alee_grrl: Eddie Izzard pointing at his head.  Text: In my Mind. (in my mind)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
I know I've been super quiet the past few months. I stepped up my Lyme treatment, which meant a lot of time spent resting. I also needed some time to focus inward and to process several things. Now I feel like I'm ready to start socializing again, and ready to catch folks up on what has been going on in my head and life. This is likely to be a long post. It is also likely to contain some fairly heavy topics.

The biggest thing that has taken up my mental processing power and many of my spoons has actually been the realization that I'm genderqueer/transgender, possibly intersex. Not real sure where I fall on the spectrum yet as the whole thing is still a rather tangled mass of thoughts right now. But it is enough to finally acknowledge that I am not the gender I was assigned at birth.

The whole realization was kicked off by this excellent article exploring PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and being intersex. The whole thing blew my mind and resonated with me in some pretty incredible ways. It also opened the door for me to acknowledge why I'd never been comfortable thinking about my gender before, despite not feeling comfortable with the female designation.

One of the reasons I had not felt comfortable addressing gender dysphoria was that I needed to first work through a whole lot of other issues revolving around childhood trauma and abuse. Because of the abuse and bullying I suffered at home and at school, and because of the chronic illness that I suffered from without realizing it, I never had a very good relationship with my body. The abuse and bullying left me with body image issues, particularly after I put on weight when I hit puberty. The chronic illness and pain left me hating my body in other ways. So I had a tendency to disassociate from my body and spent a very long time trying not to think about it at all. As I've worked through some of those issues, I found myself trying to learn to love the body I had and assumed that the hatred I had of certain aspects of my body (like my breasts and menstruation) were just lingering issues of body dysphoria. Most women aren't happy with their breasts, right? And everyone hates their period. It didn't occur to me that most women don't dream of cutting their breasts off. It also never occurred to me that many people do not regularly switch genders in their dreams. In my head I was just a grumpy odd ball; the possibility of being trans or genderqueer just never entered my mind. It was something my friends could be, but not me. Hell I didn't even want to dress as a drag king for the annual drag show at my law school (though I've since unpacked the whys of that and realized that it was largely because it felt unfair to try it out for a night--like a way of taunting my earlier self, if that makes sense; I think I also worried that it would trigger a great deal more than I was ready to deal with at the time).

The main reason it never occurred to me that I could be trans/genderqueer was that I basically had the masculine side of me violently beaten out of me in middle school and had those painful lessons reinforced by my mother. I always dressed more boyish when I could get away with it (which wasn't often as my mom really pushed hard for me to be "a proper lady" though my dad occasionally fought for me to be allowed to be a tomboy), and had to be forced to start wearing a bra in six grade (I was a c-cup already). The summer before I started seventh grade i got my first really boyish haircut. One of those ultra short page boy styles. Sadly this was rural Louisiana in the 1990s and gender roles are rather violently upheld. I was constantly pushed and shoved in the halls, pinched and occasionally punched, called vile names, and threatened constantly especially in the locker room. The other girls didn't want to change with a freak like me. I don't remember a lot of the particulars, but it was so bad that they had to put me in another grade's gym class. It was also so bad that I missed more than 80 days of school that year, going home sick as often as I could. There was never any hard evidence of the bullying. And my parents were big believers in the "sucking it up and either defending yourself or ignore it" methods of dealing with bullies. And when I told my mom that they were calling me a wanna-be boy when tripping me, etc, she basically said I got what I deserved and that she'd warned me about getting that hair cut and dressing the way I did. Even though I would go on to get short hair cuts from time to time after that, for a very long time I would hear her derisive "you look like a boy" every time I looked in the mirror. And my heart always translated that as "you look like a freak."

One of the other problems I have is that I have a really hard time picturing something other than what I am looking at. I am rather large chested and I have always found sports bras and other binding things to be rather painful to wear. This means that I have a really hard time picturing a more masculine person when I look in the mirror. It also means I have a really hard time finding outfits that feel more masculine. I'm really partial to the dapper look, but my chestiness has always made finding traditional button down shirts a hassle. Since I've lost weight it's even more challenging because anything large enough to not form around my breasts is so large is looks like a tent on the rest of me. Between the cultural and maternal pressure to dress more feminine, and a genuine appreciation for the beauty of feminine clothes and jewelry, I started to cultivate a more feminine look and tried to convince myself that it was what I wanted. I have over the years found a style that works for me, but there are days it still doesn't feel right. And I still hate having large breasts. It was very telling that I was kind of disappointed when mysterious lump in breast was just a swollen lymph node because that would have given me an excuse to have them removed. While I've thought about getting a reduction over the years, it never seemed like a feasible thing (insurance issues being a large part of that equation). I'm not 100% sure I want to have a complete mastectomy, or if I just want to get a massive reduction. That's one of the things I've been contemplating and will be one of the things I discuss with my new PCP who is supposed to be trans friendly.

So I've gathered a large number of books and websites and have been reading when I have the spoons. And today I attended my first trans support group meeting at the local pride center. It went very well though I was nervous as hell. Tomorrow I see the new PCP for the first time. If all goes well we will open dialogue about gender issues and she will have some advice on dealing with the hell that has been my period this summer (three week periods are just not cool, especially when they come with vicious cramps and headaches). I'll also be looking into finding a counselor/therapist.

I've been missing my Dad a whole lot and wishing I could still talk to him (and get a response) about things. I don't think he would have batted much of an eye about the genderqueer thing, he might not have completely grokked it but he would have rolled with it. My chosen family have been super supportive which has been lovely. I'm finally to a point in my lyme treatment where I'm feeling better than I have felt in a year. I'm still processing the fact that my dad is no longer a phone call away, and some days it hits me harder than others. All in all it's been a hell of a lot to think about and ate most of my spoons and words for much of the summer. But all in all I'm doing alright.

For those who do not have the spoons (emotional or otherwise) to read the whole post, I've been doing a lot of thinking and come to the realization that I'm genderqueer. Not sure where on the spectrum I fall, but I am finally comfortable acknowledging that I am genderqueer. Reasons for not acknowledging it earlier are many and discussed in depth above. The big take away is that I am okay with the realization and taking steps forward in exploring a more authentic version of myself. It's just been a lot to process. But in the end I'm gonna be just fine. I'm currently comfortable with they/them and she/her pronouns. I'll let folks know if the preferred pronouns change.

Date: 2015-08-20 04:12 am (UTC)
jjhunter: Closeup of monarch butterfly (butterfly closeup)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
*waves pom-poms of support and love and encouragement*

Date: 2015-08-20 04:26 am (UTC)
sulien: Made from my favorite photo of Big Lagoon, Humboldt, CA (Default)
From: [personal profile] sulien
It's great to hear that the Lyme treatment is progressing and that you're feeling better! And hopefully feeling better physically will give you the mental and emotional strength to continue discovering exactly who you are within yourself, whoever that may be. I hope your new PCP turns out to be a good one and that you get all of the medical care/advice you need. Hopefully, they can also give you a recommendation for a good therapist who will not push you in either direction and will help you discover things for yourself.

It's good to see you posting again. :)

*sending supportive vibes & virtual hugs*

Pardon the edit, fumble fingers here.
Edited Date: 2015-08-20 04:26 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-08-20 07:06 am (UTC)
finch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] finch
Congrats on figuring this out and starting the process of finding out what will make you comfortable and happy. I hope it goes well.

Date: 2015-08-20 09:52 am (UTC)
lizcommotion: heart in rainbow colors (rainbow heart)
From: [personal profile] lizcommotion

*sends good vibes*

glad you are getting headspace to think about this

Date: 2015-08-20 01:27 pm (UTC)
jelazakazone: black squid on a variegated red background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelazakazone

Date: 2015-08-20 09:07 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht

Date: 2015-08-21 03:06 am (UTC)
syntaxofthings: Death Fae from the Fey Tarot (Default)
From: [personal profile] syntaxofthings

Congratulations on finding the courage to follow your truth.

Date: 2015-08-22 01:44 pm (UTC)
sperrywink: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sperrywink

That is a lot to investigate about yourself. Good luck with your processing, I'm rooting for you to be happy with whatever you decide is right for you.

Date: 2015-08-23 06:50 am (UTC)
calissa: (Hinata hugs)
From: [personal profile] calissa
I can see there are some big shifts going on for you. I'm glad that your family of choice has been super supportive. I'm also glad that you are taking steps toward this more authentic version of yourself. Another friend of mine is 1.5 years into her transition and it has been a delight to see how she has blossomed. I hope it will be similar for you.

Also, I love that song.


alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)

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