Online dating is actually really cool

So, after posting about my initial trial of the online dating world last night, my friend sent me a message on Facebook telling me about this site called Plenty of Fish. She said that it’s where she met her husband and that she’s had a lot of friends who have had success with it. Also, it’s incredibly unrestrictive of its free members, so you can actually meet people and stuff without shelling out ridiculous amounts of cash dollars.

At first, when I saw the site I was skeptical, because the web design is incredibly tacky and looks like something you’d see on Geocities or Tripod circa 2001. However, I gave it a try, and less than 24 hours later I am having incredible success. I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from women who don’t care that I’m trans, and I just spent most of the day chatting with a woman who lives here in Lincoln who thinks I’m actually kind of pretty and interesting. I’m really excited because she likes camping, and I have been looking for a new camping buddy. There’s also a musician up in Omaha whom I’m kind of interested in who has shown some interest in me, as well as a filmmaker, so I’ve got some options. Even if it takes me a while to meet the right woman, I’m just really stoked that there are at least people out there who don’t care that I’m trans. Really, I was having second thoughts about my transition, just because I was afraid no one would love me and I’d remain alone for the rest of my life, but now I’m completely recommitted to this transition. Just knowing that there are people who are actually interested in me fills me with enough confidence to make it through this.

One factor that I didn’t take into account was that there are, in fact, bisexual people in the world. Some of the girls who’ve expressed interest in me say they’re bi, and my friend told me that most bisexual people these days identify as pansexual, and now I feel really silly and shitty for completely forgetting that there are people like that in the world. That seems like the way to do it, anyway; I wish I was that evolved.

Anyway, things are going pretty well right now. If you’re lonely and looking for someone to talk to, check out Plenty of Fish. If I can find people interested in me there, I’m sure anyone can.

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Entering the terrifying world of online dating

So I’ve officially gotten so desperate that I’ve entered the incredibly terrifying world of online dating. I’ve been single for more than two years now, and at first it was great because I got to have time for me and everything. Now, however, I’m starting to get really meh. I feel like I’ve worked through all my personal stuff and am finally ready for a serious relationship. Really, I thought I could go on indefinitely on my own, but I feel somewhat incomplete. However, it’s hard to meet people at school since I’m at least four years older than most of the people there, which doesn’t seem like much of an age difference, but when you’re in your twenties a four year difference is pretty much a massive generational canyon. I’ll be 26 in a month, and most of the seniors are only 21 or 22–I know one or two who are 23, and that’s about when my adult personality started forming, so that’s getting close. My therapist said it’s actually pretty common to feel disconnected from your fellow students when there’s an age difference of even a few years. For that reason, I opted to try some online dating services.

I started with Pink Cupid, which is subsidiary of Cupid.com aimed at lesbians. They have a free sign-up option where you have limited actions and everything, so I figured that I’d do that just to see if there was anyone in my area. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anyone uses that service very often, so I don’t think I’ll be upgrading to their paid service.

I then went over to Match.com. They are more restrictive of their free accounts, but there are more people on it, and they also have that six month Match.com Guarantee. However, they’re more expensive. Also, I’m not sure whether their guarantee covers trans folks. I know I shouldn’t be so pessimistic, but something tells me that it’s harder to match a trans lesbian than it is to match a cisgender lesbian. Le sigh…

Well, I’ll think about whether I want to try paying the outrages fees for their “Guarantee.” However, I’m skeptical of the whole online dating thing. It seems kinda weird. However, I’ve found social media to be more fun than I would have guessed, so perhaps my expectations shall be proved wrong. Still, I’m mildly skeptical.

Women and science

So being a major nerd for social progress, girls/women overcoming barriers, and science, this article on Jezebel brought a major tear to my eye. Totally embarrassing. In case you’re too lazy to click and read it, let me sum it up for you: an all-girl team just won the FIRST 2012 Championship with a device meant to help pasteurize milk in Nicaragua. Apparently Nicaraguan women don’t have easy access to clean milk, which results in all sorts of nastiness for them. Well, now they can drink their milk with peace of mind, thanks to an intrepid young band of femmy pioneers. Totally awesome.

This has got me thinking about that other article I wrote about about women in gaming. It seems like the STEM field is a major boy’s club. In fact, when I was talking to my doctor about starting life as a woman, the first thing she asked was, “Well, you’re not in any math or computer science classes, are you?” And she’s an MD! Why is it that STEM is such a boy’s club? I know, I know, there’s the whole stereotype of men being more logical while women are more about their feelings, but still, this is the 21st century. Shouldn’t we be past that by now?

I know I don’t really have room to talk since I opted not to go into STEM even though I am both interested in it and very good at it. I am thinking of going to grad school for philosophy of science, but it’s not really the same thing. However, one of my major concerns when it comes to going into a STEM field is the fact that I’m a trans lesbian, which is a triple whammy in that area: gay, transgender, and a woman. Really, I want to study physics and computer science, but I chickened out because I’m a wuss like that. My mistake. I now wish I could go back and start over and be a pioneering queer trans woman in a straight dude’s world, but I really don’t feel like being stuck as an undergraduate for another couple of years. My dad is talking about starting his own web-based software company and wants me on board as a designer, so maybe I can use that as an in to the world of computer science.

Anyway, enough about me, here’s why women should get into the hard sciences: women think differently from men. I know it’s probably not biological–it’s probably got more to do with social conditioning than anything like genes or innate neural differences–but still, the fact remains that there are usually marked differences between the ways in which women approach problems and the ways in which men do. If we only have one type of person trying to solve these problems, we’re only going to get on type of solution, when there may be other, possibly better, solutions waiting in the wings for someone with the right mindset to bring them into the open. It’d be best for the world of science–and the world in general–if we had as many different types of people as possible working on these issues.

Let’s make the world better. We can start by encouraging women and minorities to get into the STEM fields.

Some thoughts on sexual reorientation therapy

So in light of the recent introduction into the California Senate of a bill that would ban conversion therapy, CNN has been running a lot of stories on sexual reorientation therapy–also known as reparative therapy. I’m fairly surprised that they haven’t actually gone to anyone with the American Psychological Association, seeing as how they issued an official position on this topic three years ago. From the news release:

“At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex.”

–Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD

The conclusion of their investigation into the Ex-Gay Industry was that there is no scientific evidence that homosexuals can magically change their sexual orientation and that therapists and medical doctors should not make such claims. Seeing as how the APA is the authority on all issues psychological in this country, I feel like it’d be a good idea to listen to them and not some quack Christian “alternative” therapist. However, the quack team has a major player in their corner–a cabal of nutjob pseudoscientists known as the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homsexuality. Not only are these quacks incapable of evaluating scientific data, but their website is loaded with paranoid conspiracy theories. I think these guys are the ones who need therapy.

Anyway, the question I want answered is: How can people be this ignorant? Would people honestly disregard the opinion of the nation’s most reputable authority on human psychology just because some crackpot New Agers provide them with a few testimonials? Didn’t these people take 9th grade physical science? Testimonial evidence isn’t scientific evidence!

Honestly, I don’t think this bill goes far enough. If I had my way, I’d ban hypnotherapy, rebirthing therapy, alien abduction therapy, past life regression therapy, and that whole lot of New Age nonsense. Quack psychotherapies are nothing but a form of abuse, and these irrational crazies ought to be locked up. I don’t care if it’s a patient’s choice whom they see; however, people who “choose” to seek alternative psychotherapies are either not thinking clearly or not well-enough educated. The assholes who offer alternative and New Age psychotherapies are taking advantage of their clients’ ignorance, or else they themselves are so deluded that it is dangerous to let them practice psychotherapy. At the very least these pseudotherapists ought to be required seek informed consent and explain to their clients that there is absolutely no scientific basis for their nonsense.

I know, it sounds extreme, but abuse is one of my rage face buttons. All abuse everywhere ought to be put to an end. I applaud these pioneering lawmakers.

Less than a week to go

So I have my appointment at the University of Nebraska Medical Center next Friday, which is only 6 days away. I’m really excited. Like, really excited. Super-stoked. Anyway, in light of the fact that I’m going to soon be on massive doses of estrogen, I’ve decided to give quitting smoking a second shot. (More like an eighth shot, but maybe the eighth time’s the charm.) I’m doing it by cutting down my smoking by about 25% a week until I’m all done. I start today.

Also, I have been working super-hardcore on my female voice since school got out. This last semester was really crazy hectic, which cut down on the time I could spend doing vocal exercises and suchlike. It was really discouraging. But I think I’ve gotten the right voice now and I’m working on fine-tuning it. It’s really weird, because now I’m looking for excuses to talk to people just so I can practice it. To be honest, it’s much easier when I’m alone and only talking to myself, because then I’m not worrying about what someone else is thinking; when I talk to other people I find myself worrying about it and having a difficult time maintaining it. However, I think that problem will be solved as I become more confident with my voice.

All in all, this is shaping up to be a great summer. My transition is really going to take off, which has me super-excited. Plus, despite the fact that I was disappointed by the fact that this past semester was my worst grade-wise since going back to school, I realized that I still got a 3.87, which is still a ridiculously good semester average. At the very least, it’s good enough for the Dean’s List. Also, my dad is thinking of starting a web-based software/app company and wants my help with it, so this could be my in to the video game industry. At the very least, it’ll be a fun father/daughter business venture. Things are going pretty well for once.

Tom Gabel/Laura Jane Grace’s story in Rolling Stone

So for the first time in a long time I was actually excited that I caved and bought that 4-year subscription to Rolling Stone from that telemarketer back in 2009. Usually I just skim it before throwing it in my box of back-issues to cut up for collages. However, this time there was actually a story that struck a chord with me.

As I mentioned earlier, Against Me! singer Tom Gabel has just recently come out as transgender. I was super-stoked when I heard the news, not only because Against Me! is one of the few mainstream punk acts that I actually like, but also because they’re a fairly big band, so I think it’s great to have such a high-profile musician come out like this. Now trans folks everywhere can have a rock star idol of their own.

Anyway, as I was reading the story, I was struck by how much of Gabel’s story was similar to my own. One of my favorite bits was this:

Some days, he would pray to God: “Dear God, please, when I wake up, I want a female body”

I did the exact same thing at least three nights a week in elementary school. It was actually one of the things the led to my rejection of Christianity at such a young age. Every morning I would wake up and run to the bathroom and check myself to see if my prayers had been answered, and they never were. I began to realize that prayer isn’t good for anything, and then I began to think that a God that could make such a glaring mistake as putting a soul in the wrong type of body couldn’t be all that perfect. I’m not sure if Gabel ever went through the same thought process, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his faith at least evolved through life.

I was also struck by his struggles with substance abuse. From the article:

He’d go on to struggle with addiction well into his twenties; in retrospect, he thinks, he was doing whatever he could to numb the pain.

My friends will know that from 2007-2011 I struggled with a pretty serious case of alcoholism. I found out shortly after turning 21 that getting drunk makes me feel much better about life. I’m a really happy drunk. Well, to a point. Anyway, I’m willing to bet this is probably a pretty common trend among trans folks.

And then there’s the comfort that comes from looking at yourself en femme:

Even today, Gabel can’t look at himself in the mirror without being disgusted by the parts that look male: his Adam’s apple, his square jaw, his shoulders, his hips. Back then, the only way he knew how to cope was to cross-dress: “Just the act of looking in the mirror while presenting femme is immediately calming,” he says.

I’ve always been told that I was a pretty attractive guy, but for some reason this always just pissed me off. I always used to avoid reflective surfaces, because all I saw was a dude, which wasn’t what I felt like I was. Once I got the balls to try experimenting with make-up and women’s clothing, I realized that I might actually be able to pass as a moderately attractive woman, which was one of the most comforting things I’ve ever experienced.

Finally, in the next paragraph, we learn that Gabel questioned his own sexuality. I went through the same time. I always thought I liked girls, but then I realized that maybe this is just how you knew you were gay. While Gabel made out with a few of his guy friends, I experimented sexually with another curious friend on one occasion my freshman year of high school and determined that it definitely wasn’t for me.

I’m also extremely excited for him that his wife is sticking with him. That was probably the hardest part of coming out in 2007, and probably contributed significantly to my depression: I had been with a woman I loved more than anything for nearly two years, and at first I thought I could go on living as a guy for the rest of my life as long as I had her, after about 18 months with her the longing to transition started to come back with a vengeance. I told her what was going on and she decided that she wasn’t cool with that because it wasn’t part of her sexual identity. I think there were other reasons, but still, it’s always good to hear that trans folks can come out without completely destroying their relationships.

I also just found out that Against Me! is gonna be in Omaha in a few weeks. I’m currently trying to round up a posse to show some support for a fellow trans woman.

Anyway, this is an especially good Friday. Not only do I feel a little less alone, but I just realized that the countdown is counting down: Exactly one more week till my hormone appointment! Super-awesome!

Argentina is “lightyears ahead of the vast majority of countries” in the fight for trans rights

So as I was perusing Google+ instead of working on my novel, I stumbled upon this completely, totally, mind-bogglingly amazing news on Trans News Daily’s feed: In Argentina, trans people can now legally change their genders on government documents without any sort of psychiatric, medical, or judicial procedures! This is simply amazing. I remember in 2007, shortly after I came out to my close friends and family, New Jersey passed similar legislation for driver’s licenses, but this is even bigger. This is a federal law.

From the article:

“The fact that there are no medical requirements at all — no surgery, no hormone treatment and no diagnosis — is a real game changer and completely unique in the world. It is light years ahead of the vast majority of countries, including the U.S., and significantly ahead of even the most advanced countries,” said [Justus] Eisfeld [of Global Action for Trans Equality], who researched the laws of the 47 countries for the Council of Europe’s human rights commission.

Something like this makes me feel like not all is lost. Sure, it’s not the U.S. we’re talking about, but hopefully this helps spur other countries to action. Maybe I’ll actually live long enough to see true trans equality in my own country. This is truly one of the biggest wins ever. I had planned on doing some sort of analysis, but I’m simply speechless.

Taking away the hurdles to overcome and hoops to jump through can only spell good news for millions of trans Argentinians. Who knows, maybe one day we won’t even need gender identifiers on legal documentation. I think that’s probably the next thing for Argentina to aim for. One more step and they’ll be well on their way to liberation.

As for you American legislators: what the fuck y’all waiting for? Get with the times! Don’t let Argentina show us up!