Leaving Eorzea, Disc 3

Three weeks ago, I restarted playing a social video game I had stopped playing back in December. This was multi-pronged move. I missed my friends, and wanted to see them. I enjoy playing that game, and I perceived it to be a highly rewarding activity even when I wasn’t actively playing. I had some time to kill between then and my move to a new city.

I was also doing science, gathering data about whether or not I can play an MMORPG when my health is relatively good and things are looking up without it eating up more of my life than I wanted it to–I’d previously used MMORPGs as escape hatches from a life I needed to escape, but then I struggled to close the hatch when I needed to return to IRL. The data suggests I shouldn’t be playing right now, but it’s complicated.

Final Fantasy Fourteen keeps me in touch with friends who live far away, and we have fun and do fun stuff and our relationships grow from the time we spend in game. I get to be a community builder among trans fam in there. I lead hunts against giant monsters and make people (myself included) rich (in game currency). I get to have an approximately female body of my own design. I can get my teaching feels by mentoring new players and helping ppl learn mechanics and overcome obstacles we have a shared interest in toppling. My gender is never questioned or suspect. I can alter my appearance with an ease I wish I enjoyed IRL. I can be out and feel 114% safe about that, and the communities I am a part of are full of badass queer allies who more often than not shut down hate before I get a chance to, though the hate is so rare the allies don’t have much to do. The game validates my effort and accomplishments via simple and intricate systems of growth and reward. Directly, it combats my gender dysphoria (somewhat) and helps other mental health issues I have (somewhat) through socialization, validation of my lived gender, and providing a sense of forward motion when I don’t feel I have any IRL.

But the costs of these benefits is pretty steep. In the few recent weeks I’ve been playing, I’ve felt the game competing with almost every other project I’ve wanted to work on and sucking up precious energy I would otherwise devote to them. I haven’t done anything new to learn how to code since February. It’s taking time away from my freelancing gig and interfering with productivity goals I set for myself. I haven’t been writing (outside of the game). I haven’t been reading (outside of the game). I haven’t been cooking nearly as much as I was before (outside of the game). I haven’t been drumming as much as I was before. I haven’t been sleeping as well because the game is keeping me up late, or I’m already up late and the game keeps me up a little later, but whatever’s happening my circadian rhythm is more chaotic than it is without the game. I haven’t been leaving the house as much, even for short walks. I’ve gained back some of the weight I lost in the last two months, likely from spending so much time sitting and eating processed food out of a box or the freezer instead of stuff I prepare on my own. My back gets sore and sometimes my legs swell up from sitting in my shitty task chair all day, either working on the freelance thing or gaming.

I HAVE made forward motion on some large-scale important-type things while playing FF14. I found short-term work, and I worked it, and I met my deadlines. I cooked some badass soup and some more beautiful veggie quesadillas and saw a doctor about my hormones and went to therapy and returned a pair of glasses that kept fucking up my nose. I real talked with my mom. I packed. I took walks. I planned my upcoming move some more with my future roommie. I drummed. I worked for my aunt. I stop gaming to do all these things, and that felt like a success.

But that’s kind of my insight here:

>>I had to stop gaming to do these things, and stopping gaming to do stuff I needed/wanted to do felt like a success.<<

Doing normal stuff I want to do, that I enjoy doing, and taking care of business I need to take care of, and getting my life back together financially, can all be successes, sure. But I have to work extra hard to do them when I have FF14 in my life. And some things I’ve just stopped doing because FF14 is more rewarding than them in the short-term, like writing or submitting my work for publication or reading challenging stuff or learning to code or being awake in the daytime so I can drum without getting the cops called on me or soaking up horrible karma from being that drummer neighbor.

I love FF14. It is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done, and its living world, Eorzea, is so beautifully rendered sometimes that I get goosebumps and have transcendent experiences I usually only have when surrounded by natural beauty in the sandstone and sunshine high Arizona desert or deep in a lichen-dripping old-growth Oregon forest. FF14 honors some of my values, like community and compassion, spontaneity and playfulness, being a healing and restorative presence, building independence and taking charge of my decisions, generosity and reciprocity, and femmeing the fuck out. But it doesn’t honor others, like curiosity about the real world, taking care of my health and body, having new experiences, nurturing my intellect, my allegiance to art and participating in artistic communities, interpersonal bravery, being vulnerable and trusting, or a warts-and-all and ideally fearless self-awareness. It makes doing other things I want to do more difficult, and though, again, it is very fulfilling to play, it’s just not worth the sacrifices it asks of me.

I’d like to be the sort of player where I only play on weekends, or the kind who pops in for a few hours each evening to run a few instances or zerg a few hunt trains. But either I don’t have the self-control for that right now, or the allure of the game is just too immersive for me to play like that. I log in thinking I’ll just water my garden, check if my stuff is selling on the market, and dip out before the top of the hour, and next thing I know the sun has set and I’ve lost half a day and my deadlines are still pressing and I’m kinda hungry but I can’t eat anything I spent the day hunting.  So I uninstalled tonight.

I played other games in the last few months when I took my break from FF14. None of them were MMOs, most were RPGs, and they were all infinitely more easy to put down and walk away from when I had the urge to do other things, or when responsibility demanded I do other things. I healed a lot in those months, in real life, and though I don’t feel my health dramatically backsliding right now, I can see some of the positive habits I developed slipping while I traipse across Eorzea, fingers ticking at my keyboard.

This isn’t a pan on all games. I still love video games, and I’m still the person I am today because I played the games I played when I was growing up. Video games can be high art, even literature. The medium can produce moving experiences and improve people’s lives just like reading or sculpture or graffiti or music can. I’m a better person because of the empathy they’ve helped me develop, the bravery and determination and introspection and self-care and authenticity their characters modeled and invited me to emulate in my own life, the rebellious speaking of truth to tyrannical power beneath overwhelming odds I underwent as part of the normal course of life in those games. They’ve helped me learn to analyze systems, and see chains of influence stretching across the world, between people, within people. Everything we do, this daily dehumanizing capitalist money-chasing, the debt, the income, the ownership, the resource-trading, the resource destroying, the value-making, the politicking, the rhetoricking, the world-shaping, language, is games. My project right now is being very intentional about what, and how, I play.

Right now, immediately now, this girl has other shit she needs to focus on, and in the game that is me building a more fulfilling and more livable life for myself via Capitalist Acquisition 2018: Poverty Edition, FF14 functions as a major distraction from the paths I would put myself on. So I am putting it aside, and doing more IRL again. IRL has been pretty grand the last few months, and I’d hate to sacrifice that for something I know is rewarding, but not as rewarding as reality has been.


Need Help with Medical Expenses, Good Riddance 2017

TW: depression, suicide, body image

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted last–a lot has happened. Here’s the short version: I lost my job as a university lecturer, then I lost my job as a professional scorer (of standardized tests) and moved back in with my mother, who is a far cry from the best ally a trans girl could ask for (she hung my deadname stocking on the mantle this Xmas, for instance, and told me I probs couldn’t go to a store for a bra fitting because “I don’t think they let men into the women’s dressing rooms” >.<).

I learned the antiandrogen I had been taking, spironolactone, a blood pressure medication not designed to be taken long term by trans women yet also the most prescribed antiandrogen, basically should never be taken by anyone. If you’re trans and reading this, one of the best things you can do for your health (according to contemporary research) is to throw you spiro in the trash, go back to your endo for new labs in a month, and adjust your E intake from there. Spiro causes depression, visceral fat retention, belly fat retention, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT, heightened background cortisol levels which mean heightened stress response to everything, and some other stuff I can’t remember atm. I was on the highest possible dose of it. For three years. And–here’s the kicker–the entire class of drugs (antiandrogens) aren’t necessary for trans women. You can control your estrogen levels simply by adding E. Of course, I’m not a doctor myself and can’t dispense medical advice, but the evidence was convincing enough for me. It’s pretty clear I’ve been receiving substandard medical care since I began my transition, and that every other endocrinologist I’ve seen since my first one hasn’t known what they’re doing, otherwise I would have been off spiro a long time ago. Had I been receiving the best care, I never would have been on it.

The good news is, I’m taking progesterone now, and have been off spiro for about two months now. I’m starting to feel a bit more like myself, too, which is welcome. I felt the cognitive impairment pretty hard this last year–had been wondering why everything felt so disorienting and difficult to grasp, even accounting for everything happening on the national political scene.

It has not been a good time to be alive. I attempted suicide in February, in September, and around this past Thanksgiving. I’m seeing a therapist I like now. Have been for a month or two. We’re making real progress on long term trauma I’ve been carrying around since I was abused as a kiddo, and she’s helping me get plugged in with the local trans scene here, and helping me find affordable medical care beyond that one endocrinologist who isn’t really affordable and was kind of a jerk–I tried to tell him what I had learned about spiro but he dismissed my claims outright. I didn’t bother to show him the articles I printed; he didn’t seem interested in hearing anything new. So I’m filling out paperwork now to instead get treatment from this new endo who practices a bit of a drive from my mother’s house. On the upside, the new endo is apparently trans-aware, does sliding scale appointment costs so I could be paying $20-30 per appointment instead of $150, and does comprehensive healthcare instead of just endocrinology. I haven’t had a general practitioner doc since I left graduate school two and a half years ago, so I have some health business I can catch up on with him.

I am still unemployed. I have been so depressed/nonfunctional/suicidal for the last few months that the prospect of work has seemed beyond my reach. Far beyond it. Leaving the house has been its own challenge, but it’s getting easier with therapy. I don’t want to be/cannot be a teacher in the American education system anymore–it pays too little and works you too much and increasingly doesn’t provide benefits or even a living wage and you can’t turn it off when you go home at night and nobody’s happy with what’s happening in schools atm–teachers, students, parents, admin (maybe admin is happiest), everyone has legitimate complaints about how things are and where they are moving, yet they keep moving in an anti-human, anti-teacher, anti-student, anti-learning direction. Otherwise I’d likely be adjuncting somewhere in town.

The biggest reason I can remember that motivated me to try to die in February was that I just didn’t want to go back to work the next day. I didn’t want to stand in front of a classroom in my ill-fitting trans body sweating through my ill-fitting trans clothes, trying and failing to look like I knew what I was talking about, asking questions I couldn’t answer to my own satisfaction and feeling like a total fraud even though I was/am SO QUALIFIED to be there doing exactly that, talking about literature and gender and writing and rhetoric and contemporary culture with people who at least have to pretend to be interested in what’s happening in front of them, even if one thing in front of them has breasts and a beard and a low-register voice and her pants don’t fit and her rainbow belt digs into the belly spilling over her pants like a squeezed balloon. Teaching as a tran in Tennessee felt like I was going before an alt-right firing squad some days, especially in my gender class, like my existence was on the line each time I made a lesson plan, on the line getting misgendered at the Chipotle for lunch and at the Starbucks in the morning and sometimes even by students in class and then having to go and ask questions like “name one gendered interaction that happened to you today” and watch the girls write a whole page while the boys are chewing the ends of their pencils still wondering what gender is (from week one) (hint: it involves labels and expectations and is actually pretty complicated and varies per culture but ultimately it’s all bullshit and we make it up as we go along and it would probably be a lot easier if we got rid of it because ultimately everybody loses at gender). Wondering which of them would write complaints to the dean because I brought up 45 in class this term, like last, and could I avoid that, and how was wanting to avoid that affecting my teaching, and what the fuck is happening in American higher ed anyway where that’s a thing that happens.

I had gone to a writer’s conference the weekend before, a bastion of all things academic and writerly, where inclusivity and diversity is preached, and everyone is a nerd nerding out and the nerdiest nerds nerd out so hard you can smell it. Yet I felt so obliquely alone that whole conference, surrounded by other writers talking about writer stuff in a place my difference is said to be valued, so alone that I didn’t go to any offsite readings (where the real fun is supposed to be at gatherings like these), so alone that getting home with my crappy luggage I didn’t want to unpack and sitting on my bed covered in cat hair I’m allergic to but I tolerate because it means I get some company from time to time, staring at my wrist, actually alone then, away from the sea of inclusivity that felt like but was not true aloneness, looking at the floor and the vein running along my forearm into the dark and bloody recesses of my hand, that moment felt like I was an echo of myself, cast over a still lake that refused to vibrate with my motion, fading into the anonymous dark of night that would swallow and erase me–terrifyingly alone and woefully inert, so aware of how brief life is and how fragile we all are and how the fuck was I going to face them like this again tomorrow? I felt like an echo of myself, and I had felt that way for years. I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. I didn’t know how to not feel like that anymore. But I had to plan a lesson for the next day of classes still and I didn’t have the energy to, so I went to bed. I woke up cursing and felt like I had already failed everything I needed to do that day, things that used to be second nature. I didn’t know why they felt so difficult now but clearly I didn’t belong here anymore, so I went to the bathroom and called in sick (obvi I was sick) and tried to open my wrist with a kitchen knife, the kind with teeth you save for steak or chicken or a tough-ass baguette. Clearly–clearly–this is not the profession for me. At least not right now. Maybe not ever. Maybe it never was.

My brainstorming for other possible careers has not been very fruitful. The only things I seem to want to do anymore without being prodded to are play video games, play drums, listen to music (sometimes), and (rarely) write.Last I checked, it’s really difficult to make enough money to live from any of those things. I am trying to be really patient with myself–I have a lot of healing I need to do, and this is one of the darkest periods in my life, so I have plenty of reasons to take this slow and prioritize my healing. Capitalism has other plans, though. Bills beckon. Doctors cost money. Food costs money. And the world has plans too. The sun rises and sets no matter when I go to sleep. But I’m still alive, and getting better, so I am optimistic I’ll find something, given enough time.

My new project is learning to cook. Quesadillas to the face. Next up: beans. Want to gain more control of my eating, as a way to get back in touch with my body and exercise more control over my health.

Despite the odds, and despite the prohibitive cost of medical care in America, I am healing. But I need more funds if I am going to continue healing enough that I can eventually find work and get back on my feet and lead a more self-determined life again (and leave my mother’s house for a less-transphobic place). That’s the reality right now. I can’t support myself yet, but I need real support.

I have a gofundme set up for donations to help with the cost of medical care.  Feel free to share the campaign. Please donate yourself if you are able. Any little bit helps.


This has been a long and meandering life-update kind of post, and also a soul-vomit kind. My book is due to the publisher in a month or two, and I get a break from an editing project soon, so I may write more in coming weeks.

Health comes first. Thanks for reading, and happy new year.

National Pride Month 2017

This Pride month, I remember how much of the American LGBTQ+ movement’s progress has cost the lives and livelihood of real people.
Last year’s Orlando massacre is still fresh in my memory, still real, still keeps me indoors when I want to go out. I felt it from miles away, alone in a tiny apartment, in a Southern city I knew perhaps three to five other people in, fleeing transphobic family and fleeing another in a series of transphobic housing situations, and trying to start a life in whatever place would have me. I go through periods where I can be kind of a shut-in, but Orlando undid the small confidences I had built that helped me leave my house to do things like buy groceries, shop for clothing, take walks, ride my bicycle, make eye contact with strangers. It did not create, but it did exaggerate very real agoraphobia and social anxiety, and it really undermined my ability to trust the essential goodness I want to believe lives in other people enough to not think they mean me harm. Perhaps being able to think other people don’t mean you harm is a privilege I can no longer claim. I called a suicide hotline later in the month, needing to talk to someone about how vulnerable and afraid and targeted and defenseless and helpless and hopeless I felt.
That fear of the outside world seems very, very rational and very, very real when the longer you live, the more it seems like America wants to define itself by how many people like you it can kill because of who you are, how many lives America can make more difficult and outright ruin and even end at the policy level, how much care America can refuse to provide those who need it, how alienated and anxious and depressed and brimming with self-loathing America can work to make its queer citizens.
If I try to do anything when I write about my experiences, on the rhetorical level, I try to document and report and explore and pinpoint and give names to the effects of these practices, of this culture of hate, on the individual. I want that to be enough to work as resistance, but I know it isn’t.
The world will be there. We can change it. These days, this is where I find hope.
That is what’s on my mind this Pride month, which our current administration refuses to acknowledge exists. The gesture, or lack thereof, seems at once so laughable and so sad. Trying to pretend–believing–millions of people don’t exist, pretending we don’t deserve basic human rights, doesn’t make us disappear, doesn’t take away our humanity. But it does wound, and it does encourage other people to do the same. For better and worse, I try to take those wounds and turn them into better things, like community, like love, like art, like compassion, whatever I can with what I have.
I have been out as a trans woman for five years. I was twelve when I knew I was trans, but it took fifteen years to admit it to myself and to feel ok about my transness enough to tell other people. I have only recently begun exploring my sexuality enough to know I am bisexual or somewhere thereabouts.

So this Pride month, I am going to go to Pride (my first ever). And I am going to look people in the eye. And I am going to trust the throng of people I will let myself be vulnerable with–my beautiful queer family–to look back, and to invite me closer.

(reposted from my facebook)

Big News

I have news, and it’s perhaps the best news an author can get!

Sundress Publications has picked up my debut collection of poems, The Body, Lined with Diamonds! I am absolutely thrilled to be working with Sundress. They make beautiful books, and are wonderful people. Tentative release date of late next year!


Bicycles in the Desert

Last night I dreamed we rode bikes through the desert, from the evening through dusk and into the morning. It was beautiful. I mentioned how beautiful it was. Dream-me knew beauty, and me-me thinking back on the dream knows it was beautiful too. We discussed how orange the oranges in the sand were, which blue the blues overhead, the sunsets blazing purple and pink and blood and honey into the clouds, the sky on fire, dawn warming the frozen out of the air. Gazing at a scrubby city from up on a high hill, its grid of empty streets, spackling of lamps going out as the sun floated higher. The air like the cool side of a pillow. The dust crackling quiet beneath our tires. The road barely a hum in our frames.
Then we got hungry and went to a Papa Johns but nobody would look me in the eye or answer my questions, and I kept going from person to person asking to pay them for food they wouldn’t provide. I didn’t know what was up until we were on our bikes again. It was because I was visibly trans, and my visibility made everyone uncomfortable. The realization made me feel we were in danger.
We got on our bikes and headed back to the car, and I lost you almost immediately on a particularly dark patch of road. You took a turn before I did, a car passed between us, and you disappeared. I figured you rode ahead. I rode through a grassy small town for a minute, hit a steep hill, got off the bike, and stared at a beaten down house. White paint peeling off the weatherbeaten clapboard, little weeds growing up through the porch, an off-kilter telephone pole slacking the lines in the backyard, shingles slowly lifting against the hot wind. I looked back, couldn’t recognize anything (the desert was gone), and woke up.

WTF at the UWM

Angry post: heartbroken that a trans sister had to go through this in the name of bullshit nazi free speech rhetoric on campus. I’m reading the student’s letter to her college president and being like, “yes, preach it sister,” and also being like “why can’t so many cis people see the difference between harassment and free speech when it comes to blatantly transphobic attacks like this?”
So, cis people: read her account of what it’s like to be constantly and actively misgendered toward the letter’s end. Then tell me I’m making too big a deal out of people getting my name and pronouns right (family has told me this). Tell me I shouldn’t spend money on lasering my beard off (family has told me this, former friends have told me God made me a certain way and that shouldn’t change). Tell me I need to be more patient with my misgendering family members (family). Tell me I should just “smile more” to life hack my way into something resembling improved mental health (friends). Her account is better than anything I’ve ever tried to write about being misgendered.


On (Alternate) Realities

*Note* this post is in parts reflective, in parts analytical, and dwells in the abstract

Yesterday I canceled my subscription to the Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game I play (Eorzea, I miss you already).

Partly because I want to do other things. I miss reading casually, new stuff, in the afternoon, in bed late into the night. I miss being fit, and doing fit person things, a casual jog, a quick walk after dinner. I miss eating well. I have been wanting to learn to cook new things, for years: Thai food, Mexican, Greek. I miss my real life friends. I miss having what feels like a real life. I have let the game consume all these things.

Partly because the appeal of alternate realities, alternate identities, alternate systems of effort and reward…I think I have let them color my real life more than I was aware.

Party because I want to stop believing that not-reality is superior to reality.

Rather than participate in an alternate reality as an attempt to attain what lived reality does not provide (gender congruence, financial stability, no fear of discrimination, direct recourse against it if it occurs, cisgender privilege and/or passing privilege, feelings of independence, of strength, of toughness, of forward motion, of control, of accomplishment, of esteem, of belonging), I want to take the energy I devote to the game and apply it to my real life again. I want to locate those things within it, and not need to jump into a proxyverse to get them. I want to get them in the life I wake up to instead of the life I log in to.

Here is my bias: waking reality is garbage, overall. We’re duped into trading our health, our youth, our time, our labor, our lives, for pittances that don’t provide what we are promised they will. Industrialized societies force humans to partake in sociopolitical systems that dehumanize, isolate, exhaust, and break us, as individuals, as groups. The few benefit at the expense of the many. We work and work and get nowhere and nothing changes. American life is a scam. Our species is destroying the biosphere in the name of cheap profit–we cannot live without a biosphere; profit is meaningless without a biosphere; yet on we march deeper into suffocating oblivion. The legal system, the stories we tell each other, the expectations we are taught about people, the language itself, our American culture has no room for trans people in it. We are fighting for room. We are making it, slowly. The constant fight sucks. It frustrates. It exhausts on top of all the other exhausting things.
Still, knowing all this, I also know I used to enjoy reality much more than I have in recent years. I want to believe I can do that again. Even in these apocalyptic times, I want to believe reality can sustain me, like it used to. Even with all the garbage.

I am not sure how this will happen. I keep thinking of that line from Rogue One, “rebellions are built on hope.” My rebellion here is returning a significant portion of my being to reality. My hope is that reality will not crush me and drive me away like it so often has. Or that if reality crushes me, I will become better from the experience of learning how I fall apart, and how I come back together, and how to remain coherent in all this disorienting madness.

Forgive me for being abstract and figurative. I suppose I am rather abstract and figurative.

Redistributing my realities means more than “I’m stopping playing video games for a while.”

Staying as deep and as long in game as I have means more than “I haven’t been the same person since my father died four years ago and I used video games to create some form of solace after, and I miss the person I was before.” More than “I get to be as close to cisgender as I will ever be, in-game, which consoles my gender dysphoria in a significant way.” More than “The small achievements I earn in-game convince my major depressive disorder to cool out.” More than “Social interaction from a relatively safe place at my keyboard behind my avatar in a world designed around cooperation and sharing helps my anxiety disorder avoid triggering.” More than “I get to be around affirming people in an affirming environment as long as I stay logged in.” More than “In-game realities have, for years, made more sense than out-of-game realities, so I stuck around.”

Leaving that behind means I am attempting to reclaim my lived experience from a force I consciously sacrificed much of it to in exchange for comfort.

This experience, then, will be necessarily discomforting. I hope the discomfort will be useful. I hope, after some time, I can learn to feel more like myself again, without the necessity of an avatar.

National Coming Out Day

I came out to myself as transgender four years ago, when I lived in Flagstaff, meaning I decided to try accepting my transness instead of continuing to fight, ignore, and deny it. This was a birthday present I gave myself. I was twenty-seven. It was April. I was still reeling from a September breakup caused by coming out to the person I was dating, and I had been dealing with the emotional damage by, well, being tremendously depressed and drunk for most of the next year.

Coming out to myself was a moving-on gesture. I thought of it as simplifying. It meant “Now I don’t have to lie to anyone about this part of me ever again.” Continue reading

Fear and Passing In Gameland


Know what? Ever since I got back from Minneapolis last weekend, I haven’t worked on my voice at all.

I don’t want to. I feel like I have to (in order to pass, in order to feel safer, in order to access the privileges afforded cis women). Feeling like I have to makes me not want to do it.

I don’t want to feel like my transness is some kind of performance, like performance is an innate part of it. I don’t want it to feel forced, I don’t want it to feel like something I can fuck up. If it feels forced and tenuous, it stops being fun, it stops feeling…something like authentic, whatever that means.

I don’t want my appearance, or my manner, to feel like something I do, especially something I do to appease anyone, something for anyone besides myself.

So I don’t know where I’m at with my voice anymore.


A friend told me years ago that the most radical thing (or one of them) an oppressed person can do is to live as if ze is not oppressed. Meaning to afford oppressive forces no quarter on shaping one’s existence, or to disregard those forces and demand to be treated fairly when they arise.

I’d like to live in a world where no matter what kind of body you have, or voice you speak with, or clothes you wear or can afford, people treat you with dignity. I do not think this world is that world. I think it wants to be there though.

I see trans people on facebook, on twitter, and often I see images of trans people who look super natural and at ease in bodies that aren’t easily categorized. They look like they can touch something vital  and good and fulfilling that way. I am assuming of course. I am assuming they are not-passing intentionally. I assume if they wanted to, they could pass, though I know this is wrong of me, to make an assumption about someone, and to assume passing is possible where perhaps it is not.

I want to be one of those badasses who lives as if ze doesn’t waste any time caring about passing. I used to know what that was like, before I started transitioning. It was infinitely easier. OF course, then, I didn’t have to try. I didn’t even know what passing was.

I want to be radical and let my body act as a message, as confounding evidence against the gender binary, as evidence of the value of femininity, as evidence of gender equality, of gender fluidity, against biological determinism, yatta yatta. But I don’t actively encourage those messages in my appearance. Maybe they’re there whether I want them to be or not. I would like to be IN YOUR FACE trans. For now, I am not. I am afraid, anxious, somewhere on the spectrum between reasonably and unreasonably fearful/anxious. Maybe that’s the anxiety disorder doing the thinking. Maybe that’s the transphobia I internalized when I was growing up in a transphobic home.

Considering I am trans, I would like to unlearn that very pointed and particular fear. I would like to reach into my skull and pluck out the bad circuits, the ones that get caught in paralyzing feedback loops and keep me indoors and afraid of nothing more than phantoms I invent and situations I recreate in my mind’s eye.

No good comes from this fear of and disdain for myself that keep me from celebrating myself. I would unlearn them as swiftly as possible.


I have been thinking about fear a lot recently. How it shapes me and my decisions. I am learning fear is a significant dimension of my transition so far, larger after the PULSE massacre, larger when examining possible futures after the presidential election (i have not decided how to vote yet). I would like it to be a smaller part of my life. More useful, less of a barrier.

Recently, the leader of my guild (a loose group of gamers who share a chat box and help each other out in-game) said some transphobic stuff. This was a tremendous surprise, because this was the nicest, most welcoming, and most helpful group of gamers I had ever met online. I probably jumped between twenty or so guilds before I stopped playing World of Warcraft this spring. I left them all because of insensitive and hateful language that nobody seemed to care about. I don’t play games to invite more hate and judgment into my life.

She wanted me to not post about anything related to my trans experience in guild chat. I had mentioned something about trying to change my voice in guild chat, since I was out to the guild already, but some people were curious. Many players thought I was male. Some said it was because of how I write. I guess I don’t pass even when my body isn’t a factor.

When I pressed the guild leader for why, she invoked religion. To her, trans people are violating our bodies–given to us by god under some sort of unspoken contract–by changing them, because god makes everyone perfect and so undergoing a gender transition is sacrilege and *gasp* offensive. I told her that made me feel silenced and hurt. My attempts to educate her (I was trans all my life before I started transitioning, you don’t need to change your body to be trans, what about puberty, what about illness, what about healing, what about medicine, doesn’t Jesus’ apparent message of love apply to everyone, lepers, sinners, prostitutes, the ill, thieves, etc) of course failed. I expected them to. Her mind was made up before we started typing at each other. And if the Trump nomination means anything, it means that in some circles, information, facts, and truths no longer change people’s minds. At one point, she said something like, “I don’t hate you, I just think you’re defying the will of god.” I told her I would probably leave the guild, and did.

I felt awful. Existentially disappointed. This was the best guild I had been in ever. It felt like a family. I’d been in it for three months but I felt like I knew people enough to be open with them, to be out with them, vulnerable.

I spoke to some other guildies who were on, because I needed help figuring out how to leave, and they expressed surprise and mild outrage, said they wanted to have words with her.

I learned from a friend a few days later that there was a voice chat (like a conference call through a separate communication client) between the guild leader, a bunch of officers, and other members about what had gone down. Some officers (high-ranking members of the guild with responsibilities like recruitment, raid organizing, managing the guild bank, etc) stood up for me, called her on her hate, and left.

A few of us banded together (classic RPG lingo) and formed our own guild, to make an lgbtq-safe space. I’m still friends with the folks who went a separate way after they left, and we chat on occasion, help each other with in-game stuff, run dungeons together. You know. Normal gamer stuff

I did not expect people to stand up for me. It was really refreshing to learn they did. Gamer culture is notoriously awful at inclusivity, at sexism, at queer-bashing. Women are basically invisible in gamer spaces. Trans women and other lgbtq folks  might as well not exist outside of the epithets players insult each other with. To be a part of a space where I don’t have to fear that is a big deal.

Words hurt. They have consequences. As a writer, my existence is a consequence of words.

I spent the better part of three months deciding when would be a good time to tell the guild I was trans. I asked for female pronouns a few weeks in, but I worried about outing myself, though I wanted to be out, to have more authentic, whatever that means, relationships, to not have to erase parts of my history or mark them as unshareable.

Visibility matters. The more visible trans people are, the more acceptance we create, the more normal we seem, the more immediate trans issues and lives can become to people who don’t otherwise know or encounter any of us. It’s a very, very small way to help the movement for equality, but it’s there and it’s real.

I don’t want to worry about being out any more. Yet I feel I have to. The trans people I admire don’t appear to.

Now that I’m in a safe space in-game, where most of my social interaction occurs these days, that’s that much less worrying to undergo. That fewer things to fear.


I need to go shopping for clothes tomorrow for an interview. Though I would like the clerks to treat me a certain way and to call me certain things and not others, I will try not to care.

The Voice

So I couldn’t sleep again tonight, which led me to Youtubing transition stuff.

My transition has been stalled–beyond buying clothes, finding a doc in StL to run labs and renew my meds in April, and that one laser appointment I had when I visited Corvallis in May–since I lost health insurance over a year ago. It has since become mountingly frustrating to do, well, almost anything that involves interacting with people who aren’t trans, friends, on the other side of a computer, or allies (read: 99% of the public, from pizza guys [almost always guys] to baristas to bus drivers to librarians to clerks to servers to people sitting next to me and not doing anything in coffee shops to nice folks striking up conversation in passing at the grocery store or at a wedding or really everywhere).

Thing is, I’m a social creature, or at least I used to be, and I don’t want to let that go (I’ve tried and I can’t get it off me). I’m still trying to figuring out what I’m doing with makeup (almost nothing), which can get expensive and bring its own set of frustrations (why won’t my eyelids stop trembling and just ACCEPT the eyeliner?!). So I’m trying some new stuff with my voice, because it’s free.

I don’t have the deepest voice, but my natural voice is firmly in the male register. It used to be deeper. I used to WANT it to be deeper, so I could hide better in the maleness I encouraged people to read onto me. Smoking made it way deep when I was an undergrad (eight years smoke-free this month yaaaaay!). It’s better now, but I still feel it outs me perhaps more than any other gender cue (which produces more anxiety than it should, but that’s a separate project). I have felt there was little I could do about my voice. I mean, even on days I shave my face and my pits and my legs, I can’t shave my voice. I can’t tweeze my voice into a better shape, or take pills to alter the shape and feel and proportion and chemistry of my voice.

Youtube sez it takes months for a new voice to feel natural, but I found some vids with some tips, and in just a night now I can speak in a less masculine register (I had already been paying attention to inflection and pitch variations, which are FUN) and sound way closer to what feels good

….for a few minutes. Folks, talking is HARD. My throat muscles get sore. Not my throat. My throat is amazing (well I think it is), but it’s the muscles that shape my voice that are getting sore. Fast. So while I might have found a place close to the WHERE of my voice (above my Adam’s apple, but closer to it than to my jaw, for now), the HOW will take some time.

I’m writing this for myself, to have a record of how my transition went, and so it can maybe be a resource for allies and other trans folks in a similar position(s) as myself. But I’m also writing this particular post for my friends and fam and other people in my life I see often.

I may sound different for a bit.

In the past, I probably would want feedback on something like this. I asked some of my MFA cohort for feedback on my outfits and my use of makeup when I started transitioning two summers ago. While that was tremendously useful then, and I totally appreciate their help, transition-related feedback has become less useful.

This is partly me wanting to resist something I’ve noticed people do (people here means “folks who aren’t in my MFA cohort,” since I don’t see y’all except, well, almost never, because the reality of geography D:). People comment on my appearance way more often than they did before I was transitioning, and think they’re helping.

I know that’s something American culture does to women–teaches us our appearance is the most important part of us. Fuck that and I hate it. It’s objectifying, degrading, insulting, damaging, and expensive. However, my appearance IS an important part of my life right now, for safety reasons. It can also be fun. I would like it to be more fun.

So in a way, that sort of attention is helping, and in a way, it isn’t. Though appearance comments might be intended as confidence-boosters, the attention they draw to how I look recently makes me feel more uncomfortable than before we started talking about my appearance, which is something I frequently feel I have less control over than I probably do, and is something that matters more than it ever did (though it shouldn’t).

If I want to talk about my voice, or how my clothes fit, or my hair, I will. And I have! And what I’ve learned so far has been useful and awesome.

But not now. This is gonna take a while, and probably suck for a bit. I don’t need to know you know my voice sucks when I already know it.

HOWEVER: people I spend a lot of time with will know how I talk, will probably hear ticks I’m not aware of. My last therapist once told me my voice drops especially lower when I’m thinking aloud or contemplating something. So I realize some people may be in a better position to tell me how I sound than me.

I am using a voice recorder. I’m reading my poems aloud in femme-voice and playing them back, so the exercise becomes useful for my writing too, and so I’ll want to do it more. I also really like my reading voice (I have no shame in saying I love the sound of my own voice…I’m a writer, a poet of all things, and this is a blog. Writer clichés, fulfilled!). My current reading voice took years to develop, and I can’t replicate the type of fluidity and…precision of tone with my femme voice that I can produce with my male voice, so I’m entertaining keeping male-voice around for reading events until femme-voice is ready for something as demanding as that.

Voice recorder is helping me learn how high/low in my throat the pitches live, and being able to locate them physically on my body has helped a lot already, on day one of the voice project. Knowing where they live can also be a good way to gauge my progress: as I push into higher registers, I’ll be able to feel them.

But would I ever have noticed that my voice gets low when I’m thinking aloud or contemplating something, by using voice recorder? Never.

So maybe some feedback here could be useful. Maybe it’s best to just say I’ll ask for feedback if I want it, so please withhold any critiques unless the subject is there already. Yeah.

(But if you want to lavish me with compliments, tbh, it’s been a shit month and my self-esteem could use a boost)

Voice Feminizing Links!



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a02_j7PGTPI    (i think her voice and mine are kinda close, our male voices. listen at her go!)


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