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Mar 02 2015

Root Cause Analysis

Every time I take another step down my path, I receive the same question “Why?” I realized as I was preparing for work on Friday night that I had not really answered that question. To an extent I have given reasons, I have given the conclusions I have drawn based on my feelings. However, I have yet to tell people the root cause. I have yet to explain in a complete way the feelings that have led to these conclusions. While I have touched on them, I have not expanded very deeply. Much like peeling an onion there is layer, after layer, after layer of feelings built on top of one another. It may be painful to peel and cut that onion, however, once prepared, it adds a beautiful taste, texture, or color to the food.

Using the phrase root cause scares me a little. The reason being is that at work that phrase is a trap. When someone in technology requests a “root cause analysis,” it is usually a great deal of work for little if any benefit. The job of a root cause analysis is to determine what caused the failure or incident to happen. A root cause analysis is an exercise in placing blame either in a person that made a mistake or a failure in a piece of hardware or software. In my case, the job of this root cause analysis is to open my heart and express the things I have as of yet not been able to put into words. There are people who will read this and think that my reasoning is shallow or the transition is unnecessary. Let assure you, my reasoning is shallow, but humans are shallow. The transition is necessary. I have done everything I can, over the last twenty years, to correct the problems by other means. There is only one solution left…

As I open myself to more emotion, as I dig deeper, every day I find more ways to think about the same topics. I find more ways to express myself. I wish I had been able to take this journey in high school. When everyone around me was growing and figuring out who they were, I was avoiding who I was. I do not think anyone around me would have been ready for this in high school. I probably would not have been. My mom has expressly said that she would not have handled it well at that time. Everyone around me, myself included, has grown greatly since my high school years. I feel like all of that growth has prepared me for this transition and this journey to begin.

It took me years, in fact decades (two of them) to get to where I am now. Because getting to where I am now was the hard part. Everything else from here is going to be easy by comparison. I now have the support and the help I need to make everything go smoothly. I have the people I need to give the advice I need. I have the people I need to help watch for concerns and problems. It was getting here that was hard because I did it alone. It was a path where I could invite nobody along. It was a path of much pain, introspection, and questioning. For you see, this is the abridged story of my greatest sadness, my greatest fears, my greatest angers, my greatest darkness, and my greatest hatred.

… THREE DAYS LATER…

At this point in writing, I had hit an emotional roadblock. I found myself sitting and facing four paragraphs unable to write anymore. For three days, I had the above written, but nowhere to go… I struggled at least an hour a day trying to come up with even the next SENTENCE. How was I supposed to tell this story? Then my birth mom had me pre-read a post for her blog (www.flightofaphoenix.com) I could not help myself… I had to steal a paragraph.

Facebook is odd, when you put a status up, you can choose to add a feeling but not multiple feelings. I don’t know about you but I rarely ever have a time when I just have one feeling. Sure there is a predominant feeling but rarely just one. For the first time in my life that I can remember my predominant feeling is JOY. I often wondered what that felt like. I prayed for it. I admired people who expressed joy. Although I also feel grief and guilt the predominant feelings are Joy and Gratitude. I have come to realize that all the times in my life where I have suffered from deep depression the depression was the stronger emotion that snuffed out the glimmer of positive emotions that were trying to shine through. Now it is the opposite, there may be a glimmer of sadness but the joy is snuffing that out.

That is in one simple paragraph why this transition is happening. Of course, she wrote it for her context not mine and I stole it verbatim, so let me explain. She and I have come to the same conclusions about our lives at the same time. At the time, I could not admit the truth. Fear, Anger, and Depression ruled my life. Those three emotions governed every action every thought and every belief that I held. My entire life was one built on negativity. I had no purpose. I had no goals. I was floating though life. Nothing was inside. There was no soul, just darkness. Only I could see me as perfect. Only I could see the true me underneath. Recently (the last 5 years) I was starting to give out glimpses, but I do not think many people actually saw.

Trigger Warning (for video): Suicide, Cutting

For those of you that do not know what a trigger warning is: I first heard of it in the Trans* community. It is a warning that the object referenced will show/reference things that may bring back emotions or feelings related to the warnings, in this case Suicide or Cutting.

This next bit is going to sound like an asinine tangent but I need to say it for the post, as a whole, to continue to make sense. Society is still very sexist. It does not matter how much feminism tries to change that. Men and women are different. That is a scientific, biological, and medical fact. Society has accepted that difference and embraced it. Society, since the beginning of society, has seen men and women as to completely different entities. We have made a lot of progress in terms of moving toward equality, but we are not there yet. We most likely never will be at true equality. I accept that fact. Because of that fact, society treats men and women differently. Society interacts with genders differently; Commercials even market to them differently. Because society looks at us differently that ingrains upon us that genders are different and we end up treating each gender differently whether we like it or not. It is on that premise that I base the rest of that post. If you disagree with this paragraph, you will fundamentally disagree with the reason I am doing what I am doing.

I was angry. I was depressed. I was Fearful. Why?

I was fearful that everyone would find out my secret. I was fearful that everyone would know. I lived in constant fear that the truth was going to be exposed. They were going to learn the things I hid. They were going to leave me because I am abnormal. I was afraid that everyone would leave me alone with my emotional darkness.

I was angry that I could not be happy being the person I was. Why as everyone able to accept that the sex of their body was what their gender was supposed to be and, more importantly, they accepted that is how society was supposed to treat them. I was angry with people who were happy. I was angry with people that could smile and be content with their lives.

I was depressed that I could not find happiness. No matter what I did, sadness overruled any other emotion. I learned quickly that the best emotion for me to have was none. Depression and sadness even overtook fear and anger. Then I buried that depression and sadness deep away in my heart.

From sixth grade until now those, the emotions ran my life. Each one piled onto the others. I had become a mess of negativity. If I felt or experienced any other emotion, fear, anger, or depression would replace it within a couple of moments. I could not live a happy life, yet I lived a life. It was dull, boring, isolated life. In the fear of being alone, I created a life where I was alone. Over the years, many people have tried to find their way in. Many people have tried to break down my walls and learn who I am and what drives me. I had firmly closed and locked the door.

In a moment of irony, I created the situation I feared. I pushed everyone away. That makes me teary even today. I think about how much of my life was spent, and wasted, pushing people away. Keeping up walls and mirrors so that people only saw what I wanted them to see. I was not open, and therefore nobody could cause me pain, but nobody could bring me happiness either…

Those are the feelings that kept me bound. I tied myself inside my own heart, inside my own protection. That allowed me to put distance between my heart and the hearts of others. These are the feelings that caused me to do the things over the last twenty years that seem so irrational. I did many things that in retrospect do not make sense. I hurt many other people. I caused pain to people because I was trying to prevent allowing myself to feel pain. I protected myself inside detachment. These feelings are the cause of my pain and the cause of my regrets and sadness over the last twenty years… However, this is a root cause analysis. I decided that I was not going to take it. At this point, I have been able to push Fear, Anger, and Depression back enough that I can start to feel happiness, but what caused Fear, Anger, and Depression to become so strong that it would overrule every other emotion?

Understanding provides the information for growth. If someone does not understand, why something happened, there is no hope to grow out of it. This is why the dreaded Root Cause Analysis exists. However, they are a great deal of work. A couple of years ago I had recognized that there was a problem but I refused to put in the work involved with the analysis. I was going to be content to live my life in misery for the remainder of it. At that point, I had taken quite a wound, but I had put up a wall strong enough to deflect bullets.

As I spent more of my life in anger, stress started to become a problem at work. I began to hate myself again. My mind had become a pigsty. I could no longer survive in the lonely world I had created for myself. I knew the cause. I had excess anger. I made the angriest and strongest resolution of my life and said to myself… I am not going to take it. I’m not gonna take it, anymore.

I started analyzing. I was building a puzzle with millions of pieces. So many people have touched my life, I did not even realize it until I started looking at all the relationships I have had. So many pieces I needed to find and build. Imagine doing a puzzle when you do not know how many pieces there are or where they are. This one goes all the way back. When I was a young child as long as I can remember I was a child filled with joy, good feelings and love. Where did it go? When did Hate start ruling my life? To analyze this I had to dig all the way back all the way back, to the week I was born: Late November 1985. I take you to the number one song that week. I take you back to a day of big hair, flashy outfits, horrible green screens, and a day when bands changed names like Chicago changes weather (a lot)

We built this city. We built this city on rock and roll~ or should I say I built this life… I built this life on well… so many things. So many people and things have come together to make me the person I am. In some cases, the lack of people or things has also caused me to gain traits and understanding. Deconstructing all of that was a tall order.

I started with what I knew. From what I could remember, and from stories from my parents, I was a happy child. My mom even tells me stories about when I would wake up in the morning at a very young age (still in a crib) I would be hungry sure, but I would never cry. When my mom walked into to feed me and I would be there standing in my crib smiling. I would be looking either out the window or toward the door I knew she was about to walk through. Through most of grade school, I had friends, I was able to feel and express a variety of emotions. I was open with thoughts. Gender was unimportant to me.

The first time I really realized that boys and girls were different is when a teacher saw a girl in my class and I. This was in first grade. We both had similar but unrelated problems (although I do not remember what it was at the time) I was told to buck up and be a man and move on, and that big boys did not cry. She consoled the girl, asked about her feelings, and engaged with her to make her feel better. The teacher treated me as if I was doing something wrong… These two interactions happened within twenty minutes of each other. This was my first experience facing a double standard related to gender. This one particular instance in unimportant but combined with the many hundreds of other instances I have seen over my life it is groundbreaking.

Shortly after that incident, I first heard a song by the Four Seasons called “Big Girls Don’t Cry” It confused me but quickly became one of my favorite songs as a child. I wanted the interaction she had with the teacher, not the one I had had… However, everyone just assumed I was a boy. Everyone treated me as if I was wrong if I cried. Everyone assumed that I wanted to be interacted with in a certain way, because, of my physical characteristics. Nobody ever asked.

I observed how adults interact with girls. I observed how adults interacted with boys. There were vast differences between the two. Media, TV, etc. also had similar actions separated by gender. Storybooks even had separate target genders for children. The Hardy Boys books were the ones I had… The ones I wanted were the Nancy Drew books. Both book series are mysteries. Both book series started around the same time… Many ghostwriters under a common pseudonym write both series. The only difference really is the gender of the main characters and the language style used in the books. Therefore, I never read. If I had girls’ books, I probably would have read quite a bit more as a child. However, since I knew I was a boy and boys were strong and could endure I thought expressing that made me weak and make people look down on me… Therefore, I never did. In doing that, I proved myself weak.

However, I only ever saw interactions with girls at school or while hanging out with girls at school. I did not have any siblings. I could not draw differences between a brother and myself. I could not draw similarities between a sister and myself. I had no proof all I had were feelings. It was quite early in life that I observed men living the world of proof and logic and women living in the world of thoughts and feelings. That again stifled my urge to speak out. I felt like if I did not have any proof; people would discount my feelings. Because I was a boy, men deal in proof. I had plenty of feelings, but I just did not think people would see my feelings as valid. In retrospect, as an adult now, my feelings probably would have been discounted but not because of my gender… because of my age.

TO PARENTS OF TRANSGENDER QUESTIONING CHILDREN: Listen. That is my only advice to give them less depression and sadness I had. Tell them you are there to listen to them. I was so afraid that no one would listen that I could not say anything in the first place. Even by questioning themselves their confidence takes a hit. Society treats children as little people who do not know anything. Therefore, Society has to spend years sending them to school to educate them they are going to very unsure and unconfident. All you need to do is listen. If someone is questioning their gender it is something they need to work out for themselves (stupid MSWord keeps wanting to replace that with gender specific himself or herself – Another input from society)… In addition, it takes time. Do not try to tell them what they may or may not be. Give them as many options as you can, books, TV shows, movies, plays. Let them see both genders and listen to what they have to say about it.

I spent years cataloging differences between genders. The way they interacted, the way they acted. The way society treated them. Each time I found a new one I asked which one I would prefer… 90% of the time my initial instinct was toward acting, interacting, or being treated like a woman, not a man. Nobody knew what it was like Behind Blue Eyes.

As they said “Get on with it!” Let us cut to the chase because my heart, eyes, and soul are getting very heavy right now… No one knows what it is like to feel these feelings. My root causes for all of this my depression, my sadness, my fear, my anger. Is society itself. If society truly treated genders evenly, I would have no need to make this change. Society treats men as society sees men. Society treats women as society sees women. I see no problem in that; I am just part of the wrong group. The fundamental problem is that society groups people. That problem will always exist even though I am getting closer and closer to saying that my life’s fight is one to break that down. Sexism, Racism, Ageism, will exist as long as those groupings for people exist. It is as simple as that. It is also human nature to try to group things. I do not think we can fix about that. Yet groups try to form to fix it.

Feminism is a great example. Honestly, go away. (My original text there was fuck off but I thought that was a little too rude…) You are working day in and day out to get women treated like men. That is not equality. I am a woman; I want society to treat me and look at me like a woman. I do not want to wear a pants suit and go into some high paying office job. I do not care about the wage gap… If I wanted more money, I would bargain for it instead of expecting someone hand it to me. Because I do not bargain for it, an employer should pay me less. I am okay with that. Giving a woman more money than she has bargained for just because she is a woman is not equality. In addition, what will happen to people who want to bargain for better wages or raises? Will bargaining for higher wages and raises become illegal? If not, another wage gap will form. More men bargain for their wage so they make more. It is not because women are less valued! Well, at least that is how I see it. If you want to get people treated equally, treat every person as a human. That is the one grouping we all share.

I want to be a wife, I want to be a mother, and I want my home to come first. I do not care about my career or how much money I make. Does society afford those options to men? Nope. Sure stay at home dads exist. However, they are bucking society by doing that. In fact, in some cases hiring managers will assume that they are unemployable simply because of the fact they are stay at home dads.

Feminism, particularly extreme feminism, is trying to make us all men while trying to retain the bonuses from being women… To me that defies common sense. Feminism is about getting women classed into a different group a group called Men… I do not want society to group or class me anywhere. I want people to just recognize the real me. However, if I am going to be classed somewhere, it needs to be as a woman to give me a chance at happiness. That is why I am changing my grouping in society. To change that grouping, I need to take medication for the rest of my life. I need to change my name. I need to change my wardrobe. I need to change a great deal about how society sees me. However, that is my life. I will sing this song for the remainder of my life and strive to break society’s groupings down.

I have one more comment. Then I am probably going to go cry. No matter how long it takes, no matter what I have to do, I will force society to treat me and interact with me in the way I wish. Society will treat me in a way that I feel like a human, in a way that I feel like a person. Society will treat me in a way I feel validated and unique not just some generic ordinary ‘man.’ It could take 3 years, it could take 10 years, and it could take 50 years. Who knows… it may take until the sky crumbles and falls. I will stand though it all. I will define myself and force society to listen instead of having society define me and molding myself to fit that. If I need to, I’ll make the sky fall to have it happen.

P.S. As of today (Monday) I have now been on hormones for a week. Please except an update about that at some point, although I do not know when. I too spent emotionally to write any of that now.

About the author

Josie

I’ve never been good at writing about myself. I’ve never been good at ‘talking up my strengths’ but at least I should try…

I am a 30 year old (gasp), woman. To me, it is just that simple. My life is slowly coming together into a form where I can be proud to call it my life.

Who am I? I’m a strong, loving woman that was assigned male at birth and is finally correcting that egregious error by biology. For most women if they have an urge like wearing a sundress, they just do it. For my first 29 years on this planet, that wasn’t a possibility.

I write to heal, then publish to inform. I hope my journey can make the journeys of people that come after me just a little less painful.

I also have a ‘day job’ as a Data Center Technician. I do an incredibly physical job lifting fixing and moving servers. I daily, walk into and then maintain ‘the cloud.’ Servers are still quite a bit larger and heavier than your desktop at home. So much so that I am the only woman on my team of 20 and one of 5 in the entire building of about 75. Technology is without a doubt a male dominated industry. Which makes me quite sad.

I wish I could better express who I am. I don’t feel like I’ve done justice to my history, my life, and my story, but for now, this will have to do. To me the most beautiful thing in the world is understanding and empathy. If we can have only one thing for each other person on this planet, I choose empathy.

3 comments

  1. Marcy

    New Rule: I must read these blogs before I put on mascara and preferably not just before work. I nodded and teared up the whole time, much of the earlier part really could have been written by me, the emotion part in the beginning. You are so strong Jo. You will get there and society will see you the way you see yourself, the way your husband sees you and me as well..as a strong, beautiful, loving woman and so much more. I also have to admit, knowing you were going to write this and the “root cause” would be revealed I was a little nervous but relieved to read that my fear of all this pain being caused by me….I love you bunches.

  2. Glenn Mitchell

    It is incredibly beautiful (and heart-wrenching) to hear your story. Thank you for putting it out there. You can thank (or blame?) your mom for spreading your blog posts to the other parents. My oldest child already identifies as transgender at five and hopefully will never have to feel unheard. I take your advice about listening to heart. I also hope that you have more opportunities to explore feminism, which, at it’s core, is about exactly what you are striving for – that all of us be validated as human. That’s my understanding, anyway, even though others may have different views or use that term in different ways. And it’s because of feminism (and queer theory, probably) that I now think about “all genders” rather than “both genders”, which is an important validation for many non-binary, genderqueer people out there. Best of luck with your continued journey, and thank you for being a great role model for the ones coming along behind you.

    1. Dorothy

      You Sir/Madam are the enemy of confusion evrewyhere!

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