Leaving KC

Life Update: I (hopefully) start hormone injections with a doctor I trust in St. Louis next month. As it could take months of labs to test my levels regularly and to learn how to do injections safely and reliably on myself, I will be moving back in with my mother in St Louis.
 
The irony of re-entering what last year was a life-threatening living environment, so that this year I can address my hormone deficiency in order to save my life (or at the very least remove the barriers living with a hormone deficiency erects before my efforts to build a livable life, dispel its constant debuffs) is not lost on me. Given my means, this is the only realistic solution I can access at the moment. So, I go to St. Louis and live with my mother again while adjusting my hormone levels. Once hormones are set and my vitality is back, I plan the next move. I don’t have the means to get my stuff back to St Louis either, so KC friends are holding on to my belongings while I get my health in order.
 
Depending on how the hair removal Groupons shuffle out, I may or may not be travelling back and forth from Kansas City once a month in order to do hair removal while being based in St Louis.
 
Voice lessons start next week with money from the fundraiser. Thank you to everyone who gave!
 
I’m realizing now that I never should have gone to Kansas City after my arrest. Had I not had the trauma of my arrest to deal with on top of everything else I brought here with me, maybe I’d be looking at a different reality rn. Maybe I would have been able to find work, even with my hormone deficiency and beard and man voice and the insecurities and unmanageable anxiety and real safety issues those bring.

All the planning and fundraising I did in February and March was done under the pretense that KC would be a healthy escape from my mother’s, a place with more opportunity, where I had more community, where the city offered better trans resources, where my place of residence afforded me many potential places of employment within walking distance. That was all before my arrest the weekend before I was supposed to rent the moving van, which I couldn’t rent due to my arrest, and which should have been a sign to call off the move. Friends I spoke with encouraged me to go through with the move anyway, but I should have listened to the part of me that was curled up in a ball screaming hoarse at the void every night, should have known myself better, should have listened to my instinct to withdraw and focus on caring for myself rather than my urge to take on all these new burdens as I had planned to, to buckle down and muscle up and and power through and all that.

I was so eager to gtfo my mother’s that even though I was traumatized from having to deal with law enforcement and from being back in the legal system in the same college town I fled almost a decade ago, I saw a shiny way out of my immediate circumstances and I took it, hoping things would go as I had planned before this new factor rose up and shadowed everything like a DOOM MONOLITH.

The problem was, that monolith followed me to KC. And dealing with it on top of everything else I brought took the three month buffer of not paying rent my landlady had offered me so I could have an easier time finding work and getting settled in this new city, and turned them into 3 months of dealing with escalating trauma and escalating legal consequences and escalating legal fees I couldn’t afford and didn’t know how to pay and the escalating health consequences of carrying that in a foreign city while you’re supposed to be taking on the other burdens of building a life.

This trip became one of encountering my limits and understanding what is and is not possible to power through. I had hoped it would be a trip of putting down roots and finding sources of money to get out from under my maxed credit cards (which are now in collections) and my private student loan (currently in default) and my health problems (which my new fundraiser is finally helping me address, thank you so much).

 
I know now that the grad school Z who can head an organization planning and hosting and running an interdisciplinary conference, be second in command running a literary magazine and managing a pool of readers and coming up with fundraising strategies and doing layout on final proofs, write her thesis, research her transness, apply to further graduate school, move twice in one school year, and come out to her family all at once…that Z is gone. Or sleeping. Or on hiatus. Maybe not forever, but for now, she needs more rest and more care than she used to, and can’t do all the things at once like she used to.
 
This is how I understand why I am moving back in with my mother again, after this false start, after doing all this work to get away from that place, after literally a lifetime of putting distance between me and St Louis first by travelling to the middle of nowhere for undergrad, then to the desert for grad school part 1 where I finally felt safe enough to come out, then to the further possible coast for grad school part 2 where I finally felt courageous enough and sure enough of myself to start transitioning, then to LA to try…actually what I was trying in KC (professionalizing while recovering from trauma, which didn’t work there either) then to Knoxville as a way out, then to StL to relearn I couldn’t exist there, then to Knoxville to professionalize (again abortively due to trauma) then back to StL, then to KC to try professionalizing-under-trauma abortively again, just for shits this time I suppose. 
I have learned my lesson. One cannot professionalize when one’s health is in the gutter. So I am addressing what I can with what I have. But I want this to be the last fucking time I return with my head hung low to this accursed city that sucks you in like a singularity and just won’t let go.
 
Still, this is what I can do for now, so it is what I am doing. Back to St Louis, to heal. I suppose it’s different this time in that I am aware of all this while returning, but it feels so goddam the same already that it is difficult–but not impossible–to have real hope that I can do what I need to do there–HEAL. I need to heal. Hormones, you come first. Voice, you come next. Beard, you’re next-next.
 
Still, I did a lot of work to heal while in KC. Thanks to the Kansas City Anti-Violence project hooking me up with therapy, thanks to my therapist for being a fucking badass and exactly whom I needed, thanks to KCAVP again helping me get ID, and thanks to both of them for helping me become able to feed myself through food stamps and access to pantries.
 
KC was not a complete wash. I reconnected with the friends I have here. I healed, I learned how else to heal, learned other angles of healing. I obtained ID, I obtained access to food, and I obtained vital self-knowledge that I NEED to put my health first in all things, or else this cycle of abortive and expensive attempts at professionalizing will continue.
 
Health comes first. 
If you can, consider giving to my fundraiser. It will help me get my hormones to liveable levels, finish hair removal on my face, and feminize my voice so that internally my body becomes easier to live in, and so that externally I can pass better in public. All of this will long-term help me be a healthier human and one day be able to support myself again. Thank you for anything you can give.
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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.

http://overpasslightbrigade.org/hates-insidious-face-uw-milwaukee-and-the-alt-right/

Fear and Passing In Gameland

1.

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.

2.

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.

3.

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.

4.

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.

On “Transvestite” and “Transsexual”

I hate these words. The first sounds like a pathology, like some medical term for a psychological disorder, which makes sense because it used to be one. It’s also cissexist, since it’s rarely applied to trans men and usually just gets stuck to glammed-up guys.

Transsexual in particular is immensely misleading! It makes it seem like being trans is all about SEX, like, copulation, because that’s the root of the word–SEX.  Meeting this word when I was younger fucked up my idea of who I was for years. I thought being trans (which I knew I was) also made me a pervert, some kind of bizarre orgasm-seeking creature obsessed with being prettified. THAT IS NOT THE CASE. BEING TRANS IS ABOUT GENDER DYSPHORIA (for me) and subconscious gender and brain maps and the relationship I have with my body and the relationship my body has to itself. None of that is about orgasms. No more transsexual, please. It creates unnecessary ambiguity about the person taking the label, and can mislead hapless cishetero folks into stigmatizing us.

Fuck these words. Get them out of the lexicon.

Thank you and have a nice year.

Remembering Leelah Alcorn

I was so moved when I read Leelah’s suicide note on her blog this time last year, I wrote about her in my thesis. She sparked the best essay I wrote for the two years I was in Oregon. She is the mother of #fixsociety. She took every step she needed to take to try and find support, and she was rejected, isolated, judged, and essentially bullied to death by her own parents. We still have a long way to go. But at least in the community where Leelah lived, there have been changes reflecting her wish of fixing transphobic America.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/12/28/1218-transgender-Ohio-teens-message-continues-to-draw-attention.html

What It Means when Someone Refuses to Use Your Correct Pronouns

Another from Everyday Feminism.

This excerpt is from Point Six, which nails it.

“It might make you uncomfortable or upset to think about using people’s proper pronouns. You might hate worrying about whether you’ll get it wrong.

But consider what I talked about above: Being misgendered is a much more uncomfortable experience for trans and non-binary people.

If you’re only thinking about your discomfort, it’s a sign of your cis privilege. It means that you think your comfort should be catered to first.

In other words, you think your comfort is more important than trans and non-binary people’s.

This sort of ties in with the previous sections. As a cis person, it’s a privilege for you to think that cis people are the only people who exist. You don’t have to consider how other people’s experiences might be different.

As a cis person, it’s a privilege for you to take your pronouns (and gender identity) for granted, and to have other people constantly validate that.

And if you believe that only people like you exist, and on top of that, are constantly validated in this belief—well, it’s easy to think that trans and non-binary people who insist on using their pronouns are just making things up.

Except, you know, we’re not.

The discomfort and pain that we feel is valid. It doesn’t matter less than your own discomfort. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that it matters more.”

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/they-pronouns-cis-privilege/

Allies Take Note: Despair, Safety Privilege, and Socioeconomic Privilege

“Being comfortable all the time, feeling safe all the time is a huge privilege, and a lot of people don’t realize what a privilege it is until it’s pointed out how unsafe other people feel all the time,” said Sara Connell, transgender program liaison for Out Boulder.

That quote hit me when I started reading, but Amber’s story crushed me. #fixsociety

http://extras.denverpost.com/transgender/homeless.html

Transmisogyny in Hollywood

“Producers often like to claim that men need to play trans women to draw box office attention. Redmayne, they’d tell us, brings in the box office because people want to see the Academy Award-winning actor. They’ll also tell us that they need someone who ‘looks masculine,’ because they are obsessed with pre-transition appearance and transition stories instead of the lives of trans women. Evidently, it is easier to make a cis man look like a woman than it is to put makeup on a trans woman to make her look like a man for segments of the film in which this is necessary — though producers might want to ask themselves why they’re so fixated on this aspect of Elbe’s life in the first place.”

http://globalcomment.com/the-danish-girl-casting-eddie-redmayne-is-transphobic/#