Roots and Leaves: The Devil’s Shape

A mix of prose and poetry describing psychological abuse and sexual assault. Not for the faint of heart.

The Bible is not meant to be read literally.

Nor is the title of this article.

This isn’t an article about the big red-horned fallen angel who supposedly hates God and rules over Hell.

Well, that’s a lie, it is.

But not literally.

This is an article about my own personal Satan.

In biblical sources, the Hebrew term satan describes an adversarial role. It is not the name of a particular character. Although Hebrew storytellers as early as he sixth century B.C.E. occasionally introduced a supernatural character whom they called the satan, what they meant was any one of the angels sent by God for the specific purpose of blocking or obstructing human activity.
– Elaine Pagels, “The Origin of Satan,” 1995

It was then,

As I was a woman

All drawn out of shape,

That the Devil appeared

With his devlish smirk.

He took me up by the mind

And told me his name

I’ve since forgotten it.

But I’ll never forget what it means.

The Devil came up from Kentucky.

I drove him here myself.

We met online.

We’d spent the several weeks previous texting and calling one another every day.

It was going so well.

I’d gone through a divorce about a year and a half  prior and I finally felt ready to date again. I’d dated one other guy briefly. He was nice, but not for me. We’ve maintained a friendship at least.

This time, it felt right.

We met for lunch and then I drove him up tour my hometown.

All throughout the day, everything was perfect. We got along every bit as well in person as we had electronically.

I decided to invite him back to my place.

He sat down, legs spread in my easy chair.

And then, his shape changed.

He became someone else.

Satan revealed himself to me.

He said he was in love

With another woman,

drawn in his shape.

No one could ever love me

But as a waif.

He brought me to

The other side of the veil.

Showed me the void,

and took me to Hell.

He wanted to be called “daddy”

and called me his whore.

If I was a good girl

Maybe I could be more

Maybe he would take me down

For a spin upon his cock

And maybe he would unravel me

From this knitted sock.

The Devil took my shape that day,

And twisted its already twisted form.

Then twisted

and twisted

and twisted it more

And that’s the last thing I can tell you about that. The rest is one big blank I have ripped out of my mind. I honestly can’t tell you what followed.

I can only remember the terror of it.

Complete subversion. Total bewilderment. Utter disorientation.

What did I do? What choice did I have?

I like to think I stood up to him and overcame my adversary right then and there and threw him out of my house.

But I know that’s not what happened.

The nearest memory I have, I was driving again, on the road back to Kentucky.

He seemed pleased.

His shape wasn’t twisted anymore.

He was the same as before.

I thought about driving my car into the Ohio River.

The world would have been a better place if I did.

He haunted me for years after.

My mind was filled with monsters. The world was on fire.

Once you meet the Devil, he’s always with you.

He’ll never stop trying to rip you from Heaven and condemn you to Hell.

But, like any adversary, he can be overcome.

Like God, and like me, I hope you have angels to help if you ever meet him.

It was a long road to calling myself a survivor, but I’m lucky in that I had a very strong social support network in my life at the time. So many wonderful wounded women who had been through similar events helped me to overcome him.

They are all like sisters to me.

Their support taught me an important lesson. The devil can’t catch you if you’re smarter than him. And so that’s what I did, I became smarter than him. I poured myself into my work. I studied and worked harder than I’d ever known I was capable of and became crafty enough that he couldn’t catch me anymore.

In a weird way, I’d like to thank him.

I’m a much better person because of what he did.

But that would require forgiveness, and that’s not mine to give…

The devil almost had me fooled.

He knew the weaknesses of my shape

And exploited every one.

His tricks twisted me

To his own twisted shape.

But I learned from his tricks

Some tricks of the trade.

I learned how to spin

To twist who I am

And I learned how to do it

Better than him

I learned how to shape

my words,

my body,

my thoughts,

my actions,

my movements,

my soul

To be impenetrable by the Devil

I’ve cast from my Throne.

Condemned,

to eternal shaplessness.

He taught me to shape

And how to forget.

He taught me survival

And the pain of it.

He taught me forgiveness…

and the truth therein:

Sometimes, it’s best left to God.

I hope he’s somewhere praying.

He can arrive at any moment

You don’t always hear his chime

He will try to change your shape

He will try it every time

And sometimes, if you let him

While you’re not watching your shape

He will take and take and take from it

And take,

and take,

and take..

The foolish thing in all this is

This twisted

twisted

twisted shape

This shape the Devil’s made of you

Is his own devilish shape

The only shape that matters is

The shape you make alone

The shape that you take with you

That pattern you follow

The shape you make is better

This shape is your own

It’s knitted

and drawn

And painted

and sewn

It’s battered

and bruised

and berated

and honed

It’s in the music you make

It’s in the sound of your voice

It tastes just like the taste of your tears

It’s woven into choice

It overcomes the worst you fear

It can bring your thoughts to cheer

It’s in the burden on your back

It’s the plan when you attack

It’s your guide

when nothing’s clear.

 

It’s written into the presence you have

And the way you make your way.

 

Next time Satan tries to twist it:

Overcome the meaning of his name.

Roots: Gender

An exploration into the determination of Gender, Sexuality, and Identity in the eternal quest to know thyself.

“Who knows where a woman begins and ends? Listen mistress, I have roots, I have roots deeper than this island. Deeper than the sea, older than the raising of the lands. I go back into the dark… I go back into the dark! Before the moon I am, what a woman is, a woman of power, a woman’s power, deeper than the roots of trees, deeper than the roots of islands, older than the Making, older than the moon. Who dares ask questions of the dark? Who’ll ask the dark its name?”
– Ursula K. Le Guin, Earthsea

What is Gender anyway?

Isn’t that just another word for Sex?

If you have XY chromosomes, male organs, and produce sperm, you are a man!

If you have XX chromosomes, female organs, and produce ova, you are a woman!

But what gender is God? Or what of His son, Jesus?

The Bible insists the use of these pronouns is so vital in reference to both that it demands we capitalize them.

In my life, I have studied a great deal of Christian theology.

I have never studied the Father nor the Son’s chromosomes.

I have never seen their organs.

Certainly no one has known their sperm.

I know them to be men because it has been expressed to me.

This is Gender.

It can be best understood in three parts:

  1. Gender Identity – The internalization of personal biological and physiological experience and memory of bodily experience of the world.
  2. Gender Expression – The externalization of Gender Identity as it is expressed in one’s intent, actions, and movement through world.
  3. Gender Experience – The third-party experience of Gender Expression and culturally-defined knowledge and expectations of gendered behavior and expression.

Gender exists, as described above, both within and beyond oneself. It is internalized as a part of one’s identity, externalized through expression, and experienced, understood, and interpreted by others.

As in the case of the Christian Father and Son, the genders of a great many people are known to us without any knowledge of anything which makes them up biologically.

In fact, we may well only know the biologies of those whom we are intimate with.

Biology does not dictate gender.

Biology dictates two things:

  1. Reproductive capability.
  2. Disease compatibility.

As any rational human being would agree, men and women are a great deal more than those two reductions. All of the rest of what defines us as men and women, by identity, experience, and expression belongs to the realm of gender.

Gender is certainly not innate to biology, though it is most commonly associated with it, as part of gender identity is the internalization of biological and physiological experience as well as bodily experience of the world.

Like sexuality, gender exists as more of a gradient between two binaries than as the two ends of the binary. More often than not, we are not perfectly heterosexual nor perfectly homosexual, but somewhere in between and it is also common for us to fluidly move through the gradient as we change with the tides of our lives.

We are never perfectly masculine nor perfectly feminine, but a mixture of the two. Each of us carries within us a biological nature consisting of this mixture as well as the ability to nurture either to full potential. Women are as capable of nurturing masculinity as men are capable of nurturing femininity while still living as women and men themselves.

What makes the dysphoric experience unique is not an over-nurturing of or obsession with femininity or masculinity as some transphobes like to believe but as a discomfort and disassociation with one’s own presence which leads to losses in translation to any attempt at expressing either masculinity or femininity in one’s self.

The same discomfort and disassociation experienced by us is experienced by those we interact with and as such, we are unable to impact the world or be interpreted meaningfully by it, leading us to ghost-like existences. The only way for us to become complete human beings is to erase the incongruence in our being via transition or through finding some other way to overcome the incongruence.

Speaking as a trans woman from a traditional Christian/Conservative family who tried everything imaginable to deny herself Hormone Replacement Therapy for fear of rejection by her family, let me tell you, transition is the best option available for those who suffer from gender dysphoria.

I tried everything else.

Of course, not everyone who transitions experiences gender dysphoria. Some who might choose this do not live in the persistent state of incongruence I lived in, but may develop it later in life or realize that they have been living with it without understanding what it was and then choose to transition. The experience is different for everyone, but the end goal is the same, to conform to expression of our self-determined gender identity, allowing us to maintain comfort and strong association with ourselves and our world.

In my opinion, human beings have the right to self-determination and as such, all forms of gender and sexual expression should be celebrated and supported by our communities, so long as they allow for social stability and the safety and consideration of others.

Judith Butler said in a 2014 interview, “No matter whether one feels one’s gendered and sexed reality to be firmly fixed or less so, every person should have the right to determine the legal and linguistic terms of their embodied lives. So whether one wants to be free to live out a “hard-wired” sense of sex or a more fluid sense of gender, is less important than the right to be free to live it out, without discrimination, harassment, injury, pathologization or criminalization – and with full institutional and community support. That is most important in my view.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The truth is that both fixed and fluid senses of self are equally valid and it is pointless for anyone to wrestle with another human being over their right to self-determination. It becomes nothing but a pointless exercise in bigotry over two equally valid experiences of oneself.

This diversity of opinion over the nature of sex and gender would have great potential for societal and cultural growth if we could only allow one another to flourish rather than bringing decay to the quality of one another’s lives over petty disagreements with methods of self-determination.

There are also sexualities and genders which exist outside the constraints of their respective binaries also and I don’t mean for such people to be an afterthought in my thinking on gender, but it’s just not something I can speak to as I am very comfortable in my positioning within both binaries and I have never experienced the world outside of it.

I would encourage anyone with thoughts related to non-binary gender experience or the experience of gender determination which may differ from my views to express those thoughts to me in the comments below. Thank you!

Roots: Dysphoria

A description of dysphoria itself and clarifications on the nature of Gender Dysphoria.

Before this series continues, I should slow down to bring meaning to terms some might not be familiar with.

Dysphoria is human incongruence.

It is a divide between all of the elements which come together to make one human.

Mind

Spirit

Body

I find it best that an understanding be established that dysphoria can be understood by it’s opposite, euphoria, which many are more familiar with, and would understand to be represented as the three elements shown above in congruence.

Mind

Spirit

Body

To experience euphoria is to be right with yourself and comfortable with your own presence in the world. Mind, body, and spirit unite and you are able to focus these into your presence, which gives meaningful impact to your movements and actions in the world. In this state of congruence, you feel the most like yourself.

To experience dysphoria is to be wrong with yourself and uncomfortable with your own presence in the world. Mind, body, and spirit disjoin and you are unable to focus your presence into any sort of meaningful impact to your movements or actions in the world. In this state of incongruence, you feel the least like yourself.

In states of euphoria, you are a complete human being.

In states of dysphoria, you are a ghost.

Everyone experiences moments of dysphoria and euphoria, but typically these moments are brief.

Gender Dysphoria, as my condition is known in psychology is the persistent state of incongruence brought on by a separation between the body and the mind. A great many studies in other fields have also confirmed, as most any of us would tell you ourselves, that this incongruence exists in us biologically and is experienced by us physiologically, socially, and psychologically.

This is just who we are.

Of course, science doesn’t really consider seriously the element of spirit, but I believe it is worth including as it is something nearly everyone believes exists in some form or another.

Call it what you will:

Soul. Heart. Essence, Core. Spirit. Nature. Psyche.

Or anything else you might fill with its meaning.

It drives us. It exists within us and moves beyond us through our many forms of expression and the impacts our lives leave upon the world.

It will exist long after our physical bits have turned to dust, even if it is only within the memories of those whose lives we’ve touched.

Normally, spirit would act as the glue which bonds the mind and body together in congruence, but in dysphoric states, it cannot attach to either and instead drifts between the two.

It is this part of ourselves that suffers the most from dysphoria.

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine.

No you aren’t, dysphoria is going to snuff it out.

I wish someone had told me this when they taught me that song.

The incongruence brought on by Gender Dysphoria can be dealt with via treatment to either the brain or the body. Neither is wrong, they simply are the way they are. Unfortunately for us, being as they are leads to a great deal of distress if untreated.

Strategies for coping with the distress are not very effective, nor are any other approaches which focus entirely on the mind/brain. Conversion therapy does not work. Nor do any medications which target the brain and/or chemical balance.

Trust me on this.

I’m from Mike Pence’s hometown.

It and all of my family/friends/co-workers were every bit as traditional/Christian/Conservative as you might expect. Fear of rejection by so many people who were important to me kept me from pursuing body-based treatment for far too long. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to worry and to follow through with it as soon as possible.

I would give anything to have those lost years of my life back, but what’s done is done.

The fact of the matter is that hormone replacement therapy is the best method of ending the incongruence of gender dysphoria.

Dysphoria can be brought on in a number of ways, gender-based dysphoria being only one of a diverse bag of possibilities. Most transgender people also experience “Biological Dysphoria” (though as far as I know, this distinction is not made in psychology) which extends beyond the experience of gender and into our biologies, driving many of us to seek out sex reassignment/confirmation surgeries, though in most of our cases, this type of dysphoria never dissipates because wrapped up in this type of dysphoria is our reproductive systems, which no currently available technology can repair.

Though my own lack of reproductive system does bring me dysphoric distress, it is not burdensome. At least not any more burdensome than it is to any other woman who might wish to bring children into the world, but lacks the ability to do so. It does not leave me locked in a state of distress, but rather brings me situational distress, typically only in sexual situations.

In spite of the biological dysphoria which will always be with me, I no longer suffer or am burdened by dysphoria otherwise. My incongruence has ended and I now live a normal life with a mix of euphoric and dysphoric states, though more commonly I know the former than the latter.

Roots: Us & Them

A concept to approaching positive engagement with transphobia and effective ways to overcome it.

TERFTrans Exclusionary Radical Feminist

Big, scary term, innit?

I’ve spent most of my life scared of people who I saw fit to this label.

Well here’s the thing, transfolks. It’s a thing that most of us who have been abused by them over the years have a REALLY hard time with.

TERF is an offensive term in many cases. Many who share concerns with those who we might call TERFs do not necessarily identify with this group.

The continued use of this term in our conversations with such people disparages the genuine concerns of women who, at the end of the day, just plain don’t understand us and need to be shown that we aren’t a #transcult injecting the world with #peaktrans ideologues with a #cottonceiling we demand women break through in #totalitarian fashion.

We are not #bogeyMEN.

And neither are all the people you perceive as TERFs.

Applying this term to those who think in ways which defy our own demonizes them and causes us to pre-conceive bias against them and it leads to destructive, rather than constructive conversation.

They are humans with real human concerns over real human conditions, just like we are.

They need to be shown our Humanity if they are ever going to accept it.

But how to we do that?

My friend Rya shared with me an amazing concept for beginning the building of bridges with people like those who are infected with transphobia:

1. Demonstration of understanding

2. Nurturing of understanding

That begins a process of growth. From there, you can bridge the rest of the gap with apology and capitulation wherever necessary.

This has been my moral guide throughout this entire, often times terrible, bridge-building process. And it has begun to work. I’ve seen the potential for growth it has and have experienced first hand its uplifting of the human condition.

It has required apology and capitulation on my part. I’ve apologized for being certainly overly-liberal in application of the term TERF and for, in my fear of those who I saw as TERFs, brushing the valid concerns of regular women under the rug.

If you’ve paid any attention in your life to the world around you, you’ll likely have noticed that most every theology, narrative, poem, etc has a figure alluding to this sort of path. These sorts of signifiers can be found everywhere, woven into in culture.

Maybe, just maybe that’s because a lot of people have learned that it is an invaluable lesson in humanity.

Haven’t you heard? It’s a battle of words.

There is no good or bad. Only thinking makes it so.

Words, words words!

Slanders, sir. For the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams—all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.

Words without thoughts, never to Heaven go.

The path to insanity is fraught with many flawed ideas.

Let’s not succumb to them.

Let’s build bridges.

Let’s overcome the obstacles that separate Us & Them and find our common ground.

The truest problem we can all face together, right here, right now, in egalitarian fashion is to volunteer our voices and time to shelters as well as donate anything we can to them. In exercising our voices, let us not use them to bicker on social media and instead use that energy to set out into the world and help shelters!

I’ve taken concerns over sharing shelter spaces very seriously and have capitulated to certain concerns over them.

Let me preface this in saying that the one thing I would never capitulate to transphobes is my womanhood. That’s mine and isn’t for anyone to take. However, certain biological and historical elements do tie me back to men in an unfortunate way. The mental process required to understand and accept me for who I am, can require a processing of men.

Women who are traumatized at the hands of a man can internalize this experience in such a way that the experience of men by any stretch of the imagination triggers pain in them. They can’t come to accept who I am because they quite simply can’t complete the mental process. This means, that in the eyes of a survivor, a trans woman can take on the appearance of a threat. By and large, we are of course, not any sort of threat and do have every right to shelter when we need it.

Both sides have perfectly valid concerns over survivors in this argument. This, above all else, is why we need to take an egalitarian approach to this problem.

Women’s shelters, which have been built and designed specifically for women and/or children have not been made with trans people in mind and we must be sensitive to the concerns of those who run such shelters. Transwomen shouldn’t impose themselves on these spaces. Women have earned them through years of blood, sweat, and empathy. We must put forth the same effort if we there will ever be enough shelter space available for all types of people in need.

When I say “all types of people” I mean ALL types. This problem of spacial accommodation to trans people, over shelters especially, is FAR bigger than the trans/transphobe dichotomy.

If a black woman is beaten to within an inch of her life by a group of white women, where can she go?

Do we have shelters for her?

If not, we damn well should.

Equipping shelters to handle all types of people in a myriad of circumstances is no easy task, but it is a necessary one.

I have been working together with my local shelter to acknowledge and address these sorts of concerns. Here is the most relevant response I have received so far:

“Operating a shelter is a challenge and there’s no one right answer for any question when talking about shelter issues. I’ll answer your question to the best of my abilities. We work on a case by case basis with every client that comes to our shelter, because everybody has a unique story and individual needs. With that being said, we do have basic rules that everyone who comes to shelter must follow. Resident advocates do everything we can to ensure the safety of residents staying in shelter, and we have a zero tolerance policy for any violent behavior in shelter. We also have a nondiscrimination policy that everyone must agree to when they come into shelter. That includes not discriminating on the basis of age, race, creed, gender, ethnicity, color, size, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, different abilities, religion, or gender identity. That being said, we do realize that things will sometimes happen in shelter that we cannot control or that residents may break the rules. We hold all residents accountable for their behavior. We work to ensure everyone who calls us for shelter know that we serve all genders.

We train everyone in our program not to assume gender, but we know that people bring in their own biases and personal history. On our intake form we ask for gender just as we do other demographic information. If a person identifies as female and they do not have children, we have them share a room with up to three other women. If a person identifies as male without children, then we have another room for them that they may have to share if another male identifying person comes into shelter. If people complain about a person who appears to be male, we remind them that we serve all genders, and that they agreed to stay in shelter knowing that. We have clients who come to shelter who have suffered trauma from various types of relationships. Some of those relationships are same or opposite gender so they may be uncomfortable with people of their own gender. We make sure to tell everyone that they don’t have to be friends with the people that they room with, but that they must be respectful towards everyone.

We still do have basic criteria for entering shelter. The person needing shelter must be fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. We have a six county service area and we give preference to those meeting the criteria within our service area. People can only bring children that they have custody of, but people don’t have to have children to stay at Middle Way House.”

Let’s stop bickering and get off social media to face and end this problem together, hand in hand, fighting the tide that disparages and oppresses women everywhere while pushing to provide shelter and a safe and secure pathway to healing to everyone who needs it.

Here are some resources to help you find shelters in need:

Volunteer your time to them and donate to them for the betterment of all humanity.

Thank you.

Roots: Birth, Burden & Separation

Insights into the experiences of sexual separation / segregation and the burden of such existence with dysphoria.

From my birth, up to puberty, everything was harmony for me.

After that, life became dissonant.

Of course, this happens to all teenagers to some degree, it’s a dissonant time by nature, but what happened to me was quite different.

I can’t explain to you the pain of experiencing the world as a girl any better than by describing what it’s like to reach puberty, see what’s happening to all the other girls around you, and then to realize that isn’t going to happen to you.

Instead, you realize you face life as a deformed monster infected with testosterone.

But worse than that is another realization.

It is the realization of sex and sexuality.

The understanding that you are different from the other girls.

You grew up socialized in such a way that you expected to be a mom.

The games you played were nurturing like that in nature. You cared for your dolls like children just like the other girls did, with the basic understanding that that babies are made in the bellies of people like you perceive yourself in every physiological, sociological, and psychological way to be, that you will fill that role one day.

But then, at puberty, you realize:

You will not conceive.

Ever.

The truest pain of my experience was that pain and I’ve carried it with me my entire life.

Trans exclusionists often love to taunt me with this fact.

It hurts, so much, every single time.

It hurts in the exact same way it would hurt any other female unable to conceive who wishes to.

If I could have perfect biology including a womb, I would, I’d do it in a heartbeat just like most women who can’t conceive. It’s truly the cruelest of our separations to hold against us.

This is a testament to the truth of the biological and physiological experience of transgender women. I didn’t have a womb. It didn’t stop me from feeling as though I did and being impacted by it accordingly.

All my life, I experienced my body in much the way an amputee might experience their missing limbs. Parts which should be there simply aren’t but it doesn’t stop the experience of them. It never goes away. It never went away until I began hormone replacement therapy. Now, it, and all of the distress related to it are gone.

But still now, as I am in my mid-thirties, the burden of not being able to conceive remains with me as it always has and sadly, always will.

Every woman who has lost the power to bring life into this world but who still wanted to bring more knows the pain of this burden and the social and psychological impacts on you.

This is the true pain of dysphoria.

Luckily, social progress, being the beautiful thing that it is, has allowed for people like myself to adopt in many areas.

Sadly, this is not true everywhere by any stretch of the imagination.

Keep going, social progress!

In the meantime:

Arguments over whether or not a person is mentally fit  to care for a child (or serve in the military for that matter) should be settled by case workers, not internet trolls.

Stop it for the betterment of humanity.

Roots: When did transition begin?

When and where did my transition begin? Let’s take a journey through time and explore.

It’s the 16th of December, 2011. I’m shaking as I inject myself with estradiol valerate for the first time.  A whole new life is about to begin.

But what about my transition? Where did my transition begin? Did it begin here, at this first injection? Or did it begin elsewhere? Let’s go a bit forward before we go back.

It’s December 2012. I’m about to see my grandmother for Christmas, for the first time since beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy. She tells me that she prayed for me. When she prayed, she asked God to watch over me and begged him to stop me from undergoing HRT if this would lead me to anything other than happiness. God never stopped me. In fact, my existence has seemed blessed. I consider the power of prayer and understand my grandmother as a religious person for the first time in my life. I fully realize what it means to talk to God. This is the greatest Christmas gift I have ever received.

I found peace in this moment. Was this feeling of peace the beginning? I’m not convinced. Let’s forgo the future for now and look further to the past for our answer.

It’s May of 2004. I’m telling the person I love with all my heart and soul that I am gender dysphoric. She accepts this about me and loves me in spite of it. She facilitates the social and lifestyle changes I will undergo over the next several years leading up to and beyond HRT We’ll eventually go our separate ways in the world, but in this moment, my gender is realized upon the world and is interpreted and responded to appropriately. This hasn’t happened since I was  12. It feels so good to live again.

Is this where my transition began? Let’s go back even further.

It’s 1996, I’m 13 years old. Puberty has begun. All of the other girls around me are getting their periods and I don’t quite understand why I’m suddenly being treated so differently. The female groups I grew up with have split off from me and we’re suddenly, and shockingly segregated from one another. Reactions to me shift in everyone. The world becomes a completely different and ugly place. I’m a pig in a chute. I don’t belong here. I can’t exist here anymore. I refuse to exist this way anymore. I become a ghost. The world never sees me nor hears me. I am unable to impact reality in any meaningful way. I find solace only in voracious reading and solitude.

I realize in this moment what Gender Dysphoria is. Great distress is born from the incongruence internalized between my body, mind, and soul. Is this where my transition began? Maybe not. How about this time we go back…. Back to the Future™?

It’s 1998. Hello, world! The internet is here and my parents hook up the modem in our house for the first time. This is incredible. I discover multitudes of social spaces in which I can be myself and I set about doing so in every one of them. I am reacted to here in ways that make sense to me. It feels so good to be myself, but whenever I step back out into the real world, I continue as an apparition, unable to be seen, heard, or understood.

Did my transition begin here? Let’s take another trip back.

It’s 1990. I’m 7 years old and stranded after school after my mom had issues with the car. A teacher offers to take me to the community Boy’s club with some other kids. I’m confused but I accept. I’m bullied relentlessly once there. The males occupying this space know something is wrong with me but they don’t understand what and neither do I. I feel like a monster for the first time. I avoid spaces like this like the plague from this moment onward.

Did my transition begin here?

Or maybe it was 1987, I’m 5. My mom begins babysitting for a girl named Sarah and another girl named Kaycee. They are my best friends. I am a happy little girl playing with Easy Bake Ovens and dolls. Sarah tells me about Charlotte’s Web, her favorite book her mom’s been reading to her. I can’t wait to learn to read. Charlotte’s Web becomes my favorite book as soon as I do.

Did it begin at 5?

Or was it at 4 in July, 1986?? I’m in Florida on vacation. I’m a small blond haired person. Men on the beach tell me what a cute little girl I am. My mom reacts strangely. I don’t understand.

Or maybe did it begin at 3? I’m experiencing my very first memory. I’m sitting in a sink full of water that is sloshing all around my body. I become aware, for the first time that I have a body. The world suddenly begins becoming more tangible to me. I begin becoming familiar with objects and form my very first, most basic understandings of reality. I don’t know what any of this is, but it seems great. I look down at the water and catch a glimpse of myself reflected in it. Who is that?

What if it was when I was 2, when my mom dressed me up in frilly clothes and had a professional photographer take my picture for the first time.

Could it have been at 1? Maybe Soros funded birthday cake manufactures to inject cakes with chemicals that turn the frickin’ kids transgender and my first ever taste of cake poisoned my mind against my body?

We’re running out of room for time travel within my life’s experience. We could go forward I suppose, but no, let’s go even further back.

It’s October 20th, 1983. My mother is in labor. She’s expecting a girl. She plans to name her Brooke. In the last 9 months leading up to this moment, she had been hoping for a girl and was told by many that it looked like she was going to have just that based on the way she was carrying me. Doctors agreed with this assessment and offered ultrasound confirmation but she refused, wanting to be surprised. Now, in 1983, she pushes me out into the world and her heart is broken by not receiving the daughter she had hoped for, but is immediately mended by the idea of guiding a boy into the world, so that is what it is decided I am, then and there. She scrambles to come up with a name. A soap opera is on TV. I am hastily named after an actor on the show. A façade falls over my existence.

Did my transition begin in my mother’s hopes and the world’s initial perceptions of me?

Where did it begin?

The truth is it never did, in the sense of moving from one gender to another. I’ve never transitioned to anything. I’ve just been exactly who I am throughout my entire life, with varying degrees of distress born of Gender Dysphoria at varying points.

The only transition I ever went through was the one from girlhood to womanhood.

Just like every other adult human female.