For 2 hours 43 minutes and 21 seconds the computer had recorded me speaking into the mic on the headset I wore. 2 men and I had during that time had started off talking about the family and children separation crisis on the border with Mexico, then after that came an interview oriented section where I talked about being a trans woman, how that affects my political views, political issues that affect the trans community and more. After I requested a bathroom break following a bit talking about bathroom bills and their toxic effects, we finished up the late night recording of mostly me leading a discussion on how the blockbuster 1999 film, The Matrix, can be interpreted as a transgender allegory and my belief how that helps to make it a landmark film not just for its visual effects and stylized camerawork.
Now that I’ve written all that down, I understand why it feels that even with how the three of us spoke for that long, I can look back and think of so much else I could have liked to say. Some of it was caused by my inexperience with such a medium and I did not anticipate how fast time would move. It’s also now a weird thing to have listened to some of the recording I made of my voice, one which I’ve been trying my best to move into a higher register and learn to inflect my speech in the way women tend to do. Truth is that during the recording I abandoned that, it’s hard to focus on that when you’re trying to remember all of what you want to say, even when you have a somewhat disorganized sheet of reminder notes on paper by the computer.
And of course when I have listened to me speaking on that recording, I’ve gotten to take the uncomfortable inventory of how often I use verbal tics like um, so yeah, you know when I speak. I’m sure though that practice, better familiarity and greater comfort over time, those can be reduced.
All that now written, please let me write down things I feel are critical and which I left out:
Please never use transgender as a kind of verb. Transgendered is also largely frowned upon by the trans community, it implies that we somehow got converted into being trans and many of us after we make our transitions come to understand ourselves as having always been the gender we now live openly.
So it’s best to say trans man, trans woman, trans person, etc. We prefer that when you write those down you keep them separate. Let me explain: I am a woman who is trans. If a woman wishes to describes herself with other modifiers like race, sexual orientation, religion, etc, English doesn’t mash those together. We don’t write blackwoman or gayman. So don’t do that to trans people.
Regarding pronouns and names: If you remember me from the past when I participated on the OOTP and OTBL message boards with my usernames from that time, I ask that you leave those usernames in the past. It took me many years to come to grips with my identity and then I spent a good bit of time trying out names that pleased me. I selected the name Izabela some months before I came to my decision to transition, I had chosen it for how I had always felt it was a lovely and beautiful and I very much wanted that for myself. When trans people choose their names, respect their wishes to be addressed with them.
For me, it’s not that I’m particularly dysphoric about the name my parents gave or the usernames that I have used for internet message boards, it’s just that by now with where I am in understanding myself and life, those names just don’t feel the wholeness that I have now with Izabela.
Please use she and her for my pronouns, even if you should talk about things I have written on the message boards before my transition.
Finally a note of thanks to Hollis for letting me participate in the discussions he’s been doing with his political podcast, Talk Democratic Dysfunction. I have listened to a good number of them, but maybe a couple of months ago I messaged him on Facebook about I felt it would be really good if he were to have more women come on, if possible. I know the environments of OOTP and OTBL are largely populated by men, but it seems important to me that women are given a chance to speak their voices, especially seeing how they are increasingly joining the Democratic party.
Hollis did point out he had had a woman on the fifth podcast, Red State Blues with Jessi Boyer and it’s a good one to listen to. But he also then surprised me by extending an invitation to me to come on and that was something that I needed time to come to grips with. Obviously, if you listen to the podcast that has me, I have a fairly deep voice and I’m still practicing the ins and outs of making my voice more feminine sounding. Plus I had some trepidation about people linking up the me of now, Izabela, with my old usernames.
Time and a bit of gentle nudging by Hollis kept slowly opening me up to the idea that I could overcome the terror and nervousness about doing this. But most critically perhaps was a couple of twitter discussions that unfolded in the trans community there and in which I tweeted some too, about the idea of representation and how the increasing visibility of trans people has helped many of us to make the decision to escape the closet and live as ourselves.
That, along with the sense that the political situation for so many under this Trump presidency is growing ever more awful for so many including those of us who are part of the LGBTQ community, led me to saying yes and asking what I needed to buy for my computer.
I decided it was important for people to have a chance to listen to a trans person speak, to hear some how being trans has affected me politically and also realize that I’m just as human as them even if having a bit of an uncommon wrinkle in what makes me me. Also seeing how that nearly 50000 people have registered as members of the OOTP boards and knowing what the current estimates of how prevalent trans people are, there have probably been around 250 trans people who have registered at OOTP. Some of those might still be in the closet and like Neo in the Matrix have that splinter in their mind driving them mad.
So I hope that if any of them listen to this podcast, they can see me doing my best to say that being trans is a good thing and that making the transition, while scary and sometimes difficult in a culture still quite hostile towards trans people, it is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and these past 6 months of when I have now been living fulltime as the woman I am are genuinely the happiest I’ve been in this world.