Does Aliatair have difficulties talking? I feel embarrassed asking but I've caught on to very few things said that make me wonder. I have a young family member in my family that takes speech therapy. What is the most difficult part of parenting you are experiencing?
He was slow to start using words, but babbled a lot. In the past couple of months his vocabulary has really skyrocketed. He isn't always clear, and he still babbles, but the intent and understanding is there. He's been in speech therapy for awhile as part of the Early Steps program. Honestly, our biggest struggle is feeding. Ever since he was born we were told he was too short, underweight, and needed to grow. My parents give us a hard time about it, but the doctors told us to try medicine, food therapy, and we've even had him checked for reflux and intestinal issues under anesthesia. It's the hardest thing, and people don't seem to understand the struggle because they "say him eat, he eats" but he's only eating the 4-5 foods prepared the one way he likes them and goes off foods very quickly. Unsolicited advice would be a close second.
If the moon was made of spare ribs, would you eat it?
Only if the change in gravity wouldn't harm the Earth, but yeah I totally would.
Are you happy with the way you look? What physical attributes do you find attractive? I really like dark eyes and wish I had them! I also really love your curly hair! What do you use on it to keep it so healthy?
Honestly? No. I don't think any woman would tell you outright that she always feels like she looks good. I do have rare good days where I feel confident and pretty, and then there's the days I feel like crap and want to curl up in a ball and hide. Usually I'm somewhere in the middle: I don't like everything about myself, but its enough to get through the day.
I like defined waists, interesting hair styles/colors, soft features, button noses, gorgeous smiles -- that sort of thing; I just like cute people, I guess? That's a complicated question and I'm not even sure I can give an accurate answer, really. I'm pretty envious of people with straight hair and different colored hair; mine is kind of like a straw color and I've never been really happy with it, but dying it would probably wreak havoc on my curls. For the life of me I can't find a way to put it up without looking weird.
Thanks! Curly hair is a blessing and a curse in that it either looks good or its a frizzy ball of messy waves. I use the DevaCurl line of products in my hair (NoPoo/LowPoo, Conditioner, Styling Cream). In between washes I'll use their curl refresher, but typically I only get a day or two on a wash before it gets wonky.
Anywho, I hope that helps despite being wibbly wobbly and indiscrete.
What is a gender binary? I get lost trying to differentiate gender and sexual orientation. It's hard to unlearn things we were taught growing up but I really want to try. If you have links that would be cool to share.
The gender binary is the notion that there are only two "real" genders, male and female. The cold hard fact of it is that there aren't just two -- its a spectrum. Gender isn't set in stone from birth, either. Sometimes people shift towards either end, and sometimes they're just not on the spectrum at all (agender).
There's a lot of academic arguments around gender as a concept -- whether it comes from self, society, or sex assigned at birth. Julia Serano's book listed below is a good resource (at least in my opinion) to get a grasp of the major theory. For me, though, its just part of who I am -- my identity.
Sexual orientation is an entirely different thing with its own wibbly wobbly madness. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual... that's just the beginning. There's demisexual and any number of other variants that define sexual orientation and attraction. I personally identify as a lesbian and/or bisexual depending on context.
It's okay to feel confused; at the end of the day just treat people the way they want to be treated and everything will be right as rain. If you're interested in learning more I'm pretty fond of Julia's books (even if we don't agree 100% on everything), and for a more family oriented look there's Jenny Boylan's "She's Not There" as well as "Stuck in the Middle With You". There's also a transgender focused re-write of Our Bodies, Our Selves called Trans Bodies, Trans Selves but I've not personally read that one.
Here's some resources:
Julia Serano's Whipping Girl Chapter 6 "Intrinsic Inclinations"
Does gender matter to you at all? IE: If you were single would you actively seek a relationship with a woman or man?
That's a tough question given my lack of experience in that department. (I mean, I've been with Ali half my life, I don't really know what I'd do without her.) However, I identify in the Kinsey 4-5 range which basically means I'm primarily interested in women but I'd be more than a little into men, if that makes sense? Gender presentation and identity does matter to me, but only in that I have a preference. Everyone has a type, no?
There's also this answer from earlier: http://ask.fm/willasaywhat/answers/115143257494
Did you and Alicia get pregnant via hetero sex or was it not done PiV style? Sorry that's so personal! I've always wondered due timing of your coming out.
Uhm, yeah, that is kind of super personal. I started HRT roughly the same week as Alistair was conceived. Take from that what you will. If you want to come off anon I'd be happy to discuss further from a trans parent perspective.
What was the name of the tumblr you had that Ali found? Can you share how (she found out, what was on there, what the conversation was, etc)
I won't share the link; too much stuff on there for you to find anything anyway. I will say that the post she saw was a Trans 30 day challenge thing with 30 questions to kick it off. One was about having children. I said something to the effect of "I don't want children if they won't have two parents, and I'm not sure what would happen if I transition." Basically I didn't want kids at the time because I wasn't sure who I was at the time, and that hurt her so deeply that she confronted me about it and that kick started my eventual transition.
We resolved that conflict by banking genetic material. Oh, and accidentally having a kid (who is super cute).
You don't seem very vocal about your Trans-ness. Like you'd rather just exist as a woman than admit your previous life. Do you think all trans people should opt for this (blending in quietly) or should there be Trans Activists? I think both have their roles! Kisses!
I would like to "just exist as a woman", but my past is also a large part of my life.
I try not to let my life be overcome by the fact that I'm trans, and I try not to discuss the past in mixed company because of where those questions inevitably lead. I don't, at all, think that every trans person should go the same route as I've chosen. For me, being trans was a blip in my reality. It isn't a massive chasm I've crossed that separates the past from the present. It doesn't define me, or at least I strive for it not to.
My accounts on social media were slightly modified to reflect my new identity, but all of the history (and consequently memories) are all there if you dig deep enough. When I transitioned I made a conscious choice not to hide. My life is much the same. We have old wedding pictures up on the walls along with my Bachelor's degree which I've neglected to update. There are hints of the past everywhere, but the future is so bright that I rarely look back.
While I am quiet, I consider myself quiet activist. I speak up when I need to, and I say things that need to be said to move the needle to where it needs to be. I've been hurt by doing that in the past, but I can't steer away from it. That said, the reasons I fight are selfish. I want a world where I can be safe, where I can be free, and where my rights are preserved. I want my son to grow up in that world. I have been rather vocal lately on the matters of HB2, bathroom bills and resolutions (Marion County), as well as the Target gun wielding bathroom police. I don't enjoy being vulnerable in that way, but sometimes it is necessary to lend credibility to my criticism of those legislations.
To be more succinct, I've never been a *loud* kind of person. I prefer to just live, and have that life speak volumes where my voice has not. That method isn't for everyone, nor is it better or worse than anyone else's choice. It just happens to be mine.
why do you think people are so worried what's going on in between a Trans persons legs? do the questions about how you have sex with her or if you're getting bottom surgery bother you or Ali? It's invasive, does it ever go away?
Honestly? I think it is because they can't fathom what it is like to be trans. Society tells men and women that they being around one another always leads to physical intimacy and/or lust. Most cisgender, straight people can't even begin to conceive a world where simply meeting someone of the gender you're attracted to doesn't lead to sex. When you add the trans adjective in there they just get even more confused. Now, that doesn't explain why gays and lesbians aren't using different restrooms...
The questions are bothersome at times, but they've waned since the early days of my transition. Very rarely will anyone ask that question anymore. Doctors love to ask about surgeries in general, and that tends to get a cold response from me. As far as Ali and I we get the "how did you have your son" question a lot more. They want to know if we used a donor or a surrogate and how that process works (we're lesbians, after all). Sometimes I'm comfortable outing myself, and sometimes I'm not. I am trying to open up more often, but it isn't always that easy.
So to answer your final question, it does fade. My life is far less about being trans these days. I'm a mother who works at home and plays a vital role in several local non-profit organizations. My gender identity is the least of my concern. That said, the anxiety of not fitting in never fully left me. Being a lesbian in the South in and of itself is a novelty. Being trans on top of that makes things decidedly more unique; especially with a child. I'm very fortunate to have the privileges I have been afforded to be somewhat out, while maintaining a career and thriving family.
how did Ali feel about the transition making her a lesbian, or was she bisexual before? If you weren't with Ali, would you be more interested in men or women?
I answered this: http://ask.fm/willasaywhat/answers/115143257494
She answered this: http://ask.fm/niftyBA/answers/114052892746
To be blunt, we're doing pretty damn well.
how long will you have to take hormones before you start passing?
This is a rude question. I do pass and have for some time. There are times where my anxiety takes over and I do feel scrutinized in public, but predominantly this is my own standards of beauty ruining my day. This question didn't help that.
What's your least favorite "woman clothing" item? Something you didn't wear before, but do now.
That's difficult to answer, honestly. Bras are a nightmare, and its not because they aren't useful or because I "don't like them" but more that they are impossible to get properly fitted. They aren't made with real women's sizes in mind, at all. Every woman I've asked has said the same thing: bras are hard, and finding your perfect fit takes trial and error. I've never had to deal with a piece of undergarment that not only has to fit perfectly, but that also stretches and can change fit subtlety over time. How incredibly frustrating.
What’s the first thing you’d do if you were the opposite sex for one day?
This one was a question of the day. I laughed. ;)
Do you think Hannah Montana is the best? I sure do. BTW. Your words here have been very insightful.
A long, long time ago I may have said yes. That said, nope. Not anymore. And thank you, it means a lot to hear that this has been helpful. :)
You're always so busy, with work, the non-profit, motherhood. Is it best to let you relax or do you like chatting if we see you around/on Facebook/etc.
I'm trying to be less busy, but I'll admit, motherhood is filling in the gaps. I like to chat when I can though, and enjoy building deep, lasting relationships with people. Unfortunately, I have trouble forcing that to happen. My intuition and empathy means I can read between the lines, and sometimes I'm not comfortable with those feelings. That said, I'd rather have that personal contact than not -- it shows you care.
How does it feel to not be able to use pockets on pants anymore?
Uhm, so, pants are not nearly as bad as skirts and dresses that don't have pockets at all. It's especially horrible at work, because sometimes I need to bring my wallet to the cafeteria, but if I have to stop somewhere on the way, I need my entire tote bag. I definitely need a clutch or something to put in my tote. I just wish my key fob for my car wasn't enormous, and that my phone fit in the little pockets on my purses.
Do you feel like you treat your family and friends the same as before? If so, have you changed your expectations or behavior around them?
Things have changed, definitely, but not that much. My family and I went through some rough times last year, not all related to my transition, and things haven't really been the same ever since. I've become more vocal, assertive and unyielding with my family in some aspects. I've had to in order to move forward. I hope that, one day, the emotional bonds which are so severely worn are reforged. For now, I'm learning to let go and be more understanding, and kind -- even when it's not my duty to do so.
With friends there's a slight re-calibration needed, especially with my male friends, because my interests and needs have been re-prioritized. I still love all the things I once did, but I also have a few newly visible hobbies, likes, and dislikes. With the baby, and all the distractions of transition, a lot of things have fallen by the wayside too. My intuition and emotional needs are also very sensitive, and require a bit more care and feeding than they used to. I need to be valued, and cared for, not just serving a function. I need to feel safe, and know that I can count on them to respect my identity, and my right to disclose (or not).
Do you plan to stop ask fm? If so...when?
Not really, but I'd hoped to suss out most of the juicy questions up front. ;)
How have your pre transition friends reacted. Good? Bad? Do they take it sceirously?
I've only had one friend be completely combative, and leave me for good. Most people understand that this is a really hard thing for both myself and everyone in my life, and are willing to either make it work or at least be cordial. At first, my coping method of humour had people laughing with me, but as I've moved into year 2 of HRT I've tried to stop making light of the situation so that others will see that its a serious matter, and critical to my life. I think, too, that people aren't sure what to say or do.
How /IS/ your cat so awesome?
I shall answer this with a picture.
whats your favorite part about being a woman? for me its the boobs and make-up, even if i suck at doing it Lol
Choice. Before, I never felt like I had a choice in how to express myself. Now, I can dress however I feel, cry when I feel it coming, and let myself experience things that I had always put walls up to prevent. Julia Serano's book "Whipping Girl" describes a process of demystifying femininity and I never really understood it until I started my transition.
That's not to say that my body image isn't far better than it was -- because it is, mainly due to me never caring about how I looked before. I actually wake up in the morning and care what I look like, and what I wear. There's a sense of pride in getting ready in the morning that was never there before. I'm still very uncomfortable with certain aspects of how I look, but you know, I'd choose this over the former.
Makeup is, well, its still mostly a mystery to me. I absolutely love a little mascara for daily wear, but I've still not been matched properly for foundation or really used any of the brushes I've bought. I'm happy to be able to wear things because I like them, and not because they 'help me pass' at this point. Not everyone has that privilege.
were you in therapy before or after you decided to become true? what was the hardest part about therapy?were you in therapy for the dysphoria?
I started therapy in November 2012, if I remember correctly. This was shortly after Ali confronted me about it, and said I needed to do something about it. I was relatively sure of the outcome before therapy, but I was afraid of what it would cost me in terms of family, friends, career and health. Therapy helped me work through those issues and move forward with what I needed to do to be my full and authentic self. My dysphoria was never as intense as many trans people experience, and it was mostly social in nature, so the time spent in therapy was honestly more focused on navigating the waters of transition than anything else. I still go, but we talk about other things now in addition to transition like my inability to say no when it comes to community commitments, emotional bonds with friends and family, and what comes next in my career. Its helped me tremendously to focus on my needs, and the needs of my family.
I know that some trans people prefer to get rid of traces of their former selves in photos and such. What are your thoughts on this? This may be presumptuous, but it seems like you have a much less antagonistic relationship with yourself pre-transition than other folks. Anyhoo, thx for your candor.
To forsake my past would be, in a sense, saying it had no worth and that I was not proud of it. I am proud of my past achievements, relationships, and the things I've experienced. It does make me uncomfortable to see old pictures now, but mostly because I don't recognize that person nor can I relate to them anymore. I value the last 28 years, because of the people I spent them with, and I could never give that up.
Also, as an aside, I'd probably do well in the Candor faction. Well, for awhile at least. ;)
is it harder for family, friends, or co-workers to make the change from Billy to Willa. Why go with Willa and not Billie?
It seems to be hardest for friends. Ali was the first to really use that name, my parents took awhile to come around, my best friends still struggle with it at times, and I have a couple coworkers that still slip up from time to time. That said, most people are pretty good about using my name now.
I've stuck with Willa because it makes me a lot more comfortable. Using my old nickname, even phonetically, is confusing and I can't tell if people are respecting my identity or not. Doubt plagues the mind, and I have enough of that to go around already.
were you more concerned with friends, co-workers, or strangers reactions?
All of the above. Mostly, I was concerned about immediate family. Then co-workers, and friends and strangers last. Friends I get to pick, and friends who can't handle a little truth were likely never friends at all. That said, I worried deeply about my best friends reactions because I didn't want to lose them. Strangers, well, they're strangers -- unless they affect my safety, I really don't need to care (even if I do, way too much). Coworkers are different, because I don't always get to pick who I work with. I considered the worst case scenario, and definitely worried that I would have to leave my (decidedly awesome) job. I still think about that sometimes, but most of the time things are just... normal, in a good way.