**This is the first entry I have used a voice to text program to write. I apologize for any typos I might have missed**
Hello my darlings, I'm sorry it has been so long since I last wrote and that my recent entries have been further and further apart. Life this past year has been rather hectic and even at the best of times rather overwhelming to say the least. Right now I am entering what looks to be the most overwhelming part of my graduate school career. Not only am I working full-time I'm going to school, I am also working about 30 hours a week at my internship seeing clients for therapy and have just started to work on my integration paper. An integration paper for those who are not familiar is a great deal like a thesis. All of this put together leaves me in a position of rarely ever having time to do the things I want like writing or painting or traveling.
With all of that being said I don't want my darling readers to think that I have died or that I don't care anymore because I certainly do. I am just simply spending much of my energy has a queer activist in the real world with people I can have a more direct impacts on. As of right now I have 2 individual therapy clients that are transgender and I am leading a weekly lgbtq support group for adolescents. I have started to rub shoulders, so to speak with some of Minnesota's leading social researchers on transgender issues in and out of therapy, and the things they are finding and coming up with are really exciting.
In my own personal Journey through the transgender landscape of life I'm finally coming up on my third anniversary of starting HRT. Which means that at this point what the hormones have not already done they will never do, barring any change in dosage. I go in for labs this week to make sure that everything is progressing the way it ought to and to make sure that my hormone levels are in optimal range.
In my personal life, not a great deal has changed. I still have not had sex since the sexual assault and have started to think that maybe I never will again. Perhaps that is pessimistic thinking but at this point it has been a year and a half with no end in sight. The only good thing I can say is that most of the PTSD symptoms from the assault have diminished a great deal. There are still times when people touch me, even in innocuous ways, where is a flashback will be triggered and I will start to feel sick to my stomach like I did that day. Usually after these incidents I sink into a pretty dark and depressing place and have to fight with the many beliefs that come up around my history of being a sexual assault victim. My therapist and I have been working to some degree to address the ever unfolding memories of having been sexually abused as a child, which is an awful Journey that I wish I never had to take. All of this work I have been doing, however, was confounded about 2 months ago when one of the kids I worked with managed to lock me in a room and keep me as her prisoner for the better part of an hour while she taunted me and tormented me with psychological games. I cannot put into words the damage this experience cause for me both in my working life and in my personal life. This experience caused me, For Better or Worse, to relapse into drinking again. I am glad to report, however, that the drinking has been relatively mild and definitely under control. That's not to say that I do not have urges to drink to excess or to drink myself into the ground but I have managed to avoid or overcome those urges almost all the time.
As far as my mental health is concerned something really big happened not all that long ago and it has been really hard for me to talk about it especially on here because if I talk about it then that means it's real. Around the same time that my resident locked me in a room I went for an evaluation at the Emily program. For those of you who do not know what the Emily program is, it is a program designed to help people with eating disorders. Yep, that's right, I have an eating disorder and it has been around a lot longer than I usually care to admit. If I'm entirely honest the eating disorder started a few years ago when a legitimate digestive problem became a convenient way to not only not gain weight but to assist in the losing of weight.
Since I'm finally willing to actually talk about this I might as well make this entry primarily about the subject and should likely start from the beginning. In all likelihood the foundation for my eating disorder began during my childhood years of watching my mother go to insane lengths and restrictions in order to lose weight when she was already quite thin. As long as I can remember my mother has been dieting, even though she has likely never even come close to being overweight. It was always some new diet, some new way of eating or not eating that was consuming a great deal of her time or her thoughts. Although I can't count the number of times that it happened or even guess at the number of times that it happened when I wasn't aware, I can distinctly remember several times when I heard sounds coming from the bathroom after dinner that made me think my mother was vomiting. I remember asking her at least once if she was okay and I also remember the distinct look of displeasure and possibly even shame as she lied about what she had been doing. I'm not sure if she lied to me because she was afraid to tell me, worried that I wouldn't understand, or if she was afraid that if I knew what was happening I might do the same thing that she was. Regardless it became an unspoken rule that this post-meal vomiting was to remain an unspoken subject. During my early teenage years my mother started to engage and what one can only describe as over-exercising. At the time I just thought that my mom was something of a badass given how much working out she was doing, but only as I look back at it now do I see what was actually going on.
I do not think my mother actually tried to instill in me a deep insecurity about my body but regardless of her intent seeing this Behavior both apparent and hidden created something inside of me that I did not understand for the longest time. I can recall on countless occasions my mother teasing me ever so lovingly about my weight and giving me unsolicited advice about how to lose weight or how to alter my diet or how to exercise more. From the outside looking in this might just seem like a mother who is concerned primarily about her child's health and well-being, but now that I have a deeper insight I can see what was really going on. My mother, bless her soul, was projecting onto me all of her own insecurities about her body and her weight, and whether she intended to or not she instilled Within Me those very same insecurities. Gradually over time I began to hate my body, which for a transgender person who already feels crushing helplessness at the wrongness of their physical form this really did not help things. Whenever I looked at the mirror I felt disgust not only because I was seeing a male body looking back at me but I was also seeing an overweight body looking back at me. The feeling of dread and revulsion that I experienced at my own reflection was overwhelming and unfortunately the only coping skill I seem to have ever developed to deal with those overwhelming feelings was to eat. And so I ate my feelings and the more I ate my feelings the bigger I got, and a bigger I got the bigger my feelings got requiring me to eat even more to cover them up.
Now things might have gone along just fine had I not developed an ulcer in my stomach. I likely would have just continue to gain weight or stayed at a rather high weight. But as fate would have it I developed an ulcer that made it nearly impossible for me to eat food and to keep it down without becoming physically ill. If I ate small amounts of food then things would be okay, but given that I was terribly overweight and used to eating a great deal of food I nearly always ended up becoming ill. At first this was a natural process so to speak, But as time went on and my illness continue to progress I found that sometimes it was easier to induce vomiting rather than simply wait for it. Once again had things gone as they were I likely would have recovered from the illness and continued to either stay at my weight or gain weight, but my wife decided that she wanted to go on Weight Watchers. Now this idea seemed great at the time, especially because I had been told by more than one doctor that Weight Watchers was a quality weight loss program that avoided many of the pitfalls of Crash diets. I found this to be relatively true but what I didn't expect to find was the gradually growing obsession with food and Counting points that came with Weight Watchers. Now this Obsession started in me to a small degree but it definitely took off in my wife who became almost tyrannical about the food that she ate. Fortunately for me my wife like to cook and given that she had a great deal fewer points than I did this meant that I was always eating relatively small meals and quickly started to lose weight. I was still struggling somewhat with my digestive problems but as I lost weight and began eating healthier food my digestive problem slowly but surely grew into an eating disorder. You see, I found that I didn't have to count the points of food that I ate when I vomited them back up and given how familiar and comfortable I had become with vomiting and inducing vomiting, things began to spiral out of control. My wife began to call me bulimia Queen and while at first this was a joke and a means of teasing me it wasn't long before it was no longer funny and things began to be concerning. I can still remember the day that my wife finally spoke her concerns about my post meal vomiting and suggested that I tell my therapist about it. Now, if you are a rational person you might think that I took her words seriously and told my therapist right away what was going on, but just like alcoholism Eating Disorders are not rational. Rather than going to my therapist right away I think I waited somewhere around a month or more to say something and when I did say something I did everything I could to minimize it and pretend like it wasn't a big deal. Thankfully I have a wonderful therapist who wouldn't let that fly and encouraged me to talk about it more, and to do various therapeutic things around it.
I wish I could say that I'd listened to my therapist but I didn't, not for a very long time. You see, that conversation I had with my therapist was over two years ago and I am still struggling with my eating disorder. That's not to say that I haven't done anything about it but I certainly haven't done as much as I could have or even should have. While I was spiraling after my divorce into an alcoholic stupor I was also purging almost everyday and often multiple times a day. It had long since stopped being just something that happened because of digestive problems and started to become something that I planned out ahead of time. Most people when they are not hungry and are offered food decline the food, because why would they eat it if they weren't hungry? But I, unlike most people, would look at the food and determine if I was willing to purge in order to eat it. Thoughts like "I can just throw it up later" became commonplace in my mind. At the heart of all of this though was that shame that I learned so long ago. I hated my life, I hated my body for not being female, and I hated how fat I was believing wholeheartedly that no one would ever want someone as fat as me, so my purging habit became a form of self injury. I wanted to punish my body for being wrong and for betraying me, and I wanted to punish myself because I didn't feel like I deserved love. The eating disorder took a new turn about a year after my divorce, shortly after having lost my job at Pride. It had always been about binging on food and then purging it up, but the shame I felt about losing my job became so great that purging was not enough of a punishment. Instead of just throwing up my food I decided to stop eating food altogether together. I felt so numb and terrible inside that the pain of hunger from days who depriving myself of food started to become something that was pleasurable. Much like someone who cuts themselves to feel better, I starved myself. I went weeks without barely eating anything. I started to feel physically weak and tired all the time and I so frequently had headaches that the only time I would eat would be to help keep down Tylenol. This phase of restricting went on for about 2 months and in that time I lost probably about 20 lb. I felt weak and had difficulty concentrating but I felt so happy to have lost weight. it felt like I had stumbled onto gold and I was going to be rich for life. I knew the secret to weight loss and it was so simple, all you had to do was not eat. Unlike diets that require you to count points or cut out certain foods or alternate different kinds of foods to mess with your metabolism my diet was astonishingly simple, just don't eat. I didn't want to stop either and I really didn't want my friends or family to know in case they tried to get me to stop. It wasn't until I was going to have a roommate that I knew would recognize what was going on that I decided to say something, and when I said something they did exactly what I expected them to. They tried to tell me to stop, that it was terrible for me and I needed to eat in order to stay alive. Despite the voice inside my mind that told me I needed to keep going, which had grown so loud it was practically deafening, I decided that maybe she was right. I stopped restricting even though I wanted to keep going so badly. I started eating again, slowly at first but growing over time until I ran into my old problem once again. Purging became my friend again and while it has not been terrible in the past few months the fact of the matter remains that I'm still purging on a regular basis.
When I went to the Emily program and did the assessment it became abundantly clear to me that I did have an eating disorder and even though I knew this to be true, it has taken me years to finally admit it. My darling readers, I have an eating disorder and I'm not afraid to admit it anymore. I struggle with bulimia and there are times when I struggle with food restriction. the social worker who did my assessment wanted me to do their day program, which would have meant that I spent the great number of hours a week working on my eating disorder, but I did not do what the social worker wanted me to. I didn't disregard her because I thought she was wrong or that I thought I could do it on my own, I disregarded her because I didn't have time in my schedule to allow for such program. in many ways I regret that decision, even though it was probably the only real option I had. Unfortunately this means that I have not been working on this problem, and definitely have not been giving it the attention it deserves. I don't really know how I'm going to fit in eating disorder therapy with the 70 Plus hours a week I am spending at work, School, and my internship, but I know that I need to figure it out.
Well my darlings, my eyes are getting heavy and I need to get up early in the morning so I need to wrap this up. my story could have definitely been longer and maybe one day I'll tell it but for now this will have to do. Taking this step is huge for me and hopefully you all can empathize with my reluctance to bring it up. So if you also are experiencing difficulties with your eating habits or you know that you have an eating disorder, please know that you are not alone and there are ways to make it better. Goodnight my darlings, thank you for reading, and always stay fabulous.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Monday, August 28, 2017
Hello my darling readers. I hope you are well and that the world is treating you as fairly as it can in this terrible age of the Trump presidency. It’s safe to say that we aren’t living in the most open-minded climate when it comes to transgender rights and issues. Just the other day Trump went so far as to try to formally ban transgender people from serving in the military. It can feel overwhelming when one of the most powerful men in the world decides to turn his spiteful gaze our way. We certainly don’t deserve his cruelty and close-mindedness. We don’t deserve any of the hatred we have to deal with on a daily basis.
I can remember not all that long ago when I thought that maybe it was finally safe for me to be who I am, for me to live my life true to myself. I thought that things were finally looking up for me and my fellow transgender and gender-nonconforming compatriots. I thought that maybe we’d finally seen the end of the age of secrecy. We didn’t have to hide in the closets built with shame that told us we were freaks of nature and no one would ever accept or understand us. I thought that we were walking into a golden age of acceptance where children, adolescents, adults, and seniors could finally say, “No, I’m not a boy/girl, I’m a _____” and parents, peers, friends, and children would be okay with that. Obviously we all have our own struggles and our own families (or lack thereof) to deal with in our transgender/GNC journeys, but the more of us that are accepted and understood, the more of us have the chance for the same treatment.
Now, however, I almost regret transitioning, not because of previous doubts I’ve expressed in the past but because the world has become immeasurably more frightening in recent months. Hatred and bigotry live inside the white house and their adherents are bold enough to step out of the shadows and proclaim their spiteful beliefs. Some people see a mob of neo-nazis protesting for the sake of racism, but I see a group of bigots protesting for the sake of hatred. It has never been much of a jump for those who are overtly racist to also be sexist or homophobic/transphobic. I can’t imagine that me going up to that line of neo-nazis would go very well were I to fly my trans colors proudly or were they to read me as transgender. It would be a hate-crime waiting to happen, and I’m white like them. Hatred knows no bounds and that’s what frightens me about our current political climate.
I guess I’m just wondering what comes next. How do we move forward from here? We went from a president who was the first to ever publicly say the word transgender to a president trying to destroy our freedoms. Today it’s the military, tomorrow it’s… what? Bathrooms? Healthcare? Education? Workplace discrimination protections?
Thankfully I’m nearly done with my master’s degree and my workplace is very open-minded about transgender employees and clients, but what about my healthcare? Are they going to take away our access to hormones? HRT is already something that’s so difficult to go through or find, what’s to stop them from saying that testosterone or estrogen can’t be prescribed for gender dysphoria? I know I have no proof they are planning to do that but Trump and Pence don’t seem to care what damage they cause so what’s to stop them from trying?
When I started this blog I wrote for myself and my journey. I never thought people would actually read it, but when I realized I had an audience I realized that I had an obligation to become a voice for people like me. Even if I only touched the minds of a few, I knew I had to do at least that, so my writing became about others in addition to myself. Now I spend my days working with adolescents who have gender identity struggles and again I realized the importance of my work. I had to show these kids that it was possible to live an authentic life and still find some semblance of happiness.
Right now, however, I fear for these kids because I’m not sure they will find the same acceptance that I had. I came out during a seemingly golden age of acceptance for the LGBTQ population but that golden age seems to have passed, leaving an age of repression and bigotry in its wake. What kind of life will they have ahead of them? Most of them have already dealt with the cruelties of bullying from their peers, what are they going to do when the bullies of the world are billionaire presidents and high ranking politicians? How can I help them be prepared for that world when I, myself, am afraid of that world? How can I look at them and tell them that it is okay to be themselves when the world around us says exactly the opposite? Am I just setting them up for failure and heartbreak?
Right now I want to say no, that I am not setting them up for failure, but I’m not so sure that’s true. And maybe that is the burden of my generation of transgender/GNC people who’ve chosen to be educators and advocates. We must look at a dismal appearing future and tell our young ones and those newly out of the closet that a storm is coming but together we can weather it. I wanted to write for the sake of the trans community to be a voice for the unheard, but I believe my new role must be a shield for those who are most at risk. I have successfully transitioned my life from Robert to Emma and have made it out the other side mostly unscathed; I now must take the wisdom I’ve gained through that painful process and use it to prepare those who are young or new for their ever uncertain future as best as I can.
So, my dear young ones and those newly out of the closet I want to say this to you. The world is a cruel place and most people will not understand you. Some people will even hate you, just for being you. You can’t reason with them, you can’t convince them of your worth because they won’t listen to you simply because you are what you are. The most you can do is understand that you do have worth and no one can take that away from you, not even the bullies of the world. I want you to know that you are not alone. There are so many of us out here fighting beside you and more are rising up every day. Every day there is someone out there boldly proclaiming their authentic identity and they need you just as much as you need them. We are in this together. Sometimes we get wrapped up in ourselves and forget that we have so much to offer each other, but eventually we remember. Don’t be afraid to tell your story. Don’t be afraid to live your life, not because there is no danger (there is, it’s real) but because the world needs to know we aren’t going back into our closets. We won’t conveniently disappear back into the shadows so they can desperately cling to their hetero-centric gender binary; we’ve come too far for that. We are here, we are visible, and we matter. We will stand together and will withstand whatever bigotry comes our way because we are the future, whether they like it or not. We will break their gender binary and we will break their hetero-normative stratification of our society. There are too many of us to be ignored and in that I want you to take solace. We are too big now to be ignored, and we are growing in number every day. You are not alone. You are important, and you will be supported by those like me. I support you. I accept you. I see you, the real you, and I think you are beautiful. I hope you can look in the mirror and say the same thing to yourself because it’s true.
My darling readers, don’t give up. Please stay strong. I need you to be strong for me because I know that I need to be strong for you. Together we will overcome every obstacle they put in our way. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. They are fighting us now but we will win because they fight with hate and we fight with love. Love always wins eventually. You are loved and you are important. Don’t forget that.
Friday, August 11, 2017
Hello my darling readers. I wanted to pop in and drop a line or two, let you know that I’m still alive and that despite the world often conspiring against me, I think I’m doing pretty well. Not exceptional, not great, and maybe not even all that good but I’m doing okay, which after the last year of bullshit I think is saying a lot.
While I didn’t write a post about it, I did recognize that it had been a year since I was sexually assaulted (I still struggle to call it rape, and probably always will). That anniversary was a little over two weeks ago and I’m honestly amazed at what a year can do for a person in terms of recovering from that kind of trauma. The funny thing is I’m doing a lot better about that whole thing and I didn’t even have that great of a year. If anything I kind of had a shitty fucking year. I relapsed (twice), I ended up in the psych unit so I wouldn’t kill myself, I fucked up and lost a job I loved, I encountered a woman who claimed one minute to love me and the next was filing police charges against me for stalking her, my best friend continued to disappear and now I am completely cut off from that person and her partner (my former roommate); both of whom probably think I’m the asshole in all of it. I have a lot of damn reasons to be unhappy or upset, and yet here I sit with a grin on my face.
True, I should be writing a 10 page paper about an ethical dilemma for my ethics class but instead I’m killing my time by writing this, and enjoying it. That’s perhaps the most surprising part right this moment, how much I’m enjoying to write to all of you. I have, as of recent, lost my love for writing. I didn’t want to work on my fiction writing, my memoir, or this blog. I felt as though I didn’t have anything left to write about (as you’ve likely noticed if you read the past few entries). I think I struggled because I used to be able to talk about work on here but the kind of work I do now requires a certain level of confidentiality that I can’t really share what I do. I’d love to, if I could. I’d fill post after post with the things I come up against as a counselor working with mentally ill teenagers. I could tell you about the chair throwing and the battery swallowing and the razorblade incidents. I could tell you about how I have heart wrenching conversations with some of the most amazing humans I’ve ever known. I could tell you about my coworkers and the dramatic lives they live… but none of that really seems all that on-topic, let alone something I can actually share.
No, sadly the only thing I have to share is my personal life and up until now, there really wasn’t much to tell. I was essentially a recluse. I started playing world of Warcraft again because I needed something to do that didn’t require me to interact with other humans. No one can really fuck you over, lie to you, or abandon you if you don’t go out to socialize with others. It was safe. I was safe. Safe and alone in my home. I wasn’t completely alone, however, as I had friends on the game who were wonderful people, and I cannot begin to explain the joy I felt when I presented as female on the game and in voice chat and people took me for who I was. They had zero physical clues to indicate that I as female. All they had was my personality and my voice (and eventually a picture) and I was just Emmz to them. Not Emmz the transfem extraordinaire, but just Emmz, the girl from Minnesota.
It was very liberating to just be seen as me without the lingering stares or the asking what my pronouns are. I was just a girl and I was mostly invisible, and that’s what I needed. I need that lack of visibility. I apologize that it meant I had to take a step back from writing on here for awhile, but I needed to remember who I was and why I wanted to be around.
You see, my beloved readers, I was really struggling with finding a reason to live. I was sort of living out of habit more than anything else. I didn’t have anything or anyone in my life that seemed all that worth sticking around for. I’m sure to some that sounds absurd but it’s the truth. Life held no appeal and if I’m honest, death was starting to look a lot more enticing by the week. Every day someone at work or at school asked me if I was doing okay. Every day someone wondered why I was feeling so down or remarked that they were worried about me. It was like I was walking around in a fog of sadness with no apparent source and no apparent end in sight. All I had was world of Warcraft, work, and school to keep me occupied. If I didn’t keep myself occupied as such then all I could do was think about how I wanted to die.
I know, I said a minute ago that I’m feeling good and that I’m doing better than a year ago with regards to the sexual assault, and here I am talking about my melancholic fog of wanting to die. Things probably don’t add up but that’s because I haven’t talked about the changes that have happened recently.
In the past two weeks I have gone from being a World of Warcraft depression zombie to a relatively okay, active, and generally happy person, for a couple different reasons. The biggest one, I think, is the fact that I decided to drop one of my psych meds. It made me sleepy, feel like a zombie, and put on weight like you wouldn’t believe. I literally had a meltdown when I got on the scale and saw how much weight the fucking medicine had caused me to gain and I decided right then that I’d rather be thin than “stable” with this med. It was a last minute addon by my psychiatrist and was a stop-gap to fill in the hole my other meds left in my suicidality. Nothing in my life was going right so I had a lot of reasons to be sad, so my psych had a lot of reasons to prescribe it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t endorse cold-turkey stopping a psych med, but it has done wonders for me. I’m not a sad blob of a person anymore AND I’ve started to lose some of the weight I put on. I think dropping this med has enabled me to feel a whole lot better.
The next big thing that’s changed is I have a new roommate, one who doesn’t avoid me like the plague with no explanation. She’s lovely and fun to live with. It’s like having the roommate I always wanted in my last one but never really got. She’s around, she likes to hang out with me, we do things together and watch shows/movies together. I’m not alone anymore, at least not completely. Another bonus to this situation is that she has a big derpy sweetheart of a dog who gets along pretty well with my cats. So I have a friend who is around often and I have a dog who is excited to see me every time I walk in the house. These things can’t be underestimated. It has only been 10 days and it has made a world of difference on my mental health.
The third thing is that I have started to see Rose again and things have been going well with that. That should probably be its own entry though as it will touch on non-monogamy and asexual romantic relationships.
Lastly, I decided to quit WoW. I want to be out in the real world doing things with people, not a computer world with people who are little more than voices over a program. I want to feel the sun on my face and the wind through my hair as I swing a golf-club. I want to watch as paint dries on canvas solidifying the picture I just painted. I want to play other video games that don’t consume my life and sap all of my productivity. WoW is an amazing defense mechanism to help distract me when my depression becomes too great. Were it not for WoW, I can almost assuredly say that I would have attempted suicide, both this time and the last time I played it (right before my divorce).
So, overall, I think I’m doing okay again. I made it through the fog of depression and a year of overcoming PTSD, and it’s like the clouds are beginning to part for me. The sun is starting to shine through again and I have hope that tomorrow can be better than today.
Oh, and lest I forget again. Trans-Advent has had over 50,000 visits. I remember when I was super excited to break 1,000 and now I’ve gone and multiplied that by 50, and it’s all thanks to you. Thank you for reading and for sticking with me. I know it has been a bumpy ride the last year or so but I have a feeling things are about to get really interesting; just a hunch.
Well, I must bring this to a close and get ready for work. I hope you all know that you are wonderful and beautiful, and I hope you remember that even when everything seems dark and like there is no hope to be found, there is. It’s there, waiting for you. You just have to fight your way to it. It may not look pretty and some people might not understand the things you have to do just to make it, but that doesn’t matter because the end justifies the means. Find that hope. Never stop looking for it and never stop believing it is there. You are worth it.
(Me after a paint-nite with my roommate; painting is entitled Cheshire Frog)
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Hello my darling readers. I hope the summer has treated you well and that you are getting to live the life that you want. I know I haven’t written much and it seems as though more than two months has to pass by before I find myself wanting to write on here again. I’ve thought a great deal about that, in fact, and although I feel guilty that I have abandoned my faithful readers, I also feel okay having stepped away from this endeavor. As I inch closer and closer to becoming a therapist (I’ve already started doing group therapy with transgender/queer teenagers for my practicum) I’ve started to wonder where, if at all, this blog has a place in my life. The unfortunate part of my chosen profession is that I must be more mindful of what I put on the internet. Obviously I’ve written a few years worth of my inner thoughts, emotions, and experiences and I have no plans to take them down but those entries document a journey; a journey I have all but finished, it seems. My steps forward are a different journey, with different objectives, and different expectations.
It has been over two years since I began living as a fulltime transgender woman or, more accurately, a transfeminine non-binary queer person, and in that time I have learned a great many lessons, but that journey from Robert the repressed and broken “man” to Emmz Extraordinaire has reached its conclusion. I’m no longer transitioning to Emma, I simply am Emma. There really aren’t any parts of me that I wish to change except perhaps laser hair removal which I’ve yet to be able to afford, and possibly SRS, which I absolutely can’t afford.
I guess what I’m getting at is that there isn’t anything left about transition to write about, at least not that I am experiencing now, so I will simply write about my life with the hope that it is somewhat interesting to you.
I’ve been Emma (officially) for two years and a little over a month. I have gone from insisting on having on full makeup and nail-polish 24/7 to basically only wearing foundation and painting my nails once a month (if that). I have gone from wearing high-femme clothing and having to put socks in my bra to wearing an odd assortment of gender-neutral clothes and not needing socks to fill my bra. I’ve seen my face change right before my eyes, with each day looking slightly more feminine than the one before. The point is: so much has changed over the last few years. How I wish I could go back in time, sometimes, to not only reassure my former self that things were going to be okay but to also tell myself not to worry so much about it. True, gender dysphoria is a bitch, but I didn’t need to worry as much as I did about not being accepted as a woman (or, not a man). Despite my fears people accept me as a woman and most of the people in my life have only ever known me as Emma, so that is who I am to them and who I have always been. They see pictures of me before the transition and they can’t or won’t believe that I’m the same person. In some ways I am still that person, but in most ways we are utterly different people.
I wish I could tell my former self that one day, not too far away, all of the struggle of transition would feel a million miles away. Like a rocket taking off from the ground, the first few hundred miles are the most difficult and jarring, but after that, when there is no more resistance to hold you back, you soar at incredible speed. Looking back to that day I went into work for the very first time as Emma is like looking back at the tiny earth as I’m about to land on the moon. It’s so far away, even though it really wasn’t that long ago that I was right there, strapped into my chair feeling the rocket engines roar to life, and what a hell of a ride it was too.
My whole world fell apart, just the way it was supposed to. The things that no longer served me or were no longer right for my life fell away, just as a shuttle sheds its spent rockets upon entering space. Even my wife leaving was a shedding of no longer useful parts of my life. Our marriage was over and to keep holding onto it would have only hindered both of us, really.
But like a trip into space, sometimes there is nothing but cold emptiness to keep you company, and I have experienced a great deal of that. While the starting point seems so long ago, the cold emptiness is still a part of my journey, and I suspect many people who transition genders know exactly what I mean when I say that transition is a solitary expedition. No matter the friends, family, or even partners you have in your life, in the end it is only you who must walk through the process; no one can walk it for you. Sure, they may take journeys with you but each of them must walk their own path along the way, none can walk yours with you. They will have their feelings, fears, worries, and joys just as you will, and you might even share in a few of those along the way, but like the transitioning person they must face their demons alone. They must find acceptance of you and of what you now mean to them, just as you must accept what being your true self means to you and those around you.
It isn’t an easy process, either. Even if you have everything handed to you on a silver platter and you get all the best circumstances possible, it’s still a difficult path to walk. The things we have to do in order to feel as though we belong, not to the world, but to ourselves is simply astounding. Most people will never fully understand what that is like, to have the fundamental essence of your being be contrary to the physical temple it is trapped inside of. To know that you are a girl but to have everything, every single thing in the world around you tell you that you are wrong, that you don’t know what you are talking about or that you are just confused, sick, perverted, or any other thing they try to marginalize you with. It isn’t an easy road, no matter what shoes you wear at the beginning, and while it does eventually get easier and the path smooths out for many, too many of us die along the way. Too many of us are killed and far too many of us give in to the temptations of those demons that tell us we are better off dead than alive.
No, my darling readers, this isn’t and hasn’t ever been an easy road to walk. So many times I have wanted to stop going. So many times I have listened too long to those demons who whisper to me that I should just kill myself. So many times I have sat in regret, wondering if I should have done this at all. So many times I have wondered if I shouldn’t just go back to living as Robert. My heart has wavered again and again along this road to becoming.
But this road has been worth it. The unfettered joy of feeling the breeze of self-realization blow across your cheeks as you stand atop the hill of transition is irreplaceable. The fulfillment that comes from looking back over the treacherous road you’ve walked, knowing that despite everything, despite all the misgendering, the transphobic comments, the bigotry, the invasive questions about your genitals, and the disowning of family and friends that you survived, is undeniable. And more than undeniable it is unimpeachable. No one can take it away from you. No one can say that you didn’t do it because you’ve got the scars to prove them wrong. And fuck them anyways, you are born anew as a glorious being of brilliance and beauty and their opinion can never take that away from you.
So to all of you out there struggling through transition, walking that treacherous path alone, please hear me when I say that it gets easier. It may not seem like it and sometimes it may seem like this transition will be the death of you but I promise you that it doesn’t have to be. You can keep going, you can keep your head up, and you can succeed. The only thing required is that you don’t give up, but more than that the best thing you can do is remain true to yourself in the process. Take care of those you love as best as you can but if they are meant to be in your life they will be when you finish this journey, and if they aren’t then they won’t be. It might hurt, hell, it might be downright agonizing to lose them, but you will be better off without them. They either come with you or they don’t. They will either see your beauty as I see your beauty, or they will miss out on something amazing.
Be strong. Be beautiful. Be powerful. Be brilliant, and last of all, be extraordinary because in the end you are the only thing you’ve really got; so make you the best you it can be.
Oh!! I nearly forgot. I have signed an agreement with a publishing company that publishes textbooks. They will be featuring one of my blog entries about transgender bathroom laws in their upcoming books. The books will be in about 2000 libraries around the country. =D
(Here are a couple recent pictures from about a month ago. First is just a random selfie, the second is me eating sushi with my roommate)
Monday, May 1, 2017
Hello my darlings, assuming there are any of you out there since I haven’t written in months. Contrary to what you might have believed, I am still alive. I am still living as the transfem extraordinaire as best as I can, but the past few months have been anything but smooth and painless.
The last time that I wrote I talked about the person who had been living with me and who had seemingly pulled a 180 on me with regards to her affection and desire to talk to me. Well, my loves, it was just as it seemed, except it went way further than I could have ever envisioned it going. Jay (that’s what I’m going to call her from now on) decided that she was not only going to not respond to my messages but would wait an entire month before trying to contact me. The two messages she left for me were completely lacking in any form of friendliness (not to mention a fucking apology, which I absolutely deserved) and one of them even went so far as to threaten never trying to contact me again if I didn’t answer the next time she called. Richer still was the fact that she was using her counselor’s phone to call me, likely with the intention of teaming up against me with the counselor who, I sincerely believe, convinced Jay that I was some sort of monster. That counselor was the counselor of the person I lost my job over, so I’m sure there was no affection there.
Well, once I’d found out that she was using her counselor’s phone to call me I decided that enough was enough. I was done. She’d been a selfish, manipulative asshole for far too long. I called her counselor’s phone back and left a message of my own, telling Jay that I didn’t want to talk to her anymore and that the only thing I needed to know from her was when she was going to come get her things out of my house and how she planned to return the keys I’d lent her. Not surprisingly, I never got a phone call back from her. She wasn’t in control anymore and she knew that (assuming she listened to the message, which I’m guessing she did). I saw her for what she was; a liar, a manipulator, and someone who uses people to get by so she doesn’t have to take any responsibility for her destructive actions/habits. I unfriended her from facebook and then blocked her. I didn’t want her to be able to see my page anymore. I even went so far as to unfriend a few other people that I only knew because of her.
I thought it was over, except for the part where she got her things, that is. I thought the whole thing had been put to rest but the gods do have a cruel sense of humor sometimes. I finally found a new sponsor and had agreed to meet with him after the morning AA meeting that was such a controversy between Jay and I. Just as I parked my new sponsor was walking by, so he stopped when he saw me and we decided to walk in together. On the way in I saw a staff member of my old job and my heart sank. Great, now Jay might be here. I prayed that she was no longer in treatment and wouldn’t be at the meeting at all. The last thing I wanted was to fucking see her.
My sponsor and I were late for the meeting and because the treatment facility had brought people it was a pretty packed room. They were finishing introductions when we walked in and I asked my new sponsor where he wanted to sit. He pointed across the room to a handful of empty chairs. I agreed and began to follow him around the outside of the room. As I did I scanned the crowd for Jay and felt utter relief that I didn’t see her there. I said hi to two recovery friends on my way to my seat. I sat down right as they finished the first round of introductions. The leader of the meeting asked if the people who were late wanted to introduce themselves. The handful that were late started introductions and I was either second or third among them.
Everything was fine. I scanned the crowd again to see who all was there and saw a handful of other friends who smiled at me when our eyes met. The leader continued the meeting for about a minute or two when suddenly a person one row up and three seats to my left stood up to leave the room. It was Jay…
Yep, somehow, paradoxically with cosmic cruelty my new sponsor had led us to the seats closest to her in the whole room. FUCK!! Was all I could think. Great, now this crazy asshole thinks I sat by her on purpose. I just shook my head, but if I’m honest, there was a part of me that enjoyed the fact that she was uncomfortable. After all the pain, heartbreak, disappointment, and confusion that she’d caused me, I thought it was only fair that she feel uncomfortable at the meeting I introduced her to. I’d been going to that meeting off and on for 8 months, so if either one of us shouldn’t be there it was her.
She walked out of the room in a dramatic huff; the kind you see teenage girls resort to when they want attention but don’t know how to ask for it in functional ways. Eventually she returned, grabbed her jack and whatever else she’d brought and moved to a different seat behind me and quite a bit further away. I just laughed to myself at the absurdity of the situation and vowed to not break my promise. I never wanted to talk to her again and I was NOT about to break that vow during that meeting. I didn’t look at Jay, I didn’t try to get Jay’s attention, and I didn’t try to talk to her. If anything, I did my very best to pretend she’d never existed at all (I can be pretty good at that one) and went about my business. When the meeting ended I chatted with some friends and then left to go meet with my sponsor and didn’t think anything more about it.
Fast forward a couple weeks. I’ve just started a new job working in a residential mental health facility as a Residential Counselor and I’m having a date-night with Rose (We’ve started seeing one another again, but we’ll get to that later). Things are going pretty well, better than they have been in a long time. Rose and I meet for dinner, eat, leave in our separate cars, and then drive to my house where she will be staying the night. On my way back to the house I get a phone call from a number I don’t recognize. I choose to screen it because I’m driving and am in no mood for an unexpected phone conversation. They leave a voicemail, so I decide to listen to it as I pull into the garage.
“Hi, this message is for Emma. Emma this is Detective Coy with the Eden Prairie Police, I’d like to speak to you so please call me back at….”
What in the fucking fuck? Like, really, what in the fuck? Why is a detective from Eden Prairie calling me? What’s in… OMG… PRIDE is in Eden Prairie… but what could the police possibly have to do with anything that happened with PRIDE? Nothing that happened was illegal or subject to any sort of statutes. I was unethical but I didn’t break a law. They asked me not to come back after their overreaction but I adhered to their request, so why the police?
I went inside and wrote the detective’s number down. I apologized to Rose when she came in the front door and told her I had to make the call right away. There was no way I could concentrate on anything else anyways, so why not get it over with?
I dialed the number, the same voice I’d just heard answered the phone, “This is Detective Coy.”
“Uh… Hi detective, my name is Emma, I just got a phone call from you.”
“Oh, yes! Thank you for calling me back so quickly. I just wanted to ask you a few questions about an event that happened recently with Jay ___.”
“Oh… okay?” I replied, dumbfounded. There hadn’t been anything significant that happened and we hadn’t spoken in months.
“Well, I have a report of my desk saying that Jay ___ has filed a stalking charge against you…….”
And the world is spinning (figuratively). A stalking charge? Are you fucking kidding me? This has to be a joke, right? There is no way someone like Jay is seriously saying I’m stalking them. Surely not someone who lied to me, manipulated me, used me, and then dropped me like a bag of bricks by ignoring my calls for a month with zero explanation. Surely that kind of person wasn’t stupid enough to put my freedom and my career in jeopardy because she’s too much of a fucking coward to just own what she did.
I proceeded to have about a thirty minute phone call with Detective Coy about the situation. I answered her questions, even when they were unbelievably absurd like the ones about me driving past Jay’s baby-daddy’s house; a house I don’t even remember how to get to. Because, you know, I have soooooooooooooooo much time between working a fulltime job and going to fulltime graduate school to spend loitering around at Jay’s ex’s house… where Jay isn’t even at… which I know because all of her shit is still at my house!!!!
I digress. It became VERY OBVIOUS, as it should have, to Detective Coy that there was nothing even remotely resembling stalking going on. Once I explained that Jay had called me from the psych unit after feigning a suicide attempt to get attention (she blatantly admitted this to me in the hospital) and I took her in so she wouldn’t be homeless while she waited to go into rehab, Detective Coy knew what was up. The minute PRIDE said I couldn’t visit Jay or bring her presents/candy anymore I became useless to Jay. She couldn’t use me, my kindness, or my love anymore, not without having to give something in return for a few months. She’d have to maintain a relationship with me where she got no benefit (aside from my words of affection and encouragement) until she got out of rehab, but she wasn’t willing to do that… so she dropped me; and rather than being an adult who owned their decisions she opted to file a fucking police report saying I was stalking her.
Even before submitting her findings to the city attorney, Detective Coy told me she suspected it wasn’t going to go anywhere and she was right. The stalking charge was dropped. But the damage has been done. It was one thing for Jay to be a flakey asshole who went from telling me she loved me one minute to ignoring me without explanation the next minute, but police charges were a whole new level.
Her selfishness put everything in my life in jeopardy. If that charge had gone someone I wouldn’t be able to become a therapist. I wouldn’t be able to keep my new job (or my last two for that matter) either. I might have had to pay fines that would have made it so I couldn’t afford to pay my mortgage or car payment. There aren’t enough words to explain how deeply hurt I am after everything that happened with Jay. There is no way to explain my utter reluctance to trust anyone again. I will always wonder if them telling me they love me or care about me is really just a ruse to exploit my giving and kind nature.
Thanks to Jay my heart has been hardened in a new and unexpected way, and I honestly don’t know what I can do to soften it. So, I guess, for now I’ll just have to live with it being hardened. /shrug
Anyways, on to less depressing subjects. What’s new in the world of Emmz? Well, as I mentioned above we have a new job as a counselor. We are working with teenagers who have serious and persistent mental illness and it is AMAZING!!! Hard, stressful, and draining at times, but sooooo rewarding. And unlike PRIDE who had a laughable amount of training for new staff, my new employer really goes out of their way to make sure we are as prepared for the job as possible, and as we continue to move through the job finding new struggles or areas for growth, there are half a dozen therapists willing to coach/mentor us. There is even one who will likely study for and take the MFT exam with us and our classmates once we graduate next summer!! It’s very exciting to know how close we are to being at the same level as the therapists we work with.
More than all of that, the kids we work with are awesome. They have absolutely been failed by their families, by the system, and by society, but they have such strength and brilliance. It is so incredibly rewarding to get to help them remember that they have worth and that not all adults will hurt, neglect, or abuse them. I’ll leave it at that for now, but I’m just sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited to be working there!! Was the best career move I have ever made, hands down.
So why the huge gap between writing entries? Sure, all the stuff with Jay, with changing jobs, and with finishing my fifth semester of my master’s program definitely took up most of my time, but I certainly had opportunities to write (even wrote a few unpublished entries), so why not do so? Well, my darlings, it’s because I have been working on our memoir. It has been a resolution of ours to try to finish the first draft of the memoir, if not a second/third draft to submit for publishing. This time, rather than trying to go the indie writer route by self-publishing we are going to try to take the traditional route, assuming we can find any agents willing to take the book on.
As a result most of our creative energy with regards to writing has been directed towards the completion of that project. As of now we have about 34,000 words written, which translates to about 120 pages published. A typical memoir usually lands somewhere between 65,000 and 90,000 words, which means that the memoir is approximately halfway finished. Given that writing this entry has taken about two hours and it is 2,500 words at this point, that means that we need to put in somewhere around 40 hours of hard typing (not editing) before the so-called “sloppy-copy” is done. That’s the first time we’ve broken this down into math and we are surprised to find how few hours are left to work on it. Now 40 hours in a given week is difficult to come by when we are working 50+ hours a week and about to start our last semester of general coursework for our degree. If we scrounged together every minute we could on an average week, we’d maybe have 20 hours of time to write. In theory we could finish it in two weeks but that would mean no TV, no video games, no yoga, no painting (oh, we’ve picked that up again), no walks, no biking, and no other self-care activities that help us maintain sanity. Not sure we would survive those two weeks, honestly. But I digress again.
Well, my darlings. I hope you are well despite the world practically falling apart around us. I hope that we get to meet again soon and that there isn’t a nuclear war in the middle of all of that (or any of another dozen potential calamities).
Stay fabulous, because you are honey. O_+
(Recent picture of me at a friend’s birthday dinner, followed by one of our recent paintings)
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Oh my darlings, it has been an interesting and trying month since I last wrote an entry. I wish that I could be writing to you now with excitement that as of this week I am finally at two years on estrogen. I wish that I could be posting the in-depth photo shoot that I had planned for this entry but sadly I caught the flu this past week and was practically on my deathbed for about four days, so the photo shoot will just have to wait another week or two. Definitely keep an eye out for it, I’m hoping it will turn out really well because the photographer I have enlisted to help me is quite talented.
No, my loves, this is not THAT entry. This is the more realistic portrait of my recent life. I didn’t talk much about it before because I kind of wanted to keep things on a generalized level without going into specifics, but during the last month I had a new pseudo roommate move in with me. I say pseudo because she was possibly only a temporary roommate for a few weeks and should she become an official roommate we would have come to a written agreement as to the terms of her living with me.
She was staying with me while she bided her time on the waiting list at my former job to go through treatment for chemical dependence, and in total she lived with me for about three weeks. Now, this living arrangement was an interesting one because both of us had expressed in times past and even again during her stay here, a mutual romantic attraction. That attraction notwithstanding, did not steer my offer to allow her to stay at the house for this duration (she had her own room that she slept in for the entirety of her stay). I won’t lie and say that this attraction had no bearing on our interactions because I know that it did. As the weeks went on, the two of us grew closer and closer, but with the expressed and discussed understanding that there would be no romantic involvement of any kind prior to her going through treatment. Whether any happened afterwards, was not quite decided but we knew at the very least that we were going to keep things platonic. I think that we did a fairly decent job, all things considered.
With that being said it was never lost on me the vulnerability of this person staying with me. She was dependent upon my good graces for a warm and safe place to stay. She also relied on me in part for transportation purposes including, but not limited to, her being able to pick up her son from his father to visit with him. Given my failures a few months earlier to recognize the vulnerability of the client I made such a gross error with, I was hyper vigilant as to any pressure I place on this person for something that served my needs, instead of hers. I knew that I could not, in good conscience, encourage this person into any sort of romantic entanglement with me without considering whether she actually had any ability to consent to it. I told her this, more than once. I refused to ever exploit someone in a vulnerable position to satisfy my own needs again (not unless we had an S&M agreement of some sort, that is).
I knew that with her housing being dependent upon me, she really couldn’t consent to something more than platonic without there being the very reasonable chance that she wasn’t actually consenting, but feeling pressured into it. I did my best, despite the mutually expressed attraction (She even went so far as to say, “the only person I have any romantic interest in is you.”) to keep things platonic. It was a daily struggle sometimes as I found myself falling for her more and more with each new interaction. The hours of conversation, laughter, shared meals, shared AA/NA meetings, shared activities, shared physical affection, and countless texts throughout the day made my struggle all the more difficult.
I kept having to remind myself that I had to be good. I had to be patient. I had to recognize that she was not only incapable of giving me what I would want or deserve out of a romantic relationship (she was far too in need of self-care and treatment for that) but that to ask her to do so would be detrimental to her recovery and wellbeing. I knew that my unconditional love for her, while an incubating energy preserving her in a safe place until she embarked on the hard work of treatment, was also a double edged sword. Should that love become too much of a source of dependence for her, her recovery would be malformed and convoluted by its presence; thereby almost certain to fail.
Even still, the effect that this person’s presence in my life was having on me was quite significant. Like a wilted and dying plant, deprived of the life-giving water and sunlight, her presence was like a hand that picked me up, placed me next to a window, and sprinkled my withered and cracked leaves with water. At first the effect was minimal, but with each new day and each new attempt to revive my death-like appearance I was restored little by little. In the span of just a week or two it was as if all the months of neglect and despair were completely wiped away. But more than this, there was something new happening which had not happened in many, many months. Flowers began to grow and bloom where there had only been withered nubs.
Hope. My beloved readers, I felt and remembered hope. Six months of PTSD, isolation, suicidal depression, relapse, enormous mistakes, and a foreboding sense that my life would always be this miserable lonely wasteland I saw around me had nearly robbed me of my ability to hope. I hadn’t felt hope in as long as I could remember, not any sort of real hope that was. Sure, there were brief glimpses of it and momentary spots where my manic symptoms made me think I was hopeful, but this new hope was utterly unlike those that had come before. For the first time since I was held down and raped by someone I never should have trusted, I actually believed that it might be possible for me to find happiness again. The strange thing about it, was that I knew it didn’t have to come to me through this temporary roommate. Sure, I loved her more and more with each passing day, but the hope her presence fostered in me was a deep recognition that my life was getting better and the darkness of the year before was finally coming to an end.
That, of course, didn’t stop me from envisioning like a schoolgirl with a crush all the ways she and I could be happy together. We seemed so right for one another and our interactions were almost always filled with laughter and affection. Those that weren’t were never unkind or cold, but often deep and serious. She is one of the only people who has ever held me as I cried uncontrollably.
She made me want to be a better person, not for her as much as for myself. I wanted to stop living in sorrow and start putting my life back together. The first thing that needed to change was I needed to return to sobriety, and this time I took it a step further. Not only would I give up alcohol, which had become a force of destruction in my life, but I would also give up the use of any non-prescription drug. I won’t go into details but I finally gave up something I have been doing ever since I was about thirteen or fourteen years old. I recognized it for what it was, a drug I was addicted to, and I took the necessary steps to never partake again.
And then the call came. She had a bed at the treatment center. While my hope did not fade, nor my love for this woman, my sense of ease definitely did. With her presence came something I’d been sorely missing for some time, companionship. Even if we only spent a sort while together and then went to our separate bedrooms for the night, I wasn’t alone in my house. With the news that she had a bed and would be leaving in a couple days, I was reminded that I was about to experience the dreadful emptiness of the house again. My other roommate, while still around in spirit, was almost never home, so I was almost always alone. I dreaded returning to that solitude again. In the solitude my mind turns in on itself. In the solitude I am left with nothing but time to think my way straight into the bottle, or the sleeping pill aisle at the pharmacy.
I’d been so suicidal the week before I got the call from her that she was in the same psyche unit I’d been in a few months earlier. Her call to me might have saved me as much as it was an effort to save herself, because it gave me a reason to keep going. There was someone I adored (even before she moved in) at a hospital I’d been at who wanted company, and having known the dreadful loneliness of that place firsthand I wanted to be there for her the way so few of my friends were for me. I visited her nearly every single day, sometimes twice. I wanted her to know she wasn’t alone, because I knew what alone was like. Alone was my kingdom, my domain. Isolation was my self-imposed sentence after the rape, and isolation kills. This woman was far too beautiful of a soul for me to allow isolation to get its icy fingers around.
I got to remember that I wasn’t just a fuck up or a failure. I got to remember that I did have something to offer that was worthwhile and that there were people who wanted me around. But all of that was to end once she left for treatment. It would be back to the silence and given the way things ended with my old job I wasn’t sure they’d let me come see her. I’m very sorry to say that that’s the case.
She went into treatment almost three weeks ago and in that time so much awful has happened. As I feared, the silence of the house was crushing. I broke down into tears when I got home the day she went in because I was so sad to be alone again. I missed her and she’d only been gone a few hours. Thankfully she called me a couple times that week which lessened the blow of her absence. It was so nice to hear from her (they can only call out, you can’t call in except to leave a message). That Friday night one of her friends and I went to the open AA meeting they have there every week. Seeing her, all dressed up in anticipation of seeing the two of us, made my heart leap and reminded me how much I missed her. I felt sick to my stomach being on the grounds of my old job, but I overcame that because I knew she needed support. She needed to know that she had people rooting for her and her recovery, and that we’d be there with her as she went.
The meeting was good and we had lovely conversations filled with laughter and hugs… until the HR lady came out and saw me there with her. From there, everything went downhill. She didn’t say anything then and there, but the next day she called me to try to convince me not to come visit my friend for visitation hours. I told her I was going to come despite her encouragement not to because I needed to bring things to my friend that she had requested I bring the night before. I did as I said. I brought the items and went to the visitation hours. The HR lady then loomed over me like a hawk watching my every move. My friend came out to greet me and hugged me warmly, very happy to see me again. She could tell something was wrong and I told her I’d explain in a minute (once the HR lady wasn’t within earshot).
They searched the stuff I brought, she took it to her room, came back out, and we went out to where the smoking area was. There I explained to her what had happened, sparing her many of the very upsetting details so as to not agitate her too much. These were the consequences to my mistakes and she didn’t need to be punished for them and certainly didn’t need to fight my battles for me. She was still quite upset and said she wasn’t going to stand for their treatment of me. I urged her to take care of herself and to not get into trouble on my account. We talked for a while and I left. That was the last time I saw her and the last time I really had much of conversation with her. We had a short phone conversation the next day when she asked if they’d harassed me any further. They hadn’t.
I thought that things had blown over, and that the HR lady, despite her extremely rude treatment of me, had realized there was no reason to be alarmed. I’d been perfectly well behaved (I wasn’t going to give them a fucking thing to use against me) and the sky hadn’t fallen. Well… I was wrong. Wednesday, four days later, rolled around and I got a phone call and email telling me that I wasn’t allowed to come there anymore. They didn’t care if my roommate/friend was there, they didn’t want me around.
Now, with isolation, comes humiliation. I was devastated. I was furious. I was heartbroken. I was so many things at once. I told them they had better tell my friend because she needed to know it was their choice and not mine. I didn’t want her to think I’d abandoned her because of my discomfort of being there again. They wanted this, not me. She and I spoke the next day for a few moments where she told me her counselor had told her I wasn’t allowed to come visit anymore. I don’t know what all was said and I had to rush to get off the phone for an interview at a practicum site.
The next night I left a message with her asking her about an AA meeting I go to on Saturdays that the treatment center also brings clients to. I wanted to know if she was going and if I should or shouldn’t go. I didn’t want to cause trouble. She more or less told me she’d rather I not be there before rushing off the phone. That was the last time I spoke with her, over a week ago.
It’s getting late and while there is so much more to tell, I want to cut this off so I can go to bed. Now I’m just sitting here wondering what the fuck happened. I can’t get any answers out of anyone as to what’s going on with this person and I. I’m trying to keep my distance because I don’t want to cause more damage than I have but I’m also going crazy not knowing. Remember how I said isolation gives me the space to think myself into the ground? Well that’s what I’ve been doing. Add to it the fact that I’ve been as sick as a dog with nothing to do but lie around trying to rest and feel better.
I fear that my past mistakes, despite all the care and effort I took to not repeat them, have somehow poisoned the relationship I had with this person. Just as the figurative plant was thriving again and blossoming with hope of the future, it’s like the same hand that restored its vitality has now cast it to the floor. The pot has shattered, dirt is everywhere, and the plant is struggling to cling to life once again. And what can I do? Nothing. Wait. See. Hope it’s not as bad as it seems.
Regardless, I will still love her. Even if she decides to cut me out of her life, I will still hope only the best for her and her son. She gave me a reason to keep going, and maybe that has to be enough. Maybe any more than that, is asking too much.
That's it for this entry. I have other stuff to write about though, and much of it is quite good, like the practicum I am going to be starting in the fall.
So, stay fabulous my loves,
That's it for this entry. I have other stuff to write about though, and much of it is quite good, like the practicum I am going to be starting in the fall.
So, stay fabulous my loves,
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Yesterday I was misgendered. Almost exactly two years from the day that I started my journey into the realm of hormone transition. Now, for anyone who has gone through a gender transition or anyone forced to live as a gender they aren’t on the inside, this is rather commonplace. The fact that this was so out of the blue and unexpected honestly speaks to the privilege I have as someone who is assumed the correct gender (or something close to it) on a regular basis. In a way I feel bad even complaining about it because I know how fortunate I am.
For me it is only maybe one in twenty-five people who even bats an eye at me and usually it’s only on the days when I’m not really trying that hard to present as female (aka not wearing makeup, not wearing “traditionally” female clothing, or not paying any attention to my body language or voice). It is extremely rare, however, for me to be in full female presentation and have someone misgender me (Unless they are being a purposely invalidating asshole).
I honestly don’t think the lady even realized that she did it. I think it was a total sub-conscious slip-up with pronouns that she neither intended or even noticed. She knew my name was Emma, she had used the correct pronouns at first (I think, although I cannot really recall) but eventually during out time together working through her background check something must have shifted somewhere in her mind. I was running her fingerprints through the system to make sure she could work with vulnerable adults and I said something to her that made her laugh. She had a friend with her in the other room and when her friend heard her laughing the friend asked what she was asking about. She turned towards her friend through the doorway and said, “He said_____” and repeated what I’d just said.
I was quite literally dumbfounded by her using the pronoun “he” in reference to me. I couldn’t speak, partially because it felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me. I wanted to ask her if I’d heard her correctly but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to bring further humiliation upon myself by having to assert to her that I was a woman and the pronoun “he” was not appropriate for one such as me. If I said something then it was certain, in my mind at the time, that I’d not only be making her feel bad for an unconscious mistake but would be solidifying in her mind that I really wasn’t a woman, because a “real” woman as femme as me wouldn’t need to confront a situation like that. I’m not saying that is true, only that it felt true and accurate in the moment.
We finished her appointment and they went on their way, never-the-wiser that I wanted nothing more than to leap in front of a moving train or that I would spend the next several hours dissecting our entire interaction to figure out where I’d given my non-cisness away. Was it something I did with my body? Was it a blemish in my makeup that revealed my dreadfully present facial hair? Did my voice drop too low? Did I not use the right kind of voice pitch/cadence? WHAT WAS IT???
But there is no answer. There is no way to know for sure why she read me, however briefly, as not-female, and that’s the rub. No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, there will always be that fucking person who misgenders me, consciously or otherwise.
The lesson here is two fold, I think. First, no matter how “passable” a person might become and no matter how privileged they appear in that regard, they are likely still suffering from being misgendered from time to time. I find this helpful because there are times when I see transgender women who are so completely feminine that I become envious of either their genetics or their financial affluence that’s permitted them the procedures I cannot afford that I forget that they are still fighting the same fight as me, to be gendered correctly. The second lesson is that when I accept that no amount of doing the things I think will make me “passable” so people don’t read me as not-female will save me from ever experiencing this again, then I can find peace with where I am in my journey. Even if I get laser hair removal or have SRS or whatever else I might want I still won’t feel completely fulfilled, which means that the external truly holds no completion for me. I must find completion on the inside and find joy in the progress I’ve made and relief in the changes that have already occurred.
I know, it’s a dangerous lesson to consider because it would be so easy to take a nihilistic approach to it. I could easily think that nothing I ever did would be enough and so there was no point in even trying. I could even take that to the extreme of thinking that I’d never be accepted as the person I know I am so why should I continue living? In the past that’s likely how I would have approached a situation like this, and I won’t lie, it was pretty damn depressing when I realized what she’d done. One little word nearly ruined my day but if I let that be the case then I’m truly lost. I have to be stronger than a pronoun and I have to remember that all that truly matters is that I see a woman when I look in the mirror. Who cares about the rest of the world?
Easier said than done, I know, but please know that you aren’t alone when you are misgendered. Please don’t think that it makes you any less the person you know yourself to be. You are still you. You are still beautiful, or handsome, or amazing, or whatever resonates with you and reminds you of your great worth. So don’t let a pronoun ruin your day, if you can. You are bigger and stronger than a pronoun, just like we are.