I know everyone’s probably thinking: what’s Tyler been up to and where’s his update to the AMA for TDOV? Ok – no one’s been thinking any of that. So part of my new year’s resolution this year was to find more ways to be more visible and to help my community and as part of doing so, I’ve been a little less present here. I’ve joined the board of directors for Point of Pride, which as been everything I hoped for and more.
But I did want to circle back to some of the questions I got on TDOV, my answers and whatnot, some of which produced some interesting and thought-provoking chatter on my Facebook and gave me a bit to continue to think about in the future.
Question: If a person is transitioning from female to male, is a hysterectomy optional?? There’s that article floating around about the “pregnant man” and I wasn’t sure if it was real or just tabloid bs because I never bothered reading it.
Answer: Hysterectomy is totally optional. And there are trans men that conceive, both intentional and accidentally. The periods stop after a few months on testosterone, but the parts still theoretically work. There’s not a lot of research about the exact numbers or if most trans guys would even be fertile after hormones.
Follow Up: Do you think it’s common to skip the hysterectomy or is it mostly people that either haven’t completed their surgery plan or opted not to have bottom surgery?? I’m sorry. That gave me a million more questions but this’ll be the last one. I see you post these “ask me anything” posts and it’s hard to figure out if something would come off as offensive or too personal.
Answer: Some people joke that is the “middle surgery”. But a lot of people don’t ever go thru with hysto or even bottom surgery. Like me personally… I don’t think I’ll ever have bottom surgery. I doubt I’ll ever have a hysterectomy unless it becomes medically necessary. There is some rumor, but again…little research to back it up, that not having a hysto within 5 years increases the risk of uterine or cervical cancer, but that’s more based on the fact that women going through menopause have that risk….not based on much research of transmen. And also, I’m OK with personal questions.
Follow Up: Hmm. Well hopefully the research will build as it becomes less and less “new”. I never even considered the lack of studies and research available for you guys. If you ever did decide to go for it, you can ask me a bunch of potentially awkward questions. I do still have my ovaries but they took the rest just shy of 2 years ago. You’re the one that helped me get my screwed up meds figured out but I might have some foresight into the recovery.
Final After Thoughts: Something I hadn’t thought to mention at the time because I was looking at things through my lens of already having had top surgery: no gender affirming surgery is “required” to be trans. No hormone therapy is “required” to be trans. No implant, therapy, or sexual orientation or specific gender-presentation is required. There are plenty of reasons, both medical and personal, that a person may choose not to go through with any treatments. I know of a trans singer who’s opted not to use testosterone because he doesn’t want to alter his singing voice. A person with hemophilia may find that the bleeding risks associated with gender-affirming surgery are too high. Treatments can be cost prohibitive for some people. So I’ll say again – a hysterectomy is not required to transition, though complications may cause it to be medically needed.
Question (edited a little to remove some identifiable information): I work for [national nighttime news show], and I’m actually working on a special with [big name news anchor] on transgender issues right now. I’ve learned so much these past couple weeks working on this project, and I’ve read about a RIDICULOUS amount of ignorance from people who just don’t understand what it means to be trans, which I’m sure you deal with daily. Anyway, I’m really happy for you…and I’m sure you’re much happier too. I do want to ask, I guess, what’s something that you’d really want to see featured in a TV special about transgender issues? (No guarantees, but I can try!) Or, what’s something that the media/TV typically gets wrong about trans issues that we should try to avoid?
Answer: I think more than anything would be something that doesn’t focus on our bodies or how well we pass. There are so many people OK with me using the men’s room because I look like a guy, but there are so many marginalized nonbinary or beginning transition people that don’t pass. The idea that we’re valid if we pass is a tough stigma to over come. People like Laverne Cox, Aydian Dowling… They’re doing wonderful things for the community, but the media focuses on how well they pass and I’d like to see people move beyond that
Follow Up: Totally. Yeah, agreed. That’s a really good thing to keep in mind. Well, I can tell you that in this special at least, we’re absolutely not focusing on that (and have no plans to). So far, we’re planning on speaking to trans kids, parents of trans kids, plus a town hall type scenario on the bathroom bill(s) with people on all sides…and we’re trying to be as respectful as possible just in general. Also…I do 100% think trans rights need more attention. So I really appreciate your thoughts on everything.
Final After Thoughts: This one was really cool to me because it felt like an awesome opportunity to try to shift the media’s eye in a different direction. I went to college with this person and I know that she’ll try her best to get my perspective heard if she can and hopefully bring a little more light to people that are marginalized within our own community. I hope that they’re able to find people outside of the male/female gender spectrum and get perspectives from those folks as well – it’s a perspective I’m simply NOT capable of providing.
Question: Does the following thought process make me an asshole?
I’m an ally, I believe that people are people and they know more about themselves than I do. That said, I get confused sometimes when people use “trans-woman” and “trans-man” (and I’m pretty sure it’s because people use it differently). Why not just say “woman” or “man”? I really mean no offense. [Edit: For clarification, I think of you as a man, not a trans man- which while typing puts me in mind of a transformer (robots in disguise) that transforms into a Trans Am.]
I suspect it might be similar to some race stuff that I also get confused about (but have gotten a little better grasp on). I’m not sure, though, so even though I’m already an ally, I wanted to take the opportunity to ask.
Oh! Another one! You’re like me in that we’re both half Puerto Rican and we look lily white, but have Hispanic last names. I only experience racism when people see my name before they see me. Have people given you more shit about gender stuff or race stuff? I hope you’ve not really gotten either, but I’m curious.
Answer: First: No offense taken… That’s why I put the offer out there… I’m glad you chose to ask.
I won’t pretend to speak for every guy or girl out there in regard to your question, but for some it IS a matter of self identification. To use your race example: you could choose to identify yourself, racially, as latinx but you chose Puerto Rican…why? Because being Puerto Rican is a type of latinx…a subset of a larger community. Transmale is a subset of a larger, male, community…and I belong to both, but I take a bit of pride in being trans as well. Choosing to neglect that part of a trans person’s existence is a bit like telling a black man that you don’t see his color…. Because, sadly, his color has affected the way he has had to interact with the world since he was a toddler.
Second, it’s a matter of safety as well. When I went to the ER for suspected appendicitis, I told the nurse I was trans and it went in my notes. My doctor didn’t notice. The question shifted from “any testicular pain” to “are your ovaries still intact” when he realized….both completely relevant questions considering the area of the pain, but in an emergency situation where I can’t speak up for myself, the people around me need to be able to identify me as a trans man.
As far as race vs gender… I think I get more of the stereotypical bigoted behavior about race, but I get more impertinent questions about my gender. Haha
And again, no offense taken. I think you win favorite and most thought provoking question of 2017.
Follow Up: Thank you, very much for your patience, understanding, and your awesome answer. 🙂 Also, duh moment, “trans-male” doesn’t conjure robots… I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of that…
I understand what you’re saying, and that was the point with the race example… in my case, though, I say PR because it avoids conflict and it’s quicker to type. I’ve been told (at length) by different people that I was wrong when I’ve referred to myself as “Hispanic” or “Latina”.
I can identify in a small way. I apologize for my arrogance. I get so frustrated when people (out of attempted kindness) say I’m not fat. I’m objectively fat. What they mean is I’m not lazy, ugly, dirty, or stupid. It’s frustrating because they don’t even recognize they are defining the word incorrectly, and that incorrect definition gave me so much crap throughout my life. It affected everything but especially my self esteem and self worth until I figured things out.
There’s also an incorrect but widely held negative perception of being trans. I’m sure it also effects how you’ve thought and felt about everything and yourself.
I don’t wish to trivialize anyone’s experiences.
I’d never even thought of the health care perspective…
Thank you very much for offering to answer questions and being so open. I typically try to get answers to questions like this online, but there’s a lot of info, and a bunch of it conflicts. Also, I’m way more comfortable asking someone who knows I’m not trying to be arbitrary.
Final After Thoughts: She still wins favorite question for 2017 (second place below).
Question (this question was asked to me in person, to the question and answer are both paraphrased a bit): Given the current political climate, do you have any thoughts about going going stealth or regrets about being public with your transition and trans status?
Answer: I’d be 100% lying if I said that I didn’t consider it. In November, I was scared and I knew if I wanted to I could go 100% stealth and no one would be any wiser. But after a little panicking and thought on the promises I made to myself to be someone that helped my community, I decided there was no way I could do that stealthed.
There are so many people out there – pre-transition, non-binary, non-passing that don’t have the option and by choosing to be out, I hope that I can change at least one person’s mind and make the future a little friendlier for at least one person then I know I’ve done some good.
We have a family friend with a young child struggling with his sexuality and his grandfather is a stereotypical rich, white, southern man. This man always saw me as a pinnacle of masculinity – I’m strong, active, handy with tools. Recently Melissa (with my blessing) told him that I’m trans. He didn’t believe it. He flat out said that she must be mistaken. He couldn’t imagine that I’d ever been anything other than a strapping young man. He digested this. He tried to make it mesh with everything he already knew about me: that I had taught his oldest grandson to use power tools; that I went out of my way to treat all three of his grandkids like my own kids; that his own son accepted me. And then a wonderful thing happened: he told my wife he was happy that I was happy and that he knows I’ll make a wonderful dad someday. And just like that….just by being out….I made it a little easier for his grandson to come out one day if he needs/wants to. And that, to me, is worth more than anything stealthing could offer. And that’s not to say that being out is the right choice for some people – it may be unsafe, bad for their mental health, or even just personal choice. So yes, I do regret it sometimes – I have doubts and I think about deleting all of my social media accounts and removing any evidence that “Christina” ever existed, dropping out of the board for Point of Pride and becoming a regular old small town boy. But then I have moments like this that remind me that it’s worth it.
So I didn’t get as many questions as I would have liked, but I was happy I got a few and was able to clear up some things for a few people. And the questions I did get were FAR more thought provoking than I expected. When I went into this I expected friends of friends to ask questions like “do you have a dick” or “do you plan on getting a dick” and I didn’t get any of that. As a general rule, I welcome all kinds of questions, all year round. I know it’s not my (or any other trans person’s) responsibility to educate the people around us, but I take pride in it and I hope that I can help others.
As a result, I have decided to set up a permanent link allowing anyone to ask me anything anonymously. Click Here to go to the form and when/if I get questions, I’ll answer them back here periodically. So if you ask a question, keep an eye out on my blog of the answer.
A general life update, for those interested: been working out, been working, got a new truck, softball season again.
Bonus Material: Comparison Pics. Left: Pre-T 02/2015; Right: 2 years, 2 months on T 05/2017
Until next time