Great Life Lessons Taught To Me By My Transgender Girlfriend

Everybody deserves to be happy with who they are and in the skin they want.
Source: Huffington Post

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter will know that, on Tuesday, I publicly announced the official first date between me and Marie – a beautiful and talented anthro artist (check her out on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and commission her if you get the notion) and out-and-proud transgender woman. We’ve been chatting for some time now without ever being face-to-face due to several states worth of distance between us. But, an overnight trip to Connecticut allowed us to meet and I was introduced to her circle of friends. It was a great time and I feel we got to know each other a lot better – an impressive feat since this appears to be one of those rare relationships where both parties seem to know each other before they even meet.

But, more pertinent to this essay is the fact that she, knowing that I recently came out as gender fluid, helped me rediscover and feel more confident in my newly freed identity. And because I know she wants little more than to see her fellow trans men and women be happy and confident, I’d like to share the teachings she passed on to me during those magical two days together.

‘Transgender’ means more than you may think

This is less something Marie taught me than it is something I always knew, but I was reminded of it several times over the course of our trip. So I feel the need to establish it here.

But yes; even though I identify specifically as “gender fluid,” you’d be TECHNICALLY correct to call me “transgender.” You see, transgender is a rather large umbrella term that goes far beyond transgender man or transgender woman. It’s meant to be a sort of catch-all term for anyone whose gender identity differs from the standard identity that’s prescribed to someone’s biological sex.

Of course, while it may be TECHNICALLY correct to call a non-binary, gender fluid, etc. person transgender, it’s worth it to go the extra distance to refer to someone as the gender they identify as. It’s similar to how you should respect a person’s preferred gender pronouns if they have any; not only will you get a better understanding of them as a person, but you demonstrate that you care enough about them to get it right – thus strengthening the friendship.

Trans-people are just like cis-people

Again, something I already knew. But meeting with Marie and her friends (a few of whom were also transgender) and talking about life experiences re-confirmed it and it’s something worth noting to the public.

Talking to trans-people since college has taught me that there’s actually very little (if anything) different personality and lifestyle wise between a transgender person and a cisgender person. We both have shared experiences, feelings, and insights. We fall in and out of love the same way, work similar crappy jobs, enjoy watching the same movies and rocking out to the same music. Hell, we even have the same sweetheart-to-scumbag ratio between the two of us.

The only thing that separates the two is that incredibly minor difference in how we identify ourselves. And let’s be brutally honest; if you’re going to let something as minor as a personal identity separate you from an entire swath of humanity, you are missing out on a lot of potential good times. Yes, you’re likely to meet some duds here and there, but you were going to get that with the crowd you were with anyway. So why not broaden the friend search?

You don’t need hormones to feel sexy

One of the many exciting moments I shared with Marie was when she, knowing I had a limited wardrobe to choose from, donated some old hand-me-downs she was planning on getting rid of. Miraculously, almost all of them fit. And when I first put them on, I couldn’t stop striking poses in the mirror for how much I loved the way I looked.

For most trans-people, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is one of, if not the most, crucial choices in their lives. However, seeing me strut about in pants that ACTUALLY made my butt look cute for a change reminded me that you shouldn’t feel pressured into jumping into it ASAP. Much like the initial process of coming out, you get to decide when, how, and even if you decide to start HRT.

Don’t get me wrong, I’M still probably going to do it. In fact, I’m going to try talking with an endocrinologist on my next day off to set up the initial meeting and go through health risk, planning, etc. But the point is that only I, not anyone or anything else, gets to dictate that.

Having trusted friends makes all the difference

I had only been out in public twice in feminine attire before this trip and always in smaller settings. This trip was a big deal; I was in crowded restaurants and malls where anyone could raise a fuss. But having Marie by my side really did make it all seem like less of a problem. In fact, both she and I were stunned by how casually I strutted about without a single f*** to give out like business cards.

This bit of advice goes out to friends of trans-people as much as trans-people themselves; If you care about the well-being of your friends, be there for them. The little things like helping them shop for clothes or escorting them to the bathroom may seem like small potatoes to you, but they give them all the confidence in the world.

And speaking of confidence…

As in all things, confidence is key

I was pleasantly surprised with just how many people seemed unbothered by the six-foot-four, 250-pound Scots-Irish amazon idly traipsing through the food court in a pair of hip-hugging stretch jeans as I downed an energy drink and nibbled on my bland but passable sweet and sour pork from the Chinese food place. That’s when Marie dropped the biggest truth bomb of the entire trip on me; no one cared because I didn’t care.

In the back of my head, I knew this for some time. My years as a stage performer in college taught me that the slightest weakness in your ego will give everyone something to criticize. But when you step off the stage and into the public eye, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that truth. Whatever you do, trans-related or otherwise, you need to go into it without hesitation and confident that you have this locked down tight.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shopping for a new purse because woman’s pants pockets are even more bulls*** than I gave them credit for and I am NOT going to carry my phone around in my adorable new bralette.

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My One Sentence Counter To NEARLY ALL Anti-Transgender Arguments

Is that really so hard to give? It’s not exactly a finite resource, you know?
Source: ACLU

So… Trans rights and politics are back in the spotlight again…

It would have been bad enough that our resident Fuqboi-In-Chief (yes, I’m done being respectful towards Donald Trump) wants to bring back the military ban on transgender service men and women. But, on a personal level, it gets worse.

I’ve worked with trans people almost all of my adult life. They’ve been my friends throughout college. They’re fellow writers and thinkers. They’re both my co-workers and my customers at my current job.

So, when not one, but TWO of my co-workers start making snide comments about trans customers behind their backs as they leave – one of whom didn’t even have the basic human decency to avoid using the words ‘f*g’ and ‘tranny’ – on top of all of the political falderal we’re experiencing, you can expect me to start getting a little nettled.

To make matters worse, I couldn’t say anything to them. I can actually get fired for getting into politics and social issues with people on the job because it makes for a ‘hostile work environment.’ I mean, you think the abuse and misuse of ‘safe spaces’ on campus are bad (well, they are, but that’s a different rant for another day)? You’ve clearly never had to share a work space with a bunch of unquestioning, bigoted, cretins before.

So, all I could do at those times was give them the evil eye to tell them to stop (one of the advantages of being a six-foot-four, 250 pound, Scotish-American is that’s usually all it takes to shut someone up). But, intimidation doesn’t address the core issue; they were still thinking based on irrational fear, hate, superstition, or whatever justification caused them to think it was okay to blurt out cruel words.

But, one of the perks of being a blogger is that I can posit my counter-argument in a public forum and, as long as I don’t name exact people and places, there will be no negative repercussions from me exercising my right to free speech. In fact, I can counter just about everything they throw at me with one question: …

… “Why do you even care?”

This is a question I insist that everyone ask themselves before seriously attempting to defend their beliefs because if you don’t have a decent reason to fight in a debate, you’ve already lost.

And wouldn’t you know it, I haven’t heard a good answer to that question from anyone against transgender rights yet.

“But it’s unnatural.” Yeah? So’s 98 percent of everything you use, wear, and eat. Humans are MASTERS at altering the world and themselves to suit their individual needs. If transgender people are wrong because they’re ‘unnatural,’ then you need to give up the synthetic fabrics that make up most of your clothing, the processed food you eat, the products made from selectively bred plants and animals, the metal tools made from alloys that don’t occur in nature, literally EVERYTHING made from plastic, etc.

“Aren’t there health risks involved in the transition?” Yes, there are and I award you points for your genuine concern. But it seems hypocritical that you would be against one human activity with known risks that can be screened and treated when far more dangerous activities like smoking and drinking get a pass… Unless you’re one of those folks that want to ban alcohol and tobacco too which didn’t go well the first time we did it. My point is that people have the freedom to experiment with their own bodies for better or worse. As long as it’s not your body, it’s not your problem.

“But my religion says…” STOP. Your religion is likely TENS OF THOUSANDS of years old. It dates back to the days of a much more limited understanding of how the universe works and enforces archaic laws that just don’t work anymore. You wouldn’t want your child going to school with outdated text books. So why are you using one as the basis of your life?

“I have no problem with trans people. I just wish they weren’t so obvious about it.” Well, I wish that your noxious breath and toothless smile from years of smoking weren’t so obvious, but I still ignore it and treat you like a human being, don’t I (Seriously, both of these people were terrible tobacco abusers and obviously didn’t care for themselves)? Some people just look the way they do. They either don’t want to change or lack the time and resources to change themselves at the moment. The point is that they’re still human and, until and unless they treat you like crap, deserve your consideration.

You see, I have a very simple philosophy: if you aren’t bothering me or anyone I love, I won’t bother you. And on average, the trans-community either leaves me and my kin be or works well with us. What’s more, there’s nothing inherent about being transgender that harms us – meaning any issues I have with trans-people are on an individual, case-by-case basis and not endemic of the whole community.

In short, unless you have irrefutable evidence that the trans-community is planning a global uprising and we are all in grave danger, your argument against them is probably bulls*** and you should just relax; you can be safe in the knowledge that the world isn’t ending just because you have to share it with people that you don’t quite understand.

The Tao of Wu: How A Comic About A Transgender Woman Can Help Unite Us

See that adorable F***ing face? THAT is the face of peace and understanding.
Source: Twitter @kyliesummerwu

Very recently, one of my friends introduced me to the art and comedy of Kylie Wu – a young and proud transgender woman who creates the endlessly delightful comic series Trans Girl Next Door. After reading just a few pages, I was immediately hooked and I’ve been checking Twitter and Tumblr routinely awaiting the next installment.

Of course, being the dorky mega-brain I am, I had to set out on a quest to answer WHY I loved this silly little sequential art autobiography so much. The answer I got was surprisingly soothing.

I’m of the professional opinion that good art should leave you different from when it found you; even if that difference is just reminding you that you aren’t alone in the world. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s shockingly easy to identify and empathize with Kylie (or at least the parts of her she shares with us… which is still substantial).

As someone who has lived part of her life as a man and is living her current life as a woman, Kylie’s fearless sharing provides insight -not only on life as a transgender person – but also on life for cisgender men and women. That insight being that we all aren’t as different as we like to think we are.

We all have bodily insecurities. We all have romantic desires. And let’s not forget the old standby: everybody poops.

Also, even on an individual level, you’ll likely find some life story of Kylie’s that speaks to you. Guys, how often have you endured the pain of sitting on your own sack? And remember the sticky, smelly mess of hormones that is puberty?

And ladies, I know through my mom that finding the right shampoo is a glorious feeling and my roommate has demonstrated the fury-inspiring challenge of painting your toenails.

Even just speaking personally, I find Kylie’s work to speak to my own life experiences. As someone who indulges in body grooming (to the chagrin of whoever’s bathroom I’m sharing), the feeling of freshly smooth skin is amazing. Also, I’m asexual and don’t use my testicles for their biological purpose. So why not keep them for the darkly comedic purpose of an emergency food supply (alternately, I’ve thought of selling them to that phallic museum in Iceland to pay off my loans).

So, what lesson am I trying to impart on you, dear Field Operatives? Well, other than trying to help out an artist in need (seriously, give this girl a dollar and/or buy her S***; good art is hard to come by and HRT don’t come cheap) I’m hoping that people will read this, read TGND, and learn to stop judging based on our genders, sexualities and the like and start judging based on the content of our character.

We may all be structurally different, but we are all human and kin on a fundamental level. And the fact that a cisgender man-child from the gray mountains of New Hampshire can feel a sense of comradery with a transgender surfer girl from the sunny coasts of California gives me hope that the world might just be relaxing its hopelessly tight butthole and becoming a pleasant place to live.

Why Anti-Transgender Bathroom Laws Need To DIE

Would having something amputated be a valid choice?
Source: PrideLife

Yeah, you read that title right. Not ‘stop’. Not ‘go away’. They need to F***ING DIE. It’s rare for me to get THIS angry about something. But then again, it’s rare for me to see an argument for something so damaging that’s THIS poorly informed and ignorant.

This one’s going to be a short and sweet week because, in all honesty, arguing this point is so easy that it feels like I just challenged a jellyfish with a severe learning disability to a life-or-death game of chess; a battle of wits with and unarmed soul. That said, I have to say something in the hopes that the word will find a way to spread and end this madness once and for all.

To catch you all up to the times, several places – North Carolina and Tennessee being the big ones – are pushing for laws that will prevent transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity; forcing them to use the room of their birth gender.

The main argument from supporters of these laws is that they want to protect women and children from sexual predators who would disguise themselves as women to get closer to their intended targets. There are several reasons why this doesn’t work as a logical argument.

Firstly, the vast majority of convicted sexual predators are straight, white men, not transgender women. In fact, it’s the LGBT community that’s most often the victims of sexual violence. You are LITERALLY blaming the victims, people.

Secondly, allow me to tell you a personal story from my own experience. In my four years as a stage actor for my college drama club, we never had our own dedicated changing rooms or even separate rooms for men and women. Instead, we would have to change in a studio behind the backstage area. What’s more, we all had to change clothes together; meaning everybody saw everything.

In those four years, not to mention for years prior to my arrival and after my graduation, there has never been a sexual assault or rape in the club. Do you know why? It’s because that NO ONE IS SO BLINDLY HORNY THAT THEY WOULD RAPE SOMEONE WITH OTHER PEOPLE WATCHING THAT WOULD KICK HIS ASS IF HE TRIED!

Seriously, it’s a PUBLIC restroom; I.E., everyone can see/hear everything that goes on inside. A rapist usually acts in secluded areas later at night and target people that know them because the victims falsely trust them and no one is present to stop them. A public restroom is practically a miniature panopticon and the exact opposite of what a sexual predator would want.

Let’s just be honest – if you support anti-trans bathroom laws, it has nothing to do with you wanting to protect women and children. It has everything to do with the fact that you’re freaked out by someone that you don’t understand and are unwilling to accept. You are an ass-backwards, regressive wart on the ass-crack of humanity that can’t get over the fact that their way of thinking is outdated and not only doesn’t work anymore but is actually damaging to society. May you burn along your oppressive laws, you slimy, festering carbuncles on the planet’s face.

A Positive Message In An Unlikely Place (or “The Kinks’ Lola Was Surprisingly Progressive”)

Let’s be honest; I don’t often have nice things to say about my day job. It’s to be expected as custodial life is naturally unrewarding in most cases. But there are some perks. The overnight shift is peacefully quiet for the most part, the few people I meet seem to respect how crappy (no pun intended) the job is, and I could be making far worse money elsewhere doing the same work.

My favorite part of the job though has to be the Classic Rock station that the radio is tuned into all day. I don’t know what station it is – likely a satellite station, but they often play stuff from my favorite artists of yesteryear that I’ve either never heard before or had completely forgotten about along with their more well-known works.

While I was working one night, I noticed how the station seems to favor certain artists. I noted that The Kinks played oddly often specifically. This got me to thinking about one of my then guilty pleasures in music – their hit single Lola.

You can probably guess why it was a guilty pleasure for me. As someone who is staunchly Pro-LGBT, it makes me look like a hypocrite to be listening to and enjoying a song that plays the romance of a transgender woman for laughs. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to realize that I shouldn’t be feeling bad for liking this song.

Let’s break down the events of the story in the song. Our protagonist, a virginal man that just left home a week prior to the events of the song, is eager to start playing the field and find the woman of his dreams – common behavior for a hormonal youth sans parental supervision.

While in a nightclub in Soho, a district of London, England known for it’s active sex industry, he comes across the titular Lola and becomes attracted to her; his youthful ignorance causing him to miss signs that she is transgender such as her deeper voice (“I asked her name and in a dark brown voice she said, ‘Lola’.”), typically masculine strength (“Well, I’m not the world’s most physical guy, / But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine.”), and odd mannerisms (“Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand / Why she walk like a woman and talk like a man.”).

At this point, it seems like this is going to be a groaner of a bad and insensitive joke from people that clearly don’t get transgender culture or politics. However, it’s near the end of the song that things change drastically.

After a night of drinking and dancing, the two agree to cap off the night at Lola’s place. It’s there that our storyteller learns the truth, panics, and trips as he makes a run for the door. But, as he looks up from the floor and has a moment to process everything, he realizes that he still has feelings for her and can’t bring himself to ditch her (“Well that’s the way that I want it to stay. / And I always want it to be that way for my Lola.”).

He then understands the irony of his situation – in a chaotic world where so many of us are trying to discover or rediscover ourselves, a woman whose identity would bewilder most others is the only one who’s sure of what they are and want to be (“Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls. / It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, / Except for Lola.”)

That’s right; by the end of the night, our hero stays with Lola, finds new respect for the girl he just met, and discovers himself in the process (“Well I’m not the world’s most masculine man, / But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man, / And so is Lola.”)

I put it to you, Field Operatives, that The Kinks’ Lola should not be viewed as a guilty pleasure, but as a shockingly forward-thinking and progressive story about love, enlightenment, and treating your fellow men, women, and those of unspecified genders with respect.

Now then, what’s YOUR excuse, Aerosmith?