Hey everyone! Back to the story this week.
Trigger warning: this contains overtones of sexual...awkwardness, I suppose, since it’s hard to call it abuse. It contains a number of incredibly personal and uncomfortable thoughts and experiences. It’s one thing to through something like this. It’s quite another to enjoy it. If I’m being honest, I’m tempted to chicken out on posting this again and write something else.
It’s also important to note that memory is fallible. While I’m certain of the overall flow of the event, the details of the conversations are vague in mind. Thus, conversation is largely reconstructed as closely as I can recall, but I would assume that some of it isn’t quite accurate. That said, it’s the base of the things that matters most.
So I hope that you don’t judge me too harshly here, and thanks for reading. If reading this triggers anything you’d have preferred remained forgotten, I sincerely apologize.
Names changed for obvious reasons.
(A10) Private Initiation
“I can give you a ride home, if you like.”
“Yeah, that would be great, thanks.” You grab your backpack, stuff it with beginner books from your piano lesson, and chuck it into the back of Mr Swift’s tiny white pickup truck. He’s still getting ready, so you stand by the door and wait for the late-middle-aged man to leave the house and let you in. As he strolls over, you notice that he’s stuffed a small book with tiny yellow bookmarks in the front pocket of his button-up shirt. He seems distracted.
“You know how to drive?” He asks, once you start moving.
“I’m only twelve,” you say, “ I can’t yet. Besides, I don’t want to drive. Driving is stupid. Bikes are so much better- why would you want to just sit there when you could make yourself move under your own power? Bikes are like flying! In a car you just get carsick.” This is a rehearsed argument- you’re quite passionate on the subject. Bicycles are freedom, and love. Cars are nausea.
“Well, when you’re older sometimes you need to move things or go places you can’t go on a bike,” says Mr. Swift, then, “you okay?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” you lie, “you’ll just tell my dad.”
He pushes. “No, really, what is it? I promise I won’t tell him.”
That’s good enough for your hairpin reluctance, so you launch into venting all your early teenage angst. Mr. Swift is one of those older men who is a really good listener and he’s easy to talk to. He seems to really get your perspective, but the closer to home you get, the quieter you become. What is dad going to make you do now? What new form of emotional torture will he invent under the guise of trying to help you “submit to God”? You hate him, you hate him so much. And yet all you want to do is please him. Even though you know it’s impossible.
“Come on, let me show you how to drive”, says Mr. Swift, slowing down and turning off of a side road. He’s one of those balding dudes whose head looks remarkably like an ice cream cone.
“But...” you start to object, knowing that if you try you’ll just fail and then he’ll never let you try again.
He cuts you off. “If you don’t want to, that’s okay. But I think you should at least try, and then we can stop and take a walk. That way you don’t have to go home right now and we can tell your dad I was giving you a driving lesson.” It’s flawless logic. So you ride along down a bumpy dirt road, tall grass waving to either side. What kinds of wildflowers are hidden in between? What if there’s a Calypso? Or a Dutchman’s Pipe? The prospect of going for a nature walk is tantalizing.
Mr. Swift stops the truck and turns it off, and you switch places. It’s a stick shift, and he explains how to get started. You kill it several times before managing to make first gear move, and then you’re driving down a dirt road at five miles an hour.
It’s a harrowing experience, because you just know you’ll hit a rock and the whole truck will disintegrate and it will be your fault and then he’ll hate you too.
About twenty feet in you cross over a cattle guard and then stop. You can’t take it any more. You expect Mr Swift to be diasappointed, but instead he laughs and congratulates you on a job well done. This is so strange for you to hear that for a moment reality sort of goes off the rails and you realize that he’s actually really beautiful, with his scraggly ring of white hair. It’s like he sees you. You wish he was your dad instead.
The road doesn’t go much further, so the old man parks the truck and asks if you want to go for a walk. He comes here often, he explains, when he needs alone time, and there’s all sorts of cool spots along the trail. At this point you don’t really care what you’re doing so long as it means less time at home and more time with Mr. Swift, so he leads the way and off you go into the trail, tall grass waving to either side and a low, thick forest some paces to your right.
It doesn’t take long before your mouth starts moving, and you find yourself venting more and more about your father, saying things you haven’t told anyone. The old man just listens and never tells you you’re wrong or worthless or that children should be seen and not heard. He never tells you to be quiet. He just leads the way and tries to understand.
You begin to contemplate telling him what’s really on your mind, what has been on your mind now for as long as you can remember. The constant craving compulsion that never goes away, never recedes. You fall silent.
“Hey,” says Mr. Swift, “let’s take a break. There’s a neat spot over here.” He turns off the trail and heads into the forest to one side. You feel like you’ve just started walking, and haven’t even found any pretty wildflowers yet, but he is old, you suppose. Old men need rest more than kids.
The spot is as neat as he said. It’s almost tent-like, all covered over with arching branches and leaves with the afternoon sun glowing through. The grass is already tamped down a bit, and it’s clear that the old man has been here before. It’s a cubby-hole, a hiding spot, and it feels safe. Just you and him. Part of you wants to cuddle up to him and take a nap, but memories of a lifetime of negative touch push that thought away almost before it coalesces in your mind.
As it goes, the compulsion slams into you. I just want to go back! Back to when they just loved me, when no one tried to make me into a man or made me do things! I wish I could just start over knowing everything I know now. Then I’d really appreciate that love and I’d never do whatever I did to lose it. I...
Mr. Swift pulls out his book.
Curiosity overwhelms your thoughts but not the dark feeling that spawned them. Lately, that’s becoming, more and more, your normal every day feeling. The book is similar in size and shape to many of the religious books you’ve seen before but the title seems different. He opems it to one of the yellow post-it bookmarks and begins to read.
Something in the air changes.
“What are you reading?” You ask. “Can you read it out loud?”
He’s suddenly become slightly fidgety. “It’s not for kids,” he replies.
“I’m not a kid, I’m twelve!”
“Your father wouldn’t like it.”
“He doesn’t like anything.” You retort, then add: “and besides, I won’t tell him!”
“Are you sure? You probably wouldn’t like it.” You answer with a flat stare. He looks at you, smiles, and begins to read aloud.
It’s nothing you’ve ever heard before, something about people coming together and doing things with each other. It has a kind of rebellious air to it, of something forbidden. Your parents definitely wouldn’t like it, but you definitely do, possibly because they wouldn’t.
A small wet stain begins oozing through the front of Mr. Swift’s jeans. Something about it excites you, and you feel a reflexive sense of shame.
“Are you... uh, having...an accident?” You ask. He looks down.
“Doesn’t this happen to you?” He laughs and then looks at you quizzically.
There’s a new sensation moving in your breast, swirling. Exciting you and choking you at the same time. But you have no idea what the old man is talking about. “I don’t pee myself,” you spit in defense, “only babies and old people do that.” Then you change your tone because maybe he’s disabled? “It’s okay if you can’t help it, though. Do you have to wear diapers? I saw some in the bathroom...” There, the subject is out.
“Oh, no, those are for my father. He’s really old and can’t get out of bed at night so we have to use those. Anyway, this isn’t like pee. It’s thick.”
“Can I see?” You’re increasingly getting the feeling that you’re finally getting to be a part of what men do. Is this what they do in the men’s meeting before church? Is your never having done this why you can’t go? As the questions begin to swirl in your mind, Mr. Swift undoes his tented pants. His tighty-whitey’s are stained slightly yellow on the front, and he pulls those down too to reveal his penis, which is leaking something white and thick and strange, and you can’t help but reach out and touch it. It’s sticky, slimy, warm, and not at all like pee. You wipe it off on some grass, and then on your pants. Mr. Swift redoes his jeans.
“Want to finish? Or should we go home now?” He asks.
No way you want to end this now. You’re learning way too much about the world, and the whole moment has you feeling things you’ve never felt before and can’t define, but they’re good. Probably. Weird, but good.
“Definitely finish” you say. He does. His pants tent a bit more than before and then the stain gets bigger and he’s a little bit sweaty.
After a moment, he closes the book and replaces it in his pocket. “What did you think about it?” He asks.
You think for a while, trying to find something impressive or profound to say about it. “I think mom wouldn’t like it for sure,” you say, “she’s way too goody-two-shoes for that.”
“What about you?”
“I think it’s cool. Can we read more?”
“Maybe next time”, he says.
“What are you going to do about the wet spot?”
The two of you return to the car. It’s getting later in the afternoon and the shadows are growing longer. You open the car door.
“Wait, just a minute,” Mr. Swift calls out, still not quite off the trail yet. “We need to check for ticks.”
He’s right. He comes over and you disrobe so he can check you over, all very clinical, and then you re-robe and offer to check him. “No,” he says “I’ll ask Mrs. Swift to do it when I get home. Want to try to drive again?”
“No way”, you reply.
At home, dad wants to know why you’re back so late. “Mr. Swift was showing me how to drive”, you say. Dad asks to talk to him privately and they disappear into his study. A few minutes later, you watch the white truck pull out of the driveway.
Unfortunately, things immediately go back to normal except that about a week later Mrs. Sweet tells your dad that you are talented and he then informs you that piano lessons are over, because you’re clearly in competition with other kids and don’t need another idol to worship.
You know the truth, though. He realized it was making you happy, and it’s just another loss in a long line of painfully short-lived gifts.
It’s too bad you can’t just go live with the Swifts.
Hey everyone, I’m feeling a little burnt out on writing autobiographical content from the past. Actually, I’m a little burnt out on writing in general. But I won’t get anywhere here if I don’t stay consistent, so I guess today I can talk about what’s going on and where I’m at with transition and how that’s going. If the writing isn’t up to my usual standards, I’m sorry. Just feeling really tired today.
I just turned 32, and I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. I’ve been on HRT for five and a half months now, and quite a lot has changed. But at the same time, not enough. And up until a few days ago I was undergoing a particularly intense bout of dysphoria, mostly pertaining to my facial hair.
I’ve spent quite a few hours listening to lectures by Jordan Peterson, a man who is something of a rising star lately after refusing to capitulate to using people’s preferred pronouns if it was required by law, on the grounds that requiring such a thing violates freedom of speech. He won that argument, and thank heavens. In any case, in his lectures he often talks about the Jungian concept of the shadow self, which is the dark part of us, the part we’re most afraid of. I’d found it sort of awkward to work with since there are a lot of aspects to mine that I have corralled and already control. But it didn’t occur to me until a few days ago that for me, it could actually be that my shadow self is the collection of attributes I associate with masculinity.
I’ve maintained from the start that I’m not trying to become a woman. I know I can’t be that, and I don’t even want to be a woman. I just don’t want to be a man, and there aren’t really many other options. And the concept of non-binary doesn’t appeal to me because that’s not a gender at all, but a way of relating to gender. Moreover, I’ve had issues with various aspects of my gender without defining them that way since I was a little kid. I’ve never been remotely successful at masculinity when it counts. I’m a not-man.
But what if that’s my doing? What if that’s not innate? What if I embrace my masculinity and stop looking at it as a problem? What if I can amalgamate and become an androgyne, beautifully nothing at all and therefore everything?
For example, I hate my height. I’m not quite six foot one and I look down on almost everyone and I hate it. I want to look people in the eye and I want them to see me as equal. I want to disappear into a crowd and not stand out. But so many people say they wish they were tall like me. And there’s not a whole lot I can do about it either, so my choices are: hate this part of myself, or find a way to love it. And hey, it’s cool to be tall. I can do all sorts of things because of it. Being tall is a form of social power, and if I embrace that then that’s an advantage I can use in life.
Even going that far in my mind, allowing myself to see positive aspects of being tall was really challenging, but once I’d done it I was able to expand that thinking to my masculinity in general.
And when I did I realized that what really matters is this: I know who and what I am. And because I know this, I don’t need the rest of the world to validate it. So I can dress how I want, present how I want, speak in whatever voice I want, and it doesn’t matter. I am what I am. And what I am is a natal male with some weird medical condition that requires his already somewhat androgynous arse to feminize more.
Maybe I don’t know what it is to feel like a female. But I do know what it is to feel like me. And whatever *I* am has no gender. I’m just a nothing, just a beingness that exists and is only defined by relationships.
Having figured this all out, my dysphoria was quite reduced. Suddenly I didn’t give a flying poop bucket about pronouns or gender. I didn’t care whether my voice was too masculine. I had figured things out, but still had a lot of residual frustration. So I went for a run.
The next day I was feeling much better emotionally but not so great physically. As the day wore on, I began to feel the consequences of the extertion. Still, I was feeling happier in myself and wanted to go to an open mic. It just felt like a good idea. So, despite the intensifying pain in my upper body, I got dressed, shaved, did some makeup to cover the razorburn, and packed up my guitar. The effort spiked the pain, however, and I had to reast for fifteen minutes or so and wait for it to pass. Once it did, I gave up on the ibuprofen I’d taken an hour or two ago and took some Kratom, lugged my guitar out, and just went.
I don’t know if it was the pain or what, but I was in a supremely confident mood in the sense that I seriously gave no fucks. I was wearing whatever I wanted, my body hurt, I was mildly sound sensitive, and I just seriously didn’t care. I left my guitar in the car and hurried in to sign up. The open mic had already begun, and the noise was too much for me. After I signed in I retreated to the outside of the building so I could buy a cigarette off of someone as a way of fixing the sensory overclock.
There was a man sitting there, who sold me one for half a dollar and then we struck up a conversation. Not long after that several other people arrived and arrayed themselves around us. One of them was another trans chick. Let’s say her name was Joy, although she seemed anything but. She was average height for a female, but zero hips, which made her shoulders seem wider than they were. She had pretty eyes but a bit of a caveman brow, and from the length and style of her hair I guessed she’d been transitioning for at least a year now.
Part of me wanted to hug her, and another part of me was repulsed. It wasn’t anything obvious, it was the way she was over-telegraphing cute-shy, which was clearly her idea of what some females do. But women who *are* cute and shy are also entire people, and there’s a lot more to them than that. From my zero fucks perspective ofthe moment, I was rapidly beginning to understand how pointless and destructive caring too much about your gender really is.
Within half an hour I was surrounded by people, and we were laughing and joking and talking about guys and stuff like that. Joy had almost a ring of space around her, like a buffer of loneliness. I felt really bad, but I knew I couldn’t say anything in front of everyone and even if I did it wouldn’t have helped. So she sat there, rubbing her thighs together in exaggerated cutesy and speaking so quietly she always had to repeat herself (a habit I’ve been trying to break myself, though for me it’s because I’m used to being extremely sound sensitive).
So the night dragged on and I started to feel better. At one point I went to my car to retrieve my guitar and someone who was heading inside asked me to play a song. I asked if they meant like, right here, and they did, so I pulled out my baby and rocked it right there on the bench. They really enjoyed the performance, complimented me, and went inside. At some point she gendered me male, which I’d have completely forgotten about had she not come back outside an hour later and apologized. We’ll get to that.
I’d gone back inside for water and to listen to some of the performances, but while it was easier I was still too sound-sensitive to enjoy it. I figured another smoke is what I needed so I went back out and smoked again, which was a mistake. Back inside, I began to feel nauseous and overwhelmed by the music, but I stayed through a particular performance I wanted to see and then decided to leave for the night, crossing my name off the list.
One of the people I had been hanging out with saw me and came outside so I just sat on the bench and tried to pass the nausea and sensory overload. I was enjoying myself too much to want to leave just yet. Within fifteen minutes I’m surrounded by people again, and this is when the lady I’d played for comes out and beelines over to apologize for misgendering me. She was really super nice, but I was honestly a little confused about how should tell I’m trans and not just a gay boy or something. I wasn’t doing anything to communicate my transness at all: I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, using my normal voice, and being myself. But she tells me she assumed I was a girl the moment she saw me. I asked her how exactly that could be, since I wasn’t trying at all. She said it was in the way I carry myself and the way I move. I told her that I’m not really a gender at all, I’m male, and somehow this ended up turning in a bizzare and good natured argument in which a cis woman was trying to convince me that I’m as female as she. After that the whole thing switched and suddenly people were using female pronouns for the rest of the night. I still don’t quite know what to think of that, but somehow I felt like the coolest person there without trying even a little.
People would come out and say things like “I saw you in the bar, and I can just tell you’re supremely confident.” Or “I noticed you earlier”. Stuff like that.
It’s funny how not caring what people perceive comes across as social confidence. Maybe that’s precisely what it is. Whatever the case may be, the sickness passed and I started feeling well enough to mostly ignore it and started to zone back into the world.
And then, for the second time that night, I was asked to play. So I pulled out my guitar and played and three or four others joined in. Someone recorded me. They asked for another but just as I started someone came out to say it’s almost time for a person called Sam to play, and people were clearly excited. Since I was feeling much better I move inside with the group, only to discover that it’s actually my turn, so I hook up and play a couple of songs. Then Sam gets on stage.
And oh holy fuck, Sam was beautiful. Like, shockingly dreamingly sexy, and when he started singing...
Of course, Sam was clearly straight. Of course he was.
I can half tell if a guy won’t be into me because it’s only straight guys that ever inspire this feeling-sensation in my breast, like a spinning warmth. I swear it turns my tits into magnets because I seriously had to keep forcing myself to stop sticking my tits out at him and be cool. I was not cool.
I was fucking hot for Sam. Like, if there were no such thing as social convention and I knew Sam wouldn’t run away screaming I’d have been perfectly okay jumping him right there in the bar. I kept imagining just jumping on top of him and pushing his guitar aside and... well, you get the picture. And he was just sitting there with his legs open and I couldn’t stop looking at what was between them and...
Instead I waited for him to finish, told him he was fucking amazing, and left as fast as possible with a renewed sense of determination to do whatever it takes to be cute enough to seduce people like Sam. Like, sometimes I think I really don’t care if people think I’m a girl unless my being percieved as a cute one would get me laid. XD
It was, all in all, a fantastic night. I haven’t been particularly dysphoric since the day before it. As I told the woman who apologized for “misgendering” me, I know who and what I am, and because of that I no longer need social validation. That means you can see me, and not a facade.
As I left, Joy hugged me sadly and was perhaps a little overly touchy, and seemed kind of hot on me, which killed my Sam vibe a little, but I think she was drunk because I couldn’t understand anything she said. She didn’t look like she’d had nearly as good of a night. I wished there was something I could have done to help.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed my weekly ramblings and I’ll see you next time!
The bed is really just a thin folding mat laid over the concrete and draped with a blanket. It isn’t anything like comfortable, but then right now comfort doesn’t much matter. Sure, you wake up aching everywhere and cold, but at least you wake up alone.
Of course, there’s always the spiders and rats, but they don’t really count- there’s a mutual reapect going on between y’all and you get along just fine. Still, you check the blankets every night, just to be safe.
It isn’t really a room, so much as a tiny partition of Geo’s garage that you’d been renting as an outside art studio. You’ve been living here since you and your fiance broke up, typically trading house cleaning services for rent. It’s the definition of not-much, but it’s home, for now.
Normally you pack up the bed but today you make it nice and leave it out, then text your friend and ask him what his ETA is.
The encounter is making you anxious. Back when you’d been living with your ex, there had been a number of times that you and Skylar had wanted to rendezvous- in particular, he’d always had a strong kink for people with kinks, and he was a top, and it seemed like pairing up with him could be pretty amaze-balls for the both of you.
The problem is that, now, there’s no kink. Not anymore. It shattered about two months agp and left in it’s place a gaping, horrible void. You’d spent your whole life dreaming of defeating the compulsion to regress (or of finding someone to completely validate it), but now that’s it’s gone you desperately want it back. Nothing has any intensity any more. And there’s nothing at all that seems to turn you on. Women never have, it’s just that being with guys doesn’t actually feel like it’s legal or something. And you’re already masculine enough for fifty men. Whatever.
And so you’ve been turning to drugs more and more. Adderall, Vicodin, Kratom, Valium, Weed- anything you can find with a few hard limits. You’re being a bit more reckless than usual, but the sensation of trying to edge around yourself just to find the motivation to exist at all is one of the most horrible feelings you’ve ever felt. It’s as though your identity has just... Died. You can’t recall a single period of your life that didn’t feel like some kind of internal or external torture, but at least then the pain of it was distracting. Now it’s just gone. Trying ti figure out what to do every day feels like creeping along the edge of a massive, bottomless crater. But at least while you’re high you can try to find some kind of solace in regression. It doesn’t actually work, it doesn’t feel good or comforting or fun. It’s no longer necessary. It’s just that the ritual of it at least helps distract from the emptiness. At least while you’re high, anyway.
You’ve been painting, too, working on something called “Focus”, which is this massive four-foot-high oil, but you can’t actually *focus* on it. You just force yourself. Life has become drab, and while you don’t actually want the compulsion back, you want something, anything.
Skylar arrives, full of mustachioed short-person gusto and there’s some friendly chit-chat before you get started. You doubt it’s going to work, but you get out kink stuff anyway and things begin. It’s ten or fifteen minutes of the same stuff that always happens in the beginning of sex, only now your cheat is gone. And truthfully, you’re just becoming frustrated and bored and want it to be over. You get up and sit on a ratty chair with a dirty steel frame.
“I don’t think this is going to work, Sky”, you say, feeling despondent. “I’m broken.” Sky looks at you, sighs, looks away. You look down, feeling ashamed at how inadequate, how totally sexually inert you are and always have been.
“Waaaait.” He says. You look up and he’s staring at you, his face slathered in mischief. It goes well with his mustache. Curiosity sparks in you. “You want to try something?” He asks.
“What?” Curiosity flares.
“You have to trust me. Have a blindfold?” He asks, standing and checking around the room. There’s no blindfold, so you hand him a shirt. Hopefully this isn’t going hurt too bad. “Okay,” he commands, “sit here and lie back like this.” You can’t see what he’s doing, but you let him guide you into it.
Vaguely, you wonder if you’ll have to do anything top-like to make up for this.
There’s a moment, an interminable spacial distortion of anxiety and excitement combined with a basic kind of boredom. And then he begins.
He starts on your thigh, gently, running his hands up the side of your leg, over your hips, and lightly kisses you on the stomach. You’d expected painful, but this is sweet, and gentle, and loving and utterly unexpected. And what’s more, your body responds.
You’re upright before you realize what you’re doing, ripping off the blindfold, eyes bulging.
“WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?!?”
Skylar smirks at you and lets the question hang for a while before answering simply: “Touching you as if you were female.”
“You weren’t responding to being touched like a guy so I was curious to see if you’d respond to...”
You don’t hear the rest of what he says. It’s jumped into full-bore panic mode inside your skull, and there’s no more room for outside input. Memories boil to the surface and pop back into blackness.
“Oh, that’s odd,” says the old guru, “your second chakra is pushed up and to the side, like a woman’s.”
“No! I’m not like her! No! I can’t be! I won’t be!”
“Im not trans, I’m just what you’d get if a girl wished she were a boy and then got that wish and sometimes kinda missed being a girl but is mostly okay with it.”
“Hey, you little faggot, what do you think you’re doing in a class like this?” The group of boys slam you against the lockers and hold you against them by your collar. “This is for men, not dirty little faggots like you.”
“I’m not trans. I’m not trans. I’M NOT TRANS!!!”
And on and on. Skylar has stopped talking and is staring at you. You can’t handle it. You try to make small talk, but your emotions are roiling. As nicely as possible for how you’re feeling, you kick him out.
When he’s gone you grab a stuffed animal and cuddle up and try to process.
What if being trans is a biological thing? What if it’s not been all in your head? What if it’s not a choice and never has been? Are you going to hell? Hell doesn’t exist, but what if it does?
You’ve always known you’re not wired the way every other male seems to be, but now you know that there is something you are wired like. And you really, really don’t want to have to face it.
You go over the same justifications that you always do. Transition means loss. Your family will probably reject you en-masse, and what would it solve anyway? Nothing much- except... maybe if you look like a female people will touch you in that way again. Maybe they’ll touch you in a way that feels right. Maybe they’d stop treating you like a guy, maybe the way you think and your talents would make sense? But that’s a lousy reason. And anyway, it’s impossible. You’re twenty-seven. Too masculine. Too ugly. Too tall.
As the weeks pass, you realize you can no longer find any reason to convince yourself you’re not trans. You are, you’ve always been, and beneath the justifications and lying to yourself you’ve always known it. It just hurts to think about so you don’t. Or try not to. Maybe you’re different than most guys, but that’s good, right? And you don’t hate your dick. You just don’t much care for using it. So you can’t transition. And you won’t. Most of all you can’t be so selfish! You can’t do this to your mother!
That works pretty well for about six more months, and then the illness begins.