I’ve Died a Thousand Times

I was in the living room enjoying a blissful afternoon with my wife and child. The place had a definite 50’s vibe to it, and it was my home. Everything was clean and organized as I watched my kid playing on the floor in front of me. Suddenly the peace of the moment is rudely interrupted by a massive explosion, which blows out the entire side of my house in an avalanche of debris. My vision is dark and blurred from the trauma, but I use all my strength to lift up my head and see the lifeless blood-stained bodies of my beloved wife and child.

Two men in black approach, take one arm each, and drag me outside. They slam me down on my knees and I raise my head to face the figure in front of me. All I see is a mirage of a person; a dark entity whom had robbed me of my entire livelihood. I crane my neck to the side to see a gaping void where the yellow wall to my house previously stood.

There’s a loud noise, and pressure hits me in the upper right portion of my chest. My eyes explode with the impact as it is followed with a second shot to my lower left abdomen, and a final blow adjacent to my heart. I fall backwards as time decelerates and I meet the pavement. My sight fades in from the edges as I feel the my heart stop beating, and my last breath leaves my body.

Dreams have a fantastic way of revealing the deep realities of the psyche. This dream was the most vivid I have ever experienced, but it is not abnormal for me. In fact, at least half of all the dreams I can remember involve some sort of violence against me. I’ve been murdered, hunted, devoured, tortured, and anything else my imagination can fathom. Of course, there is no pain from these dreams, but sometimes I experience something so vividly horrific it can stay with me for a couple days. Not out of being a fearful experience, but rather the emotional impact from how real they can feel afterward. These nighttime terrors have been frequent enough over the last decade I don’t even wake up anymore; I just roll into the next one.

When I was younger I figured it normal for someone my age to have nightmares and it wasn’t a big deal. I mean, who hasn’t had a dream where they were chased and eaten by a Tyrannosaurus-Rex… inside their house… that made sense. Over time I grew accustom to these dreams and they stopped being scary. I never allocated any thought to question why I had predominantly violent dreams until recently when I awoke from one where a repugnant demon was ripping out my ribs through my back with its scythe-like fingers (that one stuck with me for a few days).

The answer is remarkably simple for a person in my kind of situation. Being transgender means I have a disconnect between my mind and body. It equates to different levels of distaste for different people, but I have definitely harbored some resentment for my body since early adolescence, which is when the dreams started. Even though I may not actively think or feel it, my mind knows how I feel about going through male-driven puberty and having my anatomy as a constant reminder of it all.

Hormones have helped me begin to take a shape closer to how I feel on the inside, but it isn’t enough to remove the friction completely. I still plan on undergoing the sexual reassignment surgery, and likely a minor breast augmentation to correctly align the mental and physical. It’ll be interesting to see how my psyche evolves once I clear the finish line on my physical transformation.

Constantly living as my true self for the last 17 months has allowed me to be female in most of the dreams. It brings me such joy to see myself as I want to be, even when I’m unconscious! Once upon a time, I made an effort to practice lucid dreaming to the point where I would be able to control my dreams to live as a woman every night since I didn’t yet believe I could in reality. I never got it figured out to a level where it was consistent, but every now and then I would have a dream like ecstasy, and everything was perfect.

I’ve come a long way towards being a strong trans-woman, but it is a constant psychological battle to be in a healthy place. It is all too easy to give in to the voices (internal or external) declaring I am a monster, sick, or even unlovable. I’m able to stay on top of it most of the time, but I have my moments when it my skin doesn’t feel like my own. It happens less often the more I work and the closer I get to being anatomically female. Overall, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. There’s simply a mountain of steps to complete the transition and clean up the residual damage from years of suppression.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, but my psychological state has only been improving since I made the commitment to pursue a happier life living as my true gender. I’ve never entertained the idea of going back beyond the obvious; it would be immensely easier. I anticipate there will be many more of these dreams before I reach a point where they are scarce. Look at the bright side: at least I don’t have to be unconscious to be a woman anymore! =)

 

The Next Chapter

(Note: These events transpired nearly a year ago, but I have some serious catching up to do. More soon!)

There is a feeling I have craved for many years. Something started in me with a simple curiosity and turned into a desire rooted deep within my soul. The feeling is quite simple, really. I’m immersed in a gathering of people, going about my business in my own quirky way; catching eyes here and there, but for all the right reasons. My heart is playful and my mind is at ease. I’m a woman in the crowd, and I belong. Nobody suspects me to be something I’m not, not even myself.

People have seen me throughout my life, but they haven’t known me. How could they? I didn’t even know myself. It was ruthlessly difficult for me to form a close bond with anyone since the person I am was not revealed at the time. Although this was hidden to myself and those around me, it always created a barrier.

Something magical happened when I publicly announced my transition; my bonds became real. For better or worse, each and every relationship in my life was tested. There were many challenges involved with this process, especially since I was changing my identity in front of people I had known and built memories with for years, all in one swift motion. As terrifying as it was, there was comfort in being around familiar faces. 

I was confronted with an entirely new opportunity when I graduated college. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t the prospect of employment or the beginning of the career on my mind that day. It wasn’t about feeling accomplished for my achievements in academia or feeling rewarded for all the long hours and sacrifices made to arrive at this moment; it was about stepping out into the world as Emily, and it would not know me as any other.

For the first time, I would be entering new communities and circles which had never known me as any other identity. This was my golden opportunity to join the world as the person I have fought to be without having to throw my identity its face. I didn’t have to be “the trans girl” anymore!

My name is called at the graduation ceremony, and my face lights up as I relish the seconds. I had gone through nearly 9 months of process to legally have my name changed in all the right places for my school to officially identify me as my proper name. Being in this sweet slice of time was worth it all and more. All eyes are on me as I stride across the stage in my gorgeous dress, which I had spent many dollars and hours carefully selecting. My family is cheering from the audience; even my grandfather who had flown out from New York to celebrate with me. ❤ I stood fearlessly to accept my diploma in front of all my peers and mentors, and I knew this was the moment I had dreamed about.

Fun fact! I was talking to my friend from school earlier this week, and he told me about a discussion he had with some of our peers about how beautiful I looked. =)

It took a brutal amount of effort to get myself to a point in my transition where I would be able to enter the work force as my female identity without slapping “TRANS” on my forehead. I worked vigorously with my therapist to continue identifying and pushing to complete the next step, and the next, all the way up to this point. Sometimes it was tempting to be comfortable with where I was at, and stop straining to make forward progress. Having interviewed and landed a job at my dream studio as my true identity, I know it was entirely the proper pace!

I find it important to hold on to the dreams and visions I had when I was younger. Whether it was a grand moment like graduating female (walking down glass staircase optional), or something seemingly silly like running through a meadow in a dress, each moment I fulfill releases another piece of myself from the emotional prison I lived in for most of my life. These ideas don’t have to be contained to dreams. The only thing ever stopping me from living them was myself.

 

The Next Transition

NextTransition

It seems like I have been living at my desk for the last few weeks. I guess that can be expected since I am graduating from college in 23 days!! After countless hours of lost sleep, a few parking tickets, and many other challenges, it would seem I am moving into the professional world. Every single person in my class is anxious about the job hunt and their prospects for lucrative employment. It would take blind optimism to not be a little nervous given the state of our industry around here. The possibilities are out there, but supply pales in comparison to the demand for jobs, and therefore the market is extremely selective.

My peers are working around the clock to get their work and professional appearance to the best possible place. I am doing much of the same, but I have other more pressing concerns to worry about; my physical appearance. In a market that can afford to be picky, any extra details that can be discriminated against could cut me out of the race. Because of this, I am working in parallel to better my feminine presence along with the professional. I do have an advantage over my peers because I am the only female in this class.

The kinds of studios I am looking to work at are mostly male dominated. If I enter the ring as a beautiful woman with a killer portfolio, my chances are pretty good. Naturally, I am now completely obsessed with making myself look the best I possibly can in an effort to achieve steady employment.

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Operation: Save the Penis

Operation_Save_Penis_Web_Xcelluna

I had an interesting week. In my most recent post, I mentioned how it has become painful to achieve a full erection. My doctor didn’t know of any cases previously linking hormone replacement therapy with discomfort when trying to have happy time. With a lack of other options, a decision was made to visit the internet and type my problems into Google. I was entirely skeptical of finding any useful results, especially considering I had to include words like “penis” and “erection” in my search terms.

Shockingly, I found a thread full of male-to-female transgender people who were experiencing the exact same symptoms as I am. There was diverse input coming from people at a variety of stages, so I will provide the cliff notes:

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Effectively Neutered

When I was little, I always thought it would be cool to have kids. After all, whenever we played Life, I routinely ended up needing a second van to carry all my little munchkins. It seemed like destiny! As I progressed through adolescence, I started focusing on the goals I wanted to achieve in my years on Earth. I crafted the dream of opening my own game studio and working towards starting a foundation to financially support transitioning youth; inspired by my consistent conflict with not having enough discretionary funds a new life.

The more I started thinking about this vision and all the steps it would take to get there, the less it seemed possible for me to start a family along the way. At the age of 21, I was faced with a decision that would abruptly force me to conclude whether or not I would ever want to have my own biological children.

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Fetish or Lifestyle

My sexual awakening was irregular for a maturing boy. The first time I experienced an orgasm was entirely by accident while punishing my penis. Even before I knew about being transgender, I seemed to harbor resentment towards my genitalia, and had a lingering feeling that it would not be there forever. Around the age of 13 I began to regularly dress up as female, and consequently started to despise the masculine features of my anatomy. Being the brilliant child I was, I thought it would make me feel better to tie a knot around my genitalia and proceed to tug until my dreams came true. After enough force was applied, something remarkable happened.

This taught me a two important lessons. First: the penis is quite firmly attached, and is capable of carrying the weight of an adolescent male. Second: stimulating the little rascal can lead to happy feelings. Of course I knew what orgasms and masturbation were, but I had no intention to form a closer relationship with my penis. I continued down the path of applying pressure to my penis as the stimulus for orgasm until it caused me to bleed. I remember kneeling in fear on the bathroom floor as I was greeted by red instead of white. At 13 years old, I could not fathom a way to seek help without revealing the nature of the incident; something I was not willing to do. Understandably, I resisted my sexual urges for a long time after that.

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10 Tips to a Happy Trans Girl

Sometimes the smallest and silliest of things can make a mood fluctuate dramatically. Even when it seems that I’ve got it all together, something ridiculous like an uncooperative parking meter can break through and cause an avalanche of stored up emotions. Since I started my transition from male to female, I have noticed certain trends have routinely contributed towards a positive outlook on life, and their counterparts.

  1. Avoid too much naked mirror time. 

This one is absolutely not specific to being transgender. Anyone with insecurities or negative associations with their body could easily be brought down by staring into the judgement of a mirror. Even though I have an ectomorph (skinny/lean) body type, it is definitely male. Between my wide shoulders, absent curves, body hair, flat chest, and penis, it can be a bit of downer to gaze at my naked reflection. The conflict between being unquestionably female on the inside and my body unmistakably male on the outside can occasionally break my defenses and leave me feeling deeply insecure. As I move along in the transition, some of these things will be quite different. For now, I have found that it is best to avoid too much time in front of reflective surfaces when I am naked.

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Dinner Dysfunction

My father has been dating this kind and good spirited woman for a few years now. I had gotten to know her well before my transition ever started, and she has been clued into the process as it develops. Every Sunday since I moved out, my father and I get together for dinner. More often than not, his girlfriend would join us and bring an extra set of life experience to the conversation.

Before the transition, there was never any friction in our discussions beyond the occasional debate about this wacky world we live in. As soon as I started going to therapy to unlock the secrets to my gender identity, there were difficult things for me to engage my father about, and having her there made me more nervous about it all. Each dinner was the site for one topic that was subtly weaved into the conversion. They would almost always have little to say in response, or nothing at all, which made it difficult to continue down the same line of thought for long.

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Love in All the Wrong Places

You know the story. Boy and girl try to be friends with no romance attached, someone gets too close, things get weird, and eventually the one of them makes a grand gesture that ends in a happy love life forever and ever. This is a staple template for countless romantic comedies. In my experience, the relationship either gets awkward for awhile and manages a miraculous recovery, or it gets really awkward and fades away to the depths of my “friends” list.

My brushes with uncomfortable romance between friends have been extremely frustrating. Being in the mind of a girl and the body of a boy added an extra layer of difficulty in forming close relationships. With the guys, I lacked symmetry. It was just impossibly difficult for me to relate with the mentality and actions of my masculine orientated friends. Girls were a mess for me. I simultaneously craved the acceptance of being “one of the girls” while still being capable of pursuing others romantically. Of course, the closer I got to my female friends, the more suspicious of romance they became.

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Day of the Heart

Every now and then I have these days where I get hung up on the idea of being single and the complexity that comes with being in a relationship. Valentine’s Day is simply a day that forces this thinking through a large collective display of affection that is almost inescapable.

When I was younger, I always had a crush on someone in my grade school class. Somehow, I was more of a romantic back then than I am now. I performed Valentine’s Day acts for the girls I was interested in starting when I was about 8 years old. Over time, it became increasingly rare that I would find someone that plucked my heart strings in a way that made me want more out it.

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