Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

21 Articles Tagged with “transgender”

  1. Socialized male

    In which I talk to my cis allies about my personal take on the idea that I was socialized male and what that means for my lived experience as a woman.

    Arguments against the idea that trans women are women tend to fall into two camps: biological (“there are only 2 sexes and you can’t change your sex”), and social (“gender is a social construct and you are socialized in a certain way from birth, so you can’t change how you’ve been socialized—once male, always male”). Julia Serano has written an excellent piece tearing apart both approaches. This post is not an argument. I am not trying to convince anyone that I am a woman. I don’t need to do that, because I don’t need you to believe I’m a woman for me to be one. Indeed, I find the whole notion that some people feel that they get to “debate” me and other trans people about our gender to be tiresome.

    Instead, I’m writing this post primarily for my cis allies who might be curious about this whole “socialized male” idea. I’m talking to all of you, particularly my cis women allies but cis people in general, who support me, affirm me, love me, accept me, and are just here to listen and learn from my experiences. I am sharing here, not debating with TERFs. I hope…

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  2. Queerness as context

    Knowing I was ace didn’t automatically mean I identified as queer. It took me years of learning (and unlearning) to embrace the larger community.

    I’ve pretty much always known I’m ace (asexual) even before I knew the label for it. But for a long time after I knew the label, I didn’t really know (or understand) that means I’m a member of the queer community.

    Partly this happened because asexuality and aromanticism are often excluded. I guess we’re super threatening or something, running around helter-skelter all not being attracted to all y’all. Oooh, so scary. And this exclusion and erasure means that LGBT identities are quite visible as “queer” but other identities, not so much. (That being said, you’re probably aware that even those four letters have fights sometimes—there are people who think it should be LGB, and there are people who think it should be LGT, because biphobia is a real problem in our community too!) So, growing up, when I was exposed to examples of queerness and Pride, it was always about an overt performance of gender and sexual diversity that didn’t reflect my experience.

    My personal experience of my asexuality has been absence of sexuality. I say this because there are many diverse experiences of asexuality. Some asexual people, unfortunately, do not come to an understanding of themselves until later in…

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  3. The childhood I didn’t have

    Wearing a dress to prom. Figuring out my style over decades instead of a year. Seeing myself represented on TV. Not having to go through the wrong puberty.

    These are just some of the experiences from the childhood I didn’t have.

    Today is the International Day of Pink, a day started here in Canada dedicated to anti-bullying, and specifically dedicated to stopping bullying against those who experience homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. So I thought it might be important today to talk about that last one, because something has been sitting with me for a couple of weeks now.

    Thirty-three states have introduced anti-trans legislation this year alone, sometimes more than one bill per state. It’s staggering. Politicians see the issue of trans rights as something up for debate and something they can use to capitalize on votes from their base. Meanwhile, those bills that pass into law strip trans youth of healthcare, of supports, and in some cases criminalize parents who support their trans kids and force state employees to out LGBTQ+ people under 21. Make no mistake: this is a coordinated attack on the existence of trans people.

    But Kara, you say, you’re in Canada! It sucks and…

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  4. Not like other girls: Why I am proud to be visibly trans

    On the International Transgender Day of Visibility, I reflect on why it is important to me that I am a visibly trans woman.

    Today is the International Transgender Day of Visibility. As its name implies, the goal behind this day is to celebrate the existence and contributions of trans people in our societies. I feel like, in 2021, we need this day more than ever.

    On the one hand, it is true that, over the past decade, the visibility and acceptance of trans people has increased markedly. If I had realized I was trans and come out in 2011, I would not have had the same level of access to the services I can currently receive, nor do I think I would have had as positive an experience.

    On the other hand, the past couple of years have seen ever more backlash—likely in response to the increased visibility of trans people—particularly in the United Kingdom and United States, but also here in Canada. The UK media is a bastion of transphobic takes, and trans people in the UK are constantly under threat of losing what patchwork health services they currently have. In the United States, multiple states are attacking the right of trans girls and women to play women’s sports—a red herring that has way less to do with “protecting children” than it

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  5. Femininity is my jam

    Happy International Women’s Day! Last November for International Men’s Day, I wrote about why masculinity is not for me. So I thought I would complement that piece with one for this day, all about why femininity and womanhood are indeed my jam.

    As I outlined back in my post about masculinity, I never felt comfortable belonging to that category of man. I never felt comfortable asserting my masculinity. I never looked to other men as role models. When I was watching TV, the idea of being Superman held no appeal, but I was so fascinated with Kim Possible (and now, of course, Supergirl). This is why, in my review of Disclosure, I said that if there had been better transfeminine representation on TV in my youth, I would have figured out my transness sooner. I’m convinced that if I had seen a trans girl my age on TV, the penny would have dropped—I would have understood that it is possible for someone assigned male to realize their gender is different from what society expected.

    But I didn’t, and so I looked to girls and women, and it just seemed so fun to be them. (In my anniversary post,…

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  6. Fearless: My 1st anniversary of transition

    On this day 1 year ago, I came out as a trans woman everywhere. After coming out at work, I changed my name and posted on social media, pushed an update to and published a blog post on this website, and then I held my breath and waited. It was the scariest moment of my life.

    It was really nice, watching all the supportive and affirming comments come in. Reconnecting, at times, with people who had drifted out of my life. And y’all didn’t stop—you kept commenting on my Instagram selfies, sending me affirming messages … truly, I feel loved and supported. I have picked my communities well.

    Has it been a struggle at times? Of course. Transitioning is not easy, even when you are wrapped in support like I am, and transitioning during a pandemic has brought its share of challenges, some of which I’ll discuss here. But as my blog posts over the past year have sought to emphasize, on the whole my transition has been a joyous experience, one that has made me happier and lifted me up even while I have been stressed and overwhelmed by teaching during a pandemic.

    I love who I am…

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  7. Feeling sexy

    Yesterday I wore a sleeveless mock neck bodysuit with a toucan print to work. I paired it with a black, pleated midi skirt, navy tights, a royal blue cardigan, and a mustard headband. I rocked a little bit of gold and pink eyeshadow. I felt good for most of the school day. Then I went home, and as I was washing my hands, I looked in the mirror. The woman staring back at me—and she looked like a woman—was stunning. The headband helped to emphasize how long her hair had become and frame her face; her makeup was exemplary, and her whole outfit just seemed to work for her. That woman was me.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened. I have these days, when I’m just obsessed with myself. I’m sure most of you, including my cis readers, can identify with that, with the way that the right outfit can make you feel powerful and confident—make you feel sexy. What I need you to understand is that prior to this year, I had never felt that before. No outfit—not my T-shirt and shorts, socks and sandals standby; not any of the suits I ever wore; certainly…

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  8. Review of Transhood

    It was Christmas Day, and Gilmore Girls was depressing me with its relationship drama, so I cast about for something that would hold my interest but not harsh the sliver of holiday jolly that flickered within my breast. And I found Transhood, an HBO documentary released earlier this year. It promised me a lighthearted look at the lives of four trans kids of various ages in Kansas City. I’m not sure I agree it was lighthearted—and I suspect for many trans people, a lot of this documentary would be triggering or disconcerting—but I do think the documentary is worth watching for the one, fundamental truth it highlights: trans people aren’t the problem; the lack of acceptance we face is.

    The documentary follows four families over 2014 to 2019; I’ll list the ages of each kid as of 2014: Jay is a 12-year-old trans boy; Leena is a 15-year-old trans girl; Avery is a 6-year-old trans girl; and Phoenix is 4 years old, and therefore classifying Phoenix’s gender is a little more difficult—4-year-old Phoenix says “I am a girl boy, a boy who wants to be a girl,” but as the years go by, Phoenix’s journey is perhaps the…

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  9. You hear my voice but you don’t listen

    (TW: (Vocal) dysphoria, misgendering.)

    Last week we had a guest presenter in my virtual English class to talk about resumes. I introduced her, and she thanked my co-teacher by first name. When it came to me, with my full name displayed in Adobe Connect, she paused and said, “And how do you pronounce your name, Mr. Babcock?”

    She had heard my voice, and despite my feminine first name and femme appearance on webcam, her brain had overridden any and all indicators and decided I must be male.

    And it hurts. It hurt in that moment, when I had to correct her in front of 20 silent people on the line. It hurts now to think back to it.

    First, some exposition to help clarify a few questions that might arise out of curiosity! Trans folx taking testosterone do experience changes in their voice, because testosterone has the side effect of thickening the vocal cords. People like myself, who are instead taking estrogen, don’t experience changes to their voice. Yes, voice training exists, and trans folx of all types often undertake this as part of their journey. Believe me, it is on my radar, but this post is not…

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  10. Masculinity: It’s not for me

    In which I reflect on masculinity, and why I was never a man, even when we all thought I was one.

    Sometimes even the most supportive and inclusive people in my ally corner get confused when I assert that I was never a man. “What do you mean?” they ask. “You were a man for 30 years!” Language and concepts are confusing, but let me talk a little about how I came out to myself, and I hope then you will understand why, despite 30 years of misconceptions, I was never actually a man.

    Late last year, I inadvertently introduced pronoun pins to my workplace. Having been introduced to them via the Desert Bus for Hope marathon that I watch every November, I ordered pins for myself (and some gifts for friends) from an Etsy store. I proudly pinned the “he/him” badge to my ID lanyard, and I introduced myself on the first day of class to my students with my pronouns. (If you’re cisgender, part of being a good ally is normalizing sharing your pronouns.) My boss noticed my pin and liked the idea enough to order a bunch for all our staff to wear, if they chose.

    So it felt ironic, come January of this year, that I was considering changing my pronouns. Indeed, wearing that…

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  11. Ace in transition

    It’s Asexuality Awareness Week, and I want to talk about how coming out to myself as transgender has affected my understanding of my asexuality. Incidentally, while I’ve written blog posts for arospec awareness week (in February), this seems to be my first post for ace week!

    If you want to learn more about the basics of asexuality, the Trevor Project has some very good starting points. Also, my friend Becky interviewed me all about being aromantic and asexual for an episode of our podcast, so you can hear more about asexuality from my point of view!

    The short form? Being asexual means I don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone, of any gender.

    Coming Out

    Coming out as asexual was, for me, a very different experience from coming out as trans. I knew I was different by the end of high school, and I embraced the label of asexual sometime during university. When I moved back to Canada, after 2 years of teaching in England, I gradually became aware that asexuality falls under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, and I started to explore what that means for me. I put “asexual” (and eventually “aro/ace”) in my Twitter bio and began…

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  12. When I look in the mirror

    For the last 6 years of my career, I have worn the same outfit to work every day. I’m not exaggerating: I had 5 pairs of trousers, each a different colour; along with 3 styles of pullover sweaters in a few colours. And I hated this outfit, to the point where I—somewhat ironically, in hindsight—referred to it as my teacher drag. The moment I came home from work, I would change out of it in favour of a T-shirt and shorts (or, if indeed it was too cold even for me, sweat pants).

    Last Wednesday I returned to work in our building since we shut down at March Break, and for the first time (not counting working from home), I wore a dress. I wore another one on Thursday, and another on Friday.

    Photo of the 3 outfits I wore. The first is a burgundy dress with a floral motif, along with a white cardigan; the second is a grey and white striped sheathe dress with a black cardigan; the third is a green cami dress with white polka dots and an orange cardigan.

    I loved it. I love it. I’m so happy. But to understand why, you need to understand that this is not really about clothing.

    In my previous post, I discussed how gender dysphoria began to manifest for me in my mid-to-late twenties. In general, however, I prefer to talk about my feelings of gender incongruence, because I believe this is a more useful and…

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  13. Cherish

    My hair is taking its sweet time growing longer. (Other things are growing too, but I’m not going to talk about those here!) And, you know, I’m ok with my hair taking its time. It would be unsettling to wake up one day and suddenly find myself with long, flowing locks.

    (Content warning in this post for gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia discussion.)

    We don’t talk enough about our bodies. Or rather, we talk a lot about our bodies, but we tend to be conditioned to talk about them in negative ways. We judge ourselves and others constantly: she’s too fat; he’s too thin; they’re too dark; her hair’s too kinky; his hair’s too grey; I’m letting myself go; ugh, delete that selfie—you can see my double chin. Our corporeal conversations are so often centred on what we dislike about our bodies. I think that’s a shame—you should not be ashamed.

    We tend to think of changes to our bodies as catastrophic, if not in tenor than in temporal stages: infancy, pubescence, adolescence, adulthood, senescence. These stages come over us suddenly sometimes, or they sneak up on us, but the result is inevitably a great deal of physical change. Yet…

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  14. What's in a name?

    About a month after coming out, I wrote a post about why I chose the name Kara. Today I am excited and happy to announce that, courtesy of the Government of Ontario, my name is now legally Kara Doreen Rose Babcock.

    My middle names, Doreen and Rose, are the names of my maternal and paternal grandmothers, respectively. Choosing middle names was much more difficult than choosing my first name! I briefly considered no middle name. Ultimately I decided to honour my female forebears on either side of my family. My grandma Doreen is no longer with us, so she never learned of my journey. My grandma Rose is still going strong and is extremely supportive of her “new” granddaughter. So I’m proud to carry both of these names into this next stage of my life.

    Why I Changed My Name

    I knew pretty much from the moment I decided to be Kara that I would be changing my name legally. Not every trans person does, of course. Some trans people keep their birth names; some just go by a nickname but don’t mind having a different legal name. Nevertheless, in my life, my legal name comes up a heck…

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  15. Validation

    A quick reminder to cis allies about how small words of affirmation have an outsize importance on the lives of your trans friends.

    I’m marking online summer school courses, which we open up not just to our usual adult learners but also to regular high school students seeking to earn credits over the summer. Whereas my adult learners always call me Kara, these students are defaulting to Ms. Babcock (and in some cases, through what hilarious assumptions I know not, Mrs. Babcock…).

    I didn’t expect this to make me so happy, but it does. I think it’s the aggregate effect of seeing it so much, on so many assignment headers and “Dear Ms. Babcock, …” in emails. Y’all have been so good about calling me Kara, and I appreciate it, but there’s something extra affirming about this gendered honorific being applied so … casually to me.

    I can’t speak for any trans person other than myself, of course, but I would wager that most of us like and crave words of affirmation. The particular words and phrases will vary from person to person—I personally love being called “girl” or “sister”, but probably don’t apply those to your non-binary friend unless they’re cool with it. If you ever think you are going overboard or laying it on too thick with your trans friend ……

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  16. Review of Disclosure

    I don’t remember the first time I saw a transgender person portrayed on screen. Probably my first memory of someone crossdressing is Mrs. Doubtfire, a movie which, like so many movies in our childhood, I enjoyed as a kid and now look back up with a cringey awareness of how problematic it is. So, for as long as I can remember, I only knew that the representation of trans people in TV and movies was very problematic. I didn’t learn about transgender people and issues from TV, or even from books—I learned about it from the Internet, mostly from Twitter. And it makes me wonder: if portrayals of trans people had been more numerous, and better, when I was a kid, would I have come out to myself sooner?

    Disclosure is a documentary that premiered at Sundance and was recently picked up by Netflix and is about transgender representation on screen. The format is simple: numerous trans people of all genders share their thoughts in interview format, and in between, we get clips from specific TV shows or movies. The simplicity of this format really appealed to me and made it easy to dip in and out of the…

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  17. When they come for you

    I largely try to stay out of "discourse" on social media these days, and coming out is not going to change that. But for the record…

    Thank you to everyone who has reached out asking how I’m doing. I’m doing just fine. I have a nice filter bubble on Twitter that lets me avoid the riptide of discourse and play, mostly carefree, in the shallows.

    Thank you to everyone who has spoken up. Instead of hate, I just see people celebrating trans people on my timeline, making me feel loved and welcomed. I continue to see the calls for justice, the calls for reform, the calls for change that are so much more urgent and important than a white woman misbehaving and then doubling down on her misbehaviour. Black lives matter, Black trans lives matter, and let us not be drawn into digression because someone with a little fame wants to throw a public tantrum.

    Let’s just deplatform her already and get it over with.

    People asked me if I’m ok, and I say I am, because I’m not sitting here staring at my screen late at night, yelling at eggs and TERFs. Except here I am, sitting, staring at my screen late at night, weighed down by … something. Am I ok? I don’t know. I’m still processing a lot.

    You need to understand that,…

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  18. Being trans-inclusive takes work

    An example of how easy it can be not to include trans people, and some practical tips on how you can do better.

    Social media makes it very easy these days for companies and organizations to virtue-signal, i.e., to claim to be inclusive and supportive of marginalized identities. But people who experience these marginalizations know that, in reality, most of these companies are not actually inclusive. This usually isn’t malice but rather just not bothering to think about us at all. Today I want to share a fairly minor example—something we call a microaggression, because it didn’t stop me from using the service, but it was still hurtful. I’m actually surprised how much it affected me.

    Being a dutiful daughter, I volunteered to order some pet supplies on behalf of my dad. (Forty-pound bags of cat litter can be heavy!) PetSmart has set up a curbside pickup system, so I figured ordering online and picking it up would be easy. Indeed it was—aside from the single complaint that is the focus of this whole post, I have to say that PetSmart’s site and the process were one of the smoothest experiences I have. They’ve got this down.

    Almost.

    See, when I looked at their website’s instructions for curbside delivery, I was faced with this:

    Bring a valid driver’s license or government‑issued ID. Once you arrive at the store parking lot, call the store & select option

    I haven’t legally changed my name yet,…

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  19. Collapsing the gender wave function

    As with most of you, my emotional state is all over the place right now during this pandemic. However, being trans and having recently come out complicates the picture for sure. I’m largely doing fine, and staying at home is giving me lots of chances to experience euphoria. (Thank you, online shopping!) Nevertheless, not going to work and seeing my colleagues and students means I miss out on other, daily chances for affirmation and to further my social transition.

    I feel very lucky that I came out when I did. Originally, I had considered waiting until May or even the end of June to transition in the workplace. Can you imagine dealing with that in this current situation? I probably just wouldn’t have, and I would have chafed and felt extremely … constrained. My heart goes out to all the trans people who were planning to come out and currently feel unsafe or suddenly unready to do so. Fortunately for me, I came out and transitioned in the workplace just before this all started. Even as the entire world feels uncertain, I get to ride that uncertainty towards, hopefully, a new certainty about myself. However, the most complicated part of…

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  20. Becoming Kara

    At some point, I’ll talk more about reaching the conclusion that I’m trans. For now, I thought I’d talk about choosing a new name. Choosing a name actually was one of the things that helped me accept my trans identity, actually!

    First, a little update! The current situation (the 2019/2020 pandemic, for those of you lucky enough to be reading this in the future) has certainly thrown an interesting twist into everyone's life and timelines, including mine! Certain aspects of my transition are delayed, and experiences I might get to have (like going shopping with friends) curtailed for the time being. Nevertheless, I’m trying to make the most out of my weeks of mostly staying home. I'm shopping online, trying out different outfits and makeup looks, and when I do go out, I push myself to be a bit more daring than I otherwise might have been, since I have so few excuses to get dressed up and try new looks for, say, work or hanging out with friends. I’m pleased to report that I now have quite a nice professional wardrobe, complete with proper footwear, and I’m working on the casual wardrobe now. Prior to the shutdown of our…

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  21. I'm regenerating!

    My friends, the time has come for me to say, "Hello." But no lengthy introductions here, no cute anecdotes. Let's get into it.

    I'm transgender. I am a trans woman. I am a woman.

    My new name is Kara (Car-uh) and my pronouns are she/her. Yes, this includes when talking about or sharing things I've posted in the past, even though my old name is still on there. Check out my name policy for more clarification.

    GIF of the 13th Doctor saying, 'I've had an upgrade, hi!'

    I personally love the metaphor of regeneration for my transition, because it captures the intensity. It reinforces the adage of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Like the Doctor in Doctor Who, my appearance will change—and I’m excited for this (tights! dresses! OMG). Some of my mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, and behaviour will change; again, I’m excited to explore how I want to express myself and my femininity.

    At the end of the day, however, each regeneration of the Doctor retains her essential personality traits: her commitment to social justice and equity, to science and curiosity. Likewise, I’m still the same person at my core, because I am not changing who I am. I am just finally recognizing and…

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