Sunday, March 30, 2008

Trans Day of Resistance Speeches: HK Doty

We don't fit into the assigned. We feel cramped in the restriction and out of place in the norms. It takes some of us years, or a lifetime to find the why or how. Repositioning where we fit on the one or another of binary gender.
We inject, ingest, digest, dissect and reconstruct our bodies and identities to find some place we can fit better.
I find myself naked, leaning on the bathroom counter. Shower steam thick, smell of alcohol swabs increasing the nausea caused from the inch and a half needle loaded with testosterone in my hand. Destination: Glute.
And my arm freezes. A slight prick of blood starts to drip out of my cheek and a flush fills my face. I become dizzy, fall to my knees and hold the syringe in hand.

"Maybe you have such trouble doing your own shots because you shouldn't be taking them."

A stronger, sharper pain strikes deeper at the thought.


I mean after all gender is just a construct right?
Could I move past the "need" to transition.
Theoretically, But theory is always written by someone else. We all have unique personal experience of gender. For some of us it's something consistent, others can't track a common gender from day to day. And we all have our own way of understanding and feeling that out.
Unfortunately there is a common misconception that transitioning is a common journey, with a beginning, middle and end. The very terminology we use to describe trans genders implies this. Male to Female, Female to Male. Transition complete.
When applying for social assistance a couple of years ago I listed my transitional gender as a barrier to my employability because I found that my confusing gender didn't lure peopel into hiring me, but instead not knowing how to read me, dismissal was an easier option. The woman asked for clarification, "So you were born female, becoming male?"
Simplest Answer: Yes.
"So when will you be done?"
Simplest Answer: We won't.
This isn't something that is at any point done. We aren't going anywhere. We aren't going to dissappear into binary genders, as much as some of us want to, and do, we all start somewhere and there will always be someone finding their way, and many of us who find that our way is NOT to one or another binary gender. Although this is not a lesson easily unlearned. We gender from birth, before even. In utero the question, "Is it a boy of a girl?", is the first asked after fertilization. We learn as children that a misgendering is embarrassing and as young adults that it is a fearful disgusting insult. The medical system that holds the keys to prescribed assistance requires a certain understanding of one's gender and associated dysphoria to even become accessible.
Luckily there exists an alternative. A small but growing number of us who don't fit into the boxes on M or F questionnaires. We resist using our transitions to reinforce binaries and our allies who are teaming up for events like today's. Just this past year we have seen the forming of a trans alliance here at UVIC. We have see the first Trans Day of Remembrance in Victoria this past November memorializing the trans people who've been victimized in violent crimes since the previous November. We have seen a collective resistance to transphobic policies at a catholic hospital in Vancouver which refused to perform a scheduled non- SRS surgery on our friend when they discovered he was trans. We have seen growing numbers at drag and gender bending shows throughout Victoria. We have seen the formation of a collective to plan a surgery fund raiser to help pay for his eight thousand dollar chest reconstruction. We have seen close to 200 people come out and support that fund raiser and friends and allies banding together to provide post-surgical care for members of our community.
And now here we are, collecting together to stand up against fear driven violence, transphobic decisions at the hands of government, like for example the recent decision to cancel all in province SRS surgeries despite trained and talented doctors in Vancouver waiting to help us, and the everyday challenges thrown at us by living in a world obsessed with binary gender.
By being here with us today you are making a difference, I invite you to join us this afternoon to learn more- learn ways to be a better ally and make this campus, this city and our world a safer and more diverse place for us to all live.

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