Sunday, November 16, 2008


I have mentioned before that I am on a couple dating sites. I like to spend some time chatting with new people who may be interested in me romantically. Sometimes the conversations are quite fun. A few rare times they are very offensive. Most of the time though they are repeats of the same conversation I've already had many times. On dating sites people tend to greet you the same way, make the same comments, ask the same questions. I feel like I should keep a record of my responses so I can just paste them in, instead of having to always type them out for each successive person. Today I received a message from a man who said something that is not unusual for people to say. He, and others who say it, mean it to be complimentary, but for some reason I don't take it that way. I'm probably going to sound awful here, but believe it or not I get offended when people thank me for my honesty.

My dating site profile is titled "Saskatoon Transgender Woman". In the 'About me' section I again specifically state that I am a transgender woman. I do it that way because many men are not willing to date a transsexual, and I know this. I believe my profile will weed out those men who may otherwise contact me, and reduce the chance of having a great conversation with a nice man turn sour when he discovers I am a transsexual. In short, I announce that I am a transsexual for two reasons: 1) So I don't have to waste time talking to men who are not interested in transsexuals, and 2) So I don't have to feel the rejection I'd feel when someone almost invariably refuses to reply after discovering I am not 100% female.

It is this declaration of transsexuality that people commend me for. Many times people have messaged me with good intentions, but not romantic intentions. They simply want to want to thank me for my honesty in stating that I am a transsexual on my profile. I don't think they realize that their good intentions are actually hurtful to me. I feel like they are thanking me for not wasting their time. Maybe one or two times it isn't so bad, but after many people have thanked me in this way and then never spoken to me again I feel like I've actually been thanked for saving them from me. Quite honestly, their messages feel like they are saying, "Whew, thanks! I almost asked you out!!"
"I commend your honesty in revealing that you are a Canadian."

If I could give any advice to anyone it would be to consider transsexuality just another attribute alongside such dating site staples as nationality, hair colour, or religion. If you think the message, 'I commend your honesty in revealing you are a transsexual' sounds like a perfectly acceptable sentiment, then try replacing 'transsexual' with any of my other attributes: 'Canadian', 'blonde', or 'radical atheist'. If someone did say 'I commend your honesty in revealing you are a Canadian' then how would a Canadian feel hearing it? Clearly the speaker perceives something is undesirable about Canadians, and the Canadian would not appreciate the comment at all. Hopefully this comparison shows how condescending and upsetting the sentiment becomes.

In addition, whenever I am thanked for my honesty in this way I am also left with the question of what it makes me if I do not reveal my transsexuality. If it is commendable to tell people I am a transsexual, then is it deplorable if I do not? Would this same person commending my honesty feel that I have become dishonest should I edit the word transsexual off my profile? Does it make me a liar to wait until I know someone a bit more before I tell him?
If so, then I've been a liar many times over.

I haven't always had such an open profile. I once thought it best to tell people after I've had some time to get to know them. As a result I've actually been told many times that because it is a dating site, I OWE it to people to tell them. These people believe that transsexuals must adhere to a strict policy of full disclosure, and believe that we are being deceitful if we do not tell them right away. I think that is ridiculous because the intent isn't to protect the transsexual woman from potentially angry reactions, it is to spare some men from embarrassment over his attraction to her.

The notion that I owe it to people to tell them upsets me. Should I not still have the option to reveal private parts of my life when and to whom I see fit? What should I do in real-life situations? Believe it or not I have been asked out by regular men thinking I'm a regular woman. Would such a man be within his rights to be upset with me for not somehow having advertised my genital status ahead of time? Even if he isn't one to be upset over transsexuals, do I owe it to him to tell him before he asks me out for coffee?

It reminds me of one time I was at Diva's (a gay bar) hanging out with some transsexual friends. Some guy had spent the night lingering in the background staring at me, and when I went to buy a drink he was quick to offer to pay for it. As it turned out the bartender didn't give me the choice to turn him down. The bartender, too busy to worry about it, took the man's money and moved on to the next customer. As I walked back to my table the man asked me what I was doing with the 'fucking trannies'. When I told him that I was one of them he was disgusted with me and didn't come near me again all night. So he saw a woman hanging out with transsexual women in a gay bar, and was still upset that he didn't know I was a transsexual too. Short of wearing a placard or taking off my skirt I don't know how else to have conveyed to him my transsexual status.

As a transsexual woman I think it is a good idea to make sure any man I go out with knows ahead of time that I am a transsexual. It is a decision based on preserving my safety and to protect my self-esteem, not to preserve the black and white sexuality that some men believe in. My profile says I am a transsexual not to spare men from being exposed to me, but to weed out those men who would not be interested, and to avoid negative reactions that hurt my feelings. I advertise this fact about me only because I have chosen to, only because it serves my purposes. In no way do I owe this information to anyone I don't wish to have it. If you want to thank me, don't thank me for 'being honest' about a highly private detail of my life, thank me for gracing you with it.


I saw the trailer last night.

PS. Sorry I forgot the website I borrowed these pictures from.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Proposition 8 Wins...

Well, they took that step backward afterall. Did nobody down there read my blog? Sheesh. You always hear that California is the most liberal state but just over half of that place is in favour of discrimination, so I guess California is now just as backward as the rest of that country. Way to legalize discrimination California!!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Proposition 8: Backwards Progress

Earlier this year the California Supreme Court narrowly voted in favour of legalizing same-sex marriages. I applaud the California Supreme Court both for this decision, and by not allowing the issue to be settled by public opinion. Two weeks after the decision, public opinion reared it's ugly head and with over half a million petition signatures, Proposition 8 was added to the next general election ballot. Despite the title of this blog article, the actual title of Proposition 8 is "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry". Today is the day the Californian public decides.

I've been reading about advance polls of how people will vote, and the results are scaring me. In all of the polls the results have been very close. In fact in some polls the difference in the percentages of For and Against were less than the margin of error in calculating those numbers - meaning it could go either way. This is what upsets me. It might seem like a great idea to let democracy rule, but it is not okay to potentially vote away fairness and equality.

There are many voters who disagree with homosexuality based on their various personal bias and ignorance, and/or their religion inspired narrow mindedness and bigotry. These people will likely see a vote in favour of maintaining the right of same-sex couples to marry as a vote in favour of homosexuality. Such people will read the ballot as if they are literally voting on homosexuality.

In California homosexuality is not the issue on the ballot. The matter at hand is a matter of equality. It is about whether it is legal to restrict the right to marry for a subset of the population, while allowing everyone else to freely exercise that same right. The issue is simply about potentially making it legal to discriminate against a minority group.

Democracy is a great thing, but this is just not a matter that should be up to the lowest common denominator philosophy of the democratic treatment. People are often too biased to be relied upon to vote in the best interests of society. People are often too set-in-their-ways to vote towards progress. For issues of equality and human rights, democracy must be served by putting decisions in the hands of elected officials. This is what elected governments are for, to serve the public trust, to put the rights of all citizens first and foremost, and make the right decision for society - now and future.

In Canada we've gone through all this already, and I am proud to say we did the right thing. There were people at the time who wanted to use the "notwithstanding clause" of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to simply say that the rights of same-sex couples do not matter, but thankfully this did not come about. I give a lot of credit to Prime Minister Martin, who took a stand in favour of same-sex marriages. In a speech regarding Bill C-38 (The Civil Marriage Act) he said:

"We cannot exalt the Charter as a fundamental aspect of our national character and then use the notwithstanding clause to reject the protections that it would extend. Our rights must be eternal, not subject to political whim.

"To those who value the Charter yet oppose the protection of rights for same-sex couples, I ask you If a prime minister and a national government are willing to take away the rights of one group, what is to say they will stop at that? If the Charter is not there today to protect the rights of one minority, then how can we as a nation of minorities ever hope, ever believe, ever trust that it will be there to protect us tomorrow?

"My responsibility as Prime Minister, my duty to Canada and to Canadians, is to defend the Charter in its entirety. Not to pick and choose the rights that our laws shall protect and those that are to be ignored. Not to decree those who shall be equal and those who shall not.

"If we do not step forward, then we step back. If we do not protect a right, then we deny it. Mr. Speaker, together as a nation, together as Canadians Let us step forward."

I'm hoping that today the state of California doesn't take a huge step backward today.