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Get Over It

This blog is about blood, cause it’s part of a normal life for a lot of people and deserves to be talked about. Don’t like, don’t read.

Menstruation is fucking tough. Full stop. And being gender non-conforming in any way just makes it worse.

It’s really hard to talk about without just being straight-up brutal. Because, unfortunately, the experience is often just straight-up brutal. Blood. Pain. Emotions that feel like they are not your own. Bad skin. Skin that makes “bad skin” seem good.

The stink. Stupid jokes from stupid boys in high school. Getting caught without a pad, making do with a wodge of harsh tissue paper.
The raucous cacophony of a pad being unwrapped in a public bathroom.

Despite the fact that around half the population go through this for a week a month for four decades of their lives, I am still gripped by a profound sense of shame when I talk about menstruation- even in these delicate terms.

That is the baseline. Now imagine that shame multiplied by the fact that every leaflet, every online guide you will ever read uses terms like “woman” and “female”, words you have never felt any affinity for. You realise that you are an aberration, with no right to exist.

Let’s face it, menstruation brings with it a state of emotional fragility. It just does. Last time I had a period, someone showed me a picture of a puppy and I cried because I couldn’t pet it.

On top of everything else, a menstruating person has an even tougher choice than usual in the bathroom department. You might have seen the hashtag We Just Need To Pee, but the hashtag I Need A Menstrual Hygiene Bin But I Have Facial Hair never really caught on.

If you’re menstruating, you can’t just hold it. I have an eight hour work day and need to change menstrual products every 4 to 6. Leave it longer than 8 and tampon users are at risk of (potentially fatal) toxic shock syndrome.

Yes, they could use pads. But men’s underwear doesn’t allow the use of pads, which means slipping a pair of women’s underneath.

There is a third way. It’s eco-friendly and quiet and clean and safe and cheap. And painful and awkward and triggering. It’s a menstrual cup. The benefits of menstrual cups do, for me, outweigh the downsides as without a bin at work, I can’t dispose of anything that can’t be flushed- and in case you didn’t know, pads and tampons cannot be flushed.

However. We need to destroy the shame around bleeding, for everyone’s sake. It’s a common experience for so many people, and yet I have seen actual disgust on cashiers’ faces for me daring to buy two boxes of tampons and not even having the decency to double bag them.

It hurts kids, too. Precocious puberty is a real issue, and telling 8 year olds that they’re “becoming a woman” is, uh, super fucked up. You’re telling an 8 year old that their childhood is over. Think Cersei and Sansa.

Give them facts. Don’t hide it under pretty words so we can pretend bleeding, occasionally unbearably painfully, is beautiful- just so you can pretend it’s a feminine thing, rather than just a biological function that serves a practical purpose.

Some people bleed. Get the fuck over it.

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Get Over It

This blog is about blood, cause it’s part of a normal life for a lot of people and deserves to be talked about. Don’t like, don’t read.

Menstruation is fucking tough. Full stop. And being gender non-conforming in any way just makes it worse.

It’s really hard to talk about without just being straight-up brutal. Because, unfortunately, the experience is often just straight-up brutal. Blood. Pain. Emotions that feel like they are not your own. Bad skin. Skin that makes “bad skin” seem good.

The stink. Stupid jokes from stupid boys in high school. Getting caught without a pad, making do with a wodge of harsh tissue paper.
The raucous cacophony of a pad being unwrapped in a public bathroom.

Despite the fact that around half the population go through this for a week a month for four decades of their lives, I am still gripped by a profound sense of shame when I talk about menstruation- even in these delicate terms.

That is the baseline. Now imagine that shame multiplied by the fact that every leaflet, every online guide you will ever read uses terms like “woman” and “female”, words you have never felt any affinity for. You realise that you are an aberration, with no right to exist.

Let’s face it, menstruation brings with it a state of emotional fragility. It just does. Last time I had a period, someone showed me a picture of a puppy and I cried because I couldn’t pet it.

On top of everything else, a menstruating person has an even tougher choice than usual in the bathroom department. You might have seen the hashtag We Just Need To Pee, but the hashtag I Need A Menstrual Hygiene Bin But I Have Facial Hair never really caught on.

If you’re menstruating, you can’t just hold it. I have an eight hour work day and need to change menstrual products every 4 to 6. Leave it longer than 8 and tampon users are at risk of (potentially fatal) toxic shock syndrome.

Yes, they could use pads. But men’s underwear doesn’t allow the use of pads, which means slipping a pair of women’s underneath.

There is a third way. It’s eco-friendly and quiet and clean and safe and cheap. And painful and awkward and triggering. It’s a menstrual cup. The benefits of menstrual cups do, for me, outweigh the downsides as without a bin at work, I can’t dispose of anything that can’t be flushed- and in case you didn’t know, pads and tampons cannot be flushed.

However. We need to destroy the shame around bleeding, for everyone’s sake. It’s a common experience for so many people, and yet I have seen actual disgust on cashiers’ faces for me daring to buy two boxes of tampons and not even having the decency to double bag them.

It hurts kids, too. Precocious puberty is a real issue, and telling 8 year olds that they’re “becoming a woman” is, uh, super fucked up. You’re telling an 8 year old that their childhood is over. Think Cersei and Sansa.

Give them facts. Don’t hide it under pretty words so we can pretend bleeding, occasionally unbearably painfully, is beautiful- just so you can pretend it’s a feminine thing, rather than just a biological function that serves a practical purpose.

Some people bleed. Get the fuck over it.

Defeating the Communists

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CN: Shark week Read the rest of this entry

Arnica, or Why I Want To Cut A Bitch

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Okay, so I’m part of an online support group for trans men, and in that group, the use of arnica is widely promoted for the healing of bruising following top surgery.

Fair enough. I’m a martial artist with competition experience, and I know what arnica gel can do. Gently rub it into the affected area, and it’ll take down the bruising so quickly that you might believe it’s magic. I fully support anyone who wants to improve their appearance post-surgery by using arnica gel.

However. I recently saw a post in which multiple users were advocating the use of “30c” arnica. Which, if you’re not familiar with the sale of snake oil, is a homeopathic dilution of 10-60, which is a mindbogglingly tiny number. In fact, you’d need to give “two billion doses per second to six billion people for four billion years” in order to get a single molecule of arnica into a single one one of those six billion people. It’s one molecule of arnica for every nondecillion molecules of water.

So. How much water is a nondecillion molecules?

Avogadro’s number is 6.022 x 1023 – the number of molecules in a mole. A mole of water weighs just 18g, and as the density of water is 1.00 g/ml, that’s 18ml. For the sake of me not bothering to get a calculator out, let’s call that half of 1024 molecules. So 1024 molecules is 36ml of water.

36 litres of water is 1027. 36 cubic metres is 1030. 36 cubic kilometres is 1039. By this point you’re probably losing your sense of scale, so let me put that into terms you might understand. That’s five times the amount of water that’s in Loch Ness. Yeah, that Scottish loch that’s famous for possibly having a gigantic fucking cryptid living in it.

1032 molecules of water makes a body ever so slightly larger than Lake Huron. Lake Superior is barely three times bigger.

Remember which number we’re trying to get to? 1060? Yeah, it’s still an awful long way off, isn’t it?

1035 water molecules in the Mediterranean Sea. (3,600,000 km3). 1037 dwarfs the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, turns out the world’s oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and icy bits only contain 1.37 billion km3 of water. Which is only 4 x 1037 water molecules.

WAIT ONE GOSHDARN MINUTE. That would mean that diluting one molecule of arnica in 1060 molecules of water is a physical impossibility. Yep. Water molecules may be fucking tiny but 1060 is a fucking huge number.

In fact, we would need 1.66 x 1033 kg of water to substantiate such a claim. And one single arnica molecule, presumably carefully placed into the water by fucking Tinkerbell. Earth weighs just shy of 6 x 1024 kg. The motherfucking Sun weighs near as damn it 2 x 1030 kg.

So. We’re looking at a quantity of water that is so huge, “a thousand times more massive than the motherflipping Sun” is the closest I could get to putting it into terms that a human can get their heads round.

It’s also more than the estimated amount of water in the entire Milky Way galaxy (1045 molecules), and in the largest single body of water ever discovered (1048 molecules).

Which should put beyond all doubt that the claims made by homeopaths are inarguably false, that their dilutions make no sense and if diluting something makes it stronger, then just apply some tap water- I definitely washed some arnica off in the shower once, and the water supply should “remember” what it looks like.

Which is why it hacks me off so much that someone, somewhere has infected the transmasculine population with the nonsense idea that a dose of nothing more or less than water will improve their surgical results.

Dysphoria fucking sucks. Some b’stard is making a pretty penny out of it.

And if I find them, I will fucking cut them.

12 Reasons I Don’t Want Testosterone

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I hate listicles, but I thought that actually, this was the best format for putting this across. I know I don’t have to defend my position, but I think it can be frightening to say “even though I don’t take T, I’m just as trans as anyone else.”

So, here are my reasons.

1.  I don’t want to be hairy

I just don’t. I shave my legs, my pubis, my crack, my armpits and my face on a weekly basis because I cannot abide having body hair. It’s my body and that’s just the way I like it. I do not want to make life even more difficult for myself, start having to shave my bumcheeks or even worse, endure the dreaded stubbly crack. No thanks.

2. I like the way I smell

I’m autistic. Sometimes, when I’m feeling sad, I don’t shower, and wallow in my own smell. It’s safe and familiar. If I take T, I’ll lose that. The smell will change, become overpowering. It’d be upsetting for me.

3. I don’t want to sweat more

Even if I take T, I wouldn’t be able to have top surgery for at least 6 months afterwards (and I don’t want to do that either just yet). So I’d be stuck- binding and sweaty. Yum. I’m also crap at doing my laundry, so I kind of rely on the fact I can wear clothes really quite a lot without them needing a spin in the washing machine. I struggled to adjust to puberty first time around, and I’d struggle again.

4. I like to cry

Crying is my way of dealing with my emotions. I cry a lot. Then I feel better. People who take testosterone report being unable to cry, and I think I’d really struggle without that ability.

5. I don’t want “T dick”

Now, I don’t know if reports of “T dick” are typical macho posturing and exaggeration, but I do know this- I don’t want it. I’m sure there are plenty of guys who are dead chuffed with their little fella, but I’ve never had that desire. When I’ve fantasised about having a dick, it’s always been at 2am on the way home from some nightclub, my bladder threatening to burst. If I can’t piss through it, I don’t want it.

I’ve never looked up pictures because stuff like that squicks me out. My genitals are completely unobtrusive and that’s how I like them. I enjoy packing, and I’m really looking forward to using a strapon for sex. Some guys report pain during sex due to growth, and I really don’t want that.

6. Puberty is bloody traumatic

I hated it the first time, and not just because it gave me features I didn’t want. It was just generally stressful, getting used to new things all the time, and feeling generally ashamed of every last thing (like being a spotty oik) while it was going on. I’m sure it wouldn’t be that bad second time around but it’s a stressor I could do without.

7. It won’t fix me

I’m short. It’s one of the things I hate about myself. As in, crying-as-I-write-this levels of hate. And I regret beyond belief not taking testosterone at 16, back when it might have done me some good. But I will never be tall, or even average. Even among trans guys, I feel like crap because of my height- and it upsets me all the time that I missed the boat on that one. T will never make me feel any better about that.

8. I don’t know who I’m going to be on T

My dad is not someone I like. I am someone I like. It frightens me that T might push me away from being like me, and towards being like my dad.

Hormones do change a person. But I don’t want to change. I think I’m loyal and considerate and creative and all kinds of wonderful things. If I take T, I start fucking with that winning formula.

9. I have a history of disordered eating

Putting fat on my belly could be fucking lethal for me. Loads of people put on weight when they start T, and I 100% do not want to. Being overweight terrifies me. There are so many reasons on this point why going on T could be absolutely disastrous for me.

What if I go the other way? Make use of a higher metabolism to lose weight quickly? Neither outcome ends well for me.

10. I don’t want to lose my hair

A lot of trans guys go bald. My mum’s side of the family are all pretty sparse up top, and I think that would be the ultimate indignity- no dick, 5’4” and a head like the bleeding moon.

11. There is no way of taking T that suits me

I’d rather have gel than shots, because I hate interacting with other people, and that puts it at a minimum. It keeps my levels nice and even. Lovely.

Except, there are all sorts of recommendations like doing at night after a shower, which would completely blow my daily routine (not to mention my sex life) to hell in a handbasket. I don’t want to be fucking someone, and frightened that I’m going to transfer testosterone off my skin. It’s just not sexy.

12. I don’t want to medicalise my life

If I take T, I take it for the rest of my life. It becomes my routine. Blood tests, shots, rinse and repeat. It will never end. I will never get a normal life. Not ever. And I can’t help but feel that every time I try and engage with someone over this, I’m going to be reminded that there are so many amab guys who will never have to suffer this shit.

Faced with that, I’m pretty content that T is not the right decision for me for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t make me any less trans. Hell, I suffered physical dysphoria (the Gold Standard of truscum gatekeeping) just writing this post. I know who I am, and I know how difficult my life is going to be as a result of not taking T. And I’m going to hear the words “when you start transitioning” long after I’m 10 years into the process. But I’m happy that I’m doing the right thing.

On Paths

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Sometimes, walking across the countryside, people don’t stick to the paths. Instead, they forge their own route, and over time, as more and more people tread the same path, it gets worn down. It starts to become a path in its own right.

That’s how I feel about gender.

I live in the UK, which like most Western societies, has these two paths, male and female. And anyone who doesn’t feel like those paths are right for them has to stomp down brambles and stinging nettles to get where they need to go.

I am nonbinary. I don’t feel female or male. “Male” might be a better fit- but it’s still not right.

But I’m too tired to have to be surmounting obstacles all the time. I have a temporary job in a crap economy and while I would love to fuck the system and dance to my own tune, I have rent to pay. I don’t have the spoons or the financial fallback to be a full-time gender outlaw.

I really want to make a video. But I’m afraid of success. I’m afraid of the video circulating, my employer finding out and then terminating me.

Because that’s legal. In the UK. In 2016.

While binary trans people have protection from all types of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, the law explicitly states that nonbinary people receive no such protection.

That makes me very afraid, and rightly so.

So, forgive people if they don’t “look” nonbinary. We’re just tired of scraping ourselves on thorns and we’ve decided to walk on a path for a little bit. It’s incredibly stressful to find your identity invalidated at every turn, and then to have the added indignity of being entirely vulnerable to the cruel whims of others.

But bit by bit, enough of us are going to walk that path for long enough that we clear the way. We will stamp down the obstacles one by one. And in our near future, someone will walk down that path, never once realising that there was a time when it wasn’t there at all.

Can I use talc on my packer?

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I do. But I was recently told on an ftm forum that I shouldn’t. So, I decided to do my own research. My conclusions? You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.

From what I gather, this nugget about packer maintenance seems to have originated from Hudson’s Guide, an absolutely invaluable resource for any new-to-this-shit trans man (myself included; would recommend).

Anyway, Hudson states “there is some evidence that the use of talcum powder has been linked to cervical cancer”. This is patently not true. However, as Hudson was basically the only person telling us what we needed to know, it seemed better to trust in his advice than to go “cervical cancer? What larks!” and dust our dicks with talc.

However, there may be a link between the use of talc and ovarian cancer. Which, for post-oophorectomy trans men, is not actually an issue at all.

The theory goes like this- in the 1970s, delicate ladies were told by Johnson & Johnson to disguise the unsavoury scent of their unmentionables with a daily dusting of talc. Talc, being made up of fine particles, travelled up their hoohah, through the cervix, into the uterus, round the fallopian tubes and settled finally into the ovary, where they triggered the formation of tumours.

However, the evidence to back this up is weak. They rely on people self-reporting that they used talc many years previously, which isn’t terrifically accurate. Stronger studies have found no link whatsoever- human and hamster studies which compare talc-users to non-talc users (no idea why the hamsters are using talc, don’t ask me) saw no significant difference in the rate of ovarian cancer.

Even if the risk is there, it only increases the risk of ovarian cancer by up to a third. Which, although it sounds dramatic, the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer is less than 2%. So we’re looking at a 1 in 40 chance of getting ovarian cancer, rather than 1 in 50 (presuming we still have ovaries to get cancer in).

Also, talc used to contain asbestos. Which as we all know, is hella carcinogenic. So it could just be that these talc-users got cancer form their old-timey asbestos-ridden talc.

Regardless, the World Health Organisation classes talc as a “possibly carcinogenic” agent of class 2B. That’s the same class as:

  • Aloe vera leaf
  • Coffee
  • Kimchi
  • Progestogen-only contraceptives

Androgenic steroids are class 2A. Alcohol is class 1. Kind of puts things into perspective.

Below I’ve linked to everything I read before writing this post. I encourage you to read over them, to do your own research, and I’d be particularly interested in anything decisive that convinces me not to use talc. But for now, I will continue to do so.

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/cancer-controversies/cosmetics-and-toiletries#Cosmetics2

http://www.ftmguide.org/

http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-05-24/women-are-suing-johnson-johnson-over-talcum-powder

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x25006277/is-it-safe-to-use-talcum-powder-on-my-baby

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/23/should-i-stop-using-talcum-powder