Some Good News for the USA

I know I have been quiet for awhile, we are still preparing to leave in two weeks for his final lower surgery. However, there was a bright spot this week in the elections that I just had to say good things about.

https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2017/11/complete-list-historic-races-progressives-won-last-nights-election/

LGBTQNation’s success stories from its article has been copied below just in case the link is a problem:

  1. 1st black woman elected Mayor of Charlotte, NC (Vi Lyles).
  2. 1st woman elected Mayor of Manchester, NH (Joyce Craig)
  3. 1st trans woman elected to public office in NH (Gerri Cannon for Somersworth School Board)
  4. 1st trans woman of color elected to public office in Minnesota (Andrea Jenkins for Minneapolis city council)
  5. 1st Sikh man elected Mayor of Hoboken, NJ (Ravi Bhalla)
  6. 1st out lesbian elected to state legislature in VA (Dawn Adams)
  7. 1st transgender person elected to non-judicial office in California (Lisa Middleton)
  8. 1st out lesbian elected Mayor of Seattle, WA (Jenny Durkan)
  9. 1st Asian-American woman elected to VA House (Kathy Tram)
  10. Record number of women elected to VA legislature
  11. 1st trans woman elected to public office in VA and 1st trans person elected to statewide office (Danica Roem for the House of Delegates, defeating co-author of anti-trans bathroom bill)
  12. 2 Latinx women elected to VA House for first time (Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala)
  13. 2nd black man ever elected to statewide office in VA (Justin Fairfax for Lt Governor)
  14. Democrats poised to gain control of VA House from Republicans who had a 66-34 majority. The Dems have to flip 17 seats to get to a 51 seat majority and they have already flipped 15 with 4 other races so close they’re going to a recount.
  15. Democrats have taken control of the WA State Senate, and now have complete control of the West Coast from Mexico to Canada.

My optimism has returned a bit. We still have some very dark days ahead of us, and I think it will in fact get a bit darker, but this gives me hope in this world.

I am especially happy with the Washington State Senate. We are a fairly liberal state (don’t judge us only on our grossly high regressive sales tax) but our senate/house has been a thorn in the side of any sort of progressive movement. Even paying for primary education gets trashed by the GOP. However, it seems things are changing and maybe at least until the next election next year we can pass some more positive changes. I am more than willing to pay more in taxes to help with that.

The one aspect I do want to address is the “shock” some of my conservative coworkers had about a transgender person being elected. I tried to explain there have been other transgender politicians but they just couldn’t understand. This comic though really made my day.

I have started reading their comic here: https://lifeofbria.com

I realize this is a small update, but I felt I needed to take the time to post about this during surgery preparations. At least this time it should only be in the 70s down in Phoenix.

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On the Visibility of Harassment

The Harvey Weinstein issue has been hitting the front page of the internet, and I have been reading a lot of reactions to men who say they didn’t see it. Because I lived for 40 years as a woman and all the harassment that entailed, and now live as a man, I have a few insights into this issue.

I want to say when I lived as a woman, I thought harassment was a normal daily event for everyone. Whether it was creepers on the bus, guys cat calling form cars, dudes approaching me in the grocery store, it happened all the time.

I remember vivid incidents when I was especially young of just horrific scary violent harassment. The younger, and more feminine you look, the more predators target you. Predators target their victims well, and look for vulnerability.

I remember walking home from high school, where I looked 12 rather than the 16 I was, and a man tried to give me a ride. When I refused politely, and thanked him, he started screaming he would cut my head off, and pealed out so fast and close to me, that I thought I was going to be hit by his car.

That doesn’t even count the times a grown ass man has reached over to grab a breast, my ass, or physically pushed me to sleep with him. I have been sexually assaulted, harassed, and even raped as a woman.

However, due to the prevalence of this kind of harassment and assault, I only ever counted the rape. It wasn’t until I was much much older, that I realized that living in a world where I felt I had to downplay these types of harassment was not my problem. It was a world problem.

I did not identify the creep on the bus that kept touching me as harassment because I didn’t want to be “one of those girls” and “make a big scene”. There is a lot of pressure on women to avoid confronting or speaking about men that prey upon them. You don’t want to be any trouble, and often people around you will enforce this.

This brings me to my transition. I’ve talked before about how all that disappears. Once you are read as male, every creepy shitbag predator just evaporates. It’s like you don’t even see it anymore.

This is because these men are not random in their harassment. They do it to their victims, which are vulnerable. They often don’t do it around anyone else unless they are sure bystanders will be complicit in the behavior.

It’s an overwhelmingly successful strategy. Even a stand up guy, that would never condone that kind of behavior might have a hard time believing how prevalent this is because it’s so out of sight for him. It would be an alien concept to think a man would just drop trou and whack off to a 14 year old girl on the bus, on his way to a job that requires wearing a suit.

Once I was reliably read as a cis gendered man by the world, the very most I would get was occasionally an off colored joke in my presence. I almost never actually see the harassment that goes on every day for women, anymore.

It’s hard to differentiate crap socially acceptable jokes that are shitty to women and minorities from actual predatory behavior. Some guys just tell tacky unreflective jokes as a way to fit in, and some predators use it as a way to test the waters. If you aren’t really into the joke, a predator moves on to other people.

I had a racist guy try on a racial slur in my presence recently, and I asked him what the hell was wrong with him. He has steadfastly never once revealed any obviously indication of racism in my presence again. Yet, he shops Hitler picks to my other friends that froze in horror and laughed nervously as a reaction. He chooses who he shows this kind of thing to. I was strategically not a target for his shit anymore. He moved on to people that would not call him out.

This is why the people that predators surround themselves either just don’t care, if they are not shitty predators themselves. The Harvey Weinstein’s of the world, are careful to cultivate that, and enforce it with whatever power they have. (I know, if a guy is powerful enough, he can enforce acceptance of his harassment and assaults in the people around him, but that’s a totally different issue to what I’m talking about.)

My years of living as a woman are fading in the distance of time for me, but as I continue my life being accepted as male I have a couple of possible solutions.

The first is to take women at their word when they tell me they are uncomfortable around some men. No questions, and no issues. I know from first hand experience that I was not believed in so many small ways, so to believe women when they say they are being harassed is important.

When a woman makes it past the socially constructed barrier to make a fuss, she has already thought about the issue forever. She has dissected it, and weighed the possibility of “making a scene” versus how dangerously uncomfortable the predator makes her feel.

Secondly, I make it clear when the jokes come out about sexual assault (and racism) that I don’t think it’s funny. I am not going to give any social approval by laughing. I’m a bit more confrontational than most, but I feel it’s important not to be a part of a cultivated approval network for a guy that thinks he can get away with this kind of behavior.

However, by doing this, it means I will not see this kind of harassment or assault happen almost at all. By believing women, and not approving of these testing behaviors, predators will almost never engage in this behavior around me.

This is why good stand up men say they don’t see the harassment happen. Predators have identified them as someone that will not condone their behavior, and strategically prey upon their vulnerable victims elsewhere.

The best we can do, is make sure to be vigilant, keep a protective eye out towards those that are vulnerable to predation, and believe victims when they come forward.

 

 

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Rough few weeks

I have been quiet the last couple weeks because of many things.

First, I broke my foot a week ago last Tuesday in a stupid cubicle fall at work. It wasn’t my worst experience but that knocked me out for a week. So now here I am healthy enough to post more.

brokenfoot

The second reason, and probably the bigger cause of my silence is all the crap that Trump and his administration has been doing, and it shut me down being able to talk about it for awhile. I needed to regain some of my stability and center myself.

The problem is the administration has been doing way more than even I anticipated. This includes the previously talked about loss of medical for trans health services for Wolsey,  Jeff Sessions rolling back protections of transgender employees, and Jeff Sessions sending the DoJ to get involved in the Supreme Court case and saying that an employer can discriminate based on sexual orientation.

trumpprotection

This is alarming for all LGBTQIA people. That means anyone who falls in the spaghetti alphabet is deemed ok to discriminate by employers based on their sexual orientation and/or their transgender status.

This has been extremely anxiety inducing to us since we work for the most conservative non-religious organization out there (Department of Defense). We have already been told that it is very likely the rider preventing Wolsey’s trans medical care may be back. I then followed up and asked if he is protected from discrimination for his transgender status.

The local EEO people said they considered him still protected. However, the person I spoke to was bluntly honest and said that may not last much longer, it depended on how hard people above will push.

honesty.png

I then followed up with asking about this week’s DoJ proclamation about employers being able to discriminate. She was very clear about this a well and said absolutely that would not happen at this moment. She was also honest though and said that may not be true in three months, since we are the federal government and the DoJ is pushing against those protections.

Basically it will come down to a fight between the EEO and DOJ. One wants to protect people at risk, the other wants to follow the demands of a homophobic conservative movement. Sadly even she said if things don’t change the EEO will probably lose unless SCOTUS or Congress actually do something. Unlike people not working for the feds, the state laws don’t protect us (Washington State is incredibly protective over LGBTQIA), but like before with our healthcare issues in 2014/2015 they don’t have power over this employer.

screwed

What this does mean though is I am done with this job. For many reasons that include these reasons on top. I/We are not quitting today, Wolsey’s second surgery is still coming up at the end of November, but I think after we figure out where our debt load is, we might focus on paying our short term debt down and maybe get out by next summer. I won’t miss this place if it happens, and I definitely won’t miss working for the federal government.

 

 

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Changes with authorship

Just letting everyone know that Jello has not left the blog, but with the publishing of the book coming up he decided to coalesce his online presence and now Jello writes under “The Wolsey Blog”.

Same wonderful husband, same awesome writer. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up.

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Unisex Bathrooms

This post is only tangentially related to LGBTQIA, but I figure it may be beneficial to any trans*men who are transitioning and haven’t gotten much experience in traditional men’s bathrooms.

This last Saturday I went to Geek Girl Con. A fantastic con that promotes feminism, minorities and LGBTQIA people in geek culture. One of their trademarks is converting all the bathrooms to unisex bathrooms.

This isn’t the sign, I forgot to take a photo of that.

I love that unisex bathrooms are there. I don’t personally see a reason why its separate. After all, its illegal to harass someone no matter their gender anyways. It is true, I probably have some personal biases with Wolsey and bathroom bills anyways, but still that is how I have always felt.

Now, there is one thing that unisex bathrooms makes very clear. People raised as men are taught different bathroom etiquette then women. I have been told by Wolsey and prior girlfriends that it is allowable to talk with each other in the ladies bathroom. I also know it is evidently a surprise to a lot of women that this is definitely considered a no-no in boys bathroom.

So Saturday I walk into the unisex bathroom and there is a line for the stalls and the urinals. A couple of younger girls are talking and they start talking to me. I hesitantly respond, not because they aren’t interesting or there is an issue, but my entire training in life for men’s bathrooms was you don’t talk.

They are nice people of course, and so I do start talking. The line for the urinal was much faster so I walk over when its my turn and they are still talking to me. Just chatting away and no matter how hard I try I can’t go. They are behind me, so its not like there is any danger of them seeing, and they aren’t particularly interested in watching anyways, but they want to talk to me.

I stood there for several minutes thinking in my head that its all ok, just go ahead. It wasn’t until the ladies who were still talking to me both went into stalls that I was able to partially do my business. I finished, said goodbye and came out to Wolsey, who erupted into laughter the second I told him about it.

So key fact to all people using the men’s bathrooms for the first time (or sharing a bathroom with a man for the first time). There is a pretty explicit hard rule that we are raised with, you don’t talk to each other, especially not at a urinal. This of course only goes for public bathrooms, things change in relationships at home.

I am not saying that is the best option, of course we could relearn it and maybe be more easy going about it. However, until that day happens, other people who grew up using the men’s bathroom are going to be uncomfortable with you, and they will avoid using the bathrooms with you in the future.

Oh, and yes some men do talk to other men in the bathroom. I am not sure where they were when the rest of us learned the etiquette but it is sometimes awkward with other men.

Also, just a side note that this goes for bathroom stalls as well, it is generally considered not polite to start chatting to someone in the other stall, which is apparently contradictory to those who use the women’s bathrooms, or so I have been told.

 

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Some uncomfortable thoughts

I want to tell other partners of transitioning people that it is absolutely normal to miss your partner’s pre-transition form. They were part of you before the transition and they were shaped like that when you got with them. In my case, it was over 20 years together. This is absolutely normal and no one should shame you or make you feel bad that you may sometimes miss the form of the person you fell in love with. The problem is if you can’t let it go.

The last several weeks I have been scanning our old photos. We have a lot of negatives I have to scan and edit and these are all 10+ years old. They all have Wolsey in his pre-transition state and it caused some emotional baggage to come up. I realized I sometimes missed his old form for more than just being able to hold his hands or hug him in public (something I have covered in the past).

This sensation of loss doesn’t come often. I love the way he feels, smells like and sounds now, but sometimes when I see pictures of him from before, or we are talking about something prior to transition, or even sometimes just a movement or gesture will bring me back to his old self. I do in fact sometimes miss the way his body had felt, his scent and sounds. I don’t feel that way much anymore, but it still pops up sometimes.

After thinking about that for some time I realized that feeling comes up in other occasions, but at the time I couldn’t explain what I was feeling or why I was missing what he looked like. Unfortunately, these times are more uncomfortable, not because of him, but because of the reflection on me.

Before his transition, Wolsey used to do pinup modeling, was an incredibly attractive by society standards, and on top of that was incredibly alternative so it had an exotic feel. When he would walk into the room people noticed Wolsey, and by default me.

Some people would focus on me and question me on how did I end up with Wolsey, and what keeps Wolsey still wanting to be with me. I have to admit it did buoy my self-esteem that someone everyone thought was hot was with me. I admit I married up, but my self-esteem always thought it was a lot further up and their recognition of Wolsey being with me made me feel better.

It is uncomfortable to realize I miss Wolsey pre-transitioned for more reasons than originally expected when I think about it. The first was for intimacy which is acceptable and to be expected.

The second part is what bothers me, that I didn’t realize I was being sexist and that I sometimes had missed being able to take advantage of that sexism. Yep, that smacks my self-identity as someone who was fairly successful at not being sexist.

I never realized until now the benefits that I had with having a hot wife on my arm. I never intentionally wanted that status symbol that a lot of men seek out and now I find I am ashamed to actually miss it.

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TMI: Intimacy now

I figure I have gotten enough PM questions that I can give a general overview of things, but don’t worry there aren’t any gruesome details. I also have some more future thoughts I want to write about, and I think having this here is a good foundation for those posts.

Not this kind of foundation though.

I had always idly wondered if intimacy with Wolsey after his second surgery would be different. I had assumed not really, but there is a change in parts, and a change in hormones so I wasn’t sure.

Even with his top surgery, there wasn’t a lot of difference in our interactions except appearance and maybe an awkward automatic attempt to touch breasts that weren’t there. It was pretty funny when it happened, and Wolsey laughed about it so no bad things, but that was about it. The first couple of times we were intimate definitely showed me how automatic some reactions are when you are with the same person for decades.

I swear it wasn’t like this.

The second set of surgeries was a bit different. All trace of the intimate parts of my husband I had married were gone, and in their place, were new parts. There were new sensations for him and definitely a new pace/tempo.

I was flexible before any of this occurred, and I found with our new intimacy that it didn’t bother me or give me any negative reaction. In fact, his comfortableness with himself made our new intimacy that much better. He smiles more and just seems happier.

There is of course the relearning process of what he likes, and just general adjustments but overall there has been no negative consequences for me and intimacy when it comes to his transition.

So there is the answer many have asked for.

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