Self Defense

In case anyone’s managed to not notice, the GLBT related hate crime rate is going up in the US.  We’re not the only ones, Muslims have a higher rate and it’s going up faster, but it’s something to be aware of.

Different people have different ways of handling their new (or increased) target status after coming out.  Me?  I re-enrolled myself in martial arts.  I’m not really a fighting person by nature, I’m small and fairly weak and the sight of my own blood makes me pass out.  However, I prefer my face in its current arrangement and that wasn’t happening with me doing punching bag impressions.  So I went and signed up for a kung fu refresher at my old school and threw in some judo and kick-boxing just in case.

Now, martial arts aren’t magic.  They’re not going to make you capable of taking on six guys twice your size after one lesson or anything.  At first the biggest boost was the added stamina needed to run fast until people got bored or tired.  Actually, that’s probably still my most useful skill.  Like I said, I’m not really a fighter.  It took about a month for me to get back into it enough to be able to put my old memories to any use and then another month or so before I’d developed the strength to do it well.  After that it was at least another two months before I could use the new stuff I was learning.  It’s not a quick fix, even for those of us who’ve been taking lessons since we were kids.

Even if it was, there’s more to self defense than beating up your attacker.  Legally speaking there are all kinds of rules about what you can get away with before facing criminal charges yourself.  If a guy punches you once and you beat him until he’s hospitalised, that’s no longer self defense.  As much as I like the idea of going around beating the shit out of bashers, it’s still not exactly the brightest thing to do if you want to keep yourself out of jail.  Look up laws in your state, ask a lawyer friend, whatever, just make sure you’re not going from victim to attacker.  General rule of thumb is to only inflict as much damage as necessary to escape, anything more and you’re getting into grey areas.

A few of my friends have taken to getting concealed weapons permits.  I like guns, grew up shooting rifles and I’m pretty good with a pistol.  I’m not so comfortable with the idea of carrying one around though.  First of all, guns aren’t really defensive weapons.  You pull a gun on someone and you’re looking to seriously injure them, not just get away before you get hurt.  Even if you don’t mean to, there’s no such thing as a minor gunshot wound, especially not from the distances bashers are usually at.  Second, guns are pretty easily taken away from you if there’s more than one attacker or the attacker has a big enough size advantage.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not so cool with the idea of my own gun being turned on me.  If this is something you’re considering I suggest taking a long look at the advantages and drawbacks before making a decision.

There’s also pepper spray, mace, modified weapons from every day objects, and a host of other options.  Honestly, I don’t know much beyond “try not to say anything stupid and run really fucking fast.”  I can defend myself, but it’s not something I like to do.  It’s something we should all think about though.  We can talk all we want about how any assault is wrong and how no one should have to worry about it, but the reality is that it does happen and we do have to worry about it.  We need to be prepared just in case.  It won’t make what happens to us any better, but at least we’ll stand a better chance of getting out alive.

Dating and Transphobia

“Is it transphobic to not date a trans person?”

I’m actually surprised it took this long for this question to come up. It’s common enough, but also far more complicated than people tend to think. So much depends on why you won’t date a trans person. I’m gonna use the gay male angle for this because that’s what I know, but the answers are all pretty much the same.

There’s the “but I’m gay!” response. Yeah, that one’s transphobic. Why? Because it says that trans men are really women. It once again reduces us to what may or may not be in our pants. Guess what? Trans men are men. Dating us doesn’t make you any less gay, it just makes you less of a douche.

Also in here is the “I don’t go for twat” excuse. I’m always torn on whether or not this one’s transphobic by itself because, y’know what? I don’t really like it either. I have no issues sucking a trans guy’s dick, but the second he expects me to go slightly further south I get kind of nauseous. It’s all…wet and squishy and I swear to god the last time I tried it almost ate my finger. Thing is, not all trans guys are into that anyway. *Assuming we are is a more subtle way of putting us back into the “woman” box. So while the lack of desire to fuck a vagina isn’t necessarily transphobic, the jump from that to turning down all trans guys everywhere is.

After those two we start getting into more subtle distinctions. It’s pretty common for early/pre-T guys to be turned down because they don’t pass. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you if that’s transphobic or not. I tend to lean toward no because you can’t help who you’re visually attracted to. I like my guys pretty and twinkish so I don’t really notice, but if you’re into bears then a pre-T guy isn’t gonna do it for you and I can understand that.

There’s also the issue of identity. Being seen as half of a straight couple can be disturbing, any trans guy who’s experienced dysphoria over that should understand. Cis guys can have the same issue. Even if they don’t see us as women the issue of the general public doing so is sometimes a dealbreaker. It’s related to the early/pre-T issue in that most guys pass this phase after being on T for a while, but with a slightly different reason. Sure, it’s showing cis-privilege, but I’m still far more accepting of this one than most others. After all, I get how irritating it is for the world to see you as someone you’re not. Why would I try to subject someone else to it?

What it comes down to is treating us like individuals rather than some monolithic entity. Turning down all trans guys? Transphobic, even if you don’t mean to be. Turning down specific trans guys for specific reasons? Not transphobic. There are some fine lines that can be hard to figure out, but for the most part if you’d date Kaiden even though you don’t like Jayden you’re probably good.

*Not trying to say that guys who like front penetration aren’t guys or anything, it’s just the underlying sentiment people who use that excuse tend to have.

Stopping T

I probably should put up a post at some point about how I considered de-transitioning a year or so into starting T, but I can’t find the words.  Instead you guys are going to get a post about the things that did and didn’t happen when I stopped T during this period.

It was…about six months off.  Not a huge amount of time, but pretty long considering I’d only been on a year-ish.  Hudson’s has a T guide that lists what should happen if you stop treatment.  I’ve found that it is almost entirely wrong compared to what I experienced.

My voice did not stay at the same pitch.  In fact, it still starts creeping up into the higher registers if I’m late with my shot.  Now, it never went back to my old soprano either, but there was a decent octave, maybe octave and a half in there that was lost.

My facial hair did disappear.  Rather, it disappeared in terms of visual sense.  The hair was there (what little of it I had), but it was no longer dark or rough.  Instead I’d get long, soft, blond hairs that were different from the normal peach fuzz women and children have, but not enough to really be considered facial hair.  The growth rate also slowed to where I shaved maybe once a month rather than a few times a week.

Clitoral growth was depressing as fuck.  I cannot even begin to explain the intense amounts of…almost shame that developed as the effects of T wore off.  Flaccid state stays the same, my ass.  The thing shrunk to the point where I almost couldn’t find it!  This was actually one of the bigger reasons I went back on T, I’m pretty well hung for a trans guy and my ego just couldn’t take the sudden disappearance.

My muscle and fat development shifted about back to pre-T levels which is expected.  I will say that being slim doesn’t help make the changes any less obvious, at least not to those of us who have to deal with them.  The ass I didn’t mind so much, I have a good ass off T, but the hip and breast development was enough to freak me out.

I haven’t lost too much hair on T, men in my family have thick hair, but what I did lose started growing back in around month four.  Not a ton and not enough that I think it’d matter if you were going bald or something, but enough to switch my hair pattern back to female.

Skin, red blood cell count, and body scent all went back to female.  The lack of acne was nice, but smelling…girly was unpleasant.  Apparently I also tasted different.  Wouldn’t know that one from experience.

I know that we talk about T being this life long, permanent change.  For most guys it is.  However, I think it’s also important to talk about what happens if you don’t like the effects.  For a while in there I was terrified of becoming some sort of freak show and everyone saying I’d never be the same again didn’t help.  Turns out a ton depends on how long you were on T when you stop.  Stop after a few months and the permanent changes will be minimal, stop after several years and you’ll likely have more things to take care of if you want to be seen as a woman again.  Either way, it’s not the one-way street we’ve all been told.  At least, not physically.

Why cis men like trans men

Someone seriously asked me this question the other day.  Honestly, I was kind of surprised.  Partially because I haven’t been randomly asked a trans question since my early coming out days and partially because I’d never really thought about it before.  It’s an interesting question though, and one that could be reassuring to guys who aren’t sure they’ll ever be able to find anyone so I asked a bunch of old dates.  Left out casual sex partners for this one because I tend to think of hook ups in a different category from dating, but if anyone wants those answers there are a few close, but not romantically involved guys I could ask.

Note that this is an entirely unscientific survey.  There’s not nearly enough racial diversity to be comprehensive (I have a thing for blue eyed blonds) and I tend to have fairly long term relationships so there weren’t that many guys.  Most are guys I went out with a few times and then switched to being friends with either due to lack of personal chemistry or things like distance, work schedules, or existing partner(s) comfort.  All are on the more effeminate end of the spectrum.  All could be classed as poly, though not everyone would identify as such and only a handful were in active relationships at the time we started dating.  All are openly gay (and most couldn’t be closeted if they tried).  All have dated both cis and trans men.  For some I was the first trans guy they dated.  There are no exclusive tops.  It’s definitely not a representative sample.

What it came down to were two major things, only one of which actually has to do with being trans.

1: The same exact reasons they’re attracted to cis men.  This was overwhelmingly the most common response.  Every single guy I asked said some variation of this.  Issue is that it’s entirely due to the selection.  I don’t date guys who think of trans guys as a separate category of men.  If the guys asked were exclusively into trans guys I’m sure the answers would be different (and more varied).

2: After a bit of insisting most guys came up with the ability to adjust dick size.  I kind of half way wish I was kidding.  It’s a joke I’ve made more than a few times myself, but I was never serious.  It was something I told myself when I was feeling crappy about that whole having a vagina thing, a sort of consolation prize.  Hearing it from other people makes me slightly uncomfortable.  Not because it’s a bad point, it’s actually rather positive.  It’s just a personal reaction to the reality of being trans.  Of course, this is another one with selection issues.  I don’t really get much from bottoming so my dick (flesh or otherwise) becomes a bit more important than it would be if I dated guys who really liked to top.

One other thing that came up a couple of times was how a slightly lowered STD risk was a bit of an added perk.  I’m not sure how comfortable I am with considering that a true advantage just because so much of it depends on sexual practices.  I’m a bit of a safe sex nazi, had a bad HIV scare right when I was coming out so I keep my risk levels as low as possible without being celibate.  Someone with different habits (both in terms of sexual activity and protection use) would have different risk levels.  Sure, getting fucked by a condom covered dildo is less likely to result in STD transmission than a bare cock, but an ass is an ass and if you put your uncovered dick into one it doesn’t matter if it belongs to a trans guy or a cis guy.

Exactly one guy said he loved that I’m short because he’d never dated a guy he could swap clothes with before.  Seeing as how not all trans guys are as freakishly tiny as I am, I don’t think this one is particularly helpful.  Still, it’s kind of nice to know that being small is sometimes a good thing.

So really the reasons to like a trans guy are the same as the reasons to like a cis guy: entirely individual.  Personally, I like it that way.  It means that guys who view their maleness as different from that of cis men can go hang with the cis guys who feel similarly while I can stay over in my space with the cis guys who think of me as one of them, just with a vaguely interesting medical condition.

“There is more than one way to have a male body you know”

Can we please stop saying any variation of that when a guy is experiencing severe dysphoria over his genitalia?  It dismisses the problem in favour of gender theory, an approach that is neither compassionate nor effective.

We know that there’s more than one way to be male.  Trust me, we know.  It’s virtually impossible to be part of the trans community for more than five minutes without being told that particular aspect.  That’s not why we’re upset.  Some people transition for social reasons, some people for a mix of social and physical, some for entirely physical.  Those of us who are more on the physical than social side of the spectrum shouldn’t be talked down to simply because the prevailing attitude says having a penis isn’t important.

Having a penis is important to me.  I don’t feel right having a vagina.  Fuck social gender, fuck theory, fuck anything else that says having a vagina isn’t relevant to my masculinity.  It’s relevant to me.  That should be all that matters.

When you feel like crap because looking down makes you feel like you’ve been kicked in the stomach you aren’t helped by people saying “oh, it doesn’t matter, there are a ton of different ways to have a male body.”  In fact, that only hurts.  It says that what you feel isn’t important.  That your entire sense of how your body should look is irrelevant because being transsexual isn’t PC any more.  You can live without a necessary limb, you’ll be fine.  After all, these sixteen gender theorists say so.

Would you tell someone with severe depression that it’s ok, “there’s more than one way to be happy”?  I doubt it because there have been amazing shifts in the way depression is looked at.  That wouldn’t have been an uncommon response in an earlier time though.  It was perfectly acceptable to brush off depression as just another state of being, a personal flaw to be overcome rather than a debilitating illness.  Most people think that’s a horrible thought now, yet we do the exact same thing to guys with genital dysphoria.

I get that for some guys there really is more than one way to have a male body.  There are guys who love their vaginas, guys who don’t feel the need for T, guys with any number of different ways of viewing their bodies.  However, that is not the case for all of us.  Some of us really do have a very binary way of looking at our bodies.  That doesn’t mean we’re any better or worse than the guys who experience less genital dysphoria, it just means we’re different.  Acting like we’re simply in need of education fails to recognise that.

Seriously boys, not everyone who turns you down is transphobic

So I went out last night.  It’s not something I do very often these days, work has me busy and I did not inherit the Latino dance gene, but a friend was visiting from out of town so I figured why not.

Apparently pushy little hipster queens were why not.  Don’t get me wrong, the kid was cute, I just wasn’t really looking for a hook up even if he had been my type.  After about 20 minutes of rejecting the guy (I have to admit, that takes decent balls) he shouts “why don’t you fags ever like trannies?!”

Now, I’ve had some interesting things shouted at me over the course of my life.  That was quite possibly the most amusing.  I feel kind of bad because I started laughing and probably turned what was already embarrassing into one of those horror stories we all have from early transition, but it was just so funny.

Let that be a lesson to all of you newly passing guys: don’t assume you’re being rejected for being trans.  Actually, let’s start with don’t insist on pursuing a guy after he explicitly says ‘no’.  Remember high school and “no means no”?  It applies to gay guys too.  I know, there’s all that talk about gay guys being promiscuous and constantly horny.  Often I am horny, that doesn’t mean I want to sleep with everything that moves.  At least, not anymore.  Trust me, you don’t want to be lumped in with the guys I slept with during the early-T days.  They were often unwashed.

As for the trans thing, sometimes a guy just isn’t interested.  We’re allowed to not be interested, you don’t get a free pass on fucking everyone you want just because you’re trans.  Sure, sometimes it is transphobia.  Sometimes guys are assholes.  However, when you’ve been ignored even before you’ve come out you need to assume that it’s something other than transphobia.  Kid could’ve had the world’s biggest penis and I still wouldn’t have been interested.  Why?  Because hipsters aren’t really my type, I like my guys to at least pretend they’re legal, and I was going home with a good friend who also happens to be an amazingly talented bottom.  No guy was getting my attention that night, trans, cis, or otherwise.  Maybe Chris Colfer or Nicky Byrne — and even they would have had to have wanted to join in.

Quick Answer: Male Reproductive System

No, it is not currently possible for a trans man to have a male reproductive system.  We cannot produce sperm.  We cannot *ejaculate.  Our testicles (if we have them) are silicone.  At the moment the surgical options are something of a trade off between size and the ability to get hard without mechanised assistance, seminal vesicles, vas deferens, etc. aren’t even an afterthought.  Reproduction is still a fairly new consideration for trans people.  Until recently it was assumed that sterility was desired by everyone involved.  If you’re interested in having biological children I suggest finding a doctor who can help you go through your options.

*At least, we cannot ejaculate in the same way cis men can.  I know of a few guys who can in, uh, other ways.

Reclaimation and “faggot”

When I was coming out “transfag” and “trannyfag” were fairly common terms to throw around.  “Trannyfag” has slowed down a bit (largely due to trans women correctly pointing out that you can’t reclaim a word that isn’t generally used to describe you), but “transfag” still exists — though it’s shifted meaning a few times.  I don’t particularly like either term, but I understand the desire to find something, anything, that correctly describes who you are so I go with them.

However, I am sickened beyond explanation by the sudden rise of trans guys calling themselves “faggots”.  With all due respect to the guys who are just coming out, you’re a bunch of morons if you think that sort of crap is going to get you anywhere.

Notice that passing guys and cis guys rarely even use “fag” as an identifier — and when we do it’s in very limited contexts.  “Faggot” is not the gay man version of “dyke”, there’s no real debate over whether or not it should be reclaimed.  It’s more synonymous with “paki” than “JAP” (Jewish, not Asian).

What’s even more irritating is that most of the guys deciding to “reclaim” the word have never been called it.  Just like with “tranny”, you don’t get to reclaim this one.  Until you’ve felt the intense fear that grips you when some stranger yells “faggot” at you in the street you don’t have anything to reclaim.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t get it at first.  I knew better than to use it because I grew up with gay guys, but I didn’t really see how it was that different from “fag” or “queer”.  Then I got bashed.  Yeah, the guys who beat me up yelled “fag” and “queer” a few times, but what really got them going was “faggot”.

There is a difference.  It’s only three letters, but it’s huge.  Learn that now, from me, a random guy on the internet.  Otherwise you’ll end up having to learn from a bunch of thugs pounding it into your face.

Some more musings on brotherhood and man-only organisations

The “Downsides to being seen as a man” post has received quite a bit more attention than I was expecting, most of it good.  However, I feel like I may have failed to explain a few areas as well as I could have.  One of the big ones has to do with male/man-only organisations.  More than a few people have said that all non-women-only organisations are for men by default, something that I think needs to be looked at.

Yes, most organisations are run by men.  However, there is a distinct difference between something be run by a man and something being for men.  Just as there is sisterhood, there is brotherhood.  Unfortunately, there are very few areas for men to experience brotherhood, particularly straight men.  If you’re not big into frats and/or can’t get into a Masons lodge you’re left with religious organisations and maybe recreational sports teams (depending on whether or not your area has progressed to mixed-gender teams).  What’s a straight, atheist, geek guy to do?  Women have social organisations devoted solely to the experience of being a woman and how that brings them together.  Men don’t.

What’s more, there’s often a certain amount of anger at the idea that men might need men-only groups.  It’s as if people believe that the simple act of men getting together is going to cause a return to the 1950s.  I first noticed this a few years ago when I was converting to Judaism, the (cis-woman, as far as I know) rabbi was openly hostile to the men who had been to an orthodox shul and said they enjoyed the male bonding experience.  This same woman hosted women-only Torah studies and organised the yearly women-specific Shabbat service, but was less than thrilled when my synagogue at the time started up a men’s group.  It makes absolutely no sense.

Now, I’m not saying there should be only men’s and women’s groups.  I love my woman friends, I’m much closer to them than I am most of my guy friends (particularly the straight guys).  However, there are times that it’s just nice to be with only guys.  Trans, cis, gay, straight, bi, whatever.  There’s just something a little different about not having women around.  It can’t really be all that surprising to anyone, particularly women who love their women’s groups.

Even when there are groups of only gay guys, not having women around brings the stress levels down a bit.  For all we try to act like men are insensitive animals who don’t care about anyone, most guys do change their behaviour around women.  Sometimes it’s subconscious, often it’s an attempt to make sure the women in question are comfortable.  Either way, having women around changes the dynamic.

Hell, let’s say none of that was true.  Would it matter?  Why can’t guys just want to hang out with guys?  There’s nothing wrong with men and women having their separate spaces.  There’s not even any reason we have to limit it to men and women, let’s also have bigender, agender, genderqueer, and whatever other gender variation we can come up with groups (along with the ‘everyone’ ones, obviously).  As long as we all recognise that no group is inherently better than the other there’s nothing wrong with splitting up every now and then.

Downsides to being seen as a man

I’m sure everyone knows the problems associated with being trans. We’ve all heard horror stories, I don’t think there’s a trans person out there who’s managed to transition without some sort of crap being thrown their way, and even if by some miracle you do, there’s always someone else who can share their trauma.

What’s not often talked about are the problems associated with being seen as a man in society. With apologies to the non-US readers, I’m going to focus on society here because it’s what I have the most experience with.

  1. There are no organisations that specifically work to protect men’s rights. In most ways I have no problems with this, the organisations that exist to protect women and minority rights were formed because society at the time was walking all over them. However, I do think it’s important for guys to realise that they’re no longer going to have access to political and legal teams designed especially for them unless their issues are GLBT or race related.
  2. Very few people believe that domestic abuse, rape, or sexual assault can be perpetrated against men. I see this far more often than I like to think about, a man will call the police because his partner (male or female, I’ve witnessed both) is assaulting him and the police act like nothing is wrong. Men can be victims, there’s not some magical bubble that protects us.
  3. If a man is abused there are virtually no areas for him to seek support. Men are not allowed in the vast majority of rape/sexual assault survivor support groups. There are no shelters specifically for battered men. Programmes for survivors of domestic abuse almost universally do not accept men. If a man does seek help for abuse or rape he is generally considered to be weak and something less than a “real” man. Prison rape is considered a joke rather than a real problem that needs to be solved. Gay men in particular have to deal with society believing they somehow “asked” to be raped.
  4. There are no men-only academic/professional organisations. Like the first one, I don’t consider this to be much of a real problem. I just wanted to make sure people recognised that once they start passing there aren’t going to be any more bonding experiences like at the Society of Women Physicians conference. Brotherhood experiences are largely limited to fraternities, G/B/FtM groups, some religious organisations, and more conservative orders like the Elks Lodge. Even those can be hard to find depending on your area.
  5. Men — particularly gay men — are seen as potential paedophiles. I like kids, before I came out I was an active volunteer for local youth groups and a very popular babysitter. That stopped as soon as I started passing. I can no longer smile at a child without people glaring at me as if I were fondling myself. Every single one of my father friends has at least one story of how random women will try to stop their children from going to them. Men cannot volunteer with children (even if they have one) without having people question their motives.
  6. Men are considered automatic threats. This is one I know of more from other people than myself. I’m not a threatening person, too small and flaming. Other people, however, have expressed concern about women and children assuming they’re someone to be afraid of. For god only knows what reason, we have it drilled into us that men always have the potential to explode. I hear this far more often from my (visibly) non-white friends and guys who dress in punk, goth, or hip hop styles so there are likely racial and cultural tones to it as well. I’d say definitely, but that whole anecdata =/= data thing has been drilled into me pretty well.
  7. Brotherhood experiences are generally seen as unimportant and anti-feminist. I like all-male areas. I enjoy being part of a group of guys without all the hassle that comes with adding women to a group. I grew up in male-centric circles, it’s just something that I got used to. Unfortunately, any time an event tries to exclude women without some religious or sexual-orientation related reason it’s seen as a threat. Women can have women-only events all the time without many problems, but we haven’t quite figured out the men’s side to that yet.
  8. Everyone expects you to be able to lift heavy things. I am a very small person. Most women are larger than I am. Yet for some reason when I was working retail everyone thought I could lift giant, heavy boxes. It was amazing, people who thought I was a girl would help me lift boxes of tissue paper, but if they thought I was a guy they’d expect me to be able to carry entertainment systems that weighed more than me. Even now in salons, I’m expected to move around boxes of product far more often than any of the women. I don’t know why people assume that all men can lift things regardless of how big they are, but they do.
  9. There has not been a men’s-lib movement. Like a lot of other things on this list, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. We’ve never needed a men’s liberation movement, men are already pretty well set. However, there are some social changes that came out of the women’s lib movement that guys could still use. Increased gender expression options, ability to be a stay-at-home dad without being seen as a freak, that sort of thing. More and more women are trying to tie issues like that into the feminist movement and while I appreciate the effort, it has the rather nasty implication that all men’s problems centre around women’s problems. Not really the “we’re all equal” message that I prefer.
  10. There’s a small subset of people who will insist on trying to make you feel bad for being a guy. This is a particular brand of radical feminist that I absolutely cannot stand. They’re rare, but fucking loud. These are the women who gave rise to the term “man-hating lesbian”. They think all trans men are traitors, all trans women are infiltrators, all straight women are pawns, all straight men are violent beasts, and all gay men are rabid misogynists. They are not happy people to be around. If you encounter one I suggest quickly heading for the nearest exit. Do NOT try to engage them in debate, it will only hurt your head.

Really being a guy isn’t so bad. You don’t get random guys catcalling you as you walk down the street, no one cares if you’re having a bad hair day, you can be grumpy without everyone insisting you’re PMSing, it’s a pretty sweet deal. There are just a few things that can take a bit of adjusting to if you’re not used to them.