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.

 

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.

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.

{Later that night, at a party, looking dapper af}

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.

 

I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Said Hello to Courtship, Met a Boy, and Got Married

My parents said they wanted to talk to me one day. I was like 8 or 10 or something innocuous and the thought of boys and kissing was still gross (ew, spit). They said that they decided I wouldn’t be allowed to date, that I would court instead. I said okay, having no idea what this meant and being decidedly not into boys because they ruined my horse parades anyway. They seemed surprised that I took it so well. They explained that courting meant that a boy had to get permission from them to start seeing me romantically, and at 8/10 years old this seemed fine (more barriers to people destroying my caravan of ponies). They spent years extolling the virtues of courting. I was given I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl when I was a young teen and read them, absorbed them, and lived by them – most of my friends did as well.

I’ve talked about our courtship and the hell that it was.

I’m going to talk about a different aspect that goes along with all of this, and that is being a Stay At Home Daughter (unless your parents let you out). Many of the stories featured in IKDG and BMG featured women who either worked in their father’s business or church sanctioned place, or stayed at home to learn how to be helpmeets. Few, if any of the women featured had a life outside of their family’s home, or any time on their own before getting married.

I went straight from living with my family learning how to be a helpmeet, to living with my in-laws, to being married. I had no time on my own to discover who I was and what I liked. I have never been alone.

I was never meant to live on my own. My family, like many others bought into the idea that daughters are to live under their father’s authority until their father passes that authority to their husband. Having any time between living at my parents to being married was unheard of. No time was spent preparing me to live without being under any kind of authority because that was never going to be an option.

I was to be married forever, until death happened – and in the result of death, I would move back in with my parents (ha). I would never need to know how to choose things for myself (instead of for/with other people), how to live responsibly alone, how to take care of myself – because I was supposed to have someone there to do that for me, forever.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl encouraged my parents to restrict the amount of life experience I was allowed to have in the name of godliness. These books, similar books, and purity culture advocated that women stay hidden and sheltered to guard their hearts and wait for a prince (any prince) to come whisk them away to a castle to fill with babies. They never talked about compatibility on any level other than spiritual – these books and this culture have ruined the marriages of those they sought to protect.

By feeding an entire generation unrealistic expectations for themselves – denying our rights to exist and experience human emotion, being told that anything we desire is sinful just because we desire it, and that to explore our identities, feelings, and attractions is wrong and damages our intrinsic value – courtship advocates have destroyed relationships between spouses, and families, and friends. They have stunted our growth, torn us apart, and left us to pick up the pieces of ourselves and each other while learning how to live on our own for the first time.

I courted, I got married, and seven years later I’m getting divorced; on my own for the first time, trying to learn how to survive, and realizing that this was so far outside of the realm of possibility that I was prepared for anything but this. This one, basic thing, that most people experience: navigating life on your own. I was never meant to live on my own, but I’m doing it. I’m doing it clumsily, but I’m doing it, and there are lots more of us out here doing it too.

lmtp5

I was meant to be an arrow

We would scoff at the idea that people wanted to have well-rounded educated children. I was meant to be an arrow to pierce the darkness and pop all the well-rounded bubbles. << actually a thing that was said.

I watched the news nightly from the time I was 8, I listened to Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingram and Sean Hannity religiously as a teenager. I saw Bill O’reilly speak, Ralph Reed recognized me and said hello at TeenPact. I went to a video conference that Newt Gingrich did, I attend the FRC Action convention with TeenPact twice, I met Bobby Jindal, Zell Miller, and Sonny Perdue knew who I was. I had a name in the Republican circles in GA. I campaigned for countless religious right candidates. My first sign waving venture was during the 2004 election and I caught the bug. I spent time in local campaign offices putting together phone banking scrips that worked really well, I traveled and campaigned for people in Alabama, Florida, Virginia, and New Hampshire – as well as being thoroughly involved in the political scene in Georgia.

My blog was relatively well known – as well known as a teenager’s commentary on politics can be, anyway. I lived and breathed political activism from the time I was 13 until I was just shy of 18 when the burnout set in.

Politics is interesting where it overlaps with religion – and sexism, and gender roles. I’ve talked a bit about TeenPact and the sexism and queerphobia there is just as rampant in the republican party. My political involvement was a bit of a paradox. On one hand it was the only thing that was encouraged besides being a homemaker and I latched on to it for dear life. On the other, we acknowledged that a woman’s place was not in politics unless it was under a man in some way, so my activity was limited to ensure I was always under some kind of male authority – training to be a political helpmeet (my husband or son(s) could be the president someday, after all).

I am keenly aware of the amount of hate and fear of others that runs rampant in the christian conservative-republican communities. I was inundated by messages from all sides that being queer, liberal, compassionate, and seeing The Others as just as human as we are was wrong. Damning, even.

I was told by every authority figure to fear anyone who was different from what I was, what we were. The lack of compassion never set well with me, but I had nothing to compare it to. It was all I knew. I was warned of being too learned, too knowledgeable, too educated lest I become one of those man-hating feminazis. We shunned education in favor of the blissful ignorance paraded as enlightenment by right-wing pundits and preachers.

There wasn’t really a dramatic turning point. The burnout happened when I was close to 18 while my legs were infected and I couldn’t keep up physically or emotionally because life in general was taking it’s toll. I dropped out of politics and into relative obscurity – I was married, so it was expected. Quietly re-evaluating the things that were important to me while working really hard to be the kind of wife I was supposed to be (until self-acceptance became a thing and our relationship was healthier for it).

 

I wasn’t raised to be an independent person. My mother literally said, of my independence and desire for it “what do you think God thinks of that?!” I was 17 and a half and just stared at her blankly, and quietly mumbled something along the lines of “I think he’s probably okay with it?”. I was raised to obey whoever is above me, it’s something I’m still trying to un-learn.

While campaigning, I wasn’t campaigning for things I truly believed in because I wasn’t allowed to have my own beliefs, I was campaigning along the Paulino Party Lines – because that was accepted and encouraged. As long as I followed the rules, campaigned for those my parents approved of, and didn’t get any independent thoughts in my head, I was free to travel for short periods of time and feel like I was making a difference.

Toxic religion and conservatism permeated every fiber of my existence and my very confused and hyper closeted self. Being told day in and day out that you’re wrong for not being X or Y enough, burying all the thoughts and feelings that don’t line up with what you’re supposed to be…ignoring the things that feel wrong because technically they’re right. I learned that politics is corrupt as fuck and the GOP isn’t better than anyone else, and the reason they can organize and come out in droves is because they use hate and fear as their motivators.

Over time I reclaimed my independence, and I couldn’t let fear and hate dictate my actions anymore. I accepted that the person I am and the person I am becoming is the opposite of the person I was supposed to be. I am everything I was supposed to be fighting against.

Here I am, 2016, actively working to make the world better, to be an arrow to pierce the darkness, to bring light and compassion and empathy into the world any way that I can.

They succeeded, I suppose, just not in the way they meant to.