MBLGTACC and Three Years of Transition

Last weekend I was in Normal, Illinois, with my university, and a lot of other universities across the midwest, and even the northeast, the south, and the southwest. MBLGTACC, the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Allies College Conference, is the biggest LGBTQIA conference in the country. I spent three days networking, looking at graduate programs that are LGBTQIA friendly, and doing workshops on queer issues. I had a blast and I was able to listen to Laverne Cox, a transgender woman of color most known for her role on Orange is the New Black, speak on issues that face trans people. I also got to listen to her talk about being a successful person and never giving up. The message of her keynote address was definitely one of hope. I have been to pride nearly every year since I was fourteen and my uncle took me for the first time in Minneapolis.  But being around about three thousand university students and making friends with them, including filling an entire auditorium with trans people, was absolutely incredible. I didn’t want the weekend to end.

I started the spring term on the fourth of February. I’ve been busy with school and working about thirty hours a week. I have 400 pages of reading due a week. I am writing so much and thinking so much but I love it all. I should graduate next year. It could be the year after that depending on a few things, but I am on track to finally graduate.

On Thursday, I celebrated three years of transition with a friend that is also trans. We met in October at a conference at a local university. We went dancing and ate pizza. I had a wonderful time.

Last night, my Dad called my sister, the one I live with, and she started using my birth name and she and her pronouns, and I asked her if she would please stop. She said, I know you are Blake.  But Dad hates calling you that, and I don’t want you to come between my relationship with him. I said I don’t want to do that, either, but last month I was almost arrested, last weekend I was kicked out of a restroom, last summer my Dad outed me in public and I am lucky that my mother got me away before something happened. I said that misgendering me is very dangerous. She said we were in the apartment. After she left to go back to school (she’s graduating in May and basically lives at school) I called my Mom and just said, I’m upset, and I don’t know if I have the right to be upset. So we talked for a while and I explained why I was upset, and my mother said she would talk to her.

They were talking this morning and I walked into the kitchen and my sister called me Blake. Which she does, unless we are around my Dad, or extended family. I have told people that if they continue to put me in dangerous situations, I’m not going to come to family functions, and I’m not going to be around them, because I can’t do it anymore.

But other than that, things are good. I’m saving up all of my money for my surgery this summer. Next month is two years on hormones. For the most part, things with family are good. I feel pretty good about my life.

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Some New Exciting Things.

I thought I would just talk about some of the new and exciting things going on in my life. Sometimes, I feel like I get bogged down with all of the horrible things I’ve had to deal with in the last three years when it comes to my transition.  Last month, I almost was arrested for riding the train to work at seven thirty in the morning on a Saturday and the metro transit police thought my ID was fraudulent. This sparked a debate with my parents and my goal is to have my surgery this summer so I can legally change my gender.

I now have health insurance at work. Starbucks pays up to 25,000$ for transition related expenses. I’m going to use some of that for top surgery at the University of Minnesota as soon as I have saved up money for my copay, which will be about 2,000$. I’m hoping to have the surgery this summer. It’s exciting.  My parents are paying my bills and my rent so that I can go to school and work and get my surgery. All of my paychecks are going to the surgery funds. I also have friends that I am knitting things for and they are paying me for them, so that money is going to my copay as well.

I had my license switched back over to Minnesota on Saturday. I had to go in with proof of my name change and there was some hangups with it. The woman doing the license transfer realized that my license never expired because I changed it back when I was living in St. Cloud, so it was a name update and address change. She kept trying to put my gender marker as Male, but if I let her, I could be accused of fraud and arrested. Then she was confused about what name was my current legal name and whether or not I had changed my last name as well. She handed me my yellow papers and told me it would take at least two months for the hard copy because now Minnesota has to contact North Carolina and verify my name change.

Verifying my name change has been my experience nearly everywhere for the last seven months. My background check for Starbucks took two weeks because they had to verify my name. My financial aid was messed up at first for the fall because they didn’t know who I was and everything had to be double checked.

But the name change was done after eight months of dealing with court, so even though now my life has become double verify everything, the name change is done.

I’m about to start my spring term at Hamline. I just finished my January Term taking a class about writing for children and teens. The class was great, but also hard. We did a lot of exercises about our childhood, recalling things we did as kids, and what events happened. I don’t remember if I’ve talked about this or not. But a majority of the events in my childhood are gone. I don’t really remember kindergarten. I remember the school pictures every year and my grandmother curling my hair and forcing me into lace dresses that itched and I know that I always tried to run away from her when she got me dressed for them.  I remember puberty starting and I know there are pictures of me at family members houses of me as a girl on family trips. I don’t remember the trips. I don’t remember why I was wearing the dresses. I don’t remember most of what happened at school. I blocked it out to deal with it. I have a friend that found a notebook from when she was in third grade and it said, I know I like girls but I’ll deal with it later. She didn’t deal with it until college. I feel like I did the same thing.

When we got to the teen unit, and we had to describe high school, I could remember more details, but I never wanted to share any of the details with anyone else. Most kids were recalling sports and other fun things that they did. Remembering ninth grade was the worst for me. It was one of the worst years of my life and I attempted suicide four times. I spent a majority of the school year gone. But I love the classes and I think it was a way of writing about what happened, and moving on and dealing with it.

I’m excited for the classes I’m taking this spring, Poetry II, Literary Theory, Intro to Women and Gender Studies (I’m getting a minor in Gender Studies) and Intro to Social Justice.  I’m going to be in Chicago the 13th through the 15th with Hamline at the Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Ally, College, Conference and I’ll be meeting other queer students from all over the midwest for a weekend. I’ll also see people I went to school with in St. Cloud, and kids from Minnesota I met in November at MOCC, Minnesota Out College Conference, so I’m excited. I also get to meet Laverne Cox and learn more about being a better transgender activist. I’m very excited.

I’m also almost done with my undergrad degree. Now I’m just looking at colleges for grad school, or going back and getting my teaching license for teaching secondary school English. If I had done the Education major now, I would have had to take an extra two years, but I already talked to the program directors and it made more sense for me to graduate with my writing and English degree first. So I continue moving forward and I’m happy with where my life is going. Sometimes it’s hard. My Dad and I write letters and I always just sign them with I love you, not with my name, because I don’t want to start a fight.  He always addresses me with my birth name and she/her pronouns. We don’t fight about it. It is what it is.  I can end my letters with I love you.