Monday, May 6, 2013

Ch 11: Communication and How to be a good friend to a Gender Dysphoric Person



Good evening, afternoon, morning:

I was looking around doing some more research and found this interesting wiki article.  Now I know I usually hate Wikipedia as much as the next person, but every once in a while they have something useful.  So I thought I would share, the article and posting is titled How to Be a Good Friend to Someone with Gender Dysphoria:

"1.Help them by listening. Your friend will definitely have lows.
2. Don't avoid the situation. Don't try and totally ignore the fact they they have Gender Dysphoria, because they will need to talk about it.
3. Don't always talk about the condition, either, and avoid the term "disorder".
4. Always refer your friend as being the gender he or she is inside; avoid "he" for male-assigned girls and "she" for female-assigned boys. There are also many other pronouns that people may use, most commonly if they are non-binary. If you're not sure what pronouns to use for your friend in public (for example, if they still live as their biological gender), ask! You don't want to accidentally out them. Outing people can place them in severe danger.
5. Compliment your friend. If your friend is a woman who was coercively male-assigned at birth (CAMAB), point out something pretty about her when you meet; don't overdo this though, actually find a good point - don't lie to her. If she's wearing cute shoes, or her hair looks especially nice, say so! Transguys like this too! If they seem especially "manly" or handsome that day, they'd probably love to hear it, even if they grumble and try to act like they don't care. If they don't look good, mental qualities are very safe ground for true compliments. She's got an eye for fashion. He's great for remembering all the sports scores. Things that they are genuinely strong in. Don't always keep it to appearance or they may start to feel even more self conscious about how they look.
6. If your friend is a woman, invite her to your girly nights as this will do a lot for her self-esteem. Conversely, if your friend is a guy, ask him to hang out with you and do guy-things.
7. Ask for small favors appropriate to the gender your friend is inside. With a transwoman, ask her if she'd mind helping you clean up sometime or go shopping with you, girl things. If you're a guy, compliment her for being really good at the girl things. If you're hanging out with a transman, ask him to carry your packages, smile and appreciate it if he holds the door, ask him to get the firewood, things like that. Small gender-related compliments along with these expectations can go so deep to help a transperson feel accepted. "Butch can get that stuff down from the top shelf, he's so strong. Hey Butch, would you pull the grill down so we can barbecue?" That kind of thing. Not like overdoing it, like you would with anyone of their age, health and gender. "Dear, would you please arrange the flowers? I know you've got an eye for that." No matter what they look like, these little gendered encounters go on all the time for most people and get taken for granted. They're water in the desert to someone who's been long burned by never being accepted as who they are. Don't be surprised at occasional thanks much bigger than a small favor merits, that only means that what you did meant that much to them.
8.  Help them with same sex bathrooms. If you're their inside gender, going in first to see if anyone's in there and beckoning them in, then standing guard is a very big favor. Most people in transition have a hard time finding a bathroom they can use, at some stages they can get trouble in either bathroom. When planning outings, scout ahead for where any mixed-use single user bathrooms are. Some places have disabled bathrooms set up separately from male or female with just one toilet in it. Anytime a friend checks this out first may save them a lot of embarrassment in the search," (http://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Good-Friend-to-Someone-with-Gender-Dysphoria).
I find these rules and guides especially true for male to female transgendered individuals.  This being said because, while we in society don't like to talk about it, it is true that men have it easier then women.  So to go from the top of the proverbial food chain, to the bottom is quite difficult.  The looks and the inappropriate gestures and the overall flat 'piggish' behavior of many men is once again appalling.
And in doing some research once again I came across this statement of information that I thought was really well put.  "Although my life has not been entirely free of transphobia and cissexism, the majority of discrimination I’ve dealt with has been in the form of misogyny and sexual objectification. And as said, it took me completely off guard. Despite not having been totally ignorant of the existence of sexism, I had had absolutely no idea just how common and ubiquitous sexual harassment and cat calls are. I mean, really… GOD DAMN. Like a lot of guys, I thought it was something that only a few creeps did, and usually only happened to especially pretty young women, and would be something that would only happen every once in awhile. NOT several times a week.
Several times a week, yes. And once four times over the course of a single particularly hot August day when I chose to wear a slinky spaghetti-strap dress without a cardigan or jacket. But immediately upon going full-time, regardless of how I was dressed, sexual harassment became a constant element of my life. Cat calls. Dudes telling me how much of a cutie I am as I pass by. Guys proudly announcing that they’d like to fuck me. Getting a blatant up-down once over look as a man wears a disgusting grin. Being ordered to smile. “Gimme a smile, baby”. I’ll look prettier if I smile. Apparently. Never mind my actual feelings or mood. Being pretty is what counts! Apparently. “YOU! I love YOU most! I would tap that so hard!”… “Hey I’m single if you want a quickie, babe”… etc. etc. etc.

 For awhile, I toyed with the idea of just responding by shouting “I HAVE A PENIS!” as loudly as possible, to see if I could make them as uncomfortable as they had just made me. But then I remembered that’s a really good way to get myself killed. Especially given how much sexual harassment and cat calls are based around insecure men feeling the need to assert their masculinity through emotional control and dominance," (http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/07/sacrificing-privilege/).
While I have yet to experience a lot of this first hand I understand the feeling, and also know the craving and want to have female friends.  While girls can be a bit catty, you are never going to go out dancing with a bunch of guy friends, or hang out and teach each other the proper way to put on makeup.  Having jewelry parties and other types of events are generally 'girls' only, and for someone like me it is very hard to get invited or find some friends who will treat me just like one of the girls.
I did have one friend once, who I found through the internet, and it didn't end up working out.  We hung out a few times, talked a lot and were what I thought was best friends for a few weeks, maybe a month.  But at the time I was exploring my inner feelings and ended up talking to her about the idea of being gay, or at least the idea of being a straight female.  I made the mistake of making it look like I was planning on leaving my wife, when in all reality I love her very much and messed up the friendship.  Regardless I have very few friends now, and find as I get older, it's very hard to make new friends with a majority of time spent at work, and the fact that I don't go out to the bars drinking a lot there are very few activities to meet new people and make genuine lasting friendships.
I hope if anything I've learned from past friendships, though this world of female communication and the rules of friendship seem very new to me.  Learning in psychology that males and females are taught very differently growing up how to behave and how to interact.  While males tend to make friends through competition and doing activities, girls tend to make friends through cooperation and teamwork.  It's quite the adjustment and taking some time to unlearn the years of information and bodily habits that I have come to know as second nature.
to be continued...
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