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Ride’s Not Over Yet

CometOK, my last post was really all about schilling for a worthy endeavor, but the spike in my traffic reminded me that I seem to have maintained a readership in spite of going silent for a few months. Huh. Well, that’s a surprise. Here I thought everyone was here for the jokes or seeing what crazy way ol’ Michelle managed to publically humiliate herself this week. Therein lies the rub. The huge cascade of interesting things that had been happening to me for almost two straight years has finally become a trickle of molasses in January. Or this year, I guess March. Let’s talk about that for a minute. Not the weather; I haven’t gotten that pathetic just yet.

Somehow, in spite of my best efforts to remain in Neverland (the good one, not the one with the evil Peter Pan from ‘Once Upon a Time’ who is somehow related to 43 other fables), I went and kind of grew up. Ugh. I hate even saying the words! A few years ago, before I took my first Estrodial or Spiro, before I ventured out in daylight to anywhere but Belles or Spectrum meetings, a post-operative trans woman said to the table of transsexuals and cross-dressers, “It’s feels good to be in the right body, but it’s also depressing.” I asked her what she meant and she just held it out as a certainty without really explaining. Because of that, I chalked it up to bullshit. I mean who can’t explain their own experiences? Apparently she couldn’t, but it didn’t make it any less true.

The early days of self-discovery are so exciting. You don’t know what’s going to happen, what you are going to be doing, what the consequences will be, and what you will be at the end of it. Every single day is a roller coaster of exhilaration of crossing a new inch stone and mortal terror of discovery and repercussions. Every tiny step of it is something you just could not have imagined a few years, or even a few months prior. A trip to the grocery store becomes a major achievement, not to mention hitting the Allentown Art Festival or Taste of Buffalo, surrounded by thousands, some of whom you are bound to know, and wondering if you will be recognized, outed and have your secret self thrust into the spotlight of harsh judgment or warming embrace. Every outfit is a dare, a new expression of your personality. Every intervention: hormones, electrolysis, laser and surgery becomes a new high, a new heady plateau in rarified atmosphere, closer to the golden glow of achieving the nirvana of self-realization. Scraped, bloody, humiliated, and filled with the holy spirit of feminine righteousness, we clamber to the peak. I am woman, hear me roar.

That was all really freaking awesome and all, but after enough roaring to necessitate a trip to the corner for some Ludens, the rest of life has to go and continue. Because I was lucky enough to keep my job through transition, and living situation, it’s basically the same life I’m continuing from before transition, except with more hassles. I still have to get my little guy to school every day and pick him up, do the grocery shopping, write the same performance reviews, and attend the same staff meetings. I still take out the garbage every Wednesday, snow blow the driveway, mow the lawn, and help my mom with her taxes. The difference is that it now takes me longer to get ready for work, I’m still dilating three times a day, and the supply list of shit I need every day is considerably longer. It’s all very routine, mundane, and not worth of being mentioned, even though I just filled your eyes with it all and made you wonder if you should just unsubscribe to this already. Seriously, don’t though. I’ll know, and make it a point to write some knockout material just to piss you off.

I miss the excitement. The uncertainty. Doing things that could radically change my future and lead to dizzying heights and soul crushing lows. This is a good thing. I lived through transition and the world didn’t end. It didn’t break me, or even really come close. OK, yeah, I had some dreary, weepy days in there over the past year, but I’m going to conveniently blame hormones on that, evidence or none. I had a little rest, and now it’s time to climb some new mountains.

Am I still going to maintain this blog and share my experiences? In the words of Tina Fey in one of her minor roles, “you betcha!” What I can add to the body of knowledge regarding transition is probably more limited, though I’ll still write trans posts. I’ll also be vectoring into other areas as I see fit, and promise to try to keep up the funny schtick as much as possible. All the transition knowledge I have to share is conveniently accessible if you access the ‘Topics’ tab up at the top where you can find my blathering on almost any topic, or will once I get around to updating the damn thing. Ride’s not over yet.

PS – The picture, in case are wondering, is in homage to one of the greatest trans blogs ever written, “I Hate Roller Coasters”, by my sister, Becky Kent. This one’s for you sis. 🙂

PPS – Um, just so we are clear, Becky is still with us and doing incredibly well. Her blog is gone, hence the homage, but seriously, she’s fine and if I can ever convince her to do a guest post, I’ll prove it.

Hellooo Nurse! … GRS continued…

NurseOK, before I continue on my thrilling tale of my surgical experience, I need to set the record straight. It seems some think that I had some kind of unusual terrible experience. This is not at all what I’m trying to say. I don’t do a lot of whiney “oh heavens, cry for me” type posts, and when I do, you will know about it. You’ll bawl like a kid who dropped his chocolate twisty cone into a pile of dog poop. At least with vanilla you can pick the gross bits off if you like. I am, however, trying to set realistic expectations so no one has a mental picture of the bandages coming off and pretty little butterflies fluttering out of there. As for the title of this post, your geek cred is hereby revoked if you don’t remember the Animaniacs.

Last we left off, I awoke from surgery with a terrible sore throat and lots of well wishers calling me. I love them all dearly, but was praying for some kind of disaster to take out the cell towers and let me suck tiny ice chips in peace. For the first 2 days I was not allowed to even sit up, so had to find ways to entertain myself. I figured out the exact timing on the morphine pump and tried to hit it the very second it turned back on. If I jumped the gun, I got a heartbreaking ‘ur-uh’ sound, but practice got me good enough to hit that sweet ‘bleep’ every time. Three times in a row, and it would put me to sleep for up to 20 minutes. After 48 hours of this, I was incredibly tired. There was a TV, but it was one of those LCD dealies that only works right when you are looking right at it. Laying on my back, I could only look up and to the left, making all the images a negative view. I can’t believe fucking ‘Charmed’ is still on like 3 times a day.

Many people describe waking up for surgery and saying it was the happiest they ever felt. I love the idea of that, but I have to be honest here; it wasn’t the happiest I ever felt. I was much happier the day my son was born, the day I got married, and really even the time two bags of cheddar and sour cream Ruffles fell from the vending machine. I was very happy it was done, and felt a sense of calm relief, but in terms of feeling different, it was impossible to tell yet. For all I knew it was just a big gag and someone worked me over with a crowbar for a bit, then packed the area with a shitload of ice and bandages. Besides, I always looked at this operation as a means to achieve future happiness, rather than being the answer to all my prayers in and of itself. It’s like new car elation. At the beginning it seems very exciting, but eventually the thrill of going to work and home wears off. It’s the potential of taking that epic road trip or Wallyworld vacation that makes it all worthwhile.

On Thursday I experienced vast improvements. I was finally given food in the form of the ‘not so clear’ liquid diet. Hot tea, milk, juice, weird tasting “vanilla” ice cream, and something just plain nasty labeled ‘strained cream soup’ that I think was meant for toddlers as it tasted like a mixture of paste and boogers. Ironically, after all my aching and griping, I was no longer hungry. They also took me off of my sweet, sweet morphine pump and replaced it with stupid Vicodin. I was finally allowed to sit up and hate ‘Charmed’ from a better view. Best of all, my mom and aunt finally arrived after being lost in the wilds of Pennsyltucky for many hours, fastidiously following the directions of a malevolently erroneous GPS that they borrowed from my sister. I warned her not to use it to scrape ice off her boots, but whatever.

The nurse gave me fair warning early on that they were expecting me to attempt getting out of bed and standing later on that day. I made myself ready. Prior experience with nursing staff taught me that once a doctor, even one that didn’t see you in person, decided you were ready for something, it was going to happen. The easy way is to do whatever is necessary to comply and maintain a friendly, positive relationship with the staff. The hard way is to listen to your body and offer complaint or resistance and invite irascible prodding with escalating urgency. I took the easy way, and even though it felt like I was straddling red hot iron saw horse. I grit my teeth, rolled over, and stood on shaky feet. “Do you think you can take a few steps for me?” You bet your ass I can! My call button was always answered immediately when that damn machine started its beeping again. This is definitely going on the list of hints and tips I’m putting together. Work with the nurses and life is sweet.

I received a trans visitor not long after my first walk. Cynthia popped in to say hello and it took me a day and a half to figure out that she wasn’t a patient, even though she probably told me. I was super impressed that she was in real person clothes and walking around unassisted. I later found that her wife was the one who was Dr. McGinn’s other patient of the week. There is something very heartwarming in encountering one of your own in challenging situations, though I felt terrible that her wife was having a harder time getting up and probably getting a bit more of the pissed off nurse routine that I was so much trying to avoid. I got a little something that maybe there was some underlying irritation that I was zipping up and down the corridor like some fancy pants show off, but even so, she could not have been sweeter.

Friday came and they were ready to give me the boot, and in grand hospital tradition, at some undisclosed time. I truly doubt our military keeps the timing of critical operations under wraps half so well as hospitals. Could be this morning, could be after lunch, could be tonight, tomorrow, next month, or never. Who really knows? I was given my first solid breakfast and devoured it. I’d say the bacon was the best I’d ever had, but I say that about every piece of bacon I cram in my pie hole. At the specified time, my mom and aunt were ready and waiting. A few hours later, I managed to get myself dressed and was wheeled down, along with my humongous suitcase (Really? You aren’t going to move that yourself. No. ~ Dr. McGinn), to my aunt’s car. Several acrobatic moves later, I was seated uncomfortably in the passenger seat on my donut pillow and off to the bed and breakfast.

Coming soon, or when I get around to it: Why a donut pillow does jack shit on a bumpy road; the worst night; I cry; and why a B&B is a gorgeous and insanely ill advised place to try to recover in.

Clothes Really Don’t Make the Woman

Badly DressedI really used to look like an idiot. I’m not talking about back when I looked male (or more accurately, more male than I do now), but when I first started out in my transition. What brought this to mind was something a friend said about an acquaintance of hers. “It takes her 4 hours to get ready just to go to the grocery store! Then she’s the only one there who looks like they just came from a formal ball and she wonders why people stare.” I laughed at first, but then thought about it and concluded, yeah, that was so me not really all that long ago. My friend was able to admit the same about herself, so I began thinking that this would be a great topic to write about and maybe have a few laughs.

The very first time I ventured out past the backyard and into public was a Buffalo Belles meeting. I wore a black mini with white embroidery, a chiffon lace black top, and large hole pattern tights you would expect to see at Hot Topic. Oh, and heels of course. I accessorized with a big beaded necklace and enough Cover Girl to fill in every pore to the top and finish it with a half inch of powder. I was pretty happy with the way I looked. When I arrived, I felt like I fit right in. I did actually, but this was mainly because the majority of the membership consisted of cross-dressers, most of whom had only dressed for meetings at the super-duper secret location. If anything I was way underdressed for sitting in a dimly lit, well curtained room. It really kind of set the tone for the months to come.

For some reason, I, and probably you if you are trans, completely failed to open my eyes and look at what the women around me were wearing in day to day life. Somehow I was blind to the fact that the other women at Wegman’s or the Eden Corn Festival did not look like they stepped off the set of ‘Heathers’ or out of a 1996 Delia’s catalog. Unfortunately, both the aforementioned sources were great inspirations for me, though two decades removed from the present and my current age. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with having a little panache and a unique sense of style, but neither are things that are really going to help one blend in. I think it’s OK if you are a cross-dresser to look like you are in costume, in private anyway, but when making permanent life changes picking an outfit from Spencer’s is probably not the best of ideas.

For the longest time I simply didn’t get it. I mean I waited three long decades and change to finally express my gender, so why not go whole hog with it? Why not find the prettiest, frilliest, fluffiest, patent, sequined, ruffled, baby-doll, girliest thing in the whole wide world and just wear that from sun up to sun down? Fuck pants. Pants are for men. So are shoes with less than a 4 inch heel, shirts that can’t be used as distress flags, and hosiery that doesn’t have Hello Kitty on it. Thankfully, my spouse wasn’t feeling overly vindictive, and was kind enough to stop me before heading into the world looking like a deranged old Shirley Temple or Pollyanna. Bless you if you get my references without having to look them up on Wikipedia.

I think of it as the curse of trans adolescence. Not necessarily dressing age inappropriate as we’ve discussed before, but putting way too much time and energy into nipping out for more onions and Grilled Bear flavored Doritos. It’s wearing heels when you know you will be walking on gravel. It’s wearing a skirt you didn’t realize rides up past your crotch when you sit because you only tried it on standing up. It’s wearing pantyhose when the situation doesn’t absolutely demand it. It’s all those little things that cause the world to stop for a moment, stare, and wonder, “wait, what the hell am I looking at there anyway?” It’s a painful anxious time, and I could not be happier that it’s over. Well, for the most part. I still get the occasional, “Um, you aren’t seriously wearing that to work, are you?” It’s a process.

The great lesson learned is that clothes do not make the woman. You are the same you whether dressed to the nines or slogging around in old jeans and a tee shirt, except in the latter most people won’t give you a second glance. Well, until you open your mouth and give your best Gary Busey impression, but that is another story.

Another Trans Celebrity? … Crap. Well, That’s Just Great

CelebrityMy spouse, an ardent follower of celebrity gossip, forwarded me a blind item the other day. By blind I don’t mean the person mentioned was blind, but that the name of the person is currently being withheld by the person writing the story, presumably either for liability or complete fabrication reasons. Anyway, as the story goes, the lead singer from an uber-popular band with a boatload of hits in the 90’s, who is married to a super model/ actress or actress/ model, is undergoing gender transition and making a documentary of it along the way. My immediate reaction was a little sour. Great, now I’m going to be bumped down one to being the 24,753rd most influential trans person. Just fucking wonderful. My chances of getting a Wikipedia entry just became a bit more slim. So, let’s dish about trans celebrities, as I gnaw on my bitter bone of discontent.

I think none of us has failed to notice the sudden rise in individuals of full blown, or at least quasi, celebrity status undergoing gender transition. I mean, sure, it’s not exactly unheard of, what with Alexis Arquette, Calpernia Addams, and Andrea James bouncing around since the late 90’s/ early 00’s, but in spite of some amazing talent in that mix, they weren’t exactly making headlines. Then the teens hit and it’s a full blown eruption. Chaz Bono, Laura Jane Grace, Janet Mock, Lana Wachowski, and Chelsea Manning. OK, the celebrity thing is a stretch with Chelsea, but she was still a household name before she came out after the conviction. It’s a wonderful thing, right? A massive injection of trans awareness into the public sphere; bold inoculation against full blown ignorance and demographic degradation.

Here’s the thing that makes me just a tiny bit nervous. Since 1954, I don’t think one parent ever leaned over to their child looking wide eyed up at the movie screen and said, “See those people up there child? You do whatever you can to find out what they do, and dad-gum, you do the same thing.” Famous people hold our fascination almost completely for the train-wreck factor. The tabloids make billions off of the meltdowns of young starlets and crushing indiscretions. Amanda Bynes will always trump the juicy bit that Ron Pearlman likes to make his own quilts with hand ticking on Friday nights. Nobody cares about the good stuff; just those wacky zany antics. DUIs, domestic assaults, head shavings, gender transitions… I think you see my point.

Now, I’m not saying that the general public is going to suddenly think that being transgender is just another crazy trend sweeping Hollywood. I am worried, however, that people are going to get a bit of a misrepresentation. I’m sure serious practitioners of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism were not super excited when Madonna and other celebs jumped on board and made a very old, deep and rich quest for spiritual understanding look like a fashion trend. Not exactly the same thing, but you get my point. Suddenly years of focused study, prayer and meditation appear to be replaced with slapping on a red string bracelet and everyone is equal.

I’m not saying being transgender is not tremendously difficult for anyone; Hollywood, one-percenters (the rich ones, not the crank fueled hog rider ones), and others. The same crushing fear, emotional difficulties, and painful coming out process definitely applies. The problem is that the general audience doesn’t really see all that. Unlike movies where we get a nice montage set to ominous music when someone is struggling with a seemingly insurmountable issue, the real anguish is off stage and in the back somewhere. In spite of tearful Oprah interviews, the main perception is that so-and-so was a dude and now appears to be a chick. Good for them. Go so-and-so! You can barely tell he… I mean she… used to be a dude! It sure doesn’t hurt to have ample funds, private doctors and surgeons, and at-will time off  to manage these huge changes. I pretty much see this ship docking in the port of, “Everyone and their brother is changing genders, Michelle. Doesn’t seem to be a thing to it, so what the hell have you been crabbing about?”

So… yeah. I think it’s good that transgender people who live in the public limelight are demonstrating the tremendous courage it takes to embrace their true selves. They are our sisters and brothers just as all trans people are, and any one of them would be very welcome at one of my meetings; not as a celebrity, but a trans person just like the rest of us seeking community. At the same time I wish they would acknowledge and promote the fact that while their inner difficulties are the same, that it might be just a little harder if they also had to worry about becoming unemployable or unable to fund any of the treatment they need in order to feel like a complete person. They helped the world understand that transgender is a real thing, but now I would love it if they expanded the message that it is also a hard thing.

By the way, I’m very much hoping that the person referenced in the first paragraph turns out to be John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls. He’s official Buffalo NY Royalty and we sure could use him (or her?) on the team. I mean, who could pen a song like ‘Iris’ without a female spirit? Maybe he’d even play at our annual holiday party to his smallest ever audience of 8 to 11 people. I can dream, can’t I?

Tribe Trans: Live Together or Die Alone

Live together or die aloneNo, today’s post is not about ‘Lost’, though I freely admit that I still miss that show and unlike most, I loved the series finale. Look, you knew I was weird before you set out to read this. Recent events, however, brought me back to thinking about the first season when Jack (played by Charlie from ‘Party of 5’) said to Charlie (formerly a hobbit or something – see, this is why people found the show confusing) that the castaways had to decide whether to live together or die alone. What is bothering me is that the trans community, at least here in Buffalo, seems to be leaning toward the latter. I think this is a problem. By the way, thanks all for bearing with me in my absence – the event that inspired this post helped me procrastinate writing, but I’m back now.

On the second Friday of every month, we all come together to meet, share our experiences, ask each other questions, and bask in an environment where the inner drive and resultant anguish and triumphs are assumed and understood. I think the reason people are willing to give up a Friday evening (other than the fact that the ABC TGIF lineup bites since ‘Perfect Strangers’ was cancelled) is to enjoy the company of others who get us. People who we don’t have to explain much to. People for whom the primary self-identifying factor of gender isn’t a thing. With these people we seek common goals in self-protection and betterment to put us on equal footing with an expensive and socially debilitating gender issue. These understandings, paired with shared obstacles when it comes to employment, housing, medical care, and socialization, are fundamental enough to our collective well being to classify us as a tribe.

A tribe, as I see it, is a collective that takes care of its own. Like a family, we are not individuals who necessarily have anything in common but this one characteristic Like blood, it is fundamental enough to supersede all the other little quirks and rivalries that bring internal strife. We don’t have to be friends, or even like each other, but in choosing to come together in community, we show our colors in unity instead of taking the lonesome road that many others choose instead. What does it mean though to come together as a tribe? How are we supposed to behave toward each other? What does being part of this tribe really do for us? I’m beginning to think very few are even aware. Let’s talk about that.

The Bedouin, one of the few remaining tribal cultures, have a saying. “I against my brothers; my brothers and I against our cousins; I and my cousins against the tribe; the tribe against all.” It sounds pretty harsh, especially since it’s pretty exclusively masculine, but sets up an order of precedence in priority. Looking at it that way, it’s kind of a no brainer. Take care of yourself, those closest to you, and then your tribe. They are your refuge against the whole rest of the world. Whereas ‘Tribe Trans’ isn’t really looking to make a move against the other tribes out there, we have come together under the assumption that no matter what, this is where they have to take you. Much like the old definition of ‘home’ before it became untrue for so many in the Trans community.

Are we doing this? Are those of us who chose to become part of a recognized tribe making the effort to make this home for ourselves and our sisters and brothers? Are we truly here to support each other and give help and encouragement when the needs of a member arise, all the while knowing it will be us eventually? It makes sense, right? After all, if we are not here for that, why be part of a tribe at all? If we don’t come out for community, support, and advancement of the tribe, why are we even trying? After all, there is nothing else to be gained. No power, no fame, no wealth or status. If support and compassion are also absent, isn’t maybe better to stay home and see if Balki Bartokomous has returned to the Friday night lineup?

No one says we have to get along or even like each other. Individual disputes are inevitable; after all, we are still just people. If, however, the tribe fails to come together to support one of its own in need, then it really is no tribe. It is the compassion we show to each other that builds our strength. It’s our focus on our own in need that builds the tribe that can provide hope and encouragement to each one of us when our need comes. And it will. The great truth about being trans is that you will doubt your ability to go on, and probably more than once. Given the choices, I’d rather live together.

Tolerated, Accepted or Supported?

SupportWhen announcing a huge ass decision such as undergoing gender transition, many people around you will declare in loud voices that they totally support you. Many of them, as you will come to discover, are filthy disgusting liars, which honestly, is kind of what they think of you. The topic for today is the difference between being supported, being accepted, and being tolerated. As I’m sure you have guessed by now, they are not at all the same thing. They are, however, better than being disparaged, abhorred, or killed, so we are really talking positives here, as thin as some of them may seem.

Many of the people who come out to say they support you in fact only tolerate you. There are two types of tolerance really – by choice, or enforced. Enforced tolerance is the kind you may expect to see at work. Because they are without options that won’t land them in the HR office hearing about what a huge dick they are being, they continue working with you, though may be visibly unhappy about it. This type also can apply to family. If the acknowledged head of the family is favorable to your transition, almost everyone else feels the need to toe the line, siblings often being the exception. By the way, I’ve noticed that negative reactions from siblings are very common and always wondered why. Either way, they stand to win, and you if you have siblings, you know good and damn well that there is a hierarchy there. If you were the golden child, your siblings should be ecstatic about your fall from grace and be bending backwards to assist you. If you were the black sheep, this only cements their standing. This should be really good news for them regardless.

The other kind of tolerance is by choice and generally occurs when they have no skin in the game. Your transition doesn’t really affect them in any appreciable way and they don’t have any strong prejudices about it. These are people who aren’t going to decline social engagements because they hear you are going to be there, but they also aren’t going to invite you to anything either. This will apply to the vast majority of people who know you. It is wise to understand who these people are, because they are certainly the ones who don’t want to hear the gory details of your electrolysis, breast growth, or GRS, especially if male. One might be tempted to amp up the tragic nature of transition, but this is a big mistake. Chances are, they view what you are doing is a lifestyle decision and any whining can quickly turn tolerance into scorn.

Better than being tolerated is being accepted. Generally this applies to friends, family, and other individuals who do actually have skin in the game. At some point they had to make a decision as whether the personal feeling they have about this is a deal breaker in the relationship. They can either walk away or come to the decision that they can accept what is going on here, even if they feel you were a deceitful scumbag for most of your life. The biggest mistake people tend to make in regards to people who accept them is that they are willing to help you. Most of the time, they are not. They can understand that you needed to do something here, but they certainly aren’t very excited to be a part of it. It is also worthwhile to note that people who accept you probably also resent you at the same time. They still like you as you, but are less than thrilled to lose a poker buddy, romantic partner, or heir to the family name.

The rarest class is those who support you. Often times, these are folks with a lot of skin in the game of you and are willing to put their money where their mouth is and step in and help. These folks are willing hear your stories, may come to your support meetings, or even help facilitate aspects of your transition. If you are smart, you will do whatever is necessary to keep such people in your life because they are pure gold in terms of helping you to feel all right about yourself. Transition is a horribly selfish process and many of us suffer from more than a little guilt about the perceived wake of destruction left in your path to happiness. There is a good chance that supporters were caught in that wave and probably have some feelings about it as their lives were irrevocably changed and in some cases temporarily ruined. Accepting that responsibility is a good idea because as crappy as it feels sometimes, they payback is well worth it.

Transition is a high risk venture, and everyone who doesn’t oppose you should be appreciated whether they stand on the sidelines, decide you are the world’s greatest asshole but their asshole, or are willing to travel hundreds of miles just to drive you from the hospital to a GRS recovery location. It may not be all you were hoping for, but be grateful for what and who you have.

Trans Fatalism and Bradley Manning

FatalismWas everyone here aware that US Army soldier Bradley Manning, the person who made Wikileaks a household name (prior to this I assumed it was some sort of ‘golden showers’ thing and kept my distance) may be transgender? No one tells me anything. Seriously, we could be marked for extermination, packed into trains, and I’d think we were all just going for ice cream until someone elbowed me in the ribs and clued me in. Regardless, it came as a surprise to me. Kind of.

Here’s the part where I go off on a tangent for a spell, so feel free to skip ahead to the main point if you are one of those baffling people who reads the last page of a book first. So, before getting to my point, I want to say that this is not so good for the trans. It’s hard enough for us to regain the trust of those around us, and society in general, after skulking around for so many years as the wrong gender without significant acts of high treason, or at least the perception thereof. “First you lured me in with the pretense that you were a man, and next thing I know you’ll be priority mailing the Mrs Field’s cookie recipe to Kim Jong Un!’ Don’t laugh; with delicious gooey cookies in supply, he can keep that poor population in line for the next few decades. Seriously though, ‘trans = traitor’ is just not the kind of two and two that does us a whole lot of good.

From what I read, Bradley did what they did (giving the benefit of the doubt here pronoun-wise) out of a sense of correcting what they saw as a great wrong, and did so with a sense of fatalism. Bradley allegedly contemplated a life in prison as a result of their actions prior to taking them. Unfortunately, that sense of fatalism is something endemic to the trans population. Now that I’m getting to the main subject, let’s talk about that for a minute. To be clear though, I’m not going to directly address suicide here. Trans suicide is a very serious topic that I don’t have the right background or experience to tackle without the risk of causing harm, so I won’t do it. I consider myself very fortunate for being part of an all too small subset that never contemplated this, but believe in showing the utmost compassion and empathy for those who have.

Fatalism, however, is another story. I think that prior to full self-awareness and willingness to address the problem, many trans often have a certain sense of doom when it comes to contemplating the rest of our lives. It springs from the dawning realization that these feelings just don’t seem to be going away, no matter what actions we take to try to correct or heal ourselves. In fact, they just keep getting worse, and the world becomes a bleak and scary place with the walls closing in with almost imperceptible slowness. This fatalism is really just the expression of a loss of hope, that everything is not going to turn out OK, and that hard work and perseverance aren’t going to mean a damn thing. It’s not necessarily true, but those of you reading this who are trans might be able to understand where I’m coming from.

The real piss of it is that launching oneself into transition doesn’t always cure this sense, and many of us turn into big negative Nellies as a result. The reason is that transition doesn’t cure all of one’s problems, just one, while introducing a big hoary host of others in the process. The loss of relationships, loss of regard of peers, loss of employment, loss of anonymity, and even lost of self-esteem are common, and generally weighed against the benefits of transition in the hopes that a clear winner will be made clear and tell us what to do. It also comes with the sudden realization that the completion of transition is not life’s endgame. I’ve just come to this one myself. While October is a huge milestone in my overall existence and the capstone of my transition, I have to start planning my life for after that time. It’s a strange feeling when the final barrier comes close enough to understand there are lots and lots of them after that. No worries; I’m ready. At least that will be behind me and I’ll be a bit wiser for it.

Back to Bradley. Bradley’s sense of fatalism brought them to a place where the consequence of action probably seemed vague and meaningless; just another possible bleak future in an already bleak existence. As a result, Bradley will probably spend most of the remainder of their life in prison and I find that very sad. Whether you consider Bradley a hero of villain for doing what they did is immaterial. Bradley will likely not have the opportunity to make other difficult roads we here are more familiar with, or at least not for a long time. Because of this, and so many others like Bradley, I think we are behooved to keep in mind that being transgender is not an insurmountable problem, and that transition in and of itself only solves so much, but pushing forward is like opening oysters. It’s going to be hard, you might get cut, you might find a pearl, and at the very least, you get to eat oysters.

Finally, I want to once again reiterate, especially to anyone who stumbles on here doing some shady research. Being transgender in no way, shape, or form predisposes someone to being more likely to commit acts of high treason, or really any type of activity that can be considered unethical according to government or industry standards. Seriously, most of us are trying to shake the whole ‘deceptive’ label all together and really didn’t need this sort of thing.

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