Transgender 101 – with Stef Sanjati | Kati Morton


hey everybody I am joined by steps and yadi ah she is wonderful and amazing we were on a panel at VidCon oh yes we were it was fantastic thank you for moderating of course and that's how we met and you just have a really wonderful story to share

tell my audience a little bit about what you do and you're sure I started YouTube when I was about 11 or 12 years old so it's been over a decade but it's been across a few different channels and originally I started Apple is going to be the abridged

version here as best I can I started originally because I felt very isolated in the community I grew up in so I found community online especially through YouTube where I got to explore queer identity as a child in a town where that didn't exist so I thought I

was gay growing up that wasn't the case when I moved to Toronto I realized I was transgender and so I'm a transgender woman and my channel is dedicated a lot to documenting my transition process and educating people on trans issues and trans topics and trans terminology and I'm

in this weird place now where I've done that I don't know what to do anymore but my work is out there yeah because like you're like okay that happened yeah now I will live my life I don't know what to do and and and that's it's like listen

look we could go into that it's it's there's a lot there I don't I I just I would I feel like it'd be a disservice to just repeat the same topics I've done over and over again right and wouldn't that because I thought about this because I will

I do want her to educate us as a community on how to be able to do that just because I know that I'm always afraid I'm gonna misstep and I don't want to offend anybody because that's not my intention so I've learned for us to learn together however

I do think that there is something to be said about moving on because yeah that's what we do yeah definitely and you've been so brave to share your story so openly and honestly and then now live my life yeah exactly I think the general that the overwhelming narrative

for trans people in our society here in Canada and us of the States of America the way you say that right that's what you say yeah um there it's so focused on physical transition and Laverne Cox says talks a lot about this if you look up Laverne Cox

yeah yeah she's amazing absolutely she talks a lot about that outside of her acting career she talks a lot about people are so fixated on your body and about surgery and about hormones and then once that's once once you stop sharing that people lose interest suddenly their perception

of you is so based on your body and your medical transition that once that's not the focal point of what you're doing it becomes like it's not you anymore like it's a different story it's really weird that's interesting I mean I think in general as a society we're

very focused on yeah definitely and so I guess I can see why that would be the focus but then wouldn't they want to know like what's next I mean a lot of you do what else is because I like such a small I know it's a it's a

huge deal yeah but it's such a small part of who we are exactly exactly and I'm there I definitely have a lot of yours that are that are so on board to see what I'm gonna do next but I think it's also it's kind of both ways it's

not just them watching me being like where's what do you are you're talking about your body anymore it's also me sitting here like for the past three years I've built my entire career on my physicality and now like what do i do like there's so much I want

to do I want to do music I want to do acting I want to direct things I want to do all that stuff but I almost don't know where to start yeah and they would almost be like frozen yeah because when it's always been about one thing yeah

then what so just so my audience we can like kind of get on board with you where you're at talk about how you realized that it wasn't that you were gay mm-hmm it was that you were transgender right you were transgender it turned into a person how do

I that so a lot of people say like don't say it this way say it this way I can explain for you thank you so trans or transgender trans is just like an abbreviation of transgender in this context of gender right is an adjective right so when we

say tall woman it's like that's the kind of place to read the trans women or a transgender woman I gotcha when people say transgendered like it's a verb and implies that it's something that happened to you oh and the reality is it's just an innate part of your

being like just being a tall person right it's not that you're told that person got told right it's not like that goes what a person is taller there's a yeah um so that's the grammar there I said one exactly and you know I think I think some people

when I clear fie things like that and so glad that you asked me to clarify it I think some people I think it's unnecessary but the reality is the way we talk about people and things like yeah 100 percent it shifts your entire perception of that issue because

if you perceive transness as something that happens to you rather than just something innate about your being yeah that's a whole it also applies everything evented yeah right yeah like in the same way that people first it's still happening like praying the Gately I could change exactly it's

not how it worked no exactly but thank you for clarifying cos no private I know that I've misspoken the past and I've apologized and tried to learn so we're learning together yes yeah yeah okay so but how I realized right you gotta talk about that okay so uh

growing up in this small town I was also the only gay person that I knew of I was the only out gay person listen listen I was not alone okay but I perceived means alone and I didn't really have role models or resources to explore gender sexuality so

I understood them in very binary ways and I thought that because I was kind of feminine and because I liked men or boys because I was a teenager um I thought that meant I was gay because that was like the narrative that I was then it was that

I had to my other option exactly but I had a very hard time in that community and I had to leave like immediately after graduating high school two days after I graduated gone I was out of there and I'm so grateful I had my parents support to get

me to Toronto where I could be safe and thrive um the safety is a big safe there like I had an lgbtq+ workbook probably years ago where I was like safety first yes if it's not safe to come out I know it sucks I hate that that's the

world we live in but safety first yeah absolutely you can only be a murderer for so long until it's not that's very dark but you know what I mean I I definitely I experience physical violence I experience harassment vandalism I wasn't like I could I didn't leave my

house I never like I lived to like two blocks from my school but my mom drove me every day because people would try to run me over the car was people listen I wanted to go at Pizza one time and they started screaming at me and I never

went back to the pizza place like there were so many I thought I was so forced into my basement that I never left so moving to Toronto where I could leave and experience things was so mind-blowing and it was there you being you affect oh yeah crazy yeah

they're the most intense incident I had there was somebody my mom had this Jeep she loved her Jeep because she's a very small woman she's like 411 and she likes feeling big and strong so she had this big cheap and one night somebody had the police said it

was a machete because of the way it was cut they sliced the tires on the vehicle and spray-painted slurs on the side of it so my mom just had to get rid of the whole thing she couldn't look at it ever again and then like it bled into

every aspect of my life there it was so somebody a machete on my property just because I was in my house like I wasn't safe there yeah but it's okay I've experienced a lot oh yes did I process that yes I'm in Toronto now in the timeline we're

on the time yes okay we're moving along I'm in Toronto and I'm working at choppers checkmark and they actually have a great trans occlusive policy and you'll notice if you're mean if you're savvy you might not know you might notice a lot of trans people work at shopper's

and it's because they can't be fired for their gender and I think now in Canada it's law so that's that's good but um that's fantastic so I worked there I met trans people working there and I met trans people like ice co-workers and his clients uh-huh and I

learned just by talking to them and hearing them talk to me I kind of saw myself like a mirror in those people and I was like okay well this makes so much more sense than everything I've ever experienced and I am one of the people I met working

there kind of mentored me and showed me how to get a doctor that would you know listen to the right things and help me get hormones and help me get on the path to the yeah and it worked and I that was like three or four years ago

and it's all history now yeah as far as because I know back it back in the day when I was trained which is like ten years ago okay when I was trained yes they said that therapy was like mandatory yeah it was still the case um no so

what I had to go through to get my hormones which was the first step for me and not every trans person wants or needs was to feel okay but I needed them and I wanted them and so I went to my new doctor I explained I'm experiencing extreme

discomfort because of my gender I know I want to transition how can you help me with that and basically I went back to him three times over the course of three months once a month just basically to catch up and say this is something I still want yeah

yeah and and the process was called informed consent so I was given a form explaining all the side effects and he talked to me about them too of course it wasn't just a paper saying Here sign it like he made sure I understood everything and I did even

more so different absolutely czar happening I'm just irreversible changes to your body physically too and and obviously at the point I wanted that yeah but I want that was the whole goal there's still a certain degree of gatekeeping that I think is somewhat necessary cuz it's a you

know it's a medical thing and it's permanent and I think there should be a certain process and I think what I experienced a three-month wait I think that was reasonable I feel the same as an outside perspective everyone seems fine and checking in yeah to make sure you

still feel that way exactly so I understood all of the effects and side-effects and I signed the paper and I was given my prescription and then there's guidelines in Ontario at least called the rainbow health guidelines that so any doctor on Emel any doctor in Canada really can

access this information and it can tell them you know what to prescribe at what point what patients should expect at what point and like how to increase dosages over time so really there's no excuse for any Canadian doctor to not do this they have the resources right there

it does not take long to get them I do know when I was doing research for my workbook many years ago and you can let me know if this is still correct but there is a lot of like black market yep and that's when it gets really dangerous

yes it's a prescription it's it's for you it's catered to you exactly and making sure that if you are feeling this discomfort and you're wanting to get the chain that you you know that you go through a doctor because that's the safest and really the only way yeah

and it's great that in Canada we have access to things like that and there are certain places like I don't know in the UK it can be years and years and you have to see therapists and and I mean listen I see a therapist because I need to

not because like yeah I like hard and that's got nothing with my gender but you know and but I think there's a certain degree of understanding you need to have and I think informed consent was enough but there are certain places like in the UK where you have

to go through like 20 different professionals that have to say yes you need this but they don't trust your input for yourself and it's very and I can I cannot imagine how frustrating and you can find a lot of experiences online if you look up like UK transition

and I don't know you can find so many stories I've waited for years and years and turned down by this like it just dinner any helpful resources and links in the comments so if someone is out there and struggling they can find the right help yeah and not

what I don't that would have been really hard for me and I'm glad I didn't have to experience that but I'm encouraging y'all to still do your best to stick to the main pathways because it can be very dangerous if you get into black market stuff and we

don't want we don't want you to be hurt no no okay so then getting the hormones started the hormone treatment yep how was that it was great I think a lot of people when they first start with hormones they have all these placebo effects that are like oh

I've been on home of three days I can feel my breasts going and it's like this not real but it's okay if it's like if it makes you feel better then yeah absolutely embrace that right so I did update videos every month for a year Wow [Music] okay

yeah how cool and then I did another I haven't done one for like a year and a half probably but I did I try to keep people updated with my hormones and stuff and what I was experiencing so that they could you know they could know what to

expect in there in there and of course everybody has a different experience everybody's body is different in response to these drugs differently but it's nice to be able to follow along and have some idea right and and really what it mostly affects is fat distribution of your body

so the way that testosterone places fat on your body and estrogen does are very different so my my fat shifted more into like hip area but area away from like masculine perceived the thing is to remember oh it's all like yeah there's so much there's so much that

surrounds the topic of gender and transition that can make people feel like there's one way to be a manner one way to be a woman and that's not true so it's it's weird to talk about it in very binary ways but understand that nobody's body is wrong but

this is just generally speak exactly if we are speaking binary right for the sake of understanding medical like where they go right so estrogen also caused breast development in my body which I didn't have much because I'm naturally kind of muscular so I ended up I'm having breast

augmentation not too long ago actually but some people experience really think of it like hormones basically a hormone replacement on a placement therapy is basically puberty again yeah with the hormones that better mount your gender so whatever your body would develop exactly if you had those hormones because

everybody's bobbies diff except Lee so think about like it's like at 11 year old girl for example that's starting people I don't know how when it starts for everybody's different of course 11 isn't right so think about how much they change and develop from 11 to 20 it's

gonna take the same amount of time for trans people so I've been on for four years I have the same development as like a 14 year old girl physically with estrogen so it you have to be patient this is not happen overnight no yeah and I think a

lot of people wanted these things immediately but it's important to me I've always been very clear that this takes time it's not overnight yeah and surgeries of course can help with that but those shouldn't be seen as mandatory because that's expensive painful and dangerous totally and they're not

all covered like no sir no covered so it's super expensive Iceland I had a viewer of ours had reached out because they were looking for a funding because it was like their parents didn't support it and I couldn't get anything it's so expensive so just making sure you

ask all questions do all your research so I'm sure they're foundations in support yeah things you can you know apply for and try this is so great this will be really helpful do you mind if we then get into like things that people do that are offenses that

you don't share lies yeah cuz that's what I want cuz know that I have an older audience yeah I don't know one notice don't understand yeah yeah and I I've been there I got it I look I like with my family I've had to explain things and it's

not that they are they want to do anything wrong with this that they don't they don't it's hard to wrap your mind around it when it's such a different concept yeah but I can help okay perfect so I know that I personally in the past have I exit

transgendered yeah and people explained why that was incorrect and that's why I wanted us at least talk about that but are there other things people do similar yeah offensive but when we don't mean to yeah and I want to make it clear that like let's say you say

one of the things I'm about to explain and somebody corrects you want it it's not that they're personally attacking you or that they personally are horrifically hurt and wounded and you have to like sell your life to them to make them feel better it's more that the way

you say things and word things is is indicative of a cultural thing a cultural atmosphere that we're trying to change to better suit everybody not just trans people but trying to make a better culture for everybody to feel comfortable and to feel like they're their best selves right

so it's not personal when somebody tries to correct you on something it's it's trying to make the world better yeah we're all learning exactly and so see it is like a teacher learning opportunity yes exactly the same thing differently exact so one thing in particular that that a

lot of people say that they perceive as a compliment that can be kind of backhanded or condescending is I didn't know you were transgender or something like you look great like if I say on a panel for example that I'm trans to clarify something I'm going to say

and somebody says you look amazing that can be kind of it almost like you'll say ended right because it implies that trans people don't look amazing or that because I'm trans I'm expected to look bad or I'm expected to look trashy or I'm expected to look ugly or

I'm expected to look manly it implies so many things that you expect of trans people that are negative or that you perceive as negative I totally see that and I wouldn't have as a non trans person I wouldn't have thought of that totally not that you didn't do

and I'm not mad at the person that did it but it was the thing that like I didn't really have an opportunity to teach in that context but I think that's something that happens a lot when you mean a transverse you're surprised by the fact that the trans

which is okay because listen I promise you met trans people before and you didn't know and it's okay to be like oh I didn't know that about you that's interesting and surprising but it's when when you say things like oh I didn't I'm surprised because you're beautiful and

implies that I shouldn't be because I'm trans but that you expected me to not be beautiful and I don't know because there's layers to that I totally see that though yeah um another thing might be something that I I got a lot and like keep in mind I

went to school for makeup like I learned how to do like fashion and makeup so he's so amazing you know I appreciated that she's a teacher but I learned everything from like this kind of thing to like sculpting monsters and like creating aliens and stuff and and and

something that I experienced a lot or did experience a lot when especially when I was more visibly trans before I had surgeries and hormones was almost like I I would like people would say but you're better at makeup than me and I'm a girl like it implies that

I'm not a woman and that's not what you just didn't know because I went to school for it like it's not that it's not that because you were born a sis woman or cisgender woman and let's clarify what cisgender means because that's something a lot of people don't

you know yes and I think a lot of people think sisters cisgender is a made-up word but for the record all words are made up at some point but this has been around for a long time as long as transgender has been around since genders went around so

like a hundred years in medical context cisgender means you are your gender expression is congruent it's not the word it's the same it's the same as your assigned gender at birth so you would be a cisgender yes I was born a woman and I identify as a woman

right and I would be transgender because I am a woman but I was I was assigned male right so like I don't even see it and I'll get into this no actually I'll get into this now yeah some people see transness as you like some people might say

I was born a man but I am now a woman and the way that it is really is that I've always been a woman well not really I think my body is mine and by virtue of me being a woman it's a woman body regardless of what surgeries

or hormones I've had right but I think because how do i word this when we see it in a way that says oh she's a woman in a man's body it gives people public room to say I'm a man and I've never felt like a man I've never

been a man like even growing up some people say oh you were socialized as a man and there's a degree of that but also not really because I was I see it as I was socialized as a trans woman I'm inside my body I'm screaming everyday I'm not

enjoying the privileges of maleness that I had growing up I'm like why can't I be happy why can't I develop in that way why are people shaming me for liking certain things there's not really much privilege to her there's a lot of loathing and there's a lot of

so the understanding that trans women were once men is just a little bit of a shift it's not quite accurate it's it's just that they were perceived to be men and they were told to be men and they were forced to be men because of something because of

the circumstances of their birth right because I was born with a certain body part I was given a blueprint and because I deviated from that I experienced a lot of shit cool I don't know how else to word it know I experienced a lot of shit yeah and

I think that's not really the same as growing up as a boy and being a boy because those are completely different experiences so for all intents and purposes trans women at no point were men yes but but it's okay to like it I know that's a weird that's

a weird thing to understand and to wrap it like it's a it's a it involves a lot of like shifting the way you see gender as a whole and that can be difficult totally but I think like just because I I see what you're coming from I don't

think it's that hard because I think it's essentially the idea that whoever we have identified as in general has just always been us right exactly so it doesn't matter like it doesn't matter if I was born one way looking one way but if I knew I was this

other way I've always been that other exactly so to say I see why to say that okay a girl born in a man's body would imply that I agreed with that man's by never did right I was always a girl right exactly and it also intramural cuz Mike

because that's what the trans means right would be like the difference between sis like yeah it's like the prefix assistant Tran insists on the same side of trans across so transgender is a cross-gender right and and gender I'm sorry no it's okay look I just don't want to

imply that like I have changed genders because I don't see it that way it's more that I've changed my body to match my gender yes okay does that make sense yes and I think that's like why I don't that's why I see the other thing could be essentially

kind of not offensive but misunderstands yes a big it's a fundamental misunderstanding of what gender is for trans people yes okay okay great I hope I explained that pretty well yes I like that though it makes sense and it helps me at least better understand how I can

be more sensitive okay cool anything else people say or do that's really hmm offensive without realizing it so something else people do is they'll like to let me give you an example today I had an uber ride where listen I listen okay this man was very nice okay

let's I can't tell the story this is weird um okay I'll give a hypothetical situation let's say I'm at the mall with I'm on a date with we're not going on a date I met somebody literally I was in a store and I met a dude and we're

hitting it off and then somebody comes up to me that knows I'm trans and tells that dude that I'm trans it's their place right that's part of it but it's also there's there's a time for me to tell that person that I'm trans and to help them understand

what that means not only for me but for them being attracted to me because a lot of people are so scared of what that means for them as men right they're like oh no imma trying to do a trans woman does that mean I'm gay no it doesn't

you trans women are men gay men are not attracted to me look at me I'm a woman like what about this you know what I mean and I think it's they overthink it to the point where it's like it just it fucks with their head so much and

it doesn't have to you know it's very simple trans women are women therefore is totally natural for straight men to be attracted to them is totally natural for gay women to to them and and I think there's there's so much stigma around that and that's not necessarily something

somebody says but it's more just the general cultural perception of women of trans women in romantic situations and if you look at media for the past like 40 years yeah any trans women in media have been villains or predators or sex workers that are really men or like

it's been funny because they're pretty but then they have a really deep voice and that's the punchline haha or like South Park humor right and that is their everybody's perception of trans women that has been it for so long that was my perception of trans women when I

was a kid and that's why it took me so long to understand that I was trans and so for me to be in public encountering this man that's attracted to me we're talking in a store for example and somebody comes up and makes a point of me being

trans outing me effectively to that person and then that person's perception of trans women is predator scary secretly a man out to get you what do you think his reactions gonna be it's gonna be either rejection which is fine and fair nobody's obligated to be romantically interested in

anybody okay but it could also be violent and trans women suffers such a high murder rate yeah murder II and suicide rate so just 48 percent up 48 percent of us have attempted suicide that's that's that's probably more than any other community I can't confirm that but I'm

no but I can't imagine another community with a higher statistical suicide rate no there isn't when I did the LGBT work I mean it's been a few years so new stats are probably out but it was for therapists such as myself wanting to be more understanding and it

was like it couldn't have been more strong of language to be like you need to recognize you need to support yeah you need to try to use proper language and let them teach you because they're hurting yeah there's so much like the best way I can describe gender

dysphoria which is the diagnoseable thing for trans people is like heartache and like isolation and like just like perpetual loss of a life that you don't have that you that you need and the best way to get those things fixed is through medical transition usually it depends on

the individual but that's why it's so important yeah for that to happen right to listen and to let yourself learn from us right appreciate you for hosting this so that people can learn of course cuz I feel like a lot of people are afraid to ask yeah they

are or people ask really inappropriate questions because the wrong time is totally because I've had viewers of mine reach out and say that they are trans and people will feel it completely appropriate to ask about their genitals ah and that's like I should talk about that yeah can

I go for tell me about it so um there's appropriate no I mean there's certain contexts when it's appropriate it's appropriate to ask me about my genitals if we're going to sleep together mm-hmm or if you're my doctor they're enough otherwise yeah would you ask me about my

genital oh no you would also like and I mean obviously you are this because we've had this conversation but as an outsider and I mean I mentioned this earlier you've met trans people that you have no idea where trans if you did not know yeah you wouldn't you

have how would you know right why would you just assume that she's sis and she hasn't like but with trans people you assume things about their body and about their genitals but then also you ask about it I don't understand why you do both but I mean and

then the point is genitals are nobody's business and those for sleeping together and then some people will say oh but how do I know if I want to sleep with you if I don't know what general is you have and that is a fair point but let me

but then you're already at that point it's kind of already in that romantic realm right where hopefully you'd be already having a conversation about the fact that you even aren't trans right so at that point you should know that's already it's conversation of its own right and then

not public no no no no no absolutely not so I've had experiences with dating people that they've been very attracted to me and they wanted to you know engage on the memory level but they're terrified for example what their family will think and I mean I live a

very public life so it's entirely possible the family wouldn't know but if I was a private person if I didn't have a youtube channel and talk about these things openly why would their family know there's none of their business they don't need to know that yeah so I

guess it's just about understanding that first of all gender and sexuality are separate I think I should have I don't know if I touched on that earlier I've talked about another the description my sex health understanding love that but yeah we can explain a little bit here too

well I mean there's separate right so like you can be transgender and gay or you can be transgender and straight or you can be transgender and bisexual pansexual whatever or you can be sis and all those things cuz sexuality gender is one side sexualities another and they don't

interact at all for yourself inwardly yeah it's only externally that your sexuality is important when it comes to gender um what was this thing before that I'm asking about yeah it's the only appropriate in context when you know you're gonna be involved with somebody physically yeah and and

I think what is a good exercise for people is to stop assuming people's genitals I think that's the thing is assumptions everything you were saying about that which is like assumptions assumptions assumptions if I if I know one little bit about someone I'm assuming all of this I

think the sooner we can recognize our own assumptions which are really our own stigmas we all have our own signless yes because we're looking it through our own filter glasses of experience of society of whatever yeah and sometimes it's just nice to take a break and be like

I like this person cuz I like them right as a person yes and I don't have to assume all this stuff about them until I get to know the right because 99% of people I encounter that are attracted to me and felt like if I go to a

club or if I go to like a bar or if I'm in an uber for example just first just for example it's not really relevant those people assume I have a vagina because they perceived me as cisgender but the second ice there's any any hint of trans-ness it's

all of a sudden like oh my god I'm like what if she has a penis and for the record a lot of like they're I don't know I don't know if this is common knowledge for everybody but there are surgeries for people to get their genitals altered yeah

there are it's called a sexual realignment surgery or gender reassignment surgery but I like I think sexual relearned yes that's better than sitting back in line with what you've always actual yes organs right instead of gender and not changing my gender when I have a surgery that alters

my body that way I'm changing my sexual organs like that yeah so it's also not correct to assume every trans person have a trans woman has a penis or every trans man has a vagina because that's not true either so like you said it's an assumption thing and

that needs to be unlearned and it can be yeah but it just takes some conscious thinking about that yeah practice and yeah being a little more thoughtful with the way that we speak yes exactly but that will help everybody in the end I think so um any other

tidbits or I don't think anything else about like offensive language there's a million things I could really talk about sure but I just meant like when they don't really intend to yeah of course yeah but I mean those are the big ones that I've encountered I'm sure there's

something missing but they're not in top of my head right now but I mean I mean you can find a million trans people online talking about those if you look up transgender microaggressions if you're interested in learning about these things that might be the best path to go

because I think that's what we generally call them is microaggressions yeah it's like that little stabbed right but they don't intend to do but it's still stab yeah and there's a lot you can learn if you look up that kind of information yeah well thank you for educating

us my pleasure and for sharing your story online because I do love the fact is have to say I love the fact that you found community online and you did it and now you've created one group of others ah thank you that's why that's why I started sharing

my transition is cuz I wanted to give back to what helps me I'm glad I could yeah it's wonderful so go check out her channel we've done a video over there she's amazing and wonderful thank you for taking the time thank you it's my pleasure uh see you

guys later I will see you later bye you

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