Alright, I’ve got a bone to pick with all you people talking identity.
Here’s my stance: Identity politics are toxic and they need to go.
I’ll say it again for the people in the back:
Identity politics are toxic and need to go away forever!
Here’s the problem: we don’t create our own identities. Identity is a complex relationship between our nature, our environment and the people in it, and our genetics. Our imaginations do have something to do with our nature, but not only is that a small piece of our nature, it only exists within a small portion of the overall pie. Trying to argue that anyone can just decide on an identity that suits them and that after having done so they ought to be able reasonably expect others to instantly follow suit is special snowflake mentality taken to an insane extreme.
Let’s examine the concept a little closer.
It seems clear the argument regarding the legitimacy of alternative identities is actually an argument about whether objective or subjective reality is more important to our lives.
On the one hand, the extreme objectivists feel that reality is defined as what we can see, taste, touch, hear, smell, and interact with physically.
On the other side, the extreme subjectivists feel that reality is defined as what one feels and believes to be true.
Show me a single person who isn't both to some extent and i'll show you a giant pile of bullshit.
To begin with, it should be obvious to anyone who has actually been born that subjective reality and objective reality are both real things that exist in each person. It should also be obvious that individual awarenesses of these two aspects of our experience are also different.
In fact, some philosophers (looking at you, DesCartes) point out that what we see is not external reality, but the translation of external stimuli by the brain. If this is the case, then we cannot actually prove that any reality whatsoever is objective. In point of fact, what we define as external reality is generally agreed to be that which we percieve as being external. Yet all perception is unequivocally subjective. So is it really any wonder that individuals can differ so greatly in their perception of what is objective reality?
A different, and more productive way of making a distinction between the two forms is to say that what I percieve is subjective, and what others can percieve about me is objective. This is obviously a massive oversimplification, but without tools like these communication simply cannot occur.
And now, for your reading pleasure, let’s have a short talk about identity and bathrooms.
On the one extreme, objectivists would require one to use the room indicated by the shape of one's sexual organs at birth, no matter how differently the person in question fits within the framework. Extreme subjectivists would allow anyone to use whatever restroom one feels applies to them in the moment. People in the center of the issue have more important things to worry about, like basically anything else. Just go in, pee, and get out and get back to working or drinking or whatever you are doing.
This is a complex issue, but I believe that the root of it arises from the way we percieve objective and subjective reality and the way we assume we can correctly project our rights thereby. We have to be careful to keep in mind that what we are percieving at any given moment may in fact be entirely wrong.
If we are looking for a simple answer to a complex universe, we'll never find one within the self-referential universe of definition.
We can think long and hard. We can do studies. We can forulate complex mathematical formulas. We can look through books and read essays and find educated points of view that validate our own particular set of preferences. But wherever there is preference, prejudice also exists. Regardless of whether objective or subjective reality is more important for life, relative reality rules.
Isn’t it ironic that some of the most outspoken arguments against people who identify as a gender that isn't obviously apparent come from people who also vehemently proselytize a personal and subjective God that also isn't apparent?
When we try to argue objective realty from a skeptical point of view, they immediately and vehemently turn to an ancient book as infallible proof, as though their subjective interpretation of the wisdom contained therein (or proud refusal to try to interpret) is the ultimate truth of the universe. In fact, it very well may be. But that information is conveniently available only to those who believe it in the first place. Yet in many cases it may also appear objectively true that adopting a faith often changes lives for the better. Who can say? Only those who go there and find out specifically for themselves, one way or the other.
Religions often claim to have an unlimited god, yet as soon as one challenges their world view, the god they have faith in suddenly sprouts all sorts of limits that conveniently adhere to the person's own prejudices. People have falling outs. New denominations spring up. Clearly, the fruit of arbitrary limitation is division. Isn't that literally what the devil is said to be going for?
This isn't a commentary on God, the doctrine in the Bible, or whether or not these things exist as objective reality for all. Rather, this is an admonition to the self-righteous. As the old book says: first remove the splinter in your own eye.
Similarly, some of the most poisonous and prejudicial words I've ever heard from the religiously unafilliated have come from the mouths of individuals who simultaneously insist that the world would be fixed if only people just let others be what they feel.
In both cases are we not guilty of the same hypocrisy? In both extremes we find individuals who feel that the way they want reality to be is much better than the way anyone else does, and that all others should change their point of view to suit them. This is obtuse hubris, and yet utterly common. Be as prejudiced as you want, but at least be honest with yourself about it.
I'd like to say that these extremes are not common, but actually they exist in almost all of us. No matter what one's point of view on a given subject, there will be an opposing view. Simply by attempting to take a neutral standpoint and examine this issue as objectvely as possible, I've already stepped on someone's toes. I've made someone angry. I’ve been offensive.
And I need to be. We need to be. Anger can help us to overcome our pride if directed correctly. Let us become enraged at our ignorance; livid at our unenlightened tendency to blame the world for our problems!
Yes. The world does cause us pain. It strikes us where it hurts. It has prejudice against us. It rapes us, murders us, starves us, brainwashes us, steals from us, and hates us.
But it also loves us, gives to us, teaches us, and brings moments of epiphany and creativity. We cannot live with dying. We cannot know pleasure without knowing pain. We cannot know others without knowing ourselves. And we cannot know ourselves if we are too cowardly to take responsibility for our own ignorance and begin taking the steps to change it. It's very easy. All we've got to do is listen.
And I mean really listen. To each other. We need to place our full attention on what another person is saying instead of just waiting for our turn to speak. We need to cultivate in ourselves a desire to learn, and and comfort with being proven wrong. It’s about relationships, not winning. Because winning is easier when we do it together.
When I began to first realize that I would choose to make a notion I’d been ignoring all my life into a reality, I scoured the Internet for stories of people like me. I was frustrated at first because I don’t fit the usual mold in any obvious way. I never really wanted to be female, not consciously anyway. I have had run-ins with dysphoria, and some life-long consistencies which I’ll discuss in another post. But they’ve largely been circumstantial or dwelling on the things I can’t change instead of rejoicing at how much easier it is to be myself every day. The body things are wonderful, but not feeling like I’m under any obligation to pretend to be masculine is better. I can let out my natural self and finally have a chance at experimenting with what makes me feel right instead of what will keep me from getting my ass kicked.
In my head, or on social media I may present myself as female. I certainly feel I fit feminine society better and I see no harm in experimenting. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m male. Going on hormones can’t change that. GRS can’t either. It can’t change my masculine socialization. And that’s okay. I was a boy, and even though I have never in my life been able to comprehend what other males seem to mean when they say they feel like a “man”, I am one.
I honestly can’t understand why people want to erase their past. It’s a wonderful thing to grow and learn and evolve! Isn’t this a legitimate reason for celebration? And yet my heart, my desires, sexual orientation, talents, the way I think and feel, express myself, move through the world, and what I want out of life are largely a frustratingly boring study in feminine steriotypes. So while I wish not to deny my past, I also want to move forward in a way that makes more sense. Fuck repressing it. I’m a fairly tall but girly little faggot, and i’m done pretending to be anything but no matter what the rest of the world thinks.
This means I’m being honest, but it doesn’t mean I’ve revealed some kind of ultimately true identity. What it does mean is that the process of identification can now begin.
Just to redundantly re-iterate, identity is not something we can choose on a whim. It’s a relationship that’s built up from childhood by the interplay between our natural tendencies, the enviroment, and our genetics. We don’t define it. Instead we push against it, help to mold it, but in the end it’s out of our hands.
Lately I’ve been having a bit of a crisis of faith.
When I first decided to transition, I did so in a distressed state of mind. I was very, very sick, and I desperately hoped HRT could make a significant difference. At the same time, I was terrified it would not. Nothing else had.
Then it did, and I knew from the first hour I’d be on these little blue pills for the rest of my life. It wasn’t just the near-total cessation of my personal plague; it wasn’t just the excitement inherent in making such a taboo choice; it wasn’t merely the euphoria I felt at having prevailed in an arena I was told over and over was impossible; it was that on day one, I learned just how much of life I had been missing out on until then. That is what finally solidified the decision.
The two weeks before I finally tried HRT were some of the most trying I’ve experienced in years. I was living through a steadily worsening flare, and if the pattern was the same as usual, with each one being worse than the one before, I was sincerely terrified for my future. At the time, the symptoms were approaching the level they had been at before the old man had suggested that smoking cigarettes might make a major difference and been right. But they weren’t all. They were compounded by something I hadn’t truly experienced before, not in any crippling capacity- gender dysphoria.
The combination of these two afflictions rendered me basically paralyzed. Without taking GD into account, I was having trouble walking to the deck to smoke, even at baseline. I was becoming totally disgusted by a diet consisting almost entirely of microwave burritos, corn dogs, and pot pies. But I didn’t have the energy to make anything else. I made myself eat to survive, but it wasn’t easy. I felt like my body had become a prison, even more of one that it has always been.
And then the GD hit, and the whole thing reached a new level, because the size and shape of my body seemed to compound the fatigue. I kept wishing I were smaller so gravity would have less of an effect. I kept wishing my center of gravity were lower, so that remaining upright would be easier. And having nothing else to do but suffer, I explored the boundaries of my senses.
The experience of GD, for me, has been a gradual thing. It’s been there forever, lurking in the background and informing my choices, yet I worked hard to keep myself unaware of it by burying the truth under petty definitions. It wasn’t possible for me; it’s just an ego problem; it’s not that youre body doesn’t fit, it’s that you’re suffering from envy; what if it’s really just the voice of a demon; transitioning makes you into an abomination, and it’s better to live in survival mode than to become something no one can ever love. And the fact that you’ve always spent a lot more time staring at dudes than chicks? Meaningless.
And so, whenever those feelings surfaced I would reflexively bounce them behind a wall of religion I’d constructed in my mind to protect me, and there they would have stayed had I not fallen sick. It was a good defense, and not too hard to handle.
But once I did fall sick, those feelings began to be stronger. The worse I felt the less I could push them away. And I began to wonder if perhaps these feelings were somehow related to the condition, like a symptom. It seemed to me to be too much of a correlation to ignore.
Before the moment I made that connection, I had always assumed that gender dysphoria was essentially a petty identity issue stemming from abuse or drug addiction, and that others who did not fight off their own GD were simply weak. I thought everyone felt the same, and it never occurred to me that there was another way to feel. But as I began to reaearch more deeply into it an entirely different and far more complex picture began to emerge.
It took me more than half a year from the time I came up with the theory to try HRT, and when I finally did it was, as I said before, a revelation. And after that, my mind was no longer as muddy and distressed. At least not about whether HRT is right for me.
It’s been three months now, and things are changing. I’m growing tits, and they are already becoming rather difficult to hide. My upper body mass is shrinking, slowly. I’ve stopped giving a shit about wearing nail polish in this little rodeo city in which I live. My diet and eating habits have changed drastically. I’ve completely eradicated all my bad habits and even food sensitivities.
Even so, I’m still sick. It is hard for me to describe how much better I really am than before I began HRT. Before, My baseline was housebound, unable to drive. In a flare I was bed-bound, sometimes unable to speak or feed myself. And the pain, omg. Now, I can drive, I can do things, go places, shop for myself!
But I do still crash. I’m still limited. I can’t do active labor for more than 45 minutes if I’m pushing myself before the old symptoms flare and leave me horizontal for a few hours. Even that’s an improvement- for one, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it used to. No more sleepless nights in agony, hyperventilating and dreaming of how great it would be to have opiates. And I recover in hours now, instead of days or weeks or months. Life is possible.
Still can’t get a job though. Still can’t be counted on to be consistent. I’m better, so much better, but I’m still disabled. I thought HRT would cure me, but all it did was make a massively positive difference.
The one hope I have is that I’m not at a full dose just yet. When I went from 2mg to 4mg there was a huge improvement. So I’m hoping that by jumping again to 6mg, things should improve again.
But it’s still really hard to hold faith in myself when Im so close and yet so far. I just want a place of my own, and enough money for electrolysis. And the physical capacity to have electrolysis done, because I’ve had it done once, for one hour, and it crashed me for several days.
So I think I’m going to try to get into web design. I can start by tricking out this site a bit more. Maybe I’ll add an art section? Who knows.
Anyway, maybe it’s hard to have faith. But I’ve come this far. I have figured this shit out this far. Bit by bit I’m improving, and I am not the giver-up sort. I’ll do this. I’ll make it happen. Because I will.
So maybe it’s not faith I need. Maybe it’s just the determining to give no fucks about temporary trifles like failure.
I just read a very interesting article called [What I Needed: An Open Letter to Therapists from a Detransitioner](https://youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org/2016/05/21/what-i-needed-an-open-letter-to-therapists-from-a-detransitioner/), and I think it’s a really important concept.
Honestly, even as someone who has vastly benefitted from the ease in which medical transition care is now provided, I feel that it was a little easy. Not that I’d retro-advocate for that when it was me doing the seeking.
It was through more than a year and half of researching nerve functions, opiate receptors, and sensory gating in days the brain fog was clear enough for me to comprehend what I was reading that a vision of what was going on with me suddenly began to congeal. We’ll talk more about these things in later posts, but for now the point of all this is that I did not begin HRT with the set intention to transition. At the time I was still trying to get out of it. I almost flushed the pills that first day instead of taking them.
I’m not saying I had no conscious feelings of being a transsexual before I took the pills. Moreover, the fact that I’d been sitting on my idea for a cure for nearly eight months before I had the courage to actually try it ought to say something.
Anyway, the point here is that if it hadn’t been for how easily accessible HRT was for me to begin, I’d probably still be waiting, and that means I’d still be totally disabled and dependent on others for survival. At that point in my life navigating various counselors was literally impossible. I couldn’t drive and I lived nearly an hour from anything my insurance would take. If it hadn’t been for informed consent, I’d probably still be staring at the wall, losing my will to live in a world I was thoroughly cut out of.
So while I do think things shouldn’t be that easy overall, I also think that they absolutely need to be accessible for people who may have a medical need beyond GD. For that, we need to be able to recognize and test for those things. And we can’t, so sometimes we have to go with intuition and crazy ideas. Sometimes we have to risk everything on a notion. And that’s genuinely dangerous. So we need a way to know.
Until we have that, we have a problem no matter what we do. If we close things off and go back to ultra-gatekeeping, it just causes suffering, more trans suicides, and it causes society to lose many true narratives of trans lives because a lot of us will have to edit those stories to fit the narratives we’re expected to tell in order to recieve treatment.
Conversely, by opening them up completely, we leave room for a lot of damage, and not just to the very confused people who walk this path and later find out it was wrong for them. Every time that happens it muddies the truth of what it is to be trans. As the condition becomes less cleary defined, doesn’t that leave room for it to become something that is largely viewed as a body modification trend?
So we need some kind of classification or testing. There is a lot of controversial material on these classifications, particularly the binary groupings observed by Ray Blanchard. While I feel his observations are both shrewd and correct, I personally feel they are also too narrow and largely ignore several other seemingly obvious classifications and forms of trans people. However, that subject is outside of our scope, and I’ll go into more depth in a dedicated post on Blanchard’s views.
In the meantime, as trans people, I think we need to step out of ourselves for a while and look at the broader picture. I really think we need to be advocating and supporting finding a biological cause for what we experience.
The space between seconds stretches like an illustration of your body being pulled into a black hole,
There is time, somehow, for so many thoughts. You run your fingers between the grooves in the khaki corduroy cushions until they disappear beneath you,
Glancing up at an oblong slab of petrified wood as the upstairs muffled sounds of spoons on bowls clank in time to the cramping in your stomach, you marvel that the middle-length hand has moved less than five deviations in all this time. It must have been centuries by now,
Anxiety is a warm blanket, rage is a friend, hunger is the nauseous nagging hag, and pain. You glance at the clock. It’s been centuries. It’s only been another five seconds,
You can smell the oatmeal and imagine the raisins. You imagine a fourth place setting you know isn’t there, a plain ceramic bowl and a metal Mickey Mouse spoon, plenty of brown sugar and butter, oh heavens: butter! Just melted around the edges and mixing with the sugar. You swirl it with a spoon, add strawberries, mmmm,
It’s been three days since you’ve eaten, you think. The first night you did not sleep because you did not eat. You tried again in the morning, but couldn’t get it down. This morning, the same beatrice potter plate again, same wilting pile of melting broccoli slugs. Same stern glare from the old man as he watches and commands you to eat. Eat now or no food at normal breakfast and the same plate for the eleventh time at noon. You shovel in one tiny bite, but nearly vomit. The moment the rubbery three-heated broccoli hit your tongue your throat closed up and refuse to co-operate.
Yesterday, gagging at the table over the same pile, the old man’s daughter sees your face turning as green as the broccoli and tells you in no uncertain terms that if you throw up on the plate, you will just have to eat your vomit. “Trust me”, she says. “He made me do it when it was me.”
You cannot help but wonder why they think you would choose to disobey on purpose? It would be so much easier if you could just comply- everything in you wants to comply. But you can’t, and so you’re here,
Rebellious. That’s the word they keep using. He’s rebellious, they say. You don’t know the exact definition of the word, but somehow it feels wrong. In the list of words sharing the dark space of your mind with you, it means something closer to defiance. But really, you’re just scared. Terrified, actually. It feels like you always have been. Of more discipline, of the old man, of dying from stabbing hunger pains and feeling light-headed, of failure, and most of all: of forgetting. Why this fear trumps the rest put together you don’t know. All you know is that you are certain you didn’t forget anything.
For good measure, you go over it all again. First you inventory the faces, all the people you have ever interacted with and their favorite facial expression float technicolored in your mind’s eye. You scroll through the list horizontally. You’re positive you’ve forgotten no one. How about events? Glossing over all but the most important parts of your earliest years you run the whole four years of your life through a mental scanner, looking for defects. You definitely haven’t forgotten something, absolutely not.
You wish, more than anything in the world that the old man would randomly die, or be called away on urgent business. That way his wife could follow the compassion you see in her eyes. She could bring food, and comfort! The old man just brings his cold eyes and impossible demands. He scares you to your core. You want to please him more than any being in the universe.
You love him.
And he’s coming back.
For the past several years I’ve had this tremendous urge to write about my experiences. Each time I sit down to write a story, moments from my own life come out instead. It feels egotistical and narcissistic, and so I’ve largely just stopped writing altogether until recently, when several people have told me I ought to do this. Narcissistic as it very well may be, I have a story and the compulsion to tell it. Whether or not this story will be of any use to you is something only you can know, but I do sincerely hope so. Perhaps this is a way of processing. Perhaps I’m attention-seeking. Perhaps any number of things. Perhaps this will have very little appeal, or far more appeal that I am hoping for. Either way, it’s a risk I’m taking.
While, as a child, I had an exceptional, bordering on photographic memory for some things, I also regularly repressed things to survive. Puberty took that crystal clear memory ability from me and steadily degraded until the first day of hormone replacement, therefore, my memory is not fully reliable and I can omly do my best to relate the events as well as I can.
That said, I won’t intentionally invent memories, and wherever I’m unclear I will have done my best to corroborate them with family and friends in order to make things as accurate as possible. Names will be changed where necessary or desired by those involved.
I have chosen to write autobiographical entries in a second-person perspective style. I find that by doing so, I can make the stories much more immersive and personal. I wish to wrap you up in the narratives of my life. I want you to see what I’ve seen, feel what I’ve felt. I want to make a true connection with you, and I want you to walk away from each entry with a question you’ve never had before.
I am a male-to-female transsexual. Many trans people have a kind of narrative that we tell, about how we’ve always been more like the opposite sex, that we experience dysphoria, and that at some point in our lives we choose to transition. My story touches on these narratives, but in my opinion they don’t really do much to help those of you who have not lived it to understand. Not only are they too threadbare, but speakig for myself I have had to work through the impulse to try to wrap my own natrative around the “proper” one. Thus, this blog is also a means for me to explore myself, my deeper motivations, etc. Entries that are primarily philosophical or political in nature will be written in the same style as this, my introduction. Also, not every entry will be about experiences or thoughts related to being trans. There’s a lot more to me than my medical problems, as much as they’ve shaped much of my life.
Returning to the story structure, I have every intention of jumping around in time. It’s been so many years I can’t place these things in an accurate order anyway. Moreover, our memories are not linear tools. They jump around as we make associations, because it isn’t the order of things that matters: it’s the moments. It’s the events that shape us, that cause us to grow.
As much as I may be able to write, there are thousand things left unwritten.
Fair warning: the story I’m about to tell involves real experiences. It involves graphic descriptions of exceptionally painful moments. It reveals the truth of my sexual development, about the elements of it. At some points I intend to show full, naked photographs of myself. I will never show these things for sexual purposes, however. I risk doing so only because a picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes it will be necessary to show.
I am also a visual artist and musician. I’ll be posting new artwork and songs here as I will, as well as introducing you to some of the the unbelievably talent people I’ve had the good fortune to meet in my life, many of whom I am still truly blessed to call friends.
If you’re squeamish or under 18, this is not a blog for you. If you’re family, you may wish to either opt out, get posts vetted, or prepare yourself for what you’re about to read and see as time goes on. I’ll always let you know if it contain nudity in the title of the post.
What I’ll be revealing are profoundly personal things, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified to do so. Believe me, I am. Walking naked in front of whatever portion of the world wishes to read this, standing open in my identity and in your judgment is no easy prospect. I am not at all certain I’m prepared for it, but I can’t help but feel that if no one speaks, no one else will come to understand. Someone has to risk it. Someone like me.
I plead with you to remember that the narratives you’ll see here are only my own. No two people live the same lives, and no two trans have the same experiences with dysphoria or come to accept themselves in the same way. It’s a journey for all of us. I can only hope that what I post here does not shed a negative light on the community as a whole- especially the bits regarding paraphilia, which I’d rather not share but without which my story makes no sense. That’s not common to trans people, or symptom of it. It simply shows the tremendous damage that can be caused by am innocent convergence of ignorance and imagination. You’ll see what I mean soon- It’s very near the beginning.
Finally, let me set the stage with some stats:
My name is Asha, though I have not legally changed it as of yet, and if we were meeting each other in person I might not tell you. I do not pass as a female just yet, and until I do so regularly, It seems unkind to try to force others to mince their brains over pronouns or cross-sex names. Technically, Asha is a unisex name, but it doesn’t sound like it.
I’ve been fairly blessed with my proportions. I’ve always been rather androgynous for a male, but in a haphazard way. The parts of me that are masculine and extremely so, and the parts of me that are feminine would have easily passed as such prior to HRT. I recall once a friend of mine told me that I have better hips than half the strippers in Portland. I don’t know if that’s true, but my vanity loves the thought.
I’ve been on hormones since the twenty-fourth of August, 2017. Today, right now, these are my measurements:
Shoulders: 41 inches around.
Feet: 11/11.5 W.
As you can see, transition has just begun for me, so as time goes on I’ll be posting progress photos (maybe) every now and again, along with measurements.
Favorite colors: intense burt orange, sunset pink, and a warm yellow-green.
Favorite writer: Patrick Rothfuss. Also, Brandon Sanderson.
Favorite movies: The Princess Bride, The Matrix, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Favorite music: Too many to list. Right now First Aid Kit, Puscifer, and various songs by Simon and Garkfunkel, The Beatles, all of them. David Bowie.
Favorite thing to cook: Whatever I randomly cook. I’m as bad at baking as I am better than you’d expect at regular cooking.
I could on and on with silly things like this, but let’s call it a day, shall we? Next bit we’ll be jumping right into the story.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy as all heck schedules to visit my little blog. Please, come again!