Tuesday, July 21, 2015

7-21-2015 Entry: My News Interview Airs Tonight!

Hello my darlings! I hope things are going well for you. I have exciting news! I just got word this morning from the amazing reporter Liz Collin that they plan to air my story tonight during the 10pm news show, which means that some of you reading these words might have just watched that news story and are visiting my blog for the first time.

If that pertains to you I want to say welcome to the fabulous realm of gender outlawry! I hope you enjoy what you read and that you’ll come back again as I post new blogs every couple days or so. If you want to start at the beginning and read from there I highly advise you start with http://transadvent.blogspot.com/2014/10/and-you-will-know-truth-and-that-truth.html as that is where all of this began. Otherwise you are welcome to jump right on the train to fabulous town and behold all the wonders that come when you start transcending the gender binary!

I am Emma, transwoman extraordinaire, and I have dedicated my life to not only living as authentically as I can, despite social conventions and expectations about how an assigned-male-at-birth person is supposed to act, but also to inspiring others to do the same thing. I spend much of my free time writing on this blog about my own transition, my experiences with the gender binary, and the politics that are often hidden in plain sight inside the socially acceptable discourse of 21st century gender politics. When I’m not writing on here I also spend my free time volunteering for a gender therapist (www.darahoffmanfox.com/ ) by answering emails sent in from individuals seeking help, advice, resources, and friendship regarding their gender identity and sexuality. When I’m not doing that I tend to spend my hours either working at a law firm, reading, or hanging out with my lovely and ever amazing wife, along with our dog and three cats. When I’m not doing those things (God, I am busy aren’t I?) I’m working on my fiction novels under the pen name R.T. Edwins (see the Fiction Works and Novels tab above).

My wife and I live in Minnesota, but I grew up in Colorado where I was raised as Robert the male. From an early age, probably around 8 or 9 years old, I knew that something was different about me. I found myself constantly battling the urge to wear women’s clothing or to take on female gender roles but did not figure out until my mid-twenties that these inclinations (and my naturally effeminate personality) were because I was transgender. Even after figuring out I was transgender I spent another 4 or 5 years living in denial about who I was and who I wanted to be because I feared what would happen to my life should I decide to make a gender transition. Eventually that denial was broken (explained in the first blog I linked above) about 10 months ago and I decided that this pervasive feeling that I was female, or at least not entirely male, would never go away.

I decided to do the hardest and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done and came out to the entire world (including family and in-laws) as transgender. I have since come to understand that I am not a Male-to-Female transgender person, but actually a gender identity that I term a non-binary transwoman (note the difference from the two word format of trans woman). I have identified as this because I’ve grown to understand through a great deal of introspection and meditation that I am both male and female, and yet something entirely more than either of those things. On the surface I display a gender expression that most closely resembles the binary gender female but I am not a female and would not claim to be one were I asked outright.

As I told Liz Collin (which may or may not end up in the news story that’s aired) I am really a we. There are two of us inhabiting this body, previously separated out of necessity for survival in our binary-centric society, but now rejoined and converged to work in tandem with one another. We are Emma. We do, however, prefer female pronouns of she/her because they make us feel happy; we also prefer the less cumbersome singular form of I/me instead of us/we/they/their. We do sometimes refer to ourselves as we/us as we are right now, but generally it is safe to assume that unless otherwise specified the usage of I/me/my is being offered to describe both of us.

Occasionally, we will discuss each of the two of us in separate form, most frequently labeled as Emma (feminine energy/Yin) and Robert (masculine energy/Yang), but we do so only as an illustration of the complexities of our being. We ask for your patience as we struggle to do this in a way that makes sense. It is unfortunate, we have found, that the English language is not well equipped to describe or approximate one such as ourselves. Many Native American tribes (as well as other cultures throughout history) have long since recognized a twin-spirited gender and even treated these individuals with great respect and reverence, but the judeo-christian, western culture in which we were born never did such a thing, and so we are left to struggle to approximate as best as we can what and who we are. (We do not adopt the label twin-spirited because we are not native American ourselves and do not wish to offend, although we do recognize the similarity between that label and who we, as twin spirits, are.)

For simplicity we will revert back to singular form and hope that you have followed along with us.
In addition to my efforts to blog about my transition and to correspond via email with those who are like me or are simply questioning their gender/sexuality, I have decided to continue my education in order to become a therapist. I have just been accepted into a Master’s program for marriage and family therapy and will hopefully become a therapist that works primarily with the transgender (as well as LGBQ) population in the twin cities. I want to become a resource for those who are in need of guidance, acceptance, appreciation, and advice on how to live a truly authentic life.

I choose to live my life openly and to do things like blog about my transition and do television interviews about my story so that others who are not familiar with the millions of transgender individuals around the world can see that we do exist and that our lives and stories matter. I choose to exercise the only voice I have ever truly had (my writing) to help bridge the gap between where society is and where it could be if it accepted a less binary-centric view about human expression and potential. I believe the human spirit is filled with far too much creativity and potential to be limited to an either or system of male and female, and that we as a society are doing ourselves a disservice by ignoring, ostracizing, and dehumanizing those who contradict that binary system.

I allege that gender is ultimately a social construction and that while an individual’s gender identity can be valid and an intrinsic part to their right of self-expression, the expectations, norms, and policing of gender on a societal/cultural level are inherently harmful to the human spirit. I have been developing a thesis which I have started to call the transgender mystique (paying homage to Betty Freidan’s Feminine Mystique), and will frequently discuss that subject in future posts because it pervades almost every aspect of our society. The base assumption of a gender binary, to which we are evidence that such a system is inadequate to fully encompass human potential, has found its way into nearly every level of our society from education and child rearing,  advertising and fashion, to even politics and money. I further allege that gender and the gender binary is ultimately used in order to solidify and normalize social power disparities between groups labeled as different from one another and that these social power disparities are often hiding in plain sight, usually going unnoticed, unexamined and unremarked upon.

As a previously heterosexual, Caucasian, educated, married, and functioning-penis-wielding male, I have experienced the near pinnacle of social power and privilege (the only thing I lacked was wealth). As a gender non-conforming non-binary transwoman, I have also experienced the near bottom of social power, and yet I am nearly the same exact person I was previously. Why is this? Why does my non-conformity to the gender binary mean I must become socially disempowered? What does that inherent disempowerment mean about our society? How does it reflect upon our values? And what are those values when you actually take a closer look at them?

These are the questions this blog and my transgender mystique thesis are attempting to answer. I believe the potential for unlimited human expression and thought exist within those answers, but those answers are of little use if I’m the only one who discovers them. Thanks to people like my idolized author Kate Bornstein I am not the only one seeking or obtaining these answers, but in order for actual change to come, more people must begin to question the transgender mystique. More people must learn to start thinking outside of the either/or binary box they were raised in and realize that the box does nothing to help them (in fact it really does a lot to harm them). I want to expand consciousness, to expand our assumptions about what’s normal, and to transcend our self-imposed limitations. I want to show just how beautiful, unique, thought-provoking, spiritual and fabulous non-conformity to gender can be. I want to live an extraordinary life, and I want you all to come with me on this remarkable ride as I attempt to tear down the binary and lift up infinite individual expression.

We are Emma, and we have not come to change the world, we came to ROCK IT!!

(Lastly, I will share the link to the news story once it is available, probably sometime tomorrow)

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