Publicity

Some days, it’s like being trans is a public thing, a political statement. You write this on your face, on your forms, on your name and your elevator pitch. 

Hi, I’m Terrance, I’m studying a science and I’m trans. 

My experience has always been that to be trans is a very private thing. To me, being trans is confusion and fear and an ache that might just kill me if I swallow too hard. It’s the way people go silent when you talk too freely about your favorite ways to deny the gender binary, the judgment for the way you wear your hair. 

It’s your mother’s face shifting when she sees you’ve cut it off, it’s your father promising you’ll always be his child. It’s the way his hug feels like a privilege, when it’s always been one of your rights. 

It’s not about underwear. It’s not about sewing or knitting or playing basketball or watching football. It’s about the way you are when you’re alone, the way people’s mouths shape around your name, the way you feel like a liar when you introduce yourself to them. 

It’s about the bolt of fear when you tell someone you’re trans, and about the way that it doesn’t mean “girl who wants to be a boy” but simply “not a girl”. It’s the way the world wants to push you into a box and lock you in. 

Hi, I’m Terrance. I sew and I swim and I sing and roughhouse with friends. I want to learn to box. Once I trapped myself under a barbell doing bench presses, and I want to be a doctor. 

My gender isn’t in this. My gender is me, but not the part you get. Stop trying to answer a question I never asked you. 

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Pillbox Calendar

Every time I get to the end of a week I feel like I’m dying.

As a kid, I wanted to live forever. As a teen, I wanted to die almost daily.
As an adult, the affects of the two have me dreading taking my meds.
You know those little week-long pill boxes? S-M-T-W-Th-F-S? Seven little boxes, keeping you organized, reminding you when you haven’t taken your meds yet. So convenient. So helpful.
Every time I open one of those little tabs I feel like I’m dying.
I’m running out of time, I think, as I open the Tuesday tab, swallow my pills, get on with my day. This week is almost gone, I think, on Thursday, as I swallow my morning meds. I’ve lost so much time. I’ve wasted so much time. What have I done?
It’s Friday today. The pill box is almost empty, because I only take meds in the morning now, and I’m fighting the roiling ball of dread and gloom in my stomach because looking at that mostly-empty box fills me with unquiet.
I’ve lived this whole week and what have I done? What have I failed to do? Where are all these minutes, seconds, hours, days going? I’ll never get them back, I’ll never see them again, and dammit I need to take my meds but I’d rather just hide the box and stop this charade.
Time is pressing in on me, and my brain is trying to kill me, and today, like so many days, I have to try and convince myself that someday all this lost time will pay off. Maybe even these minutes, sitting on my bed and not yet dressed because of looming despair, maybe the cost of these minutes will one day cease to hurt so badly.
I’m running out of minutes. I can’t get more, I’m running out of time and I’m terrified because I want to keep going forward but not if I have to waste today to get to tomorrow. Never that.
Terrance

All of These Things

I’ve probably spent my whole life asking myself whether I was actually a boy. whether I was trans. Why can’t I be different. What’s the difference. Does it matter.

I’ve spent 18-19 years asking these questions. Since I was 2-3, I remember seeing the bits that made the other people in my class different from me, and thinking- that’s it? That dinky little bit, and you get trucks and you get dolls? It’s such a minor difference, and it boils down to what part your body can take in eventually making another baby, and it just flipping doesn’t matter.

My whole life I’ve been disillusioned with romance and marriage. I found a person to marry at 2 so I wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of finding a person to marry, of dating and crying and being betrayed. We swore we’d always be together. I haven’t seen him in 16 years.

And now here I am, going about my life, and people are asking me from all sides when I plan to be like everyone else. I want to have a queer community but I always feel like the odd one out. I want to fit in and be loved by my family, which means being cis and het, and I could absolutely play at those for the rest of my life if I thought it’d pay off. I’d probably even be able to find happiness in it.

But it still makes me sad that every time I learn something like this about myself, it’s to find that there’s nothing to be done. I will have to keep this life, this body, these ideas inside me. Sometimes it’s like there are galaxies within me which allow for the storage of such big feelings, but more often it’s like I’m a thimblefull of ocean, and everyone who knows me sees only through the eye of the needle what I could be.

I don’t know who I could be. I want to say I’d know him if I met him, but I don’t even know if he’s a him. I’m so tired of carrying this burden alone. The cradle of my hips can only contain these ideas for so long before it cracks and shatters, and the ocean in this thimble overflows and fills my world. We’ll see how that goes.

Till next time,

Terrance

In the closet: mapping my dysphoria

Come in, come in. I’m just taking stock of a few things. 

Let’s start with hair supplies. Most don’t keep them in the closet, but then, most don’t live there either. 

These are the hair things I like, gels and pomades and a single comb. I can look at these things and feel like a man. 

Here are the things I use in my costume. This hairbrush, still tangled with hair long sheared. Clips for keeping growth out of my face. Elastic bands, only useful when it’s long enough. And the hair itself, itching at my neck, my ears. Hair itself saying what I refuse to: this is a woman. 

Here are brassieres. They don’t mean much. By all rights, mine would be a less pleasant life without them. I won’t mind. They don’t bother me much. 

Here is a binder, long discarded. Mayhaps I have grown out of it; regardless, I can’t afford to compress my chest. Sometimes it makes me sad, knowing that. Mostly it makes me tired.

Men’s shoes. They gave me blisters, several times. The leather never learned to shape to my feet. Still, they might be one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve been given. 

Here’s something harder to see: the weight of my pain beneath my skin, as if a little shape and some dead cells do a woman make. Here’s something else: each day I try to pin my hair back and choke on bile as I refuse to cut it. Each day I comb it as best I can to look like a man’s. Each day I contemplate hacking it off, and each day I do not. 

Most days I can barely stop the tears. I want to be a woman in surgery; I want to be a man. I’m not sure which I want more.

This is my closet, and my hips are my blessing because here I lay my sorrows and joys. Here I lay my broken dreams. 

Maybe one day I’ll cradle them beneath a man’s belly, in a man’s hips. Maybe. 

A boy can dream. 

Hiding

Pinocchio has always been a little too close to home. 

As a very small child, I had long hair I never brushed and straight-across bangs I tried to chop off. I loved the color pink, because it was girly and I was a girl, and argued with my sister whether “pretty” was preferable to “cool”. I remember that at my preschool, most of us were not fully potty-trained. We could use the toilet, of course, but things like wiping or going on time sometimes got overlooked. In order to allow the teachers to help us, the door to the toilet stayed open. 

I remember imaging what breasts would feel like. I remember thinking that it was impossible they’d just grow, without warning. I remember thinking there was remarkably little difference between me and my friend who played with Thomas the tank engine, except that he could stand to pee. 

No one ever properly explained bras to me. My father taught me to shave my face, though puberty has yet to offer a beard or even a mustache. I envied his Adam’s apple and didn’t understand when I stopped being allowed to shower with him. 

I knew as a kindergartener that you could stop puberty. I knew, even then, my parents would never agree to help me do that. 

These are the gender markers of my childhood. I was always angry about people dismissing women, angry because I had so much to say and if my body did as it was instructed, I’d grow up to be a woman, to be ignored. I was angry that men couldn’t wear dresses. 

And now I’m an adult. My body has done the unspeakable, given me hips and breasts and a menstrual cycle. My body has given me a tell-tale shape, a voice too sweet and skin too soft and not enough muscles. 

I can’t hate my body. I can’t hate that all these things are a part of me, except perhaps the fat that still lingers. I tried it, and I nearly died. I was too vulnerable to hate my body. 

But people dismiss me, just like that little girl knew they would. She knew, she understood that her words and thoughts were not going to go away. She understood that even with breasts, she would be stronger than her sister. 

That little girl became me, a person who can’t understand that “woman” can be applied to them, to him, who can’t understand that people dismiss him as nagging or shrill when he gets upset. 

This young man is trying so hard to hide in the shape of a woman, and this shape isn’t bad, but it doesn’t fit quite right and he can’t hide it. He wishes it didn’t exist. He wishes he’d had the guts to ask for hormone blockers, to prevent this hellish confusion. 

He wishes he was binary. He wishes he was a woman. He wishes he knew what he wanted at all. And he feels like a puppet, because his purpose is not to fill this false roll of woman, but he’s not sure he really does want to be a real boy. 

He’s not sure he’d survive being swallowed by a whale. 

Losing weight part 2

Written on August 3, 2016

***

I’m ashamed of myself for how much my deflating belly makes me happy, for the pleased feeling when it no longer pokes out under loose shirts, for the joy at the lessening of curves, for the hatred that bubbles up at the rest of my body. For the stretch marks appearing in my loose skin, I’m ashamed for the joy my muscle curves bring me. I’m ashamed because I feel like I’ve given in and am becoming what people have always pressed me to be. I’m ashamed for loving it all, I’m ashamed for hating the parts of me that are leaving and loving the spaces they leave behind. As if my worth is measured in the negative space of un-growing. 

What if….?

In being trans on the Internet, and in searching out safe places, I’ve read a lot of “how I knew I was trans” stories. And one of the things I’ve realized recently is that my story, as it were, bears a strong resemblance to the way I’ve heard it described by a lot of trans women. 
Like a lot of people, I’m rather uncomfortable with femininity. I don’t like the frills, the constant softening, the demure way women are encouraged to be. But I’m not dysphoric, for the most part- I just don’t relate to those aspects of being a person. 
However, since I can remember there have been times when I find myself admiring men- not in the way of attraction, or desire, but a sort of identifying self. I see straight lines, I regret my curves and slopes. I see Adam’s apples and mourn that my body will not make one. Men have ease to urinate, bass voices, facial hair, slim hips. So many things I lack. But for the fact that my parents were a bit careless with their magazines, I might never have pursued my transness. But by the time I reached second grade I had a word, and the thoughts and curiosities. What if I really am a man?

I’m losing weight

And I hate myself.
No one seems to realize that when a fat person loses weight, it’s not for the same reason a thin person tries not to gain it. When a fat person begins to lose weight, it’s because that fat person hates their body so much, they’ll commit to making it go away. It’s because at some point, yes, fat people “get tired” of “being like that”. Fat people get tired of shopping in the fat stores, if not fitting in small seats, of the back fat and double chins and the looks they get when they wear sweats. 
When a thin person tries to avoid gaining weight, or tries to lose those ten or twenty pounds from the holidays, it’s because they hate fat people. They’ve been conditioned to dislike fat, to dislike larger clothes and the squishy comfort of hugging a person whose whole body is welcoming and warm. They dislike the joy fat people take in food, they deny fat people the clothing variety thin people take for granted, they mock fat people for being fat or for being at the gym or for running. 

Is it any wonder we hate ourselves? I need to wear a belt now, I’ve lost so much weight that my smaller shorts, which used to stay up alone, now slide right off my butt. I can see that I’ve lost weight in the mirror, even as my breasts refuse to shrink, and I hate myself for how good it feels. I hate how triumphant I am imagining the way my body will be- never thin, but lacking more fat. I hate how repulsed I’ve been with my body, for years I’ve been so repulsed with myself.

But what I hate most is that no one cares that fat people hate being fat. No one cares that we skip the skimpy dresses, the shirts that get tucked in, the bikinis and mini shorts. No one mourns our loss of self-esteem. No one offers us cake, and everyone is watching when we go to the salad bar, or fill up with diet drink. No one cares if we skip lunch. If a fat person eats, everyone else, even the fat people, judge them for not controlling themselves. 

My heart goes out to my fat friends who have eating disorders that get brushed aside, the fat people whose parents put them in weight loss therapy and diet clinics, the ones who never wanted to join Weight Watchers. 

Our health isn’t your concern. We deserve to be happy, in our bodies, in our lives. Stop making fat people hate ourselves. I’m so tired of hating myself. 

My weight loss isn’t a victory. It’s self-destruction. 

Life update 

  • I love my chemistry class. I feel like I’m learning a lot, and like I’m actively pursuing my dreams. It’s an empowering thing, and I’m loving it. 
  • My squeeze is pretty non-existent. After that post, we didn’t sit near each other for several classes, and when we did last class, it was fine. 
  • My roommate lied to me about when she would be coming home, and I don’t know why. I thought we’d bonded over spring break, but apparently she just doesn’t tell the truth and I’m more than a little hurt. 
  • I plan to confront her when she gets back, but not before giving her a little silent treatment because I’m petty. Then I’m going to say “if you don’t want to tell me, just say that, but don’t lie to me.” We’ll see how that goes. 
  • My classes are going rather well, and I’ve submitted applications to different colleges.
  • I’ve decided I’m allowed to replace my iPod only when I’ve finished my school apps and submitted a few job applications. 
  • The school apps are almost done and I have at least one job I plan to apply to. 

That’s it for now; none of these are enough for a full blog post, so I’m just going to post this and get on with my day. 

Yours,

Terrance

Previous Squeeze: Michael

They never cared when I shared about myself.

Today is Valentine’s Day. Not really a hard day for me, a bit annoying but hey- cheap chocolate. But I was just thinking about the general disdain I’ve seen, for Valentine’s Day in particular, as a “straight holiday”.
Michael was queer. They were in a queer relationship and they called themself queer, a lot. (In order to protect their privacy, unfortunately I’ve been calling them Michael rather than their chosen name. But I don’t want them to read what I write about them, nor to hear about it from their friends.) Valentine’s Day 2014 (or was it 2013?), they made a post about having watched a movie with their partner, a movie I googled and later watched because of that post. And when I discovered, while watching, that one of my favorite musicians had a song in the movie, I was delighted.
I hurried to send Michael a message- the movie was great, I watched it because of them, and one of my favorite artists had a song feature prominately in it! I was excited, I wanted to talk to them about it, wanted to know where they’d found it! (Now that I look back, it was probably on one of the lists of “queer movies” that tend to circulate on that site.)
They never answered that message.
Later on, months down the line, they began to post about that artist. How they’d discovered his songs, how they loved this song or that song. Excited once again, I sent them messages, eager to talk about my less-than-popular favorite, to know which of his songs was their favorite, to give recommendations. I’ve almost never had someone to discuss his work with and at the time, the idea that this person I respected so highly was intoxicating.
Again, they never answered most of my messages about him. When I shared a music video he’d made, they shared it too. But that was it. They never really talked to me about him.
I don’t talk to Michael anymore. Several times, over our two/three years of speaking, I asked if I was a bother. If my frequent messages annoyed. If I was an issue. And while it seemed like they cared, sometimes- they responded to some of the things I shared, supported some of my opinions- they never initiated conversations with me. They never tried to be a part of my life.
We ended on bad terms, and that’s a post for another day, or possibly never to be written. I’ve complained about that split enough elsewhere. But I still look back, at all the things they refused to answer, and wonder why I never realized how little they actually cared about me and what I had to say.
I was really young when I met them. I was just beginning to understand who I am, just beginning to use language to describe myself properly and exploring what I wanted and who I wanted to be. And while they didn’t take advantage of that in the more common understanding- we were never sexual, never partners, they were always in a monogamous relationship when I knew them- they shaped a lot of how and what I thought, intentionally and with abandon.
So many of their messages were corrections. When I complained about feeling feminine in necklaces, when I love to wear them, they sent an aggressive message declaring that necklaces don’t have gender. When I used a particular hashtag to organize something, they told me it was racist then sent me a rather rude admonishment to figure it out myself when I asked for clarification (they’re white, by the way). I stopped using that hashtag. It got to the point where I wouldn’t post certain things because I didn’t want to see them yell about it.
I haven’t spoken to them in nearly or over a year now. I couldn’t tell you- I don’t keep track of the date we stopped speaking. What I know is, they untagged me from everything on their page. What I know is, they blocked me on multiple sites. What I know is, they never cared about me.
And that’s what hurts the worst, at the root of it. I spent years, literal years, pining for this person, not for a romantic or sexual relationship, but wishing for their approval, their respect. I wanted to have a friendship with them, but I doubt I ever had a chance. For several months before we stopped speaking, I regularly had panic attacks whenever I got a message on the site we both use, because I was so scared they were correcting me for yet another thing, even though I was desperate for them to speak to me. We actually stopped talking during a discussion where I asked them to please stop correcting me all the time, because it reminded me of my abusive mother. (“I’ve been called abusive for my opinions before, it fucked me up. Feel free to unfollow me.”)
Now I have an opportunity to visit a family friend in the city they live in, and the last time I was in that city, I had nightmares about running into them at the supermarket. I had panic attacks imagining I would see them on the street. I was terrified, even though I enjoyed my stay with the family friend for the most part. Just being in their city terrified me.
They never cared about me. They never cared, and they never said, and they never let me know that. I’m not sure what I was to them, but it wasn’t who I wanted to be. I didn’t matter enough for them to respect.
I’m not nostalgic. Looking back, I can’t remember why I liked them so much. But I’m wary of people I want to know, now. I’m wary of getting to know them, because most of them have given me similar signs, of disinterest and disrespect.
Maybe I’m done with squeezes. One day, hopefully I’ll meet someone who doesn’t hurt me just for wanting to know them, to be liked by them. But I think I won’t pursue my current squeeze. They remind me too much of Michael’s behavior and disrespect.
Whoever you’re spending the day with, I remain yours,
Terrance