7 Questions – Dani
The 7Qs response from Dani. She raises the issue of gatekeeping, one of the most pervasive and pernicious obstacles trans people face. It’s easy, and right, to point a finger to the cisgender authorities who have traditionally had the power to decide who does and doesn’t get access to care and resources, but it’s just as common for trans people themselves to police each other, which can be equally, if not more, damaging. We all need to be vigilant to look for the attitudes that we’ve internalized and how they may manifest in ways that may deny others a place in our community.
Learn more about Dani via her blog here. Thanks for submitting Dani, and good luck with your work to raise the visibility of the Informed Consent model and other helpful resources. It’s certainly needed.
1) What’s your name?
2) Who has been most supportive of your transition?
This is a difficult question to answer. In one sense, it would be my parents, as they never had a moment of doubt. In another, it would be my wife, because she had to go a long way to be able to accept and support me, and it was an often painful path for both of us, dealing with various issues such as being a lesbian couple. Years later she would write, “I see again the person I married.”
3) What do most enjoy about your life since beginning transition? That is, what are some of the things you love doing now, that you couldn’t do before? And if you’re not there yet, what about the possibility of transition excites you the most? What do you look forward to?
I’m in the midst of it, and the only thing I can say that I look forward to is looking back on transition – that it is in my past.
4) Who are your trans role models? or Who have you looked up to in the trans community? Who inspires you? Whether it’s someone you know, or someone you’ve admired from afar, this is your chance to give a shout out.
I can’t say there’s really anyone. I’ve learned some important things about putting people on that pedestal – when they fall, both get hurt.
5) What change(s) would you most like to see in the world?
To have my experiences of transition, which are of heavy-handed gatekeeping, become a thing of the past for everyone, never happening to others, so that they don’t know what it is to be told that transition can’t be right for them due to their hobbies, clothing preferences, sexual orientation, or lack of interest in surgery. I do include non-binary IDs, though that was not one of the issues I encountered (I ID as woman.)
6) What are you doing to make those changes happen?
At present? Nothing, as I still need their permission to progress in my transition, which makes it impossible to speak against them without risking repercussions. In the future, when I’m free of that? I plan to undertake some projects to raise the visibility of better, particularly Informed Consent resources in the region.
7) Tell us something, anything, special and unique about you, your interests, your story.
I’m a survivor of many things. In addition to the gatekeeping above, I have survived physical and emotional child abuse, and medically sanctioned sexual assault. I have not allowed that to define me, but I do deal with it, accepting that it is a part of who I am and has an important impact on how I view and interact with the world.
I grew-up on a dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania; the sixth, and final, generation to do so.
I have one sibling, with whom I do not have contact.
I have been married for thirteen years and in that relationship for seventeen.
I’m a hobbyist photographer.
I learned to ride motorcycles eight years ago.
I’m an IT professional who is early in a promising career for a certain software company, having spent many years doing IT support work in university environments before this. It’s been an incredible move for me, as I’ve had more career progress in a single year at this company than in most of two decades at the universities.
Also, if I had to begin transition again, knowing what I do today, I would not do it. It’s not that I regret what it is intrinsically, but that it has meant pain for too many I love because of a society that is cisnormative and heteronormative. My heart breaks every time my parents have to navigate holidays when they want to spend time with their family but certain segments of it will not be present if I am. I deal with transition providers (perhaps more than most – I’ve had three different ones for my HRT alone) who project their stereotypes onto me and require that I fulfill them to be granted the endocrinology equivalent of crumbs from their table – years of doses that could not reasonably be expected to accomplish the reason they were prescribed. Ultimately, to be plunged into suicidal depression as a result of those approaches to HRT; a problem with which I struggle to this day. It’s that I regret these external factors of which I have no control.