For this month’s Serum, I interviewed my friend Mia about what it’s like being transgendered in a bi-modal world.
Can you tell me a little about yourself, such as where you’re from, where you’re living now, your age, or anything else you’d be comfortable sharing? I think it helps if folks have a little background.
I’m 40 as of this year. I’m New Yorican, Puerto Rican born and raised in NY. I was born in Brooklyn and have lived in the same twelve-street, three-avenue area known affectionately as Gay Ridge and Gunset Park (Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, respectively) because of a large number of multi-ethnic LGBTQ people (who vary in their openness) and the past and current presence of gangs and drug dealers.
How do you identify yourself to others?
I still present myself as male, and by my birth name, until the hormones change my facial appearance, that is. I don’t know if I’ll keep my last name.
How would you describe your gender/sexuality/etc.?
I’m a bisexual, male-to-female transgender woman, who’s not planning on having her penis removed!
What started you on your journey, and how old were you?
As a young child (in my single-digit years) I wanted to be a girl whenever we played a game involving imagination. But that came to an end sometime later. When preparing to leave a church gathering, a boy I had played with came up to me with his parents and loudly exclaimed with a smile, “That’s the boy who told me I’m cute then he pinched my cheeks!” I learned to live through monstrous secrecy.
I know you started hormone treatment recently. How did you get to this point in your journey?
I’d been planning (with no real fortitude for execution) to transition for a few years and was on the verge of dropping below the waves again, but then I realized I had a friend who I cared about, who cared about me. And ta-dah-du-dah-du-dah, I came out to my mother. Crying, I told her how I was female inside, I’d felt that way since I was little, and that I didn’t want to feel suicidal anymore. She comforted me and was completely supportive! She later paid for my first month’s self-medication regimen! I told my friend how it went and she was elated! Then I called my brother and started crying again for a while before I could tell him. But he was completely supportive! And in the space of one hour my life and my mentality changed. I received my meds Thursday, September 12, and started taking them the next day! Today is my seventh day on hormones! (Too many exclamation points? I say not enough!!!!!!!!!!!!) ((^-^))
What’s next after this?
I really don’t know what’s next. I have a new found confidence in myself and faith in my future, but I’m still the same timid, passive person I was before. I wish I had a job or two, I wish I had a special someone, and I wish I had the strength to be myself full-time. Beyond that I search and study different kinds of info online, to expand my horizon beyond a high school dropout’s menial labor future.
I’m sure you have encountered fear and bigotry. Would you mind sharing an episode?
I’ll give the last experience. My last job consisted of hard work, different responsibilities, and lots of details. My super-sensitive nature and the long hours were enough to induce nightmares. Being yelled at and waiting till I got home to cry was not easy. But I guess one man could “read” me, and kept saying how he wanted to rape me, soberly like it was casual conversation. He called me a female name one day. I got frustrated, played macho, and told him to fuck off and went to the owner, and he got a warning. I don’t know what would’ve happened if my employer decided to call the police. I would probably have punked out. One day I finally broke. I was being ridiculed by a few of my fellow workers, when I started hyperventilating. Someone asked if I was okay and I said I couldn’t breathe, so he sat me down and got some towels and ice. He told the manager that I was suffering from heat exhaustion because it was a monstrously hot day, and I played along not letting loose tears but stuttering as I tried to explain that I was okay. I couldn’t stand up until I was sure that I had my emotions locked in. I quit soon after.
What do you usually tell people and how do they usually react?
I think away from my own neighborhood and people in my personal life whose beliefs are not trans- or bi- friendly, I’m just way more open and honest, and would just tell the truth with the elation that comes with not giving a fuck about someone who I will probably never see again. (How’s that for inappropriately gratuitous “comma-leaping?!” [Yes, I coined a phrase for my habit of trying to cram as much personal gushing into one sentence as possible!!!]) ((^-^))
What would you like to say to folks who have not had much experience with anyone outside of traditional gender roles?
To anyone lacking awareness/experience of people like myself, I would hope that they would be aware that just like with any other type of human diversity (i.e. genetic, biological, physical, neurological, cultural, intellectual) sexuality and gender and how they’re realized and expressed in reality are natural and irrefutable parts of humanity’s past, present, and future! In short, don’t be afraid that the weewee doesn’t always go on the peepee!!!
I want to thank Mia for opening herself up to this virtual interview, and for being brave enough to share some intimate details of her life with total strangers. Let’s all honor and respect that trust.