Today I woke up (late, as usual) and laid in bed for an extra 30-45 minutes checking Facebook, Perez Hilton, Weather.com, and my four separate email accounts… totally productive. Then I realized I had to be in class in an hour and 10 minutes (and I live 30 looong miles from school). Shit. What do I do?
I beg M to make me breakfast while I shower and being the excellent fiance that he is, he did it. In the shower, I realize that I really didn’t feel like driving to school… so when I get out I say “Hey M, why don’t you come to my human sexuality class with me? It’s pretty interesting!” to which he responds, “I know, I went for you last week while you were procrastinating on that paper…” … Shit. I thought my excellent plan was being foiled before it had begun.
As I was taking my first bite into my eggs and cheese on a mini bagel sandwich, he pipes up and says “Is today Thursday?” … Confused, I answer that it is, and he gleefully shouts “IT’S TRANNY DAY!” and my mind blanked for a moment until I realized that in the beginning of the semester my professor had mentioned that towards the end of the semester a transexual person would be coming to talk to our class and that he must’ve mentioned that last Thursday when M was being unnecessarily amazing.
So off we went, to meet this transgender person (who I had no idea how to refer to because our professor had not hinted, in my presence, about which gender he/she is). We arrive (late) to class and get a seat, and there is a very tall, very attractive woman standing in the front of the class. Her name is Mara, and she is amazing. She spoke to us about the challenges that come with feeling like you’re the wrong gender for your whole life. She talked about the things I had never considered, like how transgender people have to deny their natural social inclinations and learn how to be the gender that they were born to, and how if/when someone does transition, how you have to re-learn socialization skills. I didn’t think about how a man who became a woman wouldn’t know what shoes to wear to a particular event, or that certain actions are taboo.
She also spent a lot of time talking about the extreme challenges of body alterations for both types of transition (male–>female, female–>male). Apparently, for gender reassignment surgery, it’s much easier for a male have his parts altered to look like natural female parts than it is to have female parts altered to become male. She said it was all about the “raw materials”, i.e; length of urethra, skin, the fact that there is practically no way to change what a woman has to a long, sometimes flaccid, sometimes firm body part. There are things that can help, but nothing you can really do to make it look as though it’s been there forever.
Conversely, for facial and body reconstructive surgery, it’s much easier for a female to become more masculine. Two years of monthly testosterone shots and she will be shaving her face and her voice will be deep enough to sound like it’s coming from a naturally born male. Also, on top of hair growth, her facial features will change from being soft and feminine to more rigid and harsh. Biology takes care of all of that. But when a man wants to become a woman, it takes multiple surgeries, including but not limited to jaw placement movement, jaw reshaping, nose reshaping, brow line reduction, movement of the hair line, removal of adams apple, etc etc etc. Mara said she had 14 procedures on her face alone. Amazing.
She talked about the struggles men and women face when they can’t afford to have all of the work done in a condensed period of time… when people can’t identify your gender they get nervous, and that’s when the violence happens. She talked about the severe life changes men and women face, how everyone they know is in a way transitioning with them, and how important support is for ALL people involved.
I just found Mara to be such an amazing, courageous woman. She showed us pictures of her before, during, and after her transition. She was also kind and generous enough to show us a full frontal image of herself post gender reassignment surgery. She radiated happiness, and even when someone asked her a difficult question, she held her head high an answered it. All except for one. Someone asked her what her male name was, and she said she doesn’t say that anymore. It’s irrelevant, because she is Mara. That’s it. I loved it.
She touched on so much more than what I’ve included here, but this is getting absurdly long. Just know, that M and I loved Mara’s presentation today. I applaud her courage and thoughtfulness and I appreciate more than words can say that she is willing to put herself out there for the benefit of us, a younger generation who hopefully will be open minded enough to help, not hurt, other men and women like her.
Her presentation really was life-changing. Hopefully, the snack my wonderful M brings me when he picks me up from class will be a nice end to a very interesting and enlightening day. I’ll keep you updated.
P.s. If you have questions about her presentation, ask! I’ll do my best to relay what she said. If I can’t, I’ll get her contact info from Dr. Sawyer and you can ask her yourself! :)