Realizations Realizations Everywhere

Since I came out and realized I'm trans, everyday there is a new insight to some quirk, interest, or dislike. There are moments when I remember something from childhood thru my 20s when I go, “OHHHHH, I get it now!” Today’s realization was a silly one so I’ll stick with those. The other deeper, sorta really sad ones, those are for therapy and one day a book. 

Peanut’s Peppermint Patty - I giggled to myself as I walked past my Sir-baru this morning, thinking how silly I am about the word Sir. Then I had a distinct memory of being drawn to Peppermint Patty from Peanuts cartoons. I loved how surly she was and I absolutely wanted to be called Sir. However, when I was young and someone made that comparison I’d get super embarrassed and didn’t want anyone else to make those connections. Somehow I inherently attached shame to being drawn to this ‘Sir’ character. Now I think she’s pretty dang rad. 

Favorite Color? Blue - Do most 34 year olds base their wardrobe, furnishings and paint colors around their all-time favorite color? Sure, some do, but I looked around Bernice the RV last night and I truly saw how much blue is everywhere. Was I drawn to that color because of the actual pigment, or because of the gender connotations there? One year for we got Land’s End bags for ski vacations and everything was embroidered with our initials. My brother got the blue set for boys, and I got the red set (there was clearly no pink allowed in my presence from a young age). I still use my red boot bag with initials SAS but have always had that tinge of jealousy that my brother got the blue version. 

Tattooed Dichotomies - My ‘transstamp,’ if you will, is a tattoo of a circle of Fire and Water. I drew and got this tattoo as a symbol of ‘dichotomies’ such as gay/straight, indoor/outdoor, happy/sad, boy/girl, etc… As a 19 year old I did not have the word ‘binary’ in my vocab. Lately I’ve wondered how much I was aware of the binaries within myself (besides happy/sad, that part I knew very, very well). 

Laser Hair Treatment - I come from a hairy lineage and as a lady was constantly self-conscious because I was told that I had intense thick man leg hair. I always tried to walk the line between ‘being myself’ and what I saw as socially acceptable. So, I spent lots of money and two years getting (painful!) laser hair treatment on my legs…. Luckily (now), it only partially worked. Sometimes I look at that time of my life as ‘trying to pass’ for feminine or female. I enjoyed some it because I always liked ‘playing dress up.’ 

Halloween/Dress-Up - Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I loved that you could be whatever or whomever you wanted. Most of my costumes as a kid were based in some sort of masculinity. I was a frequent pirate, a football player, hockey player, headless horseman, and then later in my life I dressed up as my drag king alter-ego Rusty McGruff (that’s a story for another day) Actually, let’s just boil this down to, I love to play dress up and always have. I like playing with costumes, identities and voices. I liked being able to try on new ‘facades.’ If that isn’t a metaphor I don’t know what is. 

There are so many others. I wonder if you've had one for me as well. A story, a moment, or something I did where you went, 'OHHH, I get it now.' 

Creature of Habit

I told an ex once that I was an easy going person, a free-spirit, a ‘gives no shits’ kinda person. I maintained that I didn’t care about orderliness, or mess. I unknowingly lied. And lied big. For someone who has recently pressed the reset button on his life I have realized I am an absolute Type A creature of habit with orderliness where I can have it. 

Each week I travel between the mountains of Colorado back to Denver for socialization, showers, and therapy. I pack up the same bag, a cooler, my mobile office bag, and a smaller bag of ‘others.’ My car has a bin with outdoor activity gear, travel blankets, granola bars, nuts, and several shoe options. I created a 'sleeping platform' for my car years ago so I could camp out of it and maybe even sleep in ski hill parking lots when we were gonna have an epic day. I use it as a car filing system when not camping on it. When I have to do ‘longer work shifts’ I go to one of four coffee shops and sit at one of three tables I’ve designated as comfortable for working. Usually they are in the corners with my back facing a wall and not humans. 

All of these ‘routines,’ if you will, allow me to feel a sense of structure while I’m working remotely, living in bi-polar terrains, and rapidly changing while I’m on testosterone. I AM a fairly flexible person, I AM easy-going, and I can make shifts in plans… HOWEVER, when there are things that I can control, that I can keep clean and orderly, I have to lean that way to maintain any sort of equilibrium in this wackadoo life that I live.

Other personal routines I maintain:

  • Clothing - Part to do with meeting Dr. PJ a few years ago. This man stripped his life down to the essentials. He knew what he loved and what worked for him and he paired his life down so that he could enjoy traveling, extreme exercise, and a rich personal life. His closet consisted of each days outfit lined up ready to go, each one being the exact same. I have a rotation of about 2-3 pants and several button downs, long and short sleeved. I usually just grab the pant and the shirt that match the occasion and I have the shoes in my car.  
  • Sketchbooks - I’ve used a Moleskine for… 8 years now? Same size, color, paper. When I start a page I illustrate or at least write the date large at the top. Every co-worker I have ever had has witnessed this process. 
  • Food - I go in phases of what I buy, make and eat. I know a cycle has come to an end only when I’ve started a new one. Currently obsessing about oatmeal and avocados with salt.
  • Parking/Bathrooms Stalls/Seats at friend’s houses - When possible I go to the exact same spot over and over and over again. 

Don’t worry, like I said, I’m in therapy every week. I’m learning about my reasons for these things, the necessity and the pitfalls of my reasoning. Clearly some of it is just about organization but I know a lot of it is about managing my ever present anxiety as well as being hyper aware of my own safety. In these areas it’s not hurting anyone, but like I said, I sure did lie to a lady once when I said I could deal with chaos. In all fairness, she said she was a clean person and that turned out to be a big ol’ lie as well. :) 

Bathroom Win?

Last night at the laundromat there were two bathrooms, men’s and women’s, both locked with a sign to ask the attendant for the key. I had to go to the bathroom and badly, but I put it off until my friend showed up because of my awesome social anxiety and low-grade panic that ensues when going near restrooms. I was worried that if I asked him for the key he would give me the women’s key and that folks would notice me going in the women’s room, blah blah blah. I know that I’m the one that is paying more attention than anyone else, but it’s just a common and semi-constant source of anxiety. 

My friend shows up so I decide I have the mental strength to ask for the key. When I walk into the attendant’s area he sees me from behind and says, ‘How may I help you ma’am?’ I turn around and ask for the bathroom key, already dejected. He pauses and walks me to where the keys are on a shelf and he tries to be as nonchalant as possible by pointing, turning around, walking away and grunting, ‘Um, the red one is for the women’s and the white one is for the mens.’ I got to pick! He didn’t have to decide what gendered-room I had permission to go into! I’m about ready to count this as win when I get into the men’s room and I see how disgusting it is. I mean, dudes, really? Graphic pornagraphic images, not washing your hands, leaving paper and other debris all over the place? Men’s bathrooms are the worst. 

This is the type of thought process and anxiety that happens almost daily. Maybe, just maybe, if there are two bathrooms, single stalls they should just be labeled “Toilet Room,” “Restroom,” or maybe “Private Time Area" and all of them would be semi-regularly cleaned. It would cut down on a lot of really weird interactions for everyone. I suppose a boy can dream.

Actual imagery from the laundromat bathroom. 

Actual imagery from the laundromat bathroom. 

Flat Chest-iversary!

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Happy Flat Chest-iversary to me! I had my top surgery done one year ago today and I could not be happier for the privilege to have such a life changing surgery. To say that I was uncomfortable with my chest would be an understatement at best. I filed away comments, emotions, my true sadness and anger regarding my chest and my body. When I found out that this surgery was feasible it became the snowball effect that led to me realizing I was transgender. I had barely tried to open that door until I knew that this surgery was a possibility. 

Not only were breasts an issue for my gender, but I had medically irresponsible breasts. My fun way of saying, those suckers were huge and I’ve lived with back, neck and shoulder pain since I was 14. I had a breast reduction when I was 21 and for years before that I had prayed that they ‘were just cancer.’ When I woke up from the breast reduction I looked down hoping that there was some sort of major complication from the surgery, that something was botched, that they were in fact filled with deadly cancer and my breasts had been removed completely. No such luck. At least afterwards my back and neck weren’t on such a fast track for major surgery. But alas, not much closer to liking myself or my body.  

I tried on different gender stereotypes, not ever fitting into one seamlessly. I could dress up with the best of them, and sometimes I even thought I looked pretty. But it was just that, dress up. I hid behind clothes, humor, self-deprecating jokes, but never knew to what extent I was hiding. It wasn’t until after my Top Surgery that I saw myself, that I looked at my body and thought, ‘Oh. There you are.’ I became more of myself this day a year ago then possibly any other day or time in my life. Since the surgery I have stood taller, grown stronger, and felt more ‘myself’ then ever before. 

I started off saying that this was a privilege and I absolutely believe it is. There are so many transfolks that will never be able to afford or access this type of surgery. For me, this surgery has been completely life-altering, and I believe life-saving. I went 33 years without being able to fully embrace who I was, without being able to look at myself in the mirror without horror. How much longer was I really capable of living that way? And, I wonder, how much time will it take to recover from the type of mental turmoil and shame that I put myself through?

All of a sudden my nipples aren’t illegal. Historically speaking I would have been arrested if I took my shirt off in a public setting, and because of this I tend to announce to friends that I’m about to take my shirt of, as a warning of sorts. “Skin that’s barely ever seen daylight is about to be exposed. Just a head’s up!” My friends don’t give a shit, they tell me to stop announcing it, that guys just change their shirts, or hop shirtless into a river. Well, just know I’m working on it, but for now you will definitely get a ‘pale skin exposure warning.’ 

So once again I say to myself, Happy Flat Chest-iversary! I’m so incredibly happy to experience this amount of relief… (see what I did there?).

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