Transition Hindsight

From Trans/plant/portation:

Everett Maroon
February 18, 2013

Reposted with permission

I wrote this for an FTM group over on LiveJournal, and thought I should repost it here.

I transitioned nearly eight years ago. Well, more accurately, I started my transition a little less than eight years ago. I’m pretty sure I’ll never stop transitioning, because I keep coming on things that I’d been socialized female for, most recently, body changes as one ages.

In the beginning it was really rough. I had so much self doubt, I was in an emotionally volatile relationship, a ton of stress at work, and the overwhelming fear that I was about to ruin my life. So here are the things that I wish I knew at the time. That said, everybody’s transition is different, so this is by no means a set of instructions. But for me I wish I knew:

1. Nobody gets to tell you you’re doing it wrong. I mean, they may tell you you’re not a “real” transsexual but that’s their issue. Fine to ask for opinions and advice from people — the more conversations you have, the more you will see the range of gender expression, decision making around medical, legal & social transition, and the more lessons from others you’ll get exposed to. But please, don’t let the voice of inauthenticity stay in your head, because it has this way of never admitting it’s wrong. If you want to take it slow, go low- or no-hormones, or go as fast as you safely can, that is your decision.

2. How I came out to people affected how they took my news. Every time I told someone and I was full of nervousness or I made it about managing their feelings, it went badly. At some point in my process I came out to an old friend by saying that I had great news; I’d figured this thing out and struggled with it and now was much happier. I’m not saying that which words we pick totally controls the response to us, but for me it had some kind of role in the reaction. And when I told people they could have some time to adjust on their own about it, I found out who my friends were, which you know, is really quite helpful.

3. Not all doctors/therapists/court clerks/DMV staff know what the hell to do with transpeople. I’ve gotten erroneous medical information, wasted time in therapists’ offices because they were messed up people, and so on. That’s where places like LJ and FB and other social networking sites can come in handy — ask around before making your appointment for hormones or surgery, and go into that meeting with some more knowledge than zero. And if you think you’re not being treated well by a given front-line person, try again with someone new. Or take a friend with you, because some hostile places treat you more professionally if you’re not alone.

4. Never compare yourself to folks who transitioned years ahead of you — let me clarify: don’t expect to have a great burly beard like that dude who went on T in 2003, or a bust like that woman who started transition a decade ago. Heck, I’m 8 years in and I still can’t grow a full beard. Hormones may be the same, but our DNA is obviously different, and it’s our genetics that respond to the hormones. Which brings me to…

5. Try not to get hung up over which changes you get, don’t get, or don’t get in the way you expected. Wanted a full hairy chest? Great if it happens, but it might also come with a thick swath of shoulder hair. Or you might get back hair instead of chest hair, and go totally bald. You may be self-conscious about how big your hands are, or worry that your voice will give you away as trans. Every body is imperfect, of course. This journey into this new body is not controllable, really, and I highly recommend good therapists for keeping an eye on the big picture. I mean, many of us whine about this and that in terms of how our bodies shifted, and that’s normal, but becoming obsessive won’t make your DNA change.

Anyway, that’s me list. Thanks for listening.

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10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started My Transition

From Huffington Post:


xactly two years ago, I sat apprehensively in the reception area of the public health clinic in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, waiting for my name to be called. If all went according to plan, I would leave that evening with my first prescriptions for estradiol and spironolactone — day 1 on hormones. I had just come from work, and because only a handful of my colleagues knew about my transition, I was still presenting as a boy (albeit an androgynous one wearing gold eye shadow). I remember looking around the room at the other trans girls sitting nearby. I couldn’t wait to be just like them — to have people see me as my true gender and to finally start feeling comfortable in my body.

It was hard to believe that I had been closeted only two months earlier, and yet here I was, about to embrace the part of myself that I had been ashamed of for nearly all my life. I was ready. Since coming out, I had pored through several radical gender books, watched transition videos on YouTube and researched the hormones I was about to take. I knew what to expect in the weeks and months ahead.

Two years and 4,860 pills later, I now realize how little I actually understood back then. There were so many aspects of transitioning and being treated like a woman in society that I was totally unprepared for. And today I’d like to share 10 lessons that I wish I had known in February 2011.(Note: This advice is based on my own personal experience as a queer, femme, white, upper-middle-class trans girl with “passing privilege,” so some of it might not be applicable to you.)

1. Brace yourself for beauty culture.

This is especially true for my fellow femme girls, and there’s a reason it’s #1 on my list. Before I started presenting as female, I had no idea just how toxic beauty culture is in this country. Women are constantly inundated with airbrushed images and messages aiming to tear down our self-esteem and make us feel inadequate. Fashion magazines and the beauty industry make billions every year by exploiting these insecurities with the promise that if we only try harder to be prettier, we too can be happy.

As a trans girl, beauty culture can be especially difficult to navigate, because most of us have haven’t been exposed to it very long. Our cis partners and friends have been dealing with it since middle school (if not earlier), and many have had years to develop effective coping strategies, so we DMAB (“designated male at birth”) ladies have to make up for lost time, and on top of that, cissexist standards of beauty add another way for us to feel insecure.

It helps to maintain a sense of perspective. Many trans girls, including me, have a habit of romanticizing the cisgender experience. A month or two into my transition, I told my girlfriend that I couldn’t wait until I could look in the mirror and see a pretty girl staring back at me. “You realize that’s never going to happen, right?” was her response. “You’re going to look at your reflection and feel unsatisfied — just like every other woman.” And it’s true: Even the most gorgeous of my friends can list a dozen things she’d change about her appearance. So the next time you’re feeling unattractive, don’t blame yourself; blame capitalism and a beauty culture designed to make you feel that way.

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Texas: Democratic Rep. Burnam announces Freedom to Marry bill – Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Why Gender Equality Stalled

From The New York Times:

Published: February 16, 2013

This week is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s international best seller, “The Feminine Mystique,” which has been widely credited with igniting the women’s movement of the 1960s. Readers who return to this feminist classic today are often puzzled by the absence of concrete political proposals to change the status of women. But “The Feminine Mystique” had the impact it did because it focused on transforming women’s personal consciousness.

In 1963, most Americans did not yet believe that gender equality was possible or even desirable. Conventional wisdom held that a woman could not pursue a career and still be a fulfilled wife or successful mother. Normal women, psychiatrists proclaimed, renounced all aspirations outside the home to meet their feminine need for dependence. In 1962, more than two-thirds of the women surveyed by University of Michigan researchers agreed that most important family decisions “should be made by the man of the house.”

It was in this context that Friedan set out to transform the attitudes of women. Arguing that “the personal is political,” feminists urged women to challenge the assumption, at work and at home, that women should always be the ones who make the coffee, watch over the children, pick up after men and serve the meals.

Over the next 30 years this emphasis on equalizing gender roles at home as well as at work produced a revolutionary transformation in Americans’ attitudes. It was not instant. As late as 1977, two-thirds of Americans believed that it was “much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.” By 1994, two-thirds of Americans rejected this notion.

But during the second half of the 1990s and first few years of the 2000s, the equality revolution seemed to stall. Between 1994 and 2004, the percentage of Americans preferring the male breadwinner/female homemaker family model actually rose to 40 percent from 34 percent. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of full-time working mothers who said they would prefer to work part time increased to 60 percent from 48 percent. In 1997, a quarter of stay-at-home mothers said full-time work would be ideal. By 2007, only 16 percent of stay-at-home mothers wanted to work full time.

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Pope Immunity: Vatican Will Protect Benedict From Sexual Abuse Prosecution

From Huffington Post:

By Philip Pullella

Reuters) – Pope Benedict’s decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.

“His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn’t have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years.

Vatican sources said officials had three main considerations in deciding that Benedict should live in a convent in the Vatican after he resigns on February 28.

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The War on Drugs Is a War on Kids

From The Nation

Patricia J. Williams
February 13, 2013

On a warm spring afternoon at American colleges, the intoxicating aroma of surely medicinal marijuana will be floating like a soft caress in the breeze, and hard-working students will be stocking up on amphetamine cocktails to sharpen their overstressed young minds for the coming exams.

On a warm spring afternoon at the nation’s poorer public schools, children (and I mean children) will endure a daily police presence, including drug-sniffing dogs, full-body pat-downs, searches of backpacks and lockers, stops in the hallways—all in the name of searching for contraband.

Drugs are ubiquitous in this country, and yet we know that some people have the privilege of doctor-prescribed intoxication, while others are thrown into dungeons for seeking the same relief. We know that the war on drugs is heavily inflected with Jim Crow–ism, economic inequality, gun culture myths and political opportunism. We know that Adam Lanza’s unfortunate mother was not the sole Newtown resident stocking up on military-style weapons; plenty of suburban gun owners keep similar weapons to protect their well-kept homes against darkly imagined, drug-addled marauders from places like Bridgeport. We divert resources from mental health or rehab, and allocate millions to militarize schools.

The result: the war on drugs has metastasized into a war on children.

Best publicized, perhaps, is the plight of young people in Meridian, Mississippi, where a federal investigation is probing into why children as young as 10 are routinely taken to jail for wearing the wrong color socks or flatulence in class. Bob Herbert wrote of a situation in Florida in 2007, where police found themselves faced with the great challenge of placing a 6-year-old girl in handcuffs too big for her wrists. The child was being arrested for throwing a tantrum in her kindergarten class; the solution was to cuff her biceps, after which she was dragged to the precinct house for mug shots and charged with a felony and two misdemeanors.

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Tens of Thousands Rally to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline & Urge Obama to deliver upon his Promises

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Thousands at Climate Rally in Washington Call on Obama to Reject Keystone Pipeline

From Truth Out:

By Zach Roberts
Monday, 18 February 2013

A reported 50,000 people attended the 350/Sierra Club rally yesterday in Washington DC – making it the largest environmental march in decades.

There were also dozens of smaller rallies across the country, including in Los Angeles, San Diego and St. Louis.

The action in DC drew in people from around the country – Jim and Bonnie, full time climate activists both took the train from Portland, Oregon. They held a sign that called on the President to be true to his own words “We cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake.”

At the speakers podium Native leaders from Canada and the US spoke out against the Tar Sands and the pipeline – calling both nations leaders to task for not hearing their concerns. Chief Jackie Thomas of the frog clan at Saik’uz (in British Columbia) warned that “Oil will spill, is always does.” She went on to thank Enbridge, the company is contracted to create much of the Keystone XL pipeline “Never have I seen white and Native work together… thank you Enbridge.”

She ended her speech to the crowd amassed in the shadow of the Washington Monument “I’m here to ask you, we need your help, I need someone to stand with me when the bulldozers come.” At that the crowd cheered.

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Food Sovereignty: Think Globally, Eat Locally

From Other Worlds are Possible:

By Tory Field and Beverly Bell
Sun, 02/17/2013

The first group of protestors at Occupy Wall Street publically delivered 23 complaints, outlining the ways in which corporations control our daily lives. Number four asserted, “They have poisoned the food supply through negligence and undermined the farming system through monopolization.”

How we feed ourselves and each other is the backbone of how, historically, we have organized our communities and societies. The ways in which we arrange our agricultural systems make evident our larger worldviews. Food literally and figuratively connects us to each other, to our ancestors, to our cultures, and to the earth. Maybe all food should be acknowledged as soul food (with a low bow to Southern cooking) because it is, in fact, that deep.

A movement is afoot to put food, land, and agricultural systems back in the hands of citizens. One element has long been considered the overarching essential around the world, though it is only beginning to make an appearance in this U.S. This is food sovereignty, a combination of farming practices, marketing systems, and policy choices which together allow every people to make decisions about, produce, and consume its own local, healthy, and culturally appropriate food. Food sovereignty calls for the democratic participation of the population in shaping food and trade policies. It promotes the right of small growers to have control over their land and production, to grow for domestic consumption under local control. It also promotes ecological agriculture.

Food sovereignty is rooted in the daily work of every small farmer, rancher, fisherperson, landless farm worker, and everyone else involved in local food production. Yet no matter what they produce, their ability to survive is affected by international market forces. The movement, therefore, also includes community, national, and international activists working for just trade and economic systems. It promotes tariffs on food imports to protect local markets, and an end to international trade agreements and financial institutions that interfere with the sovereignty and sustainability of food systems.

The principles of food sovereignty challenge the neoliberal economic model – basically free-trade, corporate-driven, global capitalism – that governs food systems in much of the world. Agriculture in that model demotes government and community’s planning, investing in, or intervening in food and agricultural systems. Conversely, it promotes agribusiness corporations ability to invest wherever they like, favoring the import and export of large quantities of food across borders.

The neoliberal model assumes that a low- or middle-income nation’s best option is that of fitting into the economic position allotted to it by richer countries and financial institutions. If the American Midwest can grow massive amounts of corn, the rationale goes, then it should grow corn for the world, while Colombian farmers export coffee, Brazilian farmers bananas, and so on. Along with industrial-scale farming goes monocropping and massive inputs of fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides. Much more than large farmers, the primary beneficiaries are the corporate middle people who consolidate, arrange, package, and ship the food around the world.

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Climate Change And Blizzards May Be Connected, Global Warming Studies Demonstrate

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 02/18/2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — With scant snowfall and barren ski slopes in parts of the Midwest and Northeast the past couple of years, some scientists have pointed to global warming as the culprit.

Then when a whopper of a blizzard smacked the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow in some places earlier this month, some of the same people again blamed global warming.

How can that be? It’s been a joke among skeptics, pointing to what seems to be a brazen contradiction.

But the answer lies in atmospheric physics. A warmer atmosphere can hold, and dump, more moisture, snow experts say. And two soon-to-be-published studies demonstrate how there can be more giant blizzards yet less snow overall each year. Projections are that that’s likely to continue with man-made global warming.


— The United States has been walloped by twice as many of the most extreme snowstorms in the past 50 years than in the previous 60 years, according to an upcoming study on extreme weather by leading federal and university climate scientists. This also fits with a dramatic upward trend in extreme winter precipitation — both rain and snow — in the Northeastern U.S. charted by the National Climatic Data Center.

— Yet the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University says that spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has shrunk on average by 1 million square miles in the last 45 years.

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Sea Shepherd: defending the integrity of the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary

From  The Guardian UK:

Our Antarctic campaign has become stronger and more efficient – but the Japanese whalers are getting recklessly aggressive, Monday 18 February 2013

I don’t think that there is a more isolated, more remote, or more forbidding place on this planet than where we find ourselves at this moment.

Draw a line due south from Sri Lanka for 4,404 nautical miles and it will bring you to Prdyz Bay, deep in the Cooperation Sea, close to the massive Amory ice shelf.

Some 2,632 nautical miles to the north-east is Perth, Western Australia and 2,632 miles to the north-west is Cape Town, South Africa.

In contrast, we are only 1,380 miles to the south pole.

It is summertime in Antarctica and outside on the deck, the wind is blowing at 30 knots and the temperature has dropped to -10C.

On our port beam at a quarter of a kilometre, and just barely discernible through the misty swirling snow is the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker. I can see her taking white water over her bow and hoar frost clinging like bleached algae on her blue, grey, and black mottled hull.

Ahead of us another quarter of a kilometre, a massive black hull plunges and bucks in a frothing sea. And as if the sea spray was not enough, the ship fires six high-powered streams of sea water in different directions. Briny icicles hang from her rails.

I can see the stern slipway, that awful maw that literally swallows whales whole, wasting nothing, they say, except for the whales themselves.

The beautiful creatures get dragged onto the flensing deck to be mutilated and cut into pieces, to be frozen and boxed below deck as streams of steaming blood pour into the sea from the scuppers.

The Sea Shepherd Crew call that floating mechanised abattoir the cetacean Death Star. It is the Japanese whale-processing factory ship the Nisshin Maru, and for nine long years we have hunted her down in these waters with the single objective of interfering with her primary activity – the slaughtering of whales.

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Climate Rally Draws “Line in the Sand” on Canadian Pipeline

From Inter Press Service:

By Stephen Leahy
Feb 16 2013

The largest climate rally in U.S. history is expected Sunday in Washington DC with the aim of pressuring President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Activists are calling Keystone “the line in the sand” regarding dangerous climate change, prompting the Sierra Club to suspend its 120-year ban on civil disobedience. The group’s executive director, Michael Brune, was arrested in front of the White House during a small protest against Keystone on Wednesday.

“The Keystone XL pipeline is part of the carbon infrastructure that will take us to dangerous levels of climate change,” said Simon Donner, a climate scientist at the University of British Columbia.

“By itself, Keystone won’t have much of an impact on the climate, but it is not happening on its own,” Donner told IPS.

Carbon emissions are increasing elsewhere, and the International Energy Agency recently warned humanity is on a dangerous path to four degrees C of warming before the end of this century. Children born today will experience this. Preventing that dire future is inconsistent with expanding tar sands production, Donner said.

A new study released this week revealed that the volume of Arctic sea ice is declining rapidly. Ice volume has fallen 80 percent since 1980, according to the latest data from European Space Agency satellite, CryoSat-2. Summers with a sea ice-free Arctic are only a few years away, scientists now agree. This will have significant and permanent impacts on weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Keystone XL is the key to opening up the expansion of the tar sands industry,” said Jim Murphy, senior counsel with the National Wildlife Federation.

“By rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, we can keep this toxic oil in the ground,” Murphy said in a statement.

Keystone XL is intended to bring 700,000 to 800,000 barrels of a heavy, tar-like oil from the northern Alberta tar sands 2,400 kilometres south to the refineries on the Gulf Coast. Nearly all the resulting fuels are destined for export.

Since the seven-billion-dollar Keystone XL crosses national borders, it is up to President Obama to issue a permit declaring the pipeline serves the “national interest” in order for it to be approved.

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Thousands march in biggest ever climate rally in US

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