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Posts tagged ‘gender variance’

Box up your Gender Variance? Manhattan Mini Storage Ad

I saw this ad the other day on a downtown ‘A’ train and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Cover-Photo-DraqQueenAt first glance I saw a gender variant person having a good time dressing female in a storage room. We don’t know if the person is a crossdresser, a drag queen, or transgender. The ad seems to say – I’m being good to my wife and child by not taking up space in our apartment. However, I think it could easily be read as ‘keep your gender variance in the closet’ or ‘hide it away’. Only later when I went hunting for the ad did I see it is named “Cover-Photo-DraqQueen” so we are talking about a drag queen here, but that’s not knowable from just seeing the ad.
I want to say that Manhattan Mini Storage does have a history of LGBTQ positive ads, and I think they meant the best here. (Personally I think storage in New York City is kind of a tax on those who haven’t accepted the fact that they live in New York City, but I digress).
The ad presents a complicated set of questions. What belongs in the home and what gets shoved out? What kind of “accommodations” or “concessions” are being made and by whom? For the married gender variant individual – receiving pressure from a spouse to keep their gender variance hidden is often a very real and painful experience. See a previous post on this issue here with my response to former New York Time’s ‘ethicist’ Chuck Klosterman who took that very stance.
I applaud MMS for their queer positive ad history, and on the one hand, this ad shows a drag queen – good with herself and her life, but I think this one skirts dangerously close to sending the wrong message. Thoughts?

Poll Results – Hiding and Gender Variance

I’ve been interested in the issue of hiding and its effect on the personality for transgender individuals for some time and have had a poll going on my website to ask questions about it.  Even though the results have been “open”, not all results are visible (the text answers), so I’ve now closed the poll and am publishing the results here.  It’s a four question poll.  It was up from April 2011 till Sept 2013.

1. Was your family aware of your gender variance when you were growing up?

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                                                    # of responses                     %
they were not aware of it             24                                  33%
not sure, probably not                   16                                  22%
not sure, probably were                18                                  25%
they were aware of it                      14                                  19%

2. For how long did you keep your gender variance secret from those closest to you?

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                                                                                of responses              %
I never hid it                                                                   10                      14%
Less than a year <1                                                         5                        7%
one to five years 1-5                                                      3                       4%
five to ten years 5-10                                                     2                       3%
ten to twenty years 10-20                                            26                      38%
more than twenty years >20                                       23                      33%

3. If you actively hid your gender variance, what do you think the positive (if any) effects were on you?

                                                                                                        # of responses           %
I didn’t hide it from others                                                                     10               15%
Hiding my gender variance had no positive effects on me        47               72%
Other:                                                                                                               8               12%

(text results for “other)

“Passing as cisgender normal allowed me to use male privilege and advantages.”

“It gave me time to figure things out, and prepare for negative reactions. “

“I didn’t have to fight for treatment before I was grown up and able to figh “

“This action has given me time to understand myself better.”

“Kept me safe “

“I have had a very satisfying family life. “

“i kept friends and family”

“Independence”

4. If you actively hid your gender variance, what do you think the negative (if any) effects were on you?

                                                                                      # of responses        %
I didn’t hide it from others                                                                 10                23%
Hiding my gender variance had no negative effect on me        5                11%
Other:                                                                                                          29               66%

(text results for “other)

“suppressed sociability”

“Huge”

“it almost killed me”

“I was lonely and in denial”

“Living life as someone I wasn’t has hurt me emotionally.”

“depression, anxiety”

“delayed transition, disastrous personal relationships, low self-esteem”

“regret because I did not hide it as well as I thought I had”

“I am always questioning my own perception of reality”

“bad coping mechanism, burnout, acute stress disorder and in the end job loss”

“Anxiety, Fits of Rage, Not feeling right between the brain and the body “

“Feeling more alone.”

“it has caused me to be alone and asexual”

“Mental & physical stress”

“low self-esteem, not comfortable as self, suppressed personality”

“always worried someone would find out and ridicule me”

“i felt like my relationships weren’t solid with the people i cared about”

“Terrible dysphoria and guilt late in life”

“It cost me a lot of my life”

“trauma, depression, self-loathing, distrust, anxiety”

“Got dpressed”

“low self esteem, anxiety, depression”

“plentifold of which emotional isolation had the biggest impact”

“Inability to express oneself.”

“I wasn’t me”

“My more dysphoria due to people calling me she”

“lonliness”

“No feedback, therefore no dealing with problem”

“emotional dishonesty”

Some thoughts on Shame and being Transgender

There has been very little in-depth exploration of the role of shame in transgenderism, yet shame as an emotion is listed in nearly every trans-related history.  In this post I will attempt to examine the feeling of shame as it relates to transgenderism.

To be clear at the start, I am in no way suggesting that transgender individuals have anything to be ashamed about or that they should feel shame.  What I do want to acknowledge in this post is that shame does exist for many trans folk (at least for most who are over 30 years old) and that it is largely unacknowledged and ignored, often with deleterious consequences.

Why do transgender people have shame?

Simply being different is enough for any child to develop some shame, but being different and getting messages from family, teachers, other kids and society that your difference is undesirable, less-than or something to be made fun of can create shame.

Signs that shame is present:

Carl Goldberg(1991) wrote an excellent psychoanalytic take on shame, in which he notes that shyness – a symptom of shame involves “a shrinking away from one’s full presence in the world.” And that “a depleted sense of personal identity is an essential characteristic of shame”.  I have certainly seen transgender individuals who grew up shy, and held back from participating more fully in life due to shame.  For example many transgender people avoid or put off dating till after some form of transitioning.

How do you deal with shame?Transgender, about shame

This is one area where it really helps to be in therapy.  It’s hard to deal with alone because most people, left to their own devices will simply avoid dealing with shame.  So the short answer is: don’t deny that you have shame, acknowledge it, talk about it, try to understand it, look at it, and hold it up to the light.  Ask yourself what am I ashamed of?  – And try to honestly answer it.  Don’t skip over the answer by saying – “well, I have nothing to be ashamed of” – You need to understand that there is shame there and what it’s about.  For example: “I have shame that I was born a girl but am not more feminine, that I never liked wearing dresses, and that my family seemed embarrassed by me… etc..”.

Then you can move on to the question of if you should be ashamed.  And the answer to that is usually no.  But it needs to be dragged out into the light of day first and acknowledged.  It’s hard to do, but a very worthwhile endeavor. By the way, this process usually takes a long time.

Goldberg, C. (1991) Understanding Shame. Jason Aronson Inc, Northvale, New Jersey.

Find out about Psychotherapy when dealing with Gender variance in yourself or someone close to you.

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