I see a lot of comments on forums and blogs about the idea
of labels. It seems to be a common pass time to try to decide if transgender
people are the same as transvestite people – and some terms are now archaic,
and others have slipped into alternative use. One way or another I find it a
complete mine field.
I am certainly not going to step into those debates. I do
understand that there are many different types of people who choose to wear
women’s clothes. Some are on their way to transition, others are choosing to
put something on as they really find a sexual high out of it. Others still
simply want to allow their femininity to blossom. Personally I am enjoying
navigating the middle ground between genders that allows me to enjoy something
of the best of all worlds. I think we cater to all of those possibilities here
I find the term ‘gender fluid’ fairly generic. The movement freely and easily between genders does describe what many of my members do, if not who they are. And there I think lies the safe ground. After all, do we really need these labels? Particularly here, if we really think of the phrase ‘Accept yourself as you are, create yourself as you desire’ you’ll see we are not really interested in what others think or how they choose to judge us.
I was reminded of something I probably don’t say often enough recently, while chatting with one of my lovely members. Those of us who occupy the middle ground of the gender space, whether we consider ourselves trans, gender fluid or crossdressers, have to learn some unusual disciplines, and our ability to do so radically influences how well we will exist in society.
We are different. Some people get it, while others never will. This forces us to sometimes hide who we are, and it also results in strong feelings when we can speak our truth. However, our tool kit of disciplines can help us as we grapple with the challenges of life. Chief among these, in my experience is the ability to suspend our judgement of others, and equally to move past the judgement they put on us.
Before she was Maya, she was Markus. Growing up in small town Ontario, she always knew she didn’t identify with her assigned gender. It wasn’t until moving to Toronto and attending her first Trans pride march that she found the courage to finally begin her transition, a choice that ended up saving her life.
Gender should be the least remarkable thing about someone, but transgender people are still too often misunderstood. To help those who are scared to ask questions or nervous about saying the wrong thing, Jackson Bird shares a few ways to think about trans issues. And in this funny, frank talk, he clears up a few misconceptions about pronouns, transitioning, bathrooms and more.
So many of my friends privately confide in me that they’ve always wanted to crossdress, but just never really knew where to start. It’s not the clothes that were the problem, it was how to think about gender.
I generally suggest they listen to this talk to help get their heads in the right place. After all, crossdressing is more about what’s between your ears than what’s between your legs.
Many of us look to the medical profession for guidance. Sometimes we should think twice about that. Our own communities are stronger and more educated than theirs. Until they get their heads around non-binary gender issues we should tread with caution.
Like many of us, I never got to talk to my parents about things like sexuality and transgender topics. Both of my parents would have been mortified to have the subject raised over the Sunday roast. And then they died.
To be fair, I don’t think either of them were quite ready to talk about such topics. They were born in the 1930’s and these are subjects that simply weren’t on the agenda during their lifetime. That is not to say that they don’t have a contribution to make on the subject of ‘Pronouns’.
My mother, a girdle wearing statuesque woman of conservative English values, held one thing above all others. Politeness to others. Had I told her that a guest in our house identified as a punk rock hamster, then out of deference to the wishes of a guest we would have had to refer to the hamster at the table with unquestionable politeness and respect. I suspect that had Stalin or Mao showed up in our English parlour for tea, we would be expected to hold out the chair, sit after they had taken their place and make polite conversation about the intemperate weather and the promising outlook for the turnip crop this year.
Raising the subject of genocide, persecution of minorities or (God forbid) the forced labor camp deaths of homosexual prisoners would have been considered bad form and may have resulted in a reluctance to return for tea another time. Admittedly this exact scenario never played out in our home counties home, but I think you can see where I am going with this.
Equally, it can come as no surprise that when my father watched a documentary about German prisoners of war – a small number of which escaped from a prison camp in Northern England in 1944 – he stared at the television screen with visible disdain. For the Waffen SS officers to have dug a tunnel out of the confines of a prison with a desert spoon merited their being sentenced to hang immediately, if for no better reason than to do so using a desert spoon, before the use of main course cutlery, was practically a crime against humanity. Well, English humanity, at least.
So, I can say with absolute certainty that had someone come to the house and mentioned that their chosen pronoun was ‘they’, then the matter was settled. They would be a ‘they’ from that moment on.
As archaic as it may seem, this concept holds true as well today as it did in their lives. Whether straight, gay or any shade between, their principal object was to be polite and treat people with respect. To date I have yet to come across a system that improves on this simple behaviour. After all, when we do behave in this manner people do generally treat us with respect in return.
Now, I have to put the tea on. I’m expecting Kim Jong-un any moment. The supreme leader wouldn’t like it if I failed to warm the pot before he arrives.
At the time of writing we are in the midst of a Corona Virus
lockdown. We’re 8 weeks into it, here in
Vancouver, and most of us have not seen many people throughout this period. For some it’s been a period of reflection,
and a chance to rethink many of the things we have formerly taken for granted.
Many of us have struggled with the idea of how we identify
with genders. This is nothing new and is a confusing and troubling subject that
is often hard to discuss. I’ve said many times that we shouldn’t concern ourselves
with gender labels, or for that matter sexuality labels. My experience is that
they’re confusing, mean different things to different people, and really don’t
serve us well. They may serve those who wish to judge us, or shove us into a pigeon
hole – a prospect that doesn’t seem either appealing or comfortable – but exactly
how does that serve us?
Yet there is always that question, “what am I?” Am I ‘trans’, or ‘gender fluid’ or some other
label that helps me understand myself. What are the boundaries here and where
do I fit?
My constant mantra here is not to judge others, nor allow
their judgement to hurt you. Placing a label is doubtless a form of judgement. While
dropping judgement is a lofty goal it’s a very solid one to have in mind. I try
to practice it, but I could probably try a little harder at times. When someone
cuts me off as I cycle to the store, I may pass judgement and express it with
my middle finger, and I am the first to acknowledge this doesn’t really further
What happens when someone is outed? Lenni and Jules discuss the challenges of being ‘outed’ as a crossdresser, or transgender – intentionally or otherwise. Be sure to participate with the continuing discussion via Whatsapp here: https://fionadobson.com/join-our-elit…
Does the family know? Do you share it? There’s a lot of questions about crossdressing, and gender fluid life that are likely to emerge. How does one handle that? Enjoy this discussion with Jules and Lenni, as they explore the subject.
I remember pulling into a remote gas station on an empty
road and thinking I was probably the only customer they had seen that day. In a
plastic bag beside me was a pair of tights, some cheap panties and a bra that
didn’t really fit.
I knew they had to go. I had been wearing the items, hurriedly
bought as I’d made my way across the state on a business trip, when I was in my
hotel room. After all, no one could possibly find out about this little
pecadillo of mine, and what could be nicer than indulging this desire on a
business trip in the middle of nowhere. But now that trip was over and it was
time to dump out the evidence. This place looked safe enough, remote and
overlooked by all but those who had to be here.
The gas station attendant was inside their little shop, watching something on the TV. I got out of the car and filled the tank, glancing at the trash can on the forecourt. If I dumped the clothes here they would likely go unnoticed. After all, who sorts through their trash at a gas station. No one would know I was disposing of the clothes I’d been wearing just a few hours ago. No one would guess that I was a crossdresser. After checking both ways up and down the lonely highway, I reached into the car and hurriedly tossed the plastic bag into the half full trash.
There’s not much doubt that the idea of having breasts is
hugely appealing to any crossdresser. The question of whether or not we want
them 24/7 is something very different. However, there are doubtless moments
where a great rack would be very appealing.
So what really is the benefit? It’s tempting to think it is purely aesthetic. Well, it’s not. As I sat in The Junction in Vancouver recently with some friends, 36 D’s pointing proudly at Jake behind the bar, I couldn’t help noticing that a large part of why I was enjoying myself so much that night was to do with not how I looked, but how I felt. The presence of a full chest, even below an Aran sweater, felt absolutely correct.
I enjoy sailing. More than that, I love sailing. Sometimes I will take Sebastian out and we’ll race 16 footers at a local club, and we do pretty well. Other times I just want to mess about on the water, just being me. And that means probably dressing in something mildly effeminate which, when viewed from a distance, you’d never know what gender I might be.
There’s something fundamentally genuine about the elemental
connection with wind and water, and this strangely indeterminate person between
the two. Regardless of gender, how one acts with sail and rudder will result in
something beautiful. The wind has no gender bias. The wider world, however is
not so generously democratic.
I have noticed from many of my members that there are definitely days in which they are more inclined to be feminine than masculine. For many, it’s not even a question of ‘days’. It’s a matter of situations.