I våras strax efter operationen fick jag ett erbjudande om att tala på Kompetensmässan på World Trade Center i Stockholm. Jag tror det var artikeln i SvD som gjorde att de kontaktade mig. Jag har ju hållit en del föredrag i olika sammanhang så jag tänkte att det kunde vara kul. Nu är det drygt två veckor kvar och jag håller på och slipar på innehållet så att det ska bli bra. Det kommer såklart handla om den resa jag hittills gjort i livet och mina erfarenheter av det. Titeln på föredraget är lånad från artikeln i SvD också: “När man blir kvinna”. Jag är väl egentligen inte så bekväm med titeln eftersom jag aldrig känt mig som nån man så jag läser “man” i dess allmänna form rent mentalt. Däremot ansluter jag mig till delen om att bli kvinna både ur ett rent personligt perspektiv men också på samma sätt som Simone de Beauvoir menade för drygt 60 år sedan.
Alexandra Larssons föredrag den 15 november
I am speaking at a conference called Kompetensmässan on November 15th at Stockholm World Trade Center. It will be about my journey as a transsexual woman.
Last week I got some of my “work spirit” back again and today was a good day overall. Started by dropping by my tire specialist to shift to winter tyres. The first time I have done it before the first traffic chaos due to snow. Felt good. Then to work and a briefing to our new Colonel, followed by some catch up in administration and a good talk with my section commander. In the evening I got a call from one of my collegues who told me about her experiences from having a LGBT-workshop held at the Militaryacedemy. Feels good to know that there are people in the Armed Forces that actually are interested in putting the spotlight on LGBT-issues and actually tries to do something about it. Finally I learned that Apple sold more Macs in a quarter than ever before which followed last weeks reports of a 8.1 % market share in the US.
Pratade med en underbar vän idag om att ha det bra. Det är inte alltid så himla lätt att veta vad det är. Det är ju liksom inte så lätt att bestämma sig hur mycket bättre det måste bli innan det blir bra. Däremot kan man uppskatta (och märka) att det blir bättre. Inte så dumt.
Talked to a wonderful friend of mine today about being fine. It is sometimes hard to know what fine is. The question is how much better it has to be before you are fine. However, it is much easier to appreciate that things are improving and getting better than figuring out if you are fine.
Here in Sweden we now have a law which opens up for insemination for lesbian couples and that is great. To me it means when I meet my princess we have a possibility of actually having biological children together since I have saved “my part of it” in the freezer. However, the law that dictates how a children have connections to their parents makes a difference between (biological) mother or father and just parents. In the database it is called the personal card (personkort hos Folkföringen) where for instance the note mother ABC and parent ABC indicates that only the mother has a biological connection. That could be the lesbian couple where only one of the mums have that connection since she carried the baby.
In my case however, even though we both could be biological parents my child’s personal card will most likely have me noted as just “parent”. Which is yet another example of that we still have a few issues to sort out before we actually don’t discriminate neither transsexual parents nor children to transexual parents. Sure, it affects a small number of people but that does not make it less wrong, right?
The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who have experiences from a period of mental illness. When getting back to a normal life with work and everything she said she often found herself in a situation where she felt a need to explain things. Why she has been not working for a while, why she is not working full hours yet and so on. A need to be personal in order to explain things about yourself when the rest of the people around don’t have to. I guess it is like being torn with a desire to feel understood but at the same time wanting to keep things private, especially if those private things have some kind of stigma associated with them.
All that means that working in an environment where there is a constant flow of new people who know nothing about you can be a little stressful. Especially if there are some things about you that are different in some obvious way. Even worse when you are working as a teacher and have to lead by example. Then you have a set of expectations to fulfill as model military officer. And working part-time is not one of them. So she had found out that constantly working with students is not the ideal situation for her.
It surprised me a bit but I found a lot of similarities between my situation and hers. My recent experiences from holding that three-week course also made me aware of the added stress to me when I am in a teaching position and around a constant flow of new people. And yes, it depends on what kind people it is and also in what situations. Being on a meeting where I am supposed to give a presentation on something that I am responsible for is a piece of cake compared to those casual encounters at the coffee machine where people give me strange looks. Or having some physical issues that I feel I need to explain but that means doing a full explanation of my transition process.
I guess it means that for both of us we now have a period where we both feel better to be in an environment where most people are familiar with our situation and have already put that “behind them”. That also makes it so much easier to talk about those little things in life without having to do a full “coming out”-process at each coffee break. Hopefully I will learn to handle the teaching situation better in the future as well. However, in the end it is a matter of quality of life and that sometimes mean doing choices about what fits me.
The Swedish Armed Forces is probably not the most open-minded place in the Swedish society. Not the least either, though. Today a lot of things fell over me while at work. I am now assisting a collegue in a three-week course and I wondered why I felt more uncomfortable than usual lately. Me and my collegue talked about it during a coffee break and I think I figured out a little bit more why.
I have been very open with my life and my transition at work. Everybody knows and I held a big briefing two years ago or so about my life and everything. It was very much appreciated and I got a lot of positive reactions from peope at work. However, there are always new people coming and people leaving our centre so after a while there are more and more people that have not heard from me but just heard about me. I think I am sensing that by the way people look at me. The thing is that it is not just them but me too. Before I knew that they knew about me and what I was going through. Now I more often find myself in a position where I feel a need to explain or even justify things in my life. And sometimes it is just not the right moment to make this big explanations. Which in some sense seem a bit unfair to me since I can easliy start to feel a little bit misunderstood. Currently there are a few practical things associated with my recovery from my surgery. Like why I am still walking a bit slow and quirky and why I am not taking part in physical training. Or that I have to get up shortly after 4 am to be able to be at work at 8 am. Also I think my current physical limitations also affect my self-image since I guess I appear less feminine right now.
It is a little bit as I have experienced earlier in life, that the power of how I am looked upon so is turned over on people around me in a very obvious way. I also think that I have in some sense been cocooning my work life for the past years, at least in Uppsala. I have tried to be around people who know me and where I feel secure. And most of the time I have felt secure at work.
One example: since I know that there are always new groups of students in the main building I think I have actually tried to avoid going there more than I need. The same thing about the dining hall and especially the officers mess. At first it was terrifying to go there by myself but now the tension from my side has more or less gone away and it is not that bad. However, there are a lot of people there who have no clue of who I am besides that I may look strange to them. I don’t know who and how many but there are certainly some who do. Also, I learned today that people who work close to me do get questions about me and certainly seem think I am rather strange. I knew that before of course but I think since things went so well during the first year I may have forget that or just pushed it out of my mind. The thing is that it is different around military people in Uppsala than for instance around civilian consultants at a meeting in Stockholm or so. I wonder if it is the norm about how military officers “should” be that is the issue. One thing is for sure, I don’t like it. It feels unfair. Perhaps I need to intensify my information efforts again or just remember that it is an ongoing effort. Information kills predjudices, I hope.
Today I watched an episode of a television show called “Ramp” on the education channel of Swedish Television (SVT). The episode dealt with gender equality and approach the subject in a variety of ways. One was by interviewing a woman with a defined male identity as a drag king (Indra from Lion Kings) and another was from an experiment where one young boy and one young girl switched gender for a day at school. They were around 10-11 years old I think. The idea was to see if they noticed if they were treated differently than normal.
There was many things that was interesting about the show. First of all I was happy that the segment was done at all on our national televison. Second, I think it is great that they found two kids that sincerly seemed interesting in doing it. Thirdly, I was really pleased to see how serious they were about it and to not try to make fun of them in their preparations. Since they were really young it seemed so easy to make them both passable as boy and a girl. Somehow that also trigged some kind of emotions in me. What if I had the same chance to explore my gender identity at that early age? I am sure I would have loved it and would most likely be in another position today.
Anyway, after their preparations both of them headed of to another school than they normally belonged to and was introduced as a new member of their respective class. The boy got the name Rebecca and the girl got the name Simon. They seemed both to be accepted in the class and they both had a lot of reflections of how they behaved and how they were treated. Simon took part in the ping-pong game while most girls were watching form the side and Rebecca was shown around school by a boy in her class. It seemed to be a little bit easier for Simon to pass as boy and that probably had to do with Rebecca’s voice which seemed to make the teacher suspicious during a drama class. So they had to inform the teacher and we where invited to see the reactions of the class when they were told about the experiment. To me that was the only sad part of the segment. Until then people had seen Rebecca as a cute girl but when the teacher told them jaws dropped and especially a few of the girls reacted very much. Hard to tell really how but the looks on Rebecca definately changed. It was that kind of surprised/suspicious/confused look that I have seen before. The boys seemed to just be smiling but young girls have a tendency to react this way and then usually whisper and giggle. I wonder why…
So it was emotional for me to see this and it was interesting from gender equality perspective as well.
Have a look at the whole episode here on the SVT webpage (in Swedish language): here
Today it was an article in a big newspaper called Dagens Nyheter (DN) about a disabled person who wanted to use a SegWay personal transporter to increase his mobility. Unfortunately the The Swedish Road Administration (Vägverket) has declared the Segway to be moped. However, they also decided that it had not all the equipment needed to be used as one so it is not allowed on public roads. And if you are using one in a closed area you are required to use a moped helmet since it is almost a moped. So this disabled person needs a special permit to be able to legally use his beloved Segway. Apparently a lot of paper work with doctor’s statement and all.
This is so typically Sweden. The Segway is ok to use in the US and a lot of European countries but not here of course. I had the pleasure of using it several times and my experience is that it is far different from a moped. And you usually ride differently and more carefully than a moped. Show me a moepd that can maneuver that precise and to be able to stop almost as once. No, that is just stupid. I had actually been thinking of getting one if I eventually get accepted at the National Defense College here in Stockholm. It would be so cool and so “me” to ride one to work for that year. Well, I guess not…I have to go to Disney World to ride one again I guess. Swedes will certainly miss a whole lot of fun with those futuristic machines…
Sure I have been thinking of love before and small wink of it usually gets to me only a few times a year. A woman from a party and I I can´t stop thinking of her or that interesting chick from some intense chatting on some community. Maybe there is a little change now, I am not sure. Change after my surgery I mean. Before I had this rather dull outlook about anything that had something to do with potential relationships or even flirts. I just did not want to put myself in the position of the ultimate rejection. Of course that can still happen but now I know that I am not that ashamed about my body anymore, I can even almost smile when I look myself in the mirror. So I think I am getting a bit less scared of the whole dating stuff. Maybe down to the same level as the rest of you, but still, less is good in this area. Since I have not really done much of that before I suddenly find myself in a position where I don´t even know what a date is and not. First of all I think it can be a bit more complicated when you are a lesbian (or a gay man as well) since the lines between wanting a friend and wanting a partner is a little bit more blurred I think. Another thing is what is a date and not. I confess, I had to ask a few people for advice. In the US there are way more formal views of what is a date or not, usually involving dinner and the movies or maybe dancing. Here in Sweden we have a word called “fika” which means that you meet someone for coffee or tea…or a sandwich…or even lasange…well not at a restaurant at least. And it can be for half-an-hour but usually for several hours as well. So plenty of time for talking. But everyone do “fika” alot here. Me too. So sometimes a “fika” is a date and sometimes not. I guess it is more like a date when you have not met the person before. But on the other hand, I have met new friends through “fika” as well. So another friend stepped in and told me “a date is a date, is a date, is a date”. So if it feels like one it is or even if you want it to be one it is. Carpe diem, catch the day and try to enioy. So that means that I have been on a date or two recently. Feels good! Appreciate the small things in life. That seem to be a good thing.
Called the Swedish power company Fortum today to ask them why they had not changed my name in their databases. It turned out that it wasn’t that easy for some strange reason. “You see, we can’t just change things like that. We have to close the account and open a new one”. The only place where that was required before was the bank. Wonder why Fortum has that kind of procedures. Maybe I should change my power company as a protest….