Somebody pour me some coffee so I can think

“Holy crap morning comes too early.” Bob Dylan as Transman.

Transman’s cutting back on coffee and hasn’t had any yet, so not only is he still half-asleep, he’s incapable of being funny. So, dear readers, it is with deep regret that Transman will now indulge in mundane writing.

“Why not wait until he’s more awake?” some might ask. Well, he’ll be too busy then. Plus, his kids will be awake and fighting and he won’t be able to concentrate long enough to spell the word “cat” much less write an entire blog post.

Due to his exhaustion, Transman is foregoing any attempt at organization or graceful transitions between paragraphs.

Here are some of things that have crossed Transman’s mind this week:

Transman knows it’s breast cancer awareness month and that many women and their families have gotten–or will get–bad news with diagnoses of cancer. Women who have to have a mastectomy as part of their treatment often have a hard time dealing with the loss of the breast because breasts are one of the signifiers of womanhood–they are both symbolic of sexuality and nurturing; losing a breast can make a woman feel incomplete.

When Transman thinks about those women, he feels bad that he would love to get rid of his moobs. He knows some women view his decision to transition as betrayal, a rejection of womanhood and women. It isn’t, but it is a rejection of him as a woman. These are just seeds of bigger, more complicated thoughts that Transman doesn’t quite have the words for yet.

Speaking of complicated issues and language …

“Who you callin’ ‘ma’am,’ Pilgrim?” John Wayne as Transman.

Transman gets irritated when people who know that he is trans and has a male name and prefers the male pronouns continue to use the female name and feminine pronouns when talking to  or about him. When this is done in public, it completely undermines his presentation as male. He is not read 100 percent of the time as male, so when people gender him female on purpose, it puts him in an awkward situation at best and a dangerous one at worst. People may not agree with his decision to transition, but calling him “she” and things like that in public now put him at risk for harassment and violence. He doesn’t quite get how relatives and friends who claim to care about him don’t get that they are the ones who are making him unsafe just with their choice of words.

And on an entirely different note, Transman can’t figure out why more people aren’t watching Hell on Wheels. Very few shows have really original writing and characters who aren’t completely predictable. This show is a fictionalized version of the race to build a railroad that connects the East to the West in post-Civil War America. The lead character Callum Bohannon, is a former confederate soldier who is morally ambiguos, but who usually takes up for the underdog, whether that is a freed Black man, a prostitute, or an Irish immigrant.

“Watch our show or we will hunt you down like the mangey yellow-bellied dog you are.”

The supporting characters are all compelling–one wants to know what the repercussions of Swede’s continual behind-the-scenes meddling will be; the rising and falling of Reverend Cole as he chases his demons is tragic and funny (think King Lear for the small screen); and the viewer  goes along with Elam Ferguson’s struggle to find his place as a free man of color in the West, trying to spot who is going to be an ally and who will betray him.

All the different sorts of tension and issues that are woven into the storyline give the show a continual sense of the unexpected. It is filmed well, too, with creative use of camera angles and lighting. The soundtrack is pretty badass, too. Check out this song by David Lindley:

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33 responses to “Somebody pour me some coffee so I can think

  • angelsilvermane

    Unfortunately, the way Storm and I had to deal with most people who did the disrespectful name and pronoun usage by simply cutting them out of our lives until they got that this behavior was not ok. There are still a few who use the wrong pronouns by accident from time to time but they quickly try to correct themselves and to us that is different and a little more acceptable. Good luck with this.

    • transparentguy

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. Storm has been really supportive and I appreciate that both of you are out there speaking up. I also cut out the people who refuse to deal with me with respect. It’s just been frustrating this week.

  • Jessica Sideways

    Yeah, I had an easier solution to that problem – moving to a state where nobody knew me. Colorado was a lucky choice, given the legal protections trans* people have here and it was chosen because I didn’t want to make it obvious where I was moving (think gay epicentres and Denver doesn’t exactly come to mind but it is a pleasant surprise).

  • Monica Lee

    I think I sort of know what you mean about your moobs and feeling for women who have to have mastectomies. I never wanted children, and I went to great lengths to make sure my birth control was working. And yet I feel bad for women who want to be pregnant and can’t. My denied fertility would be such a gift for them. Sometimes the cards are dealt so unfairly.

  • Storm M. Silvermane

    As Angel already stated above, I so understand what you are going through with the wrong usage of pronouns. Sometimes it just peeves me to no end.

    • transparentguy

      I think I’m irritated because someone I work with is doing it and grins like it’s an inside joke (management is still working on something on their end before they want me to tell everyone … however, this is a person who has been told because they’re in the managers’ “need to know” pool.) I am keeping my mouth shut for the time being, but once the managers give the green light for me to tell the whole crew I work with, then I will speak up. It’s just frustrating knowing I need to wait a little longer.

  • internalcharm

    My roommate has a lot of problems with the pronoun thing too. She doesn’t like to correct people, and it’s difficult for me to watch, knowing she’s being hurt by their words but saying nothing. Beyond encouraging her to correct them, as I have done, what else can I do to be supportive?

    • transparentguy

      If you consistently use the right name and pronouns, others will start getting the message. When it’s “validated” by someone besides the trans* person themselves, others seem more inclined to go with the preferred language.

      • internalcharm

        I’ve noticed that too. Denise has a good friend from childhood who would constantly use her old name and male words out of habit, sometimes without even realizing it. Denise says that as soon as her friend heard me use the correct words, everything changed. It’s sad that that sort of “validation” is necessary sometimes, but I’m also glad that it seems to work most of the time.

      • transparentguy

        Yes, it is frustrating. People who go by a middle name or a nickname are taken at face value. I know early on in the process I didn’t feel like I looked and sounded manly enough to offer up the male name on a consistent basis. I think legally changing my name makes me feel less like I’m playacting.

        Just keep doing what you’re doing for your friend and others will catch on.

  • Midori Skies

    My roommates are starting to drive me nuts for various reasons, including pronoun usage. I can’t wait to move out.

    As to breast cancer, on a gut level I don’t really get why anyone would be sad to not have breasts (I have pretty bad dysphoria about my moobs), but on an intellectual level I understand that it can be very distressing to be missing a part that should be there. I wish I could give mine to someone who actually wants them. That would solve two people’s problems.

    • transparentguy

      It sucks that your roommates don’t respect you. I know to other people it seems like such a little thing they can’t understand why it bothers us so much to be misgendered or called by the wrong name; sometimes I’m tempted to call people by a name that isn’t theirs for a day or so just to help them understand how frustrating it is to have other people deny such a basic part of your identity.

  • mysocalledDutchlife

    I just don’t understand anyone who wants to create a negative impact on someone else, for any reason! I’m looking forward to you being able to assert yourself fully, although I understand why you are being restrained.

    As for the breasts…bad shit happens and no-one can do anything about it. It’s not that you don’t want your moobs for some ultimately vain or anti-female reason. You’re not rubbishing the breasts of other women, you’re not saying that my breasts are meaningless. Please don’t take that kind of guilt on yourself.

    I have four children with no effort to conceive at all and I have friends who would love to have a child, but can’t seem to get pregnant. I didn’t have children to spite them and they know it, even if they sometimes have a little pang of wondering why it’s so easy for others and feel like they are being punished for some unknown crime. But you can’t apologise for being who you are and for having what you have. Life isn’t always ‘fair’.

    This might be my naive view on things, in which case I apologise for my ignorance, but I’d rather spend my whole life naive and accepting than judgmental and obnoxious.

    Hope the next week is a better one xx

    • transparentguy

      Thank you. I know you’re right about the way life sometimes shakes out. Generally, I don’t feel bad for wanting chest surgery, but seeing all the pink items this week made me feel a little bad about it.

      Thanks for the positive thoughts for next week. I hope you’re doing well yourself.

  • Trans*forming Mom

    “He knows some women view his decision to transition as betrayal, a rejection of womanhood and women.” I can’t imagine anyone who knows you very well at all viewing your decision that way. Here’s how i view it: no differently than if one of my cisgender sons had started developing breasts at puberty. How horrifying, right? Something’s got to be done immediately, right? Exactly.

    Regarding the pronouns, honestly, i’ve about lost my patience with this with regards to people misgendering my son. It’s been long enough now that those who knew him prior to transition have had time to get their shtuff together. So when they slip up and i’m around, i look at them like they just grew another head and say “he…?!” as if hello he is and always has been a boy wtf is wrong with you. I encourage him to adopt the same attitude: treat people who use incorrect pronouns and should know better like they have lost their freakin mind, *especially* if they do it in situations where it would out him to others. I’m sorry, but i’m tired of walking on eggshells with people and “giving them time” when they aren’t showing my kid respect, and why in the heck should they need that time anyway? Respect him and affirm him, dammit! Leave the internal conflicts at home and get the language straight when you’re around my child — it’s not that hard.

    Sorry for the rant. I’m sure Hell on Wheels is great because Breaking Bad is the most amazing show ever and they are both on AMC. Since you recommended it, i’ll check it out.

    • transparentguy

      Yes, I’m getting very tired of “giving them time to adjust” too. With my father, I’m a little more understanding of his need to adjust to the idea, but everyone else can get on board already. If they think they need time to adjust, how do they think I’ve felt my whole life? I tried very hard to fit into the expectations, but cannot. I’ve been polite, rational, and professional explaining the situation and why using the correct name and pronouns is important as much for my safety as for any kind of identity affirmation.

      On a different note, I may send my dad some of your blog posts so he can see he’s not alone in his situation.

      • Trans*forming Mom

        I think whenever someone is part of a minority group, it is difficult to speak up for oneself against the majority. However, i don’t believe it is the duty of the minority to explain their existence. It is the duty of the majority to seek out those at the margins, learn their needs, and draw them in. This is why i think advocates are so important, not just to speak up on behalf of minority groups, but also to remind you that these family and friends of yours are in a position of privilege and it is their responsibility to educate themselves in whatever way necessary to understand your needs, and to grasp the fact that they should be speaking to you and about you respectfully. And you have a right to demand it — not request it, Transman, but *demand* it. If you have difficulty with this, just imagine that one of your children was trans: what would you insist upon for that child? Accept no less for yourself.

        Feel free to send your dad whatever you think would be helpful. He’s definitely not alone.

      • transparentguy

        I have picked a couple of posts to share with my father. I think it will be good for him to read the experiences of another parent who is going through this.

        I will demand that people use the right name and pronouns for me … there are just a couple of spaces right now that I am holding off on. Soon, though, soon.

  • Alison

    I think that it is entirely your right to do whatever you need to do to feel happy, complete and “right” in your body. It is your body, you are not telling anyone else what to do with theirs and in turn no one has the right to tell, or judge you, about what you need and choose to do.

    Not that I am comparing this with your situation at all, it is just to illustrate my feeling that we all have the right to do as we choose/need to and do not have the right to judge others for their choices (as long as that choice isn’t hurting someone else as in drunk driving etc)…I have a tattoo (*shock* *horror*) that Allan gave me for our engagement and my mother went ballistic when she discovered it (that’s why normal people knock before walking into the bathroom where someone else is showering…). But it is MY hip and how can anyone feel they have the right to dictate what I decide to do with it. Your moobs are not supposed to be on you – they are not part of you, so you need to do what you need to do. That is not a judgement on your part of women’s breasts in any way. They are totally different things.

    As for the people misnaming and misgendering you. They need a reality check and that might very well be that you have to say goodbye until they realise what they are doing is rude, wrong, hurtful and downright dangerous.

    You, my friend, are dealing with something far beyond my comprehension and doing it with love and style. Take care. x

    • transparentguy

      Thanks, Allison. I’m more and more confident about doing things to make myself happy. I think part of what is is in play is all the social conditioning (especially in the South) that women are subjected to–that pressure to put everyone else’s needs before their own.

      I figure now that I’ve broken the news to my dad that he has a son, it’s now safe to tell him about my tattoos.

      • Alison

        No!!! Don’t tell him about the tats! Seriously, that will be impossible for him to accept! Tattoos seem to be the deal breaker with parents of adult children. I just want to say you that shock! :)

        I am so glad that you are finally able to be you – the real you – the you that has always been there but not able to be. You deserve to be you, to be happy in your own skin and in your ability to just be. x

      • transparentguy

        He already told me he knows I have tattoos. I’ll have to find some other way to shock the old fella.

        Thanks for all your support.

  • purplemary54

    I’m with you on the pronoun thing. Your transition is so far along now that your family and friends who are aware really ought to know better. But I also understand that they might have some trouble after a lifetime of knowing you as female. Remind them about the danger they might be putting you in.

    I’m happy enough being female, but I wouldn’t mind getting rid of the bosoms. They’re too big and in my way. Although they do make a nice shelf for books and my morning cup of tea.

  • meizac

    Because you had not had any coffee prior to writing this post, I will forgive your misspelling of “ambiguous.”
    (I figured you had enough serious comments on this post that I could afford to be not serious.)

  • “Transguilt” Instilled by American Culture « Internal Charm

    […] Saturday I was reading a blog post by Transman, as he calls himself, in which he describes similar emotions, and in fact discusses […]

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