What if I had come out as a child?

I just woke up from a nightmare about coming out as trans as a child. In my dream I was going to a private Christian school and having to fight for basic human decency among classmates and school administrators who didn’t believe me. Who didn’t believe that trans people were real.

But as scary as that dream was, it is probably nothing compared to what would have happened if I had come out as trans in my actual childhood.

Let me be clear. My parents have grown a lot in the intervening years since I left home and they genuinely seem to be trying to understanding my experience right now. But I shudder to think what would have happened if I had come out as trans or even queer as a child while they were still in the grasp of the cult. I am fairly confident that I would have been sent to life-threatening conversion therapy that would have made my depression a lot worse and possibly led to suicide.

It was bad enough growing up as a child, confused and afraid because I didn’t know why I was different. Knowing that I had a girl’s brain but not knowing what that meant. Feeling like I was alone in my experience because I didn’t know that transgender people even existed until college.

But it would have been so much worse if I had voiced those feelings as a child and not been believed. If I had been placed into “therapy” to “cure” me from this sin. If I had been told on a daily basis that my lived experience wasn’t real and spiritually beaten over the head because I felt that way.

My heart goes out to all the kids who are still in that situation. Who live among parents, educators, and peers who don’t believe them. Who have to hide who they are because of the explicitly transphobic messages they hear on a daily basis.

When we say “protect trans kids,” we say that because even in a day and age where awareness of transgender people is at an all time high, trans kids have a one in three chance of attempting suicide.

We live in a country where hard won trans rights that we fought for decades to achieve are being taken away from us on a daily basis. Just this week, the protections that we gained in the Affordable Care Act were stripped away. And that wears on trans people mentally and kills us daily through denials of care and service. That permeates our culture and compounds with racism to make trans women of color the most marginalized and murdered group in America. Already this year, 14 trans people have been brutally murdered; the majority of them women of color.

As a white trans adult, my nightmare was largely just that. My life is rarely at risk of anything other than my own depression and suicidal thoughts. But I am one of the lucky ones. I have a supportive spouse and partners, I have a large community of trans people and advocates who stand with me, and I have a low risk of murder because of the color of my skin and where I live.

So when you fight for Black Lives, when you fight for queer lives, when you fight for trans youth, please make sure that your fight is intersectional and intentionally includes the lives of those who bear the burden of all of our collective societal sins. Fight for Black Trans Lives because they matter. And until we stop these murders, we can’t truly mean that Black Lives Matter.

Barely surviving

I’m going to say some things that might sound scary but let me be absolutely clear that I have no plans to commit suicide or anything drastic like that.

 

I’m sick and tired of barely holding on to life. I’m exhausted from just surviving and it’s hard to see a path to a place where I’m thriving.

Now I know part of that is my seasonal depression talking. I’m on three meds now to try and control it but the best I have at the moment is “not as bad as it was.” I’ve tried messing with them but it’s a dangerous proposition when I’m in the midst of it. The last dosage change I tried put me at too high a risk for suicide for me to continue.

And part of that is the mental and physical exhaustion of being disabled. My back and neck always hurt and that background pain is draining. And then there are periods like the weekend I just had where a seemingly simple task like assembling and hanging a medicine cabinet puts me in 24 hours of acute pain. And it’s demoralizing to know that you can’t even do basic things anymore.

Another part of it is trying to exist in a world that wasn’t built for me. Our westernized society still doesn’t know how to be inclusive of trans folks even on the most basic level. Even queer community makes it hard to be recognized if you are outside the binary gender construct we all take for granted. And when you can fight for decades for the most basic human rights and have those stripped away in just one politician’s term, it’s pretty demoralizing.

But the biggest part of it is the dysphoria I have around how my body is gendered. I have been on hormones for 2 years now and it has helped a lot, but I still can’t look in the mirror most days and see myself looking back. I see a face that looks hopelessly masculine to me, and I hear a testosterone shaped voice come out of my body that can be fun to perform with but still feels like a form of drag to me.

I want so badly to be ok with the body I was given, but that’s not how dysphoria works. I can do all the body positivity building I want and all that helps with is my weight. There is still a misalignment of who I know I am, and the body that others see. I walk around daily in a shell that causes people to make assumptions about who I am. And even when those assumptions are right, it usually means they are focusing on the wrong things.

At this point I feel like I am just barely clinging on to hope that bottom surgery will alleviate enough of this feeling that I can relax even the tiniest bit. I don’t know for sure if it will, but I also don’t know if I could keep going if I don’t try. So for now, I survive.

Inheriting a fixer-upper

I just scheduled my jaw surgery to do the first part of correcting my bite for mid-May. It’s something I’ve been dreading for the last 10 years since my dentist identified the root problem. And I’ve been surprised at how many emotions around surgery are coming up for me now that it is an undeniable reality, not just about this procedure but about my plans for bottom surgery.

My original plan was to get my jaw surgery out of the way this year and then go in for vaginoplasty next year. And in the interim I was going to meet with the surgeons I was interested in when they were in town for Gender Odyssey. But now I feel like that plan has come crashing down around my ears (like most plans have in my life).

I found out a few weeks ago that my jaw surgery is so intensive that they need to split it into two separate procedures with a year of expanding my top palate in between. So now I have another surgery on my face to dread but at least I have jaw feminization included to look forward to. Unfortunately that means I have to rethink my whole plan around bottom surgery.

To complicate things further, I found out that Gender Odyssey isn’t in Seattle this year and they aren’t doing a conference for trans adults this year anyway. So now there’s no opportunity to meet with them that doesn’t involve investing in travel. I feel like I need to decide whether to try to attend Philly Trans Wellness where I might meet some potential providers (although not my top choice – Heidi Wittenberg), or whether to travel to San Francisco to meet with them directly.

And trying to figure this all out while I’m also undergoing intensive laser hair reduction on my face (I put electrolysis on hold for now because it was too slow) just feels like so much. I feel totally overwhelmed by how far I still have to go before I’m done with all these medical procedures and honestly I’m feeling pretty despondent and hopeless about it all.

I just want to fast forward to a point in time where I feel like my body is my own. But instead I feel like I inherited a fixer-upper house that needs major repairs to be livable and every time I fix one thing, another breaks. I know that all these surgeries and procedures aren’t going to fix everything but I still have to rest my hopes on life getting easier once I’m past it all. Because without that hope I don’t know how to keep going.

This is one of those points where I really wish I had been born with a brain and body that matched and I didn’t have to go through all this work just to be myself. And sometimes it feels like I should just throw in the towel on life and give up. Don’t worry, I don’t actually have plans to do so but I can’t say I haven’t thought about it.

Anyway, I don’t know where all this is going right now other than hopefully forward even if it takes a painstakingly long time to get there. I know I wouldn’t be able to keep wading into the fray if it wasn’t for my partners and friends so I am very thankful to all of them for keeping me going. I know things have to get worse before they get better but I really hope I turn that corner soon.