Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Four Simple Questions: Part 4

Trans Media Action is having a "Trans Camp" at Channel Four on the 13th January 2012 and they are asking Transgender people to make short videos answering four questions. These videos will be played during the Trans Camp.

I've decided that doing this is a very good idea and am answering these questions. However, the videos must be no more than one minute in length, and those of you who know me know that I tend to waffle on in my videos! Thus, I am going to answer these questions here first to enable me to make my videos as short as possible.

The fourth question is "FAMILY: How have you experienced support, or lack of, from family and friends?"

When I first realised that I am transgender, the first people I came out to were my boyfriends. They are the most supportive persons I've ever met and have helped me in so many ways from helping me figure out what my clothing sizes are to being witnesses to my name change via deed poll.


I came out to my family and friends via a Youtube video this past August on my birthday. Everyone, including some I wasn't sure about, were and are very supportive, including using masculine pronouns. The most memorable message of support was from my Aunt who lives in the States. She declared, "I am not behind you in this, instead I stand proudly right beside you."


The amount of love, acceptance, and support that I have received in the few short months since coming out has truly inspired me.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Four Simple Questions: Part 3

Trans Media Action is having a "Trans Camp" at Channel Four on the 13th January 2012 and they are asking Transgender people to make short videos answering four questions. These videos will be played during the Trans Camp.

I've decided that doing this is a very good idea and am answering these questions. However, the videos must be no more than one minute in length, and those of you who know me know that I tend to waffle on in my videos! Thus, I am going to answer these questions here first to enable me to make my videos as short as possible.

The third question is "COMEDY: How do comedy portrayals of trans people affect you?"

To start, let me just say that I hate stereotypes and I hate them even more when comedy programmes portray them. To me, using stereotypes in comedy material is not only outdated but is also very infantile and immature. Yes, I'm aware that comedy in it's purest sense, is immature and it is this immaturity that the audience often finds funny. My question is "Are the use of these stereotypes really necessary?"

Think about it - stereotypes strip away the humanity of those being made fun of. And that's what it is - making fun of a group of people. To make a logical leap, when people witness a group being made fun of, what is their first reaction? Answer: to join in. This creates a loop and it often doesn't take much to nudge the "Let's make fun of this group" mentality to "Let's ridicule and abuse this group because they're different" mentality.

By all means, keep the comedy coming, but let's keep it real and get rid of outdated stereotypes, ok?

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Four Simple Questions Part 2

Trans Media Action is having a "Trans Camp" at Channel Four on the 13th January 2012 and they are asking Transgender people to make short videos answering four questions. These videos will be played during the Trans Camp.

I've decided that doing this is a very good idea and am answering these questions. However, the videos must be no more than one minute in length, and those of you who know me know that I tend to waffle on in my videos! Thus, I am going to answer these questions here first to enable me to make my videos as short as possible.


The second question is: "MEDIA: How does media coverage of trans people affect you?"

As a transguy, I've found that the media barely mentions FTMs, or when they do, it's very fleeting or very stereotypical.

FTMs are often portrayed as straight (attracted to females only) bodybuilders who are into sports and drinking beers with the guys. We're not all like that though. For example, I'm not into sports at all and am attracted more towards masculine people - regardless of their actual gender or sexual characteristics.

It is my opinion that the media's representation of FTMs as beer-swilling, sports-involved, ladies-men feeds into the public mind that we're nothing but butch lesbians with penis envy and makes it difficult for people to take us seriously as transguys. I know I said this in my previous video, but the stereotyping needs to stop and there needs to be a wider portrayal of transpeople.  

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Four Simple Questions Part 1

Trans Media Action is having a "Trans Camp" at Channel Four on the 13th January 2012 and they are asking Transgender people to make short videos answering four questions. These videos will be played during the Trans Camp.

I've decided that doing this is a very good idea and am answering these questions. However, the videos must be no more than one minute in length, and those of you who know me know that I tend to waffle on in my videos! Thus, I am going to answer these questions here first to enable me to make my videos as short as possible.

The first question is: "CHILDHOOD: For those of you who knew, what was it like growing up as a trans child?"

Now, I didn't know that I was trans* as a child, but I think that it's important that people are aware that not all trans* people knew they were trans* from childhood.

As a child, I was raised in a very conservative religious American town. The churches told us that being homosexual was a sin, but they didn't really touch on being transgender except to say that it was wrong for a man to dress like a woman. It wasn't until I moved to England that I learned what "transgender" is and it took 10 years of living here before I came to the realisation that I am Transgender - a Female to Male, genderqueer, Bigender person, to be exact. And I'm still learning and still figuring out what applies to me and what doesn't.

To sum up, a lot of transgender people knew from childhood that they were trans, but not all of us.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

FTM Pathway for Halton and St Helens PCT

I received another email from the Interim Chief Operating Officer of Halton CCG today. In his email, he listed the Female to Male (FtM) core surgical procedures. These are the surgeries that are recommended for support and funding by PCTs in the North West of England.

The recommendation of the North West Specialised Commissioning Team is that PCTs support and fund the following core surgical procedures for female to male (FtM) patients where an application has been made by the patient’s clinician:
 
·         Mastectomy
·         Hysterectomy
·         Vaginectomy
·         Salpingo-oophorectomy
·         Metoidoplasty or phalloplasty
·         Urethroplasty
·         Scrotoplasty and placement of testicular prostheses
 
The recommended non-core procedures are not routinely funded.  Requests for funding on an individual case basis can be made and these requests are considered for funding by a PCT in line with existing local
policies for plastic surgery/cosmetic procedures.  It must be stressed that this list is not exhaustive and any other procedure not listed would be considered as non-core procedure until further review.  The following
are non-core procedures:
 
·         Breast augmentation in trans women
·         Reduction Thyroid chondroplasty
·         Rhinoplasty / other facial bone reduction
·         Blepharoplasty
·         Face-lift
·         Hair removal/ electrolysis
·         Body contouring – e.g. suction-assisted lipoplasty of the waist
·         Voice modification surgery
·         Procedures to decrease areas of baldness
·         Storage of gametes
·         Skin resurfacing -  e.g. acid peel (a method of removing the upper layer of skin in order to improve skin smoothness)

 As you can see, mastectomies are considered to be a core surgical procedure for FtMs and PCTs are supposed to fund them.

He also attached a document which details the pathways for transgender people. You can find it after the jump, but be warned that it seems to be out of date in regards to the Gender Identity Clinics that are listed. The document lists Leeds Becklin Centre and Claybrook Centre in London. This is incorrect. The current GICs are located at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds and Charing Cross (CHX) in London.

I have emailed my contact asking for further clarification and will post another blog entry when I receive it.



Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Transgender Care Path for Halton & St Helens PCT

A couple of weeks ago, I emailed Halton & St Helen's PCT asking why my GP told me that the PCT had not instructed him to follow the Standards of Care for Transgender people as written by the WPATH.

Today I received an email from the Interim Chief Operating Officer of Halton CCG, located at Victoria House in Runcorn, Cheshire, replying to my inquiry which details the basic care path that Halton & St Helens PCT follows. Here is that email:


There is no single universally accepted pathway for patients with gender dysphoria.  There is a recommended pathway that has been established by the North West Specialised Commissioning Team which we follow locally – work in which I was involved in when I worked with that team.  This is based upon the WPATH Standards of Care, often referred to as the Harry Benjamin criteria.  The recommended pathway can be summarised as follows:
 
·       Patient sees his/her General Practitioner for assessment and management of gender dysphoria. The GP refers the patient to a local specialist in gender dysphoria where that is available or to the local NHS mental health provider for access to further evaluation.
 
·       Patient is assessed by the local NHS psychiatrist, who may or may not be an expert in the field of gender dysphoria.  If the local psychiatrist considers the case to merit further evaluation and can rule out the presence of an obvious mental illness that may be the cause of the symptoms of gender dysphoria, the patient is referred on to the Gender Identity Clinic (GIC).
 
·       Depending on the operational policy of the GIC confirmation of funding may be requested from the patient’s PCT before an outpatient appointment is made. It is important to note that the PCT making the decision need to be aware that there could be a surgical cost at the end of the pathway and that this could be several years in the future.
 
·       The Gender Identity Clinic - Experts in gender dysphoria assess the patient and initiate Real Life Experience (RLE), prescribing hormones and monitoring the patient, usually in partnership with the patients own GP.  During this period, patients may additionally require psychotherapy, speech therapy, group sessions and other interventions.  After 12-24 months of assessment, the patient is seen by two consultants (one of whom has not previously been involved with the care and treatment of the particular patient, acting as a second opinion) for a final assessment to judge if the patient is suitable for surgery.  If the patient is considered suitable and is personally ready for surgery, a referral is made to the preferred provider for consideration of Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS). 
 
·       The provider of GRS requests confirmation of funding for surgery from the patient’s PCT and provides an outpatient surgical consultation appointment once funding is confirmed.
 
·       The PCT considers the request for funding and once it is ensured that the patient meets the criteria, confirms funding for GRS.
 
·       Patient undergoes appropriate GRS and returns to follow-up with GIC.
 
·       Patient discharged from GIC when appropriate and returns to primary care for maintenance hormone therapy and monitoring, if appropriate.
 
You will have to travel for aspects of this care, such as assessment at a GIC and, should you wish to have surgery, for surgical interventions, as there are no local services due to the specialised nature of the interventions you require.  You should, however, expect support from your GP in terms of arranging ‘shared care’ and local monitoring working in partnership with GIC to minimise travel to and from these centres.
 
To summate, Halton GPs are following the WPATH Standards of Care and recommended pathways based upon these.  This said, there is clearly a need for improved liaison between the services providing specialised interventions and your GP to enable them to deliver as much care to you locally as possible.

 This path, as outlined above, is missing one thing though. According to my sources, Halton & St Helens PCT refuses to fund the top surgery for both FTMs and MTFs. Knowing this, I emailed a reply back asking if this was true and to be given the PCTs policy on funding for surgery. When/if I get a response, I will post it up here. 

If you have any questions, please comment below and I will either answer them (if I know the answer) or will forward them to my contact in the Halton CCG. 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

International Transgender Day of Remembrance



Today is the 13th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day was created to memorialise those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

In the last year, transphobic crimes have gone up world wide by over 30%. The majority of these have been committed in Latin America, although there have also been murders in the United States of America, Pakistan, and Uganda.  Some sources put the number of murders world wide in last year around 220, which means that there is a transphobic murder approximately every 39 hours. If we add to this number the amount of physical harm crimes against transgender people (transgender people are often physically assaulted for using public restrooms, going into pubs/clubs, or just walking down the street), and the number of transgender people who commit suicide, the numbers would easily quadruple.

The really sad thing is this vast number could easily be drastically reduced by everyone doing just a few things. First of all, family of transgender people, I can not express enough how important it is for you to accept and love your child, sibling, grandchild when they "come out" as transgender. Do not disown them, do not tell them they are going to hell, do not blame their friends or their school. Love them, accept them, and support them. Those three things are so important to transgender people. Stand up for those trans people you may come across out in public, especially if they are being abused or assaulted. Friends of trans people, let them know that you are their friend no matter what and will be there for them, supporting them all the way.

If we all band together, both trans people and trans allies, hopefully transphobic crimes will decrease by next year. At the very least, more people will be educated about the issue. That's where it all starts, with knowledge. The more that people know, the less discrimination there will be.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Name Change and Transitioning Problems

The last few weeks have been full of  "interesting" events and "fun" times with regards to my bank and doctor.

Bank Problems

My bank is Santander, previously known as Abbey National, and is based in Spain. When I changed my name via Deed Poll back in August 2011, I contacted all of the businesses and organizations that I am involved with to inform them of the change. All of them changed my details without any hassle, except for Santander. The branch manager said that because my chosen title (Ser - a gender neutral version of Sir) is not available on their drop-down list they could not change my name in their systems. The manager was very nice and sympathetic and informed me that she would contact someone higher up to see what could be done about it.

Fast forward a few weeks and I went back to my branch to get an update. Unsurprisingly, there wasn't one. My next course of action was to contact Santander's Customer Complaint Department. On the 30th of September, 2011, I received a letter from Sarah Nielsen, the Service and Control Manager in my new name informing me that "unfortunately your change of detail request is not compatible on our system, so therefore we are unable to complete your requests".

Under the advice of a retired police officer friend, on the 11th of October, 2011, I sent a letter to Santander's Customer Complaints Department informing them that "under the Data Protection Act, as you are holding personal data about me, you are legally obliged to ensure that all data you hold about me is correct and up-to-date," and that since their "current systems may not have the option for Ser..., then I will accept the use of Reverend as my religion believes that everyone is a reverend or pastor; alternatively, I will accept the use of no title. However, please note that I would prefer a change in your system to allow gender-neutral forms of address in the near future so that all of my correspondence between myself and different companies are the same."  Their reply, which I received on the 7th of November, 2011, reiterated that they are unable to change my records to reflect my new name and title. 

Today I contacted the Financial Ombudsman Service to ask for their help to resolve this matter. The lady I spoke with was very nice and understood my unhappiness about the situation. She agreed with me that Santander should update their systems to allow titles to be typed in and to allow "other" as a gender choice. She told me that they have until the New Year to contact me. If they don't contact me by then or they still refuse to change my records to reflect my name change, then we will be taking it to the next stage. 

Transitioning - Conventional Care vs Informed Consent

At the end of September, 2011, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) published the 7th edition of  their Standards of Care (SOC). This version of the SOC strongly encourages a GP-centred local care path and the use of Informed Consent. Yet when I approached the topic to my GP, he dismissed the idea, saying that Halton's PCT and the NHS instructed medical providers to use the Conventional care path. 
The conventional care path follows a very rigid procedure - the patient sees their GP, the GP refers to a local psychiatrist who then refers to a Gender Identity Clinic and the patient goes to the GIC for everything transition related. This may not seem like a bad path, and for many it works fine, but for those of us who live hours away from the nearest GIC, it can be very stressful and time consuming. 

The GP-centred local care path with informed consent is much better for those of us who don't have a GIC near by. It allows us to access everything locally with the GP acting as a gateway to all the services which the patient needs. This path is less stressful because it entails less time off work, less time away from family, and less travel time for the trans* person.

Not being happy with my GP's dismissal of my preferences, I asked some transgender friends about their care path. Several of them, both in America and in England, have gone the GP-centred local care path, so I know it can be done.
After doing some searching online, I found the name of the chairman of Widnes practice based commissioning (PBC) and his email and sent him the following email:

Dear Dr. Schofield,

As a resident of Widnes and a transgender person, I would like to ask you why it appears that Halton PCT is not updating their policies and ensuring providers follow significantly updated guidelines regarding the Standards of Care for transgender people.

My current GP is Dr. Gunaseelan who is located at the Widnes Health Resource Centre on Caldwell Road. When I approached him for help in starting my transition, I expressed a preference to having GP-centred local care using the Informed Consent method as suggested in the 6th and 7th Editions of the WPATH Standards of Care. (Information on these methods can be found on http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/@dh/@en/documents/digitalasset/dh_089939.pdf (section 3) and http://www.gires.org.uk/assets/DOH-Assets/pdf/doh-hormone-therapy.pdf (starting on page 14).)

My reasoning behind this is simple - I am a single parent and travelling to either Charing Cross or Leeds Gender Identity Clinic would be very difficult for me. Having my treatment GP-centred, using local care and Informed Consent would make my transitioning process easier and less stressful for me and my son. However, my GP dismissed my wishes and has insisted on following the conventional care path which includes a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder by a Psychiatrist (which is highly discouraged in the 7th Edition of the WPATH SOC) and a referral to a Gender Identity Clinic.

When I asked him why he is insistent on going down the conventional path, he said it is because Halton PCT and the NHS has not instructed the GPs to use the WPATH SOC.

Is this true? And if so, why have Halton's GPs not been encouraged to follow these new standards? Doctors are expected to keep their knowledge up to date regarding new insights/advances, as I'm certain you know.

Please, if you could let me know what Halton PCT's views are about this, I would be greatly appreciative.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely yours,

Muir 
Hopefully I will receive a reply from Dr. Schofield or one of his associates in the next few days. When I do, I will post it in a new entry.

It isn't my goal to get any one in trouble in either of these matters. I do however, hope that by pressing the issue I get help not only for me, but for others who may be going through similar circumstances either now or in the future. I don't want anyone to have to go through all of this if they don't have to.  

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Whether you call tonight Halloween, Samhain, or All Hallow's Eve, may you be safe, have fun, and enjoy yourself!

Here are a few pictures I've done for this year. Hope you enjoy!




Sunday, 30 October 2011

An Open Letter to Business Owners

Edit: Please help me raise awareness regarding transgender discrimination by cross-posting this letter to your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or website. The more people who see it, the more people will realise that discrimination needs to stop. Thank you! Muir.


Dear local business owner,

You don't know me personally, but I came into your business the other day. I was hoping to get served and then go on my way to complete everything else on my "to-do" list, but something happened. You refused to serve me.

My appearance was like any other "typical" guy. My jeans were clean, my shirt ironed, my hair brushed, and I smelled of the latest popular brand masculine body spray. There was only one difference between me and every other guy who walks into your establishment - I am transgender.

You refused to serve me because I am not a "real man" and ordered me to go to another business that was not owned by you. I do not expect you to understand how angry, hurt, and upset that made me. I do however, expect you to know the law. After all, you are a business owner and are therefore expected to follow business laws set by the government.

Under the Equality Act of 2010, when a person walks into a business and they are presenting as (i.e. dressed as and professing to be) a certain gender they are to be treated as that gender irrespective of the gender they were assigned at birth and the gender you may think they are. This means, for example, if a person walks into a male only barbershop, is dressed like a male, and asks for their hair to be cut, then they are to be treated as a male and given the exact standard of treatment any other male would receive. To do anything less is a breach of equality law and is, to be blunt, discrimination.

All we want is to be treated the same way everyone else is treated and to be allowed to live our lives happily, without hate, without discrimination, and without having to fight to do something as simple as get a haircut.

So the next time I, or any other transgender person, enters your business, please do one thing for me. Smile at me and say, "Certainly, sir!" and give me the same standard of service you would give any other guy.

After all, that's exactly what I am - just another guy.

Sincerely,

Random Customer

Friday, 21 October 2011

A 16 Minute Sketch

I recorded a video on Youtube of me doing a speed sketch of a portrait. The tools used were a mechanical pencil, eraser, dry tissue to smudge the graphite, and drawing paper.




Finished drawing:



Let me know what you think!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Fitness Update for October

Hello everyone! This past month has resulted in a lot of changes in my body measurements, with a significant decrease in weight and changes in both directions in measurements.

Height (=): 5 feet
Weight (-): 158 lbs
Waist (-): 35.5 inches
Thighs (+): 27 inches
Calves (=): 16 inches
Arms (-): 12 inches
Chest (without binder) (-): 36
Neck (=): 13

My weight has decreased by 3 pounds, which I'm very happy about. My weight goal is to get down to about 140 lbs. Only 18 lbs to go! At the rate I'm going, my goal will be met by this time next year! It's hard to believe that I've lost nearly 3 inches on my waist. The downside is I'm still a 38" waist size in clothing. 36" just barely fit. Maybe once I lose a bit more fat on my stomach my trouser size will go down. My thighs have increased in diameter, yet it's not really noticeable. The reason for this, I believe, is because I've lost fat but increased muscle. They used to rub together when I walked and now they don't nearly as much, which is a really good thing! Everything else has either stayed the same or decreased slightly. I've lost another inch on my chest - yay! This is the main reason I've started working out - to get rid of my chest. It's my goal to get my female breasts down to an A cup so that I'll no longer have to wear my binder to look flat-chested.

My exercise regime is changing slightly in regards to how much weight I have on the hand weights.

Cardio: Either walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day OR playing a cardio-intensive game on the Kinect (i.e. Dance Central, UFC Trainer, Zumba Fitness) for 30 minutes or more.

Weights: Bicep Curls - 10 reps at 3.5 kg, gradually increasing up to 35 reps at 3.5 kgs per arm
Pullovers - 2 sets of 10 reps at 3.5 kg, gradually increasing up to 2 sets of 15 reps
OR
1 set of 20 reps at 3.5 kg

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Quick Update and a WIP



Not too much to say this week. Not much has happened in my personal life, other than a mishap with one of Paul's organizations he's involved with. It's being taken care of, so I'm not too worried about it. I did change my name at my GP's office and my Optician's, which is good.

This week is going to be busy. Tomorrow is shopping, Tuesday is bill paying day and swimming. Wednesday I need to send off letters to utilities to inform them of my name change. On Thursday there's a meeting at Paul's school about "admission into secondary provision" that I need to attend. He'll be "graduating" out of primary school in two more years, so I need to get him on the list to a secondary school by this time next year at the latest. Then Friday is weekend shopping day and coffee morning at Paul's school. Sometime during all this I need to find time to do housework as well.

Lately in the evenings, I've been alternating playing games and crocheting. Currently, I'm working on two blankets - one for Paul and one that will be donated to HAFS (Halton Autistic Family Support) to help raise money for them. Pictures will be posted as they're finished. Today I started work on a new digital painting (shown up top). The backdrop is finished and I have the basic sketch of the couple done. Will try to finish it up before next week.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Transgender, Judgement, and Hate

Originally, I was going to blog about my usual boring stuff - life, drawing, crocheting, how my son Paul has been enjoying school and so on. However, I've been chatting off and on (sort of) with Peter LaBarbera on Twitter about Transgenders and sex reassignment surgery and figured I would share it with you.

You may have heard of Peter LaBarbera. He is the founder of Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality (aftah.org). Don't let the name fool you, AFTAH has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, and the only "truth" they seem to want to spread is telling everyone who will listen that homosexuals are godless, immoral, and want to turn everyone gay and get rid of Christianity.

The conversation started when I commented on a fellow transgender's video, congratulating them on starting hormones. Peter responded with a link to Sexchangeregret.com. The person who runs this website is "ex-transexual" Walt Heyer. Mr. Heyer, at first glance, seems to have the transgender person's best interests at heart. On his many websites (he has at least two that I've found, plus a blog, and a youtube channel), he seems to be warning about "sex change regret" which is when a transgender person undergoes gender reassignment surgery and regrets it afterwards.

This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Sex change regret does sometimes happen and transgender people need to be educated and told exactly what will and will not happen as a result of gender reassignment surgery. Where Walt Heyer goes wrong, and what raised a ton of red flags, is that not only is he highly recommended by the founder of a recognized hate group, but on his websites, he falsifies facts and statistics about suicide rates amongst transgender people.

On his website, tradingmysorrows.com for example, he states that suicide in transgender groups is over 40% (i.e. 4 out of 10 transgender people commit suicide). And he insinuates that this is a direct result of gender reassignment surgery. This is totally false. Yes, there is a suicide rate of 40% amongst transgenders, but this is amongst those who are denied treatment, who are rejected by their peers and family, and are forced to live a lie about who they really are.

In his blog, waltheyer.typepad.com, Walt Heyer links to outdated articles to "prove" his points. The tone he uses in this blog is very judgemental, condescending, and hateful. This hateful and judgemental attitude is very apparent in his entry "Bono, the Poser Transgender" wherein he slanders Chaz Bono, Cher's transgender son, saying that

"The media has been a salivating co-conspirator in advancing little Missy Bono's big fat lie that she is a transgender, when she is not."

He bases his reasoning on this by then insinuating that because Chaz Bono has opted to not undergo genital surgery, he is not a real transgender and is faking it for attention.

As a transgender person, I know what my gender is. There is no doubt in my mind that I am bigender. I am not female, I am not male. I am both and neither. What Peter LaBarbera and Walt Heyer don't seem to understand is that transgender people don't take hormones, don't undergo surgery to become a "man" or a "woman"; we do it because we are already a man or a woman and want our bodies to reflect that.

Gender Dysphoria is very real and very uncomfortable. For some of us, dressing as the gender we feel we are is enough to keep it at bay. For others, hormones are needed and wanted to help us achieve the appearance we want so badly. And still others elect, after a lot of therapy and research, to undergo top and (sometimes) bottom surgery. Not having surgery does not make us "fake" and "attention grabbing". Being trans* is more than what's between our legs. It's how we feel, how we act, and what we know.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Fitness Update for September

Weight loss for the last month has been very negligible, with only one pound lost since last month. My other measurements are a mixed bag, with four decreasing, one increasing, and three staying the same. Obviously, I'm not expecting my height to change, but it does give you an idea of where I'm at.

Height (=): 5 feet
Weight (-): 161 lbs
Waist (-): 36.75 inches
Thighs (+): 25.5 inches
Calves (=): 16 inches
Arms (-): 12.25 inches
Chest (without binder) (-): 37 inches
Neck (=): 13 inches

Again, my arm strength has increased. I am currently doing 25-30 reps of arm curls per arm with a weight of 2.5 kg per arm. I'm hoping I can get the reps up to 35 by next months update. I have stopped doing butterfly curls as I was unable to do them properly without having a proper workout bench. Instead, I am doing pullovers with a 2.5kg dumbbell. They seem to be working better than the butterfly curls, as in the 3 weeks I've been doing them, I have lost an inch from my chest area.

My main reasons for doing this fitness regime is to help build muscle and strength in my lower back and to decrease the size of my breasts. My lower back causes me quite a bit of pain and a physical therapist told me awhile back that if I can increase my strength in that area, it will help with the pain. My desire to make my breasts smaller is to help with the physical dysphoria that I experience as a bigender person. As someone who is both male and female gendered, I do not want to get female to male top surgery unless it is what I have to do in order to get rid of the dysphoria. If I can decrease my breast size enough with exercise so that they look enough like a male's chest at first glance, then that is the route I would rather take.

Daily Exercises:

Cardio: Either walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day OR playing a cardio-intensive game on the Kinect (i.e. Dance Central, UFC Trainer, Zumba Fitness) for 30 minutes or more.

Weights: Bicep Curls - 30 reps at 2.5 kg, gradually increasing up to 35 reps at 2.5 kgs per arm

Pullovers - 2 sets of 10 reps at 2.5 kg, gradually increasing up to 2 sets of 15 reps
OR
1 set of 20 reps at 2.5 kg

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Coming Out To Do List

Sorry about the long hiatus, everyone. The summer school holidays took up a lot of energy. Now that school has started again, I'm hoping to get this blog back on track.

First of all, for those who don't already know, I recently came out as being bigender. If you don't know what bigender is, check out my blog archives. My coming out video can be found on my youtube channel here.

I've come out to my closest friends, my family, and online peoples so far, in addition to a few of the organizations that my son and I are associated and involved with. There is quite a list left to do, though, so I've decided to type up a list here so I don't forget anything.

Send Deed Poll to:

  1. Virgin Media
  2. Electric/Gas Company
  3. General Practitioner (GP)
  4. Social Services
  5. Water Company
  6. Dentist
  7. Landlord
  8. Job Centre
  9. Council
  10. TV License

I think that's it, but if I think of anyone else, I'll add them to the list.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Come and Get Me!!

Or places online where I can be found.

Since I have recently changed my IRL legal name, a lot of my websites and messengers have changed as well. I figured now would be a good time as any to list the places where you can find me. This is not a complete list, but is where I am most active.

Feel free to add me to any messenger, social website, etc that is linked below. If you do, please remember that I am a single parent and am not always at my computer or not able to reply immediately (like, for example, if I'm playing a game to entertain my son or am drawing or whatever). Be courteous and respectful, or don't bother. :P

With all that out of the way, here is where you can find me online.

Social Sites:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/muirhalleron
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/MuirDragonne
Google+: https://plus.google.com/10990678569.....90721262/posts (I'm not active on here, but feel free to add me if you want. If you need an invite, let me know and I'll send you one)
Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/id/MuirDragonne

Art Sites:

ArtRage: http://www2.ambientdesign.com/galle.....mageuser=14292
Deviant Art: http://dragoness-muir.deviantart.com/
ArtSpots: http://muir.artspots.com/ (No longer posting art on this website)
Inkbunny: https://inkbunny.net/Muir
FurAffinity: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/muir/

Q&A sites:

Proust: http://www.proust.com/story/32764/
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/BigenderDragon

Messengers:

MSN: MuirDragonne[at]hotmail.co.uk
Yahoo: MuirDrgaonne[at]yahoo.co.uk

Blog:

Blogspot: http://muirdragonne.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Trans* and Genderqueer Categories Part 6

Tonight is the last actual article in this series. It's been fun, and I've learned a thing or two while doing my research for each article.

The final entry is Bigender. Bigendered people may be considered to be part of both the Transgender and Genderqueer categories. This is partly because of what it is and how those who are bigendered live their lives.

Bigendered people are under the Genderqueer umbrella because they are mentally both male and female. Often this manifests itself as "modes". Sometimes a bigendered person will be in "male mode" and will dress, act, feel, and otherwise present themselves as male. Other times they will be in "female mode" and will present as such.

They are under the Transgender category because often, to help with their sense of gender dysphoria, they will undergo some form of gender reassignment. This often includes things such as hormones.

Most bigendered people prefer the opposite  birth gender pronouns. So if the person was born a female, they will prefer that people call them "he", if male, then "she". But this is not always the case and depends on the individual person. If you are in doubt, then ask them which pronouns they prefer. Trust me - they won't mind you asking.

I'm going to end this article with two videos made by bigendered people. The first one is by Brin and she talks about dysphoria. In the second video, Sydney gives a very good illustration about what Bigender is.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Trans* and Genderqueer Categories Part 5

Only two more articles in this "in-depth" series to go! Have you enjoyed the articles so far? Have you learned anything? I hope the answer to both questions is "yes".

Today I'm going to attempt to say what the term "GenderQueer" is and how people who identify as such see themselves. I say "attempt", because it can get quite confusing.

Genderqueer, in a nutshell, is non-binary. People who are genderqueer do not identify as either a man or a woman, but rather a mixture of the two or totally outside the gender binary "norms". People who identify as Genderqueer may think of themselves as being both a man and a woman, neither male nor female, moving between genders, or being part of a third gender.

Some genderqueers go through transition in some degree or another by taking hormones or having surgery (either top or bottom or both) to make their body outwardly look the way that they feel in their minds. Some don't. Both are okay. Some genderqueers prefer to be addressed by gender-neutral pronouns such as "ze", "hir", "they", "their". Others prefer the more conventional binary pronouns such as "he" and "her". It's really up to personal choice.

Genderqueer is seen as freedom from conventional binary genders that society has placed on us. Everyone is seen as equal, because no one is better than any one else.

I'll leave you with a quote from genderqueer person:

"I don't know if I'm male or female or both or neither. All I know is that when I'm filling out a form and it makes me choose "male" or "female", I really want to tell it to f*ck off."


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Trans* and Genderqueer Categories Part 4

This one has proven really difficult for me to write about for some reason. Maybe it's because there isn't really a lot of information out there on androgyne or that the information that I found is ambiguous?

In any case, "Androgyne" or "Androgynous" people are, as the term hints, between the genders. People who identify as androgyne see themselves as being solely neither male nor female and often dress in a style which borrows from both genders.

Since I totally fail on this, I'll just let PicaVPica on Youtube explain it.


Monday, 8 August 2011

Trans* and Genderqueer Categories Part 3


I have decided to include this category for two reasons. The first reason is because when some people hear the terms "transgender/sexual", "genderqueer", or "bi-gendered" they think that this means the person is intersexed, which usually isn't true. The second reason is that intersexed people are discriminated against and often forced to conform to society's rules on gender roles.

To be intersexed, a person must have been born with atypical reproductive or sexual anatomy. As you can imagine, this can take several forms. A person who is, by all outward signs, male may have ovaries instead of testes. A person who looks female may have an elongated and thickened clitoris with a blocked vaginal opening. A man might have a uterus inside his abdomen, or have a split scrotum. Intersex may also be as "simple" as having a mixture of XX and XY chromosomes without having any outward appearance.

It used to be very common for doctors to decide whether an intersexed baby was a "boy" or a "girl". Upon deciding, the child was subjected to surgery and sometimes hormones to "normalise" the genitals so they would look like a "proper" boy or girl. This practise is less common now than it was 30 years ago, but it is still quite prevalent.

Again, intersex does not equal transgender or transsexual. Intersex has to do with the body and how it developed in the womb, while transgender/transsexual is more to do with how a person feels internally about their gender.

If you would like to learn more about intersex, the Intersex Society of North America has a really good web site based on a simple question and answer format.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Trans* and Genderqueer Categories Part 2

There are four or five more trans* identities which I want to go over in the next week. I say four or five, because one of them could be included in with another identity. We'll have to see how the articles go when I write them. In any case, I've got my work cut out for me, so let's begin!

Today I've decided to talk about Transsexuals. According to Dictionary.com, a transsexual is "a person who has undergone hormone treatment and surgery to attain the physical characteristics of the opposite sex." 

Transsexuality is not a choice. In fact, the dysphoria and intense feelings of being the opposite gender that they were assigned at birth often cause extreme levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. It is because of these feelings that transsexuals  go down the path of getting hormone treatment and SRS (sex reassignment surgery). 

If being a transsexual is not a choice, then what causes it? No one is completely sure what causes transsexuality, but there are many theories including one which states that the amounts and types of hormones the unborn foetus is exposed to which results in opposite sex brain growth and (sometimes) physical features.
  
We can find instances of transsexuals all throughout history. In fact, most ancient civilizations held trans* people in high regard, thinking of them as being close to the gods. The first modern transsexual to undergo surgery was Lili Elbe, a male to female transsexual.  Lili was born "Einar Mogens Wegener" in 1882, in Denmark. She underwent genital reassignment surgery in 1930 in Germany, but tragically died just before she turned 50 due to complications. 

Today, transsexuals comprise about 1 in 30,000 for male to females and 1 in 100,000 for female to males. (source) These are the people who have "come out" as transsexuals; it is certain that for every person who has come out there is at least one person who hasn't. 

This leads us to the question "Why don't more people come out as trans*?". There are lots of reasons why people stay quiet about who they are and try to hide it from those around them, but the biggest reason is tolerance and acceptance. All too often, youth overhear their parents, church leaders, and friends berating LGBTQ people and they are afraid to come out to these people because they think they will be judged, labelled a "sinner", forced to undergo very dangerous and harmful "reparative therapy", or disinherited and kicked out of their home. Needless to say, this is also a huge cause of depression and has often led to the trans* person taking their own life because they are not accepted by those who are supposed to love and accept them no matter what.

In closing, I want to reiterate that being transsexual is not a choice, and if you know a transsexual person, then please try to be supportive of them.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Birthday and Fitness Update

Tomorrow is my 34th birthday, and in celebration I spent two days and two nights with my boyfriends. They baked a wonderful triple chocolate cake for me and gave me a card and a very thoughtful gift.

My fitness programme is coming along nicely. I weighed myself yesterday and have lost two pounds since last month. My measurements haven't changed much except for my upper arms which have lost half an inch.

Height: 5 feet
Weight: 162 lbs
Waist: 37"
Thighs: 25"
Calves: 16"
Arms: 12.5"
Chest: 38"
Neck: 13"

My arm strength has increased so starting today the weight used for biceps curls will be increased and the repetitions will be decreased, slowly working back up. The weight used for butterfly curls will remain the same, as my goal at this time isn't to build up my pecs, but rather to lose fat in my chest.

Daily Exercises:

Cardio: Either walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day OR playing a cardio-intensive game on the Kinect (i.e. Dance Central, UFC Trainer, Zumba Fitness) for 30 minutes or more.

Weights: Biceps Curls - 10 reps at 2.5 kg, gradually increasing up to 35 reps at 2.5 kg per arm
               Butterfly Curls - 30 reps at 1 kg per arm

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Trans* and Genderqueer Categories Part 1

The previous article went over a few of the most common "myths" or misconceptions of Trans* and Genderqueer people. The responses to that article were very positive and my thanks to all of you who commented.

The remainder of the articles in this series will cover the different "categories" or identities that fall under the Trans* label. To save my fingers a little, from now on when you see the word "Trans*", please keep in mind that the asterisk at the end of ‘trans*’ denotes that this is the wider inclusive form of trans that includes all transgender, genderqueer, gender variant and gender non-conforming people regardless of gender identity or expression.

The first identity we're going to cover is Cross-dressers. Now, I know that the first thing that you pictured when you read that word was either of a very hairy guy, complete with beard, wearing a pink frilly dress and seven inches of make up on his face or celebrities such as Lily Savage, Dame Edna Everage, or RuPaul. If so, you're not wrong, but neither are you completely correct. These two examples are just a very small part of what cross-dressing is.

In order to understand cross-dressing and those who do it, we must first understand it's definition. The Free Dictionary defines cross-dressing as dressing "in the clothing characteristic of the opposite sex" and a cross-dresser as "someone who adopts the dress or manner or sexual role of the opposite sex." (source) Those definitions only give a very "cut and dry" idea though. We need to look deeper.

Time for some travelling. Let's go all the way back to ancient Greece. In Greek mythology, Hercules was compelled to do women's work as well as dress as a woman during the time he was a slave to Omphale. According to various 13th century writings, in the late first to early second century, Pope Joan was a woman who dressed as a male and rose through the Catholic church hierarchy,  eventually being chosen as Pope. Other famous cross-dressers throughout history include Hua Mulan, Joan of Arc, and George Sand.

Everyone has cross-dressed at some time in their life. From little boys wearing their mother's best Sunday dress while playing dress up, little girls wearing their older male cousin's clothing as hand-me-downs, to men wearing a dress and a wig for Halloween fun and women wearing men's t-shirts because they're "more comfortable", it's all cross-dressing and there is nothing wrong with it.

Why do people cross-dress? There are many reasons for doing so. Some people cross-dress for comfort reasons. They find the clothing of the opposite sex to be more comfortable than the clothing for their own sex. In the last few years, there has been a growing trend of gender non-conformity or people who reject societal gender norms. This group of people often cross-dress to blend the lines of society-placed genders. People such as Lily Savage, who I mentioned earlier, are known as Drag Queens. Drag Queens are males who dress as extremely exaggerated female characters complete with wig, lots of make up, high heels, and flashy dresses. Other people cross-dress in order to completely pass as their non-birth gender.

Clothing is just that - clothing. Does it really matter what we wear? After all, we are who we are and clothing isn't going to change that.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

What Trans* and Genderqueer...

...Are Not

(or The Common Myths About Transgender and Genderqueer)

Last week (and a bit) I did a series on what LGBTQ is. Over the next week (ish) I'm going to expound on this topic by going over Transgender and Genderqueer in a bit more detail. The reason for this is because the Trans* and Queer "categories" are more complicated than the LGB parts.

In this article, I will be telling you what Trans* and Genderqueer are not, because there are lots of misconceptions about the two and understanding what they aren't will help you to understand what they are.

Myth #1:  Being Trans* or Genderqueer is a choice.
Truth:        People who are Transgender or Genderqueer do not choose to be so. Why would anyone choose to be something that so many people hate/are afraid of/don't understand? Simply put, they don't. Just like people who are female with a female body or male with a male body (for easy reference, these will be called cis-females and cis-males, respectively) know that they are female/male, transgendered people know that they are transgendered/genderqueer. In fact, it has been found that the testosterone levels in the brain of a fetus during development plays a crucial part in determining whether a person may be trans*. (Hare L, Bernard P, S├ínchez FJ, Baird PN, Vilain E, Kennedy T, Harley VR (2009)) Trans*/Genderqueer people are literally born that way.

Myth #2: If you're Transgender/Genderqueer, then you have to have surgery.
Truth:       While some Trans*/Queer people do have top or bottom surgery, a lot don't. It is common to take hormones to help the person pass as male or female or help make them look more androgynous, but again, not all Trans*/Queer people go this route.

Myth #3:  Transgender/Genderqueer people are gay/homosexual.
Truth:        Being Trans*/Queer has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Transgender/Genderqueer is all about gender identity (the gender one identifies with) as opposed to sexual orientation (the gender one is attracted to). Tran*/Queer people can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, and so on.

Please feel free to leave a comment if there are any myths/misconceptions that I have missed that you would like to point out or if you have any questions.  This list isn't complete, but is all I was able to come up with "off the top of my head" this evening.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 5)

Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "(Gender) Queer", and is also the last official day of this series. I hope you have enjoyed learning about (possibly) new things. If this series has made you think in a different way, taught you something you didn't know before, then please comment and let me know! Also, if you have any questions about any of the topics in this series, please ask and I will try my best to answer them.

I've found both an article and a video highlighting what GenderQueer means. Hope you enjoy them!


Friday, 22 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 4)

Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "BiSexual", and guess what? There's no video today! I did find a website though which sums up the wonderful world of Bisexualism pretty well. Hope you enjoy reading it!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 3)


Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "Gay", and as seems to be the norm for me, here's a video. :)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 2)

Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "Lesbian" and I've found a nice video that sums it up rather nicely.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 1)

Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "Transgender" and I've found a nice video that sums it up rather nicely.



http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1824656861027683012

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Make Room For Yourself

"Jews cannot fight antisemitism alone, Muslims cannot fight Islamaphobia alone, gays cannot fight homophobia alone. The victim cannot cure the crime, the hated cannot cure the hater. We are as big or as small as the space we make for others who are not like us."  - Rabbi Lord Sacks

How true this statement is.

There is so much phobia in the world today. Homophobia, Islamaphobia, Christianphobia (yes, I made that up just now), racism, Transphobia, sexism... Why? Because it makes us feel better about ourselves? Because "we're right and everyone else is wrong"? Because to admit that men like roses is the same as stripping them of their masculinity?

I'm not having it. The human race is a huge amalgamation of different beliefs, different colours, different traditions, different sexual orientations, and yes, different gender identities. Instead of trying to make everyone else conform to what we think is "normal", we should be celebrating our differences. Because it is those differences which make us so wonderful.

By limiting others, we are actually limiting ourselves. By telling others "You were born a female, and therefore you can not be a male" or "You can not marry another man" we are actually imprisoning ourselves in a cage made of petty prejudices that will one day come back to bite us.

On the flip side, if we make room for those who are different than us then we make more room for our own beliefs and our own feelings. And the world will be so much better for it.