Genderqueer Role Models

In trying to guide myself through my transition, I find role models to be indispensable. Learning about success stories keeps me going when I get discouraged and think what I want to achieve is impossible. Unfortunately, I can count the number of genderqueer persons with a male history who can serve as a role model on one hand. Kate Bornstein, Riki Wilchins, and the anonymous author of ThirdWayTrans are inspiring, but I’d ideally like to find and connect with people who were able to end up with an integrated transgender identity without taking the transsexual path.  Here are a few of my role models.

Jasper Gregory

Jasper was initially the only penised person I could find who was trying to forge a genderqueer or transgender identity and presentation that was integrated with an unmodified body.  Finding Jasper was valuable to me for two reasons.  First, Jasper showed me that an obviously transgender presentation that was consistent with an unmodified body typically classified as “male” was not only possible, but could actually be tasteful, and attractive, and sexy.

I am Live locative reporting san Francisco #pride at http://rawjasper.posterous.com today

Second, Jasper gave me hours worth of cogent analysis and criticism of a lot of the bullshit present in both the mainstream transgender and feminist movements that I also found ridiculous.

I agree with nearly everything Jasper has ever said.

Alex Drummond

Finding the author of grrlAlex was valuable to me because ne showed me that looking even more “womanly” but still tasteful and obviously male was possible.

Jasper always seemed fine presenting sort of as a femmeboy, but I really want my presentation to scream “girl.”  Incidentally, I didn’t like Alex’s book that much.  Alex’s personal story only seemed to scratch the surface and seemed to talk a lot more about fashion than the experience of being transgender.  Alex’s academic work and experience as a psychotherapist is more worthwhile.

Zinnia Jones

This probably seems like it doesn’t belong as Zinnia Jones is now transsexual, but something compelled me last night to pop the lid on the time capsule of nir long history of YouTube videos. (Okay, there it is–my first instance of using gender-neutral pronouns for transsexuals. If you don’t like it, see this post. I’ll probably stop mentioning it after now.) Anyway, here’s Zinnia in 2011 “clearing up a few misconceptions” and declaring “I’m not transgender”:

I found shuttling through Zinnia’s history discouraging.  Not because I don’t like Zinnia.  Zinnia is amazing.  I found it discouraging because the last thing I want is to spend five years trying so hard to create a bearable life as a gender non-conforming male (and one that looks much worse for wear than Zinnia) and then and only then realize that taking a transsexual path is what I really needed after all.

A lot of what I read about Zinnia’s history seems like it could have been written by me, except I didn’t reject the “smart” identity and drop out until 24 rather than 14. I certainly experience all of Zinnia’s “eight signs of indirect gender dysphoria” except for number eight: “Substantial resolution of these symptoms in a very obvious way…upon initiating HRT.”  Of course I couldn’t experience that because I’ve never had HRT.  If hormones could really clear all this up for me, that would be fantastic.  But I really don’t want to take hormones.  I really want there to be another way.  Turns out the hormones didn’t help Zinnia as much as ne initially thought anyway!

I feel similarly learning about Zinnia’s journey as I did learning about Julia Serano’s.  I so so soooooo want “bigender queer boy” to work for me.  But if it’s not, I want to know NOW!  Life is too fucking short.  How much more of it can I spend just waiting to die?

I guess maybe this long period of exploration and gender purgatory is inevitable for trans folk regardless of the outcome.  And in any case, whatever path is right for me, I certainly feel better about my present and future than my past.  So that’s good, right?

How About You?

Who are your genderqueer or transgender role models?  Why?

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17 thoughts on “Genderqueer Role Models

    • pasunhomme January 24, 2015 / 9:30 pm

      Thanks for the links! Definitely food for thought. I’m curious: you’d have to engage in pure speculation to answer this question, but do you think it would have been possible for you to reach the “third way” of dealing with the situation of feeling that you are transgender without transitioning and re-transitioning (or de-transitioning if that’s what you call it)? I say “the situation of feeling that you are transgender” rather than “being transgender” as I understand that you take this to be an interpretation rather than a reality, and I agree. Reading your material, I’d guess you’re attached to the belief that you could have got there without transitioning, but it seems that certain observations and self-realizations would only be possible through “living as another gender.” I feel like I’m in a Room Without a Window and I can’t see out. It seems impossible to understand my relationship with gender from this single vantage point. With only the single vantage point, I can only see in two dimensions, not three. The people who seem most able to see this way, including the author of vreer, all seem to be ex-binary-identified transsexuals. If you do believe it’s possible to realize the third dimension without transitioning, what should one do?

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      • thirdwaytrans January 26, 2015 / 6:34 pm

        For me, at that time and in that place, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to avoid transitioning given the resources I had and the state of knowledge and the community at the time. If I had avoided it then, I think it would be highly likely that I would be undergoing some sort of classic trans midlife crisis now. In a different time with different resources I think I might have avoided it, or maybe transitioned for a while and then transitioned back without permanent effects.

        However, I do think it possible for transition to be optional for some people and do hope we can avoid reinventing the wheel and learn from each others experiences. I think if possible the best thing to do is to gain that learning without making any permanent changes.

        It seems like you are already on your way to figuring out things based on your posts and finding role models that work for you and your own way.

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    • pasunhomme January 25, 2015 / 8:38 am

      It occurs to me you probably can’t as a psychotherapist ethically answer my individual question, but if you could address it an general way on your own blog, that would be great.

      Like

  1. georgiakevin January 24, 2015 / 7:57 pm

    Your post is well written and very thought inducing!

    Like

  2. rimonim January 24, 2015 / 8:17 pm

    My all-time favorite role model is Leslie Feinberg. Though our identities and transition paths are different, ze is a model of wholeness and was a tireless force for good. I admire hir fearless insistence on doing what ze needed to do, whether starting hormones or stopping them; and I continue to learn from hir revolutionary vision.

    I guess maybe this long period of exploration and gender purgatory is inevitable for trans folk regardless of the outcome. And in any case, whatever path is right for me, I certainly feel better about my present and future than my past. So that’s good, right?

    That is very good! And yeah, AFAIK it’s inevitable to some extent… though you can control whether you drag it out or get real sooner rather than later. This might or might not resonate with you, but based on my own observations and experience: The problem as I see it is that when one desperately wants one answer to a question, one cannot really ask it–we have to allow the possibility of a “yes” in order to hear a “no.” I also desperately wanted to avoid hormones and surgery. But I lived in a state of conflict because I was so attached to one outcome (finding a way to be happy as a butch) that I couldn’t be honest with myself.

    Transsexual transition may or may not be right for you; either way, it will probably be damn difficult to find any peace until you are able to find the space in your heart for any answer. In other words, one must truly ask the question. I think this is just as true whether the answer finally turns out to be “transsexual woman” or “bigender queer boy” or “genderqueer girl, no hormones or surgery” or any other possibility. When you are able to value yourself and know that you will be worthy, lovable and fundamentally okay regardless of what transition steps you take, then you will know what you need to do, one way or another.

    On the other hand, you already are on the journey. That’s the real point, anyway. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • pasunhomme January 24, 2015 / 10:42 pm

      Thanks! Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink and Blue is on it’s way.

      You’re right about the fact that I cannot yet really ask myself what I want to do because I’m not willing to hear any answer. I spent eight years in a marriage I didn’t really want for the same reason. Apart from my own genuine misgivings about the idea of taking hormones, what keeps from from believing that transsexual transition is not an okay answer for me is my child. I can’t imagine answering to my child for making that choice. “Daddy’s a woman now.” That’s bullshit. Utter bullshit. Sorry, but that’s the truth. I didn’t lie to my kid about Santa Claus, and I don’t plan on teaching nem transubstantiation.

      I don’t want to end on a combative note. I really, really appreciated your message.

      When you are able to value yourself and know that you will be worthy, lovable and fundamentally okay regardless of what transition steps you take, then you will know what you need to do, one way or another.

      Time to listen to some more self-esteem affirmations I guess.

      Like

      • rimonim January 25, 2015 / 6:50 pm

        I really hear you about the complex choice you are making with regards to your child. I am humbled by the courage of people who are engaging these questions of gender as parents. I know that some people have found transition paths that work for their families–but I have no idea what the right choice is for your family. Wishing you strength and peace.

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      • pasunhomme January 26, 2015 / 7:01 am

        Thanks for your support. Having a child definitely complicates matters. Many XY transgender persons with children don’t transition until 45 or 50 because they have turned their closet into a prison, as described by Sandra Samons. Transitioning while children are adolescents is particularly hard on them, so many end up waiting until their kids are grown. I definitely don’t want to do that, so I’ve got to get this shit sorted out in the next few years while my child is still relatively young.

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  3. Lesboi January 25, 2015 / 3:07 am

    Honestly, my transgender role models are the people I interact with on here that are or have struggled with the same issues I’m now facing. I also look up to Jameson Greene, Matt Kailey and Ryan Sallans.

    Like

  4. pasunhomme January 25, 2015 / 4:18 pm

    I found a new role model. Yay! I guess I’ll just collect ’em all here in these comments if I find any new ones.

    Like

  5. pasunhomme January 25, 2015 / 9:59 pm

    OMG I can’t believe I forgot about Michael Spookshow: hisblackdress.com. I don’t think ne identifies as trans but, I definitely identify nem as adorable. I want to pinch nir cheeks.

    Like

    • pasunhomme February 1, 2015 / 4:39 pm

      Wasn’t aware of Andrew. Thanks! Your quote from Andrew about describes how I feel to a capital T. Thanks for commenting. It’s so great not to feel alone. Now I have two more role models. You brightened my morning.

      Like

  6. Jonathan February 1, 2015 / 6:54 pm

    Glad to have brightened your morning 🙂 . Yes, that quote is very good, isn’t it. I’ve used it more than once.

    Like

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