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My Ignorant Blog Post About Trans Issues (MIBPATI) #1 of 6


I'd like to write a couple of blog posts about transgender issues. This is
fraught with more than a little risk: a friend of mine said that I was
"the most trans-clueless person they had ever met" (!) So, I apologize in
advance if I seem a little rude or ignorant in these posts. I want to
remain respectful... I really love and care for all the trans people I've
met in the last year, and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

At the same time, I'd like to be a little blunt and honest. I'm trying to
be brave by putting some thoughts  out there, and perhaps some of my
opinions aren't as well thought out as they could be. Please let me know
where I'm wrong. I'm not really trying to start an argument, but I'm
hoping to start discussion on some difficult issues. Please tell me where
I'm wrong, or educated be if I'm complete off base. Still, I'm at a
handicap here.... for example:

* Total amount of time I've spent thinking about gender issues = less than
one hour in 39 years

* Total amount of time the average trans person has spent thinking about
gender issues= Probably every hour of every day of their life since before

Why haven't I thought about race or gender or age? Simple answer... because
I never HAD to. That's one wonderful thing about gay white male
privilege: I don't have to think about minorities. Trans issues don't
directly affect me. Somehow, us non-trans people are still allowed to vote
on laws and "referenda" about gender that don't apply to us. They will
affect the lives of trans-folk a daily basis... but we get to form snap
judgements without reading or studying gender issues at all! Weird, huh?

No offense, but please don't recommend that I just read a book, unless
it's really funny and has a lot of pictures. I don't think books alone
will educate me. I bought Kate Bornstein's excellent "My Gender Workbook",
and saw TransAmerica, and I like to read some excellent blogs on
LiveJournal from people more knowledgeable than I am, but that's about it.
What I'm looking for in your blog responses is a frank peek at some of the
more challenging issues about transgender issues.

For example, I will sometimes educate people about leather by explaining
"safe sane and consensual" sex. But, I don't talk about popper use during
scenes, or extreme sadism, or fearplay, or slavery. I consider those to be
"advanced studies" and they just muddy the issue for beginners. So...
what are the difficult topics that transgender people talk about when the
non-trans people have left the room?

My biggest fear writing these posts is that I might lose some friends, or
potential friends. If you aren't in the mood to "play a little rough",
please skip my LJ today. You won't miss anything... tomorrow I'll resume
blogging about gay sex again, and I won't bring up trans issues ever again.

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I'm glad that you took the first step

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on taking the first step about trying to address some challenges that you and some of us continue having about a specific topic at various degrees...

I think that you as many of us gay individuals have given more thought than just one hour about gender issues.

Can you expand a little more about what you call gay white male privilige?

Re: I'm glad that you took the first step

No! I'm serious that I haven't though about gender issues. Or, if I did, it was a casual passing thought.

My bad analogy is like if America got to vote on whether Philipinos should be allowed to immigrate to the US in 2009. I might be cranky that day and say "hell no". The issue doesn't affect me, except intellectually: I have no Philipino family members, nobody I know is trying to come here. But my decision might tear apart a family who is trying to come together - a husband and wife, mother and children.

So, to me gay white male privilege is the "right" to have an opinion or vote on things that don't affect you. It's the same with California voters on Proposition 8.

More gay white male privilege: I've never thought about which bathroom to go into, or if someone might beat me up if I choose incorrectly. I've been able to go to every leather event, party, and bar without fear I'd be stopped at the door since my gender didn't match my license. Every model in every gay magazine looks like me - but younger and less hairy. I have never campaigned for rights or written a letter or waved a sign for a issue other that my own as a gay man. Privilege is the power to not have to do things.

Edited at 2009-01-20 06:42 pm (UTC)

I can't speak about what all trans people talk about when non-trans people leave the room, but I can speak for what I talk about: how difficult it's been to fight the state to get my identity documents to match, how sometimes non-transpeople use my trans status as currency and sometimes talk about it when it's not their business and when I'd rather talk about things like extreme sadism, fisting, and breath control, whether I'll ever be "real enough" for other people (and whether I care: answer: on the good days, I don't. On the shitty days, maybe a little).

Oh man, i have to confess i've used a friend's identity as currency in the past. i've said things like, "i was hanging out last night with my black friend Mike."

Part of it is to say: i am hip and cool and not racist. i have a Black Friend! But it's also that i wanted to explain something like "i was watching the inauguration with Mike, and he said..." His opinion might mean more to you if i add that he's black.

Also, i love and respect Mike, and i want you to, too. i'm hoping if i tell you he's a leatherman AND black, you might talk to him the next time you see him at the bar, and you'll like him as much as i do. But yeah, if i say, "my trans friend Bill", that's rude and i should stop doing that.

Edited at 2009-01-20 08:31 pm (UTC)

Oop. I think I misspoke. I think "trans status as novelty" is better. Actually, maybe it's both. Because a few tricks have left me feeling like I'm a helpful addition to their ubercool-queer card. As for novelty, I have an acquaintance who thinks it's wonderful to bring up my transition, my genitalia, etc.etc. each time we're in the same space (mostly leather bars) and he's said how great it is that (my lover) doesn't mind that I'm "not whole" - for real, his wording.

Ouch! Quite a plethora of hateful comments. But I can't judge if they are malicious, ignorant, or just bad at communicating. I have an acquaintance with Asperger's who once asked me (in front a teacher) "after anal sex.... what do you gay guys do with the poo?" His heart is in the right place, and he's really trying to learn about gay life. He's just tactless.

Now that I live in San Francisco, I want to have bingo cards made up: I fucked a truck driver and an Asian... I just need a transbear and a lesbian couple and I have the entire upper row!

Edited at 2009-01-20 11:00 pm (UTC)

"how difficult it's been to fight the state to get my identity documents to match"

i have a bunch of opinions about security. i think that there should be a national id system and a foolproof biometric card and way of identifying people. Every American should be able to review and correct any information the govt stores on them. And trans people should be able to easily amend any gender info on any id that they own, including "none of the above", "blank", or "none of your business".

Edited at 2009-01-20 09:10 pm (UTC)

I've never really understood why a stupid gender marker is necessary when most IDs have a photo clearly right there.

Is it a police thing? They want to know which drunk tank to throw you into? That's my only idea...

Maybe so. I dunno. The thing that doesn't make any sense is that people can live with various documents saying various things, and if it's in the name of bureaucracy, then it's legal. If I want everything to match, I'm the one being a dick. LOL

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