Tag Archive | LGBT

I made a friend

IMG_20180520_160255_877.jpgWent to the bar a couple of weeks ago with a friend. That in itself is not remarkable. Though we haven’t gone lately, we will occasionally go to get out, have a couple of drinks, and maybe play some pool. By the way, I totally kicked my friends butt that night. The last time we went, however, I was not as fortunate.

But this is not about our last outing, but the one before that, the night I came out the winner. Starting out, we were asked to show our ID’s even before we stepped into the bar. That usually doesn’t happen, so I was taken aback, more so because my ID does not match my gender. Reluctantly, I pulled my license out, waiting to be called out. All that the bouncer said was that I looked good for 42.

With that, we began the evening, getting a bucket of beers, and playing a few games. Across from out pool table sat a couple, a man and woman, who seemed to be enjoying the night out as well. They were talkative, and my friend Jessica was happily interacting with them, but I less so. I hate talking because more than anything, my voice outs me. I hate my voice!

We continued to play, and the couple across from us continued to visit with those around them, including us from time to time. The man was making me a little nervous, but I ignored him as much as I could, and concentrated on the game. Soon, we were out of quarters, and I was ready to finish that last of my beer, and head home. The couple across from us had other plans.

They invited us to join them, which Jessica was keen on accepting. I followed, afraid of being rejected, or worse attacked, as sat down at their table. With introductions out of the way, the man turned to me and asked if I was trans. Feeling as though the jig was up, I admitted I was. What came next nearly left me speechless. He confessed he was a trans man. I never could have guessed that in a million years!

After that revelation, I was a little more receptive to a conversation, he talking about his journey, and me sharing mine. For him, he feels as though he is obviously a woman living as a man, while I feel the opposite, a man trying to live as a woman. In his case, he feels obvious, though of course that’s his own insecurities manifesting. He is not obviously trans. He looks and acts like a cis male.

How much of the struggle to fit in, therefore, is an internal struggle? How much of it is our own insecurities? For me, I know getting on hormones would help, as much as being on hormones helps him, but a lot of passing is partly being confident in living our true gender.

For him, he’s living life as the man he is, with a woman he loves. I’m still living part time, whenever I can spare the time to be me. The thing is, the trans experience is valid for both of us. He transitioned, I have not. Some people go all the way, hormones, top and bottom surgery, or maybe just top surgery. Some never get on hormones, some never accept being trans.

Acceptance begins with yourself. For me it began when I accepted who I was. It was helped by the scores of friends who have accepted me, who have cared for me, who have loved me. It’s an ongoing journey, a journey of discovery and learning to live being true to myself.

I have had few negative experiences going out as Stefani, and so many positive experiences. That night at the 6th Street  Saloon was one of positive experiences, one where I met some new friends. I just have to remember to give others a chance.

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The difficulty of finding acceptance

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I took a few days off from work. The reason was so I could come down to DFW to see my friend so we could see Deadpool 2 together. It was a great movie. Glad we went! I’m not much of a superhero/comic book person, but I loved the first movie, and I loved the second one as well. Now I’m waiting for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I can’t wait!

What I love about heading out of town is being able to exist in my own skin and be me. I don’t have to be drab and pretend anything. I can dress up and remember that I’m more than what my body tells me. I’m more than what my chromosomes made me out to be. I’m what my mind tells me I am.

The long weekend also allowed me to escape from home, to get away from what’s been stressing me out. Ever since my conversation with my parents, then the conversation with my sister, I confess that it got to me. I forget that this is a huge deal. Took me a lifetime to come to terms with it. It’s unfair of me to expect them to just happily accept this. I’m being selfish.

A lot of my friends have been great. They sympathize with me, but they also remind me that this isn’t a minor thing. It’s a monumental shift in my existence. To ask someone to be okay with someone deciding to be a different gender is a lot to ask. For some, it’s too much. That’s the sad reality of being trans.

But for me, though I identify myself under the trans umbrella, I exist as both male a female. I prefer to present myself as female as I feel better of myself as Stefani, but I’m equally secure as Joe. I can’t deny either aspect of my reality.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t considered hormones. I have, I am, and I will continue to consider it. I would like to feminize myself more even if I don’t completely transition. Not everyone wants to have gender-reassessment surgery. I have thought about it, naturally, and one of my earliest dreams I remember about by identity involves me having a female anatomy.

The struggle for me is that I was born a certain sex. I was born, for better or worse, with a penis. I wish I was born with a vagina instead, or at the very least identifying with the gender I was assigned. That’s the struggle we face. Accepting our assigned gender or accepting that our gender runs counter to what our anatomy tells us.

There’s also a certain amount of God-fear as well. I was born Catholic, and though I’m not practicing, I haven’t abandoned my religion completely. I feel as though I’ve lost my faith at times, but to reject it completely is beyond me. I envy those born without this burden.

I can’t help but wonder why religion makes this so difficult. If someone is born with a defect and there’s a surgery or treatment available, most would agree that the sensible thing to do is to accept said treatment. Heart condition? Surgery. Tumor? Surgery. Transgender? No such thing. God made you that way. You were born female/male. Accept it!

But people are born with heart defects and no one tells them to accept it. “God made you that way.” We amputate limbs, fix other issues, but anything to do with sexuality is taboo. The religious mindset is infuriating!

Sexuality is a natural biological function. Why do we place so much importance on it? Penises are beautiful, so are vaginas. Men are beautiful and so are women. Why is sex considered vulgar? Why does engaging in sex make women whores? Why aren’t men held to that same standard?

But I digress. Gender is more than what our physical bodies tell us. It’s independent of it. For most gender and sex aligns, but some of us it doesn’t. Why can’t I be a woman? Why can’t I change my body to align better with what my mind tells me?

In the end, it’s a battle too many of us have fought, and continue to fight, both with the world without, and with ourselves as well. I’ve come to accept who I am after many year of denial. I’ve come to the revelation after running from it for a lifetime. Now, I’m happier than I have ever been, though it’s not easy for me. I’m secure in my identity. I just hope my family comes around.

And I’m one of the lucky ones. Many are outright disowned. That, more than anything, is why being trans is so hard to our mental health.

Family drama

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I’ve been seriously stressed out lately. Since telling my parents, I thought things were going okay. I wasn’t making plans on showing up as Stef any time soon, but I thought there was some acceptance there. Even when my sister found out and turned on me, I thought maybe I wouldn’t be so alone. I was wrong.

About a month ago, my mother told me I needed to go home because they needed to talk to me. Nothing gets me more anxious than someone telling me that we need to talk, but I went, needing to get it over with. It was as bad as I feared.

My sister, it seems, has been crying about this to my parents. She claims she fears that I’m going to suddenly show up as Stefani to family events, and is saying she doesn’t think she’s going to a family reunion because of it. The more my parents spoke, the angrier I got.

In the end, my parents said that how I lived my life was my business, but they didn’t want to know. They don’t want me to come around as Stefani, nor do they want to see pictures. If, as they said, I decide to go the Caitlyn Jenner route, they couldn’t support me. They love me, they claimed, but they can’t go against their religious beliefs.

And people wonder why so many in the LGBT community turn our backs on the christian community!

They told me I needed to talk to my sister, and tell my last remaining brother. It took me a week, but I contacted my sister. All it was was an opportunity for my sister to attack me. “What, are you going to date guys now?” or “And you think you’re happy dressing up with dresses and fake boobs and makeup?” She was using her training in social work to put me in a defensive position. I never felt such venom!

It’s been almost two weeks since that conversation, and I’m still on edge. My stress has spiked, I feel as though my heart just wants to beat out of my chest. I go to sleep wondering if I’m going to have a heart attack and die alone in the middle of the night. Part of me welcomes death. I just don’t want to deal with this shit anymore.

But I’m still here, living my life. My sister is not really a part of my life, and never has. I never liked her. The judgment and the hypocrisy she espouses keeps me at bay. She presents herself like a typical Christian, posting religious nonsense, pretending to be holy, but seething with hate. I have enough to deal with.

Part of me wants to be done with my family. I have friends, very good friends, who love me for me. They don’t care if I’m Joe or Stefani. They don’t care if I’m gay or straight. They don’t care about nothing except that I’m being honest about who I am. My family, it seems, doesn’t love me as unconditional as they claim.

So I’m stressed out. I’m wondering about myself, who I am, and where I’m headed. Why does my future hold? Will I transition or not? Do I have the strength to live my life without my family? I put off telling them because I was afraid they would disown me. Turns out, I had every reason to be afraid.

This is what it is to live my life. I feel trapped in limbo, not able to breath, not able to live my life. I don’t have the energy to do anything at this point. Breathing feels like it takes too much out of me, but I have to go about my business, pretending to be okay.

A tale of two wardrobes

I bought jeans this morning. I know that’s not the most exciting news I can come up with, but it is relevant. It’s the first time in over a year that I’ve bought men’s clothing. I had not choice, honestly, as all my jeans I use for work are wearing out. I ripped out the seat of my jeans at work yesterday! The horror!!!!

While I was at it, I threw out all my boxers and bought a couple of packs as well. I threw away all my old jeans as they are thread worn, or are stained with paint, or just plain look grubby. I needed to refresh my wardrobe regardless. It does not do to look that shabby.

What gets me is how expensive it is to maintain your wardrobe, and I’m having to maintain two. I’ve been expanding my feminine wardrobe on a regular basis. I love spending my free time as me, so it makes sense that I would expand my wardrobe. I need to buy a few more jeans and slacks. More skirts would be nice as well. Oh, and I would love a few more jackets, cardigans, shawls, and I could probably keep going.

But I’ve neglected my masculine side for far too long. While I keep living a dual life, I’ll have to make my peace with it. I guess I have, but damn it gets expensive. What’s more, I prefer to buy myself feminine attire. I care more about Stefani than Joe. Maybe I should take that into consideration as I try to decide whether or not to transition.

Loving me

20180304_142016.jpgI escaped the confines of my apartment, drove two hours to Lubbock, all to meet up with a group of writers. So here I am, sitting here in a coffee shop, playing on my laptop. Isn’t this exciting!

I’m working on a novel, which I’ve been working on for years, and I’m still working on it. The rough draft is done. So is the second draft. And the third. I think I’m going crazy chasing perfection. I’ll never get there. I just want to get to adequate. I’ll be happy with that.

So, like I say, I’m here in Lubbock, with a group that met me as Joe. One of the writers here has already met me as Stef, but two more now know. It’s interesting to me to see how people react. So far, I have yet to run into anyone who has an issue with me. At least I think I haven’t. If they do, they haven’t voice it.

Living my life is so much better. I feel happier, more at peace with who I am. It’s amazing how much freer I feel just because I’ve stopped fighting with myself. I no longer waste energy denying who I am. I’ve let go of a lot of anger because I no longer have to hide the essence of me.

I still feel depressed at times, but my anxiety has gone down. I get down, but I’m not as sad as I was even a year ago. Moving out on my own again helped. Finding people who accepted me and pushed me to be me led me out into the open.

So being able to meet with friends is such a joy. Being able to feel the open air is a gift. Knowing that I have family and friends who accept me gives me peace of mind. I no longer fear for my fear is baseless. I only wish I would have had the courage to come out twenty years ago. Coming out in middle age comes with its own set of struggles, but I suppose that’s not unique to my age.

There are people who consider people like me sick, that we have some mental issues. Being transgender does not affect our mental health, but being ostracized does. Being rejected negatively impacts us. Living in fear has a huge impact on anxiety.

Finding love and acceptance has minimized my depression. I no longer want to die. There have been times when I actively thought about my own death, sometimes wishing I had the courage to kill myself. Does that shock you?

Those thoughts aren’t as prevalent anymore. If you feel as though you’re not accepted, find people who do. If you are hated, find people who love. If you can’t be yourself, find a space where you can express yourself without judgement. It’s amazing how much better you will feel.

And if you see people struggling with their gender, or their sexuality, show them respect, give them love. Affirm who they are without comment, without judgement. Be the friend, the family member, they need. It’s a struggle to come to accept yourself when you see yourself as outside of mainstream. It takes a lot of courage to come out and say “I am…!”

I am transgender, and I’m proud of who I am. Yeah, I sometimes wish I was born normal, whatever the hell that means, but being me doesn’t make me abnormal. I love me, and that is such a change of who I used to be.

Found out

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That was a complete disaster. About a week ago, my sister ran across the picture on this post on Instagram. Not my Stefani Instagram, but my Joe account. Naturally, she was shocked by it. My brother was the one who text me and told me I needed to talk to her, which I tried.

I sent her a text seeing if she wanted to talk about it. She didn’t. We exchanged a few texts but it was clear she didn’t want to talk, and frankly she’s so pig-headed that I decided to let it go for the time being, and let my brother know what was going on.

It wasn’t until last night that I wondered why I wasn’t seeing anything of hers on Facebook. I searched for her and discovered she had unfriended me. She also blocked me on Instagram. I couldn’t believe it!

I’ve yet to confront her. I see no point in antagonizing her. She has always been a spoiled, self-centered woman, wrapping herself in an oh-so-Christian attire. Half her posts are about going to this mass or retreats. It’s easy to see why I have an issue with going to church. Nothing but judgment from those who call themselves religious!

I talked to my cousin a bit, and she’s upset. My brother couldn’t believe it either. Haven’t talked to my parents about it yet, but I will eventually. I’m not so irritated. I was telling everyone that I was okay, not really bothered, but I was close to having an anxiety attack over it. I had to concentrate on keeping calm last night until it passed.

I don’t know what to do about it, if anything. Maybe it will pass, but like I said, she’s extremely pig-headed, and I have no intention of apologizing for being who I am. If she doesn’t like it, I don’t need her in my life. She doesn’t contribute a damn thing to my existence. Blood may be blood, but my friends have shown themselves to be my biggest supporters.

Had I worked up the courage to tell her first, maybe she wouldn’t have reacted this way, but I kind of doubt it. She was the one I felt would give me the most trouble about it, having been the only sister with five brothers. I want to just let it go, but I’m honestly fucking angry at her. Truly angry.

And now, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll lose any other siblings to this.

Authentic

20180108_232910-1.jpgMy life has been a series of small steps that led me to this point. I started this blog back in 2013 – check my first post here – and it’s been one small step after another for the past four years. I never thought I would be where I am now, living out in the open!

I’m not yet living full time. I’m not at that point in my life, and I can’t say with any certainty whether I will or I won’t. What I can say is that I’ve found some peace. I found that I can be happy. I discovered that I don’t need anyone to define who I am. Happiness isn’t dependant on anyone else.

So this is what my life is like at the moment. On most days I live my life as a man. I go to work, spend my time there as such. I’ve wondered what it would be like to go as Stef, to integrate that part of myself into my professional life, but it would be an unwanted distraction. Until I commit myself to transitioning, I will have to content myself to this duality.

When I get out of work, depending on the time, I may change clothes. I scrape off the masculine and put on the feminine. A lot of what I do is only exterior, but it’s a matter of matching what I wear to what I feel on the inside. The masks I wear have begun to blur. When I first started the journey, it felt as though Stef was the mask, but I’ve recently came to the conclusion that it’s not the case. It’s too simplistic an explanation.

The masculine and the feminine clothes I own and wear are costumes, extensions of societal expectations. What I feel is deeper than clothing, or jewelry, or makeup. I feel, I am, female at heart. Even when I was denying myself the experience of being Stef, I knew intrinsically that I was a woman. I was bitter about being male. I knew my life would have been better had I been a woman, because in my mind I was a woman, even if my biological body betrayed that fact.

So I live my everyday life in accordance to what my body tells me to live, even if I suffer a spiritual and emotional discordance from it. People know me as male, so I plod along as such, and I’ve grown adept at it. No one who I haven’t told has ever suspected that I harbor such a secret. Scandalous!

It’s after work, like I said before, or on my days off, that I can come out and shine. I no longer feel the need to do my makeup to feel feminine, though I’ll admit that it helps. I don’t have to put on skirts are dresses, or anything sexy. That’s not really my style. A pair of jeans and a comfy blouse is all I need.

I run errands this way now. I go shopping, go out for a drink at my local watering hole. I meet friends and live my personal life as my preferred gender, or maybe my actual gender. I spend more time onlife as Stef. I’ve grown comfortable as such. It’s a pleasant experience to be me.

I’ve gone from pretending I don’t exist, and being miserable, to allowing myself to be me and being happy. As my circle of confidants have grown, my has confidence has grown exponentially. I’ve discovered that I have more supporters in my friends than I could have ever imagined. My family has not abandoned me, which was my biggest worry.

As for my family, they haven’t met Stef, but I no longer fear it. It’s not time yet, but I can’t wait for them to see me for who I am. I know it will be a shock for them to actually see me this way. Though I have told them, I think there’s still a bit of disbelief in their minds.

So that’s where I am now, further along than I could have ever believed possible. Even though I say I can’t say with any certainty what I’m going to do, I feel as though I do what to proceed in my journey.

I dream of the day when I start to exhibit more feminine features. I dream of the day when I can live full time as myself. I want the experience of being a woman, both the good and the bad. I have no illusions that it will be all sunshine and rainbows. Even in my limited experience as Stef, I have witnessed some mild forms of misogyny. It’s unfortunate but expected. It’d be a small price to pay to live authentically.