A personal note on Stress

Sometimes my heart aches. Pain shoots through me, the room swims, and I feel the panic in my chest. My stomach turns to poison. I begin to sweat uncontrollably, and then my thoughts spiral.

Sometimes is most mornings. Maybe not all of those things happen, but at least some of them do. I’m having panic attacks, with varying frequency. The common denominator, is coming to work.

When people talk about toxic workplaces, or toxic environments. I used to have a hard time truly understanding that, because toxic is a strong word. Toxic implies something is killing you.

Well, my toxic environment is slowly killing me. I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday. My blood pressure is bad, I’m losing weight for the wrong reasons. It’s not good.

I knew it was coming, I’ve been throwing up regularly for a few months now. but the blood pressure thing worries me. I’m on Estradiol and Spironolactone. The latter of which is primarily a high blood pressure medication. So if, at my young age, I’m burning through myself, already on medication. I’m concerned. The Estradiol just increases the chance of complications, so that’s great. I’d rather not stroke out in my twenties.

So I think I’m getting close to a breaking point, because I can’t last forever. Even my doctor told me that most people can endure extreme stress for periods of time, but only when there’s an end point. I need to find a way to start moving the dial back to normal.


Fear is silence, silence is fear

I want to talk about fear.

I have had to accept over the last year that for all my guile and wit, what has really ruled my life is fear.

Originally it was fear of being outed, as I got older it was fear of the unknown and fear of failure.

Now that I’m out, without the singular fear of being outed to overwhelm the others, I’m left with the other structures of fear I’ve built up in order to survive.

Living in a world that doesn’t accept you, doesn’t want you, and would rather you not exist is hard. It’s exhausting. I read a little quote recently, it said “Every breath a trans person takes is an act of resistance.” I want you to think about that for a second. Because it’s true, by continuing to exist there are a lot of people who are offended, whose worldviews are challenged, and ultimately, who are enraged.

Only Homogeneity will ever be enough for those that desire a homogeneous society.

Existing is a burden at times, life gets every one down. It’s hard, and its messy.

Living in constant fear however, is exhausting. Everything takes on a greater scale when you’re trying to just survive. Every minor problem is intense. You are forced to live in a position where you can never make a mistake. You must live perfectly, and without flaw. Though you are flawed further by this process. It’s a horrific way to live.

Professionally, all of the troubles and trials I’ve faced have been laced with a singular fear. The fear that I wasted a decade of my life on a career that was doomed to fail from the beginning. The idea that no matter what skill and expertise I bring forward it will never be enough.

I’m afraid that I will always be defined by what I am, not who I am, not what I can do, nor why I do it. It’s a terrifying thought.

I’m afraid that no matter how hard I struggle, I will work twice as hard, only to fail while others succeed. That I will then try thrice as hard, and only fail harder, and fail myself.

I feel as if I am floundering at times, gasping for a breath I can’t get. Hoping for a moment of peace to find clarity. Trying to find context within the miasma of bias and hate, and to see through the fear in others eyes.

I wish I could see past the betrayal in men’s eyes. Men who swear there is no boys club, yet resent that they allowed me in. Men who swear women are equal, yet feel betrayed I saw past the curtain. Men who tell me they are modern and accepting, yet now guard every word they say to me. Men who feel betrayed and lied to, yet hurt me every day and wonder why I am broken and bleeding, forcing my own feelings of shame and betrayal into hiding.

Fear forced me to hide who I was, for many years. I hid who I was even from myself. Being honest and open is hard, it makes it possible to be hurt in the first place. But I don’t want to be ruled by fear. I want to be more then that. I want to be my own person, I want to breathe my own air and speak my own truth.

Fear forced me into silence. Silence is what kept me in fear.

If every breath is an act of resistance, then let every word be an act of rebellion.

Discrimination: Speaking Privileges

Is a misogynist a misogynist if they don’t consider you a woman?

That’s the conundrum I’ve been chewing over today. Is being excluded for being a trans woman a function of exclusion of trans people. Or of women. When you’re also the only woman in the room it’s hard to know.

Let me give an example. We have a weekly meeting to review strategy for clients. It’s a meeting between the highest level folks in the firm. I’m just as qualified as anyone in the room. My role is smaller then others but i’m no less qualified to be there. Yet I don’t have “speaking privileges” at these meetings. If I want to say something I have to raise my hand and be acknowledged by someone else. All of the someone else’s are men.

In these meetings I am the only woman and the only trans person. It’s hard to know what status reduces my humanity in the room but something does. Yet my alternative is to boycott the meeting which means I miss out on important discussions and am that much easier to ignore. So I suffer the indignity with grace. I’d rather be an obvious presence then hide myself away.

There are countless methods people use to reduce you. I find it hard at times to find the strength to continue. Every rational part of my mind screams at different times that I’m crazy. That I’m subjecting myself to horrors for no reason. Except one. If I walk away I tell the world it’s okay to treat people like me poorly to get rid of them. I say that you can remove someone you consider a problem if you mistreat them long enough.

I don’t know what the source of their aggression is. Whether it’s hate or fear or ignorance. I just know I’m not ready to let them win.