Celebrating My Girlfriend’s 1-Year Gender Affirmation Surgery Anniversary

So, one year ago today, my beloved Marie (who you may recall inspired a recent article here) underwent her gender affirmation surgery at The Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York. To mark the occasion, she shared her story with us, her closest friends and family, to give us an idea of the process.

I won’t be reciting her story verbatim here as I feel that should be her choice to share something that personal. That said, the story did get me to continue considering my own gender identity exploration. I’m still on the fence about GAS at this moment and I feel I really shouldn’t be as neutral to something this big as I am.

I’m not going to give a long-winded essay this week like I normally do because there’s actually very little insight that I can give. Every stage of transition for a transgender person is different after all. Some are perfectly content with a purely social transition – changing their name, pronouns, and choice of dress. Others engage in hormone replacement therapy to feminize or masculinize themselves. And if they do opt for surgery, they may only have breast augmentation/chest masculinization, only alter their genitalia, or both.

What I can do, however, is direct people to information. This way, those considering transitioning can get a better feel for how they want to continue on and those who are confused or even scared by the idea of someone transitioning can have the process demystified and they can start understanding the other persons position a little better.

So, I urge you all to check these two articles that were supplied to me. Firstly, this Teen Vogue article details the reasons and methods behind transitioning as told by a medical professional in the field. Secondly, for those considering vaginoplasty like Marie, this video shows the process (warning: even though it’s a computer animation, it IS still surgery and may be difficult for more squeamish viewers to view).

Happy anniversary, hon. And may we all be so blessed as to live in the way and shape that we choose for ourselves.

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What I Learned From Coming Out As Androgynous

For those of you that follow my antics on Twitter, you may be very well aware that I recently came out as androgynous. And honestly, it’s been a long time coming.

I’ve always known that this was a critical part of myself since I was roughly five years old; I recognized parts of myself that were equally masculine and feminine. I questioned why boys and girls weren’t allowed to dress or act in certain ways and didn’t buy into the excuses they gave. I envied androgynous celebrities like David Bowie, Prince, and Joan Jett for allowing themselves the freedom to be whatever they wanted. In fiction, I naturally gravitated to characters that danced between or outright rejected the gender binary.

Part of me is still fluid in terms of gender identity; I just feel more girly or more macho on some days than I do others. But the case remains that whether I look like a host(ess) at a swanky club, …

… your oddly hip-and-with-it aunt, …

… or like someone spliced the genetic material of Daria Morgandorfer and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, …

I feel the most ‘in-my-element’ when I can play and toy with gender roles.

And, like any person exploring their identity freely for the first time, I’ve been quick to take notes on what things feel like and how to get the most enjoyment out of myself as I come into my own. So today, I’ll be sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned about myself over the last few weeks as I continue to explore myself.

But, before I start, I realize that my experience may not match your own. You could do all of the things I do and get a completely different result. But that’s what identity exploration is all about. It’s about finding out where the best you lies and expressing it. So, I hope that sharing my personal reflections will encourage others to begin exploring and find their ideal self.

So, let’s start with the most obvious realization I’ve had since coming out…

I feel WAY more confident in social settings

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Of course you’d feel better and act more confidently when you like who you are. But what took me off guard was just how much of a confidence boost I got from being open.

I’ve been smiling a lot more often, my stride is taller and more powerful, and I have almost no problems confronting people with problems. It’s as if those few brushes of eyeshadow and lipstick are the much-needed war paint to give me the physical presence I need to march on to the social battlefield with pride.

Of course, confidence CAN be a double-edged sword, because…

I’m more tempted to tell people what I ACTUALLY think of them

With an untempered boost in confidence comes a feeling of indestructibility. And with my new found confidence, I’ve had to work much harder to keep my attitude in check.

This isn’t a wholly bad thing; my freshly unchained savage self has done a good job of removing many of the more toxic elements of my social life that have been plaguing me for years. However, I realize that there are still some bridges that need to go unburnt (at least for now) and I find myself straining at my self-imposed leash wanting nothing more than to verbally destroy the poor unfortunate soul by telling them all the ways they’ve been screwing the pooch for as long as I’ve known them.

It’s almost as if my ego was a puppy whose owners – negative influences in my life if we’re continuing this metaphor – beat and abused me trying to make me act like the dog THEY wanted. Now, I’ve come out as a 120-pound Rottweiler that just wants to stop the abuse. Of course I bit you as soon as my kennel was opened; YOU WOULDN’T STOP HITTING ME WITH THE GODDAMN NEWSPAPER.

But let’s be real, those people are thankfully few and far between. Because much to my surprise…

People actually ADORE the “new” me

I’m thankful to live in a time where androgynes and androgynous people – androgynous women, in particular – are seeing a level of acceptance in media not seen since the 80’s (seriously, have you noticed how many women in film and television are rocking shaved/buzzed heads, minimal makeup, and plain clothes in the last decade or so?). As a result, not only have most people accepted me for what I am, they’ve ENCOURAGED me to keep exploring myself.

They love seeing me in full makeup, they tell me that they appreciate how tastefully I dress and carry myself, and they even share styling tips – offering to give me makeovers.

Even the people that weren’t accepting at first often come around when I confront them and force them to ask me questions rather than make assumptions and/or gossip with others behind my back (I’m actually quite open as long as you’re respectful; ask me anything).

Of course, one of the biggest questions I’ve been getting is the old stand-by, “are you a boy or a girl?” And in reflecting on that question, I’ve discovered that…

I really don’t put much stock in gender pronouns

I’ve never really seen myself in terms of gender. I’m far more likely to label myself as ‘human’ before I do the same with ‘man’ or ‘woman.’

Plus, there’s the aforementioned fluidity issue. There are some days where my masculinity takes dominance and others where it steps aside to let my feminitiy shine. So settling on a black-and-white man or woman label just feels disingenuous.

So, while I do respect that some non-binary people have preferred pronouns and I try to avoid misgendering wherever and whenever possible, I personally don’t get hung up on them. If you see me as a dude who just happens to be good with makeup, you’re correct. If you see me as a six-foot-four, 250-pound amazon of a woman, you’re correct. If you see me as a very pretty Lego brick, YOU. ARE. CORRECT.

Basically, I’m the closest you’ll likely ever get to seeing NiGHTS in real life (Yes, NiGHTS was meant to be gender fluid).

And seeing as how I’ve been rambling for longer than I think I ever have here on The Archive, I now turn the floor over to you. Share your coming out stories and the realizations you made as you explored your own identity so we can encourage and inspire more in the future.

Debate Time: Agent vs. Anti-Feminism

Source: SparkSummit.com

You mean women aren’t just animate slabs of beef that clean the house and you can put your willy inside of? Preposterous!
Source: SparkSummit.com

Edit as of !0/25/2013: Due to the author need to check multiple sources simultaneously while working on these articles, a link to a misleading article regarding women’s pay in the work place was posted in place of a more reliable one. The author apologizes to anyone who might have been confused or offended by this.

One of my favorite past times is to take a topic and debate or disprove its theory in order to test the thinking of the other party or show the holes in their logic. I may not even particularly disagree with them; I just want to flex my brain power and keep others on their toes.

This time, however, I’m actively trying to fight the party in question because Anti-Feminists are some of the most narrow-minded and personally offensive people I’ve ever encountered. I rank them among homophobes and racists as people responsible for holding back social progress. Today, I’ll take my stand by taking some of the most common arguments and philosophies I’ve heard and spiting them back into their slack-jawed open mouths so they can eat their own words.

“Why Is This Still Even An Issue?”

This is a common argument mostly heard from people who think that, just because an issue started years before their time, it’s not their problem and it was thoroughly solved by their parents/grandparents/et cetera.

What you’re displaying here is what I call ‘unperceptive bigotry.’ It’s the notion that just because we’ve made great strives against a problem that it no longer exists. Yes, it’s true that we’ve come a long way in woman’s rights – they can vote, work, and have more reproductive freedom. The problem is that you can’t touch up the paint on wrecked car and call it fixed and you can’t do a little legislation on a generations long social problem and call it a non-issue.

Women still only make 77 percent what men do in the work place, terms like ‘legitimate rape‘ are still being used in common parlance, and people who don’t realize these and other issues still exist are only hurting the process of fixing them. It’s the classic coda of, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

“Don’t We Have Other Things More Important To Work On?”

Okay, we do have wars, foreign policies, and an economy to work on. I understand that and I try to make allowances for that. But isn’t multitasking (and, of course, insuring even distribution of power) part of the reason we divided our government up into multiple branches and offices ran by large numbers of people?

Even on a personal level, are you saying that you don’t have time to worry about this? Do you know how ineffective I’d be if I couldn’t keep several metaphorical irons in the fire? I wouldn’t be in school, working on the family farm, AND writing this blog if I didn’t have the capacity to share my empathy with multiple issues.

In short, I think we can all sacrifice an hour a day from our daily Facebook binge to consider how an issue affects us and share that thought with someone who can help do something about it. Speaking of how issues affect us…

“Gender Equality Isn’t An Issue That Affects Me.”

Really? Are you suggesting that you have NO gender? Even if you identify as gender neutral, that’s still a gender.

Or perhaps you mean that your gender is unaffected by this debate because you’re a man. Well, wouldn’t that suggest that you don’t care about the well-being of your mother? What about your wife? Your daughter? Are you so content to let them suffer?

Every issue has an effect on EVERYONE – directly or indirectly. Understanding that long web of connections that we call ‘The Big Picture’ is the key to solving any challenges we experience in society.

“Feminism Emasculates And Victimizes Men!”

… How? Tell me it makes you less of a man. You brought it up; now give me your well-thought out factual data, Mr. Unga-Bunga Zug-Zug Macho Man.

This is easily the stupidest argument for anti-feminism I’ve ever heard. I’ve asked the above question of every man who uses this defense and not a single one has given me a reasonable, fact based answer.

Men, hear me now: the world will not end just because you have to share it with the other kids on the playground. Please try to keep things in perspective.

Last thoughts

Before anyone asks or tries to throw my own sex back at me as a counterpoint, no, I’m not saying this just to ‘get in good with women.’ My Coming Out Day Article should have made it clear that I don’t have that particular motive.

I’m just so honestly tired of fighting about something that should be obvious to even the least observant people. Let’s try to be a little more fair in our treatment of people regardless of what our 23rd pair of chromosomes looks like.

 

Get Your Nails Did (And Other ‘Girly’ Activities That Guys Should Totally Get Into)

Source:toptenthings.com

“Oh, sure. YOU think I look silly, but at least I’m comfortable.”
Source: toptenthings.com

Gender roles, those social norms that we prescribe to others based on their sex, have been a topic of controversy for sometime but have been getting a great deal of attention recently. It was only a few months ago that the animated television show “SheZow” caused outrage among parents believing it was promoting a transgender agenda.

However, after considering the nature of this issue, one can’t help but think that perhaps we need to stop worrying so much about trying to fit men and women into perfect little boxes. In fact, there are a great deal of so-called “girly things” that men could benefit from.

Why Gender Roles Are Pointless

The nature of gender roles and whether they hold importance in modern society lends itself to one of the most polarizing debates of the current age. But the fact of the matter is this, gender roles were important back in the days when the men – with a biological predisposition to grow more muscle mass – were needed to work in the fields while the faster-maturing women were better suited to the emotional pressures of child-rearing.

These days, however, Transhumanist Technology is allowing us to surpass the limitations of our biology and place us on equal ground. Also, it’s hard ignore how horribly we are limited when following the codified law of our sex. Women seeking sexual and reproductive freedom are labeled as promiscuous and men are seen as lesser than a “real man” if they excel in anything other than what other men prescribe.

Humanity is quickly adapting – evolving past the need for gender roles. Soon, those who refuse the call of social evolution will find themselves falling behind and unable to cope or even operate properly. This is what happens to organisms that can’t evolve fast enough; they go extinct.

Now then, while there are certainly masculine themed activities that ladies can and should try, the sad truth is that this article is written by a predominantly male perspective and therefore lacks the right or the ability to speak accurately on it (The author wishes to encourage any female journalists reading this to supplement his article in this way). However, this means we can discuss what the guys can do in this particular way.

Paint Your Fingernails

It’s believed that the first synthetic nail polishes were developed in the 1920’s in order to conseal the dirt and grime that stubbornly refuses to leave the undersides of a ladies’ fingernails. That said, the archetypical male loves working and playing in the dirt. So why shouldn’t he make use of this tool that is openly available to everyone in the same manner?

Colored nail polish, especially the darker colors, are great at hiding the thick globs of goo that you have to scrape out from under your nails but lack the tools to do so effectively at the time. Colored nails also have the effect of drawing attention to certain aspects of the hand. For example, if you’re a man with large and powerful hands, nail polish can draw attention to your strong hands or soften them to make you look more gentle (you may have to experiment with colors and shade before you find the right effect).

Also, if you just don’t feel right flaunting technicolor fingertips, a clear topcoat can still protect your nails from being chipped and damaged by day to day work. That’s time saved filing down a nail so you don’t snag and ruin that favorite t-shirt of yours.

Shave More Than Just Your Beard

For all of those men looking to court a lady, know that many polls show that females don’t like hairy men or at least don’t appreciate hair in certain places.

The growing interest in male body grooming or “manscaping” has it’s basis in provable fact and statistics; people respond well to hair on the arms and legs of men complemented by light hair on the chest. However, hair on the back, underarms, stomach, and groin is generally repulsive. So it may behoove you to take the electric trimmer and straight razor to your bod.

Even if you aren’t concerned with looking your best, manscaping still has a hygienic advantage. Removing your body hair also destroys a potential home for odor-causing bacteria and hair dwelling bugs. So, stay clean and look good.

Wear A ‘Utilikilt’

Most men shy away from kilts because of their resemblance to a woman’s skirt, but the Scotsmen of the 16th century might have been onto something.

Medical science has uncovered a laundry list of health problems associated with wearing restrictive clothing like tight jeans up to and including infertility and digestive failure. So what better way to combat this with the least restrictive piece of menswear in history.

If you want to get in on the kilt craze, be sure to check out the folks at The Utilikilt Company. These modernized kilts run a little pricey but are built strong, intelligently designed, comfy, and will make the man concerned with image look plenty tougher. They also offer multiple styles for every occasion.

In Conclusion…

We live in a modern age where the idea of gender rolls is changing – possibly fading away all together. Much like we do with our laws, it’s time to re-evaluate what we call masculine and feminine. The Cult of The Macho is due for a revamp for the good of us all.