I thought a lot about the misconceptions I wrote for people with disabilities. Seeing as I am also in the midst of transitioning from Female to Male (a fact I do not hide, nor have I ever – online or off) I figured that now would be as good a time as any to talk about the misconceptions we see towards those in the trans community. Specifically, I’m looking towards those misconceptions of Transsexuals (people actually transitioning to become the opposite gender).

“You can’t be transgender. I thought you were gay?”

How many times has someone who identifies as trans heard this? I have. You’d be surprised how many trans individuals actually, at one point, had no other term for what they were other than gay or lesbian. I, myself, am guilty of this one. Why this is has to do with sexual orientation though sexual orientation really has nothing to do with gender identity.

Trans issues are still not in the forefront in our country or really worldwide. Growing up, most people know if they are attracted to one gender or another (or both). When I first came out, I was 16 years old. I knew for years that I was attracted to women though initially I thought it was just admiration. When the effects of puberty kicked in and I was ‘feeling it’ when I checked out hot women (like Renee O’Conner from Xena – drool!) the only word I had for what I was, was lesbian.

As I grew older, went to college and met trans individuals it finally clicked in my brain that I was trans. I had never truly felt the term lesbian fit me. I was always constantly, internally looking for answers and it took me until I was 21 to find them. You know, many don’t admit or even realize they are trans until much later in life, living in sham marriages because their families want them to be ‘normal’ or living a lesbian/gay existence.

Note: You can be trans and gay. Trans refers to gender identity (FTM, MTF, male, female) and gay is your sexual orientation. So if you identify as FTM or male and are attracted to other males then you are trans and gay. Likewise if you are MTF or female and are attracted to other females you are gay.

“You can’t be trans. You wore dresses!”

I don’t know who in their right mind thinks dresses are comfortable. Sitting in a wheelchair in one sucks majorly. Yes, I wore dresses. There isn’t a trans person who is FTM who hasn’t wore dresses to my knowledge. I even liked dresses, for one distinct reason. I knew if I wore a fancy dress, I got to be on television. I was a goodwill ambassador for a charitable organization and I also wanted to be an actor, so if it meant I got to be on television, sure I’d wear a dress.

Check my Jr. High and High School school pictures though. Nearly all of them have me dressed in pants, and nothing fancy. In fact, my 11th grade picture has me in a U of M T-shirt. Gosh, how girlie of me. Regardless, trans people (FTMs) do wear dresses for whatever reason they feel they have to, but just ask my friend Suze. Not even girlie girls like to wear dresses all that much. They are uncomfortable after all! To think that the way a person dresses determines their gender identity or how they feel inside is preposterous.

“You never crossdressed, so you can’t be trans.”

Crossdressing and trans issues are two different things. Many crossdressers are straight males who only do it because it feels good. They like the way it feels. For most, it is a fetish. Crossdressing and transexuality are two VERY different things. Do not confuse them!

I used to ‘crossdress’ (if you want to call it that – I call it being comfortable) as a kid when I wore my brother’s hand me downs. You know what? I LOVED them. Check my Facebook. I have many pictures with me in his clothes and I’m happy as a clam. I also look like a little boy in most if not all of them. Regardless, crossdressing as a kid doesn’t make you any more trans then being gay does. None of these things correlate.

“You can’t be trans & FTM. You didn’t play sports. You can’t be trans & MTF. You never liked dolls.”

Childhood activities have NOTHING to do with being trans. I played with dolls (I also ripped all the hair out of my favorite doll’s head – not very girlie IMO – I would also throw her against the wall). I also played with hot wheels cars. My brother would always give me stupid cars like broken down trucks while he took the sports cars, much to my chagrin. Still I’d race them around my wooden porch. I also played with gender neutral toys, like my Little People Castle, which I LOVED.

I collected baseball cards since the 1980s. I still have MANY of them. They were kept next to a jewelry box I was told was my dead grandmothers. I kept her rosary in it and loved it because it was hers. I loved to play kickball with my grandfather, ride my bike, big wheel and swing. I also liked to play imaginary games outdoors and color. I loved board games, especially Sorry and Life. I had Barbies but my favorite was the Barbie Ice Cream maker because, HELLO it made Ice Cream.

I liked to jump on our small trampoline, go swimming, and watch cartoons. I had My Little Ponies, Rainbow Brite, Transformers, a Jem playset, and an Alvin and the Chipmunks play set. I liked playing He Man (and She Ra) with my brother. I had a She Ra costume and I especially liked the sword. I also had Pound Puppies and Pound Kitties, Popples, and Garbage Pail Kids. I liked the Goonies, ET, and plenty of other kid friendly movies when I was growing up. So, what has any of this told you about me? I was a child of the 80s!

So, I liked boys and girls stuff. I did ask to play t-ball and wanted to play soccer like my brother, but was told I was not allowed. I did have a muscle disease, so playing sports wasn’t much of an option until I got into college, where I played recreational wheelchair sports (at WSU).

I have always loved sports though. I’ve been a fan of U of M football for as long as I can remember. Far back into the very early 90s. I started watching baseball actively in 1993 though I grew up a fan of Jose Canseco in the 80s. I was following the 1993 Blu Jays. They went to and won the World Series. My heroes were Juan Guzman, Roberto Alomar, John Olerud, and Joe Carter. The following year, I picked a team closer to home; the Cleveland Indians. I became a fan, my favorite player, Omar Vizquel though I also liked Sandy Alomar, brother of Roberto. I followed the Indians until my dad passed away.

Then, when I moved to Michigan, I renewed my interest in baseball. My team was now the Detroit Tigers. This wasn’t hard considering I grew up in Toledo and had always been a fan of the Mudhens. Today, I also follow Hockey (Red Wings), Basketball (Pistons), NASCAR, Soccer (Manchester United & Liverpool), Football (Saints & Jaguars) and I still love my Wolverines. I even got the Jaguars logo on my first pair of AFOs (plastic leg braces). How’s that for a sports fan?

But I digress…both men and women LOVE sports. This doesn’t make you trans.

“You can’t be trans. You are nothing like those trans people I saw on daytime talk shows.”

Not all trans people are alike. If you are using Maury and Sally Jesse as your guide to how ‘trans people’ should act then you are sadly misguided my friend.

“You can’t be trans. You don’t have any of the symptoms.”

First, being trans is NOT a disease. It’s about your gender identity. It’s about how you see yourself, internally. Furthermore, what are these ‘said symptoms’ that seem to not be prevalent? All trans are not created the same. Yes, we may all see ourselves as the gender opposite of our birth gender or a mixing of genders. That is about where the similarity ends.

Not all of us know we are trans from birth. Most of us know we are ‘different’ but aren’t sure why until later in life. Looking back, in our minds, it all makes sense. NO ONE ELSE has the right to tell you how you feel or what you think. They are not in your mind. They are not you. How you act as a child doesn’t determine whether you are transgender or not, because many of us feel we have to fit into the gender role into which we were born, even if we don’t feel that fit who we were, as kids.

Being trans isn’t a joke or something taken lightly. Years of surgery and over ten operations, lifelong injections, and alienation (potentially) of family and friends is a lot to endure.

Being trans is NOT a choice. It’s just the way it is.

[tags]transgender, misconceptions, sports, dolls, raised, toys, family, gender, transsexual, gay, homosexuality[/tags]

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