The Unique Issues that Transsexuals Face
There are a number of unique issues that transsexuals face. These issues, in addition to the primary issues and vagaries of life make a transsexuals life much harder but can also result in it becoming much more fulfilling as well. These are issues involving sexuality, identity, gender, society, religion, family, love and many, many other things.
The first and primary issue in a transwoman's life is her identity as a human being. In order to transition, one must have the courage and conviction to know that her motivation to transition is pure and not misguided, lest she make a mistake like Renee Richards, the author of the books Second Serve and No Way, Renee. This helps the transwoman define the life that she wants to cultivate and the company that she is going to want to keep. Not all transwomen are going to want to continue in their gun clubs and paintball circles.
Identity has many legal considerations as well, considering the fact of how important it is to have proper identity documents in society. I mean, it is very difficult to be seen for who you are if you pay with a credit card in your old name and there is trouble abound if you are dressed but you get pulled over and your license and registration is in a totally inappropriate name and/or gender. Many transpeople seek a legal name change and gender marker change for their identity documents. In some states, this is fairly easy and in others, it can only be done with sex reassignment surgery. Birth certificates can only be changed with letters from the doctors stating that sex reassignment surgery has been performed. The same is true with passports and SSA Numident data in the United States.
The Issue of Sexuality
Once the transwoman has solved the issue of her identity, many people wonder what about her sexuality and personally, I think any answer within the first few years of transition is going to be wrong - until she has settled successfully into her identity. I mean, this is simply due to the necessity of shaking off one's own internalized transphobia and homophobia.
I identify as a polyamorous pansexual and I am currently in a legal marriage with another transwoman here in Denver. I have flipped back and forth from lesbian to straight and back a number of times but that was only because of the fact that I thought I should have a set sexual orientation. It could also be due to a personal case of minor biphobia.
Even though I am married to another woman, whom I love dearly, I am still looking for a man to have a committed (read: polyfidelity) relationship. And yes, I do intend to have the whole white wedding deal with this guy simply because I never got to do that and probably will not get to do that with my beloved Samara simply due to the fact that she is pagan. We are planning a 1-year anniversary ceremony at Cheesman Park and I hope to implement some elements of a white wedding in that ceremony.
The Sexuality of Transsexuals
T-people: What is your sexual orientation?
Employment of Transwomen
Employment of transwomen is a very important facet of our lives, given the fact that we generally require a litany of ultra-expensive legal and medical procedures and surgeries, most often not covered by insurance. Not to mention the ancillary costs of taking up a new life, such as a new wardrobe of clothing.
Transwomen who are currently employed when they wish to start their transition have to make sure that they either start researching new jobs and their company's general reaction to transsexual employees. Sometimes, just a simple discussion with a person in HR is enough to get some support in your job. If you live in a service-industry job like a gas station, grocery or fast food joint, I would recommend phoning your company's HR department for help.
The problem is that many states do not have transsexual employment protection laws and the fact of the matter is that once a transwoman comes out, many companies can freely discriminate against them without any problems with the state. Even if the state has anti-discrimination laws that protect transwomen, there are companies that are gutsy enough to try to violate them. One overt issue of discrimination that I faced was with Bolder Calls, a call centre up in Boulder, Colorado that generates leads for insurance agents. It was a day just like any other and I was called to the office by someone from the temp agency (PrimeSource) that hired me into the job to talk about a few things. One of those things was, of course, my transsexuality and the fact that they would not allow me to use the women's restroom at work. Never mind the fact that the State of Colorado had transsexual employment protections at the time and so did the County of Boulder before the state regulations took effect. I regret not filing a complaint with the Civil Rights Division but I was so unnerved by this statement that I quit the job that day. I was not on the floor nearly two hours and I left my workplace in tears.
Transwomen and Society
This all depends on where you live but each and every American town or city, no matter how progressive, has a populace with at least a minute bit of hostility towards transwomen. I have had people even here in Denver refer to me consistently and constantly refer to me as "he", despite my gender presentation and numerous corrections.
I am also going to say that living in the Bible belt or Midwest of America is not a very good idea for trans people. I do recommend, however, moving to a more liberal area so that you can transition with minimal hassle. Personally, I am lucky that Denver is such a liberal city, which is odd given the fact that it is in the state that only recently (with the last election) became a blue state.
It pains me to say it, believe me it does, but we are likely representatives of the transsexual community when we go out and do our daily thing. In the grocery, bookstore, library, department of motor vehicles - we interact with other people. This is even more so if you are "out and proud" like I am and are not afraid to admit that you are a transwoman. Therefore, I live by two principles, to act and express myself as I want all transwomen to be represented, for I am probably going to form someone's impression of transwomen. I also live by the principle of picking and choosing my battles. I mean, I have had to learn this as I had a very heated battle with someone at Wells Fargo who refused to recognize my name change as valid. I eventually got to speak with the Regional Manager of Wells Fargo, who was at that branch at the time.
Transwomen and Religion
Transwomen, like homosexuals, have the unique and underappreciated opportunity to see Christianity for how evil, ugly and misogynistic it truly is. Unfortunately, though, not all transwomen are able to wake up and see the roses and they either stay with the church that may curse these people under their breath and work against them in the public square or join an "affirming congregation".
The Unitarian Universalist "faith" is quite affirming simply because of the fact that they are usually upper-class, liberal minded people who generally have a more open mind about things. An article that helps explain this was written in UU World, a magazine published by the Unitarian Universalist Association, and was titled "Not My Father's Religion".
Buddhists are generally accepting of transsexuals and this is proven by the Thai culture, which is predominantly Buddhist. Most major metropolitan areas have a Buddhist meditation centre of some sort, the major denominations being Theravada (which is the stricter denomination) and Mayahana. However, there are other denominations such as Zen Buddhism and Shambhala Buddhism.
Pagan and Wiccan communities are generally accepting of transsexual people.
Transwomen and Family and Friends
One consideration is people in our old lives, the old family and friends that we knew before we started to transition. Unfortunately, many people have transphobic family who keep them from transitioning or try to slow down their progress as much as humanly possible.
One of the blessings in my life is simply the fact that I was never really attached to my family and could drop them at any given moment if need be. Fortunately, that has happened and it has not affected my transition in the least bit. In fact, I think my apathy towards my family simply helped in fast tracking my transition, which works out well for me.
One problem is that as I started to transition, more and more of my old "friends" started to drop out of my life as I progressed through my transition. There are a few "friends" that have shown their true colours by refusing to respect me by referring to me with that old name and using old gender markers. My sister comments on my wife's blog and refers to her as an "it" all of the time and I personally find that to be really shameful.
Contrary to popular belief, which is probably garnered from erotica and porn, transsexuals generally do not date their old friends. I do know that I am sexually attracted to a couple of my old friends from my old life but I do know very well that it would be quite impossible to try to have an actual relationship with them since they knew me in my old life, it might be too damned creepy for either of us and simply put, many of my old friends were way too religious for my tastes, thank you very much.