This is Me.

I’ve written before about the idea of transitioning, and how, in hindsight, I’ve always felt far more masculine. I’ve also written about how my family catered to this, buying me “boy’s” toys and letting me play baseball and football with the guys in the neighborhood.

I'm the one with the long hair. 7 years old and I'm in a sweater vest. Hindsight - 20/20
I’m the one with the long hair. 7 years old and I’m in a sweater vest. Hindsight – 20/20

But I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about it. As it turns out, those feelings of wanting to explore that side of me run deeper than I realized. I’ve been trying out different pronouns and Mira commented on it the other night. Although she has been totally supportive of my identity exploration, she was a bit surprised that I went from her/she pronouns right to he/him and bypassed they/them/their altogether, while being less sure about moving in the direction of identifying as a trans man.

And that, along with thoughts bouncing around in my own head, has led me to realize a few things.

Lately, I’ve been trying on he/him/his pronouns. Basically, I’ve been telling people to use what feels comfortable to them, because I’m not entirely sure where I am on all of this. Some people refer to me as he and some people still use she.

She feels comfortable to me, and he…well, I’m still getting used to it. It sounds foreign to my ears. It has this strange sense of familiarity…like I’m experiencing deja vu.

But there’s a part of me that is almost…forcing me to feel uncomfortable with it. And then it dawned on me. For 34 years, I’ve been a girl, and then a woman. At least that’s how society has viewed it. Or at least the majority of people in my world. Until recently.

When I started talking about how I’ve always wanted facial hair and a muscular body, the responses I get are always extremely affirming. Like there isn’t a question that that’s who I’m supposed to be.

Yet I still have this feeling that it’s not right. Again…34 years a woman, by societal standards. I’ve spent my life being conditioned to believe that I am a woman, nothing more, nothing less. So when I hear “he” in reference to me, of course it will sound foreign to me. Because he is who I am becoming. He was the kid who played football with the other guys. He was the kid who was socially awkward because he would much rather have had the advantages that the other guys did in school. He was the one who wanted to be able to talk about his crushes on girls.

The feeling is a nagging one, not of guilt or shame, but more of whether or not I’m being silly. Remember, I grew up in a Conservative household. Gender was always very clear. Man. Woman. Woman was the submissive to Man, despite the fact that when my parents got married, they changed the vows from “man and wife” to “husband and wife”. My idea of gender was always a bit confused.

My mom would buy me G.I. Joe, Micro Machines, baseballs, footballs, basketballs…she told me she’d never make me wear a skirt if I didn’t want to, yet I had to wear a dress under my graduation gown in my senior year.

I’ve never wanted feminine things. And I was taught that that’s okay. But growing up around a family that had such strong anti-gay views, where any talk of the trans* community resulted in someone (usually mom) making a comment about ‘shemales’, made it difficult to explore any aspect of that for me.

I don’t stand in the mirror and hate my body. And this voice, this nagging voice, when I look at myself and see that bit of beard, or that adam’s apple, or those muscles in my shoulder or a flat chest…I hear

drag
Me. In drag. The facial hair is a little rough, but not bad for a first attempt.

“You’re not really a trans man, you’re just being fanciful.”

“Just keep being a butch lesbian. It’s so close to what you want anyway, and you can always be a drag king to make up for the rest…”

“Are you sure about all of this? You don’t have real dysphoria.”

And I wonder. That doubt creeps up, and I wonder if…

I wonder if…

In high school, my debate teacher taught us that the Negative side in debate, if they were good, could “what if” the debate all the way to nuclear war.

So I wonder if

And with that comes what if I get fired because I come out as trans at work and it freaks people out and what if I lose friends and what if it’s all wrong and I’m not really trans and what if I can’t handle this and what if what if what if…

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But, I have always prided myself on the fact that I’m me. I’m Teri, and I’ve always been Teri, and I will always be Teri. It’s just now that Teri wants the facial hair he’s always desired, and to have the muscles he’s always been able to envision.

I think more that it’s not “he” that sounds unfamiliar, but the idea that a new chapter in my life is unfolding before me…it’s exciting and scary, and it’s amazing and terrifying. But that won’t stop me. I have beautiful friends and family around me to support me.

And I think when I start hearing “him” I’ll know that he is me, and to some degree, always has been.

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The Agenda of Paranoia

Disney-logoDisney’s at it again. It’s already bad enough that they host the Gay Days, but now their movies are starting to promote the gay agenda in them as well.

Thanks to the ‘Well-Behaved Mormon Woman’, we can now see what Disney’s program really is all about. She breaks down Disney’s blockbuster, Frozen, and shows us what the story is really about.

Brace yourselves. This is a *big* deal.

It’s about…same-sex marriage…*gasp*

I know, I know. I was floored too. But wow, her logic is completely undeniable. Here’s the link to her post:

http://wellbehavedmormonwoman.blogspot.com/2014/02/movie-frozen-gay-homosexual-agenda.html#.UwUrAWJdUsA

Now, of course, I’ll break it down accordingly and respond to her responses with my own responses.

She looks like she has an agenda
She looks like she has an agenda

I’ll admit, I haven’t watched the movie, and I doubt that I will. But I cannot allow myself to go on in life without a response.

Ultimately, this Mormon woman (now before you yell at me about stereotyping, let me just say – she started it) has broken down what she sees as the main themes of the story, along with their homosexual aspects.

For those of you who don’t want to bother reading her ridiculous correlations between the movie Frozen and the ‘gay agenda’ (whatever that is – I used to have an itinerary…does that count?) I’ll start off by posting her ‘Sidebar’ and addressing that:

Sidebar: Let me be very clear about one thing, I am not anti-gay nor am I here to judge homosexuals not worthy of their rightful and respectful place among society. However, I draw the line at the idea of redefining traditional marriage to include homosexual relationships, as equal. Meaning, that as a Christian, I believe that acting on same-sex attraction is contrary to God’s will, and therefore SSM should not be legalized. Because I hold this value and voice it freely, does not mean that I am trying to force it on anyone – anymore than those who feel opposite and advocate for their position intend to force SSM on me, personally – both have the right [to freely advocate an oppositional position] and should not be demonized, regardless of where society takes us, as a whole.

So right off the bat, the Mormon woman is saying – ‘it’s okay….but’ – that whole idea that if you pre-define yourself as being accepting, the bullshit that comes out of your mouth next is also acceptable. That’s like saying that the fact that some gay people work at the same place you do makes you eligible to be the Grand Marshall in the Pride Parade.

She claims not to judge homosexuals, but then goes on through her entire post to judge Disney based on her assumption of an animated movie about a little girl. So apparently she doesn’t judge homosexuals, but everyone else is fair game…

Basically she’s prefacing her entire post by saying “Yes, I know my opinion is going to probably piss some people off, but its okay, because those same people piss me off too. And although I don’t judge anyone, because I’m religious and all, I don’t believe in equality.”

She could have just said, “This is my damn blog, and I’ll write about whatever the hell I want to.” (or ‘heck’. After all, she is ‘well-behaved’.)

She goes on:

Elsa has a great power that she has been taught by her parents from the time she was a child, is not publicly acceptable and that she must fear its expression, at all cost, thus hide it from people, even her own sister who could be hurt by it – even killed. Shame is at the core of Elsa’s feelings about her magical powers: same-sex attraction.

As Elsa’s power increases, her parents’ urge her to learn how to control it, as it would be perceived as evil to others, but Elsa can’t; it’s impossible. Her parents’ make the decision to close the castle to the public, and lock Elsa in her room so that her power won’t be discovered. Not even her sister is allowed to see and play with Elsa: demonetization of homosexuals by society.

Elsa is devastatingly lonely and depressed being forced to live a life of isolation, believing her powers to be evil. Her sister, kept from the truth, and affected by the inflicted secrecy also becomes victim to the dysfunction of her family and experiences equal isolation and confusion: not “coming out” and being who you are meant to be (acting on the power) is harmful to the person, family and society. 

Okay. First off, this woman apparently sees same-sex attraction as some kind of ‘power’. That’s some crazy shit right there. I wonder if I could join the X-Men? I could be known as Dyke – and wear flannel shirts and combat boots, have a rainbow mohawk, and drive a tricked out U-Haul truck.

And as far as I knew, society in general wasn’t demonizing homosexuality anymore. I thought it was mostly the Conservatives and crazy religious people who called themselves ‘Christians’ who hated us.

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Look at that strong jawline…

Sidebar: If you’re going to go off on a crazy diatribe about the ‘gay agenda’ make sure you get your terms right. Demonetization is actually the stopping of using a particular metal to make coins, or the act of withdrawing units of money from circulation. I know Susan B. Anthony looks rather masculine, but I’m sure you meant demonizing

I’m also not exactly sure how ‘being who you are meant to be’ is a bad thing. I mean, isn’t that sort of like your calling? And aren’t men of the cloth generally called by a high power? Could you imagine if they didn’t ‘come out’? Why, there’d be no one to lead you! Yes of course! Embracing who you are is bad! It’s the root of all evil, isn’t it?

She continues in this manner, even bringing up the fact that the main character is destined to be a ‘queen’, telling her readers to interpret that however they want. *wink, wink* I mean, it’s so unnatural to think that a princess could become a queen.

The ridiculous thing is that this sort of thinking can be applied to any movie. The X-Men? They even have a separate school for these social misfits. And the men wear spandex! You can’t get much gayer than that.

Sharon271
She’s just a little too hot for me

Silent Hill – there’s a whole friggin’ church who dislikes people who are ‘different’ than them – so much so they’ll burn them at the cross (The lesbian-looking police officer, no less).

The Goonies, Spiderman, Batman – hell, any superhero movie (esp. Hellboy)…In fact, any movie in which the hero had a great obstacle to overcome, something he or she struggled with, or some great power the hero had to recognize, could be picked apart to represent the ‘gay agenda’. Any movie that showed the outcast winning over her peers or having to do some soul searching or commit some great sacrifice could be considered part of the ‘gay agenda’.

The utter bullshit of her entire post though, is the fact that every piece of convoluted logic she uses to show that Frozen is pushing some ulterior motive to further homosexuality, can be used to describe the plight of anyone that has faced adversity in their lives. If the hero was in a wheelchair, would this ‘well-behaved’ woman be raging about how Disney is pushing the ‘handicapped agenda’? If the hero was an elf, is Disney pushing the ‘little people agenda’?

You see, Well-Behaved Mormon Woman, homosexuals don’t have any ‘agenda’, except, perhaps those who would normally have agendas – Chairmen, politicians…and apparently some crazy religious people.

What bothers me is this woman, who claims to be religious, is upset by the fact that the story is telling kids to be who they are, and that the problem isn’t about who they are, but how everyone else perceives them. So ultimately – the problem isn’t you, it’s everyone else. So in essence, this woman is saying that if you don’t fit within someone’s set of norms and values, you should change yourself or hide parts of yourself so that you are acceptable by everyone else and can be neatly packaged with these norms and values.

She tries to make it about same sex marriage. But in the end, all I can draw from this post is that a certain woman should be treated for paranoia, and a deep seated hate for anyone different than her.

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Yes. That’s Freddie Mercury. And yes, he is being carried by a unicorn. Your argument is invalid.

Casual Homophobia

While the LGBT community has made leaps and bounds increasing tolerance and acceptance, homophobia is still clearly evident in our society. We are used to seeing the hate-laced diatribes of members of the Religious Right hell-bent on putting all homosexuals on an island, and then blowing that island up. We hear the ignorant remarks from politicians, celebrities, corporate officers, and citizens as they try to condemn us to eternal damnation or convince us that we’re second class citizens.

But what we’re missing (or at least I missed it) is another, quieter form of homophobia – Casual Homophobia. It’s a term I hadn’t heard of until today. And it’s running rampant through social media, especially among the younger generation.

Initially, I was going to just discuss the origins of some of the pejorative language, like faggot and dyke. I still plan on doing that, because it’s important to know how these terms came about, and when they became derogatory. However, in doing research for the post, I ran across a website with some incredibly sad statistics. It’s run by The Institute for Sexual Minority Studies And Services, within the University of Alberta.

No Homophobes

The site looks for the use of faggot, dyke, ‘no homo’, and ‘so gay’ in Tweets posted on Twitter. That was the current count just for today, at about 5:27 pm. Over twenty five thousand tweets contained the word faggot or fag. You can see for yourself how quickly the numbers climb by clicking on the picture. From there, you can also see the use of the tweets as they roll in.

thats-so-gay-sound-machine-2So what is casual homophobia? It’s using phrases like ‘That’s so gay!’ in an incredibly passive manner, not paying attention to what that phrase actually implies. It’s the act of complacency we partake in when we don’t call people out for saying ‘that’s so gay!’ regardless of how innocuous the statement may seem. The website defines casual homophobia as language we use that may not be intended to be hurtful to any one particular person or group of people, but is ultimately rooted in a derogatory nature.

As the site says, we’ve addressed racist language. Terms like nigger are considered highly volatile language and are classified under hate speech. We’ve worked at addressing sexist language as well. Rather than say ‘mankind’ we’re far more likely to use the all-inclusive ‘humanity’.

But little to nothing has been done to address homophobic and transphobic language. As members and supports of morgan-freeman-on-homophobiathe LGBT community, that falls upon us. We need to make a big stink about this. Because this is a situation where sticks, stones, and words can hurt. The impact of the term dyke may face no real consequence with me personally, but it could seriously affect someone struggling with their sexual identity. It could keep them from being who they really are, and in extreme cases, push them over the edge to suicide.

Embracing these terms is not enough. Sure, it might be fine if a gay man and his group of friends call each other faggot or fairy in a playful manner. Yeah, it may make the impact of the word sting a bit less. But it doesn’t lessen the impact of the word faggot when someone else uses it to try and demean someone else.

Dykes_on_Bikes_logoI’m not saying that groups like Dykes on Bikes are in the wrong. They’re proud of who they are, and make a show of it by taking the word and flinging it back at protesters. But for that teenage boy who feels completely alone in this world because the other teenagers around him call each other fags, embracing the term isn’t going to help him feel accepted.

Letting people know it’s not okay to equate gay with stupid or wrong – that’s what needs to 4436265052_Homophobia_xlargebe done. Telling your friends that the word fag is not acceptable – put a stop to it. Of course we have freedom of speech, but that only falls to the constraints that government cannot restrict or restrain speech (certain exceptions apply, even then). We also have the right to live our lives without fear that death could be a justifiable reaction for who we are.

I ask you to visit this website. Take a look at the tweets. Think about what casual homophobia means. Then do something about it.

I’ll be writing an origin of homophobic language in the next post.

Come out, come out, wherever you are….

closet

So I suppose the best place to start is with my own story. My coming out story is not full of glitter and unicorns, but it’s not full of venom and the fires of Hell, either.

They say hindsight is 20/20, and I believe it. Looking back, I realize my lesbianism was prominent as a child. I didn’t play with Barbies and Easy Bake ovens. I was a tomboy, and my toy chest was full of Micro Machines and G.I. Joes. I played baseball with the boys. Ironically, there was this game we would play, a free-for-all football game where everyone would try and tackle the person carrying the football. I carried the football most of the time. The name of the game? Smear the Queer.

I always cringed when someone would call someone else a ‘fag’. Those words, like faggot and dyke, stirred the same reaction in me as words like ‘cunt’ and the n-word. I can’t even type it, it bothers me so much.  But it was a natural reaction, not something taught to me by my parents. It was automatic that I hated these words. This is rather ironic considering I grew up in a very Conservative household, one where Rush Limbaugh graced the living room and kitchen every day.

I used to have really sexually charged dreams about women when I was young. The youngest I can remember, was when I was 8. I never thought they were wrong, but I never told anyone either. It was in my mind, where everything was safe and nothing was subject to debate.

When I was 11, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I relapsed when I was 17, so my teen years were not like those of my peers. I didn’t have the opportunity to explore any aspect of sexuality during those times. I was busy fighting for my life, not the affections of the star quarterback. During that time, my focus was completely somewhere else. I never went on a date, was never asked to any dances. I spent my high school years as everyone’s friend. As the ‘sick kid’ that everyone knew. And that was fine by me. That entire time, not once did I face the pressure of having sex or the worries of teen pregnancy.

I graduated high school, and went off to the local community college. I lived at home and had a full-time job. I wasn’t really out on my own, because I’d still come home to mom, Imus, and Rush. However, I finally had the opportunity to explore my sexuality. I found a gay and lesbian website with a chat room, and started talking to women on this site. I started to realize that I always found women more attractive than men. I felt incredibly comfortable flirting online with women. It was easy, natural. It came as normally to me as putting on pants.

I’ll never forget my first experience in a gay bar. I walked down the stairs and into the crowd. The lights were flashing and the music was loud. And I was home. I was so comfortable and at ease. I met some incredible people, and for the first time in my life, I was being hit on. I felt attractive and desired and wanted. The people here were accepting of me, and even they didn’t question whether or not I belonged. Again, I had come home.

I started going to the bar on Fridays and Saturdays. And this is when things became a bit more complicated. When I realized my homosexuality, I knew I couldn’t tell my parents. So I came up with stories about where I was going.

“Oh, I’m going out to the bar with some friends from work.”

“I’m going to the bar with Stephanie and some of the guys. Their names? Oh…uh, Mark, Jack, Peter…”

Suddenly I felt like Jan Brady talking about her non-existent boyfriend, George Glass.

Eventually I found myself in a relationship. We would meet up at the bar, hang out on the weekends. I was 22 or 23, and still living at home. My bouts with cancer in my teen years forced me to experience other aspects of growing up a bit later than most, including getting my own apartment and living on my own. The relationship was going well, except during holidays. Her family lived out of state, and when the holidays rolled around, I was faced with a dilemma.

I hadn’t come out to my parents, so how in the world could I possibly bring my girlfriend to family functions? The answer? I didn’t. I went to family functions by myself, leaving my girlfriend to her own devices. Was it wrong? Yes. But I saw no other way at the time. She came to me, and told me how much it bothered her. That was when I decided to come out.

I knew it wouldn’t go that easily. My ‘cover’ had nearly been blown on several occasions, including a time when a lesbian friend called and left a message on the answering machine for me. Her and her girlfriend wanted to hang out. My mom confronted me about the message, saying that ‘some dyke’ had called for me, and why was she calling me? I lied through my teeth. Poorly. I said I had no idea who it was. I was about as believable as organized religion.

I knew how my Dad would react. Laid-back, relaxed Dad would shrug his shoulders, joke about it, and in the end tell me that I’m his daughter, and he loves me no matter what. My Mom, on the other hand, would probably kick me out, if not disown me. So I decided to tell them separately.

I wrote a letter to Mom ahead of time. Straightforward and to the point, I wrote that I was a lesbian, and I was coming out, but that didn’t change who I was. I got home from work later at night, and Dad got home around the same time. We sat up and I told him I was a lesbian, and he nodded his head, gave me a hug, and told me that I’m his daughter, and that he loves me no matter what. He then went and got Mom. She sat down on the couch, and I handed her the letter. She crumpled it up and threw it at me, and told me to grow up and just tell her what I needed to.

I told her. “Mom, I’m a lesbian.”

I’ll never forget her response.

“Not in my house. I will not have that around my daughter.”

She was talking about my younger sister. I was confused. Was she disowning me? Was I no longer her daughter? I knew I had to leave. I told her I had a place to live, because I did figure she would kick me out. I packed a bag and left that night. My Mom didn’t disown me, but the fact that she ‘suddenly’ had a homosexual daughter, was a taboo topic. It didn’t get discussed.

My Mom passed away in 2006 from cancer. When she was diagnosed, I moved home to take care of her. I felt it was my mom 'n meduty, even though our relationship would never be like what her and my sister had. Mom spent the last few weeks of her life in Hospice, and the night before she passed, she called me to her bedside. There she told me she was sorry that we weren’t as close as she had wanted. She also told me she was proud of me, that she was always proud of me.

In that moment, I had achieved perfect acceptance by my Mom. It wasn’t direct or deliberate, but it didn’t matter. She didn’t have to say that she accepted my homosexuality, but all my life I had striven to hear those words. Everything I did, I presented to her, in the hopes that I’d hear her say she was proud of me. She was proud. She was filled with pride when she looked at me. That was acceptance for me.

She passed at 5:30 the next morning, in her sleep. It was peaceful, and the end to a painful journey for her. But she left knowing that any rift between us was healed, and that her daughter knew that Mom loved her, and most importantly, was proud of her.

Pride is a big deal in the GLBT community. Pride in who we are as a people. But pride comes in many forms. And for me, there’s nothing quite like the pride of knowing your family loves you for who you are. I’m proud of who I am, and although it took a while, my Mom let me know she’s proud of who I am as well.

It’s never too late to feel true acceptance.

So that’s my story. Like I said, no glitter and unicorns, but no demons, either.

What’s your story?