Gender Prison

Being authentic

Song photo song3y.jpgWhen I established days and times to provide content at certain websites, I have called those submissions "columns."

Having to come up with that content on a weekly basis has not always been easy. Taking a look at the news events of the day sometimes provides a hook. Sometimes a starting point is found in a diary posted by someone else. But sometimes I just have to go with stream-of-consciousness writing and hope that eventually it all makes sense. I've done several of those over the years.

This one was originally created in February of 2009...and was fueled by one stuff going on in my actual life on campus at Bloomfield College in New Jersey.

I've dragged it out here and am sliding it into my Selected Writings of a Transsexual Woman because of the recent flap about Mount Holyoke canceling The Vagina Monologues, saying they are not "trans friendly." I have no doubt that we transpeople will be castigated for that at some point...even though we didn't instigate it.

In early February of 2009, I was preparing to be in a campus production of VM.

The column produced is on the other side.

The graphic above is named Song.

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Learning to Count Past Two

I wrote the following essay to read at a presentation I did to a graduate psychology class (future school psychologists) in Arkansas in the 90s. (Interesting side note: the professor who was interested in me talking to her students about gender did not gain tenure at UCA. I've often wondered why that was.)

The image to the right is entitled Boxes.

I read a paper by Jamison Green which includes some interesting thoughts about appearances such as this. I thought I'd read a bit I find quite humorous.

 photo JamisonGreen.jpg

Stepping in front of the class we become laboratory rats, frogs in the dissection tray, interactive multimedia learning experiences. 

"'How old were you when you first realized you were a frog, Mr. Green?'

"'How did your parents react when you told them you were a frog?"

"Do you date? Do you tell your partners you're a frog?"

"So how does it work? I mean, uh, can you, like, do it?"

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Gender Prison: Aint I a Human?

Outside the Box photo outsidethebox.jpgFrom time to time since I came out I have been asked to address various groups of people to justify our existence. At one and he same time I have agreed to do that while simultaneously asking myself, "By what right do I speak for any group of people?"

Today's chapter is one of those efforts. It is the introductory statement to students in a Psychology of Women class I was invited to address.

The Image to the left is entitled Outside the Box

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Gender Prison: Seeking love, finding only beads

UCA office photo uca-office.jpg

The picture is me in my office during transition, apparently working on my email. It appears to have been my 46th birthday. The photo is remarkable in that it shows me having a clean, organized desk. Almost never happens.

When logic and proportion
Have fallen slowly dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said

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Gender Prison: One or more starts

Introduction (an excerpt from my currently untitled autobiography in progress)

Let's get this straight right from the beginning. I'm a transsexual woman. For whatever reasons I may have had (which will be explored elsewhere in this book), I changed my sex. I was born with some male body parts, but I'm much better now.

Being transsexual is an evolving process. It takes longer for some people to evolve than others. In my case it has taken nearly 48 years so far...less than some, more than most. I'm still evolving and I imagine I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

Evolution is painful for any individual so many of us fight it tooth and nail for most of our existence. If we're lucky, we realize at some point that we have to stop trying to swim upstream and let the river of life carry us to whatever shore it will. That's a frightening prospect because there's no guarantee that we still won't drown along the way. All that is certain is that swimming upstream isn't a fruitful endeavor.

The vast majority of the people in the societies of the world cannot possibly imagine what would drive someone to change sex. Waking up in the morning is not an occasion for self doubt for them as it is for us. Gender is not a confusing issue for them. For us transsexual people gender is the supreme issue. It colors just about everything in our lives in one way or another.

Our obsession with gender sets us apart from mainstream societies which consider gender one of the few immutable attributes in a human being. Tampering with anything which is supposedly immutable is fraught with danger. In the past few years I have seen signs that societies are beginning to evolve away from the concept of immutability of gender, but as it is with evolution of an individual, evolution is a painful process for a society and unfortunately the pain of a society is generally inflicted on some of its individuals.

For those few of us who can escape the whirlpool of fear, pain, and danger that we find swirling around us, there is the hope someday of reaching some distant safe shore. It's not an easy journey because it involves an investigation and interrogation of one's self that the vast majority of people would be hard put to withstand. We must delve into our soul and peel away the layers of deceit we have cloaked it with, forever searching for who we really are. In the end we are compelled to bare that stark naked soul to the world.

I'm sure that there are still more layers of my own soul to be peeled away until I get to that nugget that may be in there somewhere. Or maybe I'll just keep peeling until I die and never reach it. I do know, however, that I've become a better human being through this process: stronger, braver, kinder, more patient, more understanding, more open to new ideas.

I hope that through my writing I can help others through their own personal journeys of discovery, especially my transgender sisters and brothers, but also anyone who has ever had a family member or a friend who was transgender and anyone else who encounters the compulsion to rip apart their soul as they travel the river of life.


The Blues
A Secret

A secret

buried deep within my soul

A secret

hidden from one and all

A secret

too hard for me to tell

A secret

complex enough to kill

A secret

that cannot see the light

A secret

I kept it locked up tight

A secret

leaking out so late

A secret

determining my fate

 

--Robyn Elaine Serven
--June, 1992

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Gender Prison: Top Stories of the year, as chosen by my readers

1998 by  Andrea Cuchetto for Who Do You Think We Are? photo robyn.jpgIt has been a very busy year here in Transgenderland. It seems I wrote I wrote 217 diaries (16 in January, 15 in February, 18 in March, 14 in April, 21 in May, 32 in June, 3 in July (we were moving across the country), 16 in August, 19 in September, 21 in October, 17 in November, and 25 in December), although not all of them were about transgender issues...but most were. That, after all, is my raisin for being.

I should note that I publish regularly on Tuesdays at Voices on the Square, and Fridays at Docudharma, as well as regularly at Daily Kos.

(Photo by Andrea Cuchetto, from her work, Who Do You Think We Are?)

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Gender Prison: ACLU challenges Gloucester County Public Schools

 photo Grimm_zps7ceeee9d.jpgAs expected, the ACLU has taken legal exception to the new policy adopted by the Gloucester County School Board which required that restrooms and locker rooms would be limited to those of the corresponding biological sex assigned at birth. The policy required that transgender students use "alternative private facilities."

The policy was sparked by the existence of trans boy Gavin Grimm, 15, and the fact that he had been using the boy's restroom since October.

The ACLU filed a complaint last Thursday with the US Justice and Education departments urging that students like Gavin deserve to be accepted as the gender they identify with and that requiring them to use alternate restroom facilities is unfair discrimination.

Since the passage of the policy, Gavin has been using the nurse's bathroom...and getting called a "freak."

The reason for the passage of the policy is ostensibly to stop infringing on the privacy of the non-transgender students.

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Gender Prison: Women's colleges move toward opening doors to trans women

Trustees at Barnard have been considering whether or not trans women are women as far as their admissions policy goes.

The time has come for us to examine how we, as a women’s college, define ‘women,’ and how, consequently, we both admit and graduate students.

--Debora L. Spar, Barnard president

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