random love, relationshipping, trans talk

Why do you blog?

teehee
Asks a dear friend recently.

Hmm…

The why changes.
In the beginning, it was a way to deal with too many changes.

Because life, y’all:
BF, whom I thought I’d spend quite the future with, tells me he’s a cross dresser as our plans to move out of the country are finalized.  Tokyo minus 5 months and he has come out as transsexual.  Once we’re moved, visas, leases, laws, jobs— everything, basically, must be negotiated and conducted in a fairly foreign language.  Add to that hormones, transitioning, open relationship, re-identifying sexual identity— oh Jesus, this is ridiculous.

Enter blog.
There’s a certain accountability when I hit ‘Publish’ even though I feel anonymous as fuck; in the back of my mind, I know this record will remain.  So I’m forced to be more considerate, analytical, objective; these things in turn bring clarity.  And instead of simply boo-hooing (awesome readers aren’t going to stick around for a yawn pity party), the blog encourages me to laugh at myself.

Because truth:
I cry.  (A. Lot.)
And humor— it’s important.

These days I’m not conflicted about how to navigate a relationship as my partner transitions.  We are no longer together though we’re married (it helps a visa) and we’ve mostly come out the other side of a challenging breakup.  Our romantic ending has been messy and there have been many emotionally frustrating moments that I’ve documented here— cohabitation post break up, enough said.

Soon we will be living our independent lives and separate chapters will begin.
On which continent, in which country, neither of us know.
It scares me sometimes.
Her too.

And this blog?
Though it’s impossible for me to be in a relationship like I was with S, one which prompted this blog, I’ll continue to share stories about my oddball adventures.  There’s no shortage to the delightfully unique company I keep and trust that S will keep me updated about her most recent exploits en route to finding The One.

I started this as a release and coping mechanism.
I’ll continue because the share and response is another meaningful slice in this very short life.
Because it’s not real unless you share it.
And I’m a sucker for processing.

 

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trans talk

Standards of the Double Sort

In an effort to mix things up and maintain the original focus of this blog, Rumi and I have decided that I should be a guest-writer for every 50th blog post. Kudos to Rumi on her dedication to maintaining this blog on the regular as well as clear improvement in her writing as a result of it. Happy 100th post, Rume!*


The title of this post stems from the blooming of my awareness of all of the double standards that exist between men and women, and how much more perceivable they are on one side of the path than the other, as well as how I feel about those differences. On the one hand, everyone should be treated equal, right? Well sure…but is being treated the same the same as being treated equally? I’ve come to realize that while some of the double standards that I had an active disapproval of when living as a male, are actually some of the very things that tickle me pink and bemuse me on a regular basis.

Since transitioning, I’ve put a fair amount of thought into both the blatant and more subtle ways in which I’m treated differently by the people around me. While some of the changes are welcome, some others I’ve encountered have elicited reactions within me which range from mild surprise to outright disbelief. One thing that certainly bears mentioning is the dichotomy of treatment I received while actively and openly transitioning at the school I attended here in Tokyo as well; a sort of elective recognition of sorts, both frustrating and validating at times.

As for some of the more subtle differences, I would have to say that most have been pleasant, if not necessarily positive. People from all walks of life began to smile at me as I walked by. I started to get heckled by certain types of men. Compliments about my outfits and style from women were received. I also found that getting ready (for work/to go out/to go on a date) was no longer a chore but an adventure, and while that is more of a personal revelation, it’s worth it’s weight in typeface.

After having reached the somewhat rocky plateau of being ‘mostly’ recognized as a woman in public, it seemed that I had never before realized the divergent nature of people. Women became simultaneously more open and accessible to approach and speak to, as well as seemingly less interested in me, while being far, far more critical of my appearance. It was a strange sensation to have women smile at my approach and face me as opposed to being ‘on guard’ for harassment, undesired flirting, or fear of some form of physical ill-treatment, while watching their body language shift to the defensive and exclusionary. Men, on the other hand, became much, much more polite. When they weren’t being obscenely direct and inappropriate, that is.

Perhaps the most acute feeling I’ve experienced in regards to this has been the loss of my male privilege coupled with the major backslide into perceived hedonism and outcast status, to some. Fortunately, most, if not all of that has run its course at this point, although I have no way of knowing if that would remain the case were I to return to the West. During transition, or at least the more obvious physical portions of it, I was the subject of many a stare, gawk, and double-take. Then there were  the looks I received when I handed my ID over for various reasons, and the inevitable questions that followed. Let’s not forget the flak I received at the airport and the looks of disapproval and outright disgust from elderly people, either.

The individuals who operated my school in Tokyo, to their credit, made several successions on my behalf that they had no precedent for at the time. They allowed me to not only use my chosen name on all of my school work, but even went so far as to have a small meeting with all of the teachers to ensure that they used the proper pronouns and called me by that name only in class (this was kind of big deal as many other people requested to be called by various nicknames, but were denied, even to the point of a shortened version of their actual names). After I stopped wearing men’s clothing completely, I was allowed to use the women’s restrooms. Occasionally, some teachers attached ‘-chan’ (a suffix used for women, girls, very young boys, pets, and all things cute) to my name. Conversely, there were moments which truly made me feel left out and less-than. When I signed up for a soccer ball kicking competition, after being pressed because there weren’t enough people signing up, my name was placed on the men’s list (after leaving school in the middle of the day crying, I was later allowed to kick with the girls and was given a formal apology by the staff member who placed me there). I was told that I should join the tea ceremony class, but when I asked if they actually had a kimono(the female garments) to fit me, there were pressed lips, shared glances, and was told perhaps I shouldn’t do it after all (don’t mess with their traditions!!).

As strange as it may sound, as a transsexual woman, although I feel it is very nearly my ‘duty’ to oppose the very idea of social gender roles and expectations, I coincidentally subscribe to those very concepts. Whether this is a product of my very nature, or my desire for social validation, I can’t properly say. What I can say is that I enjoy being treated ‘like a woman’, and all that entails. I enjoy when men offer to carry something for me, or any other common chivalric behaviors. I enjoy, in a strange way, it being assumed that I am going to take forever and a day to get ready (this is actually true). I enjoy having my appearance complimented first and my skills and aptitudes second. It pleases me when other women ask me for appearance checks or fashion advice. I even find it pleasant when my general way of being loose with my affections has garnered me a reputation of being a certain level of slutty.

A thing that I can say with certainty though: While I have endured much pain, self-loathing, despair, listlessness, and a slew of other negative emotions in regards to my transsexualism, I have come to realize that I wouldn’t trade it for being cisgender. This is more of a recent revelation, although one made with conviction. I can honestly say that very few individuals in this life are given (take?) the experience of walking on two very distinct, and yet surprisingly similar at times, paths. The strange and entirely unique spin it has given my perspective is…priceless. I mean…how many people do you know that have had the opportunity to sashay into a party in a little black dress and towering stilettos and also play Offensive Tackle?

 

*Thanks S!  I appreciate your enlightening share and am curious as to how your perspective will continue to shift.  Cheers!

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trans talk

You’re never going to get hotter.

It’s like this, he says:
We see you [women] and we’re attracted to you or we’re not.  The growing more physically attracted to someone, that’s only for women.  Guys don’t work like that.

He, by the way, is a damn straight-shooting, sometimes fool.  His relationships often have a touch of cray but he thoroughly gets the male versus female perspective, to an almost alarming extent.  So I believe him; his brutal truth hasn’t let me down yet.

Oh.

So the good thing is, if he thinks you’re hot, you’re hot.  The ‘more hotter’ thing doesn’t happen.

post graph

Right.

Except this makes me feel like my attractiveness has peaked.
And it is different for women.  As the general attraction grows, the more physically attractive my potential person is to me.  They get hotter, men and women.

I ask S about this.
Me: When you were a guy, you identified with the whole finding someone attractive on sight and they don’t get more attractive?
S: Pretty much…I mean, I’d like them more but if they’re beautiful, they’re always beautiful.

Me: And now, as a woman, is it different?  Do people become more physically attractive the longer you hang out with them or the more you like them?
S: …  Actually, yeah.  When I dated ***, I didn’t think he was super cute but the more we hung out, his endearing qualities made him cuter to me.

Interesting.

Me: What about with women?  Do they grow more beautiful as you get to know them?
S: Well, seeing as I’ve only been on one date with a woman, I can’t really say.  Pause.  But I don’t think so.

As S has become thoroughly female, it’s not so often that we have before-and-after-esque chats but sometimes— like today— we do and her perspective never fails to amaze me.  It’s fascinating that she can still key into a masculine point of view as her own has shifted decidedly feminine.  As she collects new experiences and continuously expands her worldview, I can’t help but think that her transition has made her a force to be reckoned with.  I keep awaiting the day I’ll be saying, “I knew her when…”

 

 

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trans talk

Stare a little harder

Everyone's feels guiltywhy don’t you?

Or you could be the asshole on the train who yells at S, “Are you a man or a woman?!”
And keeps at it*.
She lets him know— in his native Japanese— that he’s being offensively rude**.
Then puts in her earbuds, volume high and tries to ignore his bulging frog-eyes and limpdick stare.
He comes closer.
She changes seats.
He follows.
She walks to another train car.
This dude is an insistent fuck.
She keeps walking.
He stops.  And stares through the sliding door glass separating the cars.

S went from holding the highest seat of privilege— white, heterosexual male to bisexual transsexual, which is about as drastic a drop as possible on the sexual-gender identity hierarchy.  As S goes from looking unmistakably male to slightly androgynous to very androgynous to fairly female to undeniably woman, visibility is an unexpected but oft-mentioned word in our household.  It’s amazing how visible she feels and how it highlights and detracts from her goal of invisibility.

I remember a time in the States when S said a friend of hers had stopped by my vintage pop-up shop.  She was with her boyfriend and S proceeds to describe them.  I have no memory of this couple.  She keeps describing them and I think I remember the guy.  But her friend, his girlfriend?  No recollection.  S smiles, satisfied.  Her friend has attained the ultimate goal— to go unnoticed or in this case, to simply be a woman in the background.

Transition is hard and the hate— wow.  The true feelings behind curious looks, stares and gawks are easily felt.  I’ve discerned the varying degrees of judgement over the years, stemming from racial, homosexual or most recently, transsexual prejudice.  And over the years my danger radar has been honed—it’s a matter of safety after identifying this bigotry.

How safe am I?
Is she?
Are we?

*Of course no one pipes in and gives support because that’s Tokyo hesitation and apathy for you; this happens in many scenarios, whether the person is a victim of harassment or physical injury.

** A tough thing about Japanese being my non-native language in this mostly polite society: I do not have an arsenal of situationally appropriate comebacks.  This drives me mad at moments.  Because sure, a cutting look can shut down many assholes but there are moments where there is no substitute for whip-smart articulation.

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about Japan, trans talk

This is reality:

The other day

S goes through multiple stages of the interview process and people want to hire her.
Potential employers talk salaries, start dates and contracts.
Great!
Last thing is proof of ID.

Fuck.

One detail.
Sex: M

Will they call back?
Most don’t.

Names can be legally changed, no problem.
Sex…at minimum a doctor’s note is required.
In Japan, three conditions have to be met: SRS (sexual reassignment surgery), be unmarried and have never had children.

This little detail is the difference between protection and endangerment.

A man is pulled over for speeding and hands over his ID.
The cop doesn’t miss that sex reads F.
Wow, how quickly attitudes change and the harshest penalty is enforced.
And when hateful young, drunken men approach the car, law enforcement turns a blind eye as violence erupts.

A woman is pulled over for a busted headlight.
Her license reads Sex: M.
The cop raises his eyebrows more than a little but says nothing and slowly nods.
Her out-of-state license is expired.
She is padded down and put in the backseat of the cop car while he background checks.
It turns out that she has a valid in-state license in the system.
She is let go with a ticket for the headlight and told to be careful.
(Meanwhile her friend in the passenger seat has been sweating massive bullets through the brick of weed that’s been the albatross around his neck during this exchange.  His first weed deal, by the way…oh memorable virgin shenanigans.)
Phew.

Sometimes the world is the most dangerous place in the face of law enforcement.
Sometimes those who get pulled over get really lucky.

But.
Human protection ought not be regulated by luck.

The world is not a safe place.
If one’s livelihood is greatly dictated by natally matching sex and gender— and it is— then Japan is not an idyllic safe haven as reputed.

The transgendered among us have no protection.
And it’s damn hard to witness.

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about Japan, trans talk

Are you…

The other day

a regular woman?

Or at least that’s what the question literally translates to when I’m at a trans party.

Yes.
Yes, I was born with a vagina.

Which is met with with sighs.
These boys are not so interested in cisgender ladies.
But they are NOT GAY, they tell me.

Okay.
Got it.
You’re not gay.
You just like women who have breasts and a penis.

So how about rather than the binary gay, straight or bi (which still revolves around gay and straight as the defining center), sexual attraction be described as male, female or trans-oriented?

It’s interesting that so many guys give such a rat’s ass about being labeled gay.
At first I think the implication is that it’s less of a social stigma to be into transsexuals than to be gay.
But after a hard think and a talk with S, I conclude that maybe those guys don’t want to be labeled gay because they’re attracted to women.
Which would make them not gay.
They’re straight.
Or female-oriented.

The guys also want to know WHY I’m at a trans party.
If I’m not here to pick someone up, get hit on or freely be the woman I was meant to be without the genetic advantage, what gives?
They don’t get it.

The women are less confused and more, “Let’s talk heels and get drunk.”
And I’m like, “Yes, drinks and how are your lashes so amazing?”
So we chat about cars, nature, various trans scenes in Japan while commenting on bearded ladies in scandalous bikinis and Pippy Longstocking wigs.

Simply put, it’s a fun time, visually awesome and I always love to see my homefolk without their well-worn masks of social conformity.
The vast majority here freak out and/or don’t accept non-traditional lifestyles that aren’t meticulously closeted.  Just the other day, this young kid proudly displaying his many tats (which still carry a social stigma) probes me about my personal life.  I answer matter-of-factly and when I reveal that my ex still lives with me, “What the fuck?!” is his response.

Dude, you asked me.
I’m tempted to mindfuck him a bit more with the I married my trans ex-girlfriend bit but decide to keep mum.

There are pearls and swine and at this point in my life I don’t cast those strings so carelessly.

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open relationship, relationshipping, trans talk

I’m the Q

You are a slutpuppy“Bless your heart but you are so not a lesbian,” says S.

The fact that we can have this honest conversation is huge.
The fact that S can have her sense of humor about a hurtful point of conflict is even huger.

Until this moment, S would often wonder why I couldn’t stay attracted to her if she’s still the same fabulous person on the inside and I was in a lesbian relationship for a decade.  In her shoes, I’d wonder the same thing but the best truth I’ve got is: the attraction cooled to something tepid within me and tepid is a pretty lame concessionary temperature for a love relationship.

I nod and recollect, ” ***(my long-term ex before S) said the same thing when we were dating.”
S shakes her head and pats my own.  “It’s really LGBT-supportive and I love you for it but you are not gay.”

I concede this point.

Before S, I maintain that I fall in love with the person, not the gender.  Although that statement pretty much announces my bisexuality, by mentioning gender, I qualify being a lesbian and/or having been in a lesbian relationship.  It’s as though I can’t commit to simply being gay, even though I was in a lesbian relationship for a decade.  No wonder my long-term ex wouldn’t call me a ‘real’ lesbian; it took over half the length of that relationship before I’d say was a l-l-lesbian.  
Then we broke up.

As S transitions, I am forced to dissect how true this ‘not the gender’ assertion is.
It’s not so true.

Without a doubt, my relationship history defines me as bisexual.  However, every person I have dated since S and I have open-relationshipped and broken up has been male, which then makes me feel like a bit of a liar if I call myself bi in the present.  But the second I identify as a straight girl, I have a feeling the universe will find a way to have the last laugh.

So.

In my apparent quest to self-identify, I’ll go with queer.
I’m the Q in LGBTQ.

Because one sure thing is that my past, present and future sexual identity and experiences sure as hell (will) fall outside the hetero-defined mainstream.

Thank. God.

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