Dinner Table Conversation - Transgender Topic


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Due to technical difficulties (me being dumb) this posting was posted twice. In an effort to clean up the board of duplicate posts the posting that contained comments of discussion was deleted rather than this one (totally by accident). It's not the end of the world. Though the wonderful and insightful thoughts written by Briannah and replied to by myself can not be recreated verbatim, I think the two of us can recreate the basics of the points we were sharing. 

Briannah? If you will do your best, I will do my best. Each of us tend to write directly to the posting simply from our heart and or brain rather than writing in a separate format and then posting, which would be smarter but much more work and removes the spontaneity.

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I know that this was my opening comment. We can go from here. "To succeed the transgender topic needs to become dinner table conversation."

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Erica,

I agree, the transgender topic needs to come out into the open, out of the basement of shame and fear. I think that's happening both in media (e.g., National Geographic's January 2017 issue, and elsewhere) and in more private discussions although those are harder to quantify. 

I'm happy to report that I recently came out to my 28 year old son with whom I had a very interesting discussion and shared emails and video links. I think he gets it. My 32 year old son... less so. He said that he accepts that I'm trans and doesn't need or want more info. The good news is that I think he means it but it would feel better to me if he'd wanted to talk more. We will see. For now I think my patience is a good strategy.

Take care,

Emma

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I should probably be doing this tomorrow when I'm not on cold meds and more awake, but I'm worried I might forget entirely where my brain took me and I was asked to try to recreate my thought after a tech issue.  So here goes.

Erica and I have discussed this before, so it's repetitive for her, but I think this bears talking about.  That dinner conversation only helps if it's positive, and there is a problem (absolutely not here, but in other forums) with the spouses and children who have usually just found out and come looking for understanding.  Ideally there would be forums for the spouses, and there are a couple, but the only ones I found even with my determined persistence and research skills were all based in the 'this isn't natural, let us help you escape this!" ideology.  Which is what some spouses need, granted.  But it's not what most spouses need at that time, they need a place where they can talk to others in their position and people who understand the transgender world.  I fully agree with Erica in her assessment that despite the feeling of everything that needs to be said has been said, it hasn't been said to a wider community and most of the world has no idea.  I had no idea beyond transpersons existed and in my mind should be treated the same as everyone else, and it had nothing to do with me really.  I wasn't mean to anyone and I didn't stand by if someone else was, but that was the end of my involvement, rather like it is with a huge variety of world problems I have no influence or interaction with.  I became involved obviously through Nikki, but in a way that was traumatic and scary. 
 

So...I went to the transgender forums then, since there weren't any out there of people in my position, clearly the next thing to do was talk to transgender people and learn about it, their live experiences, what's normal, what's a red flag of other issues, what is unique to Nikki and what is common ground so to speak.  And the reception was not good.  I was basically erased, and it was purely about Nikki like I wasn't a person.  I understand the argument is absolutely valid that that was a safe space for transpersons, who often are abused by spouses, fair enough, but this was my point of contact, this was the impression that I was forming and being left to come away with to absorb and form my position around and the only place left for me to go to try to learn.  The dinner conversations that would have come out of that would not have been the ones Erica wants at all.  I was called collateral damage, unimportant in my own marriage, told to shut up and do what I'm told by my spouse, told to get on board with anything or get out that very day (this is a really dangerous, but often quoted, position for ANY issue in a marriage, be it drugs, financial spending mismatch, childrearing mismatches, or even day to day living little issues, both people matter in every marriage on every issue) because I was unworthy of being a spouse to another human being, and a lot of things that would violate the language issues.  There was a lot of confusion and contradiction to wade through too, the same person would make fun of me for having a reaction to the changes in my understanding of my husband as a human and that transition (which I was told forcefully without them ever talking to Nikki was inevitable adn immediate) woudln't change him as a person and I was just not getting it, and then turn around and write a huge post on the large changes in their emotions, viewpoints, and behaviors from the hormones.  This is NOT the way to educate, and TG Guide was literally my last try, if this place had been like those I have no idea where Nikki and I would be right now, because I was so done being treated like I was nothing for the way I was born and just trying to understand the way Nikki was. 

Dinner conversations from spouse ARE happening, I've been at a few, and they aren't good.  And this is what fuels that.  And one thing I can say with certainty about the majority of ciswomen, is that they absolutely like to talk and share life experiences about everything, even the painful bits.  And if more forums dont' become a little more tactful to the spouses and families, not only is not helping the transperson involved because it's stirring up all sorts of already fragile feelings and defenses in the cisspouses and children, it's fueling the votes for the anti trans legislation.  Is it the only fuel?  Of course, not, but it's a fuel that can be controlled.  Not so easy to control cultural and religious norms, but this one can be. 

I'm not calling for coddling, but simply what i got here on TG Guide.  Tact, empathy for Nikki, empathy for what I was going through also, education in a positive environment, and friendships that formed through "Hey, Bree let's talk cooking/home improvement/your silly thought of the moment/fashion/whatever".  Life experience is huge, and more formative than any vague idea of ethics.  Life experiences have reshaped so much of what I believe about right and wrong, kindness and cruelty, and I don't think I'm unique in that. 

I have to think that this can't be helping the renegotiation of marriages where it was a secret and suddenly out, as well as very counterproductive to educating, befriending, and equalizing with others. 

Emma's graceful care, her genuine concern for both of us as human beings, I don't know if she'll ever know what that meant to me, or how very helpful it was at my most vulnerable time with so many issues tangled up together, both his and mine, and colliding like a tidal wave with a volcano.   Then Michael's kindness popped up, and Steph's sweetness, and Veronica and Monica became such great friends, and it is only THAT, the positive personal life experiences that swung me from I really don't want any part of this any more to hey, I can not only live in this world too, I can make friends and thrive here after all, cool!  Let's do this!  It swung someone who would could have ended up on the other side just to have SOMEWHERE to belong with people to understand firmly onto the pro-friend side instead.  A lot of spouses of both genders would benefit greatly from finding this place first in my opinion.  Where information is discussed calmly and a wide range of the experience is welcomed. 

Erica, am I on the right track to recreating the lost post?  Too much Nyquil and Puffs Plus are trying to drag me under back to sleep.  I apologize for any incoherency and typos.  I think the weird yo yo weather combined with all the mold and fungus is making us all sick here. 

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Oh Bree, I'm so glad I helped, I really am. I assumed you two were talking about positive conversations. Or at least not negative attacks or criticism. 

By the way, this evening I was on a site by Anne Vitale, who is a gender therapist north of San Francisco. I found she has a wealth of information, that may help understand transgender and for SOs:

   http://www.avitale.com/Essaylist.htm

http://www.avitale.com/sotherlist.html

Emma

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Briannah, as always you do great! :) I woke up moments ago so bare with me also. I read through quickly. One, because we've spoken. Two, because I had read through more slowly your posting from last time and three, I have dyslexia so those really long posts are a challenge for me to get through. I do think I saw one or two differing concerns though. Valid points to be sure but ones where I feel I must give clarification to what I was saying in the audio. For now I'm just going to try to recreate my original response since most of it had to do with an email I sent to a group of cisgender women I work with and two comments sent to me by a friend from that group. They exist, copy, paste, yada yada yada. I can do this while I have my first cup of coffee. 

The email I sent was to The Livingston County Rainbow Alliance. Basically a small group of women, all cisgender besides myself, working to help make things better for children. Their initial purpose to support LGBT children. I have been with them from nearly the start and my focus just children as a whole which has affected how the group sees their mission. I focus on our similarities rather than our differences and feel often we empower our own segregation. The email was titled "More of my dangerous ideas" and this was the body of that email. "It seems like we are coming out of a long and weird holiday season. Maybe because we didn't have a meeting. IDK. Anyway, these are a couple things I'm currently getting myself in trouble with lately. Ideas, truths, I've had and known but am throwing out there more and more, making more and more in the LGBT angry at me, lol. I had said I would be done talking on this topic but this last election has changed many things. Now more than ever an actual Nation Wide strategy needs to come about if forward movement is to be expected at all in the next four years for the transgender topic. Looking forward to seeing you on the third Thursday, Erica" I then included the audios for National Education - Transgender Topic and this one, Dinner Table Conversation.

Nita wrote back, "I think the conversation is moving to the dinner table!  Had one over the holidays.  Family member had to fill out paperwork and wondered about a revised question on a form - what is your gender?  male, female or other!  We were able to talk about it.  Discussed what is the difference between gender and sex.  So we are getting there!  Also ...at the Stronger Together discussing the "at risk" populations under Trump.  Just sharing with others outside those that are T is moving the conversation to the general population." Nita retired this last summer as our county's youth coordinator. Her family is a mixed bag as far as support for the LGB and like most average Americans know little or nothing of the T. She has confided in me in the past that she would come to our meetings, work hard, be supportive, but it was still something of a secret at home.

My own faith in my activism was shaken recently. Not by the cisgender community. Not by discrimination I've faced due to ignorance I've faced from the cisgender population. I teach and so I expect the cisgender population to not understand. Never am I frustrated by their lack of understanding. Often am I frustrated by the lack of understanding by the transgender community and the LGBT as it's larger entity. I voiced that since I'm not shy about speaking my mind and Nita left me a reply that brought tears to my eyes in a good way. "Many have listened and opened their minds. you have assisted in helping others understand transgender, preventing discrimination due to lack of knowledge. Your support is providing young people with strength and decreasing bullying. And even close by, your kindness to the local children gives them a sense of importance. You have changed me." I could go on for several pages but rather than do that I will leave this as it is for smaller digestion and start another post. I still wish to clarify my thoughts within the audio.

 

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Posted (edited)

What I'm hearing from Briannah is she needs support. When I came out this second time, since I've lived full time two separate times now, I searched for a chat room which is the standard thing to do now in this age of internet when you wish to transition. My former wife, we are still extremely close, said something very similar to what Briannah is expressing. "Yay (sarcasm) you get a chat room. Where's mine? You get to go find support. Where's mine?" This is a key piece most transgender people fail to realize. Transitioning affects more than just ourselves. I created the crisis and support page for my website with this in mind.  http://www.thetransgendermovement.com/support-and-crisis.html . My former wife's favorite saying is "It's not all about you." She's used that for much longer than just the time since I first came out but I always try to bare that in mind. And remind her of it also, lol.

That wasn't the clarification I wanted to make though. That was just addressing a reality that Briannah and other loved ones are bringing into the light of day. My point with this video is that we need to get the entire country talking. I made National Education first because we need them to have good, basic, information first so they can go have the conversations / arguments.  http://www.thetransgendermovement.com/national-education---transgender-topic-.html .

From Briannah's perspective, you said Dinner Table Conversations are only good if they are positive. Within the loved ones perspective, YES! Emma had just said she feels she needs to be patient now. She's very correct.

What I'm talking about though more so within this audio is the need for the conversations to work out legislation, policy, social understanding, outside of the smaller circles we call family. Those conversations can be knock down drag out. If we get them started they will be knock down drag out. The only way it will work at all however is if we give good information for people to have those arguments / conversations with. What I see in the arguments, which at this point exist only on line really, is one side doesn't understand the basic meanings of the words the T community uses. The T community at large won't or can't teach the meanings. Each side gets frustrated because the conversation never rises above name calling. And both sides say F you and walk away. This is an essential problem that needs to be corrected. Can be easily corrected.

Edited by EricaRavenwood
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Yes, its' all connected!  :)   But I didn't meant the dinner conversations are only good if they are positive exactly, I meant that whether those conversations have a positive result (greater understanding and mutual support between cis and trans persons and improving the currently lacking civil rights positions) vs. negative effect after the conversation (bigger misunderstandings and pushing people further away from equality and voting for anti-equality legislation).  WE're sorta close to understanding but I'm sliding sideways in my expression I think.  

Treating spouses as 'collateral damage' both outright verbally and implication that there is something wrong with them for having to sort through their feelings and decide what is a dealbreaker in their marriage has a real potential to put those spouses on the side of the conversation that votes FOR anti-equality laws is what I'm trying to say.   The behavior to spouses on the their first questioning forays onto the forums is going to be a large factor in how they will feel about the topic of transgender as a whole and what they take forward in their future voting and social choices.  Example, it's just a thing that happens to some people and they should be supported and allowed the freedom to live as they choose, or the entire thing is horrible and destroys marriages and homes (and we all know our society has a creepy unhealthy defense of marriage ideation!).  It's a vulnerability that also can be stopped and turned into something better, and more votes against stupid legislation like where people pee can be obtained through postiive personal experience with these spouses, both men and women, and also parents and childrens and siblings that are trying to understand.  Because they will be listening, not defending.  When you put people into defense, they stop listening and are in self-protection mode. 

Because personal experience always trumps in a person's choices and actions over academic fact.  Academic is not exactly the word I mean here, but the ephagia is kicking in hard and I can't remember the right one.  Example: a lot of women have formed an anti-vaccination movement and are absolutely convinced that vaccines give autism, despite the actual facts being there is not a single documented case of this being true.  But their personal life experiences with each other supports that and they risk their children and the general publics health and lives by refusing to vaccinate, lying about religious practices to use loopholes, and advocating agiant vaccination.  Belief trumps fact. This is tied into the conversations Erica is talking about, because no matter how intelligent and reasonable the fact conversations are, you have to get around that firm belief of the listener and make them want to believe in the facts. 

Humans are complicated and goofy and the more I understand our basic psychology the more I realize we need to continue sorting it out and educating everyone on how our brains actually work.  Beliefs vs.facts, group behavior vs. individual, survival instincts from the past vs. modern life. 

 

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Oh! We're talking about dinner table conversations only between trans and cis people? That makes sense given our forum and all. But I was also thinking (hoping) that we will see more conversations in general about trans people (and tip of the hat to Bree, to cis people whose partner comes out to them as trans). I know that this will take a long time to develop into more positive exchanges, probably even longer these days. However here again I think this is where the Internet will help us so much more, say, than the gays, blacks, and other disenfranchised people. Although the Religious Right and others will continue steadfast in their beliefs the cards are stacked. 

  • Witness Colbert and others in the arts/entertainment industry beating the drum for us. Sure, they are liberals and are painted with that brush in order to discount their positions. But they do reach a wide audience.
  • The ridiculous bathroom debates, fear mongering, and legislation. Yes it is a touchstone that strikes perhaps some real fears in some, but for the others, the arguments collapse without any substantiated claims or logic. 
  • I've lately been watching videos on YouTube - there are so many - that show obviously loving parents with young transgender children, supporting them while of course contending with their concerns for their children and themselves. These are undeniably positive role models for all, cis and trans.

Slowly but surely the emotional and legislative and transphobic walls are coming down. It is taking a long time, I agree, but it's coming.

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Posted (edited)

Yes Emma. I'm talking about conversation about the transgender topic in a general sense that doesn't require a transgender person in the room. Actual room. Not an internet room. Physical people talking to physical people standing next to each other. And not just on TV or on YouTube but down at the sports bar in the Bible belt. Real conversations where real people live. This is why I said "Not having a horse in the race." If they understand and are able to support based on an understanding without being emotionally involved we then have social change. 

I'm not a NASCAR fan and could simply be bigoted by saying only ignorant rednecks like NASCAR. Or I could have a conversation and learn it's history. It's merits for the fan. Still doesn't mean I enjoy NASCAR but perhaps now I don't associate it with a rebel flag and hate crimes.

Edited by EricaRavenwood
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Posted

This is what I said about Nation Education just so we have the information within the discussion. 

 

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Abstract!  The word I couldn't get to come out of my head is abstract, not academic.  Sorry, sometimes my brain is just broken and refused to work with me. 

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Sweetheart it's OK. Your mind is just abstract. Not academic :D You are brilliant! 

Edited by EricaRavenwood
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The measure of our success is NOT in headlines. The measure or our success is NOT in donations. The measure of our success is NOT in a piece of legislation passed. THE MEASURE OF SUCCESS IS IN SOCIAL CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. Social change comes from talking to each other about subjects we don't wish to talk about. The measure of success comes from wrapping our head around what defines someone different than ourselves.

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I assume your post above is aimed at me. No need to shout. :mellow: I'm certainly not measuring success in those ways. What I'm trying to say is only that the tide is changing for the better due to increased positive exposure that I believe will lead to more insightful and deeper dinner table discussions. And that, over time, will lead to more of the success that you (and I) wish for. It certainly won't happen overnight nor as soon as it should. But from what I have seen the awareness and acceptance of trans people has increased so substantially in the past few years that I believe and hope that that social change is coming. Probably not to what I'd like in my lifetime (I'm 60) but getting there. 

 

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No Emma. This was a copy and paste. Not aimed at you in anyway. It wasn't in response to what you posted. Just me making a statement to the universe or whoever may happen to be listening at the moment. I get frustrated because so many aren't listening. It's just me being public speaker mode. I am that one who will simply walk on to a stage. Grab a microphone or bull horn and start speaking regardless of the audience. 

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I have, on more than a few occasions, walked on a stage and started speaking when I wasn't scheduled to. I will give example. It's passion. Not anger. :)

 

 

Edited by EricaRavenwood

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Sweetheart it's OK. Your mind is just abstract. Not academic :D You are brilliant! 

​It's just incredibly frustrating when that acts up and I can see/feel the concept in my head, but I can't make it come out of my mouth.  It's a weird form of lingual paralysis is the emotional feeling of it when it hits.  I don't know how to describe it better.  And if it's a hard to define concept in the first place, even my word spotters can't help me while I stumble around trying to explain. And poor L was trying so hard to help me while I'm rambling about ducts you can see and ducks you can't see trying to get her to give me the word.  LOL  NO idea why I was fixated on ducks either.

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Welcome, maybe too soon, to... getting a bit OLDER! Happens to me all the time. 👻👻👻

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Happens to me all the time Bree. No biggy

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