Tr@nz – January 2011 issue

22 02 2011

The latest issue of Tr@nz is out! Tr@nz is a bilingual (French and English) online magazine about local (Montreal/Quebec/Canada) and international issues affecting trans folks. Scroll down after following the link to download the PDF file for the latest issue. You can also subscribe to the magazine and get an email from Maxime every time a new issue comes out.


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!

January 2010 edition of Tr@nz

25 01 2010

Here is the latest edition of Tr@nz, an online magazine on all things trans-related, produced by a brother right here in Montreal. Whereas Tr@nz previously alternated between French and English editions, it is now bilingual. This month’s edition has an article in French by yours truly. But most importantly, there is some interesting news about access to surgeries in Québec (in both languages).


There’s nothing special about being a guy

11 03 2009

Back when I first start alluded to the fact that I was seriously thinking of sexual transition to a colleaugue/friend of mine, his reaction was: “What’s so great about being a guy?” We’ve talked a lot in the meantime and he gets it now, but I know there are people who assume that people who transition do it because they think there is something “better” about being of a particular sex.

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Research on causes for FTM Transsexuality

30 07 2008

I’m always a little wary of research that seeks to locate a unique cause for any kind of human phenomenon. People are complex and, as a social scientist myself, I see that most of what we do has multiple causes. Therefore, while I’m not entirely opposed to research that looks for biological components of sexual identity, I’m always worried about the tendancy for reductionism.

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And how!

31 05 2008

I accidentally stumbled upon this post about the whole biology versus choice argument for sexual orientation and gender identity. I love it! Here is a copy of my response:

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Having a female past

18 01 2008

I know that some transsexual people feel very alienated from the body in which they were born and, once they have physically transitioned, wish to be as distant from their past as a member of the undesired sex as possible. While I understand why this may be the case for some people, it isn’t mine. Unfortunately, I’ve had a few people assume that I think being male is somehow better than being female or that I’m ashamed of or disgusted by being female-bodied.

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Re-visiting the past

22 12 2007

(Originally written about one week post-decision) 

When I think back to my early childhood, I remember looking like a boy. My mother kept my hair short with the idea that it would be thicker later. People would often mistake me for a boy. My dad, who worked as a plumber for a community of Hasidic Jews in downstate New York, even used this to his advantage when he needed to take me to work. It was forbidden for him to take me there alone, without my mother there, since I was a girl. But since he could pass me off as his son, things were fine. I remember beaming when his boss, the grand rabbi, asked him: “Is this your son?” Sometimes, he would let me help him with his work. I got to clean fittings. He would look at me with pride when I said things like: “I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty like my brother!”

During this period, when I was under 8 or so, I often visualised myself as a boy or emulated male role models. I would dream of being Robin Hood. Or I would tell my family to call me by a male name, like “Bernie.” Bernie was a friend of the family who had a son named after him. I thought the son was cute (he was a teen at the time) and decided I wanted to be like him. My family thought it was odd but they humoured me.

I didn’t like to play with dolls, except for one that had a phone, and it was more about the phone than the doll. I had stuffed animals though. But mostly, I loved to play with trucks, tractors and matchbox cars.

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November 2007 – A decision is made

22 12 2007

And shortly thereafter, I start to write about it. This is what I wrote about a week after I made my decision (which had actually been making itself over the course of many years):

If coming out to oneself as transsexual marks the beginning of transition, then I suppose I am just beginning. However, if transition begins with the onset of questionning of and discomfort with one’s physical sex and/or culturally prescribed gender identity and presentation, then I’ve been transsexual from the beginning.

I remember looking into the term “transgender” (TG) about 4 years ago (late 2003) after answering a survey aimed at lesbian and bisexual women. I had self-identified as bisexual for nearly a decade by then and had been out for a number of years. While responding to the survey, I noticed that there was as alternative to “female” under gender: “transgender”. This was a brand new term for me. I had heard of transsexuals (TS), and even met a couple, but . . .transGENDER? Being an anthropologist and being well aware of the difference between sex and gender, I put two and two together and figured that maybe transgender referred to someone who changed their social identity without necessarily changing their sex. This idea appealed to me and I was fascinated with the idea that I no longer had to limit myself to “female”. It felt good.

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