The Ladylike Penis

As published on The Montreal Gazette's website:

I’m trans, but I’m never getting sexual reassignment surgery (SRS). I wouldn’t go through with it for any amount of money. To me, the idea of having my penis cut up and sewn back together in the shape of a vagina is a bit nightmarish. I’m in complete solidarity with your average male on this one. Many transwomen consider this a positive, life-affirming reconstructive surgery. But for me? Gah!

I’m uneasy about expressing this aversion. I know how important this surgery is to many people. But for me, it has much darker connotations. Most people are never pressured into getting plastic surgeries they don’t want done to their genitals. Now, some transsexuals will take offense to my characterization of SRS as a cosmetic surgery, but that’s certainly why it was wanted for me.

When I told my first psychiatrist I wanted an orchidectomy instead of SRS, he was appalled.

“You’ll be a woman with a penis and no balls!” He blustered in outrage. “You’ll be a freak! Nobody will ever want you!”

This, coming from the man charged with my mental health. For the record, my fiance tells me she thinks I’m sexy all the time – she just did, in fact.

No doubt there are some who would question why a transwoman would want to keep her penis. In our culture a woman with a penis is often looked upon as something like a chimerical beast out of Greek mythology. I was one of those kids who thought it’d be cool to be a monster – maybe a blood-sucking fairy or something – so that’s fine by me. What worries me is the mob of hysterical villagers with torches and pitchforks. I don’t have a problem with my body, just the people who hate it.

The truth is that gender transition has little if anything to do with the naughty bits. It’s about looking, acting, walking and talking the way we like and feel most comfortable with. That people start perceiving and treating us as the opposite sex is, for me, practically incidental. The point of transgenderism is to be yourself. So why should that make me hate my own body?

It’s commonplace in our culture for women to learn to be insecure about their appearance, sometimes even to the extremities of Botox, boob jobs and fad diets. But as for myself, I prefer my body simply because it’s mine. It’s healthy, functional and, I’m told, even reasonably attractive.

Whenever I see something on Youtube where a transwoman starts talking about how SRS has fixed her, I have to turn it off. It’s just too depressing. The implication of such a statement is that, without the surgery, people like me must be broken. I put up with enough of this sentiment from the world at large that it’s pretty miserable getting it from my own community.

I’m not saying the people who get the surgeries have all been brainwashed by our transphobic culture and it’s insane beauty industry. I respect that a person’s feelings toward their own body are the only thing they need to justify themselves to. I just want to celebrate the idea of the male woman.

I want to encourage transwomen to appreciate the beauty and femininity that is unique to them. We do not need invasive surgeries to try to make our bodies look like those of women who are not trans (ie. ciswomen). We are women because we live as women and fit into society as women, period.

A woman is not a vehicle for her vagina to get around in. The qualities that make her a woman are much more personal. Women come in all shapes, sizes and colours. There are women of every age, class, culture, religion and level of ability. And, yes, I believe there are male women, too. We may not all be women in the same way, but I believe there’s real value to that diversity.

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Boys that Straight Men Hit on

As published on The Montreal Gazette's website:

So I was biking home from the beach in my pink speedo – just my pink speedo – when a man traveling in the opposite direction whizzed past me. I like to daydream to myself on these little excursions and probably wouldn't have noticed him had he not gasped “Wow!” while passing me by.

He did it like a kid on Christmas morning. No doubt he thought I was a topless woman – you know, a woman with a vagina. With my long blonde hair, amazonian physique, and reasonably pretty face it's not that difficult a mistake to make. I do live as a woman most of the time. But, as I explained last time, not when I'm swimming. When I swim I'm just plain male.

I was startled by this stranger's exclamation but decided to ignore it. It didn't really matter. But then, he came back. He caught up to me by turning his bike around and racing after me at top speed.

“Wow! That's beautiful!” He gushed, giddily unaware of how awkward all of this was. “That's amazing! You being naked and all! It's beautiful! Really beautiful!”

Today we identify this sort of behavior as street harassment. It's been a hot issue on social media lately as several feminists have launched into some very clever campaigns against it. To me it goes without saying that a man shouldn't interrupt a woman's day just to interrogate her for sex.

But then, not many males are in a position to have lecherous men chasing them down like this. Ontario is one of the few places in North America where a woman could legally go topless. Why they don't should be obvious by this point. Believe me, having a guy do this to you when you're half naked is scary.

All I really wanted was to get rid of this guy, so, I opted for the nuclear option.

“I'm a guy!” I finally declared, butching my voice up for show (according to my fiance I usually speak with something of a gay twang.)

It's amazing how something as simple as being identified as a man can be so decisive in warding off this kind of unwanted attention. Male privilege, I suppose. But then, while I might have been in the clear as far as street harassment goes, I wasn't out of the woods yet for being tranny-bashed.

“You're a guy!?” My stalker roared, his bizarre affections suddenly flaring up into a violent fury “Get the fuck out of here!” He stopped his bike just ahead of me and, for a moment, I was terrified.

Had I just gotten myself into a fight? Transwomen get killed over this sort of thing. Luckily he was just turning himself around, but I was so flustered I decided cut my ride short and retreated home.

I don't get it. This guy had chased me down and invaded my personal space just to ogle me like a piece of meat. That he should feel wronged simply because I failed to live up to his standards of sexual titillation is beyond me.

The worst part of street harassment, for me, will always be the fear of ending up another name at a Trans Day of Remembrance service. Still, I have chosen to be very out about what I am because what I fear most is that if people like me remain invisible things will never get better for us.

When my girlfriend got home and I told her this story, we both got to wondering, “What would happen if your average woman used the 'I'm a guy' line?” Its certainly effective. You know, sometimes men will even apologize if they start to hit on you and realize you're a guy – as if only a man would find this kind of unwanted attention insulting.

She wants to try the line next time she gets hit on. If they doubt her she can just claim to have gotten on hormones early. If I'm there (as I sometimes am) I'm totally interjecting in a big manly voice, “Hey! Are you hitting on my boyfriend?” I'm interested to see how this little social experiment plays out. Anyone else tried it? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

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The Lady in the Mensroom

As published on The Montreal Gazette's website:

I’ve done a lot of swimming this year. Maybe I made a New Year’s resolution without noticing it because I’m getting to be in great shape. Fortunately, I happen to love swimming with the zeal of a demented idiot child. A lot of people associate pools with cold water and chlorine burning their eyes. For me, swimming is like a flying dream I get to have while I’m awake. It’s as elegant as it is athletic.

Unfortunately, swimming presents some difficulties for transwomen. Lots of girls have body issues, so you can imagine how much having gone through male puberty would give a woman to fuss over. I’ve been using women’s changerooms without incident for the last decade so I’m not particularly worried about that. The thing I hate is having to duck into a stall just to get changed. It’s a nuisance.

The law in Ontario protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, but I’m not really comfortable getting naked in there. Most women just aren’t ready to see penises in their citadel of gender privacy, even little ones. It’s their problem, not mine, but I’m not up for pushing the issue every time I just want to get a bit of exercise.

Still, getting naked in the changeroom would be a lot more convenient. That is why they’re there. My solution is a novel one: I go swimming as a guy. To many transwomen this would be anathema, but as I’ve explained in the past, I don’t mind lumping myself in with the boys now and then. It’s an imperfect arrangement but it does make for some funny stories.

There’s nothing quite like the shocked look on a man’s face when what appears to be a woman briskly strides into his changeroom. Keep in mind that I do this dressed as a boy. We’re talking baggy jeans, T-shirts, and hoodies here. I still get taken for a woman. It’s quite a personal triumph.

I’ll hear guys whispering to each other. “Whoah! There’s a woman in the changeroom! Do you think we should tell her? What do we do?” One guy actually called out to me. I called back in the deepest voice I could muster and he pretended to just be saying hi. It was priceless.

Once I’m naked it’s pretty obvious I have every right to be there. You just can’t argue with a penis. For me, that’s the best part; that subversive sense of belonging. I might have painted nails, smooth skin and long blond hair pouring over my shoulders – even a bit of breast growth – but once I’m naked people are forced to accept my presence. By extension they’re forced to accept that some boys really are feminine enough to be taken for women even in the mensroom.

I worry about making women uncomfortable. I identify with them so of course I don’t want to make them feel uneasy. Some of them might just have a good reason for being a bit penis-phobic. But with men, I revel in that discomfort. Forcing men to suck it up and deal with their homphobic assumptions about what it means to be a man never fails to brighten my day.

Another reason I swim as a man is my bathing suit. I prefer speedos because they’re the closest thing there is to skinny dipping. Also, I think that men with the confidence to a rock a speedo are always somewhere between being utterly hilarious and drop-dead sexy. Mine’s hot pink so you can judge for yourself where I might fall on that spectrum.

Now one time when I was at the mirrors putting on my swim cap, there was this big Russian guy shaving at the sink next to me. At first I couldn’t understand his accent but eventually I made out what he was saying, “I vwanted to say you look bvery bveutiful and I like you bvery much!”

“Uh, thanks…” I replied, trying to ignore him. As awkward as this was, I had to give him props for being confident enough to hit on a guy in the men’s changeroom.

His approach next time was far less elegant, “Nice tits!”

And this, my friends, is why we have separate changerooms for men and woman. It’s appalling that we have to assume this kind of impropriety, but since we do, it’d be nice if transwomen felt welcome in the lady’s room. We don’t like being sexually harassed any more than any other woman.

Reasons for Being Trans #190

Why did I become a woman?

Because an extremely unlikely quantum mechanical event caused me to randomly turn into one. A physicist later described it to me like this: whenever you shuffle a deck of cards the odds of you getting the order of cards you end up with is approximately 1 to 80 × 10⁶⁶ (The Factorial of 52). You beat odds greater than the number of molecules in the Milky Way Galaxy every time you play a round of Crazy Eights. While randomly turning into a woman was highly improbable it'd be even more improbable for weird stuff like that to never happen.

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Reasons for Being Trans #158

Why'd I become a woman?

Because the oracle at Delphi said I would and I've read enough Greek tragedies to know that trying to avert a prophecy will only lead to it happening ironically. Obviously the only sensible thing to do was to bite the bullet and get it over with. In hindsight I can't help wondering if having my prophecy come true only because I intentionally fulfilled it just adds another layer of irony. Fucking oracles.

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Does Liking Pink Make you Sick?

As published on The Montreal Gazette's website:

Personally, I like a good trip to the psychiatrist. It makes me feel sophisticated — like an upper-class New Yorker in a Woody Allen movieIt gives me a chance to whine about my existential angst to someone well educated enough to understand it. But I won’t bore you with the details. It would just read like a pretentious post-modern white paper, and I’m sure no one wants to read that.

For me, gender is only a peripheral issue. Probably for the best: Transgenderism has always had an uneasy relationship with psychiatry. As far as I’m aware, trans people are the only folks whose sense of personal identity hinges on getting a doctor’s approval.

I don’t get the need for a diagnosis of gender identity disorder to get on hormones. Can you imagine the furor if women needed a psychiatrist to diagnose them with nymphomania to get on the pill? Why should my lifestyle need to be branded a disease to get the same medications?

I understand why so many trans people embrace ugly mixes of Latin and Greek like gender dysphoria though. In lieu of strong legal protections for trans rights, many have opted to protect themselves from discrimination on disability grounds. Considering the bigotry we face, I don’t blame them. But I don’t think how masculine or feminine a person feels is a disease.

Transgenderism might not be common, but that doesn’t make it any more an illness than being smart or artistic. Maybe I just have a talent for getting in touch with my feminine side. Considering 50 percent of people live as women, I’m fairly comfortable looking at is as a perfectly ordinary lifestyle.

To some this sounds too much like a choice, but look at it this way: you can’t discriminate against a woman because of whether she’s chosen to get married or have kids. These kinds of private, intimate decisions are nobody else’s business. Likewise, what consenting adults do in their bedroom is nobody’s business either, no matter how titillating it might be. Why should what’s between my legs be treated any different?

The sort of gatekeeping doctors do with trans people just keeps them from doing their job. When trans people know they need to meet a bunch of diagnostic criteria to get hormones or surgery, they just end up telling doctors what they want to hear. It’s a shame because psychiatrists have a vital role to play in helping their patients cope with such potentially stressful life events as coming out and transitioning. Instead, trans people feel they need to conceal things like depression and anxiety lest they be seen as too unstable for the procedures they want.

My psychiatrist has mentioned hearing scripted stories on several occasions, stuff like, “I’ve known I was born with the wrong body since I was three years old!”

That’s quite an abstraction for a three-year-old to wrap their brain around. When I was that age, I mostly remember drawing pictures of my imaginary friend Shaw-Shaw the monkey with chocolate-scented magic markers. Gatekeeping just robs the doctor-patient relationship of the vital trust it needs to be helpful.

I like to compare the trouble I went through getting an orchidectomy (lopping my nuts off) to women’s issues. In Ontario when a woman chooses to get an abortion, she doesn’t have to spend months convincing a doctor that’s she’s making the right choice. The fact that she might regret this irreversible decision is nobody else’s business. Provincial health insurance even pays for it.

So you can imagine my frustration when I was refused the orchi because my doctors thought I should get sexual reassignment surgery instead. They were recommending a far more radical surgery I didn’t want and which costs 10 times as much. What kind of voice of reason is that? I don’t want to have my penis turned into a vagina! I think it’s fun!

For me, transitioning has nothing to do with medicine. It’s a simple matter of my body, my rights.

I'm Trans but you can Call me Awesome

As published on The Montreal Gazette's website:

People sometimes ask me how I identify. The snarky reply I'd like to give them is that I don't.

What's the point? Of all the cool stuff about me you can't see, what's a label going to tell you? Even when people ask me which pronouns I prefer I tend to utter a laboured, hesitant "Eeeeeeeeeeeeh..." and hope that if I draw it out long enough they'll eventually lose interest.

The English language just doesn't have the right words. I used to call myself a male woman, which at the time, seemed extremely clever. In two perfectly ordinary words I had described myself as physically and sexually male while living outwardly as a woman. The problem is that if you introduce yourself to someone as a male woman, they stare back at you with a perplexed look on their face and ask you what that means. It entirely defeats the purpose of having a label if you have to explain it. Then again, I suppose I'd rather just have people get to know me than ask weird questions like "how do you identify?"

Still, it's kind of a shame not having a word because I really like what I am. Other people say things like, "I'm a woman trapped in a man's body," but I'm more like "a woman chilling out in a man's body." Why shouldn't I? There's plenty about a guy's body that a woman might find fun to play with. And I've got such good nesting instincts, too! All a male body needs is a bit of renovation and redecoration and there's no place like home.

I know it's easier to look at transgenderism as some sort of illness -- it makes us sound like the blameless victims of a birth defect that has given us the wrong body. Fine, but why do we need to be so defensive about it in the first place? All I'm doing is looking, acting, walking and talking the way that comes naturally to me. What have I done wrong?

I don't feel like I have anything to hide, I feel like I have an interesting story. I was one of the few little boys lucky enough to grow up to be a woman. Why should I conceal my life pre-transition? A good lot of it was pretty cool. If anything, I think it's a shame that when I just fit right in as a woman all those parts of me are invisible. People just politely ignore that I may not be your average tall lady. Part of me wants to go by male pronouns just so that people will have to deal with the fact that there are boys out there for whom living as a girl is the most natural and comfortable thing in the world.

Maybe that's why I got into nudism/naturism. Underneath the clothes I mostly look like a boy. A rather pretty boy, I like to think, but there's no mistaking what's between my legs. But then, I'm also just as feminine as I am the rest of the time. People are left with the image of this androgynous, long-haired male who acts like a woman. The message is clear: people like me exist. So far I've found that nudists are very accepting. To them, I'm just another human being.

What I wish people understood is that transgenderism isn't really about gender at all. It's about being yourself. I wish I had a word so that I could tell people that I like my body and my personality. I can be a woman with my clothes on and a boy with my clothes off, and I think that's pretty cool.

Reasons For Being Trans #224

Why did I become a woman?

Well, I used to be the boss of this really tough gang, The Man-Skinners, but then they caught me with what was left of my enemies and I had to do hard time in the big house. Luckily, they'd just started this special program where you could get paroled early. All you had to do was let them emasculate you like they do raging bulls and stallions when they want to get them settled down. Ever since the castration they've had me living as a woman to help me cool my temper down. After all, 9 out of 10 prison inmates are men so I figure this is a great way to stay out of trouble.

Reasons for Being Trans #214

Why am I trans?

Well, it all started a thousand years ago when I was between reincarnations. I thought of all the men and women I'd been in my countless previous lives and decided I'd really like to try something a touch more exotic. It was another twelve incarnation before I finally worked up the nerve to take the plunge! Of course, transsexual rebirths are in high demand amongst bored, novelty-seeking spirits between incarnations, but it just so happens I'd gotten top grades at Plato's Meno Memorial University of Omniscience so I was a shoe-in for the position.

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Reasons for Being Trans #171

Why'd I change genders?

Obviously it's 'cause I was so God-damned manly. I was such a dead butch manly man that all the other guys were reduced to cowering pantywaists in my presence. A real man can't stand that kind of sycophancy. It's not enough to be a man amongst men, alpha of the alpha males. A real man needs challenge and struggleTransitioning into a woman was the only thing left to give all the other guys a fighting chance at competing against my studly mojo.

Besides, after a while you just get sick of all these sexy lingerie models licking beer off your muscles. You start shouting, "Get off me bitch! I'm trying to chop firewood for the cabin where I wrestle my bears!" But it's too late. The pheromone addiction's already got them.

Reasons for Being Trans #294

Why am I trans?

Since gay marriage has became legal in Canada it looks like changing genders is going to become compulsory for all men very soon. I decided to transition early to stay ahead of the curve and ingratiate myself with the Canadian Communist Party. Ever since it forced free and universal healthcare on everyone to extend its stranglehold on power it's seemed like a good idea to stay on their good side. I for one commend our glorious Feminist matriarchs for their wise and beneficent recognition of the only reasonable plan for true gender equality. Hail to the Socialist Commonwealth Confederation of Free Democratic Canadian Peoples!

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