Transforming the Dialogue at Simmons College

Hello Friends!

The fine folks at the Simmons College* MSW program reached out to me last week and asked if I would like to participate in their new program aimed at educating their population on trans* issues.  Of course I’m happy to help!

To be more specific, Megan, the marketing coordinator for Simmons, informed me that Simmons is “the third US women’s college to accept students who identify as transgender,” and also told me the college is “embarking on an exciting initiative that aims to educate the masses on trans* lives.”  Neat!  I’m in!  But first, let me let Megan finish explaining what exactly this project entails.

She continued, “[t]his spring, we are launching “Trans*forming the Dialogue,” a campaign designed to shift the conversation away from the problematic questions that are often asked of the members of the transgender community and foster a more progressive dialogue.”  Any readers interested in seeing the final project can find it here in June.

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So, I am one of a few bloggers she has invited “to be a featured voice in this campaign and provide [my] unique perspective.” To that end, I answered three questions:

1. What are the do’s and dont’s when asking a trans*person about their experiences?

Well, I like to keep it simple: keep it respectful.  Speak from a place of integrity.  I guess what I’m saying is, it’s actually really easy to talk to trans people about their experiences if you come to us as a person first (that’s why you start from a place of integrity), and as a trans person second.  Ask yourself, before you ask me, why are you about to ask me the question you are going to ask?  Is it to learn about me, or is it to objectify me?  Is the answer to the question necessary for the interaction we are having?  The thing that I think trips up some cis-gender people, people who are allies and who want to get this right, is that they are so worried about embarrassing themselves or saying the wrong thing that they end up embarrassing themselves or saying the wrong thing.  Remember the golden rule: treat me how you would want to be treated, and interacting with trans* people, or any minority culture or person different from you, becomes much easier.

2. What are 2 – 3 questions that one should NOT be asking a transgender person?

Do not ask me what my “real” or “birth” name is.  It’s none of your business (in the case of my birth name), and actually, you know what my real name is, it’s the one I introduced myself to you as.

Do not ask me what surgeries I’ve had.  The state of my medical transition, if I am transitioning medically, is also none of your business.  Just like cis-gendered people do not have to justify their gender presentation to me, I do not have to justify my gender presentation to anyone else.  This is why coming to me as a person first, and as a trans person second is important. While my gender identity is important, it is only a part of the whole.  Treat me like a whole person, and we got no problems.

3. What are 2 – 3 questions that one SHOULD be asking a transgender person?

Please feel free to ask me what pronouns (if any) I prefer.  Sometimes people play with the gender norms, confound them, complicate them, fuck with them, and we might not be aligned with the traditional gender presentation our preferred pronouns would have you believe. Meaning, for example, sometimes dudes have breasts, sometimes ladies have stubble.  I would never be offended if someone wanted to know how I preferred to be referred to.  See how that’s different than asking me if I have a penis?

I am also always happy to answer the kinds of questions Megan has asked here.  Let’s talk about how to start a conversation, let’s talk about cultural norms, let’s talk about opinions and experiences.  I am very open with my transition, duh, I’m spilling the beans on a public blog. But not all trans people want to share their lives with the whole of the internet.  Start from a place of respect, a place of integrity, and let us lead you to how far we are willing to go with the divulgence of personal information.

I’m sure I’m missing some things, but that’s why I’m not the only blogger they approached.  I want to thank Megan for reaching out to me and giving me this opportunity.  Thanks Megan! And I applaud Simmons College for engaging the trans community: it’s this kind of willingness and effort that is the starting point from which we can foster real and meaningful dialogue across the sometimes too-silent gulfs between discourse communities.

Also, in closing I want to give a shout out to Simmons’ queer group, SWAG.  In the sea of poorly-chosen queer acronyms, SWAG knocked it out of the park. Great job people!

If this was your first time here, thanks for stopping by, and as always,

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli


* Woot-Woot Massachusetts!

An Excused Absence: NaNoWriMo

Hello Friends!

It’s that time of year again…NaNoWriMo!  For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, click this.

Official National Novel Writing Month crest.  Image courtsey of http://nanowrimo.org.

Official National Novel Writing Month crest. Image courtsey of http://nanowrimo.org.

Yes, my participation in National Novel WrIting Month last year was, ahem, abysmal at best, but this year I’ve got new resolve and a functioning plan.

That project I’ve been hinting at in my recent posts?  Well, it’s a writing project. A big one.

It’s not a novel in the traditional sense, but it is large in scale, and would benefit from some deadlines and structure.  And NaNoWriMo is just the place to get encouragement and resolve.

So far, I’ve created a Pages Doc with to-do lists for the days leading up to Nov. 1st.  I’ve also made a calendar with writing prompts for each day in November to keep me on track.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Between now and then I have the following to do:

Plan secret surprise for wife (this will be revealed in December…)
Organize notes into one Pages Document
Write blog post alerting readers to my impending and epic absence
-Research & fill out calendar w/ notes for each daily prompt

Yeah, about that last crossed off one…

I’m taking a month off the ol’ blog.  I want to utilize November and get a large chunk of writing done when I’m energized and excited, and I just can’t focus on both this project and MLWT at the same time.  I love you guys, and will still respond to queries and comments and emails, but the posts will have to wait.

You guys know how hard it’s been for me to find a good writing practice.  It’s been so hard I’ve made private most of the posts in which I’m bitching about my writing practice because I sound like a preening ass in them, and so I have nothing to link to for this reference.

And I have a great project right now, honestly, you’re all going to be so impressed if I can make the most of November and come back in December with something great to show for it.  So I have to go.  But I will be back.  And we all might just be really proud of me.

Trust me.

And, in the meantime, be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

Greatest (T)its

Dear Readers,

I’ve missed you!  I didn’t post these last two Fridays because I’ve been busy with another writing endeavor, one secret at this point, but as the project evolves, I’ll consider some sneak peeks…

I thought, in the meantime, I’d do a top ten list of the most viewed posts.

The Homepage, at 25,800 views, is killing it, and my About Me page was in the top ten as well.  I took those two out of the list below, as to limit to only posts and not pages.

And so without further adieu, let’s start this party off right with…

10. Post-Op Depression: Ugh. Ok…that was a rough start.  Anyway, on to number 9…

9. Photo Comparison: Face Shape on T: Wherein you get the pleasure of gazing upon me.

8. At Home in the Underground: Departures and Returns: Where your hero says goodbye to an old friend.

7. 11 Weeks Post-Op: What a slick baby!

6. Blog Brothers: Some of the dudes I looked to for fraternity and inspiration when I first started this journey.

5. Day Six: First Look at the New Chest, or Parade of Photos! Gross.  But informative!  (Still gross.)

4. Two Weeks Post-Op: You guys are really into the topless pics, you old pervs.

3. The, as it were, titular post.

2. Top Surgery How-To: Compression Vest and Bandages Daily Regiment: Boring.  But if it makes you happy, I’m supportive.

And the number one most visited post, with over a thousand views is…

1. Top Surgery Check List! Hooray!

You have a favorite that didn’t make it on the list?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  Have a favorite trans blog you’d like to inform me of?  Leave it in the comments!

Thanks for reading, friends, and be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

Another Major Award!

Well friends, I have finally been awarded the prestigious Tell Me About Yourself award.

I’d like to thank the academy. But they have done little to support this award, so I won’t.

Of course, there are responsibilities that come along with garnering such an accolade, so, in accordance with the TMAYA regulations, I post the following:

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you

Thanks Deanna–what a doll you are!

2. Tell the world 7 things about yourself that you have not yet shared.

1. When I was born my mother wanted to name me April Rose–boy was she off!

2. I actually love to hand wash dishes! (I am stealing this one from Deanna, because it is true for me as well.)

3. I took the SATs in 6th grade.  I scored 600 verbal.  I don’t remember my math score.

4. When I was a kid I wanted to be one of two things when I grew up: an animator for Disney, or a firefighter.

5. I have never broken a bone.  But I have had scarlet fever.

6. I have seen Korn eight times in concert.  At one of their shows I bruised 6 ribs.

7. I can recite the prologue of Romeo and Juliet verbatim.

3. Nominate 7 fellow bloggers and let them know. In no particular order…

1. Chestless and Beyond

2. Joe’s Transition

3. Maybe a New Leaf

4. The Adventures of Ashdarlina

5. The Oddball Mentality (Because J.C. just loves to be social! ;))

6. Transmogrifying, and…

7. Smash Brown!

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

 

Name Change

You may have noticed a blog name change around here.  Seems inappropriate for me to continue to write a blog called “My Life with Tits” since having said tits removed.

I have, however, kept the url: I wanted people to be able to still find me in a google search, so I kept it for that practical reason.

But there is a symbolic reason for it too: when I started this blog I did have tits, and so I have decided to keep the url the same.  It’s the internet version of the scars I will have on my chest: it is proof of my past, a record of my life–all of it, not just the part after the operation.

Be nice, friends,
Your Pal Eli

A Real Life Internet Award!

Ladies and Gentlemen and Person-readers,

Finally, after a whole two and a half months of blogging (which in today’s instant gratification society, translates to 3 Renaissance decades, or 5 Victorian years (the same amount of time it took Jane Austen to complete her four major works) I have been given the well-deserved distinction of:

This award was bestowed upon me by my darling internet momma bear, over at transbeautiful, and I thank her hardily.  I have never been given a blogging award, mostly because I have never kept a blog for more than a few days (the wreckage of which can be found, if hunted tirelessly for, at places like myspace and blogger).  I also have never reached out and sustained an internet community.  I am grateful for this honor. Thank you.

The Versatile Blogger Award Rules:

-Add the award to your blog.
-Thank the blogger who gave it to you and include a link to their blog.
-Mention 7 random things about yourself.
-List the rules.
-Give the award to 15 or more bloggers

So 7 random things, eh?

1. I used to be an astrophysics major.  It lasted one harrowing term, then, like all dreamers, I switched to the humanities.

2. I am vegan.  I eat cheese sometimes.  I am a bad vegan.

3.  I went to the same high school Randy Shilts went to.  I wrote a speech about his life when I was a sophomore in which I contacted his brother and interviewed him over the phone.  This was after Randy died, but his brother was very kind and sent me a letter back after I shared my speech with him.

4. I love football.  The Bears are my favorite team, followed by the close second Pats.

5.  My cat’s name is Violet.

6. William Carlos Williams and Kenneth Koch are my favorite poets. Please ask me to quote them to you.

7. I have the lyrics to a Pearl Jam song tattooed on my forearm.

And now, allow me this opportunity to bestow the Versatile Blogger Award to the following lovely blogs, which I devour heartily, which bring me joy and contemplation, which help make me a more considerate person, which give me levity and strength.  In no particular order, they are:

1. My friend Tam

2. My friend Maddox

3. Queer Rock Love

4. Meiko over at Meta Memoir

5. Butch Wonders

6. Tranifesto

7. Butch on Butch

8. The Pink Agendist

9. Transbeautiful

10. My buddy J.C. Prime

11. Transman

12. Mason at Gentelman’s Primer

13. Creepylesbo

14. Transfabulous, and…

15. These two queers!

Huzzah! Congrats to all you lovely bloggers!

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli