Earlier this week I was honored with the opportunity to speak about my experiences as s transgender person at an event tied into the transgender day of remembrance along with help out with a couple other events. This was the first time I have ever spoken about the violence I experienced as a trans person and it was a truly amazing experience even with a darker topic. Even with its hiccups I will admit the day was a success
While projecting my words with several cracks in my voice my eyes welled up and I let it all out in a full room of strangers. This was a level of raw vulnerability I had yet to experience. The room welled up with me and laughed with me when I tried to lighten the mood by joking about the cooler happier things I have accomplished like my recovery and my novel. They appreciated the attempt and let out a chuckle. It was incredibly intimidating, but everybody in the room was an ally solely there to be better allies to the community. With a few days to process the event I can say that personally, I found crying in front of a room full of people to be cathartic and emotionally I feel lighter and happier.
My community may not be the best, but over the last few years it has gotten significantly better thanks to allies stepping in and joining the fight to a better tomorrow. The other members of the society I was representing were equally emotional throughout the day and at the end saw the day as a success. It may have been tough and the reason I have been quiet for a while, but if I am available next year I hope to partake again. There is literally nothing more rewarding than a day of healthy, open conversation with people who are just trying to learn.
P.s. I’m going to try to get back into a weekly post for you guys.
If you’re reading this right now there is a chance that you’re wondering what the next step to living your authentic and potentially less boring life. I get it every step I took between childhood and now was on for safety and to position my now disowned family further away so I could be as happily queer as queerly possible. I do not care and I do not want you to care at all about what the societal norms are, because if they do not match up with your happiness they do not really matter.
As long as you aren’t breaking laws or hurting anyone (including yourself) why should it matter anyways. I came out as gay at thirteen just to hide the reality of being transgender from my family. I was not even attracted to men I just faked it really well just as I did pretending to be a cisgendered male. Years later once I came out as trans i was told that if i wore gender affirmative clothing to a family dinner i would not be allowed to eat because it was disgraceful. To very abruptly tell the hostess off I wore the hottest dress I owned and painted just my middle fingers with nail polish. Out of pure jealousy of my figure she proceeded to tell me how I needed to lose weight and did not speak with me the entire event. People ask me why I disowned my family for my own health and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Having to fit into their picket fence expectations never worked so I stopped.
If you have to move out of your province or state to get as far from family as possible to find yourself and your happiness, do it. I did it for a year and despite being the hardest year of my life it was one of the most rewarding years of my life. Wait until you can afford to do it, but it is fairly rewarding if I have to say so myself. If you have to cut out all your friends and acquaintances to start being yourself, do that to. It will be lonely too at first, but you’ll gave room for those that fully love and support you in your journey to authenticity.
Rest, Down time, Chillaxing, whatever you would like to call it. Everyone required to recover from any illness or medical diagnosis needs it. Despite being what most doctors have referred to as “medically interesting” since I was three years old (almost 2 decades ago) I have still not mastered downtime. I like to treat my paralysis recovery like a new sport i can train in. Yes, this may not be the brightest of ideas ex: the vomiting mentioned in my last post. If burnout was a place I would be the mayor or ruler. If I was paid based on the intensity of my recovery burnout I would have enough money to never worry about anything ever again. I am so incredibly horrible at downtime that my friends have begun to intervene.
After I started to bounce back from my day of sickness mentioned in my last post the girls got me out of my house for twenty-six hours of relaxing girl time and some good food. It is so easy to be constantly burnt out because I train my body like paralysis recovery is the new hot sport. If you aren’t sweating, bleeding, or in tears you are not trying hard enough. probably not my most brilliant tactic, but it is how i got this far in my recovery so why stop now. I will admit that taking two days off of my normal routine and just chilling was extremely difficult, but I felt so much better afterwards. Please be kind to your body and be less of a try-hard than I.I have lost track of the amount of recovery injuries I have had because I work my body to the point of complete exhaustion.
Transitioning and recovery have been a beautiful combination though. Since getting my hormone levels right, or as close to right as they have ever been I no longer lay in bed for hours just too depressed to function. I have gone back to being that happy annoying person that wakes up without an alarm with a smile on their face at five in the morning. This also means that I have been able to push my recovery harder than every because I am not distracted by disturbingly dark thoughts all day. when your mental health improves it makes it so much easier to improve your physical health and working on either one benefits the other, which is pretty handy. The combination of my mental and physical health lately have left me using almost solely artistic endeavors to retrain the left side of my body and make up for lost time.
I am going to end this bluntly: Don’t be a dick listen to your body and your limits so that you can heal.
January 21st, 2014 the day of my paralysis was also the day I disappeared. Now years later I am still unable to participate in social groups or clubs regularly and nobody understands why. No it’s not that I hate being social, nor do I dislike everyone, but my social circles have definitely changed for those few times I’m up for more than just my recovery. Nineteen times out of twenty you will only catch me out at an event if I have not done anything towards my recovery.
Essentially I fell off the face of the earth. Before paralysis I was a social butterfly, out at every gathering where everybody knew my name and half of them knew my story. When people from that old life see me now it has been years since our last encounter and it usually starts awkwardly with, “what do you go by, you’re clearly transitioning”? Illness leads to isolation it could even be considered self-inflicted, but if I’m invited to something that I wont be able to fully fuel to visual or physical deficits there is a slim chance I will attend. I do this to prevent the cycle of frustration towards my body because recovery is hard enough on its own.
My social circles evolved to solely include people had gone through or are currently going through similar or relatable situations. I no longer see value in being around people who had no depth or struggle and were only concerned about tabloids and a facade. Part of living my authentic truth through this recovery is helping others to do the same. Chronic illness and trauma bonding are very real and have led to all the most beautiful and healthiest friendships in my life.
It is a huge struggle for me to only be able to be social once a week if I have had a great week with minimal pain, restful sleep, and no set backs. It would be a dream come true to br able to go out whenever I felt like it and I may not ever but one can hope right?
What do you struggle with that nobody seems to understand?
If there was ever a secret to paralysis recovery I would have to say that it is: indomitable spirit, and Persistence. Yes it is that simple the only reason I have continued to heal is because every day I continue to push my body to its limits. Maybe it had something to do with my high expectations of myself, my need to heal to transition, or knowing that neuroplasticity requires a “use it or lose it”, approach.
All of the above have been serious factors in my ability to stick with it despite all of the times I wanted to just say, “screw it”. Something I have yet to admit publicly is that I had big hopes to come out and begin my transition from Male to female the year I was paralyzed. For me that’s why paralysis was so devastating to me, I was finally ready to be myself and knew I needed to put that on hold for years before I could make it a reality. It was something that brought tears to my face often when i could not sleep in the facility. I admit I am not yet fully recovered and was even less so when I began my medical transition. Other than the deficits I continue to train and recover and I have been able to become the nonbinary person I have dreamed of since I was just five years old.
A huge part of my persistence was thanks to the therapist that told me I would never walk again on my own if I ever got that far. When someone tells me I am not capable of something I make sure that I can do said thing. This fueled some anger, which I took out by working my body to exhaustion every day for years. Fifty-six months later I still push myself to the point where I get so sore I cannot move my affected side. One day when I beat this I will be able to pride myself on the fact that I did the impossible.
No matter the situation if you can find meaningful internal reasons to pursue any goal, then there is nothing you wont be able to do.
Feel free to comment any questions about paralysis recovery or queer stuff and I will answer them as best I can.
As you know ive been quiet for a while now. I’ve been busy focusing on my recovery by means of trying to relearn all my guitar chords. A couple weeks ago I also had an interview for the living without disguises project. Similar to my novel it’s never a dull moment here.
Since being back home I had casually been playing my roommates electric guitar and I knew that in order to get more serious about playing I needed to buy myself an accoustic so I bought my yamaha Apx600 in oriental blue burst. It’s been s couple months with her and it’s clear that I was missing music therapy. I continue to practice my chords, but one day I’ll be able to master those scales.
As for my interview with the Living without disguises project. Since my misgendered review I’ve been trying to step up my queer visibility so it was perfect timing to speak out on how I got here. Feel free to read the interview here.
Just as how I finished my novel I will continue to recover for the rest of my days. Never forget that you can do anything you put your mind to as well.
It has become apparent to me repeatedly recently that I need to step up how proud I am to be a transgender person. Being genderqueer is one of the highlights of being me. From interview misquotes to even today while I taught at a conference.
Today as I walked the banquet hall looking for individuals that needed help I was pulled aside by a lady who wanted to talk. At first I was a little weary not sure what she wanted to discuss, but I was open to see how it panned out. As it turned out she just wanted to hear about my journey and how things got better after I began my transition and started living an authentic life so she could better support a family member in their journey.( not that I announce my transness to the world, but it could have been the five o’clock shadow beginning to show through my foundation) The conversation melted my heart and was just the reminder I needed today.
I will admit that transitioning is not easy in any way, but it is well worth working through. Once I gave up my nineteen year facade and started working towards my authentic life I found a level of joy and happiness that I had never experienced before. Since I started hormone replacement therapy everything changed as it is supposed to, before HRT I identified as a she and within a few months after I started I knew that I was more in the middle of the spectrum.
Being a they is the most authentic me I’ve ever been, sometimes that’s masculine, sometimes its feminine and thats ok, most people don’t understand that both gender and sexuality are spectrums. I didn’t even fully understand it until I started my journey.
For all the young queer folk out there I hope that you get to live your authentic lives from a younger age.
Happy pride month,