Roots: Growth & Socialization

Roots explores the developmental and social experiences of a dysphoric existence from childhood to puberty.

Growing up dysphoric, your experience of the world is physiologically, sociologically, and psychologically atypical.

As such, you form your understanding of yourself and others through that lens. For myself, I was aware of dysphoria as early as I could understand concepts such as gender. My mom was a babysitter and crossing guard and my dad worked in a factory. I understood the differences between male and female bodies and social roles (especially in 1983) through them because they were both very much what you might call “cis” and very much did embrace their perceived societal roles. It might be strange to kids nowadays, but that kind of social split between men and women was much more common back then.

God, I feel old. I shouldn’t feel this old at 34.

Anyway, my parents were wonderful. Grandparents too. I had an incredibly strong and close family unit and no source of childhood trauma external to dysphoria. So, let’s dis-spell any pre-conceived notion someone might have that all trans people experience child abuse here and now.

I experienced none whatsoever.

The only source of distress in my childhood was based in my dysphoric condition. I became aware of the incongruence in me at about the age of 5. My 5th birthday party is one of my first memories. We played Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey. I remember listening to the adults talking as I blindly aimed to pin my tail onto this pompous jackass in front of me and I realized one referred to me with a male pronoun.

It bothered then as much as now.

Taking aim, I pinned my tail.

The blindfold was removed from me, my tail was nowhere near the mark.

I turned to face the world again and another adult stopped to admire my eyelashes.

She said they looked like a girl’s.

She was right, but for now it would have to be our little secret.

Shortly thereafter, I tried to rebel against efforts to gender me to the contrary of my feminine nature, but could never escape it. It was like a ghost shackled to my soul, tearing me apart in every movement I made in the world.

Eventually, I realized that the ghost must have won, because I wasn’t the one in control of who I was anymore.

I’d become the ghost. I was the one chained to this body.

Claw as I might, I could never get back in.

I tried sometimes, in my private time. Much like Patrick Swayze in Ghost, I’d attempt to sit inside my body and try to be comfortable, but I couldn’t, it was a square hole and I, a circular peg.

Eventually, I discovered books like Charlotte’s Web, where I found my first role model in the character of Charlotte. And then, video games; Mario 2 was my favorite, I loved that I could be Princess Peach. I found solace in them and in solitude itself. When I wasn’t reading or playing games, I’d play with my toys and get lost in imagination. My imagination is a female-only safe space none of you are welcome in. There, I cared for my dolls as my children, dressed myself up in clothes my mom never knew I took from her (sorry, Mom),  and began to dream about being just like her one day.

I was socialized primarily among other girls who always treated me just like I was one of them. I was so happy in these interactions, and I found I could exist almost somewhat comfortably within my body in moments like these. I’d feel the incongruence in me begin the mend. In the briefest of moments, I may have even experienced dysphoria’s opposite, euphoria.

Here’s a small tattoo (sorry again, Mom) that’s on the back of my neck:

5Sslm

To me, this is what Gender Dysphoria looks like. These lines represent a separation between Mind, Body, and Spirit. A fracturing of humanity.

It represents, as minimalistically as possible, the sensation of experiencing life as a ghost as I have described it here. When I was socializing comfortably and able to be myself, I felt these lines pull together. It’s in those everso brief moments of euphoria where my fragile young identity was formed, and in the rest where it was broken.

I remember experiencing sexual segregation for the first time in Kindergarten. Nobody understood why I was crying when I didn’t want to sit with the boys. Nobody cared to ask. I was assumed to be a problem child and forced to do it, in spite of my resistance. Adults continued doing this to me, regularly. Never once did anyone ask why I didn’t want my humanity ripped apart. I was just picked up like a pig in a chute and forced, again and again, into groups I didn’t belong in.

I’m not sure if you know anything about masculinity, especially as it begins manifesting in young boys, but as I understand it, it seems like a hell of a drug.

Some boys couldn’t seem to get enough of it. There would be fights and conflict everywhere all around me with boys trying to claw the manhood out of one another. I hid as best I could, but of course it was impossible to hide forever.

They thought I had something they wanted and they came to take it from me too.

As you might imagine, I was these boys’ whipping girl. I had testosterone running through me but no masculinity in me with which to defend it, and so, smelling it in me, they would pounce at every opportunity to grab a piece of masculinity that just wasn’t there. I can’t even describe how terrifying it was.

Just imagine being the only little girl thrown into the middle of a swarm of testosterone-crazed apes who want to eat parts of you, or worse, want you to not exist.

Every day at school was a nightmare like that for me. Every single one.

It led to distress in my life like you can’t imagine.

I developed a serious eating disorder fairly early on. By 2nd grade, I was already way more chubby than anyone would consider reasonable. The fat was like an armor I wore. It hid perceptions of masculinity in me and detoured boys from attacking me over it. Instead, of course they attacked me for being fat. Most kids would respond to that and just lose some weight, but I couldn’t.

needed my weight. It protected me from having my humanity ripped apart by boys who wanted to consume the masculinity I didn’t have. I was far happier with their attention re-directed to my stomach and away from my mind and crotch.

It wasn’t just the weight either, I’d do as much as I could to deflect. Any stupid thing I might think of to make myself seem outrageous in some fashion, all with the effort of pushing them away from the identity they continually tried to fracture. I pray this doesn’t still exist, but there might even be a video of myself singing  Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Achey Breakey Heart” in a school “talent” show.

I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew the social wrath this would bring down upon me. I didn’t care. It was everso much better than the alternative.

I resisted school more and more as I got older. After 3rd grade, my mom pulled me out of public school and I went to a private Christian school. One day, I intend to write about my experiences there, which were much like what we call Conversion Therapy— but of course, they didn’t actually call it that.

For now, let’s skip those years and suffice to say the conversion didn’t work.

Next, came Middle School, like a trainwreck into my life.

Puberty.

And I became a fully realized, fractured human being.

That tattoo on the back of my neck became my entire existence.

It was everything it was in elementary school, but indescribably worse.

The only choice I had to deal with it was akin to Stockholm Syndrome.

Dysphoria had abused me through my entire life and I couldn’t take it anymore, so I attempted to embrace the fate the world had for me.

As I’ve mentioned, I was obese. Even moreso by this time. My family was worried to death about my health and wanted me to play sports. I’d played a bit of basketball with my Christian school friends which was tolerable enough. I had to play with the boys, but it was alright. I looked on it as a battle of the sexes. One which I lost but that’s just because I suck at basketball.

A better girl definitely would have won.

In junior high though, in what I’ll tell you was an act of true insanity, I tried playing Football at the behest of my family.

If the world wanted me to be this way so badly, I thought I’d give it an honest try. If I was supposed to be one of these masculinity-starved beasts, I would do so while wearing padding on a battlefield over some weirdly shaped ball of pig-flesh that men carried up and down a field while other men tried to stop them.

That only lasted about a week. I hated every moment of it. Worst thing I’ve ever done. Who gives a crap honestly if that stupid ball gets to one end or the other anyway?

Later in life, I came to realize that ball and I had a lot in common.

I was a weirdly shaped ball of pig-flesh being carried around by the men against my will, being forced by them, from one end of a field to the other.

A source of conflict they could focus all of their masculinity into protecting and/or attacking.

A woman.

A football.

Or, as Feminist Frequency eloquently put it,

“In the game of patriarchy, women are not the opposing team. They are the ball.”

Roots: Us & Them

A concept to approaching positive engagement in trans discourse.

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 and allies.

Although there are certainly people who are fit to the label, TERF is often cast as an aspersion. It is a false, misleading accusation that serves only to avoid difficult discourse in bad faith.

The continued overuse of this term in our discourse 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 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.

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: Dedication & Identification

Roots explores the egalitarian pathway to healing through constructive confrontation of transphobic concerns in this discussion on dedication, self-identification, and the importance of state-mandated processes to transition.

I’ve spent the past few weeks of my life engaging with a group of transphobic women who I know demonize me and everyone like myself. They don’t understand my roots or the burdens I bear because of them. They degrade my human condition to psychosis and perversion.

They do not know me.

But I do know them.

I’ve suffered a great deal of abuse in my own life, the vast majority of which has been at the hands of men who viewed me as a woman throughout the entirety of our experiences together and overstepped social boundaries with me. I know what it’s like to be traumatized by those sorts of experiences.

My neighbor was recently assaulted and I intervened to stop it. This 3rd party perspective to assault has re-opened the wounds of my past traumatic events, and as a method of therapy, I set out to build bridges and to address the concerns of this group of women I had spent most of my life fearing.

I told them my story, explained how it impacted me both as a woman and as a survivor, and the response has been every bit as horrendous as you might imagine. They have crucified me over and over again these past couple of weeks.

All the while, however, I have been exercising the virtue of patience, heavily. I’ve been listening to the voices of these women and begging them to not argue over gender-trifles and instead, to talk with me about the concerns they have which are a source of fear to them and have been pushing for to spread of egalitarian attitudes toward feminism which will heal the world to the benefit of all people, in spite of our differences.

I’ve used this experience and the buzz it’s generated on social media to spread as much awareness on these issues as I am humanly possible and I am showing dedication to these women in improving the circumstances we share.

Even if they hate me.

Even if they tear away at my flesh.

Even if they invalidate my experiences.

Even if they intrude upon my life to collect my DNA.

Even if they take my bones and force them to dance a male jig.

I’m still their sister.

It’s been a miserable couple of weeks.

I’m so tired. I’ve barely slept over all this in several days.

I’m really hoping that, if nothing else, some of them might at least respect my dedication.

And that, dedication, is such an important aspect to transition that no one seems to realize. Many are of the mind that all trans women are just men who are putting on women’s clothes to invade women’s spaces and abuse women and then, once we have had our fill, we will go back to being men.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dave Chappelle joked in a recent stand-up special, imagining a conversation between two hyper-masculine men, “Let’s go to the hospital and cut our dicks off and make pussies out of them shits!” The idea, of course is completely ridiculous that any man would do such a thing and the transphobic mind tends to reduce our dedication to being ourselves to perversion or mental illness and that simply isn’t the case. We just want to be ourselves and live in the shape that allows us to best be ourselves and project ourselves into the world.

Much of this perception, I’ve found, comes from people who live in areas of the world where their governments have not been welcoming of transgender people. As such, those who do transition do so in reckless ways and push for what appears to be unreasonable accommodation purely because the state offers no protection to ANY women, trans or otherwise against this sort of thing. In their minds, and perhaps in their realities per their telling of it, men like those Chappelle joked about could simply declare themselves to be women one day and enter into women’s spaces. As I see it, this is a legitimate concern.

Let’s face it, self-identification, while deeply important to the psychological and social processes of gender transition, is also an issue at the state level and can be nightmarish for justice systems to deal with. In my opinion, it is crucial that governments set restrictive guidelines to transitioning in an orderly fashion to discourage and/or prevent this sort of thing.

Many states in the US have these legitimizing processes, which include several months of therapy with multiple qualified therapists, some of which in some cases are provided by the state itself.

I come from Indiana, and here, we have a rigorous legal transitioning process which is difficult but fair in my opinion. To my knowledge, we have never once had an issue with a man invading any woman’s space under the guise of being transgender, because it simply isn’t possible here! We are so well protected by our laws and legitimizing processes to transition that such things simply aren’t possible to get away with under the law.

These processes end in the changing of our identities on forms of government identification, which prove our legitimacy via association with the process. This leads to the safety and protection of all women against anyone who lacks the dedication to undergo these processes.

Any trained law enforcement official can easily recognize dedication and commitment in one’s transition by examining documentation they have available at any point in the process.

It is provable in any case who belongs where. It is easy to interpret intent of all parties in any conflict that may arise, and so peace and social order are maintained.

Such identification also protects me. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to hand my ID to people knowing that there is an F displayed on it rather than an M. For the longest time, the M was there and it led to so many uncomfortable interactions. I never could know when someone might notice and always, in the back of my mind, I was scared one who did notice might turn out to be a transphobe and proceed to bring hell to my life.

You would not believe what peace one letter can bring to a woman.

These systems protect us all from harm and I would encourage any government to adopt them.

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.

Humanity 101: Life, the Universe, and Gender

“There is nothing either Good or Bad. Only thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare, Hamlet

What is humanity anyway?

And for that matter, what is the consciousness we use to infer such things? Are we just bodies here to reproduce or is there something that exists beyond that flesh?

Humanity is what you will find locked in the eternal struggle between the two possibilities of that question.

Is it the flesh itself that drives our intent through to the impact we make upon the world, or is it something that exists beyond that, which drives that flesh?

Are we corporal? Or are we spiritual?

Or is it all just cognitive?

Cogito ergo sum!

Sed quis ego sum?

Do we even exist at all?

Is there an afterlife?

If I am a woman here, am I a woman there?

Do we have any choice in the matter, really?

Regardless of your answer to those sorts of questions, welcome to humanity! This is our condition. We cannot know truth. We can only have opinions of it. This is the human condition.

We are eternally locked in that state of knowing/not knowing the answer to this riddle. This, to me, indicates that there’s really not much point in making a fuss over what we might see as “facts” or “truths” about our reality and we should all just begin to live in respect to one another’s opinions so long as those opinions lead to harmony and not dissonance with the rest of humanity.

As this relates to myself as a transgender person, I am happy to agree to disagree with those who believe differently in this eternal debate of humanity. As such, my approach to the world is to enact as much good intent upon it as I can and leave a positive mark, so they say. I wish not to hate those who hate me. I wish to help them understand me and show them the good will of my intent.

I wish to show comfort to those who find discomfort with us. The best way to go about doing that is to allow them the freedom of their own agency to interpret their understanding of human conditions and to, in spite of that disagreement, not become mired in our differences and instead just work together to end the problems of humanity, all to bring us out of dissonance and into greater harmony.

No matter what you may believe is the answer to the riddle of humanity is, we should all be working together to end the dissonance of our condition in order to bring as much harmony to humanity as possible.

This is why I am happy to lay down arms against the trans-exclusionists. Our disagreement will be eternal because our disagreement is a disagreement on the human condition. That runs deep with people and I understand that I cannot control such beliefs.

All that I can do is encourage harmony and spurn dissonance where I see it.

All of this said, please lay down arms as well and work together as human beings to improve the condition of humanity.

An incredible way you might do that right now is by giving to your local shetlers and working with them to improve these spaces and allow the survivors who need such care access to safety and a harmonious pathway to recovery.

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: 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?