The Transgender Experience, Part 1

Content Warning: rape, domestic violence, violence against queer people, sexual assault, emotional abuse

(This is Part 1 of a 2-part series of The Transgender Experience)

There are an estimated 1.4 million transgender Americans in the United States. Approximately one-fifth of them have experienced homelessness. This doesn’t end here, however. When they try to access homeless shelters, more than half will experience harassment from the staff and/or residents. Twenty nine percent will be outright denied access and 22% will experience sexual assault from the staff and/or residents. (For the whole summary, click here).

This is the transgender experience.

My name is Archie Alexandre and I use he/him and they/them pronouns. I am a white, queer, neurodivergent, fat, transgender/gender nonconforming* man who is currently on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Yes I plan on having “the surgeries” and no, I won’t tell you my “real name” because Archie IS my real name. I’m 21 years old going to 22 on October 12th, 2017. I am polyamorous and currently have a queerplatonic partner and one romantic/sexual partner. My life is centered around central Minnesota in the United States. I’ve traveled to other states and have traveled outside of the United States once to South Africa.

This is my introduction. This is my Experience.

When I reference “transgender” people, I am also referring to non-binary and gender nonconforming folx. Transgender is considered an umbrella term for all of those kinds of identities. The prefix “trans-” meaning “the other side.”

Now I could go on and on about transgender statistics, but I cannot give you “The Full Transgender Experience™” alone. I would have to include every single transgender person on the planet to do that. What I’m doing here is providing you the lens of one perspective on being transgender. This series will become an intersectional piece on my other identities as one identity is almost always intertwined with another identity.

As a transgender man that works in centering the marginalized voices and bodies, my range of activism expands from grassroots organizing to Black Lives Matter and the abolishment of prisons as well as the disestablishment of the police force. I delve into queer politics and activism more often, however, as it is my main focus for both my educational and personal life. The most notable activism would be around Trans and Queer Liberation.

Being a transgender person has brought about many new challenges in my life. I have never officially come out to my whole family, but I have experienced some rejection from my family on different levels on my journey of discovering my queerness. Unfortunately, coming out to family isn’t as easy as people think it is. Forty-three percent of people who come out to their families will maintain most familial bonds while the other 57% will have experienced very intense rejection from their families.

There is a better chance of you guessing which side a flipped coin will land on.

For my family, coming out isn’t dissimilar to a 10-Step Recovery Process for both my family and I. Most of my family knows and actively ignores my queer identity while there are a few that truly support me. I am out to virtually all of my friends and my co-workers.

I’ve known I was a transgender male for over two years now. I’ve had internal gender issues since I was a child. The language of “transgender” didn’t exist for me until I was in high school where I had met my first transgender person. However, even that is probably a lie. I’ve probably met MANY transgender folx in the time I have existed.

Learning about this identity that I couldn’t put a word to was and is the most super important for me. I admire language in all forms and putting words to my thoughts and feelings. I use language to inform myself and others–like I am now: informing you, the reader, is why I admire language. We can exchange thoughts and feelings to each other with at least a minimal understanding.

Now that we have established some facts of myself, it is time to end here. Please look forward to part two where I describe my feminist philosophies and how my intersecting identities have helped me navigate throughout my world.

Please take this 2-part series as one scope of queer identity out of many. My lived experiences differ a lot from others and are similar to a lot of others, but this should never be used to describe every trans person’s experience.

*DISCLAIMER: This link to the definition of gender non-conforming, while offering an excellent explanation, features Laci Green, who recently has made some problematic content about gender identity. This link is meant for an explanation of the term “gender non-conforming.,” but is not meant to condone Green’s recent problematic statements.

 

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Hello! My name’s Archie Andersen, and I use he/him and they/them pronouns. I identify as a neurodivergent, AFAB, Fat, Queer, Nonbinary Transgender man activist. My main studies are in Queer Theory and Issues and the Prison Industrial Complex, but I also work to end all forms of oppression. I am in my 4th year at St. Cloud State University majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and minoring in Ethnic Studies. My favorite color is pastel blue, and I really enjoy watching YouTube videos in my spare time.

 

 

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A Shift in Gaming

While we enjoy sharing the wonderfully insightful posts you submit to us, we also want to share the love with you! If you have a personal blog, please let us know so we can spread the word and get into even more enlightening conversations on multiple platforms!

With that being said, do you know Jo Benson? She is a member of our blog team, majoring in both Women’s Studies and Rhetoric and Writing, and has a new blog. She’s given us permission to share it with you!

She recently shared a truly great gamer post, talking about the shift in the lore of Magic: the Gathering in regards to women and queer folks.

Here’s an excerpt from her first post…

So, why is it important that these stories exist?

As a queer woman who thoroughly enjoys video games, books, TCG games, and other aspects of “nerd culture” that are thought to be enjoyed mostly by men, “refreshing” barely scratches the surface of what these stories mean to and for me.

When we interact with games and other media, putting on the skin of certain characters or otherwise taking part in fantastical narratives is where most of the fun comes from. We want to see ourselves reflected in these stories. However, the effects of the stories portrayed in games (and media of all kinds) seem shallow when we assume, “It’s just a television show/movie/book, not real life.” That kind of statement ignores the impact of media on culture and people. There’s a reason we don’t want kids to see violent or sexual movies, right? It affects them. Movies, books, and T.V. shows affect everyone on some level – they scare us, inspire us, and often carry messages that translate to our everyday lives.

And here’s the link!

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Jo Benson is a fourth-year undergraduate at St. Cloud State, double majoring in Women’s Studies and Rhetoric. She is a white, cis-gender lesbian passionate about feminism, cats, writing, and Magic: the Gathering.

 

p.s. October is our LGBTQ+ Celebration Month, so begin thinking about posts you’d like to submit and stay tuned for a riveting month celebrating the LGBTQ+ community! All submissions can be emailed to collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

Best,

The Blog Team

 

 

Web Series as a New Form of Media

By Mariam Bagadion

The LGBTQ+ community started garnering attention and momentum in television beginning in 2004 with The L Word. Glee drew a larger audience and initiated a sort of normalization of queer characters in the media, (even though their portrayal of some of the queer characters perpetuated a few stereotypes and could be seen as just a little problematic, but that’s another can of worms) and newer shows like The Fosters and How to Get Away with Murder have queer characters as part of their main ensembles.

But there’s another form of media that has become the unsung hero for queer representation: the web series.

A web series is a scripted show, much like mainstream television that appears online in episodes that are only a few minutes long. Web series have all of the components of a mainstream television show by utilizing writers, directors, producers and actors with all of the creative freedom of a YouTube channel. Media censorship can limit what viewers see on television screens (which is a problem in itself, but again, different can of worms). These hoops are virtually non-existent for web series creators and many take advantage of it, promoting the visibility of all sorts of sexualities and gender identities. While definitely not complete, following is a list of web series that I’ve personally watched and thoroughly enjoyed for you to devour with hosts of queer characters and identities.

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On Queering Valentine’s Day

Our staff found this Feministing.com article today.  It is critically important to think about how holidays affect people who are marginalized within society.

Tell us what you think about Katie Barnes’ idea that Valentines Day is “super heteronormative and kinda sexist.”

What other kinds of holidays do you see following these same patterns?

 

Whose American Dream Is It? Falsehood of the American Dream

By Ruth Sybil May

The United States is proudly touted as the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Anyone living here who has a strong work ethic and a great deal of determination is sure to become successful, achieving the American Dream.  That dream includes: being free, having one’s own nuclear family, and especially acquiring financial stability. At least, that’s what American nationalism and patriotic culture tells us.

But frankly, this supposed pathway to personal and financial success, rooted in a person’s work ethic and goal orientation, is a fabrication of deceit from our highly capitalistic and individualistic Western culture. The ideology of the American Dream is designed to give the oppressed underclass false hope about their own personal power to dig themselves out of poverty. It simultaneously gives class privileged people the false notion that they somehow have earned or deserve everything they possess (despite the fact most class privileged people were ascribed this status at birth). This way, the American middle to upper class’ disproportionate hoarding of wealth is justified by assuming that they must have just worked harder than everyone else to gain all of that money and power.

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Growing Up Queer With an Eating Disorder: Part Two

I can’t remember exactly when my eating disorder first emerged, but it happened some time during the fall of 2011.  My eating disorder, which I only recently had diagnosed as atypical anorexia nervosa (See description here), was characterized by calorie restriction and purging through the form of exercise. I would meticulously count every single calorie that went into my body, and my goal was to never exceed consuming between 800-1,000 calories per day. And on top of that, I would frequently exercise on our treadmill so that I could track the amount of calories that I burned, and once I burned more calories than I had consumed for the day, I felt accomplished and would stop. I continued this routine throughout the greater part of my junior year in high school.

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Growing Up Queer With an Eating Disorder

By Ruth Sybil May

Part 1:

It’s so peculiar to me that the older I get, the better I understand my childhood self and how my intrinsic traits compounded with my sociocultural environment to shape the unique experiences and struggles that I’ve dealt with throughout my life. One such revelation that I’ve had is that I struggled with a full-fledged eating disorder while I was in high school.  But, the root of the problem started taking formation years ago while I was much younger.

Growing up as an undeniably queer and gender non-conforming kid, I struggled to find a solid sense of self and belonging with the people around me. My parents and teachers tried their hardest to socialize me like any other boy, but I could never shake my femininity and conform to traditional gender norms no matter how hard I tried (and believe me, I really did try). I always stuck out like a sore thumb, and I was bullied mercilessly for it. This left me feeling very confused and with a lingering feeling that I must have somehow been born into the wrong body, that I was actually a girl trapped in a boy’s body and that my existence must be some cruel joke. This feeling of gender dysphoria (Read about gender dysphoria here) was quite isolating.  Although I have a problem with using terms like gender dysphoria because I feel like it legitimizes the classification of trans identity as psychological disorder, I use it for simplicity’s sake to describe my experience as easily as possible due to a lack of less medical language.  I was in desperate search of something to identify with and find solace in; something that could transport me outside of my tough reality and give me some sense of belonging and inspiration.  When I was 7 years old, I found what I was looking for in the hit television series, America’s Next Top Model (ANTM).

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Coming Out (of Innocence)

In honor of National Coming Out Day (October 11th), we are pleased to bring to you a poem by Alex Marrone.  This poem was published in the St Cloud State University Kaleidoscope publication for 2015.  The author has graciously given us permission to share it with our blog community.

I remember the first time I saw my mother kiss another woman

I was six

She asked me if I understood

I thought I was supposed to say “no”

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