Body Positivity & Significant Others, Family, Friends and Allies session
When? 1.45pm - 5pm. Saturday 26th May.
Where? Central School of Speech and Drama, near Swiss Cottage Jubilee Line, London. (map)
On Saturday 26th, we’ll be running a body positivity session for young trans people (under 25), and alongside this, a session for their ‘SOFFAs’(significant others, family, friends and allies) to meet other SOFFAs of young trans people. This has been a hugely successful event in the past and offers a great opportunity for family members to gain some support or mutual understanding.
Young people and SOFFAs will be in separate groups for the majority of the session to allow people to get a chance to chat away from their family members and for the young trans people to do a different activity. Young people do not have to bring a SOFFA to attend.
For the young people this time, we’ll be running a session on body positivity. We’ll be chatting about how we can feel positive about our bodies, and experiences of being differently bodied to the ‘norm’. We’ll also be talking about role models we may have who may not fit traditional ‘beauty’ standards. As always, they’ll be plenty of chance to have a chat and socialise with other young trans people.
For the SOFFAs, we’ll have an open discussion in an informal setting with some Gendered Intelligence staff present. It is totally fine to come as a young person without a SOFFA, but SOFFAs of young trans people must be accompanied by a young trans person to attend. Many young people find it useful to attend without a SOFFA so they can feedback to their family members and perhaps bring them along next time. SOFFAs must be at least 14 years old to attend. We hold SOFFA sessions approximately every quarter, so if you can’t make this one, we’ll run another one soon.
Meet at 1.45PM in the main foyer for a 2pm start. If you are late, please ask for Gendered Intelligence at reception.
As part of the LGBTPQ community, there are a few things I take into account when granting allyship:
1. When you say LGBTPQ, do you really mean gay? We’re not all gay and many of us are more than gay (i.e., gay and trans, lesbian and gqueer, biromantic lessexual, etc.) When you support the “gay” community and erase anyone who isn’t good ole simple gay, you are no ally.
2. Not all queers are white. Yeah, believe it or not, PoC can be queer. Even Chinese sweatshop workers, you douche. Oh, and if you blame the black community for homophobia, fuck off.
3. Allies may talk with us, not for us. NEVER tell a queer person what they are or how to be queer. They don’t have to do this or that to be a “productive member of the community” (straight people have told me this shit, yes). You are straight. The fuck do you know about what it means to be queer?
4. We know you are straight. Stop saying it. We heard you the first time. And the second time. And yes, even the fifth time. If you feel the need to constantly reiterate that you are straight, it gives the impression that you want us to know that you’re “OK” with us, but not eve one of us.
Okay, those are all I can think of right now. I’ll add more and I encourage fellow queers to add as well
Zak: I don’t know if it is normal or not, but it certainly isn’t uncommon. I had a REALLY difficult time deciding whether or not to physically transition and I think that is fairly common because it is a BIG decision and not something to be taken lightly. Making big decisions is tough, and it can be tough to know if physically transitioning is right for you because for some people it isn’t 100% cut and dried or life and death. I took about a year to really think about it and went back and forth on the pros and cons. I talked to people who decided to physically transition, watched a lot of transition youtube videos, and read books like Just Add Hormones, The Testosterone Files, and Becoming a Visible Man. I wrote a lot about my feelings about gender, my body, and transition, and gave myself the time and space to make a decision without rushing (if you’re interested in seeing my thought process, I made a video on pros and cons of testosterone before I started T and then revisited that video after being on T over a year). Finally I decided to take the plunge and go on T and, after another period of thinking, get top surgery, because I realized that I would feel more comfortable that way, and it ended up being the right decision for me.
I know people who decided to go on testosterone only to realize it wasn’t right for them or that they didn’t want to be on it for a long time. I’ve also known of people who have gone on and off of testosterone several times. The thing is that physically transitioning is complicated, and sometimes it isn’t all or nothing for some people and they end up partially transitioning in some way. The path to figuring all of this out is different for everyone. Just give yourself time and investigate all your options.
Zak: My recommendation would be to establish with your girlfriend that you’d like to try this but that you’re unsure how it will make you feel. Together you can start small and slow and stop immediately if you become uncomfortable. Let her know that it may trigger dysphoria for you and so if you want to stop you may need to stop sex completely right then and/or might require some comforting afterward. Some trans* guys deal with a desire to have penetrative sex without acknowledging their “downstairs” by renaming their vaginas or reclaiming them as not necessarily gendered, but simply pleasurable, body parts. Working on doing this with your girlfriend during foreplay might help improve the experience for you and prevent it from causing you too much dysphoria.
Zak: If you’d feel even somewhat comfortable doing so, I’d suggest sending an email to the people you’ll be seeing explaining your situation (that, in case they haven’t heard, you’ve transitioned so you’ll look a little different but that your family doesn’t like to talk about it and they don’t acknowledge it) beforehand. This will prepare them for the situation and hopefully prevent some of the awkwardness that might come up if they come in without any knowledge of your transition or parental acknowledgement of it. Obviously you do not need to get into the specifics about your transition and your family’s response to it, but just give them a basic set-up of the situation so they know what to expect when they see you.
Being transgender leads to all types of tricky situations, particularly when it comes to legal situations. In short, the laws are not written with us in mind. So what’s a trans* guy (or trans* person in general) to do when he realizes he wants to marry his partner? The answer is a little complicated and depends on the laws where you live/where you want to get married, your legal sex and the legal sex of your partner. Here’s a breakdown:
-Marriage laws, as well as laws pertaining to one’s legal sex, vary by state. The rule generally is that if you want to marry a person who is by legal definition a woman (has female documentation), you’re safest if you are male on your birth certificate as well as your drivers license. If this is the case, you should be able to get married anywhere in the world and have your marriage recognized in whatever state you live in. Here’s the difficult thing, though, you can’t change your gender marker on your birth certificate in every state (while others allow you to, but require surgery). To know if you’ll be able to change your birth certificate you should research the laws of the state in which you were born.
-You still may be able to enter into a marriage with a legal female if your drivers license bears a male gender marker but you haven’t been able to change your birth certificate. More states allow you to change the gender marker on your drivers license than you birth certificate, and some states only require that (and perhaps another form of id like a passport) for a marriage license. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown on what is required for a marriage license.
-Keep in mind that the state in which you were born determines how you change your gender on your birth certificate, the state in which you reside determines how you change the gender on your drivers license, and the state in which you want to get married determines what types of identification are required for you to wed. If you’re able to change your birth certificate in the state where you were born, you will likely be able to change your drivers license. Whether or not you’re considered legally male depends on your gender marker on your birth certificate and your drivers license (if you only have your drivers id changed and not your birth certificate, that is when things get complicated and you enter into a sort of legal grey area).
-If you still are legally female and want to marry a legal female (or if you’re legally male and want to marry a legal male), marriage for “same sex” individuals is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington D.C., New York, and Washington state. Keep in mind that these marriages are only recognized by those states as well as Rhode Island and Maryland, they are NOT recognized by the federal government and so cannot be used for immigration purposes (unfortunately). If you get married in Iowa you cannot go home to Missouri and have your marriage recognized by the state. Civil Unions or domestic partnerships are legal in Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maine, and Hawaii, *edit* and California. For more information on the marriage laws in different states, check out this website.
-If you are legally female and want to marry a legal male, congratulations because you have found a loophole in the gay marriage debate! Feel free to shock and awe your friends with your legal gay wedding in Texas, Arkansas, or any other state where it will be sure to piss off your neighbors.
Zak: I’m not a doctor or psychologist, so solely take my word for this, but I’ll try to answer this as best I can. There is definitely a brain and body connection, for instance it is possible to have physical symptoms of an illness or impairment brought on by one’s mental state (this would be referred to as psychosomatic). I don’t know if that means that you can physically induce symptoms of being on testosterone in yourself, but possibly stress or other similar factors could be messing with your hormones. It also could be possible that you are noticing things (like increase in appetite) and attributing them to your transition when really they stem from another, unrelated cause (like exercising more).
Zak: This is unfortunate, because to me a large part of the queer community is/should be recognizing that everyone has a right to determine their own identity. When confronted with this situation I think you should make sure to establish to the person that you’re talking to that you have nothing against the queer community, but that simply isn’t how you identify, and firmly leave it at that. It’s none of their business how you identify and you do not need to justify your identity to them. If they keep pushing, tell them that.