Why A Duck?

I am viewing the last two years more like a clarification than a transition. I started out butch, I incorporated trans*, I am still muddling through. Either I will figure it out or I will just keep reading and thinking.

What does it mean to me (this week) to say that I am trans* but I am not transitioning? I’ve been reading the classic text, Harry Benjamin‘s “The Transsexual Phenomenon”.  It is out of print (and very dated since it was written in 1966 post Jorgensen but pre Stonewall); you can download it  from tgmeds.org.uk/downs/phenomenon.pdf (I would provide the link but I got bounced out of the WordPress Reader last week for linking to something that annoyed the system and I am not taking any chances this week). The is the link to last week’s post.

The simplest description of transgender is that what is “between the ears” doesn’t match what is “between the legs” – i.e. your gender doesn’t match your sex. My gloves don’t match my shoes. But it is way more complex than that.

rubber duckies

rubber duckies (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

Benjamin breaks “sex” down into chromosomal, genetic, anatomical, legal, gonadal, germinal, endocrine, psychological, and social sex (he explains his use of these terms in the book). In layperson’s terms your genetic make-up (XX, XY, etc.), your exterior organs, your reproductive organs and what they produce (sperm or eggs), your hormones (androgen and estrogen), your birth certificate and legal documents, whether you were raised as a girl or boy, what gender you feel you are, and how you present yourself.

Most people’s ducks line up and they never give it a thought. My ducks run circles around me and are a bunch of little anarchists. For years I tried to get them in order (accept being a woman and occasionally dress like one), and then I relented and let them run amok (accept that I have always thought I was a boy and dress like one). I live with the chaos better than I lived with the repression.

The dilemma is, if you accept that you are trans*, you can never get everything from genetic sex to social sex to line up. Each person has to decide, how much F and how much M. Where to start and where to stop. What feels authentic and what feels false.

So far, my compromise has been to accept that I am trans*, change my name, ditch my honorifics, wear masculine clothes (nothing new here), and reduce my dysphoria by avoiding situations that make it flare up. I don’t know how I will change in the future. I don’t see myself following the contemporary transman narrative (name change, pronouns, testosterone, top-surgery, gender marker), but I’ve already done the first thing on the list, and boy does it feel good.

Where are your ducks?

15 thoughts on “Why A Duck?

  1. kirstywirsty

    You know, we live in a society were folks like yourself are looked at as being ‘different’ but who decides whats normal? Who decides how a woman should dress or think or act and what gives society the right the critisise and make people feel like they are different because arent we all the same, is any of us truely happy in the body we are in, i bet all women love wearing boxers but wouldnt tell anyone, why? Who does it hurt or harm, Prejudice isnt something we are born with, its learned and passed down and its about time all the ducks stood in a line and took a good look at themselves because the ones who are confident to be who they want to be will be the ones who live a happier life. Rant over!!!! Sorry studying Social problems and it gets my goat.
    Be who you want to be because your amazing

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Well put. Society sends us so many messages/images that it is hard to sort through what feels authentic and what is foisted upon us as what “should” feel authentic. Writing does help me to sort it out, and it keeps me from spending too much time shopping online.

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  2. M_LadyDi

    My ducks are definitely in a row as far as feeling like my gender and my biology line up but with a trans husband (and a trans ex), My husband hemmed and hawed for several years before deciding to go all out with transition and it was hard for him not to be okay with walking between worlds. In the end, he felt fully male and wanted his outside to match the inside. I’d have been okay with him either way. I think gender is on a continuum and we have to accept that there will be a lot of fluidity along the way. My prayer is that everyone comes to a place of such acceptance and it will be easier for you to let those little ducks wander any which way they please.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks. I like that image of wandering ducks. My upbringing is 2nd generation German-Jewish so I am culturally pre-disposed to order, but I do need to loosen up.

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  3. M. Spence

    My ducks and your ducks probably hang out together and conspire over coffee. In the short time I’ve followed your blog, I’ve already come to admire your willingness to be who you are, explore who you might be, and have the patience to wait for the changes that may or may not happen. Keep being awesome.

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  4. bymsfaith

    We all come here to live our life. and that is what we do. We just sometimes forget to do what makes us happy and not worry about the rest.
    I have started following your blog and what ever you decide is right for you may you just always be happy and blessed with that decision.
    Just hold your head high, put on that strong Haute attitude and be the man you are:)

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  5. dorothyanneb

    Reblogged this on DA's Ephemera and Etceteras and commented:
    I have a lovely daughter/son in transition between the girl she never was and the man she is becoming. It’s hard to find good resources, comments and such about this phase of development. While I support him unconditionally, she/he does not return the favour, and hasn’t spoken to me in over 5 years. I have no idea why not.
    I wish I could speak with him about this change, about other things, too. This blog is full of wisdom and I understand it. Maybe one day my newly minted son and I can share it. For now, just sending the message through the ether to let him know I understand. And wish him well.
    Wish he’d feel the same way towards me.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thank you for reading and for commenting. I hope that your son reaches back out to you and that you can heal the rift. You are doing the right thing by supporting him unconditionally. Good luck.

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    2. afish

      My son did not speak to me for years. I left jokes on the voice mail, sent newsy letters, even mailed gifter certificates. He told me to stop, but I never did. Told him I love him a bunch and asked for nothing in return. We now have a super relationship. Never, never, never give up on your kid.

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      1. afish25

        The hitch is asking nothing in return. I believe as a parent my job is to love him, one way, no expectations, to guilt trips.

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  6. Jamie Ray Post author

    I like the genderbread person, but what I find missing from the analysis is the soul, which is that intrinsic, intuitive, authentic thing that gets in the way of the heart, the head, the genitals, and the cookie cutter. Thanks for writing here. I look forward to reading your posts on your blog.

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