A sexual object

I’m twenty-four years old, and I can safely say that, until last Sunday at least, I’ve only ever been hit on once in my life, and that was by my girlfriend.  (I’m not counting the wannabe boyfriend who Facebook messaged me wanting to get together after having only played two rounds of D&D together.)  However, last Sunday was a strange and uncomfortable exception to my life in that not just one, but two girls hit on me in one evening.  Both times, for me at least, it was completely unwanted.

The first one identified as a butch lesbian, and my single friend (who was bound and determined to “hook up” with someone) had apparently been eyeing her all evening.  Being the oblivious asexual that I am, I had absolutely no clue about any of this.  At one point we walked by her, and her eyes followed me this entire time.  I made eye contact and smiled, trying to be polite, because what else do you do in a noisy, crowded bar in the middle of a drag show?  Not two minutes passed before she joined us outside and she honed in on me, asking about my name, whether my parents had given it to me, have I ever had a girlfriend.  It was by this last question that I got suspicious, but her next sentence (“Well, you’re very convincing”) turned me off completely.

Then, as we congregated at a table, another — quite intoxicated — young woman asked me about my tattoo, so I took off my shirt to show it to her.  I thought that was the end of it…until we both were back in the bar and she was dancing up on me, grabbing me in places I’d rather not think about and giving me a drunken kiss on the neck.  I avoided her the rest of the evening and hid behind my girlfriend whenever she walked by.

If this is how they thought I would dance, they were sadly, sadly mistaken.

At the time I had difficulty in understanding why both encounters upset me so much.  The first girl’s comment about me being “convincing” was certainly frustrating, because I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to convince people about; and I told her as much.  But between the not-so-subtle flirting on her part and the overly sexual dance session with the other, it occurred to me that my being asexual was entirely why I was so uncomfortable.  I was being treated as a sexual object, which is something that I don’t even treat myself as — so why should anyone else?  For someone else to treat me as some object of sexual or erotic desire absolutely does not fit my own sense of self, so not only was it incongruous toward my identity as asexual, but it was also entirely against my will.

This is why I hate dancing, clubbing, or anything similar that enables one’s body to be the focus of sexually-driven attention.  Before Sunday I’d never even thought of it in those terms, but looking back on my life it makes a lot more sense through an asexual perspective.  As uncomfortable and frustrating as Sunday night was for me, it’s also made me aware of two important points.  Firstly, I refuse to allow others to erroneously label me as a sexual person, and therefore treat me as a sexual object.  But perhaps most importantly, I refuse to allow others to do that to another person that they don’t even know.

I’ve been looking for a reason to become more involved in asexual politics and awareness.  I guess one evening of queer women on the prowl was enough to get me started.

Just Steph, Being Brannen

I am a Teflon pot, a stainless steel
refrigerator covered in so many fading,
washed-up magnets from the front cover
of my phone book.  From nights of take-out
filled with flyers.  Nights whose days tend
to blur together now — now that it’s time to
go off on a new adventure.  So why am I
stuck here, still, after two years of
“Everyone, I’m transgender,” and almost
that long of being Brannen.  Two years,
it seems, is not enough time to adjust to
a new name, a face foreign yet familiar
that stares back at me every morning in
the mirror.  I was always just Steph.  No
labels, no identities, just myself in my
purest form.  But things change — life
changes — and so I move on and upward.
And when change falls, it falls hard.  Now
I know better than I did back then.  The Teflon’s
faded and scratched, charred stains burnt
along my bottom and sides, but here I am,
and here I stand.  Just Steph and being Brannen.

 

*A poem/letter to both my past and present self, in an ever-hopeful attempt at future reconciliation and amalgamation.

**If for any reason you feel the need or desire to critique this, I ask that you keep in mind this stems from, oh…3+ hours of failing to fall asleep.  Insomnia-induced (slam) poetry.  You’re welcome.

Coverage for Medical Transition (and why my pharmacy’s awesome)

About a week ago I went to my pharmacy to pick up my needle prescription as well as more testosterone; I wasn’t out yet, but I was taking precautionary measures.  I showed up at the pharmacy thinking it’d be a simple in and out procedure, but once again my insurance decided to have conniptions.  When my total for the two testosterone prescriptions came to $206 I was shocked but not overly concerned; this had happened after the new year started, and a phone call was all it took to get things sorted out.

The two pharmacists, both of whom I know on an almost first name basis by this point, helped each other with trying to figure out what was going on.  At first it came up with “duplicate birth,” which made sense since I’m a twin, but as far as they could tell there was no reason why the price shouldn’t be $16.  As they scoured their system the female pharmacist helping me was very kind the entire time, and she double checked to make sure my name was changed in their system.  We even clarified that coverage for hormone replacement therapy was still covered by my insurance (which is still quite rare).

In the end the problem was that BlueCross BlueShield of MN had me in the system as male, while the pharmacy hadn’t changed this yet.  A look of relief came over her face as she hung up and went to change it straight away.  We chatted about how it was nice that my insurance covered these prescriptions in the first place, and that even with my sex being “male” I was still able to have testosterone covered by insurance.

As I walked away I felt a great weight lift off of my now-flat chest.  I’ve heard horror stories of trans folk having problems with anyone from doctors to insurances to surgeons…and now, with one of the final places I’d still needed to disclose my status as trans, I’d gone in and out with nothing but positive experiences.  This makes me hopeful that someday this will be the case for anyone seeking to medically transition.

Curly Joe

Mxtrmeike13:

For years (read: when identifying as a “girl”) I hated the natural banana curls. I love this perspective on men (or masculine persons) having naturally curly hair. Might need to start reclaiming my curls.

Originally posted on theadventuresoftransman:

No, not Curly Joe DeRita.

No, not Curly Joe DeRita.

Transman went to the grocery store to stock up on microwavables for the teenager and perishables for the rest of the family, and the temptress at the deli asked, “Have you seen The Wolf of Wall Street? You remind me of the guy that’s in it …” and while Transman was waiting for “you totally look like Leonardo DiCaprio” or even, “you kind of  look like “Matthew McConaughey”, she said, “You look like the supporting actor guy [Jonah Hill]!”

"I'd like a pound of pastrami and some of that deli mustard!" Jonah Hill as Transman.

“I’d like a pound of pastrami and some of that deli mustard!” Jonah Hill as Transman.

Transman figures big hair and thick glasses = Jonah Hill. In a very lame attempt at a segue … Transman ran across this item today and decided that since it is written from the perspective of a curly haired gal, that he should add the perspective of a curly…

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Why I (Almost) Regretted Top Surgery

This is a story about how I regretted top surgery and how this relates to my choice of underwear.  Bear with me here.

I’ve talked before about how I was anxious for top surgery.  After top surgery — or at least for the first 5 days — I was okay with things, because I honestly felt like I was just binding again, except for the ridiculous bruising and drains sticking out of my armpits.  Then, five days after surgery, I got one drain taken out and the foam removed, revealing my post-operative chest in all its swollen, colorful glory.  Spoiler alert: it was not pretty.  I spent the entire 6 hour drive back home trying to dispel my rising fears and concerns, but by the next afternoon I couldn’t take it anymore.

So I had a heart to heart with my therapist.  I verbally bitch-slapped my surgeon for his horrible bedside manner, for not checking with me before surgery to clarify that my anti-depressants cause excessive bruising, and other such minuscule concerns.  We were able to share in my frustration that I was still healing, and would be for months to come.  And I felt a lot better; I haven’t regretted surgery since.  If anything, I only look in the mirror and feel an agitated sense of curiosity for how my chest will heal up and ultimately look.

Okay, so now let’s talk about my nether regions, or rather what I choose to wear over them.  You see, as with, oh, everything about my transition, I did not make the choice to wear men’s underwear lightly.  I did my research, which meant dragging my best gay friend out to Target, H&M, and MisterLady (mostly whilst in Germany) to help me understand the labyrinthine byways of men’s fashion.  I bought my first (and only) package of boxers at Target my sophomore year of college, but they faded into my “I have no more clean underwear to wear” supply.  In Germany I started wearing trunks and/or boxer briefs.  This lead to a tortuous, anxiety-ridden ride on the Straβenbahn whereby I was trying to convince myself that no, the locals could not see that I was wearing men’s underwear.

In the end, I realized that just because I wear “men’s'” underwear, it doesn’t make me a man — just as wearing girl’s underwear never made me a girl (or at least, not much of a good one).  By giving up one thing and adopting something new, I was better able to explore myself and my identity, which in turn made me better able to live my life.  This is what top surgery did for me, and continues to do every day.  Did I have my concerns?  Of course I did; I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.  Were (and are) the results still scary?  Of course they are, and will probably look a little off for 2 more months at least.

But was it worth it?  Without a doubt.  As the next few months come and go I’m using this as an opportunity to truly get to know my body, because for so long my top half was obscured by the knowledge that my chest was not exactly as it should be.  And don’t worry about the underwear  — that’s a story for a different day.