5 years of writing here

WordPress sent me a notification today letting me know that it’s my 5th anniversary of blogging here.  So I’m scrambling to do a celebratory post!

When I started this blog, I was trying soooo hard to navigate my gender identity and to find a community.  I’d say the first year or two was spent feeling like my blog was not enough, just continually putting myself out there and obsessing about how to connect with others through this method.  I spent hours, daily, reading as many other blogs as I could find, about gender.  After about 2 years, I think I started to feel secure in my writing voice, if not quite my gender yet.  I really settled into writing regularly, and I got so much enjoyment out of it – this more than any other creative endeavor, for a long time.  I’d say that within the past year, that’s shifted again, and I’ve felt pretty disenfranchised.  I get way more “views” than ever before, mostly thanks to this singular post:  28 risks of chest binding.  People love a good scare.  They love to google things that could go wrong.  I’m definitely proud of that post – I put a lot of work into that one.  And I do love the fact that once they find my blog through that route, it seems like the majority of people poke around a little more and go deeper.  (This is based on what I can tell from “stats.”)  But the sense of community I felt so strongly has dwindled over time.  People have stopped posting / I have stopped finding new blogs to read.  There are a few mainstays that I haven’t quite kept up with; I’d like to remedy that…

The way I decided to celebrate this milestone is to pick 5 blog posts that I think got overlooked (one per year).  Either I put a lot of emotional energy into them and didn’t get much feedback, or maybe I just think they’re worth checking out – they withstand the test of time, something like that…

2013:  From whimsical musings to invasive rumintations on transitioning – This was my 10th post ever, and I really think I zeroed in on the psychological push-pull of not feeling like either gender for the first time here.  I even used some of what I wrote here much later, in an essay that is forthcoming as part of an anthology published by Columbia University Press.  For real!  The date keeps being pushed back, but it will be within a year – I’m sure I’ll have updates as that approaches.

2014:  The Soft Sell (upping the ante) – This was my 30th post.  It was mostly about:  despite the fact I may have been solidifying my gender identity more and more, I was waaaay behind in telling a lot of the people in my life about it.  The blog was a great outlet to be semi-private but also just feel it out as I went.  The term “the soft sell” came from my therapist – that was her reaction to me telling her the half-assed way I had come out to my parents.  When she said that, all I could picture was the members from Soft Cell, one of my fave bands.  That has always stayed with me.  Hah.

2015:  I came out to the principal of my school (workplace) – This post was definitely not overlooked, but I still think it’s worth highlighting.  I came out to her waaaaay before I actually actively came out at work, and I strongly feel like the fact that I did that, that I put those roots down, gave me hope toward my final destination.  It also breaks down the divide I feel between the “janitor” and the “queer” parts of my identity – this blog has continually felt out where that line is, where it crosses, where they are distinct, etc.  I just really like this post because it addresses a lot of that stuff head-on.

2016:  Drag king stories #5 – This is definitely my favorite entry within this ongoing series I’ve been doing.  I wrote it in honor of Prince’s death (the actual show took place in June of 2012) – the fact that I got to emulate Prince at a really well attended event meant the world to me, and the fact that I performed one of the songs with my drag partner/buddy’mentor made it all the more special.  We were both regular drag performers at a gay bar in 2006 and 2007.  Before I could articulate where I wanted to go with my gender, I got to act it out in all kinds of fun and creative ways, harnessing music and dance and costuming and make-up.  Being a drag performer was a big step in my journey – this post really showcases that, I think.

2017:  Jeepster (working title: I got an oil change and got my mind blown) – this is a real oddball post.  I’ve always said that the three things this blog is about are: gender, being a janitor, and mental health, and this one here really crystalizes a mental state that was temporary (thankfully!)  I had just recently gotten through the thick of a manic episode, and the residual disorganization / megaorganization is still very much apparent in the writing here.  I think I want to highlight it because I’m currently working on a 16+ page piece where I just try to remember as much as I can about my most recent hospitalization.  This is a companion piece.

And I’m gonna cop out and not do 2018 because the year’s not done yet!  Plus, it’s my 5th anniversary, so I’m highlighting 5 posts.  Makes sense.  Here’s to 5 more years!


Friends and family need to stop framing our transition as a death (open letter style)

Dear friends and family of trans-people,

It can be super challenging, on multiple levels, when a loved one comes out to you, especially if it never occurred to you that they might be transgender.  You might not know where to turn, or what resources to access to help you navigate the changes they (and you) will be going through.  There ARE resources though, plenty of them, and support groups (if not locally in your area, then definitely on the internet).  It is not up to the transgender person to be your sounding board, your therapist, your coach, or your educator.  In addition, as you work through it in your own way, please put a damper on the “transition as death” narrative.  It is trite, outdated, and toxic.

If you feel like you are mourning a death, that’s fine – all feelings are valid (etc.)  But why would this be something you need to work out publicly?  We are very much alive.  Almost always, transition is actually close to the opposite of death – it’s a time to finally feel out who we actually are.  We may have felt like a “half-person” or a “shell of a person” or, to put it in those same grim terms, like a “walking dead person.”  I know I did prior to transition, quite a bit.  Coming out was a celebration of life.  I feel like I have so much more to live for now.

When you claim that the person you knew has died, you are implying that the person we are becoming is not worth getting to know, or that we have slighted you, tricked you, we are to blame for your feelings of loss.  And, actually, we aren’t even “becoming” a different person.  We are the same person, just finally in technicolor, finally kaleidoscopic, however you want to look at it.  If you took the time to see how much we settle into ourselves, how often our worst mental-health issues start to soften around the edges, how we can be more present in the moment, more peaceful, more calm, then you might understand that it is so far from a death that the analogy is utterly ridiculous and laughable.

Please reflect on the ramifications of claiming we have died.
Sincerely, Kameron

And now for some hard evidence!  Two sources that have been recently on my radar have had me in hyper cringe mode as they talked about the “death” of their transgender loved one.

First, an episode of the podcast Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People:  I generally love this podcast, and in fact, I’ve written about it before, because there have been 2 prevous episodes highlighting transgender narratives.  If you wanna check that blog post out, it is:  Beautiful / Anonymous:  Trans-related episodes.

Episode #116, sensationalistically entitled She Killed My Father is a much harder pill to swallow.  The gist is that the caller is an only child, the adult child of a transwoman who came out later in life (in her fifties), much to the surprise of those around her.

Caller:  “Sometimes it feels like this person killed my father.  And in a way, that’s right.  You know, I, well, think about it this way:  When you lose… my father, as a male, does not exist anymore.  This person is gone.  And normally when that happens, you have this grieving period, you have this ritual, this ceremony, you can go to this funeral or this memorial service and people bring you food and people give you cards and people just give you your space and they really support you and they let you process that.  But for me, um… especially with my dad… I don’t have a dad anymore, and this person came in and said, ‘Your dad’s gone.  Now it’s me….'”

Chris:  “Wow.  This is, this is, by far, out of all the calls we’ve ever done, one that is so much to wrap one’s brain around.”

Blaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!  To be fair, I am just isolating this one thing, and of course it’s way more complex as we hear more of her story:  Her father is also bipolar, and has issues with boundaries, always wanting to be more of a “buddy” than a parent, stuff like that.  But really, nothing excuses this framework the caller has set up so starkly.  Can’t get past it!

The second instance I’ve recently come across is in a book called, At The Broken Places:  A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces.  This book is co-authored by both mother and son, and it is in many ways a difficult but worthwhile read.  It’s rich in its depth and complexity.  Both authors are not afraid to show their wounds and flaws, and, to be sure, some of that is cringe-worthy.

She (the mother, Mary Collins) delicately sidesteps the specific “my daughter has died” scenario, but she has an entire chapter entitled “Mapping Modern Grief,” and there’s plenty of comparisons to the death of her father at a young age, as well as, “I am grieving the loss of my daughter,” “I understood my daughter would never return,” and this mindboggling way of looking at it:  “My emotional journey with Donald seems to more closely mirror more nebulous losses, such as moving away from someone I will never see again.”

Not as in-your-face with the death imagery, but just as chafing, on an emotional level.


Mx. Zine

A couple of weeks ago, a new zine, made by non-binary people, launched.  This first issue’s theme is sexuality and romance, and it can be purchased here, on Etsy:  Mx. Zine

The cost is sliding scale / pay what you want, and all profits will be donated to Trans Lifelife (a crisis helpline for trans people) and/or Black & Pink (queer prison abolitionists).  How cool is that?!

I just got mine in the mail, and I highly recommend it.  It’s 16 pages of poetry, photography, drawings, mini-comics, and prose.  It’s on really nice paper and is in color.  I first found out about it from AJ, a member of a facebook group that I’m also a part of.  I reached out and asked them a few questions to get a better sense of the scope of the project.

Kam:  What is your role in the group, and how did you get involved? 

AJ:  I don’t have an official name for my role in Mx., but I’m somewhere between an organizer and editor. I’d had the idea for a collaborative project made only by non-binary people, and had quite a bit of support from the community, and was able to gather a group of interested NBs. I laid out the basics, but a lot of the details were fine-tuned by suggestions and polls. Then people submitted their content, and I arranged it into the final product! 

Kam:  What are some of the long-term goals for this project? 

AJ:  I really hope this will head in the direction of a queer based distro, where we’d also distribute music, art, and other zines. I’d love to see the proceeds from that go towards getting radical queer and feminist literature into the hands of young queers.  

Kam:  Do you come from a writing / publishing background?  Have you made zines before? 

AJ:  I do a lot of writing for fun, but it’s not exactly a background. I’ve made several small zines before, but this was the first big project. 

Kam:  What are some ways newcomers can get involved? 

AJ:  Join our Facebook group! It’s a general group for recruiting and updating on upcoming projects. Our next issue will be along the lines of Queer Liberation and Revolution, and we’d love to hear from new contributors! https://www.facebook.com/groups/mxzine/  

Kam:  What are the pros and cons, in your opinion, in using a printed medium when so much around us is digital / digitized? 

AJ:  I’m definitely one who prefers holding what I’m reading, but also it can be a lot easier to get out if we’re going through a distro (which I’ve been working on trying to do). I also find people more likely to pass around and share zines rather than sending files. People who might not have a computer, or who have a hard time reading from them also benefit from physical copies.  

There are definitely benefits to having it digital as well, and it makes it accessible to more people. People can zoom in for larger text or invert the colors if that helps them. We’re also making a text-only document with image descriptions that will be available upon request.  

Kam:  How did the title for the zine get selected? 

AJ:  The title Mx. was decided by a poll in our Facebook group. I wish I could tell you who suggested it, but I’m not sure. The runner-up was “Enbious Vibes,” which I also liked a lot.  

 Kam:  Do you yourself identify as non-binary?   

AJ:  Yes! (In fact, everyone who collaborated on the zine identifies somewhere outside the binary.)  I label my gender simply as “Queer.” I’ve bounced around with different labels since I was thirteen, but I feel this describes me best, at least at this point in my life. I don’t like trying to use more specific labels (e.g. genderfluid, demi-boy/girl), since so many people define them differently. I do love that there is so much new terminology floating around, and there can be a lot of personal empowerment in choosing a specific classifier for yourself, and then fine-tuning its description to best suit your experience. Me personally, I feel empowered by emphasizing the blurry lines of gender. 

Thanks to AJ for the interview, and, again, get yourself a copy!!!  Here:   Mx. Zine


Getting to know each other #6

Thank you to Self Made Originality for including me in another round of the Liebster Award!  It’s been a while.  Looking back, the last time I had a go-around was 2 years ago!  So, the way this chain-style, community based award system goes is, if you’re chosen, you then choose a bunch of other blogs you like, and it branches out from there.  I imagine the pattern of these awards swirling, dead-ending, and splintering/multiplying, over time, forever and ever.  It’s a great opportunity to find out about other blogs and connect with one another.

I tend to not follow the rules completely, but if I do nominate you, here’s how it’s supposed to go:

1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award logo.

2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.

3. Nominate bloggers who you think are deserving of the award but also help promote newer bloggers with less followers.

4. Tell the bloggers you nominated them, in a comment on their blog.

5. Give them 11 questions of your own.

So, when answering the questions posed, I’m going to do a combination of questions from a couple of sources, just answering the ones I feel like answering (if I nominated you, go ahead and answer these, and/or make up your own to answer.  And if you wanna display the award logo, just google image search “Liebster Award.”)

  1. What inspires you most when writing/blogging?  Real life experiences, and a self-imposed “quota.”  Basically, if I haven’t written 2 blog posts in a month, minimum, I start wracking my brain for something to write about!
  2. Are you religious?  No.
  3. If not, why not / What holds you back?  I grew up in a religious household and went to church regularly.  (Episcopal church.)  As I got older, I found other things to fill that same space in my soul.  Volunteering for various things and creative endeavors let me explore spirituality without the rigid rituals.
  4. Did you enjoy your education?  (high school, university, etc.)  No, I did not.  I would not trade it for a different path at this point because who knows where I would be without that structure.  But I would say my high school and college years were the worst, in terms of mental health issues, loneliness, and just feeling very very lost.
  5. What is your dream job?  Honestly, the job I have right now is pretty ideal.  I don’thave to interact with people much at all, I listen to podcasts and radio shows all day, I stay physically fit…  I guess my dream job would be phasing out working full time and making a living out of working part time, plus DJing and/or writing.
  6. Boxers or briefs?  Boxer briefs.  Although, today I wore boxers (one out of only a handful of days I’ve worn boxers, and it was pretty great.
  7. What important values do you live by?  Everything in moderation, avoid debt, help others when you have energy and it feels good (otherwise don’t worry about it), try to leave a record of things that are important, connecting with people is one of the most worthwhile things to put energy into (even if it’s often hard), just do your thing.

That’s about all I got for now.

Check out these awesome blogs:

Shawn 512

Valprehension

Demisexual and Proud

Cairtheand (Androgendernaut)

Parker Dell

I Man King

Life Post-Dysphoria

One other thing I wanna mention:  I used to pore over many many blogs.  I probably spent between 1 and 2 hours every day, reading other blogs that were written by people who identifiy as transgender.  And in recent months, that has tapered off.  I’ve tried to pinpoint why, exactly.  Maybe I’m not searching for myself in others’ experiences as much as I used to?  I have made it, in a lot of ways, to the other side of my journey (getting on hormones, getting top surgery, legally changing my name, coming out at work, etc.)?

Maybe.  I guess what I mean to say is that I miss connecting with other bloggers through shared experiences.  And I’m not totally sure why I’ve slowly gravitated elsewhere – it seems like a natural progression, at this point.  As of now, it hasn’t affected my interest in writing blog posts.  I hope that doesn’t waver, and I do hope I again become interested in checking in with other bloggers more frequently!


Recent books I’ve read with mental health content

Back in November, I lamented about not being able to find much writing out there that really portrays what can go on in someone’s head while they are in the middle of a psychotic episode.  In the past few weeks, two such books sorta fell into my lap, so I want to mention them!

My spouse picked up a book called Mental:  Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind from the library last weekend.  They pointed it out to me, like, eh?  You’ll want to read this!  This weekend, I was super sick, and I binge read it in 2 days, while trying to stay warm on the couch.  It was compelling for so many different reasons, one major one being that I could relate to so much of it.  The author, Jaime Lowe, was also hospitalized for a good chunk of her senior year of high school, and she also just took the pills without much reflection for years and years.  Like, it’s something that is a thing now.  (Although, for me, it was Depakote, and not Lithium.)  She had another manic / psychotic episode when she tried to get off Lithium at age 25.  I successfully(?) did get off all my pills in my early 20s, and that was my new normal for a long time, until I had 2 subsequent manic / psychotic episodes in my 30s.  She had to switch off of Lithium because it was killing her kidneys, and she had a really hard time stomaching Depakoke, but she finally did get through it.

Having to switch sent her on a spiritual journey to learn about Lithium as not just a psychotropic drug but as an element, super common in nature.  Which made the book encompass much more than just her mental health trajectory.  The best thing about it though, was how thoroughly and deeply she gets back into that headspace of being so completely out of her mind.  The slightest suggestion toward a minuscule thing could send her on an all-day (or longer) journey to do and/or be that thing.  She devastated every aspect of her life that second time around.  I was surprised by the fact that everyone around her wanted to keep her out of the hospital for a second time because she was no longer an adolescent and the adult ward was apparently to be avoided at all costs.  As a result, she was in that state much longer – days, weeks…  I was brought to the hospital like, BAM!  So fast my head didn’t get a chance to spin out too far too fast with too many repercussions.

The second book I’m reading with a portrayal of a breakdown is called The Petting Zoo, by Jim Carroll (of The Basketball Diaries fame).  He wrote this book in 2010, and according to the forward by Patti Smith, he died at his desk while writing.  He had finished it at the time of his death, but it was still in the editing process.  A few people had their hands in trying to edit as close to Jim’s style as possible.  It’s fiction.  It’s hard for me to get through (probably largely because it’s fiction – I almost always gravitate toward non-fiction and memoir).  The book opens with the main character, Billy, in the midst of a manic frenzy.  I didn’t know the book would be about that at all – nothing about that on the back cover summary – I bought it on a whim from a record store that was going out of business.  So it was interesting to get thrown into that unexpectedly, but I gotta say it felt lacking in… something.

Billy has some kind of crisis over an art opening at the MET and how what he saw of this one artist affects how he’s approaching his art for his own upcoming show.  He careens off down the steps, on his own, into the Central Park Zoo, more specifically a side spectacle, an outdated petting zoo.  From there, he flees down the street, in his tuxedo and fancy shoes, to a building that reminds him of an Aztec temple.  He then hits his head and his eye on branches or something and starts shouting something about a knife.  He has a momentary black-out and the cops pick him up.  At which point he comes back to reality, and that’s it.  Although the aftermath ends up taking longer, red tape and everything.  He has to stay overnight in a mental ward, which is just kind of looked at as a novelty, a curiosity, a stop-over.

In conclusion, real life is zanier (or at least more compelling to me) than fiction.


As that specific trauma dissipates further…

Every year around this time, I revisit the first time I was hospitalized, which was Veteran’s Day weekend in 1999.  It used to feel like the worst thing that ever happened to me.  And, in terms of fallout, I still think that it was – it just no longer feels that way.

Two years after this hospitalization, I wrote an essay for a class, including every little thing I could remember about the experience.  A few months ago, I gave that document to my therapist to read over.  I didn’t necessarily want to delve into it or have her probe me about it.  I just wanted for her to have read it.  And she really only said one thing:  “There were always questions about whether you had been in a psychotic state or not.  This definitely shows that you were.”  And, strangely, I was satisfied with that.  As if I could lay to rest whether I needed to be there or not.  For the most part…

I’m currently giving my most recent hospitalization (from 6 months ago) the same treatment, as best as I can remember.  I’m up to 2,500 words so far, and only about 15% done.  I don’t have any plans for it other than just something that I want to do for myself.  We’ll see.  I feel like there’s not much writing out there that really portrays what can go on in someone’s head while they are in the middle of psychosis.  (If anyone has any recommendations, let me know!)  That does not mean I have lofty goals for where I could take this writing; it’s just a motivating factor, something that pushes me to try to capture it as best as I can.

I just did a cursory search, and a couple of books that stand out as worth checking out are:
Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis and Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Here are the other posts I have made, yearly:

Continuing to work through a specific trauma – Four 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.

That specific trauma is still there – Three 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 no longer a big deal – Two years ago, 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.

Anniversaries, traumas, deaths, and name change – Then last year, I wrote about how other things were going on, and I really didn’t have the space or time to reflect.  Which was perfectly fine.  Between the election results, working on getting my name legally changed, and other emotional markers, it just didn’t come up.

This year, I am thinking about it, but it is more in terms of “one of the times I was hospitalized,” rather than, “a traumatic event – the worst thing that ever happened to me,” etc.

 

I’ve been thinking of all the little occurrences that go into the bigger story.  Like, for example, in that state, my mind was so malleable and adaptable that it seemed like, theoretically, anything could be true and just as easily, not true all at once.  Which is one of the reasons I avoided watching any TV.  (There were two TVs on the unit – one played music and had legalese constantly scrolling, in both Spanish and English – like a “know your rights” kind of thing.  The other TV had a remote and listing of channels, and we could watch whatever we wanted, 24/7.)  At one point I did sit down, and there was a documentary on about pineapples.  (Er, rather I’m sure the documentary was on something more broad, but I saw the pineapple part.  I started yelling about the unlikelihood about these pineapples growing.  Don’t pineapples grow on trees like sensible fruits?  What were these miniature pineapples growing up from fronds in the dirt?!  A patient who knew-all immediately matched the intensity I was spewing, and argued for the realness of these pineapples.

A few months later, my spouse’s aunt was visiting from Hawaii, and sure enough, she grows pineapples on her property and sure enough, she had pics to prove it.  I can now accept it fully.


We’re Still Here: An All-Trans Comics Anthology

A few days ago, I found out about an upcoming project called We’re Still Here:  An All-Trans Comics Anthology, edited by Tara Avery and Jeanne Thornton.  It is slated to be released in January, pending enough funding through their kickstarter campaign.  When I first checked it out, it had been “live” for one day, and had already reached $15,000 of it’s $17,000 goal. Today, a mere 5 days later?!!!  It’s at $35,126 – more than double of that goal!!!

That means, I’m assuming, that the artists are going to get paid even more $$.  They were going to be getting paid $25 per page – I wonder if that’ll get raised to $50 / page.  Hopefully!

I pre-ordered my copy and cannot wait to get to read it in its entirety!

In the meantime, I asked one of the authors, whom I met online through a Facebook group, how they got started / how they found out about contributing.

Me: How did you get into graphic arts? Do you have formal training or are you mostly self-taught?

Kyri:I have been drawing since I was old enough to have motor control to move a crayon around, and telling stories for almost as long as that. My early focus was on animals, but I branched out to people, stories, and comics in late elementary school when I discovered manga. That’s held on for the long haul. I went to a liberal arts school instead of a traditional art school, which turned out better for comics anyway because I could minor in creative writing. I focused mostly on printmaking in college, which translates really well to comics – a lot of thinking in sharp black and whites and the graphic quality of lines, and how a reproduced image reaches large audiences.

Me:  How did you first hear about this project?

Kyri: I’m part of a comic creator’s group in Boston, the Boston Comics Roundtable, and someone there signal boosted the open call for submissions – I can’t for the life of me remember who. I almost didn’t send in a submission packet, and actually ended up submitting something a week late, because I was a little intimidated by the people in charge and the people who were already part of the project. I’m so glad I pushed past my fears, though, and I’m really excited to be published alongside all these fantastic trans artists

Me:How did you narrow down the story that you wanted to tell? Is it your “quintessential” coming-out story, of sorts, or something more tangential?

Kyri:I knew when I first saw the open call and the concept for the anthology that I wanted to do something about my bodily experience with both gender dysphoria and chronic illness. I have fibromyalgia and hypermobile joints, and it really affects how I’m able to present on any given day. Binding can really hurt my ribcage if I’m not careful, and sometimes the compression just ends up hurting my muscles because of the constant contact, even if I’m binding correctly. Being chronically ill also means I’m not as fit as I once was, and the extra weight means I get misgendered constantly, even when I am attempting to present androgynous/masculine. I think that most people tend to think of the thin attractive model of androgyny when they think of what it means to be agender or demigender, and there’s just not enough discussion around diversity of trans bodies outside of our community. There’s also this pervasive and weird idea that you can only be “one thing” so convincing people I’m both trans AND have an invisible disability is an ordeal sometimes. I wanted to do something to touch on all of that, and ended up with an autobio comic in which my body is compared to a house.

Kyri Lorenz:  Hailing from the mountains of Northern Colorado, Kyri Lorenz is an agender jack-of-all-trades creator with a long history of meddling with concepts of nature and identity. If it involves creation and inspiration, Kyri is there, getting their mitts all over it and learning how best to make it serve their whims. Most of the time, this is easy and the technique or medium is more than happy to comply. Sometimes, it takes a little more finagling, but there’s always something to show for it at the end.

They got their BA in Visual Arts from Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, and are currently living and working in Cambridge, MA. See more of their work at kyrianne.com.

There is still roughly one month left to pre-order your copy, and to get additional perks if you’re into that.  Just click on this donate link!  DONATE NOW.


Jeepster

Content note:  This post might not make a whole lot of sense unless you really like 70’s and 80’s music and/or gender.  And writing and the English language…

In my city, there are two chain-type places to go to get an average oil change within about a half-hour wait.  One also sells it’s brand of oil (nationwide? internationally? not sure).  The other is more of a gas station / car wash place.

For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call them:
LV – the oil specific place
SD – the gas station

I almost always go to SD because my parents give me coupons for free oil changes there, every xmas.  And also because there is one on my way to / from work.  About 3 years ago, I started trying LV a couple of times, but I concluded that it was too expensive, and I switched back.

I was overdue for an oil change, but I didn’t want to go to the SD in the suburb where I work, cuz I don’t really want to be seen out and about, while I am out of work for medical reasons.  So I went to one in a further away suburb.  I had been there once before, and it was kind of anxiety provoking (in my head, at the time).

Why?  Because the style was Drive Thru, as opposed to giving the mechanic your keys and sitting in a waiting room.  “Drive Thru” is one of my longest lasting fears, almost bordering on a phobia before I reigned it in a few years ago.  This included parking garages, anything with a “gate,” car washes, etc.

Anyway, I made it through no problem, but I was noticing all these little “masculine touches” / masculine underlying communications, body language, etc.  Stuff that’s barely worth paying attention to.  Stuff I generally am not around because normally I’d be sitting in a waiting room.  An example would be a giant truck in line honking, just because he(?) wanted to get an attendant to come over ahead of time for some reason.  (As opposed to reading signs to find out the information).  These are all assumptions, of course, but I’m just saying I was in tune to things in a different way than I normally would have been.  And I was the opposite of anxious.

While waiting in my car, I was listening to a mix CD that a friend gave me in our early 20’s.  Before he hardly knew me.  And now he’s one of my longest-lasting, solid friends here locally.

While hypo-manic currently, I’ve been spending most of my time at home organizing and cleaning and catagorize-ing things.  One thing I uncovered was this mix CD, which he had titled, “A DRUM IS A THING IS A DRUM,” (all caps.)  which, for me, is reminiscent of Wire’s album (one of my favorite albums ever,) “A BELL IS A CUP UNTIL IT IS STRUCK” (all caps.)  The song that stood out the most, from the others was:
T-Rex – Jeepster.  So GLAM / FLAMING / FLAMBOYANT!

When the CD ended, I could overhear what was playing in the garage / mechanic dock.  It was:
Elton John – Benny and the Jets.  SO GAY!

Anyway, I got the oil change and then went to this place that used to be called The Stereo Shop.  It’s now called something like, “Digital audiophile visual environments.”  I wanted to go there because there was a used cd / record store in the back of this high end Hi Fi Sound Equipment store.  When I got there, I asked the guy at the front about the cd store, and he said it wasn’t there anymore.  It had moved.  I asked if he could write it down for me, and he did.  I don’t think any music was playing in there, or if it was, I didn’t pick up on it.

Back in my car, I was listening to a station that claims it is the only station that matters (that’s their “tag line.”)  A song came on that is unusual for their roster, and also happens to be a song I sing along with / almost know by heart.  That would be:
David Bowie – Diamond Dogs SO GLAM!

I got to the new location, and realized they didn’t open for another 45 minutes.  So I went down the road to another record store.  When I walked in, what happened to be playing?
THE CARS – MOVING IN STEREO!!!  In my book, it doesn’t get any more classic / fabulous than that.

I was really just browsing, not looking for anything in particular.  A bunch of stuff popped out to me as “must have’s.”  I got a handful of 7-inches, and a couple of records.

I’d recently started thinking I need to upgrade a few records, if I come across copies in better condition, because I am a DJ (That’s a Bowie song!), and it sucks to play crappy sounding vinyl.

Five days prior, I’d told a friend that I probably need a new copy of Culture Club’s “Colour by Numbers.”  Me ‘n this record have a loooooong history together.  It doesn’t get any more basic than that.  Sure enough, at this record store, they had two options!!!  Either:
An original, still factory sealed, for $9.99, or
An original, still with the plastic plus promo stickers saying “Grammy Nominee,” and “All New Songs!” (and then it listed 4 song titles.  This one was $10 even.
I went with the one with bonus stickers!
(PS – $10 is pretty much the most I’m willing to spend on a record, and it better be pristine and/or hard to find!)
Another exciting find was:
PETE SHELLEY* – HOMOSAPIEN* (Elongated Dancepartydubmix) !!!

Anyway, back to the story:  So I bought this stuff and went back to the music store I had really wanted to check out.  It was small and quiet (I think he was playing music, but I have no recollection of anything playing!) and there were just a couple of older dudes coming in and out, with special requests and just to shoot the breeze.  I was only there for about an hour, but I left with a HUGE HAUL.  I spent more on records and cds than I ever have before (meaning within one store at one time.)  Almost everything I found was $5 or under, and it was an extreme pick-through type situation.  Meaning, don’t go looking for anything in particular, just start looking at everything!

I had a nice conversation with the owner while he rung things up (in a way so as not to distract him, haha, he was super methodical with his calculator and his mechanical receipt machine.)  I told him he’s got lots of great obscure stuff, and I might be back within 6 months or a year or whatever.  He asked me if I live here or am passing through.  I said I went to his old store with my mom a lot and he then seemed to maybe remember me.  I said I do live here, I’m a DJ, I like 80’s music, etc.  It took him a long time to ring everything individually, so I started browsing to pass more time.  Found 3 more cds to buy, and then, as a last minute thing, the “DAVID BOWIE” category within the records popped out.  There were two records in there:
DIAMOND DOGS* (pristine and currently hard to find) for $15.98 and
LET’S DANCE* (pristine and currently hard to find) for $9.98

I bought Diamond Dogs because that more or less completes my Bowie On Vinyl collection (no new pressings or record store day garbage, haha.)  I left Let’s Dance behind because I already have it, but, hey everybody,

LET’S DANCE, everybody, DIAMOND DOGS and BENNY AND THE JETS included!  We’re all HOMOSAPIENS, we’re all JEEPSTERs, MOVING IN STEREO, sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll…

_________________________________________________

*All Capital Letters

NOTES:

This is, by far, the longest post I’ve ever written. 

Does the song “Bye Bye Love” by The Cars have 3 F-Bombs in it?  Also, are they saying, “It’s OMG Style.”???

Pete Shelley was the lead singer of original English punk-rockers, The Buzzcocks.

Another exciting find was TWO copies (one for me, one for my friend) of a pink marbled vinyl original 7″ EP by The Stranglers from 1977, one of our fave bands!  They were $4.00 each.  (Hugs Work!)

I’m listening to The Cars S/T debut while I write this.

If you haven’t yet, check out the music video for “Hello Again.”  It’s prob on youtube or some shit.


200th post / I came out at work, cont’d

Last month, I wrote about coming out at work, and I left a few loose ends that I want to circle back to.

Real quick first though, I wanna acknowledge this blogging milestone!  It’s been 3 years and 6 months now.  Which is 42 months, meaning I’ve averaged close to 5 posts per month.  And that’s been fairly consistent:  I haven’t had times of being prolific followed by times of not writing anything and back-and-forth.  Same with word-count – posts have been no more than 1,000 words, no less than 600 words.

Although it’s been moderate and steady, the way I feel about the writing and the blog changes fairly drastically and frequently.  Sometimes I feel like I’m an objective observer, recording down what has transpired.  Other times, I have put so much of myself into what I write, that the process, and the feedback I get has helped boost me up through some really difficult times.  So, thank you, for all that feedback!  Sometimes I’ve felt like there isn’t much point to continuing; I have nothing to say.  Other times, I feel super good about this ongoing personal account of experiences that are valuable for others, and myself, to look into / look back on.

I’d say, currently, it’s mostly the first thing:  I’m an objective observer, writing down what is happening and feeling kind of distanced from it.  And that’s OK – it’s not going to always feel this way, I have learned.

So, in that vein, here’s that account I said I would write, of my first month being out, at work: A quick recap – I had talked to my supervisor, co-workers, 4 teachers, the principal, and the assistant principal.  I had also gotten things moving in the HR department, and we were just going into Xmas recess.  During that week when kids and teachers were out, I though it’d be a great time for my co-workers to start, while it was just us.  I wrote, ” I have a feeling my co-worker / ally will step up and lead it, followed by me correcting everyone every single time.”  The first day, my supervisor called me through the walkie talkie, “[old name], can you get a 20″ red pad?”  Me, “It’s going to be Kameron now.”   Long pause.  Her, “Kameron, can you get the 20″ red pad?”  Then when she saw me, she said, “You’re going to make me practice now?”  “Yeah!”  And we were off!  With, as I hoped, my co-worker leading.  But the thing was, I didn’t actually have to correct anyone.

When break was over and everyone was back, I told 8 more people in person, and also had a 2nd, much more productive, conversation with the principal.  More details are in the post, How I became “Mixter”.  We talked about how to come out and the timeline, how my name would appear on my name plate on the custodial office door, and bathrooms.  She told me I could think about these things and get back to her tomorrow.  That all sounded fine, but as I went about my cleaning routine that night, I thought about how tough it is to just catch her, and what if it’s a while before I am able to get back to her.  Plus the monthly faculty meeting was the following morning!!!  (And even though I don’t attend these, that’s a great place for school announcements.)

So, I left a note on her table that night, so that action could start rolling ASAP.  The note read:

1/3/16
Hey [Principal],

Here’s what I”m thinking:
Fac Meeting – a heads up about a forthcoming email
Email – That I’m changing my name and that I’m now using male pronouns (he/him/his)
Sign on Custodial Door – Mx. [last name] (pronounced Mixter).  I’m comfortable answering any questions about this.

also a recommendation if you one day have a transgender student:
A podcast called “How to be a Girl,” told from the point-of-view of a parent – with lots of input from her 8-year-old daughter (male to female).  They talk about school, friends, privacy, etc.  The parent is a great advocate.

Thank you!
-Kameron

There was some slight confusion in which the principal included all this information in the school-wide email, where, for example, I had only intended the podcast recommendation to be for her.  But, I realized, the fact everyone received all of the above was actually way better!  It gave people more context, which, I really really really think helped the information lodge into their brains better.  Like, I have not had to correct anyone, once!  Which is just completely blowing my mind.  People seem more into addressing me by my name than before.  Some people have decided to call me “Kam,” instead, of their own volition, which I’m OK with – it’s just plain fascinating.  (My one co-worker / ally has been calling me, “Killa Kam” for a while now.  Haha.)

A barrier between me and other people has definitely started to lift, just within this past month.  I have had more conversations with more people about a wider variety of things than ever before.  This is what being a person within a work environment is mostly about.  The connections are what make it something more than just a random assortment of people that you (seemingly) have nothing in common with.

I wanna just keep running with this!

PS:  This post has 882 words.  Haha.
PPS:  Posts coming soon about this amazing podcast, “How to be a Girl.”


Guest post – Kale (one year later)

About a year ago, I featured the story of an internet friend, here:  Guest post – Kale

We lost touch for a while, but as the year came to a close, I wanted to see where they were at, transition-wise and otherwise.  We corresponded for a bit, and they sent this update:

Hi! My name is Kale and I wrote a guest blog post for Kameron over a year ago when I first started taking testosterone. I live, mostly, in Newfoundland, where it’s cold and grey a lot of the year. I suppose it goes without saying that a lot has changed for me in the past year. I’m writing this today after making a monumental change to my appearance and expression of self this very morning. After five years of having them I decided to cut off my dreadlocks. I know some of you might be thinking “what does that have to do with taking testosterone or being transmasculine?” Well, I believe that all the choices we make about our bodies, not just the big ones like taking hormones or having surgery, impact our experience of self enormously. And though I hate to think on my dreads in a negative way I know they were a kind of crutch for me for a long time. If you think about it dreads are very gender neutral. Whether a man or a woman has dreads it doesn’t matter; the dreads will more or less look the same. And certainly once my dreads were long enough they obscured my neck, my slender feminine neck.

image1Well after a year it seems my neck isn’t as slender as it once was. In fact a lot of things about my body are very different. It amazes me how I can feel so much the same and so very different all at the same time. On the one hand the differences feel right to me, feel like the me I always expected to be, and I know that makes a huge difference. On the other hand I know there is so much about me that is the same, the integral parts of me that will never change, no matter what. I think a lot of folks, myself included, fear changes that will alter who they perceive themselves to be. It’s a legitimate fear but I don’t think it’s grounded in any reality. I know that I am the same person I’ve always been except now I feel closer to that person and so much happier. I should say that I identify with being transmasculine but do not feel comfortable with many labels. Every label I’ve ever tried on did not fit well enough to make me feel comfortable with it. Right now I like to say that I do not feel like a man or a woman. I feel like myself and that person has masculine and feminine traits.

Generally I feel more attuned to my masculine side and that was a huge factor in my choosing HRT. Being read as female, therefore feminine only, made me feel very unlike myself. I could not live that way feeling like no one saw me for who I was. A year later my voice is pretty low and I have the faintest line of hair over my upper lip. My veins pop out of my forearms and my pecs and shoulders have muscles they never had before. Strangers almost always think I’m a man. This is my new reality. It generally feels good to me but it’s not perfect. I’m not a man. I don’t really want to consistently be thought of as one. I take what I can get though because in this society being seen as neither a man nor a woman is a pretty unrealistic goal. I feel closer to my masculine side so being read as a man is less difficult than being read as a woman.

The other huge reason I chose HRT was my association with my genitals and my experiences of sex. For whatever reason I am cursed with the desire to have male genitalia. It fucking sucks. I cannot imagine having bottom surgery despite the fact that I really would rather male genitalia. I’m so not ready to even entertain that idea and I don’t know if that will ever change. I wasn’t entirely sure what testosterone would do for my relationship with my genitals but it certainly seemed worth trying. This was hands down the best choice of my life. I can’t express how thankful I am that I had the ability to make this choice. Before HRT I often could not derive sexual pleasure from my junk; it just didn’t feel like it was a part of me. That feeling was exasperating. I felt incredible guilt because I loved my partner but I could not enjoy sex with them. I don’t know how to describe the difference in my genitals other than it feels like what I imagine having male genitalia feels like. I have experienced some clitoral growth but it’s so much more than that. The difference is mind blowing, truly, and I wish I could find the words to express what it actually feels like but I can’t seem to. I hate to use the cliche but it’s so accurate; my body feels like my body now.

Despite all the ways I am so thankful for testosterone, I don’t like to put excessive emphasis on HRT. It was right for me in that moment in time. It’s not necessarily the right choice for everyone. And certainly I don’t think HRT is the only thing that’s helped me with my sense of self. If I want to I can think about my dreads negatively, as being a crutch. Or I can think about them positively, as being a big part of how I expressed myself authentically. Having dreadlocks and using HRT are both choices I made to feel closer to the person I feel inside. There’s so many ways that we can learn to be happy in our own bodies and the only thing that matters is that; each individual person’s happiness. I am so happy I found the courage to choose HRT but there are still days I look in the mirror and wonder who I am, what I think I’m doing. They’re less often, definitely, but they’re still there. This life is a journey, happiness is a journey and there’s no end until you’re dead. I wish I could say HRT made me completely whole and happy and yay now my days of feeling dysphoria and sadness are over! But it’s just not true. Happiness is not something you attain once and that’s it; it’s something you have to always work for. My intent in saying all this is to remind folks of certain realities. And I need to remember them as much as anyone. Life is hard. Go easy on yourself. Love yourself, no matter what you may feel sometimes. If there’s one thing I’ve taken out of this last year and all my experiences with my changing body it’s this.

____________________________

I like how Kale starts this piece with hair-related changes, and then gets more into it from there.  I also use my hairstyle to obscure my slender feminine neck!  What are some things you do to help feel more congruent with your gender identity?

If you’d like to write a guest post, please go for it!  You can just click on “ask me something” at the top of the page…