By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
Being trans involves living your life, but with more questions, unusual situations and new thoughts than the average person.
One question people frequently ask is: Why are we trans? Many transwomen will tell you the theory of the trickling hormone wash. You see, female is the default gender for the fetus. We all begin as female fetuses. To make a male fetus, there must be a heavy testosterone wash to masculinize the fetus. However, if there is just a trickle, the theory says that the fetus remains mostly female and the result is a transgender female. This may be an acceptable theory for people who are born female in male bodies, but how does it work for people who are born male in female bodies? I’ve never heard of any medical theory explaining how they came to be. It’s my opinion that we are just simply male spirits born in female bodies or female spirits born in male bodies. I realize that it’s a non-medical reason, but to me it makes the most sense and it covers both genders. [pullquote]We all begin as female fetuses. To make a male fetus, there must be a heavy testosterone wash to masculinize the fetus. [/pullquote]
When telling our life stories at an outreach program, many transpeople will tell you how they lost friends, family members and even their jobs when they transitioned to their true gender. The inquisitive person might ask: If everything has gone wrong in our lives, did we ever think of transitioning back to our birth gender? I believe most would say we would not. Why not? The reason I give is because of the wonderful peace that I now feel. I’ve never felt this peace before, and now I do. You might ask me if it is worth it to lose friends, family and a job and I will agree that the cost is very high, but it is worth it to find peace in your being. What is really troubling is the fact that some of your friends, family members and employers cannot or will not share the joy of your peace. You may become excluded from their lives. Yes, even family members may shun you. Some folks might reason that we are selfish for becoming someone who they don’t approve of and as a result of our transition, relationships with family and friends are broken. I question who the selfish one might really be. Is it us for being who we truly are, or them for wanting us to return to being who we were? It’s a stalemate situation and the only thing you as a transperson can really do is wait and hope that someday they’ll change their minds.
We get questions about our genitals. Some transpeople may be happy to tell you all about theirs, but I feel that this is a private matter that is really not up for discussion. When someone does ask me about my genitals, I ask them nicely if they would like to talk about their genitals. That’s usually the end of that conversation. [pullquote]Some transpeople may be happy to tell you all about theirs, but I feel that this is a private matter that is really not up for discussion. When someone does ask me about my genitals, I ask them nicely if they would like to talk about their genitals. [/pullquote]
Another question we get is about whether we like men or women. I will answer that I like men, and folks are fine with that response. However, many transwomen will answer that they like women, leaving the person asking the question puzzled and with more questions. They might ask: “If you like women, then why did you change into a woman? Why didn’t you stay a man?” These folks are obviously trying to relate to the heteronormative model of one man and one woman, and when they hear that transwomen like women they have a hard time understanding that concept. The transwomen then might state that they are lesbians, and the resulting looks are first of puzzlement but then of understanding. It’s a quick learning curve. It may set them back a bit when I say that since I like men, I am straight. At first they may want to call me gay, but then the wheels turn and the reasoning sinks in.
These are just a few examples of how different the life of a transperson may be. The questions and the situations are thought provoking. I’ve often said that transgender thought is a new type of thought. Things that you may have always taken for granted are suddenly in question. It’s a whole new way of looking at things.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has three grown children and works at 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.