Living Semi-Stealth. Sort of.

16 03 2011

OK, so the whole posting every week thing lasted a grand 2 months. Not out of lack of things to say, just out of a lack of energy. As some of you know, I’m in the midst of doctoral research in a small community in Northern Quebec. Lately, I’ve been more and more involved in the community and have very little time to myself. And the little time I do have I (mostly unsuccessfully) try to keep as Jacky self-care time.

But I thought I would drop a line about how interesting it has been living “semi-stealth.” Back home, everyone who knows me knows that I’m trans. For the most part, it’s because they knew me before. But even knew people that I meet find out soon enough because I frequently like to joke around about “that time when I was in the girl scouts” or “when I was in labour” and so forth. Also, most new people I meet are some flavour of queer, or close enough, so that transngess and GQness is something that is pretty usual to talk about.

Living in a small community where there are few queers and where those who are queer tend to stay fairly quiet about it, it’s not something that has come up very often. People that knew me from prior visits know but, since they didn’t see me through the transition, memories of Nancy are far back enough to be somewhat irrelevant to them. An exception is a former lover who doesn’t really want to communicate too much out of discomfort because “OH MY GOD he had sex with a woman who then became a man, does that make him GAY?!?!” But I knew that this was going to happen before I transitioned, and I decided to transition anyway. I loved him, and still do, but chose self love over his love. So his reaction doesn’t really phase me. Other than that, my son, as always, calls me Mommy, which leads to some confusion, but most people have simply taken it in stride. The few people I’ve come out to, because it just came up, have taken it in stride as well. So…no big deal really.

Now, I don’t really care if people know. But since I don’t bring it up unless it comes up (like if someone actually asks me why my son calls me “Mommy” or the time someone actually mentioned a film by one of my trans idols, Lazlo Pearlman), I don’t wind up bringing it up very often. So most people in town believe that that A) I’m a guy, through and through – as opposed to a blend, which is how I actually feel and identify with people that matter – and that B) I’ve always been one. It’s a strange feeling for me, because I’m not into being stealth at all and I’m not used to people just assuming that I was once a little boy.

I am quite surprised that gossip hasn’t gotten around more…or maybe it has. Two of my students were conversing in their own language one time and I heard the term “sex change” pass between them but they didn’t look at me. So it might be that there have been rumours, but since people (students, their parents, colleagues) like me well enough, it didn’t wind up mattering.

Who knows. I still have a few months left here so all kinds of things could happen in the meantime. We’ll see.



A vow

26 01 2011

Recently, I’ve been trying to educate myself about the realities of asexual people and intersex people. I’ve been writing and speaking about “LGBT” issues for a long time, and often more specifically about the B and T that directly affect me. Years ago, I adopted LGBT as a shorthand for all non-heteronormative and non-cis identities and in doing so, I’m increasinly aware that I’ve been guilty of contributing to the erasure of a whole bunch of other people.

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The Requisite 2010 Review

1 01 2011

Like many bloggers, I figured I’d review my year. It’s not like I have any parties to go to! So I may as well. I’m not assuming that anyone really cares to read all this so I’m mostly doing it for me. There are some trans-related things here and there but I’ve either already blogged about them or will in the future.

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On adjectives

25 12 2010

For the first time ever, after I started my transition, I had to get used to changing the way I used adjectives in reference to myself when speaking French. Unlike English, French adjectives are gendered according to the gender of the noun or person that they describe. So, for example, the “green” in “green apple” is different from the “green” in “green curtain.” Pomme, or apple, is a feminine noun so a green apple is une pomme verte. Rideau, or curtain, is a masculine noun so a green curtain is un rideau vert.

It follows then that a feminine identified person would refer to themselves, when expressing fullness or certainty, for example, with a feminine adjective, as I had done all my life up until transition when saying Je suis pleine or Je suis certaine. Suddenly, as with the signature issue, I would catch myself about to use an adjective with a feminine ending rather than with a masculine ending. It took a while for things like Je suis plein and Je suis certain to come naturally. But eventually they did. As did referring to myself as my mom’s son rather than daughter and my siblings’ brother rather than sister.

Things wind up working out eventually.

On signatures

25 12 2010

There is a lot of stuff out there on various aspects of life during and after transition. Ya know, hormones, surgery, getting letters, changing names and sex designation, how to deal with family, colleagues, medical practitioners. All that stuff. But as with anything, there are things that you don’t realise you will have to deal with until they come up. Lots of little things.

For example, it struck me early on that I would have to re-learn how to sign my name! When I started having to sign Jacky XXXX instead of Nancy YYYY (HA! Ironic association of letters with genders there!), it felt so . . . weird. I hadn’t put any thought at all into my signature until my early teens, when I “naturally” adopted my own unique individual way of signing my name. Before that, I had experimented with different ways of “fancifying” my signature, with froo-froo ways of adding little twists and curls to the first letter of my first and last names and so forth. At some point, I wound up signing with a block letter (non-script) version of the first letter of each name, with the rest of each name in non-fancy script form. It stuck and, when I think about it, my signature reflects my general character: somewhat plain and straightforward looking on the surface, with ideosyncracies that become more apparent upon examination.

In any case, my signature remained unchanged for over 20 years. And as lots of us know, when one does the same thing over and over again on a nearly daily basis for that amount of time, it becomes second nature. Changing it on account of having to *think* about it can feel a bit unnatural. So, like the mistake many of us make in any given January when we write the previous year on our cheques, I started many a signature early in my transition with Na—. Then when I would cross out the mistake and start signing Jacky XXXX, it always felt a little like I was trying to commit fraud by signing someone else’s name. It took quite a few months before signing my new name felt natural, but eventually I was able to ease into signing with the same style that I had signed my old one for all that time. But even now, after a couple of years, I sometimes double check because I wonder if I accidentally signed Nancy YYYY!

So note to people embarking on this exciting journey of officially changing one’s name, for whatever reason: start practising your signature as soon as you pick your new name : )

I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences with changing their signature in the comments section!

On the necessity of Pride (for me)

24 12 2010

On the day before Christmas eve, my thoughts, for some reason, turn to pride.

I’ve rediscovered a song just today that has a certain amount of significance to me. The song is called Dragostea Din Tei by O-Zone and you can hear it here. I had heard it before this occasion but the song marked me one night about three years ago at a Montreal drag bar called Cabaret Mado. I had just performed in that evening’s show and stuck around for a while for the post-show dance party DJ’d by the famous Mado herself. She mentioned she was feeling “quétaine”(québécois expression meaning “tacky” or “cheesy”) that night and threw this number on. Now, there I was, standing by myself at one of the bars and observing the mostly queer crowd on the stage, which turns into a dance floor after the show. I was alone – it was a Tuesday night and none of my friends had been able to make it out. Being alone, I became reflective. I felt a bit lonely but not in a chronic sense since I normally have ample occasion to dance my heart out with my chronies.

I had recently decided to undertake the path to transition from female to male. So as I stood there in a crowd of queers, I reflected on how my position in the queer community would change. And of course, I reflected once again on the fragmentation that exists in the queer community. I won’t go into the details of that fragmentation here – that is a whole piece on its own, or more like multiple pieces. But it’s something that comes up in my mind and in the minds of many, if I’m to rely on the ongoing real life and cyber discussions on this issue. And on the eve of my transition not only from female to male but from bi qenderqueer female to bi genderqueer FTM, it was especially present in my thoughts.
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Still not dead

4 08 2010

*sigh*. I’ve been a very bad blogger but it’s all justified. The past few months have been spent healing from my hysterectomy (which went well) at the end of March, organising 20 million events and preparing for fieldwork for my PhD.

At the end of June, all my worldly possessions, except for the ones I was taking with us (me and my son), went into storage. Then we couch surfed for a month, which was very stressful. Last Friday, we started the long drive up to Chisasibi, Quebec, a Native community on the Eastern James Bay coast, where we will be for the next year.

I probably will only blog here from time to time. However, I will blog about my experience in Chisasibi over at my anthro blog.This blog isn’t dead of course. I’m sure once I settle into a routine, I will have other things to say – not just on transition but about all sorts of non-anthro stuff (although it really is ALL ANTHRO : ). Also, I still have things to transfer from my old blog so I’ll try to put up some blasts from the past from time to time.