forth.  With so much rhetoric around gender, it was inevitable for them to accidentally advocate for trans* identities, but they did not go far enough.  Once the box is opened, it cannot be closed again, but damned if they didn’t try!  The feminist movement shunned the transgender movement at the time, asserting that “eunuchs” were trying to invade and take control of women’s space and that “transsexuals” raped women’s bodies and all manner of other stupid bullshit, but they could not see that their own gender rhetoric invited trans people into the conversation whether they liked it or not.  The first bits of feminist ponderings into what gender means and how it could be interpreted had to then be set aside and refuted by new ideas which would better support the transphobia within the movement so that nobody would have to go too far from their comfort zone in attempts to discern just how fucking huge patriarchy really is.

Now for binary trans folks.  I don’t have anything against trans women or trans men in general, my problem lies more with the binary and the stark dedication to the binary that many of these folks show.  I have a few friends who are completely binary and that’s fine, but I’ve found I can only deal with them in small doses.  This doesn’t apply to everyone, there are a several lovely trans women in my life who constantly renew my hope in humanity.  One of them, though she was only my life for a brief moment but made a lasting impression, really inspired me in some ways to write this.  She’s just a beautiful trans woman who is super butch and cool as hell.  We met at the bar and started talking, I don’t really remember how we got into transition and Queer issues, but she told me a bit of her story and it has stuck with me – her transition involved a lot of “well, I think you’re pretty masculine” because she simply wasn’t femme and her argument is that you do not have to be femme to be a woman.  I don’t think I’ve heard a truer statement.

Unfortunately, I find that binary trans people tend to be the absolute worst about gender essentialism and misogyny and for the life of me, I can’t understand it.  I mean, how?  Once a person realizes they can reject the gender they have been assigned, they have two choices, they either choose the other binary choice and perpetuate the binary (that second part isn’t necessary, but entirely too common part of the initial choice) or they could absolutely refuse the binary and accept gender as something fluid which runs on a spectrum.  The Trap that I have found many binary trans folks to run into is attempting to fill every stereotype for their chosen gender, positive or negative, which ends in lots of trans men becoming dudebros and many trans women doing everything in their power to be objectified, and thus validated, by cishet men.  As I’ve said before, this does not apply across the board, it’s simply a pattern I’ve seen and really, there is nothing wrong with super-femme trans women or macho trans men, the problem is the perpetuation of gender stereotypes that so many binary trans folks see as the only way to pass.  Perpetuating gender stereotypes in order to be accepted is participating in patriarchy, the very systemic mindset that has forced so many of us in the closet and kept us there for so long.  It’s not cute and it’s not okay, it’s harmful.  It fucking hurts, and when one of my binary friends misgenders me or tells me that genderqueer isn’t a real thing, I feel that I have been stabbed in the back.  I want to call her traitor, turncloak, coward, but I can’t because her struggle is real too and I know that she is scared, but I cannot abide her befriending the enemy at my expense.  For every trans woman or man that shrugs off or invalidates the third gender as a thing, either through rhetoric or through their actions, the Queer community loses that much ground and another of us is shrugged away off to the side.  Questioning your assigned gender is thinking outside of the box, but denying the possibility of any options outside of the binary is just a step right back in.

The fact of the matter is, when somebody asserts gender/binary essentialism, they are perpetuating the patriarchal mindset, be they a purported feminist or a Queer person.  If I’m honest, I’m always more offended when trans people do it though because it is the very thing that Queer folks (especially trans women) as a movement fought against in the ’60’s and ’70’s when the radical feminist movement rejected them.  Now, it’s all I can do to ask trans folk who support the binary what makes them any better than a rad fem.