Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…


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the (pink) elephant in the room

today my lovely daughter got to play with her cousins over at my mother’s house, a rare enough treat between the busy schedules and the only once a week visits that my mom has “the kids”. (her great-grandchildren). it is always fun for ziona to play with lexi and mikey. i cared for both these kids in our home for a couple of years while their mom, my niece, was struggling with expenditures after her divorce.

today was a rather rainy day and so they all played indoors. a million different kinds of toys littered my mom’s living room floor by the time we arrived. there were big dolls and barbie dolls in various degrees of disrobe, there were toy trucks and stuffed animal toys, parts of games and puzzles strewn about, in short, a regal mess.

my youngest sister, patsy, was also there. she was one of the siblings that was having trouble seeing her way clear to speak to me, largely because of the way i support ziona, allowing her to be the girl she is. my mother had cautioned me before NOT to try to broach the subject with her, she warned that no amount of information about transgender issues would be appreciated by patsy. that was weeks ago, and my sister and i have had a couple of ‘sharing space’ moments since then. mostly because since her divorce she is staying at mom’s and i go there often enough that it seemed logistically silly to try to absent herself from there on the occasions of my visits.

there has never been a feeling of animosity in my heart toward patsy. not even when i learned that one of the calls to the children’s protective services had been hers. so it wasn’t difficult in the slightest for me to habit the same environs as her, and strike up conversations. my mother’s warning wasn’t the reason for not bringing up the subject of transgender with my sister. it’s just that for ziona and i, her being a girl and my support for her are as natural as her blue eyes or my wrinkles and grey hair…we don’t feel compelled to go on and on about the natural stuff.

so my point is that my sister quietly accepts the situation, and is not these days so inclined to let it interfere with our conversations and time in one another’s company.

after all, there are many other things we share in common that we can speak about. she’s an intelligent woman, so am i. we both have lupus so there’s that. and tho i’m not into sports like she and my mom are, i know my way around the lingo and can participate in the excitement of an interception leading to a touchdown, with the best of sports fans.

my mother doesn’t like to think about the transgender stuff either. and i don’t feel inclined to bring up subjects merely for the purpose of controversy. so altho we are able to occupy the same general space and time, there is a rather large two-tonne elephant in the room, (a pink one) that everyone is content to ignore.

i’m am so grateful that this is the case. that my mom, my younger sister, the cousins, my brother thom and the folk who live next door to us have seen fit to ignore the thing that they aren’t prepared to understand. isn’t that strange?

the alternative to quiet acceptance is often ostracism. many families can’t bear to overlook that elephant and won’t embrace it. they disown their members, judge or outright condemn. many people have lost whole cadres of lifelong friends when they’ve come out as transgender, after transitioning, or just for supporting someone’s self-definition and self-determination. when it comes to this issue there is seldom a middle ground.

but when there is a middle ground, it looks just like our situation. we aren’t supported exactly in the ‘path’ we are on, but we haven’t been ‘outcast’ either. we maintain our relationships, albeit with caveats, and no one seems to mind the elephant in the room. and that is okay by me.

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expendables

earlier today in this blog, i reblogged a story from germany about a trans-girl who faces institutionalisation for merely being who she is. it is a tragedy, no doubt. society, especially here in the U.S. has never upheld the ‘liberty and justice for all,’ part of the pledge we were forced to stand and recite in schools every day.

the statistics are frightening with regard to trans and queer folk. the discrimination, the assaults on not just our human (and allegedly equal) rights, but on our very flesh. the numbers are truly daunting. yet the paucity of reporting on such statistics is indicative of the esteem afforded such groups by the dominant cultural paradigm. our issues are not their issues. we, along with our rights, are expendable.

my daughter, with really almost ‘zero’ life experience yet, intuitively understands that by entering the role allotted to females, and a trans-female at that, she will be relegated to the portion of society that is less empowered and often preyed upon. a sad state of affairs. she already understands much that i haven’t yet bothered to teach her. despite my ‘holding back’ until she is a little older to reveal the dark place our world can often be, she understands that she will have to fight her way through life as a girl. she knows and she is ready, or so she thinks.

but why should she have to fight?why should anyone? why does society have no place for transgender/transsexual folk? or queers? or black people in general. why are the assaults against these groups seemingly ‘understandable’.

trayvon martin was a member of an expendable group: black in a white societal power structure. transgender/transsexual people are members of an expendable group too: gender variant in a cis-sexual binary-coded paradigm. and really, even simply queer folk are also relegated to a second class citizenry; their rights only attained through struggle.

when society can ‘decide’ whether queer folk can marry, or thinks it right that women can be paid less than men for the same job done, when police can decide whether gunning down an unarmed black man constitutes murder, it is a tragedy. it is also a symptom of a disease, a cancer.

people should never be treated like ‘expendables’.

my daughter is fierce! i trust in her strength, in her ability to confront the world and have it be on her terms. that being said, it is no secret to her that the only lower place on society’s totem pole would be if she had also been born black. she knows this, altho i haven’t painted the scene for her. she told me one day. (tho not using the totem pole reference). she simply said, “if i were black too, i’d be the lowest in the world, except for animals”

that an only almost 9 year old, who doesn’t watch t.v. (only movies) or go to public schools, knows the ‘place value’ within society of transgender and black folk is profound. she has correctly diagnosed the disease without having yet experienced the symptoms. and she knows this isn’t the way it should be.

so if a child knows that ‘place value’ is wrong, that every single person on the planet should be afforded equal respect and esteem, why doesn’t the society at large recognise these things?


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someone i follow made me aware of this..
here’s a link to get to a petition concerning the matter of a young trans-girl facing institutionalisation for being transgender.

EssexGirlBecky

At playschool, all little Alexander wanted was to be Alexandra. Now the eleven year old is seeking hormone treatment. The Jugendamt (Youth Department) is set against it.

“Hi, I’m Alex!” The smiling girl, who opens the door to an old but pretty dwelling somewhere in Berlin, has long blonde hair, wears skinny jeans and a blouse. But this lovely eleven year old character, who readily shows us her pink room with white furniture and a pink unicorn on the, this should be a boy!

No, nothing suggests ‘boy’ here, yet for Alex gender identity has become a battlefield. Alex is transsexual – a girl with the sexual characteristics of a boy. And because of that, the child is now threatened with a secure psychiatric ward. The Youth Department wants to section her.

“For how long have you believed that you are a girl?” Alex looks me in the eye and answers back “for…

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some inspiring stories

every once in a while i like to provide links to stories about transgender issues…

this is such post.

the following link is to a page chock-full of links to various stories about transgender people, children and others. it was compiled by and i found it at http://www.genderspectrum.org

i hope that those who read this blog will find these stories inspiring .

as for my own beautiful transdaughter, my reason for visiting this site on this particular day is to find resources, specifically a trans-issues mental health professional to visit while in california on our yearly pilgrimage to our mountain home.

it’s sad that there are so few resources in the area where we are living now. that i have to sync up visits to transgender specialty doctors and counselors with our 3,000 mile trek to california. that the nearest place to where we live in panhandle florida to get such care would be atlanta, miami area or new orleans, and even then the professionals deal largely with grown people, not young beautiful children like zee.

someday we may relocate to our california home and leave this house empty most months of the year, just so that the care she will need wont be clear across the continent from where we live. we are most fortunate to be positioned to have such options. most parents of transgender youth in the deep (still-remember-the-glory days-of-‘white hoods’-before-hate crimes-laws) south, have no such option. and sadly, many have no such inclination as to support their transgender children either.

one of the persons whose story is linked to on the page above is Janet Mock…a beautiful trans-woman whom i follow on twitter. she is out in the open, outspoken, outrageously honest and a great blogger. simply reading her blog has given me courage and strength on the days i needed it most. check it out.

that’s all i have for today folks…just some inspiring stories from the news. and an introduction to a great lady, whom i only know through her blog and twitter…but that’s alot of knowing going on.


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dedicated to those who’ve had to wait

i’ve been reading many blogs and books lately with a common theme. that being transgender kids having to suffer the pain of hiding who they are, of fearing what would become of relationships with friends and family did they discover the secret of the self they dare not share. of feeling that the situation is hopeless…

for many this may be the temporary situation. some parents are never gonna be ready to ‘hear’ certain truths, and that is tragic. because it isn’t about these parents. it’s about the kids.

it feels good to me that my own trans-daughter was secure enough in herself to insist upon telling me who she really is. i’m grateful to the universe for having prepared this lovely child a soft place in the world by allowing me to have an open mind.

this poem, (a kyrielle) is dedicated to those who must still struggle to show the world who they are.

ANYWAY

she didn’t dare to speak the truth
nor had the courage yet to say
things kept a ‘secret’ since her youth
it wouldn’t matter anyway

for none she knew would care to hear
so hid herself from light of day
let folk believe her only ‘queer’
it wouldn’t matter anyway

at birth she’d been declared a boy
and as a youth thought only ‘fey’
tho she possessed a hidden joy
it wouldn’t matter anyway

her truth would bring despair she knew
so locked away from light of day
she tried to put off her ‘debut’
it wouldn’t matter anyway


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my very own ‘luna’

i mentioned in a previous post that i’ve been reading a book called “luna” by julie anne peters. it is a very touching story of a trans-girl told by her sympathetic but not always understanding younger sister.

the story touches me on many levels. it is well-written and poignant. the insights into not only the troubles the trans-girl, luna, faces but also the trials that the younger sister goes through serve to paint a most realistic portrait of them both.

having a couple of very good transsexual friends in my life, it was easy to imagine these real life people in the place of luna. the family dynamics, the fear of being herself, the bullying when she is less than the ‘male’ that society sees, the spectre of rejection by family and friends, the ultimate life or death need to be who she is are all familiar variations on the stories my friends have shared with me.

today, while reading a specific passage wherein the narrator, regan (the younger sister) relates an episode from early on in their childhood, the story became all too real. far from merely hitting a bit too close to home, it hit the nail right on the head.

in the recollection, regan, her older brother (the trans-girl, luna.) and the daughter of a neighbor were all swimming in the neighbor’s pool, when the girls ask if they can swim naked. they are very young, pre-kindergarten age, and the mothers say it’s okay. liam, (luna) also gets naked. what happens next is like a page out of my own memories of just 5 years ago, of ziona.

in the story, the little trans-girl starts trying to pull off the penis. she’s crying and almost hysterical. she runs to her mother and begs her to help ‘take it off’, she’s screaming and beside herself in pain and horror.

the clueless mom thinks he was merely ‘touching’ himself down there, says to stop, that it’s nasty and sends him, (her) inside as a punishment for misbehaving. when the mom goes inside, the next thing the younger sister remembers is the mom screaming “what have you done? oh my god. put that knife down!” then bursting outside with liam (luna) in her arms to rush him to the emergency room.

at this point in my reading, a chill went down my spine. memories of the times i found ziona trying to pull ‘the penis’ off, of catching her with the plastic play scissors from her pretend doctor’s kit in one hand and ‘the penis’ in the other. of her begging me to ‘do it’, to ‘cut it off’, that i could do it without her bleeding to death.

“you can do it, mom! i know you can! please!!” the frantic voice beseeching me to do what every child knows a mom can do…make it better.

it was a very traumatic time. my little one, not yet four years old expressed suicidal intent so that “i can die and god can get it right this time”

my mind reeled. i explained to ziona that if god had made a mistake, god also made a way to correct the error. she was of course, not old enough yet to understand all that would be involved, but she realised at that moment, that mommy would help to make it better, in time.

there have been no more attempts to rid herself of ‘the penis’, and at nearly 9 years old, she can now understand that we will have to wait until she’s a bit older to do the surgery, and that ‘the penis’ will become her ‘girl parts,’ the vagina.

i am grateful, to whatever god or universal spirit exists, that my mind was open enough to really ‘hear’ my lovely daughter’s pleas. that life had somehow prepared me for the news so that even while it wasn’t something i would ever have wished for her, i can fully support her and advocate for her until such time as she can do so for herself.

there is no more sense of trauma surrounding the fact that she is a girl whose body will have to be ‘changed’ in order to be in line with who she is. we know that very soon we will be starting her on puberty blockers, followed shortly by what will be a life-long regimen of cross-hormones, and eventually reassignment surgery. we are at peace with the realities now. but back then…

still, after reading the particular passage to which i refer, i had to put the kindle down. altho my eye’s can’t make them, tears nonetheless spilled over in my heart, which felt as tho it were being crushed. it was necessary to take a break, run a bath, get dressed and busy myself with whatever ‘in the present’ chores i could find so that the memories of the past, of her pain when she’d first realised that she had the wrong body, of her own frantic pleading that i ‘cut it off’, could fade into the background once more.

there! that’s better…

now to finish the book.


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some ‘passing’ thoughts

lately i have been rereading “whipping girl” and finishing up “luna”. two very awesome books that deal with the subject of trans-women altho coming from two very different places. both of these recent reads have gotten me thinking about this thing called “passing”.

it isn’t something i’ll ever have to worry about. the fact that i was born in the body that matches my gender identity means that i’ll never have prove i’m a woman. to anyone. ever. certainly i pass.

but what is passing? why is it so important? what paradigms frame its importance? is it all external appearance? is this notion of passing a by-product of our binary gender system? can one be a woman without the surgeries, without the hormones? does the plumbing have to match the wiring?

i wonder….

of course, society will recognise me as a woman, no matter what i do. i can wear men’s clothing, buzz-cut my hair, go without make-up, date women, participate in employment areas and hobbies that are usually thought of as “man stuff” and the world may call me a dyke (which i like) but it will still see me as a woman.

but what really makes me a woman, is the same thing that makes my daughter a woman. it is something between the ears, not between the thighs. so, since this is true, why is it so important to ‘pass’? why the need to change the outsides?

i tried to tell my daughter that there are transgender women that don’t feel they have to have their “spare parts” (her word for them) taken away in order to be the girls they are. i told her about the places in native american, hindu and japanese society where ‘two-spirit’ beings are accepted as belonging to the gender with which they identify…no assembly required.

but she wont have any of it!

for her the body must match the brain. and starting early on cross-hormones, before any testosterone has had the chance to make irreversible changes resulting in male physical features, she will likely ‘pass’ more easily than my friends who were adults by the time they decided to transition.

‘passing for a woman’ seems reliant on meeting strict gender expectations imposed by the dominant culture. women are supposed to have delicate features, small hands and feet, soft voices…all of the things that would help one to pass as a woman seem to me to derive from preconceptions about what is feminine. and much of what is deemed feminine has roots in an oppressive and misogynist ideology that has relegated women to the lower castes of society.

this whole ‘passing’ issue also tends to validate the dominant cultures prejudice against those who are “other than”, in much the same way that a fair-skinned person of color passing for white, or a gay man passing for straight does. in other words, it reinforces the narrative that the majority group is better than the minority group, and therefore it is desirable to ‘pass’.

of course, should a trans-person be able to ‘pass’ for their identified gender they are less likely to suffer discriminaton, making it easier to find employment, or even housing, or just to be accepted as their identified gender, and thus taken seriously, and ironically are those who can pass are accused of being deceptive. very often in our society if transgender or transsexual women ‘pass’ cissexuals feel betrayed or threatened by them.

the rigorous measures to which a trans-woman is subjected in order to be considered ‘passing’ are not applied to me, a cis-sexual woman. for example, my rather large thyroid area of the neck, (and it is large) is never scrutinised, my large hands, (and they are large) are not held against me. the fact that i haven’t got big hips, or an hourglass shape or big breasts will never raise eyebrows or cast doubt as to my gender. but for my transsexual friends these features are viewed by the world as drawbacks to ‘passing’, as if the only way for a transsexual woman to be accepted into the exclusive sisterhood is to be judged by the same cis-privileged society that has insisted on the binary gender code in the first place.

it isn’t fair.

once, a friend of mine who is transsexual was talking on skype with me, when her roommate passed by the screen and upon seeing me mistook me for a trans-woman. my friend ‘shushed’ her, as tho it were some sort of insult. i told her, no…quite the contrary, i considered it a compliment. but the fact that my friend thought i should be insulted shows that she still struggles within herself to be free of the negativity our society has ingrained in us about not being ‘true’ to the established gender rules.

so what is passing? should it be important?

as a member of the cis-privileged group it is far beyond my right to say, and beyond my experience to know. but i can say this much; for me, it matters not in the slightest, this thing called ‘passing’. because it’s whats inside that makes the woman.

i only wish society saw it the same way…for my daughter’s sake.