Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This Week in the Transgender World

It seems that transgender topics have been in the mainstream news the past day or two...first with Chaz Bono being selected for Dancing with the Stars, and tonight's ABC Primetime Nightline program on transgender kids.

Chaz Bono's selection has caused a major issue with many. They say he is overweight and was selected for the show based on who his parents are, but the same complaints were issued for Bristol Palin when she was on the show. The main reason people are complaining is because they "don't want the transgender stuff shoved down their throats." It comes down to many reasons...some feel it threatens their religious philosophy, some are fearful based on their own dark secrets, and some are just afraid of how to explain it to their kids.

As Sarah stated on Alice Radio this morning, "we took the parental controls off the internet and just tell the kids to go look it up" as they discussed how parents should handle the whole situation. Kids can learn hate, bias, and discrimination from their parents almost too easily. As long as the parents take some initiative and explain what is going on, the kids won't grow up to be just like many closed-minded adults.

I liked what Vinnie had to say, as well, "He looks like a dude. If they just introduced him as Chaz and left it at that, there wouldn't be the controversy...but he has his famous parents, and I'm sure they'll play that card."

(I'm paraphrasing Sarah and Vinnie, as I do not totally recall the exact words that they stated.)

I found the program on ABC Primetime Nightline to be very different from many transgender news programs of the past. This one seemed more real and told very moving stories, but unfortunately, they did not include any transgender boys in the stories...only girls.

The program starts with 10-year-old Jackie in her first few months as a girl. It continues with Dyson and his mother, Cheryl, who has written a book called "Princess Boys". Next they followed Vanessa, 19, who ventured to Mexico for feminization surgeries which she funded by working the streets. Because most news programs tend to provide both sides of the story, they interviewed Charles Kane who transitioned from male to female, and then back to male. He discussed his regret and his eventual de-transition. They finished off with Kim Petras, a 19-year-old internet pop singer from Germany who had SRS at the age of 16.

These two items would typically be quite a bit this week. But wait, there's even more yet to come.

Two years ago, Caster Semenya's gender came into question at the 2009 World Track and Field championships. Although Caster Semenya is believed to be intersex and not a transsexual, she's racing this week in the World Track and Field championships in Daegu, South Korea. Caster still faces questions about her masculine looks and her gender identity, but I wish her luck in my favorite track event...the 800m.

Overall, though, I'm sure we'll be seeing more about Chaz, along with plenty of transgender topics, in the near future.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I should have been a vegetarian.

I grew up in the Midwest, so, meat was a regular part of my diet as a kid. Early on, any time that I had to eat meat, I typically struggled if it was anything but on the verge of being burnt. Steak with any pinkish color on the inside made me gag. Eating chicken with the meat still on the bone grossed me out. Hot dogs that weren't burned to a crisp on the outside caused me to spit it out. As long as it no longer resembled anything alive, I did OK. The only exception was bologna. Somehow I was fine with it up until like 8th or 9th grade when all of a sudden I realized it seemed like raw meat and the whole gagging thing kicked in again.

When I tell people that I should have been a vegetarian and how I used to gag on non-burnt meat as a kid, they tell me it's never too late to stop eating meat. Perhaps I could do it, but I think I would inevitably return to meat, mainly for one reason.


I have heard numerous stories about vegetarians going back to meat simply for bacon. Some go back for burgers. I tell friends that once you taste bacon, it's almost impossible to give it up. There's just no going back. Unfortunately for me, a vegetarian isn't the only thing I should have been.

I should have been a girl.

I grew up with male genes, so being a boy and doing masculine things was part of growing up. Early on, though, I knew something was different, but I didn't have any words for it. I didn't know how to talk to anyone about it, and that feeling continued to well up inside. I just did what I thought boys were supposed to do. As long as I didn't think too much about it, I did OK. The only exception was when girls were around...and, well, they were around a lot. Somehow I managed up until 7th or 8th grade when puberty hit. Once testosterone arrived on the scene, I would go through periods where things were mild, and at other times, I would go through these just horrible periods of my life.

I recently watched an intersex documentary about two girls born XY. They were never exposed to testosterone, and thus, looked like genetic girls. Another intersex person had the same condition, but had been treated with testosterone at an early age, and thus, was affected by the nasty drug. She ended up having the same journey as most transsexuals, at that point.

If I had never been exposed to testosterone, I think I would have lived a fairly "normal" female life. Once you're exposed to testosterone, though, there's just no going back.

That's not to say it isn't worth trying, though. You see, for me, there was no bacon in the gender world.

In the world of food, you're a vegetarian until you eat meat. Once you eat meat, you're no longer considered a vegetarian. But if you're a meat eater, once you eat a vegetable, you're still considered, well, you're still considered a meat eater.


I suppose I am a vegetarian in between the times that I eat meat. I like to call myself a flexitarian. I like vegetables, but I eat meat once in a while. So many people cannot see the gray area, though. Why can't I be vegetarianish and still eat meat?

I live in that gray area in a lot of things. I know I am a girl, but I was exposed to the testosterone. I may have a different past than most girls, but I can still be a girl...just hold the bacon.

Tall women

Almost a month ago, I was celebrating my 41st birthday in the city with a bunch of friends. None of them were T. Actually, two of my friends were also celebrating their birthdays, so we decided to combine our celebrations and party together.

We gathered for drinks and dancing. As the night progressed, two very tall women entered the dance floor. When I say very tall, I mean super tall. One was likely 6'2", if not taller...and she was the shorter of the two. The other had to be at least 6'5". Neither of them were wearing heels. In fact, one was wearing flats while the tallest was wearing sandals.

This harkened back to my college days of staring at shoulders when attending sports parties. The football and basketball guys, half the women's basketball team, and most of the track guys were all up around 6' tall, so I hung out with the shorter half of the women's basketball team and anyone else in attendance who felt surrounded by a sea of shoulders. It was our own little group. I think I was the shortest male athlete on campus, so it actually worked in my favor by allowing me to get to know a few of the female athletes.

"Wow, they're tall," I told my friend on the dance floor.

"Yeah...I thought they might be trans," said my friend.

I had pondered the same thing when I first saw them, but easily realized that they were cisgender.

"They're not," I told her.

I know that a lot of taller women, along with many transsexuals, of course, fall into this stereotype, especially in San Francisco, but why is it that we assume any woman over 6'1" must be trans? Are they that rare?