Monday, August 28, 2017

8-28-2017 Entry: Stronger Together than Apart

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 life 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.


-Emmz

Friday, August 11, 2017

8-11-2017 Entry: There is Hope & Trans-Advent's 50,000 visits

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.

With love,

-Emmz



(Me after a paint-nite with my roommate; painting is entitled Cheshire Frog)
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