An open letter to OKCupid about the proposed “Real Name” policy

Here is a copy of what I wrote in the OKCupid feedback form in response to their proposed policy change that would require real first names instead of custom usernames by the end of 2017.

Dear OKC team,
I’ve been a user since 2004, I met my spouse here, and I’ve had many relationships ranging from casual to long term that started on your site. I love a lot about your site and I am usually a fan of your changes, especially those to reduce unwanted and harassing messages. I’m not the type to complain every time someone releases a new feature, even if I’m not a fan.

However, I sincerely hope that by “real name policy” you don’t mean to police that like Facebook has done to the detriment and harm of transgender people. For many people, the name that everyone knows them by is not the name on their government issued ID. And forcing someone to use a real name not only violates their privacy but can cause extreme emotional harm and potential violence towards them. It has driven many trans people off of Facebook and I truly hope that you won’t undo the great work you put in with your expanded gender options by forcing us to use our “birth names” which many of us call our dead names.

As a nonmonogamous person, I also know that many people are not “out” about their identity to family and coworkers because we have no workplace protections or laws to protect us from societal harm. Almost every polyamorous person I know is on OKC but a LOT of them will be leaving soon if you enforce this rule.

Then there’s the safety concern in general, especially for women, who are opening themselves up to stalkers by having a profile with their real name. Being on OKC and revealing the kinds of personal details we do already contains a huge amount of risk, especially for queer, feminine, transgender, nonbinary, nonmonogamous people like me. And having that data attached to our real name is not only going to drive a large portion of your loyal users away, but it will likely cause a lot of those who stay to be more cautious about what they share, harming their potential for building successful relationships.

People have a lot of options for dating sites these days and most of us are here because right now you are the best, particularly around nonmonogamy, gender, and sexuality. Please don’t ruin a good thing by forcing real names.


 

If you are an OKCupid user and you have opinions about the change, please take a moment to speak up on Twitter, use their feedback form, or comment on their blog post.

Update: They seem to have clarified on their Twitter:

We love our members. You do not need to use your government name or even your full first name. Use the name, nickname, or initials you’d like your date to call you on OkCupid.

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What do you love about yourself?

What are the parts of yourself that you love? The things you can appreciate without a long list of qualifiers.

I love my long, muscular legs with my thick, powerful thighs and my shapely calves. I like them better when they don’t have hair but regardless I love that they take me wherever I want to walk and they have never broken, no matter how hard I have taxed them.

I love my cute butt with its little dimples.

I love that my brain has a natural inclination to organize data and objects. I can get into the nitty gritty details and still see the whole picture. And even if the jobs don’t necessarily pay that well, it does get me decent job opportunities. And helps keep my house and my digital life in order.

I love my fingernails with their nice, deep nail beds that look great with polish.

I love my arms which have somehow managed to maintain some muscular definition despite years of not working out intentionally. And I especially love my left arm with my big tree of seasons tattoo.

I love my beard that grows in nice and thick and curls so tightly that it covers any imperfections in my face.

I love my empathetic heart which helps me draw closer to the people in my life and gives me motivation to make the world around me a better place.

What do you love about yourself? So often our minds choose to focus on the parts we don’t like, especially when those give us uncomfortable feelings like dysphoria. So take a moment today to appreciate your body, your brain, and your heart and maybe share a little something in the comments.

Transgender Big Siblings

More and more I’m getting requests from friends and acquaintances for resources for their own friends who have trans or nonbinary kids or for youth who need role models to see what it could look like to be a trans adult. And while I’ve added some info I found on gender identity in young children to my resources section, I’m starting to think that maybe what we need now is a Transgender Big Siblings program that would pair trans adults with families where the parents are trying to be supportive but need more than online resources.

The idea literally just came to me as I was reading yet another article that talked about a parent who has a trans daughter and is trying to follow her lead but fears for her future. And yes, the future isn’t as easy for a lot of us trans folk, but it is getting better all the time and it would probably be incredibly relieving for someone like her to talk to someone like me who has supportive partners and a job where I can be out.

Does anyone know if such a thing already exists or if there are other people trying to start this?

AMAB Terminology

So as you may have noticed, I refer to myself frequently on this blog as AMAB which means Assigned Male At Birth. So I want to elaborate on what that means to me (aka, not an expert) and why it’s not a good idea to assume that someone else is OK with that descriptor.

The language to describe transgender and nonbinary experiences and identities has evolved A LOT recently. For example, unless someone self identifies as transsexual, it’s not social acceptable anymore to call someone that. There are definitely people who still use the term for a variety of personal and historical reasons such as Julia Serano. But similar to how many other marginalized communities have either rejected or reclaimed words, the trans community is currently in a linguistic revolution.

Which brings me to my point. For a while recently there seemed to be general consensus that the terms AMAB or DMAB (Designated Male At Birth) were the best terms to use to describe people born with a penis who no longer identify as cisgender men in relevant contexts. But part of why that term was used is because it refers to how society, medical staff, and often our families, chose to gender us against our will. Another term that was used similarly was CAMAB (Coercively Assigned Male At Birth) to indicate the non-consensual nature of it. The term MAAB (Male Assigned at Birth) was also used but mostly by TERFs (Trans Exclusionary “Radical Feminists”) in my experience.

But these days, many kids are lucky enough to not have to go through as much of the denial of their gender. Kids are smart and a lot of people know as early as 2-5 that they like thinks such as dresses and dolls or other rejections of masculinity. And more and more, progressive parents and communities are supporting that and either raising their kids as gender neutrally as possible or looking for the signs the kid is displaying and supporting their identity and social “transition” (if you can even call it such at that age). We also now have much better healthcare options such as gender clinics at Children’s Hospitals which allow kids to medically transition younger or use hormone blockers to prevent or delay puberty.

As a result, not all kids are assigned a gender in the same way that those of us who transitioned as adults were. They probably get assigned a letter on their birth certificate but they don’t always have to fight for their identity against constant coercion to be masculine. So I don’t think it is right anymore to simply call someone AMAB because of your assumption about the body parts or chromosomes they had at birth.

As some of my friends have pointed out, when cisgender people use AMAB terminology in conversation, it can often be a politically correct way of misgendering someone or even outing them non-consensually. Whether someone “passes” or not, it isn’t really a stranger’s business what they got assigned in the hospital and definitely not what body parts or assumed chromosomes they have. Don’t try to earn yourself ally cookies by using our identity to brag about your acceptance. For example, unless that person has said it is OK, don’t say things like “my AMAB daughter” or “my AMAB partner.” It often feels like we are being treated as less than real when those terms are used. Saying that a trans woman “was something else” by referring to her dead name or assigned gender is incredibly hurtful and offensive and is far too often used as a weapon against us by TERFs and other bigots.

The reason I use the term here in my blog is because I personally do claim the term AMAB as an important part of my identity. My path to discovering myself is long and complicated but I do think it is useful in understanding ME to know that I thought I was just a weird boy for a long time. I know that if my parents ever described me as their AMAB kid it would feel very affirming because it means that they understand me and have adopted my chosen language as well as my current frame of reference. I very much was assigned male in every sense of the word and it shaped me (though not always in the ways you think), especially in a very unique part of my gender presentation – my beard.

I know I have probably used the term AMAB too broadly when referring to my slice of community here. But I’m not going to go back and edit those right now because the reason for me starting this blog still stands. I want to create online representation for people like me who have beards and who were assigned masculinity and have adopted femininity instead.

So please, keep referring to me as AMAB. But practice removing it from your assumptions about other people.

Gender euphoria

The flipside to the gender dysphoria I often talk about is that sometimes when I’m feeling really good about my body and identity I experience the glow of gender euphoria.  Today is one of those days I feel sexy AF! I’m loving the outfit I’m wearing and how it emphasizes my gorgeous legs. My shirt makes it look like I have great breasts and it shows just enough chest to make me feel good. And I’m wearing the shoes that never fail to get compliments. Some days it feels great to be me.

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Dysphoria again

Fucking dysphoria! Just when I think my day is going to be great, I glance in the mirror and see this ugly fat guy wearing unflattering clothes with huge shoulders. If I wasn’t already at work I would rip my clothes off and start over but it’s too late for that now.

Range of emotions

It’s amazing the range of emotions about gender that I can have just in the space of 90 minutes. I was almost late for work this morning because the first outfit I tried on was pinging my gender dysphoria and after hemming and hawing for far too long I finally decided to switch outfits. Something about the loose fitting slacks and the way my shoulders seemed to stand out just wasn’t working for me. I felt bad about not being able to wear an outfit that was probably really cute, at least according to my partner.

But I ended up switching to some tight fitting jeans, a floral top, and my black heel boots and now I feel sexy as fuck. On a whim I grabbed my new subtle lipstick as I walked out the door and I was feeling so confident by the time I got to work that I applied it in the men’s room. It felt so wonderfully subversive which for me is what being genderqueer is all about. Now I feel powerful and confident in my gender and appearance. I’m glad I listened to my feelings and took the time to change this morning.

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