Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…

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framing our own narrative

i’m gonna rant…it’s been coming for awhile now.  it’s about all this business about where one is allowed to pee.

disclaimer: i am a cis woman and so privileged. i no longer wear my head shaved, so face no challenge as to using the appropriate restroom.  but my daughter is transgender, a beautiful 13 year-old transgender girl. so it’s not as tho i don’t ‘get’ why the issue is important.

here’s where i have a problem with this. since all the hoopla about bathroom rights has been going on, other major issues with regard to trans-persons have fallen off the radar in a big way.

no more worries, it seems, about the much higher incidence of homelessness among trans-folk, or the much higher suicide rate, or the fact that many in the medical profession and insurance agencies routinely deny the treatments and medications necessary to transgender people, this despite obama’s ACA having passed.

no more about how many transgender people are being killed, for nothing more than the hatred and bigotry rampant in society towards them.  just to ‘be’ seems a thing not allowed to some, never mind ‘to pee’!

now, i get that it IS a big deal that unenlightened sheeple fearmonger their way into seeming justified in denying something as basic as a bathroom break, but it seems to me that the narrative has been altered.  altered in such a way that the worst elements of life while trans have fallen to the wayside.  and instead of coming from a place of power, the right to self-definition, self-detemination and even self-defense, now transgender folk are put upon to defend against the notion that they are perverts.

this is a drastic departure from the narrative that is true, which is that transgender folk are normal human beings who have certain inalienable rights, just like the rest of us.

so in my mind, it’s time to piss and get off the pot.  don’t throw away all the progress toward an empowered future.  reclaim and reframe the narrative.

after all, there are way more congressmen, senators, and preachers, who are fond of using public restrooms for prowling. and there are countless sundry other perverts who really are dangerous to our children.. in the bathrooms and elsewhere.

so can we talk? about unemployment, healthcare, suicide, hate crimes, murders and such as transgender people fall victim to…instead of pretending that their trans-ness makes them predators?

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Badly Reasoned: Why The CO Transgirl Should Not Be Segregated

this blogger is among my favorite of those i follow. read on and see how succinctly she unravels the whole ‘where to pee’ argument with regard to Coy, a beautiful young transgender elementary age girl in colorado.

Badly Reasoned: Why The CO Transgirl Should Not Be Segregated.

and as a person raising a transgender daughter, i can tell you that the last thing another child using the same restroom as her would see is the ‘spare parts’ that she can’t bear even to look upon while getting in and out of the bath or dressing herself. my daughter is so self conscious about them she even asks me to close my eyes if i’m in the bathroom to help her out of the tub. and immediately covers herself with a robe.

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learning twice

i heard a saying once that goes something like “to teach something is to learn it twice”.
that is most certainly true in my experience.

altho i’m not a certified teacher, i have homeschooled three daughters, one of whom is ziona. i have volunteered for Project Literacy U.S, tutored in college while i was pursuing my own education, helped adults seeking their G.E.D and participated in some of my older daughter’s classrooms as the poetry parent, for lack of a better title.

it is exciting for me to learn how another person learns! and it just so happens that it is a good way to be effective as a teacher. much like neuro-linguistics, finding out how someone learns makes it easier to know how to present materials to them. so it is that one truly learns twice that which they would teach. even the most reticent of students can have their curiosity piqued in something if it is presented to them by making it understandable from their own bent of mind, or areas of interest.

but some, like ziona, have naturally questioning minds. the things she asks, born of her own curiosity upon being introduced to a concept remind me of my own childhood school experience, wherein i drove many a nun to the brink of anger with my inquiries

“if god made everything, what did he make it out of?”
“what was there before god made everything?”
“who made god?”

anyone who has a scientific mindset who has been schooled in a catholic or other religious school well knows that such questions are not answered, and one is immediately made aware that asking the questions is totally inappropriate,…even sinful maybe!

ziona asks very interesting questions.

when we were first studying cells, she wanted to know where and how that very first cell happened. when we were delving into astronomy she was curious about what there was before the big bang, and from what or where did all that energy which later was to become stars, planets and moons, the stuff that was spewed and exploded by this big bang to the point of creating space,time and all the dimensions, originate.

so i faithfully dig into my own knowledge, and search out other good sources online, sometimes documentaries on youtube, learning what i already know all over again, so that i can satisfy that thirst in her for answers. she has a much easier time of posing questions than had i in my elementary school experience, needless to say.

a couple of days ago, after her bath, she had another really interesting question, one it may not be possible for me or anyone else for that matter, to answer.

she asked if it were possible that “since i got the boy parts even tho i am a girl, maybe another transgender kid got the girl parts i should have gotten, even tho they are a boy”

at first, being hopelessly cis-gendered, i didn’t get what she meant. then it hit me! we had been talking about the fact of the conservation of matter, a lesson that began her thinking about the whole big bang thing since it means that all the matter and energy present today have always been around, only changing forms, never just blinking out or into existance. she likened this to the notion that if there are x number of boys who should’ve gotten female bodies, perhaps there are also x number of girls that should’ve gotten male bodies. like her real body was out there somewhere, as much a problem for the would be boy that was stuck in it as is the boy body she is stuck with for the time being.

i couldn’t answer the question of course. i told her that for a completely balanced ‘mix up’ like that to be true one would expect to find just as many trans-males as trans-females…and to my knowledge the numbers don’t bear this out. upon hearing this she immediately offered,

“well maybe some of the people who are transgender don’t know it yet. you know, like some of your friends who didn’t know it until they were grown-ups.”

so now i will be absolutely bothered until i do a lot of online research, to see just what the ratio is of transgender females to transgender males. not learning something twice this time, but learning something new! not an uncommon thing for me since the day i started raising this very special child.

because of ziona, i have learned about autism, about balanced trans-location of genetic material from one chromosome to another, about seizures, about juvenile polyposis syndrome, and about transgender children, just to name a few of the things i have become aware of because of her. all these things in addition to the many things she’s taught me about love, patience, compassion, and even such as video games and dinosaurs.

i love being her teacher/student!

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cis-privilege, in case someone didn’t know it exists

this glaring example is only one of many that prove the reach of cis-privilege, even among otherwise oppressed people. it has to be recognised for the evil it is before it can be eliminated!

so say we all!

Women Born Transsexual

From Sketchy Thoughts Canada:

The following press release from ASTT(e)Q (Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec):

Transsexual and transgender women denied access to shelters as temperatures drop in Montréal
ASTT(e)Q urges Québec shelters to change discriminatory practices

25 January, 2013 – As temperatures drop to extreme lows, transsexual and transgender women in Montréal continue to be turned away from many homeless women’s shelters. Over the past week of bitter cold, ASTT(e)Q, a local trans health project of CACTUS Montréal, has witnessed several of our members be denied shelter on the grounds of being trans. While such refusals are frequently justified by administrative regulations, members of ASTT(e)Q believe that these exclusive practices are rooted in discriminatory attitudes towards trans people.

A majority of women’s shelters throughout Québec require trans people to have undergone sex reassignment surgery, and/or to have changed their legal sex. “Such requirements are unattainable for most…

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privilege speaks to privilege

the previous post, reblogged by me should probably be read before this post in order that the reference be made clear. also, read here

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imagine it is the past, during the horrid institution of slavery. would it seem right by any measure for the ‘house’ slaves to demand their liberation and equality while simultaneously denying same to the slaves toiling in the fields?

imagine a child rightly identifying schoolyard bullying as wrong, who turns around and bullies a younger sibling.

these instances and many others seem appropriate analogies to the problem of cis-gender women who wail against injustice and demand an end to the pervasive inequities of the patriarchal paradigm while excluding transgender women.

privilege speaks to privilege.

can it be argued that cis-gender women are not a part of privilege?

while inequities exist certainly that mark us as 2nd class citizens within the male-dominated society and culture, there can be no doubt that we enjoy rights to which our transgender siblings are denied. so when cis-women stand at the door like bouncers to reject those whom they consider “not-real-women” they are playing the role of gate-keeper in determining who is to be granted membership to their club; they are taking on the attributes of the same oppressive system against which they rail; they are become the oppressor and are enemy to their own cause.

when in their ignorance they marginalise the experience and existence of these ‘others’ whom they would exclude from consideration in their struggles by demeaning them, holding them to stricter standards for inclusion, they repeat the same sort of crime of which they are victims. for doesn’t male-dominated society also seek to define for these cis-women what they must be? is it not this same sin they commit against transgender women? seeking to define them? to confine them? and in so doing exclude them from access? why then can they not see themselves as bigots and oppressors as they seek also to define what is woman?

more and more research has come to light which supports the fact that transgender women aren’t just confused males. the functional mri of the brain of a transgender woman far more closely mirrors that of ‘natal’ women. the structures within the brain of a transgender woman differ from those of cis-men and again more closely approximate the size and shape of the same structures in the brains of women. so who’s to say that the external body can define a woman? clearly we are more than the sum of our parts. but even did no such evidence exist that tends to validate the ‘claims’ of transgender women that they are not men, does not everyone have the right to self-definition? isn’t this what the article by susan moore was trying to proclaim? the fact that male-dominated society’s measures and ideals for women are wrong and rob us of personhood? why then do some of these same oppressed people use similar means against others?

privilege speaks to privilege.

that is the only explanation for those who simultaneously make demands that support personhood as defined by the person for themselves, then deny the same to others. it is because one is small minded, ignorant and bigoted, or even just not well informed that one feels entitled to perpetrate the same inequity and employ the same techniques against which they stuggle.

my daughter is transgender. she was born with a body that has never been in sync with whom she knows herself to be. whether or not there is ever any evidence to support her experience, i do! she has the right to define herself for herself. and i will vehemently confront anyone who would deny her, or any other transgender person the right to say who they are!

as to the ‘just because they mutilate themselves (gender reassignment surgery) doesn’t mean they’re women’ crowd, besides revealing themselves the ignorant asshats that they are, i would argue that if one is closed-minded enough they can find an infinite number of ways to split hairs…the racists did, and still do; the nazis did, and still do…just don’t pretend that you have the high ground. because it is still just a matter of

privilege speaking to privilege.

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brand new day

first, let me apologise to my readers for the last post’s rant. when confronted with the issue of rape i begin to feel rather like i’m in an dark arena with blind-folded eyes wielding my katana at unseen enemies on all sides.

that said, it is indeed a terrible problem, an enemy to us all…and someday it must end.

moving on…

today, as usual, i woke up and wrote some haiku poetry, then read the poetry of others online followed by a session in my sauna. (gods i love that thing!) then came back to the computer to read emails and blogs of people whom i follow for their wisdom or wit.

what struck me again today, is something that has been brewing inside my mind for a long time now. that there are so many parents that are supportive of and seeking help for their transgender children. the numbers are astonishing to me.

i think of my transgender friends, of the solitary and much more shadowed road they had to tread. i think of how it was a subject that seldom breached the airwaves in any positive way, no matter that one of the first sexual reassignment surgery procedures was done over 60 years ago and the recipient was famous in her own right both before and after the surgery: christine jorgenson.

who could’ve imagined that in the 21st century, attitudes and research would begin to allow for a change of heart in society, that so many parents would open their eyes and hearts to accept their children for whom they knew themselves to be! not that all transgender youth have parents that try to understand. homeless shelters and the streets are testament to the fact that some families are anything but accepting of their children, whether gay or transgender.

still, in one support group chat room alone there are at least fifty parents routinely sharing their everyday hopes and fears with others who are likewise raising gender-variant children and when ziona and i attended the gender-spectrum symposium in berkeley a couple of years back, there were hundreds of kids from 5 years old to teenage…a veritable crowd of beautiful people on their way to becoming themselves in every way!

this is cause for celebration! despite the fact that there is a long way yet to go. this is evidence of evolution, when families, which used to become the first hurdle for a gender-variant person, are starting to provide the safe place and support system these children need so that they can discover the whole of themselves. this is the beginning of a brand new day!

there are indeed miles to go before we sleep…but the road has become a bit more smooth, a little brighter, and not so lonely as they once were.

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rape is war!

there have been absolute horror stories of late in the news. terrible things being done to women. this is not something new. women have borne the brunt of such acts of violence for as long as both women and violence have existed. or at least since patriarchal times. rape, domestic violence, assaults of varying degree are common enough, but when i was studying at university, we learned an even more disturbing statistic. it was this, that there seemed to exist a direct correlation between a rise in violence committed against women and the advances in women’s rights within society.

just let that sink in for a moment.

that seems to imply that even as we win, we lose. but what it really showed was how much rape is about power.

to demonstrate this relationship the professor had visual aids including graphs that mapped out the dual, nearly parallel lines of ascent. the higher the place women were able to claim within society, the higher the incidence of assault and violence perpetrated against them. a very euro-centric lens was used to make these broad (forgive the pun) assumptions.

women in other cultures that don’t enjoy the same advances in the rights they possess, in countries where they aren’t allowed to go to school, much less learn to drive, or participate in a vote, are they any safer? the graph didn’t speak for them…how could it?

for clarity, it should be understood that this women’s studies course was way back in the late 1970’s, at a time when i was only with women, and part of a community of radical lesbians, with whom i would commit routine acts of graffiti on walls and highway underpasses plastering angry messages such as “all men are rapists”. (i have since had a change of heart)

these were the kind of women who would later reject me, for having actually had sex with someone to become pregnant rather than employ a ‘turkey baster’, the kind who put me down and avoided me when they learned i was actually bi-sexual, the kind who fought to exclude some of my ‘girlfriends’ from ‘all woman events’ because these friends had started out life as a male. did it matter to them that these late blooming women no longer had any of their original equipment? no, it did not.

surely transgender women have just as much if not more danger of rape in our society. surely these champions of women’s rights and safety, these knights in shining ‘hermour’, who saw so vividly the fact that it is men that commit almost all acts of sexual assault, who would paint that message in letters three feet tall in public places for all to read and consider, surely these bastions of womanhood, these amazons, would be considerate of the fact that transgender women are as much at the mercy of such violence as are women who were born in little baby girl bodies!

but they were not…

i have raised two daughters, both of whom are grown and living on their own at this time. neither has been raped, that i know of. but i have been. i know this pain, this shame, this rage, humiliation, the wounds that never heal to scars. each rape that happens is a fresh assault, i feel everything all over again. i will be that knight in shining ‘hermour’ because, having survived and having managed to process the horror so that my self esteem survived with me, i know how to do this battle.

some who pretend to engage in this war do not.

some will try to understand rape from a purely socio-economic point of view and imagine that it more frequently occurs in cultures where women are absolutely disempowered. some will correctly argue that it is not a problem of promiscuous cultural paradigms blurring lines. most understand that the rapist is not simply looking for sex. he (and yes, it is almost always a ‘he’) is turned on, not by the act of copulation, but by the thrill of exercising power over another person, to the point of robbing them of their humanity. it is so much worse than sheer lust. it is evil.

but of the women with whom i used to vandalise walls and highway underpasses, only a few would include my lovely youngest daughter, the one who started life with the ‘wrong equipment’ for her beautiful feminine spirit, among the community of women whose rights must be protected. their rapes, the ones against transgender women will seem less important in the estimation of these vanguards of female-ness …i know, i’ve been privvy to their conversations as they blatantly exclude all but ‘womyn-born-womyn’ from their realm of consideration and empathy.

this oppression, this exception made by one kind of woman against another kind of woman, seems just as stupid as say, thinking that a woman from saudi arabia being raped is any more horrible and odious than the rape of a woman on a topless beach in jamaica. it isn’t that the rape of a transgender woman, or of a man for that matter, is less important to them …it just isn’t on their radar. (gaydar)

and it isn’t only radical lesbians that have this penchant to place less value on transgender women, the cis-priveleged society is largely still of the mind that people like my daughter are just weird. the rape of a straight, cis-gendered woman is going to be harder to ignore than just another ‘tranny’ getting assaulted (don’t they all work in the sex-trade anyway?)

yes! rape is evil…it is evil when a woman on a bus in india is gang raped, it is evil when it happens to a high-school girl unconscious and being dragged from party to party getting raped all along the way, it is evil when the president of a bank calls it consensual sex after raping the maid who cleans up his hotel room. and it is no less evil when a transgender woman, whatever her employment may be, is raped, or knifed, or assaulted, or killed.

a problem as ubiquitous as is rape cannot be solved by divvying up the victims, or only condemning certain rapists. when society learns to cry foul as readily over the rape of someone like my beautiful transgender daughter, then, and only then, can we hope to win this war,

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change the world

today while reading through the voluminous emailed news stories to which i subscribe, it hit me. not unlike a bolt of lightning out of clear blue skies.

it really does get better!

cliche, to be sure. but no less accurate because it is. there have been literally hundreds of stories about progress made in attaining basic civil and human rights for the lgbt community. marriage being legalised in a number of states. bills and legislation being passed to protect against discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference and gender variance. there was a transgender beauty contestant, and the controversial case of recognising that a state cannot deny an imprisoned transgender person the right to have appropriate treatment provided.

there have been high-profile media events on talk shows and magazine type t.v. programmes such as 20/20 that have focused specifically on the subject of child and adolescent transgender people, like my beautiful daughter. in our personal life, no one in my family circle or even in our neighborhood thinks twice about referring to ziona with the proper pronouns. acceptance is seamless and utterly without strain these days. (it wasn’t always this way.) and it goes without saying that ziona is much happier than she was before she began to live outloud, our term for her social transition.

it does indeed get better it seems.

until it comes to this. as time marches steadily forward, we draw ever closer to that time when ziona will approach puberty. this will mean puberty blocker implants, blood draws to monitor hormone levels and eventually cross hormones so she can go through puberty as a girl. in addition, no matter how much more accepting society, friends and family might be of ziona, she naturally has difficulty accepting herself.

it must be so difficult, every time she has to go to the bathroom, to be reminded that nothing ‘down there’ is right. she can’t bear the sight of her naked body, so every bath is overfilled with bubbles, the better to obscure the unkind reality. and despite how better things might be in the world at large, for ziona, it will only be ‘better’ once she has had the surgery that will right the wrong of her ‘birth defect’.

altho she knows there’s nothing that can be done about it for now, she resents that fact, and often tells me, that the reason she doesn’t smile as much as other people is because there is always sadness about the being “a boy on the bottom”. and altho i know that nothing can be done about that for now, it fills me with a similar sadness at the betrayal her body seems to her soul. if i could wave a magick wand over her to make it alright i would of course. but for now we both are trapped by the circumstances.

i’m gonna admit something here. i almost wish sometimes that she weren’t transgender. but only because i know how hard life is for her now. and because i fear that despite the leaps and bounds of progress that seems to be happening in society at large, life will be hard for her even after the surgical gender alignment, and throughout her later life too. i know that despite the legisation and increased awareness in the world, people can be cruel, hate and ignorance can’t be legislated away, and many folk cleave to those parts within their religious traditions which seem to them to justify rejecting and fearing people like ziona. even in the larger LGBT community there are some who will take issue with her, and feel righteous about judging her as less than a ‘real woman’.

so yes, i admit that i wish ziona didn’t have such things, such hurdles and hardships, ahead of her. but i also wish she didn’t have autism or juvenile polyposis syndrome.

it is what it is.

despite these things i wish were otherwise, paradoxically, i wouldn’t change her for the world! instead, i will go out of my way, exercising whatsoever powers i can muster, to change the world for her!

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rites of passing vs rights of personhood

there are alot of words that have specific meaning to those who are transgender. like ‘passing’ and ‘disclosure’. i dislike both of these words. as the parent of a transgender daughter, and the long time friend to a couple of transwomen, the import and impact of these words is clear to me.

passing means being judged to be ‘feminine’ enough in appearance to have some modicum of acceptance as female. unfortunately, this ‘modicum’ is not the same as real acceptance as a woman, but only a grudging allowance that one looks ‘good enough’ to be deemed feminine.

the rites of passing for transgender women are very detailed. there must be a ‘feminine’ voice, no visible ‘adam’s apple’, a feminine walk and poise, make-up and clothing. in addition, in order to be thought ‘passing’ validation must be awarded by the cis-gender, male-dominated societal norms that dictate and oppress cis-gender women as well.

the rituals and necessities to achieve ‘feminine appearance’ are time-consuming and expensive. as every cis-woman knows, in order to be deemed ‘feminine’ the body must be ridded of hair, smooth as a pre-pubescent girl. one must attend to details such as applying mascara and lipstick, and learn to negotiate one’s surroundings in shoes that are uncomfortable and unhealthy, while donning ‘appropriate’ gender-specific attire. i wont go into all the particulars of poise and composure here, as i presume that my readers are familiar with western patriarchal paradigms for acceptible female behaviour and appearance.

for transgender women all these rituals must be accomplished without the slightest error in order to be judged by others as ‘passing’. and then, should a girl be particularly good at ‘passing’, she had better also be very good at knowing the unwritten rules about disclosure, lest she be deemed ‘deceitful’ or blamed for her own attack or rape. in other words ‘passing’ results in responsibility to ‘disclose’. but not ‘passing’ is unacceptable…it’s a trap either way.

as a cis-woman, despite my unconventional appearance, my non-traditional way of dressing, my habit of neither shaving my body hair nor applying make-up, i ‘pass’. there’s no judgment of my personhood as a woman, although it may be decided that i’m not ‘feminine’. a transgender woman who affected a similar self-expression would not be considered ‘passing’, would be denied personhood on her terms and not accepted as a woman.

the terms masculine and feminine are by-products of a binary mindset. they are the result of a long history of patriarchal values imposed upon society. they say much about what the dominant culture thinks of women and their place in relation to men but do little to define actual persons. they are masks given each to wear dependent upon one’s genital presentation at birth. terms such as these are meant to put us each in our place, in much the same way that other assignations lock one into their proper ‘class’ or race.

where in all of this can the ‘rights of personhood’ be found? how can it be that in the 21st century society is fraught with ways by which it can deny self-definition and self-determination to its members? how can we begin to extend rights of personhood when there is so much of judgment and reluctance to accept what is deemed as ‘strange’ or ‘other than’.

the vice-president recently made comments that subject of ‘transgender rights’ is the civil rights issue of today. no doubt this is true, because whereas lgbt rights movements have made many gains for the other folk represented by the letters of that acronym, the T folk continue to struggle for the most basic rights of personhood.

i have no answers.

my daughter doesn’t seem to be anymore interested in wearing make-up or jewelry than am i. she doesn’t like to wear frilly attire, isn’t afraid of spiders and wants to marry a woman someday. i would like to imagine a world wherein she wont be denied her right to personhood simply because she rejects (as do i) the parameters of what it means to be feminine, a world wherein ‘rites of passing’ are inconsequential to her being accepted as the girl she’s always been.