a guest May 24th, 2019 87 Never
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- I’ve been dealing with some serious shit lately (lately being for the better part of the last 7 or 8 years, but more intensely in recent months). This is actually incredibly difficult to write, not only because I dislike the fact that I feel the need to explain this at all, but We LiVe In A sOcIeTy. Also because I know that no matter how thorough I am in trying to explain myself I’m still going to get a lot of questions (which I’m mostly happy to answer). All I ask is that you do me a solid and read this from start to finish.
- This “serious shit” is gender dysphoria. It’s defined as a state of having strong, persistent feelings of identification with another gender or discomfort with one’s own assigned gender and sex. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. It’s come so close to ruining my life, and at some points it arguably succeeded. In the past, it’s manifested in a lot of ways, mostly a constant state of social anxiety, but also occasionally lashing out for at best tangentially related reasons. The only known and accepted treatment for gender dysphoria is transitioning, meaning to alter my own outward appearance and social role to something closer to how I actually feel instead of how I would traditionally be expected to look and act.
- To put it in layman’s terms: I am a transgender woman. I’ve been a dude named [deadname] to all of you for the whole time we’ve known one another, but that is not the real me, and it’s taken a lot for me to get to a place mentally where I can admit it to myself. It’s taken even longer to get to a place where I feel like I can admit it to you guys, whom I consider to be my closest friends.
- One side effect from my situation is dealing with depersonalization. Depersonalization is awful. For most of my life, especially from puberty onward, I haven’t felt like “me”. I honestly had no idea that this feeling wasn’t just the default for everyone. I assumed that a majority of other folks felt the same way I did and it would just eventually go away. It did not. So many times in the past I can remember hitting a weird mood and going near-silent regardless of what I was doing or who I was with. Other times I would be hyper-aware and focused on my big masculine frame and my anxiety would shoot into the stratosphere. I now understand those were most likely manifestations of depersonalization, because playing the part of 6-foot-plus, built-like-a-football-player dude in public is simultaneously exhausting and a source of distress for me; the only recourse I had was retreating into my thoughts.
- The best way I’ve found to explain depersonalization to those who haven’t experienced it is that during everyday experiences, you feel like you are in control, but simultaneously it’s not you that is performing whatever task is at hand. It’s similar to a dream in some ways. You live in your body, but you are not the person your body represents. This is different from dissociation in a lot of ways, mainly in that it specifically relates to one’s identity whereas dissociation is a more broad term involving many things, even outside of oneself, that don’t feel real.
- Acknowledging a deep-seated desire to be more feminine has been incredibly difficult for me to accept and I’ve spent most of my teen years and adult life repressing it. Partly through my own ignorance and partly due to representation of trans folks in media, I assumed I couldn’t be anything other than a guy because of various made up reasons. Imposter syndrome and excruciating self-doubt are the hallmarks of my own and many other trans folks’ stories (I’ve read a LOT of them). There are a number of prominent trans and non-binary individuals in the Magic community, namely Emma Handy and Autumn Burchett, who have helped me fix the issues I had developed about how I see trans folks through their accomplishments and through their presence online in the Magic community. This was immensely helpful for finally getting over the mental hangups I had for so long. They (and others) are living proof that I can still be me without being a guy.
- So far I’m just doing what feels right to me. I’ve been on hormone replacement therapy for about a month. In the long run, this will effectively result in a “second puberty”, during which I will (hopefully) start to look a little different. I also might be a little emotional for awhile, so apologies if that bugs you. This is not a quick process, but it will happen to some degree over the next several years. So far, the changes have mostly been emotional. I have literally never felt better and more at peace with myself in my entire life. I cannot stress this point enough. I can actually feel genuine emotion beyond frustration and anger. Where it used to nearly require a life shattering revelation or event to bring me to tears, I can now actually cry when I’m sad. Happy tears are a new experience. Laughing when I’m happy feels immeasurably more genuine. The world seems brighter, food tastes better, I have motivation to actually better myself as a human being. When I was only running on testosterone I felt like an emotional husk. I was quite literally dead inside 99% of the time.
- If you’re (understandably) curious if I’m just completely changing who I am as a person, I can reassure you that no, I’m not. I do, however, want to change the name I go by. In certain online circles I’ve started going by the name Alice and it feels really natural to me. Like I said earlier and will continue to restate: I am still the person you’ve all known for so long, I just finally have been motivated enough by my own unease to become a fuller, more complete person. To express who I am, not what I “should” be. It’s a slow process and I’ll likely be presenting male for the foreseeable future (discord included because I’m certainly not coming out to everyone in the server yet). I know it won’t be the easiest thing in the world, but it would be super great if you could call me Alice and use she/her pronouns in private. I wanna stress that I don’t expect a night and day difference immediately, I just need to know you’re trying. I don’t necessarily mind being called [deadname], but my first name is abso-fucking-lutely off limits.
- I know this is turning into a jumbled mess of me spilling myself out on the floor, but bear with me as I bare me with you. I thought I had shaken the feeling of not being at home in my own skin at many points in my life, the most recent of which was probably about a year ago now. I went a long time still feeling depressed, but the gender dysphoria was absent. This may sound a bit dumb, but I saw a post on r/me_irl roughly a few months ago. It was a comic involving one guy questioning another about his choice to play a female character in a video game. Super innocuous. There was an individual in the comment section that linked to another subreddit, r/egg_irl. My curiosity got the better of me and I dove in to see what that sub was about. Turns out “eggs” are folks that are likely transgender or are exhibiting signs of typical trans folk, and are either in denial or completely oblivious to it. r/egg_irl is one of the many offshoots of r/me_irl, but relating to eggs instead of people in general. I was an egg. The subreddit is full of memes about gender dysphoria, introspection, and weird situations one might find oneself in relating to one’s gender and either the acceptance or denial of those implications. This subreddit helped me finally “crack my egg” so to speak.
- Post after post, I was relating more and more to these stories from people I’d never met, told through memes. I made a separate reddit account to dive deeper, start commenting, etc. without tying it back to the “real” me. Several weeks later and I found myself subbed to a ton of trans/lgbt-related subreddits sharing my own experiences with others and still reading and relating to the experiences and questions others have many times every day. I have a folder on my phone for #relatable trans memes. I’ve looked inward and reexamined innumerable memories through the lens of questioning my gender identity. I spent a solid week almost completely bedridden with zero motivation to move beyond taking care of my dogs while I was looking to my past for evidence one way or the other. The evidence that I was very likely trans just kept piling up.
- Shortly thereafter, the dysphoria dam completely broke and I was in rough shape mentally. I suddenly couldn’t stand my masculine features anymore, when I had been mostly apathetic in the past. My height, the width of my shoulders, my facial hair, and many other small things that literally do not matter were combining to crush me with immense weight. It was at this point I couldn’t stand to look at myself and experience the disconnect anymore. I started looking into how hormone therapy affects the body and what all goes into transitioning. I learned that it was incredibly unlikely for irreversible changes to take place within the first couple of months. This gave me the courage to look into HRT providers in the area and I made an appointment to get the pills. Making that appointment was the best decision I have made for myself.
- Additionally, I just want to note that it’s currently May 22nd, 2019 as I’m writing this. I don’t know when I’m going to have the courage to hit the send button to all of you but I hope it’s soon. Ever since accepting myself as what I am and what I will be, I’ve had a significant weight on my shoulders and I feel like I’m constantly lying to all of you. At the same time, I know that even if this goes over in the best possible fashion, things will likely still be different between us and that absolutely kills me to worry about. I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but regardless I’m glad if you at least read all of this.
- Like I said earlier, I’m happy to answer almost any question you may have about this, because I’ve probably asked myself the same question, but I reserve the right to say no. Before you ask questions, though, please remember a few things:
- 1. Being trans is not a “choice” I made. I would not choose to identify in such a way that may bar me from employment. I would not choose to become an individual that too many people harbor irrational hatred and disgust toward. I’m white and I was assigned male at birth. “Choosing” to throw that away would be so incredibly stupid if I had any other recourse.
- 2. This is not sudden for me. This may be sudden for you, but as I detailed earlier, I have been dealing with this off and on for a long time. I’ve hated myself, I’ve tried to work around it, I’ve tried to explain it away, continuously tried to beat it down but it will not go away. This letter has been a long time coming.
- 3. I love all of you. The (hopefully) irrational fear of not being accepted by my closest friends absolutely kills me. This is another reason that I would not “choose” to be trans.
- TL;DR: The Big Trans™ (a subsidiary of Big Gay, Inc.) has claimed me.
- I’m sending the exact same letter to [close friends' names]. Please keep it amongst yourselves because I am absolutely not ready to out myself to anyone else yet. I want to emphasize this. I’m not even out to any family members yet, but they’ll likely get a slightly different version of this letter with the same general explanations at some point in the near future. Some time after that, there will be a pared down version that will go out to everyone else when I’m ready to be fully “out”. Stick with me, it’s a process.
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