Shebang!'s Blog

Rational discussion about trans issues.

As far as I can tell, the only difference between Radfems and TRA's is who gets to be the most oppressed. Both seem to latch on to a few — generally outdated — studies that they hunted down as a justification for their beliefs specifically. Neither have much time for statistics, and when they do they are clearly absurd and falsely generated statistics designed to make a point — the sources are invariably not from somewhere reliable but some fake activist university professor.

Both immediately begin with ad hominems, strawmen and mischaracterization as their primary means of attack.

“1 in 4 women gets raped on college campus!” — Nope, that's not true not even remotely, and if it was true why the fuck are you still going in record numbers. Jesus you'd have to be truly insane to take those odds when alternatives like distance education exist. Yeah, except you know its not true, that's why.

“Transwomen get murdered every day!” — Nope, our rate of murder is pretty much exactly the same as the general population. “Oooh but in Brazil...!”, but, you aren't a Brazilian prostitute. You are a safe and comfortable Westerner.

Both of these people began at a conclusion and worked backwards to justify it. That's the wrong way, the correct way is to look at the data, and draw a conclusion from there. The reason to do it backwards is usually selfish, the reason to do it properly is to seek the truth, at least what truth can be gleaned from the data.

Then there is my favourite: “but WE are victims because in the middle east...!” You don't live in the Middle East, and if you do, get the fuck out of there by any means. But since you don't, you live in a nice comfortable Western country, this is an attack on Islam and nothing else. Its not a justification to make a pointless, brainless stink about how bad you have it when you don't live under those circumstances. If you want to attack Islam then do so because it really is a sexist, hateful, bigoted religion that oppresses women and murders LGBT people. But using “Islam exists therefore I'm oppressed” when you don't live in an Islamic society is disingenuous, and rather obviously so. Worse, its taking the truly difficult circumstances of these people and then using them for your own benefit.

Protesting outside of some random venue doesn't help the relevant people. Pushing against Islamic immigration to the west, and working to develop some kind of underground railroad to help people who really do have it bad escape is something actually useful. But that thought has probably never even occurred to either the groups, because this isn't about helping people really, its just about politics, power, and selfishness.

You can look at the crime statistics from the FBI if you really give a crap about the truth of the matter. You can look at college graduation rates, etc.

Both of these groups are basically identical versions of radicalized, post modernist dingbats who don't seem to notice that most people, trans, female, or whatever — just go about their lives and their biggest problems are related to interpersonal relationships, finances (debt), and employment.

The problem here, in my mind, is simply that victim ideology is just very appealing to people who haven't reached their potential and don't want to take personal responsibility for themselves. The consequence of this, is that they won't ever, because they are failing to address the real problems they face. In most cases, radical ideology represents nothing more than escapism.

@shebang@freethinkers.lgbt

My Libertarian take is simply this: If you are comparing your life to Bill Gates or some other mega rich person of course your life looks like shit. Now compare your life to some family in sub-Saharan Africa, now it looks great. Bill Gates compares his wealth to Jeff Bezos and thinks that he's poor. I compare my wealth to my neighbours and think that I'm doing fine. Jeff Bezos's wife left him, his life sucks. My Dad is happily married, his life is pretty good. I'm single and lonely, my life is pretty bad. But if I had someone, would that magically make my life better, or would there be relationship stresses? Who knows. Maybe my life is ok after all.

I'm severely dyslexic, and I have a lot of trouble learning many things and I have a terrible short term memory and frequently loose track of whats going on around me, so my life is bad. But then again, I'm otherwise healthy and I found a job I can do well enough so maybe its not bad — after all, I don't have any life threatening illnesses and many people do. So my life is good.

I didn't want to be trans, being called a faggot when I was growing up wasn't something I deserved. I wanted to be just a normal person. But I wasn't, and when I pretended that I was, I just ended up with a life wasted on depression that nearly ended too soon too many times. Some people will still hate me for being trans, even though I did everything I could to not be — how is that fair? What have I done to them? Nothing, of course. So my life is bad. But then again, those people are a tiny minority, and I have good friends, a decent job and I'm closer to my Dad than I was before I came out. So my life doesn't sound that bad, actually.

Some people are very rich, therefore I am very poor — that doesn't seem right, does it? After all, I rent an apartment in a nice, safe area of town, I'm only 15 minutes from work, I have heating when its cold, and air conditioning when its warm. I have access to more food and water than I could ever consume. I have fast, stable internet and plenty of entertainment should I desire it. That doesn't sound like a poor person. Hell, my car rests in heated, underground parking, totally protected from the elements — even my possessions have it better than most people alive today. So Jeff Bezos being rich has not made me poor. Actually, I get most of my clothing and electronics from Amazon because he offers products in my price ranges — I just hunt around until I find a product I want that I can afford. I cannot afford a fancy Canada Goose winter jacket, but I can get one that's pretty nice from Walmart that will be good enough to keep me ok during the winter — I can layer just fine.

So my point is this: its contextual, someone, somewhere, has it worse than you, and someone, somewhere has it better than you. You have a hand of cards that you must play, and that's all there is to it. I started off poorly, and it wasn't until I was nearly forty that I managed to position myself somewhere where I could get my depression managed and begin to think clearly about how I am to overcome the remaining challenges in life. I used to be very obese, now I'm at a healthy weight and taking care of myself — I did that, it was my willpower that did that. I was having employment problems, now I have stable employment — I forced myself to learn an entirely new trade. I was a closeted transsex person suffering from suicidal depression, but I overcame the fear and took the steps necessary to begin transition and now I'm no longer suicidal.

If you see yourself as victim then you'll be one, however good your life circumstances are. If you surround yourself with weak people who will seek to drag you down to their level, then you'll be gradually brought down by them. But those are situations that you either put yourself in, used as an excuse for failure, or allowed to happen. Not everything in life is fair, and sometimes things happen outside of your control. This applies to everyone, whether you are aware of the circumstances of others or not. Your lack of awareness of the troubles of other people does not mean the absence of their troubles. What have you done to justify your own success, exactly? Attended a class? Paid a college or university to give you a piece of paper? Or have you really done the work to make improvements to your life, or did you assume that once you paid for your paper, that you'd be let in a mysterious elite club of highly successful people? Did someone make you buy that expensive phone, or did you just really want it? You know that you could have gotten by just fine with a less expensive model, but you wanted the status of having the latest.

Some problems are just bad things that happen to you and those simply be endured, but most problems that most people have are consequences of decisions they made that they probably knew were poor choices, but justified to themselves. Is the object of your ire guilty of genuine unfairness, or is it really just envy? How honest with yourself about your shortcomings are you really?

Important things to think about.

@shebang@freethinkers.lgbt

I wanted to share my experiences growing up as a transperson. I suppose, not to kvetch about it, but more to help people understand just who and what we are. Its always been my belief that peoples hesitation about transpeople doesn't stem from genuine negativity, but merely a lack of experience and a misunderstanding.

How would, for example, your everyday person come to know much about transpeople? They are exposed to mostly the Twitter mob's endless hysterical outrage, middle-class youths with strange hair colours shrieking about their oppression, the media picking up on the worst examples — which usually aren't even transpeople to begin with, and the harmless by themselves but not relevant to us, Drag Queens. Chances are that none of these people commonly associated with the “trans community” are even transsex at all.

Is it any wonder that the common person ends up being suspicious about us, when we've rarely had an actual voice to explain ourselves? You can argue that we shouldn't have to explain ourselves, and I suppose from a moral perspective I agree, but from a practical one... I think its important that we do if we ever want to be accepted and seamlessly integrated into society. Put more simply: This is a trail that needs to be blazed so that future transpeople do not have to explain anything.

So on to my story.

I knew there was something “wrong” with me when I was just a kid. About the age of 7 or so — this would have been around 1986 give or take. It was already becoming clear to me that I didn't fit in anywhere at school. I didn't have a clue what it was, nor did I yet have the intellectual capacity to be able to even begin to attempt to understand it. Just the the vague sensation that something was “wrong” and that I had trouble fitting in with the other kids. I think that I wanted to be social, but I had difficulties doing that, so I ended up somewhat of a loner. I didn't really like most of the games and sports the other kids played so I mostly stayed home and listened to music. I had trouble learning things, and the teachers didn't like me because of it. Much later in life, I'd learn that was because I was dyslexic.

A few years later, I began to have some idea what was going on. I had begun crossdressing in secret, and secret it stayed, because the school yard had made something very, very clear to me. Anyone who stepped outside of their gender expectations was a “faggot” and that was the absolute worst thing someone could be. Puberty was a long way away yet, so exactly what a “faggot” was and its implications were mostly lost on me. Unfortunately I was a bit of a flamboyant child for a while there, and the other children had made it clear to me this was unacceptable.

As is often the way, this behaviour was bullied out of me by the time I was around grade 7 or 8. Nothing had changed inside me, but I had learned that what came naturally to me was bad, wrong and had to be suppressed if I was to have any chance at survival at all. I firmly understood by now that there was something about me that had to be hidden at all costs, even if I still wasn't really fully able to grasp what exactly it was. I was not even a teenager yet, but I already was carrying a burden of deep shame.

You see, in those days — and especially in the heartland of Canadian Social Conservatism, Saskatchewan, LGBT education was something that was left to the playground, and that social culture punished non-conformity brutally. I didn't understand what sexuality was, and what gender really was beyond the obvious physical differences. But I didn't care to play along with the boys and I looked at the girls with an envy that seemed to grow more intense every day. But I didn't know why. All I knew was that I was somehow cursed, that I hated my life and wanted out, and at least since I was 10 years old suicide was something that was on my mind as a possible escape.

Once a teenager proper, and puberty began to hit, things took a turn for the worse. My inability to fit in put me forever in the “outcast” social category. Hated by students and teachers alike. Suicide was constantly on my thoughts now, as I started to have the capacity to anticipate what my future would be like. I had learned that showing any weakness was death, so I had adopted an attitude of absolute sociopathy.

A lifetime of shame, misery, confusion and isolation — with the addition now of testosterone — made this easy. Anyone who went near me had better watch out, because I would be unpredictable, and I'd be ready for extreme violence at a moments notice. I always carried a weapon hidden on me, usually a knife, and I was always ready to use it to full effect. I practised with it, I trained with it. I won't soften this: I had resolved myself to kill the first person that went too far with me. The negative consequences of it meant nothing, I'd go to a juvenile prison and come out with the reputation of absolute monster and no one would ever dare to challenge me ever again. It had nothing but positives to my tormented mind.

I radiated hostility, and in high school, the other students and especially the teachers picked up on this immediately. I had no fear of their authority, and I generally did exactly what I pleased. If I didn't like them, I openly insulted them. The best they could get of out of me was some kind of malicious compliance. I existed in a system that I hated, and it hated me right back. I needed to escape, but I had nowhere to run.

I had one, sad, desperate hope though, and that was that if I could survive the tumultuous ordeal of puberty and become a proper adult, my desire to be a girl would go away. Once I'm a normal, male adult I'll settle into my role and find contentment and normalcy there. My options were to commit suicide and finally have the peace that I desperately wanted, or roll the dice on a chance that puberty would “correct” my still mysterious condition. I decided to gamble.

High school resolved itself on its own, and I firmly believe that someone's life was saved. I was told not to return to my high school the next year. My Dad took me out of the public school system and put me in correspondence school. This improved my life tremendously and likely saved my life. I still wrestled with myself, I still struggled with suicide, but I was removed from the hostile system. I doubt my parents realized it, but they bought me time.

By the time puberty was over, and I was a “male adult”, I became aware of several things. Firstly, my “mysterious condition” had not gone away. Secondly, it had a name, “transsexualism”. Unfortunately, being a transsexual was probably even worse than being a “faggot”. Movies, TV series, even cartoons lampooned these people. It seemed to me that transsexuals were the butt of almost every joke. Perhaps worse in some ways, the media imagery of them was ususally Drag Queens. I wasn't one of them, I didn't want to dress up in some costume. I wanted to be a woman, not a parody of one. Violence against transwomen seemed to be acceptable, and something the good, strong guys were encouraged to do to demonstrate their masculinity.

I had to suppress it at all costs. I had to hide what I was, and better if I admitted it to no one, not even myself. I had to blend in with what society expected or I'd become a joke, a full time clown. When I projected my mind into the future I saw nothing but a lifetime of isolation and loneliness. I wanted nothing to do with this outcome. My depression became worse and worse.

Eventually, in my mid twenties I got into a relationship with someone. It was a struggle as they had severe mental problems, and I spent most of my time taking care of them. It was a stressful existence, but, at the same time it was a purpose — I had at least some utility.

The relationship had highlighted problems that I had simply not anticipated. I'm bisexual, so I could simply ignore attraction to men, that was not really a problem. I found my female partner very attractive, I wanted sex. However, the actual act of sex was unpleasant. My body did not want to move the way that it needed to move. I was intensely self-conscious of my male parts and the act of penetration felt unnatural to me, it was uncomfortable and I had to force myself to actually do it. Even though I was thoroughly aroused by my partner, I couldn't stay erect long. Often I was not able to finish at all. Even when I did, I didn't feel like I had experienced intimacy, I felt that I had completely my obligation to maintain what was expected of me as a man. I was just relieved that nothing had gone wrong and my partner wouldn't be disappointed or hurt. I visited my doctor and told him about my sex troubles and he told me that it was in my head and that I was physically perfectly fine. I knew this was absolutely correct. He had me try Viagra, but it did nothing for me. It just simply wasn't the problem.

Ever present, and feeling more intense than ever, my transsexualism — now called “Gender Identity Disorder” — had pressed me to do something that I swore never to do. To come out, to admit to another person what I was.

I was sorely rejected. My heart was utterly broken, and my already ravaged psyche had several new, deep scars. The nightmare of a life of lonely isolation had suddenly and violently reemerged and struck me soundly. My GID had crushed the only relationship I had ever had, and I had let myself down by sharing my secret with someone. Trust was the ultimate weakness, and by trusting someone I had let that weakness inside me. I remembered from my youth what the consequences of weakness were.

I had enough. It was time. I was ready to go. I had given up. I didn't know it at the time, but I was going to join the infamous 41% statistic.

I will take my plan and method to the grave and will never discuss how I was to end myself. But, I had written my suicide letter and went to end my life when absolute pure chance intervened and I was unable to do it. Suicide is not an easy thing, and its not something you can just pick up the next day. With my plan thwarted, I decided the next best I could do was to simply double down on my secret and never, ever, under any circumstances trust anyone with that secret ever again. Maybe then, I could somehow convince someone that I was a perfectly normal guy and maybe someday find myself in another relationship and the creeping nightmare of endless lonely isolation would finally crease its torment.

The next years, nearly a decade, what I call my “interbellum” years, went along with me wandering along between various failures mostly. I kept my secret, dressing up in secret, experiencing the shame and embarrassment of it all entirely to myself. I'd occasionally head out for some flirtatious adventures and very often succeed, but nothing really ever took off. Bar chicks were not relationship material anyway. I was wondering if just being alone was my only real solution because I knew that I couldn't be relied upon for regular sexual activity anyway. Those old problems from my last relationship would just return, after all.

Eventually I did have another relationship. This one with a transsexual woman, I had decided that since I had to stay in the closet, maybe I could live vicariously through someone. In some ways this almost worked, but again, no matter how attractive I found my partner I couldn't stay ready — however, this time, it was less of a problem as she had little interest in sex anyway. This rather suited me, although I did not admit that. The relationship ended when I was laid off at work and she figured she could do better than me. At least my condition — now properly known as “Gender Dysphoria” had not ruined this, but the regular failures of my life. It was still, to me, a rather deep betrayal.

However, I had learned something. Relationships need sex, or people simply grow apart. My inability to perform regular sex meant that any relationship I was to be in was simply going to be doomed. It was always only going to be a matter of time. So I simply had to just never be in one, and I'd make due with the occasional outing.

Around this time, I'm now in my late thirties. The reality that my life was reaching its halfway point began to weight heavily on me. I had completed nearly half my life and had nothing to show for it. Few possessions, no relationship — and none ever possible. My GD was becoming harder to ignore, it was pressing down upon me at all times. Everything seemed hopeless. Just how was I supposed to continue like this? How was I to grow old, with the constant torment of GD? Would I just end up strange, gross, lonely old man?

I had made a decision, one a long time coming. An ultimatum. I had to do something about all of it, I had no more time left. I'd reached my breaking point once again. I was done with being poor, done with the closet. It was time to either put myself in a position where I could come out as the transwoman I've always been, or put an end to the lies the hard way. Either way, my time had come — the question was only to what end.

I set a date. Christmas day. I wrote my suicide letters and made my plan. This time, I accounted for everything. There would be nothing to ruin my suicide this time, except some kind of success. Christmas was a few months away, so I had time not merely to formulate a proper suicide plan, but also the potential to evade it. A new career — a new life. I learned to drive a semi truck. It was extremely difficult for me to learn (thanks Dyslexia) but I did it. But things did not go according to plan and the job market seemed to dry up just in time. No one was hiring anyone.

So time went by and my suicide plan settled in my mind as the outcome. The days ticked closer, and I grimly waited. Everything was ready to go. I picked a nice place to die, it was scenic and beautiful in the winter. I wanted to live my last moments in beauty. I would settle down with a bottle, take it all in, enjoy the sounds of the winter wildness and cry until I was ready. I would cry over the unmarked grave of a person who never got to exist, the person — the woman — that I never got to be. Who was she? What would she have been like? Would people have liked her? Would I have liked her? I would cry and mourn deeply for this person no one, not even me, had ever known.

The day before Christmas eve, the very last day possible, I received a phone call from a company that would hire me if I moved to Winnipeg. I don't know what I felt, but I agreed. Winnipeg had a clinic that did gender transition. When I completed my on the job training at my new career, I signed up at the clinic and went through the interview processes and I slowly got to become the woman I always was, and finally, after half a lifetime of suppressing her, I got to learn who she was.

I do like her.

Comments may be directed to @shebang@freethinkers.lgbt on the fediverse (Pleroma, Mastodon, etc).