Wednesday, November 22, 2006


To finish up what I started yesterday, I wanted to continue on the discussion of working with trans youth. I mentioned the binary theory of gender yesterday and, oddly, the same facilitator who was critiquing this mode of thinking found a lot of success with an assessment too utilizing this method. Admittedly, she is looking for another way to do this assessment with a less cut and dry definition but it is hard.

When clients come to her questioning their gender identity she has them work on a graph. Male is at one end and female at the other. They place themselves on the graph in various ways including where they want to be, where they think they are now, and what aspects of themselves they think push them one way or another. Some things she found often were that people who feel their minds do not match their bodies often hate the secondary sex characteristics that develop during adolescence. There are even treatment options that include hormone therapy that delays puberty so that the client will have more time to decide where they want to be on the gender scale. However, this therapy is rather expensive and not often utilized so there have not been many studies that talk about its effectiveness. She also has clients do a line graph where they evaluate their happiness with themselves in other aspects of life including: physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and sexual. She always uses 10in lines because they are easily translatable into percentages. Genius. They use two colors to denote where they are and where they want to be. The assessments are redone periodically throughout sessions to help bring people to their personal goals.

Something I found fascinating was the discussion of the development of gender identity. Using typical stages of development it is commonly in the psychological community accepted that gender identity is formed when a child is between three and five. Yet, for a trans youth, they are not allowed to affirm their identity until they are 18. Even though they have probably known who they truly are for over a decade by that point. I can understand when you are talking about something like sexual reassignment surgery that you want to be sure. However, the process is so involved already (you have to have “passed” for a certain period of time (1-2 yrs I think), have been through a series of psychological evaluations, and some other stuff that is on my handouts at home) that you would think if a person had been through all those things at a younger age that some exception could possibly be made. The steps to getting hormone therapy also include having “passed” for sometime which seems like it could be hard particularly since the hormones are often needed for someone to pass effectively. So many youth have turned to the black market to get hormones and therefore aren’t properly monitored in dosage and risk factors that it seems almost too much to me.

There was also some discussion of how indigenous cultures tend to revere people who display characteristics of both sexes. Various names for what can often be translated as a “two-spiritedness’ exist in many cultures across the globe. These people were often celebrated and seen as blessed. However, as the level of colonization increases there is virtually a direct correlation in the decrease in the visibility and celebration of these people. One of the attendees from Hawaii said there is a long standing tradition of trans behavior and virtually every family has someone who has adopted that way of living. It makes so much sense to talk about this as a natural part of life and celebrate differences than to categorize and label and diagnose people simply for being who they are.

I will now segue in a completely disjointed manner to a talk of thanksgiving. I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Last year was the first year that I cooked. It was only for Tony and I. This year we have a flock of people scheduled to come by. I think it is the main meal for only 4-5 of us but many are planning to stop over after they eat with families. I am a little nervous when I think about it. I have butterflies. I hope they bring beverages. I hope I can find enough things to put food in. I hope that everything works. I think it should. I started cooking my Turkey Tofu (that’s what my never eaten meat self eats) last night and froze it (because it is supposed to give a better texture) for the first time. I hope it works. Dave will be bringing a ham for the meat eaters (that eat ham) and Monica or Brian will be putting together a turkey. We’ll gave roasted garlic mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce with a little orange, challah, green bean casserole (cause it’s funny), mushroom spinach pie, mac n’ cheese, collard greens, and some sort of dessert that has yet to be figured out. Tony wants pecan pie I don’t and Monica will die if she eats it. I think Dave may be making a gravy cake. Monica wants a pumpkin loaf with vanilla ice cream. I don’t care. It will be an interesting time. I hope all of your holidays are as fun filled, unpredictable, and exciting as I hope mine will be.

To ring in the holiday cheer, let’s listen to some classic holiday tunes of thanks and love.

Pale Purple, Ani DiFranco- Well the song is a little depressing but has a feeling of honesty about the lack of community ties in modern America. I guess that is kind of what Thanksgiving is about getting over. It’s about bringing people together in a celebration of our uniqueness and our differences.

Disarm, Smashing Pumpkins- Huh, I’m a little stumped on how to relate this one to Thanksgiving. Well, let’s talk chorus. It talks about the trails and tribulations of growing up and facing the world and reaching out for someone you care about and maybe having them reject you. This is the poor guy who is eating a hungry man dinner all alone. Let’s invite him over.

Stutter, Elastica- Man, this keeps getting harder and harder. I don’t think I am going to try with this one, partly because I can’t really understand enough of the lyrics to pull something out of my ass. I’ll just say the 90s are awesome.


ShadowFalcon said...

You had me at Elastica, I didn't even know they'd made it stateside.

Happy thanks giving and if bored listen to Elastica's cover of "Da da da" (on the second album) it just so much fun

Mom said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

And, in harmony with this week's acknowledgement of the struggles of marginalized peoples, let us not forget that this holiday also, sadly, symbolizes much that has to do with imperialism and genocide, and let us not continue to repudiate and struggle against those forces!

I'm at my parents' house. My mom said they have six televisions (for the two of them). I can "only" locate four of them.

We are having free-range turkey, turkey tofu (for cousin Jason and me), french-cut green beans, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole (with and without marshmallows), rolls, salad, and I don't know what else. Your feast sounds great, as does the flock of folks coming in and out.

Always on the Move said...

WOW....You sure have taught me a lot about what you took in your courses. I think I need to look into something like that!!!!
Your Thanksgiving meal sounds so Yummy! Can you send some my way please??? We've already had our Thanksgiving in Canada, and I'm a 'wee' bit jealous, because you guys are on holidays, while we work our asses off! It's hard you know! LOL!

With Love, Fat Girl said...

To this day, the Elastica CD is primo on my music rack. So stupid of them to break up. Happy Thanksgiving!

Paula said...

Dear Natalie,

Came across your excellent blogsite by way of a google alert I have set on "transsexuallism". Yep! It is a word! Often the preferred word, as in the statement, "I am a woman living with transsexualism"

Sounds like a very interesting conference. Your approach is refreshingly open.

You are right - that hotel was surreal! When is a hotel not a hotel? When it's a theme park! It seems Americans like to make things into theme parks. Perhaps rather than making Iraq into a democracy, the US (& its allies) has made it into a theme park? One called hell?

Just a couple of observations: you mentioned "having to 'pass' for a year or two". Actually, the Real Life Test is to "live" as your identified gender rather than "pass". ie you have to do it successfully whether you "pass" or not (no one does all the time). Sure can be tough at times!

You mentioned being one of only three "heterosexual" attendees. I don't think you mentioned if there were any "trans" people there. If not, perhaps that says something(?). Since, "trans" (and queer?) people could by either straight, gay or bi then I suppose the strictly accurate label for yourself would be "non-LGBTQ". Altho' I think a Southern Baptist fundamentalist would say that anyone who even attended an LGBTQ event had to be Queer!!!

Afro-Hebrew sounds interesting. Isn't the world a dazzlingly beautiful kaleidoscope?

I love your trawling for lyrics. You've found some great ones! Perhaps your "Q" stands for "Quirky". Quirky is good!
Of course, I'm no doubt one of your "mom's" generation so a lot of the lyrics were unfamiliar - but excellent! Patsy Cline and Joni Mitchell are my forte! I see from your profile tho' that you have very eclectic tastes with a good grounding in the seventies! Yay! "mom"!

In all your categories of film you didn't mention "Australian". Now there's quirky for you! Here's a quirky lyric from a quirky Oz movie with LGBTQ connections (Priscilla Queen of the Desert): "I've been to Paradise but I've never been to me." (Charlene)

Hope you didn't mind the long comment! Warm Regards from the Land of Oz,

Natalie said...

Shadow & fat girl- yeah Elastica is great, always takes me back.

All- Thanksgiving was a blast! We had a lot of food and a great mix of people. Much time was spent with On Demand Karaoke and Dance Dance Revolution.

Paula- Welcome, great to have some informed perspective. Thanks for the correction on passing to living, and Non-LGBTQ vs. straight. It makes a lot of sense. The general public would consider one of the students I had with me at the conference trans but she considers herself a heterosexual female and who are we to tell her? One other person in the room identified as gender ambiguous. Our facilitator who was a lesbian said the conferences she usually attends have three bathrooms, man women, and other so maybe this conference wasn't as progressive as it may have been. Iraq would make one interesting theme park. Remind me not to believe the hype of the commercials. I didn't mention Australian films but references to ABBA terds will never be lost on me. And I love long comments. It makes me excited.

Morgen said...

This was an awesome post!
From transexuals to tofu turkey!
Your blog rocks!
Sorry it's taken me so long to add you to my links, but you are now up & running under Hot Blogs @
It’s A Blog Eat Blog World

PS: I want to know how the tofu turkey turned out! Terrific, I hope!
~ Mo

Mom said...

Love all the comments and "comments-on-comments".

Natalie, I have to add that when I told Grandma about the surrealness of the hotel you stayed at, she said that she and Grandpa actually stayed there once. I think it was while they were still constructing the "theme park" aspects of the place.

(And I did find all six of their televisions...!)

Monica said...

That's so funny that you can't understand the words to "Stutter". I can see why I guess, but for some reason I know them all. Hm.
Anyway, Thanksgiving was great. I'm coming over for leftovers like tomorrow or something.

Natalie said...

Monica- Dave came over for leftovers last night... You best hurry cause after Tony and I eating yesterday and Dave's tupperware
there really isn't much left at all! If there is soemthing you want tell me soon!

Bint Alshamsa said...

I appreciate the comment that "mom" left. I only wish that more people would come to see that celebrating "holidays" like Thanksgiving actually does work against the struggle of Native Americans who have been marginalized to the extent that celebrations in honor of our killers are now the norm in this country.

By the way Natalie, I responded to your comment on my blog. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll come back and comment on what I wrote to you.

Mom said...

Bint Alshamsa -- Thanks for commenting on my comment about the basis for the "holiday" we just celebrated. And yes, I am actually Natalie's mom. :-)

Mom said...

Yikes -- I just found a horrible typo in my first post. Let me fix it here:
"let us continue to repudiate and struggle against those forces!"


Bint Alshamsa said...

Well, hello Natalie's Mom! It makes me feel better to hear those who are not Native American acknowledge the other side of Thanksgiving. Because we are people within marginalized groups, we may not be able to eliminate the stereotypes that are created about us by the dominant culture in this country. However, I think that when we band together with other marginalized groups and begin to see their struggles as our own, then our power to effect change will increase dramatically. And I think it all starts with the sort of acknowledgement that you made about Thanksgiving. As individuals, we may not be at the point where none of our actions support further marginalization of others. Nevertheless, I believe we should at least be willing to consider that there may be another story behind the "official history" that we are usually given.