Dear Clarity

Dear Clarity,

I love you and the kids with all my heart. Nearly all of my energy over the past 20 months feels like it has been dedicated to healing you and the kids. It’s been rewarding and satisfying to watch your growth. It hasn’t been sustainable or healthy for me. As it continues it also doesn’t seem healthy of helpful for any of us.

I got to watch the littlest child come out of her shell, watch middle child emerge from the boy she was, watch the oldest begin to verbalize his emotions in a way that few adults can. And, of course, watch you grow immensely as you shed years of trauma and break through old patterns as you begin to remember the real you. You all are hardly the people I met, it makes me cry tears of overwhelming joy and hurt to think about it. I think I can confidently say there isn’t much I would trade for that.

All the while I have pushed and pushed myself to do my best, better than my best to show up for all of y’alls healing. This has caused me to deteriorate. Suicidal thoughts and self harm was nearly gone from my life but has now reemerged and is stronger now than it ever has been. I spend hours some days unable to move as I collapse on the ground, feeling like there is someone standing on my chest. Irritable, depressed and apathetic, I’m starting to see the kids trying to avoid me, trying to get away from my angst. I am starting to see this not only as unhealthy for me, but unhealthy for everyone involved. As I snap at you, as I distance myself from you, as I am unable to show any love towards the 4 people I love so much. Instead I feel myself growing increasingly irritated with you, and increasingly view y’all as burdens.

As I take a step back I realize just how overwhelmed and stressed I am. I step back and realize how unhealthy this is and how I have immersed myself in your family’s world to the point I feel like I have almost ceased to exist. This isn’t a new struggle, it’s an old one that’s tied in with being trans. It’s a clinging I did and still do to other people and getting lost in them and their problems.

I can’t do it anymore, I can’t do this anymore. I wanted to be everything you needed to help you grow and get better, I wanted to want to be a caregiver, a parent, to have 3 kids and a dog. I wanted to want all of these things I was given and all of this security. But I don’t, I just want me, I want my life back and I want you to be in it, but not be it.

It’s not about holding out for the next time we move, or the next routine we develop, or that break through in therapy or that new job. It’s about me needing to be Jenny, a person that has only existed in name for 4 years. I am not ready to be a parent. I’m not ready to have 3 kids a wife and a dog. I have so many dreams of my future and what it looks like. This life feels suffocating and I don’t want to have people I love so dearly feel like they are just burdens suffocating me. I want them to bring joy and desire to see them, I want to have glee playing with and seeing y’all. This is something I haven’t felt in a long time.

Now, I’m sure you want to talk logistics now that I got my feels out, you want to understand what I’m even asking for. I don’t have a solid grasp on a healthy and thoughtful way to make this transition work for everyone but I know what my soul needs and I need a break before I can plot out long term logistics, otherwise I’d be planning based on my current desires to be around y’all. My end goal is to be an auntie and a nanny at times. I love you all so much I can’t imagine being happy not seeing y’all.

I know I’m going to be needing days instead of hours. I know I desperately need to heal to feel like a person to have time to connect with my people. I don’t want to disappear. I want to step back and become less involved. I think that would be the healthiest thing for all of us. I don’t have a timeline, but I do know I want to live elsewhere within this year.

I hope you understand how much this has torn me apart thinking about how I do and don’t want to do this. But I know in my heart that this is what is the best for me and what i have to do. I think this will also be great for y’all though it’ll definitely be hard at first but it’ll allow for a lot of much needed growth.

I want to talk more about this and can whenever you’d like. I was hoping to share this info last Monday at our group therapy since that didn’t happen I had to write it out. I will always love you in a way in a way I have never felt before.

Love, with all of my heart,

Jenny

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How to Change Your Name

A while back I posted a blog about how to get a court order for a name change in Allegheny County, which is fairly applicable for all of Pennsylvania. I also made a post talking about all there is to change. This time I’m going to walk you through the actual steps I had to take in order to get everything changed and potential hangups.

First off congratulations if you have gotten your name change completed. This is not an easy task, but this is also just the begin. While the following isn’t hard you can see from the extensive list that it is just a lot of stuff to change. But I’m going to break down this list so you know what you have to do first and how to begin the process. Don’t worry with slow steady effort you’ll be done in no time!

First off I would recommend that as soon as you get your court order to change your name to go get your new drivers license. To do this you need DL-80 (if you just want your name changed) DL-54B (if you want to update your picture too) for your name change, DL-32 filled out by a medical or social service provider (this is fairly lax in Pa, I got my therapist to do it but I think any social worker or doctor would be able to sign off on it) to change your gender. Then you just have to go to your local Penn Dot station wait around for a bit and get yourself a brand new drivers license, something which is essential to getting many more documents changed.

list

The next one I would recommend tackling would be your Social Security Card. For the Social Security administration they need your stamped court order the form SS-5 and updated drivers license. In order to change your gender marker on your Social Security Card you have to have a letter from your doctor that has wording that says you “had [past tense is essential] the appropriate gender treatment to (current gender).” I got such a paper from my doctor and was able to fully update my Social Security Card.

Now that you have those two you can pretty much change everything else! I would recommend trying to change both your name and gender at the same time. I’ve found that there are a lot of companies who have a gender marker for you so you might as well just give them a copy of your court order and your doctors note saying you have transition(ed).

The next thing I changed was my Credit Union/Banks and Credit Cards.
This was with varying degrees of success, I got forms from most of them and mailed them in with the two documents (attach a copy of these even if the forms don’t ask for them). Then I had to call each of them to confirm they got it and new what to do and to send me a new card.

If you happen to have a Paypal account, you’ll start to love Paypal. This is the easiest of all my accounts. You simply upload your files and the change your account over for you within a couple of days.

-Health Insurance Card (you need to do this to change medical records, doctors office, etc.)

-Doctors Office
All then need is show your insurance card to match your requested name and they promptly changed it for me.

-Dentist Office
I would assume this is the same for the Doctors office but I have yet to go

-Birth Certificate
I was born in Maryland and they just updated there policy for this here is the form for that, you need to fill it out and have your doctor sign off on it.

-Passport
As of currently you can change and update all of your info and your gender. I would direct you here for more info.

-Vehicle Title Registration
This is super easy all you have to do is mail in form MV-41A (link below) with $51 and your court order.

-School Records/Transcripts
The best way to go about this for K-12 is to just call one of the secretaries ideally in the records and enrollment. I got transfered to someone who asked that I mail her a copy of my court order and form from my doctor saying I’ve transitioned along with my SSN and something saying my past name and current name.

-Degree (ie college diploma)
I went to Penn State and they have a handy little form here and for $40 you can get yourself a new diploma with your new name. You have to fill out a form for both the name change and the form to request a new diploma.

-Healthcare.gov
I filled out my application for insurance and saw that I could simply change my name. I felt too lazy to go through all of the work required and hoped I didn’t have to. Sadly when I got my first bill from Highmark I found out they have my old name on it.

-Credit Bureaus (click here on a link to a page that explains how to do this)
This doesn’t actually seem necessary, but it is really easy! Two of the three got back to me and asked me to fill out forms for them and mail them back. I got an update from those to with my credit report. I didn’t hear back from Equifax at all. I’m sure they’ll realize though once all of my credit cards and credit union accounts get updated.

Phone Company
-I’m not the main person on my phone plan so I had a confusing time with this one. I was trying to upgrade my phone but Jenny couldn’t upgrade her phone, only Chris could. They asked me if I had a drivers license with my old name on it. They wouldn’t take my court order as proof so I had to wait for my parents to call in and update that Jenny had permission over the account. I think the informality of this made it more complicated

-Landlord or Deed to House
I have a landlord so this one was easy. When I got my checks with my new name on them I simply mailed him a letter explaining that I had transitioned and attached a copy of my court order and new drivers license. I didn’t hear anything back so I can only assume I’ve done my part

-Sperm Bank (if you froze sperm)
This is so easy. All I had to do was contact them

-REI
This was harder than I imagined. I could change anything but my first name in store, they refereed me to their member hot-line. When I called in their member hot-line I got a snarky response from a lady who said we don’t transfer accounts there is no reason you would need to change you name. To which I responded, “How about a court order?” That got me transferred to someone real quick and I simply sent in an email with my court order attached.

-Library
This is really easy you just go with your court order, they may ask to see your license but any librarian is capable of changing all of your details including your gender!

-Wills
I gave my parents a heads up when my name would be changed so that they could change my name in their wills to make sure that nothing wonky happened. Not sure how to do this but it didn’t seem too hard.

Other stuff you may have to change that I don’t have comments on:

-Voter Registration
-Water/Sewage
-Gas
-Electric
-Internet Service Provider
-Insurance provider(s)
-Cable Provider
-Selective Service (Draft)
Unless they expand the draft to women and they become okay with trans people (both seem like they could happen soon) If you’re trans you don’t qualify for the draft but you will have to do some paperwork if you are under 25.
-Legal Documents (power of attorney, living trusts, contracts)
-Deed to House
-Loans
-Retirement accounts
-Professional Licenses
-Employment Records
-Car Towing Company (i.e. AAA)

Winter Solstice 2017

The first time I missed winter solstice in 7 years was December 21st 2016. Here I am sitting cross legged on a crushed Domino’s pizza box on a cement-floored, covered porch pressed in the corner against two cold brick walls of a house. Clarity, my platonic partner, is standing feet from me taking puffs from her cigarette and occasionally turning to blow them outside of the covered porch area we are in. She’s waiting for me to be present again, to talk to her. I’m absorbed in my phone frantically typing into the search bar of my web browser, “winter solstice 2016 time and date.” I press enter and the page promptly loads displaying a page that clearly says at the top of it, “Winter Solstice is on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 At 5:44 am EST.” It is currently Wednesday, December 21st at 12:18 pm EST.

I should be sleeping right now after staying up all night. I should have covered my windows with blinds, curtains and sheets to keep out the sun. The sun that came up because I stayed up all night with only candles to light my surrounding. My hands should be finally warm after a long brisk journey adventuring outside to see the sun rise from the top of a tree covered hill in the cemetery near my house.

But here I am sitting on a pizza box cursing, “fuck, fuck, fuck!” I didn’t stay up all night. I didn’t wish my friends “happy winter solstice.” I didn’t even know the date or time of Winter Solstice. Why, why, why, why, why!?

Because I am a mom now. Because I suddenly and abruptly have 3 small children. Because I have a house that needs cleaned, clothes that needs washed, dishes that need done, food that needs cooked, mouths that need fed, voices that need to be listened to. I may sometimes call myself their theraputic support staff, other times Clarity’s platonic femme dyke partner, but what I really am is a mom.

I am a mom to 3 kids, I am a partner to Clarity. They drove across this country and the country north of here to be in this city, my city, her city, our city, a place where she hopes to finally feel safe, a place where they are all finally free of his abuse. A first stopping spot where she will raise her kids in a safe environment where they can be who they are and not be mentally or physically abused any more.

And here they are starting to feel safe, starting to explore themselves more, starting to tell us that some of them are girls. Starting to get enough attention and not having to worry about words and fists being thrown. Instead we all are growing into the magical beings we are. And I am here as an essential part of this, part of them all processing what has happened to them. Giving them all the attention and support they need to overcome and finally cure generations of abuse that has happened to these 3 native kids and their amazing mother who has been through more than I can grasp.

Two of the three kids I care for

Two of the three kids I care for

So here I am on winter solstice thinking about how this is a time for reflecting, for staring into the darkness and seeing the sun rise out after 14 hours of darkness. I didn’t reflect on winter solstice, I didn’t even realize it was winter solstice. But here I am watching a family emerge from the darkness, watching myself emerge from the darkness. I may have watched the sun fall or rise, but over the past 3 months and more I have been watching 5 magical beings including myself emerge from darkness. We all been emerging whether it be from an abusive home, a male identity that isn’t ours, a controlling an abusive relationship, a shitty job, shitty friendships, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and self harm.

We are all emerging from darkness to become powerful beings. And as I stand back and take time to reflect I can feel my chest filling up with strength, puffing out and taking up space in a way I never have before. I can feel my power bubbling up. I can feel my emotions and see others feelings with a new clarity, I can even grasp emotions that I don’t yet have words for. As I lift my arm I feel energy shoot out of it across sidewalk moving the leaves on the ground and shaking the trees. Energy flows from my head to my feet and into the earth as I ground myself on command. I am not just a person anymore, I am a being filled with magic, compassion, anger and love. And on this winter solstice I can’t say I saw the sunrise, or that I stayed up all night by candlelight, I can’t even say I knew when the solstice was. But I can say I am growing, I am reflecting. I am becoming Jenny, I’m not a flighty spaced out tranny who is insecure and unsure of herself. I am a magical being who has powers that few can grasp, call me awakened, call me an indigo child, or call me crazy. But I am Jenny and I move worlds, hear me roar.

How We Fuck

When we walk the streets together
my long blond hair
my lengthy stride
my short skit
We walk with our heads held high
We walk with pride in each step

When we walk the streets together
her flowing black dress
her elegant makeup
her piercing eyes
we walk hand it hand
we walk together a tranny and a dyke

When we walk the streets together
you always turn
you always watch
you always stare
Your stares are all around us
Your stares are suffocating

When we walk the streets together
your eyes pierce
your eyes scrutinize
your eyes struggle to comprehend
Your stares they comes with a question
Your question is so obvious: How do they fuck?

When we fuck there is no gender
no sexual orientation
no male
no female
we fuck like we’re dykes
we fuck like we’re faggots

When we fuck the room is covered
in dirty sex toys
in used condoms
in empty bottles of lube
we fuck and scream and cry
we moan with no regard

When we fuck we don’t think about you
your genders
your sexualities
your norms
we do things you’d never think of
we have orgasms you couldn’t imagine

When we fuck the whole world disappears
all that’s left is me and her
all that’s left are our sex toys
all that’s left is this bed that is our only respite from you
we don’t think of your stares
we don’t think of you at all

When we fuck we are liberated
we are accepted
we are unfettered
we are free
we’re free to be dykes and trannies
we’re free to be us

Summer Love Playlist 2016.8

Here is my most recent playlist. While most of them focus upon a time in my life this one more seems to focus around a person in my life, Half Elegant (previously known as R). We were involved for 3 months, most of this time I wasn’t really into it. I was trying to find a balance between friends and lovers, we clearly weren’t friends and I didn’t feel like she was a lover. The balance was never reached. This is why the cd is being release now, it’s the end of an time period, the time period I call “Summer Love.” I can’t say this title isn’t ironically named, but I will confirm that “love” is a complicated thing with our without quotes around it.

1. Totally Confused – Beck

This is what I listened to at the end of Half Elegant and my relationship. Melancholy, raw, disorienting (other songs on the album highlight this). This is how I felt.

2. Skinny Love – Bon Iver

I first heard this in the Wire Tap episode Never Say I Love You. The episode has a segment about people in love, without their lover anymore. People holding on, struggling, feeling sad, and still feeling love. It is followed up by this song. I started to cry when I was biking home, I started to feel. Half Elegant made it hard for me to feel she just wanted too much. Now that we are apart I am able to feel what I wanted without holding back, finally. And I biked home listening to this on repeat while getting teary eyed and feeling love.

3. Betty’s Bomb Shell – Group Love

Earlier in the day (months ago) I felt awful, I tried to cut myself with my work keys, they weren’t sharp enough. I went back to work and when I finally left work I felt the same way. I looked incessantly at the ground looking for a piece of broken glass. When I finally found one I found out just how dull glass from the side of the road is, so I kept biking. I stopped in Arsenal Park and sat on the ground. I thought about what I should cut myself with while listening to this song. I played it over and over again and finally I found a pepsi can. First using the tab, then using a small piece of the side of the can I repeatedly cut small cuts horizontally on my arm. This is the biggest cut on my arm and it happened whilst listening to this song.

4. Signs of Love – Moby

I can’t remember when I listened to this song, but it is one of my favorites. It reminds me of staring at the sky and smiling while listening to another Moby song, it reminds me of biking along the river in Philly and crying to Moby. It’s happy, it’s sad, it’s melancholy, it’s real.

“I fly so high,Then fall so low”

5. It’s Only (feat. Zyra) – Odesza

I am long boarding on Ellsworth near Oakland. I am singing this song so loud. I’m singing this song to Trish, to Kelly. I’m singing this song loud and proud and I feel good, I feel sad.

I’m again on my longboard, it’s 2am and I’m back at it again, I’m in Oakland singing and carving.

6. Not In Love (feat. Robert Smith) – Crystal Castles

Half Elegant gave me this song. She listened to it after we broke up the first time after “dating” for a few days. We listened to it under 40th st Bridge and Half Elegant banged her head all around. She jammed to it when she was drunk and I came over. We were in the hallway of her house where there is a built in shelf that holds records and the music player. The lights were mostly out and she danced like a maniac. This is our song.

7. Sorry – Beyoncé

There are countless memories around singing this song. The one that is most recently and strong in my memory is with Half Elegant. It was the day we hung out with Jesse and tried to go to the pool. She was an ass. We were driving her home to drop her off and this song. I felt this song. I felt pissed at Half Elegant. As I drove my arms were out stretched leaning on the steering wheel with my middle fingers up.

“Middle fingers up, put them hands high, Wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye”

8. No Role Modelz – J. Cole

“Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved.”

This is the lyric I heard when I felt Half Elegant trying to save me. This is why I started listening to this song. That isn’t exactly what Half Elegant was trying to say, but I’m still singing I don’t wanna be saved.

9. For Free (feat. Drake) -DJ Khaled

The beat caught me on this song, while driving around Fight for Fifteen workers to go to their conference. The song also constantly reminds me of Half Elegant. I must admit sex with her was the best sex I’ve ever had by a long shot. So good I thought I should pay her, especially cause she had no income for a while.

10. Panda – Desiigner

The beats of this song are great, the fact that he keeps saying Panda is hilarious. I first listened to this song because a Pittsburgh activist and USASer posted this on a Penn State USASer’s wall with the description, “I broke my bed while listening to this song.” That’s what I think of every time.

11. FUCKMYLIFE666 – Against Me!

I was getting gas on the Northside and I looked hot. Grey tank top, maroon tube skirt, brown knee high boots with grey leg warmers sticking out. This guy walked about 20 feet from me looked over at me and turned around. It puzzled me, but it made sense when he and his friends walked by and yelled, “that’s a dude.” I was mortified and eventually just put on my middle finger and stewed over it. The person next to me muttered, “She doesn’t have a choice.” which felt nice to hear.

I got in the car pissed and I put on Against Me! and started screaming along to them. As I was about to turn them off and then this song came on from their live album. The beginning of the song just caught me and I couldn’t stop listening.

The song also reminded me of an important fact, I had been trying my damnedest to “pass” as a woman for about 2 years. I’ve been slowly realizing I am a woman. But Against Me! reminds that I am a gender warrior. I am a woman and a man. I am here to fuck with your concept of gender. I am a trans-tomboy. As the shirt that Laura Jane Grace wears states, “Gender is over (if you want it)”

12. The Writings On The Wall – OK Go

Half Elegant gave me this song. I feel this song, this song often feels like our relationship.

“It seems like forever since we’ve had a good day, the writings on the wall
But I just wanna get you high tonight, I just wanna see some see some pleasure in your eyes”

I would listen to it most when I was sad. Because OK Go was staying to me, that it’s horrible, yes it is, but “I just wanna get you high tonight.”

My most recent memory and the one besides watching drunk Half Elegant dancing to this song is as follows. Half Elegant biked off in an agitated hurry to go no where and I stopped. I couldn’t handle the frustration she was expressing towards me so I stopped biking. Instead I listened to this song. I felt sad I was having a hard day and I just wanted to get high tonight, to feel some pleasure. Half Elegant came back and said in a accusatory tone, “Why are you listening to that song? Are you trying to say something? You know that’s a break up song.” The next day we broke up for the second time.

13. I Hate Hate – Reagan Youth

This song is amazing to sing along to. I song along to this endlessly along the bike path. I remember biking up past Millvale on the bike path, I remember biking down to the northside on the bike path, all the while I would sing this song for the haters. Because I hate HAAAAATE!

“I as in M, E, Fucking Me, Hate as in H, A, T, E, Hate… HAAAAAATE!

Run, Run, Run Away

You do this all the time Jen, you get caught up in people, you get caught up in their problems to avoid yours, you become so reliant on them that you feel like you need to share all of your emotions with them. You don’t even want to have emotions when they aren’t around. But then I must ask you what is the point of life? what is there to do when I’m all alone? There is nothing going on and nothing to do when they aren’t around. I just feel my emotions overwhelming me I need to exercise that’ll numb me, that’ll stop my racing thoughts.

I just want to run, to run away from everyone I can’t do this I can’t deal with getting sucked up in these people. I can easily put my phone on airplane mode so I can still listen to music and just bike, just hide in the wooded areas of Pittsburgh. It’s cold out but I’ll be able to hide for a little while and then I can go to the library to get warm. I just need to get away from all of these people. Wait! This is just more running. I get caught up in people to run away now I’m getting caught up in running away to run away. What am I running from? Why have I refused to meditate for the last two weeks? What am I scared of?

It must be from being present, I tried to meditate recently meditate and was quickly overcome with tears. It makes sense being present in the moment takes a lot of energy and courage, right? No, that’s not what it is. I know what it is but I don’t want to say. I know what it is but it hurts to know, it hurts to admit it. I’m running from myself. I’m running from her. Her blank face staring back at me, oh how quickly I can see all of her faults. I hate her, the way she stares, the way she looks. I can’t face her. NO!! I won’t I can’t I’ll cut my wrists, I’d rather hang myself then have to look at her and her blank stare. I can’t, I don’t want to see her! I need to take refuge, I need to call Spaced and see what she says about this. I can’t handle this myself. I definitely can’t do this myself. Spaced will give me advice. She’ll… I already know her advice, I’ve heard and given her advice thousands of times by hundreds of people. I have to do this alone. That’s the whole point, I know what I have to do.

I spent New Years Eve running from her. I burnt out from too many emotional conversations I longboarded for hours to find her, to run from her. I wanted my emotions back I wanted to know why and where, I wanted to know what was going on. At 3am I found her. Spaced was falling asleep and there was nothing I could do but cry to myself. That was a hard day, but it was a good day. I got through some shit I had a good time I hard a fucking hard time. But on that day when I was longboarding I felt compelled to listen to Vagabond by Wolf Mother. Listening to this song I danced while riding my longboard. It felt good. It was my pleasant reminder that I can “tell you everything about being free.” because that’s what I’m going for. I’m working on “becom[ing] so absolutely free that [my] very act of existence is an act of rebellion.” -Albert Camus.

It’s hard because I get caught up in hoping I’ll change. I tell myself I’ll love my face, my body once hormones have their full effect. I tell myself I’ll love my face after I have electrolysis finished. I used to tell myself I’d enjoy my body naked after bottom surgery. Putting it off for year after year because I will change and then I will be able to love myself. Where did this type of thinking get Cait Jenner, someone who has unending money for such surgeries? It’s got her worried about looking like a “man in a dress.” Then I think to Spaced and how often she says, “Jenny, you’re the best.” I enjoyed hearing this at first, but now it hurts more and more each time. It hurts because I know it’s true but I don’t believe her, it hurts because I know she can see it but I still can’t. I know I’m being my best to her but I’m not being my best to me.

Now that I’ve calmed down, how do I stop running, and how do I change this? I always think a radical change will help me but I know it’ll just create more problems. For starters, keep up with 3 meals a day, good sleep and start drinking more water. Get back to daily meditation and quick self love session each morning. Also keep checking in with yourself and act upon your urges and feelings, not in an impulsive way but in a I’m going to treat myself right way. And most importantly be easy on yourself. If you’re having a hard time let yourself do something you feel guilty about but don’t feel guilty about it. You don’t harass friends for relapsing you just harass yourself, stop that. You are a work in progress and progress is only made by continuing to work on yourself, not through self-blame. Just keep on in writing in your journal instead of trying to lose all of your time on the internet. Reflecting and appreciating how far you’ve come has been essential in your journey and still is. Keep it up you’re doing great, just keep on keeping on. You’re on the right path and have been for years. And as a good friend said, “If it’s not hard, you’re not gonna grow.”

Surgery, Hormones, and Our Heavily Gendered Society

This past week I was having a conversation with my friend Spaced about bottom surgery. She couldn’t understand why I wanted to have bottom surgery so we had a little discussion about it. I said things about not wanting to have this thing between my legs bothering me, and how I always felt uncomfortable penetrating people during sex (I’ve only really felt comfortable in a submissive position). Basically I just felt bothered and outed by my penis. I always worried about it being seen, noticed or felt by people. Having a penis made me feel uncomfortable and not like a woman.

Her response was first acknowledging how that must feel uncomfortable, but then saying that society has shaped my image of what it is to be a woman. Society has made me feel uncomfortable about my genitals. Society has made me want to surgically alter my body to have different parts that match the gender I am so I can prove that I am a woman. I continued trying to explain my reasoning but was caught by hers. All I could say was I was uncomfortable, I didn’t like tucking, it got in the way. She said society made me feel that way, it made me feel like I shouldn’t and don’t exist. The next day I told her I changed my mind.

She felt tickled that I had listened to her. I felt tickled that she had succeeded and that she seriously thought about this as a cis-woman. She asked me to explain why I changed my mind and this led me to think about my history of struggling with society regarding thoughts on hormones and bottom surgery. I’ll quickly sum that up. When I first announced myself as a transwoman I said I wasn’t going to do hormones, instead I had been taking supplements and using various devices to extenuate my breasts (It wasn’t until several months later that I decided to take hormones). I was also adamant about not getting bottom surgery and frankly terrified of even considering it. It wasn’t until Andreja Pejic came out and announced that she had received bottom surgery that I changed my view. Her and Laura Jane Grace were my heroes and having one of my heroes announce that changed my view.

Spaced and I’s conversation that followed began to ask the larger question that I had forgotten about, what if our society weren’t so heavily gendered? Would I want long hair? Would I be wearing a skirt right now? Would anyone want to use chemical hormones to transition? I agreed with Spaced on the first two decisions and said definitely no. The third one caught me and my gut response was yes, trans people are real and chemical hormones aren’t something bad they are taking. Then I realized I was wrong. If gender were free of sex then penises would be free of men and boobs free of women. It wouldn’t just erase gender it would erase sex (since the two are so reliant on one another or basically synonymous), finally trans and intersex people would once again have a society they could live in. This world is impossible for me to grasp. A world where feminine and masculine have no bearing on gender, sex or sexuality. Everyone could be who they actually are. I could not grasp this world, so it was hard to respond to the theoretical questions about it.

I kept thinking about it and realized my gut response felt ignorant and was coming from a place of fear. I have felt pressure to take and not to take hormones. And I felt a lot of guilt at first after deciding I’d start taking them. So I validated my decision saying I needed chemical hormones, that I would even need them if I weren’t in this fucked up society. This isn’t true. Our society and the way it interacts with gender is the problem. You have to fight with our society to find a place you are comfortable and you feel like you have your identity. Some people are comfortable without medical intervention some need full medical intervention. There is nothing wrong with this, this is coping. I am coping with living in this society by taking chemical hormones others cope by getting bottom surgery or top surgery. None of these people deserve any shame. What deserves shame is society for making this people have to do this just to be themselves. People should feel the right to be comfortable with who they are, but they shouldn’t be coerced into receiving medical intervention, surgical or chemical.

Calling chemical hormones and surgery for trans people coping is an accurate description of it’s effect. It’s what it’s intended to do. Doctors, therapists and allies cannot change the world we are in, but they can help people cope with it. They help them cope but helping people “pass” more (I’m using the loaded term “pass” because that is exactly what’s being attempted, people are helping trans people “pass” for what is “male” or “female” as though there is a checklist to be a “normal” male/female) We as a society aren’t doing what is necessary to address this problem we are putting all of the problem on the individual. This is wrong, but what else can someone do in a individualist society like ours? It is only the responsibility of the transperson because society has rejected it’s on responsibility and impact on this. What needs to happen is for the gender binary to be destroyed all together. The binary system we have doesn’t make any sense and helping trans people navigate from one end to the other is avoiding the problem which is the gender binary.

Take whatever hormones you need, have whatever surgeries you please, be happy in your own skin and don’t let anyone shame you for needing surgery to cope with this fucked up society we live in. But do make sure to love yourself. We can’t change society but we can change ourselves and that will affect the people around us. Slowly but surely the future may hold a society where gender is once again a spectrum and trans people can be who they are from the start, not after they’ve had surgery and years of chemical hormones. A society where you needn’t transition because you are always allowed to be who you really are.

In the mean time before society changes I’m going to try and take Albert Camus’s advice
Albert Camus