Remember the phrase ‘There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers’? I beg to differ on that one, especially since coming out as trans. Of course all of us trans people get the seemingly obligatory questions that are frankly invasive and none of other people’s business and which will probably continue until people are better educated and know better than to do so. Enquiring minds need to know and sensitivity be damned, right?
Luckily I’ve mostly escaped two of the most invasive ones of all so far; ‘What’s in your pants’? And ‘What toilet do you use’? In fact both have been asked once. The former wasn’t asked directly at me but to a co-worker by one of the residents I care for and my co-worker had the sense to tactfully tell them that it’s my own business and a rather personal question to ask should they feel the need to ask me directly. The latter was asked by my mum so a blunt ‘none of your business’ type reply wasn’t really on, so I ended up briefly telling her that I’d been using the ladies for some time and she was happy that I was comfortable to do so and that I’ve not had any trouble for doing this.
Anyway, the two big ones out of the way I’ll move onto the ones that others may or may not have been asked as well. Some are actually good questions, some rather annoying, some upsetting and some are downright bizarre. So here goes, and before we start, yes there is talk about sex and there’s mentions of self harm if you’re sensitive to reading these things.
First up, the thing I’m most asked about is my voice. Now this one I’ve already blogged about ( see Voice Feminisation ) so I’m not going to go in depth here, but it’s curious how so many people think that’s down to taking medication. Doesn’t work for us trans women I’m afraid, that’s all down to hard work, time and effort.
You still listen to heavy metal and play your bass?
Er yes, and why not? Do women not do these things? Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Halestorm, Against Me! and Evanescence. Just a few on my playlist, all of them fronted by female vocalists with Against Me! Being of particular interest as they are fronted by Laura Jane Grace, a trans woman and an inspiration of mine. Why the hell would I ditch a form of music I’ve enjoyed most of my life and has been a source of support throughout my life now? As for the bass, the only thing that’s changed on that front is I’m relearning how to play as I’m now using a pick to prevent my nails being smashed up.
I’m guessing this all stems from the good old gender stereotypes and people assuming that because I’m transitioning I’m going to dump anything that’s either male oriented or from my past life. Not going to happen. I largely enjoy what I used to do though there have been changes in the way I engage in some activities, such as now playing female roles when re-enacting for instance. I will admit I did giggle when at one event six guys couldn’t figure out how the traversing mechanism for one of the gun worked, which I then sorted out in about six seconds.
I got similar looks of surprise when I replaced the passenger side door of the car recently. What, girls can’t do mechanic stuff? I can’t say I particularly enjoy playing amateur mechanic but it’s a simple job and saves a lot of money getting someone else to do it, money I can use on other things such as hair removal and appointments.
Are those your real nails?
Last time I checked yes. True I bit my nails for the best part of 30 years but that stopped after I came out (weird eh?) and I’ve been able to grow a lovely set of nails that I take great care of. Why would being trans have any bearing on my ability to own a set of real nails anyway? I will admit there is a part of me that smiles inside when people ask me this one because it means I’m doing a good job with taking care of my nails. As for the painting? Well being a make-up toting goth all these years taught me useful things like keeping a steady hand to paint them and being able to do a reasonable job with my make-up each day, which is something else I’ve been asked about.
Are you sure you’re trans? It must be a phase.
Let’s see, before coming out I was miserable, depressed, had several mental health crises which have left a permanent reminder on my body as a result, had zero self esteem, self worth and confidence and hated my body and image. Trans me is happy because I can finally be myself, my depression has disappeared, I have self worth and esteem and Richard has commended on how I appear more confident now, namely that I have some confidence. As for my body image, there’s things I hate still but at least I’m in a position to put things right and move forward. If finally being happy with myself is a phase then I’m going to do my damnedest to make it a lifelong one.
When did you know?
This is actually a good question and I’ve taken some time thinking about this. Some people know from an early age and others it takes a while for all the pieces to slide into place. I’m the latter but looking back if I had some education on the matter when I was younger I might well have come out at a younger age. I’ve lost track of how many different events and thoughts I’ve had throughout the years that all make sense now I am out and on my journey and I’m glad I’ve made sense of everything and able to get on living now.
You’re trans, so you and Richard are breaking up then?
To be fair, I thought trans = end of relationship for a long while. With a lack of visible role models and soap like horror break up stories in the back of my mind it’s the biggest reason why I stayed in the closet as long as I have. Now I know better having met several couples who are negotiating their own transition journeys together and given us hope. Thankfully Richard has stuck by me and we’re well past the point of wondering if our relationship can survive. Admittedly we’re still working out some of the finer points such as intimacy, what to do with old pictures we have hanging around the house, and Richard getting used to the changes to my body but eight months on and we’re still together and I think closer than beforehand now there isn’t a huge barrier I’d been hiding behind.
Does this mean you’re both straight now?
If I’m honest I really don’t think much about sexuality these days. If I find you attractive then that’s that. Man, woman, trans, non-binary, doesn’t matter. Recently it struck me that aside from Richard there hasn’t been a man I’ve seen and though was worth a second glance, much less think about jumping into bed with, though with my libido being rather absent for the most part who knows in the long term? I’ve long since become comfortable with the fact that sexuality is more fluid than we may think it is.
But what about other people, how do you think they feel about this?
No disrespect, but this is about me and my happiness. I can’t hide who I am any more and I won’t. Without sounding melodramatic I’d pick death over being forced back into the closet and if I hadn’t come out I was coming up to a point where visiting those dark days again was becoming a certainty, and I’ve got enough reminders of the last time which I shall carry on me fore the rest of my days. The thought of having to present as a man ever again fills me with dread and if I did this again I’d break down and cry.
Having a hubbie, family and friends all being on board with things and amazingly supportive as they have is a bonus and has made this whole transition a hell of a lot smoother than it could have been, but if I had to go it alone, I would have done.
How do you and hubbie do ‘it’?
Er excuse me? This should be your business why? Yes I have been asked this one. Well frankly not too much has changed. I lay down and Richard does his thing. Richard has always been on top and in charge in the bedroom and it’s an arrangement I’ve always been happy and comfortable with, but we have come to an understanding that there’s certain things I can’t/won’t do because of it triggering my dysphoria. Truth be told we’re still figuring this one out as I’ve got the added complication of my libido having gone off for a long holiday due to my dysphoria and the hormones I’m taking. With various hrt related changes I am learning to enjoy intimacy again as a woman and all the wonderful sensations I now feel and try and ignore the dysphoria and if I can do that I’ve found intimacy to be more enjoyable than ever.
What’s you old name and can I see your old pictures?
No. Don’t ask it, don’t expect me to answer it and don’t be surprised if I rip your head off for doing so. To be honest though, most people who know me know my dead name anyway and anyone who didn’t know me could probably work it out without asking if they’re that way inclined given there’s only two letters different between the old and new.
Same answer goes too for asking if you can see old pics of me. There’s only two of those I’m comfortable with keeping on view at home, both of which I’ve decided to put up after I begun my transition and those are of dad holding me as a newborn and a cute pic when I was 4 years old, wearing my mum’s apron, pretending to cook, rocking a girly bob cut and a massive smile on my face.
Why do you not like me using ‘tranny’?
Same reason why it’s totally inappropriate to call a gay man a faggot or a black person the ‘N’ word. It’s derogatory so stop it or we’re going to have a serious problem here. We have trans, transgender, trans woman/man to use instead.
Questions involving my daily routine.
Do I still shave? What make up do I use? What underwear you you wear? Are those real breasts? Those are some of the questions I’ve been asked and there’s likely others which escape me right now. Again, it’s stuff that’s mostly none of anyone’s business unless I decide to talk about it.
I recently learned at work I’m not the only woman who has to deal with the issue of facial hair and we’re able to have a laugh about this and it’s great that I’m in a work environment where I feel relaxed enough to do this.
Make-up? I’m more than happy to discuss this and trade tips and insight with anyone who’s interested, same with the nails. Asking what I wear underneath my clothes? Really?
As for asking about my breasts, asking about them is bad enough, but copping a feel? I don’t need to spell out why this is wildly inappropriate and yes this has happened, at work no less. The only reason I didn’t slap them to the ground on the spot is because it was one of the residents who did this and I let them know in no uncertain terms that this is not something they should do again. Thankfully they haven’t but it was a surreal and scary moment when they did this.
Does this mean your husband will transition too?
I am not making that one up. Someone actually asked me this. Where do I start with this? Let’s just say that this was someone who had known us to have been in a long term gay relationship and thought that because of this we’d both transition. In a nutshell I think they got the ideas of gender and sexuality rather tangled up. It doesn’t work like that, though stranger things have happened in the world and if Richard told me one day he was intending to transition so then I would be very happy and I would do everything in my power to help.
In fact it is something hubbie and I have joked about because of things he’s done, such as inadvertently picking up and wearing my jeans and sending love emoji’s of two women in love when messaging me. We’ve got to that stage in this journey where we feel comfortable to joke like this and I’m so relieved and lucky that we can do this, likewise I know just how damn lucky I am that the worst I’ve had to put up with so far are occasionally annoying and invasive questions when I know other trans people have had things much worse.
Anyway, as it’s that time of year, have a happy Christmas, holiday, Hogswatch or whatever you do with family and loved ones. Stay safe and love and light to you all.