2017 Transgender Day of Remembrance in Fallon, NV

ggggIMAG0196Every year, November 20th is the day when transgender people, and those who support us, come together on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. We formally recognize trans people who passed away from unnatural causes (murder or suicide) in the preceding 12 months.

I hosted such an event today, in my apartment, just after midnight (as in, during the first few minutes of the 20th). In attendance was one other trans girl, a friend of mine who at some point not that long ago was struggling with depression. Nowadays, a couple of months after moving to Nevada, she seems to be happy and thriving.

I’ve attended Transgender Day of Remembrance events hosted elsewhere, and these are somber and unhappy occasions in which the attendees take turns to read a name, the matching location, and how that trans person died.  It’s often horrific stuff, e.g., Jane Doe, a trans girl in Anytown, USA was attacked by a bunch of street thugs, and here are the details as to how they killed her. More often than not, the murder victims were trans girls, and often they were disfigured while being murdered, and they died painfully.  It’s certainly a stark and sobering ceremony. I can’t help crying while I’m reading the names and specifics.

My own hosted Transgender Day of Remembrance event tends to have a much different tone. If I know a trans girl who passed away from unnatural causes (murder or suicide) in the preceding 12 months, I tell her story, in depth and detail. This year, nobody.  Good!  So that would make it the shortest event in history.  However, I don’t stop there.  I continue on to the subject of: “and let’s keep it that way” with a discussion on personal happiness, and personal safety.

As to the personal happiness, everyone in attendance was already intent on living a long and happy life. Not much to say, there.

As to personal safety, there was a lot to say. It’s a sad fact that people do exist who choose to initiate physical violence against others. These aggresors can affects trans girls in three possible ways:

  • Coincidence, as in being in the wrong place at the wrong time
  • Being the target of someone who’s specifically focused on trans girls
  • Being the target of someone who’s focused on soft targets, and believes trans girls to qualify

As to the latter, my approach to personal defense is like the national defense policy of Israel. I don’t care how many irrational people want me dead: I refuse to go along with that, and I’m cheerfully ready to fight vigorously in my own self-defense. You might as well go look for trouble with a wolverine. Whoever thinks I’m a soft target hasn’t been paying attention.

A trans girl friend of mine makes no bones about this.  Nevada is an “open carry” state, and she cheerfully carries a massive handgun around in a holster on her hip … as far as I know, whenever she’s out and about. I love her spirit, and in essence she’s adhering to the same principle as I do.  Our styles are, however, very different.

I’ve found that I can discourage violence in part by showing how quietly confident I am.  In guy culture there’s a useful phrase: “I can handle myself.” I make a point of personifying it, and my attitude seems to reflect that.

In the West (east of the California border, anyway) there is a saying that it’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six, meaning that it’s better to be on the winning side of a fight to the death, and then have to justify my actions to a jury.  I don’t intend ever to initiate violence, but if someone else does, then the saying applies to me.

That’s part of why I think that betting everything on carrying a gun might make me less safe. I do own firepower but I’m wary to carry it even though I have a permit.  Hollywood movies tend to paint the picture that a handgun is something you wave in the general direction of an aggressor, and when you shoot, there’s a not-too-loud noise, and the bad guy drops dead immediately.

The reality is a lot more stark if  you’re being attacked, and you’re the only one with a gun.  You might be caught by surprise, and you don’t even have enough time to begin to draw your gun. Because you’re rushing, you might have butterfingers, so you might get it stuck while trying to get it out of the holster. You might pull the trigger prematurely and shoot yourself, or be so startled at the noise that you drop the gun or lose the few wits you had about you. You might not get the safety catch released. You might not have a round chambered. You might hold the gun incorrectly so that it hurts your hand when you fire. You might not aim well enough, so you might miss. Even if you do hit your target, it’s statistically most likely to be 200 pounds of angry male aggression rushing toward you, so your chances of stopping him with one bullet means that this one bullet had better hit in a very debilitating place, and realistically, you’re lucky if you hit the onrushing attacker at all, never mind in a place where it matters. Even if your bullet does kill the attacker, he might die several minutes or hours after he’s killed you.

I’m all for your right to carry and use a hand-gun for self-defense, but it’s no magical death-ray. If a handgun is part of your defense plan, then learn how to use it. Be realistic as to its limitations, even as you get trained and become proficient. Few things have been as humbling to me as attending handgun training, and to see how difficult it was for me to hit a large, stationary target that wasn’t all that far away. And, that was with ear protection and eye protection. If an attacker is rushing me, then if my training was effective enough that I get off one or two shots fired off in the right direction, it means I have hot metal bullet jackets flying through the air, perhaps hitting me in the eyes. Also, loudness increases dramatically the closer your ear is to the source of noise, so having the gun go off so close to your ear might freak you out. Gun noise is so loud that it’s hard for me to think clearly afterward, if I was anywhere near where the gun went off.

Keep in mind that whoever is outside your door (or in some cases, coming in your door) might be law enforcement. If you shoot at an officer, you’re likely to end up either dead from return fire, or in prison for a very long time. This point isn’t lost on assholes, so an intruder might pretend to be the police, so that you get tricked into letting your guard down. Can you tell the difference? Your life might depend on it — and often, not just yours.

Whomever you’re shooting at might also be a neighbor, or a family member, or a friend or a lover who had no malicious intent. If it was all a misunderstanding then saying “sorry” doesn’t undo the harm that a bullet can do.

I grew up in guy culture, so I’m clear that guns score major bragging rights in macho culture — but for me, the reality of owning a gun is very sobering. In my opinion my gun is less glamorous than my toilet plunger.

Death is a tragic event. Even if the person dying is someone who initiated violence, and was thoroughly evil, there’s still the tragedy of what might have been if he’d afterward chosen to become a good person. Death removes the opportunity to redeem oneself. It’s all over. And, pulling out a gun means that there’s the stench of imminent death in the air. Many lives will be dramatically changed, including that of innocents.

Before handguns came along, the strongest person typically prevailed, unless you knew combat craft that swayed things in your favor. I personally have formal training in Judo and Karate, and I’m very clear that it takes a several years to learn and polish these skills to anything approaching a useful level, in actual combat.

Handguns are indeed an equalizer in a combat situation. The phrase “God Created Men and Sam Colt Made Them Equal” … it makes a good point. If a 5′ tall 100-pound girl is attacked by a 6’6″ tall 240 pound aggressor, a gun in her hand can make his size irrelevant — but only if she uses it effectively.

I look forward to the day when the Transgender Day of Remembrance becomes pointless because we are all living in harmony together. Trans or otherwise, that’s how it should be.  Initiating violence is the ultimate transgression, but there are other ways of hurting people too. I’m actively enthused about all of that ending.

Meanwhile, if you’re a trans girl living in a place that makes you unusually likely to be mentioned in the 2018 Transgender Day of Remembrance, I hope that you get out. Move out, move out West, and come live in a place of acceptance and harmony.  You have every right to have your rights respected, and to pursue your happiness without living in fear.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Planning a Hierarchical Structure of Concepts

ggg2016-05-04 01.41.03There’s a lot of talk, and confusion, about trans issues. I’ve been wanting to arrange the basic concepts in a logical hierarchy. As it happens, I chose a web-based forum to do so. Here’s what I wrote, essentially:

* * *

I’ve been pondering how best to structure my contributions in this thread. My premise is that we all live in the same metaphysical reality that exists independently of how we perceive it. That reality is our common ground, even though we have different perspectives, and different ways of perceiving. A friend of mine helps me work on the broken cars I buy and analyze. She’s color-blind so she and I literally see the same object differently — but we can still communicate and develop common ground about any particular object. Last night we took the valve covers off a bought-for-$300 BMW 740iL V8, and we were communicating clearly and precisely as to which objects we were touching, using and removing (also losing, breaking and dropping). We were working on the same car, in the same reality.

That’s why I like to begin with observable information and then build higher-level logical concepts from there — sort of like Isaac Newton observed the apple falling from the tree toward the earth, and used that as the starting point for the theory of gravity. Whether or not you like Isaac Newton or the theory of gravity, there’s no reasonable disagreement as to whether or not the apple fell (moved) from the tree toward the earth.

There’s a proper place for hypotheses too, as long as we’re clear we’re hypothesizing. For example, if my friend tells me “I don’t see the car keys anywhere near me anymore, and I did an hour ago” then I’m going to be more receptive to what she says if she also adds “maybe my brother took them; I know he’s a thief and he was here in the last hour” or “there’s a flock of magpie birds nearby.” Her offered hypotheses help me to go from “I can’t even imagine how this might be so, you must be overlooking something” to “okay, what you’re saying sounds plausible.”

As to polemics (as in, attacking falsehoods) this is where the dynamics can disintegrate socially. As an admirable example of how to deal with this, Newton simply published his work, and he didn’t engage in much argument with those who took issue with the implications. Nevertheless, some popular-yet-mistaken notions do deserve to be dismantled so I plan to focus on these too.

A lot of this seems like unnecessary intellectual plodding but I’m trying to be methodical. Planned structure:

1. Identify ways in which humans observably differ physically — with a focus on aspects we have used to culturally classify some people as male and others as female, including:

A. Observable in plain sight:
— shape of front plumbing
— presence or absence of a vagina
— presence or absence of testicles
— changes that typically occur as a result of puberty: Adam’s apple, height, facial structure, hair, skin tone, fat distribution including boobs, nipples, menstruation
— behavior

B. Observable thanks to medical science, e.g., surgery, autopsies, x-rays, ultrasound, MRI, CAT scans, microscopes, DNA sequencing, chemical analysis
— ovaries
— chromosomes
— brain structure

C. Observable thanks to introspection and self-awareness
— bodily functions

It’s going to be important to not skip a step in these observations. If I see my friend at a barbecue out in the sun all day, then that evening I see her being three sheets to the wind, and I see her getting into an argument, then I should not jump to “I see you’re sunburned” or “I see you’re inebriated” or “I see you’re angry” if I see her face being red. All I can safely say is that I’m observing the red hue in my friend’s face. As to why her face looks unusually red to me … that’s not a premise I should leap to. Maybe we’re standing outside a brothel below its red light, and maybe that’s the only reason her face looks red to me.

Introspective information benefits similarly from precision. Until earlier this year, I had a brilliant girlfriend who sometimes experienced intense anxiety. When it happened, then instead of leaping to conclusions, she’d begin by becoming very quiet and focused, and saying pensively: “my heart is racing, my breathing is fast and shallow, my mouth feels dry” and so on, and from there she might well conclude that she’s feeling an anxiety attack coming on. I respected how she always began with observable facts, first and foremost — and built on that.

2. Arrange things in a causal hierarchy proven by science. Correlation doesn’t imply causality, but some things have been proven to be causal.

For example, someone’s body producing a large amount of testosterone during puberty has been scientifically shown to be caused by the presence of functioning testicles. Someone’s facial structure being shaped as a male, someone’s voice being deep, someone being taller than average, more muscular than average, more lean than average, having a particular skeletal shape in certain respects … these have been scientifically shown to be caused by the presence of a large amount of testosterone during puberty.

Instead of dealing with a bewildering multitude of ways in which people we tend to call male differ from people we tend to call female, the issue can be boiled down to “did you have functioning testicles during puberty?” Much else happens as a consequence. This sort of focus can be very helpful in simplifying things.

3. Identify observed cross-cultural behavioral traits in which people we tend to call male differ from people we tend to call female.

4. Indulge in hypotheses to suggest how some of the as-yet-unproven possibly-causal links might yet be so.

5. Focus on scientifically shown or observed examples that go outside of the lines where people we tend to call male differ from people we tend to call female. Fit the concept of transgender people into this pool of anomaly.

6. Focus on the concept of being transgender, and what constitutes a reasonable burden of proof as such.

7. Focus on the concept of being attracted to a transgender person, and what that implies for whoever is feeling this attraction.

8. Focus on the concept of being a cross-dresser, and what that implies.

9. Reconcile this to proper standards of where the line to mental health gets crossed.

10. Reconcile this to improper standards of where the line to mental health gets crossed.

11. Hypothesize as to the root causes of animosity toward transgender people.

That’s my planned structure. I hope it serves us well.

~Tanya

Oversimplified Mental Models

PurpleBlack

A wise friend of mine mentioned the irony of someone apologizing for misgendering a pet, or God forbid, someone’s infant … yet that same person will then cheerfully and pointedly misgender trans girls.

This issue reminds me of a guy friend of mine, whom I’ve known for 25+ years. We would walk through fire for each other. When my Jeep broke down in the Nevada desert in the summer, he was the guy I called for help. He’s the most brave and masculine guy I know, and very much a bottom-line, cut-the-crap type of guy. He likes me as a friend, because I’m a good friend to him too, and he likes my values, and that’s that. He liked me before I came out as a trans girl, and he likes me after I came out — but he did mention that he grew up on a farm, and when he wants to discerns the sex or gender of an animal he picks it up, turns it upside down and he looks, and that’s that. So, not that he wants to debate it, but he’s not all that convinced that I’m really a girl because he’s pretty sure I have “outie” plumbing (and indeed I do).

For animals, his approach is good (unless that species of animal can also be trans, who knows). But sex (as in male/female) is not the same as gender. So much as my friend is a good friend, he’s oversimplifying. Some people are born (as autopsies later showed) with a male structure “down there” and yet a fundamentally female brain structure. And much as it’s important to be able to write my name in the snow, or do my girlfriend without having to go buy a strap-on, it’s my brain that fundamentally makes me what I am.

My friend is oversimplifying on another point too: Not even sex organs are binary. Many people are born intersexed. Also, not many — but certainly some — people even have brain structures that are neither fundamentally male nor female. So even as to gender, it can get pretty darn fluid.

As humans, we need simplicity so as to function. I have another beyond-utterly-brilliant lovely friend who’s on the autism spectrum somewhere, as probably am I, but it’s safe to say she’s to the right of where I am. Hardly any answer I get from her is simple. It’s almost always a vastly complex analysis with disclaimers, context, exceptions, pros and cons when really all I wanna know is whether or not it’s OK for me to now put the darn milk bottle back in the refrigerator. Bottom line, I need to decide, and act. The milk bottle is either going into the fridge right now or it’s not: Yes or No. The phrase “I just need a yes or a no” is something I frequently say to her. Simplicity is a big help for me in living my life. As humans, we need to make decisions and act on then. The traffic light toward which my car is hurtling turns amber, and I’m going to step on just one pedal really hard, and it’s a binary decision: accelerator or brake. I “get it.” We need things to be simple.

Problem is, sometimes in using a mental model for decision-making, we oversimplify, and when reality is more complex than our oversimplified mental model, we end up making bad decisions with bad consequences. When we use oversimplified mental models in the context of trans issues, we’ll make bad decisions about trans issues.

As an analogy: ironically, this same friend has a dad who owned an automobile electrical repair shop. The dad is brilliant and famous for fixing and troubleshooting every car ever made, so maybe ten years ago when my 1987 BMW 325 was having erratic temperature-gauge issues, I brought it to him for repair. He messed with it for more than a week and finally gave me the car back and said “I can’t fix it.” Basically, he had chased the wiring from the temperature sensor to the gauge, including to ground in both places. That’s how temperature-indicating circuits normally work. He’d even bought a new gauge from BMW, and he’d tested the sending unit thoroughly. Yet, he couldn’t solve the problem because he was using an oversimplified mental model. The model worked well for more-simple cars but not for this BMW, because the BMW has a tiny battery pack integral to the instrument cluster, to accurately store the service interval settings even when the main battery goes flat. When the tiny battery pack finally goes flat after 20 years or so, the instrument cluster electronics, including the temp gauge, go haywire. It’s a $10 fix to get new batteries from Batteries and Bulbs and they’ll even solder them in, but unless you include these little batteries in your mental model, then you’re unable to deal with the reality of the situation. Mental models are useful, but oversimplified models are problematic because they will create the classic human tragedy of someone trying to to the right thing while actually doing the wrong thing.

It’s one thing to misdiagnose a BMW but often the stakes are life or death, such as well-meaning parents whose oversimplified mental models on sexuality and gender lead to a dynamic in which their gay or trans teenage kid accepts the parents’ premise, evaluates himself/herself to be a bad person in that context, and commits suicide.

Often, the tragedy is not even that evident. Many kids don’t kill themselves but they dutifully accept self-hatred as the proper thing to do, and they lead a miserable life of subsequent self-flaggelation whether it’s cutting themselves or less-obviously destructive things — all because (for all their superficial rebellious grand-standing) they fundamentally buy into the parents’ bad premise that gay or trans people are evil. Realizing that he/she himself/herself is gay or trans, the kid then applies that principle, concludes “so I’m a bad person then, unworthy of happiness” and to the parents’ consternation, then consequently pursues an agenda of self-punishment, possibly life-long … all because the parents chose an oversimplified mental model.

~Tanya

Trans-Ally Kitti Minx

IMG_9564

I finally met Kitti Minx in person yesterday.  (Her picture is above.) For the next week or so, she is working at the Mustang Ranch, which is as classy a brothel as I’ve seen anywhere, and it’s less than an hour from where I live. So, yesterday, I drove there, and I interviewed Kitti over a cup of coffee. It felt like 45 minutes but I was actually there for more than an hour and a half.

Kitti looks like a trans girl would look if a trans girl had a magic wand to wave at the mirror. She has androgynous facial features, and she’s unusually tall. She told me the story of how the owner of another brothel guessed she was a trans girl and wanted to hire her as such, then was disappointed when she told him that, no, she’s genetically integrated. That’s my terminology, not hers, for “born with female brain structure and female plumbing.”

Trans girls have eloquent and effective allies in many places, and Kitti is not the first girl I’ve met who does legal sex work and also is an eloquent ally of trans girl. What makes Kitti so unusual is her intensity and how outspoken she is, including on social media even in places where bashing trans girls is (or until she showed up, was) still fairly commonplace.

Part of what I love about her stance is that it’s so principled and strong that a great many other quiet people have now felt brave enough to also stand up and say “I agree” — so instead of just one eloquent and clear voice in opposition to irrationality, now there’s a chorus.

In the sex work industry, especially, I view this as a welcome development. For a complex mix of reasons, many trans girls end up doing sex work, including that a great many guys view trans girls as high-grade sexual fetish material. Trans girl porn sells, I’m told, very well. From there on downstream in the causal chain, the consequences are seen in market forces: supply and demand.

Trans girls know we are at a cultural disadvantage and so we tend to be overachievers at our day jobs, willing to work extra hard. Even so, many non-sex-work businesses won’t hire trans girls on principle (a bad principle but a principle nevertheless) and so demand for trans girls is artificially low in the general workplace. Yet, the same guy who before 5 p.m. was wearing his business suit and turning down a highly qualified trans girl in her job application for office work … he might be watching trans girl porn later that evening, and buying trans girl sex services later that night.

For a trans girl who’s trying to make ends meet, sex work is a way to make an honest living, and it’s strangely empowering too. The same guy who wouldn’t hire her to do office work … he might more than willing to pay $200 per hour or more for her to be dressed sexily, lounge about in a hotel room, and have sex with him — with the highest demand by far being for services when the trans girl is in, um, the active position. I can just imagine the “think bubble” over the girl’s head in such a situation, as in “my, my, the tables have turned, haven’t they?”

In cultures such as Germany, there is more awareness of the science behind what makes a trans girl a trans girl (her female brain structure) and thus there is also more acceptance of trans girls. Even so, demand for trans girls doing sex work is still sky-high. The largest brothel in Germany is called Pascha, and it’s in Cologne. It is a large, modern, square ten-or-so-story building that looks similar to the business office complexes near LAX airport in Los Angeles. However, from the basement to the roof garden, it’s 100% a legal brothel, and one entire floor is reserved for trans girl sex workers.

By contrast, in the US, it’s rare to find a trans girl doing sex work legally. Much of the reason is because so many brothel clients are trans-phobic, which means they secretly have strong sexual desires — even obsessions — as to trans girls. Such guys feel guilty about their desire. They repress it, and they hate themselves for it. In a strange psychological phenomenon, they then focus their hatred onto trans girls, blaming the girls for “causing those uncomfortable sexual feelings” in the guy, evading the fact that in normal guys, trans girls don’t “cause” such feelings.

Sexual obsession with trans girls is widespread, and so is general cultural disrespect for trans girls, especially in macho circles where it’s a no-no for a guy to be attracted to a trans girl. The result is that phobia and hatred (directed at trans girls) are widespread too.

This phenomenon underlies much of the stigmatization of trans girls. Word is steadily spreading across US culture that if a guy is being mean to a trans girl, the reasons are an interesting reflection on him, not her — but even so, cultural change is slow. It’s too slow for the patience of Kitti Minx, which is why she’s an outspoken advocate for trans girls being worthy on merit to be hired everywhere, including for legal sex work.

Her passion is rooted in a love for justice, and it’s deeply personal, not least because one of her childhood friends is a trans girl, and at close range Kitti saw how badly her friend was treated after she came out.

I first noticed Kitti when I read one of her eloquent posts on a forum, and I wrote to thank her for her principled eloquence in the service of justice. A long-distance friendship began as such, and it was great to finally meet her in person.

However, Kitti does much more than write and speak up for trans girls. She also welcomes trans girl clients, and although she’s very sexy and lovely, if you think that all of her trans girl clients simply want to have sex with her, you’d be mistaken. At least one trans girl booked Kitti for the entire night, and saw great value in being comforted, and being able to ask all sorts of questions about girly stuff such as make-up and clothing, plus to have a make-up session behind closed doors.

I’m polyamorous, openly, and at the time I came out as a trans girl, I had two genetically integrated girlfriends, both of whom were wonderfully supportive and open with advice and encouragement — plus they were both highly skilled with make-up, so I didn’t have as burning an unfulfilled need for such mentoring. I can imagine that I’d otherwise have been only too grateful to be able to hire the services of someone like Kitti, who is trans-friendly. In her room, I’d finally be able to relax and learn, in a friendly and accepting environment based on understanding — and to learn make-up tips etc. from her.

I’m grateful to Kitti for what she does. Thanks to her: if you’re a “just coming out” trans girl, you now have some more good (yet, ironically, celibate) reasons to go spend your money at a legal brothel.

More fundamentally, if you notice that the general culture is becoming more positive toward trans girls, and you wonder why or how it’s happening … it’s because of rational and eloquent people who speak up on behalf of trans girls, by helping the general populace along, as to working through complex phenomena like this one.

Outie-to-Innie Surgery Canceled

I gather there’s interest on the question of why I decided to cancel “the surgery” to change my P into a V. It’s not a simple explanation, or if it is, I lack the word-smithing skills to present it as such.

I’m a trans girl, as in born with a female brain structure and “outie” plumbing. During puberty, the latter made little enough testosterone that when I was in my mid-20s, I was told I look like I’m 15. I was very slender. Even so, during puberty, my plumbing also made enough testosterone that I’m 6″ tall and muscular — taller and more muscular than I’d have been, had I been making estrogen like genetically integrated girls did, during puberty.

I was born into a German culture enclave in South Africa, and trans girls weren’t a generally known phenomenon at the time so there was only one cultural path that was safe: based on the shape of my privates, I was told that I’m a guy and I’d better behave accordingly. Privately, I’d knit, crochet, sew, make candles and cook, and my idea of a fun masturbation session often involved the aforementioned candles — but publicly, I tried really hard to behave like a guy, and privately I wondered why it was so hard for me to think like guys do.

I did some pretty crazy stuff to fit into guy culture. I lay out in the African sun for hours on end without sunscreen, hoping it would mess up my skin and maybe if I look like an old gnarly sailor I’d finally look more masculine. The plan didn’t work well — though I did get skin cancer for all my efforts. When I learned it was macho to smoke, I was delighted and started off smoking three packs on my first day, including being able to blow smoke out my nose. I was miserable. When I learned it was macho to be into automotive mechanics, I dove into that field of endeavor. I was more car-geeky than any guy around.

All my efforts didn’t pan out all that well, and the other teenagers eventually figured out I’m brain-wise a girl, and one weekend at church camp was especially bad. A crowd of maybe 100 teenage boys became a mob and chased me, and when I eluded them, they hunted me for hours until they ran out of steam.

I’d tried for decades to live as a guy, and I failed. Eventually I was miserable, my cholesterol high, more than 30 pounds overweight, my blood pressure high … basically approaching the “don’t buy any more green bananas” stage. I couldn’t get motivated to do anything about it. Finally I went to see a counselor who was up to speed on the latest science as to trans girls, and she explained that trans girls are a scientifically validated (as in, with autopsies analyzing the brain structure and finding it to be fundamentally female) phenomenon known to exist, so it wasn’t like I was imagining I was a tree or Bigfoot or Jesus. We talked about what a reasonable burden of proof would be, and after enough time with this counselor, she was convinced I’m a trans girl but I wanted more proof yet, so I did a weird Stanford brain test as to gender. The conclusion was that okay, even by my picky standards, I can safely stop thinking that maybe I should try harder yet to behave like a guy. I could stop, and accept that I’m simply a girl, and begin to live instead like the girl I am, brain-wise.

I was both relieved and terrified. I didn’t want to become unemployable and die of hunger behind some dumpster somewhere, shunned by friends and family. But, I proceeded. I got Adam’s apple surgery, and got approved to take hormones. My morale and health steadily improved. I waxed my facial hair and body hair. I also got my facial hair lasered then got electrolysis for whatever remained. I relearned how to walk, talk and dance. For a long time I could relate to the mermaid Ariel in the Disney movie, who craved to be able to walk on land. I craved to have boobs and a vagina. I didn’t so much hate having a penis as I really wanted a vagina, and I soon learned that you can have one and only one of these: pick one, and only one.

There are two main ways to get a penis transformed into a vagina. One way is called “penile inversion” and it basically works as the name implies. The other is the Suporn technique, which is vastly more complex and advanced — and yields much better results, by my standards and that of others who wrote on the subject. However, it was available from only one person on the entire planet.

I was very nervous about that. I collect 1980s or later German cars, and by the time I can afford them they’re typically in bad shape, so I know how it feels to show up at a local auto repair shop with an old BMW that’s having a complicated problem and then hearing “that’s way too specialized for us, we don’t work on those.” Even so, okay, there ARE places who are willing to work on a BMW, and I could and did find them.

Then, one day, I bought a 1982 BMW 528e in which a previous owner had swapped out the fuel pump, cutting wires and generally making the process non-viable to undo. The replacement pump was not a BMW unit. Whatever it was, the car could run and start, but it didn’t have a check valve, so it didn’t maintain fuel pressure. Every time I tried to start the car after it sat for a while, I had to crank if for a very long time, because the fuel had to be pumped up all the way from the tank into the fuel rail to the injectors. At that rate, I was going to wear out the starter and battery, both. I paid a BMW-savvy guy to fix it. He screwed with the car for weeks, trying to get the thing working and put back to something resembling stock condition. He couldn’t get it to work, and he finally fired himself and just one day no longer showed up. It dawned on me that if I go get the Suporn surgery, I’d be making myself like that BMW — a very rare phenomenon, that hardly anyone knows how to deal with.

I used to do contracting work for the Navy at the time when they retired the F-14 Tomcat for the slower F/A-18 Hornet, and I was amazed that they’d not consider a fast top speed to be paramount in a fighter jet. It was explained to me that it costs 3x as much to maintain an F-14. That made quite an impression on me … it’s not just about the situation now, but maintenance matters. I recall a friend of mine working on a customer’s kit car that looked like a Lamborghini but had Audi internals. The car was a complete pain to work on. Maintenance … it matters.

By going for that surgery, I would essentially become non-viable for medical maintenance in the future. Maybe I’d be okay in the near future, but how about ten or twenty years from now? What if I’m 70 and I have plumbing issues nobody can fix? I was concerned about that.

My girlfriend (yes, I’m into girls romantically though both she and I enjoy having sex with guys) is a genetically integrated girl, and now and then when I was tempted to feel sorry for myself she reminded me of some of the benefits that I was taking for granted as to being a trans girl. For example, she’s lovely but she struggles with cellulite and I don’t. I can’t. My cells can’t make cellulite in the way hers can. She was steadily adamant about it, over the course of more than five years, and slowly what she was saying was starting to sink in. This included her saying unusually nice things about the plumbing I currently have. Yes, I could go get a strap-on after I got my P changed into a V but it’s not quite the same, and there something silly about doing all that.

The key point she made is that I’m only a freak to the extent that I accept cultural standards by which I’m a freak. A few centuries ago, twins were considered freaks to the point where one of the twins was hurriedly put to death in some cultures immediately after being born. Bottom line, Mother Nature creates humans in a wide variety, including twins and trans girls. So really, the question was by whose standard I needed the surgery. Did I need it to be a girl? Logically, based on the organ that fundamentally defines who and what I am — my brain — I’ve always been a girl. So, if I wanted to get my P changed into a V, was I doing it for myself, or to appease others — or both? I needed to check my premises. Yes, my brain structure is what makes me a girl, and there’s nothing that I can do below the belt to fundamentally improve on that. I either accepted being a girl already, or I didn’t. After some soul-searching, I realized that logically, I did … emotionally not so much. So, I dwelled on it until my emotions finally aligned with my logic. Was I maybe doing this to pander to those who defined gender based on plumbing? Maybe … more reason to not proceed as such. And so, I didn’t.

So here I am, a strange mix, but as to the basic configuration, it’s how I was born. I’ve changed what I care to change. I like having a more feminine facial structure and boobs. More of the same might be nice. But I no longer feel the need to get surgery to become a girl. I’ve always been one. If I do ever go get such surgery, it’d be for more logical reasons that what drove me before.

Ironically, my daily driver is a 2000 Audi Quattro A6 4.2 V8, with dual overhead camshafts, variable valve timing, variable-length intake runners, 5 valves per cylinder, 11:1 compression … a 300 horsepower screamer. And, it’s a weird mix of stuff, right from the factory, just like I am. The car is a mixture of things that somehow work together. Audi took a normal, mild-mannered Audi Quattro A6 with a capable V6 engine, and inserted into it the high-performance brakes, V8 engine and Porsche-designed heavy-duty Tiptronic transmission from the Audi A8 Quattro 4.2 V8 supercar. Somehow, they made it all work. They reshaped the front fenders and hood to make it all fit nicely. And it works. So, that’s me. I’m a blend of things. Part of how I am is how nature shaped me, and part of it is due to changes I enjoyed making … but driven by what I like to have, and see in the mirror.

VC1

Endorsement of Lighthouse Laser

Trans girls older than our 20s grew up at a time when ridiculing trans people or putting us in a bad light, such as in popular movies, was just part of the American cultural landscape, something that was done without challenge or question, often a cheap shot intended to be funny.

The concept of being trans as a serious and legitimate state of being was generally dismissed or not recognized until quite recently. When a girl looked feminine but had “outie” plumbing, many people would nevertheless insist on classifying her as a guy. The implications and possibilities of a female brain structure was dismissed or not even considered.

At a more positive level, by my standards, are people who are used to binary gender looks, and they simply find it puzzling when somebody looks androgynous. I personally don’t find that offensive. In my experience, many people also find androgynous looks to be very attractive. Being trans has its pros and cons, but all in all I’m happy with being trans. Even so, life is rarely simple or easy: every time I pick up the phone or step outside my front door, there’s the possibility of having to deal with cultural animosity, because I sound and look androgynous.

One of the things that I abandoned early on, as part of accepting that I’m trans — and living accordingly — is that if I let cultural animosity stop me, then I’m allowing hostile people more control over my life and happiness than they deserve. I have a lot of personal and commercial value to offer, and if someone appreciates me, they get the benefit of my involvement. If they don’t appreciate me, I like to then go find people who do. My approach tends to set me apart from some of the trans girls that I’ve observed, including some of my friends, who insist on being accepted and dealt with as they are. I think that such forward people have a place in the world, and in some ways, they are the minesweepers and the bulldozers that clear the way. Perhaps theirs is a fine approach, but it’s not an approach I choose to take. I have the attitude that, if somebody wants to deal with me, then it’s a privilege mutually. Then again, I had that attitude long before I came out as a trans girl.

If someone is nice to me then I’m much more inclined to go and spend my energy and/or money there. If they’re hostile to me, I’m very unlikely to do business with them, but it does depend on what my alternatives are.

Generally I try to win people over, to be an ambassadrix so that I exemplify how positive a trans girl can be. This way, whoever meets me has a positive experience. In the long run, that’s how the world becomes a better place, I think: through reason, benevolence, trade, and generally voluntary interaction to mutual gain.

Sometimes I’m valued as an individual even if someone neither understands nor accepts the concept of a trans girl. That’s still a nice victory for me. For example, I have a close friend who doesn’t seem to have put much time into pondering the concept of anybody being transgender nor is he particularly supportive of my journey nor hostile to it, but he’s a great friend. A few years ago, when my Jeep broke down on a hot summer day, in the Nevada desert, he was the one I called. He came and rescued me, and brought me water and got my Jeep towed back to town. His attitude is: “I don’t care what’s going on with you as to your trans girl thing, and I don’t have to accept it. You’re my friend. You’re there for me, I’m there for you, and we have well-earned mutual respect. That’s all that matters.” It’s hard for me to complain about that.

In the area where I live, people are mostly trans-friendly. Sometimes people seem awkward and then I take the initiative and just deal with them benevolently, human to human. More often than not, they mellow out and become very nice to me, in a sincere way. I love that. Even so, I’m probably not welcome everywhere, especially where there are large groups of young adult males in a macho environment. Such places, I tend to avoid preemptively, but other places are more subtle. When I’m not sure, I prefer to have some advance insight as to potential awkwardness, were I there.

gIMAG2975For example, I’ve done part-time stripper (exotic dancer) work and I enjoy dancing as such. When I go to a LGBTQ friendly place like the Reno 5-Star saloon with its stage and two stripper poles, I’m in my element, as the picture on the left shows.

Even so, I can always learn more. My learning has until now consisted mostly of going to strip clubs and watching girls’ moves, which I enjoy since I’m attracted to girls, and then the learning is a nice bonus. But, a more formal class would be good.

There’s a pole dancing school semi-local to me, in Sparks, Nevada. I wanted to join up but me being a trans girl might make it awkward for some of the girls. So I wrote the school an email and sent a bunch of G-rated pictures. The email had words to the effect of: “Hi, I am Tanya, and here’s what I look like. I’m a trans girl and I’m interested in classes. If that’s cool, great and I’ll be there and spend my money.” I did not hear back from them, so either they don’t check their email or this is their way of saying “no thanks” which is as stark a “no” as I expected rather than an explicit “heck no, get lost.”

This place was an exception as to how I approach things. Generally I read the vibe of the place and then when I decide to proceed, I go for it, and I try hard to make things work out well. In the rare event that it doesn’t, that’s fine too. I’m resilient.

However, I have a cerebral, shy friend who is also a trans girl, and she was visiting me for two days. So, to her intended benefit, I was a little more proactive as a minesweeper, so to speak. She was planning on getting some facial hair removal work done so that she can looks aesthetically more like the girl she is, brain-structure wise. (Imagine a tall, leggy, slender, pretty red-head girl … with a 5 o’clock shadow. That last part detracts).  So, I found her a local laser place called Lighthouse Laser. They seemed competent, and I wrote them an email, explaining that I’m a trans girl, and I’d like to bring them a trans girl client, but only if we’d be welcome because I was only planning to spend my money there if they were trans friendly.

I got a super- nice email from Darity Openshaw, the laser tech lady, saying we’d be most welcome. I took my friend there and indeed she was treated very nicely as was I. Not just is Darity nice, but she also exudes competence, and clearly enjoys her work. I suspect my friend will be back for many more laser treatments in the future, since she’s planning on moving here.

“Here” is Fallon, Nevada – a small-town community east of Reno. I’d guess that more than half the vehicles on the road are pickup trucks and it seems to be a pretty rednecky place, at first glance — but people are super-nice to me. Even so, I’m clear not everyone here is trans friendly. I do like that such people are a tiny and avoidable slice of the population. The local police are well aware of me and they seem, if anything, extra protective of me and my property. I feel almost as if I’m their little sister and they’re protecting me. I love that.

As more and more trans girls learn that it’s safe to show ourselves, it’s becoming apparent how common a genetic mutation being trans actually is, and so it’s great that for people with dark hair (as in not me, I’m blonde) this laser place is a great trans-friendly option. A nice conceptual conversation with Darity the laser tech lady took things a step further too as to enlightening me, so by now I’m clear they’re not just trans friendly but LGBTQ friendly in general. I love that, and I endorse Lighthouse Laser heartily.

So, evidently, does my friend, who’s a nerd-girl genius including on lasers. She liked being treated nicely but she also had nice things to say about the technical merits of Darity’s work.

Their website is at http://www.fallonlaser.com/

How I Survived Bullies in High School

gggIMG_20170429_000850 I used to be in a romance with a girl whose son is exceptionally sweet and benevolent. Another boy would pick on her son, and bully him on the school bus. For reasons I don’t understand, his mom advised her son to put up with it. He did, and the bullying continued and got worse. Finally, she told him to fight back vigorously next time. He did, and that ended the bullying. That story happened in the US.

My school-time experiences were outside the US. I went to school in Britain and South Africa. The school system in the latter was especially bad. Things that would be abhorrent by current US standards were considered okay in South African school culture, though I understand there are some common problems.

The teachers totally failed to address bullying. Practically speaking, anarchy reigned. Much bullying was done in a gang context, but we also had one loner bully.

In our senior year of high school, he was probably 18 years of age, but he had the facial expression of a hardened, cynical adult aged mid-to-late 20s. His facial skin was red and tanned, as if he’d already spent decades under the African sun. His facial features and skin better fitted someone perhaps 10 years his senior — someone who smoked so much that it had affected his skin texture. He was of medium height, but he had a very stocky, compact kind of muscular structure, more befitting an adult than a teenage boy. His nickname, appropriate to Africa, was “Game Tamer” as in “wild animal tamer” — not in a “horse whisperer” sense, but rather as in “overpowering and intimidating.”

He was immensely strong, and he moved in a way that suggested he was accustomed to fighting. He’d shown up at our school shortly before my senior year. I didn’t know where he came from previously. The city I was in had more than a dozen large high schools, and the school I was in was in the most well-to-do area with the most elegant buildings, highest academic and athletic standards, and so on. The Game Tamer bully was an anomaly almost as if he’d shown up from a hard-core rural anything-goes high school, which was probably the case. It’s probably safe to say that everyone, including every ringleader bully, was wary of him.

The Game Tamer bully had the simple amorality of a savage. He bullied without malice. For example, our science class had cacti on the windowsill, planted in ceramic vases. At some point someone, perhaps Game Tamer, broke one of the vases. He picked up a large ceramic shard, and focused on one of the other boys who was nearby. The other boy was relatively high on the social scale, and physically quite strong too. He had done nothing to provoke the bully. He just happened to be nearby, and he got picked on for that reason. Using the sharp edge of the ceramic shard as if it were a knife edge, the bully calmly and methodically carved the other boy’s skin open, and expressed delighted amusement at how the wound gaped. It was so severe that the other boy needed to go the to emergency room to get stitched up.  I was surprised that the other boy had allowed it to happen.  There were no adverse consequences to the bully. Life went on.

Relative to the Game Tamer bully, I was on the other side of the scale, as to looking intimidating. Even when I was 26, 10 years after the time this story played out, I was told that I looked 15 years old, so I must have looked really young when I was in my senior year in high school. I’d also gone to school a year early, so all other things being equal, I was younger than everyone else in the class. I was also very slender and slight of build. Besides, I am also a trans girl. In South African school culture at the time, boys tended to not beat up girls, but they made an exception for trans girls so I needed to be continually vigilant.

As to dealing with bullies, I’d tried to reason things out, first. One day I found the worst ringleader bully alone, and I confronted him and engaged him in a candid conversation exploring the moral merits of his behavior toward me. He could, of course, not justify himself, and he admitted that. He looked sheepish and resolved to start behaving in a reasonable way. I was encouraged, but the next time he was exhibiting his bad behavior, he gave me a special smirk as if to say, “I’m aware of our discussion — and I’m consciously dismissing it. I’m choosing to be unreasonable.” At least, then, I knew where I stood. I couldn’t reason with the bullies, so I would have to be ready to defend myself. I wasn’t all too happy when I was looking at the gang bullies’ biceps and shoulder muscles, and contrasting their muscles with my own. Even though I had a blue belt in Judo, I wasn’t looking forward to having to use my skills in self-defense.

One day, in science class, for no apparent reason, the Game Tamer bully focused on me. I don’t recall how the conflict began but I’m sure I didn’t initiate it. Anyway, the bully had me pushed backward so that I was lying on my back on a bench, and he was looming over me, choking me. Perhaps thirty other kids were standing around, watching.

I knew an effective Judo chokehold, and so I applied that to the bully. As a result, we were choking each other. I recall his face getting redder yet, and I recall feeling calm. I had an intense tolerance for distress, such as when my joints were being strained or I was being choked. One of my advantages in combat was being able to outlast my opponent. This got me yelled at by my Judo trainer during a tournament; he was concerned that, for example, my arm was about to break and yet I didn’t give up. Aside from being incapacitated or dead, I know I can lose only when I give up. I don’t like giving up.

So, while I was on my back and being choked by the bully, choking him right back, I felt a quiet satisfaction at how I was handling it, and I enjoyed observing that he wasn’t handling it well. For a while, we each tried to outlast the other. The bully seemed to be losing control, and I expected him to switch to another tactic imminently. He pulled away and slammed his knee forward, aimed at my privates. I had expected that, so as soon as he slammed his knee forward, I rolled out of the way and his knee drive was harmlessly deflected against my other thigh.

At that point I think he felt embarrassed, having failed twice while everyone was watching. He decided to leave me alone.

The incident had been useful for me. The Game Tamer bully started being more deferential toward me. This helped my social standing enough to give pause to the other bullies who were themselves wary of the Game Tamer bully.

Shortly afterward, the end of senior year approached, and it was time for our final exams. These were held in a massive hall with three hundred students’ desks aligned in rows and columns. with teachers and monitors walking around to prevent cheating. An exam lasted three hours and one exam could make or break one’s final grade; it made up half of one’s total final score, for that subject.

Due to where our last names fitted in the alphabet, the Game Tamer bully sat behind me. Even though he was dangerous, I considered him more annoying than dangerous. I didn’t feel any fear toward him. To me, he had all the moral significance of a dangerous natural phenomenon such as being hit by lightning or bitten by a snake. It would be unpleasant and best avoided but not something on which to dwell. Even so, I was aware that his actions were based on choices he was making, and that he bore the moral responsibility for his choices. I didn’t think highly of his choices, and my attitude conveyed that. Ironically, my sincere condescension somehow inspired the bully to be nicer to me.

I had prepared well for the exam, and I was looking forward to taking it. My preparation had included buying a small bottle of white-out, a sort of liquid paper by which I could paint over my mistakes, which I considered neater than crossing them out.

The South African version of this product had chemicals that were generally known to have severe respiratory consequences. In the same way as one depended on gasoline for convenient transit, but knew better than to go take a deep breath at the filler hole of a car, one depended on this product for error correction but knew better than to take a deep breath when the cap was off. It was to be uncapped, used and swiftly re-capped, ideally while holding one’s breath. This was fairly common knowledge.

The bully, as it turned out, was unaware of the product. Sitting right behind me, he asked what the stuff in the little bottle was for. I recall feeling mildly annoyed by having my pre-exam concentration disrupted. I reached for it, opened it, and turned around in my chair. I held it out to him and said, “Take a deep whiff.” He leaned forward, and did. Apparently that satisfied his curiosity since he didn’t say or ask anything else. I turned around and focused on the exam that was about to begin. I did so well in the exam, and other exams that I took in that same three-week time-span, that my grades were high enough to get my picture on the top center of the front page of a major city newspaper. That the Game Tamer bully was quiet behind me was a welcome development for my ability to concentrate.

Three hours later, the exam was done. I got up, and so did the Game Tamer bully. He was exultant. Unbeknownst to me, after he’d inhaled the fumes of liquid paper, he’d become groggy and he had passed out, collapsing on his arms as if he were resting on the desk, or praying — so the teachers left him alone. He’d been out cold, for two and a half hours. Just before the last half-hour of the exam, he woke up and did whatever he could in the time remaining.

I was surprised and a little embarrassed that the effect had been so severe, but the bully reassured me that there was no need for me to be concerned, since his grades were going to be in the toilet anyway, and he was delighted that I would pull such a cool trick on him. He had all the benevolence of a good sport having lost a good tennis match or chess game to a superior opponent.

From that day on, my bully problem consisted of the Game Tamer bully being friendlier toward me that I liked. All in all, that was a better problem to have.