lonely male student in a brick college walkway with arches and dramatic dusk lighting.

The Trans Experience – Back in the Closet

I never knew that if you passed too well, you could suddenly find yourself back in the closet.

We recently had one of younger members return on winter break after their first quarter in college. Let’s call him Mark. I’d had the chance to talk to him before he left for school about whether he’d enter this new environment as an out and proud trans person or try to go stealth and simply live as one of the guys. He was excited for the opportunity to find a new support community at school but was unsure how it would go and liked the idea of just blending in.

We talk a lot about “passing” in the trans community and for many it can be a major focus of their transition. We all want to be accepted, safe, and loved, and at first it can seem like “passing” as our identified gender and being able to blend is the only/best way to accomplish that. You’ll often hear me say that we can’t focus on passing as the goal though, because 1) we can’t control how our bodies will react to hormones and 2) many in the community can’t afford or are unable to get surgeries necessary to make going “stealth” possible. It’s important to give ourselves and others in the community the slack and space to just be themselves, even if they don’t meet standard definitions of beauty, femininity, masculinity, etc.

However, in all of the conversations I’ve had about passing and the desire to blend and be fully accepted as our gender, I had never thought about the other side of that coin which Mark experienced at school.

When Mark, a very intelligent but shy mtf guy, got to school, he was accepted fully as a male. He realized his identity as a trans person was very much back in the closet. Granted, he’s now seen on the desired side of the gender fence, but he feels he’s lost his connection to the LGBT community. He went to an LGBT event on campus and felt confronted as someone asked him why he was there. His situation is complicated by the fact that the folks in his small, tight-knit housing situation don’t know he’s trans and don’t seem to be the most open minded. As such, he doesn’t talk openly about his history and is worried about them finding out through the grapevine if he’s too open with folks around campus.

When he said he told the person at the LGBT event that he was there because he’s gay, my heart broke. I love this kid and I was sad to hear he didn’t feel comfortable even outing himself to LGBT folks.

For early transitioners, we have to be in the closet because we can’t pass and aren’t comfortable being outed for fear we won’t be accepted in our true/inner gender. Being in the closet is often excruciating because we’re repressing our true selves for the benefit of others in order to remain feeling safe and accepted by folks around us. But Mark is now living a different kind of closet experience, he has the validation of being accepted as man, but in order to find the community and support he still needs, he will have to out himself and face the risk of negative reactions in his inner circle. Quite a conundrum.

How would you handle this situation and what do you think Mark should do?

The Trans Experience – Pee Pitch

The first in a series of funny things I’ve learned that other trans people face, making this the ultimate in “you’re not alone” series.

Last week in my trans peer group, I learned that others worry about “pee pitch” in the restroom. That is, the sound, of your pee. Someone brought up using public restrooms and how much of a nightmare that can be…in general, but especially for trans folks. Eventually the conversation turned to something I didn’t know was a common thing trans folks worry about: “can people clock me because my pee doesn’t sound the same as cis people?”

Yes, as trans folks we live in constant fear of being found out and confronted, hassled, or physically attacked. In the massive slate of anti-trans legislation out there trying to create a society unfriendly to transgender people, making sure we aren’t welcome or safe in bathrooms has turned up the heat on the self-consciousness we already feel when we need to wee in public. Trying to “fit in” by making sure your pee is hitting at the right pitch and rate sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud, but almost everyone in the group chimed in and affirmed that it was a concern for them.

As the host of the peer group, one aspect of this felt great to me because I’m always trying to make sure everyone feels included in the conversation. There are times where the topic shifts to something unique to trans masc folks and others unique to trans femmes, and luckily, this one seemed to be a universal experience.

So there you have it. Pee pitch is a thing. Many trans folks are concerned with it early in their transition. Even in your own stall, sweating over your pee, you are not alone.

Emily Michelle

The Trans Experience – Find Your Joy

Last night in transgender peer group, a member was struggling with the question “how do you KNOW you’re trans?”. They are unsure about moving forward with transition because of the things in their life that will be disrupted or completely eliminated if they began medical transition.

This is a very common feeling and concern among trans people. Being unsure if you’re trans, or more specifically “trans enough” is something we all struggle with. We are taught our whole lives that it is wrong to be effeminate if you’re a boy and manly if you’re a girl…and being trans, well that’s just weird and terrible; you should never be that. So, as we grow up we learn to fight our feelings and what we know inside to be our true nature. Then, when we start to question if we are trans, we have to deal with three things that come together against us.

First is all of the negativity, stereotypes, and animosity society has towards people who don’t conform to the standard view of their birth gender. Second is our own indoctrinated and internalized fears and prejudices against trans people; a lot of times it’s our own internalized transphobia that proves harder to overcome than any rejection from greater society. The third component is the one I want to focus on today: the denial and the way we “gaslighting” ourselves in order to ignore, hide, and shove down our true feelings and gender identity.

One member’s response to “how do you KNOW?” was beautiful and simple: find your joy. The tool she suggested was to look at scenarios in your daily life and lay out for yourself two paths, one that matches your birth gender role, one that goes a different way. Then ask yourself, if I go with the presentation (clothing, mannerisms, name, pronouns, etc.) I’m supposed to, how will I feel? If I go the other way, how will I feel? Then just listen to your heart and to your body. Which idea gives you feelings of joy? Then do the more joyful version. Shift your life to thinking in terms of which presentation and identity makes you happier. Find your joy in everything you do.

It was a wonderful solution that resonated so well with me. But what happened later helped add even more clarity to the situation.

I hung around in the parking lot for an hour after the meeting talking one-on-one with the member who was struggling. They expressed at some point that they were concerned about the joy solution because they feel so numb to joy. At least joy in their identity.

And this is the big issue with transitioning later in life. We spend so much of our lives suppressing our feelings, our desires, and our true identity to fit into the box of our birth gender that we get great at gaslighting ourselves. We have convinced ourselves that what we want and what we feel is not right and not valid. Then we learn to actively stomp out and reject any feelings of joy we have in thoughts and expressions that are incongruent with our assigned gender.

We dismantle our ability to find joy in anything other than what we’re supposed to be and do. And since we’re not living authentically, the things that do bring us joy in other aspects of life still end up feeling a bit hollow in an indescribable way. Even the things we like don’t truly bring us joy because of this conflict and the fact that we’re faking so much of our lives.

We then lose all sense of joy and the negative voice inside has an outsized role in dictating our behavior and our decisions. My hypothesis is that it’s a survival mechanism we adapt as children because we believe that if we give in and indulge some of our impulses that break the mold, it’ll be a slippery slope and we won’t be draw or hold lines to keep us safe. We’ll reach a point where we find joy in an existence that is wrong and doesn’t fit in our world. And once we get to that point, once we’ve gotten a true taste of the other side, it would be excruciating and impossible to revert and live the life we need to in order to fit in, and frankly, to survive in society.

In our minds, the only way to survive is to keep up the ruse by playing the role the world says that you’re supposed to perform and the only way that’s going to be possible is to reject and stomp down those things we know would bring us true joy. And thus, our joy meter is broken.

So, then, how do you repair that? How do you look at things and know what’s going to bring you joy, versus bringing pain and loss? I have some thoughts.

First, in the joy thought experiment, you have to remove consequence from the equation. You can’t consider what your spouse will think or how it will affect your job or your friendships. This is simply a thought experiment to identify what brings you joy. So you have to strip it to that base level and look at just that: If I put on a skirt instead of pants, how would that make me feel? If someone told me I was handsome instead of beautiful, how would that make me feel? Break it up into the smallest components and examine those things. Do your best to allow yourself to get excited about things that might scare you if you thought about the big picture.

I think I accomplished this in my journey when I decided to give myself one year to do and wear what I wanted and without asking questions. I wasn’t going to worry about why, or what it meant, or try to analyze whether it was valid or not. For one whole year, I was just going to give myself the room to be and see how it felt; to do what made me happy without boundaries. Then, after that year, I would examine the outcomes and the feelings and try to decide what it all meant.

I’ll be honest, it led to some painful experiences as well. I was able to do this because I was separated from my wife at the time and the purpose of that time apart was for me to “see what this was”. We had a date night and when we went to have sex, my wife laughed at me. I had laid out in a bikini the week before, a thing that brought me immense joy, and had a bikini tan line, which then elicited a negative reaction.

BUT, even situations like that, which were painfully embarrassing, I had been able to finally find great joy in who I was, so those things couldn’t stop me. I continued to do the things that brought me joy. And honestly, while it was a bit embarrassing in the moment, it wasn’t as bad for me at the time as it is in retrospect. Because I was on a high from being able to be myself. And nothing could really bring me down from that and spoil it.

Again, yes, that is exactly what we fear as transgender people. The momentum that we can’t stop (and don’t want to stop), which the logical and the negative sides of our brain see as leading to a road of ruin. And while, in many cases, transition does disrupt a lot of things in our life, that ability to finally find true joy in everything ends up being worth the discomfort and the disruption of the changes that must occur for us to get there.

J.K. Rowling compares transgender activist to Death Eaters in latest anti-trans comments

On the podcast ironically called the Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, the staunchly anti-trans author equates transgender advocates to Death Eaters, the villains from the Harry Potter series. She says that, in her books, “The Death Eaters claimed, ‘We have been made to live in secret, and now is our time, and any who stand in our way must be destroyed. If you disagree with us, you must die.”

This is typical of the false statements and assertions by Rowling and the anti-trans movement that trans people are part of some movement to take away the rights and safety of women, with the most incendiary and egregious part of her quote insinuating that the trans community wants those against us to die. 

One of the issues many of us have with her statement is the phrase “disagree with us”. This is harmful because it perpetuates the myth that being transgender is a choice based on an ideology and doesn’t acknowledge the fact of our actual existence. There’s nothing to agree with. Trans people are here, we exist, we push back against harmful rhetoric and the people that spew it because it’s dangerous and we need it to stop. The problem in so many of these cases is the internet. The anonymity of the internet often leads to conflict and threats, which people like Rowling then take to be the public voice of the “movement” and evidence that the community is violent by nature and thus worthy of violence in return.

Sources: Inside the Magic

Proposed Florida bill would ban diversity and inclusion at universities

Florida representatives put forth a bill that would ban diversity and inclusion programs on university campuses. In an epic pendulum swing away from the affirmative action moves initiated in the 1960s under President Kennedy, HB 999 bars postsecondary educational institutions from funding “any programs or campus activities that espouse diversity, equity, or inclusion or Critical Race Theory rhetoric” either directly or “through a contract, grant, or agreement.” 

It also interestingly removes language from the state requiring that schools provide students with an opportunity to be politically active and civically engaged as well as removing non-profits and community organizations from the list of internship opportunities that should be provided to students. 

VaultedPolitics on Twitter stated in a tweet that students should plan ahead for this bill and the resulting removal of more than 15 fraternities and sororities that support diverse student inclusion, Jewish studies, feminist theory, and gender studies courses as well  as centers and programs for black, latinx, Asian, and LGBTQIA+ students.

Source: The Hill

Vermont bans school from future tournaments after forfeiting over trans opponent

Last month we reported on a Christian school in Vermont who forfeited a game in a girl’s out of state basketball tournament because the opposing team had a transgender player. Now the VPA, Vermont’s governing body for school sports has barred Mid Vermont Christian school from future tournaments claiming the rationale for forfeiting did “not meet the expectations” for a valid complaint.  

Lauren Thomes, assistant ED of the VPA said in a statement that “We already had the policy in place,” she said, later adding, “The policy is not new, it’s not reactionary. It’s been out there for a while. People are aware of it.” The policy, in effect since early 2021, prohibits discrimination “based on a student’s actual or perceived sex and gender.” 

The school is appealing this decision. 

None of the articles I found about this story cited anything about the transgender player including anything about their skill level or even if they are a starting player. Anti-trans folks claim that their stance is about fairness, but then have staunch reactions like this to the mere existence of a trans player with no regard as to any actual evidence. This is also another example of backlash against a trans person who is competing within the bounds of an established policy and following the rules correctly as set forth by that policy.

Source: Valley News

Allegations against non-binary TikToker spark violent clash online and vandalism IRL

A major clash broke out online this month in the national attack against trans people when a TikTok comedian made allegations that another TikTok creator was targeting kids. Shamirun Nessa put out videos alleging that Jeffrey Marsh was targeting children, playing up the false anti-trans narrative that trans people are after your children. Marsh’s content centers around embracing a positive self image, and dealing with and recovering from childhood trauma brought on by parental abuse or neglect. 

In her first video, Nessa stitched with a gritted teeth video from Marsh calling for people to “stop telling trans people they are inspirational” adding her comment “Stop telling kids to go on your Patreon and chat privately without their parents” as a way alarm parents and anti-trans folks alike.  One of her later posts picked out a few instances where Marsh started a video by saying “hey kids” and one where he said “I want to talk to the kids” as evidence that the creator was “targeting kids” with the assertion being that kids were being spoken to for some nefarious purpose. Later she points to definitions on Jeffrey’s own Patreon about the types of trauma that they deal with as evidence that the creator themselves are the groomer. 

Nessa’s videos attempt to paint Marsh as a predator and a pedophile to dog-whistle members of the anti-trans movement and turn them against the creator. This caused an online clash between the anti-trans movement and the trans community and their allies resulting in death threats to both creators. The worst offenders vandalized Nessa’s car and sent her terrifyingly detailed descriptions of her schedule and where her kids go to school. 

In the wake of this, much of the content from both creators regarding this incident has been removed and Nessa put out an emotional plea for the violence between both factions to stop. Many content creators have pushed back on this call saying essentially that she’s thrown gasoline on a fire and now wants to take no responsibility for her part. 

There is no news about any anti-defamation action taken by Marsh against Nessa, so for now this is just another case of irresponsible allegations against someone causing major controversy and violent threats.

Arsonist endangers lives over hateful ideology

A drive-by arsonist set fire to a pride flag in an act of hate in New York on Monday, February 20th. The rainbow flag adorned with the words “Make America Gay Again” was flying in front of The Little Prince restaurant in the SoHo area of the city. There’s good video of the perpetrator with straight, burgundy dyed hair pulled back into a ponytail, getting out of a white Honda CRV (2020-2022 model), walking over quickly and lighting the flag on fire before hopping back into the passenger seat of the SUV while the driver speeds off. The fire burned much of the facade of the restaurant as well as the fire escape for the apartments above.

The fire started shortly after 1:35 am at the building on Prince street. According to officials, 12 Fire Department units and 60 firefighters and emergency medical responders in total were called in for the incident. Luckily, they were able to extinguish the fire before anyone was hurt and only the outside of the building was damaged, including some cracked windows.

Fire burns the facade of The Little Prince restaurant as fire fighters work to put out the flames.

“What we saw in the video was a hate crime,” Councilmember Erik Bottcher said in a statement to the press. “Someone who intended to strike fear into our entire community…Our resolve is only strengthened when acts like this happen.” Botcher helped show the solidarity of the community by putting up an even larger pride flag in front of the restaurant. “We are standing up in the face of this hate and reasserting our pride in ourselves and our community. That’s why we hung the flag again.”

D and C Landscaping also stepped forward, donating their services and replacing the flowers hanging on the front of the restaurant. With the quick response of the community and workers getting the place back in shape, the restaurant was nearly ready to open later that same day.

The news of this incident is all over social media and with clear video of her face, the hateful arsonist will hopefully be caught and brought to justice fairly quickly.

If you have any information regarding this incident, please call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/ or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.


New York Times

ABC 7 News

Former TTS guest attacked and brutally beaten

A friend of The Transverse and former guest on season 2 of The Transgender show was attacked and brutally beaten on Thursday, January 26. Known on Instagram and Twitter under the account @Estrozeneca as “Lana eats pizza”, Lana was on her walk home in Brooklyn when the attack occurred. We’re still gathering details and will update this article soon, but as a result of the altercation Lana suffered a skull fracture, broken teeth, and lacerations on her face requiring many stitches.

She is currently off work while she recovers and like so many of us, is therefor in need of help paying for food and covering her bills. She is asking for support via her Venmo and Cashapp under her user name, Lanaeatspizza.

by Emily Michelle
1/30/23 10:00am

Transgender actress and model Livia Wolfe starts hunger strike for equality

Transgender actress and model Livia Wolfe is tired of what she and the community has to endure in the United States today. The 54 year old is going on a hunger strike in November of 2022 to protest the injustices, falsehoods, discrimination, hatred, and violence faced by herself and her trans siblings every day. 

She was the victim of domestic abuse from her partner, however it was her partner that filed abuse charges against her. In the ensuing legal battle, law enforcement and members of the court misgendered her throughout the case and the judge ignored Livia’s proof to the contrary of the claims and ruled in favor of the abusive partner. 

She had already began her hunger strike on November 5th but realized she had more writing and preparation to do to make her efforts the most effective. She plans on restarting the strike within the next few days. 

What is she asking for? Real change from politicians and schools. She is looking for people to report on her story and the aim is to get audience with politicians and school officials who will agree to implement policy changes to improve the lives of trans students and properly educate others with the truth about being transgender. 

She says “Public officials across the nation have chosen harm and death for us as individuals, and as a people…we have little meaningful equality in society. At the root of the solution to this problem is education.”

For her hunger strike she is following a guideline that the State of California produced in response to incarcerated prisoners who went on hunger strike. She will be ingesting only water and green tea with lemon and a crushed up multivitamin throughout the day. To limit her intake, she will stop taking her hormone replacement therapy medications. While the guidelines recommend regular doctor visits and blood/urine labs, she says that’s very unlikely to happen until she is hospitalized. 

There is risk of organ damage at 15 days and by the 21st day, patients are typically provided with info regarding advance directives as patient care will start to get intensive at that point. She says at the 30-day point everything gets “really harsh” 

Follow along with her at LadyLiviaWolfe on Instagram and visit her LinkTree from there for all of her information and updates. 

by Emily Michelle
11/14/22 4:00 pm