Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Update post. My work email name has been changed! I did The Explanation! Everyone is being very supportive! (Well, that or silent, and the truth of that will out once the obligatory official PC supportiveness dies down, but I'm optimistic that these are nice people.) I bumped into my boss in the men's and I think he was slightly taken aback! It's all good.

But my name hasn't been changed in lots of our other electronic systems, which is far more potentially confusing than the simple fact of transitioning my name from female to male. Two days in to the change and I've already run up against this problem: a person I was emailing under my male name (let's say that's "Ganymede") is now going to get an automatically generated paper compliments slip from me under my female name (let's say that's "Rosalind").

Professionally awkward though this is, I secretly quite like it. Heaven only knows what these external correspondents will think when interacting with "Ganymede/Rosalind". Which will they assume is my "proper" name? Will they twig the gender mismatch or just assume that my male name is a "valid" female shortening of my female name - or even that "Rosalind" is a "valid" male given name? Or will they just ignore it? Way to inadvertently genderfuck your external colleagues, Employer. :D It's like there's two of me, one for each binary gender role, which quite entertains me (confirming my vague worries that I might be genderfluid... I'm not prejudiced, it'd just be damn awkward).


Anyway, one way or the other (or both, or the ones in between >_>) I'm pretty happy with all of this now that the stressful first day is out of the way. I am generally very happy, with life in general and with my gender identity in particular! I have come out at work and it's exactly as small a deal as it ought to be! Happy, healthy, sane, supported and FtM. That story would be a really good example for scared closeted trans* teens, wouldn't it?

Because the flip side of increased visibility = increased tolerance among "normal" people (for trans* as for any minority) is increased visibility = increased comprehension and hope among the "invisible" members of that minority. When I was in my early teens and flirting flippantly with the idea that something about me wasn't "normal" gender-wise, I educated myself the only way I could: through the chinks of trans* visibility that got through the cracks in mass media. And in the realm of FtM transgenderism, that meant only one thing: Brandon Teena.

Brandon's story, dramatised in the film Boys Don't Cry (which I devoured with rapt interest when Channel 4 screened it in the early noughties, followed by a documentary called The Brandon Teena Story), is an awful, poignant one which deserves to be told: transsexual boy growing up in unenlightened American Mid-West goes stealth, gets girlfriend, attempts to quietly live life, is uncovered as biologically female by "friends" then brutally raped and murdered. But it's not the story to tell to a questioning young female-assigned person growing up in a rather more enlightened region, in a rather more enlightened decade, with a high probability when ey becomes an adult of moving to an even more enlightened university town in an even more enlightened decade, where eir work colleagues barely bat an eyelid at eir transgenderism.

I remember watching that film and making a worried mental note (in my flippant adolescent way) never to move to Falls City ("they hang faggots there", as Brandon's brother anxiously reminds him). I had to make that mental note to remind myself that, although my life might well end up paralleling Brandon's in some ways, our circumstances were far from identical and my life was unlikely to end the way his did. But as a confused, naive maybe-FtM, he was the only role model I had, and these caveats were hard to keep in mind.

I'd like it if Channel 4 were to screen something like The Ganymede/Rosalind Story: transgender sort-of-boy growing up in accepting urban Britain goes to university as female, gradually and openly comes out, is completely supported by friends and colleagues, remains non-hormones and non-op, doesn't feel the need to worry about going stealth or binding and packing 24/7 or suppressing his penchant for dressing up in fishnet stockings from time to time, is comfortable with having a gender identity which is vaguely masculine but is far from neatly fitting the binary, has thus far not undergone a single incident of anti-trans* abuse. (Would that MtFs were so lucky, of course. And with the side note that I have not once been abused/harassed/etc for being trans* since coming out as trans*, but during my early teens presenting as nothing other than a kind of weird tomboyish female, I got mocked with "You're a boy!" - it works along the same lines as "You're gay!", that is, it doesn't work - all the time. Adults are largely very nice about these things, but children are gits.)

But, y'know, where would be the story in that? No exciting shots of the transsexual squishing and stuffing his body into shapes it wasn't designed for, no cute time-lapse sequences of his facial hair coming through or his muscles developing or his body fat being redistributed, no dramatic moments as he shuffles warily into a male-only space and is accosted by a suspicious passer-by... No point in screening something that won't pull in the ratings just to reassure poor scared gender-variant kids who are desperate to see Someone Like Them.

The moral of the story is, I suppose, thank gods for the internet... and thank gods that I, happy flippant Genderqueer Lite, coped reasonably well growing up in my assigned gender without the peer group it could have provided. I only hope the same can be said for other proto-Brandons of my generation.

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