Game changing significance was loaded on top of more and more significance, this past week. On Monday the 7th, Leonard Cohen passed away. Then, of course, the upsetting election results. My spouse woke me up to tell me the news. I was in a hazy half-sleep, largely induced by my medications (I think), and I just replied, “Ohhhhhhh,” and immediately fell back asleep. It was a surreal half-consciousness, and, in a way, I continued on in that space for a long time after, even now, as I try to wrap my head around it.
She also texted me later that morning saying “Happy anniversary of our ‘legal’ marriage today.” I had completely forgotten about that. We have much more meaningful anniversaries between us; this one is not a big deal. But, interesting that it happens to fall on this same date. Plus! It was the one year mark of the launch date for the radio station I am a DJ at. Also on this day, a friend’s father passed away. The next day, my spouse’s sister proposed to her boyfriend!
The following day, I heard word that two pride flags had been burned in our neighborhood. Talk about being hit close to home! More on that in an upcoming post. We attended a rally on Saturday morning with some friends, and the spirit of that event was totally incredible.
Also, around this time, 17 years ago, I was hospitalized for 19 days, and was traumatized by the process, for a very very long time. I take a moment every year to think about this and reflect. (In the past, it’d been much more than “a moment” to reflect. For too long, it had felt like constant rumination.)
Three years ago, I wrote about how I finally gained access to the medical records from my hospital stay, and how I started to process things differently with the help of my therapist: Continuing to work through a specific trauma.
Then two years ago, I wrote about finally bringing that record into therapy and how it felt to have her go through it. I was starting to realize that maybe I didn’t need to pick it all apart; maybe my perspective was shifting naturally, over time: That specific trauma is still there.
Last year, I wrote about how much time has changed things, and it no longer felt like a big deal. The fact that I had been hospitalized again, that year, surprisingly helped me find ways to heal, rather than adding more baggage onto the feeling of it: That specific trauma is no longer a big deal.
This year, this personal matter has simply been buried underneath all this other stuff going on. I don’t have the capacity to think about it and write about it right now. I don’t see that as a problem. It’s not like I am grieving the loss of space and emotional energy to be with this thing. It was a thing. And it gradually became not as much of a thing. It is OK.
I also experienced an upswing this week. Probably galvanized by the shitty stuff going on. I cancelled a doctor’s appointment that I didn’t want to go to. I called my grandpa and talked to him about different ways to save for retirement. I solidified plans for my spouse and I to take a trip to Washington D.C. for her birthday – right around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and just in time to get the fuck out of there before the presidential inauguration. We are going to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, part of the Smithsonian, which just opened a few months ago.
I also submitted my stuff to legally change my name! Finally! I did this yesterday. (This might also be a separate upcoming post.) I also emailed a lawyer to see if he would be willing to work with me toward gaining legal non-binary status. I haven’t heard back yet, and I realized that the timing is shit. This is such a low priority right now, as transgender people scramble to get their Social Security card, passport, etc. in order before the Trump take-over. And I know this lawyer in particular is probably swamped with going above and beyond to help people with this. So, I’m going to wait on it.
But a time will come. I know it.
I’ve had the ability to hear my voice played back to me a whole lot, lately. For the past 4 months, I’ve been doing a weekly radio show, and this going to be ongoing for a long time. At first, I didn’t want to listen to the recordings at all. Then for a while, I was scrutinizing every little sound: I keep inhaling too sharply, I keep enunciating strangely, it’s not masculine enough (that’s a big one) etc. … By now, I’ve started to accept my “radio voice” for what it is, but I’m still thinking of ways to improve at the same time.
Last week, my spouse and I worked together to produce a “Special Gay Edition” of my regular show, and we both talked together, which was really fun. We used the word “gay” instead of “queer” or “LGBTQ+” because of the era: I normally play music from the late 70s and 80s (punk, post punk, new wave, goth, weird stuff), so we put together a set list from that time period and researched the musicians. Here’s the result! (Edited slightly for anonymity.)
Here’s the playlist:
Culture Club – Miss Me Blind
Fred Schneider and the Shake Society – Monster
Klaus Nomi – Total Eclipse (live)Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – Cherry Bomb
Husker Du – Find Me
Wayne County and the Electric Chairs – Thunder
Wendy and Lisa – Waterfall
Sinead O’Connor – I Want Your (Hands on Me)
Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
Grace Jones – Warm Leatherette
Tom Robinson Band – Glad to be Gay
And just a quick note about blogging: for the first time since I started this blog, I’m finding myself way behind on reading others’ blogs – like about a week behind. It doesn’t feel like I can catch up at this point, and I’m not sure if this lag is ongoing or just a blip. Either way, I’m still around and I still want to know what’s going on with everyone! I’m just finding myself more immersed in music, which is proving to be really time consuming! Ultimately, it’s enjoyable – I had been going through a very long lull where music didn’t seem important to me anymore. I’m glad music matters.
About a month ago, I switched my Androgel dosage slightly. From one pump of 1% daily to one pump of 1.62% daily. I didn’t do this because I’m looking for more masculinizing changes. (I’m not looking for this, still.) I did it for these reasons:
- I started on 1.62% initially, so I still had extra bottles of it. I hate wasting things.
- I have been told by pharmacists, twice, that 1% is going to be discontinued, and I should get my doctor to switch my prescription to 1.62%. I’ve even been given coupon incentives to switch to 1.62%. I think that the pharmacists are lying to me, and I will continue to ask for 1% until I absolutely cannot get it any longer. It really freaked me out though, so I want to “test out” whether I’d be alright on 1.62% in case I abruptly need to switch in the future.
- I’ve been feeling low, emotionally, and somewhat anxious. I was hoping a slight increase might help jump-start me out of this funk. (This has not happened, unfortunately. I fully expect to be back to my normal self once summer is over though.)
- My biggest reservation in increasing to this dosage, was my voice dropping. That seemed like the one change that was on the precipice to shift, and I was really resistant to that for a very long time. (Over a year.) I continually brought it up in therapy. (Her responses: “Why? Because you depend on your voice for x, y, and z?” “Why? Because you need your vocal range to stay exactly the same?” “Why? Because your singing range is of utmost importance?” Etc. Haha.) For whatever reason, I’ve been letting go of that. It’s no longer a worry. And I’m fairly sure my “voice” is largely the same still, while my vocal range has indeed shifted, if that makes sense.
Another big change to highlight in my gender identity journey:
I finally came out to all of my extended family, on both my mom and dad’s side of the family. I did this through emails. (I’ve talked with my nuclear family in person.) I largely did this because in some cases, I hadn’t shared anything personal about myself in a very long time, if ever (the fact that I’m in a relationship, the fact that we got married, etc.) So it seemed like in sharing long-overdue news, I might as well throw in this other important-to-me stuff. In other cases, I was inviting relatives to our having-gotten-married party (happening in 2 days!), and I needed them to know these things about me in advance.
Almost everyone at the party will be referring to me using male pronouns (my friends have been consistently doing this for years now which feels awesome), and I wanted those who didn’t know, to at least know. I shared that I don’t feel either male nor female. I shared that I’ve been on a low-dose of testosterone, and what that’s doing for me specifically. I shared that my partner and I don’t use the terms “lesbians,” “wife,” etc. to refer to ourselves. I shared that I prefer male pronouns, and I may legally change my name in the near future. I welcomed any questions.
The most common response I got was: no response. Which is OK. A few people replied in affirming ways, acknowledged what I’d told them, and that felt so awesome. No one had any questions. No one disparaged me or said anything inflammatory or negative. None of the responses (or non-responses) surprised me. None of this process changed the way I relate to my family. In some ways, I’d like to change the way I relate to my family. I would like to be closer with them. But I’m not going to put all the pressure on the coming out process as a way to get me there… If I did, everything would fall flat.
Next up on my gender-identity related to-do list: come out at work. YIKES!
Also, just a note: I’ll be on a “true vacation” next week – one devoid of using the computer!!! I’m psyched about this (and kinda really need it), but I will surely miss keeping up on blogs (it’s become a major part of my daily routine.) I have a post scheduled, but other than that, I won’t be around for a while…
This is probably going to come off as the most unromantic love note ever. That’s OK. That’s us! …We have been together for close to 8 years now. We lived together before we “got together.” We met as housemates, which was kinda an interesting way to get to know someone (if you’re considering asking them out) in terms of feeling out potential compatibility. A more detailed version of how we got together is here, if you’re interested: Happy Randomtimes, today.
Last fall, we got legally married, which I had a lot of mixed feelings about. It boils down to: We got married for health insurance purposes (and other legal reasons that seem unclear at this time, but may be super important at later times). We did not get married out of love. Every day we are together, it is out of love. Marriage has absolutely nothing to do with whether we are together or not. It does not mean we are any more or less likely to stay together now. It doesn’t mean that anything about how we operate our relationship has changed. Marriage is meaningless. So I guess I’m attempting to bring some meaning into it, because next Saturday, we are celebrating the fact that we got married.
I haven’t been in the best place, emotionally, the past few weeks, and that’s been making it feel like a struggle, to plan for this celebration. Which is OK. This party will happen. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and nervous when planning something so big. Everything does not need to fall into place exactly how we want it to for it to be a good day. It’s going to be a good day because we are connecting with people and with each other. And not because the sound system worked without a hitch and no plates or glasses got broken.
But there’s kinda more to it than that. We are celebrating marriage, and I’m struggling to understand what marriage is. (Marriage is what you make it.) Almost anything that is traditionally romantic, anything that is a traditional ritual for a wedding day, the roles we play… I don’t get it. It’s not because I’m a contrarian or I’m “too cool for school.” It just does not resonate. I don’t wanna play those games. In general, we won’t be. We’re having a “ceremony,” (er, 2 actually, an opening and a closing ceremony) but it will be fairly aberrant, bent, queer, variant, deviant. We have no gift registry. Our photo album is full of pictures of our friends and families. Scrap the scrap book, and the guest book while you’re at it. I could go on…
We’re discussing the idea of slow dancing to “Everyday is Halloween,” (Not because we wanna stir shit up, but just because that has been our wake-up alarm song every morning for about 5 years now.) I love all of these ideas, but I’m still not comfortable playing the role of the person who is getting married (or already got married, and is now on display.) In a way, it feels like the party was just an idea a while back, and now has a life of its own. I think collecting some of these thoughts is really going to help me out.
So a note, to my partner:
Hey, you! I like you a lot. I trust you as much as one person can trust another person. As time goes on, I just keep finding that we are super highly compatible. You give me huge amounts of space and leeway to be myself, to figure out what I want/need, to experiment. I couldn’t be in a relationship any other way. I know that I often hold myself back, so I cannot be having someone else also doing that.
It feels like we’re generally in-tune, in-synch, we communicate about what is going on, regularly. And if we aren’t, we will be again soon – I don’t feel left in the dark for long. And if I do, it is not worrisome. We’ll catch up with each other soon enough. I know I’m a difficult person, sometimes. I can be moody, and I generally need a shit-ton of alone time, in order to feel like a person. I make things complicated when they are simple. That’s not easy to live with. You just roll with it.
I think that you are so super cool. You are a strong person with values I really admire. You stand up for yourself and for what you think is right. You’re not afraid of confrontation. You mold your life into what you want. We’re molding our lives together, continuously.
PS- At my most recent therapy appointment, I just kept crying and crying (that I couldn’t do this marriage party thing, basically). She suggested I write on my blog, where I’m comfortable, about it, before I’m in this less-than-comfortable situation. That perked me up. I said, “That’s a pretty good idea.” She replied, “That might be it for me – I might not have any more of those; I’ll take it.” I reiterated it was a really good idea. Also, at the end of the appointment, she told me it was a freebie – a therapist’s version of a wedding gift. Haha.
Lately, I’ve been focused on coming out to more of the people who are in my life, and also reaching out to some family members who have not really been in my life – seeing what’s going on for them, hope that they might respond to what’s going on for me. Mainly, my dad has 4 sisters who all have their own nuclear families, yet I really don’t know much about them and vice versa. So I’m working on composing emails to send to them, and from there, they can forward and/or talk about it with their family members.
Traditionally, I’d see them about once a year, at the holidays (and we’d never really talk about our lives). But this year, I didn’t even see them then. I really can’t say why, except that it feels like there’s a chasm that keeps getting wider and deeper, in the place where my dad might have built a bridge, a long time ago. It seems generally natural that one’s parent would be the link between the child and that parents’ extended family. That is strongly the case with my mom and her side of the family, at least. I never told any of them that I am gay (that’s not really all that accurate), that now I have a partner, that now I’m planning to get married, that now I am married, etc. My mom did all that for me, and then I (and we, my partner and me) just show up to extended family gatherings and feel accepted and included, even if none of this information is directly talked about. I most recently asked my mom to add “please use male pronouns, he doesn’t identify strongly with either gender, and he’ll be glad to answer questions if you’d like to ask,” to that list of stuff she conveys on my behalf to her side of the family. It has been an effective system thusfar, although this newest bit of info might throw some people for a loop. I’ll just have to wait and see…
My dad, however, does things very differently. I’m pretty sure he believes that things that did not happen to him firsthand are not for him to share. But there are definitely exceptions to this, so maybe another part of it is, if he feels awkward about it, it’s not for him to share. And maybe he feels awkward about most things. As far as I’m aware, no one on his side of the family knows that I am gay (although they could easily guess, and again, not accurate!), that I have a partner, that we planned to get married, and that we got married. My partner has never met any of them. Like I said, I’ve been seeing them once a year, but this year my parents went without me, and I think it has quite a bit to do with the fact there is too much unsaid information that’s recently happened and is piling up.
So, I’m going to break this bizarre pattern by telling my aunts and their families everything I’d like them to know about me and ask them about their families, in a grouping of 4 (almost) identical emails, one for each of them. Plus a written card for my grandpa because he doesn’t have an email address. It is psychically difficult. I’ve had this plan vaguely for about 3 months, and more seriously for about one month. And I’ve been putting it off. But this week feels like the week. I may be going to visit my grandpa next Sunday (because I talked to my mom about all of this, and she talked to my dad, and he then told me of when he was next going to visit, to which I replied, “Maybe I’d like to go”), so I wanna get this info out there!
In other news, I’m currently in the process of editing a piece for an anthology called Letters for My Siblings. It’s not a definite at this time, but it’s looking very promising that my piece will be included!!! Which is a huge deal for me. I’ve always seen myself as a writer, and I’m starting to feel like I could make something of that! I’m already on to the next thing even; I’m working on a submission for a magazine called “Iris: New LGBTQ+ Writing for Young Adults.” Check it out! Here’s their call for submissions for the next issue.
I’m thinking differently about coming out to more people, lately. Like, I’m starting to plan for it, as opposed to trying to figure out whether it’s something I want to do or not.
Mainly, I’m thinking about telling some people that I’m on testosterone (and what that means in general and what that means for me), and asking them to use male pronouns from now on, when they refer to me. I could go around doing mental gymnastics about this forever. Do I have a right to impose this on others? (yes!) Do I want to? (not sure) Will others take me seriously? (not sure), etc.
I do not generally pass as male. And I’ve been on low-dose testosterone for almost 11 months, and I still don’t pass. And I plan on being on it for the rest of my life without ever really passing as male. This is what I want; I’m right where I want to be. Except, I feel more male than female, inside, and I want that recognized with male pronouns. Also, I just want to be more visible as being non-binary, and the visual/pronoun incongruence suits me. I could go my whole life without anyone guessing I’m on T (I think). I know that I could go my whole life without being seen how I really feel. And that could be said for a lot of people.
I (sort of) came out to my parents in November. I did this at that point only because I was getting married, and pronouns were going to be used, haha. C’s family consistently uses male pronouns for me – that’s how I was introduced, and how they know me. It’s awesome!!!!! My family does not, and I’d never brought it up to them.
So, in preparation of the getting-married day, I told my parents, over dinner, that I don’t feel like I am either gender, and I avoid pronouns when I can because none of them feel right, but when I have to use them, I prefer male pronouns. I said, “So, I wanted to tell you this because other people use male pronouns for me, and I wanted you to know why, so you would know what was going on.” My mom was nodding emphatically the whole time I gave them the spiel. My dad was making eye contact with the TV rather than with me or my mom. I know he heard me, technically, but I know nothing beyond that.
Yesterday, I was talking about coming out, in therapy. And I relayed/reviewed this scene with my parents (’cause we’d already gone over it, at the time it was happening), and my therapist looked surprised and replied, “Oh, I didn’t realize you had given them the soft sell!” And when she said that, all I could do was visualize Soft Cell (see below) and stare at her, confused. It took me a while to register what she was saying. And I was all, Damn! …but, she’s totally right.
My parents do not use male pronouns for me now that I’ve explained this to them. I didn’t ask them to. At this point, I don’t actually expect them to because I haven’t told anyone else within their circles, and even I think that would be too weird and uncomfortable for them. BUT! It has made me decide that I want to tell more family members and then start expecting that they will make the change for me. I know it will be hard and I will feel vulnerable. I know some people probably will be able to just switch with no problem, and some people may never actually do it, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask.
As of now, here’s what I’m looking at:
Friends / Community – use male pronouns, I feel understood
C’s family – use male pronouns, I feel understood
Work – use female pronouns, about half know I’m married to a female, they probably all think I am a lesbian
My mom’s side of family – use female pronouns, all know I’m married, they probably think I am a lesbian
My dad’s side of family – use female pronouns, use my birth name, no one knows I’m married, they probably think I’m a lesbian
My mom – uses female pronouns, I feel understood (interestingly), knows I’m on testosterone and how I identify
My dad – uses female pronouns, I don’t know what he thinks
My bro – He’s been living in Turkey for 3 years and I have not had much contact. In the past though, he has used male pronouns, I feel understood.
I think that I have a lot of work to do.
It’s really hard to quantify these things, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this past year was the best year of my life. A lot of great things happened, I got to travel a lot, I got married (as I’ve been mentioning in every single recent post, haha)! And all those things are awesome. But the reason this year was so good was because I felt so different. I’d been struggling with some pretty crippling anxiety for like, forever. And I’d made quite a bit of progress over the past 2 years in therapy, but basically, I had constructed much of my life in ways to insulate myself from the things that were anxiety provoking. And no amount of therapy was going to help me strip that all away if I was still experiencing such unpleasant physiological reactions. Then I started taking a low dose of testosterone on March 18th and POOF! Anxiety dissipated into thin air, and I’ve just kinda been reveling in how good everything feels for the rest of this year. I hope I get to keep reveling for years to come… We’ll see. Here’s a couple of other things that were awesome:
– C and I went on vacation to Asheville, NC. It was our first grown-up vacation ever, by which I mean we flew there, rented a car (I’d never done this before), used Airbnb to find lodging (we always go somewhere on vacation where we can stay with friends – don’t get me wrong, I love seeing friends, but this just felt so different.), and just did a lot of local things – restaurants, microbreweries, hiking, cultural arts center, etc.
– We went on a bunch of other smaller trips: to Toronto twice (we went to the Toronto Comics Arts Festival and to the Sister Spit Tour), to Philadelphia (Trans Health Conference!), to NYC (Brothers Quay exhibit at MOMA!), and I went on a solo trip to Worcester and Boston.
(Here I am at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival, making a ridiculous face – I’m in line, in the middle, the short guy. I found this pic on the Fantagraphics website – er rather, a friend came across it and sent it to me, and Fantagraphics captioned it: “Then the magical Ulli Lust made her appearance. Leon Avelino of Secret Acres and The Beguiling’s Peter Birkmoe showed up but were sadly outdone by the BEST CON FACE EVER. Thank you, Toronto.” I’m highly amused by this, haha.)
– Like I mentioned, I started using a low dose of testosterone in March. Best. Thing. Ever.
– My supervisor and I started to actually get along at work. We now work really well together (so far), whereas in the past, we have had some pretty major clashes.
– I read 26 books. This number is way down from the past few years, but for prior to a few years ago, I wasn’t reading anything at all, so it’s still kinda a big deal for me!
– C and I got married and went on a fun weekend getaway!
– I met a new friend, a really introspective, really effeminate and handsome queer guy.
– I got a new bike, but did not really ride it nearly enough.
– I was in a really fun play and did a couple of drag shows.
– I started this blog!
There’s probably more, but that was pretty much what 2013 looked like for me.
Today is the day C and I have been together for 7 years. This anniversary, which we refer to as “Randomtimes,” trumps the recent new date on which we got married, for sure.
How we met (this would be a medium length version): We met briefly twice, through a mutual (more than) friend, in the winter of 2005/2006. I was buying a house the following summer, and she was looking for a place to live that wasn’t her parents’ house. I phone-interviewed her; she had previously lived in a co-op with a bunch of people. She moved in that August, into the tiniest bedroom ever. She painted it bright blue with mint green trim and had a bunk bed. Two other people also lived there. It was cool times; it felt important to me, this household identity. She and I were both in relationships that imploded, exploded, and / or fizzled out within a few months. We started to hang out a little bit, tentatively. She was working downtown, and I invited her on a few “dates” on her lunch breaks. These weren’t indicators to her that I was interested. She thought maybe they were fake dates, whatever those are. : )
Finally one night in December, I wrote her an email from across the upstairs hallway, being a hell of a lot more direct. I had been out late dancing, and felt pretty good about myself right then; she was asleep. I told her I like like her and would she want to talk about it in person with me? It was a very long email – but that was the gist, haha. She did want to talk; a couple of days later, we went for a walk and talked. And talked and talked (and then made out!), and talked some more because, dang, it was kinda complicated – we lived together, yet didn’t know each other super well yet. But we decided to risk it and see how it felt.
It felt pretty great, but was also anxiety provoking, at least for me, at first! But ultimately, awesome. And since then, we’ve always lived with 2 other people, who have come and gone. (Although C moved out of the tiny blue room with bunk bed, and into the biggest room, which has the access to the attic, which is my room / where we sleep.) Up until a couple of weeks ago… the gentleman inhabiting the tiny blue room with bunk bed moved out, and our other housemate is potentially moving out within a month as well. (We asked them to look for a new place to move within the next 6 months.)
This is the first time we’re going to be living on our own, ever. What’ll that be like?!!
Last week, my partner and I went to city hall to fill out our marriage license. We didn’t yet (and still don’t) have a definite plan for how we’re going to do this thing, other than we want to do it legally and simply by the end of this year. And then we want to have a celebration with a big bunch of people and include a performance piece in lieu of a “ceremony,” this coming summer.
So the actual getting of the document was a little stressful – we were crunched for time and unsure about how these things go. We gave ourselves time to get down there right when they opened at 9, and then I was going to drive her to work directly from there, by 10. We were the second ones in line and everything went smoothly with filling out the form itself. In the section where you mark either “M” or “F,” it said, “Sex (optional)” which was super fucking amazingly awesome and unexpected and we both purposefully left it blank. My partner joked that it meant sex is optional in a marriage, and they want to make sure you know that going into it.
We brought up the form, and then a clerk basically typed up a new form, from what we had handwritten in. She then asked us to check for errors. We found two and she made the corrections before printing it out, having us sign it, and putting it in an envelope with some other information. It was heart-racing exciting; we walked quickly out of there and talked about how we had time to spare to have some coffee at her place of employment before she started her shift. I kinda did a victory leap down the steps and she laughed.
As we were walking back to the car, we talked about the fact that there had been errors. Then she said, “I hope she didn’t fill in our sex markers.” My stomach kind of dropped, because, honestly, I forgot to check that. She pulled the document out of the envelope, and sure enough, there were two F’s typed into that section. It felt devastating. By this time, we were already in the car. Our meter had run out, and we had no more change anywhere on our persons or anywhere in the car. I started driving away, going back and forth in my mind about the logistics of getting this corrected vs. the importance. In the end, importance won out. My partner felt more flexible, but I needed mine to be blank. So we parked elsewhere illegally, ran back inside, waited (because there was now a line), explained in an out-of-breath manner, crossed our fingers we wouldn’t be charged an additional fee (we overheard it was $10 for later corrections), got the changes made, and didn’t have to pay!
I did a double victory leap off the stairs, and upon seeing a man in a safety vest walking along the cars, sprinted toward ours so I could put the flashers on: just standing, not parking illegally, sir! Turned out he wasn’t a meter maid anyway, and I got my partner to work with zero minutes to spare.