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Feb 23 2016

Little Talks About Why

I know it has been a long time since I have written. Because of that, it seems there is a lot to write. So heads up, length warning on this post, it stretches over six pages comprising four thousand, one hundred, and seventy-seven words. This post just kept growing. It is the first time in long time, something has come out in one long fluid post. I’ve been trying to write over last month, since my last post, but nothing flowed right. I’ve started and set aside twenty blog posts since my last published one. This one about all my little talks. Please also be aware I use the words heart and soul interchangeably. To me, they generate the same thing, feelings, emotions, gut reactions, intuition, etc. I believe, the heart is just the physical manifestation of the soul.

This is the time of year that chaos and goals for the next year are always introduced into my life. Sometimes they are introduced in the form of goals from last year that were failed, or incomplete. Sometimes they are introduced as new goals for the coming year to better myself. Sometimes they are introduced as pure chaos of emotions or thoughts or feelings. Yet, sometimes, they are the result of little talks I have with friends and family, loved ones and acquaintances alike.

Most of the little talks of my transition has been centered around answering questions. I love talking about it, I love answering questions. Seeing others become enlightened to the situation I have been in is an amazing process. Many people have asked me questions but a large majority of questions, have come from myself over the course of thirty years. If you add up all the questions anyone else has asked me it’s maybe 15% of what I’ve asked myself. I’ve had so many questions for so long, it’s nice to finally have them answered. However, there is one question that has come from someone else, to which the answer has always eluded me.

The person who first asked this question is one of the people that provide a great service to my life. He asks me all the hard questions and doesn’t sugar coat them and blows my theories and answers apart. The question never changes. They generate talks of the deepest level. They generate fear in me but resolve to answer. The question is always vitally important. Anytime he asks me a question, it is something that I know… I need to find an answer for this question, eventually. I will not be satisfied until I do. The little talks I have with him cause me to see how society is going to react. These talks enlighten me as to what to expect from others.

Another person does somewhat the opposite. She asks me easy questions at first, and my answer generates a new question until the questions are asked by me at which point it starts an internal chain of questions and answers that create some revelation or chain of thoughts that have not occurred to me, that then enlighten me in some way. The little talks I have with her cause me to have little talks within myself. Those little talks that help me grow into my own self.

In this case, they have worked together in the most poetic way possible. When I announced my transition to my friend he asked me a question I could never answer. “Why?” It was such a horrible, yet perfect, question. I think he knew transitioning was not a want, but a need. I had to ask him to clarify what he meant. He just wanted to know why. What was prompting the need to transition. He was stubborn asking for an answer that came from inside me. My first answer was that I wanted to “fit into society.” That was unacceptable to him. It was external. It let others define what I was meant to be. That was unacceptable to him. He is a very strong willed individual, and has always encouraged that I be as well. This conversation started a heated discussion where he said that “being transgender is to be fundamentally sexist.” Him saying that shocked me made me realize… This question isn’t answered properly. If that is what he gathered, then I have failed. The question hung in the air after that. It was unanswered, yet, it demanded an answer.

Since then, that question has been asked to me many times, by many different people. Each time it was asked of me I ‘tried on’ a different answer. None of them were quite satisfactory. Answers ranged from “to fit in with society,” to “because I was poisoned by testosterone,” all the way though to “so that I can be me.” All of them detached and weak in their own way. The first one being placing the cause outside of myself. The second one generating a follow up of “what do you mean by that?” but the last one being the weakest, it had no meaning or context. What does the phrase, “to be me” mean?

can you remember

After a year it took a conversation with the other person that molds me though questions to finally click me on a path that makes sense. She ended up asking me one of the most offensive questions that anyone can ask a transgender person. However, since I have known her for so long and we are so close in many topics, it wasn’t an issue between us. Although once she asked it, I did have to verify she would never ask it of another transgender person, or in fact any other person. The question was a simple one. “Are you attracted to guys or girls?”

The reason it is offensive to transgender people, above the normal invasion of privacy that would occur with a normal person, is that it implies that who you are attracted to is tied to your gender. This could in fact not be further from the truth. In fact, I found myself struggling with the idea that I did have some of an identity as a gay male which was changing into an identity as a straight woman. The idea of who you want as a spouse is completely different from your gender identity. If there is a change, it is because of an independent change, not one that is caused by or effected by their gender identity, at least, that’s what I believed…

I was fully ready to say “isn’t it odd I’m straight now?” The idea was to bring light and humor into the situation, but that is not what came out. What came out was: “I am, at my core, at my soul, the same person. That person was hidden under layers of make believe and fluff to fit into a place where she didn’t belong. A society of men. As I pull off the layers, pull off all the fluff and protection and shells…. I find the truth of the matter. That is that the gender someone is, be they woman, man, transgender, bigender, agender, or anything else, it does not matter. Their physical components are unimportant to me. What is important to me, is the connection between souls. What matters to me is the deeper love and feeling. What is important to me is, a place in their arms where I feel warm and safe, a place where I can cry and not have someone try to ‘fix’ my problems, or ‘fix’ me, where I can just feel and exist without judgement. How… would you describe that? The closest thing I can find is pansexual. Personally, I don’t feel it needs to really be defined. That feeling relates to me learning that black and white definitions are very restrictive. I am finding color in the world, shades of all colors in my truth not just man or woman. not just straight or gay, colors and experiences I could not see before.”

At this point my friend became slightly confused not expecting such a sappy, romantic, answer. The me from a couple years ago, hell, even a couple months ago, would have said “isn’t it odd I’m straight now?” and just brushed off the question. However, where I sit, a year into HRT, in fact today Feb 23rd is the first anniversary, I have found myself incapable of saying who I’m attracted to without a paragraph long explanation. We had a slight discussion about ‘thinking too much’ or getting to deep into a problem. I’ve told her she’s done it before, as have many others. However, this time, it was said that I was doing it. Another weird chain came out that I wasn’t expecting. “I have always thought…. much more than you. I just… was told from a young age… to keep it all in. So, I did. I was taught that it is inefficient. I was also taught to live in society, you must be efficient to be successful. 2+2=4. But, I have learned…. both of those, are lies. For those of us that have estrogen in our bodies at least. Testosterone needs efficiency of mind to survive. But, yes, I think a lot, always have.”

This started a chain of thoughts that lead me, finally, to my answer. I started to think about the idea of how Testosterone effected the way I thought. I started to consider the various effects changing from Testosterone to Estrogen has had in my life. Given there is still Testosterone in my body, it has been greatly reduced, and there was always Estrogen in my body, it has just been greatly increased. Most people have the luxury to not think of the effects these two things have on their body, thoughts, soul, and life in general. Transgender people think about these things every single day. The transition is about balance, and calming the strife within me. There has been a war going on, it is slowly ending. Yet, I feel like I expressed that tangent better in one of my earlier blog posts: Girl-mode vs. Boy-mode: Ending The War. I subsequently reread that post. That lead me to exploring my blog posts from the time around a year ago.

When I got there, I started digging though some of my old blog posts. And I stumbled across this one… The Four Mirrors. Rereading that post I finally realized why. I finally was able to answer the question which has eluded me for a very long time. Question: “Why go through the transition? Why go to all this work for what some people think is pointless?” Answer: “So that I can finally complete a lifelong task. I can finally have my body, my heart/soul, my mind, and society agree on my gender.” I know this answer still includes society as a whole, but what human can exist without it? Those… are the four things which human every human in 2016 needs to live happily. Body, Mind, Heart, Society. I want those four things to finally agree on one of the most important things about a person, even if they don’t realize it, their gender.

To most people their gender is an afterthought a minor detail about them. To those of us that are transgender it rules our existence. Until our mind, body, soul and how society see us matches. Imagine spending your entire life being told you are someone you are not, that is what happens to each and every one of us. Your gender is one of the first things that gets implanted into your head. People knew my physical form long before I said my first word or, even took my first breath. From that moment people started gendering me. I was a boy, a he, a male, a son, a grandson. The parade of male words never ended. The genders are fundamentally different. That is a fact, biologically. However, that doesn’t mean one is better than the other, there is no superiority game. They are just different. So each time I was gendered it told me something about myself, yet… the things my gender told me contradicted what was inside me.

From a very young age I knew I was different. I knew I wasn’t like the boys; but people told me I wasn’t like the girls. My mind, my brain, must have always known but it was not developed enough to put words to what I was feeling. My soul, as a child, knew I was drawn to things that people of my assigned gender were not drawn. I remember just before puberty I was starting to learn why boys and girls were different physically. One of my thoughts, one that I actually perplexed over for a long time, was “Why can’t a girl have a penis?”

In my childhood my soul and mind were fighting against society’s preconceived notions of my gender. My heart and mind were losing. I couldn’t figure out how to say what I needed to say in a way that wouldn’t make too many waves. I was taught that society was something to be respected and to make as few waves as possible… I was happy with who I was at the time, but I was not happy with the way society perceived me. In a way, I blame society as a whole for my issues, but, that was only because I was not strong enough to say what I needed to say at the time. The children that are standing up now for their gender identity and transitioning at extremely young ages, some as young as kindergarten ages, are revered in mind, they are much stronger than I was.

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Then, just as I was gathering the courage to say something publicly, puberty kicked in, all hell broke loose within me, my body gained the power to speak for itself. Though testosterone, my body found its own voice, and it had a lot to say. My body sided with society. The testosterone poisoned my heart, my soul, and my mind. They become unable to speak as clearly. My heart, controlling my emotions, became consumed with anger. My soul vanished replaced with a void-like depression. My mind became cluttered and unclear, consumed with thoughts of sex and physical intimacy, even though my body didn’t feel right it craved what it craved. Every time I did something physically intimate I felt like I had betrayed myself. I felt guilty, and wrong, for doing what I had done.

I started writing. It was the only way my mind could retain coherency from day to day because I could read what I wrote in previous days. Text based medium became the only way that I was able to express my mind and heart without the influence of my body, or society. I stayed away from anything that had to do with voice or vision. There was so much nonverbal communication in both those methods that it overwhelmed me, made me uncomfortable, and made me censor myself. This is a trend that even today, is just starting to go away.

Once I figured out something was wrong, I wanted to ask for help. However, I quickly learned that if I did ask for help, people tried to fix my mind. My mind, my soul, and my heart were not at fault. I was mostly happy as the person I was before, this thing, this poison called testosterone entered my body. But now somehow my body forced my agreement with society. I worked to fit into the mold of whatever people were expecting of me.

During the time of high school and early college I just went with the flow and said whatever people expected me to say and do. I was no longer happy with myself; however, my body had poisoned my mind and soul to the point that I had only one route of communication with the self that was real and happy. Whenever I was alone I would focus and write, trying to gather up whatever I had lost from my childhood. I wouldn’t read or process in any way, just write. This consumed so much of my time that I almost repeated senior year of high school, and I did fail out of college.

A small portion of it sunk into my conscious thoughts and I realized I was at the very least a feminine man. During the course of this time, I came out as bi and then subsequently as gay. It allowed me some leverage to be myself, however, this was easily the darkest part of my life. This is the time in my life where I was most sucked in by depression, suicidal thoughts, and darkness overall. I hated my own existence, but at least society was no longer my enemy. The things that my body polluted into my mind and soul now agreed with and reinforced the things society told me. Then, came along one fateful Thursday…

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On this particular Thursday, my soul in mind launched a counter attack against years of oppression. I decided on a whim to read everything I had written over the course of six years. What I read astounded me. There clearly was something wrong with me, but I was beginning to believe that my body and society were at fault, not my mind and soul. I resolved to take this information to my most trusted friend at the time. I was… going to come out. The next day, a Friday, I slated to go down to be with him, but I was unclear as to the purpose. In my mind it was going to be the best “little talk” we had ever had. I never told him what I had in mind. So, I should have excepted things to not go to plan.

This was not the first time I had been down there, but it was the first time that it was for an important reason, although I did not share that with him. He invited another friend that evening, who I knew from my time at that shared University. There were a couple things said by them, and by me, which I misinterpreted at the time. Those things made me think I would never be able, to be myself. They were subtle things, and honestly not horrible. It was all normal for a group of college guys to talk about… I drank. I drank a lot. I ended up drinking so much that I woke up Saturday morning in the hospital… It quickly became recorded as one of the worst nights of my life.

I have no doubt, that my life was saved that Friday night. After having drank two twenty ounce bottles of straight vodka, anyone would have expected to not survive that. I think, there’s a part of me that did not want to survive that night either. However, I did. I stayed with him through Monday morning. I needed to recover a little before going back to my life as a bum in my mom’s house. He ended up getting punished for my error, which I still feel bad about. But since he was affiliated with the school and I was not, that is what occurred. That day told me, I had to control my body. My mind had to win sometimes. My soul had to win sometimes. Ever since Testosterone entered my body, my mind and my soul had little to no control over my life.

I vowed that what I had done was a mistake. I tried to find an average where my mind, soul, body, and society could all be happy. I spent eight years trying to find it and fiddling with the border between genders. I could never calm the war in my head. My mind and my soul were in clear agreement I was not a gay man; I was not any kind of man. My body and society were in clear agreement on the other end. Testosterone coursed through my system. All my identifying documents, even my name, stipulated I was male. I was at an impasse. There was, no future where I could be happy. I existed, but some of me was always wrong. It didn’t matter what gender I was either my body was out of place or my mind. I found it impossible to change my mind. I found it impossible to change my soul. That left only society and the body that could ever be changed, but I didn’t think that would be possible either. I didn’t want to make those waves…

During these times I escaped into video games. I fixed the problem there. I could exist in any body I wanted in many of my games. I could escape into different societies in video games. It was an amazing thing. My mind, though video games, found its fulfillment. I could be happy there, unless that game somehow reminded me of my physical reality, or, the society I actually existed in. That’s when I would end up leaving that game for another. For me they were more than escapism; they were escapism that provided me fulfillment.

During the course of eleven years from roughly junior year in high school when Carie saved my life to the Spring of 2014. I had little talks with so many people. Some people saw my mind through the video games I played. Some people saw my soul and talked about that with me though my exploration of religion and metaphysical concepts. Some people saw the physical reality I existed in and conversed with me there through intimacy. Some people saw the society I existed in various groupings of people. However, most people in my life saw various combinations. I was in constant conversation with every person in my life, to find out who I was. To find out where my existence could be happy. Every time someone conversed with me on these topics, I would take it home and think on it, process it, and find a future. Each little talk, got me one step closer. Each time I detached to think was time need to process and adjust my own perspective of who I was… I was resolved to find a middle ground. I was going to end the war within myself. To every single person involved, thank you. I would not have made it here without you. Each one of you provided core pieces of information to find my truth.

From year to year, and sometimes day to day, my truth varied. My life changed, my perspectives of myself changed and I constantly modified and edited myself. To fit somewhere and be happy. I never got there though. I couldn’t do it. I was getting ready to give up again, I was getting ready to call it quits again. Then, I had a conversation with someone that made me realize something. I didn’t need to accept the parts of my body that I didn’t like. I didn’t have to accept how society saw me. I could change both of those and mold them so that my heart and my soul could exist happily. I could make the waves and not end the world. How did he prove that? He did it. He was the first transgender person with whom I really met and conversed. It was the beginning of my transition, and the beginning of the end of my internal struggle and war.

Now, I’m on a ship called a transition. I am making myself match. That is causing my body and society around me to change in drastic ways. The male me has existed in my physical body and the reflections of what society thought of me. The female me has existed in my mind, my soul, and my heart. I tried to find a middle ground. It didn’t work. I tried to get everyone to see the same me, but it never created a person with whom I was happy. From person to person around me the truth about who I was varied greatly.

Why am I working though this transition? To finally end this strife within myself. To end this war between two very different people. The female me, and the male me and two completely different existences. Two completely different bodies. This transition is not about one going away and the other winning; it is just that they are finally melding together. Eventually I will be happy. Eventually I will be one person. I see it coming, in time this transition will be over and buried in my past. I will have nothing but smiles playing outside like I used to.

For those of you waiting for me to come out of this, I won’t be too much longer. I will be one whole person, not a war between two people much longer. Though the truth may vary, this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore.

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.

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