3

A follow up about the Bruce Jenner interview

I wrote yesterday about my fears for Bruce Jenner’s two hour interview. In some places I may have failed to make some of my thoughts perfectly clear, but I stand by my point.

I received a lot of comments accusing me of not supporting Bruce Jenner and being bitter because Bruce’s story doesn’t match my story, as if this is actually in any way about me (it’s not). While it is true that Bruce’s story is very different from mine, it obviously has parallels. But much of this criticism came at me dripping in class privilege, without any consideration of what our community’s most marginalized members deal with. A complete lack of the intersectionality of class and race with trans issues.

To be clear, of course I think all trans stories are worth telling! To say otherwise would be ridiculous. My point was that we are all different and unique. We have different stories and experiences. Bruce’s story is just one of an infinite number of trans stories and we should be wary how much the media focuses on his. I would never try to suggest Bruce doesn’t deal with many of the same feelings and things all trans people deal with. However, Bruce’s transition is still very different. Having money can’t buy your way out of transphobia and all the dysphoria and feelings, but it can ease many of the of the struggles around being able to simply pay for shit. If you cannot see or understand this, you have a serious case classism that I can’t help you with.

I say this as someone who lives with an immense amount of privilege. I’m white, my wife and I do not worry about money, and we live in the NYC area. It makes a difference. A HUGE difference. My transition was relatively easy because of all of this. That’s not to say being trans is ever made easy or any of it is easy, but I do have advantages many do not have. While there is too much to go into around this in this post, it is still important to consider. Still, just like Jenner’s, my story matters too. As I’ve said, all trans stories and all trans experiences matter. However, trans activism and media should focus on our most marginalized and our most at risk.

We must not leave anyone behind in our fight for equality. The LGBT movement largely left the T behind and mainstream feminism has largely left women of color behind. We must not make the same mistake other fights have had and the only way to ensure we don’t is to focus on those most marginalized. Lifting their stories and focusing on them lifts us all up. I’m sorry white trans folks with money, but this means it’s not all about us.

So, yes, Bruce Jenner’s story matters, but it should never be the focus of our community.

As for the actual interview, it was absolutely not the transwreck many expected. The interview was far from perfect, but it was more a fender-bender than a wreck. I clearly underestimated Bruce a lot, but I never didn’t support him. Diane Sawyer made mistakes and drifted into a few of the standard tropes, but largely avoided any major faux pas. While the interview clearly showed just how far the media has to go on trans issues still, it was, without a doubt, an indication of progress and real effort being put in.

While I found the use of he/him pronouns and repeated referring to him as a man to be very jarring and likely to be confusing to many cis (not trans) people, I actually completely understand Bruce’s request for that. I get the compartmentalization of what is essentially a persona you put on vs the actual real person you are. I think that’s something a lot of us have had to do to some degree. And Bruce’s request for this is why I am using masculine pronouns in this piece. This is what Bruce asked us to do, at least for the interview, so that is what we should do.

For me, the biggest issue was the repeated question of what Bruce will look like “when he emerges as she.” There is just so much wrong with focusing on how a trans person will look after they transition. I know this is always the question on people’s minds, but it can really miss the point of transition. It is this thinking that creates hierarchies based on our appearance. It is because of this that those of us who “pass” or are pretty are often treated better. It is because of this that I use women’s rooms with no problem and am consistently gendered properly while my friend Robyn has the complete opposite experience despite even having a more femme style than I do. It doesn’t matter to anyone else what we look like. It only matters to us.

All of this said, the reality is we’ve been burned time and time again by the media and “good intentions.” One only needs to look back a year to Piers Morgan’s interview with Janet Mock and Katie Couric’s interview with Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera to see what I mean. Or how about a couple months ago with Jill Soloway? Skepticism is completely warranted and we should still exercise it until being burned is no longer the norm. I actually think this string of tweets by Casey Plett really nails of lot of why we should continue to be skeptical.

Additionally, I stand by my fear that media will center too much around Jenner’s story instead of those I mentioned above. I want to be wrong here, I absolutely do, but until the media starts to get this right, I will continue to be skeptical.

I’ve seen a lot of cis people come out this week in support of Bruce Jenner. That’s GREAT! For real, it’s absolutely awesome to have people supporting trans people, but it’s hard to not question where these people are when we’re calling out transphobic jokes in TV shows and movies. I didn’t see people speak up when a trans woman was murdered every week for the first two months of this year. Are these people speaking up against the proposed laws in Texas, Florida, and other states to limit our right to access public restrooms? Supporting Bruce is great, but it cannot end there. This is why I continue advocate for our focus on our most marginalized and to focus less on coming out stories and more on the lived experiences of trans folk.

I 100% support Bruce Jenner, but let’s make sure we never leave anyone behind. Let’s fight for more than just the scraps that fall off the table of equality. Let’s fight for a seat at the table.

21

About this Bruce Jenner interview

Update: I’ve written a followup here and turned off the comments on this post after an inbox full of attacks. If you still wish to comment, feel free to do so on the followup post.

Screenshot 2015-04-24 11.18.11Tonight, it’s expected that Bruce Jenner will reveal they’re transgender in a two-hour interview with Diane Sawyer. For most of us trans folk, especially the ladies, this is something we’ve been dreading for quite some time.

It may be tempting to see this as a great bit of visibility for the trans community and another chance for us to talk about trans issues. It may appear we are gaining an advocate and spokesperson in the mainstream media. None of this is true, however. There is nothing positive to come from this interview tomorrow. Most of us are actually quite afraid of the world we will be living in after this evening.

(Please note that I am using the singular “they” as Jenner’s pronoun. Jenner has not yet asked us to use a different pronoun and doing so before being told what to use would be inappropriate.)

What is important to consider is where Bruce Jenner is coming from. They are a privileged white person who exists in the heart of celebritydom. They are already a household name in mainstream media…and rich. Yes, this is going to make their personal experience difficult in a way most of us could not imagine, however, this is where the problem lies. Jenner’s experience does not and will never line up with the experience of 99.99% of trans people. Everything about Jenner will be about them and not about trans people.

Jenner will never understand the fear of being fired from their job simply because they are transgender. Jenner will not have to fear violence at every turn. They will not struggle to afford treatment (hormones, surgery, etc) while fighting with insurance companies to get anything at all covered. They will not experience housing discrimination.

Jenner will literally be able to buy their way out of any experience even remotely typical for those of us in the transgender community. Jenner will be able to snap their fingers for a new wardrobe, a body guard, medical treatment, and anything else they need.

This is not the person who should be the face of our community. The face of our community should not be our most privileged and least marginalized. It should be exactly the opposite. The face of our community should be our most marginalized. Our focus should not be trickle-down in nature. We need to be lifting up from the bottom. No one should be left behind. Our focus and the face of our community should be transgender women of color.

Jenner is not equipped for these conversations, nor should they even be expected to. Even for me, it took a couple years of listening to others in my community before I felt confident enough to be having important discussions around trans issues. I needed to learn the limits of my experience and to not speak over or for those less privileged than me. I needed to learn when to elevate the voices of others and speak in ways and about things with the nuance necessary to not over-step my boundaries. This does not come automatically.

This will not be how things go with Jenner. They will immediately be treated as an expert on transgender issues by the media. Their experience will be put front and center as The Transgender Experience™ instead of just one of many ways to be transgender and experiences to have. We saw this happen recently with Zoey Tur.

Jenner is not an expert on trans issues. I don’t even consider myself to be an expert and I am involved in the community and with activism. In reality, no one can truly be an expert on trans issues because trans experiences are varied and individualistic. Being a vocal part of the trans community and speaking for trans people means having a deep understanding of this fact. It is impossible for Jenner to possess this understanding.

Going even beyond Jenner’s ability to speak for trans people, we’ve already had a glimpse of the nastiness to come from the media. It’s not pretty. Simply look at TMZ and other tabloid publications. Jenner comes with too much baggage. People are too eager to use them being transgender as another way to attack him in pursuit of a quick buck.

Much of the bullying and attacks on Jenner feel like a flashback to the 90s for me. I still have mental scars from the imagery and treatment of trans people in the 90s. Media depictions like those on Jerry Springer set me back almost two decades in figuring out who I was and how to navigate being transgender. I fear a repeat of this for transgender youth of today.

Bruce Jenner’s stardom comes with immense visibility, but visibility isn’t always positive. Each insult hurled at Jenner isn’t just an insult of Jenner, it’s an attack on all trans people. These “jokes” are at the expense of all trans people. We are the punchline. Jenner will be a magnet for transphobia and transmisogyny and while they may be able to endure it and shelter themself from it thanks to decades of experience being in the spotlight, the vast majority of the trans community cannot.

Jenner’s “journey” and this interview won’t be about transgender people and the trans community, it will be about them and all of us will be the innocent victims handed over in exchange for media profits.

Regardless of all of this, Jenner still deserves our respect. They deserve to be properly gendered however they ask us to do. But I beg for the world to not look to Jenner to speak for us.

Update: Based on a lot comments I’ve received in various places, it seems as though I completely failed to make one of my main points clear enough. I 100% support Bruce Jenner and all trans people. My issue isn’t with Bruce Jenner themself at all. It is with a society and a media that will no doubt center around their experience and their story as THE transgender story and experience. We all have different stories and experiences and they are all worth being heard. I don’t want to, in any way, imply that I don’t believe that. Bruce’s experience is just one of an infinite number of them. What I fear is what will be thrust upon Bruce and the elevation of THEIR story over all others. This will only serve to bury the stories of our most marginalized.

2

Asbury Park Half Marathon – 1:48:11

RunAPalooza Asbury Park Half Marathon 2015

Ignore the nail polish situation here. It came off as soon as I got home.

Oddly, before Saturday, I hadn’t raced a half marathon in three years. Yes, THREE! I’ve run four half marathons (raced two of them) in that period of time, but the last half marathon I did outside of Disney World or Disneyland and wasn’t just for fun was three years ago, April 2012. That’s before I even decided to transition! Really, I guess it’s just because I don’t run a lot of races and I’ve been staying focused on the marathon, but I don’t think this is doing my any favors. In order to get better at the marathon, I need to be running half marathons too.

Enter the Asbury Park Half Marathon at RunAPalooza.

I was back-and-forth on whether or not I wanted to do this race. Last year, it was the day before the New Jersey Marathon and my wife ran it–she massively PRed! The race seemed reasonably well put together and it’s not too far away, so it seemed like a good candidate for a tune-race. Plus, it fell on a 16-mile long run day this year. Perfect!

Race Day

I woke up around 5:30–which is roughly when I wake up most weekday mornings these days–and was able to hop right out of bed. I wasn’t quite feeling energized, but I had no trouble getting up. I got dressed real quick, ate some oatmeal, and ran out the door. Unfortunately, I ended up being a few minutes behind schedule thanks to forgetting my glasses and having to head back to the house to get them and needing to stop for gas. Still, I made it down to Asbury Park in good time.

I parked and ran into the Convention Hall to grab my bib. Since I had 16 miles on the schedule, I wanted to knock out a three-mile warmup before the race. As I was throwing my bib on, my friend Lauren saw me and came over to say hi. We had planned to run the race together so we had to meet up anyway. After a quick hello, we set a meeting spot and I went out for my warmup. My timing ended up being pretty close to perfect and I finished my warmup with less than ten minutes to go before the race. Lauren and I quickly found each other again and snagged our spot in the corral.

Lauren wanted to keep around an 8:10 pace which sounded good to me. Ideally, that pace shouldn’t be too difficult for me right now. My only real concern was the weather. Last year, the weather was cool, but super windy. This year was nothing like that. The high for the day was set to be near 80 and the wind didn’t even exist. None of us East Coasters are anywhere near acclimated to that kind of warmth yet.

Anyway, after a couple minutes in the corral, the race started and we were off. We quickly found our pace and settled right in. Our race strategy was pretty simple, even 8:10s for 13.1 miles.

For the most part, things were extremely uneventful early on. We kept things steady with a nice conversation. Shortly before the halfway mark, we saw Aimee coming down the out part of the out-and-back in this part of the race. We waved and continued on.

If we’re being honest, I was already not feeling anywhere near how I wanted to be feeling. I felt like I was working too hard for the pace we were keeping. While I still haven’t set an official goal for Grandma’s Marathon in two months, I do know it’ll be somewhere in this realm, plus/minus 10 seconds. Considering that, I need to be able to keep this pace with no problem for a half marathon. The fact that I couldn’t is a major concern.

As we approached back towards the Convention Hall for our pass-by of the finish line on the boardwalk, I was starting to have serious concerns about keeping the pace up. We weren’t even at nine miles yet. Lauren wasn’t feeling too great either. I knew it wasn’t going to be a fun last four miles.

After passing the finish line, for an out-and-back in the other direction from where we had just came, we hooked a right turn onto a 30ft patch OF FRIGGIN’ SAND! It was the worst surprise ever! That really sucked and I felt it in my legs for a few minutes afterwards. This was the final nail in the coffin for having any sort of a decent race. Lauren needed a walk break because of a side stitch and, since I already established we’re being totally honest here, I wasn’t really opposed to the idea. We walked for a few seconds and then started back up again, but it didn’t last long before we needed another break. This time, though, I decided to power on.

From this point on, my pace dropped to about 8:30. I just wanted things to be over. I was hot and not having fun anymore. After the last turnaround, I just did my best to keep up as I had been, but it was rough. As a final insult, the course took us BACK OVER THE DAMN SAND with only like a quarter mile left to go! Ah!

As I approached the finish, I didn’t really try to give much else for the finish. It didn’t feel worth it. There was a guy running next to me that I made sure to beat but that was about it.

I crossed the finish at 1:48:11 and was just glad it was over.

I grabbed some water and waited for Lauren to finish so we could lament about how much that sucked.

Thoughts

I really don’t know what to make of this. As I mentioned, if I want to hit the goal I’d like to be setting for Grandma’s, this race shouldn’t have been so difficult. On the other hand, it was hot. Take off 15-20º and I think this would have been a very different day. I’m just not acclimated yet. My hope is I’ll acclimate just fine over the next two months and then head off to Duluth to race and it’ll be a little cooler than back here. We’ll see how that works out. Besides, my legs felt totally fine afterwards and the day after the race, so that’s a solid indication I wasn’t anywhere near pushing them.

There’s also the fact that I didn’t really have a great week running at all last week and didn’t do any taper at all. All my runs were slow and tough. I was just tired and not on top of my game. I wasn’t super surprised the race didn’t go great. Taking the entirety of my training so far into account, I think my expectation that this wouldn’t be a difficult pace to keep was correct, rather than this being a huge wake up call.

And even on top of that, I haven’t actually raced any race since July of last year. I was a bit rusty going in so, at the least, it was good to have a race to just get the cobwebs out a bit.

Anyway, I’m still not setting a goal in stone for my marathon yet. I’m going to see how the rest of training goes and then make a decision.

2

Apparently, I’ve been testosterone-free for two years

Here's the photo I shared yesterday for Transgender Day of Visibility. Look how damn trans I am!

Here’s the photo I shared yesterday for Transgender Day of Visibility. Look how damn trans I am! I’m just spewing it all over Tumblr HQ.

Apparently, today is my two year HRTiversary (anniversary of the day I started hormone replacement therapy). Who knew? I mean, I guess I did in the back of my head, but I completely forgot about it. I only even thought about it today because of a friend who reminded me this morning by wishing me happy HRTiversary.

I feel like I’m supposed to write something about this? Honestly, these anniversaries (HRT, “full time,” coming out, etc) feel like they’ve lost any real meaning to me. Sure, these days mark very important steps in my life towards happiness and honesty, but they also remind me of how long I told myself lies to avoid all of this and all the reasons why I had to. Why isn’t this my ten or eleven year HRTiversary? It easily could have been.
So, really, I don’t have much to say about this, but I do think it’s kind of ironic this is the day after Transgender Day of Visibility, a day which I have so many conflicting feelings about. Visibility is cool and all, but it’s also dangerous and brings extra attention to us, both individually and as a community. I try to be visible every day, but that’s just how I like to live my life. Partially, it’s because I don’t want to hide being trans anymore, partially because it allows me to take control of it and my identity, and…I don’t know, there are a bunch of other reasons too. Anyway, I’m not going to really go much into that when Red Durkin really nailed it yesterday. Just go read that.
I think my point here is I live being trans every day, anniversaries of various steps I took along the way seem kind of redundant. Absolutely, it’s nice to take a brief moment and be like “whoa, I can’t believe it’s been that long already” or “huh, that’s it? Feels like it’s been forever!” And that’s kind of the thing, some days it feels like it’s only been a brief part of my life, like the days when I’m reminded I’m still figuring out some parts of (openly) existing as a woman in the world. But there are other days where my pre-transition life feels like an entirely different life. It feels like a lifetime ago, like maybe it was just a past life and I’ve since reincarnated as this trans as fuck person who only kind hates herself instead of entirely hating herself.
Either way, the past is the past and it’s important to never forget it and learn everything you can from it. I wouldn’t change anything about it because I wouldn’t risk changing who I am. But…it’s the past. It’s done. I try to look forward as much as possible. Tons of awesome things have happened and changed over the last couple of years, but I feel like making any real big deal about these anniversaries is giving the past more attention than it deserves…or maybe just misplaced attention. I don’t know. It just feels weird, okay?
Man, that was cynical, wasn’t it? I swear I’m not nearly that cynical of a person!
Anyway, on a different note, being testosterone-free for two years is pretty fucking rad!
1

Grandma’s Marathon training: Weeks 1-4

I finally have a new profile pic on Twitter and Tumblr!

I finally have a new profile pic on Twitter and Tumblr!

Sheesh, I really don’t post here much anymore, do I? Work has been keeping me super busy, but I’m not actually complaining about that. I kind of like it.

So it’s now one quarter of the way through training for Grandma’s Marathon. I feel like training is flying by so far! I’ve converted fully to a morning runner during the week and an afternoon runner on the weekends. It’s been working out for me and I’ve somehow found the motivation to wake up at 5:30-5:45 every morning to run. I never thought that’d be a sentence I’d type!

For the most part, I feel like training is going pretty well. I’m finding I’m much stronger than I thought I was when I started and I’m running much faster with the same effort than I was even just a month ago. The only concern I’ve been having is my right knee and, well, actually my whole right leg. Starting a couple weeks ago, I began having some pain on the outside and inside of my knee, my calf has been tight, and my hip has been hurting kind of all around. When it first started, I took a couple days rest and focused on strengthening. It seemed to help and my runs last week were amazing. Then I woke up Friday and everything was feeling like crap again. Saturday and Sunday’s runs were okay and as I write this everything feels almost great. I really don’t know what to make of it. Mostly, it’s been just under the “I should probably not be running” threshold, but it’s close. I’ve been foam rolling and doing strength work every day and that’s definitely helping, but I feel like I’m flirting a little too much with injury lately.

Right now, my plan is to just pay close attention to it and be willing to let go if I need to. Until then, as long as the strength work and foam rolling is keeping it controlled, I’m going to keep to my plan.

Last week, I hit 40 miles which is my highest weekly mileage since the first week of July last year and I even went to two kick-ass spin classes! I’m pretty psyched about that. It was also three miles more than was scheduled which isn’t smart considering what I just was talking about, but I didn’t plan for it! On Saturday, the wife and I met Miranda and Jim for a little group run to meet Ruthie for a runner ice cream social. The route ended up being a lot longer than was described to me, but it was a fun run and the pace was easy so I didn’t complain. I guess that pre-emptively makes up for me skipping my run today to give my body a little extra sleep to get over this cold I woke up with yesterday.

Last Wednesday’s seven-miler ended up including my fastest 5k and 10k since transitioning which was especially impressive considering it was 12 hours after a great FlyWheel class where I was second on the Torq Board and PRed “total power.” I wasn’t even trying to run fast at first, it just sort of happened.

Despite all the weirdness in my right leg, this is how training has been overall. It’s been really encouraging for me. I’m already running faster than I thought I’d be by the end of training. We’ll see how the next twelve weeks go, but as long as I can keep the issues in my leg in check, I feel like I’ll be in good shape!

This was a foggy run! Usually, Manhattan is right there all staring you in the face.

This was a foggy run! Usually, Manhattan is right there all staring you in the face.

Starbucks, does ANYONE spell Amelia like this?

Starbucks, does ANYONE spell Amelia like this?

8

I was followed

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece over at RunHaven about what it’s like to run as a woman vs as a man when it comes to being harassed and worrying about your safety. Being transgender, I feel like I’m in a pretty good place to be able to describe how different running can feel out there depending on your gender. As I do with most of the things I write and am proud of, I posted the piece on Reddit. I wanted people to read it. Of course, I’m not naive enough to expect this to ever go well. I’ve grown to accept the cesspool of comments Reddit is so great at dishing out.

The comments alternated mostly between people focusing on my being transgender–which is especially annoying because the piece had nothing to do with being trans, it was only mentioned as a frame of reference for the fact that I’ve experienced both sides of the subject–and a lot of men telling me I’m paranoid and being dramatic and “playing victim.” I didn’t engage the latter comments.

Now, let’s fast forward to last night. I didn’t wake up to run before work yesterday morning. I could have willed myself to get out of bed, but the extra sleep and hours of rest for my legs seemed more important and I didn’t have anything after work preventing me from running. Now that it’s still light out until after 7, I thought I could just barely squeeze a five-miler in before the dark. I left work a little early to give myself more time, but I still didn’t get home, changed, and warmed up until 6:45. I started to worry a bit about finishing my run in the dark, but I didn’t want to skip my run.

On the way out on my regular out-and-back route, I passed a group of three younger men. As I was approaching the group, one of them looked me up and down and I heard him say “damn, that’s nice.” While it didn’t rattle me, it was a little annoying and probably primed me a little bit for what happened a few minutes later.

I turned around at two and a half miles and made my way back home, I was feeling pretty bummed about my run. My legs just weren’t feeling great and were giving me some cause for concern (I canceled my spin class for this morning because of it). When I got about a mile and a half from home, I was still maintaining the 8:30 pace I had been running. Out of nowhere, I hear someone running behind me. I hadn’t seen anyone else around at all and I didn’t hear him until he was about ten feet behind me (I don’t wear headphones) so it didn’t seem like he had been running behind me for a while and was finally just passing me. Hearing him freaked me out a little as it was now dark in the park, but I assumed he was just another runner at first and tried not to worry about it.

I expected him to pass me quickly, considering how he quickly he came up on me. When a minute went by with him staying ten feet behind me, I started to get a little scared. At first, I slowed slightly to see if he’d run around me. He didn’t. Then, I started picking my pace up from the 8:30 I had been running. He stuck with me. There weren’t a lot of people out, but there were enough cars and people around that there was never a moment I couldn’t see another human.

As I picked up my pace more and more, he stayed right behind me, never losing (or gaining) a foot. Eventually, I was running a 7:15 pace. This is pretty much 5k pace for me and I was already four miles into my run. With how my legs felt and where I’m at right now with running, this wasn’t exactly a comfortable pace for me…not to mention the fact that it was not a pace I wanted on last night’s run.

As I made my way toward the park exit, he was still right on me. I considered stopping to tie my shoe or something as I passed other people, but I just wanted to get home as quickly as possible. I hooked a right at the exit, hoping he’d be going a different way, but he followed me there too. As I made the turn, I figured if he was going to make a move, this was going to be the spot. The way out of the park is a dark .15ish mile path with some high grass on the side you could easily throw someone into. I gave it a little extra here to get through quickly.

The park exit I use dumps me right onto the end of the street I live at the corner of. Five or six blocks down. Right away, there were more people and lots of light here. I figured if I made it a few hundred more feet, there was no chance he’d try anything. That’s where he finally backed off a little and turned down a different street.

Really, I have no way to know if he was some creep with bad intentions or just another runner. I’ve been trying to come up with a reasonable explanation that doesn’t involve him wanting to attack me, but I just can’t shake the feeling he wasn’t just another runner. If I hadn’t varied my pace, sure, maybe we were just running the same pace and I somehow didn’t see him coming from a different direction when he ended up behind me. But he kept right behind me when I slowed down. He kept right behind me when I heavily picked up the pace. Maybe I was just serving as motivation for him and he was using me to push himself. That’s possible. I do that sometimes with other runners. But there’s a pretty big difference between running at 8:30/mile and 7:15/mile…and keeping that 7:15 pace for an entire mile? And keeping that close to me?

I never took a good look at him. I was afraid to actually look over my shoulder for more than one brief second while he was running behind me. When he ended up turning, I took a quick look and noticed he was wearing sweatpants and a hoodie. It was almost 50º out. His attire didn’t really scream runner.

But here’s the real problem, I’m sitting here trying to figure out some way to make him not be a sketchy creep. I’m trying to justify him running ten feet behind a woman at night for a mile and a half. Our society pushes us to justify aggression instead of calling it what it is. Commenters on Reddit would describe me as being dramatic and paranoid rather than simply saying “yeah, either he’s a creep or he should know better than to do that.”

Let’s say he actually was up to no good and tried to attack me. How many people would have said it was my fault for running in the dark? How much would I have been blamed for that?

We don’t live in a world where my fear in this situation is even remotely unwarranted, yet many will still blame me and dismiss me for it.

4

Treadmill, what?

If you’ve talked about running with me for more than six seconds, you likely know how I feel about the treadmill. Basically, fuck that noise. It’s boring and annoying and harder than outside and you have to actually go somewhere (yet never actually go anywhere) and yeah. It just sucks. It’s no fun and it takes away almost everything I love about running.

BUT! I’m not setting out to write another anti-dreadmill thing. There are tons of them out there already, I don’t think the world needs me to add another one to the mix. Instead, I want to take a few minutes and talk about how I’ve actually found a love for the treadmill. <insert stunned emoji here>

Last winter, I ran outside everyday through the worst winter I can remember in New Jersey. This winter wasn’t nearly as bad, but I just didn’t have it in me to fight the ice and snow on the ground–which seems to be worse in Jersey City than it ever was in Somerset. Plus, I wanted to be able to run after work without worrying about my safety. So when my wife saw a Groupon for a 30-day membership to New York Sports Clubs, I decided to jump on it. I wanted to get myself in gear for marathon training and I knew I wasn’t going to pull that off without sucking it up and treadmilling it some.

It’s been three weeks running on the treadmill 3-4 times a week with my weekend runs outside and it’s been surprisingly great. Though, I was really dreading it at first. It’s not like I don’t have tons of experience treadmill running–much of my early days running were spent on the ‘mill–so why would this be any different? I figured I’d just have to suck it up and suffer through it.

I haven’t been suffering though. Sure, the first mile or two have sucked on every run, but that’s not much different from outside for me. By mile three, I’m in the zone. I’m in my running happy place, completely lost in the joy of it all. While I don’t listen to music when I run outside, I did take the time to make a pretty awesome playlist for the treadmill, but by the midpoint of my run, I’m not even paying attention to it anymore.

I don’t know what exactly has changed, maybe it’s just because I know it’s temporary, but my attitude has been totally different about it over the last couple of weeks. I get out of bed rather easily at 5:45am (typically, this is a huge struggle for me) to head to the treadmill with no dread. Maybe it’s because I’ve given each run a specific purpose rather than just running at the same old pace for every run like I used to. Now, treadmill runs are more than just some number of miles. Some runs are recovery runs, some are intervals, some are tempo or progression. Each run has its job.

This morning marked the second Monday in a row that I’ve actually done a real recovery run. I have a bad habit of running these things way too fast and if either of these runs were outside, they would have been the same. My legs wanted to go hard and fast and, if I was outside, I would have let them go…or they would have gone without me even realizing. On the treadmill, I’ve been able to lock it down and keep that pace right where it needed to be.

It’s also helped that I’ve finally accepted the treadmill feels harder than outside. My pace will be slower on the treadmill and that’s TOTALLY OKAY! I used to worry about this. I used to worry about other people looking over at me and thinking I was slow (I KNOW…I know). I don’t care anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to get over what strangers think of me anyway over the last couple years and that’s carried over? Who knows. Besides, they don’t know what my plan is. They don’t know how I race or what that run is supposed to be. And it doesn’t matter. I’m not there to compare to them. I’m there for me.

Also, they probably aren’t even paying attention to me.

In a weird way, I’m actually kind of sad my membership for the gym is ending next week. I’ve been enjoying it. If winter wasn’t on its way out, I’d likely keep it.

I don’t think I’ll go so far as to say I love the treadmill now, but I certainly don’t hate it anymore. It’s earned a place in my life.

2

Training update

NYC skyline with frozen Hudson River

The view from my run yesterday looks way colder than it actually was out

I haven’t done one of these in a long time, but seeing as how marathon training time is almost here, now seems like a good time to start again.

I guess I should also drop in here that I decided on a marathon for the “spring.” Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota on June 20!! Yay! I’m kind of excited for this. I haven’t trained for a marathon since this time last year and I think I’m ready for it again. I’m not going to harp on how rough my running was for most of last year, but things are feeling like they’re coming together now. Not to mention, I’m coming off an awesome weekend running the Goofy Challenge!

Training starts a week from today. I decided I’m going to drop back to the same plan I used for Richmond 2013 and Chicago 2012. That plan worked really well for me. Richmond was a very successful race and Chicago was pretty successful too, even though I didn’t hit my goal. I would love to go for it with the same plan I used for New Jersey last year, but I’m in no way running the kind of miles needed right now to jump into that. Plus, I’m not even sure how to fit those kind of miles into my schedule right now.

I don’t have a concrete goal for the race yet. For now, I’m just looking to PR, but I’ll check back in with my goal halfway through training and adjust accordingly. I would love it if I got myself back to a point where I could go for a BQ, but right now that feels really far away. We’ll see how it goes.

Two weeks ago, I squeezed in four runs and two spin classes with just one rest day. I totaled 21 miles. Not a a ton, but not bad with the two spin classes.

Last week, I ran five days, went snowboarding one day, and took a spin class. I hit 30.4 miles. The spin class and four of the miles where on the same day as part of my first ever double workout in one day! I was super proud of myself. I also felt really good all week. Tired, but less so than I expected. Yesterday’s run, in particular, was awesome. It was a ten-miler in Liberty State Park. The weather was perfect. 41º, very light wind, and sunny! But it was very wet out! Puddle city! All the ice and snow from Saturday was melting and leaving behind all kinds of slush and ice-cold puddles. I ended up stepping into a calf-deep puddle about 200 feet into my run and completely soaked my feet. Though, this is kind of the best thing that can happen in that situation. Once your feet are wet, you don’t have to worry about avoiding puddles anymore so I just had fun running right through them like a child. It was great!

This week, I’m planning pretty much the same thing, but the snowboarding is still up in the air. Once Monday hits, running is my number one focus and snowboarding will be done until next season so I’d like to go once more, but I’d also like to start training with fresher legs and be able to squeeze in two rest days this week. We’ll see how I feel later in the week, I guess.

mountain creek snowboarding

Snoooooow

On a side note about snowboarding this past weekend…it was a great day with awesome snow conditions. Unfortunately, it was partially ruined by being misgendered by my friend’s girlfriend. I had never met her before Saturday and hadn’t even seen my friend since before I transitioned. Throughout the day, she’s use male pronouns for me, but I wasn’t quite 100% sure I heard her correctly. Sometimes, things sound off, but you’re not sure enough to actually speak up and correct. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt in those situations rather than risk calling someone out for something they didn’t actually do. Eventually, on the bus ride home, I heard her clearly call me “him” to my friend. I corrected her and she apologized and then did it again a few minutes later!

It wasn’t malicious or anything like that, but given that she’d never met me before there was no excuse of “muscle memory.” Her misgendering me meant that’s how she actually seems me. And this was after we had conversations in which I clearly asserted myself as a woman in the way I talked about things. At one point, she even asked me “how do you go from having a full beard to being a woman?” I quipped back that I was always a woman and “a ton of lasers.”

This kind of thing is just super frustrating and it really makes my fears about using the gym seem so much more real. I’m either not seen as a woman or I’m not seen as a real woman.

Orale tacos

And tacos because why not?

12

Gymming While Trans

Having to dress like this to go outside generally means having access to a gym is important

Having to dress like this to go outside generally means having access to a gym is important. I also don’t have a more appropriate photo handy for this post :)

Almost a year and a half ago, I wrote about how worried I was about gymming while trans. As it turned out, I was actually more scared of approaching it than I originally thought. So I didn’t. I kept paying my monthly gym membership, but never used it again. Eventually, I moved to Jersey City and used this as motivation to just up and cancel my membership. I never once stepped foot into that gym again after starting transition.

Instead of dealing with it, I ran all of last winter outside with no help from the treadmill, which lead to some safety issues during New Jersey Marathon training because of all the snow and ice on the ground. I just didn’t have the strength to walk in there and say “hey, I need to update my membership to reflect that I’m a woman. I’ll also be using the women’s locker room from now on.” I played that out in my head over and over again and I simply couldn’t imagine it being a smooth conversation that didn’t end in complete humiliation.

Skip ahead to a few months ago–November, I believe–and I was finally ready to deal with all of this. I had been wanting to try spin for years and my wife convinced me to book a class with her. I was excited and terrified all at once. I was especially worried because it was an early morning class before work. I wasn’t going to just be walking in, spinning, and leaving. I was going to have to shower and get ready for work there. Eep!

I spent the night before freaking out to my wife about it. I was a complete nervous wreck. “But someone is going to freak out about me being trans!” “I’m going to get chased out of there!” It went on and on while she tried to talk some sense into me, but I couldn’t really calm down about it.

The next morning, when we showed up, I was already dressed for class so I threw my crap in a locker and hopped on my bike. Class was amazing and I immediately fell in love with spin–so much so that I try to do it at least once a week now. After class, it was time to actually deal with this whole being trans in a locker room thing. Luckily, this particular spin studio has an open locker area with private unisex changing rooms, bathroom, and showers. Definitely the way to go. I didn’t have to worry about someone freaking out that I was “in the wrong room” or anything like that. I went about my business and showered, got dressed, did my hair, and put on my makeup. Entirely uneventful!

Life would be so much simpler if every gym was like this, but sadly that’s not the case.

Shortly after that, I decided to join ClassPass which lets you take an unlimited number of fitness classes at hundreds of studios for one flat fee each month. The only catch is that you are limited to three visits per studio per month. Since I like doing spin once a week now, that meant having to branch out to other spin studios. The not so fun thing about this is not all studios have private unisex showers and changing rooms. My second favorite spin studio has women’s and men’s areas, as does the gym I’ve joined since.

Now, I actually have to deal with using single-sex locker rooms and it’s terrifying every time. It likely wouldn’t be nearly as bad if I worked out after work and just threw some sweats and my jacket on and left. But I workout in the morning before work. I have to shower and change there. In a locker room. Full of cisgender women. While hoping no one notices I’m trans and freaks out.

On Tuesday, I came out of the shower all wrapped up with a couple towels and hurried over to my locker. I try my best to not really look at anyone and just go about my business as quickly and quietly as I can without being noticed. Sitting on the bench next to my locker was a middle-aged woman. I looked up for just a second to see this woman staring at me with the dirtiest look. It cut through me hard. Her face was screaming “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!” I was horrified. I grabbed my clothes from my locker and ran back to a shower stall to change in private. When I came out, she was gone, but my fear wasn’t. I half expected someone who worked there to come in screaming at me.

While looks like that don’t happen every time, I’m still constantly terrified. I keep my eyes down and don’t look at anyone. I try not to talk to anyone so I don’t have to worry about my voice outing me, but other women will occasionally talk to me. I respond quickly and quietly, praying they don’t think anything of my voice.

I always change in a shower stall or bathroom stall or whatever private area is available. Under no circumstances would I want someone to see what’s between my legs. Fuck, I don’t even let people see my stomach. While other women are walking around in their bras, I always have a shirt on.

But that’s sort of the thing here that people freak out about. Politicians, transphobes, and people-who-claim-they’re-not-transphobes-but-are-totally-not-okay-with-trans-women-in-women’s-spaces love to obsess over our genitals. They seem to care more about them than we do. They go on and on about how we don’t belong in women’s spaces (e.g. locker rooms) “because penis.” I’d really like to know how they know what’s between our legs. We don’t go around showing them. I go through great lengths to make sure no one could ever see my genitals.

Despite this, other women get to change out in the open locker rooms. Some women are more private about their changing than others, but there’s always the one or two of them who give zero fucks and are hanging out straight-up naked. That’s cool, I don’t really care much what you do. If you’re comfortable baring all in the locker room, that’s totally cool.

But, here’s the thing, you being naked actually makes me terribly uncomfortable. I’m in constant fear of being accused of just trying to see other women naked. Yes, I’m into chicks, but I’m in the locker room to change and shower. That’s it. I keep my eyes down. When I’m using the mirror, my eyes don’t wander an inch.

And even if I did want to see you naked in the locker room and snuck a peak, do you have any idea how much dysphoria I’d have to deal with for the rest of the day? How badly my body image issues would be triggered? No, you probably don’t have any idea. At best, I’d just completely shut down and be useless for a few hours. At worst, I’d spend much of the day thinking about how much I’d rather just die.

I’m not suggesting people don’t change out in the open if they’re comfortable with that. My only point here is that if the presence of a trans woman in a locker room makes you uncomfortable, you need to get over it. It takes every bit of emotional strength I have to get through each and every time I enter a locker room. I’m scared out of my mind every time.

99

Why Transparent creator Jill Soloway’s Facebook post hurts so much

Before I even get started here, let me just quickly point out the fact that, as of writing this, Bruce Jenner has not, in any way, said he was transgender or that he was transitioning or anything. No amount of media speculation, obsession, or bullying can decide who Bruce Jenner is. Maybe he is trans. Maybe he’ll ask us to use female pronouns and we will welcome him to our community. Or maybe he’s not trans. It doesn’t matter. If there is something to tell, he will tell us when he is ready. His identity is his to share, not anyone else’s to determine.

That, itself, is an important enough concept to warrant its own post, but this post is about Jill Soloway, not Bruce Jenner. Everyone’s favorite cisgender (not-transgender) teller of trans stories. Jill Soloway, creator of Amazon’s Golden Globe winning Transparent. The show with everyone’s favorite “Moppa.”

I’ll admit it, up until yesterday, I was a big Transparent fan. When I first heard about the show, before it was available for streaming via Amazon Prime, I went through my normal reaction to a cisgender (male) actor, Jeffrey Tambor, playing a transgender woman. I was angry. Trans characters should be played by trans actors. And trans stories should be written and told by trans people. These are our stories to tell. Our lives and stories are not for cis entertainment or appropriation or profit.

But I watched Transparent anyway. I gave it a chance. And I liked it. A lot actually. I liked it not because of the trans story it was telling, but because it didn’t feel like it was telling a trans story. It was telling a cis story. It was telling the story of Maura’s family and how fucked they are. She was the grounded parent of three selfish adult children. Then the show won at the Golden Globes. Speeches were made by both Soloway and Tambor. Good speeches, actually, saying all the “right things.” They talked about trans people, mentioned Leelah Alcorn, etc etc. I overlooked the stuff that was problematic about the show and gave it a pass. I even vouched for it and recommended it to friends.

I regret this now.

The one time I’ve given a pass instead of sticking to my gut, I got burned.

Yesterday, Jill Soloway posted this gem to Facebook:

B8jnEs1CAAAlLmI.png-large

Yes, that’s ally-of-the-year Jill Soloway poking fun at Bruce Jenner’s gender and the speculation of him being trans. Using being transgender as a joke. Some ally. She should know better. She should be speaking out against others doing this. Instead, she’s joining in.

Now, I’m sure straight cisgender men everywhere will go ahead and break this down for us trans people that we have no sense of humor and she’s an ally and she has a trans parent whom she supports very deeply and blah blah blah, but the reality is this shit hurts. A lot. “With friends like these” and all that. If she truly cared about trans people beyond her own “Moppa,” this post never would have happened.

Trans people are constantly the punchline to jokes. In most cases, there isn’t even a fully formed joke. The formula is little more than “trans = lolz.” Why does this relatively tame joke hurt so much? It hurts because she was supposed to be our ally. She conned many of us into trusting her, albeit begrudgingly.

When you’re transgender, you go through every day of your life with the fear that all your friends, family, and coworkers who are nice to you and “completely support” you are actually laughing at you behind your back. You never truly shake feeling like you’re their joke. Jill Soloway’s post yesterday confirms all those fears and suspicions. They are talking about you and they are laughing about your life. You are their joke. It’s not just in your head, it’s real.

Is it really so much to ask to not be a punchline? To not have our lives be a joke? To be treated be as human? If even our “friends,” can’t resit, then I guess we are just asking too much.

I learned something from Jill Soloway. I will never ever trust or give a pass to a cisgender person telling trans stories. I will never say “but she gets it!” She doesn’t. And the next cis person who comes along won’t either.