Recumbent Bike Tour 2014

A lot has happened over the past month and a half. Most notably I quit my job at the bike shop and went on a 3 week bike tour from Pittsburgh to D.C. to Philadelphia to State College and back to the burgh. I visited lots of folks on the way and told them about the amazing journey I am about to embark upon and remembered the amazing places I have been. The trip was humbling and showed me who I was and who I am. This was an amazing experience to have prior to going on a journey where you become the person you have been on the inside on the outside too.

I’ll touch briefly upon that too. I’m going to be taking steps to get electrolysis to remove my face hair and begin going to counselling. It will be 3 months of counselling before I can go on hormones. I am truly honored and deeply appreciative to all the amazing people in my life who love me and support me so thoroughly in this journey. Special call outs to people who have made a huge impact recently: Mother and Savages who both helped right me after I told my parents (they took it hard and are still trying to comprehend and come to terms with it). And Big S, who is a friend, ex-coworker, ladyfriend and truly loving inspiring person who has helped me feel comfortable and reminded me of who I am.

Finally here are the pictures and some choice ones below


Big S and I standing next to our bikes

Matthew Silver

Matthew Silver, The Great Performer, is a street performer in NYC. He plays the roll of a town clown or joker and tries to reveal the hidden truth behind the world. He tries to make people know we need to live in the now we need to free ourselves of stuff. We need to be free and we need to have fun, we need to love and we need to enjoy life.

His video reminded me a bit of an earlier version of me and the share-it-blanket. Those weirdos giving out free stuff on Penn State’s campus while having a blast doing it. Breaking down barriers of consumerism and society and pushing people to have a great time. I’ve gotten lost on this and tried to be a normal person but now I’m beginning to return to what I know and who I am. One of the inspirations is Matthew Silver:

Why PRIDE is important

Pittsburgh recently had Pride and the following weekend there was the annual Dyke and Trans March. This was my first time going and my first time going out as a trans person. I was truly amazed at the feeling of it. It was a feeling of comfort wearing the femme clothes I like. It was the feeling of being looked at not as a freak but as an awesome and attractive human being.

10382326_1623636781195553_6037462861957085763_o

I sadly worked during Pride and missed the parade but I enjoyed wandering around at the street party. I also had the joy of having a couple of people appreciate my outfit and appearance. The first was a gay guy who bumped my arm and simply say, “hey girl.” A nice friendly hello and introduction to pride. The second was another gay guy who looked at me and simply and softly said “You’re beautiful.” I was already feeling it and hearing someone say it out loud made it even more real. I felt so beautiful and so proud. I held my head high and walked the streets of Pride knowing I was finally me and that alone was truly beautiful.

One week later was the Dyke Trans March. This was one of the most prideful moments I’ve experienced. I marched towards the front of a march with well over 100 people. We marched in the streets escorted by police walking and on motorcycles. People waved, people honked. And everyone I saw was happy to see us, with only a few confused onlookers. We even walked past a weird yinzer bar to see everyone outside and one of the people working there asked excitedly for our permission to take our picture. The entire time I had a smile on my face, I was so prideful I was almost brought to tears. I was out prancing around in a skirt for the first time to people cheering us on as we marched by.

This has led me to me accepting myself more as a trans person and the desire to take myself further into the trans person I want to be. While I started out wanting to still pass as a boy, I now am considering going quite further. Quite soon I plan on going to a gender therapist and may even go on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). I’ll leave this post off here but in the next one I’ll walk you through my current thinking on where I’m going and who I’m going to become.

Current Summer Plans

I’ve been frustrated and over worked at my job at the bike shop, and now I’m doing something about it. I’m currently saving $3000 for travelling and life expenses after I quit bike world for good! Plans are going well so far and I should be quitting in the end of July. Then I can work on finding myself and being myself and seeing so many great friends all over the country!

Right now my plan is to ride the Greater Allegheny Passage (GAP) on my bicycle down to D.C. and then up to Philly. There is a USAS Alumni event so I’ll go back down to D.C. for that and then I suppose I’ll shoot up to State College and back to Pittsburgh before my longer distance car trip. I’m guessing this trip should take me most of August to complete.

The car trip is much more tentative. I may or may not being going with Captain Andiris. And the trip will first go to Ann Arbor, Michigan where a friend recently moved, then to visit Majesty on an Iowa farm. Next stop is Colorado where Beer and Malibu live as well as the Intern. I’m hoping to borrow one of these people for a short side trip somewhere. After that I have no plans.

I don’t need to look for a job until at least November. And I hope to use that time to transition into a job that fits me more and a job that I enjoy quite a bit more. I’m currently thinking about doing working in the LGBT community. That would also encourage me to truly embrace and learn more about my trans self. But that’s not at all what I’m thinking about.

Instead I’m thinking about biking down to D.C. and thinking about visiting friends, exploring pittsburgh and lolly gagging around. I’ve had responsibilities for over two years now time to have none for a few months. Just pure unadulterated freedom.

Juxtapose

Through out my time at and around the casbah I made a host of collages from material that I dumpster dove. It was a time that I spent looking through the thin façade of all the lies and conditioning that we are indoctrinated with to make the world around us seem normal and sane. It was a way of of expressing how disturbing and absurd I saw the world.

 

My method was to spend hours looking at images from national geographic, life magazines and any thing that appealed to me from sorting through the dumpster. I would take images that struck me and put them into a suit case. Eventually and idea would form and images would come together in a way that evoked some kind of emotion I was trying to express. Sometimes a sole picture spoke for itself (Like Mao playing Ping Pong) other times they were massive 6 foot long tables but  most of the collages are in a notebook.

100_3324

“What is a Ghost?”

“What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.” -Guillermo del toro

100_3334

100_3335

“Manifest Your Destiny”

This is from an outrageous cover of a self help book I found in the dumpster with images from “Heart of Darkness” in the back ground.

100_3342

100_3344

100_3345The picture on the right is a young model that committed suicide. I share it only because  a long time after I put this picture in my notebook, I was in the Andy Warhol Musem and walked into a room where this very picture was blown up in a pieces of his that covered a massive wall.

100_3346

100_3340

Table_DayCeu2Ceu

A Massive table that was at the Casbah.

IMG_3891(1)

The_Money_Shot.JPG2The Money Shot

Last equinox I hit the reboot button. I did not feel I needed to express the same emotions any more. I took all of the pictures I collected to make my collages to the top of a mountain and burned them.

Vision Quest – Majesty

This past weekend I was a supporter for Majesty as he went on a vision quest at the circle where he does American Indian rituals. I entered the circle feeling doubts and hesitation about doing all of this. This was my second time visiting and first time sweating with them. I was honored to have Majesty ask me to support him and decided to suspend my disbelief and simply go with the flow. This strategy worked out amazing and led to some wonderful times, strong emotions and powerful realizations.

Majesty has been doing the circle for 5 years now and this was his 4th vision quest. On the vision quests questers go up into the woods behind the circle leader’s house. They are supposed to stay in a little fenced in area about 7′ by 3′. They can only leave to go to the bathroom and only in the daytime and they aren’t allowed to eat or drink anything for 4 days. In the meantime supporters are eating, doing sweat lodges and singing for them.

The first day I went into the sweat lodge we did 4 doors (or sessions). Two with the vision questers and two without. In the middle we walked the vision questers to their new homes for the next few days. The homes were within earshot of each other to allow for singing and support but not within vision. We then went back and sweated again. The final door was very intense and brought up emotions I had been burying, specifically about being trans. I was so overcome with emotions for Andy and for my gender related thoughts that when I left the sweat I stared at the fire and cried.

The community there was very supportive and positive. I met many people there I hope to see again and felt nearly part of a family. I felt as though I could share most of my true feelings with these people despite only knowing them for a short time. My only complaint with the atmosphere would be the normaling of gender roles; it seemed like all the women cooked and all the men labored. There were a several comments reinforcing this mindset too. Though a friend and I helped to break these down by her doing more of the hard labor and me doing the cooking, etc.

I tried to be at the circle as much as I could but work prevented me from being there quite a bit. I was only able to enjoy the first and the last sweat and I had to stay home one night too. This tore me up because I really wanted to be there and felt very strange being in the real world. Whether at the circle or at home I was very emotional this whole time and thought of Majesty quite a lot. While I know we were close friends before I feel an even deeper closeness now and I would consider Majesty family without a doubt.

The circle was also enjoyable just in cooking and hanging out, I talked to very nice people and picked up some cooking skills. The environment there was hard not to enjoy and felt like the ideal environment where people are open, nice, cooperative and are more forthright about what they want and how they feel. I also realized that I really need to stop looking at others and trying to fit in to society. Instead I need to be what I feel and do what I love. Whether that be chanting native songs in the woods or wearing skirts and wandering the city. Finally one of the questers told me quite a nice thing when I said goodbye to him. He said that I have a wonderful energy within me and that I need to show it, he saw it the second time he met me before he went on his quest. I’ve been working on revealing this and now I will have to work even harder.

I’ll leave you with a song that I’ve been feeling a lot through all of this

Coming Out

This past weekend I came out to my parents that I’m a transgender person. It was harder than I imagined and also a lot stranger. My Mom took it calmly at first but was a bit shook up afterwards. Meanwhile my Dad didn’t seem to understand exactly what I was saying and I can’t say he truly accepted my identity. But either way I am coming out to more people each day and becoming more comfortable with it each day.

I first told my Mom that I am transgendered. She went into counsellor mode and tried to ask questions and hear what it meant and how it affected me. I ended up also telling her that I was suicidal and depressed which I think freaked her out as much or more than the fact that I’m trans. She also asked the question I’ve received most often, am I going to become a woman? I’ve started to use question to jump into explaining what transgender and transsexual, since they are very different but similar seeming identities.

After she freaked out and then calmed back down, I cried a little (especially about the suicide depression stuff) and then she asked if I was going to tell my father. I hadn’t really gotten that far and told her just that. She told me it was going to be hard for her to keep this a secret for long since it was such a big thing to her. This freaked me out and made me realize how huge this actually was. She volunteered to talk to him first and bring up the subject before I went into it in more detail.

The following day my mom talked to my dad and tried to explain my identity. I went upstairs and tried to figure out what to say to him. After reading a few accounts of what to do when coming out to parents I was very freaked out. Then I heard my Dad looking for me and came downstairs. He said he wanted to talk to me, saying, “We’re talking about you so you should probably be hear for it.”

The conversation with my dad was hard. He didn’t seem to understand me identifying as being a transgender person. Instead he said I should do what I want and be who I want rather than choosing an identity and then becoming that. I agreed to an extent with that but tried to explain that I wasn’t doing that instead I was trying to be myself and that I am a transgendered person.

He kept asking how being transgendered would affect me behaviorally. This was a question I wasn’t quite sure how to answer as the most important part to me was the internal part rather than the external, behaviorally part. He explained to me that he does more feminine things like cooking (he was the main cook in our house growing up and continues to be). He said he doesn’t identify as a manly man or even a man, instead he identifies as himself.

I wasn’t sure where to go with this, should I explain patriarchy? Should I remind him he asked me what the hell was going on with my feet (I had nail polish on)? Should I try to explain that is what I’ve been trying to do but have been held back by everyone. I tried out the last one the best I could. I can’t say I fully got my point across but I did my best considering he’s never heard about trans anything. His whole argument was strange, it felt as though he was being post-modern in his critique, saying that I shouldn’t identify as something and then become it but I should become what I am.

Luckily despite the frustration and inability to get my point across at times the conversation was very well intentioned. The vast majority of people are not cisgendered white men, even though that is the default. My Dad doesn’t realize that this fact holds everyone else back from being themselves instead of a stereotype or put in a box they don’t want to be in.

I came out to my parents and more or less got their support. It was a hard and emotionally taxing experience but it was accomplished and now I am out to more people and feel free to be who I am without any shame. I’m sure I’ll be having more of these conversations, probably more just with my Dad. But it’s all moving forward to being the person I am. And thanks to all the motivating, supportive and inspiring people I know and I see all over the internet. Special thank you to Nitzan who inspired me to begin photographing myself as how I want to be seen and how I see myself. I found him through a documentary about his transition called Song of a Wanderer currently on kickstarter.

I'd have included my face if it weren't for my recent face injury.

I’d have included my face if it weren’t for my recent face injury.