On Loneliness

Loneliness is a common theme that runs through this blog. It’s common, because it’s common in my life. I very often feel alone.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my name change. I don’t celebrate my birthday, so some people in my life had asked if I would be open to celebrating a nameday. My wife and I had already talked about the idea, because she had hoped to have a day to celebrate me, since I guess she likes me at least a little bit.

Needless to say, all of the people that asked about it, those that I work with, friends of mine, even my own parents. Said absolutely nothing yesterday. After pushing me to get excited about it, and open myself up. To make myself vulnerable, so that I could be surprised and delighted about actually having something meaningful and good happen, that was exclusively about me. They couldn’t be bothered to recognize the day with even a simple message.

Having a day to feel special is not something that’s ever really happened for me. So I’m not going to lie, I was kind of excited, I thought hey, it’s a little different, but it gets me closer to feeling a little normal. Everyone gets a day that’s about them, that’s the whole point of birthdays, so it’s a second chance at a slice of regular, plain, normality.

So when no one even notices, an anniversary of something as spectacularly meaningful. I still remember the smile, the tears, the elation I felt when I held that stupid piece of paper in my hand. For something so small it meant so absolutely much. Even among all of the difficult and terrible things that had begun to unfold, and the year of pain and hardship that sits between yesterday and the same day last year. It’s still a testament to a lifetime of struggle to achieve something. To the labour of becoming oneself, and the effort of self actualization.

So to celebrate something so monumental seemed worthwhile to me. It was an important accomplishment. It was a defining moment in my life, and one I will treasure forever.

I just won’t celebrate it, because I now know, unequivocally, I am not worth celebrating. I’m not worth knowing, and I am especially not worth anyone’s time.

There’s a comfort in knowing where you stand. I know who cares about me, and even if the list only has one name on it, I at least had the foresight to marry her.

I Still Don’t Hate my Penis

One of the most looked at posts I’ve ever made is I Don’t Hate my Penis I don’t really know why. Maybe hating your penis is something that resonates with folks, or the fact that I don’t hate mine is controversial.

But I wanted to have a bit of a penis appreciation post right here. If you’re not comfortable with that, then please stop reading, I don’t want to trigger anyone’s dysphoria here. Or make anyone more uncomfortable then they currently are. If you’re along for the ride though, it’s going to get personal up in here.

Often transness is reduced to very medical terms, it’s often a discussion of surgeries, of characteristics. Which is totally okay, but sometimes it would be nice to be positive about one’s body. It’s mostly bad, but it’s not all bad, I know positivity coming from me, very off brand.

I like my lady dick, which for all intensive purposes is just a regular dick, maybe a little smaller then usual, definitely smaller then it was pre-hormones, but a dick nonetheless.

And that’s A-okay.

Maybe it’s a result of my trans experiences, maybe it’s just a flaw in my worldview but I’ve never made the connection that genitals = gender. Maybe it was a product of my time, it’s not like anyone was talking about this stuff almost thirty years ago, so I got to grow up thinking whatever I wanted about it. Sex and gender have always been fairly separate in my own head. Which has come in handy. It’s got me in the situation I am now.

The scarier thing, and I know it’s scary because I’ve scared people by sharing this fact. Is not only do I not hate my penis, I even like using it. I was at a conference recently with obviously still gendered gender neutral bathrooms, which is a story for another day. The point I’m going to make is I pissed at a urinal for the first time in a long time, and I’m not going to lie, I kind of liked it. There’s something powerful about peeing while standing in five inch heels. Not an every day necessity, but on occasion, hell yeah.

Another point in the penis-euphoria section… It still works, and I use it.Here’s some fast answers to some of the questions I get.

  • Does it work the same?
    • No
  • Does it feel good?
    • Yes, but in different ways. For example it’s not a prostate heavy orgasm, as there’s very little ejaculate.
    • I also ‘arrive’ more then once now.
  • Can you have sex?
    • Yes, you don’t need a penis to have sex.
      • Also yes, I can still have penis-vagina sex, don’t have the staying power I used to and sometimes there’s some discomfort afterwards, but I am able to ‘get it up’ and use it.

I’m sure there’s more but those are the big ones, yes my endocrinologist was amazed when we talked about this, so this is not a particularly well understood thing. The only thing I can think of is that since I don’t really have any genital dysphoria that there isn’t really a block on having an erections. Erections are part mental and part hormonal, so there’s not the hormonal support, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

So there you go one trans woman’s opinions on her penis. Solicited or not it’s here, and if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.

 

Remembering Without Wallowing Pt. 2

This isn’t a post that I thought would get a follow-up, but it’s interesting how our perspectives change. As I come up to the first year since coming out completely and socially transitioning and all of those big milestones There’s a few things I find interesting, and some new challenges to deal with.

If you’d like to read the first part it’s here: Remembering Without Wallowing

One of the most interesting parts of this is the fact that I now have a life lived, as a woman. Which needless to say is a very interesting experience.

Before transitioning all of my memories had one thing in common, they were coming from a male presentation, a life that didn’t feel like it belonged to me, but ultimately that maleness always changed the tone of something negative.

I remember going out to buy clothes before my first day of school in Junior High. My parents must have had some extra money, because it was the first time my mother had ever shown any excitement toward me spending money, and she wanted me to ‘find my style.’

It was really a free range offer to express myself. The problem? Expressing myself as a man isn’t something that really works well for me. So an experience that should have been foundational and important, and really could have been a good memory was ruined by the maleness attached to it.

As a tangent, I bought clothes that looked incredibly similar to what most of my friends wore and was made fun of for it for years. I didn’t emulate, I copied, and it showed. I learned to be slightly unique after that, still male, but a unique one, it wasn’t really my own expression or related to anything I felt. I just needed to be different, to be overly male, to fall into easy stereotypes. The best way to hide is to be so obvious no one notices you don’t belong. Yeah, I wore dress shoes in high school, and button up shirts.

Anyways, getting back to my point. I have the interesting challenge now of addressing my life and my memories, of a life that does feel real. Of decisions I’ve made and am not only accountable for, but really don’t have an excuse.

Memories are a weird thing. They don’t always mean the same thing to you twice. I had no intention when I started writing this to tell the story that I did, but it fit where my head space was. Really, it’s a good story, at the time it was terrifying to me, expressing myself was dangerous. If only my mother had of known that pain and difficulty it caused me, but I know to her it’s probably a good memory. It was one of the first times I’d really had the chance to be more mature, and make my own choices. It was likely an important milestone for her as a parent, and could have been a good one for me.

If I can describe my experience as a trans woman growing up, it’s that dichotomy. My transness took away even the good memories because I wasn’t in the moment and I wasn’t experiencing what I was supposed to be. Those foundational elements of your life are always wrong, they don’t quite fit who you are. That’s the hardest thing about remembering the past is the parts that are good, but weren’t good for you.

That’s a good memory, and I need to learn to appreciate the goodness in it. Even if it doesn’t feel good immediately, I need to learn to focus on the good.

 

 

 

The Pain We Cause Our self

You can’t be hurt unless you care. That’s something I’ve known for a very long time, but it also comes with the caveat that you can’t enjoy unless you care.

I lived most of my life in an emotional void. Very little really permeated that void, about the only thing that could was anger, and even then it was present but often subdued.

It’s hard to predict what will happen when you start feeling, it’s hard to know feelings and emotions work when you’ve never known them before.

I didn’t know how much pain I had endured.

I didn’t know how much interest was owed on that pain.

I really didn’t know that I was going to have to work through a quarter century of pain and suppressed emotions without any particular control.

I knew I was broken, I knew I couldn’t feel, but knowing something is broken is not the same as fixing it. Transitioning fixed it, it opened the flood gates, and it started the pain.

If I read through what I’ve written here, which has seen some pretty unfortunate events recorded in it, I see that the event itself was not the sum total of my pain. It’s not the pain of the event in question, it’s the flood of pain from a lifetime of events similar to it coming through. My anxiety is not just the fear of the current situation, it is also untold moments of fear before it coming to the surface.

All of this pain, is my pain, I have blamed others for it, but it is my own anxiety, it is my own fear, it is my own anger, it is the sum total of every night I cried myself to sleep as a child wishing to wake up a girl, it is every friendship that I blamed my friend for not being strong enough to help me, it is every member of my family I blamed for not seeing the real me and helping me.

All of the pain I hold onto is the pain of a life of regret. All of the pain I wish to release is the pain of a child, then youth, then adult holding them self to an impossible standard in order to survive.

As a child I wished for my life to end, I ran in front of cars hoping they would strike me, I was assumed careless when I was really apathetic. I ran away from home at eleven years old, I woke up early in the morning, packed everything I would need to start what I thought would be a new life. I planned to bicycle to a cousin who lived 100km away. I made it about 10 km before realizing I hadn’t packed water.

I went home, I’d locked myself out of the house I waited on the steps for my parents to wake up. My mother was furious when I told her what I’d done. She said we’d talk about it later. She went to work. I sat in the kitchen, not knowing if I should go to school or what to do. I stewed and I thought and I pondered.

We never spoke of it again.

I tried to kill myself a few months later. Again I woke up in the early hours of the morning. I didn’t want to be stopped from what I planned to do. I’d brought a knife with me to bed. I was eleven years old, I didn’t have some grandiose plan, but I knew that I could hack myself up well enough to die. I held the knife to my skin. I waited longer then I probably should have.

The only thing that stopped me, was a single thought, someday I can be myself. I didn’t know what that meant, but I knew that in eight years, when I was 19 I could move out on my own, and start figuring out my life. Everything from that day on was about survival.

I had no idea what puberty was going to look like. The struggle and pain that would be. The hurt that I would push down until I couldn’t feel anything at all.

I’ve blamed almost everyone around me for the pain. As if they should have known and maybe, just maybe saved me. Ultimately it’s just me that hurts. Those around me aren’t wounded by the pain I hold in my heart.

I’ve always carried the burden, I knew with absolute certainty that what I was, was wrong, was disgusting, was something to hate, was something to hide.

I grew up ashamed of who I was, I can’t remember a time I wasn’t ashamed of myself. Even now that shame still haunts me. And it hurts. It hurts so much.

I can blame every little moment for making it worse, I can tell you when things have felt worse and better, but ultimately, it’s the pain that I cause to myself that hurts the most. It’s the childhood I regret not having, it’s the milestones in my life that I will never achieve. I will never, ever have the full life I wanted for myself. I will never get to enjoy some of the simple pleasures of growing up. I lived a life for everyone but myself to survive. and I hate that it was the choice I had to make. I hate and resent those around me because I feel like I lived a life for them and they don’t appreciate it. I stand as I am today in spite of their fears and hatreds. Yet they don’t know the pain that I feel in my heart. They don’t will the pain on me, it is pain of my own creation.

It is the pain I’ve attributed to others because of the shame I’ve felt in my own heart. Every moment of weakness growing up when I had to express some degree of femininity, like some sort of addict under the influence of a great compulsion.

The fires I started in the bathroom as a teenager to hide the fact that the nail polish remover I was using wasn’t for some pyrotechnic thrill but to hastily scrub and clean off the nail polish I’d put on my nails so I could see my hands as a girl’s hands, for even a second. The hastily applied make-up at lunch time in junior high so I could try and see the woman that might lie ahead. The burning astringent I used to take it off, stinging my eyes.

I was ashamed of every moment, the second of joy would be accompanied with days of guilt and shame. Each second I’d let the polish dry the anxiety that i couldn’t get it off later would grow but still I watched it, one of the only escapes from my male presentation.

The constant dread and fear of one of my parents coming home and catching me. The very real terror when it happened. My hurried run to the bathroom and panicked cleanup to hide the evidence of my crime. The hasty excuses and half believed reasons I was in the bathroom for so long. My parents ignoring or not noticing my red and raw skin.

This is part of my pain. A life not lived, and even a moment to enjoy was filled with sorrow and pain. Momentary relief, a compulsion I couldn’t understand and feared. An entire false person-hood I wore around me like a costume, so that I could feel safe enough to survive. Longing for some as yet unknowable and unforeseeable future day I could meet myself.

Some people long to meet someone, a celebrity and deceased relative, a friend now gone. I longed more then anything to meet myself, in some impossible future where I was me.

A future I’m now living. That teenager, so alone and scared, and full of rage and hatred and fear and loathing, mostly of herself because she didn’t see herself as that. Because she saw a young man growing out of her body and hating it more and more. With no way to believe that things could or would get better.

That is my past, my legacy, my life is one of pain, and I attach it to others because the truth is. That I hate myself, and now that I can feel and so desperately want to be able to love myself, and worse still I sometimes do, I’m afraid I never will. Because I’m so scared, and afraid, and ashamed of who I am. I wish I was stronger, I wish I was better, I wish that I could love myself.

Someday I will.

 

On Conforming

I’ve touched on this topic without ever directly discussing it.

The concept of conformity, of yielding to the group is one that I struggle intimately with.

My very existence sets me apart, my experiences are different then the majority of peoples, my perception of events is changed by my experiences and thus I interpret the world a little differently then the majority of people I interact with.

Yet, I am always acutely aware that it is their world. We live in a cis-centric heteronormative world. No matter how hard I try I can’t escape the fact that I am different, that my life is not the same as most people’s, and as such my experiences and opinions are different and at times difficult and inherently confrontational.

I am challenged at times to keep my opinions to myself, when problems arise that are so gendered in nature that I want to scream “it doesn’t matter” but I have to stop myself, I have to conform to the environment I’m in and understand that the way I perceive the world differs from others. Problems that I see as a result of a specific way of thinking are traditional values passed down generations that can be painful to challenge for others.

I’m sure there are many ways that my opinions and ideas challenge the orthodoxy of others. The fact that I and others like me exist inherently challenges rigid and defined gender roles, ideas of gender, and the role that gender has in our lives.

So conforming is both something I am pushed to, upholding feminine roles and ideals, not challenging sexism, and confining myself to a more narrow few of femininity then I truly believe because the alternative is transphobia. Yet conforming is also somethign I loathe and wish desperately to break free from, because it’s unilateral about appeasing an external world that still won’t like me, while also infringing on my own internal liberty.

Forcing conformity onto those that are different is evidence of a sick and disillusioned people, enamored with an ideal that can’t exist and afraid of a reality that forces them to acknowledge hard truths.

 

Ego sum. ego existo

My very first post, was around the purpose of why I started this whole blog in the first place. I had set out to create a guidebook for trans professionals. Which I would hope is evident from the name of the blog.

What I didn’t know at the time, was how difficult it was going to be to get the life experience necessary to begin to write that guidebook.

Transitioning is hard. It takes all of your courage, and it takes all of your strength. I know I spent my entire life dreaming of a day like today, where I’m sitting at my desk, in my own office, with some time to think on my hands, and a little bit of reflection in my heart. Whether I particularly dreamed of the office is irrelevent, what I’m intending is that I had some comfort and space to just exist.

That’s ultimately what it comes down to, ego sum, ego existo. I am, I exist. The original writing of Descartes, I think therefore I am. I think the original speaks more broadly to my truth. Because I thought long before I was.

Let me explain that better. I spent most of my life in the shadow of myself, trying desperately to unwind myself from the shell that surrounded me. To confuse matters more, we’re more then just ourselves in the single context of our mind. Though the mind is the source of our reason, and thus our self. It is within a social world, a physical interactive world that the self is actualized and realized.

So my own thinking mind was never enough, could never be enough to realize my entire person. It is only within the context of it’s expression truthfully could I begin to know myself and just be.

It’s difficult to explain but the last year has been the process of introducing myself to me and learning to express myself to others, for the first time, openly and honestly. Learning how to understand my emotions, feeling them with the richness and endless possibility that exists, not just repressing and suffering under their load.

Now I feel like I am, and therefore I exist.

 

 

 

Gifts

Walking about, without purpose or doubt

Trepidation and angst, wanting to shout

Fraud, Fraud, Fraud is all that you are

Your gifts are empty, your presence we bar.

 

But the barring won’t come, there’s none who suspect.

That there’s nothing of hope or of joy i inject.

Merely I take, and I squander and ruin.

The opportunities others, would give their whole due in.

 

I can’t give all I should, and try to repent.

but next darken a door, with kindness unspent