9 12 2015

OK, it seems like this announcement is way overdue. I’ve kind of retired from trans blogging. I left this blog here because I thought that some of the posts about transition could be useful to some folks out there in cyberspace. It turns out I was right! A quick look at my stats shows that this blog has had thousands of views in the past year from many countries around the world!

I’m truly very happy that people find these old posts useful. It seems that a lot of people wind up here looking for information about the impacts of testosterone. Regardless of why you came here, I hope you found what you were looking for. As for me, this blog served its purpose by letting me process my transition and connecting with lots of trans bloggers.

If you’re interested in reading more of my stuff, I now occasionally blog over at Jacky With A Y. I actually imported all the posts from this blog over to JWAY. I now blog on a wider variety of topics but mostly personal musings that likely aren’t that interesting to anyone but me and people who actually know me. But there are some occasional posts on trans or queer related things, relationships, growing up in an alcoholic home, and basically whatever I feel like writing at the time.

Hope to see you there!

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.


We need to keep fighting! Bill C-389

15 02 2011

I strongly urge all readers who are residents of Canada to check out this link.

It contains a sample letter and an easy “copy-pastable” list of Canadian senators who will soon be deciding the fate of Bill C-389. If you didn’t already know, this bill would ensure rights for trans people in Canada by adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canadian charter of human rights. (More on this issue here.) You are free to write your own letter of course but if time is short and words fail you, 2 minutes of your time is all it takes to copy and paste this sample letter and list of senators into your email and click send.

Right now, the people who have the government’s ears are the extreme right-wing nuts who think that all trans people are pedophiles out to get into the showers of little girls. So if we don’t speak up “en masse,” this bill will die and who knows if trans people will have official rights in Canada any time in the next 50 years.

Thanks in advance for any little thing you can do to help!

Trans Action in Montreal – June 10, 2010

5 01 2011

An interesting political action took place in Montreal last year, initiated by a young group called PolitiQ. I wish I could’ve been more involved in it because this is an issue I’d been wanting to take action on for years. Indeed, this was more important to me than the fight to get trans surgeries covered by the government. But the timing was all wrong for me as I was in the final stages of preparing for fieldwork. I did what I could to help but it wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted to do. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with how things turned out.

The action was directed at Quebec’s Directeur de l’état civil (DEC), the organisation in charge of birth, marriage and death certificates as well as change of name and change of sex marker certificates. Although they have improved the process somewhat for trans people in the last few years, namely by allowing trans people to obtain their change of name faster than the typical route requiring use of the chosen name for 5 years, many of us take issue with their criteria for a change of sex marker. Not only is the section on dealing with the topic hidden in the change of name section, the description of the requirements is ambiguous:

Any person who has successfully undergone medical treatments and surgical operations involving a structural modification of sexual organs intended to change his or her sexual characteristics may obtain a change of designation of sex his or her act of birth and, if necessary, a change of given names.

Since we know that most bureaucrats (apologies to any bureaucrats reading this who actually have a clue, but you have to admit that most do not) are completely out of touch with reality, it was doubtful in many of our minds that this institution actually had a clear idea of the wide variety of “surgical operations” available to trans people. So upon reading this, the reaction that I and many trans folk in Quebec have is: “OK…so what, concretely, do I need? A hysto, top surgery, a meta or a phallo (for FTMs)? A vaginoplasty and breast construction (for MTFs)?”

Many, but not all trans people, feel that medical procedures should’t even be a requirement. I am of this school. Not everyone wants to go through medical transition in order to socially transition. This should be an option. However, by the state’s current requirements, we are required to undergo sterilization to be able to legally change our sex designation – clearly a human rights violation.

PolitiQ’s action consisted of a manifesto decrying the problems with the current requirements for both name and sex designation changes for trans people. We collected signatures of support from many LGBT groups, women’s groups, student groups, activists, professionals working with trans people and university professors.  The manifesto was sent to the DEC on June 17th, 2010 along with a call for a meeting to discuss ways in which to improve their criteria.

On that day, we also held a peaceful protest in front of the DEC’s Montreal office. From what I heard, this was the first specifically Trans action to take place in Montreal. I was very proud to be a part of it! Spirits were high as people begun to gather – on time! This was notable as Montreal Time tends to mean that people start thinking about getting dressed at the time an event is supposed to start! But within the first half hour after the announced assembly time, there were already about 100 people if I recall correctly (anyone reading this who has more specific numbers, please feel free to correct me.) And by the time the demo actually started, I think there were 200 people. We sang, we danced, we handed out flyers to passers-by. And then there were speeches. I was one of the people asked to speak and I felt very privileged to do so. At the end, we had a “die-in.” The police officers nearby were actually very helpful in stopping traffic so that we could hold it, which was surprising since this was an unregistered demo.

There is a video with excerpts from the demo, including bits of all the speeches, here.

Kudos to all who worked hard to make this happen! Let’s hope that it is fruitful in the long run. As it stands, I haven’t heard whether the DEC has accepted to meet with community representatives.

Transition and non-binary identities

2 01 2011

S.E. Smith over at This Ain’t Livin’ wrote something that hits very close to home for me (and I’m betting for a lot of people in my social circle):

One very widespread perception about nonbinary people is that we don’t need to transition. Nothing could be further from the truth. While every nonbinary person is different and not all of us need or want to transition, some of us do, and we cannot access support for transitioning without lying and prevaricating; to transition, we need to lie about our gender, because transition for nonbinary people is not recognised. As a result, those of us who want access to medical transition, to hormones and surgery, must pretend that we are binary and must be able to do so effectively enough to be ‘approved’ by the gatekeepers.

In the early stages of my transition, I remember reading very scary accounts by trans people where they were denied letters approving hormone replacement therapy by their psychologists because they weren’t able to demonstrate that they were “woman” or “man” enough to warrant medical transition. I heard of trans sisters who were bluntly told that they weren’t “feminine” because they always wore pants and no make-up and of trans brothers who were denied because they were attracted to men. I also read about all the lines one should feed the therapist to “prove” that they adhered to their chosen gender identity so that they could get their HRT letter. In addition to proving that they conformed to their chosen gender, the idea was also to prove that one was in a horrible amount of distress and needed to be “cured.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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!