Passing Privilege

CN: Rape Mention

For most trans women, “passing” refers to the ability to be perceived and treated by strangers as a cis woman. This can be determined by any number of things, including physical traits, gender expression, vocal pitch/tone, sexuality, and more.

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Vaginaversary: One Year After SRS

Today marks the day I had vaginoplasty last year, a date which will henceforth forever be known as my Vaginaversary.

Earlier this month I made a list of 10 Brutally Honest Tips for those seeking SRS based on the hardest aspects of having and recovering from surgery. I did this because SRS is probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to go through and I wanted to help other women avoid my pitfalls as much as could be controlled.

But today I want to give a more generalized review of my surgery with Dr. Chettawut and my results because I know there are lots of other trans women out there who need to do research on who is the best fit for them. So without further ado, let’s start talking about my snatch.

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Lesson Two: Vocabulary

Good afternoon class. Now that you’ve all had a chance to look over the syllabus, I’d like to set down a solid foundation of the non-oppressive language we will be using throughout the semester.

For some of you, these words will be familiar but the definitions may be slightly different. For others, this list will look like a foreign language. It does not matter to me what level of experience you already have in transfeminism discussions, for the purposes of this class we are all going to start from the beginning so there will be no confusion or misunderstanding.

A side note, many of your required reading will use slightly different language or definitions. I ask you to remember that language is an ever-evolving aspect of communication for all groups, not just trans women. If at any point during your reading you become confused or would like clarification, please do not hesitate to ask me for assistance. The last thing I want is for something as petty as word choice to get in the way of fighting transmisogyny.

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Clothes

“Closets are for clothes, not people,” is a common battle cry of the queer rights movement. But many fail to appreciate the ways clothes can be used to trap us or free us.

Like it or not, humans make assumptions about other humans based on their bodies and the articles used to cover those bodies. As much as I genuinely believe clothes should not have gender attached to them, I also know I project a very different message to the world as a 28-year-old woman wearing jeans and flannel than I did when I was a 17-year-old kid wearing jeans and flannel.

Many people fail to realize (because they’ve never had to think about it) how much about our gender and sexuality we communicate through our clothing. And even fewer people realize how much others rely on our body and clothes to interpret clues about our gender and sexuality. This is why the same outfit on two different bodies can be interpreted in wildly different ways depending on their skin tone, haircut, fat distribution, size, height, and many other uncontrollable factors. And why even the same clothes worn at different points in our lives can communicate drastically different things.

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Lesson One: Required Reading

Hello students. I would like to welcome you to Trans Women’s Studies 101, an introductory class on recognizing and fighting transmisogyny in a cissexist society.

If you’ll please take a look at your syllabus, you will see an annotated bibliography of our required reading and a brief discussion of why the work is important. The texts are separated into Core Textbook and Supplemental Text categories.

Please note, I made efforts to prefer trans women/transfeminine authors (especially black trans women and trans women of color) over cis or trans men/transmasculine authors when at all possible. This is not because cis or trans men/transmasculine authors are not capable of writing relevant texts, but because first-hand testimony will always be preferred over second-hand or third-hand in this class, and only trans women/transfeminine authors have first-hand experience with transmisogyny. Sadly, there just aren’t enough trans women authors being supported and published by the industry, and so we must make do with the best we have.

For this reason, be aware of any authors denoted by an asterisk. These authors are not trans women/transfeminine authors, and therefore their opinions about issues directly affecting trans women should not be valued over those of actual trans women in regards to transmisogyny.

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Closets

“We all come out of the closet twice…at least twice,” is a running joke among trans women.

This was certainly true for me, as my first trip out of the closet I intended to live life as a gay boy instead of a trans girl, even though I already knew on some level I wasn’t a boy and that I most certainly liked girls. I was knowingly trading out my small closet for a slightly bigger one. Gay men were becoming increasingly accepted and loved; surely being an extremely feminine man would be close enough to being the woman I actually was? At least then I wouldn’t be in the weirdo category of “my girlfriend is a man” that I saw on Jerry Springer. Or the men in dresses I was intended to point and laugh at. Or the pathetic creatures wheeled around on news specials and movies I was expected to pity before congratulating myself for being so open minded, never someone I was intended to actually identify with. And the most damning were the perverted men who got off by wearing women’s clothes and pretending to be something they weren’t.

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