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Tue, 10 Jul 2012

Mermaids Reloaded

It's almost seven years now since I wrote/published Mermaids. It was an important step in my life, confessing publicly what I've found out about myself, how I feel and identify myself. It definitely has been a certain turning point in my life.

A year later, there was the Debconf6 in Mexico, which was just as important. I was wearing a skirt for the first time, and that for the whole duration of the two weeks. It was an enormous feeling of freedom, and I knew I was feeling at home. That was also the time I shaved off my beard.

And since? Well, I sort of limited myself to these two weeks every year. Debconf is my haven, Debconf is my home. Here I allow myself to be myself. Debian is my family. And like in every family, there are people who won't understand, but that doesn't matter. I feel comfortable to express myself in this crowd in the way I feel.

Being abroad seems to help with the confidence, and it seems like it also shines through. I haven't had lots of strange looks. To the contrary, when I went with a skirt to a homosexual acceptance event at home in Vienna, there was a group of gays who were pointing and laughing. Quite an interesting experience, one would assume that people who are wanting more acceptance would be more acceptable and tolerant themselves...

But, I don't think I will ever take the step toward actually turning my body into a female one. It was an important step for me to find out about my inner self, and it actually managed to make me accept my male body; even though I can totally relate to people not being able to understand this—both people not in the situation and people being in the situation and needing the physical adjustment to be able to be happy again. But this is what and how I am: Contents may vary from packaging.

This though has an inherited problem: as I am not (usually) heading for a female appearance (besides my skirt during Debconf), people keep addressing me with a male pronoun, even, or rather especially when using my nick Rhonda. This is something that I consider a fair bit disturbing, especially when it comes from people that I consider to address with the term friends. One would assume that people who you share a fair bit of private life with would be the ones who can understand and relate better than others. But that's where we are, and I also can understand the troubles: I'm not giving them much visual help for fixing their thoughts.

I found the confidence in my body, and like most of you know, I have a son I dearly love (and miss like hell these two weeks), so I know how to use the tools it comes with, frankly spoken. But I won't go the road to adjust my body to be a female one instead, just to convince people that I really am the female person that I identify as. It might be hard for you to understand that, it might be hard for you to accept it—it is also hard for me, to fight for the acceptance that I thought are an inherent part of the term friendship.

I have deepest respect for the people who feel the requirement and have the strength to adjust their body to their mind. It though just isn't the road for me. I already have enough uncertainties in my life to cope with, and I don't need another one to deal with, related to that I might not be able to accept my body after the transition than I am able to accept it now. It's just not important enough for me to find my place. My place is here, my home is Debconf.

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Alan Bell wrote at 2012-07-10 17:58:

I remember the conversation we had when I was working on the statistics for the number of women Ubuntu Members and I needed to clarify some conflicting information. What we decided to do for that project was count people as they wanted to be counted, and I remain certain we counted correctly.

Peer wrote at 2012-07-10 21:11:

Hi, you might be interested in this:


See chapter "Skant". It's about a skirt-like dress worn by crewmen of both sexes on the Enterprise.

Cheers, Peer

pixelpapst wrote at 2012-07-11 18:47:

Hi Rhonda, we met for the first time at DC7, and I have been following your thoughts on your transition with interest since. Thank you for sharing.

Sorry to hear that you couldn't feel accepted at that gay event either - although as with other things in live, don't judge the whole group by a few individuals (even if many gays might be unable to relate to your struggle). In any case, I hope you'll keep looking for more places where you can be yourself, where you feel accepted in which ever way you choose to present yourself, and don't just resign yourself to feeling at home for only two weeks every year.

On behalf of all of your friends at Debian, who sometimes struggle for the right pronoun in the heat of discussion, I ask for your patience - we'll get it right eventually.

Verinica wrote at 2012-07-12 01:18:

I am so pleased you posted this - I too am transgender and can relate only too well to how you feel, and what you are going through, although my situation is not as complex as yours (I have no children to worry about). I have spent the last 3 years 'coming out', and have dressed as a woman full time since Easter 2011 - and I have to say it is great! I too have faced the decisions associated with full transition, and the physical changes that would entail, and was somewhat hessitant in the earlier days, although I am much more comfortable with it now - it is however a decision I have not fully made, even though I now take hormones - the surgery is the bit that 'scares' me the most! The only thing I can really say here is that you should just be yourself, and be comfortable with yourself - from all the people I know in our situation I know that it not the same for any two of us. Take care.

Jossele wrote at 2012-09-13 18:30:

Hi Rhonda! Ich schreib zwar deinen Namen, dank aber immer noch als Alfi von dir - immerhin als die Alfi! (meistens :-/ die gewohnheit is a schwein!) - Ich möchte Dir bei deinem 4.letzten Satz widersprechen: Den tieferen Respekt hab ich vor Dir, da deine Wahl deinen Körper zu belassen wie er ist, sicher mehr Verwirrungen/Irritationen/Kränkungen im Kontakt mit den Menschen nach sich zieht als eben andersrum. Und Du - finde ich halt - damit die schwierigere Entscheidung getroffen hast. Nur Mut weiterhin & lg von Thor :-) PS: Dein Blogpost hat bei uns eine Diskussion über die Unterschiede (gibt's welche?) zwischen Mutter- und Vatergefühlen ausgelöst :-D

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