& KOIDRAGONS ARTICLES THIS ISSUE: . Form-ing an Identity . Being a Father . Transitional Belief
Competitions, creative writing, & more!
CONTENTS 1. Article: Form-ing an Identity 3. Ten Tipsâ€Ś 4. Article: Being a Father 6. Best Dressed 7. Epic Fails 8. Transitional Belief 10. Transcription 11. Growing Pains 12. Competition Corner 13. Listings 14. Horrorscopes 15. Classifieds 16.Critical Comment
Some good news to start off with… Werewolves & KoiDragons Magazine will now be completely FREE – either sent to your inbox as a PDF, or uploaded to issuu.com; in order to cover time costs, & hopefully be in a position to pay contributors, we’re looking for dynamic, trans* friendly folk to sell advertising space in the magazine, to bring in a bit of income; this will be on a self-employed, commission-only basis, & you’ll receive 25% of the monthly revenue you bring in. You’ll be able to work from home, use your initiative, as well as being trained by us, and work whenever you like, as long as you’re prepared to commit a minimum of 10hrs a week to the job. If you’re interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org We are ALWAYS looking for contributions, article ideas, etc, so keep getting in touch with those, too! As you’re probably aware, June 21st is the Summer Solstice, the longest day and shortest night; a time for celebrating the power of the sun (or “positive energy”), but also looking ahead, and preparing for the coming winter. For myself, I like to use the Summer Solstice to take a good, long look at my plans – short, mid and long term - & decide which ones just need me to get my backside in gear and really work on them, which are ticking along nicely, & which need to be put aside to “lie fallow” for a while. While the sun/positive energy is at its strongest, we can be at our most productive, both in our work and our lives generally. What are your plans? What stage are they at? How will you use the heightened “positive energy” of the Summer Solstice?
FORM-ING AN IDENTITY Tony Wolfson
I’ve filled in many forms in my time, but none of them have enabled me to tell the people who designed them exactly who and what I am. There isn’t room, in the boxes, for all that I am. What am I? I’m a male, who has been female. I’m a Christian who has lost his religion, but found a deeper and stronger spirituality. I identify as male, and am sexually attracted to those who identify as female…but also to some FTMs – I don’t know what that makes my sexuality. I do not consider myself to have health issues, but I am on long term medication, and there are people with better health than I enjoy. I am single, but that doesn’t even touch on the friendships I enjoy, and could change at any point after I’ve completed whatever form I’m working on at the time. Like I said – they don’t really have room in their boxes for me. For the people who write these forms, I simply become “Mr -”, a single, white, able-bodied heterosexual male who identifies as having “no religion”. That’s not even the half of who and what I am, and, in many cases, it’s downright inaccurate, but it’s often the best I can do. There are other aspects to my identity, too, aspects which are beyond the remit of forms or bureaucracy. I am a poet, a dog lover, a soul-companion of wolves, a lover of the wild. These things are important, but not, apparently, relevant. Their omission leads me to wonder what it is that people who write forms are looking to find. I’ve concluded that all that’s relevant to most people, most of the time, is whether you’re the same kind of person they are; I’m not, usually, but I can pretend to be, most of the time. It might sound a silly thing to think about, might sound as though I’m making a fuss over nothing – fill in the forms the best way you can, send them off, have done with it. But the problem is, when we don’t allow people to explain all of who and what they are, have been, and might be, we run into trouble when these real-life people turn up, with all of themselves that they couldn’t find a place for on our forms. The space we gave them on the forms reduced their identity to something simple, and, all too often, our organisation – our school, our college, our company, our church – can’t handle the complexity of their whole identity. And that causes problems. I’ve found a solution to the problem, though; most forms, for most
questions beyond your name, gender and date of birth, allow you to select “prefer not to state”; so I do. If it’s a handwritten form, I also leave the gender option blank; I use the title “Mr”, so you can make whatever 1 assumptions you like from that. A person’s gender has no impact on their ability to do a job, it tells you nothing about them as a person. The same is true for their religion, their sexuality, their marital status, and, in many cases, whether or not they’re disabled. People are innovative, complex, and creative; they are more than their situation, and are usually capable of finding ways round their situation. You are not employing “statistics”. Statistics are not coming to your church, your college, your school. What you’re getting is something that can’t be measured or described by forms; you’re getting people, with lives and loves, hopes and fears, dreams and disappointments. Forms ask for simplicity, and don’t prepare anyone for the complexity that people bring with them.
TEN TIPS FOR… TELLING PEOPLE. Telling people that you’re trans*, and/or that you intend to pursue a medical transition, is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do in your life. Obviously, everyone’s circumstances will be different, and ten tips can never be comprehensive – but we hope they’re a good starting point; 1. Start with the people you KNOW will react well – close friends, other trans* people that you may know, a therapist; build up the positive reactions first – these will stand you in good stead when you have to face those people who, for whatever reason, may not react quite so well… 2. Timing. It really is everything. Tell people, especially family members, when there is nothing else going on, on an emotional level, and when everyone involved has the time to sit and talk for as long as they need afterwards. 3. Have SOFFA’s resources ready – but don’t force them on people. Sometimes, people need to take time, privately, to reassess their life in the light of a change. 4. Remember that you’re not the only person your transition affects; you ARE the only person who has the right to make a decision about whether or not you transition, and to what extent, but your life affects the lives of others. For better or worse. 5. DO NOT tell your romantic/sexual partner just after sex! 6. Do not simply “turn up” at an important family event as your desired gender, People won’t “get it”, and it WILL be awkward. 7. Be prepared to reassure people that your decision has nothing to do with them not finding you attractive/not moving to London/not moving AWAY from London/not letting you have a pony when you were six. 8. Be prepared for a litany of all the “feminine” (for FTMs) or “masculine” (for MTFs) traits that you have, & that will “give you away.” 9. Hold on to your sense of yourself, even while others are insisting
on forcing their versions of you down your throat. 10. People have a right not to agree with what you’re doing. If this happens – end the conversation respectfully, and walk away calmly. 3
BEING A FATHER Caeraeon Ash
From about the age of twelve – and despite being female – I knew I wanted to be a father. I didn’t want to have kids – and still don’t – but I did and do want to raise kids; I want someone to look to me for protection, guidance, discipline and an idea of “how the world works.” I want a Fathers’ Day card. I want to come home from work and have someone run to me with a “hi, Daddy!” (&, a few years later, with a “Hi, Dad – can you lend me some money?”) I want a woman to look at me, and be proud that I’m in her kids’ lives, and in hers. I want to be the Alpha Male of some kind of pack. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to be a father, but I am an “honorary” uncle to a friend’s children; she had a falling-out with her brothers, and asked me to step into the gap, which I gladly did. Two nieces and two nephews of whom I couldn’t be more proud. My idea of what a father does isn’t based on gender roles, on who brings home the bacon, or takes the dustbins out. To me, a father is someone who shows their son how to grow up to be a decent kind of man, and their daughter how a good man – the kind of man she should, if she’s so inclined, be marrying – should behave. A father’s role is to be the “Platinum Standard” – the most accurate form of measurement, because platinum can’t rust, warp, expand or shrink. It cannot easily be damaged, and so, once a measure is cut from platinum, it will always be the measure it began as. In human terms, a father’s role is to be a constant guide for behaviour, a constant good example. And, most importantly, a father’s role is to love his childrens’ mother. I know several fathers who used to be mothers, whose role in their childrens’ lives has changed – who, sadly, in some cases, have been edited out of those lives altogether. In these people, I see a father’s strength combined with a mother’s wounded love. I see the best of both roles, both genders, combining and fusing to become a powerful energy – an energy that, if used for good, could change the world, but, equally, could destroy the person it inhabits utterly. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be deprived of the life you brought
into the world, when none of your feelings for and commitment to that life have changed. In a world where so many fathers neglect or abandon their role – or simply don’t realise they’re meant to have one – it’s a cruel twist of fate that individuals who are strong enough to 4 survive transition, who have enough integrity and honesty to say “this is who and what I am, and I refuse to live a lie any longer”, are deemed “unfit” to be parents. My own father, whom I love dearly, is dying. By the year’s end, his life will be over. When I think about my father, about what I admire about him, about what traits of his I want to carry into my own life as a man, do I think “Well, he had a penis, and XY chromosomes”? No. I think of his patience as he taught me a new skill – riding a bike, fishing, basic car repairs. I think of his constant desire that, in all things, I should never settle for second best. I think of his concern that I should not suffer at the hands of others, and his anger and frustration at his helplessness to prevent such suffering. I think of what he said, when he finally accepted my transition; “All I ask of you is that you be a better man than me.” I remember wondering if that were possible. You do not become a father just because it was your sperm that brought a child into this world, and not having sperm does not mean you can’t be a father. The role, and its demands, are so much more than anatomy, than biology.
BEST DRESSED This issue, we thought we’d bring you a bit of glitz, a bit of glamour – and a bit of gritty leather, too ☺
This lovely young lady is ARISCE WANZER, a trans* model profiled on Buzzfeed – www.buzzfeed.com - if ever there was a refute to the accusation that “trans women just look like men in dresses”, Ms. Wanzer is it! Through www.dapperq.com (check them out!) we also found Grit Gear – www.gritgearnyc.com – while not strictly or purely “trans*”, we thought their stuff was pretty cool, so it got a mention! Now, come on, guys…who wouldn’t want to wear these braces to the office?!
Remember: we’d love to profile YOU on this page, and are particularly interested in fashions among trans* women “of a certain age” – fashion & dress sense isn’t exclusive to the Bright Young Things, you know! Just email your photos to email@example.com
EPIC FAILS A “failure” that’s not just “Epic” but also very, very worrying; in the Greek city of Thessaloniki – Greece’s second-largest city – transgender individuals, along with other, arbitrarily-designated “undesirables” are being rounded up and imprisoned, for little or no reason. The blog www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk reports that transgendered people are being arrested as part of a crack down on “sex workers”; once it has been confirmed they are NOT sex workers, they are warned that if they don’t “return to normal”, they will be sent to jail on the charge of “public indecency” – the same charge Britain liked to use when it jailed known homosexuals. Although this hasn’t been independently verified by Werewolves & KoiDragons Magazine, it is obviously very concerning, if true; we would urge everyone to contact their MEP (Member of European Parliament) and register their objections to this practice without delay. In too many countries, “austerity” is being used as a cloak to conceal crimes against the poorest and most vulnerable in society; we cannot simply sit back and say “well, it’s nothing to do with me.”
7. TRANSITIONAL BELIEF Ashley Ford
“…the Victorians took their shame, and made it “God’s law”. In my time, I’ve been many things that “you can’t be X and a Christian.” I got so tired of hearing this that, in the end, I decided I wasn’t “a” Christian – I was “christian”; and that subtle semantic shift made all the difference. “A Christian” is, to my mind, someone who follows the letter of the Judeo-Christian law, as laid down in the Bible, while someone who is “christian” follows the spirit of the Judeo-Christian law, as laid down in the teachings of Christ, and eloquently and succinctly summed up in the “new commandment”, given at the Last Supper, “Love one another.” One of the most important things, to me, about being christian rather than “a Christian” is that I don’t impose my beliefs on others. What we believe, and how we enact that belief in our daily lives, is a very personal choice, and I have no right to say that my belief, my way of doing things, is the only “right” way – or even that it’s right at all. It’s right for me. It enables me to live a life I can be proud of, to deal with people in a way that, for the most part, benefits both parties, it provides guidance – though not enforced compliance – in situations where I’m uncertain as to the best way to proceed, and it helps me deal with the casual cruelties of life, and avoid becoming suicidally depressed. My faith, while based on the teachings of Christ, also allows for influences from other spiritual traditions, where they enhance, and do not contradict, those core, “basing” beliefs. A much-thumbed book I have is entitled “Without Buddha, I Could Not be a Christian”; that sums it up, for me. Looking at other traditions, other faiths, and taking from them that which enhances your own faith practice isn’t “compromise”, it isn’t “selling out”, you’re not going to go to whatever Hell you believe in for it. It’s sensible and sensitive, the action of someone who is aware of, and connected to, the whole of the life that the Creator has enabled to flourish. The latest thing I am that I can’t be and be “a Christian” is trans*. Christianity has always been obsessed with how, when, where and with whom other people have sex, with others’ sexual presentations, with gender roles and attitudes. Obviously, people missed Song of Songs when they were searching their Bibles for words to damn others with! The issue, I suppose, is not so much with the religion as with the society; most of what we believe to be “traditional Christian values” are actually Victorian English values, which are not quite the same thing… In relation to the issue of sex and sexuality, the Victorians took their shame, and made it “God’s law”. And, since the Victorians, rather inconveniently for the modern Church, didn’t acknowledge transsexuals, there isn’t really any guidance on the issue…so, yet again, people take their shame and make
it “God’s law.” It makes certain people uncomfortable, that something as supposedly fundamental to a person as their gender, can be altered, and so they decide that it’s “wrong.” It’s “deceptive”, “unnatural”, “misleading”, “a fantasy.”
8. And yet, transsexuals are still here, and we still, in certain cases, want to belong to a faith-based community. We still have our deep and constant beliefs, our spirituality which guides and protects us. To my mind, undergoing transition was, and remains, wholly congruent with my spiritual beliefs. I believe that I am called to be the most productive person I can, to fully interact with others around me, to identify and use the gifts I have been given to provide for myself and my family, and to benefit others. I can only do that fully, and with complete commitment, if I am comfortable in my own skin, and happy with the person I am, and the person others perceive me to be. In an ideal world, of course, my gender wouldn’t matter; there would be so many deeper levels of interaction with other human beings that nobody would notice or care what bits people had or didn’t have, what was written on their birth certificate. But this world is far from ideal, and I find that I am more productive in this world when I live, present and am seen as a man. It is as a male that I can be my “best self”, and thus reflect credit on the Power which created me. Many people have asked me – often in the form of an aggressive challenge – what I think will happen when I “get to Heaven.” My answer is very simple; I think we will all discover that, whatever our beliefs, we were a little bit right, but mostly wrong, and that, as long as we made the best use of the muddled, mistranslated and incomplete information we had, we did alright.
TRANSCRIPTION Your poetry & lyrics, artwork & creativity BECOMING WHO WE ARE: By Ash We have come so far In pursuit of who we are – Who we were born to be. We can no longer see The country we set out from, can no longer hear The old, familiar accents of the place That is no longer “home.” We are refugees from all we were; Camped in the in-between; in sight of what we would prefer But not there, yet. Our gaze is set On that distant shore, On the “more” That we can give, achieve, and be. We are journeying to our selves, Books of feelings and experience stacked on the shelves Of our lives, many, as yet, unfinished. Our home has not diminished In all the years we’ve travelled. We will become that which we are No matter how long it takes, no matter how far We must travel from that which we were.
I’m frustrated with Charing Cross; they seem to be focused solely on who I choose to have sexual encounters with, and the fact that I use parts of my body that, as a trans* person, I’m “not supposed to like” in those encounters; the way they’re choosing to see me isn’t the way I see myself, and I feel like it’s slowing my progress, transition-wise. I know they’ve got to do their job, got to be sure – but this is really frustrating! Anon. Dear Anon; Having dealt with Charing Cross, the trick is to stand up to them, to be proud of who and what you are, not embarrassed about it. I’ve heard of people being told they’re “not ready” for transition because of the name they’ve chosen, or the clothes they wear – unfortunately, there are people for whom transition isn’t the right thing, and all GIC’s need to be vigilant, to ensure that those people get the help they need, rather then go down a route which will only lead to more misery. In terms of the attitude that “if you don’t like parts of your body, why are you using them?” – people have very different libidos, and, for some people, abstaining from sexual intimacy, with partners of their preference, while they wait for everything to be “ideal” with their body would drive them insane! Your gender identity is not related, in any way, to your sexuality, or the gender presentation of those you choose as partners – a butch lesbian who is attracted to other butch lesbians may be “non-typical”, but she isn’t suddenly straight! Next time you meet with the Charing Cross team, explain your sexual desires as best you can, and point out that it isn’t “parts of your body” that you enjoy – it’s sexual intimacy with your chosen partner/s, and that, for you, it wouldn’t be healthy to forgo that while you wait for various surgeries to be complete. Explain that your gender – which is what they are addressing – has nothing to do with your sexuality, which may, in any case, change, or at least fluctuate, during transition. And, if they still refuse to take you seriously, and you remain convinced that transition is what you need – ask for a second opinion.
COMPETITION CORNER Firstly – an apology…last issue, we made a bit of a boo-boo… nine nines are EIGHTY-ONE, not eighteen! If we’d got that right, the answer to “what is nine nines, and half as much again?” would have been 121.5 – 9x9=81, 81/2 = 40.5, 40.5+81 = 121.5. We’ll be off back to school now… We had no advance on 84 words of three letters or more from ABSOLUTION. The answers to the link words were as follows; .Hack/Dust = SAW (hacksaw/sawdust) .Game/Card = PLAYING (game-playing/playing card) .Be/Try = GOOD (be good/good try) .Flight/”B” = PLAN (flight plan/plan “B”) .Police/Class = OFFICER (police officer/officer class) .Hair/Flour = RAISING (hair-raising/raising flour.)
THIS MONTH’S COMPETITIONS How many words, of three letters or more, can you make from the following word?
BARBARIC NUMERATION: What is wrong with 8pm being described as “Prime Time”? LINK WORDS: Which word links the following pairs of words? .ROLLER…….RUNNER .CAMBRIDGE…….MOVIE .TOILET…..LESS .RUDE…..KICK .DOG……OUT
LISTINGS As we don’t want to repeat ourselves, we’re not including listings mentioned in the last issue – however, if you’d like to have a link to your blog or website published every issue, you can do that for a one-off payment of just £2.00! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. (and don’t worry – the previous issue will ALWAYS be available on issuu.com, or by request – so you won’t miss anything!) Clothing/Accessories: www.dapperq.com www.gritgearnyc.com Personal: www.dyssonance.com www.genderfork.com www.thetransgentlewife.blogspot.com www.crossdreamers.com Resources: www.gires.org.uk This is not intended to be a complete listings guide – just a few things we’ve stumbled across and liked, or cool links others have told us about.
HORRORSCOPES ARIES: You feel like trying a new project, but would be wise to remember what happened last time – you’re just not that good with new things, are you? A run-in with your boss makes you realise you’re in the wrong job – or, maybe, you’re just the wrong person. TAURUS: Money comes to you like a snail sliding on butter – and romance isn’t much quicker off the mark. Best get used to your own company and poverty, hadn’t you? GEMINI: Britain may well have talent, but you’re not it; stop showing off, and get back to work. CANCER: Health worries are preying on your mind, but you worry about the side effects of modern pills. Thankfully, it’s very easy to diagnose your particular problem – you’re a self-obsessed idiot who needs to remove their head from their backside more often. LEO: “Will you still love me, when I’m 64?” Probably not. VIRGO: The New Moon brings plenty of opportunities – to make a prat out of yourself. Avoid making financial decisions on Wednesday – buy that pretty dress you’ve seen on Friday, instead. LIBRA: You need to be more daring, need to challenge yourself to try new things – why not start with something simple, and wear those socks labelled “Monday” on Saturday? SCORPIO: Like your namesake the scorpion, you’ve got a sting in the tail – try Anusol. SAGITTARIUS: Romance is dead, your finances are in the red – this hunt for success really isn’t paying off, is it? CAPRICORN: You need a break – I hear legs look great in plaster of Paris…
AQUARIUS: The sun in your seventh house is telling you that there are people who can’t even afford ONE house, so why the f*** do you have so many?! PISCES: You’ve been feeling tired and run down recently – welcome to reality; there’s nothing you can do other than get used to it…we’ve all had to adapt, you’re no different, I’m afraid… 14.
CLASSIFIEDS Email email@example.com to place YOUR advertisement here, or to enquire about any of the adverts listed. FOR SALE: Acoustic guitar, not used for a while, includes soft carry case & strap. Buyer to arrange collection from WATTON area of NORFOLK. £20.00 Ad Reference: DYLAN2013 Set of vinyl dumbbells. Buyer to arrange collection from WATTON area of NORFOLK. £10.00 Ad Reference: HEAVYMETAL101
MY GENDERATION – AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION “I’m nobody’s queer.” “I’m nobody’s tranny, I’m nobody’s queer; I’m a woman like anyone else – and I’m here.” The defiant, powerful words of Alice, the subject of a MyGenderation film (head on over to www.mygenderation.com). MyGenderation, an independent film project from Lewis Hancox and Fox, of My Transsexual Summer fame, takes ordinary trans* people, and allows them to tell their stories; I chose to focus on Alice because she’s exactly the kind of older woman I’m drawn to, someone who most certainly hasn’t settled for slippers, sherry and the Antiques Roadshow, yet who isn’t using transition to live out a stereotypically “youthful male” sexuality in a woman’s body (sadly, I’ve met that kind of older trans* woman personally – and we didn’t get on). Alice is, as she states in her poem at the end of the film “a woman like anyone else” – which gels nicely with the fact that all of those who took part in My Transsexual Summer were also normal, unremarkable people; as, indeed, are most trans* people. Watching Alice’s film, the first thing I noticed about her was the sense of fun evident in her knickknacks, the way she dressed, and her attitude to life, generally. The second thing I noticed was how attractive she was, how calmly ‘present’, in the world and in herself – a very attractive quality whatever a person’s age, or, indeed, gender. And the third thing I noticed was her defiant refusal to be anyone else’s label, to accept any description other than those she chose for herself. Did I notice she was trans*, that she “used to be a bloke”? No. There was so much more going on, that was actually interesting and attractive and relevant. And that, so often, is how it is with trans* people; what we were, and what we’ve been through, can actually become the least interesting thing about us. I look forward to seeing a lot more from the MyGenderation team, and wish Lewis and Fox all the very best with the project.
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