I confess, I quit

I don’t know exactly when it was, but there was a time I got really fed up with estrogens. They became a hindrance, an obstacle. Or maybe it was the belief in them. But I am still trans. Maybe even more.

When in the beginning of the 1990s I decided to transition from somewhat male, a person assigned male at birth, but never really identifying with it and always estranged about the behaviour of the boys in school and in the streets, I first thought I would probably just be a sissy, a faggot, a queen (well, shy princess still then). As many gender and sexuality insecure youngsters I have been “experimenting” with relations. I had a sort of straight relationship with a cis woman of eight years older, and I had a sort of gay relationship with a cis gay of also some eight years older (but not the same age as my female partner ;)

A recent experience taught me more clearly that my gayness is mostly about gender expression, not so much about sexuality. And I got a beautiful scarf through it also.  Twenty odd years after transitioning away from male, I finally got the answer on thát issue. Could be worse.

When I got the nowadays much vied for Green Light for hormone replacement therapy, I was happy: it put me physically on the road I was convinced I wanted or needed to walk. I’m an easy person, when I am convinced of something, I am convinced. Not that convincing me is particularly easy, but I won’t stray much from my conviction. So when I go for the Woman trajectory, I am a faithful follower of protocol and tradition. I faithfully took my Androcur and Estradiol, whatever the effects. I cheered (silently, for I had very few peers) about budding breasts and took the discomfort of depressed feelings for granted. Though I also cursed that castrating Androcur. I believed in the transsexual ideology (by which I mean something completely different than the TERFs or the Moral Majority). I cursed its depressing effects, surely together with the emotional effect of the estrogens. It is a roller-coaster ride, being on those candies. I schooled myself in the trans and female sociological career. And am still very happy with the results.

But I quit estrogens some two years after gender affirming surgery. Because I was *way* too emotional. And I had lost track of who I felt myself to be. Who I wanted and needed to be. A less positive psychologist or endocrinologist would probably label me a regretter or a quitter. I was lucky to have an interested endocrinologist (Louis Gooren) who wanted to know my story, my reasons. And believed my answer on his question if I knew it before, if I had regrets. Which was “no”. just like when some two years later I decided to let go of my breast implants.  it had worked, had a good, positive and constructive effect on me. the combination of estrogens and later breast implants enabled me to see and feel myself to be more feminine. For the lay visitors: being male or female doesn’t come from hormones or surgery, it’s a gender identity.gentlevreer

My trans peers (90% trans women who were in some stage of their transition) were probably scared of what I did. Their doubts and insecurities about themselves and the world (mostly the world) were not served by my defiant or actually more matter-of-factly letting go of the visibly most important trans woman’s asset: good breasts. And on top of that quitting E … Also I was hanging out more with bois, trans men to be, trans guys who were not on hormones mostly because they didn’t feel really male. Somehow that rang a bell with me. And shortly after wen I joined the trans men-support group open for all [non-cis men] who were somehow exploring their masculinity) I started to jokingly identify as a “trans man born in the wrong body”. But no, I never really willingly identified as male. I guess I have been female, I surely identified as it for years (sort of, actually I identified more lesbian, after Monique Wittig).

After going off E, I have been for one or two years without any hormone supplication. I cannot advise you to follow that, it? bad for your health, you go through the nasty effects of the Change, become technically post-menopausal. It took me those effects to decide I needed something to replace the estrogens but I was not planning on returning to testosterone. I knew of something with a weak feminizing and a weak masculinizing effect. An androgynous friend of mine took that. i got it thought my endocrinologist and for some time I was happy with it. Post-surgery you need something after all. And those sweaty nights where each thought gave the effect that normally only fear has, together with loss of energy and power … I really needed to get rid of those. But after some time it wasn’t enough. The alternative was going for low dose Testosterone. Which I increased over the years to an average trans male dosage that is usually good, and sometimes too much or too little.

The one thousand euro question for many is: did I de-transition? Was I a regretter after all? Hanging out with mostly trans men … I violated the first amendment of trans women probably: letting go of femaleness. See a picture from around those days (cringe).

Fast forward to 2015. I can now say (proudly) that I have tried to be man (but ended up being a sissy), have been a woman and traveled on to being something completely different, beyond those two weird boxes the world ties to put me in. I sometimes ponder taking different forms of T, or more T. But then, I often just forget about it and observe I am not that much governed by those sex hormones. and if there is a message in all this, it might be: do what feels good, and try to find a doctor who wants you to be happy and healthy, more than following protocol. And no need for regret (although regret is part of life). Quitting can perfectly mean traveling on to hitherto unknown genders. Going where no one has gone before. Navigating the uncharted territories of trans*.

 

 

RIP Leelah Alcorn

De dood van Leelah Alcorn uit Ohio gaat nu een lopend vuurtje door de sociale media heen. Het wordt gedeeld en vertaald, in the Nederlands, in het Frans.

Leelah was een 17-jarig transmeisje in Ohio (VS), dat de dood heeft gezocht drie jaar nadat ze had ontdekt dat ze trans was. Daarvoor had ze geen woorden voor haar gevoel. Haar ouders zijn poep-gristelijk en stuurden haar naar gristelijke therapeuten die het haar uit het hoofd moesten praten. Die houding van haar ouders en de wereld om haar heen heeft haar de dood in gedreven. Daar was ze zich zelf ook erg bewust van. Ook van het feit dat niet haar identiteit het problem was, maar het gebrek aan erkenning, de transfobe reacties van de wereld. Ze besluit haar laatste blogpost met “Fix society. Please”. Continue reading

The Right to Life for Trans* Persons, and Why Normal is Boring

Vreer Verkerke

Guest post on darafhoffmanfox.com

I have been asked by Dara Hoffman-Fox to write a piece for her site as a genderqueer gender educator and human rights advocate for the rights of trans* and inter* people. And I gladly comply with her request.

[Before I continue, a short orthographic notice: I write “trans*” and “inter*” without meaning to refer to a footnote, but the asterisk implies the vastness of trans and inter(sex/gender) identities and expressions.]

Dara’s eyes fell on this part of the vision page on my professional website:

We aim to break through (apart?) stereotypes around gender, gender identities and gender expressions. This goes for both trans people and non-trans people. The cisgendered (i.e. non-trans) are also entitled to be free from stereotypes about their way of life. We do this through gender education.

This Thursday trans* people and friends, partners, allies all over the world will pay attention to Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day started 16 years ago in a reaction to the murder of Rita Hester from Allston, MA.

As still is the case in the United States (10 killings this year), and in Brazil (the country with again the highest count of trans* murders with 113 this year) most victims of murders are black trans* women of African-African heritage, which makes this, apart from a gender issue, also a race and class issue.

Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring project counted 226 killings worldwide this year only. Since the start of the project in 2008 we have counted 1,612 murders against trans* people. The Americas are the most dangerous place to live for trans people, surely for trans* people of color. This year 176 killings, with high proportions for tiny countries as Honduras (10 people). But also the Netherlands knows a trans related killing this year.

For trans* people, nowhere is really safe.

The Western societies we live in and its influence sphere have a political and economic system that systematically favors white (middle and upper class) heterosexual cisgender men. All cis men in the end. But also cis women. Think of the incident in the Baltimore McDonald’s where a trans woman was heavily attacked by a group of cis girls.

Women, cis or trans or intersex suffer under this patriarchal system. We trans* and gender-non conforming people are the first ones cis male anger is taken out at. That is criminal and against all human rights, amongst which the most basic one: The right to life. The system creates specific forms of masculinity and femininity and thinks trans* people have no place in that.

There are, however, possibilities to make life for trans* people easier. On the legal front slowly we are getting to possibilities for gender recognition without the need for medical intervention. And several health clinics over the States provide services to trans* people without the need of a pathologizing mental health diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder” (DSM-IV and ICD-10) or “Gender Dysphoria” (DSM-5). Health centers like of Callen-Lorde in New York City, or Howard Brown in Chicago, or Tom Waddell in San Francisco.

As trans* people we are very often frowned upon and people have absolutely no clue about us, our lives, our joys and our issues. Helped by crazy sensational TV programs or impertinent questions by many other talk show hosts we are the gender weirdos. Living la vida loca. Prejudice and lack of knowledge. If we could, we would for sure. Even for well off trans people life isn’t ideal.

And as a non-binary trans person (a “Nobi,” as I call it) I have more and more trouble in understanding all those normatively gendered people. Personally I have lost my gender ages ago and I am not really inclined in finding it again. I am a happy multiple/multi-gender.

On good days I can be fascinated by how the “normal” people do. Gender stereotypes – the way most “men” or “women” behave – are fascinating. If you’re not confronted by them. If the normatively gendered people don’t bother you for going to the wrong bathroom or looking too male for a woman, being too much a sissy for a “Real Man.”

I guess my being different makes me great for educating people on gender diversity. I see all those weird gender expressions by the majority of people and can explain our “weirdness” to the normal people. Because gender stereotypes are nasty things everybody suffers from. Even – and mostly – for those enforcing them. Because they miss out a whole lot of opportunities for more (gender) freedom. Sometimes I feel so sorry for them. Not sure they care, but still.

Cis and trans* women know quite well what it is to live under gender stereotypes. Cis women are to marry and take care of the kids. Sexual and reproductive autonomy is not accepted. Of course there are lovely cis men (even straight ones!). Only, in the morals of power, women’s autonomy is heavily fought over. Abortion clinic after clinic is forced to close, because the idea that a woman has a choice over her pregnancy is anathema.

Many times trans* people will have to comply to a similar moral scrutiny and only if you are “really” a woman and thus willing to sacrifice your fertility then you are allowed to change the gender marker on your birth certificate and their ID papers.

So yes, surely trans* people actively suffer under gender stereotypes and we shouldn’t. The situation is partially better with you in the USA, partially way worse. Not that The Netherlands or Western-Europe for that part is even remotely near trans* heaven. Trans* utopia is nowhere, not even in Argentina with its great legislation.

I feel a bit sorry for complaining so much, instead of immediately bringing you the Gleeful Gender Gospel. There is so much trouble and it so strongly interconnected, that I have to pay attention to it.

But as I say, the non-standard life, being gender non-conforming can be great. And the good news to the cis people over here is: you don’t have to become trans*. Usually I really advocate for people to become trans, to really change their gender identity and gender expression from the one belonging to the gender they have been assigned a birth to something completely different. It can be a great time. Like the book Dick For a Day in which the (female) authors fantasize what they would do if they had one.

But you don’t have to. Secretly we are pretty happy to be exceptional, to be “living la gender loca,” so to say.

In my workshops I dissect the working of gender norms, how they are very productive in enabling only certain gender roles and identities and how others are then violently or friendly.

Dear cis people, open up, be straight but not narrow. Really, being a soft open-minded man who understands his own feelings and that of others, who can deal with emotions in a sensible way, is more an asset to a better world and to better relationships than you may think.

You have got nothing to lose but your gender chains.

People (sensible people at least) will love you. Prissy peers may not, they may try to keep you inside the snake pit, but that has to do with your leaving the group, breaking group discipline or doing what they don’t dare to do. The problem with group culture often is that it only works with group discipline. Find yourself a best friend, of whatever gender, to support you.

You don’t have to become trans* to change your gender. Look at the Gender Identity Map from the Impact Project. There are so many possibilities for gender identity and expressions…No need to stick with what you learned in school or from your peers.

There is life out there. Don’t despair.

My biggest complaint around standard gender expressions and people living them is that it is so utterly boring. Who the hell wants to be a healthy, organic whole when you can be a brilliant, injured fragment, after all. This whole investment in wholeness, the whole expectation of living neatly in boxes (even round ones) so doesn’t comply with my jumpiness. I consider it so unhealthy.

Yes, I can associate healthiness etc. in a positive sense. Of course. But not default lives. Default lives are – on the political level – bad and dangerous. They are responsible for the zillions of trans related killings. Fitting in is unhealthy. But falling out may be dangerous.

The forces of normality are strong, the need to find your own way is bigger.

So here’s to the crazy ones, with their shiny gender and their sparkling identities. May we live long and prosper. With lovely, friendly cis people who love us dearly and don’t invest so much in being “normal.”

Author Bio

VreerFrom the perspective that there are more than two sexes and more than two genders, that being trans or gender-non conforming is diversity instead of an aberration, Vreer Verkerke of Vreerwerk does gender education and human rights education with students, sex educators, lawyers, politicians in The Netherlands and beyond.

Toen een paar weken geleden Australië wijselijk besloot een optie voor  “gender niet vastgesteld” in de bevolkingsregistratie op te nemen, en die niet intersekse te noemen (want dat is wat heel anders), ben ik gevraagd voor Trouw. Ik vind het wel een leuk idee om een X te hebben in m’n papieren in plaats van een M of een V. Als er dan toch iets moet staan. En dan moet iedereen vrijelijk kunnen kiezen.

Afijn, hier de tekst. Geschreven door Bas Maliepaard en gefotografeerd door Jörgen Caris. Het is allemaal niet precies correct, maar het ging om de geest van wat ik heb gezegd en mijn woorden komen er aardig uit.

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Internationale brigades

Op de terugweg naar de stad fietste ik in Amsterdam-Noord door het park naar de pont. Vanuit de verte zag ik een monument en vroeg me af of dat inderdaad het Spanjegangesrs monument was.  Ja dus. Thuisgekomen de toespraak van Dolores Ibarruri naluisterend zat ik te janken. Vanwege het begin van de grote verliezen, het verraad en de hoop.

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In 1936 viel generaal Francisco Franco Spanje binnen vanuit Marokko waar hij gestationeerd was om de revolutie in de kiem te smoren, af te slachten. Deze fascsitische overval riep wereldwijd verzet op en uit vele landen sgtroomnden vrijwilligers naar Spanje om zich te melden bij de Internationale Brigades die het Spaanse revolutionaire volksleger van de Tweede Republiek moesten helpen de fascisten te verslaan. Er is heel veel over geschreven. Een van de bekendste boeken is “Salute to Catalonia” van George Orwell. Over de Nederlanders is in de jaren 1980 het een en ander verschenen (“Wat dunkt u van Spanje”, Frans Groot et al.), en de Brigadisten heben lange tijd hun Nederlanderschap verloren omdat ze in militaire dienst traden van een andere mogendheid. Ze eindigden statenloos. In die jaren 1980 is daar vrij veel publiciteit over gemaakt. In 1997 overleed in Nijkerk als een van de laatsten  de beroemde Spanjegaanger “Hollander Piet”, Piet Laros op 95-jarige leeftijd.

Ik heb kennisgemaakt met “Spanje” door een demonstratie met mijn vader toen ik nog jong was  (11,12 jaar) en later door het lezen van geschriften van Anton Constandse en Arthur Lehning, de peetvaders van het Nederlands anarchisme. Die  strijd tegen het fascisme en voor zelfbestuur sprak uiteraad ernstig tot de verbeelding.  Al was ik 200% overtuigd van geweldloosheid, dit was een heroïsche strijd. De men verloor door sabotage van de usual suspects maar ook door gebrek aan organsatie, gebrek aan eenheid (die ook weer versterkt werd door de Stalinisten en Trotskisten)

Hieronder de afscheidsrede van La Pasionaria bij de uittocht van de Internationale Brigades van uit Barcelona.  Uitgesproken door de actrice Esperanza Alonso uit 2011:

Met tekst en beelden, stemmig, de 60-jarige herdenking:

Verhalen en beelden van een strijd die verloren is doordat Stalin geld wilde zien voor z’n steun en niet zo’n beetje ook. Doordat de Fransen de wapens aan de grens met de Pyreneeën tegenhielden. En dan nog het bombardement natuurlijk op Gernika (Baskische spelling) waar Picasso zijn grote muurstuk over had gemaakt en welk bombardement in de Francotijd (1938-1978) als gedaan door de antifa was afgeschilderd, door de geallieerden.

Het einde van de dictatuur was als het oplichten van een bedompende grauwsluier die over het land en de bevolking lag. De uitbarstingen van verandering die daarna kwam noemt men de “Movida” en o.m. de beroemde filmregisseur Pedro Almodovar is daaruit voort gekomen. De dictatuur is over, maar inhoeverre Spanje een echte democratie is, kan men betwijfelen en des te sterker wanneer de Partido Poupular aan de macht is, zoals nu.

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Aan de Hollandse mannen en vrouwen die deelnamen aan de Spaanse Burgeroorlog en viielen ind estrijd tegen het fascisme. Hun waakzame houding en verzet is een waarschuwing tegen elke vorm van fascisme.

 

Dag voor Trans zichtbaarheid – Int’l Trans Visibility Day

Vandaag. 31 maart. SInds 2009.  Internationale Dag voor Trans Zichtbaarheid. Geen VN-dag (die hebben nog niks voor ons, al zegt de assistent van de Hoge Commissaris voor de Mensenrechten dat Transgender Gedenkdag wel die status van VN-dag zou moeten kunnen hebben). Gewoon uitgeroepen door een transpersoon in MIchigan, VS. Omdat er zo weinig positiefs was voor trans* mensen.

Vandaag is het dus  internationale dag voor trans zichtbaarheid. Dus voor alle trans-hoe-of-wat-dan-ook mensen, alle gender-non-conformen en gender-variante personen: HIeperdepiep hoera dat wij er zijn. Dankzij ons is de werkled mooier en raarder. Trans-zijn is Goed. Vandaag (en alle andere dagen wat mij betreft) trekken we een lange neus naar wie ons liever niet ziet: de zon is ook van ons. WIj weten dat je kunt vliegen als een vlinder.

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Today is international Day of Trans Visibility. A 2009 Rachel Crandall invention. Already taken up in many places over this world (and maybe others?). Congrats to all of us trans*, GNC, gender variant people. Happy Day also for those who live with us and celebrate with us. Let us change this world for the better. And don’t let anyone tell you are not beautiful.

vreer

18/12/2013

Today I am happy.  Because at one o’clock tonight the Dutch transgender legislation on the change of gender marker got accepted. No medical intervention needed any more. A big step towards depathologisation. Change of gender marker through the civil registry by handing over a letter by a psychologist that confirms your qualitative consent. That you know what you are doing.

There remains enough to improve also within the margins of this law, but for today  am happy.

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Transgender Gedenkdag 2013

Today is Wednesday November 20, 2013. The fifteenth time that Transgender Remembrance Day is held. ?The eighth edition in the Netherlands. Here it was started by then Queer Collective “The Noodles”, later on by Transgender Network Netherlands. This is the second local edition, done by United Trans Activists for Change. Coming Saturday a national ceremony will be held in Nijmegen. Continue reading

El beso – Susy Shock

Besarse en los rincones oscuros
besarse frente al rostro del guarda
besarse en la puerta de la Santa Catedral de todas las Canalladas
besarse en la plaza de todas las Repúblicas
(o elegir especialmente aquellas donde todavía te matan por un sodomo y gomorro beso)
besarse delante de la foto del niño que también fuí
(y sentir que me hace un guiño para que siga, que no pare, que no interrumpa, porque le gusta ese beso…)
besarse sabiendo que nuestras salivas arrastran besos denegados/ opacados/ apagados/ cercenados/ mutilados/ hambrientos/ que no son solo los nuestros
que tu labios y los míos mientras rajan la tierra la construyen
y hay una historia de besos que el espanto no ha dejado ser
y que por eso te beso
lxs beso
me besás
besaremos
por eso el beso
beso

De zoen

Elkaar zoenen in donkere hoekjes
Elkaar zoenen in het zicht van de bewaker
Elkaar zoenen voor de deur van de Heilige Kathedraal van Alle Smeerlapperijen
Elkaar zoenen op het plein van alle republieken
(of juist die kiezen van de republieken waar ze je nog steeds afmaken voor een Sodom en Gomorra zoen)
Elkaar zoenen voor de foto van het kind dat ook ik ben geweest
(en voelen dat ie knipoogt, opdat ik niet stop, niet onderbreek, omdat ie die zoen lekker vindt)
Elkaar zoenen wetende dat ons speeksel geweigerde, overschaduwde, uitgedoofde, beknotte, verminkte, hongerende zoenen meesleept, die niet alleen de onze zijn
dat jouw lippen en de mijne ondertussen de aarde opensplijten en haar weer opbouwen
en er is een verhaal van zoenen die de doodsangst niet heeft laten zijn
en daarom zoen ik je
zoen ik jullie
zoen je mij
zoenen wij
daarom de zoen
zoen