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An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two)

November 1, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,938

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Stacey Piercey is the Co-Chair of the Ministry of Status of Women Sub-Committee of Human Rights for CFUW FCFDU and Vice Chair of the National Women’s Liberal Commission for the Liberal Party of Canada. She discusses: paths of misunderstanding transgender individuals; misinformation and disinformation campaigns; best definition of a transgender individual; definitions and misunderstandings over time; what is the same in the life-arc of a trans woman from youth to elderhood in those who are trans women and who are not trans; what is different in the life-arc of a trans woman from youth to elderhood compared to someone who is not a trans woman; what are the disproportionately negative life outcomes for trans women in different domains of their lives; and the different paths and shades of those paths available to trans women in terms of making the transition in Canada.

Keywords: Co-Chair, Liberal Party of Canada, Ministry of Status of Women, Stacey Piercey, Vice Chair.

An Interview with Stacey Piercey: Co-Chair – Ministry of Status of Women Sub-Committee of Human Rights, CFUW FCFDU; Vice Chair National Women’s Liberal Commission at Liberal Party of Canada | Parti libéral du Canada (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: To set some more of the theoretical and empirical groundwork of the extended educational conversation over the coming weeks, I see two streams of misunderstanding about trans individuals. One is simple, relatively benign ignorance; another is deliberate misinformation and disinformation campaigns, through multiple media and social media channels, to scapegoat vulnerable members of society for cultural-political points.  To the simple, relatively benign ignorance, what seems like the source of this? What are the individual and interpersonal consequences for trans-Canadians?

Stacey Piercey: You are right to say that there exist two streams of misunderstanding about transgender individuals. There is ignorance, and that is understandable to a degree, not everyone is aware of what it is like to be transgender. It is a unique experience to the transgender individual. I can relate to you some common themes that I have observed. I can share as much information as humanly possible. If it was easy to explain, I guess there wouldn’t be such a need for advocacy or education.

As you know, this is not something that everyone will encounter. There will always be a lack of knowledge and some ignorance. Just like how I don’t know everything about other groups in society. I do trust that their experience is real, and I can understand to a degree the issues that are faced in other communities by relating my experiences. We are talking about intersectionality, overcoming our differences and the knowledge gained from being able to connect with others. That requires empathy. I learned a while ago to relate to people by addressing common interests and not pointing out differences. I like to connect with others and learn from them. That is my style, to find common ground and solutions were ever possible. I see myself often having conversations about being transgender and answering questions asked of me. People do want to understand and want to help, especially since this has become a relevant social issue.

The other type of ignorance has hurt me, and that is the deliberate misinformation and disinformation campaign that seems to be ongoing. I don’t understand the motives, yet it does exist. Sometimes it is political, sometimes they are exclusionary and sometimes this is outright hate. You may say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but there is, what someone sees in media affects me. I find myself judged unfairly, asked to defend myself or explain myself. I sometimes struggle, as I am seen only as a transgender individual. It is hard when every day all you see are these negative stories. And I know the difference, so I can’t imagine the opinions being formed by others as they watch or read these stories. In Canada, we have moved further along in the conversation when it comes to transgender issues. Our policies are about inclusion and integration. It is no longer about our right to exist. That is happening in other countries, such as the USA and Great Britain right now, as they are having a national conversation. It is a big media machine that has overtaken our story to a degree. I feel like I when back in time watching this unfold, I even forget this is not relevant to me as a Canadian. But it is. You see stories that use outright fear, to pray on these individuals and to make life harder for transgender people in general. We are such a small portion of the population, we have never had privileges, steady jobs, housing or opportunities likes others, and transpeople suffer this incredible onslaught in the media that doesn’t make it easy to live a normal life. My only explanation is that there is money to be made hating transgender people, or there is joy in abusing and oppressing a small minority. It is all beyond me; I was raised to help people, not to hurt them. I honestly have to say I struggle to find good positive stories. And that is wrong.

2. Jacobsen: For the misinformation and disinformation campaigns, what seems like the source for this? What are the individual and interpersonal consequences for trans Canadians?

Piercey: If I was the venture a guess, it is political. For any change to occur for transgender people, we need the support of the media. Good and bad stories bring awareness to the issues. I don’t know if there is a dividing line among groups when it comes to transgender individuals. I have met so many people despite their background, and once they come to know I am transgender, they always say I have a friend, a relative that is transgender. It is a tough life they have, can you help or have any advice. My experience is everyone knows of someone who is transgender in a way. Therefore when it comes to transgender issues, you get every political background creating awareness, some views are extreme, over the top and sensationalized, but it is always someones else’s interpretation of transgender people. In Canada, during our campaign for human rights, we wanted them to come out of the closet, be seen and know it is okay to be transgender. It was time to step forward and say there is a problem that needed to be solved. There were no government statistics; there were no supports, and often these issues were not classified as transgender.

There is another side to this campaign against transgender people, and that is some are not ready for a change in society. They don’t help you; they want you to go away and keep you out of sight. Or worse as I found, I was used, I would work hard, and I ran into empire building. I would have these great ideas and solutions, and others would take credit. I was not respected. Thus not everyone is supportive. In this country, I have seen change occur very shortly through government and businesses. How I am received now is different than it was years ago. The thing is, as a community, we don’t have the population to instill change; we don’t have the experts, we don’t have the representation and are reliant on others to help. We are small in numbers; we are not in control of the conversation, often we are not included, and there is no consensus. I am into policy, and the problem I see, is that this is very expensive to put a gender-neutral washroom in every building, it is expensive to paint a rainbow crosswalk, and it is advanced law, and advanced medicine. Not everybody is ready to deal with this, it is complex, and it needs viable solutions. There is not enough research, legal precedents and medical history to adequately deal with the problems at hand.

3. Jacobsen: Now, those amount to not knowing/being unaware or having imbibed illusory knowledge. To the factual basis of being transgender or a trans person, what best defines a trans individual – or the type of trans individuals – within the modern context? 

Piercey: When I grew up it was simple. It was very binary. You were either a man or a woman. You were born as one gender on the outside and felt like another on the inside. Then you went about the process of transitioning from one gender to another. You go through a transition phase where you are for me as an example, male, not male or female, then female. In my mind that was transgender, it was a term that defined people who transitioned, had their surgeries, did their paperwork and changed their lives from one gender to another.

It isn’t like that anymore; it has become non-binary. We have a third gender concept where people who are gender non conforming that fit into the terminology of transgender. I have heard over 50 classifications for gender. For many there is no desire to seek surgeries, they are okay with who they are, and I would say this new generation or new perspective is what you are seeing more of today. I met fewer people who have the same background or experience as I once did. They are out there, living opposite from the gender they are born in, you don’t notice them because they live stealth.

For me, that shared experience of transitioning, living a point in your life as neither gender, going through that process of change is what makes a transgender person different. It is not about, sexuality, it is about gender and questioning it and living with the knowledge that gender is a social construct. And at the same time, gender it is a big defining point for many individuals. When you remove gender from the individual, what is left but only the person? I see it now as a very open community, that is inclusionary to anyone questioning gender.

4. Jacobsen: How has the definition changed of “trans” or “transgender” over time into the present if at all? How have the misunderstandings changed over time if at all, too?

Piercey: I think in my life the definition of transgender has changed in that has gone from binary to a non-binary. That breaks down any traditional views of gender. I see transgender people as more gender fluid now whereas before it was about going from one gender to another. I am old school in a sense I live female, that is me. But I am floored by some on the new ideas that I have seen. I will be honest I find some of the new terminology and concepts difficult even for me to understand. I am okay with it; I think you should be yourself in this life. I can remember when this was simpler, it was discrete, and not political. That was before the internet and social media. We had support groups. Now it is all over the media; everyone has an opinion on gender. Everyone is sharing what they think. I believe we are watching a gender revolution. And transgender has changed just like society did with technology. I expect what it means to be transgender will continue to follow this evolution. I am all for new ideas, and I believe change is good.

Interestingly enough, the misunderstandings have not changed, for me. It is still the case where I am the representative of everything transgender. If someone sees a transgender story, they think I am like that too. How do you say, I am an individual and not some glorified stereotype.

5. Jacobsen: From your perspective and observations, as you relayed being identified as an elder – an elder trans woman, recently, what is the same in the life-arc of a trans woman from youth to elderhood in those who are trans women and who are not trans?

Piercey: I am an elder, and I understand it is a term of endearment and respect. It is something I have been called personally many times, it is not a cultural thing for the transgender community. For me, it is more about being a survivor. For them, I am a role model, a faux parent, someone who is there with experience and guidance. You see, there are not many people like myself who have transitioned in life and have lived a long time. I have 20 years of experience and stories. A problem that exists is that there is little-recorded history. Whereas I have watched this grow, and I have watched a whole new generation come into the scene. I was always involved with the public, and I am in the transgender community too. People know I am the transgender Liberal, if they got a problem with the government, I will hear it first. Now if you want to know what it was like years ago, you have to ask my friends or me. In that sense I am an elder, I have within me the culture, the history and I can see the changes that have occurred. Another reason is that I have been called an elder is that I have made friends over the years with two spirited people from the indigenous population. That has grounded me, as I know transgender has been around forever, not a mainstream part of society, but it has always been there. And in other cultures, it is very respected. In Newfoundland and the Indigenous community, there is an oral tradition, and I share in these ways. I have all the knowledge of how to navigate the system, as I helped create it and how to transition legally. I can offer great advice and have over the years to many transgender people. And if you want to know something about transgender rights in this world I have one of the better networks, there is to access information. I am a responsible adult, and I like the term elder, and I have taken it too.

6. Jacobsen: Within the same question background, what is different in the life-arc of a trans woman from youth to elderhood compared to someone who is not a trans woman?

Piercey: I am in my forties. Now I have forty plus years of life experience. But that is not what makes me an elder. You can be older than me it doesn’t mean you are an elder in the trans community. Let’s start with the years of transition. Day one, you are transgender, you are brand new to this world. You may know about life, but you don’t know anything about transitioning. These are trans years, I have 20 of those years, and it is that experience that counts. What you may know about life is irrelevant to a degree when you change genders. People have always come to me at this point needing my help. More so in the past, before services were available, I am an expert in the trans community.

The experience is relatively the same for everyone medically speaking. You want and need to be supervised by a doctor. You have to live full time integrating into society for a year. Then you start hormone. Then you go through a second puberty. Living full time is a real test, and taking hormones that is permanent. If you make it this far, following the doctor’s orders and have no complications with the introduction of hormones and no adverse effects to your body you are on your way to transitioning. Hormones scare away a lot of people, and some people can’t take them, especially the male testosterone. It is a weird time, in a transgender person life. It is when they are most vulnerable, and hormones are new, and everything they thought about the other gender is now real to them. It is a learning and growing phases. Eventually, you settle in and find your way. You may have surgery, which again is a significant change, most of my friends are post operation. Therefore, we can relate to each other. Then you wake up one morning and your body after years now matches the image in your mind. You adjust, and you move on with life, everything is normal, gender is not an issue anymore. All is good. Transgender doesn’t solve problems; it is not an escape from your life, it creates tonnes of difficulties. The whole process takes time; it took me probably ten years to regain my confidence and to be good with who I am. It is very similar to a non-transgender woman entering puberty, and the issues faced, it just happens to them when you are younger, and as with them it takes years being a teenager to come into your own.

7. Jacobsen: In terms of the social issues in the lives of trans women, what are the disproportionately negative life outcomes for trans women in different domains of their lives? How does each of these disproportionately negative outcomes play out in concrete terms? 

Piercey: I can easily say, that if I was with hundred people who identify as transgender twenty years ago. Fifty would not be able to change their lives. This door is not open to them. I would say twenty of them would be murdered or commit suicide or incarcerated. It was a big deal to be passible for safety reasons alone. Now I would say of the thirty left, fifteen have entered prostitution for survival, ten are on income assistant, and I would say you have five who are working, transitioned and you will never know they transitioned. That was me, I was lucky, educated, in a relationship, and I knew how to take care of myself. I came out again later in life because I was tired of seeing what happened to the community and its fight for rights and it was overwhelming me trying to help others. I know there are not a lot of transgender people who live long lives after transitioning. I was given seven years by one professional, it was said to me this is a rough life ahead if I do this. Now, I have some friends who have transitioned as long as I have or longer and I know of some individuals older than me too. The truth is we are a science experiment. There aren’t that many people who have done this. I am one of those at the forefront.

8. Jacobsen: What is the process of making the transition? Also, this is a nuanced area. What are the different paths and shades of those paths available to trans women in terms of making the transition in Canada?

Piercey: For me, this was a very regulated medical process to transition. As well, legally it is a real pain in the neck to change all of my documentation. It was not fun; it was hard work. Back in the day, the government would only recognize gender change surgeries, if they occurred within the medical system. Without your surgery, you couldn’t change your identity. These rules do not apply as much anymore. It is good, and it is terrible too, I liked all the supervision and supported I received. I was monitored as if I was part of a military experiment. If anything was wrong with me, I knew right away. It was reassuring. I remember transitioning was the scariest time in my life, going from male to female was a stage that I wanted to go through as fast as I could. It takes times to transition. I wanted to travel, get a good job, or have access to credit, I needed everything to be in order. I thought coming out was hard; I found socializing difficult as I was relearning many skills, and it took me a while. What works for me as a man didn’t necessarily work for me as a woman. I was taken care of, supported and helped to transition completely through the medical system in Canada. I have the best doctors.

Today you can now transition, or be gender non-conforming or gender neutral. It is not so much about taking a pill as it is more about changing your identity to reflect who you are. The rules don’t apply anymore as they once did for me, you can start hormones, and you don’t have to transition fully, you don’t have to have your surgery. A lot of people live gender neutral or some other gender that is not traditional male or female. I can’t imagine how different it is now, there are so many supports, and people are safe to be themselves at a young age, and the social stigma is going away. Part of the transgender experience was in hiding, ashamed and coming out, living underground, and outside of the system. I had to develop social skills, political skills, to fight for my rights, I had to know the law, the medical system and government policy as it was all needed to get by in life. Now, if was 15 and felt like there was something wrong with me. I can tell my doctor, and my teacher and I can transition with help. Whereas for me it took years to find answers, and help and support. In a way, transgender, as I understand it will be extinct.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Chair – Ministry of Status of Women Sub-Committee of Human Rights, CFUW FCFDU; Vice Chair National Women’s Liberal Commission at Liberal Party of Canada | Parti libéral du Canada; Mentor, Canadian Association for Business Economics.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two) [Online].November 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, November 1). An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, November. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (November 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):November. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two) [Internet]. (2018, November; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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