Last Friday, I made the drive up to Michigan, where I lived from 1996-2000. I used to live with my grandparents and I went to one of the elementary schools in town. The last time I visited was over winter break, when all my extended family met Blake for the first time.
It was kind of exhausting, both this last time, and during Christmas, because it was like, my Mom has been calling me Blake since October, and trying with my pronouns, but when we get around her family, it results in Trish, and she’s/her’s. I get upset because I get the feeling that she’s ashamed of me. I took her aside the first night and said, Mom, you’re doing it again. She asked me what I meant, and I said, my name is Blake. You’ve called me Trish all day. She apologised and kept calling me Trish. So did every one else. I just let it go and took time to be by myself because it’s exhausting.
I went up there because my cousin was graduating from high school, and it was his open house. Yesterday we had his party at the park, and I brought my swim trunks and my wet shirt because it protects me from the sun and hides my chest. I ended up not wearing it because it was too cold. But I had several comments from people, you’re going to wear that?! Well, yes, I am. I’m a man.
I also had to change my diet because I’m still having abdominal issues and being tested for Crohn’s disease. So I had to get vegan and gluten free food because I’m officially lactose intolerant now. So my aunt Grace took me to the store. She knows about my gender, and lives in DC until the end of the summer. I’m going to go visit her and my uncle the next time I go to Richmond, VA for my gender therapy appointment because my therapist moved. We were at the store and she called me Blake the entire time, just not around the rest of the family, because she knew it upset people.
Like, my grandfather, and my Dad. Anyway, at the party though, my first grade teacher was there. She’s my Grandma’s really close friend and they both taught at the same elementary school for years, the one I went to. So she asks me what I’m up to. I look around, because I didn’t want to upset anyone, and I said, I’m still in college, and she asked me what I’m studying, and I said I’m studying English and I’m writing. I had a few things published. Then she asked me what, and I was keeping it vague, because most of my stuff that has been published has been about being trans* so I finally said, actually, last year I made the decision to live full time as male.
She smiled and said she wasn’t surprised. She said a lot of kids in her class were calling me a boy that year. I know I had short hair and dressed masculine for the most part, unless we were at church, when my grandparents made me wear these awful frilly dresses that itched and made me so uncomfortable. I forgot that. She also said she wasn’t surprised I’m a writer, apparently I was always getting in trouble for reading and writing in class. Huh, some things don’t change.
Then I was looking through my cousin’s photos from the years, and I was in a lot of them, because I was really close to my cousins and we went on a lot of trips together. There were photos of me from 2nd grade, and I forgot how tiny I used to be. But I was wearing this blue sailor dress and my arm was wrapped around my cousin. My uncle was looking at the photos with me, and I asked him when this trip was, because I couldn’t remember it. I looked at the girl in the photo. I couldn’t recognise her. I remember the dress because it itched, and I was yelled at for wearing sneakers with it. But I don’t remember anything about the trip, and I only know it was 2nd grade because I was told to grow my hair out longer to stop kids from teasing me. I do remember going home from first grade and crying all the time because I was made fun of constantly and called a boy all the time and my Mom asked me about that a few days ago, and I said I didn’t care that I was being called a boy, I knew that I was a boy, at 7, but I was upset that I didn’t feel safe at school.
Anyway, I looked at more pictures, from 5th grade when we went to a fort in Kansas. I had longer (for me, but still short) curly hair and I was wearing a pink shirt and shorts. I think it was August. I had breasts now. I had my arm around the same cousin. I was smiling. But again, I had to ask my uncle about the trip, because I couldn’t remember it.
He took me aside and said you’ve blocked a lot of your childhood out. I said I don’t like to remember being uncomfortable in my skin. He filled me in on more of the details, but it blew me away with how much I’ve forgotten. What I used to look like. Even though I’m smiling, I can still see it that I’m uncomfortable. The 2nd grader is awkward and developing breasts and wearing a dress and I do remember going into the bathroom at one point and crying. I did the same thing at formal dances. I cried when I tried on my prom dress, and my Mom thought it was because I had low self esteem. It was because I wanted more than anything to wear a tux.
Then I had my cousin’s bonfire party, and one of his best friends came up to me and asked me what my PGPS are. That’s not something I get on a daily basis, so I was taken aback for a minute before I said, I’m a guy, but my cousin’s gonna call me Trish and use feminine pronouns. He said, my cousin was a boy and now she’s a girl. I was included as a boy for the most part, and my cousin took me aside before I left and said I’m really bad at the name thing, but I know you’re a guy, and you look so happy, and I can tell you’re on hormones.
I took my T shot in the bathroom of the house I used to live in in between the open house and the bonfire. My Mom watched. She’d never done that before. I stuck the inch and a half needle in my leg and she said I know it’s really happening now because you would never stick yourself with an inch and a half needle once a week unless you really wanted something.
Which I guess is true because I hate needles. It’s gotten better now that I have done 3 shots by myself, but I still don’t like needles. But my grandparents also kept my old colouring books and stuff from kindergarten. I slept in my old room. There’s still a race car poster on the door, and a flag on the ceiling I put up when I was 7. I was colouring superheros that year. I was five and six that year. I also had a loony toons one. I also drew my family once and I was coloured in red with really short hair.
Oh, and another family friend, I’ve known her my entire life, came up to me, and said wow Trish I didn’t recognise you, your hair is so short. I hugged her and said my hair has always been short. I didn’t want to out myself in the middle of the party in front of everyone, so I just kind of took it, when she said, yes, your hair has always been short, but not this short. I told her I’ve been growing it out for three months and my Mom says, yes, she’s been growing it out and it needs to be longer again. So I took my Mom aside later and said, this is why sometimes I think you’re ashamed of me.
She doesn’t like my hair because it’s short. She doesn’t like it when I wear my packer because then I have something in between my legs. She doesn’t like it when I go to the bathroom in the men’s room. Gender neutral bathrooms have been my saving grace for months now. She said she’s not ashamed of me, she just didn’t want to say anything in front of everyone, and that I don’t need to be trans* all the time, but I said, I just want to live my life as a man and not have people question it. But it became clear to me that I can’t go to family functions without it being a big deal, and 4 days of living as a woman for the most part, a very masculine woman, I might add, was exhasting and emotionally as well as physically draining. I slept all day and had a massive headache. Pretending does that to you. I remember having massive headaches all the time when I came home for the first few months because I was trying to compromise.
I can’t compromise anymore. I can’t live my life as a man and part time woman. I can’t walk both paths. I know people are trying, and it really helps, but I can’t keep going to family functions and having to be a woman, and I know I have to go to family funeral in the near future because my cousin has liver failure and has at the most three months left. She knows I’m Blake. I saw her in October and went as Blake, and we took this photo. I’ve already been asked what I’m wearing to her funeral.
I said I’m going as Blake. But my Mom has said that she understands why I feel like it’s hard to go to family functions. And my aunt, the one in DC who told me to go see them after my gender appointment, said I really hope you don’t get to the point where you never see us because it’s hard for you. So, I’m trying, and they are trying. And I think the longer I’m on hormones, and the more masculine I look, the easier it will be. That’s what I’ve heard.
Gosh, Blake, can you turn off the British spelling for a minute?
Oh, and I’m not going to England yet, even though I got a 4.0 this semester and my cumulative GPA is a 3.0 My health isn’t ready yet, and I’m supposed to be legally Blake and legally male before I go. As a reward for working hard, I’m going to Minneapolis Pride in June and my Mom is paying for my name change and being a witness this October. I’ll legally have my name as Blake Ryan, but I can’t change my gender yet, because then insurance stops paying for things. Annoying, but that’s one reason I have a gender neutral name. Okay, I think that’s everything. Take care.