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Thread: Guinea Pig

  1. #1
    Senior Member Foxglove's Avatar
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    Guinea Pig

    Hi, Folks!

    I've been in contact by private message with another member here who urged me to say something about my life since I came out. I have to say that I'm not really sure what to say. So maybe I'll just put down a few thoughts at random, and if any of this means anything to anybody, then I'll be well satisfied with that.

    I've been out full time for a bit over seven years now. (Actually I came out the day Obama was re-elected. Thanks, Obama!) I still recall the struggle I faced in the weeks and months before I came out. I was trying to tell myself that all my hesitation was due to my fear. Well, I was a bit afraid. Who wouldn't be? In fact, I was being dishonest with myself. And in this game is there anything more difficult than being honest with yourself?

    I'd say I faced two main hurdles. The first would be residual feelings of shame and internalized transphobia. I was telling myself that other transpeople might be out, but "I didn't need that myself." I'm not entirely sure what I mean by that. Maybe somebody else can explain it to me. But the main idea was that I still had some feelings of shame. I still saw myself as something a bit dirty, and hence all transpeople were a bit dirty. Getting out in the world, introducing their dirtiness into the world in order to satisfy their own personal needs was something that "lesser folk" might do, but I could stay above the fray. I could keep my feelings and needs to myself and thus not bother anybody else with them. A fairly horrible way of seeing yourself and your brothers and sisters, right? But such are the inner struggles I had to resolve.

    The second hurdle was convincing myself that getting out was actually possible. Yes, I'd seen that other people had done it, but the notion that I could do it as well just didn't strike me as something I could do. I had the feeling of "You just don't do that!" Something like jumping up and grabbing the moon. It's simply not a possibility. All the laws of physics and social propriety, etc., were conspiring to put such a thing out of my reach.

    Well, I got over those hurdles and I got out. I don't really know what to say to people who are still hesitating. A contact of mine (a transman who was out) told me, "You just gotta do it." He was right. You simply have to take the plunge. Now obviously this is a difficult matter. You do have to weigh up the risks and potential losses. But if you've prepared the ground as well as you possibly can, and if you really, really want to get out, then at some point you just have to find the faith and courage within you to do it. It's an odd thing: such a simple step, and yet such a great leap at the same time. The potential rewards are great. The potential losses, well, you'll find out about those in due course.

    And now, well, now, sometimes I struggle with feelings of guilt. I sometimes refer to myself as a "guinea pig transgender person". It's as if whatever powers that rule the universe got together and just by way of an experiment decided to choose one transgender person out of all those on Earth and give them everything their heart could desire, just to see if it was possible for a transperson to live happily in this world. Somehow their choice landed on me. I couldn't begin to speculate why.

    I haven't got everything my heart could desire, but close enough to satisfy me, and I have no doubt that 99.99% of the world's transgender population would truly envy me. They would love to be in my shoes. Hence, my feelings of guilt. I see so many other people facing such struggles in their daily lives, whereas I, well, I'm getting along just fine, thank you.

    A good bit of my good fortune is due to the fact that I live in Ireland (despite having grown up in Texas). Ireland's Gender Recognition Act of 2015 makes it almost ludicrously easy for transgender people to get their legally recognized gender changed. No shrinks, no gatekeepers, no counselors--if you want to change your legal status from male to female or vice versa, there's a little application form that hardly takes you three minutes to fill in, you get it notarized by a lawyer, send it in to the relevant state office, and you're done.

    I also have the good fortune to live in a tiny little town where people just don't care in the least about transgender people. They knew me for years before I came out, and once I did come out, they took it right in their stride. I had a bit of harassment from some idiot young lads at the beginning, but among responsible adults, nobody's ever bothered me. I'm just one more person about town, and that's all they care about. I live my life, they live theirs, and nobody's bothered.

    Despite the fact that I've always been so spoiled in this way, I nonetheless recently had an experience that just blew me away. Honestly, I was in tears a few times, overwhelmed by the goodness and kindness that people can show you. I had a bit of an illness that kept me in the hospital for a week (followed by a stay in something of a halfway house for a further two weeks). Given the nature of my illness, it would have been immediately obvious to any medical person that I'm trans. And they simply didn't care. I don't know how many doctors, nurses, technicians I saw. Every last one of them without exception gave me the same professionalism and respect that they'd give to anybody else. Furthermore, because of my legal status, I was on the women's ward, and nobody had any problem with that. I was telling myself it was almost worth getting sick to enjoy an experience like that.

    If I have some feelings of guilt, I have to say that these days I'm often quite angry. The main reason is that what my life is proving (if we needed proof) and what the lives of other Irish transgender people are proving is that the abuse and harassment and persecution that are so often meted out to us are the product of sheer wickedness and nothing else. Give us legal recognition, give us the legal right to live our lives, and it doesn't any way harm society or any individual.

    I'm active on an American blogsite, one dedicated to atheist issues, and on this site LGBT issues often come up, given that atheists keep their eyes on religious people and their doings and given that so much of the opposition to LGBT rights arises in religious circles. Often when a blog is posted dealing with transgender issues, then the haters (not all of them religious by any means) come flooding in. We all know them, right? And we all know the uselessness of engaging with them, right? But I often do that nonetheless, because it is useful to show our many supporters on that forum how you address the arguments that the haters present against us.

    You show our supporters that the haters can't actually make any coherent arguments against us. You show (as I have pointed out many a time on that forum) that no one can be honest and oppose transgender rights. No one can come up with any honest arguments against our rights, and I've formulated two universal rules concerning haters. I say "universal" because of all the haters I've ever encountered I have yet to see a single exception to these rules:

    (1) Anti-trans haters don't actually understand what it is to be transgender.
    (2) Anti-trans haters never mention a single thing that any transgender person has ever done to harm their lives in any way.

    In other words, they harass us to no end despite the facts that they don't begin to understand us and that we're not actually harming them in any way. Their opposition to our rights and freedom come from the sheer wickedness of their hearts.

    The positive side of this experience, however, is that I have made a reputation for myself on this site. The regular members of this forum tend to be very sympathetic to transpeople, though they know little about the issues. So I post regularly there, and although my posts tend to be pretty long (like this one) people do read them, and they regularly give me lots of upvotes. They are quite willing to learn about us, and I've given them the opportunity to do so, and they've taken advantage of that opportunity. One member paid me what is undoubtedly the finest compliment I've ever received in my life (and I told him so). He said, "If you can read Foxglove and not support transgender rights, then you're just a b****d." So I do feel that in this way I am perhaps making my small contribution to the cause. I certainly hope so.

    Best wishes to one and all here!
    Last edited by Foxglove; 12-08-2019 at 03:07 PM.

  2. #2
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    I disagree that trans rights do not infringe on the rights of others. I would provide examples but what's the point.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Foxglove's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrylynn View Post
    I disagree that trans rights do not infringe on the rights of others. I would provide examples but what's the point.
    I'm sorry. I don't understand. Are you saying that transgender rights do infringe on the rights of others?

  4. #4
    Here how many years? LeeAnnRose's Avatar
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    I slowly clicked on this link and closed one when I saw the title, but I am glad I did. This is a nicely written piece and gives hope for humanity as we swing on extremes of acceptance and hatred. Someday things will click and people will find the value if everyone rather than looking for the how are we different to attack with hatred.

  5. #5
    Silver Member Aunt Kelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrylynn View Post
    I disagree that trans rights do not infringe on the rights of others. I would provide examples but what's the point.
    So you just lob the obvious troll and slink away. What's the point?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Foxglove's Avatar
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    I'm going to reply to this as well because I don't think it's off-topic. I was asked to say a bit about my experience after I came out, and as I said, I've had a lot of contact with "our opponents" (to put it mildly). I'm not terribly pleased to see this thread going in this direction. Of all the things I said in my OP, this is just one point I was making. But if someone wants to take up that particular point, OK, I'll address it.

    In my OP I mentioned my stay in the hospital, on the women's ward. Now I did tell this story on the forum I hang out on, and I got some extremely negative reactions from 3 or 4 people who were "outsiders", not usual members of that forum. Now their position was simply that transgender women have no business being on a women's ward in a hospital. We have no right to expect to be treated as women.

    I could point out the truth of the matter: during my stay I didn't cause anybody any problems. No doctor or nurse or anybody came to me to suggest that my presence there was a problem. No other patient complained about me being there. In fact, I'm pretty sure the other patients didn't even know that I'm trans. But the fact is I didn't cause any problem by being there.

    But in the eyes of our opponents, that doesn't matter. They don't care if we're not actually causing a problem. They simply don't want us there. Where they're coming from is their dislike of transgender people: they don't want us out living our lives. They want us to go quietly back into the closet and stay there.

    I haven't had much feedback really from other Irish transgender people. I don't know if on the whole their lives are as happy as mine. But as I've pointed out, my day-to-day experience is one of just going about my business, living my life. And nothing in this town has changed since I came out. The people of this town go about their lives as they always have. Nobody's had to make any changes to their lives for my sake. If somebody wants to claim that the lives of cisgender women and girls are suffering because I'm now out, living my life and exercising my legal rights, they need to prove it. They need to produce women and girls who can show specifically the harm I'm doing to their lives.

    This is what we transpeople who are out are proving, wherever we live: transgender people can live their lives without hurting anybody else, without infringing on other people's rights. To our opponents this doesn't matter. In their view we're a problem, even if we're not a problem. But as I myself have often pointed out, this is precisely why we transpeople are gaining ground in so many places these days: we're out living our lives and people are copping on that we're not actually a problem to them. We're not actually something they need to worry about. Most people are decent enough. They do have a sense of fair play, and they are willing to live and let live. When they see that somebody isn't actually causing them any problems, then they don't worry about them. They go on with their lives and leave those other people alone.


    Quote Originally Posted by LeeAnnRose View Post
    This is a nicely written piece and gives hope for humanity as we swing on extremes of acceptance and hatred.
    This has in fact been my experience in recent years: I've seen the "extremes of acceptance and hatred". But I have become quite hopeful and optimistic. I believe in the long run we're going to win out. We are finding more and more acceptance in a lot of places these days, and I believe that eventually our detractors will find themselves so outnumbered that they won't be able to carry on the fight against our rights and freedom.
    Last edited by Foxglove; 12-09-2019 at 10:30 AM.

  7. #7
    Aspiring Member Eemz's Avatar
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    It must be a countrywide guinea pig experiment because I'm having similar experience. People know I'm trans and they simply don't care.

    It's interesting and they ask questions but it's more like you met a Maori or some other type of person that you know exists but you've never met one before so it's interesting. At least for a while and then it's just that woman down the road I think she's from New Zealand or something.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Foxglove's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimdl93 View Post
    Isn't that what freedom is all about?
    Yeah. That's what freedom is all about. What you'll note in our engagement with our opponents is that the conversation is always backwards. They take the view that we're "invaders", so to speak. We're people coming in from the outside, encroaching on their territory, demanding things that we have no right to demand.

    In fact, we're citizens of our various countries and should be entitled, without question, to all the rights that other citizens enjoy. One of those rights is personal freedom, the right to live your life as you please. What we're required to do is the same thing anyone else is required to do: obey the laws of the land, respect other people, don't cause any trouble. As long as we do that, we should be allowed to go about our business just like everybody else does.

    The fact is that transpeople haven't been allowed to just go about their business. Our opponents are questioning our basic rights. That is, we have to establish our claim to something which in other people's cases isn't even questioned. If you're cisgender, nobody questions your right to live cisgender, that is, your right to live in accordance with your nature. If you're transgender, lots of people question your right to live in accordance with your nature.

    This is what it is to be a minority. You have to fight for something which, among the majority, is taken for granted. It's not just us transpeople that have this problem. Every minority does.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eemz View Post
    It must be a countrywide guinea pig experiment because I'm having similar experience. People know I'm trans and they simply don't care.
    I am so glad to hear that. That's the way it's been for me. People know and they simply don't care.

  9. #9
    Gold Member Kaitlyn Michele's Avatar
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    Thanks for your post..

    I enjoyed reading it and I'm sure lots of people that took the time to read it got alot out of it.

    My experiences and thoughts share alot of similarities with your post
    I am real

  10. #10
    Silver Member Aunt Kelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foxglove View Post
    I haven't had much feedback really from other Irish transgender people. I don't know if on the whole their lives are as happy as mine. But as I've pointed out, my day-to-day experience is one of just going about my business, living my life. And nothing in this town has changed since I came out. The people of this town go about their lives as they always have. Nobody's had to make any changes to their lives for my sake. If somebody wants to claim that the lives of cisgender women and girls are suffering because I'm now out, living my life and exercising my legal rights, they need to prove it. They need to produce women and girls who can show specifically the harm I'm doing to their lives.

    This is what we transpeople who are out are proving, wherever we live: transgender people can live their lives without hurting anybody else, without infringing on other people's rights. To our opponents this doesn't matter. In their view we're a problem, even if we're not a problem. But as I myself have often pointed out, this is precisely why we transpeople are gaining ground in so many places these days: we're out living our lives and people are copping on that we're not actually a problem to them. We're not actually something they need to worry about. Most people are decent enough. They do have a sense of fair play, and they are willing to live and let live. When they see that somebody isn't actually causing them any problems, then they don't worry about them. They go on with their lives and leave those other people alone.
    This is so, so true. Nothing defuses fear and ignorance like familiarity. I have seen it time and again, simple exposure to transgender people, to include personal interaction (often begrudgingly at first), eventually allows the subject to lower their guard and see us as "just people". Not always, and certainly not all at the same rate, but often enough for the phenomenon to be unmistakable.

    Again, education and exposure are the most effective way to undo all that.

    Good on ya', Foxglove.
    Last edited by char GG; 12-09-2019 at 08:38 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Foxglove's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaitlyn Michele View Post
    I enjoyed reading it and I'm sure lots of people that took the time to read it got alot out of it.
    Thanks. I honestly didn't know if this stuff would mean anything to anybody, and I'm glad to know that it has.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aunt Kelly View Post
    This is so, so true. Nothing defuses fear and ignorance like familiarity. I have seen it time and again, simple exposure to transgender people, to include personal interaction (often begrudgingly at first), eventually allows the subject to lower their guard and see us as "just people".
    Agreed. My experience has taught me to be hopeful. Unfortunately, other people's experiences have been very different from mine. I think we're engaged in a balancing act here: we should always remind ourselves of the very real reasons we have to be optimistic, while at the same time we need to be very, very aware of the difficulties other people are facing. It's those difficulties we need to take on and try to resolve so that the hope we feel won't turn out to be empty.

    You know, in the days just before I came out, I made the rounds of certain people I know in this town--"major players" in my life, so to speak. I told them the story--that I was trans and that I was coming out. I was giving them advance notice so that they wouldn't be caught off-guard when I came out. I thought that might make my coming out easier, and that proved to be the case.

    But one man I spoke to said he was OK with my coming out. He'd seen a transperson before, and he knew that we transpeople weren't a problem to anybody. So this transperson, whoever and wherever they were, had made things a bit easier for me by showing people that we're not a worry to them. And that's one of my aims these days: show people I can be a decent person so that perhaps someday some other transperson (perhaps a young person) will find things a bit easier because people have seen through me that they don't need to worry about him/her.

    People have a lot of "theoretical" worries about us. We show them their worries are baseless.

  12. #12
    Member Dorit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foxglove View Post
    Thanks. I honestly didn't know if this stuff would mean anything to anybody, and I'm glad to know that it has.

    But one man I spoke to said he was OK with my coming out. He'd seen a transperson before, and he knew that we transpeople weren't a problem to anybody. So this transperson, whoever and wherever they were, had made things a bit easier for me by showing people that we're not a worry to them. And that's one of my aims these days: show people I can be a decent person so that perhaps someday some other transperson (perhaps a young person) will find things a bit easier because people have seen through me that they don't need to worry about him/her.

    People have a lot of "theoretical" worries about us. We show them their worries are baseless.
    I really would love to make what I believe is a necessary point in this discussion but my previous post was deleted by the moderator. So I would like to try again. There is an elephant in the room in our discussion of showing people how decent and harmless we are. There is a segment of many western liberal democracies that will never accept us and are actively working to remove us from the public scene. It is a categorical rejection that has nothing to do with how nice we are, but everything to do with their foundation and world view. Without mentioning the word I hope you know what I am referring too. It is part of the cultural "war" in many countries about the direction of society, the US being obviously one of them and mine too to a lesser degree. So we do enjoy today a large degree of acceptance in many countries, I believe that we need to be alert and aware that our rights are under attack. I have personally experienced both; surprising acceptance and absolute rejection.

  13. #13
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    Many religious denominations are anti GLBTQ but not all are. I belong to a United Church of Christ in the states that is fully open and accepting of people like us. Several of the larger denominations split years ago into groups that are pro or anti about the "Letter People." Do know that you would be fully accepted in our church........................Leanne

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    Nice to see you here again, Annabelle. Very thoughtful posts. Very personal. Thank you.

    Lea
    Lea

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