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.


 


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Bill C-389 passes third reading in Canada’s House of Commons

9 02 2011

Bill C-389, a private member’s bill by NDP MP Bill Siksay, has just passed third reading in Canada’s House of Commons. The vote was 143 in favor and 135 against. This is very exciting news as the only step left for this bill is to be approved by the senate. For the people who have been working hard to get this bill passed, including Bill Siksay, Matt McLauchlin and I’m sure many others, this has been a stressful time since the current leadership is aiming for spring elections. According to my limited understanding, if the bill does not go through the whole process before the next election, it dies. Then we would have to start all over again.

If it does go through, then trans people of all flavours of trans should be protected by law in Canada. Will this fix everything? Probably not. Same sex marriage (not gay marriage, since being married to a person of the same sex would not make a bi person gay, thank you very much) has been legal in Canada for years now and yet there is still homophobia. So it would stand to reason that making discrimination against people based on gender identity and gender expression illegal would not eliminate transphobia.

And even if transphobia gradually declines over time, we have to remember that trans people of colour, First Nations trans people (some of whom might identify as Two-Spirit individuals,) trans people with disabilities, trans people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, trans people without status, trans people with an intersex experience,  trans sex workers and elderly trans people will still be targets of marginalisation and discrimination. If we truly want equal access to dignity and well-being for all trans people, we need to keep in mind that we have to work against ALL forms of oppression.

Bill C-389 is a step in the right direction for sure but it is not the end of the struggle against oppression. It is certainly worth celebrating its progress, however, and worth applauding the efforts of the people who worked hard to get this bill through. My warmest thanks goes out to them as well as a pledge to continue to work against oppression at the sides of all those who want to help shape a society that is anti-oppression.





Elias takes the DEC to court – Please help!

24 01 2011

From my friend Elias:

Hi friends, community members and allies,

As some of you already know, I’ve been in a battle with the Registrar of Civil Status of Quebec over my legal sex designation for the past few months. There are many serious problems with this department, including arbitrary/inconsistent decisions due to bureaucrats interpreting articles 71 and 58 of the Quebec Civil Code however they want – therefore getting to decide what consists an appropriate sex change for trans men, getting to decide whether to add a first name to a birth certificate instead of granting an actual change of name to trans people, general ignorance about trans issues and surgeries, unwillingness to dialogue with the community and medical professionals, hostile attitudes towards trans people from some bureaucrats, long wait times, barriers for non-citizens, and more. It’s a serious nightmare.

I have undergone a bilateral mastectomy, am on hormones and have paperwork attesting that I meet the criteria for GID – I submitted all of that info to the department. I was initially refused a sex change on the grounds of not having undergone phalloplasty. I contested this in writing because it has already been established that they cannot ask it as a prerequisite. They then revised their decision to state that I could not be granted a sex change because I had not undergone a total hysterectomy – as I type this, it is mandatory for trans people to be surgically sterile to be granted a change of sex in Quebec.

I am now going to court to challenge the constitutionality of the Civil Code article that dictates what conditions must be met to access a change of sex. Coercing trans people into getting surgeries that they might not want (or cannot get) is a gross violation of our human rights, and and I have witnessed the devastating consequences that having mismatched paperwork can have for some trans people. It is necessary that compulsory sterilization be abolished in order to comply with the Canada and Quebec Charters and to insure that trans people are granted their full citizenship. This is an unprecedented opportunity for Quebec to amend it’s Civil Code to ensure that it doesn’t contradict itself by protecting against unwanted medical treatment while simultaneously enforcing compulsory surgical treatment against a segment of the population.

Despite the fact that my lawyer is doing this at a reduced rate, significant costs are being incurred. I am willing to put as much of my own money into this while it is ongoing, but my monetary resources are limited – it wouldn’t be possible for me to do this without some financial help. In addition to throwing a few fundraisers over the next year, I have set up a donation page at http://tiny.cc/eliasdeanfund in order to cover fees incurred on my behalf during litigation.  This case is important for our community and could change the grounds of legal sex recognition in Quebec – if you can afford to contribute, please consider doing so. I make a living as an artist, and donations of 25$ or more will get you an original drawing or a print of your choice.

The outpour of love and support I’ve been receiving has exceeded my wildest expectations – I wouldn’t have the strength to do this without you and I want to express my deepest gratitude to all those who have reached out to me. A website (www.eliasdeanchallenge.com) will be up shortly to provide updates about the case for those who are interested.

In love and solidarity,

Elias





What a drag: The evolution of Jack E. Dickinson, Part 2

18 01 2011

I’ve been meaning to post some thoughts on drag performance for quite some time. As described here, performing as a drag king was a major step in my transition process. Well, at least my pre-transition process. So here is Part 2 of a series of posts describing the different stages of my “drag career” and how they were linked with my transition from “woman” to “gender blended woman” to “questioning” to “trans guy” to … whatever the hell I am now. I’ll be discussing how my drag and personal lives impacted each other and how doing drag went from leading me to question the very core of my identity to a way of expressing that core.

Read Part 1 here.

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During the following months (spring/summer 2006), Dirk Van Dyk, Nat King Pole and I started meeting up with some other people who were interested in creating a new drag king scene in Montreal.  Billy King and Mitch Mitcham were two of those people and we had Miss Eva Vavoom who helped with some organisational matters in addition to taking on female roles complementing our manly drag kings. We got together to hang out and have fun but we also discussed how we could get together to make plans for a Drag King takeover of Montreal! We set up a yahoo group so that we could more easily keep in touch, share information about gig opportunities and recruit new performers.

There were more performance opportunities at different venues in town, such as the August edition of the Meow Mix at which I performed a sexy cop and biker number with my then girlfriend, and a fundraiser for a local youth help organisation at Café Cléopâtre, a famous strip/drag club in Montreal’s Red Light District. A whole bunch of us wound up performing at another fundraiser for a burlesque troupe at an obscure dive called Cabaret Chez Clo-Clo on St-Hubert where we got to meet up with other “underground” performers, which was way cool.

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Why I will go out of town for top surgery

7 01 2011

Trigger warning: fatphobic and classist incident.

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My hysterectomy – March 25, 2010

4 01 2011

Don’t worry, nothing graphic! Just thought I’d describe my hysto experience for the benefit on anyone who is planning on getting one. I won’t go into whether or not a hysto is medically necessary for trans guys. I know there’s some debate out there. The majority medical opinion is that a hysto is necessary because of the increased risk of ovarian and cervical cancer caused by testosterone treatment. However, there are dissenting voices out there who believe that it’s not necessary, or that there isn’t enough proof of the necessity. I respect everyone’s choices in this regard. For myself, I didn’t feel like taking the risk. Also, I was getting the worse cramps of my life, especially when my girlfriend, L, was on the rag. I had some pretty bad period cramps in my day – the incapacitating kind. But these brought me to tears. They reminded me of labour pains.

My endocrinologist, when I saw him in November 2009, said that I should think about getting a hysto in the next couple of years. He gave me the name of a gyno in the same building but, on the advice of a trans bro in Montreal, I went to see Dr. Tulandi at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. I cannot be more grateful for that advice.

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“I thought you’d be interested in this.”

3 01 2011

Disclaimer: This post is meant as a humourous observation, not a complaint.

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A funny thing phenomenon began to happen at work when people finally wrapped their minds around my transition. To show how supportive and understanding they were, people sent me links to every single article on transsexuals and transsexuality they came across. It’s quite hilarious. I don’t know how many emails I got that were the subject line looked like: “FWD: insert news headline about transsexuality or a transsexual person here” and in which the contents read something like: “Hi Jacky, I came across this and I thought you’d be interested” followed by a link to something like Chaz Bono’s transition or Thomas Beatie’s pregnancy. Even more hilarious were the links to “Trans 101” type articles or articles on how to respect a trans co-worker.

But, since the spirit behind it all was well-intentioned, and since my colleagues were mostly supportive in spite of their difficulties in wrapping their brains around my genderqueer identity, I simply replied “Thank you” and left it at that. I didn’t point out that they were the ones who needed to read the “how to respect” and 101 articles. I just didn’t feel like getting into it. And it’s not that they were disrespectful, it’s that they were SO afraid to just come out and ask me questions in spite of all my reassurances that they could, so long as it didn’t concern my genitals.

The only time I reacted a bit differently, and it was just for fun, was when I met up with a co-worker for coffee. He handed over a magazine that his sister in law had given him to give to me because “she thought I’d be interested in this.” Right away, I spotted a headline for an article about an MTF reporter somewhere in the states and how she transitioned on the job. Yet, I looked at him quizzically and asked why she thought I’d be interested in a magazine about the business world. Anyone who knows me should indeed know better. He opened the magazine to the “appropriate page” with an incredulous look and that was that. He didn’t even get that I was screwing with him.

Oh well. I think I’ll start reciprocating and send all my hetero friends from work clippings from advice columns that specifically refer to heterosexual arrangements and say: “I thought this might interest you” and to all my cis friends from work (which would be all of them) clippings from magazines catering to their specific gender and say: “I thought this might interest you.”

Hey, it’s all in good fun. Cause sometimes, ya just gotta laugh.