Monday, December 1, 2014

12-1-2014 Entry: Welcome to Trans-Advent!

Thanks to a one Dara Hoffman-Fox, I appear to have many more readers on here, which pleases me greatly; not because I need readers but because it presents me with greater opportunity to do something good in this world. Many of you who’ve recently come to my blog are probably transgender in some fashion (I’m using this as an umbrella term for anyone who doesn’t fit the gender assigned to them, whether that means MtF, FtM, Pangender, bigender, androgynous, gender fluid, etc. etc.) so I’m hoping that as you read my posts you’ll be provided with a rare opportunity to look behind the curtain of another person who never really fit into the gender role they were expected to display.
 If you are like me you’ve likely surfed around Youtube and found a good deal of transgender folks who video blog (PRINCESSJOULES, Violet4151, Letsflybutterfly, and “Life is good, make it better” are among my subscriptions, which I highly recommend you check out if you haven’t already, especially if you are MtF) but I’ve found that the video bloggers lack one important part to transition, the internal monologue. What I mean by that is that they provide excellent visual demonstrations of important parts of  gender expression (picture documentation of HRT effects, make-up tutorials, voice feminization/masculinization tips, binding/tucking demonstrations etc.) but more often than not they do not delve into the very important mental health aspect of transition, and that is an integral component to it. I don’t fault them for this missing piece because I doubt I’d feel super comfortable video blogging about my thoughts and emotions regarding my transition either, especially given the fact that I’ve always expressed myself better in written form compared to speech. Because I will not be standing in front of a camera and will maintain at least some form of anonymity, I believe that a blog format can really provide a peek below the surface of someone going through a transition. I can, for example, relate very difficult and powerful emotions to my readers that might not be as expressible in spoken format or may not be very attractive to view in a video blog (crying, rage, fear, self-doubt, etc.). Because of the nature of depression and other emotional issues that often accompany early transition, the only real way to examine them is by examining the thoughts that create them, and more often than not, the only real way to examine those thoughts is through journaling, which is what I will be doing (for the most part) here.
If you are like me again, you’ve probably also picked up a memoir or two about a transgender person’s life and read their story. While these memoirs do delve a bit deeper into the mental/emotional aspects to transition they are almost always written after the fact, which presents the problem of self-reflection. Normally self-reflection is a good thing and I definitely suggest each and every one of us do it frequently (daily would probably be ideal) but when you are trying to document a long period of your life after everything has happened, self-reflection can alter the perceptions of the past and provide a less than accurate picture of what it was really like. In the social and psychological sciences we used terms like “rosy retrospection” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosy_retrospection) and “availability cascade” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases) to describe some of the phenomena that affect our ability to adequately relate our past events in a completely objective and informative way. The only way to truly document what something as profound and powerful as a gender transition is like on the person experiencing it is to try to relate the events as close to when they occurred as you can. While I cannot promise that I’ll be on here blogging immediately after everything I write about, the amount of time between my relating of the events/thoughts/emotions I experience and those actual events/thoughts/emotions will be minimized compared to what one would find in a memoir and therefore will (hopefully) paint a more accurate description of what a MtF transition can be like.
Now, I acknowledge that my experience will be different from many others because no two people live the same exact lives, but I’m hopeful that by pulling the curtain back on my own transition I will permit others to see that they are not alone in their trials with gender expression. Perhaps my experiences might be vastly different from your own (or your friend’s/family member’s) but as I cope with those experiences and relate them here maybe you can find some similarity in theme, or at least some deeper understanding of what it’s like to be trans in the 21st century.
 I personally believe it is vital for transgender people to find others like them so that they may obtain a sense of community and solidarity in who they are. Because of the almost oppressive gender-policing that happens in western society it is very common for a transgender person to feel very isolated and alone, which is one of the most dangerous aspects to transition and often times leads to a tragic ending (such as suicide). If, by relating my experiences here, I am able to provide a sense of community or belonging to even just one transgender person who is in need, then I will count this blog a success because there is no higher calling than to serve your fellow human.
Furthermore, I wish for this blog to become a place where others who are like me (or not like me) can ask questions or seek advice. I cannot promise that I will always have an answer or the guidance you need (I am a flawed human too), but I will make every effort to help you obtain the answers/advice you are searching for. If no answer can be found then I will, at the very least, be a non-judgmental sympathetic ear or  virtual cheerleader to help you overcome the obstacles you may be facing.
I believe the trans-revolution is beginning and within my lifetime we will find ourselves in a world that openly acknowledges and accepts a gender spectrum beyond the binary assumptions we are fighting to overcome today. As more and more of us come out of the closet and shout “I am here world! You cannot ignore me any longer!” we will continue to see dramatic shifts in the acceptance of people like us. As more trailblazers stand up in the public eye (Lavern Cox for example) and refuse to be ashamed of who and what they are, the fear and bigotry will reduce until, one day, no one will have to be afraid to be openly transgender. I dream of a day where no one will fear for their lives if they decide to make their transition and things like transgender remembrance day will no longer need to be observed. It is for this reason that I am writing this blog because the only way to overcome hatred and bigotry is to eliminate the fear that creates them. People fear what they don’t understand (and so, so many don’t understand being transgender), so we must promote understanding because understanding leads to empathy, and empathy leads to acceptance. If we promote understanding by pulling back the curtain on what it is like to be transgender, then we may begin to garner empathy from those who are outside of the experience, and as they begin to empathize with our struggle (realizing that we are humans too, with very real and powerful fears, worries, hopes, and dreams) then they will begin to accept us for who we are and we will have made the world a more tolerating place.
Whatever your reason for coming here and reading my blog I want you to know that you have my gratitude and appreciation. I hope that you will always find my entries thought provoking, interesting, amusing, informative, or entertaining and will keep coming back as I continue along my transition. I also hope that you feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments about my entries (no trolls please), I will do my best to respond in a timely fashion. You can email me at rtedwins@gmail.com or can leave a comment on that particular post. Also, if you know anyone who is transgender and might be feeling alone or depressed, please refer them to this blog or to my email, they can feel free to reach out to me anytime.
Mucho love to you all!
-Emma

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