Trans is not a Costume

Hello friends.  Happy October!

For those of you who don’t know me personally, or semi-well, let me tell you a little factoid about me: I LOVE OCTOBER.

October is a great month. All of the following contribute to why I think it’s the best month of the year:

  1. My birthday is in October. Duh.
  2. Halloween is in October.  I have a deep, long love for Halloween– it’s my favorite holiday pretty much since birth. I was also supposed to be born on Halloween. It is also just a great f*cking holiday because it involves costumes, over indulgence, pumpkin art, and parties.
  3. It is called October because under the original Roman calendar, it was the 8th month of the year (before July and August were added– thanks Ceasar boys!)

IMG_7064I love October because Halloween, and I love Halloween because costumes. I delight in planning and executing my costume each year and anyone who knows me can attest that I tend to have some pretty good ones.  So imagine how bummed I was when I stumbled upon this photo in my Facebook feed today.

UGH. SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY.

This is super not okay.  Really, it’s not. Dressing up as pre-transition or post-transition Caitlyn Jenner (not as Bruce, because it’s pretty rude to Dead Name people) is not okay.  Spirit Halloween store (where the photo was taken) cannot try to make this okay by calling it “Celebrating an American Icon.”  Caitlyn Jenner is not one of the founding fathers or Abraham Lincoln, or any other “American Icon” folks dress up as for Halloween.  She is a living breathing person. She is a person who has had the hefty job of coming out as transgender under the scrutiny of the free internet-reality tv-loving world.

Yes, she is brave. Yes, she could be considered a hero. But you know and I know that is not what this Halloween costume is about.  If that were true, we would have Amelia Earhart and Harriet Tubman costumes for sale to the mainstream public, too.  No, this is about us collectively mocking Caitlyn by empowering cisgender men to emulate her.  We, as Americans, are so threatened by Caitlyn’s transition and our collective masculinity is so fragile that we must bring her down a notch in order to put ourselves at ease.  We must remind ourselves that she’s really just a man in a dress, right? We definitely must make her un-sexy– she was getting to hot for comfort.

And maybe, just maybe, on some level, it makes those who choose to don that costume feel a little bit softer, a little bit sexier.  If we pretend we are making fun of her, then it’s okay to be feminine and pretty, and we can have our cake and eat it too. I get it– sometimes doing something different, something forbidden is hot. But you know what?  If that’s it, then just buy any other female-designed costume in Spirit and get your kicks.  Be a sexy nurse.  Be a Bunny.  Be Catwoman (boy you know you want to put on that jumpsuit).

Don’t pretend to be a real, live trans person who has gone to great lengths to become her true self and to not be exactly what you want her to be, which is just some guy in a dress.  She is a human– even if she doesn’t care personally, there are trans kids out there watching you.  They see you laughing at her. They internalize it.  It hurts them.  Bullying is deadly for trans kids.  Suicide is common.  This normalizes mocking and joking about trans people.  It normalizes cruel jokes.  This. Is. Not. Okay.

If you know anyone contemplating this choice, please educate them. We must do better, and if everyone who knows better speaks up, we will. Be excellent to each other.

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Waking Up Spider-Man

tobey-maguire-cap-1 One question I get from people often is “How do you feel?” Meaning, “Hey, you’re going through a lot of things right now and your body is changing. What’s that like?”

The best analogy I have come up with is that it feels like waking up as Spider-Man. You know, the scene in the movies where Peter Parker, having just been bitten by the radioactive spider, wakes up and realizes he is not only strong, but that he can do things he never dreamed possible.

No, I don’t have magic wall-climbing abilities and I cannot shoot web stuff out of my wrists (I’m also still not crazy about heights), but I do have this sensation every day where I never know what will happen next.

Taking testosterone has caused a lot of things about me to change, but one thing that is the most obvious is that I have put on quite a bit of muscle since I started last August.  In fact, I have gained 23 pounds! I recently had a body scan done at the gym (which is something I never would have been excited about before transition), and I am down to 16.1% body fat, putting me in the 20th percentile for guys my age.

AMAZING!

Not only do I feel stronger almost every day, I also am unlocking new abilities weekly. I do CrossFit, which if you don’t know, involves a menu of probably hundreds of different exercises/lifts/movements that you do in your workouts. I have been crossing things off my CrossFit “bucket list” like crazy! Handstand push-ups? Done! Pistol squats? No problemo! I also have seen my 1-rep-max Olympic lifts go through the roof.

An example: In August, I could bench press 135 lbs. It was less than my body weight, but pretty respectable for a female.  In May, I did a 205 lb. bench press twice. Incredible!  My front squat went from 160 lbs. to 235 lbs. My back squat went from 180 lbs. to 255 lbs.

Where I used to feel like I was hitting a plateau in terms of my strength and ability, now I succeed almost every time I go to do something I have never done before. I’m stronger, faster, and leaner. I have more energy and generally feel pretty fantastic. I may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but I am okay with that– every day it’s like I’m waking up Spider-Man.

It’s Getting Hot in Herrrrre

I have been talking to a lot of people about my transition lately, and more than a few times people have told me: “You need to write a blog!” I have tried this whole blogging thing (like when I moved to Brooklyn to become a public high school teacher) and I found that while I started with a bang, I clearly lost steam due to lack of interest, lack of time, lack of sleep, or what is more likely to be a combination of all these things. I recognize that all these factors still exist, in some form, in my life now. The difference, though, is that trans stuff is so in right now. And I don’t mean that to sound vain or flippant– I mean that honestly. Bruce Jenner? Aydian Dowling on Ellen and the cover of Men’s Health Magazine? Laverne Cox gets her own TV show? TLC specials about trans kids? Transgender issues are really having a moment in our popular culture right now, and perhaps this is one instance in which I actually have something to say on a topic that is also relevant. And so, with that, I begin. Here’s a post that can be filed under “weird stuff that happens to you when you start taking testosterone.”One thing I have very recently noticed is that I am REALLY HOT ALL THE TIME. Like, not hot-synonymous-with-attractiveness, I mean hot as in HOLY SHIT IT’S HOT IN HERE, TURN THE FAN ON.

I admit, I am not sure when this trend began. I have been on testosterone for a little over 9 months now. I only noticed this temperature thing in the last few weeks. It’s possible this is a new development (like the “Oh yay, back zits!” moment I had yesterday), but its also possible that I have only noticed this recently because I have just started sharing my personal space with cisgender women (born female, identify as female) again.
But now I have to back up– I was in a long-distance relationship for about 10 months (the relationship was 3+ years long, it had been long distance for 10 months), so I wasn’t having women in my house close enough to me for me to realize I was really hot. The only creatures I shared my living space with were my 4-legged children (I will surely talk about these later), and they all have fur coats on, so they wouldn’t know the difference.
But recently, I have been dating again, and thus have been physically closer to cisgender women than I have been in a long time. And I just had a friend move in for the summer and his fiance is around a lot. Anyway, all this is to say that I have no idea ​if I have only recently become hotter, or if I have only recently noticed it. I find myself turning on the fan, only to notice other people in the room shivering. The thought of wearing much more than underwear makes me start to sweat. DEAR GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME???
It was a high of only 70 today, and for most of the day it was breezy and overcast. It started off as a day that reminded me of Seattle, ​the kind of day where I used to spend my whole day drinking warm coffee and feeling chilly in my bones. So I wore slacks and a lightweight flannel dress shirt to work, and I walked instead of riding my bike because I wanted to enjoy the weather.
I only had to walk about 2 blocks before I was sweating my ass off and rolling my sleeves up. I used to always be the cold one– the one who wore jeans in the summer time and never forgot to bring a jacket to the movies. ​Now I can go see a movie at night time, wearing only a tank top on my torso and nothing else, and be totally comfortable. WTF​ testosterone? ​How am I even going to handle summer in LA?