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Bridging the Gap Posts

It Feels So Stupid

Last night, I was curled into a ball crying in my partner’s arms because everything about school is hard. It’s not necessarily the material or the course load, it’s that Laney isn’t designed and has no support structure for visibly/non-passing trans students to exist in. Let alone the ones who are out and openly existing outside of the binary with no hope or intention of passing.

I eat and drink just what I need to get through the day without passing out. I am essentially starving and dehydrating myself because the labeled single stall, all gender bathrooms are in the tower or across campus in the bistro (nowhere near where I am machining all day). I’ve been called out for using the “wrong” restroom in multiple places on campus already.

I am behind in all of my classes, and on the verge of failing welding because of this.

It’s just peeing.

It feels so stupid.

It feels like I’m making it up.

It’s ridiculous that the most basic need of my meatcage is something that creates anxiety that interferes with my ability to be fully present on campus (where I operate heavy machinery and open flames on the reg).

I went to Cal State East Bay Queer Con today and got to vent about that a lot. It was really helpful to be listened to by people who also understand what this feels like. And be understood (or at least seen) by people who don’t have that experience.

I am worried every time I’m on campus, every time I enter a bathroom, that someone is going to lose their shit and report me for harassment for peeing in the “wrong” place. I choose the danger I know, so I use the women’s room. I still get she’d half the time on campus and the men’s rooms are in more of a state of disrepair and have very little privacy (sometimes the doors don’t even shut), so I don’t usually even dare with that. I choose the danger I know.

And I get that I have glorious facial hair and look super masc especially when I’m wearing my safety glasses or skullcap, but I still have to pee. somewhere.

It feels stupid that this one simple thing is holding me back so much. It’s devastating my health and school performance. I’ve talked to the queer faculty about it and they are on board with All Gender Bathrooms and support infrastructure being things that exist. But all of the progress there is just stuck in some kind of ether and I can’t seem to make it move. No one seems to have spoons to do the work needed to get shit off the ground and I’m losing stamina.

I don’t know how much more I need to literally be destroying my body and ruining my ability to focus and study and shouting it from the rooftops before something changes. I don’t know if it will change before I become too overwhelmed by trying to hold being a student (which Laney somehow expects to exist outside of my trans experience) and existing that I decide the physical, mental, and emotional toll is too much of a price to pay and drop out.

I can’t keep this up for ever.

I’m fighting as hard as I can, but I’m really tired, and really lonely.

But if any faculty or staff member asks me how school is going for the remainder of a semester, they are getting an earful of school while trans issues dumped on them, because if I have to hold this and am expected to somehow put it aside and get good grades, they at least get to know the fucking overhead they’re not helping me carry.

 

All of the advice that I’ve been given today, by people who’ve started clubs or are faculty is all stuff that I have already done. I don’t know what else to do.

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Just T Things: 15 Months HRT

I realized it would probably be helpful to me and other people if I started documenting what HRT is like for me somewhere more findable than twitter.

It’s been almost 15 months now, but I haven’t detailed a lot here so I’m going to attempt to categorize the various points of change.

Weight Changes:

When I started Testosterone in Dec 2016 I weighed ~140lbs. I weighed ~120 in May 2017 and have been hovering around 110 since July 2017. I lost ~30lbs in 7 months and it was (is) really disorienting. Since then my body has also been losing all of its curves, and machining has eaten whatever fat reserves I had and converted it to muscle. I wasn’t expecting to lose so much weight so quickly, and since fall my body has really fucking hated this.

I can’t retain heat, and the sudden loss of fat has seemed to make raynauds worse and is probably something I should talk to my Doctor about because I keep forgetting. Cold has become agony, and I think in no small part due to suddenly not having anything between my muscle and skin to keep me warm. 🙁

Sense Changes:

My hands are rougher now, so soft things feel exponentially softer than they used to. My plush bathrobe is fucking heaven. My hearing has changed? I’ve noticed it change. But I went to get my hearing checked and my ears are great, however we noticed one place where my ears diverged on what they heard on which side, and my guess is that maybe that’s the change I noticed happening.

The men on my dad’s side of the family are hard of hearing, so I don’t know if it’s a testosterone thing, or an I’m-in-my-late-20s-thing.

I no longer hate all melons??? My tolerance for spicy things has stayed about the same, but suddenly cantaloupe are fine. It feels almost blasphemous. I also need a lot more protein whenever my dose changes, so I will become a carnivore for about a month until my body goes back to not being a fan.

My tolerance for things like alcohol has gone up a lot.

My smell has changed. There’s more musk to it (I’ve been told) than there used to be. Less sweet, more bitter. I shower with shea butter body wash that smells like flowers, so I always smell like flowers, citrus, and boy, and I’m a fan of this.

Mental & Emotional Health Changes:

I have somehow grown the level of confidence of a teenage boy. I think it’s because I feel more at home in my body. Taking testosterone has stopped that constant internal war with myself where my body didn’t feel like it should have. It’s hard to describe…you know when you pull something out of socket? you can still move and function and stuff, it just hurts and it feels like it’s just fundamentally incorrect as it relates to you?

My internal existence and relationship with my body was like that, constantly. My body just felt incorrect in a way I couldn’t put a finger on, until suddenly it had the hormones it actually needed and I felt normal. I didn’t know how much that was eating at my existence until suddenly it wasn’t there anymore.

I am able to see things coming and roll with them, I can face hard things better. I can be depressed and upset and still know that I can get out of this and be okay, and that I will be okay in the end. I can actually handle and identify my own feelings and get less absorbed by everyone else’s. Testosterone has made it easier for me feel things, and make sense of my head. Feelings used to be chaos before, and now they have names and things.

Anger is new. I feel it in my veins, it surges, I become more assertive and I push back. There’s a lot of strength in it if I channel it right, otherwise it can be really overwhelming. I don’t become yelly or violent, I mostly silent scream into pillows or vent, but my words are sharp and cutting. I get really wordsy. If I’m in a city council meeting where my anger is extremely useful though, I give amazing speeches that make people feel things.

Angst is a lot, but not much different. It feels more present in my body but that might just be because I disassociate less.

I feel right, and myself in my brain, I’m not repressed anymore.

Puberty Changes:

My body thinks it’s literally a teenage boy. So. Puberty. All of it. Growing pains, constant horniness, voice dropping and cracking, acne, hair literally everywhere.

Hair

No really, my body is extremely excited about this hair shit. I have become a thicket. You could brush my leg hairs with a comb and tbh I probably should. My beard is coming in beautifully, I have a full on happy trail, my arms and legs are trying to go for the werewolf aesthetic, and my chest is full of hair. The butt hairs though. THERE ARE LINES. So I need to replace my electric razor and become a contortionist. I suspect that by this time next year I will be indistinguishable from Beast or at least Wolverine.

Also, I discovered aftershave, and my mustache got itchy.

Muscles

I get a lot of leg cramps so I try to eat all of the bananas all the time. Sometimes for a few days after a shot it feels like I’m too big for my skeleton and if someone could just like pull me, for a bit, that’d help. It reminds me of growing pains. I just need some skelegrow, because if I could be even 3 inches taller, it would make using the mills so much easier.

All of the muscles in my body have rearranged themselves. The first couple months I was on T my back hurt a lot because there was just, always a new muscle. It’s settled down a bit now, and most of my muscles seem to have been moved to their new places. Mostly packed ridiculously onto my back, shoulders, and arms. I have muscles for days instead of curves now, I suppose. I really like it. I like this new shape.

Junk

I really miss having tits some days, and not having hips anymore is still hella disorienting because I don’t know how to carry shit without them.

Oh yeah, my tits! They have been eaten. I don’t know what the fuck happened or where the fuck they ran off to, but I went from being 34DD in Dec 2016, to…I don’t think my tits have been this small since I was just starting to grow them? They’re mostly just a weird pudgy skin flap now, covered in hair. My ass also has the same problem, it’s just……so small and square, and fuzzy. IDK. But I can be shirtless now?

In addition to my tits and ass vanishing, my body realized it could grow that dick its always wanted and I’m so here for it. Sex makes sense now. It makes SO MUCH SENSE. Sex when you have the right hormones is great. A+ do rec.

In fun dick related adventures, over the last year I learned:

  • I could sit on it while biking
  • it gets caught and twisted in fabric (wtf)
  • EVERYTHING IS STIMULATING OH MY GOD WHY ARE THERE SO MANY NERVE ENDINGS
  • If it does not get enough pets my uterus will decide to cramp which is disorienting and not helpful
  • If I lose 5 vials of blood, I’m out of boners for a week
Voice

My voice has dropped a lot since I started testosterone. I didn’t know what voice dysphoria was until I didn’t have it anymore. It’s largely stopped cracking now. It’s deep and booming, but gravely. Whenever I project in class or make a public comment I literally surprise myself for a second because I didn’t expect my voice to be that deep. It’s not as deep, I feel, when I’m having a conversation as it is when I’m projecting. OR, if I’m in a room with another dude who’s voice is also low and booming, then somehow my body is like now WE have to be low and booming too! Then my voice just progressively lowers and it’s this weird subconscious thing and I have to stop myself.

Here’s a good example of before and two months ago:

 

Perception Changes:

People started seeing me as a dude most of the time around October. That’s been a weird adjustment. It’s still not consistent enough that I assume everyone thinks I’m a cis boy yet, but I’m aware of it enough that going to the bathroom on campus feels increasingly complicated. I’ve gone back to getting more people confused about placing me since I put my earrings back in though. My body changed so quickly that while school was going on I didn’t have time to notice it and then over break I was really disoriented by how masculine I was being perceived as, so I put my earrings in and it’s helped my brain adjust to my new face/body/etc.

People listen when I speak, and I get talked over less now. Which is hugely disorienting since I’ve spent my life having to speak up over people to get heard. I find myself inadvertently speaking up over other people because I’m not used to not having people constantly talking over me. This has been a bit of a mindfuck actually.

I don’t have automatic solidarity with afab people in cis dude dominated spaces anymore which is also a weird thing to adjust to, as a transmasc machine student. I don’t look like a girl anymore really, so unless you knew….you wouldn’t know.

I feel like I have a much wider understanding of existence now – being perceived one way, and then another, countless times in the same day will do that to you. It’s jarring.

I don’t know if I see myself differently, so much as I see myself wholly? Before when I would be introspective, I would see all the things I felt I couldn’t be, that I wasn’t, that I was somehow unable to become, and now…now I see all of those things, and they’re all growing and I am evolving into that better version of myself. I feel like I am different only in that I am finally able to be all of myself, instead of a shell.

Personality Changes:

I’ve become more confident and assertive, more sure of myself. I’m at ease with myself in my body most of the time and I feel like that translates out.

I can be aggressive when I want to be and use it as a tool. I’ve realized that I don’t have to be timid out of safety anymore because I look and carry myself differently, people make different assumptions. This is something I’m learning how to navigate.

I take up space, and don’t try to shrink into myself as much.

I feel like I am generally more emotionally stable.

Dosage Changes:

I started taking 50mg of Testosterone Cypionate every two weeks for a month, then 100mg every two weeks for 3 months, then 200mg every two weeks until October, then I started doing 175mg every week.

175mg/wk worked alright for a few months but then it felt like it was too much. I was anxious all the time and grumpy and my uterus started writhing weirdly. When my labs came in my T was extremely high, so in January I started altering my dose to slowly bring it back to 100mg/wk which is the equivalent of the last dose I was on. It’s been solidly that for a month now and my body already feels better, and I haven’t dreamt of bleeding in a few weeks.

Injection Changes:

After a year of self-injecting perfectly fine, I developed a trauma response to it. I don’t know why, and I’ve tried everything to calm myself and be able to do it again, but I get 1/8″ away from my thigh and suddenly my body nopes out and I freeze. I sit there and I cannot will myself to move. So I have had to make accommodations around that which involves friends who will be my backups and asking if it’s alright to go into my clinic and have a nurse do it. This is what I’ll be doing for the rest of the semester and hopefully I’ll be able to self inject again. I’m not sure.

Another development was that due to the loss of weight and fat the 1″ needles that I’d been using to do intramuscular injections became too long (less fat to go through so it goes in way too deep) and painful. I kept pinching nerves and my leg would ache for three days after. So I talked to my doctor about shorter needles and they suggested SubCu which is supposed to go into the fat. I tried that the first week and we were too shallow on the injection so what I wound up with was 3 days of feeling like I was having an allergic reaction on the inside of my thigh.

Which is what brought me to asking if I could just go into my clinic to have a professional do it. I have yet to actually make it into the clinic because I will be waiting in triage for idk how long and I had no spoons. But knowing it’s an available possibility has helped.

In the meantime, the injection solution we’ve come up with has been to just not go in the whole inch.

Tips:

  • The faster you inject the less it hurts
  • Do not inject while standing
  • Eat all the food all the time
  • Do things to stretch out your muscles
  • Use a foam roller on your injection sites
  • Always carry a snack with you
  • Skin Care routine is your friend
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27:9

A cake and cupcakes with blue icing. The cake has the ratio 27:9 written in white frosting, and the cupcakes have rainbow sprinkles

I meant to write a retrospective before my birthday, but 2018 has been one hell of a year already, let me tell you.

I got distracted going through my instagram account and watching the story of the last seven or so years unfold in the archives. I look so radically different now than I did when I left home, I am radically different now. And what’s really interesting is all the ways I’m still the same.

I feel the most me-ish that I’ve ever been. I’m not repressing entire swaths of my personality or identity anymore. All the juxtapositional parts of me can just be themselves, like they wanted to all along.

All of the little parts of myself that I caught glimpses of and wanted to unearth when I was stuck at home as a kid are now able to actually bloom and come into fruition. I can be good at science, and organize communities (outside of some old man’s authority), I have the wherewithal to be assertive when I want to be, I bend metal to my will (:3), my body makes sense, I’m in school, I have friends who I see in person on a regular basis. All of this seemed impossible and unattainable years ago, I wasn’t ready yet.

I look different, I sound different, I carry myself differently – I take up more space than I ever have, I have a base level of confidence, I’m happier, I feel capable. I’m taking on things I didn’t think I’d be able to.

I’m really proud of myself for getting this far, and even on my bad days, I know I’ll be able to come out on the other side better than I was before. Having learned something, if it’s just “this doesn’t work”.

I wanted to go into more details and get lengthy, but I am exhausted.

I have a full day of homework tomorrow, and organizing if I can finish all my other things. My life right now is school, organizing for housing, and organizing for a homeschool statute in California. Therapy is keeping me sane, and one day I will have the words and the energy to write all the things that are building up in my brain.

But not today.

Today I’m just happy I’m here, and surrounded by people who care deeply about me. These are the things I cling to when I get overwhelmed and life gets hard.

Oh, but the ratio: I’m 27, and it’s been 9 years since I escaped. In 2011 I found a poem that’s stuck with me and became advice I took.

She decided to start living the life she imagined. She believed she could, so she did. She replaced her fear of the unknown with curiosity. She looked around, and life was pretty amazing.

And then I became a boi.

And I looked around, and life was pretty amazing after all.

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Goodbye 2017

I’ve been putting off writing for some reason. I’m not entirely sure why. Some of it is probably just burnout and exhaustion from school, processing a lot of the things that happened and got stepped on over the last semester that I didn’t have time to get to. I survived my first semester though! I got all A’s and B’s even, I did well in math even though it was dicey there for a second.

I’m proud of myself. I made a bunch of metal things and I really just want to get back into shop. Classes don’t start again until the 22nd (which fees like an eternity), but then I am in school from 8a/11a – 7:30p/9:30p Mon-Thur until the end of May.

It’s going to be an intense semester. Next week I suppose I will work on finding out what kind of things would be helpful and hit up some of the campus services. I have a hearing test on Monday because hearing people talk over the machines is really hard and since starting testosterone, the quality of my hearing has decreased. My dad and papa both have hearing problems so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a genetic thing. I’ve always had trouble with phones and white noise but it’s gotten noticeably worse, so I’m hoping that I can get hearing aids, really. Because it’d be helpful to be able to hear the lectures while watching the machine demo.

I want to talk more about all of the buttons that school pushed and navigating college while dealing with C-PTSD, but I don’t have the energy for that right now. I’m still living it, I guess.


My doctor is going to see if we can get a hysterectomy done by going the endometriosis route instead of the gender dysphoria route because 1) it’s extremely likely that I do, in fact, have endo, and 2) you don’t need any letters for that which would save me a lot of leg work. Apparently not only does insurance require you have two letters from mental health professionals, they will only cover one provider (making you pay out of pocket to meet their requirements), and require that one of the two recommendation letters is from a PhD (sessions cost more than people who are not PhDs).

We agreed that it is complete bullshit, so I just have to remember the utter agony my periods were and convey that to people. I remembered yesterday that the entire reason I have a 3DS was to survive the week my periods made me unable to move, so…I should be okay there.


This year for Holiday I went to Los Angeles. LA is a complicated city. Us two Oakland Queers were the queerest people I saw, and I did go to West Hollywood where I saw one other queer at Meltdown(!!!) but other than that, it was oddly normcore. It is incredibly difficult to get around by transit if you don’t live literally downtown. I wound up walking about 20miles a day out of necessity because I didn’t bring my bike and the bus stops are far apart and a bit infrequent. There’s not much that is walk-to-able. Walking half a mile before you reach coffee is a hard ask.

BUT.

I WENT TO HOGWARTS and it was everything I hoped it would be.

Actual magic happened on New Years Eve (we stood on a bridge over the LA river and were surrounded by fireworks from all over the area with no one else in sight).

Santa Monica is gorgeous.

I hung out with some friends!

I dabbled in photography:

SoCal 2017

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What even is gender

I feel like I’m mourning/saying goodbye to a part of me that doesn’t need to exist anymore. My body isn’t familiar on the outside anymore, I don’t have hips, or a waist, or cleavage. I get sir’d and he’d more often than not – the pharmacy actually put me down as male in their system?

None of this is unexpected really, I just didn’t know how I’d feel when I reached this point and I guess the answer is that I feel mixed. There’s a large part of me that feels stifled when I’m immediately pegged as a cis boy…

I’ve been struggling to figure out and find words for this since school let out and I’ve finally been able to settle on the shape of the angst that’s been plaguing me in the background for a bit.

I still envision myself with tits in my head, I still operate as though I have hips that carry shit (and then get confused when I don’t). My internal vision of myself doesn’t match what physically exists yet, even though the chemistry is right.

I feel normal and at peace with myself and aligned. I’m happy with the dose I’m taking and don’t want that to change much. I think what I need is to sit with the part of me that’s sort of mourning the familiarity of curves that aren’t there anymore, and maybe add some slightly femme elements to my presentation to help my brain with that difference.

12.5 months HRT :3

It’s sometimes just as jarring being seen as a boy as it is being seen as a girl. I am semi-fluid but solidly nonbinary, I’m finding more and more as I spend longer on HRT. All of my masculinity is informed by my femininity and they intertwine. I am both and neither, but not one or the other. Binaries are bullshit, is where I’m at, basically.

This has been really hard to write because I’m still trying to sort it out. Some of me wants to judge the validity of it, some of me is like this is just part of being fluid and you’ll ride it out (which is probably true but not a reason to not write about it), and some of me is like “this probably makes no sense” (which is probably also true, unless you’re also a transmasc enby which is why I’m writing this anyway).

These are the things I know:

I’m a fan of how I feel in my body right now. I’m a fan of this new confidence and being at peace with myself thing that is happening.

So these are good. The other things I can experiment with.

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Before I get buried by finals

I’ve started the process of getting a hysterectomy and let me tell you, has it been a rollercoaster. Apparently complete hysterectomies are somehow not part of trans surgeries. So my Doctor got me a referral to a clinic that does Gender Confirmation Surgeries, but they don’t offer 3D Printer de-embedding. They referred me to someone else for that, but not before making me fill out an extensive intake form that made me need to start hunting for an additional therapist, because apparently one therapist’s letter is not enough for making your body match you. Anyway this new person in S.F. doesn’t take my insurance like the other place did, and I asked them to recommend me to someone who would take my insurance, and they said no. So I called my doctor again, and his medical assistant is going to do some research and get back to me this week.

In the meantime, I have scheduled a consultation appointment with the new surgeon who does not take my insurance but will cost $490 for the one visit if I don’t get something lined up before then. I also need to know if I will need two letters or not, still. I’m going to assume that I will if we can get this done going the gender-dysphoria route as opposed to the probably-have-loads-of-endo route.

The upside of a hysterectomy is that (despite its apparent rare-ness as a route for trans masc types) it’s a fairly common procedure and we even developed robots to do it better with smaller holes. So the wait time would probably be less than if I were going to try and forge myself a cock (which I have thought about, but T is uh…working well with that so it’s becoming less of a thing).


I’m coming up on the end of my first semester and I am nervous. I’m on top of two classes, behind? in the self-paced math class, and…..I need to live in the machine shop because working on this mill project has taken me for ever. I was hoping to work on it or finishing the grinds on my lathe tools over the weekend but the problem with making precision tools is you need to be able to measure and angle them precisely and I couldn’t get all the things I would need.

I can’t believe I’ve actually managed to get this far – I’m almost halfway to being a certified industrial maintenance machinist. Machining is all about turning chunks of metal into things that keep infrastructure working. I’ve always been drawn to making and maintaining infrastructures, weirdly enough. I am really into the prospect of going on to join a union and work in some kind of infrastructure project, be it housing, transit, utilities….I want to be part of the invisible set of things that no one sees but everything would collapse without. One of my projects is making screw threads on a lathe. After that, if anyone ever needs screws, I will at the very least know how to make them.

I’m currently working on a vertical mill project, making a precision angle plate. This is what is stressing me out currently, because the mills have to be aligned perfectly before I can even start cutting my hunk of cold rolled steel. This is a process called tramming and it takes me an eternity.

Picture, if you will, a 5′ tall, 110lb, barely dextrous blue haired floof trying to put all of their weight into a 7′ tall, 2 ton machine that requires a step stool to reach all of the important knobs. Yeah, the mill has been beating me for a solid month now, and I have the joint and muscle pain to show for it. It’s not that I don’t know how to tram it. I understand it just fine, I just can’t maneuver myself around the mill with a wrench (or chain of wrenches) well enough to loosen the bolts some burly dude from the night before tightened too well.

 

 

Tramming
Tramming Time

People ask me why I decided to take up machining. It’s a really good question. I’ve had this question sitting in my drafts for an eternity, and the answer is, it’s complicated.

Some of it is because I want to do something that isn’t emotional support as a job, and machines tend to have less overwhelming feelings.

Some of it is because the trades were entirely off limits to me so I never got to learn how to make anything, and I want to learn how to make things – the program I’m in at Laney will teach me the most things, and I’m really excited about that.

My goal in life really is to kinda be a hack of all trades – know how to do (and teach) basically everything. Always be learning.

Another aspect of this is that unlike political science, history, writing, what-have-you, machining and everything about construction and industrial type stuff is something I have no context or frame of reference for, so all of the information I’m learning is fresh and new and exciting. I can feel new pathways form as I add all of these new skills and ways of understanding the world around me to everything else I know.

I really want to be a part of maintaining infrastructure, building housing, part of keeping cities going. I want to make really amazing art. Eventually, I want to go back and teach too.

I guess the long and short of it is, I chose the machining program because I wanted to learn something new, and do something really different.

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School and C-PTSD

When I started this semester I knew that C/PTSD was something that counted as a disability that I could get help for on campus. I didn’t (still don’t) know exactly what the Disability Services Dept. could do to help, but I was going into specifically a non-emotional-labor intensive program in hopes to avoid the obvious minefields. So I figured I’d be fiiiiine.

 

 

ahahahahahahahahahahaha

 

 

 

no

 

 

 

 

So the last post I wrote was read by a bunch of Laney staff because they saw my proposal flyers to get students thinking about the future of Laney instead of its destruction. A lot of the people on the list were really nervous about it so I chimed in to de-escalate and clarify my intentions. Out of nowhere this one person who works in the library (the coalition on campus is run largely by library staff, apparently) reignited it by being needlessly aggressive, hostile, and dehumanizing towards me because of my trans-ness.

The library technician interrogated my intentions, barely veiling the ask “who put you up to this?” because apparently having a different opinion than some of the opaque players at school is some kind of crime, and once he realized I was trans (by everyone calling me he), decided to actively misgender and dehumanize me by calling me a “he/she”. After I corrected my pronouns, he sent out another email identifying me as her. This is gender violence that I’m pretty sure violates Laney’s non-discrimination policy, however, there is no Title IX person to report this man to. He said this on an email where all of his bosses saw it as well, so I assume that the head librarians are fine with this, as no one has indicated otherwise to me.

So I’m in a position right now, where because of a minor disagreement with some of the Laney faculty and the needlessly violent reaction from one of their staff, the one place with a “safe space” symbol on campus is a place I do not feel safe.

I skipped school last week because after hours of being patronized to like a child who was incapable of having their own thoughts outside of group-think, culminating in being dehumanized and banned from the email group for politely clarifying my stance which was apparently too far opposite The Coalition, I was so disassociated I barely knew where my body was in space.

My crime, AGAIN, was that I had a different way of organizing and posted a flyer that in no way mentioned the coalition at Laney. The only thing I did was take responsibility so people working at Laney didn’t waste energy being worried about something they didn’t need to worry about.

If you’ve been reading here long you probably have an idea of the mines that exploded when that went down because this last week has emotionally mirrored my childhood church experience in more ways than I want to acknowledge and I have had debilitating back pain since Monday because that is how CPTSD works.

My therapist is out of town this week so all of this is living in my body right now and I’m trying to process everything and get the anxiety out of my back so I can exist without being in total agony again. It’s hard to physically write shit on paper when my right shoulder is too tense to move. So everything is about to be dumped here, proceed with caution.


School is like church, and churches are basically loose cults. I’ve spent so much time in cults and cult like environments. I didn’t anticipate school being so churchlike and authoritarian. After being admonished and patronized to for hours over email, I was given a chance to redeem myself (while being cautioned to take heed[of???]) which was probably meant with good intentions but because of my past experience with loaded language, really just made the following trauma spiral that much worse.

Take Heed and Redeem Yourself are two VERY SPECIFIC phrases that go to very specific places in my brain and definitely contributed to the two-day spiral where I was so out of my body I could barely function.

There’s no way for people to know these things. I don’t fault them. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a world of fallout to deal with internally because people decide injecting cultish christianity into their day to day with other people is fine and dandy.

Religious Trauma is A Thing and I have it mixed in with CPTSD and depression.

I’ve been going between depression/despair and anger at all of it.

It’s been hard to acknowledge and accept the various tolls that CPTSD takes on me in relation to being in school. Like, being too disassociated to function and therefore not in a good place to be machining or welding, or being in too much physical pain to move (because stress decided to manifest itself into a knot in my shoulder) and unable to focus enough to even attend class.

These are the things that kept me home half of the last two weeks. I sometimes feel ridiculous or petty for seemingly innocuous things taking so much out of me. But I can’t help that. I can’t help that when someone tells me I should do something to redeem myself I get sent back straight into my childhood where everything was life or death, where I had been kicked out of communities for minor disagreements. I can’t stop my brain from making those connections. I can’t will my past to not exist and to not excruciatingly impact my present and future. I can only roll with it and hope I come out better on the other side.

I didn’t expect school to hit so much of it though.


The other thing I’m coming to grips with is the feelings of being on campus now, after that one person from the library just started attacking my character and dehumanizing me out of nowhere. I don’t feel safe going to the library, even though probably I wouldn’t be hurt – something about knowing that there are library staff who don’t see me as human because we had a minor disagreement and they know I’m trans, just terrifies me and makes me not want to be anywhere near where they could be.

I never really understood what it was like, to have this social problem in this setting. Like, it seems impractical to not go to the campus library for two years. But my lizard brain just screams danger loudly when I’m on campus now and it’s a lot. I feel powerless, even though I know I’m not. There’s just so much that feels familiar that I know isn’t, but convincing myself that school is different from church after being beaten over the head with authoritarian organizers makes it a lot harder.

I have a lot more nuanced thoughts on a lot of things and keep going back and forth between writing about the stadium more and having literally no spoons and wanting nothing to do with it because fuck everything.

I guess I could have been less harsh about the coalition’s points needing work – maybe couched it more – but I stand by my points. There are legitimate reasons to oppose the stadium, a lot of the things listed are not any of them. I think whatever happens needs a lot of care and nuance in the implementation.

I think what I really want to do is write about how loaded the word gentrification is and why it’s really bad at describing what problems are, and makes solving it that much harder.

Simultaneously, I just want to crawl into a hole forever.


I got my schedule for the next semester and I’m coming to grips with having less free time than I do now. A lot of that is accepting that this means I won’t be able to do any activism work for a semester and that I can’t use it as a tether to outside reality anymore and it’s terrifying.

I think there’s a part of me that’s worried that the little place I carved for myself in organizing where I make magic happen won’t be there when I get back? Writing this out though, I’m fairly certain that’s not how it works nor is likely to go down.

My life has a lot of overlap – my social/hobby/organizing lives are almost a circle which is super convenient. Everyone is generally in one or two (mental) places so I can keep track of things easily. This is the first time I’ve had like a real set of meatspace friends that I do things with on a regular basis. It didn’t…occur to me that I could have more than like, one set.

Because why would it? I’ve never been here before. This is the part where the inherent isolatory nature of my homeschooling experience comes to bite me. It didn’t really occur to me that I didn’t have to choose. Like, all my not-school friends and family won’t suddenly disappear if I get sucked into school for a while…it’s not like getting kicked out of church and people stop talking to you.

So I don’t really have to be worried that I will lose access everyone I care about if I allow myself to be entirely consumed by school…which has sort of been an anxiety I’ve had and haven’t wanted to admit to.

 

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A’s, Laney, and Gentrification

There’s a lot of interesting politics at Laney right now. The Oakland A’s want to build a new stadium on land owned by the Peralta school district. Much of the faculty and staff at Laney are actively against the project. On it’s face, I don’t really care about the A’s stadium or understand why they need to build a new one when they could easily expand it by getting rid of some of their infinite parking. Most of the opposition to it is about the gentrification it will bring.

I’ve observed that in practice, many people who claim to be anti-gentrification advocates display that not by advocating nuance and care in the implementation of resources, but by outright trying to disallow opportunities, programs, services, and improvements to underserved communities. These same people will come down to city hall to block developments with affordable housing because it will change their view, garden shadow, or because they want to get something out of the deal that winds up killing the project. The way I have seen white people try to avoid gentrification is by segregating – actively avoiding integrating with underserved communities and only living near other people in the same or similar racial/socioeconomic status.

Gentrification as the destruction of underserved communities by the wealthy steamrolling over them is terrible and wrong.

Gentrification as road improvements, better transportation access and options, food, and new housing developments? These are things that improve people’s lives, not decimate them.

Access to these things because I live in an area with them improves my quality of life and chances of success as a poor QTPOC student. Gentrification in this sense is not bad, and is in fact helpful to the community as a whole.

When I hear people talk about gentrification they equate these two. They talk about the addition of new housing, improved transit, and access to opportunity as if these things are the same as literally destroying entire neighborhoods. The flyer that has been circulating campus demonstrates this.

“Construction Noise and Air Pollution”

First thing, is that Laney is known for its trade school. There is a literal construction pit right outside the cafeteria. I spend 4 hours a day in the machine shop or welding lab on campus adjacent to the construction area. A trade school complaining about construction noises seems ridiculous. Additionally, the proposed site isn’t on Laney’s actual campus, it’s on a Peralta District site that consists of warehouses and office space several blocks away. I think our construction site outside the cafeteria may be more disruptive than the proposed ballpark construction several blocks removed.

“…Upscale Restaurants, Shops, and Apartments Expand”

The cafeteria closes before I get out of my classes and I don’t often have time to walk multiple blocks to order lunch between them. As a result my food intake is shit which is terrible for my health in a program that demands a lot of physical activity. I don’t usually have the spoons to figure out dinner, let alone pack a lunch the night before. It seems like people are patting themselves on the back for starving Laney students by disallowing and vilifying restaurants and food trucks in the area adjacent to campus, because avoiding gentrification is more important than student health.

“Displacement of Local Community Residents”

There is currently no housing on the land the A’s would like to acquire – however, part of their proposed plan is to build housing including below market rate homes, and possibly even some dedicated housing for Laney students and faculty. Increased housing supply is something that is desperately needed in Oakland, regardless of who funds it. As far as I’m aware, no people will be removed from their existing homes for the A’s stadium to be built. Displacement is a terrible problem and misrepresenting the causes to further an agenda helps no one.

“Skyrocketing Rents in Surrounding Communities”

It’s a bit disingenuous to say that a stadium with a development plan that includes affordable housing built on land currently containing no homes is going to make us face skyrocketing rents. As if skyrocketing rents are something we don’t already have, and as if the solution to skyrocketing rents is to not increase the supply so we have the ability for those to go down in this capitalist hellscape. This is the one that gets my housing activist goat up in arms, because that’s not how it works.

Influx of Humans Existing Near Me in My Parking Spot

The other points about parking and crowd/traffic noise are problems that I feel are super solvable. Laney is a commuter school and some of my classmates drive hours in the morning just to get to class on time, half of which start at 8am. As much of a transit advocate as I am, I understand that people still do need cars and Laney needs to be able to handle student parking and the students who drive will be sitting in that traffic. We don’t live in a public transit/cyclist/scooter/pedestrian utopia yet, and most of the East Bay is car-centered, so I get that concern.

However, we have more than 6ft available to drill into before we hit water so we can dig underground and like, store cars there without loosing much room for people to exist. What I’m saying is, we can make parking garages. Additionally, it’s not like roads are unchangeable. I am not a traffic scientist, but the topic people are on about the most is roads and traffic so I feel confident in assuming many people are On That Problem Already.

While I’m really ambivalent about where the baseball stadium goes, I do give many shits about how and what the arguments are from my school; I have to say I’m disappointed. If these are the arguments to stop all movement from happening, they are not good enough, compelling enough, or even accurate. They are largely fear tactics, buzz words, and a misrepresentation of facts. The bullet points for being against the stadium just don’t hold water. We do know that the A’s appear willing to pour boatloads of money into our college system and the area surrounding it, however, and more money to the school directly benefits myself and other students.

The way I see the situation is thus: The Peralta Board has already decided at this point so instead of spending all of our energy fighting something that will happen, we should be using it to our advantage. Which means getting as much as we can out of the deal for the Peralta college district and especially Laney.

My thoughts are that Peralta should:

  1. Lease the land to the A’s – This will give the district a constant stream of income which would help all the schools in the district. Especially since funding for community colleges has been getting harder and harder to come by. It just seems to make the most sense and be in the best interest of the longevity of the school.
  2. Have some stipulations about Laney College Student/Faculty/Staff Only Parking – which will eliminate the “game goers are stealing mah parking!” anxiety.
  3. Negotiate creating dedicated BMR Student/Faculty Housing near campus.
  4. Think about some way that the A’s stadium construction and maintenance could be used to advantage Peralta students. i.e. Providing work/job experience/internships to students in relevant departments (like welding) and require prevailing wage.
  5. Some kind of fee or donation that would go to improving the infrastructure on Peralta campuses (bathrooms and elevator maintenance, longer cafeteria hours, etc)
  6. Look into creating a community land trust that protects existing housing nearby

I am not a policy analyst. I’m just a machine student & housing activist who wants to be able to eat between classes, live near school, and learn things.

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Imaginary Numbers

School has stepped on a lot more things than I thought it would. Depression has been really strong this week, things build. There’s a really steep social learning curve I wasn’t prepared for. I don’t know how school settings work – I didn’t know how to pass things forwards and backwards until the first week of class, last week I learned how lockers work, this week I learned how to get up to speed after being out of class due to injury. All these things most people have navigated by now are totally new to me.

Math itself takes up a lot of trauma space in my brain. The math for the trades program I’m in is really helpful because it’s directly adjacent to the math I’m doing in all my other classes, but it’s super similar to my high school math books. Thursday it almost directly mirrored the math book that got thrown at my face, which sent me into a spiral for about 15 minutes in the classroom while I just started at my book in horror. The wind was knocked out of me for a minute, and I just had to sit and wait for the wave of feels to pass before depression and anger got loud again.

I have to keep reminding myself that when teachers try to get you to be an independent learner and collaborate with your classmates they don’t mean that you can’t ask them for help or resources. This is a really difficult nuance for me to understand. I still interpret school as something with no leeway. Like: if you miss something, you’re fucked because you should have come or whatever. With no room to make up for things. Which I know isn’t how it works, but I’ve never seen how it does work.

My education was  “If I miss it, I’m fucked” because I had no support at all. I was the only student and teacher of my class.  I’m trying to navigate college with the bulk of my educational experience being isolated and solitary. I’ve never had classmates to help me, I don’t know how to study in a group, I don’t know how to learn socially.

I learned on my bedroom floor, alone, with no one to see me struggle. I’ve never been in a learning environment where like…..I’ve inevitably had to show people I don’t know stuff (none of us do). Learning things is really vulnerable, and doing it in front of other people on a whiteboard sometimes is a lot. It’s a hard thing for people generally, but most of have at least been in a classroom like that before.

Giving a presentation on a whiteboard to a group of 20 on something I’m prepared for feels completely different than trying to correctly place a dimension line in front of 20 people who are also trying to learn dimension lines.

It’s a different level of vulnerability I guess, and I’m not used to it. I choose to be vulnerable a lot, whenever I write, when I choose to talk to people about trauma. I have a lot of practice being vulnerable in this way, so it becomes a strength. Feeling vulnerable in relation to school is significantly less familiar. But seeing it on paper, it’s not that different. In the same way I choose to be vulnerable when I write (like this), I’m still going to class every day, I’m making that same choice to be vulnerable, the feeling just lives in a different place in my brain in this context.


This week we have wrapped up most of our lectures and are getting into the lab. I was supposed to weld on Wednesday but was getting x-rayed from dislocating my elbow on Labor Day instead. We’ve split into three groups in Machine Shop: Drill Press, Tool Grinding, and Precision Measuring.

Getting things to be within .0001″ fucking terrifies me, I don’t know that I am capable of that at all, so I decided to do the Precision Measuring part first because I think that will make working on the machines and making shit a lot easier. At the very least, I’ll be way more confident in my measuring ability. I am not extremely confident in my abilities to be a perfectionist; but then again, I guess that’s literally why tolerances exist so maybe I won’t suck.

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One Year Post Burn

It’s been almost exactly a year since returning from Burning Man. I learned a lot about myself in Black Rock City. I learned that I’m strong, capable, and so very very very trans.

I had felt reserved about being more masculine for some time before becoming one with the playa last summer. I had been actively repressing those pieces of me that wanted to escape and when I watched the temple burn I set them free.

While Victoria and I drove back from Reno in the rental car with the AC on high, dancing to chip tunes and The Black Keys, I wrote a list of things I wanted to do post-burn.

On that list was:

  • Switch off Lexapro
  • Start T
  • Remove Implant

I forgot about this list for several months, and rediscovered it shortly after starting T and tapering off Lexapro. Three weeks ago I got my implant removed because it was reacting with the testosterone and I was having hot-flashes constantly bookending my shot days.

This morning, the Sunday before labor day….or the day the Temple burns, I woke up, pulled 1ML of testosterone from a small vial, and injected it into my thigh. I remembered then, that it’s been a whole year since I really came to grips with the masculine aspect of myself, and I’ve just run with it.

I went to Burning Man last year and discovered I was trans, and it’s totally okay to be exactly who I am. Today, I took my 17th shot of Testosterone.

I’ve come so far since I burned my past in the Temple, and it’s been good.

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