Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Be the Change...

Well, I found myself at it again. Last spring semester I spoke to my undergrad classmates about transgender issues, which was sort of a big step. It was publicly acknowledging another facet of my identity beyond being Gay, that I am trans, with a diagnosis of GID (according to the DSM at any rate. *snort*)
I was at that time nervous, and felt like I was really under a microscope. Fortunately, I also had fellow speakers to take over when I got tongue tied - a friend of mine whose partner is a successful FTM (post transition - unfortunately his work schedule kept him from attending) and my own partner, Dreamweaver. It turned out to be an excellent day, and I felt very positive about having done it.

A week ago, Dreamweaver was taking her graduate Sex Ed therapy class - a week long intensive that covered sexual issues that could come through a therapists door. Of course, gay and trans issues were covered. Dreamweavers teacher has an MTF person that she usually has come in to speak to the class, except that she could not make it. Dreamweaver spoke with the teacher and I suddenly at the very last possible moment, found myself speaking to a class room of graduate level therapist majors as a trans advocate. This happened so fast I did not have time to call my friends and get them into the picture with me and believe me I WANTED them there!

The difference between speaking to a graduate class studying therapy and an undergraduate psych class was amazing. Dreamweaver's class mates were focused on "what do we do as therapists" questions and asked a lot of them, all of them very perceptive and attentive. I was able to speak about the subject on a much higher level - I was able to address binary heteranormative issues and religious issues, and yes, people like me will come through your door, and not all of them want to transition. Yes it has affected my family ties, my job, my choices in life, even my relationship with Dreamweaver.

And I got in the point that I came to the class on fire to say - that sexuality, gender and orientation are so complex and varied, that no scale or box or schema can contain it...that each
person's combination of those things is as unique and individual as their own fingerprint! That is what I really wanted them to get out side of the boxes, and the diagnoses and the preconceptions they might have about the GLBTQ community.

It was an amazing, wonderful and affirming experience - and I truly felt and Dreamweaver affirmed after talking to her class mates, that I did make a difference. The following day, the MTF woman was able to come speak to the class after all, so they got to meet her. And then at the end of the day, as the class were presenting their book discussions, Dreamweaver got to talk about the struggle to find material concerning GLBTQ sexual issues on the bookshelf (not on line - on the shelf. Big issue there!) and one of her other classmates stepped up and came out of the closet as a gay in her discussion.

All around, it was a highly successful scenario, even if I did have to wing it alone. Hopefully next time I can get enough warning to bring my friends. I am not sure where this will all lead me, but I am feeling that stir of this is important - pay attention - this connects with things you want to do with your life. We will see where the journey leads next on the Labyrinth...


  1. I actually liked the fact that you did not have to share the stage. I think that transitioned folks could easily steal the show because it's such a train wreck for heteronormitive student therapists who are satisfied with their own identity/sexual orientation/gender. It's easy for someone who has transgendred to upstage you simply because the uninitated are too busy staring, figuring how out to match the reality of what they see with the story they are told. Yet, the transitioned person also has a simplier story because (supposedly) the transition solves the problem.

    You deliberately choose to remain in the gray areas of gender dysphoria, which can be an uncomfortable place for you and for the therapist. There's no "easy" fix (as if gender surgery and totally disrupting not just your life, but spouse, children and other family lives, too, is easy). Your decision to remain in the middle of the gender continuim defies conventional wisdom of "take a pill" and "do a surgery" and problem solved. So you challege student therapists in a unique way that is much needed and much valued.

  2. See comments on DreamWeaver's original post on this.