Wednesday, August 29, 2007

FTMs Rock My World

Who is an FTM? Well, an FTM is a female-to-male transexual (that's right, folks, in this case a woman becomes a man). The transition from female to male involves many factors, both emotional, psychological, chemical, and sometimes physical. Let's approach the wonderful FTM guys from a social and not a medical perspective, shall we?


What prompted me to write this? Well, my partner is FTM and I am more sensitive to remarks made at work, in social situations, and the media. Sometimes transpeople get trashed publicly, in jokes that would never be acceptable about gays (well, unless you are Ann Coulter talking to asshole Republicans). To make matters worse, if transmen are not being joked about they are made invisible by the public misunderstanding of the trans experience. Most people couldn't explain gender any more cogently than Bush can explain photosynthesis. They think that male cross-dressers are the only type of transgender. Boy, are they wrong. There is quite a panoply of ways to be trans, but let's not get into that now. Let's talk about transmen in particular.

What's so amazing about my guys? Speaking from experience:
  1. They are usually very attractive, in a yummy "come to mama, do you like cookies?" kind of way--long into their 40's! Unless they are serious chain smokers, or have a lot of acne, I've seen a lot of super-handsome baby-faced dudes. I mean we're talking cross Johnny Depp with Leo DiCaprio cute.

  2. They often throw gender roles in the toilet, and force their partners to do the same. For example, does your husband always mow the lawn because of his Y chromosome? Why? Does your wife always do the cooking? Why? Does your butch girlfriend always fix the truck? Why? Is your father allowed to cry? Why not?

  3. They don't freak out upon mention of cramps, tampons, or pads. This is biology, guys, no more ugly or icky than peeing in the snow. You get kicked in the balls, it hurts, you don't mind telling people it hurts and they should feel sorry for you. But if women went around proclaiming bad cramps, most guys would call a national Orange alert level.

  4. They are brave enough to make drastic changes for something they believe in, themselves and their truths.

  5. They can trade stories with you about Girl Scouts.

Of course, I'm generalizing from my experience, so if you are FTM please don't flame me to say you NEVER would talk about the horrid Girl Scouts. Yes, I know you wanted to be in Boy Scouts, but them's the facts! FYI, some FTMs are what they call stealth, which means they never tell anybody they are trans, and try as hard as they can to fit in with the current masculine ideal. Basically, they divorce themselves from their experiences in a female body entirely. That is just another way to be. Not bad, but I love the men who are open about their female experiences. I mean, how cool is that?

My particular guy is especially cool because he's bi, just like me. It gives me a little thrill that we understand each other in such a way. Although we are somewhat "invisible" to some gay and lesbian people (since we look like a straight couple) we identify strongly with the gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered community. Not just a portion of the LGBT, the whole gamut. You have to be open minded. It keeps people guessing, and it makes life very interesting!

So, the next time you are tempted to tell a joke about "trannies" (that is, if you are not trans yourself) please think again. The dude you are talking to could be trans himself.

Just to end on a light note, the other day I asked my partner if he wanted to invite some transguys who are aquaintances all over for a BBQ, no women invited. Ah poor me, surrounded with handsome men. No "ladies" to chat with. I think he saw through the charade :-) Who needs ladies anyway, even if you likey the fairer sex.

Now aren't I educational? PS--So far as I know, Elvis isn't trans. He just makes a nice photo.

78 comments:

FranIAm said...

Rion- I am so moved by this post. So personal and so beautiful.

Your words ring with a clarity that should make us all examine our hearts. Even those of us who think of ourselves as open and flexible should stop and examine how we look at such matters.

Areas of sexuality are so charged for so many of us- again, even those of us who feel like we are more open. I think this is an area where we all have some wounds. Underneath that is a sort of puritan inspired collective unconscious (i love carl jung) that potentially inhibits us all.

As a result it is very easy to say the wrong thing. And the trans area is a little scary to even the most broad minded. It means changing so deeply, in ways that most can not imagine.

I know a MTF very well through my business life. It was a testament to metamorphosis at every level to watch this unfold. She is actually a very conservative woman who was a very conservative man. So throw out the gay liberal label here!

He was miserable as a man and to watch the woman unfurl like a flower over a period of time was a treasure.

And mind you- this is all in mostly a work related context. He was open as he when it began and she grew ever more open. She understood how uncomfortable it was for people and she just was as clear as could be.

But on her terms. It was remarkable.

So I think you have written a very thought provoking piece on such a sensitive and important topic.

You are quite remarkable Rion. How lucky I am to know you.

Thanks for your candor.

Rion said...

Thank you Fran.
I feel moved to talk about this, as I learned so much in the six years PJ and I have been together.

It is easy to have misconceptions about gender, since most people consider that it is some kind of fixed mark. It's both fascinating and a little overwhelming once you get into it. Even after years of "training", I still make mistakes, say the wrong thing (call a group of transwomen "guys", even in the colloquial-- a no-no).

Most times anyone with an open mind and good intentions can approach gender issues with curiosity without being seen as insensitive. Just like with unlearning racism,you learn that you can never fully understand the experience of someone in different shoes. You just take it easy on yourself, and on others.

Plus, thank goodness for the lack of gender roles. Boy howdy do I get away with weeks of unshaved legs!

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