Doctors, self defense

By , February 24, 2010 4:05 pm

I had another doctor’s appointment today, as a followup to the one I had a few weeks ago. He said I should stick with the Lexapro (now on week two) and he opened my chakras again.

We also talked for a while about regret and how to look forward.

I explained to him how I’ve been feeling like I’m wallowing in regret. That I’m consciously aware of how good I do have it, but still can’t get over this fantasy that things would be better had I transitioned earlier or not had to transition at all. (By which I meant ‘had been born female.’ Don’t worry.) I know it’s futile, and I know it’s harmful, but I can’t get out out of it. He responded that I need to find a way to look forward, not  backward; regret over what’s passed can consume you. (Tell me something I don’t know…)

On the train ride home, I was rereading some essays from Yes Means Yes and one in particular struck home. From Sex Worth Fighting For:

I remained preoccupied by fears that something “truly” bad would happen, and often imagined gang rape and murder that would finish me off for good. It would probably be committed by boys who didn’t plan to go that far but felt like trying out their power on somebody who seemed like an easy target. This scenario felt so possible to me as to be the likely next step in my life.

That really resonated with me, because I have been feeling something of survivors guilt over not having suffered more harassment or assault than I have. Rather than count myself lucky – though I do that, too – I see myself as unfairly privileged, and of simply waiting for the other shoe to drop and for me to have the shit kicked out of me or worse.

The author of Sex Worth Fighting For continues in her essay, saying that what finally made things click and feel like she was taking an active response to her fears was a self-defense class. I’ve thought about that before, but I’m trying to fit it in context now with my experiences this past weekend at laser tag and pole dancing.

I’m wondering if taking a self-defense course, of explicitly taking action that says, “Yes, I’m potentially vulnerable, but I’m going to do something about it,” might make me feel less stressed about (say) taking the risk of being sensual or exhibiting a more femme side in public, and even in private.

Have any of you taken any self-defense courses? What were your experiences with them?

11 Responses to “Doctors, self defense”

  1. Zoë Suzanna says:

    Yes, I’d recommend it. I’ve been studying Aikido now for 6 years and it’s helped me feel more confident that I can take care of myself though I have yet to be battle tested in the real world so to say.

    I feel though 1 class will not give you enough to protect yourself totally and if you do not practice what you learn, you could lose it and forget – and then wonder what to do if a real situation arises.

    Ideally, the techniques should be 2nd nature but that takes time and practice – 1 class is not enough in my opinion. I find that the techniques I learned a few years ago are now rusty and I need to re-learn them again to keep them fresh.

    I recommend, find a martial art you may be interested in and see if they offer self defense classes at a dojo near you or perhaps a dojo where you can practice the first two weeks for free to see if it’s a good fit for you – our dojo does that.

    I am happy I began my Aikido practice long before I began transition. Good luck in your process!

    • Rebecca says:

      Welcome, Zoe, and thanks for your thoughts. I completely agree that, ideally, the information presented in a self-defense course should be repeated until it’s second nature. That’s really true of anything, but particularly of physical skills where the goal is to gain some muscle memory.

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to something so long-term. What you’re saying about finding a place with free trials, to find a good fit, does sound like a really solid suggestion. Thanks!

      Can I ask how or if you’ve noticed your experience with Aikido has changed over the course of your transition? I ask because I’ve definitely noticed my strength and muscle mass decrease while participating in circus classes. Great in that it means the hormones are working, but frustrating in that I have to work twice as hard to do some of the same skills!

      • Zoë Suzanna says:

        THe great thing about Aikido is that muscle strength is not necessary. A competant small woman can easily throw a much bigger man. In Aikido – you use the opponents energy to throw them. My strength has decreased a little but I can still do the tecniques better than before.

        I practice at a dojo that is trans friendly tho that was never a consideration when I joined. People have been very respectful and supportive of my transition there. 2 others who train there have transitioned be fore me though they are not as regular as I am.

        My training has become more serious and focused through transition for I wasnt to be as ready for what may ever happen in real time – if ever. It has helped me deal with problems more effectivly long before it would get physically violent.

  2. Bond says:

    I’m taking one right now! It’s a lot of fun, and I feel a lot safer and more confident. For me, it’s been less about particular strategies and more, as you said, about just taking some kind of action, saying, “I can do something about this (feeling unsafe/being harassed), I don’t just have to take it.”
    Highly recommended!

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks for the endorsement! I’m glad you’re getting something out of it, and would love to hear more about your experiences.

      Do you know what organization/style they are? The essay I’m quoting recommended an IMPACT course, but I’m kinda clueless about why that’d be better/worse than anything else.

      • Bond says:

        IMPACT is great — I used to work with them to put on workshops for queer youth here in Santa Fe. The class I’m taking is just my instructor’s particular blend of the various martial arts he’s studied.

  3. Juliana says:

    I’ve done martial arts here and there, and it does make me confident that I have some basic self-defense skills. I do feel like it’s something I need to learn more– I’m not entirely sure that I’d be much good against an opponent who knew how to fight, since I do not have mass or strength on my side.

    I see that Thousand Waves in Lakeview does self-defense classes as well as regular Karate classes. I have a friend who is a blackbelt who studies there– I can ask her for more information or introduce you if you would like.

  4. Nancy Green says:

    I studied martial arts and self-defense for twenty years at different times and schools. It is very worth doing. The challenge is to build your own approach to self-defense incorporating the techniques that work best for you. IMPACT is the best, fastest way to develop self-defense skills that I ever encountered. It’s expensive, that’s the only drawback I know of.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks, Nancy! It’s great to hear from someone else having a positive experience with IMPACT. I’m kind of leaning in that direction (and my mom told me tonight that she’d help pay for a class), I think I’d just like to find a friend to take it with me.

  5. [...] keep thinking about the passage I quoted from Yes Means Yes a while back: I remained preoccupied by fears that something “truly” bad [...]

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