Archive by Author

Europe 2019

13 Nov

In July I set-off for a 9.5 week trip to England, Morocco, Italy, Ireland and Russia with my Australian passport that has my sex listed as ‘Female’. I did think about altering passport/s to an ‘I’, but I have read and heard mixed reviews about the pros and cons.

I left Australia clean shaven as I was meeting family upon my arrival, and none have really been told about my gender. I think overall I am read more as male/masculine so most of the time it’s a male airport security member that approaches me. In the past year it’s been a mixture of genders, with most often female officers attending to me. Throughout my travels I did on occasion receive the odd look from airport security and staff, this was mainly because I dressed more feminine than my facial hair would assume I would.

The one event that stood out regarding my gender was at customs, exiting Russia, preparing to fly out to England. I presented at the airport as I arrived into the country – unshaven, in a t-shirt and jeans, no binder, and a female passport. The lady at border security did several retakes from my face to my passport photo (which I have to say is almost 10yrs old AND included a recent photo with my approved Russia Visa application). The border security lady asked me to remove my hat and glasses, requested my name and date of birth, why I didn’t have the same hair cut/colour or same piercings (I explained the photo was almost 10yrs old and how I got new frames for my glasses too). I admit I was worried that I wouldn’t be let out of the country, but I was also confused/puzzled as to how I was allowed into the country looking the same way (unshaven, in a t-shirt and jeans, no binder, and a female passport).

While travelling around I opted to use the male toilets mostly, expect when I was out with family or the tour groups as I didn’t explain my gender. On occasion I used the women’s in Morocco, Italy and England without issue. In Russia I got referred to as ‘he’ and used the male toilets exclusively so as not to confuse anyone. While with the tour group I got to remain in the ‘male’ assigned room when we had a few hours or a day of waiting for transport – I honestly have no idea how I managed that as I do not feel I ‘pass’ that well over a long period of time.

While I can’t remember where I went through a full-body scanner I had no issues at all, by this I mean I went through and out without being stopped or asked questions. Just to note I do no bind or pack, and grew out my facial hair throughout my trip.  

Participants Needed: Research for X gender markers

27 Apr

Chris has come to Australia for a short time to interview people who have acquired or are interested in getting an Australian passport with the gender marker X. This research also extends to people who use or want to use the gender marker X for other documents and identification.

Australia was the first place in the world to issue passports with an X, and this information is looking into why people want these passports (and other documents), how they are being used, and how best to support mobility of people holding these documents throughout the world.

Although Chris won’t be in Australia much longer, they will be continuing the research from afar and would be thrilled to send the questionnaire to (or schedule a skype meeting with) anyone who is able to participate. So, if you happen to be somewhere else in the world and are willing to be involved, please feel free to make contact. 

Please email Chris at C.L.Quinan@uu.nl they need as many people to participate as possible. Chris is apart of the community and research is being conducted in a safe supportive manner.

Men’s Toilets

21 Apr

Over the last few months I’ve been using the men’s toilets, on occasion, however I am still more comfortable with unisex or female toilets despite my facial hair. There have been jokes about me being a bearded lady, maybe that’s why I’ve not had a problem (thus far) in female only spaces…? Do they really think I have this affliction (facial hair) and allow me into the women’s bathrooms because they feel pity for me? Surely not…

Anyhow I’ve been choosing the men’s bathrooms if a) I am out and about with someone else who is male/passes as male; b) I feel confident enough; c) the other toilets available have a crazy long line and I really need to pee (and am feeling brave); d) I don’t feel safe walking into the women’s; e) I am not with family; f) I feel like I don’t have a choice.

Other thoughts:
– I still do not feel okay around male family members and being in the men’s toilets with them, which is hugely around me not having really said much about being on T or my facial hair.
– I’ve walked out of a few men’s toilets after walking in and feeling my confidence vanish. There are so many “rules” in the men’s bathroom, like don’t look at anyone or make small talk (which I’ve been socialised with being brought up as a girl).
– Why is there only one cubicle in a men’s bathroom!?!?
– I fluctuate between still feeling like I am an impostor when I go into men’s toilets, and knowing that men don’t really pay attention to who walks in or what they look like (but still…)
– I will be visiting Europe in August and September so that will be an interesting experience on the topic of what toilets do/should I use.

Would this genderqueer marry?

20 Aug

Relationship challenge no. 220 of being genderqueer/non-binary (and in a poly relationship). Somewhere in the last few weeks the discussion about long-term, committed and monogamous relationships have come up in conversation with friends.

Unbeknownst to me some people think that because I am (a) genderqueer/non-binary, and (b) in a poly relationship, that I would not want to marry. I suppose the dilemma might be how do I fit into the current “Mr. & Mrs” title, or that because I am in a relationship with a (technically) married man that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t want to “walk down the aisle”. This lead me to asking myself the question of, if I could get married would I want to? If the answer is yes then I can start to find what term I would use instead of “Mrs”. What I dislike, what triggered me, is the assumption that genderqueer/non-binary equals not wanting to marry. Those closest to me were basically trying to tell me that getting married/weddings look one way, and one way only—completely conformed to traditional gender expectations. It would be a challenge to negotiate issues of gender expectations while navigating the wedding world, and/or trying to plan a wedding that felt authentic and unique to me.

So, this got me questioning that tired old argument that “marriage is between a man and a woman”. Do people who believe that, believe that those who identify as genderqueer/non-binary in any fashion should not be allowed to marry at all? Is that what I am actually dealing with? It feels really hard now to be vulnerable and open myself and my relationship to possible criticism, exclusion, or just confusion, regarding gender role assumptions or heteronormative expectations; let alone when it comes from friends and family. No one should have to feel uncomfortable and outside of a range of ‘normal’ in order to celebrate their (legal!!!) marriage and loving relationship, especially when all someone might need and want is to feel represented and celebrated for their uniqueness and beauty. Keep in mind, these were all good-intentioned friends and family (they just weren’t educated on what it means to be genderqueer/non-binary), who understood my gender and relationship status, but also had some presumptions as to how “weddings work” (and trying to put me/my experience into a box), thanks to the very gendered wedding industry.

Then two days ago I was reminded of these latest conversations while driving home from work and hearing the following lyrics of Missy Higgins’ “The Special Two”:

When you’re young you have this image of your life
That you’ll be scrupulous and one day even make a wife
And you make boundaries you’d never dream to cross
And if you happen to you wake completely lost 

When I was a small child, being raised as a little girl (although tomboyish) I too dreamed of marriage and a wedding. Playing pretend in kindergarten involved white sheets to make up a dress, and creating a circle of teddy bears and dolls to represent the guests. I felt okay marrying my best female friends, boys I had crushes on, and daydreaming about one day being a “Mrs” to my favorite superstar. In adolescence when I accepted my attraction as queer I still fantasied about two wedding dresses / going in drag and wearing a suit, while attending rallies for same-sex marriage. I still have an old notebook full of my collages from magazines, which included pages of wedding images and ideas. The bridal wear section in op shops as an adult was often a must just so I could try on meringue-looking dresses while laughing at the hilarity of it all, sometimes even joking that I would one day walk in the Zombie Shuffle with a blood-spattered dress because “even zombies deserve the right to get married”.

Now with everything that’s been said I am just not sure anymore…

Reandron Part 2

10 Feb

It’s been almost three week’s since I had my shot of Reandron, and what a crazy time it has been, and here is why…

  • the shot was done super fast (I was in and out of the nurse’s office in 10mins) – maybe a bit too fast for my first every Reandron shot
  • may be unrelated but I got my first ever UTI and ended up at ED after I started peeing a lot of blood
  • my blood pressure, which is normally quite regular and “normal”, became high and my heart rate wouldn’t drop easily
  • the latest blood results (done a week after the shot) showed my under-active (hypothyroidism) thyroid is now high (hyperthyroidism)
  • the icing on the cake was another bloody period

Both local GPs to me and ED staff were clueless about testosterone but unfazed. My regular doctor is currently away so I played phone tag with another GP from where I usually get my T-shots. In brief he suggested I perhaps try a half-dose in 6-12 weeks just to see how my body reacts, and in addition to monitor my thyroid as I’ve never been on Reandron before so we don’t know how it affects my levels.

Here are what I got from reaching out via Facebook:

 – “What I can get from your results here is that your GP might be matching your results to a female bodied patient, what I mean by this is that a Testosterone level of 22.6 for a female is quite high, but for a male that is very normal, same as your FreeTesto results; male testosterone levels; 21-35 (good rate)”

– “The T levels are very normal for a male”

– “If symptoms match those expected of natural menopause in a cis woman, you’re absolutely fine. It’s uncomfortable, for sure. I remember hot flushes and weird dizziness”

– “You need to be seeing an endocrinologist who specialises in transmasculine hrt”

– “Two weeks after your first shot is way to early to assess your hormonal levels, your whole system will be in chaos. It is a big change for the body”

Reandron

26 Jan

It’s been 1.5yrs since I last posted, and a lot has happened in-between that time in relation to my gender, testosterone and the rest of my personal life. But for today I am going to talk about my decision to re-start T after almost a year off Primo and another six-months without Axiron.

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Hypothyroidism Version 2

1 Aug

This is a long-awaited update about my current health issues with fatigue, my thyroid, sleep apnea and being on Testosterone.

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Yoga for a Genderqueer

29 Jun

13495268_10154201271417457_6552833513430772571_nWhen creating or thinking about trans friendly/inclusive yoga, the main thought should be about being welcoming and inclusive, as often these spaces don’t feel so for those that don’t fit the mould. The second thought is about the description, what does it mean when a class states it is a safe space and/or welcoming to ‘transgender and gender non-conforming people’?

Reading Nick Krieger’s “Why Trans and Queer Yoga?” recently when trying to draft an email to one of my local yoga teachers (yes I do go to two different yoga studios). The small, almost all female, classes I attend are run by a group of wonderful and kind women. We are all referred to as ladies, girls and goddesses throughout the class – misgendering and referring to me with female pronouns. Like Nick Krieger I realised that the teacher’s would have no way of knowing the impact of their words, however I also don’t know how to tell them.

The second yoga studio is relatively new and is very inclusive to all body sizes and genders. I feel more ‘me’ there yet I still struggle with the gendered language. There is hope for me in this group as the instructor is queer identified and working hard to create a safe space for trans and queer individuals – YAY!

Other classes that I have found so far advertise ‘queer and trans’, but I am not too sure if they know themselves what the needs are of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Do we need to possibly spend an hour on diversity and inclusion when including the ‘trans’ in event titles? Are they stating that they are providing a space for ‘visibly’ trans people, and if so where do I fit in as genderqueer when I keep getting referred to as ‘she’ or as one of the ‘girls’?

What is all the fuss about? The benefits of creating a safe space for everyone is so each individual can feel that they are amongst like-minded people. You don’t want someone to be self-conscious of their body or stressed about how they identify or present. I would like to walk into a yoga class where the world, and room, isn’t being divided into binary genders, a place where you won’t stand out if you bind or pack to express your gender.

Here are a few things that could make queer/trans yoga different from other yoga classes:
  • small group of other queer/trans people
  • introductions with pronouns and check-ins about feelings (if this is not possible in a group then the teachers/instructor should at least be aware of everyone’s name and/or pronouns)
  • a visibly/vocally queer/trans instructor (as much as I love one of my yoga classes I struggle to connect with a room full of cis women)
  • no gendered language on the part of the instructor
  • less about hardcore exercise, closer to gentle stretches and meditation (this is with keeping in mind that some individuals may also be recovering from surgery)
  • lots of “if you are able” and “if that is accessible to you” to not assume all participants can, say, close their eyes for meditation or reach a deeper version of a pose
*Thanks to Ilan in helping to create this list.
Here are two places that have crossed my radar, however I haven’t been to either of the trans and queer friendly classes:

Queer and Trans Inclusive (QTI) Yoga Melbourne describes itself as “a safe yoga space for the LQBTIQ+ community and their friends. All welcome including absolute beginners.”

Chunky Yoga, who provide classes in a safe place to explore the practice of yoga regardless of your size, gender, age, sexuality or race. There are also plans of starting trans and queer friendly classes in Prahran/St Kilda!

Preferred Name and Pronouns at Work Part 4

1 Dec

Today, after many month (well almost a year), the General Manager of my workplace has posted the following statement on the organisation’s intranet today: (more…)

Preferred Name and Pronouns at Work Part 3

21 Nov

misgender

mɪsˈdʒɛndə/

verb
gerund or present participle: misgendering
1. refer to (someone, especially a transgender person) using a word, especially a pronoun or form of address, that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify.
So after emailing my work colleagues, and posting, about my preferred name and pronouns at work here and here, some people are still continue to struggle and using ‘she’. It was all a little surreal as during this period of time, a couple of days actually, the training coordinator, and fellow queer, approached me about diversity training and to check how I was doing.
The first occurrence was when a manager referred to me as ‘she’ when chatting to a client (e.g. “I am sure that wasn’t her intention” and “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind at all”). I’ve raised this once in supervision when I had a client ask me if I was a boy or a girl, which I didn’t respond to and continued to focus on their issue and needs (I work mostly over the telephone or via online chat). I admit right here and now that I struggle so much with advocating and standing up for myself in terms of my gender identity and pronoun preference, however that’s another story.
The second occurrence, which happened on the same day, was when an older 70yr old colleague asked “How are you pretty lady?”. I responded that I was doing ok and enjoying my weekend at work, and also clarified that I don’t identify as female. I believe my response challenged him a little, and maybe I could have not said anything, because as soon as I had uttered that he told me about a recent experience:
He’d entered a workshop that he was presenting at and addressed the room with “Good morning guys!”, which wasn’t welcomed as enthusiastically as he’d hoped by the room full of mothers. Following that he tried “ladies”, which again didn’t go down too well, and ended with “Well how would you prefer I address you as?”. Their response was for him to use their name, which he was quick to explain that he didn’t have the time, having just walked into the room, to have asked.
I got his point and frustration, yet he failed to have learned from this experience. To add injury to insult he calls all the men “guys” or “mate”, which clearly highlights that he see’s me as female. I am yet to talk about my Team Leader about this, more because I would like to find another way to communicate to work colleges about this.

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