Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Archive for March, 2010

Mob Mentality

So, there’s this film called Ticked Off Trannies with Knives. It’s scheduled to be shown at the Tribecca Film Festival. And naturally, that’s causing the inevitable freak-out.

I’m told that I’m supposed to be insulted because they use the word “tranny.” Sorry, I’ve given that up. Too many people in the community use the word for me to see it as insulting anymore. It’s just a word. If I can use it, so can anyone else. Context is important, sure, but it’s a cheesy movie. Do we really need to stage a full mobilization to crush a cheesy movie?

I’m urged to be horrified that the “trannies” in the movie act like drag queens and therefore aren’t representative of real transgender women. Well, wait a minute. Isn’t the party line that drag queens fall under the “Transgender Umbrella” that’s always being promoted to insist that we’re all one big happy family? Is it really a good thing to argue that portrayals of drag are horribly offensive?

I’m told that even though the women in the movie (several of whom happen to have some sort of trans in their histories) are comfortable with the movie that they shouldn’t have a say. I’m told that the community should over-ride the women who are in the movie.

Oh, and no one has seen the movie yet, either.

I dunno, I just can’t get all worked up about this. Is it a great thing? No, probably not. But I think it’s disingenuous to claim that the word tranny is so offensive when so many people with trans histories use it. We use it as titles of podcasts and radio shows and the like – but no one else is allowed to use it, I guess. I find it terribly hypocritical to claim that presenting drag as transgender is inaccurate, since the community argues so strongly for inclusion of drag under the “Transgender Umbrella.”

It’s a movie.

And, it might be painful, but in watching how society has gradually come to understand minorities, cheesy (and, fine, offensive) art is often part of the process. I guess I almost see this as moving things forward. It’s twisted, but it’s the way stuff like this seems to go.

And I’m also just saddened by how much energy I’ve seen directed toward this. There’s ENDA still sitting stuck in Washington, and it’s possibly been amended with anti-trans language, but no one’s even sure, and that doesn’t generate this much energy.

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Hiding in Plain Sight

I saw a woman earlier today whom I strongly suspected had some sort of trans in her history. She was in front of me in line at the supermarket. I don’t think it’s ever possible to be 100% certain that someone is trans just by looking, watching, and listening, but I really think I’m right in my assessment.

And we passed by each other just like any two other people who don’t know each other.

And I wondered if she recognized that I have a trans history.

And I wondered if I was, in fact, correct (I’m really pretty sure that I was).

And I just thought that was interesting. There’s something inherent about my life that I just float through the world as fairly ordinary woman. And judging by this other woman’s air and demeanor, so does she. I’ve chosen to work actively toward making things better for people who have some sort of trans in their makeup, and that has caused me to be fairly open about my story. But I still just live a generally quiet life.

And in some ways it strikes me that I wish that woman and I could say hello to each other and exchange pleasantries. And in some ways it strikes me that we may very well have nothing in common besides an interesting history. I have drumming in common with lots of people, and I get along with some of them and don’t with some of them. It’s sort of a weird thing to think that I would have anything in common with another woman who happens to have a trans history beyond that shared physical trait. And yet, there does seem to be lots of similarity in the ways that people navigate through the world that gives us at least a connection of shared experience.

It’s weird. I thought I might have more to say about it, but I guess I don’t.

Gender Non-Conforming Bible

Last I went to see Peterson Toscano‘s one person play Transfigurations: Transgressing Gender in the Bible. Here’s a video blurb:

It was fascinating. I am so buoyed by learning about the history of people who stepped out of the gender expectations of their societies; I’m especially interested in hearing about Biblical examples of this. I spent so long thinking that being born with the wrong body was something that couldn’t be reconciled with a Christian faith, to learn that that isn’t the case is simply wonderful. As I’ve said in the past, when I finally decided to transition I saw it as finally surrendering and giving up to what I had been fighting for so long. God’s plan was for me to transition – I joke that God was waving pom-poms when I finally figured it out and transitioned saying: “Wow, she ~finally~ got it” and chanting: “Go Penny; Go Penny!” I know down in the deepest parts of me that God and I are good, and it’s lovely to have some Biblical examples to help spread the word. It’s one thing for me to be able to say, “I know this to be true.” It’s another thing entirely to be able to say, “Here are some interesting things the Bible says about gender non-conforming folks.”

From talk of eunuchs to female-bodied warriors, the Bible makes space for, and sometimes even honors above and beyond, those folks who fall outside their typical roles. To mis-quote an aphorism: “Well-behaved trans folk seldom make history.”  🙂

The funny thing, of course, is that I’m almost excessively gender-conforming nowadays, which is another subject I suppose. But it’s still very important for me to show that there is a place for everyone at God’s Table.

So yea, it was an amazing play, and if you get the chance you should go see it. And Peterson is just lovely!

Just fix the brain…

I was engaged in a fairly thoughtful discussion online with someone in response to an article about a transsexual woman’s story. This person suggested that SRS is a primitive way to deal with transsexualism, and that someday doctors will be able to “fix” the problem in the brain.

I guess what they meant by that was that the real problem was that my brain was somehow damaged and my body (irrespective of my far from perfect pre-surgical body) was fine.

I suppose that’s one way to look at it, though it sure doesn’t feel that way from my perspective. I believe I have a perfectly normal female brain. What was broken was my body. What was broken was the fact that I was trapped living a life that wasn’t truly my own.

That’s better now. I am me.

So I responded that I believe the technology that needs to get better is the quality of the surgical options available to trans patients. Someday they won’t try to fix a transsexual’s brain, they’ll be able to offer completely functional genitals (sigh, I’m too early for the uterine transplant). Indeed, the technology for trans folk has moved in the direction of better surgeries. Up until fairly recently, the only real surgery that women had available to them was an orchiectomy. I said that if my choices had been a “fix” for my brain to make me a “normal” man, or no surgery and to have to live with the stress and discomfort of the wrong body, I would have opted for the latter.

Whatever ~I~ there is has always been female. There would have been no way to “fix” my brain to be a “normal male” without having altered a fundamental core element of who I am. Not to get too metaphysical, but my soul is female. No matter what the state of my body is or was, my being is and was female. That’s not a changeable thing. The only fix, for me, was correcting my body.

I related this story to the Darling Boyfriend, and he again proved how amazing he is, and how much he completely understands this. I told him that someone suggested “fixing” my brain would have been a better cure, and he said, “That would have been sort of like killing you. Kind of like Talia Winters.” (He’s such a geek – and so am I, because I instantly understood the reference.)

And yea, that’s what I think it would have been like. Whoever I am would have been gone if my brain had been “fixed,” and I don’t want to be gone. There is nothing wrong with my brain, and there never was.

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