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Zoe

January 2000

"I was a teenage gay boy"

Hi! I'm one of those ex-gays. No, not one of those ex-gays. I'm transsexual but I used to identify as a gay man. I suppose that I was never really a gay man but I used that identity and focused on my sexuality in order to ignore the major issues I had with my gender.

It all worked when I was in the closet at school, I could blame my total dissatisfaction with my life, feelings of being an outsider and desperation to have female friends and express my emotions on the fact that I was gay but no one knew. Of course that didn't really explain my feelings, it didn't explain why when my male friends were looking at girls and saying "Whoa, look at the legs on her" I was thinking "Ohhh I wish I could wear shoes like that."

So I managed to deny the reality of my life all the way through school but when I actually got to university and came out (that had always been my light at the end of the tunnel) things just got worse and worse. I was very open, I had lots of friends who accepted me, my parents totally accepted me, I was active in the LGB society and I even had boyfriends. It was a life that any gay man would love. Unfortunately I had all the same problems but there was no closet sexuality to hide behind. The safe blanket excuse was pulled away and my gender issues were left cowering and exposed at the front of my mind.

It became increasingly obvious that I was just as much living a lie as a gay man as I was as a straight man or any kind of man for that matter. I came out on the Internet, I went to see a specialist psychiatrist, I got on female hormones and here I am seven months later well on the way to transitioning into a role that reflects the person I am in my mind rather than the bits of meat I have hanging between my legs.

OK so you know who I am now, so why the hell am I writing to Oasis then? It's all gay, teenage, American, boys bitching about not being able to get dates and doing lyrics competitions isn't it? (Nothing wrong with that mind you, although diversity is always good) Well last time I looked Oasis described itself as "written by, about and for queer and questioning youth". Now I don't know about you but I think we can safely include transgendered people into the category of 'queer' (More about that later) and if you're questioning, for whatever reason, one of the possible answers is definitely some kind of gender issue.

Look at my story-I always felt like an unlovable freak, I always felt like I was different from everyone else. I picked up on the fact that I was attracted to people who were the same sex as me and as a result went on the Internet and started being 'questioning'. I found Oasis along with various other resources and the 'gay identity' helped me to survive my feelings. So at the time I didn't get the right answers to my questions but knowing that there's nothing wrong with being gay helped me to live with myself until my mind was strong enough to accept what was really wrong.

Oasis helped me a lot which is why I want to put something back and maybe help some other people in the same situation as me (It's not as unusual as you'd think, just look at Katie's column from last month). I think it's important that a resource like Oasis includes all the possible 'answers' for everyone who comes to it after they begin to question their sexual (and gender) identity. So yet again, if you read Oasis, or you were ever questioning and Oasis helped you, but you don't see anyone else on here who's like you then write to Jeff and start contributing!

Remember I said TG people definitely fit comfortably in the category of 'queer'? I hope no one out there's disagreeing with that right now. People who are transgendered, who transgress society's gender rules, are queer by definition. It's a label that covers every color in the LGBT spectrum. Even if you don't buy that story and insist we just look at it in terms of sexuality there's clearly a very good case.

Think of it this way, exactly what does gay, straight and bisexual mean when your gender is different from your sex, or in the middle or both or even neither? If you're a boy but you have the body of a girl you're being 'gay' when you have a relationship with pretty much anyone by someone's definition. Then add how the straight majority views TG people. They're definitely 'fags' (you know that means cigarettes in my country?), in fact they're more than 'fags' they're 'fags' who want to change sex or present a different gender to their sex.

To the average Joe or Jo Public in the street TG people are the Uberfags the faggiest of the fags, super-fag, you get the picture... In the range of acceptability the preppy, (so-called) 'straight-acting', clean cut, college boy is somewhere near the top and the slightly 'swishy' gay man who openly hums show tunes (yes that's right look disgusted) and might even call another man 'Hon' (shock horror) is somewhere in the middle (Perhaps he'll get invited to the occasional dinner party because "Those people are just so witty!") but right at the bottom in the lock-up-your-pets-and-small-children-draw-the-curtains-turn-the-lights-off-and-hide-behind-the-furniture-until-it-goes-away category is the gender trash kid who wears clothes appropriate to the other sex and even claims to be of the other sex (just look at the ratings they bring in on talk shows -it's the modern day freak show)!

So we're here, we're queer, yadda, yadda, yadda, you know how it goes. So welcome to the world of gender-queer. I hope you enjoy your visit. Please drive carefully and deposit all trash in the bins provided. If you need to visit the bathroom please don't panic, we have a wide selection of options to match every possible configuration (Why we don't just have one very large one is anyone's guess). I'm sure you'll be welcome as long as you're accepting and don't ask people what's between their legs (I mean how rude is that!).

There's a whole host of folks here, men, women, both, neither and other. If you're not sure where you fit into all of this yet it's sure going to be fun to find out! That's all from me for this month, hopefully I'll see you again next month where I'll be bitching about not being able to get dates and revealing to you who wrote these lyrics: "Just kidding!"

Bye,

Zoe
http://www.zowie256.freeserve.co.uk
rjwt1@ukc.ac.uk

Zoe is a 20 year-old, pre-op male to female transsexual (but doesn't let it get her down). She lives in Canterbury, England where she studies Computer Science at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Hey interests include somehow managing to read and contribute to large numbers of mailing lists, writing far too much on her Web site, being the president of her university's LGBT society, watching Anime, reading imported American comics and spending quality time with her girlfriend.


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