Posted in General thoughts

This Lonely Forest

As I slid into distress today, I had the thought “Everything around me may be a mess, but at least I’ve got mascara.”

Sometimes when I go a few days without putting on makeup, I really start to miss it. I don’t know, it just makes me feel better about myself, and I don’t want to look too deep into that right now.

I write on this blog a lot. And I really do think it’s saving my life. Maybe literally, maybe metaphorically, but either way it’s certainly helping in a myriad of ways. When I get to my counselling sessions, there are so many revelations I’ve had, so many connections I’ve made, so much healing and learning and growing I’ve done that it feels like I’m a completely different person between sessions. All the writing I do here, the processing and expressing, the journaling and self-discovery, it’s therapeutic.

And I’m so grateful to have this space, and that you’re sharing it with me.

Posted in Challenges

The Opposite of Passing Is Not Failing

CW: Discussion of an assault, misgendering

After karate tonight, Sensei K was talking about an attack that’s been in a news. He pulled up the surveillance footage of a woman being dragged into an alleyway while her attacker climbed on top of her. It seemed likely he would sexually assault her, until an off-duty police officer yelled at him and he ran away. I didn’t particularly want to watch the video, but it was hard to extricate myself delicately, so I just watched it with everyone else. And we talked about it afterwards, how poor women have always been the victims throughout all of history. And I felt two sides of me flaring, one that wanted to say “How dare you. Women have power you’ll never understand,” and another that wanted to recognise the atrocious systemic discrimination that women face every day just for existing.

And then Sensei K turned to me and said,
“Any attacker would be in for a rude surprise if they mistook you for a girl.”
“I am a girl Sensei,” I answered, surprised at the confidence and clarity in my voice. I had no idea how the other students reacted to my declaration, but some part of me was aware that maybe this was new information too.
“I thought you were a they,” Sensei K answered after a moment.
“I’m a girl. I just use they/them pronouns.”
“Oh.”

My heart sank. Did he not read that FAQ I wrote when I made my announcement post on facebook? And by “they”, did he mean an agender or non-binary person? A part of me raged that it wasn’t more obvious to him that I’m a trans woman, but I guess I begrudgingly admit that just because I paint my nails, and I wear a bra, and I’m on oestrogen, it doesn’t necessarily say anything about my gender. But the fact that I told him I’m transitioning to female, and I said again in my FAQ that I’m a trans woman… The fact he didn’t remember really hurt.

Plus he was really terrible with pronouns tonight – probably 5:1 he/him’s to they/them’s. And when I tried to correct him he didn’t hear me – I was probably being too gentle, because I didn’t want to interrupt him while he was teaching. I guess it makes more sense if he’s been seeing me as a “they” – those pronouns are probably less important, less legitimate than seeing me as a “she”.

Taping my nails was a mixed success, too. I tried this really narrow paper tape on Monday, but that came off within minutes. I didn’t want to use fabric tape because it was too sticky, and frankly I didn’t want it ripping off my nail polish or damaging my nails. One of the students recommended a special paper tape that was halfway between the two, and while I struggled to put them on, they held almost the entire class, and were a perfect compromise. It’s just that when I peeled it off, a bunch of my nail polish came off with it, so that really sucked. I only put this recent coat on five days ago, but I don’t think I’ll be able to stand it for much longer because it’s so badly chipped. Hm, we’ll see. I guess I’ll try and schedule nail-painting days for after karate, so that I can at least enjoy them for three or four days before they get wrecked again. It’s a shitty situation. Maybe an extra layer of topcoat before I put the tape on might help…

My Mum’s comment that I look like a man has bothered me more than I thought, compounded by Sensei K’s words tonight. Although it’s not a goal for every trans person, I desperately want to pass as female at a glance, and I had started to think that maybe from a distance, if I didn’t use my voice, I might get away with it. Pah, “get away with it” – like it’s some crime, some secret to hide. But it doesn’t really matter – that confidence has been torn apart, and it’ll take time to build back up again.

I haven’t mentioned this before, but over the past few months, I’ve been included in the term “ladies” several times. Usually it’s been from someone seeing me from behind – they’ve observed my long hair and my dress and made the natural assumption. But once or twice, someone has looked me full in the face and still addressed me as a lady, even after they’ve heard my voice. And it’s so overwhelmingly validating that it’s lead me to cry almost every time.

I hope to get back to that level of confidence one day. But today, I went out in a skirt and a full face of makeup, and I didn’t let myself be self-conscious about my voice, because I was determined to be valued regardless of how I looked or sounded. It wasn’t about trying to be a girl, I just wanted to be myself, and to look nice regardless of my gender. And when passing wasn’t my goal, it freed me up to care less about how other people saw me. The look of shock, frowns, the extra smiles, were they about my appearance? I didn’t know, and it wasn’t any of my business. I just wanted to buy a smoothie and some tape, and I did that, beautifully.

It still sucks that Sensei K misgendered me so badly. And I can’t get my mother’s words out of my head. But… I’m working on it. I hate that these challenges are mine to face, but since I don’t have a choice about the matter, I’m grateful that they’re making me stronger. Wiser, hopefully. That I’m learning, and healing, and am growing to be more than can be contained by those who would seek to restrain me. That conviction, the lack of hesitation in my voice tonight when I announced that I was a girl… I never thought I had it in me. But I did. And I do. And I am starting to understand my strength.

Posted in Challenges

That Jiggle Factor

CW: Brief mentions of genitals, sexual contact, body image

#CouldStopDidStop

I’ve been a bit of a mess these past few days. I think most of it was the distress of sharing my name with my closest friends, and then I had very few resources to handle the other challenges I faced on a day-to-day basis. I’m still working through a moderate amount of distress, but I thought I’d steal a minute to write in this space and talk about some things.

I saw P-san briefly yesterday, and she called me by my name. It scared me so much, but I loved hearing it, and we hugged as I felt my heart pounding desperately in my chest.

I saw T-san and K-san afterwards, who live nearby. I paint T-san’s nails now and then, and I do a sub-par job of it (by my standards) but she’s always so delighted. I can’t help but wonder if she’s humouring me by putting my juvenile artwork on her metaphorical fridge so I don’t get discouraged. But nevermind that.

While out with T-san and K-san, I was wearing my light-blue singlet (gosh I love showing off my arms and bra straps) and my loose slitted maxi-skirt. Unfortunately it’s one of the two skirts I own where the fabric is so soft and thin I get really worried about embarrassing crotch bulges, so I always tuck when wearing it. I even wore two pairs of underwear today just to make extra sure I didn’t come untucked, and it was a little uncomfortable but I looked pretty fricking cute. And while the three of us were walking, I heard them use a word that caught my ear. Normally I tune out Japanese unless I’m actively concentrating, but I was curious what they meant by the phrase “puri puri“. They explained it was the sound of a pudding wobbling, and they were talking about how cute my oshiri (butt) was as I walked. And I was so delighted and just a little bit embarrassed, and I suddenly became highly conscious of how my tuck and two pairs of underwear were changing the way I walked slightly. And then K-san patted my backside fondly, to watch it puri puri I suppose, and I kind of loved that? Like, what a personal and affectionate gesture that she didn’t feel the need to ask permission for, even if it was kind of invasive? I laughed raucously as she said she and T-san do not have puri puri oshiri, but that she has special underwear that makes her look curvier.

It was such a nice moment of authenticity about women’s fashion, and we talked openly about collars and bra straps and tights and stringy things that might look good on me. (K-san is a fashion icon, highly respected for it and gosh does she know it.) But then at the end of our cafe date she patted my butt twice more and I started feeling weird about it. I said it was okay at the time, but her response made me nervous: it was essentially “See? It’s fine, I can touch [Eclorer’s] butt as much as I like. I partially own it.”
I think if it happens again I’ll say “Okay that’s enough now Handsy, you can look but not touch.”

I saw my parents afterwards, and I was dreading the interaction. To be honest, while I felt cute as hell putting the outfit on in the morning, I started panicking before I even left the house, wondering if it was too feminine too soon. The new skirt, the visible bra straps, the red nails, it was way more than the gradually feminising wardrobe I’d planned to expose them to. Plus I wanted to show them my new lightweight, battery-powered lawnmower so that they would finally throw out their 30-year-old beast. But I didn’t want to mow the lawn in a skirt, especially if it would cause them to feel shame in front of their neighbours, so I reluctantly brought some shorts along. I fucking hate that it felt like I was diminishing myself so I wouldn’t embarrass them, but it was as much for practicality as it was to avoid embarrassing them. (Come to think of it, lawnmowing in a dress isn’t inherently impractical or dangerous, I’m just culturally conditioned to think of it as humiliating due to it being given as a punishment in The Simpsons and How I Met Your Mother.)

To my surprise, they didn’t say anything about my appearance whatsoever. Not even the little tummy bulge I have, which I think looks cute as heck in that top but I was sure they’d attack. Eventually I brought the conversation to trans issues, mentioning that my psychiatrist invited me to work with her, and I could see hope flare in my Mum’s eyes as she considered that maybe being trans wouldn’t inhibit my job prospects as much as she feared.

We spoke again about how there are more trans people now because the world is changing and it’s safer for them to be open about their genders. She recognised that if I had tried to transition a few years ago it would have been much harder.

I asked what pronouns they’ve been using for me, and my suspicions were correct: they just avoid them entirely. That’s… fine for now.

She was surprised again when I said life is both joyful and challenging, and asked me what’s so difficult. Not trusting her to hold anything bigger like my recent name-stress, I suggested being misgendered was upsetting. I told her about that guy at the gym who called me a man, and she told me not to take it so personally, that’s just probably how he speaks normally. It made me so angry that she was willing to defend a stranger over her daughter, to avoid confrontation as usual. “And it’s going to happen,” she told me, “because you look like a man.”
Thanks Mum. Thanks a bunch.

“Don’t change your name,” she told me suddenly as I was getting ready to leave. “[Current name] is good enough. There are girls with that name too,” she said, listing family members. “It’s too much change,” she went on to say.
Sure am glad I didn’t share any of my bigger stresses about name stuff with her.

But I hear her: there is too much changing too quickly, and she is feeling scared and overwhelmed, and wants a sense of security and safety. And I’ll help if I can, by living my best life and showing her that I’m okay, and that she doesn’t need to worry about me. I don’t want to keep managing her distress while I’m dealing with my own, so I trust that if I’m okay, she’ll be okay.

More scary stuff today. At least I’ve got another appointment with my counsellor lined up this week. Alas, that’s all the time I have for processing and healing right now, gotta rush back into the arena.

Love and light ♥

Posted in Challenges

The Known Knowns

#Can’tStopWon’tStop

So I shared the name. I approached friends who I am closest to, and whom I love, and whom I trust not to hurt me. And I told them my name.

And every single one of them received it gracefully. Complimented me on it, or told me they liked it. Showed me screenshots of their phones with updated contact details for me. Said that it suited me, and they were looking forward to using it.

And I’m still so fucking scared.

All of my fears are louder than ever.
I feel like an imposter. That by picking a gendered name I’m trying too hard to be a girl.
I feel unworthy. The insolence to think I deserve to inconvenience people by making them go through the trouble of learning to address me differently.
That maybe some of them secretly hate it and can’t bring themselves to tell me because they know it would crush me. Maybe they have people in their lives with the same name who they can’t stand, and they’ll have to hide the taste of disgust in their mouths every time they address me.
It’s certainly possible. I knew a girl with this name, and her values were so wildly different to mine that I found her repellant, though I was always courteous to her. And I thought that I’d claimed this name as my own, but now… Now it kinda feels like I’m a poor imitation of a person I didn’t like. Maybe I don’t want it after all?

All of this noise, this nonsense, is just vulnerability. I’m anxious because it’s out there and I can’t take it back. It’s the intensity of being seen, being known. People know the name. And they can never unknow it. And that’s terrifying, because what if what if what if.

I know my distress will ease with time, as my brain slowly catches up with the idea that “They’ve seen you but they still haven’t hurt you. Maybe they’re not dangerous.” I hate that my threat detection system is worried about those closest to my heart, but it’s just working to protect the most vulnerable parts of my Self.

I’m not ready to announce my name to the world yet. But it does seem closer – like I might survive that event. And maybe it’s a few weeks away, or maybe it’ll be months, or years. And I trust that if I keep going, if I keep leaning into this, if I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I’ll be glad I didn’t give up. I’ll look back one day in astonishment and wonder how I could have ever found this so difficult.

That day is not today. But I won’t let anything stop me from reaching it. I will survive this. I will go on.

Posted in Challenges

The Secret Power of Names

This post started out as private reflections, but… I think I may as well share it. I was hoping to talk to my counsellor about it today, but I had to reschedule due to another migraine – they’re happening roughly fortnightly at the moment. Could be stress, but also could be a hormonal thing, and if it is my doctor said I might need to come off oestrogen and try something else, and I cannot hold that thought right now. Anyway. One problem at a time.

In May, I wrote a private blog post, just for me, but it’s relevant now to share it here.

***

I have a secret name.

It is very precious to me, and close to my heart. I don’t know if it’s my name, but I know that it’s the name of the little girl inside of me.

I know that I’ve loved it ever since I was little. I wished for a sister with this name. It gave me great joy to call my imaginary best friend by it. I gave it to my diary, that most precious journal that housed my soul.

But I don’t know if it’s my name.

Wren calls me by it sometimes, and I feel all squirmy inside. It’s embarrassing, and I can’t tell if I think it’s cheesy and it’s silly, or because I love it and I want it. New things can be confusing like that. I guess time will tell.

***

So I’ve given it lots of thought, and I’ve realised that it is the name I want to go by. I’ve more or less settled on a middle name and a surname too, but I don’t want to tell anyone. And I can’t for the life of me figure out why I haven’t told anyone other than Wren, and my close friend Garnet. So I thought I’d do some journalling to see if I could figure it out.

Here’s why I don’t to tell people what the name is:

  • I’m worried about inconveniencing other people, making them do mental gymnastics in learning how to address me. (I thought this was my main reason, but that logic fell over when a friend enthusiastically offered to address me by my new name if I liked, and I suddenly realised that I absolutely didn’t want to share it yet.)
    (Also, I’ve changed name once before, in 2016. It was a little tough for people, but they got on board without too much resistance, so I know it can be done.)
  • It’s deeply personal. (But so is my current name.)
  • I’m not worthy of having a new name. Of being called something special.
  • I feel fake, and juvenile, like I’m playing at being a girl. People might hear my name and laugh, saying it doesn’t suit me at all, and that would crush me.
  • Oh I’m so, so scared of them laughing. Of them saying “Oh, I knew someone with that name. I hated them.”
  • Of them turning it over in their minds, analysing and judging it, assessing whether they think it’s a “good name” or whether it’s shit and I could have done better.
  • Hearing “You don’t look like a [New Name],” or “I liked you better with your [Current Name]” would hurt so much. (And I know at least one person who wouldn’t hold back from just saying that to my face.)
  • Yup, I found it, those are the reasons. I fear judgement, and I don’t trust people to be supportive.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Yup. That’s interesting. Not sure what to do with that. I might test the waters and share it with trusted people, and just… really hope they don’t hate it.

Posted in Appearance

5318008

CW: Sex organs

I know I’m posting a lot but I have some big fucking news.
Or maybe it’s more appropriate to say small fucking news. But that joke won’t make sense until you’ve read further.

As I was getting out of the bath, I noticed something in the mirror that made me do a double take. (I’ve never been a bath girl because I find my penis… uncomfortable, and I hate looking at it as it just floats around lazily. Ugh. But I’ve actually started to enjoy the ritual of shaving in the bath instead of the shower before IPL treatments).
I looked closer at my reflection and narrowed my eyes. Were those… were those shadows under my chest?

I walked out to the living room and asked Wren for their thoughts.
Oh, they’d totally noticed that I was starting to get boobs, maybe for the past two weeks?

And I was like, hold the fucking phone, what?

I mean… I did make an observation a week or two ago that maybe they were a little rounder than usual? But that was probably my imagination right?
And how good my chest looks in sports bras, that’s mostly the in-built cups right?

But today, unquestionably and undeniably, I definitely have shadows under my chest, and tiny, round, fatty little boobs. And my nipples are more sensitive/painful than usual! That’s one of the first signs! Like, fam, I can’t even. I can’t. Am I dreaming? This can’t be real. I’ve wanted it so much, for so long.

And why now? I’ve been on the anti-androgens for 9 weeks (and a quarter dose of oestrogen for one). I wasn’t expecting boobs to come in until around week 3-4 of being on a full dose of oestrogen (which is 14-15 weeks away).

I alternated between crying and laughing, jumping up and down and doing a little dance. I’m sure Wren heard occasional sobs coming across the house, where all I’d say is “Boobs!” over and over again. (They were originally hugging me as I started crying, but I couldn’t handle that much love and support so I ran off to be alone.)

I just want to run around topless for the rest of my life. No cleavage to speak of, but it’s early days yet.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBS! ( . ) ( . )

Posted in General thoughts

More Ramblings From A Racing Mind

This is definitely some kind of record. My brain is very full right now and I need to declutter it, so here we go.

I did go to karate last night. In the opening minutes, Sensei K struggled with pronouns. “And then you hit his thigh – her thigh – they thigh – their thigh!”
“You got it!” I said, laughing.
And then he did something he’s never done before. As he struggles to find the right word, he walks over to me with a big grin on his face and slaps me on the abs, saying “I’ll get there!” It was an affectionate gesture, in the same way he might have clapped someone on the back fondly, and I really enjoyed it for some reason. (omg I just realised it felt like love, and my Daddy issues are coming in strong.)
And you know? It was kind of thrilling to hear she/her pronouns coming out of his mouth. Maybe the red nail polish or the impression of my sports bra tipped him into seeing me as female.
And a few minutes later, Sensei D cycled through the same three pronouns, and I thought it might be nice for Sensei K to know he’s not alone.
I think the ratio of correct:incorrect pronouns in class last night was about 80:20, which was so nice! And it was great to talk about it openly in front of the class without it being some secret, hidden shame.

I got a text today from my gym, saying that there was a special promo: pay for a membership and get 4 weeks free, plus no joining/admin fee (saving ~$60 and $150 respectively). It was a limited time offer expiring tomorrow, and I texted back and forth for a bit and got the impression it probably wouldn’t repeat for many months. I carefully weighed the joy I’ve gotten from going lately against the cost of ~$15/week, and I ultimately decided that even if this is a honeymoon period, having a place that I can go that’s actually makes exercise seem fun is worth the price. And the remaining 11 days of my free 21-day pass are being added to the free period of my membership, except now I don’t have to come during staffed hours, and I can join in any of the group classes. (I probably won’t attend any, but it’s nice to know I have the option.) The staff member who signed me up was the same one that said they didn’t have any policies on transgender people, but they did sign me up as female without me needing to mention it which I appreciated (even if I think I heard them using he/him pronouns for me…). They were one of those “I motivate people to exercise through shame and self-loathing” types who had been around for 16 years and is probably a respected leader amongst the staff, so I wasn’t feeling great about that, but we probably won’t interract much. Plus they took my safety seriously, showing me lots of ways I could call security and lock myself in a safe room if I felt endangered after hours.
So that’s it! I guess I’m a gym person now. I’m quite terrified of the committment, and the $250 cancellation fee if I don’t want to keep paying for my membership throughout the next 18 months.

Also, I have an accountant I think? My tax this year is all kinds of weird, because I think I was a subcontractor to one practice, I think I ran my own business for a bit there, and now apparently I’m a customer of my current practice who gets a fee for every client I see? It’s super weird, and the thought of trying to figure out my tax stuff is what got me spiralling into distress in the first place. So I’m paying someone to do it for me, and hopefully once I make sense of that I’ll be able to do it myself again in the years to come (especially if I stay with the one practice, and maybe pick up salaried employment. Ho boy that’s another kettle of fish. Stressed fish. Way too stressed to touch now fish.).

House has been auctioned, and from the number of people that turned up, I think it’s safe to assume it was sold. Hopefully this means no more home opens. Our poor cat had the distressing experience of pooping in her crate while we were sitting in the car at a local park, waiting for the home open to finish. She seemed fine afterwards, but I’m not keen to lock her there again any time soon.

I called Medicare and Centrelink today to follow up on changing my gender marker last week.
I was on hold for most of the 40 minutes of my call to Medicare while the staff person consulted a colleague and looked for the letter that had supposedly been uploaded to my file. They found it in the end, but it had been saved to the wrong section so it would have been assessed by the wrong team. If I hadn’t called to check, it would have been redirected to the correct team eventually, but I expedited the process. They were… vaguely apologetic about it, I think. I asked if I’d be notified when it was completed, and they informed me that I would not – it wasn’t one of those important issues like a name change that affects payments, but I could call back every week if I wanted to check.
Not important? Fuck you buddy. I’ll call you next week.

Centrelink took just as long, but was a little more pleasant. I could at least see on their website that my title was “Mr” and my sex was registered as “Male”, so I knew it hadn’t been updated yet.
But when I tried to edit my details, it came up with “Female” for sex, so that was interesting. Again, I spent most of the 40 minutes on hold, getting progressively hangrier as I was occasionally asked for more details. I had to explain that drivers licences in Western Australia don’t show gender markers, and that I didn’t need to get a new birth certificate before they could update my stuff. The staff member I spoke to wasn’t malicious, they were just ignorant, and they were working hard with their colleagues to figure this stuff out. By the end of the call, they apologised profusely and promised me that it was done (though it might take a while for the website to update), and as long as I’m with Centrelink they will know me as Mrs and Female. And they said it with such enthusiasm that I knew they were on my side, and it was so profoundly validating compared to my last experience.

It got me thinking that maybe I do want to get a new birth certificate. And I certainly want to update my licence, because I hate that it has a photo of me in boy-mode. I just… I cringe at the thought of showing it to anyone. But if I update my birth certificate, or my licence, maybe I’ll change my name at the same time so that I don’t have to pay for it twice?
And that was a super stressful thought. I haven’t even fully decided on my name, though I’m almost there. Do I want to change it legally in the next few weeks and then publically declare it and insist everyone switches to it? And if so, it’s so obviously feminine that I’ll almost certainly change to she/her pronouns too. Oof, that’s a step up from requesting they/them, which is hard enough for most people. I don’t know, more thoughts need to be thunk here.

I’ve also been thinking about piercing my ears. I’ve wanted to my whole life, and I realised recently that there’s nothing stopping me and I can just hecking do it. So maybe I will? But when? The recovery time is 4-8 weeks. Maybe I’ll get it done and over with sooner rather than later, so even though they’ll be the starter earrings, at least they’ll be done for my birthday next month??

But what about karate? I’d definitely take the first week off, maybe the following weeks too because the risk of bumping them or getting someone else’s bacteria in them is pretty high (gross), and I’m pretty precious about fresh stab wounds.
And then there’s the issue of my nails. Sensei J observed that I scratched him last night as I was doing a deflection, and I didn’t even notice because there’s no time for that when someone’s trying to punch me in the face: I just move and try and counter, and if I live to fight another day that’s good enough. For instance we were doing sweeps (ouchi-gari), and I hurt my back pretty badly trying to throw people who were double my weight, but there was no time to stretch because as soon as I’d thrown one person someone else was lunging at me. (My back was fine after a few minutes thank goodness, but that kind of pressure makes me take shortcuts with my technique because I’m just trying to survive.)

But anyway, my nails have now reached the point where they’re obtrusive to others. So I messaged Sensei K and asked for his thoughts, tentatively saying “So… do you think I should quit, or..?”
He came up with a solution that hadn’t crossed my mind: to use paper medical tape on my nails, and maybe my earrings too if needed. When I told Wren this brilliant idea, they were completely unphased, having seen it before in their wildly competitive high school netball career. I’m totally open to it, I just hope it doesn’t affect my nail polish.

My new phone case arrived today, and I finally got off my butt to give away my old one to a stranger on the internet who needed it. That’s not important in the grand scheme of my journey, but it sure is nice knowing that I’ll slow down the scratching and chipping will inevitably come from my phone flinging itself (and occasionally being flung) across the room.

Oh and I got 8 hours of sleep last night! And 45 minutes more after I tried dozing off again, with maybe no nightmares all night? And just before my doctor’s appointment too, that’s kind of annoying. But who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and spend the whole night tonight too scared to sleep. Fingers crossed.

(That’s a joke by the way. Whatever the reasons, I’m glad to be sleeping more. It’s SO NICE.)

Okay. Brain emptier now. Getting pretty hangry, will probably eat an entire bag of chips while making dinner and then not eat anything at all except dessert. A classic tale.

Posted in General thoughts

Thundering Onwards

I’m definitely on track for some kind of record in terms of posts-per-month. Trying real hard not to feel bad for writing on my blog, heaven forbid.

When I had that small suicidal meltdown a few weeks ago… Wait, did I mention that? No I guess I glossed over it. Well, I felt pretty intensely suicidal for two days a few weeks ago, and I’ve been in various states of “rough” over the past few months lately. It’s just been a lot, you know? But during that intensity, some of my friends reached out to me and one of them asked if I had a plan for when I’d start telling certain people and asking for extra support. I didn’t have really know, so I started thinking and eventually those thoughts coalesced. I wrote up a guide to recognising when I’m starting to slide, when I’m crashing, and what I want to do about it alonge the way.

So this morning when I started “having a moment” as one of my mentors would say, I was lucky to have that crisis plan fresh in my mind. It took me a bit, but I recognised what was happening and decided to follow my own advice and go to the gym again.

The weather is warming up, so I decided on my black pants and my cute purple singlet that shows off my bra straps wonderfully. Despite my nerves, I paused at reception to ask what the WiFi password was. This was a moderately big deal because during my last visit, I just tried to keep my head down and not be noticed by anybody, especially because I feel dysphoric about my voice. (I mean, I’m pretty sure most people can tell I’m trans from my appearance, but I still feel like my voice makes it certain.).

Feeling cuter and more resilient than last time, I decided I’d brave the women’s locker room again to stash my bag. It was empty, but even if it hadn’t been, I’m starting to believe that maybe I do belong in there just as much as any other woman. (I’m so grateful to those Nerdfighters for giving me that message during a time of intense vulnerability.)

I’m definitely getting way fitter, which surprises me because it’s barely been a week. I repeated my 20-minute run on the treadmill, and whereas the first time I tried it I exceeded my max heartrate within a few minutes, I don’t think I eclipsed it even once today. I definitely succeeded in one good chin-up, and came close to completing a second. I upped all of the weights, and managed them reasonably well without too much straining and groaning. And then I cooled down with stretching, only mildly worried about an accidental crotch-bulge as I worked on my splits. When someone’s foam roller rolled towards me, I even used my words as I returned it. I think I saw them do a double-take as they heard my voice, but whatever, just let me stretch in peace.

Leaving, I felt joyful for reconnecting with the part of myself that loves to be healthy, and that’s been missing it in the absence of karate. I had a small pang of fear that if I work out too much, maybe it’ll increase my testosterone above recommended levels, or inhibit breast development. But I’ll keep monitoring the former with my GP, and I think I can make peace with the latter. Playing The Last of Us 2 and seeing a muscular, possibly trans main character really helped me come to terms with the idea that it might be okay to have small boobs if I can benchpress 93kg. I think that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make right now, especially if I’m doomed to have A-cups anyway. (But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first I have to actually get on a bench, and that just seems way too scary.)

I’m probably going to training again tonight. Feeling so full of energy after getting about 9 hour sleep, the last few of which seemed completely free of nightmares. What a difference it makes! I’ve finally resolved that my current strategies aren’t working, and that I’m willing to talk to my doctor about ways I can sleep better. This whole “having nightmares all through the night and then eventually not wanting to go back to sleep” thing is getting real old real fast. I’m getting tired of waiting for the sun to rise. I hope Doc Beams has some good ideas, maybe more supplements to take.

Speaking of, it’s only been four days on that tiny dose of oestrogen, but I like to think it’s working its magic. 25 micrograms, every single hour! What a blessing that is. I’m really happy with how my life is going, and I hope that I can keep charging ahead, living it to the fullest.

PS: I’m really loving having nails long enough to get moisturiser and stuff caught under them. But I have just now realised that I won’t be able to play the piano again with nails this long, and I’m not sure if that’s a price I’m willing to pay long-term. Not that I have a piano, but still, it’d be nice to have the option… Hm. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Posted in Challenges

Cascading

I had a really satisfying taiji class today. As usual, I’d been awake for several hours before class started, but unusually I was in a bright mood for having won two Smash tournaments (and come runner up in a third). I’m getting pretty good with Little Mac! When I got to the dojo, I had a really good time seeing everyone and enjoying the training. Afterwards I stayed back for a few minutes to practice listening hands with Student A, and I derived tremendous satisfaction from setting him up for a perfect ippon seoi nage. (I didn’t actually throw him, I just lifted him cleanly off the ground, then magnanimously lowered him again.) He was way better with pronouns today, and self-corrected almost every time he get them wrong. I feel increasingly fond of him as he gets better with my pronouns, and we unite as teachers to navigate tricky situations in class.

After training, I plucked up my courage and swung by the gym. As I was driving there I realised I didn’t remember to bring a padlock for the locker, so I wasn’t sure what to do. In the end I decided to risk bringing my small bag onto the floor with me, even though it was against the rules. To my relief, no one seemed to care in the slightest, so it I might just do that from now on and avoid the locker rooms entirely. I fought hard to go in there the first time, and I’m proud of myself for doing it, but I don’t really want to add extra obstacles when it’s hard enough to get myself to the gym right now.

I thought I’d better get an objective measure of my current strength, and to my dismay I could not complete a single chin-up. I got close, but I wouldn’t say my chin was above the handles. But I do think I’m improving compared to last week, because I’m pretty sure I upped all of the weight by one level (7kg) and could manage the same amount of reps. I also tried out the rowing machine, and that was super fun! I know it’s not about comparison to others, just to alternate versions of yourself, but I noticed the chick next to me was going slightly faster than me and it really brought out my competitive side. Fam, I fucking smashed that virtual 500 yard race XD

And you know how just yesterday I was all “Well maybe I don’t want to push myself this hard anymore?” Well… I might want to start pushing myself more. As I was recovering from my stupidly competitive rowing game, I saw another girl strap a belt around her waist, clip a (5kg?) weight to it, and then climb a frame and do like eight controlled chin-ups. Watching her, I realised two things at once:
1) Just because my testosterone is low doesn’t prevent me from getting stronger. If she could do it, maybe I could.
2) I found her strength to be incredibly attractive, and I desperately wanted to be able to do that too. Maybe I want it enough to actually come back to the gym and lift a bunch of heavy things (for the next 15 days, anyway).

I feel complexly about muscles at the moment. As I mentioned once before, muscles and skirts are a match made in heaven and I am absolutely here for it. And it’s taken me this long to be comfortable enough in myself to consider that my aesthetic is for me, and not for the appreciation or approval of anyone else. That is to say, if I think I look amazing and other people don’t, that’s okay, I’m not doing it for them.
(Of course it’s not easy if their disapproval also comes with shame-inducing glances, or subtle whispers to companions, or just straight up verbal/physical abuse.)

After my last post, my dear friend Garnet observed that I always seemed to devote all of my energy into making those around me happy, even if it means sacrificing a lot. And I suddenly recalled the words of my counsellor as I prepared to tell my parents I’m trans:
“It really is about you managing their reactions, isn’t it?”
“Yes?” I asked, confused. Why point it out, wasn’t it obvious that how they took the news was super duper important?
“It’s not about you going through a really difficult process. It’s about how you can support them.” And I suddenly realised she was right – this was a huge fucking deal for me, and I was busy trying to minimise their discomfort.

And all at once I realised that I want to choose myself more, and that there’s nothing stopping me from doing that. In fact, I’m kind of sick of putting others first, trying not to rock the boat, keeping myself small and unobtrusive so that I don’t draw any attention to myself. I get why I’m like that – how hiding has kept me alive, and flying under the radar has been an essential protective mechanism to me throughout my life. But I’m tired of it, and I don’t want to do it anymore.

I know I won’t always feel this conviction, but while it’s with me… I want to be brave. I want to be the best version of myself, even if other people don’t like it. I want to hold on to that vision I have of the life I want to live, and to not turn down my dimmer switch for anyone. To live my best life, unapologetically.

I’m kind of done with being polite? I mean, it’s still really important to me to be considerate, compassionate, to be kind in my speech. But I don’t want to apologise for setting boundaries. I don’t want to stop myself from calling people on their bullshit. I don’t want to diminish myself for anyone ever again.

It’s a good fire to hold on to, but I know it won’t last forever. Heck, just today I felt utterly deflated when a gym-goer said “Thanks man” for letting him use a machine I was at. (In my androgynous taiji clothes, I definitely looked towards the masculine end of the spectrum, so I understand the assumption. It just hurt.)
Other people’s words and opinions still matter to me so much, and I don’t know how to wrest that power back from them. It’s a complex path I’m walking on, but I’m learning and growing. I’m stronger now than I was before, both emotionally and physically, and I’m not going to let anyone stop me from pursuing my dream.
(Gods, I sound like a cheesy anime.)

I miiiiiiiiiight go to the gym again tomorrow, depending on how sore I am. It’s kind of addicting XD

Posted in General thoughts

Choosing Joy

As you might recall, I previously asked my teachers whether they wanted me to correct them during class when they make a mistake about my pronouns, or whether to tell them afterwards, and they picked afterwards (which enraged me, and made me wish I’d never offered them the choice). So when Student A used he/him pronouns for me while he was teaching, imagine my surprise when I found myself correcting him on the spot. And he apologised, corrected, and moved on with the lesson.

And even though he made the same mistake about another dozen times, he self-corrected almost every single one before I could point it out to him, and I was so grateful for that! When most people get my pronouns wrong they don’t even notice, so it was refreshing seeing that I didn’t need to intervene and he was able to catch it himself, in his own time. After class he told me that he felt really bad about it and it wasn’t good enough, but I was just grateful for his efforts.

I was reflecting (in that moment and after it) about what lead me to speak up rather than just weather the misgendering like I normally do in class. I think it was partially that I felt he didn’t have so much authority over me, and was closer to an equal because we’re both “back up teachers” so I didn’t need to fear him as much as Sensei K and Sensei S. I guess it’s been drilled into me that I always respect the authority of the teacher and I never undermine it in front of the other students, so I did feel underhanded about doing it while Sensei S was away.

But mostly? I was able to do it because I’d spent the day in a dress, and I was so overwhelmingly certain of my identity as a woman that I felt okay about interrupting. About taking up space. About cutting off a man mid-sentence to say “Excuse me, you made a mistake, and you need to acknowledge me correctly.” That’s an extraordinary amount of self-belief, but I had it in abundance after my big day. I didn’t need anyone to confirm my gender, I just knew it to my bones, and found it ludicrous that anyone could think otherwise.

I haven’t been to karate in a few weeks now. When I think about it, I just… don’t want to go. It’s not that I’ve suddenly lost my love for moving beautifully or exercising, I just… I don’t know. I have a resistance to it that I can’t figure out. Something about my testosterone being so low and losing so much upper body strength has partially made me go “Well, there’s no real point in going any more. It was a struggle when I was at my strongest, and now it’s even harder. No thanks, no more of that.” I guess I just don’t want to push myself all that hard right now.

A few days ago, I was admiring the nails of one my clients. They were unpainted, but they were so long and lovely, and I had a sudden yearning for a world where I could have nails like that too. And when I painted my nails a few nights ago, I realised I was well on the way to the longest they had ever been again. They were overdue for a cut, but I had a sudden rebellious streak and refused to. So now they’re clacking on the keys as I type, and I struggle with clasps of necklaces, and I’m so precious about peeling things or using my hands at all. But they make me so happy, and it kind of outweighs the joy of training right now.

I’d hate to diminish myself, to literally cut myself down to keep fitting in at the dojo. So I won’t. I’ll go to training (probably) and just see how they go for now. If I need to do knuckle-pushups, I’ll do them on my flat hands instead. As I form fists, I might just have to be extra careful, maybe even modify them to long-fist (panther/monkey fist) to avoid them digging into my palms. When I grab people, I’ll just try and keep my nails well out of the way. And if none of that works, or if anyone has a problem with them being too long? Maybe I’ll just take a break from training. Maybe I care more about my nails than I do about karate right now. And for some reason, that puts a huge smile on my face. I feel like I’m choosing Me over Sensei K for one of the first times ever.

But I don’t need to choose, not yet. It’s just nice knowing I have the option.
(I’ll probably still enjoy taiji: there’s, not a huge amount of grabbing or knuckle pushups in that class. But if it’s still a problem, welp, I’ll deal with that too.)

What a strange new life I seem to be living.