Posted on | September 21, 2013 | 2 Comments
Ample, Dimpled Asses:
Hi y’all. I’m back to talk about this book I just finished reading. It’s called ‘Warrior Princess’ and it’s about a boy, and a girl, and a Navy SEAL, and a husband, and a woman. And they are all the same person, whom I will just call Kris in this blogpiece.
Now, I’m going to admit something here that may seem kind of insensitive & politically incorrect, especially coming from someone who has lived w/ gender dysphoria:
I have NEVER understood the reasoning behind the MTF person. I have never understood “winning the genetic lottery” and then “ripping up the ticket.” I know it is a real thing–I know there are boys & men who don’t want to be boys & men. They are females, and want to be seen & treated as females. I accept this. I respect this. But I have NEVER understood it.
After reading this book–I UNDERSTAND!!!!
When I began reading, I thought this would be the story of a man who suffered from some kind of post traumatic illness and found his desire to be a woman in that state. [in fact, many of Kris's colleagues suspected this was the case]
But we were WRONG.
Kris’s dysphoric journey began at HOME. With her father, mother, brother and sisters.
There is much speculation about where gender dysphoria comes from–is it some sort of imbalance of chemicals in the womb? Or is it social/environmental? From my unprofessional standpoint, I have observed people who looked like they popped out of the womb “in the wrong body.” Very much a biological mismatch. And I have also been shocked & surprised to learn of other people who seemed well-gendered enough announcing their intentions to switch [ie, Chaz Bono--I thought he was a perfectly happy lesbian]
So it’s hard to tell where gender dysphoria comes from–we haven’t paid too close attention to it until recently. I think it depends on the dysphoric person–some are born that way, some are made that way, sometimes it’s a combo. I most certainly went on a journey to figure out WHY I was so unhappy as a female & I most certainly was MADE to feel that way, not born that way.
And it was the same for Kris. She may have been just fine as man if her upbringing had been kinder. She played the role of man just fine, as she was asked to; she was not inherently effeminate looking or soft spoken or slight.
It was all about family dynamic for both of us. Kris & I are sort of opposite sides of the same coin–first off, we were born into the same era (she is only 2 years older than I am) And, we were both presented with extreme versions of our respective genders. The unfavorable extremes….
Kris & I both had to resort to some impressive gymnastics–mental & physical–to get through our early years. [And I will admit that she is ten times the mental & physical gymnast that I am!]
Kris’s family lived on a farm. The boys worked hard from an early age. They were up early, in all weather conditions, tending to animals, lifting heavy shit, using dangerous machinery. Dad demanded perfection from his two sons & told them that hard work & taking care of family were important to being a man. Kris’s brother was always better at the farm chores, so Kris was often on Dad’s shitlist & was often punished physically.
Kris’s dad was a football coach & called all his players “sons” too. So Kris had to compete with all of them for ‘his’ father’s love & attention, and rarely did ‘he’ get it. Kris had to play football even though he didn’t really want to. And his brother was always better at that too.
Kris’s sisters, by contrast, got to live a lovely, leisurely life inside the house with their mother. They got to do things that Kris thought would be much funner than working the farm or playing football. There was not much pressure on them to achieve & succeed. They were mostly concerned with being pretty, and their Dad told them they were pretty all the time, and showed them lots of affection. In fact, Dad was never angry with the girls!
At a young age, Kris noticed this disparity & developed a sort of obsession/jealousy/resentment toward his older sister. He would steal her clothes and pretend to be her at night in his room.
The worst thing though–Kris’s family was really conservative & religious. There was no wiggle room for sinners. Homosexuality, gender inappropriateness were not permitted, were not spoken of, except in connection with fire & brimstone.
And because they were so conservative, there was barely talk of sex/gender at all, even in an educational sense. There were no questions allowed, and therefore no answers given.
Kris lived in this darkness. In this unfair divide between what was expected of males, and what of females. And yet…he couldn’t do anything but mental gymnastics about it! He had to find this detached place in his head to live. He desperately wanted his father’s approval–he saw all of his siblings earn it. He kept trying to be the man his father wanted him to be. His need for his father’s approval & his need to be a female were in constant conflict.
He struggled on in this darkness, not realizing that one day…all those mental gymnastics & hard work would allow him become the woman he is now: Kristin.
My family was just stupid. There was no honor or tradition in having gender roles. It was all shallow & anatomically defined. And it seemed pretty simply defined to me at an early age: Boys were good because they had penises. Girls were bad because…they had something other than a penis. (I didn’t even know it had a name until my friend’s mom told me it was called ‘vagina’)
Simple. Boys were inherently good. And girls were not. When I was about 2 or 3 my mother told me blithely, “Your father was so disappointed when you were born because you were a girl. I told him we’d have to get a boy cat.” I remember when she told me that it felt like someone punched me in the stomach.
So, at 3, I knew that I was unloved & unwanted & physically defective. I knew that dads did not want girls. I knew that girls were expected to be quiet, pretty objects, and boys were allowed to do anything! Including be mean to girls! I knew girls were stupid & weak and boys were strong & smart.
[Even the crying thing. My brothers were allowed to be more fully emotive than I was because if they cried it must be for a valid reason, right? They were not crazy, unreasonable, stupid, weak objects.]
What I didn’t know yet, was that my dad & I had an interesting first year together that most certainly contributed to my gender dysphoria, and which I am still trying to process…
And then there was Mom. My mother wanted a daughter she could hide behind & I was a daughter who wanted to disappear. I wanted a mother who would lead & support & love me, and she was a mother wearing blinders who wanted to disappear.
In my family, there was no love or affection between anyone. The boys were not taught that hard work and caring for family meant being a man. They were just told they were great, now go play sports like all good boys do. Our father was not very involved in raising us, not even the boys. He paid them only slightly more attention than he did me.
Our mom, on the other hand, really wanted us kids to make a great impression on the world, and especially her mother. To her, the boys always did just fine. They were athletic. They liked boy things. A-okay.
But… I was never quite right in her eyes. I got good grades, I was an athlete too. But something was wrong. I was not feminine enough. I was not interested enough in girl things. I wasn’t PRETTY, and I didn’t care to be. I didn’t act like other peoples’ opinions were of utmost importance to me. And worst of all I wasn’t HAPPY in the self-loathing apologetic role she wanted me to play.
Like Kris, I yearned for my parents’ approval & worked hard in the gym & the pool & the classroom to get it. And like Kris, my need for my mother’s approval & my need to be a boy were always in conflict. I learned to go inside my head and live somewhere else when my mom insisted I wear dresses or do something only girls would do…
I could tell that my mom liked that I was a gymnast & a swimmer, but I knew she didn’t like ME. I wasn’t right in her eyes. She didn’t like how I looked or acted or presented myself socially. So all the flips & turns & butterfly wins only served as band-aids.
To make up for who I really was inside. Someone my mother wouldn’t like or understand. Someone who was absolutely not content with being silent & pretty, when boys got to be smart, powerful, opinionated. Anything they wanted! [Except stupid, weak & pretty : )))]
And later, the gymnastics & swimming got traded in for serious eating disorders & flesh-slicing–really trying to get out of this body that had betrayed me & failed to get my mother’s approval.
There were differences & similarities in our families, but Kris & I both learned to despise the roles that were chosen for us by society, thrust upon us by parents & defined by our unchangeable anatomies.
Since boys were treated as inherently special in my family, and girls were coddled & pampered in Kris’s family–we both yearned to be on the other side of the fence.
Kris became a Navy SEAL for the same reasons I had eating disorders or cutting disorders. For the same reasons I learned to flip around on a 4-inch beam of wood, Kris learned to jump from a moving helicopter onto a moving ship! (I know that is way more impressive than balance-beaming : ))
For the same reasons I drank Drano to try to end my life, Kris deployed over and over to Iraq & Afghanistan with different SEAL Teams for 10 years.
I cried a lot reading this book because I could just feel how TRAPPED & hopeless Kris must have felt in her father’s world. I feel relatively lucky that my family was not so conservative and overbearing. I was left in isolation to figure things out for myself, not lorded over by a dominant patriarch. Hoo-rah.
I can finally see what would make a boy want to be a girl. Especially a boy who had little knowledge of anatomy & sexuality before adopting that gender identity. All he saw was the ease of life and approval for looking good on the outside. Who wouldn’t want that instead of pressure and hard work and shoveling pig shit in the snow?
[I'll tell you what though--if shoveling pig shit was considered a 'boy thing' I would've raced my brothers outdoors to do it : )))]
I have to admit I fell a little bit in love with Kris while I read her story. I admire so much that she was able to …just stay alive to tell the story! And all the mental gymnastics she did to get through each day, each, year, each deployment, each training period. I can really relate to that level of mental gymnastics!
I know a lot of people who hate their jobs, or their marriages, or are stressed by kids and money and life in general. But I rarely hear of someone who, like me, can barely get through each moment with himself. I rarely hear that condition described as well as Kris described it (via Anne the co-author.)
I also love how Kris is a perfectly contradictory bundle of manliness/womanliness. The shock of who she is. You were a Navy SEAL?? And now you are a beautiful inventor of special ops surveillance technology? And you want to be pampered and taken care of? And you always were all of those things together, you’ve just looked different on the outside?
I also love that Kris gets all uppity about Vietnam Vets. They don’t know the half of it. And some of them must be lying when they say they burned entire villages but saved the women and children and came home to get spat upon by peaceniks.
They really should have separate support groups for SEALS.
I love that Kris is choosing herself over the approval of her family. At the end of the book she was estranged from her families (her father’s family, and her own ex-wife and 2 sons). She is working on relations w/ both families, but it is difficult for everyone involved. But Kris is not compromising any longer. And I say she has earned the right to be WHATEVER THE FUCK SHE WANTS TO BE.
[I have to add my own Disclaimer here because you all know how I feel about guns, war, the military, etc….While I admire every inch of Kris's Navy SEAL Training, I can't say I find anything heroic about the actual operations themselves, no matter how frightening or dangerous….]
WOW!! What a long-winded blog with ZERO art!!! That’s what you get, Asses.