Alice & Mia
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Introducing Alice, Mia, and the (Trans)Gender Landscape

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Episode 1 introduces the podcast and your hosts as they ask each other about their lives and walk us through some of their feelings and experiences.

Topics include sorting out our genders, how we talk about all our identities, Alice’s transitions in 1961 and 1989 and Mia’s more recent transition, dealing with family and others, living in secret (woodworking), getting outed, and so much more.

Some topics introduced are discussed at greater length in Episode 2.

Episode Notes

02.46 Sabrina Symington’s wonderful Life of Bria comics.

Alice: ‘This is totally me!’

Comic: "Can you really make someone gay by hitting them in a pressure point?" "Nah. I wish. There’s so many cute girls out there I’d turn gay if I could!"

© Sabrina Symington, used with permission.

03.27 Read Mia’s Body and Gender Fragments. (The reading in Episode 2 will be excerpted from this piece.)

05.55 Alice says more about being ‘formerly trans’ in the next episode.

11.58 Actually, Mia does say she’s a trans woman in the stories Alice read. Alice is a ditz.

20.05 TrueTrans / transmedicalists / truscum.

20.40 Mia wrote about the language around trans and gender identity in Some Clarifications on Trans Language.

There are a lot of trans / gender glossaries out there, and all of them have problems born of a) the rapidly changing nature of current language around gender, and b) the inevitable biases of the authors. With those caveats, one of the better glossaries available is the one by Julia Serano.

21.40 ‘A man or woman of trans history…’, the one Alice couldn’t remember is ‘…of trans experience’.

22.03 Alice wrote about the problem with ‘normal’ in ‘We’re just normal, why do you call us cis?’ (Disponible en español.)

22.10 Queer theory ‘focuses on mismatches between sex, gender and desire’ (Annamarie Jagose, in Queer Theory: An Introduction).

25.48 Alice ‘popped out into the trans universe in June of 2016’; see her story The Kindness of Strangers.

27.10 Kate Bornstein was indeed ‘around at about that time or shortly thereafter’ (late 1980s), transitioning three years before Alice in 1986. She became publicly visible beginning in the 1990s—her famous appearance on the Geraldo Rivera Show was ‘1992-ish’, according to her—thus ‘shortly thereafter’. If anyone has a link to a clip of that appearance, let us know!

Portrait photo: A middle-aged Kate Bornstein with cool round pink-and-yellow glasses, blonde bob, brown Derby hat, and mass tatoos.

Source: katebornstein.com

28.54 Actually, for a good portion of those 27 years Alice wasn’t exactly white and def wasn’t living in suburbia. She tells some of that story in I Am (Not) Native American

29.49 The ‘I survived testosterone’ tee-shirt.

Photo: A black tee shirt with white block lettering that says "I survived testosterone poisioning", over a schematic of the testosterone molecule.

Source: society 6

31.00 Twined Fragments is an ongoing collaboration between authors Allison Washington and Miriam Suzanne. Each fragment is sparked by the previous, as two trans women pass their memories back and forth, reflecting on lives and transitions separated by a generation.

34.53 Mia and Alice aspire to age as coolly as Dame Judi Dench:

Portrait photo: An aged Judi Dench with close-cropped white hair, tonnes of cool unusual jewellery, and a serious look.

Photo: Jimmy Fontaine for The New York Times.

37.25 The Knowledge Effect or Prior Knowledge Effect is a special case of Hindsight Bias and the Curse of Knowledge cognitive biases; wherein once someone knows something, they cannot imagine not knowing that thing. This effect is central to a trans person’s inability to determine whether or not they are ‘passing’: Once you ask, then the person knows, and then has trouble imagining that they did not know. They minimise their previous lack of knowledge.

Another cognitive bias that plays a huge role in the marginalisation of trans people is Confirmation Bias: the tendency to search for, interpret, focus on, and remember information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.

39.45 Alice transitioned at 32, but was raised as a girl from ages 4-14. She was de-transitioned by her father in 1971 at age 14, thereafter living sometimes ‘as a man’ (a.k.a. ‘boy mode’) — sometimes in a semi-female-presenting, ambiguously-gendered state — until she re-transitioned, socially and medically, in 1989.

Alice wrote about growing up as a girl in her Girl series.

43.34 Neural rewiring / cortical remapping: When sensory input ceases (as from amputation) there can be a period of ‘ghost’ sensation, or ‘phantom limb’. Over time the neural circuits get reused for other things, and we lose the ability to remember how those sensory inputs once felt; to the point that, decades later, Alice cannot remember what it felt like to have a beard or… yea, that.

See also: Phantom Penises In Transsexuals.

46.00 The shopping scene: Julia Serano tells a nearly identical story in Whipping Girl. This exact scene probably plays out for many transitioning trans women.

50.40 Mia’s longer article about the family trip to Moab, pronouns, and the pain of misgendering, is (Mis)Gender.


Inspiration for the Alice & Mia show came from working together on the Twined Fragments project, combined with Allison’s affection for Hank and John Green’s Dear Hank and John podcast, plus her experience appearing on the Cracked Gets Personal podcast of 27 September 2017 — Black Market Hormones & More Tales From The Trans Dark Ages — which originated in a story published by Cracked about Allison back in February 2017.