Disagreement as to the Meaning of “Trans”

Good definitions tend to be essential in helping issues be understood better. Part of what I do, as a transgender girl, is to identify and ponder the various definitions surrounding transgender issues. As a rule, I’ve observed that folks who are not that focused on transgender issues tend to not give them as much thought, and their concepts tend to also not be as precisely defined.

448px-Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575As to what makes a definition better or worse, Aristotle’s approach is fundamental to how I think about this (and much of everything else). In reality, contradictions don’t exist. (Paradoxes, i.e., seeming contradictions abound, like the bent-looking-pencil-in-a-glass-of-water example — I’m talking about true contradictions where something does and doesn’t have the same attribute at the same time and in the same respect). So, arriving at a contradiction in one’s thinking means that one’s thoughts no longer reconcile to reality, i.e., are no longer true, and that a departure from logical thinking has been made.

That’s how I tend to evaluate definitions. I explore their implications and see if they lead to contradictions or not.

The concept of “trans” has been referred to, including by at least one well-meaning person, to be based on “transition” e.g., the person found out that she’s brain-wise a girl and so she changes her looks and style to be that of a girl. By that standard, someone isn’t transgender until she starts changing. I find that definition to fall short since it fails to provide a way to describe what the person has been in the preceding x years or decades of her life.

IMAG8404The concept of “trans” being short for “transgender” as a lifelong condition has no such problem, and if “trans” generically is used as a prefix to imply “beyond” e.g., “trans-atlantic” means beyond the Atlantic ocean, then someone whose gender attributes go beyond the gender-dividing line would be transgender.

If the issues pertain narrowly to the sexual male-female aspect, the person would also be transsexual. On the premise that sexual classification is a subset of the wider concept “gender” then by implication, all transsexual folks are transgender but not all transgender folks are transsexual. Transgender folks might include, for example, intersexed or androgynous people.

In my experience, these more-precise definitions tend to empower my thoughts and conversations to be much more productive.

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No Regrets, Emphatically

Today, I happened to see an article about the regrets that people voice on their deathbeds. The most common theme is that people lament a lack of integrity, motivated by a lack of courage. That’s not a basic regret I’ll ever have. I will regret not having transitioned sooner, and I do regret that I haven’t more aggressively pursued a more feminine, prettier and sexier look, but still … a victory is a victory, and this is mine.

No such regrets, here. Once I realized that there exists a proven medical condition of people with female-structure brains yet born with male-shaped privates, I could seriously consider the possibility of “hey, that’s me!”The massive mountain of evidence that I’d been filing away as “overly vivid imagination” could now be seriously considered. It indicated that it’s overwhelmingly likely that I am exactly such a person.

Then began the process of changing how I talk, look, walk, dress … my legal name, my gender on my driver’s license, how I interact with people socially. In the beginning it was very intimidating but I faced the issue and powered through it. And, as I look back, and look at my life today, I realize that it’s been a huge success.

Only a few months ago, I was almost homeless and within a few dollars of being unable to buy enough food to eat.

Today, I am OK. In fact, I’m vastly better than OK. I’m happy and doing well. I still have a lot of business debt, but still — nowadays, I get to choose which of my two different BMW 3-series I’ll drive to work today, or perhaps my Ford van, or my Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

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I love my work and I made close to $3K this week, in my software business. I’m in the shape I want to be in, and I’m healthy and happy.

tanya

 

Official Name Change Done

ACIt’s official!! The judge signed the paperwork this morning. I’m now officially renamed. My legal name is Aquitania Charbury, but I go by Tanya.

Today, when I went to the court house to pick up the signed court order, I went through a metal detector and due to bad planning my jewelry and fashionable boots (that I should not have worn today) set off the warning. So, there was some prolonged interpersonal interaction with the security deputy, who called me “ma’am” in the process, which is something I never take for granted. That made it extra nice.

 

Life as an Ugly Girl (a.k.a., my Leading Role in “The Ugly Duckling”)

Opinions on my facial looks vary.  I think my face looks way too masculine.  Some folks disagree and have said nice things about my looks.

IMAG8963aAnyway, for a few days, I found out what it feels like to live life at the standard where there’s no debating it, where a group of teenagers walked past and they all get quiet, and one remarks, almost pensively: “scary” and the silence suggests he’s hit the nail on the head.  Waiters avoided eye contact.  It’s been … interesting.  Fortunately, it’s temporary.

In the past, I’ve done modeling.  Some guys love my feminine looks especially when paradoxically combined with some masculine aspects.  They basically pay money to see more of me, and it’s a fun and safe way for me to make extra money.

IMAG9106AOne thing I dislike is any hint of facial hair on me. If I have a masculine jawline, and my inner eye sockets are masculine then so be it, but I hate stubble. On me, anyway. On a guy, I don’t care.

So, for one particular modeling gig, I went all out.  I went to a professional lasering session and the lady nuked my hair follicles. But, since that addresses only dark-colored hair and some of my facial hair is light, I also shaved that morning, and again that evening, within an hour of the session.

After the session, I asked the client where there’s room for improvement. He hesitated and said he wasn’t going to say anything but since I asked, he’s OK with giving my feedback.  His main concern: my facial hair.  Even after all my efforts, there was still enough of it for him to notice, and be less-than-delighted about. I was amazed that even after all of this diligent effort, I’d nevertheless clearly failed.

One approach that works well is: waxing.  With every application, this process destroys or weakens the hair follicles more.  Thanks to waxing, the hair on my arms, chest, tummy, legs, back and butt is for the most part absent or very light and thin. That’s how I like it.  From the neck up and the ears down,… there’s still way too much hair for my liking.  So, I wax that, too.

Most commercial wax products pointedly omit the facial area from the places they suggest their products be used.  And, I know why.

I’ve got an almost ridiculously high pain threshold.  When I did judo and someone got my arm in an arm lock, I wouldn’t submit because I could hold out just a little longer. I recall my opponent looking puzzled and my trainer yelling at me to submit before my arm breaks.  But, none of that compares to the pain of having my facial hair ripped out by the root.  It hurts so much that I sometimes do a little foot-stomping dance just to get control again.

Fortunately, it works.  After a waxing session, there’s no more facial hair for a very long time, and when it does come back, it’s thinner and lighter than before.  So, much as it hurts, I’m committed to it.

Recently, I waxed my arms and legs, using a new type of wax from a brand I trust. It included a new ingredient. I couldn’t really tell the difference either way but on my body, the wax worked well. From the neck down, I became smooth and hairless.  Even now, some weeks later, I still am.  Yay!

So, it was without much worry that I proceeded to use this wax on my face. The process needs a little explanation, here. The first yank (as in, put on wax, apply strip, yank) doesn’t remove any hair. It just weakens the follicles.  I have to repeat the process again and again.  Eventually, the facial hair follicles let go, and the result is a smooth-faced t-girl, just how I like to be.

Typically, after a session like this, my face is also raw, and red, and bleeding in some places.  Waxing ain’t for sissies.  But, it all clears up in a day or two … but not this time.

The first sign that things were different was the level of pain.  My face kept hurting.  The next thing was the skin slowly discoloring to a deep chocolate brown.  Two days after the waxing, I needed to make a grueling Las Vegas trip, the type where you drive all night and then deal with classic, ailing Mercedes and BMW cars, which includes loading them onto a trailer, unloading them, going to junkyards, removing parts from old cars, etc. And, I knew I looked odd, but I couldn’t afford to worry about it.  I had work to do, and if I looked weird, so be it. As a transgender girl with too-masculine features, yet many feminine features, I feel that I look weird anyway, so this wasn’t really anything new to me.

The problem worsened. Soon, the skin started getting puffy.  In a few places, it started becoming loose. I went into the bathroom of a local restaurant and when I looked in the mirror, I finally understood why the waiter couldn’t bring himself to look at me while taking my order or delivering the food. I looked … what’s the word …monstrous.

When I was a teenager, I had acne.  it wasn’t great but it wasn’t horrible.  Finally, I understood what folks with severe acne or other serious disfigurement have to deal with.  It was an insight-providing experience.

My finances are tight, and so I can’t just rush out and by cover-up make-up since I might need that money for food or gasoline for the week. So, I didn’t put on make-up to try to cover the mess … I just worked through the social situations and when I walked past someone, I turned my head the other way.  At least my figure and hair still looked nice.

The next morning, at 11 a.m., I had a business meeting with a new software client, and I couldn’t look like a swamp monster. I’ve seen “before” and “after” pictures of extreme beautifying make-up, and I decided to push the envelope.  I tried to get the skin to be as basically stable a foundation as possible, and I slathered on the most heavy-duty liquid base-and-concealer that I own.  By then, the skin on my jaw wasn’t just disintegrating, but it was also turning black, and it took a thick layer of make-up just to hide the color.  Hiding the surface irregularities was sort of like making the Grand Canyon look like a sheet of glass.  Right as I was making progress, I got a call from a private number which is normally how a dear friend calls me, so I took the call.  It turned out that it wasn’t him, but someone else, with a long story. I tried to get out of the phone conversation ASAP yet politely.  Things weren’t going well.  Then, someone was banging on my door. It was a friend-and-client who had come all the way to my apartment to tell me he has a virus on his main business computer.  So, I took care of that too, all the while concerned about the time passing by.  Finally, I was back in front of the mirror, doing more damage control.  I managed to build a huge layer cake of, essentially, make-up, and it looked surprisingly decent.  I applied that same makeup to the rest of my face to make the colors match.   They did!

I put on some extra-elegant business clothes, and wore my nicest set of OK-for–business boots, and did my long, blonde hair in a nice style.

Off to the client I went. She offered me coffee and I said “no thank you” since I didn’t want to do anything to destablize the make-up. Problem is, the lady is a really nice and interesting person, and her business situation is complex and intense, and pretty soon I’d forgotten all about my face and I was earnestly discussing her software situation, with lots of emotion.  Problem is, emotion tends to be reflected in facial expressions.  So,  the time I left, the make-up on my chin and jaw had deep vertical cracks with black at their base.  It looked like those movies where the earth cracks open and you peer into the depths and see just black darkness.  I don’t know how my client managed to keep calm, but she did, and I will be forever grateful for that.

Meanwhile, life goes on, and I can’t live behind a layer-cake of make-up that might or might not help things. My skin needs to heal.  So, I bought the most heavy-duty “for cracked skin” skin treatment from the best brand I know, and I washed off the make-up and applied the medicine.

Fortunately, things are getting better. I was able to resist the temptation to scratch the constant intense itch, and the top layer of my skin seems to be the only one affected as far as I can tell. It’s by now flaked off almost entirely, leaving below it some smooth and pink, healthy-looking skin once again.  And, no more stubble.

Life as a transgender girl is hard. It’s a parallel to every movie in which someone is one thing at heart (in my case, a girl) and yet looks different visually (in my case, too-masculine features).  It was interesting to live the story of the Ugly Duckling. I’m no swan yet, but I am not giving up on improving my aesthetics even while I’m also struggling to keep my small group of businesses afloat.

Would I do it all again?  I’d choose a better type of wax, next time … but even if I couldn’t … would I repeat this? Looking more and more like the girl I am at heart (or to be precise: as to how my brain is structured) … is it worth all that pain and aggravation?

My reply is an unhesitating “yes.”