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On Being a Mother

I never realised that I would love being a Mother as much as I have.

I never expected to fall pregnant when I did.

I was told having a baby would change my life, just not how much!

Three days after I had conceived a very dear friend told me that I was pregnant. She was not a friend at the time. Rather I had sought her counsel as a tarot card reader, and I needed some answers desperately. I soon realised just how desperately.

K says that the minute your child is borne, so is ‘Mothers guilt’ I had it bad in the form of ‘single mothers’ guilt’ My fiancé rode off into the night never to return, my Mother was dying of cancer and I was almost at the end of my seasonal contract. Leaving me pregnant, single and sans job in the winter.

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(Trans)figuration - re-figuring Germaine

Photographs of me in physical transition, by Tracy Edser (www.trasethis.com). Tracy has captured the rite of passage of my physical transition over the span of 6 years, capturing my journey to fully inhabit my body, allowing me to play, without restrictions and more authentically, with the physicality of an identity in flux.

(The Letters from Selves Pas(t)sed series is drawn from writing created over 10 years ago. I've decided to include them as they create context for my journey. Keeping in mind where I come from helps me measure where I am and where I'm going.)

Pre-op - October 2010 #lettersfromselvespas(t)sed

I have been lucky in terms of the logistics of a breast reduction. When many medical aids do not cover the R50 000 operation because they view it as cosmetic, rather than medical surgery, I have been in the lucky position of not being able to afford medical aid. In a country where having medical aid is often the difference between life and death, how can I possibly consider myself lucky?

I’m lucky because I’ve never had to explain to some doctor, some pencil-pushing medical aid representative, that a breast reduction would be far from cosmetic for me. I have never had to explain that for me, a breast reduction would free me from a burden under which I haven’t been able to be my true self.

My journey with the logistical side of breast reduction began in 2007. I was referred to the Johannesburg General Hospital (now the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital) by the head psychiatric nurse at Tara. This referral meant that the breast reduction was immediately seen as a medical and psychiatric necessity, rather than a superficial or cosmetic surgery.

The doctors at the Jhb Gen were sensitive to my case, and sympathetic. In fact, their medical opinion that I had completely disproportionate, and chronically large and pendulous breasts, was an unexpected affirmation of something I’d known since puberty. The fact that they had medical terms for the scarring on my shoulders, for the severity of the largeness of the breasts themselves, was a wonderfully affirming experience. Despite my belief that there ‘was something wrong with me’, it took this doctor’s visit to confirm that indeed there was, but that I didn’t have to suffer from it anymore.

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Are FTMs just Dyke Defectors?: A Response to Dyke Blogger, MasterAmazon

Are FTMs butch defectors who submitted to the patriarchal pressures of conforming to gain greater social access? Or are FTMs simply another breed of queer that tend to be misunderstood, particularly by butch feminists?

As an FTM, I confidently agree with the latter. But, this declaration doesn’t draw from personally-driven justification to account for the tumultuous and often disheartening process I’ve chosen to take on. It draws, I believe, from grounded reasoning and the belief it’s necessary to explore this issue if we are to avoid becoming internally divisionist at the expense of our FTMs (and genderqueers, for that matter).

MasterAmazon’s blog Dykes for Dykes presents, in multiple blog posts, eloquently-written yet highly contentious discussions (‘rants’…?) in which she describes FTMs as ‘sell-outs’ who have forfeited their womanhood for the socially imbued convenience of being male. She explains why women choose to transition: “Impatience for male power and privilege combined with monumental lack of faith in the future of women could explain it” (August, 2010). She seems to find no differentiation between a butch lesbian who transitions and one who doesn’t, aside from the difference in choice made regarding their body. Reductive is this approach, as she categorises all FTMs as former dykes, rather than recognizing that a considerable number never identified as either lesbian or as butch (such as myself). However, this is only the first of many problems I find with her argument. My greatest issue is the blatant conflation of sex and gender.

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Curve: The loveliest distance between two points.

Last week I spoke to a beautiful amazingly-built woman with a perfect figure, who was complaining about how fat she was. This puzzled me, and I responded by pointing out that I also take my diet very seriously - people have no idea how hard I have to work to maintain my figure. In fact, I need to eat chocolate every day just to ensure that I maintain my curves. This was met by a somewhat critical look. But, does it really seem that absurd that I would rather eat chocolate and have (beautiful) curves than starve myself to look like a skeleton?

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A lesbian love story

Centuries of an assortment of books being written; decades of different genres of movies being made and the ever-increasing amount of overdue gay-pride festivals can’t seem to quench my insatiable thirst for a pure, melting-my-heart lesbian/gay love story.

Indeed, there are little sprinkles of lesbian stories here and there, but never are they the type of stories that are untouched by controversy- they are never the type of love story that is totally unscarred.

I have grown weary of “chasing pavements”, searching for a truth that I know exists; a truth that proves that not all lesbian “love” stories involves the breaking up of happy male-female marriages or the run-of-the-mill experimentation involving two straight females searching for a love minus problems that they hope they can find if they minus the man from the equation. It’s a truth I know exist because I am testament thereof and here is my, true, lesbian love story.

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Cheaters

I often ask my friends what they would class as cheating and where they would draw the line between pure flirtation and something more serious. When you are in a relationship, is it cheating if you flirt with another person, if you go for a drink with them, if your lips touch, or is it purely when you sleep with someone other than your partner?

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Riley on Marketing

This 7 year old girl is smarter than most adults.

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My coming out story

We all have our own personal coming out story. Here is mine…

I can’t say exactly which date I came out, as I see it as a long process. One that I am still busy following.

I think I first started becoming curious about guys when I was at university at the age of 19. In hindsight, this seems to be a lot later than many guys, but it is an individual thing, so it doesn’t matter. I started becoming interested in the idea of masturbating with other guys, and wished that I had opportunities in my teenager years that I have read about other people having. I didn’t think that I was gay at this stage… just curious. I mean, why would I be gay?

Around this time, I had started getting back in contact with an old friend of mine, and while texting it sort of came out that he was not straight. And I thought to myself “I have similar feelings as my friend, maybe I am also not straight.” So I told him that I might be bisexual.

At that stage, I think it was more about the idea of being physical with guys rather than being in love. Until I met my current boyfriend…

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Forgiveness

'When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person by an emotional link that is stronger than steel.
Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link, and get free'
Catherine Ponder

Oscar Wilde said that to forgive your enemy was the greatest revenge.

I think that he was right.

I know that one of my greatest lessons and challenges has been forgiveness. I have an elephantine memory and I have in my time remembered infractions going back to primary school days.

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Religion and homosexuality

They say that nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. However, I think that another certainty seems to be the unnecessary conflict between homosexuality and religion. Most major religions reject homosexuality, claiming it is a sin. Or if homosexuality on its own is not a sin, the sexual acts that go along with it are definitely labeled as sins. Each religion usually has a couple of quotes in their religious books which can be interpreted to outlaw homosexuality.

This has unfortunately isolated many religious gay people, and turned them away from their religion. Many feel abandoned by their religion, and now feel lost. Some gay people have rejected religion, and some even hate religion. One can understand all these emotions, as us gay people just want to be accepted and loved. We want to fit in, and also be welcomed by religion.

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What Does Queer Mean?

Queer is an umbrella term for sexual minorities that are not heterosexual, heteronormative, or gender-binary.In the context of Western identity politics the term also acts as a label setting queer-identifying people apart from discourse, ideologies, and lifestyles that typify mainstream LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual) communities as being oppressive or assimilationist.


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