Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Transgender Experience

With all this fol-de-rol of transgendered people being told what restrooms they can and cannot utilize, I feel the need to put my two cents in and I will do that by telling my story.  I’m very open about it – have told it many times to many people – but in going even more public with it perhaps people might stop to think about the feelings of people who (through no fault of their own) feel out of place in the gender they were assigned at birth.

Li'l Me.  <Blush>
Long story short, my mother had 5 miscarriages before my older brother was born.  He came along in 1957, spawned by the classic Baby Boom couple - a former WWII G.I. and the girl he married after the war.  Because of the five miscarriages, my mother was cautioned against another pregnancy.  The ideal family of the 1950's was Father, Mother, Son, Daughter - in that order - with the genders of any other children being gravy.  They now had a son and all that was required was a daughter, so throwing caution to the wind and going against the recommendation of her physician(s) they created another life.  Sadly, their hopes were unrealized because I came into this world a bouncing baby boy.  But, what matter?  We can always treat him as a daughter!  There was once a photograph of my second Christmas (long since lost) I was 16 months old and toddling around in diapers.  In the background is my older brother, Dan, playing with his brand new toy police car while on the floor next to him is his toy helicopter, toy his military tank and his brand-new drum set with a pretty hula girl in a grass skirt.

Front and center of the photo is me playing with my brand new toy iron and ironing board.  (A few years later I also ended up with a toy kitchen.)

So, by the time I was ten years old and in the fifth grade, my parents began to wonder why little Randy played with girl toys.  The obvious answer was that they gave him girl toys to play with!  I mean, come on - at not even a year and a half old I couldn't exactly write (or even say) "Dear Santy Claus, please bring me Suzy Homemaker toys for Christmas" so it's not like I asked for them.  So here I am, ten years old, going to a shrink.  His name was Dr. Weinberg and he was affiliated with one of the school districts.  After a series of tests where I looked at pretty pictures and drew pretty pictures and told stories and whatever else, he came to the conclusion that Little Randy suffers from a hormonal imbalance.  His findings indicated that my body produced too much estrogen and not enough testosterone to give me the butch little swagger and chip-on-the-shoulder attitude expected of a 1960's boy child.  So the remedy for it: hormone treatments.  In theory, he felt that it would be pointless to pump me full of testosterone because, while it would certainly butch me up, artificially increasing testosterone would not solve the problem of a body that doesn't create it naturally and on its own.  He said they would have to shock my body into stimulating its own testosterone production.  And how do we reach that end?  Are you ready for this?  Take a deep breath:

Increasing estrogen would provide the necessary shock to my body, thereby forcing it to correct the hormonal imbalance by producing its own natural testosterone.

Yes, that's right, Campers.  For a year of my life (10 years old) I went to the doctor once a week for a dose of estrogen.  The first time I was ever called a homophobic slur (I think it was Fairy - I didn't hear Fag until much later) was in the 5th grade.  It was accompanied by being shoved backwards onto the asphalt pavement in the schoolyard resulting in an untreated concussion and a ringing in my ears that I still have today.  

By the time I was in the in the 7th grade, thanks to being pumped full of female serum at the doorstep of puberty, I felt like a girl.  I walked like one, spoke like one, acted like one and even developed breasts.  (To this very day I can shimmy like your sister Kate!)  My own cousin once asked me what size bra I wore.  Loving family.

Physical Education - Gym Class - is traumatic to many adolescents and for many reasons.  For me, the biggest trauma was this:  I felt like a girl in a boy's locker room.  For all intents and purposes (and through no fault - or choice - of my own) I was a girl playing football with the boys.  I even remember saying to people who didn't judge me (and they were few and far between, trust me! ) "You've heard of a tomboy?  Well, I'm a Georgy Girl."  (Which was pretty clever and showed great wit, now that I think about it.)  Didn't help, though.  I was verbally, physically, emotionally and spiritually assaulted - daily - by my fellow classmates and even by faculty.  (I still detest high school gym coaches with a passionate hatred.)  

As for being in the locker room with the boys - I did not develop sexually until much later.  So, it's not like I was staring at and lusting after the boys in the shower.  But I definitely felt like a girl showering with the boys.  How well I remember running into the shower, getting wet and running out, feeling naked, exposed, embarrassed and terrifiedI heard adult males (my father, for instance) talk about being with other guys and "we're all men - we all have the same things" but that didn't ring true for me.  While I did, of course, have a male body I was so totally and completely female that I would have been much more comfortable and much more at ease with the girls in their locker room and doing push ups and chin ups the way they did.  And, BELIEVE ME, I would not have been looking at their flowers and wanting a sniff !!!  Because it felt as if I was flowering, too. 

On an interesting side note, this theory of "curing" homosexuality through hormone treatments was not uncommon in the 1960's.  Others went through it as well.  Ah, me; be that as it may...

Through the years a lot of this wore off considerably but, even now, I'm not exactly Hulk Hogan when it comes to masculinity.  I have a video of me taken in my early 20's and I'm shocked at how femmy I was.  (It pains me to even look at it - so I generally don't.)  And, almost 50 years after the weekly visits to the doctor, people still call me "Ma'am" on the telephone.  I used to get all miffed about it - today I just call the person to whom I am speaking "Honey" and ride with it.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that someone who is not in the position of feeling out of place in body and soul nor in the world at large will never understand.  And, sadly, we do not live amongst a population of gentry who even want to understand beyond their own life experience.  It would be a waste of breath to tell these people "Hey!  Lighten up and try to understand what someone else is going through!"  It'll never happen.  I would never go into the ladies room because enough of all that has worn off to the extent that I wouldn't find comfort or security there.  But I'm still a little uncomfortable in men's restrooms and generally appreciate stalls and dividers and I'll tell you what -

a transgender male to female or female to male appreciates stalls and dividers, too. 

All people want is privacy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Randy Bibb

As a volunteer for the New Orleans City Archives, Randy has processed historical documents dating to Louisiana's Colonial Period. Currently he is processing the Ordinances and Resolutions for the New Orleans City Council from 1895 to the post baby-boom era. (He is thoroughly enjoying working in the 20th Century for a change of pace!)  Here are a few of Randy's projects for the New Orleans City Archives:

Randy is a graduate of the Delgado College Tour Guiding Course as well as the The
Friends Of The Cabildo Tour Guide Class and Save Our Cemeteries, to both of which he holds membership.  He is also a member of The Louisiana Landmarks Society, The
Historic New Orleans Collection, The Louisiana Historical Society, The Preservation Resource Center, The Tour Guide Association of Greater New Orleans and, miraculously, still finds the time to serve as a volunteer docent for the James Pitot House on Bayou St. John.

Randy specializes in historical walking tours of the French Quarter, Garden District, Cemeteries and many more; he can put together a specialized tour on your topic of interest from Literary History, Opera History, Voodoo, Architecture and more.  Give Randy a call or send an email to arrange a walking tour with him.  (Advance reservations required for walking tours.)

Randy can also be found on the red double-decker
City Sightseeing Hop On/Hop Off buses.
Visit the link at left for more information.

Randy addressed the Tour Guide Association of Greater New Orleans at their 2012 seminar on the topic of "Concubines, Children and the Civil Code of 1808".