Friday, June 1, 2012

I am at war and I know what I am fighting for

I am a great transgender woman because I am unrelenting, friendly thoughtful and funny. I was born male and my transition is still ongoing. I can be horribly lazy, selfish and pessimistic time mind you, but I am a great woman at heart and I am tired of seeking men or society for validation of my own worth.

Throughout most of my life, I‘ve been seeking approval from men for self worth. I realize it is a game I don’t need to play anymore. Building confidence is a life time continual work of progress. Being a confident woman takes a lot of work, and being transgender makes it that much harder.

Women are often judged on our appearance, physical desirability. Unmarried women in their late 20s and 30s are often described as “left over women” in China. They are also called spinster or old maid in the western world. These terms left us with an image of women losers that are left over on the shelves awaiting expiry dates.

It also reminds me of my experience of being the last one to be picked in gym class or school projects. Since grade five, I’ve been heavily bullied. My sense of worth plummeted to almost zero after many years of confined torture also known as homophobic bullying. I wanted acceptance but what I received was abuse, contempt, harassments and alienation. I wanted friendship and love but what I live with is depression, anxiety and self loathing. As an adult, when I think about the men and women who reject me outright or gradually disappear from my life because of my transgender status, I feel like history is repeating itself. Am I going to remain in loserville for the rest of my life?
Then I think about my single mother, who I considered to be the most beautiful woman on earth. My mom gives me love each day through her words and actions. She never let the fact that she is single bring her down, she does everything for her children out of love and I almost think there are no men on earth that is both man enough and good enough for her.

I become stronger when I think about my mom and the love she has for me, as well as the few men and women who has shown true love for me in the past. There’s no better way to honor the love I received than to deeply love myself and accept myself. From now till the day I die, I am going to go on a battle with self hatred and I am going to win love – for myself.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

There's something about Montreal

In 2010, the Ontario government passed a secret regulation to drastically expand police power to arrest, search and detain without any legislative vote or publication during the G20 summit; Ontarians hardly cared. In contrast, when the Quebec government passed an emergency law, Bill 78, to restrict any public demonstration over 50 people, the public in Quebec responded decisively.

The annual Earth Day in 2012 draws a quarter million Quebeckers to march for the environment and against climate change and the anti-science measures taken by the Harper government.  On May 22, 2012, tens of thousands of Montréalers again marched to mark the 100 days of student protest in Quebec and in defiance of the restrictions imposed by the recently passed (and very likely unconstitutional) Bill 78.

Even though a recent G20 report conducted by the Office of the Independent Police Review director condemned Toronto police and their use of kettling and various police aggressions during the G20 summit, the Ontario government as well as the Toronto Police Chief Officer both refuse to apologize for the way police exercised their power during the G20 summit.

When authorities deny any wrongdoings, it is so no wonder that history is repeating itself in Montreal.

The Montreal police used their newly legislated power to “kettle" thousands of protesters and bystanders and arrested 518 people this past Wednesday, May 24, 2012.

It’s not a surprise to learn that many people, especially those from the English speaking part of Canada, berated these protesters for their supposed sense of entitlements about a free public post secondary education, or that these young protesters are simply punks with no jobs. What I found surprising, however, is that Quebeckers actually take their politics and their distinct Quebec Charter of Human Rights (for a free public education) seriously, unlike their peers from the rest of Canada. Quebeckers stand up proudly to march for their freedom to assemble and free education night after night despite severe police aggressions that led to the largest ever mass arrest in Canada's history.


Canadians need to take inspiration from the students in Montreal  and assert our dignity, which is being eroded by the Charest government, as well as the Harper government as they continue to bully unemployed and unionized workers, dismiss scientists, and restrict the voices of young people who can’t find a decent employment due to the increasing disparity and inequality echoed by the Occupy Movement.
The people in Montreal believe that civil rights, and social democracy are not “just words on a piece of paper”, it is time the rest of Canada joined in and keep our country and our streets from becoming a police state.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Living While Black and Transgender

CeCe Macdonald is charged with second degree murder in Minnesota because she refused to be a victim of her own gender identity and race.

While CeCe, a black transgender woman, and her friends were walking one day on June 5 2011, she was harassed by a group of white men for wearing girl clothes; she and her friends were also called "faggots", "niggers," "chicks with dicks." Instead of accepting public harassment and insults as an inevitable part of being transgender in public, CeCe walked up to tell them she would not tolerate their hateful words. Subsequently, one of the women in the group smashed her glass into Cece's face. A fight broke out, and one of the men in the group was fatally stabbed and died. CeCe required 11 stitches to her cheeks; she is now in solitary confinement and standing trial for second degree murder.

It is not uncommon for trans women to be harassed in public. A video that went viral on the internet last year showed

CeCe’s blog, she wrote that "being African and Trans is an ultimate challenge.” As with many GLBT kids abandoned by their own family, Cece’s biological family did not support her. While self acceptance is a hard fought battle for any transgender person, this is especially true for transgender women of color, who must deal with the day to day reality of violence. In an annual report released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence programs, transgender women make up 44 percent of the anti-LGBT murders in 2010. Transgender people of color are also almost 2.5 times as likely to experience discrimination as their white peers.  Even when transgender women survive from attacks, they were the least likely to report an attack because the authorities are overwhelming viewed as "indifferent, abusive or deterrent." a 22 year old transgender woman dragged by her hair and then beaten for using the women's restroom at a McDonald restaurant. Transgender people are often assaulted and killed for simply living their life. Prior to 2009, hate crimes committed against transgender people were not recognized in the U.S. (Allen Andrade of Colorado was the first U.S. man to be convicted of murder and a hate crime for killing a transgender teen in April, 2009.)

Despite her hardships, Cece is not ashamed of herself, and she paid a horrendous price for refusing to be victimized based her identity. Cece is an inspiring woman to me because she reminded me that we should never accept our own marginalization, or to stand down and accept having to live in fear. The road to justice might not be favorable for CeCe, but we must still walk through it together so justice will prevail for all of us.

You can visit this page to support CeCe and get updates on her case

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The hero never came

It’s becoming a pretty unremarkable sight to see people suffering from homelessness in Toronto. So it wasn’t a surprise to see a homeless man laid down on the empty seats on a subway train. One of the cleaning crew members yelled out to the man, “this is not a hotel; you can’t sleep on the train.” It was harsh but I see his point, empty seats are valuable especially on a crowded subway train. Anyways, nothing was going to stop the man from sleeping on the train; I suppose anyone who is homeless and hasn’t showered or eaten for days must be living in their own world with very little care about manners or social etiquettes.

I examined his face more closely, he looked aged from homelessness and crushing poverty but aside from that and the bushy grey beards, i could tell he was otherwise a young looking man . I had the sudden urge to bring him home and give him a nice warm bath and a clean razor.

I imagined myself sleeping on a train. It’s not a farfetched idea. I have no savings and I have credit card debts that can take years to be paid off. On top of that, I just lost my job. The future job prospect isn’t good either. Thankfully, I have a mom who works everyday to pay for the rent and bills, so we don’t have to sleep on the subway. The man sleeping across me must not have a mother or anyone to rely on. I can’t help but wonder what would happen to me if I didn’t have anyone who loves me enough to make sure I have a roof over my head every night. I will never understand why anybody has to suffer the fate of homelessness and loneliness.

Nobody on the train said anything to the man. The outside world must seem like the most inhumane and ugly place to those living on the street. Could this man be the foreshadowing of what will become of me? I lamented at the lack of sanctuary in our indifferent world. I was waiting for a hero or a daring soul to suddenly stand up and condemn the transit passengers for failing to care about another fellow human being. Of course, no such thing happened. This is Toronto the Cold after all. I was no better; I got off the train just as expected. (Okay, to be fair, Toronto apparently has first class soup kitchens for the needy, at least according to writer Steven Boone)

We have a reached a new millenium; the dramatic increase in internet accessbility, along with free Wi Fi spots, and relatively cheap smart phones allow humans to be more informed and more connected to each other than ever imagined possible. However, our state of nature is still persistently and stubbornly indifferent to personal sufferings. Maybe there's an app for changing that?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Easy come, Easy go

I saw the writing on the wall. I knew that I was going to be terminated from my position very soon. It was expected because my contract was ending on April 30th. The only surprise was that I became unemployed sonner than I anticipated

Fate had it that March 28, 2012 would be my last day of work; after I finished work and went home, I received a call from the temp agency that I didn’t have to return for work tomorrow. This was the longest full time job I’ve ever hold, it lasted six months. I thought I would have the chance to say goodbye to my colleagues, and to clean up the desk that I became very familiar with. I tried everything I could to save myself from being laid off; I never missed a day of work nor have I been late and I did my best to be the most productive employee but none of that seem to be acknowledged, let alone appreciated.

My desk sits idle now; I wonder if all the paper and post it notes with my scribbles and thoughts were cleaned up immediately after I left for work? The management team never recognized the temp workers, we were the “invisible workers” (the irony is that most of us are visible minorities); after all, we are from the agency. In an “us versus them’ world, we are more than expandable, we are simply refugees with no nationality, we have never existed and we never will. Nevertheless, I made my presence known in the company. My desks were occupied with my workbooks, notepads, and water bottles. To my supervisor’s annoyance, I put up dozens of work sheets on the wall of my station like a teenager who covers her room with posters.

I imagine the management team working hard to delete all traces of myself off the company. The fact that I didn’t get to say goodbye to the people I saw everyday for the past six months was pretty brutal; on top of that, I was warned that I am forbidden to contact anyone from the company after I sent an email to my (now former) supervisor after my termination. Oh well, Easy come easy go, right? I want to be strong and keep my dignity but I can’t help but feel like a whore being kicked out of the church. Apparently, my ass belongs to the agency.

I naively thought that my perfect attendance and hard working ethics would have allowed me to at least work until the last day of my contract. I am unemployed and broke again. My temp work has allowed me to live with dignity for the past six months but I have to hustle for another job soon or I am going to fall further into credit card debts.

In this brave post Occupy world, I know I am not getting any bail out, and sadly, there might not even be light at the end of my tunnel. It’s not right but that’s okay because I am used to being wronged, my tranny badge of honor is my living proof. There’s nothing I can count on, but I am not ready to count myself out just yet, my short term goal is finding a job, my permanent goal is resistance thorough existence. “They” can certainly take away my livelihood and all personal belongings, but my dignity is my own.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

You can't fix me

For the past 10 to 15 years, I’ve been suffering from depression, and I don’t feel like a fully human at least for a few hours every day. I spend 30 minutes running on a treadmill. The remaining time is for working or sleeping or surfing the internet. Sleeping gives me the breathing room to be away from my own conscious s hell. Running has allowed me to be productive while I am awake; it gives me the boost I need to get on with each day. On the rare occasions that I don't run, I feel extremely negative about myself and life in general. Specifically, I would feel uncomfortable with the way I look, and I’d get so nervous and close to having panic attacks.

Running is just a band aid solution for me though. As the effects of endorphins die down, and the euphoric feeling I get from running dwindles, I start losing my concentration, Negative thoughts resurface and multiply, and I go back to my old habits of numbing myself with unrestrained internet surfing, binge eating and other self-sabotaging behavior.

Years of depression and social anxiety have caused me to lose touch with myself. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t medicated with one pill or another. On my good days, I feel like a walking shell. On my bad days, I cannot stop thinking and worrying about people and everything that goes on in my surroundings.

I haven’t always been this way, not until I was into my adolescent years. The most important lesson I learned in high school was self-loathing. I was called a loser and abused everyday at school by bullies, and I was paralyzed with fear. The bullies made me feel worthless. I also started hating myself because I believed I was an ugly faggot, not worthy of having friends, let alone being loved.

Since the bullying, I became desperate. The way I feel about myself depends entirely on whether I have a boyfriend or any friends at the moment. II came to see myself as someone who cannot be fixed because I internalized myself to the extent that my entire identity is my depression, social anxiety and self loathing. Since I spent my formative years hating myself and living with the mental health issues that have arisen due to bullying, I never had a chance to develop fully into the person I was meant to be, nor have I really come to term with who I am. I was labeled a faggot before I became aware of my own sexuality, and my gender identity came into question when life became unbearable for many different reasons, such as never feeling like I was a man to begin with, and never feeling self acceptance or acceptance from others. What will my identity be if I am ever fixed?

Different psychiatrists and psychologists have worked with me, to no avail. I was put on one medication and another. Nothing changed how I feel about myself or about life. One mental health professional told me my depression is not related to my gender identity or sexuality, and that I should not transition to a woman until I made the transition to be a fully functioning human being. I did not take his advice. Instead, I felt rejected. I visited another psychiatrist and he told me I have gender identity disorder after half an hour of speaking with me. He gave me the green light to start hormone therapy and I never saw him or any other psychiatrist again.

My life hasn’t gotten any easier since I began my hormone therapy. In some ways, I met even more discrimination and prejudices. On the other hand, the way other people see me, and the way I see myself has improved as I start looking more like a female with each passing day. I met a few men who have shown me true understanding and love, who made me feel better about who I am. Nevertheless, I still have trouble changing the way I feel about myself. It is true that “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”

My issue with self acceptance is made even more complicated as I continue to struggle with my identity: Am I a woman or a man, or both or neither? More importantly, depression and social anxiety are still my only constant companions and reminders of how little I have changed over the years and how much my history of being bullied informed the kind of person I am today. The paralyzing effect of fear and self loathing continue to put my life on hold, perhaps indefinitely, so the only thing left for me to do is to run.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The political isnt very personal

The longer I spend in the workforce, the more unfairness I’ve experienced. I used to be idealistic and I believe in unions (I still do), but I am no longer enthusaitic about unions and the idea of workers solidarity that entails. Even though I am still against conservatism and trickledown economics, the problem with both left wing and right wing ideologies does not accurately account for how people act in a real life setting. We hear a lot about income inequality and workplace exploitation, but I never hear politicians or social activists protest against cronyism, bullying which is the daily reality of today’s workplace. This is not a surprise since bullying starts at the very top; the Harper’s government in Canada is a good example of the effectiveness of bullying at the political level

As someone suffering with depression and doesn’t particularly enjoy social interaction because of my social anxiety, I continue to have a difficult time in the workplace and in other areas of my social life. I made myself a easy target for bullying because I don’t make friends easily with supervisors and managers; I simply can’t wait to find out the treatment I will receive from co workers and managers when/if they found out that I am a pre op transgender woman. That’s a whole can of worms I am not going to open for now.

I see co workers who work less than me, but are treated more leniently because they carry favors with the supervisor, while I am often being harassed for being lazy even though I am always taking initiative to find work where there is none to do. I am being misjudged simply because I like to sit at my own desk and close my eyes when I am on my break so I can reduce my anxiety (which in the long run increase my workplace productivity). I have to say my supervisor is not the most competent person, and I don’t understand why someone with little job knowledge should be given the job of supervising and (bullying) those with less power.

Despite the unions’ rhetoric on fairness, I do believe that seniority in unions can contribute to workplace unfairness and even bullying.

Why is it fair for people to have their jobs protected simply because they have been employed the longest and belong to a union? For those who never had the opportunity to belong to a union (including myself), we are the first to let go whenever there is any layoff; however, we are also asked to extend solidarity to workers by putting ourselves on the chopping block so we can protect those who‘ve been employed the longest, despite the fact that they might not have worked very hard to being with and they had only been employed because of cronyism or family connection, how is that fair to most of us who never had the privilege, social background or luck to join a union?