Category Gender

95 posts

It me, a trans boi

I didn’t know I was trans until my mid 20’s. I didn’t have the language or the context to explain what I felt growing up. My writing over the last 8 years has actually thoroughly documented parts of that process. Coming to terms with my gender and what that means to me.


I spent my entire childhood just feeling wrong at my core. Never able to measure up, never able to be the girl they wanted me to be, because I just wasn’t, no matter how hard I tried. I did “ballet” (and legitimately enjoyed it), I wore dresses and pink, I played with dolls, I did my nails…I did everything society told me good girls did, and I tried very hard to play the part of demure and graceful damsel waiting for her prince.


Spoiler alert, I am not demure nor particularly graceful playing a damsel. My failures at this were just compounded during high school when I got bored talking with other girls because all that we were supposed to talk about was future homemaking and homeschool curriculum and other very traditionally girly things that just didn’t interest me. There was a period of about a year and a half when I was 14 where I was able to fly under the radar (thanks to an undesired move and pregnancies) and pretended to be a boy on the internet (that was the deal I made to be allowed to blog when I was 13, because predators don’t…go..after..boys…apparently) and offline I continued that persona and wore camo and got away with being “one of the boys” at speech and debate.


Looking back it seems obvious, but at the time I just thought I was broken. I wasn’t a girl, I wasn’t a boy, but I didn’t have the language to describe or even have a frame of reference about what trans-ness was. I just thought, as I had been told by my parents and pastors and every authority figure in my life, that I was inherently broken. I was just wrong and only God could fix it, but he didn’t seem to want to, so I just tried really hard to play my part as well as I could. I internalized the messages of wrongness and brokenness because I didn’t match up what I was told good godly women were like, not inside. I could cook and clean and sew but those crushed my soul and the future I was promised was not a road I wanted to take.


I wasn’t allowed to explore the woods, or play outside, I wasn’t allowed to play video games. I wasn’t allowed to do anything that was considered a boy thing. I feel like it’s important to note that I didn’t want to only do those boy things, I just didn’t want to be limited; I wanted to have both options. I wanted to be able to express both masculinity and femininity but that was definitely not allowed. I had one option and one option only, unless I was sneaky.


The idea of having children bothered me on a visceral level, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered how very connected to dysphoria it is. The idea of having a human come out of my body goes straight to lizard brain levels of “no. this is death.” I suppose when I interpreted my period as the ultimate betrayal of my body against me that should have also been an indication.
Instead I spent years wrestling with myself, hating myself with every fiber of my being until I was about 20 and finally started discovering the language to describe how I felt. It happened by knowing other people who came out, and finally putting a name to my sexuality, talking with other queer people. I embraced my queerness when I was 22, which was the first stepping stone to discovering my trans-ness.


Autostraddle, Tumblr, Everyday Feminism, and It’s Pronounced Metrosexual were all really great resources where I finally started learning that I wasn’t alone in my feeling, that having a uterus but not being a woman is completely valid.


I started talking to nonbinary people and trans girls and eventually realized that I am trans enough, and no one is stopping me from transitioning but myself. Meanwhile dysphoria was getting worse, now that I knew how to identify it and what it was. I talked to my partners, friends, and therapist. And learned some things

  1. Cis people don’t question if they’re qualified enough to be their gender
  2. Gender is what you make of it, and it’s importance is up to you
  3. You are allowed to and deserve to transition if you want to
  4. Transitioning looks different for everyone, you don’t have to want surgeries to be trans
  5. Nonbinary, Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Agender, etc are all valid trans identities
  6. It is your body, you get to change it (or not) however you see fit

For a while I thought I just wouldn’t transition. I’d just deal with estrogen and periods and do what I could to mitigate PMDD and everything that goes along with that. At some point…actually, at Burning Man, I realized I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to start HRT and see what happened. I could always stop if it wasn’t right for me. Both of these are valid.


So in December of 2016 I started HRT. Testosterone works FAST. Within a week my muscles started moving, I started losing curves, my voice started getting deeper, my clit grew. I’m approaching shot 4, I have angles and a jaw line, I feel right. I had no idea what it felt like to actually inhabit my body until I started HRT.


I’m not a woman, and despite taking testosterone, I’m not a man either. I’m just your local nonbinary fairy boi taking baby steps to being in their own skin.
 

This Week in Trans

  1. Apparently cooking is a skill I default to.
  2. I can run?
  3. Melons taste good?
  4. I still dislike olives.
  5. All my feelings live in my belly.
  6. Everything is pain because my muscles are moving around so much.
  7. I am always hungry.
  8. And horny…and horniness feels different now? it comes from a different place so I don’t recognize it at first.
  9. I feel in my body, and more capable and dextrous.
  10. My curves went away
  11. My face is fuzzy
  12. My jawline has angles
  13. My clit is a dick now
  14. I think about myself and my abilities so differently now. I start from a place of “I’ve got this, what do I do” instead of “I suck, this is shit, I’m shit, what do I do” which is huge and makes functioning a billion times easier.
  15. I feel right.

Eating Disorder

I never thought I had an eating disorder until this week. I thought maybe my relationship to food was not ideal but probably normal. I thought eating disorders had more to do with some personal needs being met with regards to food, like purity culture, society’s insistence on thinness, or coping with life. I didn’t know eating disorders could come from a place of self-sacrifice for the greater good.
And then I started testosterone, and I’m hungry every hour, and I fight.with.my.self.every.single.time.I.need.to.eat. I thought not letting myself eat out of guilt or self-sacrifice was normal? Not eating is still my instinct as opposed to eating. The problem is, now I can’t go 8 hours between meals without getting hungry, now I have to eat or I feel like I’m going to actually pass out, at some point my brain stops and feels dead because it ran out of food power.
Growing up, I was underfed and malnourished. My eating was actively under prioritized next to my siblings. During puberty, I was given one serving, and if I was still hungry, I had to wait until after all my other siblings had seconds or thirds before I was allowed to have any more, if there was any left. There wasn’t, usually. I learned to quell hunger, to ignore it, to not respond to it, to eat just enough to end the gnawing. I learned, through experience, that I, specifically, did not deserve to be well-fed, that my eating my fill was directly at the expense of others who needed it more.
I’ve carried this with me into adulthood as a habit. I go last (or at least not first. I don’t deserve that), I always wait for other people to have seconds before I even think about having any myself. I make sure everyone else has had enough to eat before I do, I have to convince myself that it’s okay to eat the last thing if it’s going to rot if I don’t.
But now I feel like if I don’t eat, I will quite literally pass out, and I don’t know how to cope with that. There’s a part of me that’s still frustrated about needing to eat because there are so many more interesting things to do, and then a large part of me that is still trying to convince myself that I am allowed and deserve to eat whenever I am even slightly hungry.
I was taught to hate myself and see myself as unworthy. All of those times I was told that as a human I was a piece of shit because Jesus was so perfect and good, really sunk in. Being taught that the best thing to do is to deny yourself everything all the time because others deserve it and need it more than you has really fucked me up.
There’s a part of me that very much lives in a place where food is scarce and not easily accessible (some of this is slightly grounded because freelancing isn’t exactly secure work and I need more food than usual to survive and the money aspect of this scares me) as if once the fridge is empty, it’s empty for good. Fun trauma times with my parents spending more on tithe than anything else and neglecting to make sure they had enough to provide food for their oodles of children.
The food scarcity and denial of my nourishment as a child still haunts me, apparently. More loudly now that I am facing this haunting every hour when my stomach growls, and I spend 3 more hours trying to convince myself that I don’t need food because I already ate and that should be enough, save food for later.
This is something I’ll talk with my therapist about this week. I’ve had a lot of intense feelings and anxiety about food lately because I’m facing this now, because hunger is such a huge part of my life – like it was when I was a pubescent kid, but now I’m the adult. I can feed myself. No one can tell me I don’t deserve to eat.
But I would really appreciate being told that I do.

This Is Not Normal

I’m beginning to get anxious now that more than a month has passed since the fall of our republic election and things have started to quiet down. We’re normalizing.
We desperately want to return to normal, to stability, not to whatever the fuck this reality is. Collectively we do not do well with unrest, we don’t do well with unease, and we will do anything we can to get us back to the place where we feel secure and normal, where we can live in our bubble and pretend everything is okay.
Every time I’ve stepped foot in any chain store since the election this has hit me. The jarring normality of it all: as if our society isn’t falling apart at the seams, as if foreign countries interfering in our elections or being one tantrum away from nuclear war isn’t something that’s actually happening. As if all of the civil unrest in this country, all of the kids who are terrified to go to school out of fear they’ll lose their parents, as if the president elect inciting violence and spreading hate was something we were all making up. Walking into target feels like being gaslit by corporate society.
We want to desperately to live in a world where things weren’t as tumultuous. But that isn’t our reality. It’s tempting to bury our heads in the sand and wish it all away, to create as much of a bubble as we can to surround ourselves in. To create a new normal that adapts to fascism in this country just being a fact of life. We want to not have to fight.
None of those are bad feelings. I crave normalcy, I yearn to be able to live and not feel like my country has betrayed me, or that danger is at every turn because of the intersections of my identities. I long for stability.
But we elected a literal fascist who’s activating all the other fascist and fascist leaning types that have been preparing for this for 30 years; people I’ve grown up with, training I’ve had. They’ve been here all along and they’re ready now. We can’t have normal, we can’t have stability, we can’t be safe unless we fight back. Until we acknowledge and remind ourselves that this isn’t normal, that we have to fight, that we cannot let complacency overrun us, stability will be elusive.
We have to fight back on every front, wherever we can.
For me, this looks like local housing advocacy so we can actually be a sanctuary (if you want to get involved in building more housing, check out your local YIMBY cell). Working on advocating for homeschoolers locally and providing as many resources to homeschoolers as possible. It’s being involved with my local hackerspace & arts community, and building local coalitions. It’s writing, prolifically, while I still can, and making all of the art.
None of this is normal, as much as we desperately want to make it so. We need to remember that.

Kieryn Starts T

Yesterday.

Yesterday I went to the wellness clinic in SF that does HRT and primary care on a sliding scale for uninsured people and I started my first dose of Testosterone.

HOLY SHIT.

Immediately prior to that I got my hair cut, and turns out I’m a super fucking cute boi.


As I was walking down the street I started noticing a lump in my throat, and then hunger like you wouldn’t believe. What is hunger, what does it want, why.

I feel alive, my voice is lowering, I have energy, I feel like I’m right in my skin for the first time. Everything is clearer, I feel capable and like I could take on the world.
And I will.

Also probably will start drawing adventures in T on Chronicles of a Bitch Goddess because my twitter stream for the last 36 hours has been discovery after discovery.


One of them, being even more confused when people call me she.

Expecto Patronum

I was talking to my therapist last night about the election and activism and something she poked at really struck me.
It is important for activism to come from a place that isn’t fear. Fear and panic spreads like wildfire and runs everyone down. The longevity of the fight depends on us being able to approach our activism from a place of okayness inside ourselves.
I woke up in a good mood this morning. My partner made coffee that we sipped quietly while working on our respective projects. I’m working on and lining up freelance projects to stay afloat and figuring out what of my personal projects I want to start on next.
I know everything is shit in the world but right now I feel okay. And I almost felt guilty about it, but here’s the thing.
It’s important – vitally important – that we make and keep and foster moments of happiness, that we take care of ourselves, that we love ourselves and each other, that we take our actions against facism from a place where we are emotionally okay and stable and not terrified.
Selfcare in the face of fascism is resistance. Finding ways to not live in a permanent state of anxiety while still fighting is revolutionary. Being happy and hopeful are not bad things in light of everything that’s going on, they are important, and they are the things we need to cling to, because those will keep us going.
Like I’ve been telling myself since election night, little things matter, they matter a lot. Find the little things that bring you peace and hold on to them. We have a long road ahead of us, and running on adrenaline isn’t sustainable.
You are allowed to be happy and feel okay and have good days. Fighting doesn’t mean you have to be afraid all the time, please don’t. Find the little things that matter, let them fill you up – like a patronus charm. We can resist best when we’re not letting fear rule our every waking moment.

 

Existing Is Resistance

So, we elected a facist.
I, like every other marginalized in-any-remote-way person have spent the last week utterly terrified. It’s an anxiety attack that won’t go away. I’m suddenly very aware of the intersection of my transness, queerness, afabness, and olive skin.
I am public about all of those, I’m public about being queer and poly, I exude queer vibes in person.
Nothing is normal anymore. My life is topsy-turvy. All of my plans jumped out the window right behind my hope for the future. I was a poll worker on election night and I told the voters not to tell me anything because I needed to get through closing the polls when voting was over. I got home and my partner hugged me and told me what happened.
I was in shock. I’m still in shock. Every day existential dread grows a little more. Every day the background level of constant anxiety grows a little more. I’m worried about my olive-toned siblings, I’m worried about my partners, I’m worried about my friends. I’m worried about everyone.
And there’s a part of me that feels super prepared for this. A switch activated.
I was made for this. I am a product of the conservative movement meant to fight in the culture war they’ve spent the last 30 years building for and I am fucking pissed. Don’t think the right didn’t see this, didn’t plan this, didn’t see the opportunity in hiding Mike Pence behind the intolerable senseless oaf that is Donald Trump. We have Hitler 2.0 and puppets. Trump is horrifying and charismatic – he can pull on hate and fuel it. Pence is worse. Pence will have control.
And I grew up in Pence’s world. I grew up in the world that said my purpose in life was to fight in this war and guess what, they were right.
But I am fighting for my life and the lives of those around me. The lives of those already and about to be targeted. I know now why I felt like I needed to be here, why following my instincts have taken me to this place in this community…because I need to be here, now, – the resistance.
Existing as myself is an act of resistance, empowering others to do the same is resistance. This is our reality now.
We elected a facist, and now we have to do everything we can to stop facism from taking hold, or WW2 will pale in comparison.
I am fucking terrified, I am angry, I can’t stop thinking about the future, if that even exists. But I am taking this existential dread and channeling it into everything I’m able. I’m fighting with every fiber of my being and reminding myself that this isn’t normal. 
notnormal4small

What’s Next?

I’ve spent the week updating the security on all of my devices and getting PGP setup on my email. If you haven’t installed Signal already, you should. The EFF has some good advice in their security starter pack that would be a good place to start.
I’m going to be adding a page where you can verify my ID by my PGP key and see what things I’ve also verified. In the meantime, I’m on keybase.io. CRHE is gearing up for our annual fundraiser and putting efforts into preparing to help people who start homeschooling because of the election. I’m getting involved in my local community and politics to make change here with East Bay Forward and on my own. I’m helping build a safe, open, hackerspace in my community as well.
I’m making rage art again, and some of that is in the form of banners for download. I’m not being quiet. I’m enjoying the last 62 days of First Amendment rights before everything really goes to shit.

How you can help me

Finding a 9-5 job at a startup seems ridiculous now. It seems normal. Nothing about now is normal. I am looking to spend my energy helping people, being an activist, doing whatever I can to provide safe haven and squash facism. I am an artist, activist, and organizer with mad web skills, I intend on using every skillset I have to get myself and others through the next 4+ years.
If you have the financial ability to help, I need enough to pay bills and acquire meds and eat – you can setup a recurring donation on patreon and also get cool art. Or just donate. I am an uninsured, unemployed, queer enby trying to get my documents together. I just spent $200 on my passport update and still need to get my license updated.

Things I learned in therapy

My therapist guesses that starting T will help with my hormone induced dysphoria too (just need insurance again).
We opened up the jar of trauma that is my relationship with my body when I’m bleeding and realized I’ve never healed from that. Surprising no one, I know. But I realized that the terror that I feel as soon as fluctuations occur stem from the first time and thinking I was going to die and being unprepared while my mom called everyone in the phone book and I was hurt and scared and confused. In addition that, the voices in my head that push me to never rest stem from trying to survive my childhood and be one step ahead of my mom so she wouldn’t get set off. Jerk brain is just trying to keep me safe and help me survive the environment it’s known the longest, and logic isn’t going to convince it that it’s safe.
So we did this exercise where I found that part of me and told myself it’s okay, no one is allowed to yell at us, no one can hurt us anymore, I’ve got this. And something clicked. And I found out how much that moment hurt me, while I was bleeding and alone and I just kinda hugged the little versions of me that were coming out and terrified and have been scared this whole time.
Jerk brain has been so much quieter since Thursday.

burnt out on week 4

“It is important for me to take care of my mental, emotional and physical health at work”
This was the takeaway from therapy last week. I don’t know that I’ve done particularly well with it so far.
I learned one of my coworkers supports Trump and I would be lying if I said that didn’t bother me and loom over my shoulder in the back of my mind all day every day. I try not to let it interfere, or get to me, or otherwise influence how I interact with him, but the fact is, it does bother me. I work remotely so I don’t have to see him and am guaranteed some kind of safety through that, but it’s still a lot…on top of an already demanding and stressful job where people have FEELINGS at me all day.
I am starting week 4 and burnt out as fuck. I’m unsure both how to fix it and if I want to spend that energy. My work sets us up for failure before we start every morning – as the story goes with a small, understaffed IT firm, I guess. We’re booked and every day there’s more. They changed how our ticketing system works so it’s even more obvious how utterly impossible it is to keep up with requests and clients and communicating. It makes it hard to feel like there’s any headway, and when a client loses their shit at me, it’s my fault for not calming them well enough.
There is only so much that humans can do, and the expectations here aren’t able to be met by mere mortals. It’s triggering and reminds me of my childhood where I was expected to be capable of more than is humanly possible and reprimanded when I failed regardless of how much I’d gotten done already. My parents set me up to fail in life and my work is setting me up to fail every day before it even starts.
It’s grating and draining and not tenable.
It’s hard and I’m tired and I just want to flip tables and run away.
But I can’t.

Depression and Therapy and Burning Man (maybe)

It’s been a long month of more new scary things. Started a job being a glorified receptionist with the bonus skill set of being able to translate people’s computer problems into useful information for the IT people (and no, I don’t get paid more for that skill). Had housing fall through on me twice, the second iteration of which I am still currently fighting to get my deposit back. My potential roommate has been unreachable for the last two weeks so I’m starting a Small Claims thing on Monday and hopefully someone can find her. The lease demands she pay me back within two days if the move-in didn’t occur, so legally, she’s obligated, it’s just the tracking down that’s the problem.
I’ve been in an awful depressed spiral because of that + utter stress of a new job where people are grumpy about their computers at me all day and the hours are not conducive to my mental health or productivity (and the company documents I was handed use air quotes around mental health, which, as someone with intense mental health problems, does not make me feel safe at all). I managed to push through September, I did everything I needed, I started a job, I got to work every day, and was chained to the phone doing the best I could working between sobbing from the sheer overwhelmingness of everything.
I started seeing a therapist on Thursday (funnily enough the first day in like 2 weeks I was able to get through without crying or intensely passively wishing for death) and I told her about the overwhelmingness of everything and got to hand her my brain and be like, here, you hold this now. Someone who is not me is aware of the mess that is happening inside and is equipped to figure it out.
So I started off by explaining everything that’s happened since May. I’m trans, I’m divorced, a different partner broke up with me shortly after I moved here, I only recently got a job (that inevitably wants my soul), and even working full time I don’t make enough to afford rent, and I don’t have benefits or PTO. The stress is eating away at me and pulling at my soul through my back and everything compounds in on itself and I can’t handle it alone anymore.
And she looked at me and was like, so it seems like a lot of new things have just happened all at once and you’re doing a lot of transitioning right now and it’s stressful.
And I was like, yes.
 
It’s not bad. Just new. and a lot. and I can manage new.
 
I feel so far away from everything I want to do, but as I listed them out (CRHE, art, tech, learning shit) and she asked me if I’d stopped or been unable to do those things, I realized I hadn’t, the capacity just changed. It’s just new and adjusting. I haven’t stopped.
 
I feel like I’m in a rut or a dead-end. I need to forge my own path out. I know what I want and don’t want, I don’t know how to get there yet.
I don’t want to stay at my new job forever, the stress is a lot and not worth the not-being-able-to-pay-rent-or-get-sick deal. I want to work somewhere that I and my health are valued, and that pays me enough to afford to live out here. Somewhere I don’t wake up dreading. Because while I am fucking fantastic at my job being a translator receptionist, I prefer to not have the entire bay area and misc parts of California thrust upon me in an afternoon. I am a hacker and I can singlehandedly take care of the entire internet-based infrastructure of an organization. I am full-stack for myself and that’s a useful skill.
Taking messages for problems doesn’t give you the same feeling that solving a problem does, either.
Anyway, what I’m saying is, I need something better, but at least I have a stepping stone now, and I know that I have a lot more to offer than what I’m being paid (poorly) for. I don’t know how to make that happen yet.
 
She asked me if I liked the Bay and I told her I’d never intended to be here, I just wound up here because it was a place available to me when I needed it. But now that I’m here, I have that same feeling I had about Burning Man – there’s something for me here, something I need to do or be a part of, and I don’t know what it is, but it’s not time to leave yet. She asked me if I found that at Burning Man and if it was intuition or not – it was, on both counts. I found out a lot about my own strength at Burning Man, a lot about myself, I let go of a lot of things and it was what I needed. I don’t know what the next step out here looks like, but that same instinct is keeping me here, so I’m going to follow that and see what happens.
She was impressed that I was so in-tune with myself. I guess that’s what happens when you self-therapy until you just can’t anymore.
 
I’m writing this now from my other partner’s couch, watching the sun start to rise, and freezing. Life is fucking terrifying but I think I’m going to make it after all.
 
I made it out of that spiral, I can make it out again.